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Home Workouts for When You Have Bad Period Cramps

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When I’m sofa-bound thanks to the unceasing, painful jabs of my period cramps, the last thing I really want to do is get up and exercise — curling up in a ball and rocking back and forth sounds much more appealing.

But, the truth of the matter is working out, or simply moving around my apartment, is one of the only things that eases my cramps faster. The Mayo Clinic actually notes that physical activity is one home remedy that can help some women manage their menstrual cramps, and I’m one of them!

My tried-and-true cramp exercise of choice is swimming, but since the pools near me have been closed since March, I’ve had to explore other living room-friendly options. Ahead, the four workouts that push me through the awful aches — and even a few other PMS symptoms.

Peloton Yoga

My cramps kick in a day or two before my period arrives, along with a side of mood swings and increased anxiety. This particular combo of emotional and physical discomfort calls for time spent on my yoga mat — stretching through active Sun Salutations and letting all the stress go during Savasana.

I’ve tried a handful of yoga apps, and Peloton Yoga is by far one of my favourites. The Peloton app, which costs about $13 a month, offers a ton of different types of yoga — like restorative yoga, power yoga, yoga flow, yoga basics, yoga anywhere, and pre- and postnatal yoga — for every skill set and need.

When I feel the faint twinge of a period cramp, I usually turn to a 20 or 30-minute yoga flow session — which combines the perfect amount of active sequences and seated poses.

XB Pilates

I’m definitely not at my perkiest during my period — in fact, I’m kind of a drag. Positivity and an upbeat personality from my workout instructor is what I need in those moments. That’s exactly what you can expect from Andrea Rogers in XB Pilates, available on the Openfit app.

The low-impact pulses and thoughtful, small movements in Rogers’s workouts fire up my muscles, and her encourageing messages always push me through those last few challenging reps. It was in Rogers’s workouts that I learned that lightweight dumbbells are dramatically underrated — an arms series with 2 lb. weights left me sore for days.

P.Volve

Sometimes plyometric moves get a hard pass from me — especially during the first few days of my period. So, when I want to focus on toning my legs, I turn to P.volve, a low-impact, high-intensity workout method that utilises small, mobility-focussed movements and tools like ankle resistance bands and sliders to target hard-to-reach muscles.

POPSUGAR Fitness Videos

When I do have more energy to jump around or get my heart rate up, the POPSUGAR Fitness Youtube channel is where it’s at. Living room cardio can get old pretty fast, but POPSUGAR’s cardio and dance fitness workout spice up the average jumping jack. I’m a huge fan of the no-equipment videos, which also pop up in strength training playlists, too. Trainer Taylor Walker’s 30-Minute No-Equipment Cardio Workout is a solid place to start. If you’re in the mood to target your core, check out 20-Minute Obliques Workout With Jake DuPree.

Click here for more health and wellness stories, tips, and news.

Image Source: Getty Images / Peathegee Inc



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NEWS

Digital health platform Xealth strikes partnership with another big health IT vendor

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Xealth, a startup working to solve some of the logistical challenges faced by digital health companies, struck a partnership with Cerner. The Seattle-based company makes it easier to prescribe digital health tools and integrate them with health record systems.

The partnership is intended to make it easier for patients and their health teams to keep track of engagement with digital health tools and the effect on patients’ health.

“In order for digital health to have lasting impact, it needs to show value and ease for both the care team and patient,” Xealth CEO and Co-Founder Mike McSherry said in a news release. “We strongly believe that technology should nurture deeper patient-provider relationships and facilitate information sharing across systems and the care settings. It is exciting to work with Cerner to simplify meaningful digital health for its health partners.”

Cerner and venture capital firm LRVHealth also invested $6 million into Xealth. Last year, the company raised $14 million in series A funding, with investors including Providence Ventures and the Cleveland Clinic.

David Bradshaw, senior vice president of consumer and employer solutions for Cerner, said the partnership would give patients the opportunity to participate in their own treatment plans.

“Patients want greater access to their health information and are motivated to help care teams find the most appropriate road to recovery,” he said in a news release.

Xealth had already been integrated into Epic, and with this partnership, it will be tied into the two most widely used EHRs. The company is integrated with more than 30 different digital health solutions, ranging from diabetes management platforms such as Omada and Glooko, to Resmed’s connected sleep apnea machines, and patient engagement platforms like Twistle.

One of the startup’s clients, Providence St. Joseph Health, used Twistle in combination with Xealth’s platform to monitor patients with Covid-19 symptoms at home. It helped them keep track of patients’ temperature and oxygen saturation by providing an easy form for them to record their metrics.

Photo credit: a-image, Getty Images

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HEALTH

Where to Buy Nonmedical Cloth Face Masks in the UK

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As of 24th July, it will be compulsory to to wear face masks in shops and supermarkets in England. This is in addition to the mandate announced by the UK government on 4 June making it mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport, including buses, trains, aircrafts, ferries, and when driving with Uber or Addison Lee. These precautions were put in place to prevent the spread of the virus by those who are infected with it and are asymptomatic.

For many before the pandemic, face masks were not a part of their at-home collection. Luckily, a selection of retailers have now made protective face coverings available for purchase. For those who do not have masks already or prefer not to make a face mask, buying one is an easy alternative.

In order to properly wear a face mask, it must fit closely against the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include more than one layer of fabric, allow for breathing, and be able to be washed without getting damaged. It’s worth noting that while these cloth face coverings are not medical-grade masks like the N95 respirators and surgical masks, which are being reserved for healthcare workers, they are still useful to put on when out in public. Wearing a cloth mask will not ensure protection against ingesting droplets, but it’s a precautionary safety measure worth taking.

Ahead is a curated list of face masks that are available to buy in-store and online in the UK, including options from our favourite retailers like Boots, Superdrug, and Marks & Spencer, as well as companies and brands that are doing their part by donating proceeds and masks to charities and hospitals to help those working against the virus. If you don’t already have a mask or need another one for yourself or a loved one, shop these picks now and help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Additional reporting by Kara Kia and Ange Law



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NEWS

Mental health coaching startup Ginger raises $50M

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Ginger, a digital health startup that lets users chat with a mental health coach, raised $50 million in funding in a series D round. Advance Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners led the funding round, with participation from Cigna Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and LinkedIn Executive Chairman Jeff Weiner.

David ibnAle, a founding partner with Advance Venture Partners, and Steve Kraus, a partner with Bessemer Venture Partners, will both join Ginger’s board. To date, the company has raised $120 million.

The San Francisco-based startup connects users with coaches through a text-based chat. They can’t provide the same services as a therapist, but they can send users exercises and encourage them to pursue good sleeping habits and meditation, for example.

For patients who would benefit from more care, Ginger can connect them to a video chat with a healthcare provider. The company contracts with psychiatrists and therapists that then work with its coaches.

Like many telehealth startups, Ginger has seen a surge in visits since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first week of July, it saw a 125% increase in use of its coaching service compared to its averages before the pandemic.

“The goal of this system is to solve for the supply-demand imbalance that exists in mental health,” Ginger CEO Russell Glass said in a phone interview. “Even pre-Covid, there are far more people that have a need that can access it today. It can take weeks to months.”

The service is currently only available to users whose employer or health plan include Ginger as a covered benefit. The company says it has 200 clients, including Delta Air Lines, Sanofi and Chegg. Its insurance partnerships include Optum Behavioral Health, Anthem California and Aetna Resources for Living.

Ginger was initially created in 2011 by two MIT researchers, Anmol Madan and Karan Singh, who started off with the idea of using cell phone activity to predict users’ mental health. For example, if someone was depressed, they might not communicate with others like they normally do, or their daily patterns of going to the work, the gym or the grocery store might change. Novant Health, Kaiser Permanente and 20 other health systems partnered on this early concept.

Since then, the company has pivoted to focus more on providing health coaching and therapy services.  It still uses information “for proprietary analysis and development of personalized behavioral profiles,” according to its privacy policy.

Ginger is one of a number of startups providing mental health services using digital tools. Competitor Lyra Health raised $75 million  earlier this year, and struck a partnership with Starbucks. And UnitedHealth’s Optum subsidiary was reportedly planning to acquire mental health startup AbleTo for $470 million.

Photo credit: Microne, Getty Images

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NUTRITION

4 Healthy Shake Boosters You’re Not Using

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It’s easy to fall into a rut in your lifting routine, and the same is true for your protein shakes. If you’ve been using the same tired boosters in your shake and not seeing results, there’s a good reason for it. Protein powders are formulated to deliver the ideal ratio of macronutrients after a workout, but they don’t always focus on the micronutrients.

Why does it matter? Micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are essential to muscle growth and repair. Post-workout nutrition is an opportunity to feed your muscles exactly what they need quickly and deliver otherwise hard-to-get nutrients in a convenient shake. If you know what to add to your protein powder, you can customize your shake to give your body exactly what it needs.

Here’s a list of the top protein shake additions that you’re probably not using, and why you should start adding them today.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric has long been used in traditional medicine for its purported anti-inflammatory properties, and in modern times it has graced the pages of many a health-themed Instagram feed.

The primary active component of turmeric is curcumin, which studies indicate may help suppress the factors that lead to inflammation.[1] Though this bright yellow spice appears in many traditional Southeast Asian dishes, the doses needed to produce any significant effect are much higher than would be found in a single meal and can only be obtained through supplementation.

To boost your shake, add 1/2-1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of black pepper prior to blending. The piperine in the black pepper helps make the curcumin more bioavailable.

Thinking outside the shaker, you could also try this delicious turmeric latte recipe—the perfect way to help your body recover faster after a workout and use up your cold leftover coffee.

Turmeric

Turmeric Latte

Want to get more out of your morning cup of joe? This recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover coffee and give your body a healthy boost. Turmeric contains compounds that have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, while the maca powder is a natural energy booster. Almond milk provides a dairy-free base, but you can substitute your milk of choice.

View Recipe Here

2. Baobab Fruit

The fruit of the baobab tree is commonly eaten in Africa and Australia and has a citrus-like flavor. It is high in vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and its leaves are rich in calcium and protein. Even the seeds are loaded with fat and healthy fiber, and powdered forms of this potent plant are available around the world.

Baobab fruit is associated with many health benefits. For one thing, it aides weight loss by promoting feelings of fullness and helping to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.[2] Its potential benefits make this southern-hemisphere treat a perfect booster to your weight-loss shake. Just add a scoop of baobab powder to your protein shake, or if you prefer, try the recipe below.

Baobab

Carrot-Orange Baobab Drink

Loaded with antioxidants, this simple bright-orange drink is bursting with nutrients and flavor. Baobab powder has more antioxidants per serving than blueberries, acai, and goji, and carrots and oranges are great sources of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Fresh ginger helps with digestion in addition to adding a zing to this flavorful four-ingredient drink. If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a high-powered blender and strain with a cheesecloth.

View Recipe Here

3. Plant-Based Omega-3s

While health experts have touted the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for years, we don’t often discuss the different sources of this supplement. Fish oil has become all but synonymous with omega-3s, but the plant-based versions may actually be easier to incorporate into your diet.

Flaxseed is 42 percent fat, and most of that comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, a precursor of omega-3 fatty acids. ALA has many potential health benefits, specifically the ability to reduce blood triglycerides and reduce the inflammatory response, both of which help fight heart disease. Unlike its fishy counterpart, flaxseed also offers a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Since all the goodness is inside the seed, add 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil to your shake instead of whole seed. If you’d rather chew your omegas, check out the slow-cooker superfood protein bars below.

Seeds

Slow-Cooker Superfood Protein Bars

Flaxseed is a fantastic healthy addition to any baked good, providing extra fiber, nutrients, and healthy fats. These homemade bars take it to the next level by combining ground flaxseed with cashew butter, oats, and plant protein to create a delicious, chewy, gluten-free high-protein snack. Add the extra flavor and superfood punch of blueberries, cacao nibs, and cinnamon, and you’ve got yourself a healthy on-the-go treat to fuel your body and help you hit your goals.

View Recipe Here

4. Prebiotics

Prebiotics are a type fiber that the human body cannot digest. They are food for probiotics—hence the name. Since probiotics support healthy gut bacteria, including prebiotics in your diet is the key to better gut health.

Whole-food sources of prebiotics include dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apples, wheat bran, and cocoa. While some sources of prebiotics make more sense in a salad than a shake, adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder is an easy and delicious way to boost the prebiotics in your smoothie and feed the good bacteria in your gut. If you’d rather have a warm cup of cocoa, give this PBfit hot chocolate recipe a try.

Cacao Powder

PBFit Hot Chocolate

While some sources of prebiotics make more sense in a salad than a shake, adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder is an easy and delicious way to boost the prebiotics in your smoothie and feed the good bacteria in your gut. If you’d rather have a warm cup of cocoa, give this PBfit hot chocolate recipe a try.

View Recipe Here

References
  1. Takada, Y., Bhardwaj, A., Potdar, P., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2004). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-κ B activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene, 23(57), 9247-9258.
  2. Coe, S., & Ryan, L. (2016). White bread enriched with polyphenol extracts shows no effect on glycemic response or satiety yet may increase postprandial insulin economy in healthy participants. Nutrition Research, 36(2), 193-200.

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HEALTH

These Are the Long-Term Side Effects of COVID-19

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When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we could rattle off the symptoms from the top of our heads: fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing. Later, the NHS here in the UK and the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US added more symptoms to that list: chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, a new loss of taste or smell, and repeated shaking with chills. Nausea and diarrhoea are also listed as signs of the disease.

But as the pandemic continues, doctors are starting to look more closely at not just the first signs of infection, but the long-term side effects that linger even after you’ve recovered. Concern over longer-lasting side effects has even prompted the CDC to begin a large study on patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in order to “describe long-term outcomes and come to a fuller understanding of the overall impact of the coronavirus on the health system,” among other goals. Around 3,000 adult patients will be enrolled.

It will likely take some time for doctors to fully understand how this disease affects our health in the long term. Ahead, read what doctors and survivors are reporting now on the lingering effects of the coronavirus on body and mind.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, the NHS, and GOV.UK..



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NEWS

Whistleblower lawsuit accuses Cigna of Medicare Advantage fraud

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A whistleblower lawsuit accuses Cigna of receiving “billions” in overpayments for its Medicare Advantage plans. The amended complaint, filed by the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York a year ago, was unsealed on Wednesday.

A former service provider for Cigna’s Medicare Advantage subsidiary alleged that the company sent providers to patients’ homes to conduct a health assessment, which was then improperly submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for risk adjustment. The whistleblower was a former officer for Texas Health Management, a now-defunct company that worked with Cigna-Healthspring between 2012 and 2017.

Cigna acquired HealthSpring in 2012, and currently offers Medicare Advantage plans in 17 states under this brand.

Commercial insurers who offer Medicare Advantage plans receive a monthly capitated rate from CMS for each of their covered members, which they use to cover the cost of care. For older and sicker patients — who have higher risk scores — they receive a higher rate.

A patient’s risk score is based on diagnoses assigned to the patient in the prior year. To be submitted, a patient must have had a face-to-face encounter with a provider, and the patient must be cared for or assessed.

According to the plaintiff, Cigna ran an assessment program that sent nurses and nurse-practitioners to patients’ homes, where they were expected to see 35 patients per week and generate 20 or more diagnoses per visit. They were reportedly not allowed to provide care, prescribe medications or make referrals to specialists.

The complaint described the program as “…a  data-gathering exercise used to improperly record lucrative diagnoses to fraudulently raise risk cores and increase payments from CMS.”

According to court documents, Cigna-HealthSpring used analytics to sort members into different priority categories based on their medical histories. The company also reportedly sought to recruit primary care physicians to complete the assessments, at one point offering a $150 bonus per completed exam to provider who performed a certain volume of assessments each year

The Department of Justice decided not to intervene in the case in February. Specifically, the government declined to claim that Cigna violated the False Claims Act by conducting nurse home visits that did not involve providing medical treatment.

Cigna did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

This isn’t the first time a Medicare Advantage plan has come under scrutiny for payments.

Last year, the Office of Inspector General reviewed “billions” in estimated Medicare Advantage payments that raised concerns. Looking at 2016 encounter data, the OIG found that Medicare Advantage Organizations almost always used chart reviews to add diagnoses, and that diagnoses reported only on chart reviews — without any service records — resulted in roughly $6.7 billion in risk-adjusted payments for 2017.

Of that, an estimated $2.7 billion in payments were based on diagnoses that did not link to a specific service provided to the member.

Photo credit: zimmytws, Getty Images

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NUTRITION

6 Incredible Clean Carbs Sources That Build Muscle and Improve Performance

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Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your brain, body, and overall athletic performance, but not all carbs are created equal. Clean carbohydrate sources, aka complex carbohydrates, provide the long-lasting, sustained energy you need for prolonged workouts, such as running, cycling, and high-intensity functional training. They also help you build more muscle and optimize workout recovery. The question is, what carbohydrates are best for building mass, optimizing body composition, and improving performance?

The Problem with Simple Carbs

Chances are you’ve had a snack or chugged a sugary carb drink before a workout or run and found yourself gassed-out midway through your training. Simple carbohydrates and supplements such as maltodextrin, dextrose, and cyclic dextrin spike your insulin, which can lead to low blood sugar, leaving you feeling fatigued and lethargic.

Most people, athletes included, will have some kind of simple carbs an hour or two before their training session to get that midday pick-me-up. This stokes a vicious cycle that we call the blood sugar roller coaster.

After you finish your pre-workout snack, your body is flooded with carbohydrates, resulting in a short boost of energy, followed by a devastating crash and burn. Your body releases the hormone insulin to regulate the amount of sugar, or glucose, in your bloodstream. Insulin sends the sugar out of your blood into the liver and muscle and stores it as body fat, resulting in low blood sugar, which translates to low energy.

As a result, you have mood swings, feel hungry all the time, and/or become fatigued and have low energy. Maintaining steady insulin and blood sugar levels depends on the type of carbohydrates you consume. When you hear that certain carbs are “high on the glycemic index,” it means that they will spike blood sugar and insulin more quickly than other types of carbohydrates.

You Need Complex Carbs

Complex carbs digest much more slowly than simple carbs, due to their longer-chain molecular structure. Complex carbs are also made of sugars, but they do not spike blood insulin; they keep your blood glucose stable and provide a sustained energy release. These types of carbohydrates work best for prolonged training, improving endurance, building more muscle, and optimizing body composition. Complex carbs slow the absorption of sugar, slowing digestion, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. There’s no blood sugar roller coaster with complex carbs.

Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, bread, and oats.

What are the best clean carbs for building more muscle and performance?

1. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have naturally occurring sugars and are full of dietary fiber and micronutrients. They are chock-full of vitamin B6, which can help maintain brain health, improving mood and energy levels. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which can help with immune health and eye health.

2. Yams

Nutritionally, yams resemble sweet potatoes. Both are low on the glycemic index, making them good choices for long-lasting, sustained energy without spiking blood sugar. Yams, however, have a higher vitamin C content than sweet potatoes but not nearly as much vitamin A.

3. Oats

Oats are an amazing source of complex carbohydrates and protein that can help build more muscle and optimize body composition. Oats are classified as a soluble fiber, which can help suppress appetite and slow digestion. Several studies have shown that oats can also protect against heart disease, reduce chronic inflammation, improve gut flora, help with inflammatory bowel disease, and provide sustained energy.[1-4]

4. Clean Carbs

Swolverine’s Clean Carbs is different from other carbohydrate supplements. Other products use maltodextrin, dextrose, and simple carbohydrates that spike blood sugar, creating more body fat and giving you an energy crash.[5] Clean Carbs is made with 100 percent natural whole foods from pure complex carbohydrates, including sweet potatoes, yams, and oats. Research indicates that your body burns rapidly through glycogen stores during high-intensity functional training, resistance training, and endurance workouts. Replacing glycogen after strenuous exercise is vital for optimal performance and faster recovery.[5]

5. Brown Rice

Brown rice is another great clean carb for mass building and weight management. Whether you’re shredding down or looking to increase size, brown rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates and will sustain a low insulin release for longer-lasting energy. Although similar, white rice is stripped of most of its nutrients and will trigger a blood sugar spike, as opposed to stable glucose levels.

Brown Rice

6. Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the only plant-based carbs that is considered a complete protein. With all the essential amino acids present, in addition to micronutrients such as manganese, magnesium, and iron, quinoa is a great clean carb source for athletes.

References
  1. Chappell, A. J., Simper, T., & Barker, M. E. (2018). Nutritional strategies of high level natural bodybuilders during competition preparation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), 4.
  2. Rebello, C.J., Johnson, W.D., Martin, C.K., Xie, W., O’Shea, M., Kurilich, A., Bordenave, N., Andler, S., Klinken, B.J.W.V., Chu, Y.F. and Greenway, F.L. (2013). Acute effect of oatmeal on subjective measures of appetite and satiety compared to a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal: a randomized crossover trial. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 32(4), 272-9.
  3. Valeur, J., Puaschitz, N. G., Midtvedt, T., & Berstad, A. (2016). Oatmeal porridge: impact on microflora-associated characteristics in healthy subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 115(1), 62-67.
  4. Rasane, P., Jha, A., Sabikhi, L., Kumar, A., & Unnikrishnan, V. S. (2015). Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods-a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52(2), 662-675.
  5. Alghannam, A. F., Gonzalez, J. T., & Betts, J. A., (2018). Restoration of muscle glycogen and functional capacity: role of post-exercise carbohydrate and protein co-ingestion. Nutrients, 10(2), 253.

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HEALTH

Reusable Face Masks With Filter Pockets Available in the UK

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As of 24th July, it will be compulsory to to wear face masks in shops and supermarkets in England. This is in addition to the mandate announced by the UK government on 4th June making it mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport, including buses, trains, aircrafts, ferries, and when driving with Uber or Addison Lee. These precautions were put in place to prevent the spread of the virus by those who are infected with it and are asymptomatic, and it’s sent us on a search for comfortable, affordable, and reusable face coverings for ourselves and our families.

At the moment, we’re interested in face masks that have a filter pocket. They’re reusable, which is awesome, and as long as you replace the filter every time you use it, you’ll be good to go. These are cloth face masks, not N95 styles, but they’re still great options for going outside.

From sleek black masks to colourful patterns, these 9 masks are optimal if you have reusable filters. Just keep reading to shop our top picks.

Additional reporting by Sophia Panych



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