PMS is often an unwelcome but inevitable accompaniment to periods. However, some people experience particularly bad symptoms that can thoroughly disrupt day-to-day life. Painkillers are the most common go-to treatment for PMS symptoms, however there are some powerful natural remedies for PMS including natural botanicals that can ease PMS just as well, if not better, than manufactured chemicals and consequently are better for your body overall. This article explores the four best natural remedies for PMS and ingredients you can use to combat PMS and how to use them effectively so that you can stop dreading ‘that time of the month’.
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4 key natural ingredients
Chaste tree berries, evening primrose, red clover and Dong Quai are four natural ingredients and powerful naturl remedies for PMS which can be used individually or combined in a tea or tonic to help with pain, mood swings and headaches. Although you can buy over the counter medication, these botanicals contain an active natural ingredient which can be purchased and can be used as a natural product by itself.
How to make
To use these natural remedies for PMS, firstly, to make a tea which combines all 4 of the above ingredients you will need; 2 cups of organic peppermint tea, 2 tablespoons of organic chaste tree berries, 2 tablespoons of dong quai and 2 tablespoons of black haw. Now for the easy bit; all you need to do is blend the ingredients together and store in an airtight container and your prep is done! When it comes to using the tea, what you need to do is use 2 tablespoons for a pot and one teaspoon for a cup and drink it hot as a tea. Pour boiling water into the pot or cup and let it brew for 2-4 minutes then drink once cool enough to do so. Do this every morning and night a few days before your period is due and during to ensure you get the best benefits. Alternatively, you can store it in the fridge and have it as a shot, again every morning and night before and during your period. This method is perfect for when you’re on the go and don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea.
The power of evening primrose
As aforementioned, these natural remedies for PMS can also be used individually to treat isolated symptoms of PMS. For example, evening primrose oil can be purchased in easy to swallow vitamin form which you can take orally. This can be incorporated into your daily vitamin intake, and you can take in the morning or evening with food for the best results. Alternatively, evening primrose oil can also be purchased as an oil, 15 drops of which (1ml) can be taken daily with food. Evening primrose oil is specifically good for treating mood swings which is a common symptom of PMS, furthermore this natural ingredient can also be highly beneficial for those going through menopause, as mood swings can also be a severe symptom here too.
Spotlight on red clover and dong quai
In addition, red clover and dong quai can also be made into individual teas. Red clover is highly beneficial in maintaining estrogen levels which can be disrupted during PMS and your period. The same method can be applied here, simply fill a jar with red clover blossoms and fill to the top with boiling water. Let this brew for 4-10 hours then strain and enjoy 2-4 cups a day. Dong quai is excellent when dealing with cramps and bloating, arguably two of the worst symptoms of PMS. Dong quai is alternatively known as female ginseng as it is widely used to treat female reproductive health problems including PMS as well as the menopause. Dong quai can be found in supplement form which can be taken orally, however if you are looking for a homemade remedy, you can also make Dong quai tea. Dried Dong quai root can be purchased from a wide range of health stores and herbalists and you can boil the root for 2 to 4 minutes then strain to make your own homemade Dong quai tea.
A great tip which can be applied to all of the above remedies for PMS is to spice up your tea and add other flavours to make the tea more to your taste. Some other naturally sweet ingredients include liquorice, cinnamon, ginger, verbena and lemon.
In conclusion, there are many natural remedies for PMS and alternatives which you can use to help alleviate symptoms of PMS as well as the menopause. They are easy to use and have the same if not stronger effects on your symptoms. It’s called mother nature for a reason!
It’s no big secret that sleep is a crucial part of our health and wellbeing. It’s a key component of human life that we need to survive – like food and water. But in a world of digital distraction, rising mental health issues and an increase in working from home. In our 40s, many of us struggle with disturbed sleep, with sleep often the first element of our daily life to get neglected and to suffer.
If you are suffering from disturbed sleep, whether ongoing or for a short period of time, it’s important to remember that things can change and that it is possible to get the rest your mind and body needs to thrive.
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Wh sleep so important for your health
Sleep helps the mind and body repair, regenerate and recover. It allows us to wake up feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to take on the day ahead. And not only does a good night’s rest add a positive spring to our step – it has many other benefits too.
Sleep is essential for various aspects of brain function. Cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance are all negatively affected by sleep deprivation. In turn, this affects our decision-making and problem-solving skills, ability to focus, memory and general day-to-day motivation.
And on the physical side?
Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy, and a lack of it can result in you struggling to fight off common infections. Sleep also supports the healing of your heart and blood vessels, the repairing of cells and tissues, whilst maintaining a healthy balance of hormones.
We know that sleep helps the body in many ways and is critical for our overall health. And we also know the damage that sleep deficiency can have on our health and wellbeing instantly and over time.
As individuals, we all have a unique pattern and requirements when it comes to sleep. And it’s all about finding what works for you! But the general recommendation for adults is between 7-9 hours a day.
5 top tips for a better night’s sleep
1) Limit caffeine and alcohol
Enjoy a coffee or two in the morning? Go for it! But try to avoid drinking much past lunchtime, as caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. If you do crave an afternoon coffee, try decaf as an alternative.
Alcohol is also one to be avoided or limited before bed to reduce the chance of disturbed sleep. It may assist with feeling sleepy at first, but is known to disrupt sleep patterns, increase snoring and reduce night time melatonin production. And we already know that’s vital for a good night’s sleep!
2) Add exercise into your daily routine
We all know the positive effect exercising can have on our mind and body. But did you know it can improve our sleep too? Not only does it increase sleep quality but it decreases the risk of excessive weight gain, which can be a cause for sleep deprivation in itself. Whether it’s going for a walk, jog, swim or doing yoga – make sure it’s something you enjoy!
3) Reduce screen time before bed
With most of us keeping our phones by our bed, it’s tempting to indulge in screentime until we choose to close our eyes. But blue light emitted by our phones and laptops trick our body into thinking it’s daytime – reducing hormones like melatonin, which help us relax and get into a deep sleep and and can result in disturbed sleep. Try to eliminate any screentime in the hour before bed. Use this hour as an opportunity to read, relax and indulge in some self-care. You deserve it!
4) Get comfortable in bed
This may seem like an obvious one to some, but our bed and environment must support us in our mission to sleep. If you wake up feeling uncomfortable, you may need a new mattress and/or pillows. Always invest in a good quality mattress and bedding – we spend a third of our life in our bed!
5) Take high-quality natural supplements
The Herbtender’s Doze & Dream (The Sleep Mix), is our tranquil adaptogen blend that promotes uninterrupted rest when you need to switch off and recharge. Designed to gently ease you into sleep, our bedtime supplement sees Ashwagandha, one of the few non-stimulating adaptogens, join forces with calming Reishi, as well as Lavender and Chamomile. Better nights lead to better days!
Hold the phone everybody! Our Tried and Tested feature is back by popular demand this summer. If you want to know what products have landed on our desk that are worth checking out then read on friends as we give our Tried and Tested stamp of approval to all things beauty, wellness and food that we have fallen in love with. This summer we’ve been….
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Vibrant Skin Serums
Vibrant Skin is a natural skincare brand, founded by two lovely sisters – Sarah Owen & Kelly Owen – after a personal journey that took them on a quest to discover exceptional, active, and natural ingredients that would support and rebuild the skin. They are on a mission to show people how beautiful their skin can be, and their serums are science-driven, brilliant quality, evidence-based and unlock nature’s powerful healing properties providing intrinsic protection and deep hydration. We’ve tried all three serums – Energising Vitamin Serum, Time Repair Serum, and Hydra B5 & Hyaluronic Acid Serum – and can truly say that they have left our skin looking healthy and radiant, leaving us feeling fabulously empowered! The Vibrant Skin Serum range starts at £40, discover their products here.
Glo32 Teeth Whitening System with Coconut Oil
Over 40 years on the planet does not for white teeth maketh. Our previous experience with tooth whiteners has been HARSH which is why they have never previously made it into our Tried and Tested feature. But we have to say we love Glo 32’s Advance Teeth Whitening System with Coconut Oil. Formulated with Coconut Oil for a healthy and gentler way to achieve a whiter, brighter smile. We used these easy-to-apply strips every day for a month and our teeth were visibly whiter. No need to get your teeth done professionally. Just purchase one of their home whitening kits instead! Glo 32’s Advance Teeth Whitening System with Coconut Oil costs £20 and is available from Bootsand Amazon.
The DA Group’s Luxury Hair Oil
Hair can dry out in extreme temperatures and with increased UV exposure in the summer months or while you’re on holiday. If your locks are looking anything but luscious it’s time to give them some extra TLC. The DA Group’s Luxury Hair Oil is perfect for doing just that. Made from ethically sourced, organic ingredients, we’ve been using their pre-wash treatment once a week resulting in noticeably smooth and softened hair. Their luxurious blend of oils nourishes, treats, and repairs your hair from root to tip and is perfect for taking care of dry hair during the summer months. The DA Group’s Luxury Hair Oil costs £19.99 and is available to buy from thedagroup.com.
Lola’s Lashes Rose Quartz Magnetic Lashes
Because you’re never too old to wear lashes. If you are no idea how to wear lashes (much like us), then Lola’s lashes are a good place to start. Their Rose Quartz Magnetic Lashes will have you cheating on your mascara. Ridiculously easy to apply without any faff, they are the perfect style to complement an everyday or going out-out makeup with just enough subtle lift, length and volume to enhance your eyes. They’re so quick and easy to apply that you can even wear them daily – even if you are completely cack-handed like us! Lola’s Lashes Rose Quartz Magnetic Lashes cost £20 and are available from lolaslashes.co.uk.
Dr Paw Paw Tinted True Coral Balm
Remember when Dr Paw Paw first entered our lives and we went absolutely mad for it? Well, they’re making waves again – this time with their Tinted True Coral Balm. The perfect summer do-it-all. This small but mighty baby can be used to as a lip balm, lip tint, cheek tint, highlighter and eyeshadow. Full of pawpaw (papaya) fruit, aloe vera and olive oil, it’s suitable for all skin types and skin tones including sensitive skin, and subtle peach pink colour. It hydrates and nourishes and is the perfect way to either enhance your natural lip colour or build a bolder look. It’s become our summer go-to and there isn’t a day we haven’t been using this little multi-purpose hero balm. Dr Paw Paw Tinted True Coral Balmcosts £6 and is available to buy from Waitrose, Marks & Spencer from 4th August and www.drpawpaw.com.
skinChemists Youth Series & Hada Labo Tokyo Face Sun Creams
You know one thing that drives us mad in the summer months? Having to apply a sun cream over our moisturiser because our current one either doesn’t include an SPF or has one but it isn’t high enough. But hurrah that’s a thing of the past now thanks to two products we’ve recently discovered.
The first is skinChemists Youth Series Wrinkle Killer, an SPF 50 Sun Protection Day Cream that goes beyond being a typical moisturiser with added SPF 50 (also available with SPF 30). The new range offers intense hydration, as well as protection from the sun, helping you beat wrinkles and enjoy summertime. Years in the making, skinChemist’s SPFs are unscented and won’t leave white residue, making it perfect for all skin tones and no weird white face afterwards!
The second is Hada Labo’s Face Sun Cream, a water-resistant moisturising sunscreen lotion SPF50 specifically for the face. We love how light this lotion is – it’s non-greasy, quickly-absorbed and has a dry-touch consistency that can be used even on wet skin. Youth Series Wrinkle Killer, SPF 50 and SPF 30 Sun Protection Day Cream RRP £34.99 is available at www.skinchemists.com or www.feelunique.com ; Hada Labo Tokyo Face Sun Cream SPF50 now £11.29 at Superdrug.
Eating and drinking…
Good4U Salad Topper
Summer is all about salads, but what if we told you there was away to elevate your salads to seriously satisfying levels? We recently discovered the Good4U Salad Topper range and are firm Tried and Tested fans. Their range of salad toppers are not only designed to power up the nutritional value of your salad, but they also level it up both in terms of flavour and texture. With Garlic & Chilli, Super Seeds, Garlic & Herb and Caesar Crumbles, there’s pretty much not a day that goes by where we don’t use these on our meals. And yes, they can be used on so much more than just salads too! Good4U Salad Toppers cost £2 for a packet and are available from leading supermarkets and direct via their online store.
OHMG Magnesium Water
Looking for that perfect summer drink to take the edge off? No we don’t mean a G&T. We’re talking about OHMG Magnesiums Water! OHMG Magnesium Water is a delicious range of still and sparkling water infused with Magnesium, fruit extracts and botanicals. 100% natural, containing no sugars, no sweeteners and no calories. Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral and an essential nutrient responsible for more than 300+ functions inside our body. Studies have shown that up to 75% of us are depleted in Magnesium. Meanwhile, every can of OHMG Magnesium Water contains 56mg. So guess what we have been reaching for some Tried and Tested relaxation canned daily….A 12 can variety pack of OHMG Magnesium Water costs £23.99 and is available from ohmgwater.com.
Sheese Cheese Alternative
Our experience of cheese alternatives has so far left us yearning for the real stuff. That is until we locked our chops around Sheese’s dairy free cheeses! Somehow they have absolutely nailed it in terms of taste and texture – so it’s no wonder they are award-winning. But what we love about these guys is that they go so much beyond the traditional cheese slice or grated packs. While these are great, for us the real stars of the show are their Blue Cheese and Wenselydale editions which are just so ridiculously moreish. We are not sure how they achieved such wizadry with a base of coconut oil but at this point in time we don’t even care! If you are looking to cut back on or replace dairy in your diet then it’s Sheese for the win. Sheese is available at all good supermarkets. Prices typically start at £2.50 for a pack. Check out their range here.
We all love a good snack, but we also know that finding snacks that are healthy, yummy and won’t leave you feeling hateful thereafter are hard to come by. That is unless you know about Nick’s who have quite simply made snacking better. Their range of chocolate bars are sugar free, gluten free, palm oil free and pretty much guilt free. We countdown the hours to our 3pm rendez-vous with our stash of Nick’s Bars and currently crushing on their Peanuts N Fudge Bar and protein bar range big time. Currently with 20% off site wide check out the Nick’s range. here.
Eat Well for Less: Happy & Healthy
Food is getting expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip on eating well. Despite the ever-increased basket pricing of our weekly shops, there is still a way to eat well on a budget. Including simple, common sense advice which many have come to expect from the BBC Series Eat Well For Less this book is packed full of light lunches, simple suppers and weekend nosh that are quick, easy and won’t break the bank. It has helped us revisit some old classics over at Tried and Tested but also try out new spins and takes also with ingredients we already have knocking around in our fridge or kitchen. Perfect for knocking up something without having to spend money on extra ingredients you will only use once which is the problem with so many other recipes we find! Eat Well for Less: Happy & Healthy is currently available from Amazon for £8 (RRP £14.99)
Aktar at Home
Let’s face it – eating out has become astronomically expensive and takeaways are not exactly cheap these days. That said, we love a good curry and have found the perfect solution from Aktar At Home, freezable curry boxes by Aktar Islam, Michelin star chef which makes for a generous and delicious feast. All Meals are freezable so you can have your fill one day and more another, and another after that. A Mixed Box includes a whole variety of mouth-watering curries including two chicken, one mutton, one vegetarian/vegan, and an abundance of pilau rice and the most epic naans we’ve ever seen! We loved every mouthful and will be coming back for more. A Mixed Box Deal costs £70 and is available from aktarathome.co.uk.
VAHDAM® Tumeric Teas
The health benefits of tumeric tea are seemingly endless, which is why we are big Tried and Tested fans. But then add in the mix a climate and plastic-neutral element and premium-quality Indian turmeric with superfoods like Ginger, Ashwagandha, Moringa, and an array of spices which are 100% natural, pure and caffeine free that you get with VAHDAM and now you’re really talking. Stemming from Ayurveda, turmeric has been known for its powerful healing properties for over 5,000 years. From being a fix for seasonal colds to healing wounds, providing anti-inflammatory benefits and boosting immunity, turmeric has a myriad of health-promoting benefits. We are especially in love with VAHDAM’s Ashwagandha Herbal Tea Bags – which includes the ancient herb renowned for helping the body manage stress, perfect for unwinding with before sleep and their Tumeric Spiced Tea Bags which are like a hug in a mug. The full range of VAHDAM Teas is available at hollandandbarrett.com, Amazon and other online retailers from £4.99.
Heaven Collagen Drops
We wouldn’t be a day without collagen supplementation which in our view is an absolute must when you hit your 40s. Cue Heaven Collagen Drops, so intensely concentrated that you only need to add a few drops to your morning glass of water. Super easy to use, you can either ingest them or also mix in with your daily creams for healthy glowing skin as well as lustrous shiny hair. Founder of Heaven Skincare Deborah Mitchell has been creating and testing these potent skincare supplements since 2013 as part of her Inner Beauty collection. Thanks to a clever blend of high levels of marine collagen, glucosamine, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and Biotin they leave you looking – and feeling – Tried and Tested fabulous! A two week supply of Heaven Collagen Drops costs £27.50 and is available to purchase from Heaven Skincare.
My Best Pharm supplements
Not all supplements are created equal – something we know only too well from first hand experience. But recently we discovered My Best Pharm – the result of a cooperation of doctors, pharmacists and dieticians for a more 360 degree approach to supplementation. Their products have an innovative, modern composition, combining the latest, advanced production technologies with many years of tradition and experience in the use of substances of natural origin using clinically proven, patent-protected ingredients from all over the world back up by strong medical evidence – unlike so many other ranges on the market! We have in particular really enjoyed their MyBestComplement supplement (£32.90) which is a powerful blend of 13 valuable ingredients including oils, plant extracts, antioxidants and vitamins with powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects to help bolster immunity, support brain function, achieve healthier looking skin as well as supporting the heart and circulatory system, liver and digestive function and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels.The perfect Tried and Tested do-it-all! Find out more about My Best Pharm’s range of supplements at mybestpharm.uk.
Do Not Age supplements
We all want to live longer, feel more youthful, healthy and energised as we age but how do we go about doing that? Do Not Age is on a mission to extend healthy lifespan for as many people as possible through their range of supplements. Using the latest information from leading longevity researchers they develop both products and advice, then distribute them to all that want to live healthier for longer. Our Tried and Tested readers may not have heard of a lot of the names of the products developed by their research team, but having tried and tested some of them including NMN which helps to fight inflammation associated with aging and SIRT6 Activator® which promotes DNA repair and supports genomic stability we were hugely impressed by how quickly you feel your best self from taking them – the increased energy levels are palpable that we are pretty much betting on Do Not Age to secure our newfound longevity. Find out more about the Do Not Age range of supplements at donotage.org.
Exercise is an important form of self-care for us over at Tried and Tested, as is doing what you love! If like us you are missing your former dance floor glory days then this one’s for the raver lurking deep inside of you. Clubbercise is fitness meets clubbing where you’ll burn 600+ cals in ONE sweaty, euphoria-inducing Tried and Tested hour. It’s no wonder that Clubbercise is making waves in the fitness community, combining full body workouts with banging soundtracks had us bouncing around with our hands in the air complete with glow sticks. to become all the rage amongst fitness fans and ravers across the world. Combining toning, plyometric and combat moves that are easy-to-follow with high or low-impact options for all fitness levels we were in sweaty fitness heaven thanks to the soundtrack of club anthems including our favourite 90′s classics. Clubberciseoffer over 2,000 classes worldwide with options for kids, teens, and families starting at £5 per session. Find your nearest Clubbercise class here.
Let us know which of these Tried and Tested items you’d love to try too in a comment below!
A well thought out skincare routine is a good start but unfortunately not enough to get you that desirable, youthful, lit-from-within looking skin. One piece of the puzzle that can help you to get there is having the right diet which includes anti-ageing foods, among other things.
To find out more, Beauty Daily by Clarins consulted with two leading nutritionists on how to eat your way to healthy-looking skin and asked for their recommendations on the best anti-ageing foods to keep in mind, and tips and recipes for a more youthful diet.
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So what food group qualify as anti-ageing?
Although there isn’t one ‘fix all’ food group that holds the secret to anti-ageing, The British Dietetic Association (BDA) says the best and most proven way to fight against skin ageing is by eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
“Unfortunately, whilst it isn’t possible to stop the ageing process in its tracks, we can be more aware of our diet to make sure we are doing what we can to help us age well,” says Jemma Joel, Registered Nutritionist and NHS Health Coach.
Joel suggests including a range of nutrients in the diet, not just those that are high in antioxidants. “Always choose whole foods where possible, as well as high sources of protein and healthy fats.”
She also advises: “Be mindful of your intake of processed and high sugar food, as sugar can impact breakouts because of the blood sugar spikes increasing inflammation and sebum production.”
Research has shown that one of the adverse effects of eating too much sugar is premature ageing. This is because sugar can damage your skin through a process called glycation, which damages collagen, and elastin (which are the proteins which are responsible for skin’s plumpness.)
There is good news though – to make these changes to your diet, it doesn’t have to be scary and it’s not necessary to make them all at once. You can begin by making better choices when loading your plate to ensure that you are swapping out more processed foods for healthier options where possible. Think about these changes as an investment in your health, rather than a restriction.
5 Anti-Ageing Foods That Are Approved By Nutritionists
Nishtha Patel a Clinical Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner shares her top 5 anti-ageing food recommendations.
“Eat the rainbow of different coloured plant-based foods daily and rotate your food. This creates diversity in your gut microbiome and a healthy gut is a key to good health. They are also loaded with different antioxidants and other compounds which are crucial for hair, skin, eyes, nails, brain, heart health and of course ageing,” Patel recommends.
Evidence shows that blueberries are great at supporting the skin’s ability to fight inflammation which related to skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and premature ageing. When out shopping, try and but wild blueberries where possible as they contain approimately 33% more brain-healthy anthocyanins than ordinary blueberries.
“Although wild blueberries are harder to get your hands on, they are richer in anthocyanin (more so than ordinary blueberries) which are the chemicals which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Wild blueberries are fantastic for the brain, heart and skin, but if you’re unable to get the wild ones, try other organic berries as they help work towards the same results. Patel explains.
Avocados are a hugely rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds because they are packed with fibre, healthy fats, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate, which all play a significant part in promoting healthy skin.
It’s no surprise that avocados are such a popular ingredient in diets as not only do they present a myriad of health benefits but they are delicious for both sweet and savoury recipes, so there are plenty of dishes for you to get your teeth into.
3. Oily fish
Fish is anti-inflammatory which is an excellent source of essential fatty acids and omega 3, both of which are vital for healthy skin and hair, as well as your heart and brain.
Patel says: “Wild Alaskan salmon is considered the best but you can of course eat any oily fish in order for your skin to benefit. An easy to remember acronym is S.M.A.S.H.: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sandine, Herring. This can remind you of the best choices to make when it comes to oily fish.”
4. Sweet Potato
When you are looking to reduce signs of ageing on your skin, sweet potato is one of the best foods to start with as it’s full of beta-carotene, which helps to prevent early ageing.
A study published by the American Journal of Public Health found that people who eat more fruit and vegetables have healthier, glowing skin and that is due to carotenoids, which are the orange/red pigments found in certain fruits and vegetables.
Carotenoids are pigments responsible for bright red, yellow and orange colours in many fruits and vegetables so load up on them if you want radiant skin.
“The orange colour comes from beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A and is important for healthy elasticity for the skin and for cell turnover, as that is what helps to keep you looking young,” says Patel.
Many studies report that beetroot, especially when in the form of a juice supplement, protects against oxidative damage to DNA, lipid and protein structures. It is great for the blood, heart, and brain too.
Pro tip: “Whenever I cook, I try to add as many vegetables and spices into my meals as possible,” Patel says.
She adds: “Herbs and spices account for plant-based ingredients in your diet. The more plants and plant-based food you eat, the more you feed your gut microbes.
These are the tiny bacteria in the gut that produce prebiotics which are fuel for the healthy bacteria (probiotics) living in the digestive tract. Furthermore, vegetables are high in fibre, so they also act as a giant brush gently sweeping out the colon.”
Nutrition coach Joel says her favourite nutrient-dense, delicious recipe recommendation would be “a balanced colourful bowl of goodness.”
“When making one of my bowls I like to add avocado, diced sweet potato, edamame beans, shredded radish, and a couple of tablespoons of plain hummus. The beauty of making these bowls is that they are so versatile, and you can amend them to fit in with your preferences.”
I didn’t expect to be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer at 47. Whilst I knew there was a small possibility, I didn’t really expect my cancer would return along with an incurable diagnosis. But here we are.
If we know anything, it’s that life often throws us curve balls, this one being the biggest, shittiest one you could ever imagine. Being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer is unimaginable and something I still struggle to believe, even though I know it’s very real. As I walked out the hospital I remember telling myself and those I loved that I would beat this, that if anyone can I would. That I would defy the odds and live with this for a long time. This became my mantra and one I still tell myself most days.
As hard as it is to imagine, life goes on. Living with cancer is far from easy, but this diagnosis has driven me to try and live more vividly and fully than I had before. I may be diagnosed with terminal breast cancer but right now I’m well and not ready to go anywhere.
It takes an army to live your best life when life gives you lemons. Here’s some of the ways I cope:
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I got busy living. Embracing life, enjoying the little things. I love my adventures and intend to live big.
This work is never ending. I believe I can do anything I set my mind to. It applies more now than ever before. Facing my fears, choosing my beliefs and letting go of those that don’t serve me. All of this work is central to my determination and belief that I can thrive with stage 4 cancer.
Do your own research, read books. Make sense of your cancer and take control based on what works for you.
Focusing on all the reasons I want to keep living, rather than the fear of dying. Looking forward. To the experiences and adventures I’m yet to have. My husband. My family. My friends. My business. Early on, I was so terrified, I couldn’t imagine life six months out. Eventually once the dust settles I just started focusing on living instead.
They are indicators not inevitabilities. There are exceptions to every rule. All we can do is walk our own journey, and be grateful and determined to defy the odds
Understand my disease
I spent a long time reading and researching different protocols so I kew my options. I have tried to understand what my body is trying to tell me. How to nourish myself, to appreciate, to let go. I try and take it as an opportunity to change the way I treat my body and the environment around me.
Focus on healing
I have also learnt that maybe this journey isn’t about finding a cure. A magic bullet. It’s about healing. The type of healing that never stops. Everything I do is about trying to heal my mind and body. There are so many options. The important thing is to trust the decisions you make and believe in yourself. My life has taken on a new normal, and whilst it doesn’t fit my old view of what my life would look like, it brings different joys and appreciations every day.
I’m only a year into my stage 4 diagnosis. As you can imagine, it’s been A LOT. It’s a process of continuous learning, about myself, my disease, my healing. My focus is on filling my life with love and adventures and creating something amazing as a legacy.
So when life gives you lemons, shake yourself off, take a deep breath and make shit happen.
Sara Cohen is founder of luxe sustainable womenswear brand www.hakinakina.com. Having alreadyrecovered from breast cancer once, she was in remission for several years, until last April when she found her cancer had returned and was by definition terminal. 5 years ago, having recently recovered from cancer she was looking for swimwear that suited her active lifestyle and offered the high level of protection she needed to cover up her radiation burns. She was left with minimal options; so when she moved to New Zealand she decided to take matters into her own hands. Armed with a background in marketing and 5 years in women’s wear, she opened her own business and a line of swimwear to give women the freedom to play without compromising comfort, beauty or the environment. Find out more at hakinakina.com or connect on Instagram @hakinakina.active.
Remember when we thought we would have it all nailed in our forties? Remember when we walked into the kitchen and actually remembered what we walked into the kitchen for; and didn’t have to walk out and back in again seventy billion times to remember that all we wanted was just a cup of coffee? Feeling perimenopausal and wondering what has become of your life?
The advent of peri-menopause seems to come at the hardest time of our lives – often as we’re navigating children getting older but somehow needing us more. It’s a time when some of us are thinking of running our own business and then BANG here comes the brain fog, the anxiety, the overwhelm and all of the rage.
So what can we do about it?
Well we can try and rock in a corner, but then someone will probably ask us what’s for tea and whether we can give them a lift to their mates round the corner…
So we have no choice but to crack on and just push forward, even if we’re feeling perimenopausal, right?
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You have a choice
Well we do have a choice if we’re feeling perimenopausal. We have a choice to make every day and it comes down to mindset (and in my case a sh!t load of HRT).
Navigating the murky world of feeling perimenopausal, and everything it entails, can become a daily battle and our best asset to learning to swim in the channel is to train our brains, take back control and work really blinking hard to master our mindset.
The key to mastering your mindset when you’re feeling perimenopausal, to rewiring the main frame, is practice and commitment. That’s the key. If we simply think about it, there’s no benefit. We have to act on it. We have to take action. And there is only one person that can do it. It’s the same person who takes all the laundry up the stairs rather than simply stretching across it… That’s right, it’s you. It’s me. It’s the mental mum rocking in the corner still wishing the bloody fairy would turn up with her magic wand and just do something for her.
Our mindset is the key to the door. It is the magic wand (in the absence of a housekeeper, cook and chauffeur). If we can manage and master our mindset then we take back control, and we can stem (some) of the overwhelm, fear and rage that is often part of the Peri-Menopause Party happening in our head.
The first step is simply self-awareness. How often do you get up in the morning and check in with how you’re feeling, what your mood is and how you’re going to approach the day? How often do you give yourself that crucial five minutes in the morning that can then impact your mood for the rest of the day?
As you’re waking up and slurping on that vat-load of coffee each morning, ask yourself how you are feeling; and then here’s the magic, ask yourself how that is going to impact your day and what your triggers are going to be.
So if you’re feeling perimenopausal and knackered, and you acknowledge that you’re more tired than anyone who grew up watching Nightmare on Elm Street, you can understand that you are potentially going to be triggered, and therefore should pause and step away before you totally blow a gasket. (Although I’m not sure Mother Theresa would remain calm during a morning routine school run with a teenager.)
There’s power in choosing your mood, and not letting it choose you when you’re feeling perimenopausal. In the Manchester Mindset I don’t advocate all of the positive affirmation and some high fiving of the mirror to get the day started. I advocate a much more realistic approach. Understand how you are feeling, understand how you are going to react given your mood and pop in a moment to pause.
The power of the pause is the best thing we can gift ourselves (well other than a week on a beach in Thailand with Tom Hardy). By stopping, by pausing and by giving ourselves a chance to process, we stand a better chance of managing our mood and our reactions and triggers.
Our brains have something called the default mode network – it’s where all of our experiences are processed, and it only comes into play when we are in active rest.
Science is very clear on the amount of rest we need: it’s 42 per cent. That’s the percentage of time your body and brain need you to spend resting. And that is about 10 hours out of every 24. Yep – none of that ‘I only need four hours’ sleep malarkey’.
Ladies, we need to be in a state of rest for 10 hours out of 24 so that we can function and fly. It’s simple; if you consistently don’t take the 42 per cent, the 42 per cent will take you. It will sneak up on you, it will hunt you down and it will pull you under – so give yourself some time back to pause, to process, to rest.
Third, and finally, there is power in a good routine and a plan. There is freedom in routine and rituals, particularly when you’re feeling perimenopausal.
Find yourself a routine in the morning and stick to it – no I don’t mean get up at 5am for a HIIT workout. I mean get yourself a cup of coffee in peace before the shouting begins. A big benefit of a routine is that it signals to the brain that it’s an automatic response, which means the brain then has increased mental resources for other tasks. Eliminating the need to constantly make decisions about a particular set of activities reduces “cognitive load”.
Creating predictability reduces stress, which in turn can give your brain more energy to concentrate on other tasks.
In a nutshell, once you decide to do something, it frees up your brain power and you get more sh!t done. Find your routine and you will give yourself some headspace – which is what we all crave during these bonkers years.
Oh – and have a bloody good shout and a swear when you need to. Because let’s face it, we’re perfectly imperfect.
Sarah Knight, founder of Mind The Gap Academy, for consideration for any profiling slots and any features surrounding motherhood and mindset. Sarah is full of practical tips about how to rewire the brain, establish new habits and shift mindset, as well as juggle the menopause, being a mum and running a business.
With over 20 years experience in business, Sarah specialises in providing tailored training and coaching programmes to individuals and organisations through her academy, Mind the Gap, to help them mind the gap between running a business, managing a business and staying sane!
Sarah Knight is founder of Mind The Gap Academy. She specialising in providing tailored training and coaching programmes to individuals and organisations through her academy, Mind the Gap, to help them mind rewire the brain, establish new habits and shift mindset. You can follow Sarah at www.instagram.com/mindthegap.academy and learn more about Sarah’s latest online courses by heading to www.mindthegap.academy.
Whether you’re struggling with the perimenopause or menopause, we’re sharing five important ways to cope courtesy of Vitaminology – a health tech company reinventing how consumers discover and shop for vitamins helping them discover and compare the best supplements for them.
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5 ways to cope and manage menopause without HRT
Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle coupled with nutritional supplements or botanical therapies offer natural, yet effective strategies to help manage symptoms for many peri-menopausal or menopausal women.
Eat a whole foods, balanced diet
… to help balance hormones. Avoid refined carbohydrates, sugars, processed foods and saturated fats. Opt for a wide variety of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, good quality lean protein and healthy fats. Remember that spicy foods as well as alcohol and caffeine are triggers for hot flushes and night sweats. Eating oily fish 2-3 times a week (think SMASH – salmon, mackerel, anchovies and herring and sardines) will also help to support hormone balance.
…has so many benefits including our ability to cope with the menopause. It supports a healthy weight, cardiovascular function, improved sleep and the ability to cope with stress. Regular exercise doesn’t have to mean hours in the gym (although weight-bearing exercise is known to be extremely beneficial for bone growth and repair, reducing the risk of osteoporosis) so find something that fits into your lifestyle such as a yoga class or a long walk every day.
Keep stress at bay
…and promote calm using self-help techniques such as deep breathing, gentle exercise (ie, walking, Pilates, Yoga, Tai chi), meditation or journaling. Complementary therapies such as acupuncture may also be beneficial when coping with the menopause. A calmer mind will help to achieve a calmer body.
When we sleep our body uses this time to rejuvenate, so good quality sleep is vital when battling menopause symptoms. Try good sleep hygiene techniques such as switching off devices an hour before bedtime, reading or listening to music before going to sleep, taking a hot Epsom salt bath (contains magnesium to help relax the muscles and mind) to help get a good night’s rest. It is super beneficial to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and sleep for 7-8 hours.
Sometimes in life, we need a little extra help – and this is no different when it comes to our health and wellbeing. There are number food supplements that can help with the perimenopause and menopause including multivitamins specifically formulated. In addition to these, a Vitamin B Complex will help to support energy, mood and brain function or try Vitamin E to relieve hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
Whether you are considering HRT or trying to find a suitable alternative, always discuss first with your GP who can advise you of the benefits and risks in your individual case. Consult with a registered Nutritional Therapist who can support you through the menopause with advice on diet, lifestyle and supplementation.
Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet or healthy lifestyle.
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Let’s be straight. When you get the the feeling that there is something wrong down there, there usually is. If you get the feeling that your vagina is unhappy, there are a number of reasons why this might be, and one of them is Bacterial Vaginosis.
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What your vagina it trying to tell you…
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a confusing topic of conversation and 1 in 3 women will get it in their lifetime. Often mistaken for thrush, yet more women in the UK actually suffer from Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) than thrush. They also suffer more often, typically 3-4 times per year and up to 72% of women will get recurrence of BV within 7 months. Yet very few people have heard of BV and typically treat symptoms as thrush.
In a nutshell, BV is misunderstood and mistreated. Let’s try and clear up some of the confusion and take a look at what it really is, how you can keep your vagina healthy and why heading straight out for antibiotics isn’t always the best solution.
What is BV?
So, what is BV? Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by a change in vaginal pH. Bacteria called lactobacilli keep the vagina acidic to prevent other harmful bacteria from growing there. With BV, the temporary shortage of lactobacilli allows bad bacteria to thrive, disrupting pH levels and causing unusual vaginal discharge. BV is a naturally occurring and common condition, it isn’t a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but it can be triggered by sexual intercourse.
The most common symptoms are:
Thin, watery, greyish-white discharge that has a fishy odour which gets stronger after sex or abnormally large amount of discharge
Possible redness and irritation of skin around the vulva
Bear in mind that the symptoms can be very similar to thrush so it’s important to make the correct diagnosis. Experienced Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr. Shazia Malik on behalf of Balance Activ™, a leading women’s intimate healthcare brand, explains, “Unfortunately, the symptoms are very similar to thrush but the treatments should, yet often aren’t, very different. BV comes with the classic itchiness of a yeast infection, so it’s easy for customers to mistake it for thrush. There are some subtle, yet important differences. For example, the discharge associated with thrush tends to be white, thick and curd-like, whereas it is thin, watery and grey if you have BV. Another key difference is that the discharge from thrush is odourless, whereas with BV it has a strong, fishy odour, especially after sex.”
Remember the following about BV:
It isn’t caused by poor hygiene
It’s not an STI
It can still occur even in women who have never had sexual intercourse
Can only be treated with the right diagnosis
Something wrong down there? How to keep your vagina healthy and happy…
With so much confusion around what’s making your vagina unhappy, how do you keep it healthy and happy?
Here are five ways you can help:
Avoid tight pants, thongs and underwear made from Lycra or nylon and instead opt for cotton pants that allow the area to breathe.
Wash the intimate area with warm water or fragrance-free and pH neutral products. Remember the vagina is self-cleaning so douching isn’t good for it.
During your period, change pads and tampons regularly to keep pH levels in check.
If you’ve been to the gym, for a run or done any physical exercise, change out of your sports gear afterwards because sweat is the perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria.
Finally, remember to use protection during sex and with new sexual partner as semen affects the vaginas pH.
Why antibiotics aren’t always the answer if there is something wrong down there…
Dr. Shazia Malik warns that although antibiotics are a therapy option for BV, Public Health England relaunched a national campaign in 2018 to support the government’s efforts to tackle antibiotic resistance. She says, “Evidence also suggests that there’s a strong link between antibiotic use and these later causing thrush, as antibiotics may destroy the good bacteria. Some women suffer from chronic (recurring) bacterial vaginosis; medicine can clear up the infection, but it returns again after a few weeks.
“Treating BV with antibiotic tablets, gels or creams can have side effects and disrupt the natural bacteria in the vagina but now women, particularly those with recurring conditions, are increasingly favouring alternative and natural remedies, which are easily available over the counter.“
The unnecessary use of antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance, a global concern predicted to cause 10 million deaths by 2050, so there has never been a better time to look for a natural alternative.
A natural alternative…
Balance Activ™ is a natural alternative to harsh antibiotics in the successful treatment of BV. Balance Activ™ gel and pessaries are safe and effective at restoring and maintaining the pH of the vagina and should start to work after just one dose.
I won’t lie. The first time I had a mammogram, I really didn’t know what to expect. But being at high risk of developing breast cancer in my lifetime due to the fact I have BRCA1 gene mutation, then well let’s just say I am going to become very familiar with mammograms! But apart from the fact I expected it was some kind of scan, I had little idea about what happens when you have a mammogram.
Having said that, it doesn’t distract from the fact that having a mammogram is not exactly the most pleasant of experiences in my personal opinion just because it does tend to be pretty uncomfortable as your breast tissues gets pulled and manipulated into certain “flatter” positions before it gets positioned into place ready for the scan.
That said I would rather take a mammogram every day of my life rather than having a malignancy undetected in my breasts. The alternative – not knowing the status of your breast tissue and any potential changes and what they may mean, is unthinkable to me.
Do not put your mammogram off
Whatever the pain and discomfort you feel, I want to lay down now how important it is NOT to let this deter you from having your routine mammogram and attending breast cancer screening. All women are invited for a routine mammogram in the UK from age 50 up. If you have an increased risk of breast cancer due to hereditary factors then you should be having a routine mammogram annually from the age of 30 of 40.
Worries about the procedure, along with COVID disruption saw a 44 per cent fall in the number of women screened for the disease nationally in 2020-21 according to NHS England, but mammograms and early diagnosis of cancer can rapidly improve the long-term prognosis and chances of recovery.
If you are worried about having a mammogram, not sure what a mammogram is, or yet to have your first mammogram, here Kate Whittaker, Superintendent Mammographer, at King Edward VII’s Hospital explains all.
I’ve been invited to attend a mammogram. Should I go and what should I expect?
When women turn 50, they will be contacted by the NHS Breast Screening Programme Unit, inviting them for a mammogram. All patients registered as female will be contacted every three years, until they turn 71.
Mammograms are a straightforward, non-invasive short procedure, but increasingly women are missing appointments, or declining to attend their screening. Worries about the procedure, along with COVID disruption, saw a 44 per cent fall in the number of women screened for nationally in 2020-21 according to NHS England. But mammograms and early diagnosis of cancer can greatly improve a patient’s long-term prognosis and chances of recovery – so why should women attend them, and how can they prepare?
Before the appointment
As mentioned above, breast screening can save lives. Identifying and intervening early can dramatically improve the outcomes for breast cancer, but attending a mammogram is obviously a personal choice.
If you do decide to attend and feel nervous about the procedure, try to book an appointment at a time when you’re not going to be rushing around. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask a friend or loved one to take you to the appointment for moral support, and have something nice planned for afterwards that you can look forward to and distract from any worries.
When you have a mammogram, you’ll be asked to undress from the waist up, so try to wear something comfortable that’s easy to take on and off. You’ll always be imaged by a female mammographer, but if you have any queries or concerns, including mobility issues or special requirements, it’s best to contact the screening unit before your appointment. That will allow them to make any necessary changes to your appointment, such as duration or location, as some sites are remote and may not be accessible to disabled service users.
During the mammogram
When you’re ready, you’ll be invited into an x-ray room by the mammographer, who will explain the procedure and answer any questions. Your breast is imaged by gently placing it onto the x-ray machine and applying some compression. This only lasts a few seconds and releases the moment the x-ray has been taken. You’ll have four images taken in total, two on each breast. All you’ll need to do is take a few small steps in front of the machine and raise your arms when asked, to help with the breast positioning in the side images. The whole process is over very quickly, in around five minutes, but keeping still is really important to get an accurate x-ray.
Breast screening can be uncomfortable, or occasionally a little painful for some people, so talking through any concerns with the mammographer can be very useful, you can also tell them to stop at any point if you’re feeling discomfort.
Getting your results
Results will be sent to you by post and they generally take between two and four weeks. A copy will also be sent to your GP for your medical records.
Your results will either say ‘No sign of breast cancer’ or ‘Need further tests’. If you have no sign of breast cancer, you can wait for your next mammogram in three years time, unless you notice any breast changes, including any lumps in your chest or armpit, discharge from your nipple, or an unusual texture on the skin of your breast. Do a check once or twice a month, and contact your GP if you notice any changes or have any concerns about your breasts.
If you need further imaging, don’t panic. Most people who need further tests will not be diagnosed with breast cancer. But if you are worried, you can discuss the appointment with a breast care nurse, who will be able to explain to you the result, and what next steps will be taken.
You’ll be offered an appointment in a screening assessment clinic where you’ll be offered an examination of your breast and sometimes more mammograms, an ultrasound, or sometimes a needle test. Results from these tests normally take around a week. All of this will help the Breast Unit team and your GP to best support you and offer any further investigations and treatment you may require, which, in some cases, can limit the need for invasive treatment, or surgery. So when you receive your next invitation, I’d urge you to come forward and attend your mammogram, or if you notice any breast changes or symptoms in the meantime, speak to your GP to access support as early as possible, which may save.
We hope the above helps you overcome any fears you may have about attending a mammogram screening. Focus on the end game in that when you attend a mammogram, you are doing something amazing for your body and yourself, and empowering yourself with the knowledge you need about any risk factors, warning signs and potential treatment down the line. To find out more about assessing your breast cancer risk see this useful guide over at our friends Breast Cancer Now or speak to your GP.
I’ve suffered with thrush for as long as I can remember. Since having the kids its only got worse. I’m now on a maintenance plan through my GP. I manage my diet because I know that, for me, sugar is a massive trigger. I talked to Bupa’s expert, Dr Samantha Wild for some advice. Here’s what she had to say.
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What is vaginal thrush?
Vaginal thrush is a yeast infection that can make you feel sore and itchy around your vulva and vagina.
It’s common – about three-quarters of women will have it at some point in their lives. Up to one in 20 women have repeated (recurrent) thrush infections. You can get thrush at any age, but it’s most common in women who are in their 20s and 30s. Men can also get thrush, including on the penis.
What are the most common symptoms of vaginal thrush?
You might not have any symptoms of thrush, and not realise you have it or need treatment. If you do get vaginal thrush symptoms, they may include feeling itchy and sore outside your vagina and a thick, white vaginal discharge. You may also experience soreness and discomfort when you have sex and when you go to the toilet.
What are the causes of vaginal thrush?
Vaginal thrush is caused by a type of yeast. Normally, this lives harmlessly in, or around your vagina, alongside healthy bacteria. But if it grows more than usual, this causes thrush.
There are several things that can cause you to develop thrush, including taking antibiotics, being pregnant, and having a weakened immune system. More research is needed, however there is a small amount of evidence that suggests some types of contraception, such as the combined contraceptive pill, may increase your risk of getting thrush.
Speak to a medical professional
Getting medical advice as soon as you notice a problem can help to get rid of your infection quickly and prevent complications. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about speaking to your doctor or pharmacist about any ‘unusual’ symptoms you’re experiencing – we’re here to help.
Often, you can get treatments for thrush over the counter, and you can get these from your local pharmacist. If your vaginal thrush symptoms get worse or you’re experiencing it regularly (more than four times each year), speak to your doctor.
Avoid using perfumed products
If you have thrush, you might find it helps to stop using soap or perfumed shower and bath products around your genital area. Instead, it’s best to use water or non-perfumed moisturising cream – if you’re unsure what type to use, ask a pharmacist for advice.
Other perfumed products such as feminine deodorants, biological washing powder and fabric conditioner may increase irritation and are best avoided.
Practice good hygiene
To prevent triggering a recurrent thrush infection, make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep your immune system strong, and practice good hygiene. You can do this by taking regular showers (and drying yourself properly), avoid wearing tight-fitted clothes, avoid douching (washing out your vagina with water or special douching fluid), and washing your hands frequently.
If you have thrush, it’s also best to avoid sexual activity until the infection has completely cleared up. Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection but does share some similar symptoms with other infections; so, it’s a good idea to rule these out. Thrush symptoms can also be triggered after sex.
Confide in your loved ones
It can be tough to deal with a recurrent health problem, particularly if you feel embarrassed. It can be a huge relief to speak to your close friends or family (whoever you’re most comfortable with) about how you’re feeling. If it’s causing you to experience a low mood, remember that your doctor is available and will support you, too.Alternatively, you can find support through reputable sources online, for example the NHS, Patient, and Bupa.
I hope this article has been helpful to you. I’ve found that taking a probiotic specifically designed to target the intimate areas has benefited me hugely and over the last couple of years I’ve had less infections which I believe is attributed to this. I use Optibac. Their product ‘For Women’ contains friendly bacteria strains especially found in the vaginal & urinary tracts, scientifically proven to reach the intimate area, and to complement the vaginal flora. It’s suitable for women of all ages and is backed by over 30 years of research.
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