A wide range of presentations on health related matters have been developed over time, and presented to local and international audiences. Regular presentations (duration about 2 hours, including question time) are currently given at venues in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Apart from regular seminars, these presentations are also available upon demand for a special occasion.
These topics are aimed at creating an understanding of how the human body functions, how certain health conditions affect the body, and the related chemical processes taking place inside the body.
A list of the general seminar topics follows, but Health Insight can also prepare and present any other health-related topic, as required for a special occasion.
The Circle of Health
Prof Nola Dippenaar provides an intriguing exploration in understanding all of the factors affecting one’s health. She has developed a unique approach, aptly named The Circle of Health, to explain in layman’s terms the integrative nature of one’s health. What happens inside the body, what chemical processes take place, for instance when you stress, laugh, or sleep? How do your genes affect your health? What do blood tests reveal of your state of health? She also provides insight in how to take effective control of your own health.
Cancer and ways to reduce risk
“Life is what happens between your plans!”
How often, when least expected, are we suddenly confronted with the diagnosis of cancer in family, friends or ourselves. Our genetic book of life, (with its 23 chapters) that we inherit from our parents, generally plays a very small role in the development of cancer. So many other factors that talk to our genes continuously can result in disturbed metabolism that can lead to chronic inflammation and cancer.
Health is personal and there is biochemical individuality between us; however, what we bathe our genes with, through our daily lifestyle choices, will determine genetic stability and reduce the risk or further the risk of cancer development.
In this talk on cancer Prof Nola Dippenaar will explore all areas of lifestyle intervention, including foods that speak to our genes and can modulate signal transduction and hormone secretion, and therefore play a major role in cancer prevention.
In this talk on Brain Health Prof Nola Dippenaar provides amazing insights into the physiology of the human brain and how to maintain the optimal functioning of our brains as long as possible.
Insights into Metabolism
What is meant by metabolism and does it change as we get older?
- What chemical reactions drive metabolism?
- What you eat is what you get – or not?
In this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will share some recent insights into the complex processes taking place during metabolism.
Pros and Cons of Banting
The Banting diet advocates high fats and low carbs. Traditionally “low fat” or “no fat” have been the key words. Why does Banting work for so many? What is the role of carbohydrates? What is best for our bodies?
Fat is a very important component of our daily diet and both the type and amount of fat we consume daily need to be carefully considered. During this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will take us on a journey to discover the truth about fats and carbs in our diet, and you’ll also find that she is the undisputable expert in this field, as she did her PhD in this area of biochemistry.
Genetic screening and what it can mean for your health
Genetics can be viewed as the branch of biology that is concerned with the study of heredity – dealing with the genetic properties. Modern genetics has expanded beyond inheritance to studying the function and behaviour of genes and their environment. However, genes alone cause very few health problems, most are caused by the combination of genes and environmental factors, including nutrition and lifestyle factors.
Genetic screening (“testing”) can be combined with lifestyle and nutrition assessment, to more accurately identify risk factors, as well as the level of risk (high risk or low risk) for chronic diseases in an individual. These results can then be used to determine far more effective intervention in aid of good health.
Prof Nola Dippenaar will explain what exactly genetic screening could reveal about us, and show us the application through some case studies.
Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
Insulin is the director of the glucose orchestra in our bodies and is released each time there is a spike in the blood glucose level. Part of insulin’s effect is to convert some of this blood glucose into fat for storage in one’s fat cells. When disharmony occurs in this finely tuned orchestra, it has a major effect on the symphony in our bodies.
There are about 3,6 million South Africans diagnosed with diabetes, while another estimated 5 million are unaware that they are living with it as they do not experience the typical symptoms yet.
Prof Nola Dippenaar will take us through these conditions, point out the risks and show us how to take control of the symphony.
Fats of Life
The Banting diet says high fats and low carbs. Previously “low fat” were the key words. What is best for our bodies?
Prof Nola Dippenaar will take us on a journey to discover the truth about fats. The journey starts at the molecular level and will lead to an understanding of the essential role that fats play in our bodies. The different fats we eat are used, amongst others, to make cell membranes, the unique barrier that protects the contents of cells, allowing them to function properly. In addition, each fast-conducting nerve fiber in the body is sheathed in a layer of myelin, a special type of fat. This has to be made in the body from appropriate building blocks found in the fat of food. In fact, fat is a very important component of our daily diet and both the type and amount of fat we consume daily needs to be carefully considered.
Come listen to the undisputable expert in this field. After all, Prof Dippenaar did her PhD on this subject.
Understanding the human gut, the microbiome and our second brain
In this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will give insight and understanding about the crucial role played by the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) in our health – in effect the “petrol tank” of the body. An integral part of its functioning is the presence of 2 kg of bacteria, also known as the microbiome. Most pathologies (medical conditions) arise from disturbances in gut function.
Surrounding the gut we find the large enteric nervous system, known as the “second” brain. There is a tremendous flow of communication, continuously, between our second brain and our first brain situated in the skull.
The saying “You are what you eat” will get a whole new meaning during this talk.
The effects of nuclear radiation on the human body
Government’s proposed building of a number of nuclear power plants has led to major controversy about affordability and financing issues. Health issues have not formed part of this debate, but things can go horribly wrong, as we have seen from nuclear disasters, for example in Russia (Chernobyl 1986) and Japan (Fukushima 2011). While Koeberg has an impressive safety record, it is still on Cape Town’s doorstep.
So what happens in the human body in the event of exposure to nuclear radiation? The danger lies in the dose. High levels of radiation over a short term affects for example the skin, cells, organs, etc. Lower level exposure over the long term has different effects, for example the development of cancer and genetic mutations. On a continuum of ever increasing exposure to nuclear radiation, damage to the human body increases dramatically.
During this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will also cover topics such as: What are considered as “safe” levels of exposure? What exactly happens in the human body at different levels of exposure? What effect would distance from radiation have on the human body? What about the effects of other sources of radiation, such as X-rays, CT scans, even cell phone towers?
Inflammation can be defined as a protective response by the body’s tissue to injury or any other destruction of tissue. The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function. Prolonged and persistent inflammation results in chronic inflammation.
During this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will take us on a discovery on what inflammation is all about and what exactly happens, even at cellular level, when inflammation occurs. There are a wide variety of causes of inflammation with different signs in the body. The human body responds in different ways to combat inflammation. This talk will also indicate ways to reduce and even prevent the occurrence of inflammation.
Dementia and brain health
Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. There are many forms of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the best known.
While dementia usually affects people 65 and older, it can also affect younger people. Dementia can be described as the various symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. There are many forms of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common.
- What are the early warning signs of dementia?
- What causes the different types of dementia and what are the typical symptoms? (For example, Alzheimer’s is characterized by a shrinking brain due to brain cells dying, while vascular dementia is associated with problems of blood circulation to the brain.)
- Is there anything we can do to reduce the risk of dementia?
At this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will deal with this disease in a sympathetic and understandable way, while providing insight into the amazing workings of the human brain and how to maintain the optimal functioning of our brains as long as possible.
The Ketogenic diet and other “fatty” insights
Your car uses either petrol or diesel to burn as fuel and cannot switch between the two without disastrous consequences. The human body, on the other hand, uses glucose as fuel, but is adaptable enough to be able to switch to fat as fuel when necessary. Normally the body converts the carbohydrates in food into glucose (blood sugar) to use as source of energy. When there is very little carbohydrates in the diet, the liver converts fat (either from the diet of from fat stored in the body) into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies then largely replace glucose as the chief source of energy, a process called ketosis.
In a true Ketogenic diet, a low intake of carbohydrates is combined with adequate protein and high fat dietary intake in order to induce ketosis in the body.
Is this a wonder diet to burn excess fat in the body?
It is important to first understand the essential role that fats play in our bodies, as fat is a very important component of our daily diet and both the type and amount of fat we consume daily needs to be carefully considered. Secondly it is important to also understand the difference and relevance of another type of fat, cholesterol, which is found in every cell in the human body.
Prof Dippenaar did her PhD in this area of biochemistry and physiology, and will explore the vital role of fat (lipid) in human metabolism during this talk.
If you empower people with true, factually based scientific knowledge coupled to understanding, they can fully determine their own destiny through the exercise of lifestyle choices that are truly sustainable. We start this talk off by understanding where the “stress response” comes from and why it is part of the chemical reactions taking place in the human body.
Small amounts of stress are needed by all of us to be effective in our daily lives. However, the accumulation of many small stressors each day (most of which are generated in our own minds and by our lifestyle) very quickly can lead to “distress”.
The full physiological mechanisms that then occur in the human body is discussed in detail so as to understand the consequences of each of us unleashing chronic “cortisone” release into our bloodstreams. The devastating effects and the typical symptoms experienced will be fully explored.
Guidance will also be given of how to identify stressors and implement related de-stressors into one’s daily life. Stress is not isolated – too much stress leads to illness and ill health gives you more metabolic, physical and physiological stress – the two feed off each other!
The latest insights into Cholesterol
Cholesterol is found in every cell in the body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones (such as estrogen, cortisol and testosterone), vitamin D, and bile acids which are the final break-down products of cholesterol. Cholesterol also plays a vital role in brain structure and function, as 25% of the body’s total cholesterol is found in the human brain.
During this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will share the latest insights into cholesterol and the important role that cholesterol plays, and what blood tests reveal about the true picture of cholesterol in the body and your risk for heart disease.
Healthy ways to reduce waist circumference
Visceral fat (“inner fat”) is a potential killer that lurks deep within the abdominal cavity, padding the spaces between the abdominal organs, such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. As it accumulates, the waistline grows, and it is in effect this bulk that causes the typical appearance of middle age spread. While it is largely hidden, surrounding internal organs, it is not truly invisible – because you can tell if you have too much of it by checking your waistline. Subcutaneous belly fat on the other hand is easily spotted by pinching the skin between your fingers, and is found directly under the skin of the abdominal area.
Inner fat plays a major role in a variety of health problems, much more so than subcutaneous fat, and has been linked, amongst others, to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic disturbances. The larger the store of inner fat, the greater one’s waist circumference.
During this talk Prof Nola Dippenaar will deal with healthy ways to reduce your waist circumference – a more vital number than your weight.