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

 

Beats Studio3 Wireless Review

Beats has always had something of a hard ride from the audiophiles of the world.

Often criticised for being overpriced, too bass-heavy the brand has defied this snobbishness and ended up selling absolutely bucketloads of headphones.

While in the past some of the criticisms levelled against Beats would have been accurate the company has gone through something of a renaissance, starting just before being bought by Apple and reaching fever pitch in the last 12-months.

The results? Todays Beats headphones aren’t too expensive for what they offer, they’re not as bass-heavy and they’re a million miles from the snobbishness that has hung over them.

The latest example of this turnaround are the Studio3 Wireless headphones. They’re Beats’ flagship wireless headphones that offer Pure ANC noise-cancelling, improved battery-life and Apple’s very own W1 audio processor inside.

Beats

On the outside they look much the same as the previous Studio headphones.

A soft-touch matte plastic body keeps them light while small metal accents and leather earcups remind you that these are still premium headphones.

The design has always been sturdy and even without the carrying case our pair brushed off being thrown into a bag each day without any wear and tear.

The colour choices are of course influenced by Apple’s iPhone line-up but they’re implemented in a way that’s stylish and non-obtrusive.

The earcups are soft and well-cushioned making them comfortable on the ears, if we had one complaint it is that we did feel some minor pinching on the top of the head during listening periods of over an hour or so. That being said, out of the competition we’ve used only Sennheiser’s PXC 550′s stand out as being able to give us a full flight’s worth of comfortable listening.

It’s a tough one to call a judgement on because honestly it can sometimes just depend on the shape of your head.

Beats

Thanks to Apple’s W1 chip, setting these headphones up on an Apple device is fantastically easy – you simply turn them on and they’ll pop up on your iPhone. You then press connect and just like that they’re connected not only to your iPhone but also your Apple Watch, MacBook and iPad. It’s a neat trick and it’s one that sadly is exclusive to Apple’s family of devices. Thankfully if you’re an Android user, setup is still incredibly simple and just involves diving into the Bluetooth menu of your phone.

The Beats Studio3 offer a brand-new type of noise-cancelling called Pure ANC.

Traditionally, noise-cancelling works by having microphones on the outside of the headphones listening to the ambient noise. Software inside the headphones then recreates that ambient noise and inverts it, piping it through alongside your music and effectively cancelling the disturbance out.

According to Beats this is too heavy-handed an approach, so with its noise-cancelling its engineers decided to use something quite different.

The Studio3 still have the microphones on the outside, except this time it compares in real-time the noise-cancelled music with the original track.

It then looks for anomalies in the waveform between the two and makes tiny adjustments to best fit the original piece of music.

Beats

What’s pretty astonishing about all this is that it’s doing it 50,000 times every second.

Does it all work? The short answer is yes, but it’s not the absolute game-changer that Beats are making it out to be. The noise-cancelling is truly excellent, of that there’s no doubt, but it still suffers from the tiniest of hisses, something that almost all noise-cancelling headphones suffer from.

It’s also completely automated, so unlike Bose, Sennheiser or B&W there’s no way to fine-tune the settings or even change functions like the EQ. That’s a shame as it would have been nice to have more freedom over how they sound.

And how do they sound? Really, really good. These are by far and away Beats’ best-sounding headphones ever and it’s a testament to the progress the company has made. The mid-range is beautifully clear, and while the higher notes can feel a little underserved at times the bass is tightly delivered with a meaningful sense of oomph.

Are they perfect for listening to classical music? Probably not, but they do at last feel like a pair of really well-balanced headphones that can suit all genres admirably

Beats

Now where the Studio3′s really excel is with battery. It is obscenely good.

Beats claim you can get 22 hours of wireless playback with Pure ANC. It’s not lying either. We used ours for a full week of commuting and occasional listening in the office and found that we only needed to fully charge them once. If you turn the noise-cancelling off this increases to a whopping 40 hours.

Having this kind of battery life is absolutely vital for wireless headphones as one of the biggest barriers is the stigma that they become just one more thing to have to charge at the end of the day. If you only have to do that once a week it suddenly makes the whole proposition much more reasonable.

Just like Beats’ other headphones, with Apple’s W1 chip inside you can also get some serious fast-charging out of them too. Just 10mins gives you around 2-3 hours of listening.

As a pair of everyday, premium headphones, the Studio3′s are absolutely brilliant. They’re cheaper than Bose and Sennheiser’s noise-cancelling flagships and they feel considerably more durable too. No they don’t offer customisation, but what they do offer the ultimate in convenience. You just turn them on, put them on your head and the outside world is placed on mute for as long as you want.

Who should buy the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones?

These are a truly great pair of all-round noise-cancelling headphones. They’re incredibly easy to setup, offer a great sound profile that competes with some of the older audio giants and they boast an absolutely outrageous battery-life.

Who shouldn’t buy the Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones?

They can pinch a bit after long hours of listening so if you fly a lot or have a particularly long commute that’s definitely something to keep in mind. They don’t offer the app-based customisation that you can get from competitors either so if you’re looking to fine-tune your audio we’d recommend looking elsewhere.

The Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones are available now for £299.

London’s Electric Black Cab Is Being Tested On The Streets Of London

London’s electric black cab has, we think it’s fair to say, been a long time coming.

Well today the company that makes the vehicles has confirmed that six of them are currently driving around the capital as they go through the final and perhaps most gruelling test environment: London’s traffic.

LEVC

The six vehicles and their drivers will be collecting data that records not only the emissions coming from the vehicle but also looks to asses the state of London’s charging network.

Each car is driven by an electric motor which can then be charged via a 1.3 litre petrol-powered generator.

The car has a fully-electric range of around 70-miles but if you turn on the petrol generator that range increases to some 400-miles.

LEVC

While it’s certainly not going to compete with the range of say a Tesla, these vehicles have been designed to at the very least comply with the “zero emission capable” requirement for all London taxis from January 2018.

Compared to the previous petrol-powered black cabs, the new TX5 has a larger cabin that contains six seats, WiFi, USB-charging and the ability to process contactless payments.

The driver meanwhile will have access to a full-touchscreen that provides them with a SatNav specifically designed to show congestion while also showing every available charging location in London.

In addition the screen will also feature integrated ride-hailing services including Gett, myTaxi and Kabbee.

The cabs are expected to get a full roll out on London’s streets later this year.

This Flexible Skin Can Actually Give Robots A Real Sense Of ‘Touch’

In their quest to take over the world and replace human beings, robots were missing one always crucial element – the ability to perform tasks quite as effectively as people do.

But now all that has changed.

A team of robotics engineers in the USA have made an “important breakthrough” in developing a flexible skin that allows machines to feel what they are doing (and when it is going wrong) so they can rectify the situation.

It’s a feature that will make them better at everything from cooking an omelette to dismantling roadside bombs.

UCLA Engineering

In order for robots to perform delicate tasks, such as cooking, housework, or surgery, they need to know whether a small or delicate object is slipping out of their grasp.

Jonathan Posner, a senior author on the study, said: “If a robot is going to dismantle an improvised explosive device, it needs to know whether it’s hand is sliding along a wire or pulling on it. Or to hold on to a medical instrument, it needs to know if the object is slipping.”

To date it has been impossible for robotic hands to accurately sense the vibrations and forces that occur, for example, when an object is starting to fall.

Some robots already use fully instrumented fingers but that sense of ‘touch’ is still limited to that appendage and such skins have not yet provided a full range of tactile information.

But the team from the University of Washington have now created a bio-inspired skin that can be stretched over any part of a robot, or prosthetic, to successfully grasp and manipulate objects in everyday tasks.

This is a giant step forward in the effective application real-world of robotics.

The skin, manufactured at the nanofabrication facility,  is made from the same silicone rubber used in swimming goggles and embedded with tiny serpentine channels that are roughly half the width of a human hair. 

These channels are filled with electronically conductive liquid metal, which won’t crack or fatigue as solid wires do.

And prototypes have shown they are able to measure tactile information with more precision and sensitivity than human skin.

This development is so important because it will allow robots in the future to open doors, interact with a phone, shake hands, pick up packages, and handle objects, among many other things.

Associate professor Veronica Santos, says: “The fact that our latest skin prototype incorporates all three modalities creates many new possibilities for machine learning-based approaches for advancing robot capabilities.”

Scarily human.

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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