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10 Expert Tips To Manage PMS Naturally

Relief is here.

What is PMS?

PMS stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, referring to a group of symptoms that women can experience in the week or so leading up to the beginning of the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms include puffiness, bloating, cramps, headache, migraine, insomnia, changes in appetite, weight gain, back pain, lower back pain, swelling and tenderness of the breasts, nausea, constipation, anxiety, irritability, anger, fatigue, restlessness, mood swings, and crying.

PMS can affect the quality of life with varying levels. About 50% of women of reproductive age worldwide are affected by PMS. Among these, about 20% of women experience symptoms severe enough to disrupt their daily activities, and the remaining have mild to moderate symptoms. Even though PMS is pretty common, it is not actually biologically normal! Let’s explore why.

Causes of PMS

In short, the absolute or relative imbalance between estrogen and progesterone is the cause of the symptoms of PMS. Progesterone and estrogen are the two main hormones involved in the menstrual cycle. Absolute balance here means high estrogen level with moderate progesterone, and relative refers to moderate estrogen with low or absent progesterone.

Going one level deeper, there are three top contributors to this imbalance known as Estrogen Dominance. But note that the absolute or relative high estrogen level is not because the body is making a mistake and producing too much. So what are the main contributors to this imbalance?

1. Exposure to xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that have estrogenic-like effects within the body, mimicking the strong type of estrogen that easily bind with the cell receptors in our bodies and cause hormonal imbalances. Xenoestrogens come from pesticides, herbicides, conventional makeup, nail polishes, birth control, plastics, BPA, conventionally raised meat, etc.

2. Poor detoxification function in the liver

As part of natural hormonal balancing, the body regulates circulating amounts of hormones and neurotransmitters by producing them, then breaking them down, and excreting them from the body through the methylation and detoxification process.

The liver’s detoxification process requires ample amounts of nutrients such as B vitamins, minerals (like magnesium), and amino acids. The liver cells and the whole digestive system needs to be healthy and functioning optimally for this process. Detoxification is also important to maintain a balanced level of estrogen circulating in the body.

3. Low progesterone or receptor ability to bind with progesterone

This can occur for a variety of reasons such as high or ongoing stress state, blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, and toxic exposure.

How to Manage Your PMS Naturally for Relief and Prevention

You might have noticed already that the underlying reasons for hormonal imbalance have many factors that are actually in your control. Here are 10 tips to manage your PMS.

1. Ensure good hydration

Estrogen and progesterone influence your body’s hydration levels, especially at the late luteal phase before the period starts, so you will need more fluids at that time. Another point to note is that dehydration – with or without menstruation – is known to cause fatigue, bloating, constipation, and headaches. By drinking water during menstruation, you can reduce the severity of common unpleasant symptoms and discomforts of PMS.

2. Eat quality and balanced variety of foods

Quality: The foods we eat play a big role in hormone balance. Our hormones are made using amino acids from proteins and fatty acids from fats. The better quality materials we use, the better quality hormones our bodies create. Eating mostly real whole foods (versus processed) makes a big difference.

Balanced variety: Every type of food has a different structure and offers a different group of micronutrients. To keep our systems balanced, we need everything in the right amount. Too much of one micronutrient can throw off the balance of another. The Healthy Eating Plate by Harvard Education is a great guide to making balanced meals so that you’re getting the nutrients you need for healthy organs and optimal liver detoxification function. 

3. Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugar

Eating too many refined carbohydrates and sugar for your unique body raises blood sugar, which triggers an excess insulin response. And this hyperinsulinemia state affects your hormonal balances, leading to lower progesterone, which is one of the dynamics causing PMS symptoms. Following balanced meal guidelines, as mentioned in the second tip, is a great resource. Keep in mind that natural sugar is still sugar, so consume it mindfully with balanced meals.

4. Manage stress response

A 2018 study in Saudi Medical Journal found female college students who were highly stressed were nearly three times as likely to experience worse PMS symptoms in the luteal phase and twice as likely to have painful cramps during their period. Stress can affect the immune system, adrenals, and blood pressure, which tends to amplify and increase pain, creating a vicious cycle of ever-increasing stress and pain.

Stress is a complex topic as it can be induced by mental, emotional, physical (whether trauma or excessive exercise), or physiological stressors. Physiological stressors could be due to inflammation, insulin resistance, pathogens and imbalanced microbiome, food sensitivities, messed up circadian rhythm (like working night shifts or staying up late watching movies), and many other possible reasons. Understanding your stressors and addressing them is key to wellness.

Some suggestions to tackle stress include:

  • Exploring possible food sensitivities: Food insensitivities, while common, can go unacknowledged for several years, wreaking havoc by increasing inflammation and raising stress hormones. Gluten and dairy are among the top culprit foods. Try an elimination diet followed by structured reintroduction to determine if this is an issue with you. Reach out if you need support in this process.
  • Supporting your gut health: Most imbalances and diseases start in the gut, and learning more about developing a healthy gut can help your overall health. 
  • Stress-busting diets: Stress affects your food choices, and your food choices impact your stress level. One way to tackle this is by adopting food that fights stress in your diet. This can include fermented food, oatmeal, walnuts, etc. 

There are many wellness tools to manage your stress response and reduce its impact on your body. I would encourage you to make a list that works for you or that you like to try and be committed to doing them frequently. Some examples include diaphragmatic breathing (my favourite, as it is very quick in shutting off the stress response), meditation, yoga, journaling, talk therapy, laughter therapy, nature walks, uplifting music, dancing, and anything else that helps you calm your nervous system. Remember, stress affects your hormonal balance, so investing some time in relaxation techniques is vital for your health and reducing PMS symptoms.

5. Prioritise sleep

Poor sleep, with or without menstruation, induces irritability and fatigue. And not getting enough quality sleep can surely worsen your PMS symptoms, as hormonal regulations and cell repair happen during your sleep. Unfortunately, symptoms from a few sleepless nights can get you into a catch-22 situation, such as when a hormonal imbalance (like low progesterone) also affects your sleep.  

Following a healthy bedtime routine can help you get better quality sleep and reduce symptoms associated with poor sleep. A healthy bedtime routine can include taking a relaxing bath in the evening, stopping screen time at least an hour before bed, going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding late heavy meals, and preparing your bedroom environment for sleeping by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet.

6. Reduce toxin exposure

We live in a world that’s becoming a chemical soup and our frequent exposure to these toxins is a huge burden on our bodies. Hormone-disrupting chemicals known as xenoestrogens are a big contributor to the imbalance leading to PMS. This list includes some key environmental chemicals. Here’s how to be mindful of these toxins.

  • Reduce toxin exposure from food: Organic produce means you avoid the harsh chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers that are absorbed by plants and cannot be fully washed away. Check the annual release of the Dirty Dozen for the most contaminated produce to know what to be cautious with. Free-range chicken and eggs, grass-fed meats, and dairy have more nutrients, no antibiotics or hormones, and a natural feed. Eating real whole foods versus processed food products will help you avoid all additives like colourings, flavourings, bulking agents, anti-caking agents, preservatives, and more that your body needs to put an effort into detoxing.
  • Reduce toxin exposure from the environment: Your skin is basically a giant mouth, so be mindful of what you’re putting on it. Makeup, personal hygiene products, moisturisers, body sprays, and so on get absorbed deep into your cells without the normal filtration that happens when we take in something by eating and passing it through the digestive system. 

Watch out for the ingredients in your products, avoid products with synthetic fragrances (major xenoestrogen), and choose clean beauty products. Also, keep an eye out for ‘greenwashing’ as some brands promote their products as being environmentally friendly when in reality, they still have harmful ingredients that can disrupt your health. Smoking also affects your PMS symptoms because of the nicotine content in cigarettes. Other ways to reduce toxin exposure include being careful of the materials used in food prep, storage and heating, wall paint, flame retardants on furniture, etc.

7. Reduce coffee and alcohol

Both of these have a diuretic effect, increasing the amount of water lost by the body. If not replenished as quickly as it’s lost, this can trigger dehydration, which can worsen your symptoms. Alcohol, of course, affects liver health and subsequently the detoxification process, and also affects estrogen receptors contributing to imbalances. Anything beyond one drink a day for a few nights will have an impact. Coffee raises the cortisol hormone and affects estrogen receptors, so both of these mechanisms contribute to hormonal imbalances.

8. Prioritise movement

Physical activity not only helps to keep a balanced body composition, but also produces ‘happy hormones’ such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety. A systemic review of several studies in 2020 has shown the positive impact of exercise in reducing physical and psychological symptoms in women with PMS. Physical activity is recommended throughout the month – not necessarily just during the menstruation period. Some women are happy with light cardio exercise when their period starts, while others opt to rest for a couple of days. Always listen to and honour your body’s needs.

9. Check your vitamins

Check your vitamin D level as it’s pro-hormone and has an important role in regulating calcium. B vitamins play an essential role in mood regulation. This effect is related to the production of serotonin, and tryptophan metabolism. B vitamins are therefore particularly helpful if you suffer from headaches, irritability, tiredness, or anxiety. Good food sources of B vitamins include beef, poultry, avocado, banana, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.

If you want to go down the supplementation route, then it is better to get some lab tests done to gauge your needs and always choose quality bio-available forms of supplements (yes, you need to read the labels and ingredients of supplements). Magnesium is a mineral and one of the key nutrients that help to keep estrogen receptors appropriately sensitised. It also has a role in converting vitamin D to its active form and helps ease constipation. Check your RBC Mg level for accurate internal sufficiency.

10. Try seed cycling

Seed Cycling – also called Seed Rotation – is a method to stabilise the female hormonal balance in a natural way, using seeds and kernels to help you achieve a regular cycle and fewer PMS symptoms. The idea is to provide the body with the nutrients needed at each phase to boost production or metabolism (breaking down) excess.

  • Follicular Phase – Ovulation (Days 1-14): eat 1-2 tablespoons each of raw, fresh ground flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Ovulation – Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): eat 1-2 tablespoons each of raw, fresh ground sunflower and sesame seeds

A detailed guide to seed cycling is available here. Caution: You might find reviews of how amazing seed cycling is and all the amazing benefits women got from following this. However, please keep in mind that there are many factors that affect the body, and doing just one thing may not give you the results that you are looking for.

Seed cycling is not a magic fix-all solution, so I encourage you to follow as many tips as possible that apply to your case along with seed cycling to reap the benefits you are looking for. You have an amazing body that can heal itself if you give it the chance. Changing your food and lifestyle has a big impact on your illness and wellness. I understand it is not an easy journey. However, it is doable, and working with a health coach will help you change your mindset and habits into healthier ones that support your unique body.

I’ve had severe PMS symptoms along with other issues for so long that I thought that’s just my normal! Where I am now is so far from my ‘past life’ – it’s been a journey to change my lifestyle, but it was totally worth it considering the vibrant energy and the better quality of life I enjoy. Don’t accept your symptoms as “normal” and never give up on seeking solutions for you to feel better naturally – this is key to avoiding the side effects of commonly prescribed solutions like pain relief medication and birth control pills.

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Talking Sustainabili-tea with Laura Erguy

The co-founder of Namastea on searching for some of the best tea in the world.

As tea consumption continues to rise, many brands are looking for ways to modernise the traditional beverage. With increasing populations plus disposable income and a penchant for the Instagrammable, a key driver behind increased tea consumption in the Middle East has been boba tea. But that doesn’t mean traditional tea is on the way out; the reality is quite the opposite: the Middle East and Africa are the world’s second-largest consumers of tea, after Asia Pacific, with black tea coming out as a strong preference, as well as teas geared towards health and wellness.

One such brand is Namastea, dedicated to providing the highest quality tea available to the Gulf region with an eye trained firmly on the future. “Tea is an old and traditional beverage with a lot of existing brands. Our main challenge is to modernise its consumption and educate our consumers on the different options out there,” says co-founder Laura Erguy. We spoke with Erguy to find out more.

Chasing the Premium

“We realised that most teas in the Middle East were often lower quality than what we could find elsewhere and consumers did not know the many benefits of tea,” shared Laura. “So, we decided to source the best teas and really put the focus on each blend[‘s] main ingredients to highlight their benefits on our wellbeing, while maintaining an affordable price and cute packaging.”

Aimed at young, health-conscious tea drinkers, Erguy is on a mission to provide a premium tea and promote a healthier lifestyle. “We would like our customers to appreciate our level of quality and feel part of a healthy community with our brand.”

NAMASTEA

Good Morning Energizing Loose Tea

AED 40.00

NAMASTEA

Midnight Rendez Vous Rejuvenating Loose Tea

AED 44.00

tea

NAMASTEA

Sun Kiss Immunity Loose Tea

AED 44.00

And the effort shows through. Just as single-origin coffees tend to have a distinct, exotic taste that is bolder and more robust in comparison to blends, Erguy — who co-founded Namastea with her sister almost four years ago — revealed all Namastea teas are sourced exclusively from Sri Lanka, one of the world’s top producers of tea. “Sri Lanka is the only country in the world to function with an auction system that ensures that every single batch of tea produced is checked, ensuring consistency, transparency, and homogeneity of the products.”

“Sri Lanka is also the first and only country to have received a global ozone-friendly certification thanks to their sustainable production methods.”

The Power of Sustainability

Originally from France, the Erguy sisters founded Namastea out of a love for Sri Lanka and its tea, and a desire to share it with their world. “We both started our careers in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. After many trips to Sri Lanka, we discovered the incredible health benefits of tea and realised that this was often unknown or not fully understood. We decided to create a modern and colourful brand to modernise this ancient beverage, as well as focus on its incredible powers.”

The sailing distance from Sri Lanka to the Gulf region is usually between one to three days, meaning the tea’s footprint from food miles is drastically reduced too. “Our teas have not traveled the world before reaching your cup,” says Erguy. Apart from sourcing sustainably-produced tea, Namastea’s teabags are fully compostable and biodegradable; plus, all the flavours are 100% natural and fruit-based, with special limited editions as well as an ever-expanding lineup.

NAMASTEA

Barely Moody
Tea Bags

AED 20.00

NAMASTEA

Pretty Berry Rejuvenating Tea Bags

AED 20.00

tea

NAMASTEA

Sweet Dreams
Tea Bags

AED 20.00

“We started with only loose leaf teas, but gradually introduced a teabag as well in order to cater supermarkets’ needs and [offer] more convenience for some of our consumers,” says Erguy. “Our favourite tea is Pretty Berry,” says Laura, “because it is a unique creation in our range that you would not find in any other brands. It has a very tasty flavour, almost like a candy (without the guilt) and can be drunk cold or hot.”

According to Erguy, the unique natural flavours added to the tea blends can last up to three years, though she recommends consuming the teas long before then. “The natural flavours added to the blend tend to disappear after that period. However, the tea itself does not expire and will still be safe to drink after three years.”

By providing consumers with the highest quality tea from Sri Lanka, Namastea is helping to modernise the traditional beverage and educate consumers on the different options available.

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A girl sitting alone a smoking

Calling All Smokers with a Desire to Quit

Now’s the time to reclaim your health.

I was seven years old when I decided to be a smoker. Yes, just seven.

In fact, it became one of my goals in life – a goal that I accomplished much more easily than anticipated. My dad and I used to visit the theatre every Saturday, sometimes to watch the same play. On one such day, we spent the intermission at a café within the theatre, where I saw a gorgeous woman – maybe in her 40s – wearing a stunning ballgown. She had a long pipe attached to a cigarette, and I had never seen anything so fascinating. I thought to myself, ‘I wish my mother was a smoker, it’s so cool. She is so pretty. One day I will become like her, I will be a smoker.’

Two years later, I caught my mom smoking and I was so happy. The next day, my entire class knew about it. Apparently, she had smoked secretly for many years. I smoked my first cigarette at 10 and was caught by my mother, but instead of being proud of me, she punished me. From the age of 13, I was a regular smoker. But as fate would have it, today, I assist my clients in quitting smoking and taking charge of their lives. As a result of my services, my clients can stop smoking without experiencing any anxiety and are able to reclaim their health. 

There’s No Going Back

It’s always important to remember that smoking is not a habit – it’s an addiction. Many smokers wish they had never tried that first cigarette in their teenage years or young adulthood. The only reason they continue to smoke is because of the fear of withdrawal symptoms. They believe they will go through miserable days of desperation and deprivation, and will not be able to deal with it. In fact, this belief about withdrawal symptoms is reinforced by manufacturing companies of nicotine patches and gums (as a substitute for smoking). Smokers don’t want to go through these symptoms and, instead, prefer instant gratification over looking into the future to a healthy life.

But the bitter truth is that the withdrawal from nicotine is very mild. And with the right attitude and support from our subconscious mind, it can be hardly noticeable. This is because physical addiction has a very small role to play as smoking is more of a psychological addiction. The first cigarette of our lives is always disgusting – we don’t know how to smoke, we start coughing, it tastes awful. But because there is always a motivation behind this behaviour, we force ourselves to become tolerant to smoking.

So What’s the Motivation?

Well, for some, it’s social acceptance and to feel a sense of belonging. For others, it’s a milestone of becoming an adult. The fact is that everyone knows smoking is harmful – even a smoker wouldn’t want their child to smoke. In any addiction, a person is trying to fill some empty space within. We call it a ‘void’ in therapy. It is important to understand this concept and deal with it in due time, so that smoking is not substituted with some other addictive behaviour or substance of sorts. In most cases, it is because of underlying anxiety that people start smoking, so we often recommend self-hypnosis and mindfulness-based practices, which can be very helpful.

One of the biggest challenges for smokers is the inner conflict that they experience. A part of them wants to quit because of various reasons, but the other part still wants to smoke. This conflict is what creates anxiety. Therefore, it is very helpful to create a list of reasons as to why you want to quit smoking, such as, ‘What are you going to lose or gain by quitting?’

The other challenge is that smoking has been associated with multiple other behaviours and actions in a smoker’s daily life. This includes drinking coffee and smoking, driving and smoking, talking on the phone and smoking, smoking after every meal, taking breaks from work with other colleagues and smoking, and smoking while consuming alcohol.

The Only Way Out Is Through

The formula for success is the desire to quit. If the idea of quitting is forced by family members or a partner, it doesn’t work. In such cases, it’s easier to change the partner than to quit smoking. In my one-on-one De-addiction & Quit Smoking sessions at Illuminations, we discover the limiting beliefs of a person and change them into beliefs that support life without smoking. We identify associations with cigarettes and break them. We create new goals and healthy behaviours that clients want to have as happy non-smokers.

Hypnotherapy is another highly effective modality that helps to resolve the conflict and release any trapped feelings and emotions related to the void. The client is also taught self-hypnosis for experiencing deep relaxation whenever needed. When we start de-addiction, one of the first rules is to smoke mindfully. This means that you start paying attention to every puff that you inhale. Whenever you want to smoke, you take time out to smoke without doing anything else simultaneously. 

This is what I tell my clients: “Cigarettes kill you and you know that. Yet, you choose to smoke. There is a very special bond you share with the cigarette – it definitely deserves your undivided attention, so from today, you can smoke as much as you wish, but do not combine it with any other activity. Do not smoke with anyone else, no conversations on the phone, no watching videos, no checking messages. Just take a moment, go out, smoke, and be present to every pleasure it provides.” 

With this simple behavioural change, they are pleasantly surprised by what they discover. Some say they couldn’t smoke as many cigarettes as before. Some throw away the cigarettes halfway through. Others say only a few cigarettes give them pleasure. Some experience anger towards cigarettes as it consumes so much of their precious time. Hundreds of people have taken charge of their lives this way, going on to become happy non-smokers who are free from past compulsions and filled with renewed energy, thus improving their health and gaining back their confidence. To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

Dr. Irina Khanna is a Hypnotherapist and Holistic Counsellor at Illuminations.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of The Gaggler.

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holding urine urge

Breaking the Taboo Around Bladder Leakage

Most women experience urinary incontinence at some point in their lives — but there is help.

Urinary incontinence — loss of bladder control — is a condition that affects up to 50% of women during their lifetime. The prevalence of urinary incontinence increases with age, and physical, social, and psychological well-being can be negatively affected. It can be extremely embarrassing for those who experience it. Therefore, many women (25-61%) avoid seeking help. Many women also believe it is a normal consequence of aging or delivering babies and do not discuss their symptoms with their care teams.

Pelvic health physiotherapists are experts in the treatment of these pelvic floor symptoms. They undergo extensive post-graduate training to help manage this personal, often complex, and emotional issue. 

paper dolls

What Are the Different Types of Bladder Leakage?

The two most common types of urinary incontinence are stress incontinence and urge incontinence, or a mixture of the two — mixed incontinence.

Stress incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine with increases in physical exertion such as cough, sneezing, laughing, and exercise (jumping, weights, running). Pressure increases within the tummy (intra-abdominal pressure) cause “stress” or pressure on the bladder, neck of the bladder, and pelvic floor muscles. A weakened continence mechanism can cause loss of urine. Many women with this type of incontinence will reduce exercise, unfortunately adopting a less active lifestyle which can further compound the issue.

Urge incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine with high urges to urinate that cannot be delayed or postponed. For example, leaking en route to the bathroom or with triggers such as running water and turning the key in the door (triggers can differ for everyone). This type of incontinence poses severe distress to those who experience it, as it can impose many restrictions on their lifestyle. Many women will practice toilet mapping to avoid embarrassment and limit their social life due to fear of leaking.

This type of incontinence is usually caused when the bladder squeezes or contracts at the wrong times, which can occur irrespective of how much urine is in the bladder.

There are also other types of urinary incontinence, such as overflow incontinence and functional incontinence. Overflow incontinence refers to constant or frequent dribbling of urine. Functional incontinence refers to leakage due to a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from getting to the toilet on time.

Risk factors include age, obesity, family history, menopausal symptoms, and medical conditions, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, as well as smoking and urogenital microbiome.

bladder image

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Firstly, what does the research say? A Cochrane review (the highest form of scientific evidence) in 2018 recommended physiotherapy, in the form of individualised pelvic floor muscle training, as first-line treatment for incontinence. The International Incontinence Society also recommended pelvic floor muscle training (under the supervision of a pelvic health physiotherapist) for at least three months as first-line treatment for urinary incontinence with proven positive results (level 1 evidence).

What Are the Pelvic Floor Muscles, and How Are They Trained?

The pelvic floor muscles are a sling or group of muscles that span the whole base of your pelvis, attaching from your pubic bone to your tailbone and both sitting bones. They wrap around your orifices — anus, urethra, and vagina and act like a sling or a hammock supporting your pelvic organs (bladder, bowel, and uterus). They have a crucial role in supporting the bladder and maintaining continence. 

Pelvic floor muscle training will involve an initial assessment of the muscles for strength, endurance, coordination, and relaxation. Based on this, an individualised program is provided to work on any deficits in strength, tone and coordination. There are also in-home pelvic floor training devices that we may recommend if suitable. These are in the form of an intra-vaginal device that can provide feedback on pelvic floor muscle contraction or can stimulate the muscle itself to contract. The research is limited on their efficacy, but there is some promising evidence of improvement in women with mild to moderate incontinence.

squatting

What Other Physiotherapy Treatment Is Involved?

In addition to pelvic floor muscle training, a complete assessment of the whole female body is performed with an analysis of symptomatic movements. This way, muscle imbalances within the hips, pelvis, and abdominal muscles can be addressed with specific exercises. There are lots of treatment strategies that are available to combat leaking with particular movements.

For example, if a box jump causes symptoms at a certain point, we can try techniques like varying breath, step width, and height of the box or only working on jumping down initially, to name a few. My treatment approach is to empower women to manage and improve their condition. While some activities may need to be altered and scaled back initially, if your goal is to box jump without leaking, that is what we work towards in every session.

Other non-surgical options are intra-vaginal pessaries. These are silicone-based devices that come in different shapes and can be inserted/fitted by a trained medical health professional. Pessaries can support the bladder neck and help maintain continence. We also may recommend over-the-counter options such as an incontinence tampon that can be used for 12 hours, or a reusable pessary that can be used during certain symptomatic activities. 

incontinence

Furthermore, depending on the symptoms described, we can provide bladder training and lifestyle advice. Addressing any issues with the bowels, especially constipation, is a must, as constipation can exacerbate incontinence symptoms.

We also refer you to the necessary professionals that may help — a urologist, family practitioner, OBGYN, or psychologist, if required to address any underlying issues that may be causing or impacting urinary incontinence. Medical treatment — medication, surgery, and other treatments may be necessary if conservative treatment does not provide symptomatic relief. However, studies have shown that pelvic floor physiotherapy has a success rate of up to 75% in women experiencing urinary leakage.

There is so much help available if you are living with urinary leakage. Let us break the taboo and begin talking about these symptoms openly and candidly!

Neasa Barry is a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist at Heal Hub Rehabilitation CentreVisit @herphysio and @healhub_rehab for more details.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of The Gaggler.

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Woman having tea

How to Find the Perfect Tea for Every Mood

Explore the different types of tea and when they’re best enjoyed.

Tea has been around for centuries and is beloved by cultures all over the world. While its popularity may seem recent, tea was actually first discovered over 5,000 years ago in China. According to legend, Chinese Emperor Shen Nung accidentally discovered tea when a leaf from a nearby tree fell into his cup of hot water. He liked the resulting beverage so much that he decided to spread the word about this new discovery. Tea quickly became popular throughout China and eventually made its way to other parts of Asia and the world.

The Health Benefits of Drinking Tea

It’s no secret that tea is one of the world’s most popular beverages. But did you know that tea is also packed with health benefits? That’s right — drinking tea can help improve your physical and mental health in various ways.

Tea Can Help Boost Your Physical Health

The antioxidants in tea can help protect your cells from damage.

We all know that antioxidants are good for us, but what exactly are they? Antioxidants are molecules that help protect our cells from damage. They do this by scavenging harmful toxins and by-products that can damage our DNA. The antioxidants in tea can help protect our cells from this damage, which may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. 

Tea Can Help Improve Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, so it’s important to do everything we can to protect our heart health. Fortunately, there is evidence to suggest that drinking tea can help. One large-scale study found that people who drank three or more cups of tea per day had a lower risk of developing heart disease and Type-2 diabetes than those who didn’t drink any tea at all. Another study found that black tea may help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. 

Tea May Help Boost Weight Loss Efforts

If you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to consider adding tea to your diet. Several studies have found that green tea’s catechins (a type of antioxidant) can increase metabolism and boost fat burning. One study found that men who drank green tea every day burned calories four percent more than this who didn’t. 

Tea May Help Improve Your Mood

In addition to its physical health benefits, tea can positively impact your mental health. One study found that people who drank tea had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Drinking tea has also been linked to improved cognitive function and a lower risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

tea and books

Finding the Perfect Tea

When it comes to tea, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The type of tea you reach for can vary depending on your mood, the time of day, and even the weather outside. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the different types of tea and when they’re best enjoyed. We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up or an afternoon relaxer.

Tea is more than just a hot beverage; it’s a cultural touchstone that has been enjoyed for centuries. In fact, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. And with good reason — tea is delicious, and there’s a variety for every occasion. Black teas are rich and full-bodied, while green teas are light and refreshing. Herbal teas offer a wide range of flavors and can be enjoyed hot or cold.

With so many different types of tea available, it can be tricky to know which one to choose. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you find the perfect tea for every mood. The Gaggler round up some of our favorite teas and when they’re best enjoyed.

The Gaggler Picks

green tea

Namastea

Go Green Refreshing Tea

AED 20.00

Green Tea Mint

For improved focus and concentration, best enjoyed in the morning.

Green tea is ideal for those moments when you need an extra boost of energy or concentration. The key ingredient in green tea is caffeine, which has improved cognitive function and vigilance. If you’re looking for a tea that will help you power through a workday or study session, green tea is a great choice. Just be sure not to overdo it — too much caffeine can lead to anxiety and restlessness.

tea

Namastea

Sun Kiss Immunity Loose Tea

AED 44.00

Black Tea and Exotic Fruits

For a midday pick-me-up or afternoon, break best enjoyed with a snack.

This tea is a delicious blend of black tea and exotic fruits. The sweetness of the fruits helps balance the black tea’s astringent flavor, making it a perfect choice for a midday pick-me-up or afternoon break. Black tea is also rich in antioxidants, which can help to boost immunity and protect against disease. If you’re feeling run-down or are looking for an immunity boost, this tea is a great choice.

jasmine tea

Namastea

Simple Treat Soothing Tea

AED 20.00

Jasmine Tea

For a sweet and floral flavor, best enjoyed after dinner.

Jasmine tea is a type of green tea that is infused with the fragrance of jasmine blossoms. Jasmine tea is known for its sweet and floral flavor, making it a popular choice for dessert. If you’re looking for tea to help you wind down after dinner, jasmine tea is a good option. The mellow flavor and calming aroma can help to promote relaxation and restfulness.

tea box

Namastea

Mister Grey
Relaxing Loose Tea

AED 42.00

Intense Earl Grey Tea

For a calming effect, best enjoyed in the evening.

Earl Grey tea gets its signature flavour by adding oil from the rind of the citrus fruit bergamot. Bergamot is known for its calming properties, making Earl Grey an ideal tea to drink in the evening. If you feel stressed or anxious, try brewing a cup of Earl Grey tea. The aromatic oil from the bergamot can help to soothe and relax the mind.

tea

Namastea

Sweet Dreams
Night Infusion

AED 20.00

Chamomile Tea and Honey

For relaxation and better sleep, best enjoyed before bedtime.

Chamomile tea is popular with those who want to wind down before bedtime. The key ingredient in chamomile tea is an antioxidant called apigenin, which has been shown to promote relaxation. Chamomile tea is also caffeine-free, making it a good choice if you’re sensitive to the stimulant or if you’re looking to cut back on your caffeine intake. Drinking chamomile tea before bedtime may also help you get a better night’s sleep. 

red container for tea

Namastea

Midnight Rendez Vous Rejuvenating Loose Tea

AED 44.00

Black tea, Kiwi, Strawberry and Flowers

For promoting calmness with rejuvenating effects on the skin and body.

This black tea with a fruity, floral flavor will help you relax and calm down. The tea also has nutrients that can improve the appearance of your skin, leaving you looking refreshed and rejuvenated.

Snacks to Go With Your Tea

brown cookie

Beauty Treats

The Good Mood Cookie

AED 90.00

This delicious and healthy cookie is the perfect accompaniment to your tea. It’s packed with antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals and keep you looking young, while collagen helps to hydrate your skin and boost your body’s natural collagen production.

Plus, it tastes delicious! The special recipe combines the antioxidant powers of Vitamin C powder and chia seeds (also rich in Vitamin C, A and E) with the hydrating benefits of coconut oil.

Pink cookie

Beauty Treats

The Hangover Cookie

AED 90.00

This chewy pink cookie tastes like a treat but is actually packed with nutrients! It contains vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, protein, iron and phosphorus. The main ingredient in this cookie is pataya (also known as dragon fruit), an anti-oxidant food that gives it its color. Pataya also has anti-cancer properties, aids digestion, boosts the immune system and protects our hearts from LDL cholesterol. It also protects our brains from premature aging.

green cookie

Beauty Treats

The Energy Cookie

AED 90.00

This delicious, soft-crunchy cookie is dipped in white chocolate and has matcha and spirulina as its main ingredients. Matcha has anti-oxidant properties that help your body recover after strenuous activity, while spirulina is an excellent source of protein that help boost performance.


The Gaggler team is passionate about finding and sharing great products with our readers. We take pride in researching and testing products to find the best of the best, and we only recommend things that we love and think you will too.

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Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin D

It’s more than just sunshine and bone health.

Before we dig into Vitamin D, let’s take a quick refresher 101 about vitamins in general. Vitamins are micronutrients and we only need them in tiny amounts. Instead of grams, they are measured in smaller units: milligrams (mg) or micrograms (μg).

Types Of Vitamins Needed By Human Body

The body needs 13 different vitamins to support specific functions that promote growth, repair, and the maintenance of life. They can be divided into two main groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The difference between these groups determines how each vitamin acts in the body.

Water soluble vitamins C and B-complex are found in a wide variety of foods, though in relatively small amounts. Our body does not have a storage facility for these vitamins, which means you pee out any excess. Saying this reminds me of the vitamin C effervescent tablets or the energy multi-vitamin Berocca that will make your wee bright yellow. Don’t panic — it’s just your body flushing out the excess.

Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K (easy to remember thanks to the mnemonic: All Dogs Eat Kibble) are found in a variety of fatty foods, some of them in pretty high concentrations. Liver, for example, contains a large amount of vitamin A. 

Now that the basics are covered, lets do a deep dive into Vitamin D, shall we?

avocado on toast

All About Vitamin D

Why do we need it? Well, it helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in our body, which is vital for strong bones, teeth, and muscle. I know its normal to think of calcium when you say bones and teeth, and you are not entirely wrong. It’s just that no matter how much calcium-sufficient you are, without vitamin D, your body cannot absorb and use that calcium. In that sense, vitamin D becomes even more important for strong bones and teeth.

Over the years, we’ve come to understand that its benefits extend beyond bone health — it is now recognised to have a broad impact on the body as a whole. From improving the immune system (there’s some evidence suggesting that sufficient levels of vitamin D may reduce your risk of getting COVID and dial down the severity of the infection itself) to helping reduce depressive symptoms, it can potentially improve strength and fat loss goals. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune disorders — all the more reason to ensure we are keeping an eye on vitamin D levels. 

mushroom

Vitamin D Types

Now that you know its importance, you need to know the sources of vitamin D. To understand this better, it’s important to know that Vitamin D comes in three forms. 

Calciferol

This occurs naturally in fish oils and egg yolk. In many countries, it is mandatorily added to fat spreads (since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, adding it to high fat foods makes it easier for the body to absorb it), and voluntarily added to breakfast cereals and some dairy products.

Cholecalciferol

This is created when sunlight hits your skin and ultraviolet rays react with steroid chemicals in body fat just underneath. Sunlight is your main source of vitamin D even if you live in a country known for its grey weather.

Ergocalciferol

This is made in plants that are exposed to sunlight. For example, sunbathe your mushrooms for 30 minutes to get a decent dose of vitamin D. This is a science-backed hack, and now you know why.

Cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol justify vitamin D’s nickname The Sunshine Vitamin. Both of these forms are biologically inactive when consumed in foods until they have been converted into the active form by the liver and the kidneys.

sky

Sources of Vitamin D

Most of the world’s population relies on natural exposure to sunlight to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. If you’re worried whether excessive sun exposure could lead to vitamin D toxicity, the answer is a resounding no. Prolonged exposure to sunlight degrades the vitamin D precursor in the skin, preventing its conversion to the active form, which basically means you are safe; even lifeguards out all day on sunny beaches are safe from vitamin D toxicity from the sun.

In fact, toxicity through sun exposure should not be a concern even otherwise. Considering the reality of modern lifestyles that are continually moving indoors, vitamin D insufficiency is being reported fairly worldwide. Risk of vitamin D deficiency may be higher amongst the elderly, especially those in care homes or who are house-bound. Those who completely cover skin with clothes as part of religious or cultural requirements are also at risk and may have to consider supplementation.

Prolonged deficiency in children results in rickets and leads to osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults. It can work both ways — high dietary intake can result in hyper (high) vitaminosis D, which can result in dangerously high levels of calcium entering the blood, but you won’t get it from too much sunbathing.

On the same note, for most people, exposing hands, face, and arms on a clear summer day for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a week should be sufficient to maintain vitamin D nutrition. However, it is standard recommendation to take a supplement during autumn and winter (10µg per day for adults), when you’re not getting enough sunlight. Ideally, get your blood tested and supplement accordingly — 2,500-4,000IU/day. Corrective bolus doses should only be with a doctor’s consent.

egg

Challenges With Vitamin D Nutrition

When it comes to vitamin D, the tricky part is that only a few foods supply significant amounts of it, and it’s notably derived from animal sources: egg yolks, liver, fatty fish, butter, dairy products.  Unlike other vitamins that are easy to get through food, it’s not the same for vitamin D. For example, if the reference nutrient intake for vitamin C is 40mg/day, you can easily get that by eating 45g of broccoli, one small green pepper, and one small orange. Now, to get 2,500IU of vitamin D you’d have to drink 6,250ml of whole milk and eat 143 large eggs. This is where supplementation comes to the rescue, especially in the case of a vitamin D deficiency.

If you’re someone who loves using digital apps, there are various comprehensive vitamin D-tracking apps available; Dminder, Sola, and Qsun are a few. Personally, I’ve heard good reviews about Dminder. These apps use your phone’s location data to figure out where you are on the planet, then compute when you can get your vitamin D through sunlight and how much of it you can make in your body. It also gives you a timer. 

Takeaway

Vitamin D can be synthesised in the body with the help of sunlight or obtained from animal foods. Considering modern lifestyles and diets, especially the vegan diet, it is ideal to monitor your vitamin D levels and go for supplementation under the guidance of your doctor.

Lovely Ranganath is a licensed clinical dietician in Dubai. Visit @good.food.guru for more information.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of The Gaggler.

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6 Wellness Must-Haves for a New Year Reset

Take a look inside our Wellness Editor’s cart.

Reset. Renew. Revive. These are my personal intentions for the new year and, as 2023 gets well underway, I’m sharing some of the things I have my eye on in January to help me on my journey.

Mahnoor Bari
Junior Editor

Mahnoor Bari is Gaggler’s resident junior editor with a background in digital journalism and communications. She loves dessert a little too much and mainly writes about food, culture, and wellness.

Wellness Editor’s Must Haves: January Edit

To start with, there’s the Amber Salt Lamp, which reminds me of my roots and childhood road trips through Himalayan salt mine country, and will help my sinuses in the upcoming allergy season this spring with its room-cleansing properties. Then there’s the Vaastra Diamond Sambu Grass Yoga Mat — complemented by the Palm Lights Sandalwood Artisanal Incense Sticks — to set the stage and mood for my yoga sessions at home.

And then there’s our upcoming Gaggler event, Reclaim Your Career. If you are looking to re-establish yourself after a career break and feeling a little rusty, this is the perfect forum to equip yourself with the essential tools and confidence to stride confidently back into the workplace. And speaking of workplace, I’m also eyeing the Saine Wooden Reflexology Massager to keep under my desk for those much-needed breaks.

MOTION TRADING

Amber Salt Lamp

AED 140.00

Available in two sizes: small and large

SAINE

Wooden Reflexology Massager

AED 185.00

Give yourself a needed break while sitting at your desk working or reading.

EARTHISTIC

Vaastra Diamond Sambu Grass Yoga Mat

AED 180.00

The straws and cotton together offer an improved grip for practicing asanas.

GAGGLER

January 25, 2023: Reclaim Your Career

AED 250.00

The perfect forum to equip yourself with the essential tools to stride confidently back into the workplace.

SAINE

Deep Sleep Buckwheat Pillow

AED 65.00

By flawlessly adapting to your body’s needs and gently massaging your neck, it will stabilise your spine, head, and neck region.

PALM LIGHTS

Sandalwood Artisanal Incense Sticks

AED 50.00

The scent of sandalwood is subduedly earthy and woodsy, made from genuine Mysore Sandalwood powder.

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Vegan Food Dubai

Let’s Address the Reality of Going Vegan

As Veganuary returns, a nutrition educator weighs in.

One glance at mainstream media, and you’ll see that interest in veganism has skyrocketed over the past few years – in fact, according to Google Trends, it is now almost twice as popular as it was five years ago! So, what is a vegan diet? A vegan diet contains absolutely no animal products – from the obvious (such as meat and fish) to the not-so-obvious (like dairy and honey). 

Veganism has definitely come a long way from when it was once considered to be in the realm of hippies – we now have vegan athletes, celebrities, and bodybuilders. And of course, with the rise of the conscious consumer, interest in the lifestyle has even spilled over to the average person and seems to be here to stay.  However, like any movement with a cultural and ethical agenda, veganism has also given rise to a great amount of misinformation (both for and against the diet), especially when it comes to nutrition and health.

Conspiracy soundbites like ‘eating two eggs a day is equivalent to smoking five cigarettes’ is becoming popular thanks to heavily biased documentaries like What the Health or The Game Changers. This is why it’s important to think critically when encountering bold and scary statements. Here, as people worldwide take on the Veganuary challenge, we explore who the vegan diet is suited to and how to do it right.

Vegan Food Options

Let’s Talk Health 

Is health your priority? If yes, then you don’t have to go down the vegan route to be healthy, especially if you think you will struggle without meat. Yes, a well-planned vegan diet can be a really healthy diet (especially when you stay on top of your iron, B12, and Omega-3 levels), but it’s definitely not the only healthy diet out there. Improved health markers including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose control are not unique to vegan diets. In fact, you’ll see the same benefits from dietary patterns that heavily feature plants, like the Mediterranean diet.  

2 Must-Haves to Get the Vegan Diet Right

1. Microbes that have the necessary enzymes to digest plants 

Since plants are mostly digested by our gut microbes (unlike meat, which is digested by human enzymes), quickly going from a low fibre to a high fibre diet may cause bloating or passing gas. This is because your gut needs time to adapt to the change and produce enough of the right plant-digesting enzymes. If you do get some gut symptoms, rest assured, they are not damaging your body. The key is to introduce plants slowly, say, ¼ cup of beans (double-rinsed) each day or ¼ of a fruit that you feel makes you bloated.

2. A relaxed gut

An uptight gut can be caused by mental stress (yes, the gut-brain connection is real!) or irritation caused by something, such as a tummy bug or COVID-19. When this happens, your gut tends not to be efficient at absorbing gas made by your gut microbes while digesting fibre and, in turn, it may get ‘trapped’ in the gut – thereby triggering bloating and other symptoms. What you can do then, other than introducing fibre slowly, is to de-stress your gut with gut-directed yoga or belly breathing as it can help in digestion. 

So unless you have a diagnosed allergy, the key takeaway is that you can continue to eat greens, even if you have some gut symptoms right now. Beware of ‘gut resetting gurus’ promoting gut-healing protocols, which may include plenty of exotic-sounding supplements and concoctions that you really don’t need. You just need to be patient and work gently with your gut to create the right environment.     

Best Vegan Food

‘Fake’ or ‘Mock’ Meat – Yay or Nay?

A new study has begun to untangle this seemingly simple, yet scientifically complex question. Researchers compared the nutritional profiles of a popular plant-based meat alternative with grass-fed ground beef. What they found was that despite both food’s Nutrition Facts Panels being similar in terms of protein, fat, and calories, research showed that 90% of the chemicals that made up the food were different. In terms of the ‘beneficial’ chemicals, some were only present in the meat (e.g. DHA omega 3), and some were only in the mock meats (e.g. specific tocopherols, which are the major forms of vitamin E).

So, basically, we shouldn’t be determining whether meat or alternative meat is better by looking at nutrition labels – i.e. fat, protein, calories, and so on – as they do not give us a full picture of a food’s true composition. We need human intervention studies to fully understand it and, so far, they suggest that it’s more about your holistic diet i.e. what % of meat or % ultra processed foods you are feeding your microbes.    

Why a Vegan Diet May Not Work for You     

While this may not apply to the vast majority of us as current research is insufficient, there may be certain individuals who will not do well on a vegan diet because of their genes and microbes. Certain genetic mutations mean that some of us won’t be able to convert plant sources of vitamin A into its active form very well, and certain gut bacteria profiles may make it harder for some vegans to obtain enough vitamin K. 

Strong evidence is missing for these theories, but it helps to provide ideas for mechanisms that might explain why some people find it harder to thrive on a vegan diet. Observe how you are feeling while on a vegan diet and get some blood work done if you are not feeling your best so you can make an informed decision.    

So What Does All of This Mean for You? 

Nutrition isn’t black and white. Neither is it about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – it’s way more complex than that. I often find that an inclusive mindset geared towards diversity works best. Every time you make a meal at home, stop and think, ‘What could I add?’ Chop a fruit, top your porridge with chopped nuts, add some puréed veggies to your pasta sauce, sprinkle some sesame seeds as garnish, add some kimchi to your sandwich etc. According to Dr. Megan Rossi, aiming to eat 30 different plant foods each week is a good reference point to kickstart your vegan diet.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s important to acknowledge that vegan diets can greatly vary and a ‘vegan’ label doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier. A vegan diet that focuses on whole plant foods full of fibre can be beneficial, though it requires appropriate supplementation to make sure you’re getting enough of other nutrients, such as Omega-3. In turn, a vegan diet that’s mostly made up of highly processed ‘vegan’ alternatives isn’t going to do your gut microbes much good.

Healthy Food

My advice is to do what feels right for you personally. The body of evidence suggests that we could all benefit from eating ‘more’ plants – but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean ‘only’ plants. It’s also extremely important to remember that dietary choices are deeply personal, so if you are in a position of privilege (where food is abundant enough for you to be picky about what you eat and where it comes from), the odds of you being ‘healthy’ are already heavily stacked in your favour. Be kind to people and refrain from judging other people’s dietary choices – you don’t walk in their shoes.

It is also important to acknowledge that there is more than one factor at play when it comes to risk of diseases, and vegans are not immune, so if you choose to be vegan, be careful not to spread misinformation about health and nutrition. Interestingly, most vegans who choose the diet for ethical reasons are more likely to stick with it than those who go vegan purely for health reasons. 

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10 Functional Foods That Could Heal You from Within

Bookmark this guide stat.

Functional foods were first defined in the 1980s and have gained much attention worldwide; the global market for functional foods and beverages was estimated to be worth about $192 billion by 2020. Incidentally, Japan was the first country to propose legislation for the specific regulatory approval procedures of functional foods. 

Several countries followed suit, including China, India, Brazil, the USA, and the European Union. Currently, the functional food industry is dynamic, innovative, and characterised by rapid growth. New foods and products are continually being identified, but with what we know so far, there’s already plenty to choose from if you’re looking to incorporate them into your diet.

What Are Functional Foods?

Functional foods may be defined as “any food that has a positive impact on an individual’s health, physical performance, or state of mind, in addition to its nutritious value”. Furthermore, it should regulate a particular body process, prevent the risk of chronic disease, help control physical and mental disorders, and slow the ageing process. 

According to EU resources, if it can be proven that a food positively affects one or more target functions in the body, then this food is considered a functional food. Functional foods are part of our regular food and nutritional pattern, and can be classified as either natural (from plant or animal sources) or synthetic (nutraceuticals). 

fruits and vegetable

Functional foods contain biologically active compounds that are effective, non-toxic, and capable of regulating body functions. These compounds include phytonutrients such as carotenoids, isoflavones, flavonoids, isocyanates, phenolic acids, phytoestrogens, polyphenols, soluble dietary fibres, plant stanols and sterols, polyols, probiotics, and prebiotics. 

Phytonutrients have been shown to play significant roles in maintaining health and reducing the risk of diseases, including but not limited to respiratory disease, infectious diseases, inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity. About 900 phytochemicals/phytonutrients have been found in a variety of foods. 

It was previously believed that functional food components occurred mainly in plant-based foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. However, functional food components are also found in animal products like fermented dairy and cold-water fish. Functional foods have many essential health benefits and have been linked to the following:

  • better weight management 
  • enhanced cognitive function
  • improved blood sugar balance 
  • better blood circulation
  • anti-ageing and longevity
  • protection of liver health 
  • improved gut health 
  • reduced risk of cancer  
  • lower risk of heart disease  
  • prevention of neurodegenerative disease 
  • reduced inflammation

Different functional foods contain various health-promoting bioactive components. Orange foods, for instance, are abundant in carotenoids. Green foods contain chlorophyll and various nutrients necessary for health, such as vitamin K, folate, magnesium, potassium, and dietary nitrates. Purple/blue foods contain polyphenols that assist with learning, memory, and mood, such as flavonoids, flavonols (quercetin), and phenolic acids. And red foods are high in antioxidants, red-food carotenoids (astaxanthin and lycopene), anti-inflammatory properties, and immune system modulators like vitamin C.

10 Examples of Everyday Functional Foods

1. Berries

Bag of berries with leaves beside

Berries such as blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry are rich in vitamin C, dietary fibre, potassium, and folate. Moreover, they are among the best dietary sources of bioactive components such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins. Anthocyanins are responsible for the red, blue, or purple colour of berries.

These bioactive have strong antioxidant properties, which help combat free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress and inflammation if left uncontrolled. Berries have been linked with the prevention of obesity, hypertension, type II diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Their rich polyphenol content supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Tip: Frozen berries are considered nutritious and retain their nutritional components, so add them to your favourite smoothie! Berries can also be added to salads and healthier desserts.

2. Pomegranate

Pomegranate is rich in bioactive compounds that contribute to better health, including tannins and flavonoids such as quercetin and anthocyanins. Pomegranate peel and juice possess strong antioxidant properties. Pomegranate seeds and juice may help prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

Tip: Add pomegranate seeds to oatmeal, salads, or as a garnish on dips. 

3. Cruciferous Vegetables

Crucifers include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and bok choy. Glucosinolates are the most studied biologically active compound within cruciferous vegetables, responsible for the bitter taste and pungent odour in these vegetables. Glucosinolates can help with blood sugar control, blood pressure regulation, and lipid profile balance. Sulforaphane, a type of glucosinolate, has positive effects on cardio-metabolic, neurological, and musculoskeletal health.

Tip: To maximise sulforaphane content, it is best to chop and/or chew crucifers very well. 

4. Avocado

Avocados and a spoon

The avocado belongs to the berry family. About 80% of the edible portion of avocado consists of water (72%) and dietary fibre (7%). A high-fibre diet may help lower blood cholesterol levels, prevent constipation, and improve the gut’s microflora by acting as a prebiotic. Avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which may increase ‘good’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and decrease ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Avocados are rich in carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, and the lutein content of avocados is higher than any other fruit.

Tip: Use avocado to spread sandwiches instead of butter, cream cheese, or mayonnaise. Ripe avocados can be added to smoothies and salads.

5. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are considered a crucial component of the Mediterranean diet and have long been used for their medicinal properties. Additionally, a frequent intake has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, and hypertension. Nuts contain high fibre, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. They are made up of 50-75% fat, of which the least is saturated fat, while most are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are also a good source of protein.

Tip: Did you know that soaking nuts for several hours can make them easier to digest and improve their nutritional bioavailability?

6. Olive Oil

The bioactive compounds of olive oil – such as polyphenols, oleic acid, and tocopherols – have been correlated with longevity and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Oleuropein is an essential bioactive compound in olive oil and its leaves. 

The health-promoting properties of olive oil are largely attributed to the high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids and the presence of a variety of phenolic compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial activities. Furthermore, olive oil has prebiotic effects, which promote the growth and diversity of ‘good’ gut bacteria.

Tip: Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil onto your salads. Avoid cooking with it at high temperatures as it can burn easily. Ensure that olive oil is purchased and stored in a glass bottle.

7. Ginger

Ginger is one of the most widely used spices and medicinal plants. Traditionally, it has been used for various conditions, including the treatment of colds, digestive issues, fever, nausea, and vomiting. The main bioactive components of fresh and dried ginger are gingerol and shogaol. Ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-hypertensive effects, and may be used to reduce muscle soreness after high-intensity exercise.

Tip: Add grated ginger to your tea, smoothies, soups, and stews. 

8. Turmeric

turmeric and juice

Turmeric has a long tradition of use in the Chinese and Ayurveda systems of medicine. It has a broad spectrum of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-hypertensive, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, and anti-microbial properties. Curcumin, the bioactive ingredient in turmeric, has been linked with improvements in joint pain, better blood sugar balance, and enhanced mood.

Tip: Add a pinch of black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-based foods – the black pepper’s piperine enhances the absorption of curcumin by up to 2,000%.

9. Green Tea

Green tea, especially Japanese matcha, includes various beneficial bioactive substances such as theanine, caffeine, chlorophyll, and catechins. The amounts of these bioactive in green tea depend on the tea type, the tea per portion, and brewing temperature and time. Green tea is particularly rich in phytonutrients like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that has been linked to protection against heart disease, improved cognitive function, reduced inflammation, inhibition of cancer cell growth, and better weight management.

Tip: Adding lemon to green tea enhances the absorption of EGCG 10 times more when compared to green tea alone.

10. Coffee

Research has shown that moderate consumption of (3-4 cups) of coffee daily is associated with reduced risk of metabolic disease, prevention of neurodegenerative disease, and greater longevity. During the roasting process, the chemical reactions yield coffee that’s rich in various compounds (like melanoidins, and caffeine), which provide aroma, flavour, and colour.

Roasted coffee is a complex mixture of thousands of bioactive compounds that may have health-promoting properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative effects. Moreover, the roasting process increases the soluble dietary fibre content in roasted beans.

Tip: Add a pinch of turmeric, cinnamon, or cocoa to your coffee for extra flavour and antioxidants.

Choose Variety

Due to the synergistic effects of bioactive compounds, it’s recommended to eat a variety of functional foods every day. And since functional foods are found in everyday foods, primarily fruits and vegetables – as well ad herbs, spices, legumes, and seafood – that’s actually easier than it sounds.

Consuming these foods will enable you to sample from thousands of phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote longevity, and it doesn’t matter whether functional foods are consumed fresh or frozen, cooked or raw. Add them to your homemade smoothies, salads, stews, and soups. Herbs and spices can be used as seasonings to enhance flavours.

Farah Hillou is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Visit @wellness.in.colours or connect with her via LinkedIn for more information.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent Gaggler‘s views.

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Woman writing

How PMS Affects Women in the Workplace

The struggle is real.

It’s no secret that menopause can affect women in the workplace – which we’ll delve into into a second – but this also lends itself to addressing PMS and related symptoms. They can also have a big impact on a woman’s career and equally needs to be a topic of discussion. 

Menopause and PMS can often strike at an important point in a woman’s career during this huge hormonal upheaval. This can be experienced during perimenopause and menopause – and PMS even earlier – and affect how women handle work, relationships with colleagues, and general workplace stress arising from deadlines and office politics. To add to this, women are usually wearing so many hats and dealing with everyday life challenges – juggling the kids, responsibilities of extended family or a partner, and social stresses.

It’s no wonder that things can go a bit haywire, and symptoms often go unrecognised or the connection to menopause is made. Women are working later in life more than ever before, and many are going through menopause during their working lives. Both menopause and PMS remain overlooked issues in organisations, but with some practical changes and emotional support in place, women can continue enjoying a fulfilling career.

woman on her desk working

So how do we get support in the workplace? And how do women approach the subject with the manager and get the adjustments implemented? Mentioning the term ‘menopause’ or ‘period pains’ has always been associated with shame and embarrassment. However, we all should remember that this is a natural biological process that all women and men (yes, they have their challenges) go through, so there should be no stigma attached to any of it. 

The symptoms of both can be so intrusive that they can lead to a real lack of confidence and anxiety. Women can often become less engaged at work and leave feeling dissatisfied with their job performance. This leads to lower levels of commitment to projects due to the fear of lack of concentration, lack of energy, and the feeling of letting colleagues down. For many women, brain fog and the cognitive changes seem to have the biggest impact on the home and working environment.

Concentration, memory problems, forgetting people’s names, searching for words, and inability to think are classic symptoms of perimenopause and menopause due to lower oestrogen and testosterone. Only half of women disclose the real reasons for absence to their line managers when taking time off work to deal with their symptoms because they feel embarrassed asking for help. Furthermore, one in 10 women considered giving up work due to their menopausal symptoms or pursuing alternatives like:

  • reducing their hours
  • changing roles
  • quitting work altogether
  • not putting themselves forward for promotion 
  • calling in sick more often

It’s no surprise that so many women find work difficult due to symptoms of menopause. In fact, 70-80% felt their menopausal symptoms have a negative impact on their working life due to:

  • lack of concentration
  • tiredness  
  • memory loss
  • depression 
  • low/reduced confidence 
  • sleep deprivation 
  • hot flashes

In recent years, more organisations are finally paying attention and putting in place a menopause policy to ensure the health and safety of all employees. Employers are now realising that if menopause is handled correctly and sensitively, it helps to reduce absenteeism and retain professionally experienced women in the workplace. Below, we’ll explore practical solutions to help both employers and employees enjoy a happier and more productive working environment. 

woman working with her laptop

For the Employer

Employers should be supporting menopausal women as part of a holistic approach to employee health and well-being. Remember: every woman’s menopause is different. Some women have mild symptoms, others endure symptoms for several years. Listen carefully to each woman and be prepared to tailor any support to your policy. Menopause is not an illness and does not need managing, but having simple policies and strategies in place will go a long way. Below are some examples.

  • Menopause awareness training can help employees – female and male – understand the basics of the menopause issues that can arise and what they can do to help.
  • If you have an internal website, create a women’s wellness page or menopause page with information on the cause, symptoms, treatments, coping strategies, and links to further medical advice.
  • Give employees time and space to meet with others to share experiences and swap suggestions for ways of coping.
  • Provide the flexibility to move desks and review workplace temperature and ventilation to see how they might be adapted, making sure workstations are near an opening window or away from a heat source.
  • Consider flexible working hours or shift changes.
  • Later start times might be helpful.
  • Provide a desktop fan and access to cold drinks (i.e. water stations).
  • Offer access to washrooms/changing rooms where a change of clothing can be kept. 
  • Offer access to a quiet space.
  • Offer the flexibility to take walks.

woman sitting

For the Employees

Of course, it’s a personal choice to open up to colleagues about your symptoms. This can be a crucial first step in securing the support you need. By starting the conversation, you may also be helping other women who are experiencing the same challenges. There is a lot of work to be done in the workplace and having that additional support from the employer is great, combine that with simple strategies you can put in place to help you get through the day will also be of great benefit. Below are some examples.

  • Ask your manager/HR for a meeting – this is your chance to outline your symptoms and request changes to your daily work.
  • Have a few concrete examples of how your symptoms might be affecting your work and what might be exacerbating the symptoms, such as working in a stuffy office. 
  • Avoid early morning meetings if you are suffering from insomnia.
  • Don’t have back-to-back meetings – give yourself some time to breathe and regain your thoughts.
  • Have a work diary on your phone to set reminders for important things.
  • Prepare some note cards in advance for meetings.  
  • Take those lunch breaks and use them for eating and relaxing only.
  • Use post-it notes to keep you on track.
  • Tackle big projects in the mornings if you feel this is when your energy/concentration is at its highest.
  • Set time aside for 15-minute relaxation exercises that improve concentration and reduces stress.  
  • Ask yourself if there are any lifestyle changes that can help with stress and symptoms. 
  • Choose the right exercise.
  • Practise meditation and breathing exercises.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid caffeine before an important meeting. 

Additionally, here are a few quick tips to make your day a happier one.

  • Wear breathable clothing or layers.
  • Set notification alarms.
  • Prioritise daily tasks in order.
  • Set break times in your calendar.
  • Keep a desk fan handy. 
  • Find a quiet space to eat and relax during break times.
  • Go for a walk. 
  • Ensure your desk is near a window or ventilation.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake, especially right before meetings. 
  • Avoid spicy food if you’re suffering from hot flashes. 
  • Keep a bottle of cold water at hand.

It is important to be aware that the changes and challenges faced by women are natural and temporary stages in their lives – and not all women experience significant symptoms. Menopause and PMS have been regarded as taboo subjects. This is changing as employers gradually acknowledge the potential impact on women and become aware of the simple steps they can take to be supportive.

Sharon James is a women’s health and well-being coach specialising in menopause wellness. Visit www.sharonjamescoaching.com for more information or connect with her via Instagram and Facebook.

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Best Dental Clinics in Dubai

These Are the Best Dental Clinics in Dubai

Say cheese!

Your teeth are important for so much more than just aesthetics – they play a crucial role in your overall well-being. As dental health is an integral part of health, it’s essential to take care of your teeth and gums as early as possible. Poor dental hygiene has been linked to serious health conditions like gum disease, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong effort. The earlier you acquire essential oral hygiene habits (think: brushing, flossing, and reducing your sugar intake), the easier it’ll be to avoid costly dental operations and long-term health consequences. It is always best to catch dental problems early, and the only way to do that is to visit the dentist regularly.

Dental Clinics in Dubai

When you go for a dental check-up, the dentist will be able to detect any decay or other oral health issues in their earliest stages. You can get the treatment you need before the problem worsens. Early detection and treatment are always preferable because it is easier and less invasive than waiting until the problem has progressed.

Luckily, Dubai hosts a wide array of dental clinics that can help you, offering a wide range of services ranging from preventive care to corrective treatments. You can also find plenty of dentists who specialise in cosmetic dentistry if you want to improve your smile. So, if you’re looking for a reliable dentist, be sure to check out our list of the best dental clinics in Dubai.

Dr Joy Dental Clinic

1. Dr Joy Dental Clinic

Operating five branches, Dr Joy Dental Clinic is one of Dubai’s most popular dental care providers. You can expect great service because it only employs highly skilled dentists, all of whom are well-versed in the latest dental technology to provide the best possible treatment for you. Looking for dental services like cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, orthodontics, or more sophisticated treatments such as Invisalign? They’re all here.

Dr Joy Dental Clinic, Jumeirah, Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim 2, 04 328 5332, drjoydentalclinic.com

2. Pearl Dental Clinic

Pearl Dental Clinic Dubai believes that you deserve to have a beautiful smile. This dental clinic offers a wide range of dental services, from Hollywood smiles to dental implants. And for its young patients, they have a team of pediatric dentists and dental assistants dedicated to making their visit to the dentist both fun and educational. Bonus: it has convenient locations in Jumeirah and Business Bay. 

Pearl Dental Clinic, Shop# 3, Citadel Tower, Burj Khalifa Area, 04 427 0710, pearldentalclinic.ae

pediatric dentist Dubai

3. Dr Paul’s Dental Clinic

At Dr Paul’s Dental Clinic, they understand that dental anxiety is a genuine and legitimate concern for many people, so they go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. The clinic’s dental specialists are highly trained and experienced in various dental procedures, from Invisalign treatment and dental implants to pediatric dentistry. And because they believe that you deserve the best possible care, they constantly update their clinic with the latest technology.

Dr Paul’s Dental Clinic Dubai, Al Nasr Plaza, Office 101, 1st Floor, 04 357 5783, drpaulsdentalclinic.com

4. Dr Michael’s Dental Clinic

Dr Michael’s Dental Clinic first opened its doors in Sweden about 40 years ago and has since expanded to several high-end dental facilities in Dubai. As one of the most trusted dental healthcare providers, it has served over 50,000 patients because of the high quality of its care and the reasonable rates it offers. The clinic is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and provides a wide range of treatments, including Invisalign, dental implants, and teeth whitening. 

Dr Michael’s Dental Clinic, Villa – 1016 Al Wasl Rd, Umm Suqeim 1, 04 394 9433, drmichaels.com

a girl doing high five with her dentist

5. Crossroads Dental Clinic

Look no further than Crossroads Group & Dental Clinics if you are looking for the best dentist in Dubai. They use only the most advanced dental treatment and technology to provide you with top-notch care. Here, the team of dentists (including pediatric dentists and orthodontists) are experts in dental care providers. They strive to provide you with a positive experience, starting with a stress-free environment and taking every precaution to ensure your safety and comfort.

Crossroads Dental Clinic, #505, Block A, Centurion Star Towers, Deira, 04 294 9757, crossroadsdentalclinic.com

6. Shams Dental Clinic

Shams Dental Clinic’s highly skilled and experienced dentists offer a wide range of services, cosmetic and otherwise. They use state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology to create beautiful, healthy smiles for patients. In addition, the clinic offers a wide range of sophisticated techniques and materials that are not available at other dental clinics in Dubai. If opulent dental care in Dubai is what you’re after, this is it.

Shams Dental Clinic, Villa VDN 17, Opposite old Dubai Zoo, Jumeirah 1, 04 399 7522, shamsdental.com

Dental Clinic

7. NOA Dental Clinic

NOA Dental Clinic offers a variety of preventative, orthodontic, and cosmetic dental procedures. Invisalign treatment, for instance, is a clear alternative to metal braces that can be used to straighten teeth without the need for brackets or wires. Dental implants are another popular option if you look to improve your smile. These artificial teeth can be custom-designed to match the natural colour and shape of your teeth.

NOA Dental Clinic, Unit 109, Al Hana Centre, Mankhool Road, 04 398 7075, noadentalclinic.com

8. Sky Dental Center

If you are looking for a new dentist in Dubai, you’ll want to check out the Sky Dental Center. They offer a wide range of services, from simple extractions to computer-guided dental implants. For patients of all nationalities, the clinic at JLT has a staff of dentists who speak Arabic, Spanish, French, Dutch, and German. They also offer aesthetic dentistry, which aims to enhance the appearance of your smile – patients with crooked or deformed teeth can have their smiles redone using various resources and techniques in this cosmetic practice.

Sky Dental Center, Swiss Tower – Y, 27th Floor, 04 704 8000, skydentalcenter.com

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