Goldilocks Dilemma


The concept of lagom is Swedish, and means “just enough”.  But how does the brain know when enough is enough?

By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.


In cognitive science, the Goldilocks Dilemma is about how we learn when we’ve had ‘just the right   Our brains are geared towards homeostasis – the technical term for keeping biological balance.  We eat food when our body needs nutrition and protein to re-organise replenish and fuel our cells; we drink when our body becomes dehydrated as the water composition drops below 60% (e.g. via sweating, urination), and we rest when our bodies are exhausted – just like Goldilocks did! However, our brains also learn - through trial and error - how to gauge when our body feels satisfied with our actions and when it doesn’t. Many of us have had the experience of eating or drinking too much at a party and living to regret the feeling of being too full afterward!  On the opposite side, many people live below the poverty line and never get enough to eat. In modern Westernised societies we have grown used to industries that provide for our every whim through the increasing availability of food and illicit substances, or the lure of sexual images in the media. As such, many of us have lost the ability to regulate our actions to maintain homeostasis.  This has led to huge rises in obesity, cardiovascular disorders, addiction, aggression, poverty and damages to the planet.  Our out-of-control behaviours are not showing any sign of abating any time soon.  But not all countries are losing the knack of being able to tell when enough is enough – in some areas of the world people can teach us a thing or two about self-regulation.
amount’ of something to keep ourselves balanced.

In Sweden – one of the Scandinavian countries in the Northern Hemisphere – the people are often rated top of happiness and prosperity surveys, and they have a word that sums up the feeling of ‘enough’ – lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]). The word originated from the Vikings, who would pass around Mead (a type of fruity, sweet, alcoholic drink) while sitting by the campfire after a day of battle or roaming out in the cold.  To ensure that everyone in the camp was happy, the merry Mead-makers – to the chorus of “laget om (around the team)” – would take a swig or two from the horn, just big enough to satisfy their taste buds and quench their thirst, before passing it on to a neighbour. Such jolly behaviour meant that everybody got a fair share, and aggression – even between those fearsome Vikings – was kept to a minimum!  The Swedes really embrace the notion of lagom today – to the point where there is a high level of trust in one’s neighbour – so that there are always enough resources to go around.  As such, Sweden is often synonymous with high life quality, education for all, excellent health, low obesity and low crime.

Where then, might we find this mysterious lagom quality in the brain?  Firstly, in the more primitive  The ventral medial (“bottom-middle”) hypothalamus works when we are hungry and need to eat – excessive activation of this area has been linked to obesity.  Conversely, the lateral (“side”) hypothalamus activates when we no longer want to eat, and has been associated with starvation and anorexia nervosa.  Another interesting point about the hypothalamus, in relation to the stressful nature of modern society, is that it is part of a larger stress-related network, called the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis.  The HPA axis is overactive during acute and chronic stress, and leads to the release of adrenalin (increasing aggression), and cortisol (shutting down the body’s non-essential systems, like digesting food in the gut) to give the body higher energy levels. These systems happen in the mid-brain, and in the adrenal glands (located above the kidneys), but the prefrontal cortex also plays a huge part in learning to control our actions to achieve balance.
mid-area of the brain is a region called the hypothalamus, which is essential for various homeostatic functions.

The prefrontal cortex, in the front of the brain (under the forehead), consists of various sub-regions, including: dorsolateral (DLPFC), ventromedial (VMPFC), orbitofrontal (OFC). The DLPFC is responsible for attending to and inhibiting actions, the VMPFC remembers what the outcome was of our previous actions, and the OFC evaluates the value (positive or negative) of those actions.  Activation of these regions reflects an ability to learn from trial and error, and to predict whether something will satisfy us, become overwhelming, or leave us wanting more.  As we gather more information about our day-to-day experiences of the world, we build a memory that is constantly updated, as we – and the world – change.  People with damage – or under-development – to the prefrontal cortex may not be able to learn from their mistakes in order to lead a balanced life.  An unbalanced life is an unhappy life – take it from the Swedes – and may result in long-term physical or mental illness.

So, the key is to try to exercise lagom in our everyday lives – by only eating a few, and not the whole  
packet of biscuits, not spending too long on the treadmill or running the streets, watching our temper and the tempo of our voice with individuals who may try to provoke us into an argument.

The take-home message is this: balance is the key to a happy, healthy life!  Lagom!






Dr Samantha Brooks is a neuroscientist at the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, and at Uppsala University, Sweden, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see www.drsamanthabrooks.com. Note: Images royalty free, courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki.







Smaller deposit? Buy a cheaper home


Is there any point in waiting to save up a large deposit on a home when interest rates are declining and the banks are in a hurry to grant more home loans?

“Many buyers are taking the view,” says Rudi Botha, CEO of BetterBond, SA’s biggest bond originator, “that they should take advantage of the current lending conditions and secure a home loan with whatever deposit they have, rather than wait to save more and risk stricter lending conditions, higher home prices or interest rates starting to rise again.

“This is reflected in our latest statistics*, which show a sharp drop in the average deposit being paid by SA home buyers from 22,5% of the purchase price to 19,75% over the past 12 months, and a concomitant increase in the percentage of home loan applications approved, from 75% to 80%.”

There is some sense of urgency to get into the market, he says, because prices are only rising at about 3% a year at this stage, but are expected to pick up momentum towards the end of the year, especially if interest rates continue to move downward and economic activity picks up.

“However, we believe the best choice if you are in haste to become a homeowner is to use whatever cash you have saved up to pay a bigger percentage deposit on a less expensive property – not a smaller percentage deposit on a higher-priced property.”

The advantages of doing this, Botha says, will be that:
*You will need a smaller home loan;
*Your minimum monthly bond repayment will be lower and you will need less disposable income to cover it;
*The monthly household income you need to qualify for the loan will thus be lower;
*You will have a better chance of qualifying for an interest rate concession on your bond that could save you many thousands of rands on the total cost of your home over 20 years.

“In addition, you may even be able to pay an additional amount off your bond each month and pay your home off early.”

On a R1m home loan, he notes, an interest rate concession of just 0,5% will reduce the total cost of your home over 20 years by almost R80 000. And if you are then able to pay an additional R500 a month off your bond, you will pay off your home in just over 17 years instead of 20, and save a further R195 000 in the process.

“However, to really maximise the potential savings, you should apply for your home loan through a reputable originator like BetterBond, which will not only give you the best chance of getting your loan approved, but also negotiate the best possible interest rate for your particular financial situation.”

*The BetterBond statistics represent 25% of all residential bonds being registered in the Deeds Office and are thus a reliable indicator of the state of South Africa’s residential property market.


Anne-Marie Bamber is Norgarb Properties dedicated Home Loans Consultant. She has over 15 years’ experience in assisting clients with their Home Loan needs and has placed many happy families in their dream homes.

Contact her today for no cost stress-free home-buying.
Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665
E-mail: anne-marie.bamber@betterlife.co.za










Green Temperature Control for Your Home


The trend in going green is bigger than ever and, in particular, we look at green living in our own homes. Every little bit helps and implementing green living into your home and everyday life can have a much bigger impact than one might think. Here we’ll have a look at some options for natural temperature control in your home and why it is important.

Natural temperature control has many benefits, namely:

• no need to purchase, install or pay for repair of an HVAC
• electricity consumption can be cut by half
• it’s an indefinite source of heating and cooling
• no dependency on the grid
• eliminates noise pollution, and
• is ecologically friendly.

It is important to control home temperature, not just for comfortable living, but as a vital step to reduce damage to your home. Without it, one could have issues such as mould growth, formation of condensation, and damage to the building envelope (walls, floors, roofs, fenestrations and doors). Luckily, the earth and sun provide all the energy we need and there are many ways to harness this to our own advantage.

Insulation - The use of high quality insulation helps to prevent heat loss by decreasing the amount of heat that escapes the house. Good insulation can also keep the heat out in the warmer months. You can insulate your walls, floors, ceiling, basement, attic, windows and doors.

Image from Greener Ideal

Solar Heating – The sun is our greatest source of heat and energy so why not harness all that thermal power? You get different types of solar heating and cooling systems, from radiant floor to hot water baseboards or radiators and central forced-air systems. Solar collectors for air heating are much the same as those used for water heating systems, with the most common being the flat-plate collectors. You can also look into evacuated tube, thermosiphon, Integral Collector Storage (ICS) and concentrating collectors. You also get a choice of liquid or air based. Liquid-based solar heating systems use a non-toxic liquid to transfer the heat from the collector, whilst air-based systems heat air in a solar air collector and then use fans to distribute and circulate the heated air around your home.

Image from EcoVeta

Solar Cooling – Also referred to as solar-assisted cooling, these systems may also be used for heating your home during the winter months. You get two types – absorption chiller systems and desiccant systems. The more popular of the two is the absorption chiller system which uses a process very similar to your refrigerator. The desiccant system on the other hand passes air over a drying agent such as silica gel, which draws the humidity out of the air making it cooler and more comfortable.

Image from letsgosolar.com

Natural Ventilation – Think stylish skylights and hidden vents. These allow for the collection of heat or the flow of air through your home. Carefully placed skylights can easily warm a room, whilst vents allow easier flow of air throughout the house. The only problem with these is that they serve a singular purpose and whilst vents might be a joy in summer, they may not be your best friend during winter. Likewise for the skylights which would perhaps overheat a room during the summer months.

Image from SlideShare

The Simple Life – There are also simple practices you can look at that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Investing in black out curtains and/or simply closing your blinds can instantly affect the temperature of a room. Closing doors to unused rooms in the winter months prevents cool air from circulating and locks in more heat, likewise in summer, you’d want to keep your doors open and allow for maximum air flow. A little window hack can also make a huge difference – open the top section of your windows on the downwind side of your house and the bottom section of your windows on the upwind side. And last but not least, switch your light bulbs to CFL’s. Incandescent bulbs waste about 90% of their energy in the heat that they emit, so not only would your house be cooler, but so would your electricity bill.

There are so many natural systems one can use to control the temperature in one’s home and new technology appearing all the time. All in all, it’s best to do some research and pick the option that suits your home as well as your budget.

Norgarb Properties Agent Andre Ter Moshuizen who specialises in the Claremont area, shares some household tips and handy home hints with you every month. Read more of his articles here. [https://harfield-village.blogspot.co.za/search?q=andre]

Andre Ter Moshuizen: 082 602 1367 | andre@norgarb.co.za | www.norgarbproperties.co.za








www.harfield-village.co.za
www.facebook.com/harfield.village.community

Best Health Advice We Could Give

Best Health Advice We Could Give
By The Chiropractic Health Centre


If we could only give three pieces of health advice, what would they be?

This question is a basic variation of the ‘elevator pitch’: if you only had 30 seconds to convince someone to invest in your business, what would you say? Because I tend to have dozens of random bits floating around in my head at any one time, it’s a bit of a personal challenge to accumulate my thoughts into cotton candy blobs of truth.

But how to decide what would have the biggest impact?

Well, first we looked at the most common diseases (heart disease, back pain, common cold, headaches, depression, cancer) and looked at the common risk factors. From there, we looked at these risk factors and chose the ones we can actually change i.e. diet - yes :), age - not so much :(. And lastly, I decided on the health changes that would have the greatest possible impact on these modifiable risks - where we can find the most ‘bang for your buck’. The most ‘bam for your lamb’. The most ‘kablooie for your..’ ok we’ll stop now.

And the results are in! (drumroll, please…)


1. DON’T SMOKE. Smoking is the single largest modifiable risk factor for early death. People who start smoking in early adulthood will be 2-3 times more likely to die in middle age and live 10-20 years less than non-smokers. This is not to mention QUALITY of life - smokers suffer more headaches, back pain, colds, depression, etc. And stopping smoking helps: “Those who have smoked cigarettes since early adulthood but stop at 30, 40, or 50 years of age gain about 10, 9, and 6 years of life expectancy, respectively, as compared with those who continue smoking.” So, don’t smoke & you’ll live longer and better.

2. EAT MORE VEGETABLES. The biggest issues with our (Western) diets are the high calories/pro-inflammatory molecules (e.g. trans-fats) coupled with low micronutrients/fibre - all due to industrially processing every morsel before it hits our lips. This contributes to heart disease, cancer, obesity, kidney disease, dementia and diabetes but also plays a role in chronic pain, mood disorders, frequent colds & flu, etc. But how can we affect such a complex array of problems in our diets? We say: more vegetables! Upping the veggies in your diet will increase vitamin/mineral/fibre intake, reduce overall calories (fill up on low-cal veggies to reduce overeating), and provide ample antioxidants to reduce excessive inflammation (which may extend your life).



3. DAILY YOGA. Human beings are dynamic creatures. The sedentary nature of our desk-job culture is linked to a whole host of chronic diseases as well as back pain, headaches, etc, etc. This is why we exercise - every single system in your body benefits from regular exercise. So why yoga? Yoga helps protect against heart disease, depression, lower back pain and even helps mitigate the symptoms of asthma. Yoga provides similar health benefits as aerobic exercise but also improves mood & sleep. It trains your muscles, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular sytem all while maintaining a low injury rate. So… YOGA!

So, there you have it: safeguard your health with these 3 keys. Or it’s at least a good start.
BONUS TIP: Calorie restriction - but that is a complicated subject that deserves its own post. Coming soon!

Thanks for reading this far! If you like what we have to say or want to get in touch with us, call 0216832996, email claremont@chiropractor.co.za, or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook (@TheChiroHealth).

July in the Garden

This Winter seems to be quite mild so far, and thankfully there have been a few days of decent rain. Hoping for much more to fill our tanks and dams! July is perhaps the month in the year with the least need for human involvement in food gardening, and the plant list is the shortest in July. So, here is this month's gardening tip: Stay warm, and perhaps go through old clothes and bedding to pass some of what you do not need anymore on to the many who do. Let's share the warmth this Winter!

Plant List for July:
Broad Beans, Beetroot, Chard/Spinach, Cape Gooseberry, Celery, Chives, Chili Peppers, Lettuce, Onion, Parsley, Peas, Potato, Radish, Tomato

CHOCOLATE MACAROONS


These Macaroons are delicious and easy to make.  I have made them gluten free by adding cornflour instead of flour.  They last for weeks in an airtight container.  In fact I found a few I had forgotten about months later and they were super.


INGREDIENTS:

3 egg whites
200gms castor sugar
1 ½ tbls plain flour
25g ( ¼) cup cocoa
150gms ground almonds

METHOD: 

Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add sugar, whisking well after each addition to dissolve sugar, until mixture smooth and glossy.

Sift flour and cocoa together, then stir in ground almonds.  Gently stir flour mixture into egg white mixture until just combined.  Spoon tablespoonsfuls of mixture onto a baking paper-lined oven tray and bake at 180C for 10 – 15 mins or until crisp on the outside but still soft in the centre.  Stand macaroons for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 24
















Watch your Winter Alcohol Habits

What is better than sitting in front of a blazing fire drinking a glass of red wine or whiskey?  These seem to be common habits that start as the nights get colder.  But are you aware of what you are doing to your body?  Are you paying attention to how much you are drinking and how you are feeling in the morning?  Let’s take a look at how we can enjoy some alcohol but not undo our health and wellness goals.



Alcohol and health
Alcohol can be detrimental to your health if it is regularly consumed in large amounts. It can have a negative effect on your nutritional status as it reduces the absorption and use of certain vitamins and minerals.  Studies have shown that an excessive alcohol intake contributes to an increased risk of the development of cancer and alcoholic liver disease.  Excessive alcohol can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis and worsen the symptoms of gout because of an increase of uric acid production.  Three or more alcohol containing drinks a day can also increase blood pressure. 

Alcohol and weight
Alcohol consumption can also lead to weight problems because of its high calorie value (7kcal per 1g alcohol).  Often high calorie mixers are also added to the alcohol (such as soft drinks, fruit juices).  During alcohol consumption our control is often decreased leading to overeating and drinking more.  And the foods that are eaten together with the consumption of alcohol (e.g. crisps) are often high in fat.  Alcohol also slows down fat metabolism.  All of these factors can lead to an increase of weight. 

What can you do to enjoy a drink and keep it healthy?
You can enjoy a drink AND be healthy and lose weight, but it means making some trade-offs.  An alcohol unit is defined in terms of a ‘standard drink’, which has the equivalent of about 10g alcohol.  Alcohol isn’t the only component of a drink that determines its calorie content.  Some drinks are also rich in sugar (carbohydrates) and therefore contain more calories.  Beer contains more carbohydrate than spirits, but spirits are often consumed with mixers increasing the calorie content.  When alcohol is consumed as part of a healthy eating plan, the guideline is no more than two drinks every day for women and no more than three drinks every day for men. 

An alcohol unit:
125ml of dry white or red wine or champagne
25ml of spirits
1 can of beer or cider

If you need to control your calorie intake, you can exchange one carbohydrate serving/unit for one alcoholic unit.  Beer, cider and caloric rich mixers need an extra carbohydrate serving/unit for their carbohydrates.

Tips for cutting down on your alcohol intake
        Make a decision about what you will be drinking before you go out – when you have a plan, it is easier not to get carried away!
        When you arrive at a function or restaurant ask for water first (make it sparkling for variation) and only start with the alcohol at a later stage
        Make a wise decision about WHAT you will be drinking – sometimes it is better to have a spirit with a ‘free’ cooldrink (e.g. vodka and coke light or whiskey and water) instead of wine – if bottles of wine are being ordered, your glass will be constantly topped up and you easily lose track of how much you are drinking!
        If you do want to drink wine, ‘dilute’ it with (sparkling or soda) water, ice cubes or sprite zero, and rather order your wine by the glass than ordering a bottle – make the excuse that you feel like a different wine
        Similarly with beer or cider rather have a shandy
        Get into the mind-set that you are going out to socialize with your friends, not to drink!  You do not need alcohol to have a good time
        Have an event planned for the following day – book a session with your trainer at the gym or organize a run with friends – you will WANT to drink less as doing these activities without a hangover is so much more pleasant
        Be the designated driver!



Kim Hofmann RD(SA)
Phone: 021 674 4666
Cell: 084 206 2715
E-mail: mailto:kimh.rd@mweb.co.za















Aging Pets


It seems that these days people are living to a ripe old age, we are healthier and more active for longer and, because of the advances in veterinary medicine our pets are too! So here are some tips on how you can help your pet get the most out of the golden years!



HOW OLD IS OLD?

We generally divide a pet’s life into four stages: paediatric, adult, senior and geriatric. Depending on the breed of animal the time the pet experiences these stages will vary. For example, large breed dogs tend to live a shorter life and are considered ‘senior’ at around 5-6 years of age, whereas smaller breeds are considered ‘senior ’between the ages of 7-8yres.  For cats its around 7-11 years.

It is at this senior stage that the body begins to show the subtle signs of aging that often go undetected by the owner.

CHRONIC DISEASE AND THE HEALTH CHECK

At this senior stage of your pet’s life there are many underlying health issues, such as the kidney disease, heart disease and arthritis, that can be picked up by screening at a general health check. If your pet seems to be ‘slowing down’ or isn’t eating as well as he used to don’t just accept this as normal as it may be suffering from early arthritis or just need a good teeth clean!

Getting your senior dog or cat checked allows us to help your pet have the healthiest happiest old age possible.


WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!


Good nutrition is just as important for your senior pet as it is for your puppy.

As your pet ages you may find that it is no longer as active as it used to be. Studies have shown that the energy requirements of your pet decreases from 7 years onwards and it is often at this stage in your pet’s life that weight gain becomes a concern. Obesity is detrimental to your pet’s wellbeing at any life stage but as your pet ages, being overweight adds further stress to heart, lungs and arthritic joints. In its geriatric years (from about 13 years onwards) your pet may become underweight due to muscle loss and reduced digestibility of nutrients such as protein and fats.

 Therefore, it is important to feed a diet that has been scientifically formulated to take into consideration the nutritional needs of your aging pet. Many diets are available that aid in the control of diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, thyroid deficiency and cognitive disorder to name but a few.

  


GIVE ME A SMILE!

One of the saddest things we see in practice is pets that are extremely loved but neglected because they are OLD! They no longer get groomed or bathed but …..

One of the worst areas of neglect that we see is your pets teeth!




Not all dogs and cats have dental problems but by the time they reach the senior years many do need a good tooth clean. Your dog or cat’s breath should not smell bad all the time! When the teeth are bad (such as in the picture above) and covered in tartar the mouth is full of bacteria which your pet’s immune system must try to combat on a daily basis. This does affect the wellbeing of your pet!

So next time your aging dog decides he doesn’t want to go for that run or your cat no longer wants to jump onto the kitchen counter book an appointment with your vet! 


47 Kenilworth Road, Cape Town
kenvet@telkomsa.net
Telephone: 021-671-5018


Bipolar disorder


Psychiatric disorder is more common  than we may think. One such common disorder, which could be linked to our increasingly busy, isolated and stressful lives, is bipolar disorder.  What is bipolar disorder, what happens in the brain, and how do friends and loved ones help a person who may suffer with it?


By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.

Bipolar disorder – a mood disorder characterised by polar extremes of mood – was once known as “manic-depressive disorder”, which sheds light on the symptoms of this often debilating psychiatric condition.While it is normal to experience fluctuating periods of happiness and sadness associated with usual life circumstances, a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder will have triggered swings from extreme happiness and high levels of energy, to extreme sadness and hopelessness, within a matter of hours or days. Extreme happiness presents as mania, such that a person becomes excessively active in behaviour and speech, finds it difficult to sleep or sit still without fidgeting, and may have racing thoughts and ideas that fly quickly through the mind in illogical succession.  A person in the manic phase may take more risks, such as being more sexually active, taking drugs or spending more money.  Compare the manic phase to extreme sadness, where a person may experience debilitating depression and limited energy.  During the depressive phase a person may sleep all day and feel as if everything in their world is hopeless, with no motivation to change things. Both extremes are like a see-saw for the individual with bipolar disorder, who will likely experience no sense of organisation or control over their life. The extremes of bipolar disorder are associated with fluctuating neurotransmitter levels in the brain – a significant rise in dopamine levels for mania and a significant drop in serotonin and opioid levels for depression.  Less extreme versions of this debilitating condition – that often see people eventually losing their jobs, becoming withdrawn and not engaging in everyday activities – are known as hypomanic states.

It is important to remember that victims of domestic and emotional abuse may appear – or are led to believe that they are – behaving in a manner akin to bipolar disorder, and if this is happening to you it is vital to seek urgent support. A correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder does not stem from a disgruntled partner, an ex or a psychopathic boss, who may gain pleasure in causing upset and confusion – a manipulative tactic known in modern parlance as gaslighting – but rather stems from meeting strict criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Version 5 (DSM-5). The DSM-5 can be relied upon – as the bible of psychiatrists – to determine real cases of psychiatric disorder, so that the individual sufferer can receive vital treatment (such as pharmacotherapy or counselling) to improve their quality of life.  The DSM-5 recognises four main types of bipolar disorder.  The first is Bipolar I Disorder, where manic episodes last for at least 7 days and severely consume the energy resources of the individual, to the point where they may need hospitalisation. Depressive symptoms usually co-occur for around 2 weeks and may also be present during episodes of mania.  The second is Bipolar II Disorder, which is defined as a successive pattern of unprovoked depressive symptoms and hypomanic states that cycle for at least 7 days, and might even surprisingly occur at the same time.  The third is Cyclothymic Disorder (also called cyclothymia), defined by numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive episodes lasting consecutively for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). Finally, Unspecified Bipolar Disorder is a catch-all category, where a person may exhibit episodes of mania or depression, but not usually within the same timescales as the main diagnoses.

What then, are the neuroscientific bases of a DSM-5 diagnosis of bipolar disorder – in other words, which brain regions are more activated in the MRI scanner? Recent studies of bipolar disorder have demonstrated, particularly in response to emotional stimuli like faces, that an over-active connectivity occurs between the amygdalae and prefrontal cortex – brain regions associated with arousal/fear and goal-directed behaviours respectively. This suggests that people with bipolar disorder may not be able to effectively self-regulate their emotional responses to their environment.  Such hyperactivity in the brain may also be associated with learned responses that began during significant past trauma, or may even be due to the increasingly stressful, busy and socially-isolated lives we lead today.  For example, chronic trauma, stress and social isolation (e.g. due to long working hours and parental separation) may cause a downregulation (reduction) of opioid receptors in the brain – the locks to the pain-relieving brain hormone keys. Opioids are the brain’s natural defense to pain – including emotional pain – and so if chronic emotional pain is experienced, opioids may become less potent over time.  We also release opioids and other hormones, such as oxytocin, during intimate pair-bonding.  If emotional and/or physical abuse is chronically experienced, a person may begin to exhibit more and more signs akin to emotional dysregulation and bipolar disorder.

And so, if you are a friend or family of a person who may be exhibiting manic or depressive   coupled with periods of low energy and hopelessness, in a cyclical pattern over long periods, with no obvious cause, it might be useful to do the following.  First, gently communicate with the person, to try to establish if there are serious, underlying causes for this behaviour, such as physical or emotional abuse (don’t simply assume that they are suffering from bipolar disorder).  Be prepared that the person may not wish to open up immediately, but be supportive and accepting.  If no obvious cause for the behaviour is established, then the second step might be to suggest the person visit a psychotherapist, to talk through with a trained professional who can establish the cause.  Finally, with the help of the therapist, a formal diagnosis for the behaviour can be established and treated, usually with a combination of suitable medication and further psychotherapy. 
symptoms, such as excessive energy, lack of sleep and risky behaviour (promiscuity, excessive spending and debt, gambling),

The ultimate take-home message is this: don’t be quick to give a layman’s diagnosis to a person who may exhibit symptoms akin to bipolar disorder, as there may be other reasons for their behaviour.  However, if a formal diagnosis by a trained professional is established, a person suffering with bipolar disorder has a wealth of treatment options available to him or her, that can enable them to continue living a fullfilling, enjoyable life!  We must always remember: life is too short and too precious to cause - or exacerbate - human suffering!


Dr Samantha Brooks is a neuroscientist at the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see www.drsamanthabrooks.com. Note: Images royalty free, courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki.



Click to read all previous articles by Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D. 








The future is homes that are smaller, smarter and greener


Affordability, convenience and security are the key factors driving a distinct buyer preference at the moment for smaller homes packed with “green” features and “smart” technologies.

That’s the word from, SA’s biggest bond originator, who says that affordability remains a serious concern for most buyers because they are still labouring under relatively heavy debt loads and worried about rising taxes and the increasing cost of food, fuel and utilities. “SA consumers are much more conservative spenders than they used to be and really careful now about getting in over their heads.

“Consequently, while the banks are keen to lend to homebuyers and our bond approval rate is at 80%, the highest level since the 2008/ 09 financial crash, the latest statistics from Absa show that the total of outstanding household mortgage balances is currently growing more slowly than it did last year. The year-on-year growth rate is down from 3,6% in November 2017 to 3,1% currently.”


This does not mean, he says, that South Africans are buying fewer homes – only that they are buying less expensive homes. “This is confirmed by our own statistics*, which show that more than three-quarters (78%) of the bonds granted in the past 12 months have been for less than R1,5m – and that 60% were actually for less than R1m.

“In general terms, these cheaper homes are also smaller, as indicated by recent FNB research showing that the average size of new homes being built in SA has shrunk from a peak of 203sqm in 1974 to around 162sqm now – and that accounts in large measure for the current slow growth in home prices (2,9% year-on-year) in spite of a drop in the prime interest rate and increased sales volumes.” 
However, Botha says, affordability is not the only reason for the increased popularity of smaller, cheaper homes. “Changing lifestyles also play a big role. Household sizes are shrinking, for example, so buyers generally need fewer bedrooms. Many homeowners now are also short of time so don’t want a large garden or home to maintain. Traffic congestion is also driving a significant shift from the large homes of the suburbs to smaller homes in urban centres. 

“In the SA context it must be said that smaller properties are usually also easier and less expensive to secure, and the effect of this concern can clearly be seen not only in the increasing number of estate developments, but also in the steady growth of Sectional Title in SA over the past 30 years. In the late 1980s, secure sectional title developments accounted for only 6% of new builds in the country, but today they account for 27% of all new homes.”

The quest for greater security and personal safety, he says, is also one of the main factors driving the current rapid uptake of “smart” home technologies in SA. “Using these technologies, owners can monitor their alarm systems and security cameras via their smart-phones even when they are not at home, photograph any intruders, open or close garage doors and gates, and turn lights on and off to make it seem as though there is someone at home.   

“This is definitely appealing to SA homeowners and according to Statista, the overall value of the smart home automation market in SA is expected to top US$60m by 2020. Meanwhile, there is already sufficient demand for local security companies such as Fidelity ADT to have introduced security-focused smart home packages.”

And finally, says Botha, the trend towards smaller homes is being driven by a growing awareness among SA homebuyers of what it costs in environmental terms to run a larger home. “Cape Town residents have seen, for example, how much water can be saved just through more conscious usage, while the threat of renewed rolling blackouts this winter is causing many others to revisit the drawbacks of electricity derived from fossil fuels.

“As a result there is rising demand for smaller homes that use less energy and water and are already fitted with ‘green’ equipment such as heat pumps, solar panels and rainwater tanks. And some of the banks now even have special home loan options for owners who want to retrofit such ‘green’ systems, because doing so definitely adds value to their properties.”


Anne-Marie Bamber is Norgarb Properties dedicated Home Loans Consultant. She has over 15 years’ experience in assisting clients with their Home Loan needs and has placed many happy families in their dream homes.

Contact her today for no cost stress-free home-buying.
Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665
E-mail: anne-marie.bamber@betterlife.co.za









Permission to Braai



One day you wake up and think that you're finally going to build that built in braai you've wanted for years. It should be easy, choose a spot, grab the bricks, cement it all together...

However, there is more to a built-in braai than just throwing bricks together. There are all sorts of things you need to consider - the height of the flue, spark inhibitors, the proximity to roofing timbers, wind, rain, heat, planning permission, and so on.

One of the most frequently asked questions is: "Do I need planning permission for a built in braai?"
Well, yes and no. A built in braai is normally classified as "minor building work" and whilst you do not need to submit plans, The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (No. 103 of 1977) states that no person may erect, alter, add to, or convert any building without prior approval by the local authority. So as long as you comply with the "minor building work" regulations and have received permission from the local authority's building control officer, you do not need to submit any plans.

If your braai does not fall under "minor building work" then you will need to submit plans for approval before building commences. If you are not sure which category your built-in braai will fall under, it is probably best to check with your council just to be sure. If your braai is being built against a boundary wall, in most parts of SA, your neighbours' consent will be required. This can be done by informing them in writing. Keep in mind that they might object if the smoke will interfere with their own property and the enjoyment thereof.

Because the regulations can be a bit of a minefield and no case is the same, it is probably best to contact your local building inspectors for advice on where and how to begin. From there you can go to the planning department of your local municipality. If plans are needed, by law, only building plans from professionals registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession will be accepted. This may seem like a complicated task, but you won't regret the fees when you have peace of mind that the person you've hired has sound knowledge of the regulations and you can get everything right the first-time round.

Happy braai building!

Norgarb Properties Agent Andre Ter Moshuizen who specialises in the Claremont area, shares some household tips and handy home hints with you every month. Read more of his articles here. [https://harfield-village.blogspot.co.za/search?q=andre]

Andre Ter Moshuizen: 082 602 1367 | andre@norgarb.co.za | www.norgarbproperties.co.za [http://www.norgarbproperties.co.za/]








www.harfield-village.co.za
www.facebook.com/harfield.village.community