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Bearing the Unbearable: How I’m Coping with Infant Loss

One woman’s journey two years on.

It’s been over two years since our daughter, Aya, died. Try that for a conversation killer. Truly, there’s nothing like it. 

Since she died, it’s fair to say that I’ve been on quite a journey of the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. But whilst I’d never say I was glad this happened to me, I have met amazing people, learned a lot about myself, strengthened my marriage (astaggering 80% of couples go on to divorce after losing a child), and truly surprised myself at my strength and ability to handle the unimaginable. 

“The image of Chrissy sitting on the edge of her hospital bed stopped me in my tracks. Not so long ago, I was that woman in the picture.”

As Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month kicked off at the start of October,Chrissy Teigen took to Instagram to share images of a memorial ceremony held for her late son Jack, saying that she hopes for “some closure in my heart”. It was on September 30, 2020 when she and her husband John Legend dominated the online world as they announced their pregnancy loss. The black-and-white photo of Chrissy sitting on the edge of her hospital bed stopped me in my tracks.

Not so long ago, I was that woman in the picture. And truthfully, it took me over a day to pluck up the courage to read her post as I wasn’t sure how I’d deal with her words. But I applaud them both with all my heart. This is the reality of infant loss. It’s horrendous and messy – with no end date in sight – and we need to be open and honest and talk about it. As one of the world’s most high-profile couples, they have the platform to do this and, in doing so, have already helped many more people than they will ever know. They helped me, even a year or so into my journey. 

“Just think about the different kind of society we could create if we all talked more openly, not sugar-coating everything or glossing over it with an Instagram filter – right?”

I don’t have millions of followers, but I do have something of a voice here in the region, so since Aya died, I have been on my own mission to get people talking about this and other tough topics. The reality is that, as human beings, we don’t like having difficult conversations – and we’re generally not very good at them. But like with most things, the more we embrace and talk about awful and uncomfortable things, the easier they become. And let’s face it, there’s no shortage of difficult topics to discuss these days because life can be really, really challenging.

Death, infertility, debt, divorce, infidelity, mental health issues – the majority of us are going through something unpleasant, aside from the nightmare of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so we need to get better at sharing and talking about the bad stuff as well as the good. Just think about the different kind of society we could create if we all talked more openly, not sugar-coating everything or glossing over it with an Instagram filter – right? 

“I shared my loss on social media, then got into bed and didn’t get out for six weeks.”

Chrissy and John sharing their darkest hour with us was no small thing, and we need to feel privileged that they did, letting us into what will likely remain one of the most horrific days of their lives. I shared my loss on social media, then got into bed and didn’t get out for six weeks.When we don’t talk about tough topics, it can increase feelings of isolation, loneliness, and distress.

On the flip side, when we do talk about difficult things and face them head on, it opens up a space for connection, understanding, and the chance to really make a difference in the world of that person. By sharing thoughts and feelings, and engaging in those conversations, we make such topics more socially acceptable and help those struggling with them to feel less isolated. Here are my tips on how to help someone going through the unimaginable, how to talk about difficult things and, in doing so, how to become a whole lot better at it. 

Don’t Avoid Us! 

I wanted to avoid myself at times, but I couldn’t. It’s so common that when people don’t know what to say, they avoid you. I witnessed this firsthand, even from some of my nearest and dearest, and it hurt. It’s okay to be honest and say you don’t know what to say because, at least then, you’re showing that you’re there. I often said to anyone unsure of what to say to us that, truthfully, I had no clue what to say either. You can’t avoid us and, generally, we’re likely to appreciate anything you say. The worst thing you can do is pretend like life is just going on as normal and nothing has happened. It’s like our child never existed. With grief and loss, we’re thinking about the very worst of things 24/7, so it’s not as if you’re bringing up anything we’ve not been thinking about anyway. 

We Like It When You Help Us Remember

When we lose someone, they’re just gone. It all stops. There are no more photos nor new memories, and life just goes on, so please say their name. Today, I love it when my friends call “Aya” by name – it matters, and it means she existed and has not been forgotten. Some of the nicest gifts I received after Aya died were an Aya Star’, which is viewable from the UAE on her birthday, and a beautiful carving of her name that we keep in our living room so she’s always there with us – we don’t forget, and we don’t want to forget either. 

Avoid the Thoughtless Clichés

It’s a fine line, and we want you to talk to us, but try not to be patronising and do avoid clichés. By far, THE worst things people said that really triggered and upset me were, “Your child is in a better place.” I mean, I don’t know about you, but I think the best place for a child to be is with their family – not in a graveyard! And please don’t say, “You’ll have another child soon.” Or, “It’s not your time.” Oh, and don’t ask us if we’re better now either. That said, even if you do say something wrong, it’s better than not saying anything at all.  

Don’t Leave Us Out

After we lost Aya, people stopped inviting us to things – baby showers, kids’ birthdays, and social events in general. People didn’t want to share their good news with us, and actively avoided me and my husband. Obviously, I understand people don’t want to upset you or ‘rub it in’, but we also craved just feeling normal again. It’s also nice to feel that you’re being included. And while, yes, some things may sting a little, we love our friends and family and will only be happy for them. Help make us feel normal again. 

“If we talk about the tough stuff more – even when we’re lost for words – it creates a new space for openness, honesty, and understanding.” 

There is no way of sugar-coating this. Life can be challenging. Death will happen to us all, and we’re all going to go through life-changing events. A lot of my advice and tips here are specific to child-loss and bereavement and what I’ve learned along the way, but can equally apply to any challenging predicament we find ourselves in. If there is any situation that makes you want to run and avoid someone, chances are you can learn from my suggestions. The reality is that we’re all going to find ourselves in difficult situations, now more than ever, when stressors seem to be everywhere.

Ultimately, if we talk about the tough stuff more – even when we’re lost for words – it creates a new space for openness, honesty, and understanding. From this space, not only can we have the best possible relationships with our friends and family, but also play a really important role in someone else’s healing – and how wonderful is it to be a part of that? As we mark another Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I send all my love to Chrissy and John, and to any of you that this awful thing has happened to. And I ask you to remember Aya Shawe because she existed, even just for a little bit, and I like to say her name. 

Natasha Hatherall is the CEO and Founder of PR Agency, TishTash. Follow her @tashhatherall on Instagram.

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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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Happy Women posing for a photo

How to Find the Right People in Your Life

Say goodbye to negativity!

We are all social animals, but as much as we enjoy spending time networking, interacting, and making vacation plans with friends and family, there comes a point where we need space and time to spend alone – being around others can sometimes be conflicting, draining, or even depressing. In essence, everything is energy, and who you spend time with determines the energetic vibrations you carry around you, be it negative or positive.

The kind of effect a person has on you depends on how similar your level of consciousness and your vibrational frequency is in comparison to the other person. It can pave the way for either a meaningful or a toxic relationship. Do you often feel exhausted or maybe bored after speaking to a friend for prolonged periods of time? Does it get so difficult to spend time with your partner that you end up craving personal space instead? Do you have family members who barely allow you to make decisions, hampering your growth in the process?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are probably experiencing a conflict of interest, and the other party is likely becoming toxic for your mental health. Every relationship dynamic is different, yet having said that, we are all unique in our own way and how we perceive our reality. Being around like-minded people can greatly shape your reality and set you up for success. Being around people who keep you begging for more, make you feel miserable, or leave very little room for understanding is bound to hamper your growth and well-being whilst they ensure theirs is in check. 

As the famous saying by self-help guru Jim Rohn goes, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Helpful Tips In Finding The Right People

These core people in your life determine the life you’re living. For instance, studies have shown that a person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57% if they had a friend who became obese. Similarly, another study found that happy and unhappy people visibly cluster around each other, and that having a friend around you when you are happy can increase your happiness by 25%. Thus, having the right relationships with the right people has a direct effect on your overall health and wellness.  

As simple as it may be, the right people in your life won’t judge you, make you feel uncomfortable or guilty, or take advantage of your nature. They’ll respect your privacy, encourage you, often share the same likes or dislikes as you, and (most importantly) hold the same level of consciousness as you. So how do you attract the right people into your life? Read on.

1. Know Yourself Well 

A lot of issues and conflicts happen due to lack of or improper communication. It’s only when you know how to communicate with your mind and heart that you can do the same with others – only when you learn to love yourself can you learn to love others. At the same time, it also helps to know your personality type or traits as they can be indicators for why and how you attract people in your life. Ask yourself the following: Am I adventurous, introverted, mellow, or straightforward? What are the traits I value most? What hobbies or priorities in my life are non-negotiable?  

2. Curb Your Time with the Wrong People

People are not necessarily wrong – it’s just that their way of life might not coincide with yours, and that’s okay. A good way to cut out the wrong people from your life is to first cut them out of your mind. Remember: where attention goes, energy flows. Don’t give them your mind space. Whenever a thought comes to your mind that involves a negative person, refocus your attention and think of someone who you admire or consider a positive influence.

Also, let go of feelings of hate and revenge. When you hate someone, you are automatically bound to think about them a lot, which is counterproductive. The best thing to do is to let go of these negative feelings and make room for positive energy to freely flow. Similarly, if you wish to distance yourself from someone, try to minimise your interactions with them. Keep it to a bare minimum and, with time, those relationships will either get stronger and better or simply fade out. Rest assured, whatever happens will happen for the best. 

Tips In Finding The Right People

3. Start Putting Yourself First

As you let go of your layers, get vulnerable with yourself and accept yourself for who you are. You will realise that being you comes first and what follows is being with like-minded people who match your vibe. You aren’t required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.

Often, this feeling of choosing yourself can feel lonely, so we tend to choose temporary moments of happiness with people we barely like. But life works in mysterious ways and the moment you strive for what you truly want (even at the cost of others), life starts rewarding you with what you truly deserve. For all you know, you might find out that the right people have always been around you – maybe just not in your inner circle.

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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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Are You Considering Adoption in the UAE?

Here’s what you need to know.

There are many ways to start a family, and there’s no one way that is better than another. While every prospective parent has their own reasons for choosing to adopt a child, it all comes down to a common thread: it’s a way to build a family. While the reasons to adopt a child are many, a common one behind many couples’ decision to adopt is infertility struggles.

In the case of single parents, it is simply being ready to start a family. Adoption provides those hoping to be parents the opportunity to experience parenthood and raise a child they wouldn’t have otherwise. It can be a means to build strong, meaningful relationships in life and benefit a child with the much-needed stability of a loving home and family. Adoption – the legal transfer of all responsibility for a child from biological parents to adoptive parents, including legal status as a family member – usually involves a long, thoughtful process to assess a couple’s suitability to raise a child. It also requires deep, personal commitment and self-knowledge before beginning the process.

Generally, the first question to consider is whether you meet the specific legal requirements to adopt in a given jurisdiction – this involves a home study by authorities. Next, examine whether you have the financial stability to provide for a child, are able to afford the adoption process itself, are ready for the emotional rollercoaster of being a parent, and have the utmost clarity on your reasons for bringing a child into your home. Here are the top things to know if you’re looking to adopt in the UAE.

What You Need to Know

First things first: adoption – in the modern sense and how it is understood in the West – is not legal in the UAE as it does not exist as a concept in the local legal system, which follows Sharia law when it comes to family matters. Under these laws, adoption is not strictly forbidden (haram) in Islam, but it is forbidden to change a child’s name and parentage on the grounds that it interferes with maintaining genealogical records, inheritance, and gender segregation rules as the child reaches maturity.

“Adoption in the UAE under UAE law is not allowed,” says Diana Hamade, founder and managing partner at Diana Hamade Attorneys at Law. “It is, in fact, prohibited based on the Sharia principle. However, there is a type of fostering that is allowed under UAE law and that is Federal Law No. 1 of 2012, which relates to the custody of children of unknown parentage.” Participating in the fostering programme is only open to local families who fulfil specific criteria set out by the law, and expats may not foster Emirati children. 

Generally, an adopted child is both given the adoptive parents’ family name and granted inheritance under the forced heirship laws of the state. However, children cannot be adopted in this way in the UAE in accordance with the principles of Sharia, according to Hamade. Under Federal Law No. 1 of 2012, they can be looked after or taken care of by a custodian family in context of the Islamic principle of fostering orphans and children of unknown parentage. Though the law uses terms such as ‘adoption’ and ‘adopted child’, it is formulated in line with Sharia law and Emirati customs, and clearly lays out the legal, social, moral, and financial responsibilities and qualifying criteria for parents fostering children. 

How Does It Work?

However, legal experts say there are options for expats looking to adopt in the UAE. “The advice that we give to clients who wish to adopt is to adopt outside the UAE and bring in their children with their documents, proving that they are the children of their parents, and no issues will [ever] be raised in regard to these children,” says Hamade.

Family lawyers advise UAE-based couples looking to adopt a child to work with legal and adoption professionals in order to figure out which type of adoption would work best for them and complete the rigorous adoption process overseas – including the very crucial home study. Following the extensive process, they are then advised to gather and attest the relevant documents and make necessary preparations to bring the child home.

The final step is to register the adoption and apply for the child’s residence in the UAE, after which they can be considered as parents of the child. Faraz Salat, legal consultant at Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy, briefly outlines the process. In Dubai, a couple that has adopted a child outside the UAE must do the following.

  1. Approach the Dubai Humanitarian Cases Department, which is administered by the Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
  2. Present the adoption documents obtained overseas for the child when making an application for the child’s residency.

The Dubai Humanitarian Cases Department will then assess the obtained adoption documents and determine whether or not to grant UAE residency to the child and allow the parents to legally identify as the parents of the child.

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

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