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Three Natural Remedies for Nausea

by Health News

Featuring a queasy stomach often accompanied by an urge to vomit, nausea affects all people at one time or another.  Common causes include excessive consumption of food or alcohol, food poisoning, motion sickness or seasickness, pregnancy, or viral infection (also known as the stomach flu).  While doctors can prescribe medication for ailing patients, three natural remedies have shown promise for easing discomfort. 

People who have nausea experience a queasy stomach often accompanied by an urge to vomit.

1.  Acupuncture

For centuries, Eastern practitioners have used acupuncture to treat a variety of physical ailments.  The process involves the insertion of paper-thin needles through the skin at certain points in the body.  According to Eastern medicine, the needles are thought to release a flow of energy (or qi) to reduce physical symptoms and/or promote healing.

Studies show that acupuncture is as effective as medication for control of nausea in cancer patients, and it reduces the need for medication for vomiting following chemotherapy treatment. 

2.  Ginger

Chinese health practitioners have used ginger root for centuries as a remedy for a variety of digestive ailments, from stomachache to nausea.  It contains chemicals called gingerols and shogaols that relax the intestinal tract. 

Ginger has been proven safe for pregnant women, and a study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies showed that women with breast cancer who took ginger after chemotherapy experienced less nausea from six to 24 hours following treatment than women in a control group. 

People can grate raw ginger into salads, add ginger to cooked dishes, eat candied ginger, or sip ginger tea. 

Related:  Daily Ginger Consumption Eases Muscle and Joint Pain

3.  Peppermint

Peppermint is another remedy with a long history for treating nausea.  It relaxes stomach muscles, making the process of digestion quicker and more efficient. 

Research published in The Journal of Holistic Nursing examined 35 women with postoperative nausea resulting from C-section.  They were divided into three groups and given different treatments when they began to feel queasy.  One group inhaled peppermint oil, one inhaled a placebo, and the control group received standard medication. 

Participants rated levels of nausea at two and five minutes following intervention.  Women who inhaled peppermint oil reported feeling significantly less nauseous than women in the other two groups.  Researchers concluded that peppermint oil might be a valuable treatment for postoperative care.

Peppermint is available in the form of essential oil, tea, or capsules.  People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should not use peppermint, as it can worsen symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

Nausea is a symptom of a variety of conditions from motion sickness to pregnancy.  Uncomfortable queasy feelings sometimes lead to vomiting.  While doctors can prescribe medicines for nausea, some people prefer more natural alternatives.  Acupuncture, ginger, and peppermint have all proven to be helpful remedies.

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Overcoming an Anxiety Attack: The Five Steps of AWARE

by Cindy Gray

Everyone experiences anxiousness now and then, but people having an anxiety attack (or panic attack) experience feelings of sheer terror.  Physical symptoms may include pressure in the chest, profuse sweating, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, and lightheadedness. While some people fear they might be having a heart attack, others worry they may faint or lose control in some other way.  Not surprisingly, these episodes can affect wellbeing and daily activity.  Becoming more AWARE of the nature of panic attacks can help people get through them and live a happier and healthier life.

The five steps of AWARE can help people get through an anxiety attack more quickly.

1.  Acknowledge and Accept

Acknowledgment and acceptance that panic and fear are setting in are the first steps to overcoming an anxiety attack.  Trying to ignore the experience often results in even more anxiety. 

2.  Wait and Watch

After acknowledging the onset of an anxiety attack, it helps to wait and watch.

Wait

Heightened anxiety inhibits the ability to think, and people often respond with their first instinct, which is to flee from the situation.  Waiting for a few minutes allows people to recover their ability to think and to focus on appropriate action.

Watch

Recording an anxiety attack while it is happening helps transform an individual from victim to observer.  This can have a calming effect, and an anxiety diary helps people better understand triggers and ways to deal with them in the future. 

If an attack happens while driving, people can use a digital recorder or pull over to put the experience in writing.  Individuals should record information like panic level (from 1 to 10), what triggered the panic, how long it lasted, what calming practices were used, and how the attack ended.

Related:  Meditation Rewires Your Brain

3.  Act

For passive situations, waiting and watching may be enough to ride out a panic attack.  People engaged in more active behaviors like driving or public speaking may need to do more work.  The following actions can help calm the mind and body.

Deep Breathing:  Draw a long, slow breath in through the nose.  Fill the lungs from the bottom to top, and hold for a count of three.  Pursing the lips, exhale slowly, and repeat for a 5 to 10 breaths.

Self-Talk:  Self talk helps provide calm through reason.  People can ask themselves what is the worst thing that may happen in the current situation and if it involves danger or merely discomfort.  Recognizing it is okay to be afraid can also be very calming.

Awareness of the Present:  Becoming more aware of the current environment can help people relax.  Focusing on people in other cars, listening to background music in a waiting room, or comparing prices in a store can bring attention back to the present moment and away from worry about what might happen in the immediate future.

Body Relaxation:  Actively tightening and then relaxing the jaw, neck, shoulder, back, and leg muscles can help soothe the body and divert mental focus.

4.  Repeat

While the first three steps often bring an anxiety attack to manageable levels, sometimes they demand repeating.  This is perfectly acceptable.  At first, people may need to go through several cycles, but the process gets easier and more comfortable with practice.

5.  End

Anxiety attacks always end, and a self-reminder of this can be comforting to sufferers.  The best way to bring an attack to completion is to practice each AWARE step with mindfulness and patience.

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Dizziness: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

by IVL Products

From time to time everyone experiences bouts of dizziness.  Symptoms include an unsteady or spacey feeling, lightheadedness, and/or loss of balance.  While dizziness sometimes comes from something as simple as standing up too quickly, it can also result from a number of health problems, ranging from minor to serious.  Knowing what causes dizziness helps people access proper treatment and put an end to uncomfortable episodes.

A number of underlying health conditions cause dizziness, but are usually not serious.

Dehydration

Not getting enough fluids throughout the day can cause dizziness.  Dehydration can result from a strenuous workout, extra-warm weather, or just forgetting to replenish fluids.  The solution is as simple as rehydrating by drinking an adequate amount of water and a little rest.  If the feeling hasn't subsided within 15 minutes, people should contact a medical professional.    

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when low levels of glucose in the blood affect normal function.  Episodes produce a range of symptoms like intense hunger, anxiety, sweaty or clammy skin, and dizziness. 

Hypoglycemia is a common occurrence among people with diabetes.  According to a review study published in the Public Library of Science, people with type 2 diabetes experience an average of 19 mild episodes and one severe bout of hypoglycemia each year.  Drinking a glass of juice or eating complex carbohydrates like toast and jam help restore blood sugar levels quickly, making feelings of dizziness and other symptoms subside. 

Related:  Natural Health Solutions: Blood Sugar Levels

Benign Positional Vertigo

When people get out of bed and the room spins, they are most likely experiencing benign positional vertigo, or BPV.  Due to changes in the inner ear, this condition becomes more common with age.  In fact, according to the Vestibular Disorders Association, BPV is responsible for roughly 50% of the episodes of dizziness in people over the age of 50.  To realign calcium carbonate crystals in the ears, doctors may suggest repositioning techniques for the head.  Anti-nausea medication may also provide relief.

Stroke or Heart Attack

In addition to dizziness, people who have a stroke or mini-stroke may experience weakness on one side of the body; loss of movement, vision, hearing, or speech; blackout or memory loss; and/or severe headache.  Individual experiencing a heart attack may feel chest pain or have profuse sweating; discomfort in the neck, jaw, or arm; and/or nausea.

People who experience any of these symptoms in combination with dizziness should get immediate medical help.  Treatment for stroke or mini-stroke includes anticoagulants to break up clots and medications to lower blood pressure.  Serious stroke may require surgery and/or additional treatment.  Depending on the seriousness of a heart attack, treatment may include lifestyle changes, rehabilitation, medication, stents, or surgery. 

Additional conditions that may cause dizziness include:

  • Anemia
  • Anxiety
  • Certain medications
  • Ear Infection
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Meniere’s Disease

Not a disease in itself, dizziness is a symptom of an underlying health problem.  Occasional dizzy feelings are common and causes are usually not serious.  However, people should seek medical help immediately if they experience any symptoms of stroke or heart attack, or if they experience recurring episodes of dizziness with no known cause. 

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Lack of Appetite: Four Typical Causes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Eating delicious foods can be one of the greatest pleasures in life, and a healthy appetite is a sign of positive wellbeing.  People who develop a lack of appetite lose their desire to eat.  They either experience complete disinterest, or the idea of eating makes them feel nauseous.  While a number of factors may cause appetite loss, four in particular are worth noting.

People who develop a lack of appetite either experience complete disinterest, or the idea of eating makes them feel nauseous

1.  Chronic Disease

Lack of appetite is a common symptom of a number of chronic diseases.  These include liver disease, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, HIV, hypothyroidism, gastroparesis, and kidney or heart failure.  People with cancer of the ovaries, pancreas, colon, or stomach may also find their appetite lacking. 

Nutritious snacks high in protein and calories help people with chronic illness or cancer maintain body weight while trying to recover.  Eating small amounts several times throughout the day and supplementing with liquid protein drinks can be helpful.  Supportive family members can keep favorite foods handy and record meals in a food diary for reference.

2.  Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is most common in women from 35 to 65 years of age.  It is a condition in which the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone.  It causes a range of symptoms, including lack of appetite, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and brittle nails.

A simple blood test can determine whether people suffer from an inactive thyroid.  Doctors usually prescribe synthetic T4 (levothyroxine sodium), in the form of a daily pill, to bring the thyroid hormone into the normal range.

Related:  Three Hormonal Causes of Depression

3.  Medications

Use of certain medications can affect the appetite.  These include:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Codeine
  • Diuretics
  • Morphine
  • Sleeping pills
  • Tranquilizers

Regardless if it is listed above, people who experience a lack of appetite in conjunction with starting a new medication should consult with their doctor for solutions, which may include changing the drug or dosage.  People should not stop taking their medication without their doctor's approval.

4.  Depression

A change in appetite is one of the most common signs of depression.  For some people, depression increases appetite, and for others it leads to a lack of appetite.  When people experience appetite loss along with symptoms like sadness, guilt, disinterest in activities, digestive issues, sleep problems, or nausea, they should consult with a medical doctor or mental health care professional.

A healthy diet may help ward off depression.  According to research, a Mediterranean-style eating plan high in fruits vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fatty fish can help lower risks for depression.  Studies also show that deficiencies in vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and tryptophan can have a negative influence on mood.

While periods of appetite loss are normal, a persistent lack of appetite is not.  It can be a symptom of chronic disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, depression or a reaction to a new medication.  People should contact their health care provider if appetite loss is chronic or if they are shedding weight without trying. 

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How to Keep your Heart Healthy with Seven Lifestyle Strategies

by Health News

Nearly 800,000 Americans develop heart disease each year.  While it tops the list as the leading killer for men and women in the United States, it doesn't have to be.  People can ward off heart disease or keep it from worsening by adopting a healthier routine.  If you are wondering how to keep your heart healthy, look no further.  These seven strategies can help. 

Learning how to keep your heart healthy begins with a nutritious diet.

1.  Eat a heart-healthy diet

According to the American Heart Association, eating a healthy diet can lower heart attack risks by 25%.  Diets should be low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.  Stock the grocery cart with whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, lean proteins, and foods like avocados, olive oil, and freshwater fish for healthy fats.  Limit consumption of sugar and sodium by eliminating processed foods and using spices and herbs to add flavor while cooking.

2.  Watch your weight

It is estimated that 69% of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese.  Carrying excessive body weight raises risks for heart disease and contributing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.  Fortunately, when weight comes down, blood pressure and blood sugar levels also drop.  A nutritious diet and a regular exercise program pave the way toward lower body weight and a healthier body overall.

3.  Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke

Whether inhaled directly or second-hand, cigarette or cigar smoke damages arterial cells, promotes blood clots, and raises heart rate and blood pressure.  Fortunately, a number of products can help smokers quit like pills, nicotine patches or gum, acupuncture, and self-hypnosis CDs.  Just five years after quitting smoking, risks for heart attack lower to that of a nonsmoker.

4.  Control cholesterol and blood pressure

In learning how to keep your heart healthy, controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure offers big benefits.  High levels of both raise risks for heart disease.  Consult a health professional for screening to determine whether action is needed to bring levels down.  While a healthy diet and regular exercise often reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, some people may require medication. 

5.  Drink in moderation

Studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation may offer a protective effect for the heart.  This means no more than one drink per day for women and men over the age of 65 and two drinks daily for men 65 years of age or younger.  Drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol may have a negative effect on the heart and other areas of the body.

6.  Manage stress

If you are a busy person wondering how to keep your heart healthy, consider strategies for managing chronic stress.  Not only does stress create muscle tension, but it raises the heart rate and blood pressure.  Over time, this can affect heart health.  Try engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga, tai chi, guided imagery, or listening to soft music to help your mind and body relax.

Related:  Managing Stress in Everyday Life

7.  Control your blood sugar

According to the American Heart Association, keeping blood sugar levels in check is one of seven key behaviors that help promote heart health.  High blood sugar affects the dilation of the blood vessels, which increases risks for heart disease.  Many people can keep levels in check and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes with a healthy low-sugar diet, but people should get tested by a health care provider to determine if further action is needed.

Adopting healthy lifestyle strategies protects more than just the heart.  Armed with knowledge of how to keep your heart healthy, you may also benefit from lower body weight, more energy, and better overall body health.  Adopt all seven strategies for optimal benefits. 

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Heart-Healthy Diet: Five Tips to Prevent Heart Disease

by Cindy Gray

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, it takes the lives of roughly 610,000 Americans each year.  The road to a healthy heart begins with a healthy lifestyle.  While watching weight, reducing stress, and exercise make a big contribution, a heart-healthy diet can be just as important.  A few dietary tips can help people reduce chances for developing heart disease and promote better overall health.  

Fruits and vegetables make a valuable addition to a heart-healthy diet.

1.  Exercise Portion Control

When it comes to a heart-healthy diet, quantity is as important as quality.  More calories can increase body weight, and according to the American Heart Association, people who are overweight or obese experience a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. 

To help control portion size, use smaller plates.  Envision a hockey puck to determine a healthy portion for rice or pasta, and a deck of cards for meat, fish, or chicken.  Measuring cups and dietary scales also help with proper portion control.

2.  Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Offering few calories and lots of fiber, fruits and vegetables promote a healthy heart.  Foods high in fiber help prevent heart disease by contributing to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  Load the grocery cart with apples, oranges, bananas, melons, and berries.  Slice raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, celery, and cauliflower and place them in large zip-lock bags for quick and easy access.  Add fresh or frozen veggies to soups, sauces, casseroles, and stir fries.

3.  Limit Unhealthy Fats

For a heart-healthy diet, steer clear of partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods that contain deadly trans fats, and limit amounts of whole-fat dairy or red meats to reduce amounts of saturated fats.  For a healthier alternative, cook with olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil, and add foods like nuts, freshwater fatty fish, flax seeds, and avocados to your grocery cart.

Related:  Healthy Fats Improve Nutrient Absorption

4.  Reduce Sodium

Too much salt contributes to high blood pressure, a condition that raises risks for developing cardiovascular disease.  According to the American Heart Association, people should limit the intake of salt to one teaspoon per day or less.  To help reduce sodium intake, shop for foods and condiments that are low-sodium or sodium free, and flavor home-cooked foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.

5.  Choose Healthy Protein Sources

Protein makes a valuable addition to a heart-healthy diet, but some sources are better than others.  Choose lean cuts of grass-fed beef, skinless poultry, fish, and eggs.  Select low-fat yogurt and milk products or substitute dairy milk with almond, cashew, or coconut milk.  Make a variety of dried beans and lentils a regular addition to the diet as a good source of plant-based protein and fiber.  Avoid processed sandwich meats, bacon, and hotdogs that contain harmful chemicals, steer clear of breaded meats, and opt for baking and grilling instead of frying. 

Taking advantage of the tips above can help people avoid becoming another heart disease statistic.  Exercising portion control, eating more fruits and veggies, limiting unhealthy fats, reducing sodium, and choosing healthy sources of protein make a winning combination for a heart-healthy diet.  Adding exercise and stress-reduction techniques further ensures a healthy heart and optimal overall health.  

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CT Heart Scan - What to Expect

by IVL Products

Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, chest pains…these are classic warning signs of heart trouble, or are they?  According to U. S. News and World Report, more than one third of people who have a fatal heart attack experience none of the typical warning signs.  That's why some medical professionals recommend people at risk for a heart attack have a CT heart scan. While the procedure sounds daunting, it is quick and painless.  Knowing more about a CT scan helps quell some of the anxiety over having the test.

While the procedure sounds daunting, a CT heart scan is quick and painless.

What is the difference between a CT scan and a standard X-ray?

A CT scan shows more details than a standard X-ray.  The X-ray beam rotates around the body, creating a computer-generated cross section of an organ. 

How long does the procedure last?

From start to finish, the heart scan takes minutes.  While some facilities require changing into a gown, others do not.  With a few electrodes attached to the chest, patients lie on a platform, and it moves into the scanner.  Some patients may receive medicine to slow the heart rate.  When instructed by the technician, patients hold their breath for a few seconds so that the scanner can generate a clear image, and the procedure is complete.

Related:  Treadmill Testing Can Predict Heart Disease in Women Over 65

What are doctors looking for?

Doctors are looking for evidence of calcium deposits.  When looking at the image produced by the heart scan, calcium deposits can be seen as bright white spots.  These spots help doctors determine risks for a possible heart attack. 

A more extensive procedure called CT angiography can produce detailed images of the arteries.  With this scan, doctors look for evidence of narrowing of the arteries, which often indicates coronary artery disease.  This procedure requires the injection of dye into the vein.

What happens after the heart scan?

After the procedure, the doctor discussed the results with the patient and any possible treatment recommendations.  There are no special safety measures or precautions required following a CT scan.  Patients can participate in normal, everyday activities.

When it comes to heart health, the motto "better safe than sorry" often comes in handy.  People who are at risk for a heart attack can play it safe by having a CT heart scan.  At risk groups include individuals who are overweight or obese, smokers, people with high blood pressure or diabetes, or those with a family history of heart disease.  

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Eight Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Jangling nerves, perspiration, rapid heartbeat…from time to time, all people experience feelings of anxiousness, particularly when faced with stressful situations like job interviews and public speaking.  Under these types of circumstances, fear and worry about what may happen is a natural and normal response.  When anxiety becomes chronic however, it may be cause for concern.  Roughly 18% of American adults are affected by some type of anxiety disorder.  Learning about eight common signs helps people determine whether or not they need professional help.

Anxiety disorder affects roughly 18% of American adults.

1.  Excessive Worry

People with generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) tend to suffer from excessive worry.  Racing thoughts build, and feelings of anxiousness over anything and everything become intense.  If individuals experience this type of anxiety for more than six months or it becomes so bad that it interferes with daily functioning, they should consult a health care professional.  

2.  Sleep Problems

Anxiety disorders often result in sleep problems.  Racing thoughts inhibit relaxation, causing a lack of sleep or fitful sleep.  Over time, sleep deprivation creates havoc, from weakening the immune system to affecting cognition and problem-solving abilities.

3.  Irrational Fears or Phobias

Some people become anxious about specific things or situations like flying, animals, clowns, heights, or small spaces.  Excessive fear and anxiety in situations of relatively low risk indicate signs of a phobia, a type of anxiety disorder.  Although phobias can be overwhelming, they typically don't interfere with daily functioning.  Treatment can help people overcome phobias, however, for better peace of mind.

4.  Muscle Tension

Severe anxiety often creates chronic muscle tension, which results in physical symptoms like a stiff neck or a sore back.  Regular exercise and relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help reduce the muscle tension that comes with anxiety.

5.  Chronic Indigestion

In addition to affecting the muscles, anxiety can also upset the digestive system, making the term "nervous stomach" a real and common problem.  Many people with anxiety suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS).  Symptoms of IBS include stomachache, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

6.  Social Anxiety

From office parties to shopping at the mall, social situations can cause crippling anxiety for some people.  When social environments cause people to shut down emotionally or create feelings of panic on a regular basis, it is time to seek help.  Successful treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication.

Related:  Safe Anxiety Treatments: Rose and Lavender are Scents that Soothe

7.  Panic Attacks

Some people experience extreme episodes of anxiety marked by physical symptoms similar to that of a heart attack.  Heart rates increase, breathing may become difficult, and people may sweat profusely or become lightheaded.  These terrifying bouts are known as panic attacks, and they may come out of the blue or be triggered by a stimulus.  While a panic attack may be a one-time occurrence, regular attacks can be debilitating, and people should seek help.

8.  Flashbacks

Some people who have experienced stressful events have flashbacks, episodes where they re-experience the event in their mind.  Chronic flashbacks can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.  Individuals who believe they may be suffering from PTSD should seek professional help.  Treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication.

While anxiousness is a normal response to stressful situations, chronic anxiety can be debilitating.  Fortunately, a number of treatments can help.  Learning more about the different signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder can help people determine the severity of their condition and whether professional help is needed.

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Five Reasons Why You May be Suffering from Fatigue

by Health News

In our modern world, schedules are busier than ever, and exhaustion is a common complaint.  While periods of tiredness are normal, continual fatigue could be an indicator of something other than a hectic lifestyle.  Discover five reasons you may be suffering from fatigue and a few tips for restoring energy.

With a hectic lifestyle, it is normal to experience intervals of fatigue.

1.  Diet

Diet can make a big difference when it comes to energy levels.  A latte and a doughnut get the day off to a lively start, but the sugary buzz only lasts for a few hours, and then fatigue sets in. 

According to Dr. Oz, people should trade simple carbs for protein in the morning.  A protein shake or a veggie omelet provides steady energy until lunchtime.  High fiber/high protein snacks also help maintain energy levels throughout the day.  For tasty options, try power bars, whole wheat crackers and tuna, veggies and hummus, or a handful of mixed nuts.

2.  Poor Sleep

Seven to eight hours of restorative sleep helps people wake refreshed.  Over time, less sleep can lead to chronic fatigue.  Tips for better sleep include reducing or eliminate caffeine consumption, getting a full eight hours of sleep, avoiding television or computers for at least 30 minutes before bedtime,  and setting the nighttime thermostat to around 68 degrees.

3.  Lack of Exercise

While it may seem counter-intuitive to exercise when tired, studies show it may be just the ticket for boosting energy.  Researchers from the University of Georgia tested the effects of exercise on a group of 36 subjects with persistent fatigue who did not exercise regularly.  

After six weeks at intervals of 20 minutes, three times per week, groups who performed low-intensity or moderate-intensity exercise showed an equal increase in energy levels of 20% as compared to the control group.  Interestingly, the low-intensity group reported 65% less fatigue and the moderate-intensity group reported 49% less fatigue than the control group.

Related:  The Many Benefits of Regular Exercise

4.  Anemia

Red blood cells deliver oxygen from the lungs to other body cells and tissues.  People who have anemia don't have enough red blood cells, which can leave people feeling tired.  Anemia can be caused by blood loss, chronic disease, or an iron or vitamin deficiency.  It is common among women of childbearing age due to menstruation or a need for extra iron while pregnant or breast feeding.  A simple blood test can determine whether anemia is an issue and iron supplementation is needed.  Foods high in iron include red meat, pork, poultry, beans, and leafy green vegetables.

5.  Thyroid Problems

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck.  It produces a hormone that helps regulate metabolism.  Production of too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) makes metabolism speed up and too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) makes it slow down.

Hyperthyroidism can cause muscle fatigue and weakness, weight loss, flushing, lighter menstruation, and thirst and is most common among women in their 20s and 30s.  Hypothyroidism can cause general fatigue, concentration problems, weight gain, heavier menstruation, and cold body temperature and is most common among women over the age of 50.  People concerned about thyroid problems can have a simple blood test to confirm diagnosis and get treatment.

While a busy lifestyle creates intervals of fatigue, chronic tiredness may an indication of another problem.  After medical issues are ruled out, people experiencing persistent fatigue can try changing their diet, getting better sleep, or exercising more often. 

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Three Foods to Avoid for Heart Health

by Cindy Gray

Recent data from the American Heart Association reveals that one person dies every 39 seconds from heart disease, making it the leading cause of death in the United States.  In addition to other healthy lifestyle strategies, diet can play a big role when it comes to heart health.  Knowing what to eat and what not to eat can help ensure the healthiest heart possible.  According to experts at Harvard University, foods to avoid for heart health include processed meats, refined grains and other processed carbohydrates, and sugary beverages. 

Because they contain nitrates, salts, and other preservatives, processed meats are one of the foods to avoid for hearth health.

1.  Processed Meats

Products like bacon, hot dogs, salami, sausage, and many sandwich meats are processed with nitrates, salts, and other preservatives.  A recent review study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that daily consumption of 50 grams of processed meats raised risks for heart attack by 42%.  Because eating unprocessed red meat showed no higher risk for heart attack, researchers attributed the higher risks for consumption of processed meats to nitrates, sodium, and preservatives rather than saturated fat and cholesterol.

2.  Refined Grains and Other Processed Carbohydrates

Many studies link the consumption of whole grains like stone ground bread and steel-cut oats to lower risks for heart disease and stroke.  Refining removes fiber, minerals, and fatty acids from grain, thereby taking away much of the nutrition.  Bread, pasta, and baked goods made from white flour are examples of refined products, as are white rice, and pearl barley.  Processing adds ingredients that harm the health like dyes, sugar, sodium, and trans fats.  Examples of processed carbohydrates include packaged baked goods, snack products, and sugary breakfast cereals.  

Related:  Antioxidants and Heart Health

3.  Sugary Beverages

According to the American Heart Association, people who get 17 to 21 percent of their daily calories from sugar raise risks for dying from cardiovascular disease by 38%, as compared to people who get 8% or less of their daily calories from sugar.

One easy way to cut back on sugar is to eliminate sugary beverages from the diet.  These include sodas, sports drinks, and even fruit juices.  While sugar-free sodas seem like a viable option, they contain chemicals that may be harmful to the health.  The best beverage choices include water, naturally-flavored water, or tea and coffee sweetened with all-natural stevia.

Diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy heart and overall health.  Knowing what foods to avoid for heart health helps ensure this life-giving organ pumps strong.   To ensure the healthiest heart possible, keep processed meats, refined grains, and sugary drinks out of the shopping cart, the refrigerator, and your body!

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Your Home Health Checklist

by IVL Products

Do you have a healthy home? Run through this checklist and if you answer “yes” or “don’t know” to these questions, you need to take heed of this article!

A healthy home means a healthy life.

The checklist:

  • Do you eat locally grown produce?
  • Do you use air fresheners?
  • Was your home built pre-1978?
  • Do you have a wooden deck or wooden garden furniture?
  • Do your cleaning products disrupt your hormones?
  • Do electromagnetic fields disturb your sleep?
  • Do you cook with non-stick saucepans?
  • Do you eat canned foods?
  • Do you clean your teeth with triclosan?

Kitchen Health

Most people use antibacterial cleaners and sprays in the kitchen as part of maintaining a healthy home. However, it is usually the food we eat that has hidden dangers. Buy organic produce and wash everything before cooking or eating it, as it can be high in cancer-causing pesticide residue.

Overheating non-stick cookware can release toxic fumes, so replace it with cast iron or stainless steel pans. Foods cans are lined with toxic bisphenol-A (BPA) and microwaving in plastic containers can release BPAs which can be particularly damaging to young children so make wise choices with containers.

Related:  Dangers of Fumigation

Bathroom Health

How does your bathroom measure up as part of your healthy home? Air fresheners and fragrance used in personal products can all contain toxic chemicals. For youngsters, fluoride-free toothpaste is advisable, as fluoride can be toxic when swallowed.

Check the ingredients list of toothpaste, soap, deodorant and other antibacterial products. Avoid triclosan which has been shown to cause liver problems and disrupt thyroid function. When triclosan passes through wastewater treatment plants it is not removed so it goes on to poison aquatic life in lakes and rivers.

Laundry and Cleaning Hazards

Many everyday cleaning products contain known chemicals and harmful pesticides, and not all ingredients are listed on the label. Ingredients to avoid include 2-butoxyethanol, alkylphenol ethoxylates, ethanolamines and quaternary ammonium compounds (aka "quats").

The words “dye” and “fragrance” may also be hiding undeclared chemical information, while pine and citrus oil can react with the ozone in the air to form carcinogenic formaldehyde.

It’s worth paying a little more for eco green products, but you still need to analyze the contents.

House and Garden

More hazards lie in wait in the bedroom with electronic gadgets, TVs, treadmills and lamps generating electromagnetic fields (EMFs) which can disrupt sleep.

Lead paint, asbestos fire-retardant material and wood furniture containing arsenic sealant can all be toxic if children chew on them.

The long list of hazards in your otherwise healthy home is frightening and cannot be covered in one short article. You can find out more by checking out the website of the Environmental Working Group. Having knowledge is the first step to keeping you, your family and your home healthy and safe.

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Women’s Top Five Health Concerns

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Advancing years, the sudden onset of illness, or the death of someone close can all make us think about our own health. According to Saralyn Mark, M.D. there are five main medical conditions that top the list of women’s health issues. We look at the risk factors for each and see how experts suggest we can be proactive in reducing or preventing such health problems.

Breast cancer is one of the top five women’s health issues

#1 Heart Disease

As the leading cause of death, heart disease is responsible for around 29% of all deaths in women, according to the CDC.  Although we eventually all have to die, it is the premature death or limitations caused by heart disease that is the greatest health concern.

Regular health checks to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol can help reduce the risk along with a healthy diet, regular exercise, non-smoking and maintaining a normal body weight. Any new symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest, and shoulder or jaw pain should be reported to your doctor and investigated.

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#2 Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is understandably one of the main women’s health issues as it is the most common cancer for women. Risk factors include family history, age, alcoholism, lack of children, genetics and race, with Caucasian women having a higher risk of developing the disease than African-American women.

Regular self-examination can detect lumps at the earliest stage, along with mammograms. Fear and denial can stop women going to see their doctor when a lump is discovered, and this can be crucial for the best chance of survival. 

#3 Osteoporosis

Another disease that affects women is osteoporosis, due to lower estrogen levels after menopause. This “brittle bone disease” affects 44 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

Clinical trials by the NOF show that taking 1,000 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D daily reduces the risk of hip fracture and osteoporosis. Those most at risk are small, thin women with a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, particularly Caucasian and Asian women or those with as family history of osteoporosis.

#4 Depression

Depression commonly affects women more than men, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 12 million women are affected each year. It may be triggered after giving birth or due to hormonal changes. Those with a family history of depression, marital problems, a stressful life or taking medications known to cause depression are most at risk. Having a purpose in life such as a job, a pet, volunteering and community work can all help. Regular exercise also releases endorphins that lift mood.

#5 Autoimmune Diseases

Disorders such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and lupus are among this group of chronic diseases. Autoimmune diseases are not widely understood and you may need to consult a specialist to diagnose and address these women’s health issues that affect three times more women than men. Worrying about your health can only make things worse. Instead, take every precaution to eat and exercise sensibly, top up with daily supplements and if anything is amiss, share it immediately with your doctor. 

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What is Heart Disease?

by Health News

“What is heart disease?” may seem an obvious question to some, but understanding the connection between diet, heart disease, stroke, and heart attack can help us to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Avoid this by learning about what is heart disease

Heart disease is often called cardiovascular disease. It is a condition covering a range of common yet serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure and arrhythmia. It also includes atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arterial lining).

You may already have elevated risk factors for heart disease, such as atherosclerosis and aging. Men over the age of 45 and women over 55 are automatically at increased risk of heart disease. It’s important to know what heart disease is, what causes it, and how it can be reduced.

Atherosclerosis and Heart Attack

Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fatty substances, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) which eventually cause a hardening of the walls of the main arteries. The problems begin when the plaque begins to block blood flow, decreasing the oxygen supply and causing elevated blood pressure as the heart works harder to force the blood through the narrower arteries.

Blood clots may form on the plaque surface, or the plaque deposits may break off. If plaque or a blood clot travel toward the heart and stop the blood flow completely, it causes a heart attack which can be fatal. In a similar way, if a blood clot or plaque deposit stops the flow of blood to the brain, it causes a stroke, which is similarly life-threatening.

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Life Changes after Heart Attack or Stroke

Often people do not understand what heart disease is until after they have experienced a heart attack or stroke. To avoid a repeat incident, life changes are necessary to boost heart health, such as:

Tests can be performed to determine what damage has been caused by a stroke or heart attack. Your doctor may recommend blood-thinning medication to reduce the risk of clotting, installing a pacemaker, heart valve surgery, coronary angioplasty or even a surgical arterial bypass graft to help improve blood flow.

Better still, adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent heart disease, plaque and all the associated problems. Natural supplements such as coenzyme Q10 to lower blood pressure, fish oil supplements to reduce triglycerides and green tea to lower cholesterol can all boost heart health naturally.

So if you’re asking, “What is heart disease?” make sure you put into practice what you learn to significantly lower your risk of heart disease before it’s too late.

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What are the Causes of Shortness of Breath after Eating?

by Cindy Gray

Do you or someone you know experience shortness of breath after eating? This condition of difficult or labored breathing is known as dyspnea. It can be caused by several factors including heart problems, asthma or respiratory issues, digestive disorders or anxiety.

Lung problems may cause shortness of breath after eating

Here we look at some of the most likely causes that may explain shortness of breath after eating.

Arrhythmia and Difficulty Breathing

Arrhythmia is the medical term for a change of heartbeat due to an interruption in the electrical impulses generated by the sinoatrial node (nature’s pacemaker). The heart may beat too fast, too slowly or irregularly, causing an interruption in blood flow which affects the lungs and breathing as well as other major organs.

If you notice a change in your heartbeat, you should consult your doctor. He may prescribe treatment for tachycardia (racing heart with over 100 beats per minute) or bradycardia (less than 60 heart beats per minute). Once the underlying cause has been treated, you will find your shortness of breath after eating may be alleviated.

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Lung Problems Cause Shortness of Breath

If you suddenly develop shortness of breath, it may be caused by pneumonia or pleural effusion when fluid accumulates in the pleural space. Respiratory tract infections, asthma and chronic bronchitis may also limit breathing, particularly after physical activity. Dyspnea may occur after eating a large meal. The stomach expands and pushes the lungs upwards, causing breathing problems. Food allergies, eating too fast or eating too much oily or sugary food can all cause shortness of breath after eating.

GERD May Cause Shortness of Breath after Eating

If your shortness of breath occurs only after eating, it may be due to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD for short. This digestive problem affects the ring of muscle between the stomach and the esophagus. It allows partly digested food and stomach enzymes to flow back up the esophagus causing burning or acid indigestion. This can affect natural breathing.

The solution to GERD-related shortness of breath after eating is to shed those excess pounds—for those who are overweight—and change to a healthier whole food diet. Avoid greasy, spicy and hard-to-digest foods and hopefully the GERD will improve.

Anxiety Disorders and Labored Breathing

Anxiety disorders, over and above normal worry, will certainly affect your rate of breathing. Panic disorders cause panic attacks with short shallow rapid breathing. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Anxiety Disorder may be hereditary, due to stress or environmental factors. Whatever the cause, it can make the sufferer feel nauseous or may cause panic breathing. All such anxiety disorders need to be discussed with a medical professional to get the necessary help. 

You may need professional help to diagnose what causes your shortness of breath after eating, but it’s always worth exploring the obvious causes first.

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Weakness: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

by IVL Products

We can all experience physical weakness at times, perhaps after a serious illness, or when we’re tired, overworked or exhausted. Short-term weakness usually passes when the cause is rectified, whether it is lack of sleep, stress or fighting sickness. 

Weakness can affect the whole body

If you are experiencing ongoing weakness that does not seem to improve, you need to take steps to discover the cause and treat it. There are many possible causes of weakness including:

  • Poor diet
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Colds and flu
  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Low blood sugar
  • Stress

It could also be caused by more serious medical conditions such as cancer, stroke or heart attack.   

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Let’s first eliminate some simple possible causes of weakness:

Poor Diet causes Weakness

If weakness is due to poor diet or intense weight-watching, analyze what you are eating. You should be enjoying a balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fat. According to the Institute of Medicine, 45-65% of our daily calorie intake (2,000 calories total for men and 1800 for women) should come from carbohydrates, preferably multigrain bread, brown rice, beans and lentils. Ten to 25% should be derived from protein such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products, and around 30% of our daily calories should be from healthy fats which the body uses for energy or stores as glucose.

Colds and Sickness

In winter, colds and flu can weaken the body’s immune system. The after effects of any virus, sickness or surgical procedure can leave the body feeling drained and weak. Try eating well and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to boost vitamin intake and antioxidants. Consider taking a multivitamin or supplement to ensure your body is getting all the help it needs to restore itself to full health again. Another easy way to boost energy is with a green drink or smoothie to help boost immunity, provide antioxidant support and improve digestion.

Other Causes of Weakness

Try to analyze whether you are suffering from full body weakness or isolated weakness. Think back to when the weakness first began and to what it may be related. If you cannot find an obvious cause for general weakness and it does not improve, you may need to consult a doctor.

If at any time your weakness is accompanied by difficulty breathing, then you should call 911 immediately, as it could indicate a more serious medical condition. Your doctor will determine the underlying cause and treat accordingly.

In the meantime, make sure you enjoy a healthy balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, enjoy daily exercise and any weakness should soon be a thing of the past. 

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How to Get Your Appetite Back on Track

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you are not enjoying the food you eat, or if you’ve seemed to have simply lost your appetite, there could be a number of causes. Sometimes illness, depression, worry, poor nutrition or even medication can contribute to a loss of appetite. However, lack of nutrition can quickly create more serious medical issues, so it’s important to coax that appetite back. Here are some simple fixes for what to do for loss of appetite.

Our article is full of ideas for what to do for loss of appetite.

Supplements Can Help

It’s important to ensure you have the correct balance of vitamins and minerals every day, particularly when you are eating less. Take a daily multivitamin that offers complete nutritional support but also includes probiotics, antioxidants and enzymes. 

One of the signs of zinc deficiency is poor appetite so if you are wondering what to do for loss appetite, consider taking a zinc supplement. You can read more about zinc in this article by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.

Eat Little and Often

If you cannot face eating three full meals a day, try to overcome the problem by having six regular snacks, light meals or even liquid smoothies full of goodness. It’s a good way to recover your appetite without feeling bloated and too full.

Related:  Foods that Lower Blood Sugar:  Peanut Butter

Drink Water Between Meals

It’s always important to drink plenty of water, but having a drink at mealtimes can fill your stomach before you even start to eat. Instead drink plenty of fluids between meals.

Medications and Loss of Appetite

Some medications cause foods to taste “metallic” or strange. If meat tastes unpleasant, switch to other forms of protein. If water doesn’t taste right, add slices of fruit, lemon juice or herbs to improve the experience. Chewing gum, brushing your teeth or using an oral rinse before meals can help awaken taste buds.

Mental Issues

Sometimes appetite is all in the mind. It could be boredom with the same meals week in, week out, or that you simply “can’t be bothered” with mealtimes. In this case you need to give yourself a mental shake and break the negativity with some new recipes and eating experiences.

Eat with Friends

Eating alone can put a damper on food. The answer to the problem of what to do for loss of appetite may be a social one. Invite friends round for a light meal or BBQ and make the effort to dine with family at least once a week. Part of any pleasant social occasion is food. Once you begin to enjoy your food again, you will soon find your appetite is restored.

We hope we have given you plenty of new ideas for what to do for loss of appetite. Bon appetit!

 

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How to Break a Bad Habit and Replace it with a Good One

by Health News

We all know we are far from perfect, but even the best of us may have some bad habits. Breaking bad habits such as smoking, overspending, snacking at midnight, biting your nails or binge drinking is not easy. To break a bad habit it requires us first to analyze what causes it and then create a solution to address the trigger.

Bad habits can prevent you from accomplishing your goals, or they may be damaging your mental and physical health. They can also sap your confidence and sense of self-worth. Instead of “giving up” a bad habit, think about it as replacing it with something more positive. 

Breaking bad habits can be easier with a friend’s support

What Causes Bad Habits?

Most bad habits are triggered by two things: stress and boredom. A stressful job or family situation may make you start smoking, mindlessly watch TV, overeating or chewing your fingernails. Discover what the triggers are for your habits and try to change the situation.

For example, learn relaxation techniques or take up yoga to help relieve stress. Exercise is always a good antidote to tension, so join a gym, start jogging, swimming or cycling. Breaking bad habits starts by first removing the cause. For example:

  • If you bite your nails out of boredom, take up a hobby that occupies your hands, such as knitting, crafts or jewelry making.
  • If TV is an excuse for overeating, then opt for reading or writing instead.
  • If the friends you socialize with lead to binge drinking, then start to cultivate new friendships and see less of your old buddies.
  • If snacking on chocolate and cookies is causing you to have a weight problem, then give them away and buy only healthy replacement snacks such as fresh fruit or individual portions of nuts.

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Breaking Bad Habits is Easier with Support

Confiding in a friend or partner means that you have acknowledged you have a problem and want to do something about it. It’s an important step toward breaking bad habits. Ask that friend to help you avoid the triggers you have identified and help to make you aware of when you are slipping back, often subconsciously, into old habits.

Having a friend for support who understands and wants the best for you is important as there will be times when you slip up. If you can find a friend who is struggling to break the same bad habits, such as smoking or overeating, you can support each other. Knowing that someone else expects something better of you can be a powerful motivator for breaking bad habits.

By following the three steps of analyzing the cause, finding a substitute activity and enlisting a friend’s support, you will find you have the strength and willpower for breaking bad habits and starting anew.

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Featured Heart-Healthy Recipe – Football Sunday Chili

by Cindy Gray

Heart-healthy recipes often take hours to prepare, but we’ve devised a low-fat, low-sodium recipe for chili that only takes 30 minutes to make, thanks to a couple of “cheats’. Not only is it good for your heart, it also manages to be extremely tasty, satisfying and nutritious.

Try our version of chili – one of the best heart-healthy recipes for families

Ingredients:

1 lb. 95% lean ground beef (or ground white meat chicken, turkey, or a non-meat vegetarian substitute for an even healthier option.)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium jalapeño chopped (omit if you don’t like hot chili!)

4 cloves fresh garlic minced OR 2 tsp. minced garlic from a jar

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added or low-sodium pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained

14.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added or low-sodium, diced tomatoes, undrained

3/4 cup jarred salsa (low sodium)

Method:

Spray a deep skillet or large saucepan with cooking spray and fry the beef and onion over a medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat as it cooks. Tip the meat mixture into a colander and rinse with hot water to remove excess fat. Return to the pan.

Next, stir in the bell pepper, chili powder, garlic and cumin and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve topped with a dollop of fat-free sour cream, sliced avocado and snipped cilantro or chopped scallions. Serves four.

Nutritional Value of This Heart-Healthy Recipe

Calories per serving are 297 with 7g fiber and 31g of satisfying protein. This low-fat recipe delivers 6g total fat and 2.5g saturated fat – one of the definitions of heart-healthy recipes. It also has 62 mg cholesterol – much less than normal chili recipes that retain all the meat fat.  Using low sodium beans, salsa and tomatoes keeps sodium to just 288mg per serving.

Related:  Best Vegan and Vegetarian Protein Sources

For families on a budget, this chili recipe costs about $3.45 per serving. It’s even suitable for those who live alone as it freezes well in individual portions. Once defrosted, it can be reheated for a satisfying midweek meal.  How’s that for one of the best heart-healthy recipes anywhere!

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Sweat Too Much? Four Ways to Stop Excessive Sweating

by IVL Products

Sweating is normal when temperatures are high or during exercise. At other times, suffering from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) can be embarrassing, especially if it soaks through your clothing or makes your hands clammy and damp. It may help to know that you are not alone; an estimated eight million Americans have this problem.

There are ways to help reduce excessive sweating

Here are four suggested ways to help stop excessive sweating and gain control, simply by making a few lifestyle changes.

1.     Use Antiperspirant Twice Daily

Check that your deodorant actually includes an antiperspirant as well. Deodorants simply mask any odors while antiperspirants actually stop the underarm glands from producing sweat. You may need to change to a combination antiperspirant deodorant to control sweating.

If you have been using the same brand of antiperspirant for years, a change to a different product may produce a more effective response. Choose one containing aluminum chloride for added effectiveness.  (However, many health-conscious folks choose to avoid antiperspirants because of the aluminum content.)

As well as using antiperspirant in the morning, reapply in the afternoon for added effectiveness. This is usually the warmest part of the day and your morning antiperspirant may already have rubbed off onto clothing.

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2.     Eliminate Spicy Food

Hot peppers used in spicy dishes contain capsaicin which activates nerves that are heat sensitive. They send signals to the spinal cord and the hypothalamus in the brain, activating sweat glands to produce sweat and cool the body. By avoiding those hot and spicy dishes, you can control excessive sweating.

3.     Avoid Caffeine

In a similar way to hot spices, caffeine boosts energy and alertness, but it also increases sweating when consumed in large amounts. Once the caffeine is metabolized, the sweating stops, but it could be easier to avoid that caffeine rush by drinking caffeine-free sodas, coffee and herbal or green tea—or replace with purified water.

4.     Try Detox Supplements to Reduce Sweating

Your body is full of toxins and metals which collect in the kidneys and liver and may contribute to excessive sweating. Try a 3-5 day detox diet eating only fresh raw vegetables and fruits. Drink lots of water and squeezed fruit juices and avoid alcohol and smoking. A detox diet will cleanse the whole digestive system, eliminating excess water and waste along with toxins.

Taking a dietary supplement can help to make the detoxification more effective. As well as feeling energized and revitalized, you should also sweat less afterward.

You may find a few other useful tips in this article on stopping excess sweating. Once you have excessive sweating under control, you can relax and concentrate on enjoying life without feeling self-conscious.   

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Simple Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness

by IVL Products

While we may know a lot about optimal health in theory, in reality, does our lifestyle measure up?  A truly healthy life consists of many different aspects, including diet, supplements and exercise. 

Optimal health includes eating plenty of fresh fruit

Health and fitness go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to choose regular exercise activities that you actually enjoy as part of your simple healthy lifestyle, to avoid it becoming a dreaded chore. 

Optimal Health and Fitness

Exercise should not be all about burning calories or how much time you spend at the gym. In order for fitness to be a part of your life naturally, exercise in a way that is intuitive and natural.

As humans, our bodies were never intended for life as a couch potato or sat at a desk all day; they were designed for daily activity. It helps to understand by thinking about the exercise our ancestors did: walking, sprinting, climbing, swimming, crawling and lifting heavy things. By replicating those activities on a daily basis, we will be giving our body a natural all-round workout as nature intended.

Related:  Exercise Your Right to Brain Health

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published an excellent Complete Guide to Fitness and Health which gives plenty of tips, instructions and illustrations on how to achieve optimal health through nutrition and exercise.

Health and Diet

Exercise is just one part of optimal health and it has to be done in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Once again, it pays to think simply and eat like our ancestors did. Their diet as hunter-gatherers would have included meat, fish, fowl, fruit, nuts, raw vegetables and plants. They would have drunk plenty of water rather than sugary, soda and drinks heavy in caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

Genetically engineered foods such as soy, corn, canola oil and varieties of vegetables and fruits would not have been part of our diet historically, and neither would pesticides and fertilizers. It’s a good reason to go organic and try to get back to the optimally healthy lifestyle nature intended.

Sleep and Stress

In the days before electricity brought TV entertainment, our ancestors would have risen and slept according to the hours of daylight and nightfall. They would have enjoyed plenty of sleep. Stress would have been limited to key moments during a hunt, when the “fight or flight” hormones of adrenalin and cortisol would have kicked in momentarily, not all the time as in our modern-day lives.

Although we may pride ourselves on our civilized and developed society, when it comes to optimal health and fitness, it can be good to look back and try to emulate the simple, natural lifestyle that our bodies are designed for.