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    We Tried Morphée: A Screen-Free Sleep Device To Help You Actually Doze Off

    Startling news: South Africans get less sleep than other nations in the world. That’s intel from Sleep Cycle app, which released the data in 2023. There are myriad reasons for this but getting quality shut-eye is important for our health. And our screens, in the form of TVs and phones, contribute to lower sleep quality. Enter Morphée, a completely screen-free, Wi-Fi-free approach to getting quality z’s. We tried it out to see how it got us dozing.

    Morphée Sleep Device

    What happens when we don’t get enough sleep

    Over 50% of adults report poor-quality sleep with screen exposure being a large contributor, per Morphée. According to Morphée’s South African Brand Manager, Daniella Degens, “In recent years, the prevalence of sleep deficiency has escalated, bearing substantial repercussions tied to numerous chronic health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.”

    A lack of quality time dozing also leads to health complications. Getting less lowers your body’s immunity, memory, attention and problem-solving skills. Added to that, chronic sleep deprivation can elevate stress hormones, making it harder to handle the pressures associated with personal and professional responsibilities.

    It’s clear that sleep is paramount and while sleep tonics and products assist, a quality sleep routine really helps move the needle towards restful, restorative sleep.

    READ MORE: Normal Sleep — Turns Out, There Might Be No Such Thing

    What is Morphee?

    In short, Morphée is a screen-free meditation device, works sans Wi-Fi and can lull you to La La Land, stat. It’s also small, making it portable, so you can bring it with you anywhere.

    How it works

    Morphée looks like a clock with various dials. On the right, choose the mode you’d like to use. There are many: body scan, breathing, movement, cardiac coherence, relaxing music and nature sounds (there are more but we won’t name them all). Next, pick your session on the right. Each mode has eight sessions, so you can mix and match and not get bored. You can also choose your duration: eight or 20 minutes. Choose from a male or female voice, et voila – you’ve got yourself a sleepy time sesh.

    Good to know: Morphée was created by a team of sleep experts, so every session is expertly curated.

    READ MORE: Struggling To Sleep During Your Period? This Might Be Why 

    We tried Morphée

    WH Features Ed Michelle October tried Morphée for two weeks to see if it could help her notch more quality z’s.

    “The device looks intimidating at first: so many dials and buttons and no idea what they mean. But once you open the accompanying Blue Book (an instruction manual), it all becomes incredibly simple. What I really loved about it? There’s no accompanying app or Wi-Fi needed. You just pick your session, put Morphée down and get some sleep.

    I know from experience that repetition of sound can create a cue in your body that prompts it for sleep. In that vein, I tried to listen to similar sounds every night but got too excited by everything on offer. I particularly loved the nature sounds and the body scan sessions, which encouraged me to tune into my body and consciously focus on relaxing my muscles as I got ready for bed.

    I was out like a light within minutes. The soothing tones and speaker quality really allowed me to drift off super fast. When I couldn’t fall asleep, I could just pick a new mode and settle in again.

    I also really appreciated that there are no lights on the device except for a brief orange light letting you know the device is on. Other than that, there’s really nothing to deter you from getting to bed.”

    Morphée retails for just R2 490 and is available on their website and on Yuppiechef.

    READ MORE: The Greatest Sleepytime Products That’ll Take You To La-La Land, STAT 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 More

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    Beat The Burn: Your Essential Guide To A Heartburn-Free Summer!

    As we enter the festive season, prioritising our health becomes paramount, and unravelling the intricacies of our well-being takes precedence. Acknowledging this, Adcock Ingram, a prominent pharmaceutical company, proudly lends its support to shed light on Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), a common yet frequently underestimated health issue.

    Experiencing frequent heartburn can significantly impact your everyday activities. Finding effective remedies for heartburn can be a game-changer for individuals managing Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD). Among various interventions, adopting a diet that includes foods to alleviate heartburn is a natural and sustainable approach.

    READ MORE: Apple Cider Vinegar Might Actually Help Your Heartburn

    Implementing specific lifestyle and dietary adjustments can frequently provide relief from Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) symptoms. For mild symptoms, attempting these heartburn remedies before consulting a medical professional is an option. However, if your symptoms are more severe, it’s advisable to consult your doctor before making any changes. They can guide you on integrating these approaches into your personalised treatment plan.

    Tips For A Heartburn-Free Summer

    Tip 1: Stay active and maintain a healthy weight

    Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can significantly reduce your risk of GORD.

    Tip 2: Opt for smaller, frequent meals

    Instead of three large meals, go for smaller, more frequent meals. This can ease the pressure on your stomach.

    Tip 3: Trim the fat

    Cut back on high-fat foods like full-fat dairy products and fatty meats. Choose leaner options for a healthier gut.

    Tip 4: Mind your posture

    Sit or stand upright while eating and continue to do so for 45 to 60 minutes after your meal to minimise reflux risk.

    Tip 5: Dine early

    Avoid eating right before bedtime. Give yourself at least three hours before you hit the hay.

    READ MORE: The Ultimate Training Guide For Your Gut

    Dr Thiruvasan Govindsamy, Head of Medical Affairs at Adcock Ingram, says, “Understanding the symptoms and impact of GORD is vital for early intervention. It is essential for individuals to be aware of the potential complications and the available treatment options. Seeking medical advice plays a pivotal role in managing GORD effectively.”

    Visit to learn more. More

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    Everything You Need To Know About Type 1 Diabetes

    Per the Diabetes Atlas, over 40,000 people in South Africa suffer from diabetes. And, according to the Type 1 Diabetes Index, 39 healthy South African lives are lost due to the condition. What’s more, an estimated 100,000 people are undiagnosed, according to the Diabetes Atlas. Here’s what to know about Type 1 diabetes specifically.

    What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

    Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin. It is provoked by an autoimmune reaction, in which the body attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and cannot enter cells to produce energy, leading to elevated blood glucose levels and a range of symptoms and potential complications.

    This process may unfold for months or years before symptoms appear. While some individuals with type 1 diabetes have a genetic predisposition to the condition, others do not, and researchers are still working to pinpoint potential environmental factors—like viruses or other stressors—that may trigger the autoimmune attack. Diet and lifestyle habits do not cause type 1 diabetes.

    Type 1 diabetes has historically been referred to as “juvenile” or “insulin-dependent” diabetes. But Dr Joel Zonzsein, director of the Diabetes Center at the University Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, notes that although the condition is “mostly diagnosed in children and young adults, it can develop at any age and should be taken seriously as a possibility in adults—referred to in such cases as ‘latent autoimmune diabetes of the adult’ (LADA).”

    What Are The Causes Of Type 1 Diabetes?

    Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction. Having a parent or sibling with the disease may increase your risk for developing type 1 diabetes. Environmental factors may also play a role in triggering the autoimmune reaction, but researchers are still working to better understand this possible pattern.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes?

    Type 1 diabetes symptoms may occur suddenly, often in adolescence or early adulthood and can include:

    Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice any of the above symptoms in yourself or your child. In some cases, the first noticeable symptoms of type 1 diabetes may be signs of a life-threatening state called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Symptoms of DKA include:

    If you or your child have symptoms of DKA, contact your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

    How Is It Diagnosed?

    Diagnosing type 1 diabetes requires only a few simple tests. Doctors most often use a random plasma glucose (RPG) test, which measures blood glucose at a single point in time, to diagnose. A random blood-glucose test higher than 200 mg/dL suggests a diabetes diagnosis, regardless of when you last ate a meal or snack. Often, a healthcare provider will use an A1C blood test, which provides an average of blood glucose levels over a period of three months, to determine the duration of a patient’s high blood glucose.

    While these tests can determine whether you have diabetes, they cannot differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Treatment plans differ significantly between the two conditions, so it is crucial to have a correct diagnosis.

    To determine if you have type 1, a doctor will test the blood for specific auto-antibodies that are a common marker of the autoimmune reaction that causes the condition. They may also test your urine for ketones, which are produced when the body burns fat for energy instead of glucose and indicate type 1 diabetes if present.

    How Is Type 1 Diabetes Treated?

    While treatment options have significantly advanced in the past few decades, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes. So living with it—and preventing later complications—requires close blood-glucose management, via a blood-glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor.

    Type 1 diabetes is primarily managed via insulin therapy. Different types of insulin work at different speeds and last different lengths of time. You may need to use more than one type. Insulin can be taken in several different forms to best suit personal preferences and lifestyles:

    Syringes and pens: These are injected multiple times daily and often involve a combination of short- and long-acting insulin types. Different brands vary slightly in their effective onset, peak time and duration.

    Insulin pumps: Pumps are small devices that deliver a continuous supply of long-acting insulin throughout the day via a small tube inserted under the skin, mimicking a healthy pancreas. They can also be programmed by the user to release short-acting insulin during mealtimes.

    Artificial pancreas (AP) systems: These systems combine the functions of an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor to adjust insulin delivery based on glucose fluctuations. By responding to real-time glucose readings, AP systems can regulate blood sugar more effectively than traditional manual methods. As the name indicates, this form of closed-loop management most effectively imitates a healthy pancreas—but does require the use of two devices at all times.

    Inhaled insulin: Quick-acting inhaled insulin is one of the newer forms of FDA-approved treatment for type 1 diabetes management. It is used in combination with long-acting insulin (either via injection or pump) and inhaled shortly before meal times. However, according to Diabetes South Africa, this treatment is not yet available here.

    Living With The Condition

    Living a healthy life with type 1 diabetes also involves lifestyle adjustments, including:

    Regular blood-glucose monitoring: Checking blood-glucose levels throughout the day is essential to managing the condition and preventing future complications that can result from prolonged high blood sugar.

    Carbohydrate counting: In order to maintain stable blood-sugar levels, it’s often important to match your insulin dosage to your carbohydrate intake. An endocrinologist can help you determine your individual insulin-to-carb ratio and dose accordingly for each meal and snack. Managing this condition does not require you to give up your favourite foods—so long as you know how to dose for them!

    Movement: Regular exercise can help to regulate blood sugar levels and improve long-term health.

    Regular checkups: People living with type 1 diabetes should regularly meet with a team of medical specialists, including an endocrinologist, optometrist and in some cases a dietitian, to help monitor their blood-glucose management and prevent future complications.

    Complications Of Type 1 Diabetes

    Image by

    Although this is a chronic and lifelong condition, many people live long and healthy lives with it, with few or no associated complications. “Keeping blood sugar levels under control is the most important thing that people with type 1 diabetes can do to prevent complications,” Dr Zonszein says. He also emphasises the importance of regular check-ups and developing a good management plan with a team of medical specialists.

    Poorly managed type 1 diabetes—namely, continuous high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia—can damage several areas of the body. Complications can include:

    Nerve damage: Prolonged high blood glucose levels can cause nerve damage. This leads to diabetic neuropathy, which most often affects the hands and feet.

    Eye problems: Elevated or uncontrolled blood glucose levels can also cause diabetes-related retinopathy. This can lead to vision loss, blindness, macular oedema and glaucoma.

    Kidney damage: High levels of glucose in the blood can damage the blood vessels and filters in the kidneys (nephropathy).

    Foot issues: High blood glucose levels can reduce the blood supply to the feet, resulting in reduced sensation. This can increase the risk of wounds, cuts, infections and non-healing sores.

    Complications related to the heart and blood vessels: Extended high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves. It can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.

    Gum disease: Excess glucose in the blood can move into the saliva, causing germs and plaque. These increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

    How To Prevent It

    Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Because it can be passed down genetically, your family can be preemptively tested for auto-antibodies. Their presence in the blood—even in the absence of symptoms—can help catch the early onset of the condition.

    This story was written by Zoë Brown and was first published on More

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

    As the importance of sleep becomes more and more paramount for daytime productivity and general functioning, so too is creating a bedtime routine rising to prominence. In South Africa, our sleep is less than optimal. Per a Sleep Cycle survey, only 27% of South Africans are getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. And a lack of sleep can have real implications for your health, expanding your BMI and resulting in increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke, per one study. Not only that, but sleep impacts your mental health, too.

    We chatted to a few experts to get the info on how to really get that all-important R ‘n R every night. One study reveals that a bedtime routine not only helps you get to bed better but can also improve the quality of your sleep over time.

    Meet the experts: Rudo Kemp is the founder of Sloom, creators of mattresses. Marley Rose Harris is an International Business & Mindset Coach.

    Get the right mattress – for you

    “The physical aspects of a mattress are pivotal in ensuring consistent, high-quality sleep, which in turn has profound effects on mental well-being,” says Kemp. Every individual’s body is unique, and what feels comfortable and supportive will vary. For some, a hard mattress might mean an uncomfortable night’s sleep. While for others, a mattress that’s too soft won’t give adequate spinal support. Make sure that your mattress is optimal for your health and needs and a suitable bedtime routine will be that much easier to attain.

    READ MORE: Is Your Mattress Actually Good For You? Here’s How To Tell, According To The Experts 

    Try manifestation

    “Your subconscious mind is most malleable in the evening right before bed and in the morning. This is the best time to rewire your belief system,” says Harris. “Before bed, recall five things you are grateful for throughout the day, which can be little or big things.” The purpose? It works to attune your mind to look to things to be grateful for. “Right when your eyes open in the morning, affirm anything you are focusing on manifesting,” says Harris. “Your subconscious mind is simply spectacular and sleep is the key to opening the door!”

    READ MORE: The 10 Best Sleep Apps To Help You Fall Asleep Faster And Sleep Through The Night

    Try deep breathing

    To calm a busy mind and get in the headspace for restful sleep, Harris stresses the importance of deep breathing. These can calm your mind, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality.

    Clear the tech

    This is one you’d have heard before, but that’s because it works. Blue light from your tech devices like cellphones can stop your brain from producing melatonin, which allows you to drift off peacefully. Try blue light blocking frames; these block harmful blue light from hitting your eyes and helps you fall asleep better before bed.

    READ MORE: “I Tried The Latest Massage That Promises To Help With Insomnia, Pain And Fatigue.”

    Declutter your space

    Design plays a big role in our sleeping environment, as a well-designed, harmonious bedroom can serve as a sanctuary, signalling to our brain that it’s time to unwind. Before bed, pack away anything that might distract you from a good night’s sleep. Got clothes lying around? Packing them away will tell your brain that all is well and you can rest easy.

    READ MORE: 5 Things To Eat At Night That’ll Help You Sleep Way, Way Better

    Wind down with yoga

    Doing yoga daily adds up to restful sleep, per this study. Yoga is incredible for myriad reasons and is as potent for sleep. By allowing you to take in deeper breaths while stretching out your body’s niggles, you can quiet your mind, ease anxiety and allow your body to properly drift off into sweet slumber. More

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    Um, A Scary 50% Of SA Women Are Iron Deficient

    It’s the end of the year and you might be feeling a bit run down — totes normal. But if your tiredness is accompanied by heart palpitations, shortness of breath and craving non-food items like baby powder or soil, it might be a sign of iron deficiency (ID). ID is the world’s leading nutrient deficiency, affecting around a whopping 2 billion people worldwide. And in South Africa, it’s estimated that 50% of women may be iron deficient. That’s a huge number and moreover, it surpasses the global average.

    “Iron deficiency occurs when iron reservoirs in the body become depleted,” explains Dr Jarrad van Zuydam, a sports medicine physician with a special interest in the medicine of cycling and other endurance sports. “The most common cause is an inadequate dietary intake of iron.  When your iron levels are low, your cells are receiving less oxygen making it harder for your body to generate energy.

    READ MORE: 11 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Women That Aren’t Lumps

    Who’s at Risk?

    Anyone is at risk of iron deficiency but women of reproductive age are more likely to be at risk. During menstruation, you lose blood which contains iron, which is one of the reasons you may experience symptoms of low iron during that time of the month. If you aren’t supplementing that loss by eating a diet rich in iron, you could become ID over time. Pregnancy can also cause you to become ID, this is because when you’re expecting you need almost double the normal amount the average woman needs. And once you’ve had your baby, iron levels can remain low due to blood loss during delivery.

    “In my practice, I come across iron deficiency anaemia on a daily basis. Factors such as pregnancy, delivery, miscarriages, heavy menstruation, as well as poor iron intake, are some of the most common attributable causes,” says Dr Claire Godwin, a General Practitioner at Premier Health Centre who specialises in women’s healthcare. “Often, the women I see are so used to running on fumes with young children, busy careers, or being caregivers to others that they don’t even realise how they are feeling is a symptom and not just a consequence of their day-to-day stressors. Education around ID is imperative if we want to help more women function at their best.” The bottom line? If you’re feeling exhausted, get your iron levels checked or start supplementing.

    Biogen Iron + Vitamin C

    Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron better, so this duo packs a punch.


    This gold-standard iron supplement is recommended by doctors.

    Solgar Gentle Iron

    This supplement is easy on the stomach and doesn’t cause constipation.

    READ MORE: Cycle Syncing: How (And Why!) To Tweak Your Workouts, Diet And More Around Your Menstrual Cycle

    Signs of Iron Deficiency


    Unusual tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency affecting more than half of those who are deficient. Your body needs iron to make the protein haemoglobin, “Haemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the lungs around the body, cells use the oxygen delivered to them to generate the energy needed for cellular processes.”, explains Dr Van Zuydam. When your haemoglobin is low, less oxygen is reaching your tissues and muscles, making them feel weaker. Your heart then has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around your body. This tiredness is often accompanied by crankiness, difficulty concentrating and poor productivity.

    Shortness of breath

    Given that iron deficiency causes a lack of haemoglobin, oxygen levels will be low too. This results in your breathing rate increasing as your body will try to make more oxygen.

    Frequent headaches

    The lack of haemoglobin means that not enough oxygen is reaching the brain. This causes the blood vessels in the brain to swell, causing pressure and headaches.

    Dry hair and skin

    When your body lacks oxygen, it will direct the limited oxygen for more important functions like your organs and tissues. This lack of oxygen causes them to become dry and weak. That means your hair, skin, and nails won’t be getting love.

    Strange cravings

    Many people who have low iron, experience something called pica. Pica is a craving for items that aren’t considered edible, like dirt, chalk, paper or ice. Other symptoms include:


    Pale skin

    Cold hands and feet

    inflammation or soreness of your tongue

    Poor appetite

    READ MORE: Millions of Women Struggle With PCOS In South Africa, So Let’s Unpack It

    What you can do to raise your iron levels

    Iron is essential for healthy bodily functions, meaning that you need to ensure that your diet is up to par. There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from haemoglobin, so you will find it in meat, fish and poultry. You can find nonheme iron mostly in plants and legumes. A list of heme and nonheme foods include:

    Beef or chicken liver

    Breakfast cereals enriched with iron



    Dark green leafy vegetables

    Pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds

    Red meat

    Oily fish


    READ MORE: This Is Why You’re Starving After An Intense Day At The Office

    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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    Mammograms Are Essential – So Why Are So Many Women Skipping Them?

    According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), it’s far better to have an early-stage diagnosis, as it results in better breast cancer treatment and long-term survival. The only way to get an early diagnosis? Checking your breasts regularly at home, and making sure you attend your scheduled mammograms. But there are so many mammogram myths that scores of women are opting out of this practice. An informal survey amongst women who are hesitant to go even though they have the means to go shows that the top reasons include thinking it’s painful, having fear of radiation and being afraid of that Big C diagnosis.

    Plus, skipping just one screening can increase a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer, per a study of half a million Swedish women.

    Since mammograms are essential, we’ve broken through a few of the myths and addressed them, courtesy of the radiologists at SCP Radiologist Practice and Dr Lizanne Langenhoven, who specialises in the treatment of breast cancer. Here’s what you really need to know about mammograms.

    Myth #1: Mammograms are too painful

    Many women still rely on their mother’s experience with early mammograms which were painful. Mammography machines have progressed exponentially since the early days, so the level of discomfort experienced during the procedure is now significantly reduced. Modern technology and digital equipment allow us to use less compression and still obtain quality imaging. Also, the amount of pressure is different for each individual, depending on the breast size and composition. Pressure is often manually adjusted so speak to your mammographer if you experience any discomfort.

    READ MORE: Getting A Mammogram: What To Know, Even If You’re Young

    Myth #2: Mammograms mean exposure to cancer-causing radiation

    A mammogram uses relatively low-dose radiation. The total dose is approximately 0.5 mSv (2D mammogram). To put that into perspective, we are exposed to 3.0 mSv of background radiation from our natural surroundings per year. Radiologists also strictly follow what’s known as the ALARA principle – to always apply radiation “as low as reasonably achievable”. Clearly, the benefits of this screening tool vastly outweigh the actual low-dose radiation.

    Myth #3: You don’t need a mammogram if you go for thermography

    At present, thermography cannot substitute mammography but may be used as complementary screening. Dr Langenhoven cautions that thermography is not all it is cut out to be. In order for the cancer to give off heat signals, it has to be significant in size. Mammography on the other hand can detect changes in the breast before they progress to cancer. A mammogram therefore picks up the disease course much sooner than thermography.

    READ MORE: 8 Breast Cancer Myths You NEED To Stop Believing

    Myth #4: Ultrasounds are safer

    “Mammography is our workhorse.  We look for masses, calcifications, and architectural distortion,” says Dr Langenhoven. “Ultrasound is a supplementary investigation used to further evaluate morphology, blood flow, consistency of masses, and lymph nodes that are abnormal on a mammogram.” Tomosynthesis, a type of X-ray, is also supplementary, used to further evaluate architectural distortion seen on a mammogram. They all work together. With denser breasts mammography is less sensitive, which is when we add the supplementary investigations to improve the sensitivity of detection.

    Myth #5: I can’t have a mammogram I have breast implants

    Yes, you can, is the short answer. If you have breast implants the compression and positioning are adjusted. The amount of pressure is equivalent to sleeping on your stomach. Modern technology means there is a very low risk of implant rupture or damage. It is usually combined with ultrasound for better evaluation of the implants.

    READ MORE: 11 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Women That Aren’t Lumps

    Myth #6: If am diagnosed with breast cancer I am going to die anyway. So I would rather not find out

    Perhaps the biggest and most harmful myth of all. The truth is that we’re in a period of time where 90% of women with early breast cancer can be cured of their disease, says Dr Langenhoven. “In the same way we don’t drive cars from the ’50s, our treatment is no longer ancient either!” she remarks.

    “The good news is that our understanding of the different subtypes of breast cancer has improved significantly over the past few years! We no longer follow a one-type-fits-all approach and many women may even safely be spared chemotherapy in a curative setting,” she says.  

    “As with everything else in life, it is easier to address a ‘small’ or ‘early’ problem than it is to address a much larger problem! I’ve seen breast cancer diagnosed at a size of 2mm on a mammogram – meaning that treatment is tailored to a very low-risk situation. In short, the earlier we become aware of an existing problem, the sooner it can be addressed and with much less invasive treatment.”

    Added to that, the side-effect profiles of our new drugs improve the quality of life during treatment. And the fact that we now identify and treat four distinct subtypes of breast cancer means that we can target the specific growth pattern at play and avoid unnecessary treatment. In short, modern medicine means your chances of dying of breast cancer are reduced. But screenings are still the champion in our fight against breast cancer.

    Different screenings for breast cancer

    “When you consider that around 90% of women find their own breast lumps, it is a very important part of the screening process,” says Dr Langenhoven. “Although 80 percent of these lumps are not malignant, there are cases where women owe their lives to their own self-examination.”


    A mammogram involves breast imaging using low-dose X-rays to form a 2D image. The advantage? It often reveals abnormalities undetected in a clinical breast examination. Four images are taken, two of each breast. The breast is lightly compressed for less than 1 minute during the examination to improve diagnostic accuracy.


    This is a form of 3D mammography and uses X-rays as well as sophisticated software to create a 3D image of the breast. It is considered better at detecting cancer and reducing false positives in dense breast tissue.  It is invaluable in problem-solving and is used in combination with 2D mammography.

    Breast ultrasound

    Ultrasound is a supplementary investigation used to further evaluate morphology, blood flow, and consistency of masses and lymph nodes that are abnormal mammography.  It uses no radiation but rather real-time imaging, using sound waves to create an image. It’s a slightly longer process and is also valuable in problem-solving. It is used in combination with a mammogram not in place of it.


    The digital MR image uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves but no radiation. You will receive an intravenous injection and then lie on your stomach, in an MRI ‘tunnel’ for around 45 minutes.  An MRI for breast screening is usually used for problem-solving, high-risk screening and for women who have breast implants.


    Your doctor might recommend a breast biopsy when a suspicious area is found in your breast, like a breast lump or other signs and symptoms of breast cancer. It is also used to investigate unusual findings on a mammogram, ultrasound, or other breast examination.


    Thermography is a test that uses an infrared camera to detect heat patterns and blood flow in body tissues. Digital infrared thermal imaging (DTI) is the type of thermography that can be used to show these patterns and flow in the breasts. More

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    Cycle Syncing: How (And Why!) To Tweak Your Workouts, Diet And More Around Your Menstrual Cycle

    Until recently, I’d been on some form of birth control since I was 13 (I’m 32 now). Now that I’ve stopped popping a little pill every day, I’m learning that while I may have skipped some of the not-so-fun aspects of a regular cycle (cramps and bloating, anyone?), I also didn’t get to experience the powerful parts, like bursts of energy and strength.

    I also never learned how to support my body through its various shifts. With periods making a consistent appearance again, I want to do all I can to have as pleasant an experience as possible. Enter: cycle syncing, a buzzy concept that has nothing to do with getting your period at the same time as a friend.

    What is cycle syncing?

    Cycle syncing is the idea of matching how you eat, work, exercise and recover to the stages of your menstrual cycle. You may have heard about tailoring your fitness routine to each phase—this is the same idea, but expanded into other facets of life.

    This general practice has been around for a while, but the term itself is newer. Female athletes, coaches and researchers have realised that athletic performance changes with hormonal shifts throughout the month and training can be tweaked accordingly. So, the weeks when a woman has higher stamina may include harder workouts and times marked by less energy are more recovery-focused. (More on this in a minute!)

    READ MORE: Cycle Syncing Sex: 28 Days Of The Best Sex Of Your Life

    What are the benefits of cycle syncing?

    Anyone who has a cycle can benefit, but it’s especially useful for the following issues, says Dr Jessica Ritch, a minimally invasive gynaecologist and medical advisor for Elix herbal supplements.

    Optimising your routine around your cycle can ease discomfort leading up to and during menstruation, like low mood, cramps, diarrhoea, bloating and acne. The result? A happier, more stable you.

    How To Start Cycle Syncing By Phase

    Once you know the stages—menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation and luteal phase—you can adjust your routine. While there isn’t a ton of research on this trend, studies on individual practices as well as anecdotal evidence point to the merits. Here, a map for riding the wave at every stage.


    Each cycle starts with menstruation (i.e., when you see red). Levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone drop, which causes the thickened lining of your uterus to shed and may lead to cramping and bloating. The cells that form the uterine lining begin to break down and flood your system with inflammatory substances called prostaglandins, the culprit behind cramps and inflammation.

    Food Focus

    “It’s important to replenish the nutrients you lose during bleeding,” says Dr. Ritch, so eat foods high in iron and vitamin B12, as well as those with anti-inflammatory properties. When iron levels are low, cramps can be worse, likely because iron helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to muscles. Load up on iron-rich dark leafy greens, nuts, lean red meats, egg yolks, lentils and clams, as well as foods high in vitamin C, such as broccoli, citrus, strawberries and bell peppers, to optimise iron absorption, says registered dietician Melissa Groves Azzaro.

    Consider spicing up your meals and drinks with turmeric and cinnamon, which can tame that internal fire too. High-fibre foods as well as ginger help regulate the dreaded “period poops,” says Dr. Ritch. Also key: Magnesium, found in favourites like dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds, pulls double duty in promoting better sleep and reducing muscle cramping in the uterus and bowels.

    Workout Focus

    When it comes to cramps, “I recommend movement, but nothing strenuous,” says Dr. Ritch. Think: yoga and walking…or whatever feels good. “Recovery is also really important during this time to help with inflammation,” she adds.

    Life Focus

    Women who get fewer than seven hours of sleep or go to bed after 11 p.m. are more likely to experience cramps during their cycle, per a meta-analysis from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. This is a good time to make adequate shut-eye a must (though it should be all month long, as you know!).

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

    Follicular Phase & Ovulation

    The former starts on the first day of your period (it overlaps with menstruation) and continues until you ovulate. Your body releases follicle-stimulating hormone, which tells the ovaries to grow and prepare eggs for ovulation. Throughout this stage, oestrogen levels climb, leading to a thickening of the uterus to get ready to host the egg. This phase lasts for roughly 16 days and is usually smooth sailing symptom-wise (once you’re past the earlier cramps, etc.).

    Then ovulation occurs as rising oestrogen levels trigger the release of luteinising hormone, which causes your ovary to release a mature egg. This is signalled by a slight uptick in body temp—usually right in the middle of your cycle.

    Food Focus

    Ovulation can be ouch-inducing for some and omega-3 fatty acids may offer relief by decreasing inflammation. Go for fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Not a fan of seafood? Opt for plant-based sources like walnuts and chia. Just one serving two or three times a week will boost your levels almost immediately and throughout the month, says Azzaro.

    Ground flaxseed (2 to 4 tablespoons daily) and mix into smoothies or yoghurt parfaits. This can also help regulate hormonal ups and downs. “This is something I recommend for symptoms of high or low oestrogen, as well as high androgens, as seen with PCOS,” says Azzaro. Flax contains plant-based omega-3s and phytoestrogens called lignans that help balance hormones.

    Workout Focus

    The peak in oestrogen and release of testosterone during ovulation can boost sex drive and energy. The rise in both hormones also increases your pain tolerance, says Dr. Ritch. In other words, this is a great time to pursue heavier lifts, HIIT workouts, or endurance training, since you can exercise harder with more ease. Nice!

    Life Focus

    The later follicular phase, right before ovulation, is the time to really go for it in your career and social life. This is when people typically feel their best, says Dr. Ritch. During this window, many women feel less fatigued on fewer hours of sleep. “Whatever event will take the most energy that month, like a work presentation or a big party, this is a good time to schedule it,” she says.

    READ MORE: Here’s EXACTLY How To Skip Your Period Every Month

    Luteal Phase

    This begins after ovulation and loops back to menstruation—and it’s admittedly “a crappy time for people who have symptomatic periods,” says Dr. Ritch. The decline in oestrogen and rise in progesterone can lead to breast tenderness, migraines, bloating and digestive issues such as diarrhoea and constipation. PMS symptoms start popping up due to an increase in cortisol and a decrease in serotonin. Feeling sad and experiencing trouble with concentration are common during this roughly 14-day span.

    Food Focus

    You feel low, so you turn to coffee, alcohol and doughnuts for a lift, but they can have the opposite effect. The drinks lead to dehydration and the sugary and salty foods fuel inflammation. Instead, reach for high-fibre, slow-digesting carbs like quinoa, grains and potatoes to stay full longer and nix cravings.

    FYI: Vitamin B6 and calcium are your shields against severe PMS symptoms. “You can get calcium from dairy and leafy greens like bok choy and collard greens and B6 is found in salmon, chicken and chickpeas,” Azzaro says. Need additional help? The same nutrition advice for alleviating discomfort during menstruation is handy here too.

    Workout Focus

    Cardio performance tends to suffer during this time due to the spike in cortisol and drop in serotonin. The progesterone rise can lead to water retention that makes you want to curl up in bed instead of hitting the gym. If you want to keep moving, Dr Ritch recommends strength training, walking, or yoga during this time. It’s okay if your body is leaning toward gentler movement or favours recovery. A little push: Know that activity can be beneficial for combating low moods that come along.

    Life Focus

    Staying calm is essential, as cortisol is already higher than normal and research shows that added life stress can contribute to period cramping. So get your favourite restorative rituals on the calendar, whether they’re a call with a friend, a movie night, a group dinner out, or extra journaling or meditation time.

    This article, written by Kristin Canning, was originally published in the May/June 2023 issue of Women’s Health US. More