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Natural Relief for Lactose Intolerance

by Health News

Natural Relief for Lactose IntoleranceWhat is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the lactose sugar that comes from dairy products. When lactose intolerant individuals consume milk or milk products, they often feel gassy, bloated and the need to run to the restroom. It is estimated that in the United States, 15% of Caucasians over 50% of Mexican Americans and over 80% of African Americans suffer from lactose intolerance.

What causes lactose intolerance?

Normally, your stomach lining produces an enzyme called lactase which is used to break down lactose, the major sugar in milk. When we are babies, our lactase levels are highest but as we grow older, they get less and less. The less they are, the likely you are to suffer from lactose intolerance. When you drink milk or eat milk products and you don’t produce enough lactase, the lactose is not broken down into absorbable form (sugar, glucose and galactose). The milk passes through your stomach and through to your small intestine undigested, causing bloating, cramps, nausea and diarrhea.

If I am lactose intolerant, do I just have to avoid milk products?

While many people feel this is the best solution, giving up an entire food group is a pretty drastic measure, particularly when dairy products are so important for bone growth in children and bone density in adults. Fortunately, several studies suggest that supplementing the diet with certain probiotics is a safe and effective route to keeping the symptoms under control.

Probiotics, specifically certain strains of lactobacillus acidophilus, work by adhering to the intestinal lining and releasing lactase enzyme needed to digest dairy products.

A 1995 study* whose results were published in The Journal of Dairy Science showed that lactose-intolerant children who drank milk treated with probiotic lactobacillus acidophilus showed a significant reduction in symptoms.

A 1999 review** of hundreds of studies on the health benefits of probiotics found, among other things, that a certain strain of lactobacillus acidophilus has demonstrated consistent positive results against the symptoms of lactose intolerance. The author of this review states: “To date, its probiotic effects have been demonstrated in humans as reducing problems associated with lactose intolerance and as reducing levels of free amines in the intestine, thereby decreasing the risk of colon cancer. These properties make this strain of potential value in several patient populations.”

Digestion Health Problems - Free Ebook

 SOURCES:

*http://www.mendeley.com/research/effect-milks-inoculated-lactobacillus-acidophilus-yogurt-starter-culture-lactosemaldigesting-children/

**http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC99697/

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The Bone-Blood Connection

by Cindy Gray

Osteoporosis and stroke are two totally different medical ailments, but scientists are now finding that they may actually be connected. Some studies looked at the incidence of hip fractures and osteoporosis (marked by a decrease in bone density) in stroke victims, while other studies looked at the incidence of stroke and survival rate in people already diagnosed with osteoporosis. In both cases it seemed that those who suffer from one condition are more likely to suffer from the other.

Decrease in Osteoporosis-Related Bone Density May Increase Stroke Risk as We AgeStroke and Osteoporosis

Each year more than half a million U.S. residents suffer a stroke and 150,000 of them die as a result. A stroke is caused by the supply of blood and oxygen being cut off to the brain due to a blood clot or brain hemorrhage. In some cases the stroke affects the part of the brain that controls speech, sight and mobility and there may be lasting disability.   

Osteoporosis is a disease which causes a decrease in bone density, where bones become brittle and fracture easily. It is caused by a deficiency of calcium or vitamin D, often as a result of hormonal changes during menopause.

Related: Does Green Tea Improve Bone Density?

Study into Fractures in Stroke Victims

Dr. Kenneth Poole, B.M., M.R.C.P. at the Department of Stroke Medicine in Cambridge, UK, carried out an analysis of several studies assessing the risk of hip fractures in people who had suffered a stroke. He found that stroke survivors are significantly more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, which puts them at higher risk of bone fractures if they suffer a fall.

Interestingly, researchers found that stroke victims incur more fractures on the side of the body that has been affected by the stroke than on the unaffected "healthy" side. Their research found that patients who are immobile after having a stroke were likely to develop osteoporosis in the paralyzed limb. Over time, this becomes more widespread throughout the rest of the body.

Scientists found that stroke sufferers are up to four times more likely to suffer a hip fracture than other people. A Swedish study also showed that stroke victims quadruple their risk of suffering a hip fracture compared to non-stroke victims in the same age group.

The average age of a stroke patient is 70, so in most cases they would be more susceptible to falling than younger people, particularly if they have some difficulty walking as a result of the stroke. However, the risk of a bone fracture following a fall was higher than expected, suggesting that these stroke patients already had a higher risk of osteoporosis than normal.

How to Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis

Dr. Poole, working on behalf of the National Osteoporosis Society, is recommending that anyone undergoing rehabilitation after a stroke should also be considered at high risk of osteoporosis. In his words, "Osteoporosis is a significant complication of stroke". He believes stroke victims should automatically be given bisphosphonates such as Fosamax and Actonel as part of their stroke rehabilitation. These drugs are used to treat osteoporosis by improving bone density and preventing bone loss associated with a stroke.

Another specialist, Eoin Redahan, Director of the Stroke Association, agrees, saying, "Osteoporosis is a complication of limb mobility of any cause. It therefore makes sense that osteoporosis is a significant complication of stroke".

Other ways to lower the risk of osteoporosis without medication include having a diet high in calcium and vitamin D throughout your life, engaging in regular physical exercise, and considering hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women, although this treatment has been shown to carry other serious health risks. 

 

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Ginger: Natural Digestive Relief

by Health News

In Western culture, ginger has mostly been used to add a distinct flavor to a variety of recipes from cookies, breads, candy to stir-fry and chicken dishes. But parts of the world, such as China and India, have been using this herb for more than 2,000 years for its therapeutic properties.

Over the last 20 years, numerous studies have demonstrated ginger’s efficacy in treating various conditions. In vitro studies suggest that ginger has antiemetic (anti-nausea) and anti-inflammatory effects and may even protect against Alzheimer's disease and cancer. But in clinical studies, ginger has shown most benefit to the gastrointestinal tract. 

Ginger has been successfully used to treat various types of "stomach problems," including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, nausea caused by cancer treatment, nausea and vomiting after surgery and loss of appetite. Medical researchers believe two ingredients, shogoal and gingerol found in the ginger rhizome stimulate the flow of saliva, bile, and gastric secretions.

Ginger also has been found to suppress gastric contractions and improve intestinal muscle tone. Constituents in ginger are thought to interact with 5HT-3 receptors (receptors responsible for activating the vomit reflex) and may be partially responsible for the antiemetic (antinausea) benefits. 

Ginger products (as nutritional supplements) are made from fresh or dried ginger root, or from steam distillation of the oil in the root. It is available in extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils and can be found in health food stores as well as many drugstores and supermarkets. Fresh ginger root can be prepared as a steeped tea.

The therapeutic dose of ginger, generally, should not exceed 4 grams daily, with the standardized dose being 75 - 2,000 mg in divided doses with food.

Digestion Health Problems Quiz

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Learn How Eat Like a Caveman

by Health News

Our diet today looks nothing like that of our ancestors. While they first subsisted on foliage, leafy vegetables, fruits, and some nuts and seeds, once fire was discovered during the Paleolithic era, the diet began to include game food and seafood.

It wasn’t for another 10,000 years later that agriculture was introduced. This meant grains, legumes, vegetable oils, and dairy products. This diet was high in fiber, vegetable-based protein, and plant sterols. Still good, right?

Then came 1800s and the start of the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of hydrogenated oils, refined grains and sugar, packaged foods, and fast foods. In the past 200 years alone, we’ve managed to virtually undo evolution by turning away from whole grains, legumes, lean meats and fish, and leafy greens and veggies, and towards saturated fats, dietary cholesterol, and high glycemic carbohydrate food sources.

The solution? Go Caveman!

Focus the bulk of your diet on anything you could hunt or gather.
This means lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
This also means that you won’t have many natural sources of calcium and/or vitamin D, so you’ll need to supplement with a good calcium/magnesium product, as well as 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day.

Digestion Health Problems

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Selenium and Vitamins for Cataracts

by Cindy Gray

Many vitamins have important roles in treating or preventing various medical conditions. Just as in science, where a combination of substances can produce a different or stronger effect by working together, so too a combination of vitamins can be more powerful and effective when they work together. This exponential benefit, when the combined effect of two or more substances is greater than their separate effects, is called "synergy".

Vision Problems: Selenium and Vitamins for CataractsWhen it comes to healthy eyes, scientists have found that some vitamins work synergistically together to slow down or prevent the development of cataracts and other vision problems.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding condition in the lens of the eye that gradually reduces vision. Cataracts are usually age-related and by the age of 80, half of all adults will either have cataracts or will have had surgery to remove them.

Cataracts usually affect one eye more than the other but they do not spread and cannot be "caught" like an infection. Instead they gradually develop and require the lens to be replaced with an artificial intraocular lens under a simple surgical procedure.

The risk of developing cataracts is higher if you smoke, expose your eyes to bright sunlight or are diabetic. Some of these risks can be controlled or prevented but studies show you can also lessen your chance of getting a cataract by eating certain vitamins.

Related: How to Avoid Macular Degeneration Naturally

C is for Cataract!

Vitamin C has been shown to prevent or slow the progression of cataracts, along with vitamin E. As our levels of these vitamins decline with age, it’s important to take them either through diet or supplements. Research has shown that people with a diet high both in these vitamins have a lower risk of cataracts and other vision problems, suggesting these vitamins work synergistically together for good eye health.

Vitamin C is found in many fruits including oranges, blueberries, papaya, guava, strawberries, sweet peppers and spinach. Good sources of vitamin E are almonds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, peanuts, tomatoes and similarly in spinach and blueberries. Both these vitamins are high in antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body and help reduce oxidative stress. 

Other vitamins that have been found to be effective against cataracts include thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3). What is most interesting is that it is a combination of these vitamins that appear to be most effective in preventing or slowing the rate of cataracts, suggesting they work in synergy for maximum effect.

Studies on Cataracts and Vitamin Intake

A study by Professor Paul Jacques at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University was held on 112 older patients.  The study found that 77 of them had cataracts while 35 did not. However, those with low levels of vitamin C were 11 times more likely to have a cataract than those with higher levels. In fact, the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body is found in the eye and it appears to be a protective agent on eye health. Jacques' study also found that those who ate less than 3.5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day were 13 times more likely to develop cataracts.

A Nurses Health Study in the U.S. found that women who regularly ate vegetables, fresh fruit and whole grains (i.e. a diet high in antioxidants including vitamins C and E) were half as likely to develop cataracts as those who ate less healthily. However, when the study gave patients vitamin supplements, they did not appear to have the same beneficial effect on arresting cataract development. This may be because getting vitamins from your diet means they can act in synergy with other vitamins and nutrients, making them more effective.

Although no single vitamin is a magic "cure" for cataracts, one thing is for sure, getting a range of vitamins B, C and E from your 5-portions-a-day diet appears to reduce the quantity and severity of cataracts, and it certainly won't do you any harm at all!

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How Probiotics Can Regulate Your Digestive System

by Health News

A healthy regulated digestive system is the key to our bodies receiving all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to provide energy and overall good immune system health.

The bacteria in our intestine need to be perfectly balanced to efficiently digest our food. Any imbalance can lead to an irregular digestive system, which can cause physical discomfort and possible harm to our overall health.

Age, stress, illness, medications such as antibiotics, dehydration, lack of sleep and a harmful environment can all affect our microbial equilibrium which can cause gas, constipation, bloating, bad skin, fatigue and, in more severe cases, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

It all goes back to having a healthy regulated digestive system with a correct balance of microfloras to maximize the benefits of healthy eating.

Taking a natural probiotic dietary supplement can ensure that beneficial microflora are naturally maintained in proper balance.

Probiotics also play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system, helping to fight off bacteria, bugs and viruses. Good bacteria are vital to keep our immune system health in good working order.

Digestion Problemsn Free Ebook Download

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Eyes are Mirrors of Your Health

by Cindy Gray

Looking into someone's eyes may tell you more than just whether they’re love-struck. According to experts, the eyes can be reliable indicators of a person’s health status, and even some serious health problems. Next time you look in the mirror to check your hair or appearance, take a good look at your eyes and see if you have any of these tell-tale signs or vision problems.

Vision problems may be the first signs of a serious health issue.Yellow Eyes

Normal, healthy eyes have a white area surrounding the colored iris. If the whites of your eyes look yellow it could be a symptom of a liver condition which may otherwise continue undetected.

Hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver are just two of the liver issues that would cause yellowing of the eye. It is caused by a chemical known as bilirubin which is produced when hemoglobin in the blood starts to break down. 

Related: Does digital technology impact vision health?

Drooping Eyelids

Drooping eyelids can mean more than just temporary tiredness. If your eyelids are low over the eyeball, it may be due to a stroke or aneurysm. Usually a stroke causes other symptoms at the same time, such as slurred speech.

It’s important to get any drooping eyelid checked out by a medical professional to rule out other serious health issues such as a brain tumor. It may be caused by the onset of an autoimmune disease such as myasthenia gravis which causes muscle weakness and is hard to diagnose apart from those heavy drooping eyelids.

Inability to Close the Eye

If you have trouble closing one eye completely, it could be a symptom of Bell's palsy. This disease causes a temporary paralysis of the facial nerve on one side of the face. Although the sufferer may look as if they have had a stroke, a doctor can quickly ascertain the cause of the paralysis.

Fortunately, those who suffer from Bell's palsy usually regain use of their facial nerves within six months. The disease can be triggered by shingles, diabetes or Lyme disease which all require medical attention.

Bulging Eyes

Prominent eyeballs can be a hereditary trait as they tend to run in families. However, if you gradually develop bulging bug eyes, it can be a symptom of Graves’ disease, also known as hyperthyroidism. 

If your thyroid becomes overactive, the abnormally high hormone levels produced can cause the tissue around the eye area to swell, giving the appearance of bulging eyes. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include losing weight, nervousness and an irregular pulse.

Routine blood tests can easily check for thyroid activity to put your mind at ease. If hyperthyroidism is detected, it can be effectively treated with medication.

Hazy Vision

If your eyesight suddenly changes for the worse, you should consult your doctor or ophthalmologist fast. It may be caused by a stroke, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration or the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS).

It's important to have your eyes checked by an eye specialist at least once a year. Although you probably will not have the above health issues, an ophthalmologist can reveal a host of undiagnosed health issues such as diabetes, myasthenia gravis or MS before they become apparent in other ways. Your eyes truly are a window to your health.

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Get the GIST of Eye Health

by Cindy Gray

People experience a number of physical changes as they age. Hair begins to gray, wrinkles line the skin, and vision problems begin.   According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 3.6 million people 40 years of age and older are visually impaired, and more than one million people 40 years of age and older are legally blind.  Fortunately, learning about eye changes and making certain lifestyle choices can help. Use the acronym GIST to keep eyes healthy well into the golden years.Understanding Eye Health and Vision Problems

Genetics

Because some eye problems are genetic, it is important to let your eye doctor know about your family's history of eye health.  Conducting tests for conditions that parents and grandparents may have had helps doctors catch problems early for better treatment.  Specialized equipment helps diagnose conditions before patients even notice symptoms.

Ignoring Changes

Some people attribute weakening vision to normal aging, but vision changes might indicate an eye condition, many of which are easily treated with early diagnosis.  Instead of ignoring vision changes, make an appointment with your eye doctor.

Symptoms

Although eye emergencies don't happen often, it is important to be aware of key symptoms:

Seek immediate medical attention for any of the following:

  • Trauma to the eye

  • Partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes that comes on suddenly

  • Double vision

  • Distorted vision

  • Sharp eye pain and redness

  • A shade-like sensation across your field of vision

Related: Could Aspirin Cause Blindness?

Schedule a regular appointment with your eye doctor for the following symptoms:

  • Chronic watery or itchy eyes

  • Difficulty distinguishing between colors

  • Difficulty distinguishing objects on the sides of your field of vision

  • Difficulty seeing at night or reading with dim light

  • Blurring of objects, either near or far away

Testing

Although eye exams are important at any age, people who wear corrective lenses should schedule an eye exam each year.  People 50 years of age and older should schedule an annual eye exam with dilation.  With this process, eye doctors use drops to open the iris for a look at the retina in the back of the eye, which helps rule out damage to this area.  People with diabetes are more susceptible to retinal damage, so annual exams are especially important for this group.  Early detection offers better treatment options to prevent or minimize vision loss.

Lifestyle Tips

In addition to the suggestions above, here are more tips to help guarantee good eye health:

  • If you have corrective lenses, limit eye strain, eye fatigue, and possible irritation by wearing your glasses or contacts.

  • Protect eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses outdoors, even if it is not sunny.

  • Eat five or more servings of colorful fruits and vegetables each day for retina-protecting nutrients.Leafy greens, in particular, help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness among people in the United States.

  • Don't smoke.Smoking raises risks for AMD, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.

  • Keep blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol in check, as problems can affect eye health.

Getting the GIST of good eye health helps catch problems early for better eye maintenance and treatment if needed.  Pay attention to genetics, don't ignore eye changes, be aware of important symptoms, and take advantage of testing to ensure healthy eyes for years to come.

 

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Why Chronic Inflammation is a Risk for Developing Diseases as You Age

by Health News

What do hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and cancer have in common?
Health experts have linked chronic inflammation as one of many hypertension causes – and not only that, chronic inflammation is linked to all the other diseases mentioned above too. Health experts are looking at how high-fat foods and excess body weight, among others, may increase risk.

Hypertension Causes: Why Chronic Inflammation is Bad for You

Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to injury and infectious agents. But when the inflammation doesn't let up - for example because of a constant diet of high-fat foods, too much body fat and smoking - the immune system’s response can itself spiral out of control, paradoxically increasing disease risk.

When inflammation becomes chronic it can damage heart valves and brain cells, trigger strokes and promote resistance to insulin, leading to diabetes. It is also associated with cancer development.

Obesity is known to promote inflammation. Fat cells, particularly those in the visceral fat in the belly and around organs, produce molecules known as cytokines which trigger inflammation. In such cases, the most important thing to do is to lose excess weight - which has been shown to reduce inflammation within weeks or months.

A substance known as C-reactive protein (CRP) is an indicator of inflammation in the body. A 2007 report which analyzed results of 33 separate studies found that losing weight can lower CRP levels.

Many nutritionists and physicians have also developed anti-inflammatory diets.

For instance, one such diet encourages people to consume whole-grain foods, unsaturated fats such as plant oils, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, poultry, eggs and moderate amounts of dairy foods. It also suggests avoiding red meat, butter, sweets and white foods such as rice, potatoes and pasta.

The problem is this - if you are overweight or obese and eat healthy, your excess weight will still counter any beneficial effects of the healthy foods you are eating.

Regular consumption of dietary fiber was shown to lower levels of CRP and other inflammatory markers - probably because fiber improves insulin sensitivity, lowering levels of inflammation.

A combination of nutrients found in dairy food also helped to ease inflammation in patients at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In a recent study, patients who were given 3½ servings of dairy daily over 12 weeks showed reductions in several markers of inflammation compared with a group given just half a serving of dairy per day.

Finally, new research funded by the National Institutes of Health is studying the complex relationships between diet, inflammation and cancer. Cancer is caused by many different processes and inflammation is one of them - so in principle if you could inhibit inflammation it would lower cancer risk, an exciting possibility.

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Blurry Vision with Diabetes – Diabetic Retinopathy Information

by Cindy Gray

Diabetes is a disease that affects the metabolism.  Essentially, the body is unable to produce any insulin or it produces too little insulin, resulting in elevated glucose (or sugar) in the blood.  High blood sugar contributes to a wide range of health problems, one of which is eye health. 

Diabetes can lead to eye damage through a condition called diabetic retinopathy.  Over time, elevated blood sugar causes blood vessels to leak into the retina, which lines the back of the eye and senses light.  A buildup of fluid can lead to blurry vision and vision loss.Don’t Sugarcoat Your Vision

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of retinopathy until the disease has advanced to an irreversible point.  For those with advance-stage diabetic retinopathy, symptoms include blurry and/or obstructed vision.  Getting a yearly eye exam with dilation helps eye doctors detect changes in vision.

Related: Exploring Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Eye Health

Retinopathy Diagnosis

To diagnose this disease, eye doctors use drops to dilate pupils in order to see the retina at the back of the eye.  Typically, this view alone is enough to make a diagnosis, but sometimes another test is required.  With fluorescein angiography, doctors use dye to track circulation in the retina to make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

If caught early, diabetic retinopathy is easy to treat with few complications.  Laser treatment seals blood vessels in the eye that have just begun to leak, but blood vessels leaking over a period of time may require surgery.

Prevention

The best way to stay on top of eye health is to have an eye exam once a year.  Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, especially if blood sugar levels are not kept in check.  Making sure blood sugars stay at healthy levels helps lower risks for this disease.

Relax.  Stress causes a release of adrenalin and the body reacts with elevated blood pressure, a slower digestive system, and a rise in blood sugar.  It stands to reason that relaxation techniques might produce the opposite effect.  In fact, studies show that people who participate in transcendental meditation show improvement in insulin resistance.  Other relaxation methods to try include guided visualization, yoga, biofeedback, and deep breathing.

Natural Ways to Control Blood Sugar:

  • Don't smoke; and limit alcohol consumption.

  • Engage in regular moderate exercise as it reduces blood sugar and helps make insulin more effective.Sessions of 30 to 60 minutes three to four times per week offer the most benefits.

  • Cut out processed foods.Because they have little nutrients and fiber, processed foods digest quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike.

  • Eat more soluble fiber.By delaying the emptying of the stomach, soluble fiber (which dissolves in water) slows the rate of absorption for carbohydrates which helps stabilize blood sugars and lowers demands for insulin. Some types of fruits and starchy foods containing soluble fiber convert too quickly to sugar, so focus on slower-converting choices like oatmeal, flaxseed, nuts, cucumbers, and asparagus. 

  • Relax.  Stress causes a release of adrenalin and the body reacts with elevated blood pressure, a slower digestive system, and a rise in blood sugar.  It stands to reason that relaxation techniques might produce the opposite effect.  In fact, studies show that people who participate in transcendental meditation show improvement in insulin resistance.  Other relaxation methods to try include guided visualization, yoga, biofeedback, and deep breathing.

People who are concerned about eye health should visit the eye doctor each year, particularly if they have diabetes.  Diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition that responds well to treatment if diagnosed early.  Taking steps to control blood sugar also helps ensure good eye health.

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Parsley for Macular Degeneration and Vision Problems

by Cindy Gray

For centuries, humans have depended on edible plants and herbs to treat a variety of common ailments, from stomach aches to anxiety.  According to Dr. Oz, one plant in particular doubles as an edible restaurant garnish and a protector from vision problems.  Taking its name from the Greek word meaning "rock celery," parsley contains compounds that support the retina and other areas of the eye.

Tomato, Vegetables, Parsley, Pepper, Eat, Pasta

Vitamin A

Research shows that vitamin A helps protect the surface of the eye, is an effective treatment for dry eye syndrome, and when combined with other antioxidants, appears to reduce risks for the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Parsley is a rich source of vitamin A and carotenoids like beta-carotene that stimulate production of vitamin A in the body.  Adding parsley to other foods rich in beta-carotene like carrots, sweet potatoes, or spinach offers ultimate eye protection.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Additional carotenoids present in parsley include lutein and zeaxanthin, which offer more antioxidant benefits for good eye health.  These compounds work to neutralize damage caused by UV radiation and other environmental influences that may lead to macular degeneration.  According to the American Optometric Association, the consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin helps reduce risks for cataracts.  In addition, lutein has been found to inhibit glycation, a process where sugar bonds with protein to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that can damage the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.

Related: Bilberry for Retina Health

More Health Benefits

If better eye health isn't enough reason to consume parsley, here are some additional benefits:

Volatile oils

Parsley is a rich source of volatile oils.  Animal studies show that one of these oils, myristicin, may inhibit the development of tumors, particularly in the lungs.  Acting like an antioxidant, myristicin can help neutralize certain carcinogens like those found in cigarette smoke and other types of smoke.

Support Urinary Tract Health

Myristicin and apiole, another compound in parsley, help boost the flow of urine, removing infection-causing bacteria and other impurities from the urinary tract.  This diuretic property also helps prevent the development of kidney stones.

Promotes Good Cardiovascular Health

Parsley is a rich source of folic acid, a B vitamin that plays many roles in the body, one of which involves homocysteine.  At high levels, homocysteine damages blood vessels and it has been linked to higher risks for heart attack and stroke in people with diabetic heart disease or atherosclerosis.  The body uses folic acid to help covert potentially harmful homocysteine into a benign form.

Finding and Growing Parsley

Fresh parsley can be found year round in the produce section of any local supermarket, and shoppers can find dried parsley in the baking and spice aisle.  While parsley does not need a lot of sun to thrive, it grows slowly, so yields may be less than expected.  Parsley is a biennial plant, meaning it produces seeds after its second year of growth, and it will return to the garden each year.

 

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Green Supplements to Help Boost Your Afternoon Slump

by Health News

Fatigue Treatment: Green Supplements Help Boost EnergyAre you tired of being tired? Check out these tips for successful fatigue treatment.

Take a quick break from work every day and walk briskly around the block. This raises the cardiovascular system which in turn increases energy. Make sure you drink plenty of water during or after this exercise as dehydration in itself can cause exhaustion.

Add a few drops of natural energy-boosting monatomic minerals which quickly gets to work to re-mineralize, re-alkalize, re-vitalize and re- energize your body and bring it back into balance.

Adding a green drink supplement, not only provides your body with the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruit. The end result is a day-long supply of natural energy as green drink supplements counter the body’s acids, flush out toxins and improve digestion. 

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Sip Your Way to Lower Skin Cancer Risk

by Cindy Gray

For coffee lovers, there's nothing like the smell of freshly ground coffee beans.  The idea of a fresh pot of coffee lures millions of Americans from their beds each morning.  In addition to its slow-roasted flavor and energy-boosting properties, a recent study published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds that there is another reason to savor a big cup of Joe.  Regular coffee consumption may help lower your skin cancer risk and protect against malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.Coffee, Coffee Beans, Afternoon Tea

Of the 76,100 people diagnosed with melanoma in the United States last year, 9,710 died from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.  Melanoma develops in the skin's pigment cells, which are called melanocytes, and it has potential to spread beyond the top layer of the skin.  If left unchecked, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body.

The Study

Researchers led by Erikka Loftfield, a doctoral student at the Yale School of Public Health and a fellow at the National Cancer Institute, pulled data from a 10-year study tracking 447,357 retired persons.  Of the subjects, 2,904 had developed malignant melanoma and 1,874 had developed early-stage melanoma affecting only the top layer of the skin.

Participants were required to report coffee consumption, and researchers examined other factors that might increase or reduce risks for melanoma including alcohol consumption, UV exposure, exercise, and body-mass measurements.  For precision, the team gathered data from NASA for amounts of sunlight in each subject's hometown. 

Related: Add Omega 3 to Your Skincare Routine

After controlling for the additional factors, results showed a significant difference between coffee drinkers and subjects who didn't drink coffee.  Compared to non-coffee drinkers, those who drank at least four cups daily were 20 percent less likely to develop malignant melanomas.  Even with the positive results, it is important to note that avoiding exposure to ultraviolet radiation remains the best way to prevent skin cancer.

This is the largest study to date examining the relationship between coffee consumption and the development of melanoma skin cancer, and the findings apply to caffeinated coffee in particular.  While caffeine might be the protective ingredient, researchers aren't dismissing the possibility of a different protective compound present in caffeinated coffee.  The lack of information about the subjects' sunscreen habits or skin types limits results in this study, so further research is recommended. 

Coffee lovers, rejoice!  Here are even more reasons to relish a few cups throughout the morning:

  • Research shows that people who drink three to five cups of coffee daily reduce chances for the development of Alzheimer's disease or dementia later in life.

  • A Japanese study found that men who consume one to two cups of coffee daily can lower their chances of dying from cardiovascular disease by 38 percent.

  • Instead of green tea, many people hoping to lose weight opt for green coffee bean extract.A study of 16 overweight adults over 22 weeks who were given green coffee bean extract showed significant weight loss.In fact, 37.5 percent of subjects in the pre-obese range achieved a normal body weight by study's end.

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Do Mouth And Intestinal Bacteria Influence Atherosclerosis And Heart Disease?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Mouth Bacteria Linked to Heart DiseaseA new study published by researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests that mouth and intestinal bacteria can influence the outcome of atherosclerosis - the first, necessary step for heart disease to occur.

Some of the diseases that may develop as a result of atherosclerosis include coronary heart disease, angina (chest pain), carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD) and chronic kidney disease.

While the causes of atherosclerosis have recently become clearer, health experts are still unsure as to why atherosclerotic plaque in arteries rupture, contributing to clot formation. They know that inflammation increases the risk of plaque rupture in arteries, but they are not quite sure why and how.

Recent research has shown that our gut flora changes during obesity, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease. Poor dental health and periodontitis have also been linked to atherosclerosis - indicating that mouth or gut bacteria could be responsible.

First, the study authors found that the number of bacteria in atherosclerotic plaques corresponded to the number of white blood cells - which is a typical measure of inflammation.

Next they examined the composition of the bacteria in the mouth, gut and arterial plaque of 15 patients, as well as in the mouth and gut of 15 healthy control subjects. They found several bacteria in atherosclerotic plaques as well as in the mouth and gut - for example, the bacteria Pseudomonas luteola and Chlamydia pneumoniae were present in all plaques.

These results suggest that these and perhaps other bacteria can enter the body through the mouth and gut and end up in atherosclerotic plaques in arteries - perhaps contributing to inflammation and plaque rupture.

In fact, some of the mouth and gut bacteria found in this study had previously been associated with cardiovascular disease.

The finding that the same bacteria exist in atherosclerotic plaques as well as in the mouth and gut of the same individuals paves the way for new diagnosis and treatment strategies - although larger studies are needed to establish a direct causal relationship between the bacteria, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

 

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How to Spice Up Your Memory with Turmeric

by Cindy Gray

According to a recent study, adding just one gram of turmeric to a meal once daily can help to improve working memory in older people who are in the very early stages of diabetes and are also at risk for loss of brain function.  This finding has particular significance given that an increase in the world's aging population means a rising incidence of health conditions that predispose people to diabetes, which in turn is connected to dementia incidence. Early intervention may help to reduce the disease burden either by halting progression of diabetes or by reducing its impact.Tasty Turmeric Spices Up Memory

The current study carried out in Taiwan tested the working memory of men and women aged 60 years or older that had recently been diagnosed with untreated pre-diabetes. Working memory is one of our most important mental faculties. It is critical for planning, problem solving and reasoning, while assessment of working memory is very useful in predicting future mental impairment and dementia.

In the present study, subjects were given one gram of turmeric with an otherwise nutritionally bland breakfast of white bread once daily. Their working memory was tested before and some hours after the meal.  The study authors found that even this modest addition to breakfast improved working memory over six hours in older people with pre-diabetes.

Turmeric is the yellow South Asian spice that both flavors and gives its color to most curries. Made from the tuber-like roots of the plant curcuma longa, it has also been used for many centuries in the practice of traditional Indian medicine known as Ayurveda, ‘the science of life’.  Turmeric has been used both in food and for medicinal purposes in India for over 5,000 years, which is believed to be the reason why Indians have some of the lowest prevalence rates of Alzheimer's disease in the world today.

Over the past few years, the principal active ingredient in turmeric, known as curcumin, has been shown to act powerfully within our body and brain. In fact, a recent study on patients with Alzheimer's found that less than a gram of turmeric consumed daily for three months leads to remarkable improvements and even reversal of the symptoms of this dreaded disease.

The findings of the present study from Taiwan confirm that turmeric improves brain function—specifically working memory—in older people with early diabetes.

 

Source:

How To Spice Up Your Memory With Turmeric.

 

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Green Tea: Food For The Brain

by Nancy Maneely

Green Tea: High Blood Pressure Natural TreatmentWhat’s not to love about a soothing hot cup of fragrant green tea?

It’s China’s favorite drink, and thanks to modern scientific research, we know it contains health benefits from its abundant antioxidants – making it the preferred beverage for healthy aging.

It’s long been established that green tea is a powerful agent for protection against cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related health concerns. In fact, many people concerned with cardiovascular health have started adding green tea to their diet as a high blood pressure natural treatment.

Now, new research from China suggests that drinking green tea may help boost the production of new brain cells – offering cognitive support for those of any age.

The studies with mice, published in the August issue of the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, found that epigallocatechin-3 galate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in green tea, boosts production of neural progenitor cells. These progenitor cells can help promote neurogenesis - the formation of new brain cells (neurons) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that transfers information from short term to long-term memory.

The new cells appear to sharpen memory, improve learning and ward off degenerative diseases. The research also noted that the mice treated with EGCG and trained to run mazes could accomplish this task faster than mice that didn’t receive EGCG. They found that, in mice, the new cells appear to improve memory, learning and combat degenerative diseases.

If you’re not a tea drinker, now is the time to start! Create a “green tea ritual” and view it as a few minutes of your day when you take the time to slow down, take a few deep breaths and treat your body well. The simple act of preparing the hot water and steeping the tea can provide that moment of quiet and calm in the midst of a hectic day. Soon you will find yourself looking forward to your daily tea ritual!

Talk to your doctor to see if taking green tea supplements as a high blood pressure natural treatment is right for you.

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High Blood Pressure Stress Link: Anger Linked to Health Problems

by Cindy Gray

Hot heads beware! Recent studies show that anger wreaks havoc on your health. People with short fuses are far more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a condition which is a risk factor for several serious health problems including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The high blood pressure stress link is even stronger for obese people.

Hot Heads Beware!  Anger Linked to Serious Health Problems!

According to researchers, when you become angry, your body over-secretes the stress hormones which trigger inflammation. Anger causes constricted arteries, high blood pressure and an unhealthy spike in the heart rate.  A study conducted at the Harvard Institute for Cardiovascular Disease suggested that 36,000 heart attacks each year are linked to episodes of extreme anger.

A study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that otherwise healthy people with anger issues are 19% more likely to develop heart disease. Among patients who had already been diagnosed with heart disease, the risk for complications increased by 24%.  

Related: Seven Ways to Filter out Stress

If you are one of the millions of Americans with anger management issues, there are steps you can take to curb your anger before it curbs you:

Know your triggers:

Step back: When you feel a temper tantrum coming on, step back and ask yourself if this situation is really worth fuming and or yelling about. Many people have an automatic anger response that can be diffused by simply taking time to assess the reason for their negativity.

Walk away: If you feel anger taking hold and you can’t seem to get a grip on it, then remove yourself from the situation, person or thing that is making you angry. You’ll do far less damage to your health and your relationships if you simply leave until you can compose yourself.

Learn to handle stress: Conscious breathing techniques, meditation and yoga are terrific stress-busters. Also, learn to be good to yourself. Enjoy a movie, enjoy a massage, take a walk outdoors, listen to soothing music or plan a quiet dinner with a favorite friend or loved one.

See a counselor: Sometimes anger is rooted in unresolved emotional issues. A qualified therapist can help you discover the people or events in your past that may be affecting your current emotional state. A therapist can often help you find healthy ways of dealing with your triggers.

The bottom line is that anger creates a negative environment for you and everyone around you. Hot-headed people often find themselves isolated because nobody wants to be part of a volatile relationship that can lead to mental or physical harm. Put a lid on your temper and chill out like your life depends on it – because it does.   

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24077742

http://www.content.onlinejacc.org

http://www.heart.org

 

 

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Ayurveda Honors the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

by Cindy Gray

Discover your Dosha: Ayurveda Honors the Mind-Body-Spirit ConnectionAyurvedic medicine originated in India, and is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Simply put, Ayurveda is rooted in two key principles: The mind, body and spirit are totally connected; and nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind and spirit.

Based on those principles, freedom from illness hinges on our ability to expand our awareness and bring it into balance so that the trinity of the mind, body and spirit benefit. Meditation is a prime example of this powerful connection. When you meditate you effortlessly enter into a state of peace and quiet that frees your mind. In that state of restful awareness your heart and breath rate slow down, your body decreases production of stress hormones and increases production of the “feel good” transmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.  It is within this calm and balanced state that many practitioners can feel a profound sense of their own spirituality. 

According to Ayurveda, every person is made up of a combination of five elements found in the universe including space, air, fire, water and earth. Your body works to keep you healthy through individual physical and psychological traits that comprise your body’s constitution or “prakriti.”

What Are Doshas?

The elements found in the universe combine to form three different life forces called “doshas.” The three doshas are vata dosha (space and air), pitta dosha (fire and water) and kapha dosha (water and earth).  While everyone has a mix of the three doshas, each individual has one dosha that is dominant. Each dosha controls a different bodily function and Ayurvedic practitioners believe that your odds of getting sick are linked to the balance of your individual doshas.

Understanding your dosha is critical for optimal health. An Ayurvedic practitioner determines your individual dosha through an exam that includes urine and stool samples, feeling your pulse, listening to your speech and voice and examining your eyes, teeth, tongue and skin.  The practitioner will also ask questions about your ability to recover from illness, your diet, lifestyle, medical history and how you tend to behave in certain situations.

Once your dosha is determined, you will receive treatments designed to maximize your mind-body balance. Typical treatments include conscious breathing exercises, aromatherapy, nutritional counseling, herbs and vitamins, plant-based oils, and meditation and stretching exercises.

If you decide to incorporate Ayurveda into your stay-well plan, it is important to seek out a reputable practitioner. Your holistic health practitioner can make recommendations or may even be able to provide Ayurvedic-based treatment for you.   

Related: Seven Ways to Filter out Stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can your Mood Affect your Heart's Health?

by Health News

High Blood Pressure Stress Link: Can Mood Affect Heart Health?A positive outlook and a cheerful disposition isn't just a better way to live your life - it’s much healthier for your heart as well. This article digs into the high blood pressure stress link.

There is a proven scientific connection between optimism and other positive emotions and good health - and this link appears to be particularly strong when it comes to the heart.

In a study of nearly 1,500 people with a higher risk of heart disease, those who reported being cheerful, relaxed, satisfied with life and full of energy had a nearly 33% reduction in heart attacks.

In other words - if you are a cheerful person by nature, you are much less likely to suffer from heart disease.

There are several theories to explain why a positive outlook is protective for your heart.

A positive mood is known to have beneficial biological effects on health, even though experts aren't yet 100% sure exactly why. Perhaps it has to do with the lower levels of stress in positive-minded people.

All feelings, positive or negative, come with physiological changes. Your skin, heart rate, digestion, joints, muscle energy levels, the hair on your head, and many other body systems are affected by every emotion.

For example -stress influences the immune system and can impact blood pressure (BP), cholesterol levels, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, and hormonal balance.

Increasingly, stress is being viewed by health experts as a heart disease risk marker and regular stress relief is now considered necessary to protect heart health.

For example, people exposed to traumatic and/or long-term stress, such as combat veterans, have higher rates of heart problems than the general population.

In a study which looked at nearly 208,000 veterans aged 46-74 years, 35% of those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) developed insulin resistance in two years, compared to only 19% of those not diagnosed with PTSD.

Insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arteries. PTSD sufferers also had higher rates of metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease. More than 50% of veterans with PTSD had these symptoms, compared to 37% not suffering with PTSD.

In another example - losing a significant person in your life raises your risk of having a heart attack the next day by 21 times, and in the following week by 6 times. However, the risk of heart attacks begins to fall after about a month had passed, perhaps because levels of stress hormones level out over time.

While there is little we can do about the unexpected stresses we may encounter in our lives, it is clear that regular stress relief and having a positive outlook is a much healthier way to live longer.

 

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Fermented Vegetables for Indigestion

by Cindy Gray

The typical American diet often consists mainly of highly processed foods, fatty meats and few fruits or vegetables.  As a result, indigestion and gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are on the rise, and nutritional deficits are the result.  Adding fermented foods, especially vegetables, into your diet can significantly improve the health of your belly, boost your immune system and stave off metabolic disorders that lead to high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and weight gain.

Fermented Vegetables: Optimal for Health and the Digestive SystemWhat Does Fermented Mean?

According to the dictionary, fermentation is: “the process in which a substance breaks down into a simpler substance.”  Usually some kind of agent, a microorganism like yeast or bacteria, starts the process that breaks sugar down into alcohol for instance.  Through fermentation, milk becomes cheese, yogurt and kefir. Grapes become wine and cabbage becomes kimchi or sauerkraut. Fermentation has been used for centuries in almost every culture as a way of preserving food.  Long before there was refrigeration or fast food restaurants, fermentation was an easy way to keep food edible for the winter months or for long journeys.

Probiotics for Healthy Digestion and Stronger Immunity

Fermenting vegetables and other foods makes them rich in probiotics.  These are the intestinal flora (good bacteria) essential for healthy digestion. They feed on sugar and help break down the nutrients in the intestine, which makes it easier for our bodies to absorb them.

When the good bacteria in our gut gets out of balance it can lead to:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Inflammation
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Increased risk of contracting illnesses like colds or the flu

Research has shown that obese people tend to have an imbalance in gut flora; and the immune system can become compromised when you don’t have enough healthy bacteria in your GI tract.  The Journal of Nutrition has even found a link between probiotics and a decreased risk of colon cancer.

Fermented Vegetables

We all know that vegetables are an essential component of a healthy diet. Fermented vegetables offer additional health benefits, but are not common in many American meals.  Making them a part of your diet has many health benefits, so here are a few to try.  Some of them may sound odd or exotic, but don’t let that stop you from trying them.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish consisting of fermented cabbage.  Unless you grew up in a Korean family, you might find its pungent odor and spicy tang unappetizing.  It is an acquired taste, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to like it and by doing so, reap great health benefits.

Other fermented vegetables that can help indigestion are:

  • Pickles

  • Sauerkraut

  • Miso (fermented soy beans that form a base for soups and sauces)

  • Poi (fermented taro root)

  • Natto (fermented soy beans that are a traditional Japanese breakfast)

When trying these foods, be sure to look for those that are not pasteurized. Choose the high quality pickles and sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of your grocery store rather than the canned versions that may contain high fructose corn syrup, a lot of preservatives, or are high in sodium. Shopping in specialty food markets is the best way to find good miso, poi or natto.

There are other terms for fermented like “pickled” or “cultured,” so read labels carefully and be aware that some of these foods are very high in sodium.  You can always ferment food at home, too. It’s actually a pretty simple process and there are dozens of recipes and “how to” articles and videos on-line to assist you.

Other Healthy Fermented Foods

Fermented vegetables are just one way to get gut-healthy probiotics into your diet for better digestion and a stronger immune system.  Other foods rich in probiotics are:

  • Kefir

  • Yogurt

  • Sourdough bread

  • Tempeh (cake made from fermented soybeans)

Introduce fermented vegetables slowly  into your diet if you are not used to eating them regularly.  Until they become a regular part of your diet, try adding them as a side dish or snack so you don’t overwhelm your palate. You will reap the benefits of a healthier gut and a stronger immune system.

Related: Simple Tips for Relieving Indigestion