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Dirt for Physical and Mental Health

first_imgLive Science has an article suggesting that exposure to dirt can improve your mood by boosting the immune system.  This is an unexpected twist on the “hygiene hypothesis” that childhood exposure to dirt and animals helps innoculate the body to certain diseases (see 08/02/2006).  Certain bacteria might not only boost the immune system, but also release neurotransmitters that could fight depression.  “These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health,” said Chris Lowry (U of Bristol).  “They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt.”Maybe horses and dogs are onto something.  You can’t give them a bath without them running for the nearest place to roll over in the dirt, to the frustration of their owners.  This is not to imply that pigs set a better example.    Anything can be taken too far.  There are things in some soils that are clearly harmful.  Some locations have to worry about pathogenic roundworms, valley fever, and other risks.  Cleanliness is still a virtue, but it is possible to be too clean.  We were made to live in the great outdoors.  Some African tribes, like the Masai, living close to animals and plants, seem happier than Westerners.  Moderate exposure to sunshine, fresh air, soil, plants and animals is healthy for body and soul.  When was the last time you did some good, hard, sweaty, dirty work outdoors?  Didn’t it feel good when the day was done?  Don’t hire a landscaper to do it all; get out there and do it yourself.  A good shower afterwards is still a big reward when you’ve earned it.  Just don’t use antibacterial soap (see 08/02/2006).    Our bodies are not intended to be hermetically shielded from nature.  There are microorganisms we depend on.  Consider how Adam and Eve would have worked close to the soil, the plants and the animals without covering in an ideal world.  That would have been the norm had things not gone wrong.  Even today, gardening and farming and outdoor work is honorable.  Don’t we all have a place in our hearts for the iconic farmer, outstanding in his field, wiping away the dirt and sweat from his brow as the rooster crows and the sun’s rays spread over the land?  Doesn’t the proverbial milking maid walking through the chicken yard sing cheerfully as she carries the buckets of milk she squeezed with her bare hands?  City slickers driving their Lexi down concrete roads from plastic offices to their townhomes are missing out on a big part of life.  Watch the fun movie City Slickers again and see how some hard work and fresh air and risk-taking transformed a group of dudes in a midlife crisis into handsome, noble, proud heroes for a week, riding their steeds like kings.*    Don’t take this too far; nobody is prescribing mud wrestling.  Some things are dirty in an unhealthy sense.  If you are always depressed and tired, though, maybe your doctor needs to prescribe an oxymoron: clean dirt.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Anderson: tennis world takes note

first_img4 April 2008At 6ft 7ins, a tad over two metres, new South African tennis sensation Kevin Anderson knows what it is like to walk tall.Suddenly, though, after beating world number three Novak Djokovic, right now the hottest property in world tennis, in the current Masters tournament in Miami, the 21-year-old Johannesburg-born giant has been elevated to a position where he has his head in the clouds.“Yes it’s a stimulating and pleasing feeling to mingle with the greats of the game in the locker room and actually have them greet you when before they were only names that you worshipped from a distance,” said Anderson in a conference call from the United States.Rapid rankings riseRanked 122nd in the ATP world ratings before the Miami tournament started – largely as a result of his runner-up finish in Las Vegas, which made him the first South African in two years to reach an ATP final – Kevin’s father, Mike Anderson, who has been a major influence in his son’s career, has calculated his Kevin will move up to approximately 110 next week. Not bad for the new South African number one, who was ranked 550th in the world little more than five months ago!Ian Smith, the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Tennis Association, was full of praise for the youngster. “Kevin had an opportunity to test himself against some of the best players in the world at the recent SAA Tennis Open in East London. He is our most prized property at the moment and if he continues with such performances, we can expect much greater things,” he said.Anderson believes he gained the stunning victory against Djokovic by raising the level of his game to new heights, which has given him confidence he could hold his own with the best in the world on the tennis court.‘A learning curve’He lost his next game in Miami against 32nd-ranked Russian Igor Andreev by a whisker in a tense three-set battle and says his new-found status made it “a little difficult” to concentrate and repeat the level he had reached against Djokovic. “But it was a good game,” he says, “and part of a learning curve for me. I’ve got no complaints with the way I played.”He believes his tennis has improved immeasurably under the guidance of Illinois University coach Brad Dancer, under whom Anderson spent three years on a scholarship.“Areas I’ve looked at improving,” explained Anderson, “are playing closer to the baseline, instead of further back, and progressing more often to the net as a variation to what is basically a groundstroke game.”Playing styleBecause of his height, serving not unexpectedly is a forte of Anderson’s play, but unlike many of those who are as tall and taller, he generally plays from the back of the court.He is looking forward to next week’s Davis Cup tie against Finland in Finland, and his meteoric emergence provides South Africa with fresh stimulus for what is expected to be a difficult tie – with the Finnish side including the 26th ranked Jarkko Nieminen.Afterwards, Anderson has mapped out a programme as busy as that of any player, including Challenger events as well as other clay court tournaments on the main ATP circuit. His programme includes appearances in the three remaining grand slam events of the year after his 2008 fairytale began when he qualified for the Australian Open main draw in January.Improving ranking“I’m still in a position where I might have to qualify for some of these tournaments,” he said, “but I have no points to drop from last year and there is a good chance my ranking can improve further.”Anderson left St Stithians School in Johannesburg, where he was also an above-average cricket and soccer player, to finish his matric via private studies so that he could concentrate on a tennis career. Now, a short time later, that decision is paying dividends in a big way!SAinfo reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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SAB wins big, greens Boks

first_imgHansa Marzen Gold is a proven winner. (Image: Philip Meech for SABMiller) The Hansa range consists of the Pilsener and Marzen Gold brands.(Image: SA Breweries) The iTQi panel of judges, hard at work. (Image: iTQi) The Springboks are the first national team to adopt a climate-friendly strategy. (Image: SA Rugby)Janine ErasmusFind out more about using MediaClubSouthAfrica.com material South African premium beer brand Hansa Marzen Gold has won a three-star Superior Taste award at the 2009 International Taste Quality Awards, held by the International Taste and Quality Institute (iTQi).The local brand, a product of South African Breweries (SAB), was the only South African representative to win a Superior Taste award at this year’s ceremony, and the only one from the continent to receive the coveted three stars.SAB is South Africa’s largest brewer and is the local division of global company SABMiller. The brewing giant was originally based in South Africa but is now a major international player through its acquisition of the Miller Brewing Company in 2002 and a flurry of other ventures in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere in Africa.Other African iTQi winners were scarce. Three beer brands from Ghana, one of them SABMiller’s Castle Milk Stout, won one- and two-star awards, while a bottled water and a brand of pasta from the North African country of Tunisia won a two- and one-star award respectively.The finest food and drinkThe Brussels-based iTQi is an organisation of international chefs and sommeliers who annually acknowledge the finest food and drink from around the world. The programme is open to any branded or processed products that are sold in stores.Judges are drawn from 12 top culinary and sommeliers associations around Europe. The judging panel then blind-tastes the products. Because the products are presented without packaging or identification, judges are able to test fairly and without bias.iTQi is quick to stress that the Taste Quality programme is not a competition; therefore all products are evaluated on their own merits. The three-star award is the highest given by iTQi, and is indicative of “exceptional products with 90% and more of the total marks”.In 2009 a total of 796 products were tested to the judges’ exacting specifications. Of these, 161 received the one-star award, 295 won two stars, and just 69 took home a three-star award.Products that can boast the Superior Taste award gain an instant marketing edge, helped by detailed comments and suggestions from the judges, international media coverage, and differentiation from competitors.Best-selling brandHansa Marzen Gold was launched in South Africa in May 2007 as part of SAB’s best-selling Hansa brand. The launch occurred just months after Dutch-based brewer Heineken withdrew SAB’s licence to produce Amstel.While opinion at the time was dubious, with some calling the new beer a quick replacement for Amstel, the iTQi award has proven that it is a world-class product.In fact, the beer is the result of careful planning, and has been one of SAB’s most successful new launches. The timing of its launch was coincidental, but beneficial.Described by the manufacturer as a beer with “a rich brew house flavour derived from the slow-roasted amber malt and special hopping regime”, Marzen Gold has an alcohol content of 5.2%. The malt imparts a darker colour, with reddish hues, and a distinctive flavour.“We think it fitting that the beer has received the recognition that it deserves,” commented Hansa Marzen Gold brand manager Dino D’Araujo in a statement.“The iTQi awards are associated with superior products and so they are fast becoming a powerful influencer in determining consumer choices. Winning a Superior Taste award is in itself a valuable marketing tool for our brand.”Greening the SpringboksA related story sees South African Breweries announcing their newest environmental project, Greening the Boks. The company is a major sponsor of the Springbok national rugby team, and plans to offset the carbon emissions of the team’s air and ground transport and accommodation throughout the British and Irish Lions tour, currently underway.Global carbon solutions provider Cleaner Climate has done an assessment of the rugby tour’s carbon footprint, taking numerous factors into account.According to SAB sponsorship manager Rob Fleming, the Springboks are the first national team to actively support a climate-friendly strategy. “We urge corporates involved in sports sponsorships to demonstrate their dedication to protecting the environment,” he said.SAB plans to buy carbon credits to offset the carbon emissions of the team and its entourage. Carbon credits are a commodity that is traded like any other on international markets. One credit is equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.Credits sold by carbon-efficient companies can be bought and used by heavily industrialised countries or companies to attain compliance with their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.Good environmental examplesThe players will also strive to set good environmental examples by implementing green changes in their own lifestyles. In addition, they will use their status to inspire their supporters to adopt the same way of living.This is in line with a growing international trend in major sporting tournaments to be kind to the environment. Organisers of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, to be held in New Zealand, plan to make the entire event carbon neutral.South African Rugby recently conducted a carbon footprint assessment of its head office on Cape Town and has drawn up a climate change strategy for its operations around the country.Eliminating aliensSAB is already a leader in good corporate environmental practice. In October 2008 it was one of the first two companies to sign up for the World Wildlife Fund Water Neutral Scheme, a global scheme that encourages manufacturers to become water neutral i.e. to balance the water taken in and discarded, by reviewing and reducing usage, and replenishing water supplies.The company also treats the effluent water from its breweries, resulting in potable water that is sold to municipal councils for purposes such as watering gardens.The water neutral project currently focuses on two sites, the Newlands brewery in Cape Town and Ibhayi brewery in Port Elizabeth.For Newlands, SAB will clear a 172ha area on the slopes of Table Mountain, under the direction of South African National Parks. The area directly feeds the catchment which supplies the brewery with its water, but has been invaded by Australian alien long-leafed wattle (Acacia longifolia).For Ibhayi, the company has chosen to clear a 172ha area in the Eastern Cape’s Kouga Catchment. The invasive black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) is the target here. This area feeds the Kouga Dam, which in turn supplies the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Ibhayi plant.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at [email protected] articlesCorking carbon emissions Africa’s carbon-trading potential R1-billion rugby boost for SA Useful linksSouth African BreweriesInternational Taste and Quality InstituteSABMillerSouth African Rugby UnionSA RugbyWorld Wildlife Fund Water Neutral SchemeCleaner Climatelast_img read more

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Bikers gear up for Toy Run 2010

first_imgA biker with a large teddy bear to be donated to charity.(Image: City of Joburg)  South Africa’s Toy Run is an annual motorcycle charity event that helps collect and distribute donations for underprivileged children – and, by doing so, boosts the reputation of the biking fraternity in the country.Organisers of the 2010 edition are appealing to participating bikers to donate educational play things to benefit a broader range of age groups and extend the longevity of toys.This year there will be runs in four provinces. Bikers will set off from various starting points with their donations strapped to their vehicles and converge later at a central point where their precious cargo will be collected and distributed to various charity organisations.The event has become a nationwide attraction that leaves bystanders in awe as toy-laden motorcycles roar through cities and towns on the way to their depot points.“Year on year the event shows consistent growth and this year we are expecting an average of 45 000 bikers to participate in the Gauteng leg of Toy Run 2010 alone,” said Graeme Cartwright, Toy Run 2010 organiser.Legs will also be held in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Limpopo. The event kicks off with the Limpopo run on 20 November, followed by the Gauteng one on 27 and 28 November, and then the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth ones, on 28 November. For more information, visit the Toy Run website.“The MTN Expo Centre in Nasrec, southern Johannesburg, is graciously donation their venue for Toy Run 2010 to accommodate the mass of people in Gauteng,” added Cartwright.Giving back to the communityThe Toy Run aims to give something back to destitute young South Africans, from babies through to adolescents of 18 years. Once the bikers arrive at the collection points, the toys are immediately sorted for distribution.The run also aims to improve and enhance the image of bikers in their communities.Cartwright said: “The biker fraternity is usually generalised as being full of big and scary men dressed in leather on noisy motorbikes. Toy Run effectively shatters the stereotypical perception by highlighting the big hearts behind the facade.”“They come from all walks of life across South Africa and donate in excess of 90 000 toys in one day. It is no small feat and there is no greater reward than to see the smile of a child holding his or her very own gift – be it a cuddly toy, colouring-in set or tooth brush – for the first time.”Various volunteers including Rotary and Lions clubs, Round Table and Ladies Circle assist the Toy Run by sorting the toys into appropriate age categories. Think Bike, an organisation that promotes motorbike safety on the roads, also helps out by street marshalling.“It is quite a sight to behold and an incredibly fulfilling experience to be a part of,” said Cartwright.Just in time for the festive seasonDisadvantaged children in orphanages, shelters, homes and hospitals throughout South Africa had a brighter festive season in 2009 after more than 65 000 motorcyclists participated in the run with toys of all descriptions adorning their bikes.Cartwright said: “This year we are shifting the focus again to educational toys as it serves a better purpose for the older children and aids their education.“We are hoping to make the 2010 rendition of Toy Run even bigger with each of the hosting cities making plans to include family-focused events in their line-up of entertainment. It is for a good cause, and we would like to invite as many people as we can to take the journey with us to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate children across South Africa.”The Cape Town run will have two starting points at Ratanga Junction and Ottery Hypermarket, and end at Maynardville. At the finish there will be a beer garden, food stalls, motorcycle displays, comedian shows, live music and stalls selling bike-related accessories, jewellery and memorabilia.In Gauteng, the run will be extended to include bicycles and cars as well. On 27 November cyclists and car enthusiasts are encouraged to come to the MTN Expo Centre with their donations, while the traditional mass motorcycle ride will be held on 28 November from various starting points in the province. Again, the final destination will be the MTN Expo Centre.The starting points will be at: Centurion Lifestyle Centre on the corner of Old Johannesburg road and Lenchen road in Centurion; Steeldale Hypermarket in Linroy Street in Steeldale; Greenstone Shopping Centre on the corner Modderfontein road and Van Riebeeck Avenue in Edenvale; Carnival City on the corner Century and Elsburg road in Brakpan; the Brightwater Commons on Republic Road in Randburg; and,Westgate Shopping Centre on Ondekkers road on the West Rand.No entry fee will be charged to participate in the events provided each person brings along an educational pack or toy – educational packs are preferred, but toiletries will also be welcomed for the older children.Some of the beneficiaries of the Gauteng run have been the Aurora, Van Ryn and Benoni Rotary Clubs on the East Rand; the Brooklyn Methodist church and Danville Assistance Project in Pretoria; Immaculate House in Reiger Park; Jan Niemand Park in Pretoria; Primrose Squatter camp in Germiston; an organisation for abused women and children in Windsor, near the Cresta Shopping Centre; the SPCA in Edenvale; and the Jewish Women’s Institute.History of the Toy RunThe Toy Run was launched in Cape Town and Johannesburg in 1982 by the Italian Motorcycle Owners Club, and has over the years has become the largest biker charity event in South Africa.Runs, which take place from 19 centres across the four provinces, are hosted by local motorcycle clubs and other organisations, with the assistance of businesses.last_img read more

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We will take our chances and win, vows Phala

first_img23 January 2015Bafana Bafana midfielder-cum-striker Thuso Phala says they are prepared to fight to the bitter end to get out of the deep hole they find themselves in.Phala was referring to the 1-3 loss to Algeria in the opening clash of the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 touranment on Monday at Stade de Mongomo.The result has put South Africa in a difficult position to qualify for the knock-out stages.“The dressing room was sad,” he said. “We were very disappointed because, in all honesty, that was a game we were supposed to win and by a big margin. We let the coach down, we let ourselves down and the country down – but it is important for us to forget about the game as soon as we can so we can focus on the challenge ahead.Lessons“The lesson we got out of this match is that we have to take our chances, because if we miss them we will be putting ourselves under pressure. We could have wrapped that game early,” said Phala who scored South Africa’s solitary goal in that match.Bafana Bafana will be hoping for a positive outcome when they face Senegal on Friday, 23 January, at the Estadio de Mongomo.Coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba has made two changes to South Africa’s starting 11. Jackson Mabokgwane will start in goals in place of Darren Keet, who played against Algeria in the opening match that Bafana Bafana lost 1-3.Playing in front of Mabokgwane will be the back four of Anele Ngcongca at right-back, Thabo Matlaba at left-back, and the central defence pairing of Erick Mathoho and Thulani Hlatshwayo.Coetzee outMathoho returns after a one-match suspension following two yellow cards in the qualifying stages of the tournament. He takes the place of Rivaldo Coetzee, who is out due to a knee injury sustained in the match against Algeria.Both Mathoho and Mabokgwane are playing in their first Afcon tournament.The midfield remains unchanged with Dean Furman, Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa and Thuso Phala, who scored South Africa’s only goal in the opening match, given the nod. Furman will once again captain the side.Tokelo Rantie and Sibusiso Vilakazi also retain their places upfront.“We all come from teams who have lost games before; we have all been in a hole before,” Phala said. “We came together as players and spoke about it. We keep motivating ourselves because we know we are a good team and we will come back strongly in the remaining two games.”Bafana play Ghana in their final Group C match on 27 January.Kick off is at 9pm SA time (8pm local time) at Stade de Mongomo. How they will line up:SA XI vs Algeria: 22-Jackson Mabokgwane (GK), 6-Anele Ngcongca, 11- Thabo Matlaba, 14-Thulani Hlatshwayo, 3-Eric Mathoho, 15-Dean Furman (C), 5-Andile Jali, 20-Oupa Manyisa, 18-Thuso Phala, 10-Sibusiso Vilakazi, 23-Tokelo Rantie.Subs: 16-Darren Keet (GK), 1-Brilliant Khuzwayo (GK), 21-Ayanda Gcaba, 13-Thamsanqa Sangweni, 19-Themba Zwane, 12-Reneilwe Letsholonyane, 7-Mandla Masango, 8-Bongani Zungu, 17-Bernard Parker, 4-Siyabonga Nhlapho, 9-Bongani Ndulula.Injured: 2-Rivaldo CoetzeeAFCON 2015 FIXTURESAll times CAT (SA, GMT+2)Friday 23 January 2015Ghana v Algeria – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pmSouth Africa v Senegal – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pmSaturday 24 January 2015Cote d’Ivoire v Mali – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 6pmSunday 25 January 2015Gabon v Equatorial Guinea – Estadio de Bata: 8pmCongo v Burkina Faso – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 8pmMonday 26 January 2015Cape Verde Islands v Zambia – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 8pmCongo DR v Tunisia – Estadio de Bata: 8pmTuesday 27 January 2015South Africa v Ghana – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pmSenegal v Algeria – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pmWednesday 28 January 2015Guinea v Mali – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pmCameroon v Cote d’Ivoire – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pmSaturday 31 January 2015Group A Winner v Group B Second Place – Estadio de Bata: 6pmGroup B Winner v Group A Second Place – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 9pmSunday 1 February 2015Group C Winner v Group D Second Place – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pmGroup D Winner v Group C Second Place – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pmWednesday 4 February 2015Quarterfinal 1 Winner v Quarterfinal 4 Winner – Estadio de Bata: 9pmThursday 5 February 2015Quarterfinal 2 Winner v Quarterfinal 3 Winner – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pmSaturday 7 February 2015Semifinal 1 Loser v Semifinal 2 Loser – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pmSunday 8 February 2015Semifinal 1 Winner v Semifinal 2 Winner – Estadio de Bata: 9pmSource: South African Football Associationlast_img read more

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