The Best Teas for Sleep, Anxiety, Bloating, Cramps, and More

 

Got a bloated belly? There's a tea for that. And also one for the jitters, insomnia, even crippling period cramps. It turns out that herbal brews can help remedy more than a few common health complaints. Read on to find the right sip to ease your discomfort.

 

 

For bloat

Fennel tea is a hero to the digestive tract: It contains a compound that relaxes gastrointestinal spasms, allowing gas to pass and relieving bloat, according to Health's nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD.

Try: Pukka Three Fennel ($8; amazon.com)

Photo: Amazon.com

RELATED: Best and Worst Foods for Bloating

 

 

For a pesky cough

Marshmallow tea, made from the leaves and roots of this medicinal herb, has been used for hundreds of years to quiet coughs and sooth irritated throats.

Try: Celebration Herbals Marshmallow Leaf and Root tea ($11; amazon.com; )

Photo: Amazon.com

 

 

For nerves

Chamomile tea may help calm your jitters before a stressful event. Certain compounds in the herb bind to the same receptors in the brain as drugs like Valium. A study done at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found that people who suffered from generalized anxiety disorder experienced significant relief from symptoms after taking chamomile supplements for eight weeks, compared to folks who took a placebo.

Try: Yogi Comforting Chamomile tea ($18 for 6 boxes;amazon.com)

Photo: Amazon.com

 

 

For trouble sleeping

Lavender tea may be just want you need to nod off. Research shows that just the scent of lavender has slumber-induce properties: It has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Try: Buddha Teas Lavender Tea ($8; amazon.com)

Photo: Amazon.com

RELATED: Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

 

 

For menstrual cramps

Ginger tea was found to be just as effective in treating painful period cramps as Ibuprofen in a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 

Try: Traditional Medicinals Organic Ginger tea ($21 for 6 boxes; amazon.com)

Photo: Amazon.com

 

 

For stomach pains

Peppermint tea calms the muscles of the GI system, aiding digestive processes. But if your pain is the result of acid reflux, best to skip peppermint tea. It also has a relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter, which may allow more stomach acid to slip back into the esophagus.

Try: Yogi Purely Peppermint tea ($23 for 6 boxes; amazon.com)

Photo: Amazon.com

 

Health24.com | Too little of this vitamin could harm young hearts

Getting teens to eat what’s good for them can be an uphill battle, and bypassing foods like leafy green veggies may take a toll on their heart health, new research suggests.

Teens who ate the least vitamin K-rich foods – such as spinach, cabbage, iceberg lettuce and olive oil – had triple the risk for enlargement of the heart’s left pumping chamber compared to their greens-eating peers, according to the study.

According to Health24, the adequate intake (AI) for vitamin K is 120 micrograms per day for male adults and 90 micrograms per day for female adults.

Importance of vitamin K

Changes in the heart’s left pumping chamber are usually seen in adults with chronic high blood pressure. Hearts that become bigger are less efficient and less effective, said the study authors from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

“Those who consumed less [vitamin K] had more risk,” Dr Norman Pollock, the study’s corresponding author, said in a university news release.

For the study, researchers asked 766 healthy teens, aged 14 to 18, to wear activity monitors for seven days and to record what they ate. Most participants tracked their diet for at least six days. The teens also underwent an echocardiography test to examine their left ventricle.

Only 25% of the study participants had even adequate intake of vitamin K, the researchers found. And overall, about 10% of the teens had some level of enlargement in their left heart ventricle.

Study findings

The findings were published on 2 October in The Journal of Nutrition. The study’s co-first author, Mary Ellen Fain, a second-year student at the medical college, said, “Even at that age, it seemed to make a difference in their hearts.”

The findings held even after considering other possible contributing factors, such as gender, race, physical activity and blood pressure, Fain said.

However, the study doesn’t establish a direct causal relationship. The researchers said more studies are needed to assess the association between vitamin K intake and long-term heart health.

How to get more vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health. This nutrient may also improve activity of a protein, known as matrix Gla protein, which helps prevent calcium deposits from forming within blood vessels.

The following foods are good sources of vitamin K:

  • Milk, 250ml, 1 cup – 10 micrograms
  • Eggs – 1 whole – 25 micrograms
  • Pork, 100g – 88 micrograms
  • Beef, 100g – 104 micrograms
  • Soybean oil, 1 Tablespoon – 76 micrograms
  • Asparagus, raw, 4 spears – 23 micrograms
  • Broccoli, ½ cup – 63 micrograms
  • Cabbage, raw, ½ cup – 52 micrograms
  • Lettuce, 1 leaf – 22 micrograms
  • Spinach, ½ cup – 131 micrograms 
  • Chickpeas, 30g – 74 micrograms
  • Strawberries, 1 cup – 21 micrograms
  • Green tea, dry 30g – 199 micrograms

Image credit: iStock

Health24.com | Alarming increase in childhood obesity over 4 decades

In 2012, the South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition (SAJCN) published research to emphasise the alarming statistics regarding childhood obesity in South Africa.

These statistics painted a shocking picture – 13.5% of children between the ages six and 14 were considered overweight or obese.

Obesity is not unique to South Africa, though. Childhood obesity has increased more than 10-fold worldwide since 1975, a new study reports.

A huge jump

But even more children are underweight than severely overweight, according to the analysis of data from 200 countries.

Researchers found that by 2016 overall obesity rates had jumped from less than 1% to almost 6% for girls and nearly 8% for boys – with rates at 20% or higher in the United States, Egypt and some Polynesian islands.

Focus on improved nutrition

A two-pronged strategy is needed to improve nutrition and reduce excessive weight gain, according to the study.

It was published in The Lancet journal.

“Rates of child and adolescent obesity have increased significantly over the past four decades in most countries in the world,” study author James Bentham said in a journal news release.

“While average BMI among children and adolescents has recently plateaued in Europe and North America, this is not an excuse for complacency as more than 1 in 5 young people in the USA and 1 in ten in the UK are obese,” said Bentham, of the University of Kent in England. Body mass index, or BMI, is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.

Obesity rates accelerating 

Bentham said rates of child and adolescent obesity are accelerating in East, South and Southeast Asia, and continue to increase in other low- and middle-income regions.

Overall, 50 million girls and 74 million boys are now obese, which sets them up for serious health problems, the researchers said.

Obesity rates were highest (above 30% in some islands in Polynesia, including Nauru and the Cook Islands). Besides the United States and some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, obesity rates of about 20% or more were seen in the Caribbean (Bermuda and Puerto Rico).

The United States, however, had moved from sixth place to 15th over the four-decade study. Puerto Rico, meanwhile, had climbed up the scale, from 29th to 17th.

In addition to the 124 million children considered obese, 213 million youths ages 5 to 19 were overweight around the world in 2016, the researchers said.

Health in jeopardy 

“The trends show that without serious, concerted action to address obesity, the health of millions of people will be needlessly placed in great jeopardy, leading to immense human and economic costs to communities,” said study author Leanne Riley, of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

But despite the burgeoning obese population, being underweight remains a huge concern in many areas. The study found that 75 million girls and 117 million boys were moderately or severely underweight. Nearly two-thirds of these youngsters were in South Asia.

Policy needed for food security 

“There is a continued need for policies that enhance food security in low-income countries and households, especially in South Asia,” said study author Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London.

Ezzati said the transition from underweight to overweight and obesity can happen quickly, referring to an influx of nutrient-poor, high-calorie foods in developing nations.

The findings highlight the “disconnect” between the global dialogue on overweight and obesity and initiatives focusing on under-nutrition, Ezzati said.

The research was led by the WHO and Imperial College London. The investigators relied on information from more than 2 400 prior studies.

Image credits: iStock

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Health24.com | ‘Palliative care gave me hope when there was none’

In most cases parents aren’t prepared to handle the emotional, physical or financial shock of having to deal with a child suffering from a terminal disease. 

Many children suffer from life threatening illnesses – a situation that also has a huge impact on their families. Parents often struggle to cope with the financial burden and providing the emotional support these patients require.

Paedspal consults with about 25 new and existing patients weekly, and will reach nearly 300 patients by the end of the year.

An array of services

South Africa released its first national palliative care policy, developed by the National Department of Health together with palliative care experts.

In the Western Cape, parents have the support of Paedspal, a public-private programme that assists and supports children living with terminal illnesses. They offer an array of services ranging from aromatherapy massages to family counselling sessions with the strong support of three doctors, a social worker and several nurses.

Health24 previously reported on 11-year-old Naaziyah Manuel who passed away from ovarian cancer. Her mother, Zerina Amien spoke to us about the support Paedspal offered both Naaziya and the family.

Not only did Paedspal offer emotional support, they also gave both mother and daughter the opportunity to relax and destress with aromatherapy massages.

She also explained that all counselling sessions between patients were confidential.

“Conversations between Naaziya and them [Paedspal] were confidential, as were the conversations we had with them.”

A rare medical condition

Together with Paedspal, a palliative network called PatchSA (Palliative Treatment and Care for Children of South Africa) within SA is an inclusive network that offers advice, tools and opportunities to both patients and their families or caregivers.

palliative care,huyaam,patchsa,paedspalSpeaking to PatchSA Ambassador and Palliative Care Advocate, Huyaam Samuels explains her struggle living with a rare medical condition called Pseudoachondroplasia and Hypermobility Syndrome. This condition causes severe chronic pain throughout her body with muscle spasms – but doctors couldn’t pick up what was wrong.

‘They gave me hope’

After receiving tireless help and support from Dr Meiring, CEO and Paedspal Paediatrician, and the team of doctors, Samuels found new hope.

“Living with a rare medical condition, doctors failed to believe the pain I was in or take me seriously.

“Palliative care has given me hope when there was none. They improved the quality of life for both my family and me.”

Their work is mostly done through their website and social media platforms as they aren’t  always able to engage with patients on a one-to-one basis.