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Staying young

Blue poo can be good for you

If you want to know how healthy your tummy is, take the “blue poo challenge”, says Kate Spicer in the Telegraph. Whip up some food with royal-blue catering dye – a muffin, say. Then eat it and measure the time it takes for the dye to “materialise at the other end”. This is your gut transit time, and it offers a snapshot of the state of the bacteria in your stomach.

The challenge is the brainchild of Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, “Covid data oracle” and a leading authority on the links between diet and disease. It’s a useful biomarker, like blood sugar levels, blood pressure, heart rate or a blood test. An unhealthy gut has been shown to be a factor in conditions ranging from Parkinson’s to autism, obesity to depression.

Spector, 60, is an official “superpooper”, with an average transit time of 18 hours. He credits his gut health to plant foods, bacteria-laden kombucha and “bacteria-laden smelly French cheeses”, as well as intermittent fasting.

On a bad day, after little sleep, my transit time is 44 hours, way above the average of 28: “poopmageddon”. On a good day, I’m at 22 hours, a mere “party pooper”. Anyone can take the test, and Spector says acquiring more data will aid the development of cures and preventative treatments. That’s why his colleagues call him “Dr Poo”.

Get naked for a great night’s sleep

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Sleeping naked can improve your sleep, says Melanie Macleod in Get the Gloss. According to sleep expert Rob Hobson, it lowers your body temperature, triggering the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. It also boosts intimacy: skin-to-skin contact stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that creates “a safe feeling” and reduces stress and anxiety. It’s also liberating: “I felt sexy and mature, like the glam ladies in Sex and the City,” says Macleod.

There’s another trick to dozing off, says The Independent. A technique used by the US military can help you fall asleep in two minutes and works for 96% of people after six weeks. Start by relaxing the muscles in your face, including the tongue and jaw, then relax your shoulders, arms, chest and legs. Next, spend 10 seconds clearing your mind and imagine one of the following three things: lying on a canoe on a calm lake, with blue sky above; lying in a black velvet hammock in a dark room; or saying “Don’t think” to yourself repeatedly for 10 seconds.

Farewell to wellness – and good riddance

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“Wellness culture is over,” says Phoebe Luckhurst in Vogue. It’s been torn apart by Nine Perfect Strangers, a satirical TV series about a Californian wellness retreat – and about time too. What started “fairly harmlessly with spa days and quinoa” has become an “industrial-level parasite” feeding on women’s insecurities. We’re always being told something is “wrong” with us, that “toxins” need to be flushed out. Yet scientifically dubious wellness cures are “expensive and elitist” – your local gym obviously won’t do. Wellness is shorthand for privilege and self-care for self-obsessed.