Archive for August, 2015

The diabetes action plan


Get your range of Vital Products at your nearest Mopani Pharmacy

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world – and this upward trajectory is likely to continue as the rate of obesity steadily increases. However, it is not all doom and gloom as following basic lifestyle guidelines can help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes as well as insulin resistance. Pam Pillay investigates.

The three treatment pillars

To successfully manage or prevent the onset of diabetes, a three-step approach should be followed:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Medication

By following a healthy diet and a sustainable exercise regimen, you can keep type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance at bay. If you have been diagnosed type 1, 2 or insulin resistant and medication has become necessary, these conditions can be managed perfectly by ensuring all three steps are followed religiously.


Your diet or eating plan should include plenty of the following:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats or proteins
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Water

Maintaining this type of diet along with ensuring good blood glucose levels will ensure that the complications associated with diabetes like hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, gout, neuropathy and deteriorating vision can be staved off. The key to maintaining healthy blood glucose levels is focusing on the carbohydrate content of the foods and beverages you consume. The three main goals are to manage:

  • The type of carbohydrates consumed: These should be of a low glycaemic index (GI).  A low-GI carbohydrate will allow blood glucose levels to rise slowly in the blood, therefore avoiding hyperglycaemic (high blood glucose levels) or hypoglycaemic (low blood glucose levels) episodes. It will also place less pressure on the pancreas to release insulin.
  • The amount of carbohydrates consumed: Planning or knowing how much carbohydrates should be consumed at each meal ensures that there won’t be a large dumping of glucose into the blood stream, which could once again lead to hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia as well as straining the pancreas.
  • The timing or distribution of carbohydrates consumed: This is also important in preventing periods of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia. It is a good idea to have main meals no more than four to five hours apart and include snacks in between the three main meals. Essentially, it would mean eating every two hours. It may sound like a lot of eating but it will ensure a more constant blood glucose level.


This has so many benefits for everyone but especially so for people living with diabetes. These benefits include:

  • Helping the body utilise insulin to control blood glucose levels
  • Reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Burning body fat
  • Strengthening and toning muscles
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Decreasing cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Increasing the metabolism and boosting energy levels
  • Decreasing stress levels

Remember to monitor blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise. This is especially important for people with type 1 diabetes.


It is very important that you do not miss or skip taking any prescribed medication. Ensure that it is taken at the same time every day. There are various types of medication available, which depends on the type of diabetes:


This is used for type 1 diabetes. It is also prescribed for type 2 diabetes in cases where oral hypoglycaemics are no longer effective on their own due to natural progression of the disease or poor blood glucose control.

Oral hypoglycaemics

These tablets perform a few functions, from working on the liver or intestine to working on the pancreas in order to control both insulin and glucose levels in the blood.

Diabetes is a perfectly manageable disease if the three steps above are followed. Finding an eating plan and exercise programme that are both sustainable and enjoyable means half the battle has been won. If you are struggling to decide what and how to eat as well as what types of exercise are suitable, consult professionals that can help you with this. Ensuring that medication is taken as prescribed and going for routine check-ups guarantee a victory in the battle against diabetes.


Sensible snacking


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As a regular contributor on the SABC 3 show Expresso (weekdays 06:00–08:30), Andrea du Plessis is able to share her passion for good health achieved through nutrition, natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle. Information about health and nutrition is constantly updated. Read on for some guidance on what is current and of interest to you.

Does guilt-free snacking exist? The answer is yes, as long as you are disciplined and stay away from the unhealthy options as they are the main contributors to weight gain. Unhealthy snacking can easily add as many kilojoules as your energy intake from three meals, so look out for snack options with a kilojoule count that you can monitor and keep track of.

Snack-time is good for you:

  • The digestive system copes better with food intake divided into small portions throughout the day.
  • Healthy snacks help to add valuable nutrients that are scarce in the staple foods we consume during main meals.
  • Snacking can help with appetite control, notably if the snacks are rich in protein and healthy fats.
  • Snacking can support weight loss – regular eating helps maintain a fast metabolism. What you eat, of course, is as important as how much you eat.

Keep in mind:

  • Portion control vs. kilojoule counting

Sensible snacking is incorporating healthy food items that can be enjoyed in moderation. Be sure to check the labels on your snack foods and try to stay at about 500 kilojoules or less per portion to prevent excessive energy intake that would result in weight gain.

  • When snacking derails the diet

Late-night snacking and snacks purchased on the run prove to be the ones that most contribute to unhealthy eating and excessive energy intake. Plan for these eventualities by stocking your late-night snack cupboard with healthy options, and always carry healthy snack options with you.

Five handbag snacks (500 kJ) Benefits
10–12 almonds Snacking on small portions supports appetite control due to the high protein and fat content.
5 dried prunes Prunes are packed with antioxidants that are anti-ageing as well as low GI, so they will keep you fuller for longer.
20 g dark chocolate Dark chocolate is lower in sugar than regular milk chocolate and supports mental alertness due to theobromine in the cocoa.
30 g Vital Mini Rice Cakes [bold and vital red] These rice cakes are made with brown rice and are gluten free, ideal for an in-between snack.
45 g lean biltong Biltong is packed with protein, iron and other minerals. A substantial snack to arrest an out of control appetite.
Five late-night snacks (500 kJ) Benefits
  • Chamomile tea
  • Two rice cakes with cottage cheese and honey
The combination of chamomile tea, dairy and honey is known to boost feel-good serotonin levels and calm an anxious mind.
  • One medium banana
  • One teaspoon peanut butter
Not only a yummy combo, but rich in potassium and protein, important nutrients for rest and recovery.
  • Two corn cakes with avocado and lemon pepper
An ideal way to cram more omega-9 oils into your diet to support a healthy heart.
  • Half a cup of carrot sticks with a quarter cup of low fat hummus
This taste combination is magic and a snack that will chase away a nightmarish late-night appetite.
  • Half a cup Greek yoghurt with one tablespoon of blueberries
Greek yoghurt is delicious on its own and very filling due to its high fat content.


Vegetables: five per day not enough?


Get your range of Vital Products at your nearest Mopani Pharmacy

As a regular contributor on the SABC 3 show Expresso (weekdays 06:00–08:30), Andrea du Plessis is able to share her passion for good health achieved though nutrition, natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle. Information about health and nutrition is constantly updated – she provides some guidance on what is current and of interest to you.

Seven to ten portions of vegetables per day is what we should aim for according to a research study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (31 March 2014). 

Why so many?

A higher intake of fruit and vegetables is linked with a lower death risk from cancer, stroke and heart disease in the Health Surveys for England study which comprised 65 000 participants. Health benefits seem to increase exponentially with each extra daily portion of vegetables, while fruit demonstrated less favourable results.

Results summary

Seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day were linked with:

  • 42% reduction in overall mortality rates
  • 25% lower cancer risk
  • 31% lower risk for heart disease and stroke

Is this realistic?

Even for the super health conscious, aiming for seven to ten portions of vegetables per day may be biting off more than most can chew. Our diets of refined and processed foods are inadequate in regard to the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. While multivitamins can help fill the gaps, we should aim to increase our intake of nutrient-rich vegetables.

More than just a head of broccoli

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are known to assist in the prevention of chronic disease and cancer. A better understanding of the active components in broccoli and their mechanism of action were revealed in a study conducted by the UK Institute of Food Research. Sulforaphane, derived from glucoraphanin, was identified as the bioactive component. It is believed to activate and retune genes involved with ageing and disease progression. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2013, 98(3):712–722)


Amazing Pizza with Whey Protein


Prep time
10 mins
Cook time
35 mins
Total time
45 mins
Serves: 6
  • 1¼ cup blanched almond flour (or ½ cup coconut flour)
  • ¼ cup protein powder (unflavored, optional)
  • 4 TBS Psyllium husk powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 TBS grated parmesan
  • 1 TBS Italian spices
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs (4 eggs for coconut flour)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • butter or coconut oil (for brushing)
  • (Toppings of your choice)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients and mix until blended. Add eggs and mix until well combined. Add boiling water and mix until dough thickens and start to stick to beaters. Place ball on greased baking sheet. Spray a piece of parchment with oil and place on to of the dough to help spread without sticking. Use a rolling pin or your hands to spread the dough into a 16 inch round. Dough will raise 2-3 times its size so make the thickness one third of what you want the final pizza to be (I like a ¼ inch thick crust so I start with about ⅛ inch or less thickness).
  2. Place in oven and Bake for 25 minutes. Remove crust from oven and brush with butter of coconut oil and return to oven. Broil for 3-8 minutes or until crust is crisp (Be careful, watch closely during this step to make sure it doesn’t burn, just crisps up). I start the broil with it flipped over to crisp the bottom and then flip over and broil the top. Add topping and broil for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and starts to brown. Makes 6 servings.
Traditional Pizza Crust = 262 calories, 7.6g fat, 6g protein, 43g carbs, 1.7g fiber (41.3g effective carbs)
“Healthified” Pizza crust = 197 calories, 13.7g fat, 9.4g protein, 9.4g carbs, 5.5g fiber (3.9g effective carbs)

Why Is Hand Eye Coordination Important?


Hand Eye Coordination is the ability of the eyes to guide the hands in movements.

  • Sports:
    Hand eye co-ordination can help your child to catch a ball and hit a ball with a bat.
  • Handwriting:
    Visual-motor integration, which is a vital skill for handwriting, grows out of a good hand-eye co-ordination base. The eyes need to guide the hand in forming the letters and making sure they stay within the lines.
  • Reading:
    Eye tracking skills, which are vital for reading, can be developed through games and activities used for hand eye coordination.
  • Play and Life Skills:
    Young children use this skill in learning to stack towers, build with lego etc, and we even use hand eye coordination to tie shoelaces and frost cakes!

    A Handy Tip!

    Do yourself a favor and suspend a ball in a net.

    It will save you from chasing after countless missed balls while your kids practice their skills!

    • Use a net bag, the kind that you get fruit and veggies in.
    • Pop a ball in and knot it
    • Tie it to a length of rope.
    • The rope needs to be long enough to get the ball level with your child’s chest.
    • Suspend the ball from any horizontal pole or even from a hook in a doorway.
    • See the activity suggestions below to see how to use the netted ball!

Hand Eye Games For Younger Kids

1) Rolling A Ball

This activity is lovely for toddlers and young preschoolers.

  • Have your child sit with legs apart, and you roll the ball between the legs.
  • Your child needs to try and stop the ball before it hits their tummy.

2) Object Relays

This is a fun indoor or outdoorgame and the whole family can take part!

Works on bilateral as well as hand eye coordination.

  • The kids stand in a line and pass the ball/object to the child behind them.
  • Do it overhead, then between the legs.
  • Encourage the kids to use both hands together.
  • Make it more fun by having a bucket of objects at the front that have to be transferred to an empty bucket at the back.
  • You can do this in fireman relay style, where everyone keepstheir place, or have the last kid run to the front after placing the object in the bucket at the back, that way they all get a turn to be in front.

3) Passing and Gentle Tossing

It takes a lot of concentration for a toddler or a preschooler to pass or toss something carefully with both hands!

  • Play a variety of circle or line games, like the relays above, where balls or beanbags are carefully passed from one player to another.
  • Then upgrade to gentle tossing.
  • Have the kids move one step away from each other and then gently toss the ball or beanbag to each other.

4) Suspended Ball Activities

Use a suspended plastic ball and have your preschool child or toddler play some games with it. Make sure they don’t hit too hard or it may rebound and hit their faces.

  • Push and Catch:
    Your child needs to watch the ball carefully to catch it again with both hands together, and to not let it bang against the body.
  • Bat and Ball:
    Use a bat and have your child practice hitting the ball with the bat. Use a variety of bats to increase the challenge for your child.

For toddlers and preschoolers, I have some easy visual motor activities that can help improve eye-hand coordination skills.

Eye-Hand Activities for Older Kids

1) Suspended Ball Activities

Older kids can use smaller balls (eg tennis balls) to increase the challenge. Have them push and catch the ball, or hit the ball with a bat as described in the activities for preschool kids.

For extra challenge, ask your child to clap or twirl between pushing and catching.

Remind your child to not hit the ball too forcefully, to avoid being hit in the face with a rebound!

2) Ball-Wall Toss

Once your child has had lots of practice catching and hitting a suspended ball, you can try a ball-wall toss.

  • Ask your child to toss the ball against a wall and catch it again.
  • You will need to experiment a bit to find the most effective distance from the wall – it depends on the type of ball, and how forcefully your child throws it, but encourage your child to start with a gentle toss!
  • See how many your child can catch before missing and keep a running record of the best tally. Encourage your child to better the score each time!

3) Toss and Catch

  • Tossing a beanbag or ball into the air and catching again is a good hand-eye coordination exercise.
  • If your child tends to throw haphazardly, have your child stand in a hoop or mark a circle to stand in – this can help kids throw more carefully.


Price Ripped Promise


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Mopani Pharmacy offers a WIDE VARIETY of Sport Nutrition products at the BEST PRICE!

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2. This will not apply if the cheaper offer is obtained via a cash-back, voucher or on any products on a discounted promotional price.
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smoothieYield: Serves 1

 More Power Gingerbread Smoothie


  • ½ cup cooked navy beans
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 35g fresh ginger, chopped (no need to peel, just remove dry parts)
  • ¼ cup 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup unsweetened soy milk
  • ½ scoop (2 tbsp) vanilla flavored whey protein powder
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp black strap molasses
  • 2 tbsp flaked cereal (I used Heritage Flakes by Nature’s Path)


  1. Add all ingredients, except flaked cereal, to your food processor and process until smooth. Add cereal, pulse 2-3 times and transfer to serving glass.
  2. Garnish with a handful of crushed cereal, if desired.


Get your Health Connection Blackstrap Molasses at your nearest Mopani Pharmacy