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

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

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

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

    1. Figure Eights

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

    2. Overhead Reach

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

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

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

    3. Finger-Bender

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

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

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    If Your Mattress Sucks, You Might Want To Try Pressure Mapping For Better Sleep

    Let’s go back: the last time you bought a mattress (Varsity? Your first flat, ten years ago?), how long did you spend on it before making things official? Did you walk from bed to bed and lay there for a few seconds before hopping onto the next one? If you answered yes, we have some sobering news.

    According to experts, you should spend 15 minutes on a prospective mattress before purchasing. Thankfully, there is now a faster, more efficient and scientific way to make sure you’re getting the right mattress for your body. It’s pressure mapping, and it takes just five minutes.

    Why is the right mattress important?

    Not to alarm you, but it’s sort of THE most important thing. A good night’s sleep starts with the right surface that supports your unique frame and sleeping position. When you’re in bed with a mattress that’s too firm or too soft, you won’t sleep as well. Plus, a bad night’s sleep consistently for weeks or months on end means far more than being cranky. Bad sleep affects your mental health, your mood, blood sugar regulation, weight and more. With a good mattress, you’re setting yourself up for better sleep quality, which impacts your health significantly.

    READ MORE: Fall Asleep Faster With These 7 Hacks For Better Sleep

    What is pressure mapping?

    A computerised tool, pressure mapping software identifies how your weight is distributed across the mattress. The practice originated in healthcare to prevent pain and improve comfort among patients. Now, it’s gone mainstream.

    At Bed King’s Comfort Solutions Lab, you can have your sleep position analysed. The pressure mapping tech, which has over 1600 built-in pressure sensors, targets the body’s pain points, creating the optimal sleep code that is then matched to three of twelve different mattresses. Each mattress, designed and manufactured locally by Bed King, complements each sleep code.

    How pressure mapping matches you to an ideal mattress

    “The more pressure you have, the more comfort you will need in a mattress to relieve those pressure points,” explains Carla Ewertse-Myburgh, Operations Executive at Bed King. “Comfort is not measured by how soft a mattress is but by how much pressure it’s able to relieve. And if there is not enough comfort, you’ll find yourself tossing and turning the whole night trying to find comfort. The other factor is support and this is provided by the pocket spring units found in our mattresses.”

    Once you’ve laid on the pressure mapping tech (it takes about five minutes), the data is interpreted and will create a connection between Bed King’s offering and your sleep data. You’ll get a unique sleep code that connects you to your dream mattress. The sleep code info is based on your weight, body composition and sleeping position.

    Does pressure mapping work for couples?

    If you don’t sleep alone, bring your S.O. along and get mapped together. Both codes are considered as the tech does its magic, but more often than not, the heavier body needs more support.

    READ MORE: Magnesium Is Brilliant For Sleep And Cramps – Here’s How To Get Enough Of It

    What your sleeping position might mean

    How you sleep at night not only plays a role in figuring out the ideal mattress for you but can also have health insights. Here’s what the experts have to say.

    Sleep On Your Tummy

    If you prefer a prone position (lying nearly face-down), you’re probably a perfectionist who is compulsive, persistent and goal-orientated, says psychiatrist and sleep expert Samuel Dunkell. These qualities may be good for your career, but they don’t do your body any favours.

    Sleeping on your stomach can twist your neck into an awkward position, put excess pressure on your spine and make it more difficult to inhale, says Dr Lee Surkin. To avoid waking up all achey, gently nudge yourself into sleeping in a foetal pose by lying on your side with one pillow between your knees and another behind your back.

    Sleep On Your Back

    Staring straight up at the ceiling can signal an adventurous, confident and receptive personality, says Dunkell. Dozing on your back also keeps pressure off your jaw, which is crucial for people with painful temporomandibular joint disorder (pain in the jaw joint).

    But back sleeping triggers undue stress on your airway, so it’s a bad idea for snorers. If you’re a noisy breather, try the pillow trick explained above or buy a full-body pillow that will keep you on your side.

    Sleep On Your Side

    Around 73 percent of women and 50 percent of men spend the night on their sides. Most curl into a semi-foetal pose, with their knees just slightly bent, says Dunkell. According to his research, such people tend to be compromising and appeasing, whereas those who snooze in full foetal (with their knees practically hugged to their chest) are introspective and intense.

    Health-wise, sleeping on either side curtails snoring and resting on your left side keeps your stomach active and eases heartburn, according to the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. More

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    What To Eat To Avoid Colds And Boost Your Immune System, According To A Dietician

    Staving off winter viruses is pretty high up on most people’s winter agendas. The good news? You can use food to help you avoid colds and boost your immune system.

    As we slide into winter, your thoughts are likely turning to where the hell you put your beanie, which moisturiser will actually heal your dry, sensitive skin – and what to eat to prevent a cold.

    Yep, cold and flu season is here and staving off the virus is pretty high up on most people’s winter agendas (missing your next scheduled running race thanks to sniffles is no one’s idea of fun). The good news? What you choose to eat and drink can directly influence your immune health.

    So what are the best foods that help you avoid colds and boost your immune system? To get you the intel WH tapped up consultant dietician and head of nutritional research at Heights, Sophie Medlin, to find out her must-eat immunity-boosting foods to stave off the sniffles – plus, why our diet plays such an important role in keeping our immune system healthy.

    Why are nutrients so important for our immune system?

    Our immune system is complex and influenced by many factors, including sleep, exercise, stress and importantly, nutrition, explains Medlin. “It can be helpful to remember that our immune system uses up more nutrients when it is fighting an infection because vitamin C, zinc and others are essential to the functioning of our immune cells,” she says.

    “While there is no one ‘superfood’ which will fight illness on its own, what we put into our body truly is the foundation of our health. Eating a balanced, varied diet rich in plants makes a vital contribution to the function of the cells throughout our body, including our immune cells – 70% of which live in our gut. That’s why the health and diversity of our gut microbiome is one of the most important elements in determining the health of our immune system,” she explains.

    How can food boost your immune system?

    The right combination of vitamins and minerals helps to support our immune system in a multitude of ways, says Medlin – including; “working as antioxidants to protect healthy cells, supporting growth and activity of immune cells, and producing antibodies.”

    As mentioned, our gut microbiome plays a key role in our immune function by stimulating immune cell activity. “Consuming a variety of vitamins and minerals through fruits, vegetables and whole grains is essential in supporting the growth and maintenance of these good gut microbes,” she says.

    Important nutrients for our immune system include zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium, iron and protein.

    In our fast-paced lifestyles, we often rely on convenience foods and therefore struggle to get all of the nutrients we need from our diet. “We also neglect our diet more when we’re stressed and anxious, which makes us more vulnerable,” adds Medlin.

    “Taking a good quality supplement and probiotic can give you an insurance policy by ensuring the right nutrients are always available to help support your immune system even when your diet is less optimal in the short term. That said, as a well-supplemented dietitian sitting writing this with a cold… sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much effort you put in, the bugs will still get you if you’re run down so don’t blame yourself.”

    How can supplements help bolster immune health?

    The question of diet vs supplements is one which is asked a lot, says Medlin, “and the two are often polarised as two sides of a strict dichotomy. In reality, the relationship is much more nuanced. A balanced and varied diet is absolutely the best place to start – it’s the foundation of all nutritional health, and ideally, we would be able to get all of our nutrients from this.”

    However, our busy modern lifestyles can sometimes make it difficult for us to stay on top of what we’re eating and to get the right combination of vegetables and whole foods that we need.

    “There are also environmental factors to take into account,” she says. “Evidence suggests that deteriorating air quality and atmospheric pollution increases our nutritional requirements, as does poor gut health — an increasingly common problem. On top of that, decades of intensive factory farming have depleted the soil of nutrients. This means that the food we grow contains less nutritional value than it used to, making it even harder to get enough of the nutrients we need from diet alone. We also know that caffeine and alcohol deplete our nutrient stores.”

    If you aren’t able to get all of your nutritional requirements from your diet, then nutritional supplementation is a simple, convenient and effective way to bridge the gap. It’ll also ensure that you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy immune system.

    But can you overdo it with supplements?

    When choosing a supplement, Medlin recommends checking the quantity and making sure that any dose is within the safe upper limit (SUL). “It’s essential to make sure that the ingredients — the actual compounds that contain the micronutrients — are high quality and high-impact. That means you’re looking for active, bioavailable forms of the nutrient where possible,” she explains.

    But unless you’re deficient in a certain nutrient, could you do more harm than good by taking supplements? What if you’re trying to avoid colds and boost your immune system?

    “It is certainly possible to overdo it with nutrients,” says Medlin. ‘For example, during the pandemic, we saw people taking ‘megadoses’ of things like vitamin C and D. This makes your body have to work very hard to process and excrete these nutrients which in the end, causes more harm than good.

    “Some nutrients such as B vitamins are water-soluble and your body can easily take what it needs without causing harm, whereas others like vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E can build up in your body, causing harm.”

    What are the best immune-boosting foods?

    Here are nine nutrients which have been scientifically proven to benefit your natural immunity. Each can be sourced through the foods listed, (but also found within supplements). To avoid colds and boost immune system, look to these nutrients.

    1. Vitamin A

    Vitamin A is an anti-inflammatory, which provides essential support for your immune system by supporting the production of antibodies.

    Good sources of vitamin A include:

    Cheese

    Eggs

    Red and yellow vegetables

    Leafy green vegetables

    2. Vitamin B6

    B Vitamins help to maintain a healthy immune system by supporting cellular function.

    Good sources of vitamin B6 include:

    Chickpeas

    Oily fish

    Potatoes

    Chicken breast

    3. Folic acid

    Image by Racool Studio on Freepik

    Vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, is another nutrient you need for proper immunity.

    You can get B9 from some food sources, such as:

    Liver

    Spinach

    Rice

    Asparagus

    4. Vitamin B12

    Another B vitamin, this time B12. We only need small amounts of B12, which you can find in foods like:

    Shellfish

    Beef

    Milk

    Eggs

    5. Vitamin C

    The most well-known vitamin for immunity is Vitamin C. It’s an antioxidant, which means it protects your body from toxins that cause inflammation.

    Good sources of vitamin C include:

    Citrus fruit

    Peppers

    Broccoli

    Brussels sprouts

    6. Vitamin D

    While it’s true that we can get vitamin D from sunlight, there’s little to no chance of us getting enough exposure in the winter. For this reason, the NHS recommends everyone take a vitamin D supplement to counteract the lack of sunlight exposure we receive throughout the winter.

    Some foods do contain vitamin D, including:

    Fortified eggs

    Mushrooms which have been treated with ultraviolet light

    Tinned fish

    However, it should be pointed out that these foods aren’t long-term practical sources because the quantity of Vitamin D within them is so low.

    7. Iron

    Most people think of iron as something for your red blood cells, but it’s essential for maintaining your natural defences, too. People often think first of red meat when it comes to meeting their iron intake, but you can actually get the trace element from a variety of vegetarian sources too, including:

    Beans

    Eggs

    Tofu

    8. Selenium

    Selenium is a lesser-known mineral, and it plays a key role in the healthy functioning of the immune system by protecting the immune cells from oxidative stress – a process that disrupts the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins. There aren’t many food sources that contain high levels of selenium, but some of the best are:

    Brazil nuts

    Sardines

    Prawns

    9. Zinc

    Image by Racool Studio on Freepik

    Zinc supports so many healthy functions throughout the body, and is important for the development and regeneration of a specific type of immune cell. Zinc is also highly important for other bodily processes such as cognitive function, fertility and reproduction.

    Good sources of zinc include:

    Oysters

    Pumpkin seeds

    Cheese

    Lentils

    This story was published in WomensHealth.com/UK by Alice Barraclough. More

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    Manual vs Electric Toothbrushes: Which Is Better?

    When it comes to brushing your teeth, one question tends to always come up: which is better, manual or electric toothbrushes? Experts say they each have their own set of pitfalls and boons.

    But what is important is that everyone brushes their teeth twice a day for two minutes each. That’s because the mouth is the gateway to the gut, which in turn impacts your bod’s overall health. Plus, according to the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), “Abnormal bacterial communities in the oral cavity have been linked to liver disease, renal failure, cancers, heart disease and hypertension.” Scary stuff indeed.

    READ MORE: 5 Morning Routines That Actually Work, According To Science

    Why Do Manual Toothbrushes Get A Bad Rap?

    Manual toothbrushes are useful for cleaning teeth and play a vital role in good oral hygiene, when done properly. But for many people, using the wrong technique or brushing for too short a time can mitigate the benefits of brushing.

    It’s Really Easy To Use Your Manual Toothbrush Wrong

    “Often, people do not brush their teeth for long enough with a manual toothbrush or use the incorrect brushing technique – such as scrubbing back and forth with a hard pressure – which may result in tooth abrasion and gum recession,” says Dr Tinesha Parbhoo, Head of Clinical Support Services for the South African Dental Association.

    You Need A Certain Amount Of Mobility And Coordination

    It can also be difficult to use if you’re a person with limited dexterity in your hands. “Manual toothbrushes also require a certain level of dexterity and coordination for effective use, which may be challenging in people with arthritis,” adds Dr Parbhoo. Added to that, a large brush head can make it difficult to reach the back of the mouth.

    READ MORE: 10 Dietician-Approved Lifestyle Changes That’ll Curb Those Uncomfortable IBS Symptoms

    The Benefits Of Electric Toothbrushes

    “Electric toothbrushes usually have rotating and oscillating heads,” says Dr Parbhoo. “This assists in removing plaque and debris from hard-to-reach areas, which results in an overall reduction in plaque and calculus and improves total gingival health.” New-gen electric toothbrushes have built-in timers that remind you to change quadrants. They also only stop when the recommended two minutes are up. It doesn’t end there:

    They’re Beneficial For People With Limited Mobility

    Electric toothbrushes do most of the work for you, and are particularly helpful for people with mobility issues such as arthritis or carpal tunnel.

    They Could Be Less Wasteful

    When it’s time to replace your toothbrush, you only have to replace the head of the electric brush, not the entire item, as you would with a manual toothbrush.

    They Have Special Features

    Some electric toothbrushes boast special features like built-in timers, different speeds and pressure sensors to ensure you get the most out of your brushing session.

    READ MORE: It’s Possible To Reverse Type 2 Diabetes, According To One Woman Who Did It 

    3 Electric Toothbrushes To Try

    Philips 3100 Series

    The 3100 Series is an ergonomically designed, lightweight sonic electric toothbrush with a built-in pressure sensor. The bristle vibrations drive micro-bubbles deep between teeth and along the gum line.. Plus, with 31 000 gentle brush strokes per minute this toothbrush will break up and sweep away plaque while protecting your teeth and gums.

    Pomadent Pomabrush

    This unique brush is soft, sleek and truly aesthetically pleasing. With 15 000 sonic vibrations per minute, you’ll get a superior clean. The brush also comes with your choice of nylon-silicone or silicone bristles, for those with sensitive gums.

    What’s extra cool? The nylon-silicone brush head is also infused with charcoal for a deeper clean and this toothbrush is waterproof, meaning you can brush in the shower if that’s your thing.

    Oral-B iO Series 5

    The small, round brush head makes for easier access to those hard-to-reach areas. Plus, a Smart Pressure Sensor changes colour when you’re brushing too hard or too softly (neat!). But if that’s not enough, A.I. Brushing Recognition recognises your brushing style and guides you to better brushing every day. It then connects to an app with detailed insights.

    READ MORE: Could Bed Rotting Be The Answer To Your Self-Care Struggles?

    So, Are Electric Toothbrushes Better?

    According to experts, the jury’s out. “Many studies report that powered toothbrushes are more effective in removing plaque due to a predefined power and force which can effectively remove plaque, gingivitis and overall bleeding,” explains Dr Parbhoo. “Other studies indicate that manual toothbrushes, when used correctly, are as effective as manual toothbrushes in removing plaque.”

    But, one caveat: all these studies only looked at the effectiveness of rotating-oscillating toothbrushes compared to other types of electric toothbrushes on the market.

    No matter what you opt for, always remember the golden rule: brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. More

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    9 Quick Health Tests You Can Do At Home Yourself

    These quick health tests, which you can do at home, take minutes (in some cases, seconds) and can reveal a number of things that need attention. Hop onto it. 

    Why Your Should Be Doing Your Own Health Checks At Home

    Reality check: At your last doctor’s visit, how long did it take? 15 minutes? Maybe less? Contending with short doc appointments – problems with that notwithstanding – means you need to advocate for yourself and have info on hand. Plus, knowing your health status only benefits you more in the long run, especially when it comes to being heard by your GP.

    Added to that, self-screenings play a vital role in catching conditions early on when they’re still easier to treat. Arm yourself by doing these speedy checks below and making sure that when your app does arrive, you’ve got all your bases covered.

    READ MORE: This Is What It REALLY Feels Like To Have A Mammogram

    The 9 Quick Health Tests You Should Do Today

    Test 1: Climb The Stairs

    Time: 3 minutes 

    Do it: Try climbing four flights of stairs in less than a minute – no running required

    What It Shows

    Per study author Dr Jesús Peteiro, a cardiologist at University Hospital A Coruña, Spain, taking the stairs is a good indicator of how well your ticker is, well, ticking. “If it takes you more than one-and-a-half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal, and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor,” he explained in a press release.

    In the study, participants ran on a treadmill and then climbed a set of stairs after a brief rest. 58 percent of patients who completed the stair climb in more than 1.5 minutes had abnormal heart function, the studies revealed.

    Out of breath or feeling a tightness in your chest? See your doc, ASAP.

    READ MORE: 5 Heart Disease Risk Factors Every Woman Needs To Know About

    Test 2: Balance On One Leg

    Time: 40 seconds 

    Do it: Take off your shoes. Now, balance on one leg for ten seconds. Easy enough? Do it with your eyes closed.

    What This Quick Health Test Shows

    Bummer alert: Balance deteriorates as you age. But according to studies, having good balance is a powerful indicator of how long – and healthily – you’ll live. In a 2014 British Medical Journal study, 53-year-old adults were tested by seeing how long they could stand on one leg. When the researchers returned to the study 13 years later, they found that the test had independently predicted the chance of participants dying over that period.

    The highest indicator of death? Lasting less than two seconds. It’s hard because when we remove our eyes from the equation, our body has to work that much harder to keep us upright. But all is not lost. Improve your balance with single-leg deadlifts that build all-over strength, or try yoga.

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

    Test 3: Check Your Moles

    Time: 5 minutes 

    Do it: Examine yourself in a well-lit room, checking your back, upper arms and backs of your legs as well as everywhere else. Check for abnormal growths and misshapen moles.

    What This Shows

    Checking your skin for moles is the second line of defence against skin cancer (the first being rigorous use of sunscreen). “Melanoma is a type of skin cancer affecting melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells,” says Pretoria-based dermatologist Dr Tarryn Jacobs. “It is also the most dangerous type because of its potential spread to distant organs and tissues.”

    Even if you’re a POC, checking for moles is vital, says Dr Jacobs. “Although certain skin cancers are less prevalent in non-Caucasian racial groups, when they do occur, they tend to be diagnosed at a later stage,” she says. “The most common location for melanoma in patients of skin of colour is the lower extremities – the soles of the feet, in particular. This is a type of melanoma called acral lentiginous melanoma, which is an aggressive type.”

    READ MORE: Sunscreens For Every Skin Type And Situation

    Test 4: Check Your Breasts

    Time: 5 minutes 

    Do it: Check your breasts for lumps, bumps and abnormalities.

    What This Quick Health Test Shows

    When combined with regular screenings with your doc and mammograms, self-screening is a powerful tool in detecting breast cancer. If you’re a person of colour, check your tatas, even if you’re young. Per a 2020 study, breast cancer in Black women often manifests at a young age. But, as with anything, it can happen to anyone, so check yo’self a few days after every period ends, according to Breastcancer.org. 

    Exactly how to check your breasts

    Stand in front of the mirror, hands at your hips and have a look at your melons. Check that they’re not swollen or distorted. Check for inverted nipples, redness, soreness or rashes.

    Next, lie down with one hand above your head. With your other, press down with your fingers and move them in a small, circular motion. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side; from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage. Breasts should feel firm and not lumpy.

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

    Test 5: Check Your Iron Levels

    Time: 30 seconds 

    Do it: Check if the lines on your palm are pale, check for pale gums and eyelids, or cold hands and feet.

    What It Shows

    Around 50 percent of South African women are iron deficient, per an estimate by Ogilvy Health. A frightening statistic, with real implications. “Iron is used in the body to assist in the formation of red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen around the body, to our muscles and organs,” says Dr Eden Lurie, a GP in Cape Town.

    People low on iron feel lethargic, short of breath and can even have itchy skin. “If untreated, you can be at increased risk of infection as your immunity is lowered, and in severe cases, it can lead to heart failure,” notes Dr Lurie.

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

    Test 6: Do The Paper Test

    Time: 3 seconds 

    Do it: Place a small piece of paper on your hands and check if it shakes. It’s better to see it this way than examining your hand by itself. 

    What it shows

    Shaking hands can reveal a few things. It can be hereditary, so see if your folks have shaky hands, too. Had too much caffeine? Stressed? These could cause a case of the trembles. On the other, erm, hand, it could also be a sign of neurological disease or a simple vitamin B12 deficiency.

    If you’re also struggling with rapid weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat, shaking hands could be a sign of hyperthyroidism, a condition when your thyroid gland makes too much of the thyroid hormone. “If your hands are shaking it is best to visit your doctor for a full check-up,” advises Dr Lurie.

    READ MORE: 10 Best Essential Oils To Help Relieve Anxiety and Stress

    Test 7: Ask Yourself These Questions

    Time: 15 minutes 

    Do it: Ask yourself these questions, suggests psychologist Sanam Naran, founder of Conscious Psychology in Johannesburg. 

    What are the three most frequent emotions I’ve been feeling in the last two weeks to a month? 

    Can I easily name my emotions or do I struggle to put a name to them?

    Do I notice changes in my sleeping patterns or eating habits? 

    How often do I do things that I enjoy or put my needs first? 

    What do I do to take care of my mental health?

    On a scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being good) how would I describe my emotional health?

    What it shows

    “These questions are important because they gauge whether an individual’s mental health is good or needs to be taken care of,” elaborates Naran. “It also allows them to reflect a bit deeper on themselves and ask questions that they may have been ignoring.” If your answers to these questions turn out less than satisfactory, it might be time to chat with a therapist, who can help sort through what’s really behind your low feelings. 

    READ MORE: 18 Mental Health Books For Anxiety, People-Pleasing And More

    Test 8: Complete The Sitting To Rising Test

    Time: 2 minutes 

    Do it: Simply stand up, then lower yourself into a cross-legged position, without using your hands or knees. Now, stand back up again – without using your hands or knees. It’s easier said than done.

    What this quick health test shows

    While it might make for great TikTok content, this challenge does so much more than that. A group of Brazilian researchers linked this test to mortality, with those able to perform it being more likely to live longer. “It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio, and coordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy,” says Dr Claudio Gil Araújo of the Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro in a press release.

    READ MORE: 9 Bodyweight Exercises That Will Improve Your Mobility

    Test 9: Measure Your Waist

    Time: 2 minutes 

    Do it: Use a tape measure and see how large your waist circumference is, measuring right above your belly button.

    What it shows

    “Waist circumference is a good indicator of your visceral fat – namely fat surrounding your abdominal organs that shows on your torso,” says Dr Lurie. When it exists in excess, this kind of fat can be dangerous to your health. “Having an increased waist circumference puts you at higher risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease,” warns Dr Lurie.

    If yours is larger than 80cm, it’s time to make some changes. Incorporate more veg into your diet, reduce stress (cortisol plays a role in fat stores), nix the fast food and pick up more exercise to reduce this kind of fat around your abdomen. 

    This story was published in the March/April 2024 edition of Women’s Health South Africa by Michelle October. More

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    It’s Possible To Reverse Type 2 Diabetes, According To One Woman Who Did It 

    Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as a lifestyle disease. Even so, it can be a lot to manage, with injections and closely monitoring blood glucose levels throughout the day, as well as closely managing food intake to make sure levels don’t go off-kilter. But is it reversible? Some say yes, with a healthy lifestyle and most especially, with weight loss. One woman managed to remove the disease from her life when she underwent bariatric surgery and lost weight in the process. Here, Jo-Anne Campbell’s story of how she could reverse type 2 diabetes.

    It started with tumours

    My journey started very strangely, with my sister having a dream in 2010 that I would die in January 2011. She has a foresight for these things. I put this dream of hers aside just to be confronted with a hard reality in January 2011. It was a very hot day as I remember and I decided to drink my husband’s last beer in the fridge. After falling asleep for a few hours, I woke up with pain in my abdomen and found that it had swollen significantly. I looked nine months pregnant.

    After seeing specialists and having tests and scans done it was determined that my liver was the issue. The scans showed my liver, which looked like pencil holes punched in it. It contained 43 tumours called adenomas in it. Each tumour has a possible 3 percent of becoming cancerous. One of the tumours had bled inside itself and became hard. It measured 5 by 7 cm in size.

    At this stage, I developed diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. My specialist did not know what the tumours were exactly or how to treat them. Fortunately, I was referred to the best liver specialist in Africa. He could only remove four tumours – the liver and the tumours were fused together. There were just too many and because it was my hormones causing these tumours, I could not receive a liver transplant as my body would only make more tumours. The specialist did the surgery and it was successful. After one to two years, I managed to lose 20kg. I regained all and more weight over a span of five years and just accepted all the weight for another three years until I felt unwell again. I started eating increased portions and dropped all the exercise completely. That combination allowed the weight gain to increase. I weighed close to 110kg.

    Spiralling out of control

    With this increase in weight, my diabetes spiralled out of hand and no medication could help bring the sugar levels down. I was at this point very unhealthy and had to manage my increased blood pressure and diabetic medication. Every time the diabetic nurse saw me, she recommended to my doctor that they increase the insulin. In the end, I was on 120 units of insulin per day.

    I was plagued with exhaustion, not only physically but mentally as well. I became anxious when my sugar levels increased as well as my insulin medication at each visit with the diabetic nurse. That’s when I realized I was in a bad space regarding my health when one Sunday afternoon my left leg went numb and experienced heart palpitations. I thought I was going to have a stroke. That’s when I decided I was dying a slow death.

    The change

    I spoke to my doctor and told him I felt like I was dying and I knew I would not make it to 50 and my youngest child was only three years old at the time. With that, he gave me my last and most invasive option. Bariatric surgery, better known as a gastric bypass. That surgery happened in 2019 and has been very successful thus far. My diabetes disappeared within four days, as well as my high blood pressure and cholesterol.

    My lifestyle changed drastically after the surgery. I lost 35kg in ten months, a rapid change because of the reduction of my food intake and only managing to each certain food. After the operation, I could only manage a few tablespoons of soft foods a day. Then I could manage half a cup or 125ml three times per day. I drank a supplement most of the time. Now, I can manage about a 200ml of food but I must remember to eat slowly. I increased my exercise by two hours per day and started running.

    Jo-Anne Campbell who worked to reverse type 2 diabetes.

    The glow

    Now, I’m in a much healthier space. The bariatric surgery was by no means a quick fix. Life as I knew it changed drastically for me, especially after losing 35 kg in 10 months. I am able to do things like running, weight lifting and many other physical activities I never thought I would attempt.

    Today I feel like my past was a terrible dream that I woke up from. My confidence and energy levels have spiked instead of my glycaemic levels. I have a new love for life and have discovered that I should make the most of the health that I have gained during this time. I have no regrets about starting this journey as I can be alive to see my family grow and not have the fear of leaving them due to my health.

    Jo-Anne has written a book about her experience, called Memoirs of a Diabetic Survivor, available soon. More

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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 www.womenshealthmag.com. More