How Your Liver Health Affects Your Skin | Aging Gracefully

by Institute for Vibrant Living

There is a huge emphasis on the importance of a healthy heart, but having a healthy liver can be equally important. Symptoms of poor liver health can lead to a variety of aging skin problems. If aging gracefully is important to you, then you need to learn how to look after your liver.

Learn how your liver health can cause aging skin problems

The Importance of a Healthy Liver

The liver is the largest and most complex organ in the body. It is responsible for cleansing the body of toxins, metabolizing estrogen, regulating fat, breaking down red blood cells, controlling digestion and many more tasks. The main function of the liver is to eliminate toxins and metals in the body.

Related:  Liver Health: 10 Tips for Optimum Liver Health

A liver that is under stress or not functioning at its best means toxins can build up in the body. Liver disease such as jaundice causes the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow due to high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Other symptoms of poor liver health include:

  • Sallow skin color
  • Acne rosacea or bumpy skin
  • Eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis
  • Wrinkles and loose skin
  • Itchy rashes and ulcers
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Brown age spots and skin blemishes
  • Spider veins beneath the surface of the skin

Notice that these are all visible symptoms which suggest that to have healthy skin and avoid aging skin problems you must take care of your liver.  While serious skin problems may need a medical specialist, there are some initial steps you can take to boost liver health.

  1. Detoxify

Treat yourself to a detox diet for 3-7 days. Avoid processed food, sugar, dairy, wheat, alcohol and coffee and focus on a diet of vegetables, fruit, plant-based protein, fermented probiotic-rich food and cleansing drinks including plenty of water. An initial day of fasting will also give your digestive tract a break as your body and liver detoxify. Milk thistle and dandelion root will also help the detox process.

  1. Drink Raw Juices

Use a juicer to create healthy drinks from a mixture of healthy foods such as carrot, kale, mint, pear, citrus, apple, cabbage, and mint leaves. Make a bulk quantity, allowing one cup per day, and freeze the rest.

  1. Limit Alcohol

Exceeding the recommended limit of alcohol will have a negative impact on your liver. According to CDC guidelines this means on average one drink per day for women and two drinks for men.

Looking after your liver will reduce the risk of aging skin problems listed earlier. In addition, reduce stress in your life wherever possible and try to get more sleep. Anything that upsets your nervous or digestive system will negatively affect your skin’s ability for aging gracefully. 


How Free Radical Damage Affects Your Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

We hear a lot about free radicals and their harmful effect on our health and aging. It’s important to understand free radical dangers so that you can take steps to counter their effect. Here’s a simple explanation of how free radical dangers can be reduced to slow the aging process and reduce the risk of cancer.

Avoid free radical dangers and slow the aging process

Understanding Free Radical Dangers

The dangers of free radicals were uncovered by Dr. Denham Harman in the 1950s. He discovered that when cells produce energy for the body to function, the byproducts are harmful free radicals. Studies show that these free radicals damage cellular DNA, which is the main cause of aging in the body. It’s a bit like a car engine burning fuel for propulsion, but the waste produced is toxic carbon monoxide.

What is Oxidative Stress?

Free radicals contain unpaired electrons which try to pair up with other electrons to balance themselves. They “steal” electrons from other molecules and this creates damage to our cellular DNA. This process is called oxidative stress.

Related:  Astaxanthin May Prevent Heart Disease Caused by Inflammation and Free Radicals

How Free Radical Dangers Affect Aging

The reason why free radical dangers cause premature aging is because DNA controls cell division and the formation of new cells. If DNA is damaged by oxidative stress, it negatively affects new cell production. This leads to signs of aging in the skin and may also cause cancer, which is caused by abnormal cell division. Other free radical dangers include damage to the skin and organs due to collagen cross-linking, impaired cognitive function, weakened immune system and cardiovascular damage.

How to Counter Free Radical Dangers

We can’t stop the production of free radicals as it is a natural part of living, breathing, eating and exercise. However, there are some ways we can reduce oxidative stress. Smoking produces free radicals and is a cause of premature wrinkles and aging. Excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight, stress and over-consumption of alcohol can all increase oxidative stress and should be avoided whenever possible.

Heating vegetable oils is known to release toxic free radicals, so switch to butter or coconut oil when possible. You can still enjoy olive oil in salad dressings and unheated foods.

The most important way to combat free radical dangers is by consuming plenty of foods high in antioxidants such as fruit, vegetables and green tea. As their name suggests, antioxidants counter oxidative stress by pairing up with floating free radicals. This neutralizes them, preventing damage to our cells and DNA. This in turn slows the aging process, leading to a longer and healthier life.


Health Dangers of Excess Weight | Weight Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you at higher risk than others of suffering from over 50 different health problems including cancer, diabetes and heart disease? If you are clinically overweight and struggle with weight loss, then unfortunately you are at this higher risk.

Discover the sobering facts about weight effect on aging

Excess pounds do more than just increase your weight; they actually increase your risk of mortality. It has been clinically proven that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from a stroke, heart attack, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression than those who maintain a normal healthy weight.

Weight effect on aging is another problem for many, and a Harvard study shows the risk of developing type-2 diabetes is 20 times more likely in those who are overweight. The good news is that you can do something to reverse this risk by seriously committing to a weight loss program.

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Tips

Benefits of Managing Weight Loss

There are many benefits to losing weight. You will feel more energetic and are statistically likely to enjoy a longer, better quality life. It can be daunting to face having to lose weight, but start with a manageable target that will immediately make you feel better, both physically and emotionally. Commit to achieving an initial weight loss of 5-10% of your body weight. When you feel your determination is faltering, remind yourself of these facts about the weight effect on aging and general health.

  • Losing 10 pounds can lower your systolic blood pressure by 2.8mm/Hg and your diastolic blood pressure by 2.5 mm/Hg. This is equal to the expected reduction when someone starts taking blood pressure medication
  • Losing 7% of your weight and exercising for 30 minutes a day lowers your risk of diabetes by nearly 60%
  • A study on 1.5 million adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of death increased by 44% in people who are mildly obese and by 250% in those with a BMI of 40 to 50

By achieving a normal weight for your height you can significantly reduce your risk of mortality and have a healthier, higher quality of life. You can use the NIH calculator to work out your BMI by entering your height and weight right now. Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; overweight is 25-29.9 and obese is 30 and above. If you are overweight or obese, now is a good time to commit to reducing that detrimental weight effect on aging by adopting a healthy diet that does not exceed 1,200 calories per day, and by engaging in 30 minutes of brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming or other exercise to burn off those excess pounds.

Weight loss is never easy, but it is definitely worth it! 


Fighting Fatigue with Green Tea – A Natural Fatigue Treatment

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many new studies have made exciting discoveries about the positive effects of green tea on energy and fatigue. High in antioxidants, green tea has many health benefits including fatigue treatment. Green tea is known to raise the metabolic rate, which helps boost fat burning and weight loss, and this could also explain why it helps counter fatigue.

Green tea can be an effective fatigue treatment

Exercise and Oxidative Stress

Tannins are polyphenols in green tea that help the body to eliminate toxins, boost fat burning and increase metabolism. These antioxidants also counter the harmful effects of free radicals which are produced as a byproduct during natural body functions such as digestion and exercise.

During exercise, free radicals are produced in the body and they are neutralized by antioxidants. Although regular moderate exercise is known to boost health, strenuous exercise can cause oxidative stress. Studies show that this free radical production during exercise is what causes fatigue and consequently reduces endurance performance. 

Oxidative stress is when the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced as a byproduct of burning energy threatens to overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defense.  If there are insufficient antioxidants in the body to detoxify the ROS, this leads to an undesirable level of oxidative stress. Free radical production is highest when exercise is exhaustive and therefore higher levels of antioxidants are required to neutralize them.

Related:  History of Green Tea in Indigestion Remedies

Study on Green Tea as a Treatment for Fatigue

The China University of Mining and Technology carried out a study on 40 mice into the effects of green tea polyphenols as a fatigue treatment. The mice were divided into four groups with one control group receiving distilled water. The other three groups received different amounts of green tea polyphenols, adjusted to each animal’s body weight.

The mice were given swimming exercises each week, carrying weights of 10% of their body weight to replicate the effects of strenuous exercise. After two weeks, the mice fed green tea polyphenols were able to swim for longer, indicating that the polyphenols were effectively acting as a fatigue treatment. The higher the dose of green tea polyphenols, the longer the mice were able to swim.     

Results showed that the green tea acted as an anti-fatigue treatment on the mice and allowed the mice to swim for longer with less fatigue.

Tips for Drinking Green Tea for Energy

  • Avoid ready-to-drink green tea as it does not have the same strength as freshly brewed green tea
  • Avoid decaffeinated green tea as it contains less than one third of the catechins found in regular green tea
  • Avoid green tea bags as they generally contain lower quality green tea than loose tea leaves
  • Use 4 grams of loose green tea per cup of boiling water (8 fluid ounces)
  • Do not add milk as this reduces the effect of the catechins
  • If you don’t like the taste of green tea, add honey, ginger, lemon or mint leaves to boost the flavor

You’ll find green tea is a refreshing drink and a great fatigue treatment when energy levels are low.


Are Statins Killing You? The Top 6 Dangers of Statins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you part of the one in four Americans over the age of 45 who take statins? Statin drugs are prescribed to help lower cholesterol, but the dangers of statins and the truth about its efficacy are now being questioned. One of the hurdles in reversing the policy on statins is the fact that Big Pharma makes huge profits from the sales of statin drugs, with a reported turnover of $29 billion in 2013.

Studies are showing there may be hidden dangers to statins

The Dangers of Statins

Several surveys have reported results that show statins may be doing more harm than good when it comes to our health. Their results show:

  • Statins interfere with the natural production of Coenzyme Q10, which helps maintain blood pressure, supports the cardiovascular system and is essential for the immune and nervous systems
  • Studies have found a link between statin use and memory loss, possibly because cholesterol is essential to brain function. Some patients find they are unable to remember words while others develop serious neurological problems such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Statins appear to weaken the immune system, so users are more prone to bacterial infections
  • Statin drugs promote inflammation due to the increased production of cytokines
  • Statin users are at higher risk of Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), according to Dr. David Williams
  • In animals studies, statins caused 226% more muscle damage in animals when they exercised, compared to animals that were not on statins

And the list goes on and on. It’s a cause for reflection for those who take statins and are so far unaware of the dangers of statins.

Related:  Knock Down Bad Cholesterol with these Four Foods

When to Stop Taking Statins

Although studies have shown that statins help reduce cholesterol, which is thought to lower the risk of heart disease, it may not apply to those over the age of 50. A Japanese study found that high cholesterol is not necessarily associated to coronary heart disease in those over the age of 50. This study suggests that older people would actually be healthier if they stopped taking statins at middle age.

Harlan Krumholz at the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at Yale discovered that elderly people with low cholesterol were twice as likely to die from heart attack as those with high cholesterol, which contradicts popular beliefs about the need for statins into old age.

In addition to this, the University of Minnesota Epidemiology Department studied 68,000 deaths and found that low cholesterol was associated with an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal or respiratory disease. This ties in with the above findings about the dangers of statins weakening the immune system.

While the debate continues about the dangers of statins, one message remains clear. By eating a healthy balanced diet based on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, such as the Paleo diet recommended by Dr. Mercola, your body may balance its own levels of cholesterol, leading to a longer life, safely and naturally.


Five Tips to Improve Brain Function | Memory Improvement Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may not be able to make yourself taller, or alter your shoe size, but there are ways to improve brain function. As you age, maintaining mental acuity is increasingly important to stave off the symptoms of mental decline. Here are our top five memory improvement tips to help you keep your brain healthy!

1.     Exercise

Exercise is not just good for the heart and joints; it is also essential for brain function. A study published in Neuroscience reported that regular exercise helped monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as the non-exercising control group. The study was performed on middle-aged and mature monkeys who were trained on treadmills for five weeks and then underwent cognitive tests using the Wisconsin General Testing Apparatus. Scientists believe that exercise can improve brain function in humans in the same way.

Exercise improves blood flow to the brain and causes nerve cells in the brain to multiply. These cells release proteins and chemicals during exercise which boost cognitive function and improve neural health.

2.     Omega-3 to Improve Brain Function

Almost 60% of the brain is made up of fats including DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid which is known to support the central nervous system. DHA deficiency can cause nerve cells to become rigid and inflamed leading to reduced neurotransmission between cells. Low levels of DHA have also been associated with memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.  Taking omega-3 supplements can be one of the easiest memory improvement tips to adopt. 

Related:  The Ultimate Food Guide to Omega 3s

3.     Sleep Well

Sleep allows the brain to rest and reset, so improving your sleep can improve brain function and improve mental insight.  A Harvard study on sleep showed that people are 33% more likely to recall facts from memory after a good night’s sleep. Study leader Dr. Ellen Bogen concluded that “sleep does not just passively protect memories, but rather, plays an active role in memory consolidation.”

Too little sleep can also upset the circadian rhythm and may cause the brain to stop producing new cells. It seems that sleep is vital if you want to maintain and improve brain function.

4.     Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for increasing nerve growth in the brain. It is present in the hippocampus and cerebellum areas of the brain which are responsible for tasks such as planning, processing of new information and retaining memories. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to poor brain function, so getting plenty of vitamin D from food, sunshine or supplements is another easy memory improvement tip.

5.     Use It or Lose It

It is a well known fact that an active brain in later life can significantly improve brain function. Doing puzzles, learning a skill, mastering a new language, or stimulating the mind with mnemonic techniques can all keep your brain alert and healthy as we age.





The Best Brain Supplements to Improve Your Memory

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It is natural to be concerned about memory loss as we age, but there are now some excellent supplements for memory support. We look at some of the best brain supplements on the market to help you make the right choice for your optimal mental health.

There are many supplements for memory support.

Nootropics is the term used for any product that improves mental capability such as concentration, memory and motivation. It covers both pharmaceutical drugs and natural brain supplements, which are proving to be equally effective at supporting brain and memory function as we age. Here are a few natural supplements for memory that you should consider.

Ginkgo Biloba

Popular as a memory booster in Europe, ginkgo biloba is one of nature’s best brain supplements on the market. It works by improving blood flow in smaller vessels and has shown promise in studies into the treatment of dementia. Sourced naturally from the ginkgo tree, ginkgo alters insulin levels and thins the blood, so it should not be taken in conjunction with other medications unless first approved by your doctor.

Related:  Effects of Overeating on Brain Health

Asian Ginseng

Asian ginseng is often used alongside ginkgo biloba as these herbs appear to work synergistically together. It helps counter physical fatigue and has shown promising signs of success in small group studies into supplements for memory support.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Sourced naturally from fish, plants and nuts, studies suggest that higher levels of omega-3, usually taken in supplement form, can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and are one of the best natural supplements for memory.


Popular with young gym enthusiasts, creatine is known to improve sports performance as well as improving memory and intelligence. Researchers found that taking a 5mg supplement daily for six weeks had a positive effect on improving memory.


Found in green tea and mushrooms, L-Theanine has been shown in various scientific studies to affect neurotransmitters in the brain. It appears to prevent beta-amyloid-induced brain dysfunction and improves cognitive performance.

Vitamin E

Recent studies have found that vitamin E can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and may help counter age-related memory loss. Recommended doses should be carefully adhered to as high doses may have harmful side effects.


This common amino acid has been found to help with memory problems and provides benefit to those with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Studies continue to look at the effectiveness of this natural ingredient in their search to find the best brain supplements for memory.

Other lifestyle factors that may help protect against memory loss include adopting a healthy Mediterranean diet high in olive oil, fish, vegetables and nuts. Moderate amounts of red wine and coffee many also help enhance your memory, although an excess of either can negate the benefits.



The Best Five Natural Alternatives to Fluoride

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many people are aware of the dangers of fluoridation, but are reluctant to forego the protection that fluoride gives against cavities and tooth decay. We explore a range of natural alternatives to fluoride that will not only protect your teeth but will also safeguard your overall health from the side effects caused by fluoride.

Neem leaves are one of the best natural alternatives to fluoride


1. Coconut Oil

The most effective protection against tooth decay is regular brushing and flossing twice daily. This removes traces of food that may be broken down by bacteria in the mouth, creating the acid that rots enamel and causes cavities. If you want to do more, include regular daily use of a tongue scraper—a tool used in Ayurvedic healing medicine for years.  Also try using coconut oil as a fluoride alternative to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Use it as toothpaste or swish through the teeth like a mouthwash to reduce plaque. Its antibacterial properties detour the presence of bacteria which cause tooth decay. (Oil pulling is the traditional name for this technique, again, and Ayurvedic method of oral hygiene.)

2. Neem

Neem is another amazing natural alternative to fluoride. Look for a neem-based mouthwash to help reduce plaque buildup and counter gingivitis (gum disease). Another good way to use neem is with fluoride-free toothpaste which includes neem extract.

3. Vitamin D

Taking a supplement of vitamin D is good for your general health, promoting strong bones and teeth. It’s a safe and natural alternative to fluoride.

4. Myrrh

Myrrh extract is great for promoting healthy teeth and combating bad breath; the best way to include myrrh in your dental health routine.  There are several products available that are fluoride-free formulas containing herbs such as eucalyptus and peppermint which support oral health and reduce cavities.

5. Chocolate!

Clinical trials on a chocolate extract have shown it is more effective than fluoride for treating hypersensitivity due to thinning dental enamel or periodontal disease. The cacao extract was able to restore and repair enamel and dental occlusions in just seven days. This natural fluoride alternative re-mineralizes the tooth better than fluoride and without the toxic side effects.

With so many natural alternatives to fluoride, you can banish fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes and get natural tooth protection without the risk of dangerous side effects.



Tasty and Unique Lentil Recipes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

A healthy diet should include pulses and legumes, but many people avoid them as they have no idea how to cook and serve them. These unique lentil recipes will introduce you to these healthy foods.

Incorporate pulses into your diet with unique lentil recipes


What are Lentils?

Lentils are part of the legume family.  Like peas and beans, they grow in pods on bushy plants. Theses edible pulses are high in fiber and protein, making them filling and satisfying for vegetarians, vegans and weight-watchers.  Lentils are also low in fat with zero cholesterol and are packed with nutrients including iron, phosphorus, potassium and folate.

As a guide, half a cup of cooked lentils contains 115 calories, 8 grams fiber, 9 grams of protein and 365 mg potassium.

Now for some unique lentil recipes so you can start to include these healthy pulses in your diet.

Related:  Healthy Recipe:  Squash Chickpea and Red Lentil Stew


Warm Shrimp and Lentil Salad

Boil one cup green (Puy) lentils with celery, one chopped onion, one sliced carrot, bay leaf, thyme sprigs and two garlic cloves in three cups water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 8 large shrimp in a bowl with one tablespoon olive oil and a sprig of crushed thyme, Marinate for 15 minutes then cook for 4-5 minutes until opaque. Drain lentils and discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Mix warm lentils with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Divide between four serving bowls, top each with two cooked shrimp and enjoy!

Tip! This warm lentil salad is also delicious served with salmon or seared pork chops.

Sausage and Lentil Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a popular French casserole of lentils and meat, in this case Toulouse sausages and cooked shredded smoked duck.

Fry the sausages in hot olive oil until brown. Add a chopped onion, garlic clove, 5 ounces chopped smoky bacon, one sliced carrot, one celery stick, ½ leek, one bay leaf and 2 teaspoons ground cumin and cook for 2 minutes. Add 10 ounces Puy lentils, 6 fluid ounces red wine, one pint meat stock and the shredded duck meat (about 8 ounces) to the pan. Cook 30 minutes before stirring in 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar. Serve topped with fresh parsley and a side of mashed potato.

Smoked Trout Lentil Salad

Fry one red onion in a tablespoon olive oil with a clove of crushed garlic. Cook 4 ounces (dry weight) Puy lentils and 4 ounces split yellow peas as per packet instructions. Drain and combine in a saucepan over a gentle heat with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar, 1½ fluid ounces walnut oil, 3 ounces chopped walnuts or pecans, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and divide between four serving dishes. Top with a hot smoked trout fillet, a sprig of watercress and a dollop of sour cream.

As these tasty and unique lentil recipes show, there’s no mystery to cooking lentils and they add a new dimension to your healthy wholesome cooking.



Research Shows the 20s are Prime Weight- Gaining Years

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Your twenties may be the best years of life with student years behind you and so much to look forward to. However, data from the CDC and the US Department of Health and Statistics shows that men and women put on the most weight during the weight-age spectrum of their 20s and early 30s. Read on to learn more about the causes of being overweight, and how to maintain or lose weight while still having fun.

There’s an interesting link between your age and becoming overweight.


Overweight Causes in your 20s

There are several reasons why we put on weight as young adults and it all comes down to lifestyle. Women put on an average of 2.2 pounds each year between the ages of 18 and 30, according to Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen at the University of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The first reason is that most people in that weight-age spectrum are adapting to a more sedentary job, working at a desk and driving everywhere.

The novelty of earning a salary boosts the social life of 20-somethings as they can now afford to dine out more often in restaurants or hang out with friends in bars and nightclubs. Doctor and psychologist Joshua D. Brown, Director of Clinical Services at the Medical University of South Carolina, notes that this social lifestyle boosts calorie intake on a regular basis, causing the inevitable weight gain.

Settling down with a partner or getting married is also likely to happen during your 20s, and this inevitably leads to a less stressful and more contented period of your life. Dr. Gordon Larsen also notes that the average woman gets married around the age of 26. If she then starts a family, the all-too-familiar weight gain due to motherhood is another reason why women become overweight.

Related:  The Importance of Family Time on Kids' Mental Health


Countering Weight Gain in your 20s

Once you nail the likely causes of being overweight in your 20s, you are in a better position to prevent or counter the effect. For example, if your excuse is not having time to go for a run or visit the gym due to your new career, try scheduling your gym time on your calendar, your phone or an online calendar. Once it’s written in as a commitment, it is easier to fit in that all-important fitness regimen.

If drinking alcohol and socializing means you find it hard to lose weight, try alternating every alcoholic drink with a glass of water to effectively half your liquid calorie intake during the evening.

If settling down with a partner is the trigger to piling on a few pounds, why not go for regular walks, bicycle rides and work-outs together. Discuss the problem of becoming overweight and encourage each other to embrace a healthier eating pattern with more salads, fresh fruit and organic veggies and less TV snacks and sweet treats.

These tips will help you maintain or lose weight during that dangerous weight-age spectrum of your 20s, allowing you to stay fit, trim and healthy into later life.



The Effects of Stress on Your Brain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Whether dealing with financial issues, relationship problems or trouble on the job, people are exposed to stress on a daily basis.  No matter what the causes of stress, getting a handle on it is important.  Over a prolonged period, stress wreaks havoc with the health, and research shows it is particularly damaging to the brain.  A moderate amount of stress makes the brain more resilient by building stronger neural circuits, but chronic stress can damage the brain in more ways than one.

It is important to take steps to counter the effects of stress and the release of cortisol.


Interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal are referred to as the HPA axis, which controls the body's response to stress.  Stressful situations activate the HPA, and the body responds by releasing cortisol, a hormone which prepares the body for fight or flight.  This hyper-sensitive state of being can prove healthy and necessary in emergency situations but not over prolonged periods of time.

Excess cortisol triggers electric signals in the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for learning, memory and emotion).  This weakens the hippocampus and slows activity in the HPA axis, which not only affects learning and memory but diminishes the body's ability to respond to stress.

French researchers found that stress triggers the release of an enzyme that attacks areas of the hippocampus responsible for synaptic connections.  Destruction of connections between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex can affect judgment, sociability, memory and understanding.

Related:  Keeping your Memory Sharp

Fortunately, you can take a number of easy steps to help counteract the effects of stress and the release of cortisol:

Participate in enjoyable activities.  Whether you enjoy painting, gardening or lunching with friends, it's hard to be stressed when you're having fun.

Keep a journal.  Writing down feelings and emotions can be cathartic.  Keeping a journal also helps track your stress and determine what's causing it.  

Be mindful.  Worrying about the past or what might happen in the future does not help stress levels.  A number of activities like meditation, yoga, or guided imagery will help keep you in the present. 

Get off the couch or office chair.  Physical activity triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.  If you can't commit to a full workout, try desk pushups, running stairs or walking the dog.

It is next to impossible to avoid stress, but it's important to the health of the whole body to do something about it.  The activities listed above help weaken the effects of stress on the brain, heart, immune system and more

Omega-3 Deficiency Symptoms – How Much do we Need?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Omega-3 deficiency is also known as FADS – Fatty Acid Deficiency Syndrome. The symptoms are hard to pinpoint as they are often shared with other health issues and can easily be overlooked, misdiagnosed or trivialized.

Do you have signs of Omega-3 deficiency?


Let’s consider first why we need omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. The body is unable to make omega-3 fatty acids, yet they are essential for every cell. In particular, our skin, joints, brain and cardiovascular system all need fatty acids to function properly.

We need EPA and DHA on a daily basis and the main source is seafood, oily fish or fish oil supplements. ALA omega-3s are sourced from plants such as flaxseed, soybeans and nuts, and these can be converted into EPA and DHA. Vegetable oils provide omega-6 fatty acids, but a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can contribute to inflammation and heart disease.

Related:  Is Krill Fish Oil Dangerous?


Symptoms of Omega-3 Deficiency

Many studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our mental health. Omega-3 deficiency has been linked to depression, poor memory, attention deficit disorder (ADD), schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Irritability, anxiety and low frustration tolerance may also indicate a lack of fatty acids. Other symptoms include fatigue and poor sleep quality.

More easy to diagnose is the dry itchy skin, cracked fingertips, eczema, hair loss, dandruff and brittle nails that are caused by insufficient omega-3.

Omega-3 eases joint pain by reducing inflammation so omega-3 deficiency may cause an increase in pain for those suffering from stiff joints and rheumatoid arthritis.

We know that omega-3 supports a healthy cardiovascular system, but symptoms of heart disease may not be evident until a heart attack or stroke occurs, which can be far too late.

How Much Omega-3 do we Need?

The FDA does not issue guidelines for recommended daily amounts (RDA) of omega-3 fatty acids but we can look elsewhere for guidance.

The European Food Safety Agency recommends at least 250 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily. The American Heart Foundation suggests 500 mg for healthy adults, but double that amount (1 gram) for those diagnosed with heart disease.

Pregnant and nursing mothers should aim for at least 300 mg per day, according to several advisory groups.

When it comes to DHA, a study by French scientists found that 200 mg DHA per day helped prevent heart disease in healthy men. This figure was reached after healthy male participants aged 53- 65 were given various daily doses of DHA from 200 to 1,600 mg. Blood and urine samples showed biomarkers indicating the effects of each dose. It concluded that 200 mg DHA per day provided the best cardiovascular protection.

By comparison, a 100 g serving of salmon contains up to 1,600 mg of omega-3 (400-1,000 mg DHA and 200-800 mg EPA). However, fish oil supplements are the easiest way to regulate daily fatty acid intake and avoid the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency.





Obesity in Women, Diabetes and Children with Autism

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It is clear that obesity and diabetes are undesirable for good health, but studies now link obesity and autism, particularly obese women with diabetes. If you have not found the impetus to lose weight before, what better reason to address your health and weight issues than when you are planning to start a family?

Research shows a link between diabetes and autism


What is Autism?

The exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder is unknown, but studies show that there may be a genetic predisposition, environmental or other factors that increase the likelihood of children developing the symptoms of this complex condition. Symptoms of autism include inappropriate social interaction, repetitive behavior and slow speech development and poor non-verbal communication.

Association between Diabetes and Autism

A recent study published by the journal Pediatrics showed that obese women with diabetes who became pregnant were at four times the risk of giving birth to a child with autism than normal-weight women who did not have diabetes. Obese mothers who developed gestational diabetes during their pregnancy were also found to be at higher risk of having a child with Autism Specific Disorder, suggesting that the risk for autism begins in the uterus.

The study looked at the data collected from 2,734 mothers who gave birth between 1998 and 2014. The data included the pre-pregnancy weight of the mothers and whether there was any evidence of diabetes before or during the pregnancy. From the selected participants, over 100 children were later diagnosed with Autism Specific Disorder.

The findings clearly showed that obese mothers with diabetes were four times more likely to give birth to an autistic child than other mothers. The study also showed an association between obesity and autism and diabetes and autism, according to Xiaobin Wang, the leader of the study at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Related:  Carbohydrate Digestion Strongly Linked to Obesity


Obesity and Autism

Other studies have found that mothers with diabetes, hypertension and or diabetes are more likely than healthy women to have children with Autism Specific Disorders or developmental delays

More information about the environmental causes of autism can be found on the CHARGE website (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment) which provides information and evaluation assessments for children with autism. The CHARGE study, led by UC Davis epidemiologist Paula Krakowiak, studied 1,004 Californian children aged under 5, of which 517 had Autism Spectrum Disorder, 172 had development issues and 315 showed normal development.

The study found that obese mothers were 1.67 times more likely to have a child with autism and twice as likely to have a child with slow development. Mothers with diabetes were 2.33 times more likely to produce a child with developmental issues, suggesting a significant association between diabetes and autism or slower development.

If you are planning to start a family, the first step should be to establish a healthy diet and normal weight to minimize the risk of your child developing this disorder.




Is Fluoride Dangerous?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Fluoride dangers have been overlooked or ignored for too long, but scientific studies are now raising concerns about the safety, wisdom and need for water fluoridation today.

Be aware of fluoride dangers


You will probably be surprised to learn that:

  • Water fluoridation does not have FDA approval
  • No one knows how much fluoride is “too much” 
  • Fluoride is considered an unapproved drug by the FDA

These facts are not just vague rumors; they are quoted by many medical authorities and research scientists who are concerned about the dangers of fluoride.

Most of the research into fluoride was done over 50 years ago, at a time when even tobacco smoking was considered safe.  At this time, dentists were led to believe that fluoride had to be ingested to provide effective protection against dental cavities. This has now been renounced by the Centers for Disease Control, which states that fluoride is most effective when applied as a coating to the outside of the teeth.

Related:  Your Home Health Checklist

Although 97% of European countries no longer participate in the fluoridation of the drinking water supply, the U.S. continues this archaic practice, ignoring the studies published by JDB Featherstone in the Journal of the American Dental Association that warn of potential fluoride dangers.

These health dangers include:

Brain damage

Animal studies found that fluoride may damage the brain causing dementia-like symptoms, according to the National Research Council (NRC). Human studies also found evidence of lower IQ levels in children with nutritional deficiencies who drank fluoridated water.

Bone Health

Fluoride dangers may also extend to bones, according to the NRC, as fluoride appears to increase the risk of fracture in weakened bones.

Bone Cancer and Fluoridation

Studies led by a team of Harvard scientists found a correlation between osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer) and fluoride in males under the age of 20. The connection has been admitted as biologically plausible by the National Toxicology Program, yet still nothing has been done to halt fluoridation.

Thyroid Problems

The NRC believes that fluoride dangers include it being an endocrine disruptor, reducing the function of the thyroid on those with low iodine levels. Even at the low daily doses (0.01-0.03 mg/kg) provided through drinking fluoridated water, weight gain, depression and poor mental acuity may be experienced if the thyroid function is impaired.

Kidney Disease and Fluoridation

Sufferers of kidney disease are more susceptible to the dangers of fluoridation as they are unable to excrete excess fluoride, causing renal osteodystrophy.

Until the FDA takes decisive action against the dangers of fluoridation, which was grandfathered in before the FDA required stringent drug testing, it is advisable to avoid toothpaste and mouthwashes that increase fluoride dangers and opt for a topical fluoride treatment to protect your teeth from cavities and decay.



Facial Care Tips: Dos and Don’ts for Naturally Beautiful Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Your skin reflects your lifestyle and health so natural beauty tips for face care are important. Too much sun, too little water, too much alcohol and too little sleep all take their toll on your skin.  However, plying your pores with more chemicals and oily lotions can simply make the problem worse. Here are our top beauty tips for face care naturally.

Top beauty tips for face care include using edible products


Cleanse and Exfoliate

If you wear makeup, always cleanse your face at night. It allows your pores to breathe and prevents clogged pores from turning into blackheads or zits. You don’t need expensive cleansers and tonics; just pour a drop of olive oil onto a cotton pad and gently massage into the skin to loosen and remove makeup, dirt and pollution.

You should exfoliate your skin once a week to remove the dead skin cells that accumulate. Mix powdered walnut with yogurt and apply to the face in gentle circular motions. The paste will loosen and lift layers of dead skin and the antioxidants will help promote a glowing complexion that feels smooth and soft.

Related:  Royal Jelly for Skin: Your Skin's Best Friend


Watch What You Eat

You are what you eat when it comes to skincare, so healthy food means a healthier complexion. One of the best beauty tips for face care is eating fresh green vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Salmon oil supplements are excellent for moisturizing the skin from the inside out. Things to avoid are sugary and fatty foods, salt and spicy foods.

Sun Protection Always!

Even on dull days the sun’s harmful UV rays are evident, so you should always wear a moisturizer with sunscreen to avoid wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. Choose a quality product that is labelled “noncomedogenic” so that it does not block pores and cause acne. Don’t forget the chemical-free alternatives to sunscreen:  a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved shirts, an umbrella—or sunbrella, and an all-natural moisturizer.

Hydrate Naturally

Your skin quickly shows if you are dehydrated, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. Hydrate your skin with a spritz of rose water to maintain pH balance and reduce puffy eyes in the morning.  Drink a shot or two a day of organic aloe vera juice to help hydrate your skin from the inside out.

Beauty Sleep is the Best

At the end of the day, you can’t beat a restful night’s sleep, one of nature’s basic beauty tips for face care. Pale, tired skin, dark circles and baggy eyes never look attractive so ensure that you wind down each evening with a calming routine that will ensure eight hours’ undisturbed sleep every night.

By following these top beauty tips for face, eyes and skin you really can look as healthy and energetic as you feel!




Eating More Fruits and Vegetables is Linked to Emotional Wellbeing

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It appears that if you want to feel calm, happy and healthy tomorrow, you should be eating more fruits and vegetables today, according to a new study. Many researchers have suspected that our diet has a strong influence on our health, both physically and mentally, but this is the clearest evidence that emotional wellbeing is also linked to a healthy diet.

Boost your emotional health by eating more fruits and vegetables

Study Links Emotional Wellbeing with a Healthy Diet:

Psychology researchers Tamlin Conner and Bonnie White from the University of Otago, New Zealand investigated the relationship between what we eat and how it affects our emotional wellbeing.   They recruited 281 young adults who suffered from eating disorders and asked them to keep a detailed food diary for the period of the study. The study participants recorded what they ate each day, specifically focusing on servings of fruit, vegetables and unhealthy snacks such as cookies, potato chips and cakes. They also recorded how they felt each day, using nine specific positive or negative adjectives to standardize their responses.

The results showed a clear relationship between what the participants ate and how they felt emotionally. In particular, the participants felt calmer and happier after eating more fruits and vegetables and they had more energy. The relationship between diet and emotional wellbeing was so close that the study could accurately predict how people would feel the following day, based on what they had eaten the previous day. A higher intake of healthy fruit and vegetables led to a positive mood, but this did not relate to other food groups.

Related:  Excess Weight Linked to Brain Changes in Memory, Emotions and Appetite

A larger study of almost 14,000 people aged 16 and older was assessed by researchers at the University of Warwick and the results were published in the British Medical Journal Open. This study also found that eating more fruits and vegetables was closely associated with higher scores on mental wellbeing assessments. In fact, the top 33% of those participants who had high mental and emotional wellbeing ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day. This compared to 28% of those who had low mental wellbeing and ate just one or two servings.

The findings emphasize the fact that eating more fruit and vegetables is essential for both mental and physical wellbeing in people of all ages. Why not give your mental health a boost by committing to eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every single day and see how good you feel?  Keep a food diary to help you track your progress.



Nine Ways to Promote Brain Health and Avoid Brain Cancer

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many cancers including brain cancer and brain tumors are preventable, according to Thomas A. Sellars, Associate Director at Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center. He states that 70% of known cancer causes can be avoided simply by giving up smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. If you’re concerned about brain cancer prevention, here are nine ways to help reduce brain tumor risk factors.

Keep your brain fit and healthy with these tips for brain cancer prevention


1.  Avoid environmental agents

Chemicals and environmental agents such as vinyl chloride are known risk factors for brain tumors, according to the American Cancer Association. Avoid storing and heating food in plastics and cling film which may release DEHA, a cancer-causing chemical, according to Cancer Research UK. Glass and ceramics are safer food storage options.

2.  Limit X-rays

Radiation exposure to the head is a leading cause of cancer in children, so limit those dental x-rays whenever possible. Radiation treatment for other cancers can also cause brain tumors, so all-round cancer prevention is essential.

3.  Boost antioxidants

Fruit and green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach are all high in vitamins and antioxidants. These counter harmful free radicals that are known to cause changes in cell structure. A healthy diet high in fruit and veggies has been associated with a lower risk of certain cancers and may help prevent brain tumors.

Related:  Effects of Overeating on Brain Health

4.  Annual health checks

Annual checkups allow doctors to spot abnormalities at the earliest stage - an important tool for lowering brain tumor risk factors.

5.  Reduce alcohol intake

Although excessive alcohol is not directly related to brain cancer, it can cause liver disease which can spread to the brain.

6.  Use hands-free cell phones

Although to date there is no proven relationship between cell phone use and brain cancer, it is better to be safe than sorry. Using a hands-free system distances the radio waves from your head and may possibly prevent brain tumors.

7.  Filter your water

A study by the Environmental Working Group showed that filtered mains water is far safer and purer than bottled water. By drinking filtered water from the faucet you avoid BPA contaminants from plastic bottles. Filtering water reduces your exposure to suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals. It a sensible means of brain cancer prevention.

8.  More caffeine

Although caffeine is frequently slated as being unhealthy, studies show that those who drink five or more cups of coffee a day have a 40% lower risk of brain cancer than those who drink less coffee.  However, if caffeine prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, it may be more logical to avoid caffeine.  Also many women avoid caffeine due to a tendency toward fibro-cysts in the breast.  Use your best judgment when it comes to caffeine intake. 

9.  Increase selenium

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant found in Brazil nuts.  Studies at Dartmouth Medical School show that selenium protects cells from free radical damage and suppresses the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors, including brain tumors.

You have nothing to lose by adopting these simple practices which can considerably lower brain tumor risk factors and hopefully prevent brain cancer.



Three Deliciously Awesome Crock Pot Dinner Recipes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Busy working parents no longer need to feel guilty about not having time to cook a family dinner every night. These crock pot dinner recipes are designed to allow you to add fresh vegetables to a tin of tomatoes, stock and minced beef or chicken (or protein substitute) and leave to cook to tenderness. You’ll arrive home to a hot and healthy meal that is packed with goodness. Here are three of the best crock pot dinner recipes to get you started.

Crock pot dinner recipes are a healthy and economical way to cook.


Lumberjack Soup (meatless)

Add chopped rutabaga, chopped carrots, celery, chickpeas and mushrooms to 9 cups of water. Flavor with 2 teaspoons garlic powder, ½ cup Dijon mustard, ½ tablespoon olive oil, one low-sodium bouillon cube, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for at least six hours until rutabaga is soft. Stir in 3 cups of fresh chopped spinach and allow wilting before serving the soup. Makes 10 delicious cups!

Pot Roast Crock Pot Dinner Recipe

Packed with 28 grams of protein, this pot roast recipe has an interesting twist with potassium from coconut milk and digestive enzymes from pineapple.

Season 2 pounds cubed beef chuck roast with powdered garlic, cumin, salt and pepper; brown in a pan with heated canola oil. Place in slow cooker with 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped jalapenos, 2 chopped peppers, one diced onion, 1-2 sweet potatoes in chunks, 1 can pineapple chunks (drained), 1 can tomatoes, 2 cans corn and one can coconut milk. Stir and cook on low for 8 hours. Delicious!

Related:  Healthy Recipe: Squash Rings with Chard and Walnut Pasta

Moroccan Stew

This deliciously different crock pot dinner recipe includes healthy ingredients such as chickpeas (high in protein and fiber), tomatoes (lycopene), onion (flavonoids), kale (fiber and antioxidant flavonoids), carrots (beta-carotene) and garlic (selenium).

Add 8 browned chicken thighs to the slow cooker along with one tablespoon olive oil, one onion, 4 sliced carrots, one diced red pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons each of cumin and coriander, one cup dried chickpeas, 1x28 ounce can chopped tomatoes, 2 cinnamon sticks and 2½ cups chicken broth. Cook for 6 hours on warm setting; then add one bunch chopped kale, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes more. Remove cinnamon sticks and serve stew over cooked rice.

For a vegetarian option, omit the chicken and use vegetable stock.

You’ll find plenty more crock pot dinner recipes on the Internet, so there’s no excuse for not serving up a nourishing, low-fat, healthy meal even on the busiest days of the week. Why not make double quantities and freeze an extra dinner for another day?  Add a small green salad, some fresh bread for dipping, and sit back and enjoy!



Why Are You Addicted to Sugar?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you feel as though you are addicted to sugar, you are definitely not alone. In recent years, the idea that sugar may be addictive has been gaining attention. Numerous scientific studies have pointed to the fact that sugar is extremely detrimental to human health and may, in fact, be addictive. Let’s take a closer look at why sugar can be addictive and what you can do to combat this addiction.

Diseases caused by poor diet can be prevented by limiting consumption of unhealthy fats, sodium, and in especially sugar.

Your brain needs glucose in order for you to stay alert and function properly; that is where sugar addiction comes into play. Glucose is brain fuel. From birth, the human brain loves and craves sweet tasting food options. Infants, for example, will gravitate towards sweeter food offerings, which underscore the difficulty of kicking a sugar addiction. Humans are literally wired to crave sugar. Unfortunately, this is only part one of the bad news.

Sugar is Constantly Hiding from You

The second part of the bad news where sugar addiction is concerned is that sugar is now literally hiding almost everywhere. Fast food and processed food is packed with sugar. Even foods that most people would never suspect have sugar, such as bread or salsa, for example, can be packed with added sugar. Food manufacturers understand very well the human brain’s desire for sugar and lots of it. They respond accordingly with their products.

Related:  Foods That Lower Blood Sugar:  Peanut Butter

Sugar’s Secret Names

Adding to the complexity of trying to avoid sugar is the fact that sugar is often labeled as many different ingredients. Sugar now goes by many different names ranging from high-fructose corn syrup to corn solids and more. Once the public became aware that high-fructose corn syrup was very unhealthy, the food industry simply changed the name to corn solids.

Sugar is everywhere and it has zero nutritional value. This fact is more serious than it might at first sound. When your body needs nutrition in the form of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, you get hungry. That means that consuming sugar can lead to overeating as your body craves the nutrition it needs.

If your diet consists of sugar-packed fast food and processed foods, then you may find yourself on a vicious cycle where you are consuming more and more sugar and more and more calories. In turn, this situation leads to obesity and all the harmful and diverse health consequences that stem from obesity.

Beating Sugar addiction

Beating sugar addiction begins with finding the sugar in your diet. Step one is to read the labels of the food in your home and the food you are considering buying. Knowing where the sugar is hiding is critical if you are going to win this battle against sugar addiction.

Step two is to find replacement foods that are either lower in sugar or have no sugar at all.  Step three is to eat more whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean protein choices and omega-3 rich foods.

Step four in winning the battle against sugar addiction is to say no to sugar substitutes such these substitutes may have serious side effects.  Step five is to realize that change will take time and that your efforts are an investment in your long-term health.

Sugar addiction can be beaten. If you are persistent and dedicated to making the necessary dietary changes you can win.


Top 3 Exercises for Balance Problems

by theintituteforvibrantliving admin

Regain Your Balance

Poor balance is associated with decreased physical function and an increased risk of falling. Falls are one of the most common causes of injury, loss of independence, and premature death. Approximately 30 percent of people age 65 and older fall every year. Learn the top three exercises that help you keep your balance as you age. Easy to follow guide free download link below.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Top 3 Exercised to Regain Your Balance and Confidence.

Top 3 Exercises for Balance Problems