Monday, 31 December 2012 09:03

Hangover Cures: Easing the pain

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and that usually means endless social functions and general overindulgence.

Let’s face it, eating and drinking is synonymous with this time of year – and it’s not without its repercussions. The most immediate consequence is the omnipotent hangover… and it’s unavoidable. Don’t worry though; we have a few handy tips to help lesson the pain (at least a little).

When you drink too much alcohol, your body becomes dehydrated and there’s a depletion of vitamins A, B (especially B6) and C. The tips below are aimed at helping your body get back to its “happy place” by rehydrating and replacing the lacking vitamins.


If you’re reading this before your big night out, then try to ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the night. A good system is to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume.

Try to drink a lot of water before going to bed to prevent the symptoms of dehydration and to wash out the alcohol from your system. Continue to drink water throughout the day after.

This is by far the most effective way of dealing with a hangover.


After you’ve rehydrated yourself, get as much sleep as possible.


Try to replenish the vitamins your body has lost. Take a good multivitamin or take Vitamin C and Vitamin B specifically.

Sports drinks

Sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade replace electrolytes and glucose.


Fruit will give you the energy and vitamins your body needs. Bananas in particular are most effective as they are high in potassium and magnesium, which will help your pounding head.

Greasy food

There is no scientific proof to confirm that this works – in fact, adding all those fats and carbohydrates to your already sensitive tummy should make you feel worse. But it doesn’t. We recommend cold pizza from the night before but many people swear by your typical Wimpy breakfast.

In addition to the things you should do, here are a few things you should not do:

  • Don’t drink coffee. It’s a diuretic and that will only dehydrate you further.
  • Forget about the Hair of the Dog. Drinking more will only delay the inevitable.

Most importantly, pace yourself when you drink and be sure to use a taxi service if you’re too intoxicated to drive.

Monday, 24 December 2012 09:57

Our Festive De-Stress Guide

With just a few hours to go before Christmas, most of us are already whipped into a Festive Season frenzy. Merry making usually involves lots of eating and drinking, but also an overdose of family time. With all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, entertaining, bonding and partying it’s easy to forget to sometimes take some time to ourselves to de-stress.

A little planning goes a long way, so here are a few tips to make this time of year a little less stressful:

Make a list, check it twice (like Santa Clause)

  • Create a budget to ensure you don’t overspend this year. Calculate how much you can spend during this period, remembering to include expenses such as restaurant and drinks bills, presents, groceries, etc.
  • Before heading out to the buy Christmas presents, create a list of names with present ideas. Cross out the names as you buy the lists. (You making some of the gifts too – see some of our tips towards the end of this article.)
  • If your Christmas list is too long (and too expensive), consider creative ways of giving gifts. Many bigger families draw names from a hat and instead of buying for everyone, they buy for the person whose name they drew. Alternatively, you can also do a Secret Santa, where each person buys a generic gift and then on Christmas everyone takes a turn choosing a gift.
  • Where possible, avoid actually going to the shops and rather buy online.

Create a schedule… for you

  • On Christmas Eve, you’re going to Aunty Teresa’s house for dinner; Christmas Day will be spent with your husband’s side of the family at his cousin Gertrude’s home; on Boxing Day you’re having the family around to your place; there’s that braai at your friend Mickey’s place just before New Year’s and then of course there’s the New Year’s Eve party at that swanky restaurant in town. It’s exhausting just remembering all of it!

This Festive Season, be sure to schedule time for positive, relaxing activities that are focused on you and your needs. It might sound silly, but schedule some time for a longer lie in or a nap, take a long walk on your own, go for a manicure or a pedicure, or even take the time to plan one full day of healthy eating.

Dealing with family

  • Everything doesn’t have to be perfect – so don’t expect miracles. If you and a certain family member generally don’t get along, Christmas Day (or any other special occasion) won’t change anything.
  • Try to avoid topics that you know will cause disagreements.
  • Remember that the Festive Season is not a good time to discuss difficult issues. Set it aside for another time.
  • Learn to say no. You don’t have to attend every family event or activity.
  • Surround yourself with people who love you and accept you for who you are. This is not always your immediate family, it is someone or a group of people who add positivity and love to your life.

Get creative

Creativity helps to relieve stress. The creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps to resolve conflicts and problems, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. (

Below are a few creative projects to try over the next period:

Most importantly, look after yourselves and your loved ones this festive season. Remember, that sometimes this time of year truly can be perfectly imperfect.

Friday, 07 December 2012 12:00

Thyroid disorders and the chaos they cause

The thyroid is a small gland located in the front of your neck and throat. It’s a small gland that usually weighs less than 30 grams. If it’s functioning normally, you barely know about it, but if there’s a problem with it, it can wreak havoc with your body.

As small as it is, the thyroid has a huge role in our body’s function: it produces hormones that have an effect on metabolism, regulates calcium and phosphorus levels, produces proteins, maintains bone strength and controls body temperature.

Thyroid problems are more common in women than they are in men and they can be the result of too much or too little of the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. We outline three different types of thyroid disorders below:


Occurring mainly in women aged 30 to 50 years old, hypothyroidism is the result of a reduced level of thyroxine.

Symptoms: Fatigue, weight gain, constipation, body aches, dry skin, fluid retention, depression.

Diagnosis & treatment: Because these symptoms are associated with a slow metabolism, hypothyroidism can go undetected for years. If you suspect you have hypothyroidism, ask your doctor to be tested. Treatment includes a daily tablet that controls thyroxine levels.


Hyperthyroidism occurs more often in younger women, aged 20 to 40, and it’s basically the exact opposite of hypothyroidism: the production of too much thyroxine hormone.

Symptoms: Restlessness and difficulty concentrating, irritability, difficulty sleeping, tremors, weight loss, palpitations, sweating, diarrhea, thinning hair, itchy skin, menstrual changes, muscle weakness.

Diagnosis & treatment: This too can be diagnosed with a blood test. Treatment can include mediation or radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment.


A goitre occurs when the thyroid gland grows larger than normal. They are usually painless, but they can vary in size, making swallowing and breathing difficult if it gets too big.

Symptoms: A swollen thyroid gland, which leads to the swelling of the neck.

Diagnosis and treatment: Your GP will conduct a physical examination on your neck, feeling the gland with his fingers. Your doctor will also run blood tests to determine whether or not the goitre was caused by an overactive or underactive thyroid (goitres can occur in normally-functioning thyroid’s too).

Treatment for a goitre includes RAI treatment, iodine supplements or surgery if necessary – particularly if there is difficulty with swallowing or breathing.


Destiny Women magazine

Dean Ornish, M. D., a clinical professor and author of the Program for Reversing Heart Disease, says that 99% of heart disease is preventable by simply making changes to diet and lifestyle. In other words, a healthy diet can lower your risk of heart attack.

Start off by having a chat to your GP regarding your family history of heart disease, have your blood pressure checked every year and cholesterol tested at least every five years (if you are at a high risk of heart disease, you will have to check more often than that).

Then start making some positive changes to your diet. Here’s how:

Eat more fish, less meat

Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation throughout the body, lowers blood pressure and reduces blood clotting.

Try not to eat more than one serving of meat a day. Consider replacing a few servings of meat with hummus and legumes as they are also a good source of protein.

Increase your fruit intake

Especially berries and bananas. Berries are known to boost levels of good cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Bananas are high in potassium, which also helps to lower blood pressure. These are your “super fruits” when it comes to beating heart disease, but really, any fruit is good for your heart.

Eat lots of vegetables

Again, all vegetables are good for you, but spinach, kale and sweet potatoes are particularly high in potassium.

Monounsaturated fats are good

Don’t ban all fat from your diet – just stick to the good ones. Olive oil and avocados help to lower bad cholesterol and they reduce your risk of heart disease.

Swap simple carbohydrates for complex carbs

Think whole grain foods, like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice instead of white bread, white rice or baked goods.

What we’ve just described above is basically a healthy, well balanced diet, one that any dietician would recommend if you were trying to lose weight. However, a healthy heart lifestyle is more than just your diet and unfortunately there’s no escaping another key element: Exercise.

Physical inactivity and obesity are risk factors in heart disease so to keep yourself heart healthy, try to exercise for 30 minutes at least five times per week. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy, strenuous exercise but you must get your heart rate up at least a little.

Lastly, if you are at risk of heart disease, learn to recognise the signs: pressure in the chest, neck, shoulders, arm or stomach when you’re physically active. Get tested if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

Monday, 19 November 2012 09:04

Coping with Exam Stress

Many South African university students are nearing the end of exams, with one or two left to go, while matrics across the country are bracing themselves for one of the most important exam seasons of their life so far.

By now you should have a solid review timetable in place with a good understanding of the work and a healthy knowledge of your weak and strong points within the syllabus. However, no matter how prepared you are, you might be struggling to cope with the stress of it all.

Remember that being prepared means revising the work as well as learning how to balance work, exercise and yes, even relaxation. Roger Mead, US Stress Management Consultant and General Secretary of the US International Stress Management Association says, “Stress is not about the exam, but about what you think of the exam. People shouldn’t see them as monsters they can’t escape.”

Below are some tips to help you cope with exams stress just before and during the  actual exam:

Get enough sleep and relaxation

A tired mind will be no good to you during an exam, so don’t pull an all-nighter the night before. Make sure you get a good night’s rest. At least an hour before the exam, stop everything and make a point of winding down and relaxing. Your body will thank you – you will be better able to cope with the stress of the actual exam and produce your best work.

Get some exercise

An exercise session, whether it’s a 10-minute walk or a full on gym work out, will help your body feel more relaxed and focused.

Eat good food

Eat a healthy meal before the exam, including fruits and vegetables, proteins and healthy carbohydrates (not heavy carbohydrates like rice and potatoes – they will just make you sleepy!). This will ensure you have the energy to get through the exam and even concentrate better.

Banish negativity

Manage your expectations and don’t let yourself fall into the trap of believing that anything less than an A+ is failure. You need to build your confidence and negative thinking will only pull you down. Try to avoid that stressed out friend – the one who gets too worked up about exams – because her stress is catchy.

Be prepared

At this stage in the game, we’re not talking about revision anymore. We’re talking about the actual exam – a last minute search for everything could create unnecessary panic. Make sure you have everything you need beforehand, such as your stationary, your exam number or student card, a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, etc.

Plan your time

Once you have the paper, start out by taking a quick look through the structure of the exam. Plan your approach – mark the questions that you know the answers to and complete them first. This will help boost your confidence, and a confidence booster in the exam is exactly what you need. Remember to leave some time at the end to carefully review and edit your answers.

Remain calm

If you find that you don’t know some of the answers, don’t let panic creep in. Focus on your breathing, remain calm, move to the next question and return to this one at a later stage if there is time.

Let it go

When you’re finished the exam, allow yourself at least a short moment of celebration. Don’t spend time debating answers with friends and stop analyzing your answers, trying to figure out where you went wrong – there’s nothing you can do at this stage except hope for the best.

Remember that these exams might seem like the most important thing in your life right now – but in years to come, you will see they are only a small part of your life. Try your best, work hard and concentrate, but don’t let them consume your very being.

And finally… Good luck!

Thursday, 08 November 2012 12:09

Build brain power by bonding with your kids

With an ever-increasing number of mothers trying to balance demanding careers and family life, it sometimes seems difficult to find time to spend with our kids.

The truth is, while your son would welcome an hour playing ball, this “all or nothing” approach is adding unnecessary pressure on parents. Kids don’t expect much; a little time out with you goes a long way in their lives. Even a few minutes to connect each day will do wonders.

Below are a few games you can play with your kids. They’re brain boosting games that help kids learn through repetition and they also develop problem solving skills. Play them in the car on the way to school, when you’re trapped inside thanks to rain or when you’re waiting for a waiter to bring your food at the restaurant.

License plate mathematics

Ask your child to add up the numbers in the license plate of the car in front of you. For older kids, try subtracting, multiplying, dividing. If your child struggles with number or is still young, keep an abacus in the car to help him with sums.

Spelling bee

Ask your child to spell words of things you see around you. Teach younger children to learn letter sounds by getting them to concentrate on the first letter. E.g., “Sky starts with a ssssss. Can you hear that? Sssssssky.” Get the child to repeat after you until she learns the letters herself.

Eye spy

This old favourite is always a hit. For younger kids, vary the game slightly so they can take part. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something that is green” or “I spy with my little eye, something that is furry with four legs”.

What am I thinking of?

Give your child clues so they can guess what you’re thinking of. E.g. “I am thinking of a fruit, it’s red and it starts with an ‘a’”. Make the game slightly harder for older kids.

20 questions

Think of a person and tell your child to try figure out who you’re thinking about by asking 20 questions. Guide your child to learn what questions to start off with, such as, “Is it a boy or a girl? Is it someone in our family? Is it a child or a grown up?”

Carry a set of dice in your handbag, this will come in handy when you’re sitting in a restaurant. Throw the dice on the table and ask your older child to add, multiply, subtract or divide the numbers on each dice. Ask your younger child to simply count all the dots on the dice.

Tell a story

This fun story telling games encourages your child to think creatively. One person starts the story with one sentence, the second person tells the next sentence, the third person adds a sentence, and so on. If you have a child who is learning to write, consider writing a short story with your child. Take turns writing a sentence, to create an illustration for the story. This can be an ongoing project, something that could become a family treasure.

Try this approach for a week or so, and we’re sure you’ll see positive results. Calmer, more connected children mean calmer, more collected parents.

We suggest these products for helping your children boost their brain power

Ultimate Omegas for Bright Sparks

Monday, 29 October 2012 10:34

Three Apps to help you sleep better

Improve your sleep with these Apps that you can download onto your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

Sleep Bug
White Noise Machine

Sleep Bug is an ambient sound mixer that produces a variety of scenes and music with random sound effects. The built-in sound generator creates a realistic listening experience to help calm a busy mind and is perfect for adults, children, and babies who are having trouble sleeping. You can also use sleep bug in the office to mask out distracting noises, improve concentration, and increase privacy.

Improve your mind and improve your life, through sound!

Price: FREE
Get it: here

Sleep on it
Sleep Tracker & Alarm

Get the alarm that does it all! Set your alarm and with one tap you can record how much sleep, then add info about sleep quality, your mood, meds and more to see what affects your sleep and how much you really need to feel rested and energized.

Price: FREE
Get it: here

Sleep by MotionX
Sleep Tracker, White Noise & Alarm in one

Monitor your sleep cycles using the internal sensors in the iPhone and iPod touch.
Visualize your sleep with easy to understand graphs and statistics
See how long it takes you to fall asleep, your patterns of deep and light sleep and overall rest

Price: $0.99
Get it: here

Monday, 29 October 2012 09:45

More sleep for better health

A few decades ago, people slept for nearly nine hours a night. Now, we count ourselves lucky if we even get seven hours per night.

We might have more time to work or play but we’re not doing ourselves any favours. In fact, we are doing ourselves harm. A lack of sleep is known to have the following effects:

Weight issues

Studies at the Sleep Medicine Program at the New York University School of Medicine show that production of leptin and ghrelin, which are hormones that impact our appetite, are influenced by how much or how little we sleep.

Put simply, a tired person is lazy about food choices and eats more junk food and as a result, tired people have a greater risk of gaining weight.

Depression and anxiety

Sleep deprivation could result in depression and it makes you worry more. In fact, insomnia is a key symptom of depression.

A lower sex drive

Poor sleep patterns elevate cortisol levels and significantly lower testosterone levels, negatively impacting moods. Low energy levels and increased levels of anxiety means a decreased interest in sex.

Tired skin

People produce growth hormones when they are in a deep sleep, so while we are sleeping, our skin is repairing itself. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t produce enough growth hormone and your skin will begin to have less elasticity with more fine lines and darker circles under the eyes.

Sleep tips

There’s nothing worse than going to bed early only to lie there wide awake or counting sheep. If this happens to you, get out of your bed and find something relaxing to do. Remember, your bed is for sleeping (and sex!) and you need to train your body to understand that.

Below are a few other sleep tips:

  • Create a natural sleep-wake rhythm by having a regular bedtime and wake up time, and try to stick to it at weekends. This trains your internal clock to sleep when it needs to.
  • Make up lost sleep by having naps, don’t be tempted to sleep later in the mornings. Limit naps to 30 minutes.
  • Meditate and use breathing exercises to improve sleep quality. Try this technique: Breathe in through your nostrils for a count of three, extending your stomach. Hold your breath for three seconds then exhale out of your mouth for a count of six. Repeat this a few times until you feel calmer.
  • Limit caffeine intake after 7pm

Tech to the rescue

Believe it or not, it’s possible that your smartphone might help you sleep – but only if you stay off the social network and stop surfing the net at least 30 minutes before bedtime. You should also switch off your TV half an hour before bedtime.

So, about having your smartphone help you to sleep, there are various smart phone apps that are designed to assist with sleeping:

  • White noise and sound apps

White noise lulls you to sleep by distracting you from stress and drowning out background noise. If you decide to go with one of these apps, program it so it turns off when you’re asleep.

  • Sleep cycle monitoring alarms

Sleep cycle monitoring alarms measure movement and then distinguishes between deep and light sleep. However, this isn’t entirely accurate as brain activity can only really be monitored in a sleep lab.

  • Journaling apps

Keeping track of your diet, exercise and energy levels will help you understand how you are impacting your sleep patterns. Just be careful not to become obsessive about it.

There are a number of these apps available in South Africa, simply go to the health and fitness sections of your phone’s app store to find them.

Products from Bioharmony to help you!

Bio-Sleep Boost Bio-5HTP Griffonia Seed Complex


Wednesday, 17 October 2012 08:18

Boost your brain for the end of year chaos

It’s downhill to December, to end of year holidays and some much-needed down time. The trick is, you have four major projects to wrap up before then, you have to help your kids through final exams and you have countless social functions to attend between now and then.

So how do you cope? How do you remain focused on the task at hand without being distracted by all the… well… all the distractions? Below are a few tips to help you remain focused at work.

Give up multi-tasking

Women are supposedly genius multi-taskers. The truth is, none of us are. Our brains simply cannot focus on too many things at once, and when you try to do it, you’re working harder not smarter.  Business consultant and life coach Peter Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction And Get The Right Things Done, challenges readers to spend five minutes in the morning to plan the day ahead, five in the afternoon to review and a minute every hour to check in on progress.

The message is clear - stop trying to do so many things at once, focus on one task (big or small) and stick to it. You will feel calmer and be more productive.

Electronic interruptions

We’re inundated with messages throughout the day, whether it’s an sms, an email, a Facebook status update, a tweet. If you’re serious about giving up multi-tasking, the first thing you should do is close your emails, log off all social networks and turn off your phone. Better yet, disconnect from all these electronic interruptions.

Take time out

Don’t always be that person who works late into the night, showing up at work with bloodshot eyes and a Red Bull in your hand. Take time out to hang out with friends (this is good exercise for your brain – see more brain exercises below), get involved with even moderate physical activity, sleep! Researchers from UCLA recently discovered that two different parts of the brain talks to each other while we are sleeping, which assists in memory formation. The study proves that sleep deprivation has a detrimental effect on health, including learning and memory. (

So relax a little, you need to “fill your cup up” so you can keep going because you’ll only crash if you run on empty.

Eat well

Start your day off with a healthy breakfast (must include protein, healthy carbohydrates, dairy and fruit); eat more fruit and vegetables, less sugar and saturated fats and more fatty acids (found in fish). You can also get these Omega-3 acids from fish oil supplements.

How to boost brainpower?

There are a number of online brain booster exercises and apps available but here are a few simple ‘real world’ tricks you can try right now:

  • If you’re left handed, try using your right hand to do every day things
  • Learn the words to a new song
  • Walk into a room, memorise five different items in the room, walk out and try remember those things, including where they were. Try again two hours later.

Source for brain exercises:

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 08:05

Busting the blues

Mood tip: Find your purpose. Each individual person has a purpose to fulfil and once you find that purpose, life starts to make a whole lot of sense.

Here are our surefire ways to help improve your mood...

  • Feed your brain the right nutrients
  • Eat more seeds, nuts and pulses
  • Eat top quality protein foods - stick to fish, chicken, soya, quinoa
  • Choose low GL carbs – whole grains, veges, most fruits
  • Combine protein with carbohydrates
  • Avoid hydrogenated fats and reduce your intake of saturated fats
  • Eat fish three times a week and take a fish oil supplement
  • Eat more green vegetables
  • Drinks lots of water
  • Choose natural substances to help bring back the balance
  • Up your B vitamins and vitamin C
  • Mop up toxins in the body with anti-oxidants
  • Avoid caffeine and stimulants
  • Think positively
  • Adopt a better lifestyle in your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual “places”
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