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    8 Common Signs You Could Have A Thyroid Problem

    Things we thought were important for our overall health: the heart and the lungs. Things that are actually also important: everything else! That includes the thyroid, a little-known gland that’s been getting tons of attention in recent years after multiple reports involving a thyroid problem surfaced about women discovering its malfunction was behind their weight gain, lack of energy and even missed periods. So is yours acting up?
    What is a thyroid?
    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck wrapped around the windpipe, and it is responsible for making hormones that are important for different systems in the body to function properly. One of the hormones that are produced by the thyroid is thyroxine (T4).  The right amount of T4 in your blood is essential to support your body’s digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development, bone upkeep, and ensure that other organs work as they should.
    One in eight women suffers from health problems related to their thyroid. And it’s easy to see why a thyroid problem would be mystifying. “There are a number of symptoms associated with thyroid disease which can easily be overlooked or confused with other conditions,” says Dr Sindeep Bhana, Head of Endocrinology at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and a specialist in thyroid disease.
    READ MORE: What General Health Checks You Should Be having, According to Your Age
    There are six major thyroid problems:

    Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid
    Hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid
    Thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid, which can cause over- or underactivity and often presents postpartum
    Goiter – enlarged thyroid, which can cause overactive thyroid
    Thyroid nodules – lumps on the thyroid, which can also cause overactive thyroid
    Thyroid cancer – a rare cancer that may present without symptoms, except for a lump in the neck or soreness

    Experts aren’t sure what causes your thyroid go on the fritz (though your genes, autoimmune conditions, and stress could play a role).
    Specialists say that more than half the women suffering from thyroid disorders don’t even know they’re ill and often go undiagnosed. Mainly because it’s easy to brush off common symptoms as signs of everyday stress or ageing. In Dr Bhana’s research experience, approximately 4% of the South African population suffers from hypothyroidism and he estimates that at least half of these cases remain undiagnosed. Furthermore, people of Indian origin have the highest prevalence of hypothyroidism, followed by Caucasians; however, Dr Bhana does caution that hypothyroidism is also a health concern in people of mixed race and African descent.
    So, if you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to more than one of the points below, ask your doctor to run a simple blood test that checks your T4 levels, called a TSH test. They’ll then be able to suggest treatment options that can help your thyroid get back on track.
    READ MORE: Could Intermittent Resting Be The Key To Your Fatigue?
    1. You’re Aways Tired, No Matter How Much Sleep You Get
    Thyroid hormones stimulate the brain, so when too little T4 – a condition called hypothyroidism – is pumping through your bloodstream, your bodily functions slow down. This leaves you feeling exhausted and sluggish. It can also affect your mood, as too little T4 can lower your serotonin levels. Find you’re forgetful? That’s because your hippocampus (your brain’s memory hub) needs T4 to function, too.
    2. You Feel Like You Drank ALL The Coffee
    On the opposite end of the spectrum , you may find that you feel ‘wired’. This can signal that your thyroid is pumping out too much of the hormone.
    3. Suddenly Your Jeans Don’t Fit
    If you have an underactive thyroid you may find that you pick up weight. Your body converts fewer kilojoules into energy, because the lack of T4 slows your metabolism to a snail’s pace. And, just to add insult to injury, you may also retain water since your kidneys also slow down and can’t excrete fluids fast enough. But if your thyroid is operating at light-speed, you might end up losing weight (even if you’re still stuffing your face).
    READ MORE: The 16 Best Mental Health Podcasts To Help You Cope With Anxiety, Depression, And More
    4. Your Period Is Irregular
    When your periods become, longer, irregular, and heavier, it could signal that your T4 levels are in short supply. Hypothyroidism is linked to high levels of prolactin, a hormone that’s primarily responsible for stimulating the production of breast milk after childbirth, but also regulates the menstrual cycle. On the other hand is your cycle suddenly becomes longer (so your periods are farther apart but shorter) and lighter, it could be a sign that you have hyperthyroidism.
    5. Your Heart Races For No Reason
    Does your heart literally skip a beat? An overload of T4 can cause your heart to amp up its usual pace as your tissues are demanding more oxygen-rich blood. Hello, heart palpitations. You may notice the feeling in your chest or other pulse points (your throat or wrist).
    6. You Get The Chills Or You’re Suddenly Super Sweaty
    Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Can your body just make up it’s mind already? When your thyroid is overactive and your metabolism speeds up, you end up sweating. When it’s underactive, your body tries to conserve heat by limiting blood flow to the skin, which can leave you feeling like an icicle even on a warm day.
    READ MORE: Cold versus COVID — How To Tell The Difference
    7. Your Bathroom Habits Change
    Yup, we’re talking about your poop. When you have hypothyroidism the muscles in the gut slow, leaving you constipated. The reverse is true when you have an overactive thyroid (ahem, diarrhoea).
    8. Your Skin Is Dry And Your Hair Is Brittle
    A slow metabolism = less sweat. Without the extra moisture, your skin can become as a dry as a desert, your nails can crack and your hair can break.
    If you have a thyroid problem, what’s the test?
    If you’re ticking boxes here, you may wanna call up your doctor and request a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test. The role of TSH is similar to that of the conductor of an orchestra in that TSH controls the amount of T4 that is produced by the thyroid gland. Changes in blood TSH levels can be a sign that T4 levels are too high or too low; high TSH indicates that the thyroid gland is not making enough T4 (hypothyroidism), and low TSH may indicate that too much T4 is being produced (hyperthyroidism). In most healthy individuals, a normal TSH value means that the thyroid is functioning properly.

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    What Is Queefing — And How To Handle It Like A Pro

    Picture this: You’re in the middle of having super hot sex, totally lost in the moment, when your vagina lets out a noise that sounds suspiciously like you had too many beans for lunch.
    You just queefed, nbd. While you’ve probs experienced this kind of “vagina fart” before (and btw, probs will again), you might not know what queefing actually is. Since this definitely wasn’t covered in your sex-ed class, it’s time to set the record straight.
    What exactly is queefing?
    “We don’t devote any education to this in residency, but I tell patients it’s a very normal thing,” says Dr Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Yale Medical School. “It’s different from expelling gas from your rectum, which happens because of bacterial activity in the gut.”
    Instead, queefing is the result of a trapped pocket of air getting pushed out of your vagina. FYI: The vagina isn’t a straight tube, says Dr Minkin. It has wrinkle-like folds called “rugae,” so air could easily get trapped in there.
    READ MORE: 4 Crazy (But Totally Doable) Sex Positions To Keep Things Interesting
    Should you be worried?
    Not at all. “Queefing is of zero health consequence,” explains Dr Minkin. Slightly related, she does caution against blowing into a pregnant woman’s vagina because the air can get into her pelvic veins and create the risk of an air embolism. “You know how people get nervous when there’s an air bubble in an IV?” she explains. “It’s the same concern: What if the air gets into the vein and travels to the heart or lungs or fetus?” That sounds pretty scary, but Dr Minkin says the worry is more theoretical than practical. (Still, good to know—just in case.)
    When does queefing happen?
    It often occurs during sex, because a penis (or another penetrating object) is going in and out of the vagina, which can displace the air inside of it. “It can happen during any position and is usually fairly quick,” says Dr Minkin.
    Of course, that’s also just so happens to be the last time you’d want to rip one. A queef can also slip out during exercise, like when you’re getting into downward dog or knocking out the last set of crunches.
    READ MORE: Here’s What Could Be Causing That Pain You Feel During Sex
    Can you queef while you’re masturbating?
    Queefing is so not limited to sexual intercourse—anything that causes air to get caught in your vaginal canal, including a vibrator or other sex toy, can be a culprit, says Dr Stephanie Ros, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and maternal-fetal medicine at the University of South Florida. “This is all about a tunnel that has no other opening,” she says. “If air gets trapped because of movement [no matter what causes it], it has to get out.”
    Do some people just queef more?
    Just like some gals seem to get all the UTIs (ugh), some women’s vaginas are just graced with a greater queef-ability (add that to your vocab). That can change with time and experiences, too. For instance, you can become more queef-inclined after childbirth or massive weight loss, says Dr Ros. “When people lose a ton of weight, and they have a lot of sagging skin, the same thing can happen in the tissues of the vagina.”
    READ MORE: 10 Signs You’re In A Narcissistic Relationship
    Are you more likely to queef in certain sex positions?
    Doggy-style fans, you’ve been warned: You’re more likely to queef in positions where your pelvis is tilted upward, says Dr Ros. But the same goes for many, many other positions. If you’re in missionary but your butt is lifted off the bed (or floor, or couch, or beach…), for example, “that would be more likely to cause air entry and, with further movement, the air comes back out and, sometimes, it makes a noise,” she says.
    In other words: Don’t even bother trying to avoid queefing. “Sex is weird, noisy, and messy,” says Dr Ros. “Just laugh and go with the moment. Don’t try to fight it.”
    How should you handle it during sex?
    And that’s exactly what you should do when—not if—it happens to you. Since there’s no mysterious secret to avoiding queefs, you might as well embrace ’em. “Just joke about it and keep going. These things happen!” concurs Dr Minkin. Remember, it’s a natural bodily function—laugh it off and get back to business.
    This article was originally published on

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    6 Reasons Why You’re Pooping A Whole Lot More Than Usual

    Everybody poops — it’s a simple fact of life. Maybe you usually go right when you get up or an hour after you have coffee in the morning, or you regularly take a mid-afternoon poo. Whatever it is, you probably have some kind of routine. So it’s completely understandable that you’d get a bit freaked out when you suddenly start going more.
    While going number two more than usual can be a sign that something is off, it’s not usually a reason for an otherwise healthy young woman to freak out, says Dr Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. So if you’re going more than once or twice a day, it’s not always an indication that something is terribly wrong. Sometimes, your body can communicate with you without sounding the alarm.
    “Probably one of the most common things would be dietary intolerances — you ate something that doesn’t agree with you,” says Dr Staller. This is especially true if you have a change for a few days and then it goes back to normal. Beyond that, these are the biggest reasons why you’re suddenly pooping a lot in one day.
    1. You started eating healthier
    One of the most common reasons why young women start pooping a lot in one day is because they increased their fibre intake, says Dr Rudy Bedford, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. So, if you suddenly started pooping more around the time you switched your Friday night pizza for a veggie curry, that’s probably it.
    READ MORE: 5 Things We ALL Do To Avoid Germs, That Are Actually Useless AF
    2. You’ve caught an infection
    Viral and bacterial infections (think: everything from the flu to E. coli) can cause excessive pooping and diarrhoea, says Dr Staller. While this is normal, if you have bloody poop or a fever with it, you should get it checked out.
    3. You increased your workouts
    Stepping up your exercise routine can make you go more than usual, says Dr Bedford. Here’s why: Exercise increases muscle contractions in your colon, working number two out of your body faster than it did before. That’s why doctors may encourage you to work out more if you’re constipated.
    4. You have IBS
    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is no joke, and Dr Staller says it’s common among young women. The condition, an intestinal disorder that causes pain in your stomach, gas, and cramping, can also make you poop a lot. “The classic patient gets sudden abdominal pain and cramping associated with constipation or diarrhoea,” says Dr Staller.
    READ MORE: Here’s What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar, According To Nutritionists
    5. You’re stressed out
    For people who already have gastro issues like IBS, stress can be a poop trigger. “Many people have more loose bowel movements when they’re under stress,” says Dr Staller.
    6. You’re on your period
    Many women who are just about to get their periods or already have their periods will have looser or more frequent BMs. It’s likely due to a shift in hormones around your cycle (specifically progesterone), and is “very normal,” says Dr Staller.
    READ MORE: These Are The Best Prenatal Vitamins For Soon-To-Be Moms, According To Experts
    How can you tell your poop issues aren’t something more serious?
    Dr Bedford says abdominal pain, bloody stool, and mucus in your poop are clues that something isn’t right, and you should see a doctor.
    Dr Staller says the way it impacts your life is also a big tip-off. If you really don’t give it another thought, you’re probably fine. But if you find that you’re changing your routine or avoiding some social situations because you’re worried about pooping, you need to see a doctor. “I see plenty of young women who are worried about being on dates,” says Dr Staller. “If it’s a common thing where you’re always on the lookout for a bathroom, you should go and get evaluated.”
    Originally published by

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    5 Things We ALL Do To Avoid Germs, That Are Actually Useless AF

    Ah, the world pre-Covid. Where we needed to be reminded by a new study that public places are completely covered with bacteria. Health alert! And if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s how to avoid germs – or at least try. But do any of these germ hacks actually reduce your exposure to nastiness? We spoke with microbiologist Philip Tierno about some of the more worthless (sorry) germ-fighting manoeuvres.
    READ MORE: Covid-19: What’s Next for South Africa – And When Will It Be Over?
    1. Using Your Foot To Flush The Toilet
    Unless you can figure out how to open and lock the bathroom stall door handle – a major germ zone – without using your hands, expect to leave the stall with contaminated paws anyway. Using a tissue to get in and out of the stall may help, but your best bet is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water after relieving yourself and use a paper towel or your elbow to exit the restroom.
    2. Holding Your Breath When Someone Nearby Sneezes
    “Unless you can hold your breath for a really long time, this isn’t going to help,” says Tierno, since those little respiratory germ droplets can linger in the air. But if you can hold your breath and run in the other direction (without, you know, offending your sneezing boss in a meeting) you might be spared, as saliva and mucus droplets can only travel up to 1.5 metres or so.
    READ MORE: What General Health Checks You Should Be having, According to Your Age
    3. Wiping The Lid Of A Shared Drink
    This tactic’s just so-so. “It is somewhat helpful, since you’re cutting down on some of the salivary secretions, but there’s nothing foolproof here,” says Tierno. Even a good wipe could leave behind strep or the stomach flu, which is never worth a single swig. Lie and say you have a cold if someone else is asking to try your drink.
    4. Putting Gloves On To Touch the ATM
    Germs will transfer to your gloves and not your fingers… for the moment. But the minute you use your hands to pull off your gloves (or touch your gloves to your face), you’re back in contact with those nasties, says Tierno. The good news: most cold and flu germs die off after a day, so as long as you lay your gloves out to dry (anything wet is a breeding ground for bacteria), you won’t carry around a cesspool of bacteria day after day.
    READ MORE: What Is Holotropic Breathwork—And What Can It Do For Your Mental Health?
    5. Hovering Over The Toilet Seat
    Who wants to put their bare ass where thousands of other bare asses have been before? Nobody. But pressing your cheeks against that cold porcelain really doesn’t raise your risk for infection, says Tierno. “People worry about STDs, but they don’t thrive in that environment – and the seat would have to be crazy contaminated (visible grossness like poo and vomit) for you to somehow get sick.” Hovering can, however, raise the risk of splash-back (that terrible sensation of being splashed by toilet bowl water), and we can confirm that’s very gross.
    The bottom line: your best germ-fighting plan is to wash your hands (heck, soap up twice), use hand sanitiser, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth and steer clear of sniffly germ perpetrators.

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    How To Adapt Your Fitness and Nutrition For Every Age

    30s: The decade to… optimise your prime
    So your face has a few more lines, your hairline some silver intruders and your list of responsibilities… let’s not go there. But arm yourself with some essential skills and you’ll enjoy your best decade yet.
    Support your fertility
    If you’re looking to start a family now or later, there are practical steps you can take. Here, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Larisa Corda and nutritional therapist Melanie Brown walk you through the essentials.
    Mind your movement
    “Sitting down all day can reduce blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, so stand up as much as possible,” says Brown. Be careful about overexercising, too. “Exercising too intensely for too long can increase levels of cortisol in the body, which can be a barrier to conceiving.”
    Mitigate stress
    “This is essential if you’re looking to get pregnant,” says Dr Corda. Plot out your stressors on a page, then note the things you can’t control (an unwell parent, for example), the things you can take steps to address (long working hours) and the things you can fix without much hassle (too many plans).
    Reach your body’s happy weight
    “If you’re overweight or obese, take sustainable steps to reach a healthy weight,” advises Brown. “If you’re underweight, increasing your body fat will signal to your brain that your body can support a pregnancy.”
    Eat for balance
    “It’s important to consume enough complex carbs,” notes Brown, who points to research indicating that they promote ovulation. “You need good fats for fertilisation, and quality protein provides the building blocks to eggs.”
    Panic stations
    As the responsibilities start to bite in your thirties, you’re more vulnerable than ever to anxiety-based mental health problems, such as panic attacks. Use our expert-backed timeline to dial down the intensity.
    0 to 3 mins 
    What’s happening: A panic attack occurs when the mind makes a negative interpretation of normal events. When your boss sets you an impossible deadline, for example, your hypothalamus activates your pituitary and adrenal glands, causing stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to flood into your system: the fight-or-flight response. The result? Shallow breaths, an accelerated heart rate and trembling.
    Your defence: A US study found that refocusing the mind on simple tasks can calm you down. The solution can be as mundane as counting the number of tiles on your office ceiling until the panic passes.
    3 mins to 2 hours
    What’s happening: Adrenaline has a half-life of three minutes, so the initial panic soon passes – your breathing normalises and your heart rate falls. Cortisol, however, sticks around for longer. It can take two hours for your more chronic feelings of stress to subside.
    Your defence: Take a 10-minute break and divert your attention to what’s around you, even if it’s just your neighbour taking the bins out. Your cortisol levels will fall and you can return to a more even keel. Ahhh…
    1 week 
    What’s happening: Anxiety can easily extend beyond a specific stimulus and its chronic form can leave your hypothalamus in a state of constant agitation. It’ll keep releasing adrenaline and cortisol and, with levels set to surge at any point, the simplest upset can burst the dam.
    Your defence: In severe cases, doctors may prescribe you anti-anxiety medication, along with beta blockers, to steady your heart rate. Omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish can curb adrenal activation caused by stress and there are cortisol-slashing B vitamins in legumes, meat and eggs. Plus, a run produces mood-boosting endorphins while using up extra adrenaline.
    Nutrient to know: healthy fats
    Found in olive oil, avocado, nuts, mackerel and anchovies, they’re hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet, which studies suggest can reduce your risk of heart disease. That shoots up in your forties, so take pre-emptive steps now. Doubts remain about the effectiveness of supps, so stick to natural sources. More

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    Could Intermittent Resting Be The Key To Your Fatigue Problems?

    Ever randomly left your desk mid-morning to bask in the sun, head buried in a racy novel? Or taken a quick post-run nap on your lawn? You’re in tune with your body’s needs and on the right track, according to experts. There’s a term for these regular breaks — Intermittent Resting.
    You’re probably already familiar with the term Intermittent Fasting — cycling between eating what you like and restricting your food intake via techniques like the 5:2 and 16:8. For the uninitiated, the theory goes like this: by giving your body a break from food you can not only lose weight, but potentially improve your metabolism and reduce your risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
    Now, health and fitness experts are talking about Intermittent Resting, the idea that the body also needs to cycle through small bursts of inactivity (activity fasting, if you will) in order to perform at its best. So, can scheduling rest with the enthusiasm you usually reserve for scheduling workouts really support your health and fitness goals?
    Nahid de Belgeonne, a former fashion industry employee and owner of a London-based fitness studio Good Vibes started creating deliberate pockets of rest throughout the day — a kind of deliberate down time — once she discovered the power of rest.
    That she felt happier, healthier and more productive as a result of her new regime will come as news to nobody. But she also credits intermittent resting with making her fitter, stronger and improving her quality of movement. She now trains others in the art of snacking on rest via her yoga-meets-meditation technique, The Human Method.
    READ MORE: The 16 Best Mental Health Podcasts To Help You Cope With Anxiety, Depression, And More
    Nahid explains that her theory is based on the body’s ultradian rhythms. The sister science of circadian rhythms – which control your 24 hour sleep-wake cycle – ultradian rhythms refers to the cycles that the systems in your body move through during the waking day. The concept is nothing new; it was proposed in the 1950s by sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman, whose contribution of the field of shut-eye is such that he’s often referred to as the ‘father of sleep’.
    That the wellness industry is finally sitting up and taking notice doesn’t surprise Dr Kat Lederle, chronobiologist and sleep coach at the sleep education platform Somnia. “We’ve seen significant scientific interest and progress in nutrition, fitness and sleep — circadian health is the next big topic,” she explains.
    While much of the focus in recent years has been on how your behaviour impacts your ability to fall – and stay – asleep, your behaviour impacts your waking function, too. “The body clock is made up of two clusters of 50,000 cells in the hypothalamus and we refer to that as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN),” Dr Lederle explains. “The SCN is like a conductor, setting the timings for everything else that happens in your body, so while your ultradian rhythms vary from system to system, your body clock ensures they’re working in harmony together. If your internal rhythms become misaligned, that can lead to all sorts of problems.”
    It’s thanks to a raft of circadian rhythm research that we now understand that the repercussions of this ‘misalignment’ extend far beyond a night spent tossing and turning. A disrupted body clock has been shown to interfere with everything from your appetite to your co-ordination and mood. Extreme disruption, the likes experienced by shift workers, has even been linked with depression.
    But if the behaviour that contributes to a broken body clock sits on a sliding scale, with the shift workers whose livelihoods depend on keeping variable hours at one end. On the other, you’ll find the kind of habits you know you shouldn’t do, but you probably do anyway — working through your lunchbreak, doing a HIIT session when your body is begging for yoga and reading the internet instead of your book come bedtime.
    It’s these everyday behaviours, Dr Lederle explains, that present an opportunity to optimise your circadian health. “By becoming more aware of your body clock and adopting behaviours that supports its optimal functioning, as opposed to railing against it, you can not only reduce your risk of various diseases, but improve your day to day functioning.”
    Essentially, it’s about practising sleep hygiene, but for the waking day, too. And among the tools in Dr Lederle’s ‘wake hygiene’ toolkit is a habit that sounds a lot like Intermittent Resting. Regular rest, it transpires, is the backbone of good body clock behaviour.
    “I call them ‘mini breaks’, but they amount to the same thing — taking a break of up to 20 minutes every 90 minutes or so. For me, it’s sitting back for a moment and bringing an awareness to my breaths. But I think the key is doing something in that time that you enjoy. It’s not paying your bills or contacting your accountant — it’s something you’ve chosen to do.”
    READ MORE: Struggle to Get to Sleep? Try These 5 Breathing Techniques
    What seems to elevate Intermittent Resting from your average work break is its intuitive nature; the idea that tapping into the times when your body is best primed for activity and rest could be a useful tool for those in the business of incremental gains. “Mini breaks are just one example of how aligning your schedule with your body clock can support your health goals,” adds Dr Lederle, who gives the example of planning when you exercise.
    If the idea of taking a 20-minute break every 90 minutes makes your heart race (not the goal), even breaking for five or 10 minutes can help. “I’m a huge believer in doing your own experiments and seeing for yourself what works for you,” adds Dr Lederle. “If you’re truly free to plan your life in the way that suits you, the repercussions on your health and wellbeing could be huge.”
    READ MORE: How To Get Better Quality Sleep
    Make Intermittent Resting Work For You
    Take a chronotype holiday
    Dr Lederle suggests taking a five-day trip with the goal of tuning into your natural waking and sleeping hours. Go to sleep when you feel tired, rise when you’re ready and avoid sleep saboteurs like screens. “By day five, you should know what your natural sleep timings are, and ideally you’ll start sleeping in that time window every night.”
    Find out your MEQ
    By now you’ll already known what hours you like to sleep, but for a more scientific approach, take the Morning-Evening questionnaire. There are 19 questions designed to tell you where you sit on the sliding scale of morning person and evening person.
    Keep an energy diary
    You’ll know intuitively when your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day by the times you usually reach for a coffee or a snack. Start consciously tuning into your feelings, and noting them down. Look out for the obvious signs, like yawning, as well as how engaged you feel in a task. Keep it up for a week and see what patterns you notice. This will guide you to your own Intermittent Resting breaks.
    Make it stick
    Your body clock is like a baby – it loves routine. “Anything you do that’s part of a routine will help your body clock to know what to expect, be that the time you do a workout or when you eat your lunch,” adds Dr Lederle. Once you’ve identified your energy peaks and troughs, schedule your breaks accordingly, and stick with it.

    The article Can Intermittent Resting Help You Reach Your Goals? was originally published on Women’s Health UK.

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    10 Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency

    Magnesium is a key mineral to women’s health, and yet many women are low in this essential mineral, suffering from a magnesium deficiency. Stress, caffeine and alcohol deplete our magnesium stores faster than we can replenish. Could it be time for a little top up?
    Along with increasing fresh produce in your diet, many of us require further supplementation to meet our recommended daily intake of 310g for women. Magnesium is best absorbed as a powder or liquid with magnesium glycinate, magnesium biglycinate or magnesium citrate being the easiest for the body to absorb and utilise. 
    READ MORE: Cold versus COVID — How To Tell The Difference
    Here are 10 signs you might have a magnesium deficiency and may need to pick up a supplement. But even if you check out for all 10 and think you have a magnesium deficiency, remember that you should always speak to your health practitioner before starting a new supplement.
    1. You have period pain
    While period pain is common, it is not normal. Magnesium can reduce inflammation and relax the smooth muscles of the uterus to reduce symptoms of dysmenorrhea (period pain) for some women.
    2. You are tired all the time
    Magnesium plays a major role in our energy levels, supporting energy production at a cellular level. If you are not consuming enough magnesium, your body simply may not have enough resources to create the daily energy it requires.
    READ MORE: Yoga Moves That Bonnie Mbuli Swears By
    3. You crumble under pressure
    Magnesium helps to calm our nervous system. During times of stress, our magnesium levels deplete rapidly, meaning there isn’t enough stores to support our nervous system and calm the body. Stress naturally produces cortisol and adrenaline, a little is a good thing, but when these two are elevated for too long we start to see the body crumble under the pressure.
    Magnesium changes how the body responds to stress in the first place – meaning, we are more likely to stay calm and collected.
    4. You are feeling anxious 
    Dopamine is our relaxing hormone; low levels of magnesium is associated with lower dopamine production. Increasing your daily magnesium intake can support dopamine production and provide support against the symptoms of anxiety.
    5. You have monthly PMS
    Research has shown that women with PMS have lower levels of magnesium when compared to those without reoccurring PMS. This is thought to be due to magnesium’s role on women’s hormones, in particular progesterone. After ovulation we produce progesterone; it is our calming superpower. When the body is not producing enough progesterone, we start to see mood shifts prior to a bleed.
    READ MORE: Are You Ready to Make The Switch to a Menstrual Cup?
    6. You have a serious sweet tooth
    Magnesium plays a role in our blood glucose management, improving insulin receptors and supporting blood sugar levels. This means that we have less sugar cravings when we have adequate magnesium supplies.
    7. You are often constipated
    For a happy digestive system we want to be moving our bowels once or twice a day. If you are feeling that your bowels are slow moving or that the stool itself is hard to pass, small pellets or thin like a snake, then Magnesium may be the helper you need.
    During times of stress our internal organs feel it too, magnesium can support by relaxing the digestive system so that waste can eliminate easily. Daily elimination is essential to hormonal health as well, as we need to clear oestrogen to support healthy hormone function, such as progesterone production.
    8. You are having troubles falling asleep
    Magnesium’s role on the nervous system extends into our sleep routine as well. Firstly, by supporting our overall stress response to feel calmer and unwind into the evening with ease, and by enhancing the quality of sleep each night. Magnesium is best taken in the early evening to best support sleep.
    READ MORE: Struggle to Get to Sleep? Try These 5 Breathing Techniques
    9. You have high blood pressure
    Magnesium and calcium work together to support healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Increasing your dietary sources of magnesium such as dark leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrains will further support overall cardiovascular health.
    10. Your muscles cramp and twitch
    Magnesium plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation. If you are experiencing sore limbs after exercise, restless legs during sleep or even frequent eye twitches it may be time to increase your magnesium. 
    *This article was originally published on Women’s Health AU

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    Cold versus COVID — How To Tell The Difference

    There’s been a lot of confusion over cold versus COVID symptoms since the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-pandemic, it was easy to brush off symptoms like a runny nose, cough, and congestion as just the common cold. But now, those symptoms can send anyone into a panic spiral of worrying that they have COVID-19.
    Enter the latest COVID-19 variant, omicron, and you have an even more complicated picture. Medical doctor and Wits University Associate lecturer Dr Nthabiseng Kumalo advises that omicron symptoms tend to present themselves fairly quicker than those of previous variants. “Fatigue, congestion and a cough are amongst the top three omicron symptoms,” says Dr Kumalo.
    Real talk? “There are no easy ways to tell the difference,” says Lewis Nelson, MD, the chair of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Each illness can have its own range of severity, he points out, leaving a lot of grey area.
    READ MORE: Are COVID-19 Outcomes Worse For People Living With HIV?
    A common cold and COVID-19 share some symptoms, but there are differences in other symptoms, and their impact on you. Here’s how to tell them apart—and when you need to see a doctor.
    What’s the difference between the common cold and COVID-19?
    You probably have this memorised by now, but it never hurts to go over it again: COVID-19 is a disease caused by the respiratory virus SARS-CoV-2, according to the CDC. The virus is thought to mainly spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
    The common cold can actually be caused by many different viruses, the CDC says. These include rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus, adenoviruses, and coronaviruses—excluding SARS-CoV-2, of course. The viruses that cause colds can also spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact.
    But how serious these infections are can be very different. “COVID, if unvaccinated, can lead to hospitalisation or worse,” Dr. Nelson says. “Clearly COVID is readily spread, and it can lead to more severe disease, primarily in the lungs at first.”
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    “The best way to think about cold viruses is that they’re pretty harmless,” adds Timothy Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “We all get the common cold, sometimes several times a year. People get through colds just fine as opposed to COVID-19, which can cause a systemic illness and be far more dangerous.”
    What are the common symptoms of a cold and COVID-19?
    Common symptoms of a cold can include the following:

    Runny nose
    Sore throat
    Body aches

    The CDC lists these as the most common symptoms of COVID-19:

    Fever or chills
    Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    Muscle or body aches
    New loss of taste or smell
    Sore throat
    Congestion or runny nose
    Nausea or vomiting

    READ MORE: 4 Ways to Support Healthy Ageing
    So, how can you tell if you have a cold or COVID-19?
    Dr. Murphy says it’s hard for even doctors to know just from examining you and hearing about your symptoms if you have a cold or COVID-19. There is one symptom, though, that makes it more likely that you have COVID-19: losing your sense of taste and smell.
    “Though that does occur sometimes with colds, it’s far more likely with COVID,” he says. “With colds, you would typically get really stuffy first before you lose your sense of smell. With COVID, many people just lose their sense of smell altogether.”
    Still, plenty of people have COVID-19 and never lose their sense of taste and smell. Given that we’re still living through a global pandemic and COVID-19 is practically everywhere, Dr. Murphy says it’s important to at least consider that you could have the virus if you develop even mild symptoms.
    Dr. Nelson agrees. “Anyone with viral illness symptoms, particularly if they’re not COVID vaccinated, should wear a mask and take a COVID test,” he says.
    *The article Cold Vs. COVID: How Do I Tell The Difference In Symptoms? was originally published on the Women’s Health US website.

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