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    Why You Should Check For High Blood Pressure, Even If You Think You’re Fine

    In 2015, high blood pressure, or hypertension, caused an estimated 10.7 million deaths worldwide. Since then, its prevalence has grown from 25% to greater than 40%. Approximately 8.22 million South African adults with no private health insurance have hypertension, according to a recent study. That’s too high. Your sneaky coffee addiction and having a tipple too many could contribute to higher numbers. Here’s what to know about the risk factors, and when to worry.  

    Hypertension: our silent problem  

    Hypertension is known as ‘the silent killer’, because of the lack of apparent symptoms. Often, patients have no idea their blood pressure is dangerously high. That’s not all. High blood pressure can also be a precursor for dementia and cognitive decline later in life, according to the CDC. Also, hypertensive people are at a higher risk for developing kidney disease.

    While the rates for men in South Africa are lower, the rates for women are worryingly high, with about 40.99% of adult women in South Africa battling high blood pressure, per the World Obesity Federation, pushing our ranking up to 23rd in the world.  

    “Research suggests that cardiovascular disease causes more deaths in South Africa than all the cancers combined – a sobering statistic,” says Dr Adrian Rotunno, a Virgin Active panel expert and Sport and Exercise Medicine physician. “Many reports show that diseases of the circulatory system account for nearly a fifth of all deaths in the country, followed by what is termed “diseases of lifestyle” including diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar), hypertension (high blood pressure), hypercholesterolaemia (high blood cholesterol), and obesity.”

    When to check your blood pressure

    With rates this high, it’s important to keep tabs on your own number. Smartwatches can help, but they don’t always give accurate readings, so get to a clinic or a nurse and have yours checked regularly – at least once a year, if you’re over 40, and once every two years if you’re not at risk or younger than 40.

    Are you at risk for high blood pressure?

    There are several risk factors for high blood pressure that many of us may harbour, and be unaware of. That includes smoking (or that sneaky vaping habit), being sedentary and too much caffeine and alcohol use. Being overweight is also a risk factor.


    Smoking – and even vaping – spikes your blood pressure and increases your heart rate. Whether you smoke regularly or not doesn’t matter, either. The American Heart Association found in a report that “people who used e-cigarettes and people who smoked combustible cigarettes had greater increases in blood pressure, heart rate and blood vessel constriction, immediately after vaping or smoking, compared to people who did not use any nicotine.” Smoking constricts the blood vessels, leading to higher blood pressure readings. If you vape or smoke, try find a way to quit.

    Being sedentary

    Per research in the journal Hypertension, people the world over are moving less and less, despite clear guidelines saying that more movement is the key to mitigating chronic diseases like high blood pressure and more. What you should do? Move more and sit less, says the American Heart Association. 150 minutes of moderate activity (walks, gardening) can lower high blood pressure.   


    Even drinking just a little raises your heart rate, per a study in Cochrane Library. It found that drinking a high dose of alcohol (the equivalent of 30g or more), raised blood pressure more than 13 hours after consumption, even when it temporarily lowered the blood pressure immediately after drinking. For women, guidelines suggest no more than one drink in one sitting – any more and your BP is at risk. Moderate drinking is defined as two drinks, while more than three glasses in means you’re on a binge – and placing yourself at risk.


    Go low and slow on the coffee and energy drinks. Per one study, caffeine spiked BP and this can be prolonged, over several hours. “Typically, blood pressure changes occur within 30 minutes, peak in 1-2 hours, and may persist for more than 4 hours,” the authors note. Per the NHS, try to limit yourself to less than four cups a day.

    How to prevent high blood pressure

    Exercise and a healthy diet are essential to preventing the onset of high blood pressure, but in some cases, seemingly healthy people can have frighteningly high numbers. That’s likely because sneaky habits could get in the way. Steer clear of any that could lead you to the ER, and adopt healthy eating habits (like going steady on salt and booze). And if you’re at risk (with any one of these habits taking over), check your blood pressure – it could save your life.   More

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    7 Common Things That Make Your Vagina Smell Strange

    Why does your vagina smell and what can you do about it? Dr Christine Kriel, a qualified GP with special interests in women’s health and holistic healing, gives us all the intimate details…

    So, what should your vagina smell like?

    The way your vagina smells is highly individualised and influenced by a couple of different factors. If there is a noticeable odour – associated with symptoms like discharge, itch or burn – there’s a problem and you need to pop in on your gynae. But without these symptoms, the smell is probably perfectly normal.

    But why?

    The reason your vagina has a characteristic smell is because it secretes fluids and normal bacteria to keep your vaginal pH slightly acidic at 4.5 – this plays a role in helping your vagina stay infection-free. Here, the common things that give your vagina its unique scent…

    READ MORE: Vaginal Probiotics Are Having A Moment – But How Do They Work?

    Oestrogen lowers your vaginal pH, protecting you from infections. During the second half of your cycle up until before your period, when oestrogen is low, you might be more susceptible to infections and odour. When your cycle is irregular, you’re also more susceptible to increased pH and infections.

    2. Your diet

    Sugary foods create the perfect environment for yeast infections, causing a change in vaginal odour. (Though yeast infections themselves don’t really have a characteristic smell.) Strong-smelling foods like coffee or onions affect bodily fluids, including vaginal discharge and smell. Incredibly, there is some evidence showing that sweet-smelling foods like watermelon, celery, pineapple and apple might help with vaginal odour. Lastly, eating foods rich in probiotics – like sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha – supports your vaginal microbiome, preventing infections.

    READ MORE: All About The New Non-Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation Therapy

    FYI: Your vaginal microbiome is the environment of normal organisms found in your vagina. Their role? To protect you from an overgrowth of unwanted yeast and bacterial infections. The vaginal microbiome and your gut microbiome are connected.

    To maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome, avoid oral antibiotics as far as possible and supplement with probiotic strains lactobacillus rhamnosus (GR-1) and lactobacillus reuteri (RC-14). Avoid: feminine hygiene products used internally, vaginal douching and scented soaps – they disturb your vaginal microbiome, putting you at risk of infection. Our natural response is to think when something smells, we need to wash it, but these efforts have the opposite effect.

    3. Your pH

    Your vaginal pH should be between 3.5 and 4.5 – slightly acidic. At this pH level, your vaginal microbiome should be normal. Anything above that puts you at risk of infections and odour. So, what increases your pH? Menstrual blood and tampons, sperm, scented soaps, hot baths, vaginal douching and hormonal contraception.

    READ MORE: Pop Quiz: Do You Actually Know What’s Going On With Your Vagina?

    4. Leakage of urine/menopause

    After normal childbirth and with increased age, bladder control becomes more difficult. A cough or sneeze can cause leakage, and walking around with soiled underwear can result in unwanted odour down south. If you’re prone to this, try Kegel/pelvic floor exercises, wear a panty liner, or carry extra undies in your bag for emergencies.

    5. Personal hygiene and sweat

    This is a common cause of a musky or fried onion-like smell – but staying hydrated helps. If you’re prone to sweating, you can use feminine wipes (not inside the vagina – only on the outside folds) and change your underwear during the day. Baby powder can also help, but once again: for external use only. Lastly, hairy areas are more prone to sweat, so treat yourself to a Hollywood or laser hair removal.

    READ MORE: Vaginal Infections 101 — What You Need To Know About That Itch

    6. Sexual intercourse

    Semen has a strong ammonia smell and it can also increase your pH, putting you at risk of vaginal infections. It’s important to urinate after sex and wash properly with water after the act.

    7. Your choice of underwear

    First, make sure your underwear is clean. Washing your undies in the machine is often not enough – you need to wash them properly by hand. Tumble drying for 30 minutes also helps to get rid of bacteria. Secondly, throw the old ones out. If your undies are stained or worn with holes, get rid of them. Lastly, fabric is important. Avoid synthetics like nylon and spandex – they’re non-breathable. Rather choose cotton. More

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    10 Best Essential Oils To Help Relieve Anxiety and Stress

    You may associate essential oils with aromatherapy products and fancy day spas. But certain varieties of these essential oils may have legit benefits when it comes to relieving anxiety and stress?

    According to Dr Yufang Lin, an integrative medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, essential oils work through inhalation or through topical application and have mind-body benefits. For inhalation, use essential oils as a room spray or via a diffuser. A few drops on a pendant worn close to the skin also allow for a slow release over time.

    Apply essential oils topically to a carrier oil and use as a perfume, massage oil, cream, or salves. Adding essential oil to your bath is a wonderful way to relax at the end of the day, says Dr Lin.

    “The quickest way to change one’s mood is through smell, thus essential oil is an excellent way to reduce anxiety and support relaxation,” says Dr Lin. “However, it takes a lot of herbs to make a small amount of essential oil, which makes it a strong medicine that should be used judiciously.”

    While research on essential oils for mental health benefits is still expanding, there is some info to suggest that certain oils may work for things like stress relief, better sleep, and more. Plus, some studies suggest essential oils can influence blood pressure and heart rate. That’s likely because when you inhale an essential oil, they go straight through your olfactory nerves (the ones for scent) and travel to the amygdala, the emotional centre of the brain, impacting mood.

    The thing is, though, even if one study shows that a particular scent is great for, say, reducing anxious feelings, it may not work for every single person. If you don’t enjoy a scent, you probably won’t feel much better after sniffing it, for instance.

    Which essential oils help with anxiety?

    These essential oils below reduce anxiety in human studies, says Dr Lin. Other scents are also commonly used to reduce anxiety and support relaxation. But we need research beyond animal studies to know if they have real benefits for people.




    Sweet marjoram


    Faithful to Nature De-Stress Organic Essential Oil

    This blend of essential oils, with lavender and ylang ylang will have you zen out.

    The Body Shop Sleep Essential Oil

    Let lavender and vetiver help you drift off into sweet repose.

    Wellness Calm Organic Essential Oil

    Lemon, cedarwood, lavender and ylang ylang blend to ease stress and anxiety away.

    The essential oils ahead have been shown to help people feel calmer and more relaxed, says Dr Lin. One potential caveat is that most people have scent memory. For instance, if a person has a negative memory associated with a particular scent, they may not feel relaxed when they smell that scent, she explains.



    Sweet orange




    Rose Luxury Scented Candle

    Lavender promotes relaxation while peppermint adds some pep.

    Soylites Serenity Candle

    GM-free soya creates a nourishing massage oil, combined with calming and relaxing lavender and chamomile.

    L’Occitane Relaxing Candle

    Take a moment, destress and relax with this lavender, geranium and orange blossom-infused candle. Aaah.

    What are the potential side effects of essential oils?

    It’s important to remember potential side effects, as they can be mild to severe. For one thing, certain essential oils (citrus in particular) can cause photosensitivity — meaning you can get a sunburn more easily after using an orange essential oil on the skin, says Dr Lin. (This is why it’s a common recommendation to dilute oils before applying them topically, just to be extra cautious.)

    Additionally, some essential oils are safe in small amounts but can be dangerous in higher doses. “Tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils are commonly used for their antimicrobial benefits. But in excess, can cause nerve and liver damage,” says Dr Lin. “Some essential oils are toxic in general and should not be used — arnica, parsley, rue, and tansy are a few that fall into this category.”

    Finally, do not ingest essential oil without supervision from a trained herbalist. Be extra cautious using essential oils around young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and small pets because they are most at risk for toxicity and side effects, she says.

    The bottom line: Research on using essential oils to ease anxiety or reduce stress is growing, but remains limited. But if you’re a healthy adult and are using essential oils safely and at the guidance of your doctor, there is little harm in testing some oils out to see which ones help you feel mentally better.

    This article was originally published on More

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    What Is Medical Gaslighting? Here’s How To Tell If Your Doctor Is Doing It To You

    Gaslighting by medical professionals can have dangerous health consequences. Learn how to spot signs of medical gaslighting and take control.

    What Does Medical Gaslighting Look Like?

    Mallory San Nicolas was 29 and pregnant with her second son when she started having double vision. Her doctor blamed pregnancy-related hormone changes, saying she’d see clearer postpartum. With her delivery – a second cesarean section – came a new symptom: weakness in her legs that was so profound, she had to manually lift them to get into a car. And the double vision remained. Two months later, there was no improvement on either front.

    Her doctor said the weakness was probably related to a hernia, she recalls, and suggested core exercises to help her regain the strength to lift her legs. As for her sight? Well, nursing produces hormones similar to pregnancy, he said, so things would finally return to normal after breastfeeding. But deep down, San Nicolas, a CrossFit coach, knew herself well enough to know something was really wrong.

    READ MORE: Finally, A Medical Aid Is Offering DNA Tests To All Members

    Then What Happened?

    Yet, a year passed. She stopped nursing and, as suspected, nothing resolved. Each time she approached her provider with worries and questions, he urged her to wait it out. Her next move was making an appointment with a physician, who also shrugged her off, saying the mom of two just wouldn’t bounce back as easily after multiple C-sections. San Nicolas stressed to her doctors that her deteriorating vision was impacting her ability to drive her car safely, and she was offered an ophthalmologist referral. After a vision exam, San Nicolas remembers the eye specialist saying, “Your vision is 20/20. What do you want me to do for you?” and chalking it up to migraines. She was sent on her way with instructions to work on reducing the stress and anxiety in her life.

    Symptoms piled up until the weakness struck her arms and she couldn’t put her hair in a ponytail or hold a coffee. She also couldn’t swallow or force the right side of her face into smile. “It was almost as if I’d had a stroke. But I still waited a couple months to go to the doctor because I was so concerned I would be blown off like I had been the last two years,” she says. “We look to doctors to know everything, and mine tried to slap an explanation of anxiety onto whatever I explained.”

    After a deep dive on Google, she finally had an answer: myasthenia gravis. It’s a rare autoimmune disorder in which antibodies attack the communication channels between nerves and muscle, leading to profound weakness that can also affect the eye muscles. Eventually, via an Internet search, she found a neurologist, who validated her symptoms, ran tests, and finally diagnosed her with the disease. Her experience is not uncommon, sadly.…

    What Is Medical Gaslighting? 

    San Nicolas, now 36, was a victim of something called medical gaslighting. “The term refers to when a health care professional dismisses, invalidates, or belittles a patient’s concerns or symptoms,” says Jennifer Sebring, an MSc candidate and researcher at the University of Manitoba, who also has chronic illnesses and experienced the emotional labour required to prep for appointments knowing that symptoms might be brushed off. Sebring’s recent research article, published in Sociology of Health & Illness, examines the long history of medical gaslighting and lays out how invalidating patient concerns perpetuates health inequities. 

    READ MORE: “Social media had me romanticising my mental illness and put me in a hole”

    Why Does Medical Gaslighting Happen?

    The medical field hasn’t, overall, been centred on the patient experience – especially when it comes to women, people of colour, and trans and intersex individuals. “Health systems have been developed with the cisgender, straight, able-bodied, white male in mind,” says Sebring. Deviate from that and medicine has a tough time knowing what to do with you when you don’t show up with understandable symptoms that fit a mould. 

    “Up until recently, a lot of research was based on white men, and we used that as a gold standard for how to treat disease,” says cardiologist Dr Jennifer Mieres, senior vice president of Northwell Health’s Center for Equity of Care and a patient advocate.

    What Happens When You Experience Medical Gaslighting?

    When you know your health team isn’t all ears, you start doubting yourself and your doctor. That distrust often leads people to withhold information out of fear of judgment, which can result in “catastrophic consequences,” Dr. Mieres says, like misdiagnosis.

    The positive and very recent development: Gaslighting, as a term, is having a viral moment. (See: The Bachelorette, The Real Housewives, and TikTok influencers utilizing #MedicalGaslighting to circulate stories.) So while it’s still happening all the time, we’re at least becoming more attuned to the concept overall. 

    The Signs Of Medical Gaslighting

    Um, hello?! Five clues you’re not being heard.

    Your complaints are dismissed as stress, anxiety, or depression – and your doctor is uninterested in investigating further. 

    You feel ignored or not taken seriously, or that they’re pushing their degree or expertise to prove you wrong or less-than. 

    Your intuition tells you something is off, even when your doctor tells you it’s all fine. 

    You feel talked down to or minimised, instead of engaged in a two-way convo. 

    Your provider isn’t willing to run more tests for you – and won’t adequately explain why you don’t need them.

    READ MORE: We Need To Talk About Hysterectomies And How They Really Affect Women

    What Can You Do If Your Suspect Your Doctor Is Gaslighting You?

    To be clear, it’s not up to you to transform the medical system. But approaching care like a partnership can help you grasp your individual power, says Dr. Mieres, who offers a game plan for how patients can best interact with doctors in her book Heart Smart for Women.

    The most helpful thing you can do:

    Prepare for your visit – including by knowing what gaslighting at an appointment looks like (see “Spot the Signs,” above).

    Bring copious notes too. How, exactly, have you felt over the past six months? How has your lifestyle changed?

    Direct the conversation by being as specific as possible, and ask your provider to document everything, including why they won’t run a test, adds Sebring. 

    If you ever need to employ a last-ditch tactic, say this: “I know my body. I’d love to brainstorm with you a few options for next steps to solve this, or you can refer me to a specialist to investigate further.” You don’t need to play the role of Good Patient, Dr. Mieres says.

    And San Nicolas – who can finally enjoy hiking now that her condition is in remission – reiterates that “we know our bodies more than anyone.” In other words, it’s worth it to find a doctor who will listen. “The only one who suffers by waiting is you,” says San Nicolas. Hear, hear. 

    *Words By Jessica Migala

    *This article was originally published by Women’s Health US More

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    Why Drinking Diet Coke Won’t Help You Lose Weight

    Picture the scene: lunch has come and gone and, in offices across the land, Tupperware once home to prepped-ahead sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach lie empty. The sweet craving-fuelled temptation to attack a brownie is oh-so-real. But rather than blow a few hundred calories on a handful, women nationwide reach instead for so-called ‘guilt-free’ cans of chemically sweetened diet Coke.

    Are they ill-advised self-saboteurs for following healthy, totally ‘grammable meals with a diet fizzy drink? Perhaps – which makes it all the more tricky to admit I am one of them. A health editor who knows her nutrition – and should know better – but can’t get enough of the stuff.

    Another is Georgia Scarr. Glance at her Instagram and you’ll see all the healthy-girl hallmarks.

    Bird’s-eye view of eggs atop kale and roasted vegetables? Check. One lithe, toned body contorted into impressive yoga positions? Check again. But one lifestyle ritual that doesn’t make the edit is her diet cola habit.

    ‘I have a sweet tooth, but I don’t make a habit of eating junk food or sugary snacks,’ she says. ‘I monitor my calories, and I want them to be filled with something more nutritious than sugar. So if I can get that sweet taste via a calorie-free fizzy drink, that is kind of a win/win.’

    The enduring appeal of calorie-free fizzy pop might jar with the current ‘it’s a lifestyle, not a diet’ healthy eating zeitgeist. But Jane Ogden, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey and author of The Psychology of Eating, isn’t surprised.

    ‘So-called “diet” drinks still appeal because, though people may package it as “eating well” or “looking after yourself”, many of us are essentially still dieting.’ And while our goals are more rippling abs than thigh gap, she is right in that the majority of us want to keep our body fat low.

    The problem with diet drinks

    ‘The word “diet” carries powerful connotations of being lean, healthy and in control,‘ Professor Ogden adds. ‘So while we continue to aspire to those things, “diet” labelling will draw us in – even if we’d rather not admit it.’ Put in those terms our fondness for diet drinks doesn’t seem so outdated.

    But are diet drinks actually helpful when you’re trying to get – and stay – lean? Bosses at Slimming World appear to think so.

    The organisation (offering weight loss help) classifies diet colas as a ‘free’ food – along with water and green vegetables – meaning that its members don’t have to track the amount they consume.

    But when you take a look at the evidence, this permissive attitude to drinks sweetened with chemicals such as sucralose and aspartame could be unhelpful.

    In one study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that participants who drank one litre of a diet fizzy drink daily gained 1.5kg after six months. The group who drank full-sugar soft drinks gained 10kg, so the diet option had less of an effect. But, if researchers were adding zero calories and zero sugar into their daily diets, why did the participants gain any?

    As it stands, there is no evidence-based answer. But Robert Lustig, professor of endocrinology at the University of California and leading anti-sugar campaigner, has a possible explanation. Essentially, that consuming artificial sweeteners can significantly alter your biochemistry and predispose you to gain fat.

    Insulin and weight gain: the link

    ‘The diet soft drink group gained weight not because they were increasing their calories, but because they increased their levels of insulin,’ he says. Made in the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use sugar (or glucose) from carbohydrates in the food you eat for energy – or store it for future use. ‘The more insulin you have in your blood, the more calories you will store as fat,’ adds Professor Lustig. ‘So anything that makes your insulin go up will make you gain weight.’

    Because they don’t contain any actual sugar, artificially sweetened drinks shouldn’t spike insulin. But in one study in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers split their study participants in two groups and supplied half with a diet soft drink. They then tested their glucose and insulin levels afterwards. They found 20% more insulin in the blood of those who had drunk the fake sugary drinks.

    Why? It’s all down to the fact that the body is primed to detect sweetness. So, when something sweet hits your tongue, specific receptors send messages throughout your system.

    ‘First, they send a message to the brain to say that sugar is coming. Then the brain sends a message to the pancreas telling it to expect the sugar, so it prepares to release insulin,’ explains Professor Lustig.

    But when you drink an artificially sweetened drink? The sugar never comes and the pancreas sends out the message that you need to seek out more glucose.

    Sugar vs sweeteners: What does the science say?

    Yasmin, 25, drinks several cans of diet cola weekly to help her stick to a ‘no-sugar lifestyle’.

    ‘I eat healthy fats through things like almonds and avocado – and I don’t count calories. I love having a can of diet cola because it means I can have the sweet taste without consuming any actual sugar.’

    Yasmin is confident that she will be keeping to her method. She’s down 12kg, wearing jeans for the first time in years. And she’s hitting the gym for strength and cardio sessions four times a week. ‘If these drinks help me stick to a plan that is definitely working for me, I don’t see it as a problem with it.’

    And yet, Professor Lustig warns that Yasmin may be making life hard for herself.

    ‘Drinking artificially sweetened drinks when you’re not eating actual sugar is self-defeating,’ he says. ‘The point of a “no-sugar lifestyle” is to de-sensitise yourself to sweet foods. But if you are regularly consuming sugar-free fizzy drinks then you are re-sensitising yourself daily.’

    Indeed, researchers at the University of Sydney found that adding artificial sweeteners to the diets of rats and flies resulted in an ‘imbalance in sweetness and energy’.

    After the brain realised it had the sweet taste without the dense calorie load it was expecting, it sent signals encouraging the animals to eat more – so it could reap the energy it had anticipated.

    ’What’s more, consuming the sweetener regularly actually increased the intensity of the natural sugary taste,’ says study author Dr Greg Neely. ‘So this increased the overall motivation of the animals to eat more.’ But, as before, more research – in humans – is needed.

    Beyond weight loss, are diet fizzy drinks healthy?

    There is still much we don’t know about how artificial sweeteners are linked to disease risk, too.

    While a recent study did show that people who drank diet drinks had an increased chance of developing cancer or strokes, lead author Dr Matthew Pase cautions that this is early observational research – so it is impossible to tease apart cause and effect.

    As for the claims that sweeteners such as aspartame could be cancer-causing? ‘The balance of evidence is that artificial sweeteners are safe for us to eat,’ says clinical dietitian Rick Miller.

    ‘Some small experiments on mice demonstrated a link between aspartame and the growth of cancerous tumours – but it is not clear if we can directly relate these results to humans.’

    Miller’s message for us habitual drinkers: don’t freak out, but do cut down – on all colas, be they ‘diet’ or full-sugar.

    ‘Regular and diet varieties contain phosphoric acid, which research suggests can reduce bone mineral density,’ he says.

    How to quit diet coke and other fizzy drinks

    Ready to consciously uncouple with your fizzy vice? Follow these three R’s.

    1/ Recognise

    ‘Next time you’re craving a fizzy diet drink, think about the context in which you drink it. Do you really want what is in the can or, instead, do you just want some fresh air – or some time to pause?’ says Ogden.

    Nail that, and you’ll be more able to see what you need – and one step closer to getting it.

    2/ Remember

    Think of your parting ways with artificially sweetened soft drinks like that break-up with your ex who you knew wasn’t good for you.

    ‘You’ll feel like you’re missing something, but it is not because you don’t have something that you need – you were fine before,’ says Ogden. ‘You feel like this because you created a space for something and it’s not there anymore.’

    3/ Replace

    That space needs filling will something else, but don’t expect tap water to effectively plug the gap.

    ‘Brew a herbal tea, or infuse a jug of water with chopped cucumber and mint,’ suggests Miller.

    Or, you know, have a snack. Something with essential antioxidant vitamins, fill-you-up healthy fats and sustaining fibre. which if you’re getting hungry between meals, you probably need.

    And let’s be clear – a stress fracture caused by weak bones is going to have a more detrimental impact to your aesthetic and athletic goals than a few mini chocolate brownies.

    Still, I can’t promise that I will have developed a willpower of steel and won’t have had a sneaky sip of my old poison by the time you have read this.

    But if I do choose to crack open a can, it certainly won’t be done mindlessly. Because, while a part of me may still be bought into the zero-sugar, zero-calorie promise, there is a big chance that my body is not.

    This article was first published in More

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    How Long Does A UTI Last And Can It Go Away On Its Own?

    Chances are you’ve experienced a stinging sensation while peeing before. Then, five minutes after closing the bathroom door, you felt like you have to go again. At this point, you probably think to yourself, Great, another UTI.

    How long does a UTI last again?

    That depends on how serious your infection is. But some basics first: A urinary tract infection (UTI) is caused by bacteria entering the urethra. That’s the tube that lets urine leave the body and bladder. But it can also spread to the upper urinary tract and kidneys, says Dr James Elist, a urologist.

    A UTI can be complicated or uncomplicated based on how far up it has travelled. “An uncomplicated UTI occurs in the lower urinary tract, typically the bladder and urethra,” explains Dr Elist. “It’s considered uncomplicated because it can be effectively treated with antibiotics and does not usually lead to serious complications.” A complicated UTI, on the other hand, extends beyond the bladder and is typically more severe and difficult to treat.

    In both cases, typical symptoms include the urgency to pee and pain during urination, but blood in urine, fever, bladder inflammation, urinary incontinence, abdominal or back discomfort, strong-smelling urine, and genital irritation can also occur.

    When it comes to a UTI, though, you don’t want to mess around. Here’s everything you need to know about this infection, according to urologists, including how long it lasts with and without treatment, and how to speed up recovery ASAP.

    Meet the experts: James Elist is a urologist and the founder of the Penuma implant. Yanina Barbalat is a urologist at Beth Israel Lahey Health.

    How long does a UTI last untreated?

    Believe it or not, about 30 to 40 per cent of women can clear a UTI without taking antibiotics. An uncomplicated UTI can last seven to 10 days, says Dr Yanina Barbalat, a urologist at Beth Israel Lahey Health, but sometimes it takes up to six weeks.

    However, a complicated UTI may last for weeks or even months if left untreated, because the bacteria will continue to multiply, allowing the infection to spread to the kidneys, notes Dr. Elist.

    That said, even if you think you have an uncomplicated UTI, you should always check in with your doc, says Dr Elist. They’ll order a urinalysis to confirm that you have an infection.

    How long does a UTI last with antibiotics?

    If you have symptoms of a UTI and a urine analysis confirms the diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics whether you have an uncomplicated or complicated UTI, says Dr Elist. For uncomplicated UTIs, antibiotics will typically make you feel better within a few days. Complicated cases often require a longer or even a second course of medication. Recovery may take one to two weeks or even a month, he adds.

    If your urine test comes back positive but you don’t have any symptoms, you won’t need antibiotics. “I often tell people it’s kind of like the bacteria on your skin, which doesn’t mean you always need to be on antibiotics. Because some people have bacteria that colonize and it just sort of coexists with the person,” adds Dr Barbalat. “It doesn’t need to be treated unless it’s actually causing you issues.”

    And while you’ll likely notice an improvement within two days of taking antibiotics, make sure to continue taking it and finish all the pills you’re prescribed, says Dr Barbalat. Stopping treatment early may leave some bacteria in the bladder, which can potentially lead to a more serious infection.

    If symptoms get worse or continue for more than a week, see a doctor immediately because it could be a sign of a more severe infection in the kidney or bladder, says Dr Elist.

    How do I know if my UTI has gone away?

    You’ll know a UTI has gone away when you no longer have symptoms, says Dr Barbalat. If you’ve taken an antibiotic and your symptoms are gone, then that’s it, according to the American Urological Association.

    If your urine test comes back positive but you don’t have any symptoms, you won’t need antibiotics.And while most symptoms will go away in a week, you may still feel a burning sensation when you pee or an urgency to use the bathroom for two to three weeks after, says Dr Barbalat. “That just means the bladder is still inflamed and irritated, so you don’t actually need antibiotics, you just need a little bit of TLC,” she explains. “Drink lots of fluids, stay away from spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, and other things that can irritate the bladder. Just give your body a little bit of time to recover.”

    If your remaining symptoms continue to linger after a month post-antibiotic, check in with your primary care physician ASAP.

    How can I get rid of a UTI faster?

    The best way to speed up recovery (besides taking antibiotics) is to stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids, says Dr Barbalat. You should also keep the genitals and surrounding area clean and dry, and wash your hands often.

    To ease any pain or discomfort, Dr Elist suggests applying a heating pad to your abdomen and/or back, wearing loose clothing, and taking an OTC medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

    Now you may be thinking, What about cranberry juice? “Cranberry juice will actually irritate the bladder because it’s sour, so a lot of people will drink it when they have an infection and it can actually make symptoms worse,” says Dr Barbalat. So, to minimize further inflammation, stay away from cranberry juice until you’re all better.

    That said, cranberry supplements are a good way to prevent UTIs, per Dr Barbalat. “Cranberries have active compounds called PACs [proanthocyanidins], which do not allow bacteria to bind to the bladder, so you instead pee the bacteria out,” she explains.

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    However, if you’re prone to UTIs (you have more than two within six months, or three within a year), you must have the right cranberry supplement, stresses Dr Barbalat. “Most over-the-counter pills do not have enough PACs for them to be effective enough. Studies show that you need at least 36 milligrams of soluble PACs.”

    In terms of things you should avoid when you have a UTI, Dr. Barbalat suggests steering clear of foods that are irritating to the bladder. This includes sour or acidic fruits like lemons, oranges, kiwi, or pineapple, alcohol, soda, and artificial sweetener. It’s also best to avoid anti-bacterial or fragranced soap because this can kill the good bacteria in your vagina, dry out the surrounding area, and cause inflammation of the tissue, she adds.

    And it’s best to avoid sex while you’re still symptomatic, says Dr Barbalat. “It’s technically okay to have sex with a UTI, but the symptoms will get worse if you’re not 100 per cent better.” Additionally, if you engage in sexual activity following a positive UTI result, you could reintroduce the bacteria into the bladder, causing extended symptoms or even a recurrent infection, says Dr Elist.

    This article was originally published on Women’s Health US More

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    The Weird Way Your Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Guy’s Hormones

    We all know how that moodiness around our periods can drive our partners just a bit insane. But your menstrual cycle actually has a biological effect on your partner, too. Yup, per a study, your cycle could boost his testosterone levels. Ah, hormones…

    The study

    Animal studies found that olfactory cues of ovulation (when a biological female releases an egg, awaiting fertilisation by sperm) affected male testosterone levels. Studies conducted by researchers from Florida State University found that the same thing happens to male humans.

    In the studies, women wore t-shirts during different phases of their menstrual cycles. The men in the studies smelled one of the t-shirts worn by a female or unworn t-shirts. Saliva samples were collected before and after smelling the t-shirts s and measured for testosterone levels.

    Men who smelled the t-shirts of ovulating women had higher levels of testosterone than men who smelled a t-shirt worn when the women were not ovulating or a control t-shirt. The scent of t-shirts worn when the women were ovulating was rated as the most pleasing. These olfactory findings brighten the signal that when you’re ovulating, it’s prime time for fun in the sheets.

    But the needle can swing both ways. In another study, researchers measured levels of hormones in heterosexual partners throughout the woman’s menstrual cycle. What they found was surprising: during ovulation, when levels of estradiol are elevated, both partners felt more negatively toward each other than at other times of the cycle. Clearly, your menstrual cycle plays a bigger part in the relationship than you’d think.

    To move closer together, try talking about your feelings to clear the air and make way for a deeper connection and yes, more sex.

    When his testosterone starts to wane…

    With age, men’s testosterone levels do naturally start to decrease. Instead of shoving your nightie under his nose once a month, you could also steer him in the direction of these healthy foods, proven to up his levels: eggs, peanuts, yoghurt, oysters, garlic, oats, avocado, salmon (or other oily fish), fresh fruit and veg, pine nuts, brown rice and liver.

    Add some spice with a sex toy

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    8 Sneaky Ways To Get More Movement In Your Day

    If you’re mostly sedentary, know that you’re not alone. Worldwide, rates of physical inactivity are skyrocketing, despite the rise of wellness and fitness trends. Need to get more movement in your day? Welcome to the club.

    Globally, we’re moving less

    A new policy toolkit, published by The Global Wellness Institute, shows that around the world, physical inactivity is on the rise. Per the press release, “The GWI’s new Wellness Policy Research Series was born out of a profound problem: The hyper-commercial wellness and fitness market cannot solve our skyrocketing health crises or bring exercise to all.” GWI research finds that only about one-third of the world’s population participates in recreational/leisure physical activities on a regular basis. The reason? Lack of time is cited, along with access and money. In a stunning finding, the GWI found that only 3-4% of the world’s population taps into the commercial fitness industry.

    Getting more movement in your day is essential

    But if your gym is too far away or you’re hard-up to pay for boutique gyms, there are other clever ways to get more movement in your day. Adding more movement is essential. Per the GWI, “Physical inactivity is now the fourth leading cause of death and the pandemic only increased our sedentary behaviour. The WHO estimates that physical inactivity will cause 500 million new cases of preventable diseases, and $300 billion in treatment costs, from 2020-2030, if things do not change.” Plus, the University of South Australia researchers found that exercise is 1.5 times better at helping depression than meditation and therapy.  Adding more movement is also a clever way of losing weight, since the more you move, the more calories you’d burn.

    In SA, we’re blessed with parks, beaches and tons of natural resources begging us to get outside and enjoy them. But you don’t always need to go far to move more. We’ve picked the brains of trainer Kirsten Johnson, who regularly advocates for adding more movement, for tips.

    Go for walks

    It’s age-old advice that stands the test of time. You just gotta walk more. “Going for a 20-minute walk first thing in the morning can start your day off right while avoiding all hurdles,” says Johnson. You don’t even need a sports bra. “Keep your pj’s on, pop on shoes and a hoodie and get out the door,” she adds.

    Park further away

    Most of us are prone to parking as close to the entrance as possible, but here’s an ace way to get more steps in. “Simply parking further from the shop you’re heading into will make you walk a few extra hundred steps every time you do it,” says Johnson.

    Time your movement

    Per the University of Michigan, you should move for three minutes every 30 to 60 minutes. That means getting up and walking around, grabbing a coffee, or anything that keeps you going for three minutes. Plus, those three minutes help boost your energy levels, so you’re better at the next task. Set up a timer on your phone or computer if you’re struggling.

    Leverage waiting time

    “There are tons of times during the day we spend waiting. While the kettle boils, food in the microwave, brushing teeth – use the time to do something small, it all adds up,” says Johnson. Instead of checking your phone, Johnson suggests slow squats, calf raises and arm circles. “All of this is movement, which might seem small, but they add up!” she says.

    Be less lazy

    “My mom has always been the person who will get up and fetch things for others, often upstairs or in another room,” says Johnson. “When I asked her about it she said it’s about serving others and in return you serve yourself with more movement. Truly inspiring, and I carry this mentality throughout my day. No movement is gone unrecognised by your body.”

    Try standing

    When you’re standing, you’re more likely to move your body. Plus, working while standing improves executive function, or the ability to break down tasks, per the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Show up for yourself

    Johnson’s workout app, FBK, costs just R85 and uses only your own body weight. Carve out time in your day to move, she says. “Plan movement into your routine as a non-negotiable. This doesn’t mean one hour in the gym. Eliminate hurdles; workout at home,” Johnson says.

    Pick movement dates

    “I think this idea has become more popular over the last few years but it’s worth mentioning. Meeting a friend over a cup of coffee does not have to be a static venture,” says Johnson. “Meet for a walk with coffee, catch up on each other’s lives and get your movement in. Win-win.” More