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veganuary

Why It’s Veganuary Every Day

Want to go vegan? Why wait till Veganuary? Meet the man behind Root’D – the vegan meal delivery brand making the transition to a meat-free lifestyle easier than ever before

World Vegan Day may be in November. And Veganuary was four months ago. But embracing veganism isn’t just a twice-a-year thing, and the global shift in adopting a plant-based lifestyle is growing exponentially.

In a month that saw British chef Gordon Ramsay tell the world, via Tik Tok, he was “turning vegan”; model Chrissy Tiegen reveal a plant-based range of cleaning products with Kris Jenner and luxury brand Hermes announce that they were launching their first-ever vegan travel bag made with mushroom leather, veganism has never been more on-trend – and adopting a vegan lifestyle has never been simpler.

If you’re one of the millions considering becoming vegan today – whether it’s because you’re concerned about your health, the environment, or animal welfare – you’re part of one of the Middle East’s biggest transition groups. Once seen as an obscure and restrictive form of dieting, extending into a variety of other life choices, interest in veganism as a lifestyle, health and environmental movement has skyrocketed in recent years, with 2020 Google Trends data suggesting that interest in veganism has doubled since 2015, long since surpassing online-search interest in vegetarianism, while the number of new vegan products available on the market has mushroomed – excuse the vegan leather pun – by 250% since 2010 to keep up with the burgeoning demand.

“Middle Eastern consumers are becoming more aware of the health impacts of certain diets and the increased exposure to chronic diseases, so are demanding cleaner and more wholesome food options,’ says Roy Koyess, founder of Dubai-based healthy snack company Freakin’ Healthy, and newly-launched vegan meal plan company, Root’D. We wanted Root’D to deliver on being authentic, and have that home-cooked taste consumers crave,  yet to be creative and innovative at the same time. Our goal was to redefine vegan cuisine as we know it, by challenging a consumers pre-set beliefs about this type of diet.” 

Root’D’s founder, Roy Koyess

Root’D plant-based meal plans are packed with clean nutrients, and are wholesome and clean, keeping the healthy eater consciously satisfied, without compromising on deliciousness and great taste. With three different plans available – weight management; balanced lifestyle and detox-refuel – and over 45 meal options, each plan is specifically curated to help customers achieve overall health, improve digestion and positively impact their lives both physically and mentally. 

“The real key for us is  to deliver on that taste experience without compromising on ingredients and quality. You can give someone the best paint, brushes and a clear, step-by-step instruction guide on how to paint the Sistine Chape,l but only the masters can come close to Michelangelo,’ laughs Roy. ‘This is where talent comes in. Having Kismerlly Alvarez – one the most passionate and talented vegan chefs in the region joining our team – ensured that we create edible masterpieces in the kitchen. Since we launched last October, we’ve noted that around 40% of our consumers are not actually vegan or plant-based already, which clearly indicates the underserved market for delicious and healthy vegan cuisine.”

Root’D’s Executive chef, and vegan expert, Kiki Alvarez

To really understand the far-reaching impact of consumer demand for vegan food, all that is required is to take a look at the global landscape. The clearest indication? That major F&B chains who have traditionally built their brands on meat-based menu now offer plant based options of their best sellers – proof that vegan and plant based diets are a matter of fact, not a matter of fad.

The stats are significant. By 2025, the vegan global market will be valued at approximately $24 billion, with growth rates above 10% per annum. The biggest vegan market in the world is the US, accounting for 30% of the share, but Asia Pacific is the fastest- growing region, and will take pole position in the next 5 years. 40% of US consumers are adding vegan options to their diets, and 95% of consumers that eat plant-based burgers are not actually vegan, highlighting the consumer demand to try – and prefer to buy – meat alternatives.

“Some people consider veganism to be boring or have no taste, but it’s so exciting when people taste good vegan food and realise they can be vegan and enjoy it, not see it as a sacrifice,’ says Root’D’s Executive Chef, Kismerlly Alvarez – better known by all as Kiki. ‘Pure ingredients taste delicious without chemicals and fake flavour enhancements.” 

Previously part of the culinary genius at The Four Seasons Dubai’s Peruvian dining hotspot COYA and more recently, Dubai’s first plant-based café SEVA, Kiki has been responsible for bringing vegan food to life for countless diners across the region, whether they’re meat eaters or not, and has already added a wealth of visionary vegan recipes to Root’D’s rapidly-growing menu offering. 

With a passion for veganism fuelled by her love for animals, a TV show telling the story of where our food came from encouraged a then 20-year-old Kiki to create all of her own clean food from scratch – with strict guidelines of no nasties, no packaging, no cans and no meat.

Bringing her favourite food, arepas – the National food of her native Venezuela – to the Root’D menu, Rainbow Tacos, No-Tuna Salad Rolls, Baked Cauliflower with Chimichurri sauce – another nod to South American flavours – have also been introduced. Jackfruit replaces chicken and tuna in dishes for flavour and texture, mushrooms do the same for meat, and tofu is used in place of eggs for omelettes, quiches and muffins. 

“I believe COVID and the lockdowns have had a big impact on the food trends for 2021, with so many more people now aware of what they are eating, the source of the ingredients and impact on the planet,’ says Kiki. ‘There are a lot of small and local brands like Root’D that are doing the right thing, and we need to embrace them and support them.” And with an enhanced focus upon safeguarding our health, consumers are becoming curious as to how they can super-charge their diet choices by trialling different natural foodstuffs and lesser-known ingredients. “It’s the time for more ‘eats’ that are made with cleaner ingredients, made from vegetables and seeds, rather than a bunch of E-numbers and preservatives,’ says Kiki. ‘I see adaptogens and adaptogens drinks making their mark in cafes and restaurants across the region. We need them more than ever as people get educated about these products,and so should see demand rise for maça, ashwagandha, camu camu, lucuma, and more.”

And as the demand for all things vegan increases across the UAE, along with other forward-thinking regional start-ups, Roy’s focus through Root’D is to support what is destined to become one of the biggest health movements the region has seen in years. “We’re striving to deliver a complete healthy F&B solution to consumers,’ he says. ‘Our goal is to bring that segment of the market that has every intention of living a healthier lifestyle into the healthy living segment – so we need to be ubiquitous. Ultimately available not only in multi-channels, but also at arm’s reach for the consumer, both Freakin’ Healthy and Root’D provide F&B solutions for consumers in their pantries, refrigerators, freezers and for their daily meals.”

Root’D Meal plans are available as a two week or monthly plan only. Daily prices start at AED 120, with monthly prices starting at AED 2400 (20 deliveries or 5 days a week for 4 weeks)

For further details, visit: freakinhealthy.com 

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Alkaline Water Health Benefits

Is Alkaline Water the Superior Water?

Short answer? No.

The marketing trend that promotes alkaline water as a product that slows ageing, helps digestion, improves immunity, prevents chronic diseases like cancer, and more is quite an old one. But what’s alkaline water anyway? And does it have any benefits? Let’s explore.

What Does ‘Alkaline’ Even Mean?

When your body breaks down food, the process produces waste. These chemicals (or waste) can be either alkaline or acidic, and is also often referred to as ‘ash’. This ‘bit of science’ was used as the basis for the acid-alkaline theory of disease. The claim was that this acid /alkaline ash can have a direct effect on our health – the acidic ash being disease-causing, the alkaline ash being health-promoting. The hope was that by eating certain foods or drinking certain kinds of beverages like alkaline water, you can change the body’s acid level – also called its pH levels – which in turn can improve health. 

To help gauge this, there is the pH scale that measures how acidic or basic (alkaline) something is on a scale of 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline). Something that is alkaline is on the basic end of the scale, or greater than seven (neutral pH). The pH of regular water is around seven, whereas alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water (typically eight or nine), with the addition of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, making it a perfect fit to market as the superior water

Benefits of Alkaline Water

How Did ‘Alkaline’ Become a Diet? 

This entire school of thought was picked up by Robert O’Young to whip up the Alkaline Diet, which included alkaline water in its list of elixirs to disease-free longevity. The naturopath went on to publish several books on the topic that have sold millions of copies worldwide with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Victoria Beckham, Elle Macpherson, and Gwyneth Paltrow ensuring its position as a popular diet. It is also worth noting that he was sentenced to jail time in 2017 for illegally treating people at his ranch without any medical training. 

What Is the Flaw in This Diet?

The diet per se is not too bad considering it prompts people to include more fruits and vegetables, drink water, and reduce intake of foods high in calories from ingredients like sugar, fat, etc. It is the claims about the mechanism of how alkaline water (or food) works that are widely criticised since it is not supported by evolutionary evidence, human physiology, or any reliable study on humans. The suggested mechanism is flawed because it’s a fact that our body has a tightly controlled inbuilt regulatory system (involving the lungs and kidneys), which keeps the blood pH in the normal range (7.35 to 7.45) – and it is not possible for diet or water to change this. 

To reiterate, food and drinks can’t influence the pH of your blood. It is critical for health that the pH of your blood remains constant and can be fatal if untreated – this only happens during certain disease states (e.g., kidney disease) and has absolutely nothing to do with the foods or water you eat/drink every day. Now, food can change the pH value of the urine, but it’s temporary. Eat a large steak and several hours later, your urine will be more acidic as the body removes it from your system. Urine pH is a very poor indicator of overall body pH and general health.

In my opinion, people who promote alkaline water are most likely confused between blood and urine pH. Excreting waste through your urine is one way your body regulates its pH level. It is also interesting to note that the pH levels throughout your body vary – and they need to. Your stomach is acidic (pH 2-3.5) to break down food, while your blood is always slightly alkaline (pH ~7.3-7.4). You don’t need alkaline water to ‘detox’ – your kidneys, liver, and other organs do that for you for free. 

To state it explicitly, alkaline water is a scam. While some small low-quality studies have been done (many in test tubes or mice), the claims simply haven’t been backed up by reliable human studies and the evidence for drinking alkaline water to help any health condition just isn’t there. While I can’t comment on specific brands, most so-called alkaline waters are just bottled mineral waters. Just like food, this water could change the pH levels of your saliva or urine – not your blood (thankfully). 

Does That Mean Alkaline Water Is Unsafe?

Water that’s naturally alkaline occurs when water passes over rocks – like springs – and picks up minerals, which increase its alkaline level. This type of natural alkaline drinking water is generally considered safe as long as it is clean and potable. 

A narrow spring with tocks and trees on both sides.

However, many people who drink alkaline water buy alkaline water that’s been through a chemical process called electrolysis. This technique uses a product called an ioniser to raise the pH of regular water. Makers of alkaline ionised water say that electricity is used to separate molecules in the water that are more acidic or alkaline. The acidic water is then funnelled out, leaving you with water that is alkaline in nature. 

People also attempt to make alkaline water at home. One way is by using water ionisers that are sold in many large chain stores. Adding baking soda is another way to make water more alkaline. If the water is properly filtered to remove contaminants, ionised and re-mineralised, or purchased from a quality source, there’s no evidence to suggest a limitation on how much alkaline water can be consumed daily. You should use caution with artificial alkaline water, however, which likely contains fewer good minerals than its high pH would have you believe – and may even contain contaminants. The water quality of the original source, before ionisation, is crucial to ensuring contaminants aren’t present in the drinking water.

2014 study cautions against drinking water with low mineral content, which is created by reverse osmosis, distillation, and other methods (without additional mineralisation) on a regular basis. Some scientists advise using reverse osmosis to adequately purify water before connecting an alkaline ioniser, which can raise pH and add minerals. The health claims around this aren’t backed by quality research and more research is needed to determine its benefits. So, if you find labelled alkaline water expensive, don’t worry – you’re not missing out on anything! Just drink enough regular water and make sure it’s clean. 

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Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

Are You in Need of Pelvic Health Physiotherapy? 

Perhaps, especially if you have a vaginal prolapse.

When you have a painful back, neck, or knee, you most likely seek a physiotherapist’s help. However, have you ever considered seeing one if you have pelvic floor symptoms? These symptoms can include leaking with cough, sneezing or exercise, heaviness vaginally, bowel symptoms, or pain with intercourse. Such symptoms are less talked about – they can even be taboo – and yet, they commonly occur throughout a woman’s lifetime. Pelvic health physiotherapists are experts in the treatment of these pelvic floor symptoms. They undergo extensive post-graduate training to help manage these personal, often complex, and emotional issues. 

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy in Dubai

What Led Me Down the Road of Pelvic Health?

During my physiotherapy degree and after, when I began working, I knew very little about pelvic floor issues. It wasn’t until the birth of my first baby 10 years ago that I delved into the world of pelvic health physiotherapy. After a difficult birth and a slow recovery, I started to feel symptoms of heaviness vaginally, and that something was just not quite right down there. Scared and unsure, I went to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist who diagnosed me with vaginal prolapse.

If I’m honest, I didn’t even know what a prolapse was until that point! This diagnosis and my subsequent recovery journey catapulted me into the world of pelvic health. I felt a need to educate myself and women about these taboo and stigmatised issues – to spread the word that there is help and support out there. Pelvic health is now my passion! I travelled to Melbourne University to complete my post-graduate education in this area in 2015 and I haven’t looked back since. All my work and education is now in this area. 

What Is a Vaginal Prolapse or Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)?

POP is when one or more of the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel, uterus) descend into the vagina. The pelvic organs are supported by connective tissue and the pelvic floor muscles. This support system can be affected by many lifestyle factors. Pregnancy and childbirth injuries (as in my case) are probably the more well-known. Other factors such as chronic constipation, genetics, menopause, being overweight, and chronic cough can also contribute to it. It’s quite prevalent, with about 50% of women (over 50) having some degree of prolapse, but only 3-6% of women are symptomatic. Despite this, very few women know what a prolapse is unless they experience symptoms.

Pelvic health Physiotherapy in Dubai

What Are the Symptoms? 

Vaginal dragging or heaviness, and visually seeing or feeling a bulge vaginally is the most common symptom. Others – bladder or bowel symptoms, difficulty inserting a tampon, pain with intercourse, and pain in the back or abdomen – may also be present. These symptoms can vary in intensity and be influenced by many factors, including fatigue, menstrual cycle, stress, menopause, and pregnancy. The good news is it’s not all doom and gloom! Physiotherapy can help manage symptoms and get you back to doing what you love.

What Should You Do If You Suspect POP? 

I highly recommend seeing your OBGYN and a pelvic health physiotherapist – and the research agrees! The guidelines recommend pelvic floor muscle training for at least 16 weeks, supervised by a professional as first-line treatment of women with mild to moderate POP. One large study found that individualised pelvic floor muscle training is effective at improving prolapse symptoms.

My Journey to Recovery

When I first developed symptoms, I will admit I was devastated. I felt a vast spectrum of emotions from sadness to fear, grief, and rage. Exercising was a massive part of my self-care, and I felt my symptoms every time I tried to work out and even when lifting my baby. I felt like my body was failing me, and it took me time (and a lot of tears!) to accept my prolapse and come out of this mindset. 

My pelvic health physiotherapist supported and empowered me, and with treatment and a progressive exercise programme, I was back doing the things I love. Yes, it took time, effort, and commitment, but seeing the results inspired me to continue. My recovery was much more than kegels/pelvic floor exercises – but they played a large part! It included whole-body conditioning, education, manual release of scar tissue internally, progressive loading of the pelvic floor and surrounding muscles, maintaining good bowel habits, and managing stress and sleep. Plus, a great friend, family, and professional support network was key. It’s not just the physical part that needs to heal, but also the emotional. This experience opened my eyes and was the main driver for me to educate myself and others on pelvic health issues.

What Happens When You See a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist?

I know it can be daunting initially and, rest assured, we are here to put you at ease. Being informed is vital, and all aspects of the session are explained in detail so you can make an informed, autonomous decision in your care. Firstly, we have a chat discussing your main concerns, what you want to achieve, and your goals. 

Next is the physical assessment based on your goals and issues. For example, assessing movements that you find difficult or symptomatic and finding ways to make these more manageable for you. We may also look at certain muscle groups or specific joint and nerve tests. Then, we move to the internal vaginal assessment where we assess pelvic floor muscle strength, endurance, coordination, and relaxation, as well as the position of your pelvic organs and scarring if present. This assessment is performed privately and at your pace. 

We check how it is by lying first and potentially in standing or during functional movements, such as squatting. After the physical evaluation, you are provided with education and an individualised programme. The session might also include a manual, hands-on treatment of the pelvic floor or other areas of the body and, of course, time to answer any questions you may have. Let’s break the taboo and begin talking about these issues candidly and openly!

Neasa Barry is a pelvic health physiotherapist at Heal Hub Rehabilitation Center in Dubai. Visit @herphysio for more information.

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natural deodorants Dubai

Why It’s Time to Take a Whiff of Your Armpits

A detox might be in order.

The wellness world is obsessed with detoxes – detox teas, detox diets, detox face masks, detox scrubs – so it was only a matter of time before the armpit detox craze took over the internet. Editors, YouTubers, influencers, and natural living enthusiasts the world over have been slathering their pits with green sludge-like masks in the name of sweating less and smelling better. And yet, not a lot of people in the Middle East seem to have jumped on the bandwagon – is acknowledging that women sweat still considered taboo? In a city where temperatures hover above 40ºC on a daily basis every August, we figured it was time to talk armpits.

What?

This trending treatment is essentially about transitioning from antiperspirant to natural deodorant with the help of a DIY mask that contains bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar. For the uninitiated, ‘antiperspirant’ and ‘deodorant’ are not interchangeable terms. The former is designed to stop you from sweating – hence the name – through the use of aluminium, which physically blocks sweat from coming out of your pores. In contrast, deodorants prevent odour by targeting bacteria and/or masking it with fragrance. 

Who?

Anyone seeking a more wholesome lifestyle should give it a try, especially as an armpit detox will speed up the transitory phase of sweating and stinking more when switching from traditional antiperspirants to natural deodorants. And there’s plenty of reasons to make the switch. For starters, conventional antiperspirants often contain ingredients like aluminium, fragrance, parabens, and phthalates – all nasty and harmful in their own way. Furthermore, anyone who feels like their armpits stink (it’s okay, it happens!) or their deodorant isn’t working as well can benefit from a detox.

natural deodorants

Why?

First and foremost, it eliminates odour – apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties and can therefore eliminate odour-causing bacteria. It is also believed to bring the natural bacteria that live on the skin back into a balanced state, thereby curbing odour and creating a more natural scent. An armpit detox removes the toxins that build up over the course of antiperspirant use, courtesy of bentonite clay. Drawing out impurities will give the area a break, increasing the effectiveness of natural deodorant in the process. Even better? You may also notice that any skin irritation caused by antiperspirant ingredients is soothed, especially as conventional antiperspirants dry the skin in an effort to reduce sweating. Bonus: armpit detoxes are easy, inexpensive, and take next to no time.

How?

Simply mix a tablespoon of bentonite clay with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and enough water (roughly one to two teaspoons) to form a mixture that’s not too thick, but not too runny either – you want to reach the consistency of sour cream. Avoid using a metal bowl and/or spoon. Next, evenly spread the mask on your armpits for 5-20 minutes, sticking to the lower end of the spectrum if it’s your first time. Allow the mixture to dry before washing it off in the shower or with a wet washcloth. For best results, repeat this process weekly or biweekly for a month. And like any other skincare product, discontinue use if any irritation occurs. Happy detoxing!

Was this helpful? Learn more ways to improve your health and well-being in our Wellness section.

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Menstrual Disorders Information

8 Common Menstrual Disorders You Need to Know About

Let’s break the silence.

Menstrual disorders are problems that affect a women’s normal menstruation cycle. There are several types of menstrual disorders, and problems can range from heavy, painful periods to no periods at all. There are many variations in menstrual patterns, but in general, women should be concerned when periods come fewer than 21 days or more than three months apart, or if they last more than 10 days. Such events may indicate ovulation problems or other medical conditions. These are some of the most common menstrual disorders.

Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea literally means painful menstruation. Pain occurs in the lower abdomen, but can spread to the lower back and thighs. Dysmenorrhea is usually referred to as primary or secondary: 

  1. Primary dysmenorrhea (spasmodic): Cramping pain caused by menstruation. The cramps occur from contractions in the uterus and are usually more severe during heavy bleeding.
  1. Secondary dysmenorrhea: Menstrual-related pain that accompanies another medical or physical condition, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Menorrhagia 

Menorrhagia is the medical term for menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding. If you have one or two periods with heavy or prolonged bleeding, there’s probably no reason to worry. Although heavy menstrual bleeding is a common concern, most women don’t experience blood loss severe enough to be defined as menorrhagia. 

With menorrhagia, you can’t maintain your usual activities when you have your period because you have so much blood loss and cramping. If you dread your period because you have such heavy menstrual bleeding, talk with your doctor. There are many effective treatments for menorrhagia. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
  • Needing to use double sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow
  • Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night
  • Bleeding for longer than a week
  • Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
  • Restricting daily activities due to heavy menstrual flow
  • Symptoms of anaemia such as tiredness, fatigue, or shortness of breath

Do call your healthcare professional if the heavy bleeding is accompanied by pain that is not relieved by ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Avoid taking aspirin because it could worsen the bleeding problem. If you have bleeding after menopause, or the abnormal bleeding is accompanied by fever or other symptoms, again, consult your healthcare professional. 

Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is when you don’t get your monthly period. It can be temporary or permanent. Amenorrhea can result from a change in function or a problem with some part of the female reproductive system. There are times when you’re not supposed to get your period, such as before puberty, during pregnancy, and after menopause. If amenorrhea lasts for more than three months, it should be investigated. There are two classifications of amenorrhea:

  • Primary amenorrhea: This is when you haven’t gotten a first period by age 15 or within five years of the first signs of puberty. It can happen due to changes in organs, glands, and hormones related to menstruation.
  • Secondary amenorrhea: This is when you’ve been getting regular periods, but you stop getting your period for at least three months or you stop your menses for six months when they were previously irregular. Causes can include pregnancy, stress, and illness.

Having regular periods is an important sign of overall health. Missing a period – when not caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause – is generally a sign of another health problem. Some examples include anorexia nervosa, hyperthyroidism, and excessive exercise, which affects the menstrual cycle. If you miss your period, talk to your healthcare provider about possible causes, including pregnancy. A complete medical history and blood tests will be the first steps your healthcare professional takes to identify the cause of your amenorrhea and develop a treatment plan.

Common Menstrual Disorders

Hypomenorrhea 

Hypomenorrhea, also known as short and scanty periods, is extremely light menstrual blood flow. In some women, it may be normal to have less bleeding during menstrual periods. Less blood flow may be genetic and, if enquiries are made, it may be found that woman’s mother and/or sister also have decreased blood flow during their periods. Pregnancy can normally occur with this type of decreased flow during the period. The incidence of infertility is the same as in women with normal blood flow. 

Hypomenorrhea can occur normally at the extremes of the reproductive life – just after puberty and just before menopause. This is because ovulation is irregular at this time, and the endometrial lining fails to develop normally. But normal problems at other times can also cause scanty blood flow. Ovulation due to a low thyroid hormone level, high prolactin level, high insulin level, high androgen level, and problems with other hormones can also cause scanty periods.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, refers to the physical and emotional symptoms that many women experience in the lead-up to menstruation. Although the cause of PMS isn’t clear, you can manage it with medication and other strategies. Additionally, symptoms ease during the woman’s period and there is usually at least one symptom-free week before the symptoms return. PMS is a complex condition that includes physical and emotional symptoms. Research shows that:

  • women with PMS are hypersensitive to their own normal cyclic hormones (progesterone and oestrogen) during their menstrual cycle
  • brain chemicals (specifically the neurotransmitters serotonin and gamma butyric acid) play a role
  • symptoms do not occur during pregnancy or after menopause

PMS differs from one woman to the next, spanning physical and mood symptoms. They can include:

  • abdominal bloating
  • acne
  • clumsiness
  • digestive upsets, including constipation and diarrhoea
  • fluid retention
  • weight gain
  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • joint or muscle pain
  • tiredness
  • poor sleep or sleepiness
  • food cravings
  • headache and migraine
  • hot flushes or sweats
  • increased appetite
  • increased sensitivity to sounds, light, and touch

Menstrual Disorders Every Woman Needs to Know

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe, sometimes disabling extension of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt daily life and damage relationships.

In both PMDD and PMS, symptoms usually begin seven to 10 days before your period starts and continue for the first few days of your period. Both PMDD and PMS may cause bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, and changes in sleep and eating habits. In PMDD, however, at least one of these emotional and behavioural symptoms stands out:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety or tension
  • Extreme moodiness
  • Marked irritability or anger

The cause of PMDD isn’t clear. Underlying depression and anxiety are common in both PMS and PMDD, so it’s possible that the hormonal changes that trigger a menstrual period can worsen the symptoms of mood disorders.

Uterine Fibroids 

Uterine fibroids are benign (not cancerous) growths that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. They are also called leiomyomas or myomas. The size, shape, and location of fibroids can vary greatly. They may be inside the uterus, on its outer surface or within its wall, or attached to it by a stem-like structure. A woman may have only one fibroid or many of varying sizes. A fibroid may remain very small for a long time and suddenly grow rapidly, or grow slowly over a number of years. Fibroids may have the following symptoms:

  • Changes in menstruation
  • Longer, more frequent, or heavy menstrual periods
  • Menstrual pain (cramps)
  • Vaginal bleeding at times other than menstruation 
  • Anemia (from blood loss)
  • Pain during sex
  • Difficulty urinating or frequent urination
  • Constipation, rectal pain, or difficult bowel movements
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Enlarged uterus and abdomen
  • Miscarriages
  • Infertility

Fibroids also may cause no symptoms at all, and may be found during a routine pelvic exam or tests for other problems.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (or polycystic ovarian syndrome – PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition. ‘Polycystic’ literally translates as many cysts. This refers to the many partially formed follicles on the ovaries, which each contain an egg. These rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs that can be fertilised. Women with PCOS commonly have high levels of insulin that don’t work effectively or male hormones known as ‘androgens’, or both. The cause is not fully understood. However, family history and genetics, hormones, and lifestyle play a role.

Insulin-resistance is present in up to four out of five women with PCOS. Women who have a mother, aunt, or sister with PCOS are 50% more likely to develop PCOS. The condition is also more common in women of Asian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and African backgrounds. PCOS is relatively common, especially in infertile women. To be diagnosed with PCOS, women need to have two out of three of the following: 

  • irregular or absent periods
  • acne, excess facial or body hair growth, scalp hair loss, or high levels of androgens (testosterone and similar hormones) in the blood
  • polycystic ovaries (many small cysts on the ovaries) visible on an ultrasound

Women who have PCOS may experience the following symptoms, but you don’t have to have all of these to have PCOS:

  • irregular menstrual cycles – periods may be less or more frequent due to less frequent ovulation (release of an egg)
  • amenorrhoea (no periods) – some women with PCOS do not menstruate, in some cases for many years
  • excessive facial or body hair growth (or both) 
  • acne
  • scalp hair loss
  • reduced fertility (difficulty in becoming pregnant) – related to less frequent or absent ovulation
  • mood changes, including anxiety and depression
  • obesity
  • sleep apnoea

Treating Menstrual Disorders

Treating Menstrual Disorders

Treatments for menstrual disorders range from over-the-counter medications to surgery, with a variety of options in between. Your treatment options will depend on your diagnosis, its severity, which treatment you prefer, your health history, and your healthcare professional’s recommendation.

3 Lifestyle Tips to Manage Period Pain

1. Don’t put up with painful periods. If your menstrual periods cause mild to moderate discomfort, relief may be as close as your medicine cabinet. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) often relieves mild menstrual pain. Ibuprofen, naproxen, and mefenamic acid (brands such as Motrin IB, Advil, Bayer Select Pain Relief Formula, and Midol IB) can relieve moderate to more severe pain. These medications work best when symptoms first begin. If menstrual pain lasts several days, your doctor may prescribe another type of pain reliever. Discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your healthcare professional.

2. Relax yourself to ease painful menstruation. Next time you get painful menstrual cramps, lie down with a heating pad on your abdomen. Then, use your fingertips to lightly massage your belly in a circular motion. Drinking warm beverages that aren’t caffeinated, taking a warm shower, performing waist-bending exercises, and walking can help.

3. Oral contraceptives or contraceptive patches often alleviate menstrual pain. If you have menstrual pain, your doctor may offer to put you on an oral contraceptive as a means of treating your discomfort. Unless you wish to stay on the pill for contraception, you can discontinue taking it after six to 12 months. Many women report continued relief from menstrual pain even after they stop taking oral contraceptives.

Discover more about your body by following OBGYN Dr. Amna Raees Khan on Instagram.

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gut health dubai

Understanding the Gut-Mood Connection

A gut health expert on our second brain.

Are you the type to ignore your gut feelings? It’s time to tune in – health experts say that your gut health plays a profound role in your mental health. Translation: there is a close and vital connection between the mind and the microbes that reside in your gut, thereby affecting your mood, sleep, and even stress levels. It’s no wonder, then, that our gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’. Here, we tap Ahlaam Ali, a Certified Nutrition & Weight Loss Consultant with a specialty in gut health, to learn more about this two-way communication system. Listen in.

Ahlaam Ali, Certified Nutrition & Weight Loss Consultant

Q

Everyone’s talking about the gut-mood connection, but how exactly do the brain and the gut communicate?

A

The vagus nerve wanders throughout the body, hence its name – ‘vagus’ is the Latin word for wandering. It not only connects your brain with your gut, but it also connects to every part of your body. That is why what goes on in the gut does not stay in the gut. It gets transmitted throughout the body. And the amazing part is that the gut-brain connection through the vagus nerve is a two-way communication – what goes on in the gut gets transmitted to the brain, and vice versa. Generally, when you are stressed or anxious, your vagus nerve is distressed, and you, therefore, feel the repercussions in your gut as well.

A lot of very anxious people will have significant gut issues due to the vagus nerve passing on the neural impulses of stress, anxiety, and a general feeling of malaise. Hence, it is important to keep the vagus nerve well and healthy i.e. improve the vagal tone by practising various relaxation and meditative techniques. Practices of yoga are also highly beneficial to calm the vagus nerve and help the entire body to relax, which then helps manage cortisol levels as well as other hormones. Essentially, your gut manages the entire body, including the hormonal and mental balance of the body!

Q

The gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’. Why is that?

A

The enteric nervous system in our gut consists of the same sort of neurons and neurotransmitters as those found in our central nervous system. It is therefore known as our second brain. This second brain in our gut, in conjunction with the brain in our head, is responsible for playing a key role in various diseases in our bodies and our mental health. This is why it’s said within functional medicine circles: “Your gut is the queen of the castle. If the queen is not happy, she will tear the castle down.”

Q

Prebiotics and probiotics – overrated or a staple in optimising gut health?

A

Very important to maintain the delicate balance of our microbiome. However, the quality and type of prebiotics and probiotics that we have are critical to our gut health. There are literally thousands of brands and strains with different functions out there. Knowing the right one can make all the difference to your specific health concerns.

GOOD SKIN CLUB  , Biome Balance

Q

What is the gut microbiome, and what role does it play in one’s physical and mental health?

A

A whole community of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes live all over our skin, hair, and body. In the same way, this symbiotic community also lives in our gut. Now, not all bacteria are bad for you. Some can be very useful. There is a delicate dance of the good and the bad going on in our gut, and we need to be on top of this game by keeping our diet full of clean and healthy produce. These serve as prebiotics (food) for the good bacteria. Hence, it is a good idea to introduce a daily dose of good bacteria (probiotics) into your gut. These can be ingested in many ways – food, drink, and supplements. And it’s critical to identify the right type of probiotic for you!

Q

What are some signs or changes to mood/overall mental health that can indicate an issue or imbalance in the gut?

A

The main signs to look for are: a general feeling of sadness, feeling low on energy and chronically fatigued, bloating, gas, constipation, depression, ongoing anxiety, brain fog, aches in your joints and muscles, moodiness, and being short-tempered. All of these are signs that your gut is not happy. There are ways to test your gut microbiome, which will give us a complete picture of what is going on in your gut.

Q

Do genetics and other factors, like mental disorders, impact the state of gut health? Or is it dictated by one’s dietary choices?

A

Stress, constant anxiety about the future, genetics, and some mental disorders can directly impact the state of our gut. Studies in genetics show that not only do we inherit some microbiome tendencies, but the type of birth we had also plays a role. A regular birth ensures we get our dose of beneficial bacteria through the birth canal. The parents’ state of health during conception is another factor that affects one’s gut health. However, studies have also proven that we can turn the effects of genetics around and defy nature through nurturing our bodies and making significant lifestyle changes.

Q

Lastly, what food recommendations or practical tips can you share for a healthier gut?

A

Here are the things that I include in my daily diet:

  • Lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Fermented foods and drinks like kombucha, kimchi, kvass, and kefir
  • Good-quality probiotics
  • Smoothies made from fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Clean, gluten-free grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and teff

And here’s what I eliminate:

  • All refined sugars and sugar-laden foods – avoid sugar substitutes, too
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
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Parts of the Female Genitalia

This is Female Genitalia, Demystified 

It’s time to clear up the confusion.

Many people use the term ‘vagina’ to describe female sex organs. In reality, the vagina is just one part of the female genitalia. The terms ‘vagina’ and ‘vulva’ are often confused and used interchangeably, but they refer to two very different parts of the female anatomy. Vulva (a medical term) is the external part of female genitalia. The vulva has many tissues, each with different functions. They include the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, clitoral hood, and urethral opening. The vagina is the internal part of the female genitalia. Here, we’re going to delve further into our own bodies to understand the female genital anatomy – beginning with our external anatomy. 

Labia Majora 

The labia majora, also called the outer lips, are the folds of skin that enclose other parts of external sexual anatomy. The inner surface of labia majora is hairless. The labia majora contains the sebaceous gland, sweat glands, and hair follicles. The shape and size of these tissues can vary from one person to another. It’s common for the labia majora to be darker than the rest of your skin. 

Labia Minora

The labia minora are two thick folds of skin, also called the inner lips. The labia minora are located inside the labia majora, and their appearance can vary. In some people, they’re very small, and not so small for others. During sexual intercourse, these tissues swell and become more sensitive. The folds contain connective tissues, numerous sebaceous glands, erectile muscle fibres, and numerous vessels and nerve endings. Unlike the labia majora, the labia minora does not contain hair follicles.

Clitoris 

The clitoris is located at the top of the labia minora. The visible portion of the clitoris looks like a pea-sized nub, but it’s actually much larger. It has a spongy shaft that extends into the body that can’t be seen externally. With a lot of nerve endings, the clitoris is a very sensitive tissue. Unlike other vagina parts, its only purpose is in creating pleasure. 

Clitoral Hood

The clitoral hood is the small flap of skin at the point where the inner lips meet. The clitoral hood surrounds and protects the sensitive tip of the clitoris. Glands in the hood produce a lubricant that helps the tissue glide across the clitoris. 

Urethral Opening 

This is the external opening of the transport tube that leads from the bladder to discharge urine outside the body in a female. The urethra (the urinary transport tube) in a female is shorter than the urethra in a male. The meatus (opening) of the female urethra is below the clitoris and just above the opening of the vagina.

Vaginal Opening 

The vaginal opening, also called the vaginal vestibule or introitus, is the opening into the vagina. It’s located between the urethra and the anus. The opening is where menstrual blood leaves the body. It’s also used to birth a baby and for sexual intercourse.

Female Sexual Anatomy: Internal Organs

The key organs for female reproduction are protectively located deep within the body. These include the following:

Ovaries

A female normally has a pair of ovaries that resemble almonds in size and shape. They are home to the female sex cells, called eggs, and they also produce estrogen or oestrogen (the female sex hormone). Women’s ovaries already contain several hundred thousand undeveloped eggs at birth, but the eggs are not called into action until puberty. Roughly once a month, starting at puberty and lasting until menopause, the ovaries release an egg into the fallopian tubes – this is called ovulation. When fertilisation does not occur, the egg leaves the body as part of the menstrual cycle.

Fallopian Tubes

The ovaries connect to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. Fertilisation usually happens within the fallopian tubes. Then, the fertilised egg makes its way down to the uterus.

Uterus

The uterus is located in the pelvis of a woman’s body and made up of smooth muscle tissue. Commonly referred to as the womb, the uterus is hollow and holds the foetus during pregnancy. Each month, the uterus develops a lining that is rich in nutrients. The reproductive purpose of this lining is to provide nourishment for a developing foetus. Since eggs aren’t usually fertilised, the lining leaves the body as menstrual blood during a woman’s monthly period.

Cervix

The lower part of the uterus, which connects to the vagina, is known as the cervix. Often called the neck or entrance to the womb, the cervix lets menstrual blood out and semen into the uterus. The cervix remains closed during pregnancy, but can expand dramatically during childbirth.

Vagina

The vagina has both internal and external parts, and connects the uterus to the outside of the body. Made up of muscle and skin, the vagina is a long hollow tube that is sometimes called the ‘birth canal’ because, if you are pregnant, the vagina is the pathway the baby will take when it’s ready to be born. The vagina also allows menstrual blood to leave a woman’s body during reproduction and is where the penis deposits semen during sexual intercourse.

Bartholin’s Glands/Greater Vestibular Glands

The bilateral racemes glands are located at the sides of the vaginal orifice. These glands secrete mucous that helps maintain the acidic pH balance of the vagina (pH 4.5 or lower) and acts as a lubricant during sexual intercourse. 

Parts of the Female Genitalia Explained

If you’d like to learn more about your body through a visual guide, I recommend The Great Wall of Vagina by Jamie McCartney. It’s a coffee table book that showcases hundreds of real women’s vulva casts. This intimate artistic exploration is supplemented with explanations by a sexual health advisor who aims to destigmatise and educate people on common misconceptions. 

Discover more about your body by following Dr. Amna Raees Khan, a specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, on Instagram.

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Cooking Myths That Are Actually False

4 Cooking Myths That Don’t Quite Hold Up 

And the kitchen practices that do.

Is raw food healthier than cooked food? How do you maximise nutrient availability and minimise nutrient loss? What does cooking do to the nutrients? If you’re like me and interested in getting the most from your food, you’ll likely have come across several cooking myths. Here, I’m going to unpack four of them and offer healthy cooking tips to maximise your nutrition.

Myth 1: All raw foods are more nutritious than cooked ones.

The fact is that some foods (such as meat, poultry, and eggs) can be dangerous when consumed while raw (or undercooked). In fact, some foods are also less nutritious when they are raw because they contain substances that destroy or disarm other nutrients. For example, red cabbage, brussels sprouts, blueberries, and blackberries contain an enzyme that destroys thiamin (vitamin B1). Heating the food actually inactivates the enzyme. 

Thiamin-rich foods include fortified breakfast cereals, fish, beans, lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, and yoghurt among others. Now, in practice, you need not get worried when you are adding some fresh blueberries to your cereal and yoghurt. This act is the minutiae in the grand scheme of things, and you will not end up with a vitamin B1 deficiency if you are enjoying a variety of meals through the years.

Raw beans, legumes, and even eggs contain lectins, which are a type of indigestible protein. It is falsely claimed that these indigestible proteins travel through our digestive system unchanged and, in extremely large amounts, they could damage the gut wall. The reason this claim is false is that cooking renders them harmless – all the more reason to not eat just raw food! Plus, we do not eat lectins in isolation for them to be a problem. What does all this mean for steak-lovers? If the fresh meat is steak, roast, or chop, then medium-rare can be safe. The meat must reach 145˚F internally and stand for three or more minutes before cutting or consuming.

Myth 2: Cooking destroys all the minerals in food.

The truth is that virtually all minerals are unaffected by heat. Cooked or raw food has the same amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, and sodium. The single exception to the rule is potassium, which – although not affected by heat or air – escapes from foods into the cooking liquid. This is why we ask patients with kidney disorders to boil their veggies and throw the water so as to regulate their potassium intake.

Myth 3: Cooking kills all the vitamins in food. 

This statement is not wholly correct because cooking does not kill all the vitamins. Vitamins K, B, and B3 are very stable and not affected by cooking. That being said, a lot of vitamins are extremely sensitive and easily destroyed when exposed to heat, air, water, or cooking oil (fats). To avoid specific types of vitamin loss, the below cooking tips and tricks can be used to your benefit. 

  • Vitamins A, E, and D – these are fat-soluble vitamins, so to reduce their loss, it’s best to cook foods rich in them with very little oil. For example, it’s recommended to bake, grill, or air-fry vitamin A-rich liver instead of frying it. This also applies to vitamin D-rich oily fish, like salmon or sardines.

When it comes to fat/oil, a lot of people also don’t pay attention to moderation – they either go fat-free or bathe their meals in oil. Try to be mindful of the following tips, which can also be applied for preserving fat-soluble vitamins.

  • Use a tablespoon – don’t pour oil directly from the bottle. One teaspoon (5ml) of any oil, ghee, or butter is approximately 45Kcal. Let’s say I use one tablespoon of oil, which is about 15ml (135Kcal) – this can multiply fast if you are not mindful, even when a dish is being shared.
  • Use a low flame – this is key! It’s easy to burn food when you use less oil and high flame.
  • Use other cooking methods besides deep-frying more often! Keep the deep-frying to special occasions as much as possible. Give the air fryer a shot. This also fits in with what we just said about fat-soluble vitamins.

B-Vitamins:

  • You can conserve B vitamins from meat and poultry that leak out into cooking liquid or drippings by using the cooking liquid in soup or sauce.
  • It’s best to bake or toast bread only until the crust is light brown to preserve heat-sensitive B vitamins.

Vitamin C:

To reduce the loss of water-soluble, oxygen-sensitive vitamin C, cook fruits and vegetables in the least possible amount of water. For example, when you cook cabbage covered in water, the leaves lose as much as 90% of their vitamin C. Reverse this and cook cabbage in one inch of water, which lets you hold on to more than 50% of the vitamin C. Consume the liquid left in the pan from cooking vegetables.

  • It’s best to serve cooked vegetables quickly. After 24 hours in the fridge, vegetables lose a quarter of their vitamin C and, after two days, nearly half. In real life, this may not be possible and that’s fine because we also need to look at the bigger picture, which should always be that you are eating your veggies. There are a lot of other nutrients that you get from veggies, and perhaps eating fresh fruit with the meal should suffice for the lost vitamin C.  
  • Root vegetables (like carrots, sweet potatoes, and potatoes) baked or boiled whole, in their skins, retain practically all of their vitamin C. As a general rule, when cooking vegetables grown above the ground, add the vegetables to boiling water. For vegetables grown under the ground, add the vegetables to cold water and bring them to a boil. 
  • Avoid washing vegetables after chopping them to preserve vitamins B and C. It’s best to wash them before you chop them.

Myth 4: Cooking destroys and changes the macronutrients in foods.

Macronutrients – namely carbohydrates, fats, and proteins – are not lost with cooking. They only change their structure, which is why cooked rice or cooked fish looks very different to raw rice and raw fish. Cooking also improves the digestion and availability of many nutrients. In the grand scheme of things, there is no perfect cooking method that retains all nutrients – just like there are no perfect foods. Every food and cooking method comes with its pros and cons. A variety of meals eaten in varied ways will negate the effect of nutrients lost.

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Struggling to Get Enough Vitamin D in Sunny Dubai?

Get more of the elusive vitamin – here’s how.

Vitamin D deficiency is a common issue not just locally, but globally, as there are around three billion people worldwide who are deficient in this critical vitamin. There are many factors that contribute to this deficiency and, here, we’ll explore some of the main reasons. But let’s start with why we need this vitamin – it’s not just to protect from rickets!

Vitamin D plays a central role in the immune system, muscle function, bone strength, cardiovascular function, respiratory system, and brain development. Once activated, it works by managing calcium in your blood, bones, and gut. It also helps cells all over the body communicate properly. Another not-so-well-known benefit is that it’s a pro-hormone, which means it is needed for the production of hormones – especially sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone – and has a role in fertility. I believe my low vitamin D was a contributor to my unexplained infertility and I wish I knew more 15 years ago!

How can you tell if you have vitamin D deficiency?

There are some signs and symptoms that indicate that vitamin D levels are deficient or suboptimal (suboptimal means it is within normal range, but not at an optimal level for your body). Here are seven such signs that you need more vitamin D:

  1. Chronic pain in muscles, joints, and back
  2. Mood swings
  3. Depression – you might have heard about winter seasonal depression, but this could also happen even if you’re living in year-round sunny regions due to a lack of vitamin D
  4. Feeling fatigued and sleepy during the day
  5. Insomnia 
  6. Osteoporosis or stress fractures, which are tiny cracks in the bones
  7. Frequent illnesses, like getting colds and flu or feeling you can’t easily shake off a cold

For a detailed review of vitamin D and signs of deficiency, you can refer here.

What causes a vitamin D deficiency?

Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to a pinking dose of sunlight. How much vitamin D you make depends on age, genetics, how much skin is uncovered, and skin tone. Without sunblock and with arms and legs exposed, your skin will typically make 10,000 to 15,000 units of vitamin D in one pinking sun exposure, on average.

Where you live (latitude) also has an impact based on how much radiation from the sun for vitamin D production is available. Even environmental pollution affects how much radiation you can get from the sun. As you see, there are so many different factors, and today, I will focus on two critical factors that most people overlook when trying to increase their vitamin D levels.

Insufficient Magnesium

The body uses nutrients in a symphony – not solo! Vitamin D works with vitamins A, k2, and magnesium. Thus, relying on vitamin D supplements or booster injections alone will not resolve your issues in the long term, and often supplementing with a high dosage would tip your body into an imbalance as it tries to handle the sudden increase in intake without having enough of the supporting synergistic nutrients it needs.

Magnesium is required for the body to convert vitamin D into its final, usable form. It’s also a very common nutrient deficiency, especially for those with cardiovascular or blood sugar control (e.g. diabetics). Many factors deplete our magnesium reserves, such as stress and taking certain medications like acid suppressants and birth control pills. And we’re not likely to get enough magnesium from food because of soil erosion from modern agricultural practices.

So, if you find yourself getting low vitamin D levels every time you test, then focus on boosting your magnesium levels even before starting with vitamin D supplementation. You can use Epsom salt foot or bath soaks, or use a supplement. However, keep in mind that there are eight different types of magnesium, and your overall health determines what type works best for you to get the benefits you’re looking for and avoid issues from using an inappropriate type. Please don’t hesitate to ask if your doctor if have questions about the most effective or reliable tests for gauging your sufficiency or what forms of these nutrients are most bio-available.

Insufficient Healthy Fats

Many people, unfortunately, fear fat and are not consuming enough, which affects their hormones, digestion, the health of their cells, and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D! Incorporating healthy fats into your daily meals would boost your absorption to improve your vitamin D levels. These include salmon and other fatty fish, avocado, ghee, and butter (animal-based, not made of or mixed with vegetable oils), olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

How can you boost your vitamin D naturally?

The best source of vitamin D is, of course, exposure to sunlight (specifically UVB). Here’s how you can maximise your vitamin D3 production from sunlight.

  1. Body exposure: You need to expose at least 35% of your body to get sufficient exposure, so make sure your face, arms, and lower legs are uncovered (wear a tank top and shorts, for example).
  2. Duration: How much time you need to spend in the sun depends on your skin tone and is explained below. 
    • Light skin = 15-20 minutes daily
    • Medium skin = 25-30 minutes daily
    • Dark skin = 40-45 minutes daily
  1. Time: The best time to get sun exposure depends on the latitude and season. According to a study done for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the optimum time to get sun exposure for vitamin D3 production during summer is from 9am and before 10:30am, as well as after 2pm until 3pm, while during winter it’s from 10am until 2pm. UAE is in close proximity, so similar timing would work.
  2. Sunscreen: Keep in mind that wearing sunscreen, even an SPF of 30, would limit your body’s ability to make vitamin D and reduce it up to 95-98% according to several studies. Practically speaking, you can sunbathe without sunscreen initially, up to the duration recommended above, and then apply the sunscreen if you will be spending more time. The key point is that your skin should not actually burn, so do wear protective clothing or apply mineral sunscreen if you’re staying longer in the sun. Note: mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the main ingredients versus other types of sunscreens, which use toxic chemicals that remain circulating in your bloodstream.

Some foods are also considered sources of vitamin D, however, the amount in food is not high enough to fully rely on just it. Here are examples of food sources highest in vitamin D:

  • Salmon and fatty fish provides around 100 IU per 30 grams of fish
  • Chicken or beef liver provides 25-50 IU per 100 grams of meat
  • Egg yolk provides 20-40 IU per egg yolk
  • Mushrooms are known to be a source of vitamin D, but you only get 1 IU per a medium-sized mushroom, so it is far from a practical choice!

When it comes to diet, as mentioned earlier, make sure you have sufficient magnesium levels and that healthy fats are part of your diet.

How would the functional medicine approach solve your deficiency?

A functional medicine approach is different from traditional allopathic medicine because it views the body as one whole interconnected unit, and every organ and function in the body needs to be at an optimal state for healthy vibrant wellness. Applying this to testing, the notion of a marker being in the “normal range” is not good enough. These normal ranges were calculated based on statistical norms, including an unhealthy population. Tested levels are best to be at optimal levels (not just normal range), and that optimal level depends on the marker and what is sufficient for each unique person.

To clarify this point, vitamin D’s normal level starts from 30ng/mL. However, levels below 40ng/mL are linked to twice the risk of heart attacks, increased high blood pressure, and three times the risk of multiple sclerosis, while levels above 50ng/mL have shown a 50% reduction in breast cancer and decreased risk of all solid cancers. And some people feel their best when their vitamin D level is at 70ng/mL. Of course, as always, too much of anything can have adverse effects, and clinical research is starting to uncover that significantly elevated vitamin D might have many negative consequences. Thus, there’s no one clear value that is best for everyone and functional medicine builds on this to take a very personalised approach.

From adorable infants through to our beloved elderly ones, everyone should have their vitamin D level checked at least once a year, preferably twice, as that is the only way to determine actual levels. Testing is the only way to know for sure if you are getting enough vitamin D. We also have varying levels of vitamin D receptor sensitivity in our cells, so paying attention to your symptoms and overall wellness is also key to understanding when your body needs support. All these factors would be taken into consideration when determining what dosing is right for you.

Those with digestive issues may need specific forms or higher doses to gain optimal blood levels, but generally speaking, daily dosages in liquid or softgel form supported by the other synergistic vitamins are better absorbed and gentler on the body, such as this supplement from Seeking Health brand, which is a combination of vitamins D3 and k2. Be sure to consult your practitioner for your unique needs and always repeat testing after two to three months of using supplements to gauge the change and map out a maintenance plan.

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Read This to Take Better Care of Your Body

Start now to build a solid foundation for the future.

Everyone wants to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. You want to live a long, active, and engaged life – and building such a life starts now. Are you in your 20s or 30s now and having a hard time with weight management, suffering from fluctuating energy, and tackling out-of-control hormones? Do you feel that younger generations are struggling more with weight issues a lot sooner? 

This has been put down to more sugar in our foods, more fast food available on-demand, more processed foods, and more stress in our lives at a younger age. Whatever the case may be, as we roll through the decades, there is a definite shift in why and what our bodies demand from us to stay fit and healthy – take it from someone who is now in her 50s and has experienced this firsthand. But I’m here to tell you it’s not all doom and gloom! I am a great believer that age is just a number, and it’s all about having the correct mindset. But like anything in life, it takes time and effort, and if you don’t nurture it, it will fail.

What We Have Going for Us in Our 20s and 30s

In our 20s and 30s, our bodies are in their prime. It’s here where we need to build the foundation for our future health. We have everything, due to our hormones being at their highest peak (though of course, they do fluctuate – we are females after all). Theoretically, if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you have the following functions:

  • You have the ability to recover better from a great training session. 
  • You can build and retain muscle mass a lot easier.
  • Your bone density is at its peak.
  • You can get away with not going to the gym from time to time or eating and drinking a little more than you should.
  • You are more fertile, your hormones are raging, and you have a great libido. 
  • You have an endless supply of energy.

At this stage, you should be feeling on top of the world, and that anything is possible. You may be at the start of your new career, a young budding entrepreneur, or a female athlete in the full throes of training – the world is your oyster! But we can all have bad days, where daily stressors can zap some of that youthful power. Social media and poor self-confidence, for instance, can damage your self-worth and take a toll on your health and well-being

When I look back to my 20s, I wish that I had the confidence I have today. When we feel we don’t fit in or we struggle with our own self-worth, this opinion of ourselves takes a toll on our health and happiness. An imbalance in our mental well-being can be just as damaging as the comfort food eating we turn to each night – in fact, they go hand in hand and can have a spiralling effect. So working on your self-confidence as well as your overall health and wellness is the key to having your cake and eating it too! 

As you move into your 30s, you might find you’ve accumulated more self-knowledge and self-worth, and you may have a clearer sense of what’s important to you in life, and a little more confidence to change things that are right for you. Healthy lifestyle habits might become a little more important to you now, too, so here are a few nutrition and lifestyle tips to be on top of your game in your 20s and 30s. 

1. Nutrition Is Key

No matter what age you are, choosing the right nutrition is imperative to your own health and wellbeing. Don’t join the fad diet brigade as it will set you up for a fall later in life. Your 20s and 30s are the foundation years for your health and well-being, so choose wisely.  

2. Learn About Yourself

Understand your body and what makes it tick, and learn what’s important to you and your goals. Don’t be afraid to do what you want as it’s your health and well-being in question.

3. Learn Good Habits

Start applying good habits now and ensure that they are right for you. Begin with some small, quick wins. Habits take time to create, so be patient and don’t give up.

4. Learn the Fundamentals of Exercise and Nutrition

Don’t just dance to the social media beat – educate yourself on how to put your health first! Consider a variety of activities, create a strong foundation, and most importantly enjoy what you do. 

5. Start Weight Training

This is important, especially for females. Our bone density mineral peaks in the late 20s and 30s, and the body stockpiles more minerals than it uses from birth to young adulthood. After the age of 35, this ratio reverses and bone mineral density decreases. You might not think about this in your 20s, but you need a strong foundation that will assist you for the rest of your life, especially when you head into menopause.

6. Get Enough Vitamins and Minerals 

If you are not getting enough vitamins and minerals through your food, your body will start sending you signals. If you want to be at your best, these are some of the essential must-haves. 

  • Iron: It is vital to the transport of oxygen to the tissues in your body. Iron is especially important for women who are menstruating or pregnant.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants help prevent or slow down damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are waste substances produced by cells. If the body cannot process and remove free radicals efficiently, oxidative stress that can harm cells and body function occurs as a result.
  • Fish oil: Omega-3s are important for heart and blood vessel health, and for reducing circulating triglycerides to lower heart disease risk. It also supports healthy joints, reduces inflammation, and optimises brain operations.
  • Vitamin B-Complex: Vitamin Bs are just a good all-rounder in relieving stress, boosting cognitive performance, boosting energy, and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. You normally can find enough of it in your food, although older adults may need a little more B12.
  • Vitamin D: This vitamin helps our bodies absorb calcium from our diet and any supplements we may take. Vitamin D also plays a role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones.
  • Calcium: Ensuring we have enough calcium in our diet can help maintain bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

7. No filter Needed 

If you haven’t started to look after your nutrition by now, then you need to get a move on. Nutrition is not just about your weight, it’s much more than that! Want to look good and have great skin? The answer is nutrition and exercise. Want to have the energy to run your empire? Nutrition and exercise. Want to have strong bones and a healthy heart? Nutrition and exercise!     

8. Create Healthy Sleep Habits 

Sleep is so important for both our physical and mental health. A healthy bedtime routine can boost your immune system and sharpen your cognitive thinking. Believe it or not, a good night’s sleep is crucial not only to maintain your energy levels, but also for your waistline! Some good sleep habits to form include: 

  • Don’t eat too late.
  • Calm your mind and body before bedtime.
  • Sleep in a dark, cool room.
  • Switch off all devices one hour before bed.
  • If you are having trouble sleeping, take magnesium one hour before bedtime as this can help with getting a good night’s sleep.

By establishing these sleep habits early in life, it’ll be easier for you to stick to a healthy sleep routine later in life when other stressors, such as work or family, start to take over.

9. Learn How to Cook 

This helps you take control and have a good overall picture of what you are eating. Don’t rely on takeout or packaged convenience foods that are often higher in sodium, saturated fat, preservatives, and refined carbohydrates. You can also batch cook to freeze as this saves time and money.

10. Schedule Some Down Time 

In your 20s and 30s, having fun and partying is natural, but be mindful of the post-party munchies. This is where a lot of the damage is done, as too much sugar and fat intake can gradually creep up on you.

11.  Work on Your Confidence

Your self-confidence and self-love is part of nourishing and nurturing your mind and body. This isn’t something that comes naturally to all of us. Working on it will have a powerful impact on your life moving forward.

 12. Variety Is the Spice of Life 

Try new things, and step outside your comfort zone. Everything is good for you in moderation, so learn something new about yourself and don’t say no until you have tried it. 

13. Keep an Eye on Your Periods 

They give you a good indication that all is going well. There are plenty of apps that can help in period tracking. They can also be useful to monitor moods and cravings. 

14. Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food

Don’t put yourself under undue stress over fad diets, crazy detox, low carbs, or whatever else might be trending. These will all play havoc on your metabolism and make it harder to manage later in life. Enjoy food and play around with it!  

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10 Best Chiropractor Clinics in Dubai

You’re one adjustment away from a good mood.

Chiropractors are highly trained and skilled professionals who use their hands to treat the spine and other joints in the body. Chiropractors are often misunderstood – many think they only treat back pain – but they can actually help you with a variety of issues such as neck pain, headaches, and even allergies. Chiropractic care has been shown to be effective for both acute and chronic pain conditions.

Chiropractic care is based on the belief that the body can heal itself. Chiropractors use manual adjustments to improve joint function and relieve pain. Chiropractic adjustments are made by applying pressure to a spinal joint to realign it with the rest of the body. They also combine several techniques to help you feel better, such as massage and acupuncture. 

One of the best things about chiropractors is their holistic approach. They will not just focus on the site of your pain, but also ask about your lifestyle and overall health in order to get to the root cause of your problem. This means that chiropractors are more likely to find a long-term solution for your pain instead of just offering temporary relief. If you’re considering a consultation, it’s crucial to find one who is experienced and trained. Here, we’ve listed the 10 best chiropractors in Dubai to help you in your search.

chiropractic exercises in dubai

1. Emirates European Medical Centre

Emirates European Medical Centre is a leading medical facility in Dubai, known for its high-quality chiropractic care. They utilise pain-relieving methods like blocking, Thompson Drop, and myofascial release therapy to alleviate the patient’s discomfort. These methods can help relieve sinus headaches, lower back discomfort, scoliosis, cervical disc herniation, and pre-arthritis symptoms. 

Chiropractic therapy is available to pregnant women, the elderly, and newborns at this medical facility in Dubai. Emirates European Medical Centre employs experienced and certified chiropractors who use state-of-the-art equipment to provide you with the best possible care. They also offer physiotherapy, therapeutic massages, traditional Chinese medicine, and surgical decompression.

Emirates European Medical Centre, Villa 119, on Al Thanya Street, Umm Suqeim 2, 04 348 1166, chiropracticdubai.com

2. Blue Tree Clinics

Blue Tree Clinics is a well-respected centre for chiropractic care, offering chiropractic services ranging from spinal adjustments to massage therapy. The cost of chiropractic care at Blue Tree Clinics is based on the number of sessions you will receive. You also can request how many sessions you would like. We highly recommend checking out this facility if you have any musculoskeletal disorders. It has a team of highly skilled and experienced chiropractors dedicated to helping you achieve optimum health and well-being. 

Blue Tree Clinics, Umm Suqueim 2, 04 348 8262, bluetreeclinic.com

chiropractor in dubai

3. Plato Chiropractic Health Clinic

If you’re looking for a leading chiropractor in Dubai, look no further than Plato Chiropractic. It’s a well-known clinic providing exceptional chiropractic care in the Netherlands for many years. Recently, they opened a new clinic in Motor City, Dubai, and are quickly gaining a solid reputation for their cutting-edge manual therapies.

One of these therapies is the Kes Method. This efficient technique was developed more than a decade ago. It’s used to reduce pain throughout the body, and it’s something that the team at Plato Chiropractic has mastered. The clinic is home to a team of four chiropractors who collectively will provide you with the best care. 

Plato Chiropractic Health Clinic, Apex Atrium Building 6/5, 1st Floor, Unit 107, Turin Boulevard Road, Motor City, 04 513 6918, platohealthclinic.com

4. Synergy Integrated

One of the most innovative approaches to chiropractic care in Dubai can be found at Synergy Integrated, which is widely considered one of the best in the city. In addition to providing general medical care, its chiropractic care techniques are primarily focused on treating painful ailments such as scoliosis, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal disorders. 

The clinic offers a wide range of services such as spine adjustment, trigger point therapy, and massages. Chiropractic care is a drug-free and non-invasive approach to healthcare that can provide relief from pain and improve overall health – just make sure you have an appointment scheduled in advance to avoid unnecessary hassle.

Synergy Integrated, Al Wasl Rd, 04 348 5452

5. The Chiron Clinic

The Chiron Clinic in Dubai is a multi-modal wellness centre specialising in chiropractic care. The clinic was formerly an integrative medicine clinic, but has since transitioned into a wellness facility that offers various services, including chiropractic care. They use multiple techniques that aim to re-establish a healthy equilibrium among their patient’s minds, hearts, and bodies. 

The Chiron Clinic offers both appointments and walk-in visits so that you can take advantage of their chiropractic treatments at any time. Whether you’re looking for relief from pain or to improve your overall health, The Chiron Clinic can help you achieve your goals.

The Chiron Clinic, Block E1, Floor 1, The Sustainable City, 04 233 8500, thechironclinic.com

chiropractor stretching patient

6. Health & Happiness

Health & Happiness is a clinic in Dubai that offers comprehensive chiropractic care. The clinic has a team of highly qualified chiropractors who provide treatments tailored to your specific needs. The treatments provided are designed to provide speedy relief from discomfort. Health & Happiness has risen to prominence as chiropractic care for musculoskeletal conditions such as sciatica, frozen shoulder, and frozen shoulder discomfort in just a few short years.

The clinic promotes people’s overall health and happiness by offering natural healing methods. Chiropractic care is an effective treatment for many conditions, and Health & Happiness is committed to providing excellent care. The clinic also offers several other services, such as physiotherapy, spine decompression, golf injuries, and chiropractic neurology. 

Health & Happiness, HDS Tower, Cluster F, 04 443 2606, healthandhappiness.biz

7. Canadian Medical Center

Canadian Medical Center believes that patients of all ages should access quality chiropractic care. They offer a wide range of services, and specialise in treating sports injuries, tinnitus, scoliosis, and sciatica. It also uses the Melillo Method to aid children with neurodevelopmental delays. Canadian Medical Center employs highly trained and experienced chiropractors from the UK, the US, and Canada for their patients’ benefit. They are committed to providing the best possible care for their patients in Dubai.

Canadian Medical Center, Villa No 628, Jumeirah Rd, Umm Suqueim, 04 333 3511, https://www.canadiancmc.com

chiropractic alignment example in dubai

8. Physiowell

Physiowell is one of the best chiropractic clinics in Dubai, offering a wide range of services. The expert healthcare providers here are highly trained and experienced in treating various disorders related to the musculoskeletal system. They use different natural techniques to help their patients live better, providing osteopathy, physiotherapy, sports medicine, and pre- and post-pregnancy care (to name a few). 

Physiowell, 04 269 2121, Villa 947 Al Manara Area, Al Wasl Rd, physiowel.ae

9. Pure Chiropractic and Physiotherapy

Pure Chiropractic is committed to providing high-quality healthcare in a natural, drug-free setting. Its clinic offers various services designed to promote optimal health and vitality. These services include chiropractic, physiotherapy, dry needling, spinal decompression, dry cupping, and more. The experienced team of doctors and staff are passionate about helping you achieve your health goals. If you are looking for an effective, holistic approach to your healthcare, Pure Chiropractic will not disappoint.

Pure Chiropractic and Physiotherapy, Concord Tower, Al Sufouh, Al Sufouh 2, 04 453 3313, purechirodubai.com

10. Franklin Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Center

At Franklin Chiropractic, they prioritise the discerning needs of their clients. Their customised and tailor-fit treatment plan starts with conducting a series of assessments and testing. Based on the diagnosis of your results, their chiropractors will design an individual treatment plan that may include a combination of chiropractic care, acupuncture, and physiotherapy. By following these procedures, you can expect to be relieved from upper or lower back pain and other body discomforts, manage stress better, and improve your quality of life.

Franklin Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Center, HDS Tower, Cluster 1, JLT, Gold Tower, Office 16 J, 04 874 8538, franklinchiropracticdubai.com

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