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(The more random the question, the better!)

Is soda water as good for you as tap water? Does it hydrate your body just as well?
Victoria M
Drink up! “Soda water is just water with carbon dioxide added under pressurised conditions to make a fizz,” says WH health expert Dr Ginni Mansberg. Plus, a study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology found people with stomach troubles reported feeling less bloated, constipated and nauseous when they drank soda water. A top option for people who like fizzy drinks but want to avoid all that sugar.

Is it possible to pass a yeast infection on to a man?
Sabrina L
It’s uncommon, but it happens, says urologist Dr David Weiner. Men can get similar symptoms – redness, itching, unusual discharge – after unprotected sex with an infected partner. He’s more at risk if he’s on antibiotics, has diabetes or an impaired immune system (which all allow yeast to flourish), or if he’s uncircumcised. “The foreskin creates a moist environment conducive to yeast growth,” says Dr Weiner. Anti-fungal meds can be used to treat the condition, and hold off on sex until both your symptoms are gone.

I wash my hair much more often during summer. How can I keep it from drying out?
Mara M
Contrary to popular belief, frequent shampooing does not dry hair, says trichologist Philip Kingsley. Sun, wind, smog and chlorine do, though. Lathering up on a daily basis helps remove a lot of moisture-sapping sweat and chemical gunk. To seal in moisture, WH Beauty Ed Nicole Wraight suggests a leave-in conditioner like Garnier Nutri-Oil Leave In Cream ($10.85). Then style with products like John Frieda Frizz-Ease Thermal Protection Hair Serum ($23.99), which shields hair.

I hike a lot. Can I wear runners or do I need special shoes?
Shelly R

To boot or not to boot? “At the least you’ll want robust trail runners, similar to sneakers but with a deeper tread,” says adventure writer and photographer James McCormack. “They’re lighter than boots and offer greater stability thanks to stiffer midsoles.” If you’re carrying a heavy pack or tackling rocky trails, opt for over-the-ankle boots. “Unless you know the hiking will be tough, or if you have weak ankles, start with trail runners,” he says. If they’re not supportive enough you can always use them for, well, trail running.

I love getting spray tans, but the fumes freak me out. What am I breathing in?
Penny C

You’re smelling a chemical cocktail that includes DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which is one of the ingredients that turn your skin cells bronze (or, it you overdo it, orange). Even though DHA is TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) approved for external use, it hasn’t been proven safe to breathe in, says dermatologist Dr Allan Halpern. Inhaling it may cause coughing, dizziness, fainting or rash and, since it’s tough to hold your breath for a whole session, your health will benefit from using sunless lotions. “They have the same ingredient, without the fumes,” Dr Halpern says.

When I drink coffee my heart races and I can’t stop moving. Is this normal?
Katie R

One cup (that’s 40mg caffeine in instant, 80mg in espresso) increases alertness, concentration and energy, but symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, restlessness and increased heart rate are rare for doses under 400mg. It seems that genes are behind this. “Research suggests these effects are only seen – even in high doses – in people who are sensitive to caffeine,” says WH health expert Dr Ginni Mansberg.

Which is best for a protein drink – soy or whey? And do you drink it before or after a workout?
Alison D
Both offer benefits, so use both, says Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. Soy is antioxidant-rich for bone strength. Whey contains amino acids that aid muscle recovery and boost production of disease-killing cells. Add half a scoop each; drink within an hour after working out.

When is the best time to weigh yourself?
Angela B
Weight can fluctuate throughout the day so it’s best to weigh yourself in the morning, after you’ve gone to the bathroom and before you eat or drink. “Check your weight weekly to avoid being discouraged by daily fluctuations,” suggests WH weight loss expert, Angela Buntic. “Don’t let variations steer you off track; instead look for a general trend of weight reduction.” Remember that increasing muscle and losing fat is the aim, which can appear as a plateau on the scales. “A reduction in waist circumference (your clothes will feel looser), is a great indicator that diet and exercise changes are paying off,” Buntic says.

What are the best undies for exercise?
Kirstie F
Look for exercise-specific underwear. WH fashion editor Talia Maltz recommends Lululemon Athletica, which makes workout knickers from a special, pre-shrunk fabric that stretches four ways and wicks away sweat as you exercise. Lorna Jane offers soft, seamless boyleg undies that are designed to help bypass a war of the wedgie. To avoid visible panty lines, Maltz suggests you invest in a cotton G-string for optimum ventilation. One of the most important rules of underwear and exercise? Slip on
a fresh pair after you work out.

How long will wine last once it has been opened?
Sabrina C
It’s hard to say. “In general, the more wine missing from the bottle, the quicker the remaining wine needs to be consumed,” says Dr Ron Georgiou, Master of Wine and managing director of The Wine Oracle wine consultancy Red wines are more robust due to natural preservatives, so will generally last three to five days once opened. White wines tend to have a shorter lifespan thanks to delicate aromatics. Remove oxygen with a Vacu Vin or Epicurean, suggests Georgiou. Or just polish off the bottle on the day it’s opened.

My gym has a sauna – is it best to work out before or after using it? What are the health benefits?
Nina M
If you think sitting in a sauna is a shortcut to losing weight, think again. There are no shortcuts. That said, steam can help to improve circulation, clean out pores, relieve stress and rejuvenate. “You want to go into a workout fully hydrated, so the smart thing to do is leave the steam session until after the gym,” says WH fitness expert Bridges, whose DVDs – Seek & Destroy Cardio Kicker; Super Shredder Circuit; and Tight Toned Terrific – are out now. “Ten to 15 minutes is enough time to feel the main benefit, which is relaxation.”

Is sleeping on my stomach bad for my spine?
Alex E
It might be. “Sleeping on your stomach means that the weight of your body is pinning down your neck, which is twisted at an angle for up to eight hours,” says Adelaide-based chiropractor Dr Brett Hill. If repeated often enough, it can affect your spine and joint nerves and can cause pain and stiffness. “The best way to sleep is either on your back or side on a firm mattress and with a single, appropriately-sized contoured pillow to help support your neck,” says Dr Hill.
What's the best thing to do for post-workout soreness?
Penny C
Former Australian Olympic weightlifting champ Paul Haslam's favourite treatment: a five minute ice bath followed by a warm shower. "If you want to achieve tone and fitness, the best advice is to train the next day, but at a lesser intensity and, when possible, with different movement patterns," he says. "If you're attempting to increase muscle size, it's probably best to wait another day or two until most of the soreness subsides."

Is it bad to hold in your wee? Sometimes I just don't have time to visit the loo.
Georgia H
The main risk of holding it in is a very embarrassing accident. "Actually, we should all be peeing less to strengthen our pelvic floor muscles; most of us are too quick to run to the toilet," says WH health expert, Dr Ginni Mansberg. "So see if you can stretch it out for an extra hour or so." Holding in poo is more complicated. "It can make you constipated if you do it over a long period of time (for a week or so), but holding it in for an hour or two until you find a decent toilet won't do you any harm," says Dr Mansberg.

How long is considered normal to grieve a dead pet?
Pam S
There's no hard and fast rule. "It's typical for people to experience their highest number of grief symptoms in the first six months, especially in the first one to two months after their pet has died," says NZ-based social and clinical psychologist Dr Alice Boyes. "A recent study found a significant proportion of people had one or more grief symptoms remaining six months (35 per cent) and 12 months (22 per cent) after their pet died." People who had a very strong bond with their pet, experience lots of stress, lack social support or feel anxiety about their human relationships have the hardest time coping with the loss. It's worth visiting a counsellor if you're not coping.

What's the most effective way to clean make-up brushes?
Dalia C
'''De-gunk brushes with lukewarm water and a brush-cleaning product like Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser ($34,, baby shampoo or a gentle shampoo like Al'chemy Unscented Shampoo ($14.50, 1800 631 283), says John Hernandez, a make-up artist with Bobbi Brown's beauty team. Squirt a drop into your palm, wet the bristles and massage them into the cleanser. Rinse the brush, squeeze out moisture with a clean towel and reshape the bristles with your fingers. Never leave wet brushes on a towel - they won't dry quickly enough to prevent mildew build-up. Place them on a bench with the bristles hanging off the edge to dry.

My boyfriend uses my toothbrush - is this bad?
Jane W
"As long as you both have good dental-hygiene habits, sharing a toothbrush is no worse than kissing," says Dr David Manton, convener of Melbourne University's Paediatric Dentistry Program. "If one or both partners have poor oral health, the possibility of transmission of blood-borne diseases is increased, as there is more chance of bleeding gums." Our conclusion? It's best to keep your toothbrush to yourself, but your partner occasionally using it probably won't do you any harm.

Can you suggest some filling, healthy, low-cholesterol meal ideas?
Catherine H
Sure thing! We went straight to our nutrition expert, Sharon Natoli, the director of Food & Nutrition Australia: "To effectively lower cholesterol, it's important to minimise saturated fat in the diet (rather than cholesterol), increase the good types of fats, and increase soluble fibre." Snack on fresh and dried fruit, raw or dry-roasted nuts and seeds, oat cakes or low-fat muesli bars with oats and fruit. For lunch? Try salads with three bean mix and vegetables; vegetable soups with lentils or beans; tuna or salmon wholegrain sambos with lots of salad filling; and baked beans or sardines on soy and linseed toast.

Do periods affect exercise capability? Mine always make me feel sluggish.
Rachael B
Join the club: "Two US studies have found exercise tolerance was not altered by the stage in your menstrual cycle - that's the official scientific version," says WH health expert, Dr Ginni Mansberg. There's a "but", though: "Many of us retain fluid, feel bloated, are in pain and, yes, feel tired during periods," she says. What you do about it is up to you, but keep this in mind: "Studies have found exercise to be a great therapy for PMS," says Dr Mansberg.'''


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