Health Q&A

Want expert health advice?
Each month, FLARE‘s associate editor Karen Kwan answers your questions Click here to submit your question.


Q: Is it true I shouldn’t do hot yoga when I have my period?
A: For some women, the hormonal changes during that time of the month can cause a rise in body temperature and a feeling of lightheadedness. That may make you more sensitive to the temperatures of hot yogas (such as Bikram and Moksha), where the room temperature is elevated to at least 41 C. “There are some practitioners who advise against holding advanced inversions, such as headstands, for long periods of time,” says Mandi Hooper, director at Bikram Yoga Montreal. However, hot yoga doesn’t involve those strenuous positions, and she’s found that it often helps ease PMS symptoms. “You just need to be aware of your fitness level and experiment with what works for you.” Use your common sense: stay hydrated and, if you feel lightheaded during a posture, ease out of it and rest.

Q: Is there anything diet- or fitness-wise I can do to improve my sight?
A: Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to improve your eyesight, although a diet rich in beta carotene and lutein, found in dark-green leafy veggies and dark-orange veggies and fruit, can help slow macular degeneration (destruction of the layers of the retina) and is beneficial to general eye health.


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Q: My friends say they must exercise or they don’t feel as good. I have no idea what they mean. Am I doing something wrong?
A: It could be the type of workout you’re doing. While your pals may be enjoying the feel-good effects of the rise in endorphin levels when they work out, you may not be reaching the same level of intensity to release those hormones. “To get those endorphins going, you have to be at 60–80 percent of your maximum heart-rate for 20–30 minutes,” says Jennifer Cohen, a fitness expert who’s helped whip Hollywood celebrities into shape. “So you definitely have to be breaking a sweat and breathing a little heavier.” If you’re walking leisurely or doing a type of yoga that involves mostly stretching, then you’re not going to achieve that same high.

Q: Is water fortified with vitamins a healthier choice than regular water?
A: “If you’re chronically over-supplementing—if, for example, you eat well and are also taking a high-potency multivitamin, snacking on power bars and other fortified foods—a surplus of fat-soluble vitamins can accumulate in the body and cause detrimental effects,” says Calgary registered dietitian Carole Dobson. For example, an excess amount of folic acid can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. “Also, those beverages are not fortified with all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, so you’d still have to take a multivitamin and eat a healthy diet to get the full spectrum,” says Dobson. A fortified drink is healthier than a basic soft drink, but improving your diet and taking a multi is less costly and more effective.


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