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    6 Energy-Boosting Hacks That Are Simple To Integrate

    Tiredness is that feeling that we all seem to know a little too well. Perhaps it’s waking in the morning and desperately wanting to hit the beckoning snooze button. Or maybe it’s the feeling of that ominous 3pm slump, where our brain fog creeps in as our sugars dip post-lunch. Or perhaps it’s a more figurative feeling of tiredness; that you’re struggling to keep family, friends and yourself topped up, and that the demands of life and communication can feel at times exhausting. 

    Well, you’re not alone, with one of the most common complaints brought to clinicians cited as being tiredness. After all, if we aren’t functioning at our best, we often feel like we’re not committing fully to our work, enjoying life to the most and sleeping well. 

    So with that in mind, the happy news is that a few simple tweaks will pay great dividends. Get ready to be electrocuted into life. Here are 6 easy hacks. 

    Exercise 

    When you’re tired, exercise is usually one of the first things to be given the boot in favour of a lie-down. But people have caught on to the benefits of exercising to boost your energy – something which at first glance could be seen as an oxymoron. In fact, the folks at Harvard cited a study where sleep-deprived volunteers compared against three different interventions: caffeine, stair-climbing and placebo. Ultimately they found that just 10 minutes of exercise boosted participants’ energy levels far more than caffeine (50mg) did.

    Soak up some sunshine (safely) 

    Feel more energetic on a sunny day than you do on a cloudy one? There’s some science to it. One of the best-known benefits of sunlight is vitamin D, which contributes to immune health, bone health and hormone production. Some studies have also suggested an association between sunshine and serotonin production, which helps regulate mood, hunger, sleep, learning, memory and your libido—so it’s possible to for sunshine to provide a natural energy high. Just be sure to soak it up at times when the UV index is low and wear SPF 50+ on any exposed skin. 

    Refuel with fermentation 

    We’re all aware to the fact that gut health is incredibly important to our overall health, influencing our immune system, heart, brain, mood, skin, sleep and overall digestion. We call it our second brain for a reason – it impacts our body overall in significant ways. So to keep our gut healthy it’s important to eat prebiotics and probiotics, limit processed foods and alcohol, drink plenty of water and minimise stress. A great place to start? Ferments. The likes of kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, natural non-flavoured yoghurt, miso and kombucha are your first ports of call. 2,4,6,8. 

    Prep your snacks 

    Drink, sorted. But what about snacks?! When hunger strikes, reach for ones that will keep you fuller for longer. We’re talking protein, good fats and fibre. If you’re in the mood for an apple, why not slather some peanut butter over it to ensure a slower release of energy? Or if you’re feeling like you need a top-up, protein goes a long way, after all, it’s the most satiating macronutrient. We’re talking yoghurt, tuna, trail mix, hard boiled eggs, a slice of cheese – the list goes on.

    Also, there are studies to suggest that starting the day with a savoury breakfast will help you manage your blood sugars and stay fuller for longer – and more energetic – throughout the day. 

    Image by Freepik

    Stick to a wake-up time 

    If you’re sleeping in one or two days of the week to try to ‘catch up’ on some energy, it may actually be having the opposite effect. A growing body of research shows that waking up at the same time every morning can not only help you sleep better at night but make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. This is because the circadian rhythm is reinforced, and the body knows what to expect, knowing when to release melatonin (the hormone that induces sleepiness). 

    READ MORE: Struggle Sleeping? Here’s How To Create A Bedtime Routine, Per Experts

    Turn up your favourite tunes 

    Listening to music has been linked to a reduction in stress levels, as well as a rise in serotonin and dopamine. Of course, it helps if it’s music that you love, so try creating a playlist for your morning commute rather than relying on the radio. The combination of lower cortisol levels and mood-regulating neurotransmitters can provide an energy boost while promoting focus and motivation. 

    Consider a supplement 

    We know that vitamins and minerals are essential for our bodies to function at their best. They influence our metabolic pathways and support fundamental cellular functions. And studies have shown that supplementing with vital vitamins and minerals is highly likely to result in health benefits in the areas of physical and mental fatigue. 

    Carla Oates of The Beauty Chef had some interesting insights into supplements, too, stating that, “Certain herbs, such as astragalus, have been traditionally used in Chinese Medicine for years to promote energy levels and increase vitality.” 

    More Energy-Boosting Articles:

    The post article by Scarlett Keddie appeared first on Women’s Health Australia. More

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    It’s Time To Stop Believing These Sexual Health Myths

    From periods to contraception to fertility, women’s sexual health is subject to its fair share of myths. In South Africa alone, these myths are not just rampant but serve as a barrier for women to access healthcare. Per one study, “In South Africa, about one in five (19%) women of reproductive age (15–49 years) have an unmet need for contraception, with even higher unmet need among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years at 31%, and 28% for young women aged 20–24 years.” Myths around contraception prevent women from accessing these services, leading to unwanted pregnancy and STIs.

    We’ve dispelled some common myths with input from the experts to lay down some need-to-know facts. Here, the most common sexual health myths you can happily stop believing – and what to know instead.

    Meet the experts: Dr Nico Lin is an Obstetric and Gynaecology registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. Dr Siyamak Saleh is a doctor, WHO consultant and sexual health influencer.

    Sexual Health Myth #1: You can’t get pregnant during your period.

    While menstruation does mean that your body is shedding its uterine wall, along with an unfertilised egg, this doesn’t mean pregnancy is impossible. “Although the likelihood is lower, it is possible to fall pregnant during your period,” says Dr Lin. “Sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for up to 7 days. Some women have shorter menstrual cycles and can ovulate shortly after the period ends.”

    What this means: when your period comes to an end, sperm might still be around, allowing you to fall pregnant once ovulation takes place. Always wear protection if you don’t want to become pregnant.

    READ MORE: Here’s Exactly How Your Vagina Changes In Your 20s, 30s And 40s

    Myth #2: The pull-out method works

    Talk about risky business. Per Dr Lin, pre-ejaculation can occur during sex, which could lead to unwanted pregnancy. “The pull-out method or withdrawal method is an unreliable form of birth control because pre-ejaculate can contain sperm, leading to the risk of unintended pregnancy,” he says. Again, use contraception like condoms, the IUD or birth control pills if you want to remain child-free.

    Myth #3: Certain sex positions will increase your chance of falling pregnant

    Just like how you can’t intuit the sex of your unborn child, a special sex position won’t make it easier to fall pregnant. “There is no scientific evidence to support this idea,” says Dr Lin. “Timing of intercourse is more important than sexual position as the key factor in achieving pregnancy is the sperm’s ability to reach the egg during ovulation. Regular unprotected sexual intercourse around the time of ovulation is recommended if you are trying to conceive.”

    Myth #4: Having a regular menstrual cycle means you are always fertile

    “While having regular menstrual cycles is associated with regular ovulation, it does not guarantee fertility,” Dr Lin explains. “Other factors can affect fertility, such as structural abnormalities of the female reproductive tract and endometriosis.” If you are trying to conceive, see your doctor for a check-up to gauge your fertility.

    READ MORE: 5 Simple Ways To Tell Exactly When You’re Ovulating

    Myth #5: Using birth control for a long time makes you infertile

    Simply not true, experts agree. “Long-term use of birth control methods such as pills, injections and intra-uterine devices typically do not impact fertility negatively,” says Dr Lin. “Fertility usually resumes once you stop using the contraceptive. However, responses may vary among individuals with a return to fertility ranging between 2-18 months. Duration of contraceptive use has also been proven to not affect long-term fertility.”

    Also, it’s important to remember that age plays a factor in fertility. The more you age, the more fertility declines. “This means if someone uses birth control for many years, they might find it more challenging to conceive not because of the birth control itself, but because of age-related changes in fertility,” Dr Saleh explains.

    Myth #6: Using contraception will make your partner infertile

    First, let’s make it clear that this is completely untrue. Here’s how hormonal contraceptives work: “They prevent ovulation and thicken the mucus at the mouth of the womb, preventing sperm from entering the reproductive tract,” explains Dr Lin. “It can also work by thinning the lining of the womb, making it less likely for a fertilised egg to implant and grow.” The bottom line: since these methods work within the female reproductive system, they do not affect the partner’s fertility.

    READ MORE: Here’s How To Have A Discussion With Your Doctor About Sex

    Myth #7: The Morning After Pill Is Always Effective

    Well… it’s a bit more complicated than this. “Many factors influence the effectiveness of the morning-after pill, a crucial form of emergency contraception,” says Dr Saleh. “It’s most effective when taken within 24 hours after unprotected sex. There are two primary types of emergency contraception pills: one that contains levonorgestrel (e.g., Plan B One-Step), which is most effective within 72 hours, and another, Ella (ulipristal acetate), which can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. The key mechanism of the morning-after pill is to delay ovulation; therefore, if ovulation has already occurred, the pill will NOT be effective. Additionally, the efficacy of morning-after pills is affected by BMI; higher BMI levels may reduce their effectiveness.”

    Myth #8: Steaming and douching are great for vaginal health

    Leave these practices behind, experts say. “Steaming and douching can disrupt the natural balance of the vagina, leading to several potential risks,” explains Dr Saleh. “These practices can affect the vaginal pH, making the environment more susceptible to infections and irritation. Steaming, in particular, might introduce excessive heat to sensitive areas, potentially leading to burns or discomfort.

    Both steaming and douching can upset the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina, increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.” Plus, your vagina is a self-cleaning machine and is designed to maintain its balance without the need for internal cleansing like douching, Dr Saleh warns. Just use a mild soap and water and you’ll be fine.

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

    Myth #9: Vaginal discharge means infection

    This sexual health myth couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s more the quality of the discharge that determines inflammation and infection. “Vaginal discharge is a natural and healthy part of the vagina’s self-cleansing mechanism. Not all discharge indicates an infection,” says Dr Saleh. If your discharge is white, that’s normal.

    “Signs that discharge may be due to an infection include a change in colour, consistency, smell, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like itching, irritation or even lower abdominal pain. Discharge that is green, grey, or has a strong odour might signal an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis or an STI, and requires a consultation with a healthcare provider,” explains Dr Saleh.

    Michelle is the features editor at WH. She’s immensely curious about the world, passionate about health and wellness and enjoys a good surf when the waves are good. More

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    TikTok’s Viral 30-30-30 Challenge: Does It Work For Weight Loss?

    Ah, another day, another viral TikTok challenge. This time, creators on the app are championing a novel approach to weight loss: the 30-30-30 challenge, which involves eating 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, followed by 30 minutes of exercise.

    As with anything, there are merits and sticky points when it comes to the viral challenge. We spoke to the experts about the 30-30-30 challenge to see how it holds up against the tried-and-true weight loss approaches we know and (seem to) hate: consistent exercise paired with a varied, healthy diet.

    Meet the experts: Claire Julsing-Strydom is a registered dietician specialising in PCOS and weight loss at Nutritional Solutions. Martene Michael is a registered dietician at Nutri Dynamix and is currently completing a Master of Medical Science specialising in the impact of certain dietary patterns on the human body.

    So… What is the 30-30-30 challenge?

    Put simply, the 30-30-30 challenge involves three simple things. Wake up and within 30 minutes, eat 30g of protein. Then, do 30 minutes of steady-state cardio exercise. This exercise can be something very simple like bike riding or a walk. The aim is to keep your heart rate at around 135bmp (beats per minute) while being able to walk or read comfortably.

    This method was first seen in Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body but was made popular by biologist Gary Brecka on TikTok. The idea is that this forces the body to burn fat, as opposed to burning lean muscle (lean muscle burns fat at rest).

    READ MORE: What Is The 75 Hard Challenge—And Is It Safe? Trainers Break Down The Pros And Cons

    What does 30g of protein look like?

    While you’re welcome to eat a combination of carbs and fats with your meal, in order to reap the benefits of the 30-30-30 challenge, your protein must be at 30g.

    This looks like:

    Three scrambled eggs with cheese

    A protein powder shake

    High-protein bread or flapjacks

    1 cup of Greek yoghurt with berries and peanut butter

    A tofu scramble

    What does the 30 minutes of exercise look like?

    Since you’d need to keep your body at 135 bpm, stick to steady-state cardio. This could look like:

    Walking

    Riding a bike

    Stepping

    Running slowly

    Dancing

    READ MORE: 3 High-Protein, Low-Carb Breakfast Recipes You’ll Actually Love To Eat

    What are the benefits of the 30-30-30 challenge?

    A high-protein breakfast is a win

    Experts agree that a filling breakfast is a slam dunk towards weight loss goals. “I think it’s a great idea to wake up, have decent protein for breakfast and then exercise,” says registered dietician Claire Julsing-Strydom. “As a dietician, I often see people do things like oats, but add no protein, or they have toast with avo, which is fat but no protein – and they find that their energy levels dip throughout the day, they get hungrier throughout the day. We know that protein does give us more satiety and it helps with glucose control, too.”

    Martene Michael, a registered dietician, agrees. “With intermittent fasting, eating breakfast has been a hot topic of debate for a while. This 30-30-30 trend brings back breakfast, and I am all for it,” she says. “Encouraging a nutrient-dense, high-protein breakfast may be helpful in improving satiety and in turn, helps to reduce the consumption of high calorie, nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Research continues to find that eating a protein-rich breakfast may be useful in stabilising blood sugar levels, combats insulin resistance and assisting in long-term, sustained weight loss.”

    Pre-workout fuel is a great idea

    “We also know that exercising straight after a meal helps with glucose control so I think what we’re getting here is the better blood glucose control with the protein,” says Julsing-Strydom.

    We also know that fasted cardio might not be a great idea when it comes to fat loss. “In the popular TikTok video, Brecka discusses the dangers of working out in a fasted state,” notes Michael. “Exercising in a fasted state can lead to the depletion of glycogen reserves, which typically occurs around 20 minutes into a workout. Once glycogen stores are exhausted, the body may resort to breaking down lean muscle tissue to sustain energy levels. This process can compromise muscle integrity and hinder the overall effectiveness of the workout.” Added to that, says Michael, “Consuming protein before a workout can help to prevent muscle breakdown during exercise and can provide amino acids as a readily available energy source during exercise.”

    READ MORE: What Is Cozy Cardio On TikTok? Trainers Weigh In On The Comfy Workout Trend

    What should you watch out for while doing the 30-30-30 challenge?

    According to Michael, make sure that your pre-workout meal also contains some form of healthy carbohydrates.

    “Our brain and muscle’s primary fuel source is carbohydrates. Thus, rather than aiming to hit 30g of protein in a pre-workout meal, it would be advisable to aim to consume a balanced pre-workout meal, consisting of easily digestible carbohydrate and protein sources – such as a light protein shake, rice cakes with fat-free cottage cheese or a low fat/fat-free mini yoghurt with some berries, seeds or nuts,” she says.

    Not everyone can eat that early

    Per Julsing-Strydom, some women might find it difficult to eat a rounded meal within 30 minutes of waking. “If someone would struggle to get this amount of protein in the morning, we’d normally recommend a shake so overall I don’t think this is a bad thing,” she notes. If this is you, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to eat a bit later, says Julsing-Strydom. “I think we mustn’t get into rigid formulas like this – normally those are the ones that do well on social media for the new diet on the block,” she says.

    Steady-state cardio is great, but might not burn all the fat

    “While LISS cardio has its benefits, it is not a magical or exclusive method for fat burning. The perception of any exercise as a ‘fat-burning’ solution can be misleading, and it’s important to understand the broader context of weight management and body composition,” warns Michael. “LISS (low-impact steady state) cardio may be effective for certain individuals. However, for others who have a higher baseline fitness level, this type of exercise may prove to be ineffective. Thus the type of exercise recommended should be based on a personalised approach.”

    READ MORE: Here’s How To Make Weight Loss Goals That Will Actually Stick in 2024

    Overall, experts warn against being too rigid in your weight loss approach. The 30-30-30 challenge, while helpful and potentially healthy, does have a rigidity to it that might not work for everyone. “As with any trending diet, caution is advised, and consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs and goals,” says Michael. “Ultimately, creating a sustainable and healthy lifestyle involves adopting practices that work best for your body to promote long-term health and well-being.” We couldn’t agree more!

    Michelle is the features editor at WH. She’s immensely curious about the world, passionate about health and wellness and enjoys a good surf when the waves are good. More

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    Weight Loss Pills: We Delved Deep Into The Science To See If Any Actually Work

    If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’ve thought about weight loss pills. They’re tantalisingly simple and easy to use: just pop a powerful supp and watch as the fat melts away, right?

    If only. Weight loss pills work if the fundamental principle of weight loss is in place: a caloric deficit. “A calorie deficit is necessary to lose weight,” says Megan Lee, a registered dietician at Gabi Meltzer Dietician. “This is established when the body is using more energy than it is taking in from food. Calorie deficits occur through behavioural changes like increasing energy expenditure through movement or decreasing total calorie intake through dietary modifications. They do not occur from simply ingesting the compounds found in diet pills.” But that doesn’t stop weight loss pills from creeping up and doing the rounds on TikTok, where people swear by its efficacy. The results are more likely from a healthy diet and plenty of movement which contributes to a caloric deficit.

    Nonetheless, we decided to closely investigate the plethora of weight loss pills around to see how they actually work. We chatted with experts and scrutinised the studies to bring you fact-checked information about each supp we could find online that’s popular. Without further ado, the weight loss pills and how they work.

    CLA Safflower

    What it is

    CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid—a fat high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (a.k.a. the good kinds). Safflower is a plant that looks like a dandelion but isn’t. The oil extracted from it is produced by the seeds of the plant, which contains CLA.

    What it does

    Well… not much. According to one 2007 study, CLA supplements could increase fat oxidation (the process by which the body breaks down fats into smaller molecules so they can be used for energy). The study also found that CLA could burn energy during sleep. Sounds promising!

    Does it work?

    The bad news? The study involved less than 50 subjects, which is less than the required amount to really move the needle and conclusively say that this weight loss pill works. Added to that, safflower oil only contains a small amount of CLA—about 0.7 milligrams of CLA per gram of fat. More is probably needed to really induce the effects listed above.

    READ MORE: Can CLA Safflower Oil Supplements Really Help You Lose Weight?   

    Garcinia Cambogia

    What it is

    Ah, the fave weight loss supplement for aeons. This strange-sounding word is actually a fruit commonly grown in India and Southeast Asia. The rind contains a chemical (hydroxycitric acid or HCA) which is where the crux of weight loss claims stem from. It’s been studied for its appetite-suppressant effects, which is why so many weight loss pills contain the extract.

    What it does

    Per studies and reviews, the appetite suppressant effects are said to be what facilitates weight loss. Pretty clear, right – the less you eat, the less your caloric intake, meaning you’d be in a caloric deficit, leading to a slimmer figure.

    Does it work?

    Erm… kind of. The claims that garcinia cambogia works are down to very few robust randomised studies. Only five of these showed any amount of weight loss. In those studies, participants didn’t see the needle move much in the direction of weight loss. “While weight loss may have occurred in some of the studies, most showed no clinically significant reduction in body fat or body weight,” says Lee. “Dietary modification and physical activity remain the most suitable method to alter body composition in the general population.” Added to that, per one expert, your weight loss from taking the supplement is around half a kilo – hardly enough to write home about.

    READ MORE: Exactly What You Need To Know About Garcinia Cambogia Extract For Weight Loss

    Yohimbe

    What it is

    Made from the bark of an evergreen tree, called Pausinystalia yohimbe. The tree grows in West and Central Africa in lowland forests. From the bark comes yohimbe, and the supplement is used to treat erectile dysfunction as well as weight loss.  

    What it does

    Yohimbe is an alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist, meaning that it enhances the release of both serotonin (the happiness hormone) and norepinephrine (your fight-or-flight hormone). The alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist serves as the crux of where weight loss is thought to happen. Using the receptor, it’s thought that it could block receptors in fat cells which could theoretically result in weight loss. One study looked at 20 obese females who consumed a measly 1,000-calorie diet for three weeks while taking yohimbe. They lost more weight than those in the placebo group. It’s worth noting that the subjects took 5mg of yohimbe four times a day.

    Does it work?

    We’d need more robust studies to confirm if yohimbe works for weight loss or not. Other studies concluded that yohimbe had no significant impact on weight loss.

    Berberine

    What it is

    Berberine is a compound found in many plants, including barberry, goldenseal and goldthread. (Never heard of ‘em? Us neither. We move.) It’s been cultivated and used for over 3000 years in China and South Asia. The parts of the plant barberry have been used in different ways.

    What it does

    Now, the fun part. The possible health benefits come from how it affects enzymes in the bod. It’s been associated with lowering cholesterol, maintaining a healthy heart, controlling blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and helping with the symptoms of PCOS. When it comes to weight loss, it’s thought that the resulting fat loss might come from how it interacts with insulin and the hormones that keep fat cells in check. Per one study, it might increase brown adipose tissue (the good kind) and its activity, leading to potential fat loss.

    Does it work?

    According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the jury is out on this one. Some studies find that it’s effective, while others say it’s not worth your moola. Plus, existing studies featured people with comorbidities like diabetes or fatty liver disease, so any resulting weight loss might be a result of berberine on these existing conditions. What we really need is concrete and reliable studies to link berberine to weight loss.

    READ MORE: Nature’s Ozempic: What Are The Benefits Of Berberine? 

    Psyllium husk

    What it is

    The brown powder, eschewed once for its texture, is making a strong comeback with claims that it could lead to weight loss. A soluble fibre, the husk is used in laxatives and treats high blood sugar, diarrhoea and high cholesterol. It absorbs water fiercely, making you feel fuller for longer.

    What it does

    It’s superpower appears to be that it boosts satiety, making you feel fuller for longer – a powerful technique in weight loss efforts.

    Does it work?

    Proponents claim that psyllium triggers receptors in your intestines, promoting fullness so you’re less likely to eat more. Cue caloric deficit note up top. While this is indeed the chief mechanism of Ozempic, psyllium husk does not work at all in the same way as the drug. Ozempic works in the brain; psyllium husk works in the gut temporarily.

    Scientific evidence is also mixed as to whether or not taking this supplement will result in weight loss. However, upping your fibre intake is a good idea, so use the husk to fill up, but watch that you don’t overdo it. If you’re taking medication, don’t take psyllium before your meds – these could interfere with your medication’s absorption.

    READ MORE: Is Psyllium Husk A Viable Alternative To Ozempic?  

    What it is

    You’ll know this one. It’s one of the most drunk teas in the world with powerful health benefits. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, promoting heart health, boosting the liver and brain and even helping skin glow.

    What it does

    It’s a mainstay in weight loss pills. The main idea: since green tea is rich in catechins and caffeine, these compounds are attributed to its weight loss properties. That’s because caffeine and catechins are known to regulate the hormones that assist in thermogenesis (a kind of fat-burning process). In short, thermogenesis is the process during which calories in your body are used to digest food and produce heat. It’s also thought that green tea suppresses appetite, leading to weight loss.  

    Does it work?

    In one 2005 study, people who took a mix of green tea extract, caffeine and guarana before every meal burned around 179 more calories 24 hours after. However, other studies found that green tea extract had no significant effects. Plus, having too much green tea extract could damage the liver, leading to liver failure. Be very careful with your brew.

    Apple cider vinegar

    What it is

    Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, as it’s called, is a vinegar made from crushed, fermented apples, yeast and sugar. Standard fermentation stuff. It’s used in food and in almost everything else, from curing UTIs to helping heartburn to bloatedness. So it’s natural that we turned to ACV for weight loss.

    What it does

    ACV has high levels of acetic acid. This acid has been shown to improve metabolism and can prevent fat deposition in mice. From there, various studies started rolling in that found ACV can deliver modest weight loss.

    Does it work?

    We’ll let Dr Robert H. Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, say it for us. “In all, the scientific evidence that vinegar consumption (whether of the apple cider variety or not) is a reliable, long-term means of losing excess weight is not compelling.” However, ACV might prevent blood sugar spikes, making you feel better. That’s about it.

    READ MORE: What To Know Before Taking Apple Cider Vinegar Pills To Lose Weight

    What it is

    Green coffee beans are coffee beans that are not roasted. The active chemical in the raw bean, chlorogenic acid, is destroyed when one roasts the bean. It’s thought that this acid is what contributes to weight loss.

    What it does

    A natural antioxidant, it’s thought that chlorogenic acid keeps inflammation in the body at lower levels and could also lower blood pressure. The chemical may work by lowering blood sugar and blocking a fat build-up but studies are yet to validate this claim.

    Does it work?

    When it comes to weight loss, the research is murky. Some claim that when taking green coffee bean extract and a low-calorie diet, you’ll lose more weight than just being in a caloric deficit. But the amount of weight difference isn’t significant enough to support the claim. Plus, green coffee bean extract doesn’t come without its own side effects, ranging from headaches and upset stomachs to heightened anxiety. Use with caution.

    Sea moss

    What it is

    Sea moss, or Chondrus crispus, is a type of algae that grows in Atlantic oceans. It grows in different colours, from purple, white and green and each colour has its own set of benefits.

    What it does

    Sea moss has a long list of purported benefits that should be studied more thoroughly. They contain vitamins and minerals, are low in calories and are reportedly high in live bacteria that support the gut. Because it’s high in fibre, it might work for weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer, preventing you from overeating and leading to that all-important caloric deficit.

    Does it work?

    The research on sea moss is fledgling at best and more needs to be studied before experts can make a definitive link between weight loss and the ocean grub.

    READ MORE: Um, People Are Using Sea Moss For Weight Loss But Does It Work?

    All in all, while weight loss pills could yield results, they’re no replacement for the tried-and-true expert-approved weight loss methods. What that looks like? Regular exercise and a healthier diet. “Taking diet pills may have a small effect on weight loss, but they do not foster positive behavioural changes that ultimately lead to sustained weight maintenance, positive self-esteem or longevity,” says Lee. “Many of the beneficial components of weight loss pills can be taken in through an adequate and varied diet. Building on beneficial habits around food intake, movement and mental well-being is more likely to create a lifestyle that enhances overall health, longevity and acceptance of one’s self.” More

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

    Back pain? Join the club. Per the KZN Department of Health, some 30 to 40% of South Africans are affected by back pain at some point in their life. Back stretches help, so heed these tips from yogis for the best back stretches to ease out niggles and get that aah-inducing feeling that relieves it all.

    So what causes back pain?

    Back pain is caused by several conditions: arthritis that affects the lower back and spinal cord, osteoporosis (your spine’s vertebrae become brittle), or even muscle and ligament strain caused by repeatedly lifting heavy objects.

    What’s more, sitting at a desk all day causes back pain to intensify. According to UCLA Health, “sitting in a slouched position can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the spinal discs”, leading to prolonged pain. Over time, these pains can be intensified. Got a bad posture? You can thank your slumped shoulders for back pain, too. Slumping or slouching loads your back in a way isn’t supported by your spinal structure. The offshoot? “The intricate network of muscles, discs, and joints in your back tend to be pushed beyond their tolerable limit, causing pain,” according to Spine Health.

    The power of back stretches

    Doing back stretches regularly can elongate the back, reduce the stiffness in the muscles supporting the back and improve the range of motion and overall mobility. Also, it could help you maintain a good posture, since the muscles are stretched out and are able to better support a good standing or sitting posture.

    Yoga instructor Amy Hopkins weighed in on a few back stretches that can help with your back pain. Yoga is a popular workout for your rest days or for when you want to stretch or strengthen your muscles. Do these moves in your own flow every day and feel your back unwind.

    Back stretch gear

    These tools can elevate your stretching routine and deliver those aahs.

    Use a foam roller over your back to get some deep tissue massage going.

    Prop a yoga block under your back to release tension and relax your back muscles.

    A yoga mat delivers comfort and helps with slipping while you stretch things out.

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

    Get started…

    Start by releasing tension along the spine with a series of Cat and Cow postures. Begin in a tabletop position, hands beneath shoulders, knees beneath hips, on a mat or carpeted surface, fingers spread wide, tops of feet pressed into the mat. Do this slowly, five times each move for a total of 10 long breaths. These stretches bring flexibility into the spine and are great for stretching the back, hips and abdomen. They’re good for relieving lower back pain and sciatica (lower back into hips and butt).

    The Cow Posture

    Inhale as you lift your forehead and eyes to gaze up towards the ceiling.

    Drop the belly as you curl your spine, as if you have a Pilates ball balancing on your back.

    Actively tilting your tailbone upwards will help create the curve.

    The Cat Posture

    Exhale as you round the spine (imagine the ball is beneath you now) and suck your belly button into your spine.

    Press your hands into the mat, creating a lift in your shoulders.

    Drop your head and gaze towards your belly button.

    Actively tip your pelvis forward.

    Come back to a neutral tabletop position to move into the next pose.

    READ MORE: The 3 Stretches You Should Be Doing Daily

    Back stretches for the upper back

    Child’s Pose With Side Stretch

    From tabletop position, bring your toes together and spread your knees so that each knee is at the edge of the mat.

    Fold forward over your lap and let your belly hang softly between your thighs, arms stretched out in front of you.

    Actively try reach your bum to meet your heels. This elongates the spine. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.

    Walk your left hand over to just outside the left side of the mat. Place your right hand on top of your left, so you really stretch out the right side of the back and shoulders. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

    Move your hands back through the centre, then over to the right side, placing the right hand outside the right side of the mat.

    Place your left hand on top of the right, so you feel a nice stretch along the left side of the back and shoulders. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.

    Thread The Needle Pose (good for the whole back)

    From tabletop position, inhale to lift your right hand up towards the ceiling; as you exhale, thread the needle: bring the right hand and arm through the ‘hole’ you create on the left side with your left arm and left thigh.

    Bring the arm all the way through so you’re lying on your right shoulder and your right cheek and temple are on the mat. Extend the left hand out in front of you so your arms form perpendicular lines. Stay here for five to 10 breaths.

    Walk your left hand back to underneath the left shoulder; inhale as you push up through the left hand, lifting your right hand back up towards the ceiling. Exhale to place the right hand back on the mat, so you’re in a neutral tabletop position.

    Repeat on the other side, starting by inhaling as you lift your left hand towards the sky, and then thread the needle on the other side. Stay here for five to 10 breaths, then come back to tabletop position.

    READ MORE: LISS: A Complete Guide, From What It Actually Is, To Why And When To Do It

    Back stretches for the lower back

    Supine Twist

    Lie on your back, bringing your arms into a T-shape.

    Bring your knees in towards your chest, then slowly release both knees over to the right-hand side.

    Rest your head either facing upwards or looking over your left shoulder.

    Keep both shoulders on the mat and try to keep your knees pressed together. If your top leg lifts up, you can fold a towel and place it between your knees (or use a yoga block).

    Stay here for five to 10 slow breaths. Bring your knees back up to centre and then over to the opposite side. Repeat.

    Sphinx Pose

    Hopkins says that because we spend so much time sitting, our lower backs can take a lot of strain. The Sphinx Pose is a counter-pose to sitting and promotes the natural curvature of the spine, relieving back pain.

    Start by lying on your stomach. Feet hip-width apart and with your forearms on the mat, bring your elbows to rest directly beneath your shoulders.

    Be mindful of the pressure on your lower back – if this is too painful, you can shift your elbows slightly forward.

    Hold the pose to five to 10 slow breaths. Release by lying on your belly, right cheek to the mat.

    You can then move into Child’s Pose to finish off.

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More

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    You Won’t Believe These 6 Health Benefits Of Homemade Chocolate Cake

    When are peanut butter cookies and chocolate cake healthy? When you’re making them. Bust out a Bundt pan and cook up some perks…

    1. Less Stress

    Measuring out ingredients or kneading dough forces you to concentrate. These mindful moments calm the brain’s emotional centre – and direct blood flow to its impulse control hub. Which means you’ll feel more chilled overall.

    TRY RECIPE: This Beetroot Chocolate Cake Is So Moist It Doesn’t Even Need Icing

    2. Boosted Immunity

    Eeek, you’ve burnt the base! When it happens, focus on the upside: now you, too, can join the #PinterestFail sisterhood! Regularly flipping judge-y thoughts to more positive ones can lower stress hormone levels, which improves cell health and your body’s overall ability to fight off illness.

    3. Enhanced Cognition

    Any way you bake it, mixing up Grandma’s muesli rusks provides great brain benefits. Stringently following a recipe strengthens your procedural memory (a form of long-term recall that allows you to do something you haven’t done in years – you know, the “it’s like riding a bike” cliché). But going rogue – and say, holding the raisins and adding dried cranberries – flexes your smarts and gives your strategic reasoning skills a workout.

    READ MORE: 15 Wellness Journals To Kickstart Your Year

    4. A Healthier Heart

    Moving from counter to fridge and back does not = cardio for the day! But it does engage your muscles, which improves the way your body metabolises sugars and fats. Keep at it for two hours and you’ll net better blood-sugar levels – and, over time, significantly lower “bad” cholesterol. This, in turn, strengthens your ticker.

    5. A Longer Life

    Friends don’t let friends bake alone – at least not if they want to spend their golden years together. Batter-ing up with a loved one can build strong bonds that tack years onto your life. Sharing the fruit(cake)s of your labour is even better: generous acts lower inflammation levels, curbing your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes.

    READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Type 1 Diabetes

    6. A Slimmer Bod

    Isn’t it ironic? Indulging in homemade treats once a week buoys self-control, maintains a healthy-eating motivation (finally, a break from kale!) and prevents the “oh, what the hell” effect that leads to inhaling the whole tray. The key is planning the indulgence. Have one or two brownies warm out of the oven, then feed the rest to friends.

    Sources: Dr Nicole M. Avena, author of Why Diets Fail; Dr Elisha Goldstein, author of Uncovering Happiness; Dr Timothy De Waal Malefyt, Fordham University; Dr Emma Seppälä, Stanford University School Of Medicine. More

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    Chew Slowly, Don’t Skip Breakfast And Eat 30 Plants A Week: 15 Easy Food Changes For 2024

    It’s a new year, and before you rush to set your resolutions and decide 2024 will finally be the year you completely overhaul your diet and fitness (for good, this time), we’re here to remind you that making small, sustainable changes over time is often more effective than attempting drastic alterations (which, often, can’t be sustained).

    With stats showing that 92 percent of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions and 80 percent of us will have already failed by the second week of February, we’ve come up with a series of easy food changes – or micro changes, if you will – to help you make 2024 your healthiest yet. Because, if you can figure out how to make your goals easier, you’re more likely to succeed.

    These tiny tweaks are brought to you by a whole host of nutrition experts and doctors, who show that while there’s nothing wrong with aiming big, we can help ourselves by starting small.

    Easy food changes for 2024

    1. Build your meals with plants first

    At the risk of preaching to the choir (aka, WH readers), you don’t need us to tell you that to optimise your diet, you need to hit your five fruit and veg a day target. But how many of us actually do? According to the UK’s NHS, only 55.4% of adults aged 16 and over eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables on the regular.

    An easy food change for 2024? Make sure you’re eating at least one plant with every meal.

    “Plants include whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices,” says Dr Federica Amati, nutrition topic lead at Imperial College School of Medicine.

    “It’s important that we get a variety of these in our diet to maximise our intake of nutrients, plant protein, polyphenols, and fibre, which support our gut microbiome and overall health and wellbeing.”

    READ MORE: 10 Health Benefits Of Pomegranate Seeds And Juice, According To Dietitians

    2. Aim to eat 30 different plants a week

    In fact, if your New Year’s resolution is to eat more veg, why stop at five-a-day, when many experts now believe that adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to our diet is just as important?

    Orla Stone, nutritionist and gut health specialist, says the best way to fight the January blues is by eating various plant fibre.

    “We now know that your gut bacteria need a variety of fibre to thrive so you can’t just rely on the same foods day in and day out,” she says.

    “Given how important healthy gut bacteria are for supporting your mood and mental wellbeing, try to eat 30 different plants per week. Easy ways to support this include adding frozen mixed vegetables or a can of mixed pulses to your regular dinner.”

    3. Try to eat more fermented foods

    With recent studies looking at how fermented foods can affect everything from our gut health and immune system to our cholesterol levels and risk of type 2 diabetes, fermented foods are back in vogue. And making this easy food change is so simple.

    “Eating three to five portions of fermented foods regularly is linked to improved health outcomes,” says Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of ZOE, the personalised nutrition company and author of Sunday Times best-selling Food for Life and Spoon Fed.

    “Different fermented foods contain different types and strains of beneficial bacteria, which contribute to a more diverse and healthy microbiome. Some examples include live yoghurt (unsweetened), kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.”

    4. Don’t skip breakfast

    Breakfast is often cited as ‘the most important meal of the day’, and for good reason. Added to the list of easy food changes? Eat your breakfast.

    “Most people know that a good, hearty breakfast is important for managing your glucose levels and providing essential nutrients to set you up for an energised day. However, what is often overlooked are the psychological benefits of a healthy breakfast,” says Pilates teacher Sarah Emblow.

    “Breakfast seems to influence our metabolism more so than lunch or dinner, and so by starting your day with a nutritionally balanced breakfast, you are more likely to make healthy choices for the rest of the day, encouraging strong, and improved habits.

    “When that 3pm crash happens, your body is programmed to crave the type of food you ate first in the day, so if you had eggs and avocado for breakfast, you are going to crave something savoury later in the day when your body needs to refuel.”

    READ MORE: 12 Of The Best Vegan Protein Powders You Can Buy Right Now

    5. Add seeds to your breakfast

    One of the easiest food changes you can make for your gut is to add fibre-rich seeds to your breakfast each morning.

    Jessica Sepel, clinical nutritionist and founder of JSHealth Vitamins says her favourite way to do this is by prepping a batch of her mum’s famous seed mix.

    “Simply combine 1 cup of each of the following: chia seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flaxseed or LSA mix, pumpkin seeds, plus 2 tbsp cinnamon, which is then ready to go for the week,” she says. “I enjoy it most mornings with berries and Greek yoghurt. Delicious and satisfying. I also take it with me when I am travelling.”

    6. Focus on the quality and timing of your snacking

    Ever found yourself *accidentally* devouring an entire ‘family sized’ bag of chocolates or ‘to share’ bag of crisps simply because? That would be, er, all of us, then.

    Dr Sarah Berry, a reader in Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London and chief scientist at ZOE, says if there’s one thing you can focus on in 2024, it’s the quality – and timing – of your snacks.

    “The type of snacks you eat are really important for maintaining your energy levels, avoiding blood sugar dips and improving your health,” she says.

    “Try to eat good-quality snacks based on whole foods, such as nuts, whole fruit, and vegetable sticks with hummus. Avoid snacking late into the evening after 9pm, as our ZOE research has shown that this is linked with poorer cardiometabolic health.”

    7. Snack on nuts once per day

    And, actually, if you fancy a snack, Dr Sophie Medlin, consultant colorectal dietician, recommends reaching for nuts above all else.

    “Nuts contain micronutrients such as selenium, zinc and magnesium which are harder to find elsewhere in the diet,” she says.

    “They are also full of fibre and protein so are great for keeping you full between meals. I recommend to my patients to set an alarm for a 3-4pm snack, so they have something before they get too hungry and can’t resist the biscuits in the office.

    “Having an afternoon snack also helps you to make better decisions at your evening meal. So you’re more likely to prepare a balanced evening meal rather than reaching for food delivery apps,” she adds.

    READ MORE: How To Add More Vegetables To Your Diet, Even If You’re Busy

    8. Chew slowly

    “So many of us are fixated on which foods to include or exclude to support our health, and in return, we often overlook just how important the way we eat is for our health,” says Harley St. London-based nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr.

    “Digestion begins with our senses and in our mouth. When we miss this crucial stage of digestion – whether it is because we are shovelling in our food quickly between meetings, distracted by our phones, or eating whilst we work – we might be left with bloating and indigestion.”

    It takes 10-20 minutes for signals from our gut to tell our brain we are full and satiated, she adds. “So when we don’t focus on our food and eating habits, we can miss this signal and end up over-eating and feeling dissatisfied”.

    Brea Lofton, nutritionist and registered dietitian at Lumen, agrees. “Eating slowly and savouring your food instead of eating too quickly can help you recognize when you’re full and satisfied, and help prevent unintended overeating.”

    Some sources have suggested 32 bites per mouthful as a magic number, but this isn’t backed by science. So instead, Lenherr suggests simply putting your fork and knife down in between each bite. “This will help you slow down your eating,” she says. “Take a meeting with your food, dedicate 10 minutes to a meal to eat slowly.”

    9. Drink more water

    So we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel with this tip. But a survey from The State of Nutrition in South Africa 2021 suggests that 41 percent of South African people don’t drink enough water a day. The daily recommended amount? Six to eight glasses of H2O every day. So perhaps 2024 is the year you finally commit to drinking more water…

    “Try to limit sugary drinks and excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages, as these can contribute to dehydration,” says nutritionist Brea Lofton.

    And, remember, when your activity is higher, you are losing water through your sweat. “This means that on days your exercise sessions are more intense, it is a good idea to drink more water,” says Lofton.

    If you struggle to drink enough water, Meghan Foulsham, nutritionist, suggests adding a straw. “Switching to using a bottle with a built-in straw allows you to drink more water without thinking about it. We can take more liquid through a straw, as we don’t need to “gulp”, and it makes the drinking process more pleasant and smooth overall.”

    10. Choose wholemeal for a fibre boost

    The current recommended WHO guidelines say adults should eat 25g of fibre a day. Yet, according to one source, most women are only eating an average of about 16g a day.

    “Most people get 60% less fibre than they should,” says Dr Macarena Staudenmaier, chief medical officer at JERMS. “Fibre is crucial for a healthy diet. It prevents constipation but also diabetes, heart issues, and bowel cancer. Fibre is also a power food for the good bacteria in your gut.”

    Her top tip to up your fibre game? “Choose whole grain options like bulgur wheat, spelt bread, wholemeal pasta, or rye crackers over white versions.”

    READ MORE: Healthy Alternatives To Fried Chips

    11. Watch out for ultra-processed foods

    The terms ‘processed’ and ‘ultra-processed’ have been thrown around a lot over the past year. New research links diets high in ultra-processed foods to increased risks of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression.

    To identify ultra-processed foods, nutritionists say it’s best to check the label. “For 2024, try to cut back on foods and beverages high in added sugars,” says Brea Lofton. “You can make a plan to learn to read food labels to help you identify hidden sources of sugar and make positive changes to your nutrition.”

    12. Avoid large gaps in between meals

    When it comes to eating a healthy diet, it’s not just what and how much you eat that plays a role. When you eat can make a difference, too. Especially if you’re trying to balance your blood sugar levels.

    Jodie Relf, registered dietician says that when we don’t eat for hours on end we end up feeling ravenous. From there, we’re more inclined to reach for larger portions of foods to satisfy that hunger. “Or foods that are high in sugar and energy to quickly satisfy our hunger. This can cause large spikes in blood glucose levels”.

    “Blood sugar crashes can leave you feeling tired, irritable, hungry and anxious,” she adds. “Eating regularly, including protein and healthy fats with your meals/snacks, and prioritising sleep and reducing stress can all contribute to maintaining balanced blood sugar levels.”

    13. Cook double for easy meal prep

    We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling after a long day at work. You’ve come home to an empty fridge and then ended up ordering a takeaway instead of going to the shops and cooking something healthy from scratch. The answer? Double up on portion sizes when cooking your dinner.

    “Save the leftovers for an easy lunch or a quick and healthy dinner option for evenings you’re more on the go,” says nutritionist Meghan Foulsham. “It doesn’t require any extra work, but it saves you time and likely money further down the line, as you don’t have to opt for convenience foods.”

    An easy 2024 goal? Allocate a couple of hours at the weekend or on a quiet evening to fill your fridge with delicious, healthy meals. This will help eliminate the temptation of a takeaway.

    14. Eat your kiwis

    When you think about boosting vitamin C, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Eating more oranges? Adding a supplement to your diet? What about kiwis?

    Kiwis are powerhouses when it comes to vitamin C – and new research, published in Foods, found that eating two kiwis a day for six weeks increased vitamin C intake by 150 mg per day.

    “Vitamin C is an essential vitamin to support proper immune function, and isn’t made or stored in our bodies,” explains Meleni Aldridge, nutrition consultant.

    “More importantly, it’s absorbed and used up 30-90 mins after ingestion. This means we need to replenish our levels regularly through the day with vitamin C-rich foods that don’t spike your blood sugar, supplements or functional drinks.”

    Other than kiwis, Aldridge suggests eating bioflavonoid-rich foods like peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach. These enhance the absorption of your vitamin C. “Bioflavonoids pack a super antioxidant punch too and are often called ‘vitamin P’ for their multiple health benefits,” she adds.

    15. Cycle sync your diet

    According to 2024 wellness trend forecasts, there’s going to be (finally) an increased conversation around the female cycle – with hormone-balancing foods at the forefront.

    “Eating essential fats from foods like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and oily fish is key for female hormone production, as essentially our hormones are made from cholesterol,” explains Rachel Butcher, head of nutrition at Third Space.

    “Likewise, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our bodies and therefore not getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates because of a low- or no-carbohydrate diet will likely lead to fatigue, changes in mood and changes in your female sex hormones, which can disrupt your menstrual cycle.”

    Her tip for 2024? “Focus on getting good-quality, complex carbohydrates into your diet from foods such as rice, oats and potato, as well as beans and lentils,” says Butcher.

    But remember, some research highlights that our nutrient needs change across the cycle. “Becoming aware of your cycle, and the physiology at that point, will enable you to understand how you might adjust your nutrition accordingly,” she adds.

    This story was first published by Alice Barraclough on womenshealthmag.com/uk More

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    6 Health Benefits Of Kombucha You Should Know About, According To Dieticians

    As far as drinks that have transcended hipster status go, kombucha – and kombucha health benefits – is right up there with green juice and coconut water. Convenience stores and petrol stations carry the stuff these days. So it’s safe to say kombucha has officially gone mainstream⁠ — and, in the process, gained a rep as a health tonic for everything from gut trouble to lifeless skin.

    But is the slightly sour-tasting drink really a magic health potion ⁠— or just another health fad? Given today’s surge in all sorts of wellness products (and the growing research on the benefits of probiotics on many aspects of health), kombucha is here to stay, says Beth Warren, a dietician and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl. In the age of pills and supplements, “kombucha is a major source of whole-food probiotics,” she says.

    What is kombucha?

    Quick refresher: Kombucha is a mixture of black or green tea and sugar that’s fermented with the help of a SCOBY (short for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Essentially a blob of live bacteria that sits on top of the tea mixture, the SCOBY turns kombucha into the carbonated beverage you know and (maybe) love.

    People generally describe the brew as “rather effervescent with a slight vinegary and tea taste,” says Keri Gans, a dietician.

    Kombucha fans claim the slightly nose-stinging stuff does everything from help with weight loss and boost energy, to lower blood pressure and (yes, really) even prevent cancer, says Gans.

    So what are the kombucha health benefits I should know about?

    Honestly, it would be pretty much impossible for kombucha to live up to every single health claim associated with it.

    So far, research on the drink is pretty scant. Example: Though one study on mice found that the bubbly brew could help lower both cholesterol and blood sugar, researchers haven’t replicated these findings in humans yet.

    Still, if you break down all the components in the drink, you’re still looking at some pretty promising health benefits, says WH advisor Dr Samantha Nazareth, a gastroenterologist.

    READ MORE: 10 Low-Calorie Cocktails Worth Sipping On This Summer

    1. Probiotics for your gut

    Like other fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, kombucha’s health benefits extends to its probiotic properties. It contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that have been linked to gut health, says Nazareth. Having the right balance of these microbes in your gut helps with immunity, digestion and balancing blood sugar.

    Kombucha’s probiotics come from its sugar and the yeast in the SCOBY. Though they’re different than those you’ll find in fermented cabbage, the benefit is likely similar, notes Nazareth.

    2. Kombucha’s antioxidants may help fight disease. 

    Since kombucha is made with green or black tea, it’s rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals and repair damaged cells, says Nazareth. Tea polyphenols may even protect against some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to research published in Critical Reviews of Food Science and Nutrition.

    Tea also contains antioxidants and flavonoids, which have been associated with a lower risk of cancer, notes Gans.

    3. The acetic acid in kombucha helps fight bad bacteria.

    Kombucha gets its slightly vinegary flavour from acetic acid, an anti-microbial agent found in vinegar like apple cider vinegar (a.k.a. ACV). The acid can help fight off bad bacteria that enter our systems when you eat, says Nazareth.

    4. Drinking kombucha may help you kick your soda habit. 

    Whether you love soda’s bubbles or sweetness (or both), fizzy and flavorful kombucha can be a great better-for-you option when the craving strikes. “If someone replaces their daily high-sugar soda with a lower-sugar, probiotic-packed kombucha, then that is a win-win,” says Gans.

    5. Kombucha might be good for your waistline, too. 

    Full disclosure: Some promising research supports this claim but it’s not super robust. After an older study found that obese women who took green tea extract lost more weight than those who didn’t, experts began wondering whether tea-based kombucha might also have weight-related benefits. “It is hypothesised that kombucha made with green tea, specifically, may have a similar effect on weight loss,” says Warren. But, of course, research on kombucha itself will truly confirm the theory.

    6. Kombucha’s probiotics can help your skin glow. 

    You already know that kombucha’s probiotics can help balance out your gut⁠—and those balancing benefits can carry over to your complexion, too. In fact, according to Warren, as probiotics nourish the gut microbiome, they can help with inflammatory skin conditions like acne and eczema. However (as with kombucha’s potential impact on weight), more research is needed to understand its true skin benefits, Warren says.

    READ MORE: What Is Kombucha, Really? Here’s What You Should Know

    So I should grab a bottle right now?

    With so many nutritional hard-hitters, it’s tempting to have a daily ‘booch, but you might not want to chug bottles every day.

    When people first started drinking kombucha thousands of years ago, they took it as a shot, multiple times a day, says Nazareth. That was probably a good idea, considering the Centers for Disease Control recommends sticking to less than 350ml a day.

    How come? According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking a lot of kombucha may lead to stomach upset.

    Another reason not to overdo it: Kombucha does contain sugar (often about six or seven grams per serving). Drink a full bottle (two servings), and you’ve downed 14 out of the 25 grams of sugar you’re supposed to consume per day, says Nazareth. (Still, a significantly better option than soda.)

    To minimise the sugar issue, “look for brands that have less than four grams of sugar per serving and drink them in small amounts,” says WH advisor and integrative physician Dr Frank Lipman, founder of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. He recommends mixing kombucha with soda water to dial down the sugar content further.

    Also good to know: Because kombucha is fermented it does contain traces of alcohol, (some brands more than others), says Gans. It also contains caffeine, which can make you anxious or unable to sleep if you chug too much.

    READ MORE: 15 Wellness Journals To Kickstart Your Year

    Curious? Try one of these kombucha brands.

    If you’re intrigued by kombucha’s funky flavour and potential benefits, Gans recommends trying one of the following quality kombucha brands on for size.

    BREW Kombucha Original

    Theonista Ginger & Rooibos Kombucha

    CultureLab Lemongrass Kombucha

    This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com. More