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    How To Get Fit At 40 – And Thriving Healthy Tips

    This is the prime of your life – yes, your 40s are it! It’s a time when staying active and taking care of your health becomes even more crucial. As your body goes through changes, it’s essential to understand how to adapt your fitness routines accordingly.

    Engaging in physical activity also supports cognitive function, keeping your mind sharp and focused as you navigate the challenges of work and family life. It can improve sleep quality, which becomes increasingly important as hormonal changes may disrupt your rest.

    By incorporating exercise into your routine, you’re investing in a healthier future self by promoting cardiovascular health and supporting bone density. Plus, staying active can enhance flexibility and balance to prevent injuries that may be more common as we age.

    “If you’re not engaging in regular aerobic and strength training by your forties, it’s possible there may be a shift towards insulin insensitivity,” says Dr Amal Hassan, a sports and exercise medicine consultant. Oestrogen optimises insulin levels (the hormone needed to move glucose out of your bloodstream and keep blood sugar levels regulated)

    Unilateral Training

    In your forties, unilateral (single-sided) moves should be front and centre of your strength training routine. “Exercises such as single-leg Romanian deadlifts and single-arm dumbbell rows, are great for improving balance and ironing out any muscular imbalances,” says McGowan. “By doing them, you test your balance and work oneside of your body at a time, which isolates and strengthens weak muscles.” It’s a game changer for injury prevention, too.

    Quick, Short Bursts of Activity

    Giving your metabolism a boost is the name of the game, here. “Regular activity is vital for reducing the risk of insulin insensitivity, which could lead to diabetes and weight gain, as exercise moves blood sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity, rather than leaving excess insulinfloating in your body,” explains Dr Hassan. “Short walks after meals and reducing alcohol intake to within the guidelines (or lower) are powerful ways to improve your metabolism.” The thinking is that rather than aiming for longer 20-minute sessions, know that four five-minute bursts could also work wonders.

    Do More Balanced Moves

    Your balance may also begin to wobble a little. Research in Frontiers In Neurology found that the ‘vestibular threshold’ was more than 80% higher in participants over the age of 40.

    Get Fit In Your 40s: The 10 Minute Stretch

    Instructions: Complete the exercises in this yoga workout in order. Move from one to the next without resting. Rest 45 to 60 seconds at the end of the circuit, then repeat for up to three rounds

    READ MORE: The 14 Yoga Stretches To Do Daily If You Want To Become More Flexible

    1. Sukhasana To Half Moon

    Start in an easy seated pose (Sukhasana). Sit like this for a minute with your eyes closed and hands in your lap, breathing deeply. Raise your arms to the sky and then over to your right into half moon.

    Repeat on the left, then inhale, raising your arms up again and lengthening your spine. Exhale as you reach your hands in front of you.

    2. Cat And Cow

    Place your hands on the floor, then walk them forward and move onto all fours. Spend a few breaths performing cat and cow: inhale and arch your back, sticking your tailbone up.

    Exhale and round your back, tucking your tailbone. Continue alternating.

    READ MORE: Boost Your Morning Routine With This Easy 15-Minute Yoga Flow

    3. Downward-facing Dog To Standing Mountain

    From cat and cow, push up into downward-facing dog .

    Walk your hands back towards your feet, or your feet towards your hands, and exhale into forward fold, then roll up into a standing mountain pose.

    READ MORE: This 6-Move Yoga Sequence Will Seriously Strengthen Your Tummy

    Foods You Should Be Eating In Your 40s

    Proper nutrition plays a critical role in staying fit and healthy, especially as you hit your 40s. As your metabolism starts to slow down, it becomes even more important to fuel your body with the right nutrients. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can help maintain a healthy weight and provide sustained energy throughout the day.

    In your 40s increasing your protein intake from 15 percent of your total calories to 30 percent can help you boost the calories your body burns during digestion.

    Switch to low-GI foods rich in soluble fibre, which helps to lower bad cholesterol. These include: Green vegetables, some fruits, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

    Hydration is another essential aspect of proper nutrition that often gets overlooked but is crucial for maintaining energy levels and supporting bodily functions.

    Habits To Avoid In Your 40s

    “I often see clients putting pressure on themselves when they notice that their bodies are changing due to hormones,” says McGowan.

    “Consistency is key but going all out isn’t necessary. I recommend two or three moderate to intense workouts per week, but the most important thing is to reduce sedentary behaviour – stand as often as you can and always walk to your destination if it’s an option.”

    Bragg agrees: “Your body is going through a huge hormonal shift – oestrogen and progesterone levels decrease as ovaries stop producing them, and the control hormones (FSH, follicle-stimulating hormone and LH, luteinising hormone) released by the pituitary gland in the brain shoot up. This all contributes to the most common menopausal symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain and hot flushes. Doing intense workouts will only send hormonal imbalance further off-kilter as they increase the stress hormone cortisol.” Try incorporating at least one yoga session per week.

    This article written by Bridie Wilkins first appeared in the July/August 2022 Issue of Women’s Health UK additional reporting by the Women’s Health SA team.

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    8 Things You’ve Heard About STDs That Are Totally Untrue

    Unhappy news: STIs are on the rise in South Africa. This year, the Gauteng Department of Health issued a plea for South Africans not to engage in risky sexual behaviour after the region saw a spike in Male Urethritis Syndrome (MUS), something commonly caused by gonorrhoea and chlamydia. One thing that could be driving rising STI levels? STD myths, along with many people having unprotected sex.

    To avoid spreading misinformation – and STIs – we’re debunking some common STD myths with the truth.

    STD Myth: Once you’ve got an STI, you can’t get the same one again

    Reality: STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are bacterial infections and “once you’re cured of those, you can absolutely be re-infected,” says Fred Wyand, director of communications for the American Sexual Health Association, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting sexual health. It’s especially common with gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Researchers from the Netherlands found 20.4 percent of women with chlamydia were re-infected when tested again five to eight months later.

    Myth: You can’t get STIs from oral sex

    Reality: “In general, most of the STIs we talk about don’t do their thing quite as well in the mouth as well as they do in the genital or anal area,” says Wyand. Even though oral sex is safer sex, it’s not risk-free, and vag contact is not a requirement to become infected. Gonorrhoea, syphilis, and chlamydia, to a lesser extent, can all be passed orally.

    Myth: You can’t have two STIs at once

    Reality: Having two STIs at once – called co-infection – is extremely possible. “Actually, having one STI may increase the susceptibility to another,” says Wyand. Take herpes, for example. An outbreak can act as a breeding ground for HIV if your partner has it. Being infected with other STDs also increases your risk of developing HIV. Plus, a 2020 study also found that 83.3% of HIV-positive women in KwaZulu-Natal have other STIs too.

    READ MORE: Can You Really Get An STD From Kissing?

    Myth: If you don’t have any symptoms, you’re STD-free

    Reality: “It is very common for any STD to not have apparent symptoms,” says Wyand. Chlamydia, in particular, is known as a silent infection since it’s light on warning signs. “Women can go much longer with chlamydia without seeing or feeling anything atypical,” says Wyand. In fact, a study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases found that 63 percent of cervical chlamydia cases and 54 percent of gonorrhoea cases were symptom-free.

    Myth: You can only catch herpes during an outbreak

    Reality: From sores around the genital area to cold sores around the mouth, it’s easy to see why so many people think they can spot a herpes infection from a mile away. It’s not so simple, though. Even if there are no sores in sight, the infection could be lurking beneath the surface. “The virus can and does become active even if you don’t see anything,” says Wyand. Still, that doesn’t mean herpes will automatically be transferred to a partner. Many couples are able to keep their sex lives active without the unaffected partner ever acquiring it, so long as they’re open to using condoms and having honest discussions, says Wyand.

    Myth: A pap smear tests for STDs

    Reality: Many women assume (incorrectly) that a yearly visit to the OB-GYN is all it takes to make sure everything down there is A-OK. A pap smear tests the cells in your cervix for cancer and HPV but doesn’t take STIs into account. To cover yourself, ask your gyno to tack on an STI test at your next visit. That might call for a blood or urine sample, or another swab test.

    READ MORE: What’s The Difference Between STDs and STIs?

    Myth: The pill protects you from STDs

    Reality: The Pill’s main job is to keep you baby-free, not STI-free. Condoms are the only birth control method that acts as protection against STDs.

    Myth: Only women with many partners have STIs

    Reality: No slut-shaming here. While it’s true that the more partners you have, the more you’ll be exposed to infections, STIs rear their ugly heads even in monogamous relationships. Each party brings their own sexual history to the bedroom – and sometimes that history involves an STI. “Even in a monogamous relationship, if either one of the partners has had previous partners, there could be an STD from many years ago that they’re not even aware of that can still be transmitted,” says Wyand. Truth is, most sexually active people will have an STD at some point, so it shouldn’t be shameful. “More and more we’re saying, ‘Do you know what it means to have an STD?’” says Wyand. “It means you’re pretty normal.”

    READ MORE: It’s Time To Stop Believing These Sexual Health Myths More

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    What’s The Difference Between STDs And STIs?

    You probably learned to group conditions such as herpes, chlamydia and genital warts under the term STD, meaning sexually transmitted disease. But in the past five years or so, these three consonants have increasingly been replaced by STI (sexually transmitted infection), leading many to ask: what’s the actual difference between STDs and STIs?

    Is the term STD… out of fashion?

    More and more OB-GYNs seem to use the latter term when they discuss conditions like herpes and chlamydia with their patients. And if you’ve Googled the topic lately (no judgment!), you probably see STI more than you used to. The short answer? Yeah, in a move to de-stigmatise sexually transmitted complications, the term STD is being used less and less. But the semantics are rooted in a subtle scientific distinction.

    So… what’s the difference between STDs and STIs?

    An STD, or sexually transmitted disease, is so named when a sexually transmitted infection (STI) leads to symptoms. A symptom, or manifestation of an infection in the body, could be something like sores, itchiness or burning. But, importantly, not all STIs present symptoms. Things like HPV, for example, can present no symptoms and can go away on their own. Other STIs like syphilis can also exhibit no symptoms. And, not all STIs progress into STDs. But all STDs start out as STIs. Make sense?

    Why the change?

    More experts are starting to prefer STI because they think it carries less of a stigma.
”The word ‘disease’ implies that a person has a set of distinctive, identifiable symptoms and most of the time, sexually transmitted infections do not present any symptoms,” says Carolyn Deal, chief of the sexually transmitted diseases branch of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Despite the branch name, Dean says her colleagues have made the switch to the term STI.)

    Plus, when signs of an STI do appear, they’re often mild or cause no real problem. That makes the term disease feel off, especially considering that millions of people have or have had one, says Fred Wyand, director of communications at the American Sexual Health Association.

    Switching the terminology also has to do with removing the association with shame and unseemliness that the letters STD still have. The word ‘disease’ has a stigma, while ‘infection’ reflects something more benign and less scary, says Deal.

    The bottom line: It’s a good idea to use the term STI in an effort to make everyone feel less intimidated – and to help mitigate the stigma. But if you stick to the old-school STD, it’s not like your friends, partner, and OB-GYN won’t know what you’re talking about. More

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    Um, Can You Really Get An STD From Kissing?

    We’re willing to bet you’ve asked yourself a ton of questions about kissing… when you were 13. Now, though, aside from hoping their beard’s not too scratchy or they don’t have a cold, you’re not too worried about smooches. Right? Well… per experts, it turns out you could get an STD from kissing. Read it and weep – then protect yourself with knowledge and these tips.

    Can you get an STD from kissing?

    Alas, you actually can. A peck on the mouth (or a full-blown, let-me-shove-my-tongue-down-your-throat make-out session) can actually transmit a couple of different types of STDs [insert cringing emoji here]: herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2 and syphilis, says Dr Teena Chopra, corporate medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University.

    Talk about a mood killer. Luckily, you don’t have to swear off kissing forever—buuut, it’s a good idea to just be aware of what can be spread through spit-swapping. Here’s what you need to know about the two STDs you can get through kissing.

    What to know about getting herpes from kissing:

    Herpes simplex virus (HSV 1 and 2) infections are one of the most common STDs and, once contracted, they last a lifetime, according to the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

    “Once a person has been infected, the virus can remain dormant (latent) for years before periodically reactivating to cause recurrent disease,” the website notes. Which is why it’s also important to note: people who don’t know they have herpes can still spread herpes, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Whereas HSV-1 is responsible for oral herpes, HSV-2 is what causes genital herpes. However, oral herpes can be spread from the mouth to the genitals as a result of oral sex (when herpes is active), which is how some cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-1, according to the CDC. And, yes, the reverse is also true: Genital herpes can be passed from one person’s genitals to another person’s mouth, causing oral herpes. Talk about a vicious cycle.

    READ MORE: This Is EXACTLY What Men Think… During Sex

    How to navigate herpes with your partner

    If you’re concerned about herpes (and you know your partner has it), ask them to be diligent about symptoms that signal an outbreak is coming (you’re more likely to contract the virus during a herpes flare). Burning, itching, and/or tingling feelings are all signs that sores are about to appear. Also, medications are available that can decrease how long symptoms last, as well as decrease their severity. But, sadly, there’s no cure (yet!).

    You might also want to encourage your partner to be upfront by assuring them that herpes is nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, it’s ridiculously common. Per the World Health Organisation (WHO), “An estimated 491 million people aged 15–49 (13%) worldwide have HSV-2 infection.” In South Africa, that number is even higher: studies have found that 40 to 70% of sexually active people have an HSV-2 infection.

    Another prevention method: If your partner has herpes, then they can chat with their doctor about taking medication that can lower their chances of spreading the virus.

    READ MORE: Your June 2024 Sex Horoscope Is Here And It’s Time To Add A Date Night To Your Calendar

    So, what about getting syphilis from kissing?

    Syphilis occurs in four stages, according to the CDC, with different signs and symptoms associated with each stage.

    Primary syphilis will be evident because a person will generally have sores. These will typically be around the genitals and/or mouth, called chancres, per the CDC. These sores are round and painless, per the WHO and heal in a few days.

    Secondary syphilis includes a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes and fever. Symptoms will go away without treatment, per the WHO.

    Sneakily, there are no signs or symptoms during the third or latent stage of the STD. Unfortunately, this can be deadly and can progress to the fourth and final stage if left untreated.

    The fourth stage of syphilis, however, known as tertiary syphilis, can be linked to severe medical problems. Left untreated, syphilis can affect the heart, brain, and other organs of the body, according to the CDC.

    The infection can be passed by direct contact with a sore during the first three stages. It can be passed on via vaginal, anal, or oral sex—and, yes, even through kissing. Importantly, syphilis is treatable and curable.

    READ MORE: At-Home Test Kits: From Ovulation To STDs, Here’s How To Get Results At Home

    How to navigate syphilis with your partner

    Chopra says the only way to avoid syphilis is to avoid sex or kissing completely. But uh, since that’s not totally practical, there are ways to reduce your risk.

    Straight-up asking new partners whether or not they have an STD, as awkward as this is, is a good idea. It’s also ok to ask new partners to get tested. And if you see a sore, it’s totally ok – and advisable – to avoid kissing, says Dr Amesh A. Adalja, an infectious diseases physician.

    And while you’re at it, make sure to get yourself tested too. Doctors won’t typically test you for herpes unless you’re showing symptoms like sores, but you can still get tested for syphilis whether you’re showing signs or not.

    The bottom line: Ask questions before getting hot and heavy. If you know your partner has herpes or syphilis, cool it on the kissing until active oral sores are treated or healed.

    This article was originally published on More

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    How To Get Fit In Your 20s – This Is Your Healthy Routine

    How to get fit in your 20s? Easy. This is the decade in which you’re most likely to be in your peak physical condition; your reaction times are at their fastest, you can build muscle quicker and recover from tough sessions faster. You’re also developing your musculoskeletal strength. “Because bone density peaks in your twenties to early thirties, undertaking weight-bearing activity [where your bones are supporting your weight] like running, soccer or netball, in combination with a strength programme, can maximise your bone health for life,” says Dr Rebecca Robinson, consultant physician in sport and exercise medicine.

    Embracing an active lifestyle now will not only benefit you in the present but will also pave the way for a healthier future. Let’s dive into how you can kickstart your fitness journey in your 20s and make lasting changes that will impact both your body and mind positively.

    Strength Is Key

    The workout you want to do is the one you should do (it’s the one you’ll keep up), but there’s resounding encouragement around strength training. “It’s great for increasing muscle mass and boosting metabolism and confidence,” says personal trainer Samantha McGowan.

    The latter is particularly important in your twenties: several studies have shown that women’s confidence increases with age, while others show that strength training can seriously bolster self-esteem, as lifting heavier and achieving goals gives you a sense of achievement. Dr Hassan concurs. “Finding a balance of basic activity forms (cardio and strength) is key, but your weekly schedule should include at least one strength training session. The type is up to you – body weight, free weights or weight machines all reap the same rewards. I’d advise a combination.”

    Understand Your Body

    Track your menstrual cycle and practise pelvic floor exercises. Contract for three seconds, then relax and repeat. Do eight to 10 daily. Around 21 percent of women in South Africa suffer from a form of incontinence, but strengthening the pelvic area can be game-changing. “Monitor your workout performance during your monthly cycle and see if there are any patterns,” advises Dr Hassan. The four phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal affect hormones, energy levels, strength and endurance. For example, the rise in oestrogen levels post-menstruation means you may have more energy.

    Make Time For Rest

    While this is a great time to fall in love with exercise, over-exercising is common among women of this agegroup. For many of the 20-something patients Dr Nicky Keay, an exercise endocrinologist, sees for amenorrhoea (loss of periods), it can be directly attributed to relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S, pronounced ‘reds’). “It’s a disparity between food intake (the energy and micronutrients you’re consuming) and the nutrition required to cover the energy demands of exercise and the basic ‘housekeeping’ tasks in the body,” she explains. If you’re concerned that your workouts are taking their toll, Dr Keay suggests ditching high-intensity exercise and building in some slow strength and conditioning sessions, too.

    Get Fit In Your 20s: How To Do This Bodyweight Mobility Workout

    Each exercise done for 45 seconds with a 15-second rest. Repeat the circuit 3 times for a sweaty bodyweight HIIT session. If you have any injuries, please check with your medical practitioner to see if it safe for you to do the following bodyweight exercises. Remember to have fun!

    1. Rolling cobra

    Start in a hovering child’s pose and extend your legs up to a down dog (A) Shift your weight forward, round your back as you move through a plank, and then a hanging cobra-style position (B). Continue for 45 seconds.

    READ MORE: Your 4-Week Home Workout Plan To Get Fit And Strong AF

    2. Beast reach to high plank

    From hovering child’s pose spring your knees forward to a high plank. Reach and repeat for 45 seconds (A).

    3. Beast reach, high plank, runners lunge

    Move from hovering child’s pose to high plank and then step your foot on the outside of the same side hand for runners lunge (A). Reach back to hovering child’s pose (B). Repeat alternating sides for 45 seconds.

    READ MORE: The Best Back Stretches To Tackle Upper And Lower Back Pain, From A Yoga Instructor

    4. Beast reach, high plank, runner lunge to sit through

    Once in runner lunge, lift your back foot up through the middle of the body (A). Lift the opposite hand off the floor too, balancing on one hand and foot (B). Come back to your starting position and repeat for 45 seconds.

    Foods You Should Be Eating In Your 20s

    Remember, balance is key! Allow yourself occasional treats but aim for consistency with nourishing foods that support your fitness journey. Your body will thank you for it!

    Go for food high in fibre like beans, fruits, veggies and whole grains. High-fibre foods digest more slowly and are also more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control.

    Calcium plays a role in heart health, muscle function and nerve signalling. Many seeds are good sources of calcium. Cheese, yoghurt and sardines are also great sources of calcium.

    Eat the rainbow. Aim for five servings of vegetables a day (1 serving = ½ cup cooked or 1 cup salad) and try to have a bigger variety of veggies each week.

    Habits To Avoid In Your 20s

    Overtraining. The idea that you’re near-invincible during your twenties is only natural – you’ve got energy for days and can sail through any sweat session with a hangover like it’s nothing, but the ‘too much of a good thing’ adage may apply. Over-exercising is something personal trainer Caroline Bragg sees in plenty of her clients in their twenties. “Overtraining can lead to RED-S [relative energy deficiency syndrome], when the body isn’t taking on enough energy to meet demand,” she says. “This can lead to your body fat dropping so low that you stop producing oestrogen, which in turn can nix your periods (amenorrhea). Later on, this lack of oestrogen can cause loss of libido, trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating.”

    This article written by Kirsti Buick first appeared in the July/August 2022 Issue of Women’s Health UK, additional reporting by Women’s Health SA team. More

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    5 High-Carb Fruits—And How Adding Protein Or Fat Helps Blood Sugar

    There are *so* many reasons to love fruits. These nutrient-rich foods pack in plenty of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients—necessary for keeping your body functioning at an optimal level. And, many contain antioxidants like polyphenols, also, that help ward off cancer and keep your body healthy.

    But here’s the thing: Eating endless fruit isn’t a zero-sum game. That’s because all fruit contains natural sugar, and as a result, is naturally higher in carbohydrate content than vegetables, says registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix.

    Some low-carb diets, including the ketogenic diet, actually suggest avoiding most fruits because of their carb content. (FWIW there isn’t an “official” definition of what low-carb truly means, but most of these diets range between 50 to 150 grams of carbs per day, with the keto diet at no more than 50 grams of carbs per day.)

    “I’ve never met a patient in my practice that was overweight because they ate too much produce. I have, however, had patients eating too much fruit and think that it doesn’t matter because it’s fruit. But it does matter,” she says, especially if you are managing diabetes or need to control your blood sugar levels.

    Quick tip to help stabilise blood sugar levels when having fruit: Pair ’em with protein and or fat. Try adding some almond butter to your apple.

    Meet the Expert: Bonnie Taub-Dix is a registered dietitian, nutrition consultant and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table.

    But the carbs in fruit are just one part of the picture, Taub-Dix says. Fruit isn’t something to avoid! Keep the fruit’s carbohydrate content in mind along with its overall nutritional profile and don’t jump to eliminating high-carb fruits. Women should be eating about one and a half to two cups of fruit a day, according to the NIH. (BTW, most people aren’t eating enough of it in the first place.)

    High-carb fruits might be a great way to stay fuelled before a workout and they make for a sweet (all natural!) treat to end your day.

    So whether you’re navigating a low-carb diet or you’re just curious, here are five fruits that have particularly high carb counts.

    READ MORE: What Is The 30 Plants Per Week Challenge?

    1. Banana

    If a banana comes to mind when you’re thinking of high-carb fruit, there’s a good reason why: A medium banana (about 18cm long) is loaded with 27 grams of carbs. There are a few other reasons to throw this fruit into your a.m. smoothie, though—from containing prebiotics and fibre to packing in electrolytes, including potassium.

    2. Raisins

    Fuelling up for a hike? Chances are you will find a decent amount of raisins in trail mix, likely because of their high carb count. With 22 grams of carbs in a little box of raisins, you only need a handful of these sweet nuggets to get a quick energy boost when you’re out on the trail or on a long run. But you’ll also get 2 grams of fibre, which can help balance your blood sugar levels and minerals like potassium and iron.

    3. Mango

    Many tropical fruits tend to have higher sugar content, and therefore, higher carb counts. And mangoes are no exception. According to the USDA, one cup of cut mango yields 25 grams of carbs. That said, there are many reasons to eat this “king of fruits.” It’s a solid source of vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

    READ MORE: 10 Healthy Snacks That Won’t Give You A Sugar Crash In 20 Minutes

    4. Pineapple

    Each cup of chopped pineapple contains almost 22 grams of carbohydrates (per the USDA) and offers tons of nutritional benefits. This tasty tropical fruit packs in 85 percent of your daily manganese needs, an essential nutrient that helps your body function properly, and plenty of vitamin C, fibre and H2O. (With 86% water, it’s also a great source of hydration.)

    5. Apple

    One medium apple—measuring about 7cm in diameter—has about 25 grams of carbs (that number varies only slightly depending on the type of apple). Surprised? That’s probably partly because it is a high-fibre fruit. Apples also are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, which help keep your immune system humming.

    This article by Christine Yu & Trish Clasen Marsanico was first published on Women’s Health US. More

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    3 Hand Exercises You Should Try If You’ve Got Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    That nonstop pounding on the keyboard all day may help you get ahead, career-wise (assuming what you’re typing so frenetically is still intelligible) but it’s tough on the digits. Those tiny keystroke movements don’t seem like much, but all the repetition can bring the pain to your fingers and wrists. And once you do the damage, carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic wrist, hand and forearm pain can be a bear to get rid of.

    READ MORE: Hunch Over Your Desk? These Moves Will Sort Out Your Shoulders STAT

    To ward off and relieve these symptoms, carve out two or three mini-breaks in your type-intensive day for these carpal tunnel syndrome exercises.

    1. Figure Eights

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    Stand or sit up tall in a chair and bring your hands together in front of you, fingers interlaced. Keeping your elbows bent, alternately push your hands to the side so that your right wrist bends back, and then the left one. Using this back-and-forth as a base, start moving your hands in an imaginary figure eight, rotating the wrists more fully. Do this until you feel relief.

    2. Overhead Reach

    Still sitting upright, relax your arms at your sides so your palms face out comfortably. Take an inhale and lift your arms up overhead. Interlace your fingers. Turn your palms up to the ceiling, either keeping your arms slightly bent or straightening them. Hold for 10 slow, deep breaths (counting an inhale and an exhale as one breath).

    On your last exhalation, lower your arms to your sides. Then inhale, interlacing your fingers overhead again, but this time with the opposite hand on top. Be sure to lift the thumb side of your hands as much as the pinky side. Hold for 10 slow, deep breaths. This overhead reach stretches out the muscles and connective tissue in the forearms and hands while bringing flexibility to the hands and fingers. Plus, it boosts circulation.

    READ MORE: We Asked A Yoga Instructor For The Best Back Stretches To Tackle Upper And Lower Back Pain

    3. Finger-Bender

    Sitting up, bring your right forearm in toward your chest. With your left hand, bend back your right fingers (minus thumb) to your right. Hold for 10 slow, deep breaths. Then bend those same four fingers the opposite way, with your palm pushing them toward the floor. Hold for 10 slow breaths before repeating with the left hand.

    These 3 ridiculously simple stretches do insane things for your posture. Plus: Use these 5 resistance band moves to ease knee pain.  More

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    What Is The 30 Plants Per Week Challenge?

    Forget five a day, scientists have said getting 30 portions of fruit and vegetables a week is even better for your health – and that eating a large variety of plants is just as key. Yep, it looks like there’s a new mantra in town: 30 plants a week, also known as the ’30 plant challenge’ or ‘plant points’.

    What is the 30 plant challenge?

    The challenge comes from the likes of expert dietician and NHS Clinical Lead, Catherine Rabess (author of the book, The 30 Plan) who quotes a 2018 study that found people who ate a variety of plant foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, boasted better gut health. Led by the British and American Gut Project, and run by the University of California San Diego in the US alongside Dr Tim Spector of King’s College London in the UK, the study offered a new message: instead of “eat five a day”, they started saying “eat 30 plants a week.”

    The Results

    The advice to eat 30 plants a week is based on the project’s study of thousands of people (well, more specifically, their poop) and found those who ate a wider variety of plant foods – fruits and vegetables, but also seeds, nuts, whole grains and spices – had a more diverse gut microbiome. A wider variety of gut bacteria provides a basis for better overall health and well-being: greater resilience to withstand pathogens, better digestion and better brain function.

    “Don’t fall into the trap of eating the same meal every day, even though that makes life easy. At least have three different breakfasts, three different lunches and three different dinners and rotate them across the week. However ideally try the 30 plant foods per week challenge,” says Nutritionist Edwina Ekins. “Research shows that those that eat 30 different plant foods (compared to those that only eat 10) have a much more diverse and therefore healthier gut microbiota. A diverse gut microbiota is linked to a lower risk of many diseases including bowel cancer and diabetes.”

    Now, that’s not to say getting your five servings of fruit and veggies per day is a goal to discard; eating those foods still have incredible health benefits, helps to keep our bodies topped up with vital nutrients and much, much more. But the idea behind the 30 plants a week – also known as the ‘diversity diet’ – focuses more on gut health.

    How does the 30 plants challenge work?

    It works by assigning every individual plant you eat one “plant point”, even if you only eat a small amount of that plant, like a couple of carrot sticks or one strawberry. Herbs, spices and garlic also count, but only for quarter of a point.

    Then you have colours to consider: different coloured versions of plants, like red and yellow capsicums, count separately as a point each, since different coloured plants contain slightly different amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. But some items don’t count at all – like white rice and potatoes (they spike your blood sugar too much, according to Spector, and contain less fibre and nutrients than other plants).

    “Eating 30 plants a week means eating 30 different varieties of plants, but this doesn’t prescribe serving sizes,” says Rabess. “It can seem tougher to achieve this if you are cooking for one, but remember that foods do not always need to be fresh. Tinned and frozen foods are my go-to, and they are extremely cost-effective and a great way to limit waste.”

    “Each different variety of plant that you eat counts as one plant point. Even herbs and spices are a quarter of a point each,” she adds. “So, if you eat a banana, an apple and a carrot, you would have earned three plant points. If you had porridge and sprinkled on cinnamon and nutmeg, the added spices would total half a plant point.”

    The more plant points you earn = the more diverse your diet is.

    What counts as a plant point?

    Vegetables such as:








    tomato (okay, yes it’s technically a fruit but…)

    Fruit such as:







    Some legumes such as:



    broad beans

    pinto beans

    soybeans or edamame

    Some grains such as:



    brown rice

    Some nuts and seeds such as:



    brazil nuts

    chia seeds

    pumpkin seeds



    Herbs and spices (whether they’re fresh or dried out) such as:










    Do supplements count?

    According to Nutritionist, Edwina Ekins: not really. She says that many of the marketing claims around these products are exaggerated and that most supplements are best suited to people with deficiencies – not as part of an overall diet.

    “Greens powders are a hot topic at the moment: There are several on the market all claiming to have benefits for immune, energy, gut health and blood pressure, but the research is in its infancy, and we cannot support these claims yet,” explains Ekins. “In saying that, greens powders are packed with approximately 75 different nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, prebiotic fibres, probiotics and digestive enzymes. A greens powder may act as a “stop gap” when our diets are insufficient.”

    “These powders are certainly no substitute for real foods and we should continue to strive for two serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day, however, they make sense if someone doesn’t like vegetables, is travelling with limited access to fruit and vegetables and is suffering from energy issues despite having good sleep, drinking enough water and doing exercise,” she adds.

    “There is huge cost range in greens powders, and this is not necessarily reflected in the content so read the back of the pack of at least two and makes a comparison before you purchase. Again, greens powders are not suitable for everyone, especially those on medication or pregnant or breastfeeding. Many also contain inulin or other prebiotic fibres which for some people can upset your gut. So, in summary, you don’t need a greens powder but there may be certain times when taking a greens powder would improve energy levels.”


    The article by Nikolina Ilic appeared first on Women’s Health Australia. More