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Are you willing to make a positive change? Join the thousands of individuals on the same fitness journey!

TESTMONIALS Start Your Transformation
English Macedonian

Glutamine: Benefits, Uses and Side Effects

Glutamine is an amino acid produced by the body and found in food. It supports your body’s immune and digestive systems.

Glutamine is an important amino acid with many functions in the body.

It is a building block of protein and critical part of the immune system.

What’s more, glutamine has a special role in intestinal health.

Your body naturally produces this amino acid, and it is also found in many foods. Yet, you may be unsure if you need extra glutamine from supplements for optimal health.

This article explains why glutamine is important and discusses the benefits and safety of glutamine supplements.

Key Takeaways:

  • Glutamine, an essential amino acid, serves as a building block for proteins and plays a vital role in immune and intestinal health.
  • Found naturally in various foods, glutamine is abundant in animal products, though some plant-based sources also contain it.
  • Glutamine supports immune cells, and its deficiency during illness or injury may compromise immune function.
  • The amino acid is crucial for intestinal health, serving as an energy source, maintaining the intestinal barrier, and supporting cell growth.

What Is Glutamine?

Glutamine is an amino acid. Amino acids are molecules that play many roles in the body.

Their main purpose is to serve as building blocks for proteins.

Proteins are crucial to the organs. They also serve other functions, such as transporting substances in the blood and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria .

Like many other amino acids, it exists in two different forms: L-glutamine and D-glutamine.

They are almost identical but have a slightly different molecular arrangement .

The form found in foods and supplements is L-glutamine. Some supplements list it as L-glutamine, but others simply use the broader term glutamine.

While L-glutamine is used to make proteins and perform other functions, D-glutamine appears to be relatively unimportant in living organisms .

L-glutamine can be produced naturally in your body. In fact, it is the most abundant amino acid in the blood and other body fluids .

However, there are times when the glutamine needs of your body are greater than its ability to produce it.

Therefore, it’s considered a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that it must be obtained from the diet under certain conditions, such as injury or illness .

Also, glutamine is an important molecule for the immune system and intestinal health .

Glutamine is an important
amino acid. L-glutamine is the form found in foods,
supplements and the human body. It is part of the proteins in your
body and involved in immune function and intestinal health.

It Is Found in Many Foods

Glutamine is naturally found in a variety of foods. It has been estimated that a typical diet contains 3 to 6 grams per day, but this can vary based on your specific diet .

The largest amounts are found in animal products due to their high protein contents.

However, some plant-based foods have a greater percentage of it in their protein.

One study used advanced lab techniques to determine how much L-glutamine is found in various foods.

The following are the percentages of protein made up of L-glutamine in each food:

  • Eggs: 4.4% (0.6 g per 100 g of eggs)
  • Beef: 4.8% (1.2 g per 100 g of beef)
  • Skim milk: 8.1% (0.3 g per 100 g of milk)
  • Tofu: 9.1% (0.6 g per 100 g of tofu)
  • White rice: 11.1% (0.3 g per 100 g of rice)
  • Corn: 16.2% (0.4 g per 100 g of corn)

Although some plant sources, such as white rice and corn, have a large percent of protein made up of glutamine, they have fairly low protein contents overall .

Thus, meat and other animal products are the simplest ways to get high amounts of it.

Unfortunately, the exact glutamine content of many specific foods has not been studied.

However, because glutamine is a necessary part of proteins, virtually any food containing protein will contain some glutamine.

Focusing on getting enough protein in your overall diet is an easy way to potentially increase the amount of glutamine you are consuming.

Pro Tip

Almost any food containing protein will contain some glutamine, but amounts vary. Animal foods are good sources due to their protein contents. Getting enough protein in your diet can ensure you are getting enough.

It Is Important for the Immune System

One of the most important functions of glutamine is its role in the immune system.

It is a critical fuel source for immune cells, including white blood cells and certain intestinal cells .

However, its blood levels can decrease due to major injuries, burns or surgeries .

If the body’s need for glutamine is greater than its ability to produce it, your body may break down protein stores, such as muscle, to release more of this amino acid.

Additionally, the function of the immune system can be compromised when insufficient amounts of glutamine are available .

For these reasons, high-protein diets, high-glutamine diets or glutamine supplements are often prescribed after major injuries like burns.

Studies have also reported that glutamine supplements may improve health, decrease infections and lead to shorter hospital stays after surgery .

What’s more, they have been shown to improve survival and reduce medical costs in critically ill patients.

Other studies have shown that glutamine supplements may also improve immune function in animals infected with bacteria or viruses .

However, there is not strong support for benefits in healthy adults, and the needs of these individuals may be met through diet and the body’s natural production .

Pro Tip

Glutamine plays an important role in immune function. However, during illness or injury, the body may not be able to produce enough of it. Glutamine supplements may help improve immune function and preserve protein stores in the body.

It Plays a Role in Intestinal Health

Glutamine’s immune system benefits are related to its role in intestinal health.

In the human body, the intestines are considered the largest portion of the immune system.

This is because of the many intestinal cells with immune functions, as well as the trillions of bacteria that live in your intestines and impact your immune health .

Glutamine is an important energy source for intestinal and immune cells .

It also helps maintain the barrier between the inside of your intestines and the rest of your body, thereby protecting against a leaky gut .

This prevents harmful bacteria or toxins from moving from your intestines into the rest of your body.

Additionally, it is important for the normal growth and maintenance of the cells in the intestine .

Due to the major role of the intestines in the immune system, glutamine may benefit your overall immune health by supporting the intestinal cells .


Your intestines are a major part of your immune system. Glutamine is an energy source for intestinal and immune cells. It also helps maintain the barrier between the intestines and the rest of your body and aids with proper growth of intestinal cells.

Effects on Muscle Gain and Exercise Performance

Due to its role as a building block of protein, some researchers have tested whether taking glutamine as a supplement improves muscle gain or exercise performance.

In one study, 31 people took either glutamine or a placebo during six weeks of weight training .

By the end of the study, both groups showed improved muscle mass and strength. However, there were no differences between the two groups.

Additional studies have also shown that it has no effects on muscle mass or performance .

However, some research has reported that glutamine supplements may decrease muscle soreness and improve recovery after intense exercise .

In fact, one study found that glutamine or glutamine plus carbohydrates can help reduce a blood marker of fatigue during two hours of running .

It has also been used to try to boost the immune function of athletes, but results vary .

Other research has found that it did not improve the recovery of carbohydrate stores (glycogen) in muscle when added to carbohydrates and certain amino acids.

In the end, there is no evidence that these supplements provide benefits for muscle gain or strength. There is some limited support for other effects, but more research is needed.

It’s also important to note that many athletes have high protein intakes in their regular diets, meaning they may be consuming large amounts of glutamine even without supplements.


There is little support for the use of glutamine supplements for muscle gain or strength performance. However, they may reduce fatigue or decrease muscle soreness during and after exercise.

Dosage, Safety and Side Effects

Since glutamine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body and found in many foods, there is no concern that it’s harmful in normal quantities.

It has been estimated that a typical diet may contain 3 to 6 grams per day, although this amount could vary based on the types and quantities of foods consumed.

Studies on glutamine supplements have used a wide variety of doses, ranging from around 5 grams per day up to high doses of approximately 45 grams per day for six weeks .

Although no negative side effects were reported with this high dosage, blood safety markers were not specifically examined.

Other studies have reported minimal safety concerns regarding short-term supplementation of up to 14 grams per day .

Overall, it is believed that the short-term use of supplements is likely safe. However, some scientists have raised concerns about their sustained use .

Adding glutamine to a regular diet may cause a variety of changes in the way the body absorbs and processes amino acids. Yet, the long-term effects of these changes are unknown .

Therefore, more information is needed concerning long-term supplementation, particularly when high doses are used.

It is possible that glutamine supplements may not have the same effects if you eat an animal-based, high-protein diet, compared to a plant-based, lower-protein diet.

If you follow a plant-based diet with low glutamine content, you may be able to consume supplements while still receiving a normal daily amount of it overall.

If you decide to take a glutamine supplement, it is probably best to start with a conservative dose of around 5 grams per day.


Intake of the glutamine found in foods, as well as the short-term use of
supplements, is
safe. However, glutamine supplements can affect how your body processes amino acids.
More studies on their long-term use are needed.

The bottom line

Glutamine, a key amino acid, plays essential roles in protein synthesis, immune function, and intestinal health. While it may offer benefits for exercise recovery, its impact on muscle gain is inconclusive. Incorporate glutamine cautiously into your diet, considering natural food sources and short-term supplement use for optimal health.

Creatine Side Effects: Is It Safe?

Creatine is a compound that comes from three amino acids. Creatine is found mostly in your body’s muscles as well as in the brain. Most people get creatine through seafood and red meat — though at levels far below those found in synthetically made creatine supplements. The body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys also can make about 1 gram of creatine per day.

Your body stores creatine as phosphocreatine primarily in your muscles, where it’s used for energy. As a result, people take creatine orally to improve athletic performance and increase muscle mass.

Key Takeaways:

  • Creatine, a widely researched sports supplement, is proven safe and effective despite myths about kidney and liver damage, dehydration, and weight gain.
  • Scientific evidence supports daily creatine supplementation, showing no significant adverse effects over extended periods.
  • Creatine enhances exercise performance by increasing muscle energy during high-intensity workouts.

What is creatine? Is it bad for you?

Creatine is the top sports performance supplement available. Yet despite its research-backed benefits, some people avoid creatine because they worry it’s bad for their health.

Some claim it causes weight gain, cramping, and issues with digestion, the liver, or the kidneys. But hundreds of studies support its safety and effectiveness.

This article provides an evidence-based review of creatine’s safety and side effects.

Purported side effects of creatine

Depending on who you ask, the suggested side effects of creatine may include:

  • kidney damage
  • liver damage
  • kidney stones
  • weight gain
  • bloating
  • dehydration
  • muscle cramps
  • digestive concerns
  • compartment syndrome
  • Rhabdomyolysis

Is creatine a steroid?

Some people wrongly claim that creatine is an anabolic steroid, that it’s unsuitable for women or teenagers, or that it should be used only by professional athletes or bodybuilders .

Despite this negative press, the International Society of Sports Nutrition regards creatine as extremely safe, concluding that it is one of the most beneficial sports supplements available .

One study examined 69 health markers after participants took creatine supplements for 21 months. It found no adverse effects .

Creatine has also been used to treat various diseases and health concerns, including neuromuscular disorders, concussions, diabetes, and muscle loss.

Is creatine safe to take every day?

Research has shown that it is safe to consume creatine supplements daily, even over several years.

There is no evidence to support any significantly detrimental side effects in people who consume high doses of creatine (30 grams/day) for up to 5 years .

In fact, research has shown positive health benefits in athletes who took daily supplements of creatine for long periods of time .


Although some people make false claims about creatine’s side effects and safety issues, none of them are supported by research.

How does creatine work biologically?

Creatine is found throughout your body, with 95% of it stored in your muscles .

It is obtained from meat and fish and can also be produced naturally in your body from amino acids .

Your diet and natural creatine levels do not typically maximize muscle stores of this compound.

The average stores are about 120 mmol/kg for someone who weighs 154 pounds (70 kg), but creatine supplements can elevate these stores to around 160 mmol/kg .

During high intensity exercise, the stored creatine helps your muscles produce more energy. This is the main reason that creatine enhances exercise performance .

Once you fill your muscle’s creatine stores, any extra is broken down into creatinine, which is metabolized by your liver and released in your urine.


Around 95% of the creatine in your body is stored in your muscles. There, it provides increased energy for high intensity exercise.

Does it cause dehydration or cramps?

Creatine alters your body’s stored water content, driving additional water into your muscle cells.

This fact may be behind the theory that creatine causes dehydration. However, this shift in cellular water content is minor, and no research supports the claims about dehydration.

A 3-year study of college athletes found that those taking creatine had fewer cases of dehydration, muscle cramps, or muscle injuries than those not taking it. They also missed fewer sessions due to illness or injury .

One study examined creatine use during exercise in hot weather, which can accelerate cramping and dehydration. During a 35-minute cycling session at 99°F (37°C), creatine had no adverse effects on cyclists, compared with a placebo .

Further examination via blood tests also confirmed no difference in hydration or electrolyte levels, which play a key role in muscle cramps .

The most conclusive research has been conducted in individuals undergoing hemodialysis, a medical treatment that may cause muscle cramps. Researchers noted that the group taking creatine experienced a 60% reduction in cramping .

Based on the current evidence, creatine does not cause dehydration or cramping. If anything, it may protect against these conditions.

Pro Tip

Contrary to popular belief, creatine does not increase your risk of cramps and dehydration. In fact, may reduce your risk of these conditions.

Does creatine cause weight gain?

Research has thoroughly documented that creatine supplements cause a quick increase in body weight.

In a study, 1 week of high dose loading of creatine supplementation (20 grams/day) increased participants’ body weight by around 2–6 pounds (1–3 kg) .

Over the long term, studies show that body weight may continue to increase to a greater extent in creatine users than in people who do not take creatine. This weight gain is due to increased muscle growth — not increased body fat.

Increased muscle may also have benefits for older adults, individuals with obesity, and those with certain diseases .

Pro Tip

Weight gain from creatine is not due to gaining fat but increased water content in your muscles.

How does it affect your kidneys and liver?

Creatine can slightly raise levels of creatinine in your blood. Creatinine is commonly measured to diagnose kidney or liver conditions.

However, the fact that creatine raises creatinine levels does not mean that it is harming your liver or kidneys .

To date, no study of creatine use in healthy individuals has provided evidence of harm to these organs .

A long-term study of college athletes found no side effects related to liver or kidney function. Other studies measuring biological markers in the urine found no difference after creatine ingestion .

One of the longest studies to date — lasting for 4 years — similarly concluded that creatine has no negative side effects .

Another popular study often cited in the media reported kidney disease in a male weightlifter who supplemented with creatine .

But this single case study is insufficient evidence. Numerous other factors, including additional supplements, were also involved .

That said, use caution when it comes to taking creatine supplements if you have a history of liver or kidney concerns. A healthcare professional can help you decide whether taking creatine is right for you.


Current research suggests that creatine does not cause liver or kidney issues.

Does it cause digestive concerns?

As with many supplements or medications, excessive doses may cause digestive issues.

In a 2008 study, a 5-gram dose (taken twice per day) caused diarrhea in 29% of participants, which was not significantly different than the placebo. However, a 10-gram dose (taken once per day) increased diarrhea risk by 56% .

For this reason, the recommended serving is set at 3–5 grams. The 20-gram loading protocol is also split into 4 servings of 5 grams each over a day .

Despite anecdotal reports, there is no evidence that creatine causes digestive concerns when taken at recommended doses .

It is possible that additives, ingredients, or contaminants generated during the industrial production of creatine can lead to issues .

It is recommended that you purchase a trusted, high quality product.


Creatine does not increase digestive issues when the recommended dosages and loading guidelines are followed.

Possible Interactions

If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use creatine without talking to your doctor first.

  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Taking creatine with these pain relievers may increase the risk of kidney damage. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).

  • Caffeine

Caffeine may make it hard for your body to use creatine, and taking creatine and caffeine may increase the risk of dehydration. Using creatine, caffeine, and ephedra (now banned in the U.S.) may increase the risk of stroke.

  • Diuretics (water pills)

Taking creatine with diuretics may increase the risk of dehydration and kidney damage.

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)

Taking creatine while taking Tagamet may increase the risk of kidney damage.

  • Drugs that affect the kidneys

Using creatine along with any medication that affects the kidneys may raise the risk of kidney damage.

  • Probenecid

Taking creatine while taking probenecid, a drug used to treat gout, may increase the risk of kidney damage.

Does creatine give you acne?

There is no evidence that creatine causes acne. Creatine may enhance your ability to exercise harder and longer, leading to increased sweat. While sweating can lead to acne, creatine itself does not.

Some research has demonstrated that creatine may help your skin by improving skin wrinkles, aging, and damage when used topically.


There is no current research to suggest creatine directly causes acne. In fact, some studies show that it can help with wrinkles, aging, and skin damage.

Other potential side effects

Some people suggest that creatine can lead to compartment syndrome, a condition that occurs when excessive pressure builds inside an enclosed space — usually within arm or leg muscles.

Although one study found increased muscle pressure during 2 hours of heat training, this resulted mainly from heat and exercise-induced dehydration — not from creatine .

Researchers also concluded the pressure was short-lived and insignificant.

Some claim that creatine supplements increase your risk of rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle breaks down and leaks proteins into your bloodstream. However, this idea is not supported by any evidence.

The myth originated because a marker in your blood called creatine kinase increases with creatine supplements.

This slight increase is quite different from the large amounts of creatine kinase associated with rhabdomyolysis. Interestingly, some experts even suggest creatine may protect against this condition .

Some people also confuse creatine with anabolic steroids, but this is yet another myth. Creatine is a completely natural and legal substance found in your body and in foods — such as meat — with no link to steroids .

Finally, there is a misconception that creatine is suitable only for male athletes. Yet no research suggests that it is unsuitable in recommended doses for women or older adults.

Unlike most supplements, creatine has been given to children as a medical intervention for certain conditions, such as neuromuscular disorders or muscle loss.

Studies lasting as long as 3 years have found no negative effects of creatine in children .


Research has consistently confirmed creatine’s excellent safety profile. There is no evidence that it causes adverse conditions like rhabdomyolysis or compartment syndrome.

The bottom line

Creatine is a safe and beneficial sports supplement with proven advantages for exercise performance. Dispel misconceptions about its side effects, as scientific research consistently supports its safety and positive impact on muscle health.

20 Simple Tips That Help You Fall Asleep Quickly

Small changes in your sleep routine may help you fall asleep faster. These might include making the room cooler, practicing the 4-7-8 breathing method, and avoiding screens before bedtime.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn 20 practical tips to enhance your sleep quality.
  • Understand the impact of room temperature on sleep and how to optimize it.
  • Explore the 4-7-8 breathing method developed by Dr. Andrew Weil.
  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule to regulate your internal clock.
  • Harness the benefits of daylight exposure and practice mindfulness for better sleep

Proper sleep is vital for physical and mental well-being.

However, nearly 35% of the American population experiences trouble sleeping, which may have negative cognitive and physical effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Poor sleep may increase your risk of:

cardiovascular disease

type 2 diabetes


stress, anxiety, and depression

impaired learning, memory, and mood

Adults require around 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, per the CDC, though the recommended hours of sleep changes as you age.

20 tips to help you fall asleep

If you’re experiencing trouble falling asleep, here are 20 ways to help you fall asleep as fast as possible.

Lower the room temperature

A hot sleeping environment may affect a person’s thermoregulation, which could in turn impact their sleep quality.

Thermoregulation is your body’s internal temperature.

When you lie down and prepare for sleep, your body begins to shed heat through blood vessel dilation. This process sends a sleep onset signal to your body.

Gradually, your core body temperature decreases until waking up again.

Maintaining a room temperature ranging from 15.6–19.4°C, per the National Sleep Foundation, may help keep your body temperature low and promote sleep onset.

A 2019 research review suggests that bathing in warm water 1–2 hours before sleep may also speed up thermoregulation and help you fall asleep faster.

It also found that people who bathed in water ranging from 104°F–108.5°F (40.0°C–42.5°C) for as little as 10 minutes before bedtime reported improvements in their sleep.

More research is needed, but these findings are promising.

Try the 4-7-8 breathing method

The 4-7-8 method is a cyclical breathing technique that may promote calmness and help you unwind before bed.

Dr. Andrew Weil, an integrative medicine doctor, developed it. The technique is based on pranayama exercises in yoga.

Steps to complete one cycle

  1. Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth and make a “whoosh” sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to 4.
  4. Hold your breath and mentally count to 7.
  5. Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a “whoosh” sound while mentally counting to 8.
  6. Repeat this cycle at least three more times.

Set a sleep schedule

A sleep schedule may help you fall asleep faster.

Your body has its own near-24-hour regulatory system called the circadian rhythm. This internal clock cues your body to feel alert during the day but sleepy at night.

It also has an important role in maintaining physiological cycles, such as your metabolism, thermoregulation, and sleep-wake cycles.

Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day could help regulate your internal clock.


Once your body adjusts to this schedule, it’ll be easier to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day.

Lastly, research recommends giving yourself 30–45 minutesto wind down in the evening before getting in bed. This may allow your body and mind to relax and prepare for sleep.

Experience both daylight and darkness

Per research published in 2022, light exposure could influence your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. It may also help dictate the duration, timing, and quality of your sleep.

Research suggests that every additional hour spent outside may lead to sleep onset happening 30 minutes earlier.

Daylight exposure may also increase evening fatigue, as well as sleep duration and quality.

That said, timing is important, as too much evening light exposure may prevent you from falling asleep and hinder melatonin production.

Melatonin is an essential hormone for sleep that’s produced in darkness.


Finding a balance between light and darkness is therefore important. This could be done by exposing your body to daylight throughout the day and using blackout curtains at night.

Practice yoga, meditation, and mindfulness

When people are stressed, they tend to have difficulty falling asleep.

Research suggests that yoga may positively effect the quality, efficiency, and duration of sleep.

Yoga encourages the practice of breathing patterns and body movements that could help release the accumulated stress and tension in your body.

A 2012 research review suggests that meditation may enhance melatonin levels and help the brain enter a state where sleep is more easily achieved.

Lastly, according to research, mindfulness may have a positive impact on your stress levels, sleep quality, and cognitive function. It could help you focus on the present, rather than worrying about falling asleep.

Avoid looking at your clock

Waking up in the middle of the night is normal, but not being able to fall back asleep may be frustrating.

It’s common for people with insomnia to look at their clock every time they wake up. This is known as clock-watching or time monitoring behavior (TMB), which research suggests may increase brain stimulation and exacerbate anxious feelings of sleeplessness.

Waking on a regular basis without falling back asleep may also cause your body to develop a routine. As a result, you might find yourself waking up in the middle of the night every night.

Pro Tip

Removing the clock from your room may help reduce your feelings of sleep-related anxiety. Alternatively, if you need an alarm in the room, you can turn your clock around to avoid looking at it when you wake up during the night.

Avoid naps during the day

Poor sleep at night may lead to daytime napping. In fact, research indicates that nearly 40% of the American population unintentionally falls asleep during the day at least once a month.

While short naps may improve alertness and well-being, there’s mixed research about the effects of napping on nighttime sleep.

In a small 2015 study involving 440 college students, the poorest nighttime sleep quality was observed in those who reported taking 3 or more naps per week, those who napped for more than 2 hours, and those who napped late (between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m).

A small 2016 study involving 236 healthy high school students suggests that daytime napping may lead to shorter nighttime sleep duration, and lower sleep quality and efficiency.

That said, a 2022 literature review suggests that daytime naps do not negatively impact an adult’s nighttime sleep.

Pro Tip

To find out if naps are affecting your sleep, try eliminating them altogether or limiting yourself to a 30-minute nap early in the day.

Watch when and what you eat

The time you eat during the day may affect your sleep quality.

Research results from the American Time Use Survey suggest that eating within 1 hour before bedtime increases your chances of waking up after falling asleep.

The types of food you eat may also affect your sleep quality.

For example, one research review suggests that even though a high carb diet may get you to fall asleep faster, it will not be restful sleep. Instead, high fat meals could promote a deeper and more restful sleep.

That said, there’s a lot of conflicting research on the effects of such dietary specifics.

Listen to relaxing music

Research suggests that listening to relaxing music may help improve sleep onset, quality, and duration for people with insomnia. It may also provide comfort and relaxation before bedtime, which may in turn reduce anxiety.

A small 2012 study involving 50 people suggests that those who were exposed to soothing music for 45 minutes at bedtime had a more restful and deeper sleep compared with those who did not listen to music.

Another systematic review involving hospitalized people and published in 2023 suggests that listening to 30 minutes of relaxing music in the evening significantly increases sleep quality.

Lastly, if relaxing music is not available, blocking out all noise with earplugs may help you fall asleep faster.

Exercise during the day

When, where, and for how long you exercise may have a significant impact on your sleep.

Research suggests that older adults who engage in longer physical activity during the day sleep better.

Moderate and intense exercise, especially outdoors, may also positively impact your sleep quality.

However, it’s important to maintain a moderate-intensity exercise routine and to be mindful of when you exercise.

Working out early in the morning may help establish your circadian rhythm and lead to better sleep in the evening. Contrarily, exercising 2 hours before bed may decrease sleep quality, especially if you’re in a gym with bright lights.

Some activities that you could do include:

  • running
  • hiking
  • cycling
  • lifting weights

Get comfortable

A comfortable mattress and bedding may have a remarkable effect on the onset, depth, and quality of sleep.

A medium-firm mattress has been shown to positively affect sleep quality, and prevent sleep disturbances and muscular discomfort.

Your pillow may also impact your sleep by having an effect on:

  • neck and spinal curve
  • pillow and body temperature
  • comfort

A 2014 study suggests that orthopedic pillows may be better for sleep quality than feather or memory foam pillows.

Sleeping with a weighted blanket may also have numerous benefits, such as:

  • better sleep quality and duration
  • more energy for daytime activity
  • reduced symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression


Lastly, the fabric of the clothes you wear to bed may affect how fast you fall asleep. It’s crucial that you choose comfortable clothing made of fabric that helps you keep a pleasant temperature throughout the night.

Turn off all electronics

Watching TV, playing video games, and using a smartphone may make it significantly harder for you to fall — and stay — asleep.

This is partly because electronic devices emit blue light, which may suppress melatonin.

Using these devices also keeps your mind in an active and engaged state.

If you need to use your devices late in the evening, consider using eyeglasses to block out the blue light.

Pro Tip

That said, it may help to just disconnect and put away all your electronics before going to bed. This could help ensure a quiet place, free of distractions.

Try aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils and may help people with trouble falling asleep.

A systematic review of 30 studies suggests that aromatherapy may help improve sleep quality and reduce:


  1. pain
  2. anxiety
  3. depression

A variety of different scents, such as peppermint and lavender, may help improve sleep.


There are also a variety of ways to use essential oils, too. An essential oil diffuser could be helpful in infusing your room with relaxing scents that encourage sleep.

Write before bed

Some people may struggle to fall asleep because their thoughts keep running in circles.

Journaling and focusing on positive thoughts may help calm the mind and help you fall asleep faster.

A small 2011 study involving 41 college students suggested that writing resulted in reduced bedtime worry and stress, increased sleep time, and improved sleep quality.

A different study found that writing a to-do list, if only for 5 minutes, was even more effective than journaling at helping young adults fall asleep faster.

It may help to set aside 15 minutes every night to write about your day. Remember to focus on the positive events, your upcoming events, and how you feel at the time.

Limit caffeine intake

Caffeine is widely used among people to help with fatigue and stimulate alertness. Nearly 90% of adults in the United States consume at least one caffeinated drink every day.

That said, caffeine may negatively impact sleep onset, quality, and duration.

Although the effects of caffeine peak within 30 minutes, it may stay in your system for up to 10 hours after consumption.

A 2013 study suggests that consuming caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime might still result in 1 hour less of sleep. These accumulated lost hours may have a negative effect.

Instead, drinking a noncaffeinated bedtime tea may help promote sleep and relaxation.

Adjust your sleep position

Good quality sleep may depend on your body position during the night.

There are three main sleeping positions:

  1. back
  2. stomach
  3. side

Traditionally, it was believed that back sleepers (supine) had a better quality of sleep.

However, this might not be the best position to sleep in as it could lead to blocked airways, sleep apnea, and snoring.

Although individual preferences play an important role in choosing a sleep position, the side position may provide the best quality sleep.


Reading a print book may have many benefits, including helping you unwind before bed.

One study suggests that reading a paper book during the hour before bed may help increase sleep quality, duration, and efficiency.

Contrarily, reading from an e-book may impact these sleep factors.

Electronic books emit blue light, which reduces melatonin secretion. Lowered melatonin levels make it harder for you to fall asleep and could lead to more fatigue the following day.

Therefore, it’s recommended to read a physical book to help improve your sleep.

Focus on trying to stay awake

Paradoxical intention (PI) is a sleeping technique that involves intentionally staying awake, rather than forcing yourself to sleep.

It’s designed to reduce performance anxiety and stress produced by forcing yourself to fall asleep.

Although the research is mixed, some studies suggest that PI may help improve sleep onset, duration, and quality.

Visualize happy things

Engaging your imagination may be more calming than counting sheep.

A 2011 study suggests that picturing and concentrating on an environment that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed could take your mind away from the thoughts that keep you up at night.

Older research from a 2002 study also found that imagery distraction helped quicken sleep onset compared with people who had general distractions or no instructions.

Try sleep-enhancing supplements

Certain supplements may help you fall asleep faster, boost the production of sleep-promoting hormones, or help calm brain activity.

Some of these supplements include:

  • magnesium
  • 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)
  • melatonin
  • L-theanine
  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)

Pro Tip

Before trying any of these supplements, it’s important to speak with a doctor. The supplements may have side effects or negative interactions with other medications.

The bottom line

Quality sleep is crucial for overall well-being. With these 20 actionable tips, you can take control of your sleep routine, improve sleep onset, and enhance the depth and duration of your rest. From lifestyle adjustments to relaxation techniques, prioritize your sleep for a healthier, more energized life.

What You Really Need to Do to Boost Your Immunity

If you want to boost your immune health, you may wonder how to help your body fight off illnesses.

While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body’s natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens, or disease-causing organisms.

Key Takeaways:

  • Prioritize quality sleep, aiming for 7 or more hours each night.
  • Incorporate whole plant foods rich in antioxidants and fiber for improved immunity.
  • Consume healthy fats like olive oil and omega-3s to combat inflammation.
  • Boost your gut health with fermented foods or probiotic supplements.
  • Limit added sugars to reduce inflammation and support overall health.
  • Engage in moderate exercise to enhance the effectiveness of your immune system.

Helpful ways to strengthen your immune system and fight off disease

How can you improve your immune system? On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails: A germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? What if you improve your diet? Take certain vitamins or herbal preparations? Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response?

Healthy ways to strengthen your immune system

Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system working properly. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Try to minimize stress.
  • Keep current with all recommended vaccines. Vaccines prime your immune system to fight off infections before they take hold in your body.

1. Get enough sleep

Sleep and immunity are closely tied.

In fact, inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness.

In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night .

Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness  .

Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours .

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle .

Other sleep hygiene tips include sleeping in a completely dark room or using a sleep mask, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising regularly


Inadequate sleep may increase your risk of getting sick. Most adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

2. Eat more whole plant foods

Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens.

The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high levels .

Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers.

Meanwhile, the fiber in plant foods feeds your gut microbiome, or the community of healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiome can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract .

Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold

Pro Tip

Several whole plant foods contain antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, all of which may lower your susceptibility to illness.

3. Eat more healthy fats

Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil and salmon, may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation.

Although low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system.

Olive oil, which is highly anti-inflammatory, is linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, its anti-inflammatory properties may help your body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in salmon and chia seeds, fight inflammation as well .


Healthy fats like olive oil and omega-3s are highly anti-inflammatory. Since chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system, these fats may naturally combat illnesses.

4. Eat more fermented foods or take a probiotic supplement

Fermented foods are rich in beneficial bacteria called probiotics, which populate your digestive tract .

These foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto.

Research suggests that a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms .

In a 3-month study in 126 children, those who drank just 2.4 ounces (70 mL) of fermented milk daily had about 20% fewer childhood infectious diseases, compared with a control group .

If you don’t regularly eat fermented foods, probiotic supplements are another option.

In a 28-day study in 152 people infected with rhinovirus, those who supplemented with probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis had a stronger immune response and lower levels of the virus in their nasal mucus than a control group .


Gut health and immunity are deeply interconnected. Fermented foods and probiotics may bolster your immune system by helping it identify and target harmful pathogens.

5. Limit added sugars

Emerging research suggests that added sugars and refined carbs may contribute disproportionately to overweight and obesity .

Obesity may likewise increase your risk of getting sick.

According to an observational study in around 1,000 people, people with obesity who were administered the flu vaccine were twice as likely to still get the flu than individuals without obesity who received the vaccine.

Curbing your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid weight loss, thus reducing your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease .

Given that obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease can all weaken your immune system, limiting added sugars is an important part of an immune-boosting diet .

You should strive to limit your sugar intake to less than 5% of your daily calories. This equals about 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet.


Added sugars contribute significantly to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, all of which can suppress your immune system. Lowering your sugar intake may decrease inflammation and your risk of these conditions.

6. Engage in moderate exercise

Although prolonged intense exercise can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise can give it a boost.

Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems .

What’s more, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly .

Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week .

Moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and promote the healthy turnover of immune cells. Jogging, biking, walking, swimming, and hiking are great options.


Moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and promote the healthy turnover of immune cells. Jogging, biking, walking, swimming, and hiking are great options

7. Stay hydrated

Hydration doesn’t necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health.

Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness .

To prevent dehydration, you should drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. Water is recommended because it’s free of calories, additives, and sugar .

While tea and juice are also hydrating, it’s best to limit your intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea because of their high sugar contents .

As a general guideline, you should drink when you’re thirsty and stop when you’re no longer thirsty. You may need more fluids if you exercise intensely, work outside, or live in a hot climate .

It’s important to note that older adults begin to lose the urge to drink, as their bodies do not signal thirst adequately. Older adults need to drink regularly even if they do not feel thirsty.


Given that dehydration can make you more susceptible to illness, be sure you’re drinking plenty of water each day.

8. Manage your stress levels

Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health.

Long-term stress promotes inflammation, as well as imbalances in immune cell function .

In particular, prolonged psychological stress can suppress the immune response in children.

Activities that may help you manage your stress include meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, and other mindfulness practices. You may also benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist, whether virtually or in person.


Lowering your stress levels through meditation, yoga, exercise, and other practices can help keep your immune system functioning properly.

Improve immunity with herbs and supplements?

Walk into a store, and you will find bottles of pills and herbal preparations that claim to “support immunity” or otherwise boost the health of your immune system. Although some preparations have been found to alter some components of immune function, thus far there is no evidence that they actually bolster immunity to the point where you are better protected against infection and disease. Demonstrating whether an herb — or any substance, for that matter — can enhance immunity is, as yet, a highly complicated matter. Scientists don’t know, for example, whether an herb that seems to raise the levels of antibodies in the blood is actually doing anything beneficial for overall immunity.

The bottom line

A resilient immune system is nurtured through a balanced lifestyle encompassing adequate sleep, nutritious food choices, regular exercise, and stress management. By adopting these healthy habits, you empower your body to defend against infections and maintain optimal well-being.

How Much Calories Do I Need A Day?

What are calories?

Most people only associate calories with food and drink, but anything that contains energy has calories. 1 kilogram (kg) of coal, for example, contains 7,000,000 calories.

There are two types of calorie:

  • A small calorie (cal) is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram (g) of water by 1º Celsius (º C).

  • A large calorie (kcal) is the amount of energy required to raise 1 kilogram (kg) of water by 1º C. It is also known as a kilocalorie.

1 kcal is equal to 1,000 cal.

The terms “large calorie” and “small calorie” are often used interchangeably. This is misleading. The calorie content described on food labels refers to kilocalories. A 250-calorie chocolate bar actually contains 250,000 calories.

Figuring out Your Daily Calorie Intake Isn’t Rocket Science

Being conscious of your calorie intake can help you maintain a healthy weight, or lose a few extra pounds if necessary.

The average recommended daily caloric intake is 2200 calories for males, and 1800 calories for females. These values are based on an average weight and physical activity of the average male and female Singaporean. For a more personalised and accurate caloric requirement, you would need to take into account your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.


Calculating your daily calorie intake for weight management is a straightforward process, with recommended average values of 2200 calories for males and 1800 calories for females, though personalization based on factors like age, gender, height, weight, and activity level is crucial for accuracy

Portion Control Helps with Calorie Intake

One of the simplest and most effective methods for controlling your calorie intake is portion control. Often, we eat what is on our plate rather than what our body needs. By deciding beforehand how much we need and what goes on our plate, we are a lot more likely to succeed in controlling our diet and calorie intake.

Here’s a scenario: You’ve identified that your recommended daily calorie intake is 2,200 kcal. It’s now time for dinner, and you’ve already consumed 1,500 kcal throughout the day. That leaves you with an allowance of 700 kcal for dinner. You should then portion what goes onto your dinner plate accordingly to keep those extra pounds away.

A range of dishes on your dining table to choose from:

  • Brown rice — 137 kcal (½ bowl)
  • Deep-fried lemon chicken — 347 kcal (100 g)
  • Sambal egg — 67 kcal (1 egg)
  • Beef rendang — 201 kcal (90 g)
  • Fishball soup — 53 kcal (½ bowl)
  • Stir-fried spinach — 163 kcal (100 g)
  • Ice cream— 136 kcal (1 scoop)

To achieve your target of 700 kcal, you can only pick, for example, the brown rice (137 kcal) + beef rendang (201 kcal) + sambal egg (67 kcal) + fish ball soup (53 kcal) + spinach (163 kcal), which would add up to 621 kcal. If you wanted the scoop of ice cream, you would have to forgo another item such as the sambal egg.

Depending on your physical output for the day, you might also want to adjust your food intake accordingly. For example, if it’s the weekend and you did nothing but sit in front of the TV all day, you could consider adjusting your portion downwards.

Pro Tip

Effective portion control is a key strategy for managing calorie intake, ensuring you stay within your daily limits and make informed choices about what goes on your plate, helping you maintain a balanced and healthy diet.

Why Is It Important to Watch Our Daily Calorie Intake?

Consuming too many calories which we do not use up will lead to weight gain. Studies show that when our body weight is at an unhealthy range, we are at a higher risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, among other chronic diseases.

Factors that impact your caloric intake

A calorie is a measure of the energy in food.

To maintain your weight, energy in must equal energy out (calories consumed vs. calories burned).

Eat fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose weight.

But if you consume more calories than you need, your body stores that energy for later (in the form of extra padding on your hips and around your middle).

Everybody’s daily calorie needs are different, which can make it hard to figure out the magic number. In general, men need more calories than women. Active people need more than those who have desk jobs. And younger people need more than older people, whose metabolisms slow down as they age.

These factors can impact your caloric intake:

  • Sex.
  • Height.
  • Weight.
  • Age.
  • Activity level.
  • Hormones.
  • Medications

Quality of Calories, Not Just Quantity

Consuming the right number of calories is a good first step towards achieving a healthier body. However, you should know that not all calories are equal. Keeping to the calorie count on a diet consisting of only sugary cakes, meat dishes, or a glass of wine is far from ideal. This is because your body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre to function properly.

Eating healthy is not limited to eating the right amount and the right mix. It is also important for optimum nutrition to choose healthy foods prepared with healthier options and ingredients. Steamed chicken, for example, is far healthier than deep-fried chicken.

For example, wholegrains are healthier than refined grains (white rice or bread) as they contain more vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. In addition, they also keep you filling full for longer, which helps reduce the risk of overeating. Choosing healthier cooking oils are also important as they can affect your body’s good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.

Tips for Sticking to Your Daily Calorie Intake

Here are six useful tips to help you achieve your food intake target:

  1. Order less — The tendency, with big groups especially, is to order more than you can finish. Even if you can finish what’s on the table, it’s likely that you would have busted your recommended daily calorie intake.

  • Pack leftovers — If you’ve ended up over-ordering, it doesn’t mean that you have to finish it all to avoid food wastage. Don’t be afraid to ask for unfinished dishes to be packed for takeaway.

  • Share your food — When eating out, it isn’t always easy or possible to control the amount of food that comes to you. If you know beforehand that the portions are too large, get a friend to share a meal with you.

  • Be flexible — Remember that the recommended calorie intake figure is a daily target. If you overate at breakfast, try to make up for it at lunch or dinner or by cutting down on your snacks.

  • Keep healthy snacks handy — Achieving your target doesn’t have to involve depriving yourself of food. It’s about eating smart. Whenever you’re feeling hungry, have a healthy low-calorie snack ready such as a chilled fruit or yoghurt, instead of high-calorie foods such as potato chips or fries.

  • Choose healthier food options when eating out — Look out for HPB’s healthier dining identifiers on menus in partner food courts and restaurants. These identifiers indicate if the dishes use a healthier oil, wholegrains, or are lower in calories


Successfully sticking to your daily calorie intake is facilitated by practical tips such as ordering less, packing leftovers, sharing meals, being flexible with daily targets, keeping healthy snacks accessible, and choosing healthier options when dining out, promoting a sustainable and balanced approach to managing your diet

The bottom line

Calories go beyond mere numbers—they impact your weight, health, and overall well-being. Understanding and managing your daily caloric intake through personalized approaches, portion control, and choosing nutrient-dense foods are key factors in achieving a healthy lifestyle.