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Grapefruit for Hair Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Goldilocks would definitely have approved of eating grapefruit to keep her hair shiny while acting as a natural remedy for hair loss. Grapefruit is often cited for clear skin and weight loss, but grapefruit oil is a wonderful tonic for healthy hair. Hair loss can be countered by consuming grapefruit, which is full of vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals and nutrients. As you will discover, grapefruit can also be used topically to provide many other benefits, even for those with a full head of hair!

Grapefruit is an excellent remedy for hair loss

Grapefruit as a Cleanser

Hair can become dull and lifeless as products build-up on the scalp and strands of hair. Grapefruit juice cuts through the natural oils, chemicals, waxes, chlorine and parabens that coat your hair to leave cleansed hair and a healthy scalp. Simply rinse hair through with one cup grapefruit juice, rest for a few minutes, then wash out.

Grapefruit for Dandruff

Dandruff and a dry scalp may be caused by the presence of bacteria and this can cause hair loss. The astringent properties of grapefruit seed extract help eliminate any bacterial infection which may be the cause of dandruff and thinning hair. The high levels of vitamin C fight bacteria and prevent the hair follicles from being clogged by particles of dry skin and dandruff. Apply grapefruit oil direct to the scalp, massage in then wash and rinse as normal.

Related:  The Science Behind the Grapefruit Diet

Grapefruit for Hair Growth

The antioxidants in grapefruit are excellent for those with mild to moderate hair loss. Massage grapefruit oil into the scalp for a proven way to stimulate hair regrowth. Grapefruit strengthens the connective tissue with the hair follicles and boosts circulation which feeds and promotes healthy hair growth from the roots, so no more hair loss.

For a regular grapefruit hair loss treatment, add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to your shampoo bottle to add a healthy shine and reduce hair loss every time you wash your hair.

Grapefruit as a Detangler

Make your own organic hair detangler to get amazing benefits from grapefruit. Mix a teaspoonful of aloe vera gel, two drops of glycerin, 30 drops of grapefruit seed extract and two cups distilled water in a spray bottle. Shake well and use on wet hair to smooth out the tangles. You’ll get all the benefits of grapefruit while naturally preventing hair loss.

Whether you choose to eat, drink, spray or massage grapefruit into your hair, it will provide plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants to your whole body while helping boost hair growth and prevent hair loss naturally. 

 

 

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Seven Tips for Avoiding the Dangers of Sugar

by Institute for Vibrant Living

As more people are joining the health and fitness bandwagon, concerns about sugar are growing.  According to Time Magazine, the typical American consumes more than 56 pounds of sugar each year.  While everyone knows that sugary foods are bad for the teeth, too much sugar affects the body in many other ways.  Research shows that high-sugar diets can raise risks for diabetes, heart disease and obesity.  Food manufacturers make the problem worse by adding sugar to many common foods like bread, soups, sauces and condiments.   Fortunately, seven tips for avoiding the dangers of sugar can help.

The dangers of sugar include higher risks for tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

1.  Don’t add sugar to food or beverages.  Avoid adding sugar to foods and beverages like pancakes, cereal, coffee and tea.  Instead of using sugary syrups, top pancakes with almond butter and bananas.  Add fresh berries or dried fruits to cereals, and stir all-natural stevia into hot beverages.

2.  Avoid hidden sugars.  Recognizing sugar is the first step to reducing it in the diet.  Ingredients like corn syrup, agave, molasses, malt sugar, honey, and brown sugar are all types of sweeteners that affect the body the same way as white table sugar.  Reading the ingredient list on a product's label can tell you if it contains any of these hidden types of sugar.

Related:  Your Sugar Cravings Explained

3.  Beware of fat-free foods.  If the goal is to limit the dangers of sugar, fat-free foods may not be the answer.  When manufacturers remove fat from certain foods, they often remove taste as well.  To compensate, many fat-free foods contain extra sugar, salt, flour and other thickeners.  Make sure to read labels to determine sugar levels in fat-free foods.

4.  Shop the rainbow.  White makes a great color for decorating but not for the diet.  White foods like potatoes, rice, bread and pasta are almost always higher in sugar and calories.  Foods rich in color like bell peppers, berries, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and squash offer very little sugar but plenty of healthy phytochemicals, antioxidants and other nutrients.

5.  Steer clear of ingredients ending in –ose.  In addition to more obvious types of hidden sugars like honey and corn syrup, ingredients ending in –ose are also forms of sugar.  These include glucose, fructose, dextrose, lactose, sucrose, maltose and xylose.  Look for these ingredients on food labels. 

6.  Follow the law of four.  A simple math problem helps people determine how much sugar (in teaspoons) they are about to consume per serving.  For instance, if a serving of cereal contains 12 grams of sugar, divide the 12 by four to find that the serving contains three teaspoons of sugar.

7.  Skip the fruit juice.  In addition to removing all the fiber from fruit, juicing boosts sugar content.  For instance, a 12-ounce glass of apple juice has more calories and nearly the same amount of sugar as a 12-ounce glass of cola.

Too much sugar in the daily diet raises risks for many types of disease.  According to the World Health Organization, people who want to reduce the dangers of sugar should limit sugar calories to about 5 percent of their total daily calorie intake.  Fortunately, by following the tips above, consumers can slash daily sugar consumption for better overall health. 

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Stop Stress-Related Insomnia with GABA

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you have difficulty getting off to sleep, or wake up and cannot return to sleep, you may find it comforting to know that one in three people have some degree of insomnia, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. Much of the problem is due to a stressful lifestyle, but effective stress management using natural herbs and supplements can help.

Nutritionist Patrick Holford states in his book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind that every week Brits pop 10 million tranquillizers, smoke a similar number of cannabis joints and drink 120 million alcoholic drinks, often as a socially accepted form of stress management. This disturbing trio of alcohol, cannabis and tranquilizers all has one common ingredient – GABA – which is known to have a calming, soporific effect. Taking it in supplemental form has none of the alarming side effects that drugs and alcohol cause, but what is GABA, is it safe and how does it work?

How Does GABA Work for Stress Management

GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid which acts as a natural relaxant and calming neurotransmitter in the brain. Our bodies produce GABA from glutamine and it is vital for proper brain function. GABA influences mood, producing endorphins that make us relaxed and happy. GABA deficiency is linked to insomnia and epilepsy as well as feelings of anxiety, stress and tension, so it has an important part to play in stress management.

Research shows that GABA increases the production of alpha brain waves, similar to a state of meditation during yoga, for example. It also reduces beta waves which are associated with nervous tension and hyperactivity. These wave patterns can be measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG).  People who are stressed have high levels of beta waves, and GABA helps restore the balance. This natural calming effect makes GABA an excellent natural answer for stress management as well as for insomnia.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation: Is it Dangerous to Your Health?

Chronic Stress Lowers GABA

Low natural levels of GABA may be caused by a lack of glutamine, low levels of B vitamins, zinc, iron and manganese, or by chronic stress. A simple saliva or urine test can show whether you are producing sufficient GABA.

High amounts of caffeine, excessive exposure to electromagnetic radiation, low levels of progesterone and chronic pain can all reduce GABA levels in the body. Ironically, lack of sleep also lowers GABA levels, which in turn means you cannot sleep the following night. This sets up a vicious circle on insomnia. Taking GABA supplements can break the cycle, particularly for those suffering with stress-related insomnia.

How Much GABA to Take?

Taking 500 mg of GABA once or twice a day can significantly support stress management.  For stress-related insomnia, taking 100 mg about 30 minutes before bedtime will help you feel sleepy and relaxed. However, GABA should not be mixed with alcohol, drugs containing barbiturates, anti-anxiety medications or benzodiazepine tranquillizers, so check with your doctor if you are already taking other prescription drugs.

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White Willow Bark - Nature’s Aspirin for Joint Pain Relief

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the National Health Institute (NIH), approximately 11% of the population is suffering from some form of pain, from mild or occasional to chronic or severe. That’s about 25.3 million Americans!  Many of those aches are in the joints, and a reason that sends millions of people to their doctors for relief.  For those seeking more than the traditional drugs and narcotics prescribed, white willow bark is proving to be a safe and effective way to bring joint pain relief.

What Is White Willow Bark?

White willow bark comes from the bark of white willow trees. It has been used in Chinese and European medicine for centuries and the earliest settlers in this country learned of its pain relieving properties from Native Americans.

White willow bark is often called nature’s aspirin due to the pain-relieving compound found in the bark called salicin. 

How White Willow Bark Provides Joint Pain Relief

When salicin is ingested, the body converts it to salicylic acid, which lowers prostaglandin levels. Prostaglandins are long-chain hydroxyl fatty acids produced naturally by the body and can be found in the lining of the stomach, the intestines, the uterus and all smooth muscles throughout the body.  They help regulate body temperature, control inflammation and vascular permeability. They are also responsible for uterine contractions during birth and the cause the painful cramps some women experience while menstruating.  Too many prostaglandins circulating in the body, especially the joints, causes pain. 

The salicin in white willow bark is similar to aspirin and in addition to pain relief can help reduce inflammation in the joints and reduce fevers.  Several studies have actually shown it to be as, or more effective at relieving pain, than aspirin.  It does take longer to bring pain relief but typically its effects last longer, making it a good alternative for those seeking joint pain relief who do not want to be popping synthetic drugs all day.

Related:  The History of Nature's Aspirin for Lower Back Pain

Besides joint pain relief white willow bark can also be taken for:

Dosage

If you would like to try white willow bark, the recommended dosage is 300 mg in capsule form twice a day with a meal. Just be sure to purchase a product that is standardized to 15 percent of the active ingredient salicin.

White willow bark is for adults only. There is no safe dosage determined for children. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take it either. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement to avoid unfavorable drug reactions. Those who are sensitive or allergic to aspirin should not take white willow bark supplements.

Side Effects:

With any medication or supplement there is the possibility of side effects. Fortunately white willow bark side effects tend to be mild but include:

  • Upset stomach (nausea)
  • Ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Kidney or stomach inflammation

Natural Pain Relief

Most people will experience some degree of joint pain in their lifetime. If you are looking for an alternative to traditional pain relievers for joint pain relief, consider taking a white willow bark supplement. 

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Natural Ways to Beat Fatigue Symptoms

by Institute for Vibrant Living

About one million Americans report feeling chronically fatigued.  Millions more report occasional but reoccurring tiredness as a health issue. Fortunately, there are natural, safe ways to relieve your fatigue symptoms and they don’t involve taking a new prescription in most cases. Simple lifestyle changes and the addition of some herbs and supplements can help naturally relieve your fatigue and give you a new lease on life.

Understanding fatigue symptoms and what we can do about them.

Too Tired

Occasional fatigue is normal. A hard workout, long day at the office, a fun-filled but activity packed vacation, are all reasons you may be tired. Unfortunately many people feel tired all the time and it takes an unfortunate toll on their health. Fatigued drivers account for 20% of all car accidents. Tired kids and adults show a decrease in cognitive function making school and jobs more difficult. 

You might think that being too tired all the time is a normal part of aging, but it’s not. If daily living has you dragging, it’s time to make some changes to your lifestyle.

Common Reasons for Fatigue

Sleep

It cannot be emphasized enough how important getting enough sleep is to maintaining your health, especially your energy levels. Unfortunately, most Americans do not get the minimum 6-8 hours needed every night to help the body restore itself after long, stressful days working, working out, caring for family, dealing with traffic, and the stuff of daily life.

Day after day, week after week of not getting enough shut-eye leads to fatigue and other unpleasant experiences like weight gain, cognitive decline and speeds up the aging process.  Experts recommend going to bed at a reasonable hour each night and rising at the same time each day, even on weekends and vacations. Establishing a soothing nighttime ritual and sticking to it will do wonders for your fatigue symptoms.

Hormones

Hormones out of balance are a leading cause of fatigue.  A trip to the doctor might be in order if your fatigue symptoms came on suddenly.  This could indicate a malfunctioning thyroid or adrenal gland malfunction. Women going through menopause may have fluctuating and declining hormones, which cause sleep disturbances and fatigue.  Ruling out hormonal imbalances is key to banishing fatigue.

Related:  Understanding the Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Nutrition

Our bodies run on carbohydrates, but not the kind found in a doughnut. Highly refined white flour and sugar-laden foods will cause a surge in blood sugar giving you a short burst of energy, only to send you crashing and feeling tired.  You know what to do: eat more complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grains and vegetables while consuming a lot less white flour products loaded with sugar.

You may also not be eating enough fat. Yes, fat. It is as essential to a healthy diet as carbohydrates and protein. You need to eat the right kind of fat in moderation to optimize energy levels.  Nuts, avocados, olive, coconut and canola oils, eggs and organic, grass fed-beef are all great sources of healthy fats that will help relieve your fatigue symptoms.

You may be dehydrated. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so before you reach for a candy bar to shake off that tired feeling, try drinking an eight ounce glass of good old fashioned water and see if you don’t feel better in about 10 minutes. Get in the habit of carrying around a bottle of H2O and drinking it a couple times a day.

Supplements

You could find relief from your fatigue symptoms by supplementing your diet with missing nutrients.

Magnesium – start with the lowest dosage (600 mg or less)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – a fish oil supplement can help you get enough of this essential nutrient every day

Vitamin B12 – you can get this crucial nutrient in pill form or through injections

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Can Melatonin Help During Menopause?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many women dealing with menopausal symptoms experience disruptions in their sleep cycles. This can exacerbate some of the other side effects such as increased anxiety, depression, trouble focusing, memory lapses, hot flashes and a decreased libido, just to name a few. The good news is that increasing shows that melatonin supplements can be an effective menopause treatment to help you get more rest and relief.  

Can melatonin treatment relieve symptoms of menopause?

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce naturally in the pineal gland of the brain. It assists in the smooth operation of several bodily functions such as:

  • Regulating the release of the female reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, effecting the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles
  • Promoting the quality and duration of sleep
  • It is a naturally produced antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties to help the body repair itself. It has a protective effect on your heart by helping to lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels

Low levels of melatonin have been linked to an increased risk for developing breast and prostate cancer, and have more recently linked to ADHD symptoms in children. 

At optimum levels, melatonin can help improve conditions like:

  • Sunburn
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Pain regulation
  • Digestion
  • Epilepsy 

Melatonin as a Menopause Treatment

Trouble focusing, memory lapses, increased anxiety and feelings of depression, all common symptoms of menopause, are made worse by a lack of quality sleep.  Many women going through menopause have trouble falling asleep, and even after they do, they often wake up because of a hot flash. They may fall asleep, but rouse frequently during the night and have trouble going back to sleep.

As we age our production of the sleep hormone begins to decline, along with estrogen and progesterone. Children have high levels of melatonin, whereas adults in their late 40s, 50s and 60s and beyond have much lower levels. Melatonin supplements can increase levels to promote drowsiness and keep you asleep for longer stretches.  It can also help you fall back to sleep when a hot flash wakes you up.  In addition, the increased shut-eye can help you deal with stress more effectively, decrease anxiety and give you greater mental clarity.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation: Is it Dangerous to Your Health?

Along with melatonin supplements try these tips to help you unwind and fall asleep more easily:

  • Do not eat within two hours of going to bed
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants as much as possible
  • Try natural fiver sheets and pajamas to help whisk away sweat from hot flashes
  • Drop the temperature in your bedroom to about 68 degrees
  • Turn off the TV, put away your tablet and smart phone since the backlight on these electronic devices interferes with the natural release of melatonin
  • Make it as dark as possible in your bedroom with light-blocking blinds or curtains and turn the digital clock face away from the bed or cover it
  • Try a few relaxing yoga poses followed by a cool shower

Dosage

As with all supplements, you should first consult your doctor before deciding on your melatonin treatment.  Taking the lowest dose possible to achieve optimal sleep is the best way to go. In general adults should take 3-5 milligrams about one hour before bedtime.

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How Free Radical Damage Affects Your Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Avoid free radical dangers and slow the aging process

Understanding Free Radical Dangers

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

What is Oxidative Stress?

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

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

How Free Radical Dangers Affect Aging

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

How to Counter Free Radical Dangers

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

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

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

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

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Top beauty tips for face care include using edible products

 

Cleanse and Exfoliate

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

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

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

 

Watch What You Eat

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

Sun Protection Always!

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

Hydrate Naturally

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

Beauty Sleep is the Best

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

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

 

 

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Top 10 Benefits of Fructose

by Health News

Fructose has a bad reputation. It’s blamed for a host of health problems ranging from obesity to diabetes and cancer.  So is fructose a dangerous poison as some doctors have claimed?  Apparently, fructose has a sweet side after all.  Let’s take a look at the benefits of fructose.

What is fructose?  Let’s examine the benefits.

Fructose: What Is It Really?

Fructose is sugar.  It is a very simple sugar that occurs naturally in foods and what gives fruits a sweet taste, hence the name.  Fructose is quite a bit sweeter than your average white table sugar (a combination of fructose and sucrose) but fructose contributes far fewer calories.

Crystalline fructose is what you get from processed corn or sugar cane. It is mistakenly confused with high-fructose corn syrup, which has earned its bad reputation.  Fructose is 100% pure, when not mixed with any other sweetener; whereas high-fructose corn syrup is comprised of equal parts fructose and glucose. Glucose is another one of those bad kids on the block that spikes blood sugar levels—but it’s not fructose.

Top 10 Benefits of Fructose

1.  Fructose is sweeter than sugar so you need far less of it to achieve the same sweetness, which means you are ingesting fewer calories, but still enjoying your food just as much.

2. Fructose is low on the glycemic Index, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar levels leading to a whole host of health problems, namely diabetes.

3. Fructose is a great sweetener for cooking. You can use less of it to replace sugar and your food will still have the same sweetness and texture but with fewer calories.

4. Crystalline fructose makes glazes and dairy products creamier and more palate-pleasing than sugar.

5. Fructose prevents honey from crystalizing keeping it flowing from the container.

Related:  What Are The Best Sugar Substitutes?

6. Sprinkling fruit with crystalline fructose and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight before you freeze it prevents ice crystals from forming in the fruit.

7. Since fructose has a much lower place on the GI, it won’t spike a rise in blood sugar levels like glucose or sucrose (white table sugar) without additional calories, making it a great sweetener for diabetics and anyone watching their weight.

8. Fructose has been shown in research studies to help significantly improve blood sugar control, almost to the equivalent of an oral anti-diabetic drug, again, making it an excellent choice for anyone with diabetes or at an increased risk for developing it.

9. Fructose can help with maintaining a health weight. Since it tastes sweeter than sugar but with less calories, swapping fructose for sugar in baked goods can help anyone trying to lose a few pounds or keep them off enjoy great tasting food with a pleasant texture and taste without driving up the number on the scale.

10.  When fructose is combined with other sweeteners like sucrose, saccharin or aspartame their perceived sweetness is greater than any of those sweeteners alone—and becomes a health danger like its counterparts.

Of course, excessive consumption of any sweetener, fructose included, can cause weight gain and other health issues, but when it comes to sweetening your food and watching your weight, there are certainly benefits of fructose, and it deserves your serious consideration. 

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What Is the Difference Between Sucrose, Glucose, and Fructose?

by Health News

With a trend toward better health and fitness in the United States, many Americans have concerns about sugar consumption.  Sugar is the universal name for short-chain, soluble carbohydrates with a sweet flavor. While most think of sugar as the stuff used to sweeten coffee or cereal, there are actually three key types of sugarsucrose, glucose, and fructose.  Learning about the different kinds of sugar and the way they affect the body can help people make healthier dietary choices.

Three key types of sugar include sucrose, glucose, and fructose.

Glucose and fructose are monosaccharides, sugars that cannot be broken down into simpler sugars. Glucose is the type of sugar the body uses for fuel and is the kind measured when doctors determine blood sugar levels.  It is found naturally in honey, in fruits like grapes, apples, and oranges, and it is an ingredient in corn syrup. 

Fructose is also an ingredient in honey as well as molasses, agave nectar, and high-fructose corn syrup.  Types of fruit that contain fructose include apples, pears, and pomegranates. Glucose and fructose combine to make a disaccharide called sucrose, which is abundant in sugar cane, sugar beets, and other plants.  When sucrose is extracted from plants and refined, it makes table sugar.  

Although all of these carbohydrates provide roughly the same amount of energy per gram, the body processes fructose and glucose differently.  Fructose metabolizes in the liver, triggering the release of insulin and the production of ghrelin, which is known as the hunger hormone.   

When glucose is processed, it circulates through the body and triggers the production of leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite.  The body either uses glucose immediately for energy or stores it in the muscles or in the liver as glycogen for later use.

Related:  Are Artificial Sweeteners Dangerous to Your Health?

Fructose vs. Glucose

In a study from the University of California at Davis, researchers compared the effects of glucose and fructose consumption on 32 overweight or obese individuals.  Subjects drank a beverage sweetened with glucose or fructose that supplied 25 percent of their daily calories for 12 weeks.  Researchers found that both groups gained weight, however, the people who drank the beverage sweetened with fructose experienced a number of additional effects.  These included:  

  • Increased visceral fat (the hard-to-lose type of abdominal fat that surrounds inner organs)
  • Reduced sensitivity to insulin (one of the first signs of diabetes)
  • Increased production of fat in the liver
  • Higher LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol
  • Elevated triglyceride levels

Results showed that the people who drank the beverage sweetened with glucose experienced none of these effects. 

Most experts agree that whole fruit provides the best source of natural sugar, and it contains healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Refined sugars deliver added, empty calories, devoid of any nutritional value.  To help ensure optimal nutrition and a healthy body weight, people should limit their intake of processed sugars, either in crystalline form or as an ingredient in foods, syrups, and beverages. 

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What You Should Know About Excess Sugar and Yeast Infections

by IVL Products

Three out of four women will get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. The burning and itching “down there” is unpleasant but not necessarily harmful.  What many women may not realize is the link between too much sugar in their diet and yeast infections.

The connection between excess sugar and yeast infections.

Yeast Infection Causes

Yeast actually grows naturally all over our bodies.  The most common type of yeast found on our bodies and in the vagina is known as Candida albicans, or Candida for short.  This fungus thrives in warm moist places like a woman’s vagina and can be caused by a variety of things like:

  • Low estrogen
  • Wearing synthetic fabric pantyliners
  • Vaginal eczema
  • Spermicidal condoms
  • Synthetic chemicals in feminine hygiene sprays
  • Poor diet

Related:  Fibromyalgia: Ten Possible Underlying Causes

Diet and Yeast Infections

Yeast loves sugar as much as you do. Too much sugar in your diet can give yeast a boost causing it to spread and increase, especially if your immune system is depressed from a lack of sleep or stress.  If you are prone to yeast infections, or feel one coming on, try avoiding the following:

  • Foods with simple sugars
  • Starchy foods like white flour products or rice
  • Foods fermented with yeast like alcohol

Alcohol is very sugary.  A few drinks, some highly refined foods like pretzels or candy at the bar makes for a perfect combination to feed yeast and help it spread.

Probiotics Can Help

Probiotics are living microorganisms very similar to the “good” bacteria in your gut essential for digesting your food. This so-called “good” bacterium is prevalent in your digestive tract and in other places on the body. If you take antibiotics for a bacterial infection, you can inadvertently destroy the good bacteria along with the harmful stuff, paving the way for yeast to overrun your already-battered immune system; and they begin to multiply.

Eating foods that contain probiotics can help keep yeast levels in check.  Yogurt with live and active bacterial cultures, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, or a daily probiotic supplement can help keep yeast infections at bay.

Avoid Acidic Foods

Candida thrives in an acidic environment. Acidic foods to avoid if you are prone to yeast infections are:

  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts and walnuts)
  • Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower)
  • Acidic fruits like blueberries, cranberries and plums
  • Corn oil
  • Sugar and sweeteners including molasses, maple syrup, honey and especially aspartame
  • Salt
  • Condiments like mayonnaise, soy sauce or vinegar

Once Is Enough

If you have ever endured the painful symptoms of a yeast infection you’ll agree once is enough.  Making a few simple dietary changes can help stave off yeast infections.  Try to consume less sugar and alcohol and eat more probiotic-rich foods—you’ll get a host of other health benefits to boot.

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Good and Bad Sugars

by Health News

Most people are aware that sugar is bad for their health, causing tooth decay, inflammation and obesity. Although all sugars may taste the same to our taste buds, it’s important to differentiate between good sugar versus bad sugar.

It’s important to know the difference between good sugar versus bad sugar

Natural sugars such as fructose and lactose (found in fruit and dairy products) are good sugars, providing nutritional value as well as satisfying our sweet tooth. Sucrose, on the other hand, is often used as an added sugar. It provides “empty” calories and zero nutrition and is considered a bad sugar as we are healthier without it.

Free Sugars are Bad Sugars

The World Health Organization classifies sucrose as “free sugars” as they are free floating and are not bound with other nutrients. These bad sugars are instantly absorbed into the bloodstream causing a sugar spike. They are the most common source of added sugar in soft drinks, salad dressings, sauces, ice cream, candies and sweet pastries.   

Even honey, agave nectar and maple syrup fall into the category of free or bad sugars. Although they are natural sweeteners, they do not contain fiber, protein or vitamins and consequently add unnecessary calories to your diet and should be restricted.

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The Difference Between Good Sugar versus Bad Sugar

Simple sugars break down quickly into glucose. As they enter the bloodstream they stimulate the pancreas to release insulin. As the sugar is dissipated around the cells, the insulin remains, creating a craving for more sugar, and this is the danger of bad sugars. They create sugar “highs” followed by “lows” which quickly become cravings for more sugar.

Complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are also broken down in the digestive process to create glucose. They take longer to digest than simple sugars and consequently have a low glycemic index. They enter the bloodstream gradually and do not create the rush of insulin and the subsequent sugar spikes and cravings for more sweetness. These complex carbohydrates also contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which have high nutritional value, so they are considered to be good sugars.

Reducing Bad Sugar Intake

When you fancy a snack, treat yourself to tasty high protein foods such as nuts and seeds. When chocolate cravings strike, have a few squares of good quality dark chocolate with high cacao content (around 70%) and less sugar. For sweetening drinks and for cooking, replace bad sugar with natural stevia which is calorie-free, does not cause tooth decay and actually isn’t a sugar at all!

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The Best Seeds for Health: Super Seeds to Boost Your Salads

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Everyone knows having a salad on a regular basis is good for you. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vegetables for the average adult is three to five servings, after all.  If you are going to eat your greens why not add a little something extra to them now and then to boost their flavor and your health? Seeds make a great addition to many dishes especially salads. Read on to learn about the best seeds for your health.

The five best seeds for great health!

The Fantastic Five

1. Chia Seeds

There’s a whole lot of goodness packed into these tiny seeds that are native to South America.  The ancient Aztecs and Mayans relied on them as an important food source providing hydration and sustained energy.  Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength.  Despite being small chia seeds are mighty with:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus
  • Vitamins B3 (niacin), B1 (thiamine) and B2
  • The ability to hold twice their weight in liquid

Chia seeds are also loaded with antioxidants, and can help reduce your risk of heart disease, from developing Type 2 Diabetes, promote bone strength and even aid in your weight loss efforts.

2. Hemp Seeds

While hemp seeds are from the same species of the much more famous and notorious cannabis family (aka marijuana) but they only contain trace amounts of THC, the compound that has a drug-like effect.  They have been a part of Chinese diets and medicine for the past 3,000 years, so their health benefits have stood the test of time.

Hemp seeds are a great source of two very important nutrients, the fatty acids omega-6 and omega 3. They are also a very good source of protein, vitamin E and minerals like phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.  Another nutrient from hemp seeds, amino acid arginine, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. These bland looking little seeds have also shown in other studies to decrease inflammation in the body, help reduce blood pressure and decrease your risk of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.

3. Pumpkin Seeds

This year at Halloween when you and the kids carve your Jack-O-Lanterns don’t toss the seeds you scrape out of the pumpkin!  They are one of the best seeds for health and wellness.

Indigenous to the Americas (North, South and Central) ancient cultures called the flat green seeds pepitas. In Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and much of India and Asia pumpkin seeds is a dietary staple.

Pumpkin seeds are recommended by the World Health Organization and for good reason.  They are a plentiful source of diverse antioxidants like vitamin E, phenolic acids and lignans, compounds linked to helping women reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.  Pumpkin seeds also contain a healthy dose of zinc, a mineral essential for healthy red blood cells.

Once you remove the seeds from your pumpkin clean them off and let them dry overnight, then roast them for about 20 minutes at a very low temperature like 160 to 190 degrees for the most flavor.

Related:  Here’s a Quick Way to Get Soy-Free Protein

4. Flax Seeds

If you are looking for one of the best seeds for health, here’s the flax you need to know. 

Ancient Babylonians in the 8th century cultivated flaxseed for King Charlemagne who believed strongly in their health benefits.  Modern day research has shown consumption of flaxseeds is a good way to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, according to health authority WebMD.

Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids called ALA, which are abundant in flaxseeds, have been shown to inhibit tumor growth.  Like pumpkin seeds they contain lignans that have been linked to decreasing the risk of breast cancer and are potent against reducing inflammation in the body.  Eating flaxseeds regularly may also help you keep your cholesterol levels in check and blood sugar levels steady to ward off diabetes.

5. Sunflower Seeds

A sunflower is a tall herbaceous annual plant native to Middle America but has since spread across the globe as a commercial crop in countries like Russian, China, Argentina and the United States. 

Sunflower seeds are delicious and crunchy little powerhouses of healthy goodness. Packed with essential fatty acids, high quality amino acids, natural antioxidants like vitamin E and folic acid, just a handful a day will help keep the doctor away.  They help lower your LDL levels of cholesterol, and provide essential minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and copper to keep your bones and red blood cell production strong.

Next time you whip up a salad be sure to sprinkle one of the fantastic five best seeds for health on top and enjoy!

 

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The Six Best Brain Foods

by IVL Products

Is it possible that some foods are better for your brain than others? Are some foods truly “brain foods?” The simple answer is yes, but the topic of brain health and nutrition is much more complicated than simply selecting the right foods. 

Those looking to gain the mental edge will want to try brain foods such as Wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, and nuts and seeds packed with omega-3 fatty acids.

In order to have a truly healthy brain, it is also necessary to avoid foods such as trans fats and reduce process food intake as much as possible. Processed foods contain brain and DNA damaging compounds such as artificial colors, preservatives, pesticides, sugar, artificial sweeteners and more. Avoiding harmful foods is the foundation of good brain health and good overall health. Let’s take a look at six amazing brain foods!

#1:  Wild Alaskan Salmon

Generally, what is good for the heart is also viewed as being a healthy choice for the brain. One of the healthiest brain and heart healthy options out there comes in the form of wild Alaskan salmon. The reason is that wild Alaskan salmon is packed with brain health boosting omega-3 fatty acids. It is vitally important to remember that the brain consists of fat and it needs the right kinds of fat to be healthy.

When selecting salmon, only opt for wild salmon and preferably wild Alaskan salmon, as it is generally seen as being the healthiest option. You should completely avoid farmed raised salmon, as farm raised salmon typically contains elevated levels of harmful chemicals.

Related20 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body and Soul

#2:  Sardines

Our second pick is also another fish. Sardines are true natural wonders. These small fish are low on the food chain and that means they bio-accumulate less heavy metals than larger fish such as salmon. Additionally, like salmon, sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines are also low in calories and high in minerals such as calcium. In short, sardines are a true standout and one of the world’s top brain foods.

#3: Purified Fish Oil

Yes, our third brain booster is another fish product. Fish oil can be very high in important brain boosting compounds such as DHA and EPA; however, you should only consume fish oil that has been purified. Un-purified cod liver oil for example can harbor high levels of mercury and other heavy metals. In short, un-purified fish oil should be avoided. Purified wild salmon oil and sardine and anchovy oil is an excellent pick.

#4:  Walnuts

If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, don’t worry, as there are plenty of good brain boosting foods for you as well. At the very top of the list are walnuts. Walnuts are an excellent source of protein but that is only the beginning. Walnuts are also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.

#5:  Nuts and Seeds

In addition to walnuts, all nuts and seeds have brain-boosting benefits. Nuts and seeds are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as compounds that boost overall brain health. Just remember that all most nuts and seeds, while packed with goodness are also packed with calories.

#6:  Blueberries

The fact that blueberries make the list often surprises many, but the simple blueberry is quite the winner. Blueberries work wonders for improving brain health and reducing oxidative stress. Studies have shown that blueberries are something of a superfood when it comes to protecting the brain. Don’t skip blueberries.

Besides, blueberries are super easy to add to any diet. A handful can quickly and easily be tossed into one’s morning cereal, oatmeal, shakes, smoothies and more.

Together these five brain boosters can help you guard your brain health and maybe even improve brain function. Our aging population is becoming increasingly concerned about neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s diseases. Luckily, nature has some great options for helping us protect brain health now and in the future.

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Secret Names for MSG

by Health News

Why would anyone eat MSG flavor enhancers that are shown to cause obesity, fatty liver disease, fibromyalgia, liver toxicity, brain damage, and countless other serious health issues? The answer is that food producers can use up to 40 secret names for MSG, deliberately misleading consumers into eating this dangerous additive.

Almost all processed foods contain secret names for MSG additives

The Dangers of MSG

Monosodium glutamate, shortened to MSG, is a chemical created by adding an additional monosodium molecule to glutamic acid, an amino acid found naturally in many foods. It sounds harmless enough, but it can create a harmful toxic build-up if the body is unable to break it down.

In the 1960s, many people with sensitivity to MSG reported numbness, brain fog, chest pains and tingling in their limbs after eating Chinese food, which is typically laden with MSG. More worryingly, in the 1970s, researchers working on brain cells in the lab found that MSG actually killed the cells.

If you still remain skeptical of the dangers of MSG, the findings of John Erb, a research assistant at the University of Waterloo, may convince you. He began writing a book "The Slow Poisoning of America" after finding that rats used in diabetes studies were injected with MSG to make them obese. The pancreas in these MSG-treated rodents tripled the amount of insulin they produced, creating an addiction to food and causing obesity.

So, now you're convinced of the dangers of this addictive additive, why are we all still consuming it; because food manufacturers use many secret names for MSG to disguise its presence in their food.

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Why so many secret names for MSG?

The FDA only requires pure MSG to be listed on food labels. However, processing of the food may produce MSG, yet the product can still be labeled "No MSG" as it was not directly added to the food.

There are many commonly used secret names for MSG. These include terms such as:

  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
  • Textured Vegetable Protein
  • Yeast Extract
  • Glutamic Acid (E 620)2
  • Glutamate (E 620)
  • Monosodium Glutamate (E 621)
  • Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622)
  • Calcium Glutamate (E 623)
  • Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624)
  • Magnesium Glutamate (E 625)
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Yeast Food
  • Yeast Nutrient
  • Gelatin
  • Textured Protein
  • Soy Protein
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Whey Protein
  • Whey Protein Isolate
  • Vetsin
  • Ajinomoto

To be doubly sure you are not consuming MSG, avoid anything with “hydrolyzed” or "…protein" in the name as these are all euphemisms or secret names for MSG.

If you feel there's nothing left that's safe to eat, consider switching to a whole food diet. Getting back to basics with unprocessed foods such as vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and organic dairy and grass-fed meats is the only way to avoid the hidden dangers of MSG, whatever secret names they choose to give it.

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5 Tricks to Battle Insomnia and Finally Get Some Rest

by Health News

Can’t sleep? Having trouble dropping off or staying asleep? Waking up feeling unrefreshed or waking up early and unable to drop back off? According to the National Sleep Foundation, one in three people suffer from insomnia, so, if you’re suffering from one or more of these problems, you are not alone. 

Yoga can be helpful in combatting insomnia

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is not a medical condition; it is usually a symptom of another problem. Common causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pain
  • Medication
  • Physical discomfort
  • Environmental noise, light or unsuitable room temperature
  • Traveling across time zones
  • Working shifts
  • Digestive problems such as indigestion or acid reflux

Insomnia, as sufferers know all too well, can seriously affect your quality of life. Lack of sleep may jeopardize your safety or affect your levels of concentration. It can also be a contributing factor to more serious health issues such as heart disease or depression.

According to poll data, 48% of Americans report occasional insomnia while 22% experience it almost every night. Studies show that women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than men, and older people suffer from it more than the younger generation. In 1997, a survey by the National Sleep Foundation calculated that lost productivity alone from insomnia topped $18 billion!

Treating Insomnia

It’s important to treat insomnia before it becomes a set pattern. Instead of opting for medication, try some natural ways to aid sleep such as:

Exercise

Exercise can be a good aid to sleep and should be done about six hours before bedtime. As well as tiring your body, exercise clears the mind and triggers a release of mood-enhancing hormones and chemicals including estrogen, dopamine and endorphins to make you feel happy and relaxed.

Yoga

Yoga can help break the cycle of stress and sleep deprivation. Practicing yoga calms the mind, relieves physical tension and helps induce sleep naturally. Some of the best poses to help you sleep better include the Easy Forward Bend position, Child’s Pose (Balasana), Legs Up the Wall or the Seated Spinal Twist.

Related:  Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Change of Diet

Eating more fruit and vegetables and consuming less sugar can be helpful to counter insomnia. Drinking less caffeine and more water can also help your body relax and sleep better.

Bedtime Routine

Establish a bedtime routine, perhaps a warm shower or bath before putting on your PJs, or sipping a milky drink and reading before turning out the light. If necessary, write down the things that are worrying you and rid them from your mind before sleep.

Breathing Exercises

There are many relaxation techniques available to listen to on CD. Dr. Andrew Weil’s breathing exercises are designed to help you fall asleep and can be a useful aid to relaxation as well as countering insomnia.

It’s worth trying all these tricks to battle insomnia and find whatever helps give you a good night’s sleep, better health and an improved quality of life.

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6 Super Easy Ways to Get Rid of Indigestion Fast

by Cindy Gray

Indigestion affects most people at one time or another. It can range from mild discomfort below the ribs to severe pain that prevents you from sleeping. Understanding the cause of indigestion can be the first step in remedying this common health issue.

Indigestion is a common health issue

Causes of Indigestion

Indigestion is generally caused by what you eat. Spicy foods can be hard to digest, especially late in the evening. Fatty foods laden with oil and cholesterol may also be hard for the body to digest. Overeating and excess alcohol are further common causes of indigestion. These can all cause acid reflux or GERD, when the stomach contents and pancreatic juices flow back up the esophagus causing pain, irritation, inflammation or a burning sensation.

If none of these causes apply, there is a chance that your indigestion is caused by a medical condition such as a stomach ulcer, gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome or pancreatitis, so you should consult your doctor without delay.

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Treat Indigestion Naturally with:

  1. Fruit and Vegetables

Returning to a more wholesome diet based on fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole wheat products can quickly remedy any ongoing problems of heartburn. In particular, bananas are high in potassium which alkalizes acid. They also prompt the stomach to produce more mucus which protects the stomach lining and esophagus. Apples also create an alkaline environment, reducing indigestion and acid reflux symptoms fast.

  1. Water

Sipping warm water can calm the stomach and aid digestion, particularly if the cause is overindulgence. However, you should not drink too much water or it may make you feel bloated.

  1. Peppermint Tea

Peppermint is a known digestive aid and is easily taken as peppermint tea to soothe indigestion. Immerse the peppermint tea bag in hot water for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and cool before slowly sipping this healthy remedy.

  1. Fennel Seeds

Fennel is particularly good for treating stomach upsets caused by spicy foods. Fennel neutralizes the acid and reduces nausea quickly and safely. Simply added ground roasted fennel seeds to a glass of water and drink twice a day until the indigestion has gone.

  1. Ginger

Ginger is another excellent treatment for indigestion, especially if it is caused by overeating. Ginger accelerates the digestive process by helping the digestive process juices break down the food, moving it into the intestine faster. Simply grate a little ginger root into a glass of warm water. Add a few drops of lemon juice and honey to taste, then drink it down.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a versatile home remedy for all types of ailments including indigestion. Add one tablespoon to a cup of water sweetened with a little honey. Drink 3-4 times a day to relieve persistent indigestion naturally.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure, so try to work out what caused your indigestion, and take steps to avoid it in the future. 

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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5 Signs and Symptoms You May be Vitamin E Deficient

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Vitamin E is a group of eight essential fat-soluble molecules that support a strong immune system. These antioxidants are used by cells in the body to carry out essential functions. Like many essential nutrients, a vitamin E deficiency can quickly lead to serious health problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, the body cannot produce vitamin E and must be consumed in your daily diet. Any deficiency means the body is unable to absorb healthy fats which can lead to nerve degeneration, muscle weakness, anemia and other serious issues.

Age spots may be a symptom of Vitamin E deficiency

See if you have any of the following five symptoms, which could mean you may need to increase your vitamin E intake.

Vitamin E Deficiency and Age Spots

Age spots are, as their name suggests, a natural part of aging. However, these dark freckle-like spots can be reduced by taking a 400 IU vitamin E supplement daily, and rubbing vitamin E oil on the spots before bed. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant known to aid tissue repair and slow the aging process, including the development of age spots.

Cataracts

Vitamin E deficiency can be responsible for poor vision, cataracts and retinal degeneration. If you have blurred vision or have difficulty seeing at night, a supplement will ensure that you are getting enough daily vitamin E to support and preserve your all-important eye health.

Related:  Antioxidants and Vision Health: Three Factors that Could Affect Your Vision

Lack of Sex Drive

Vitamin E is responsible for maintaining reproductive health and any deficiency can lead to miscarriages, infertility, impotence and other fertility problems. This vitamin also boosts circulatory flow to the genitalia and is important in the production of sex hormones, giving your libido a positive boost.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Any digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease or celiac problems can lead to a vitamin E deficiency as insufficient amounts are absorbed during the digestive process. If you suffer from any gastrointestinal problem, it is particularly important that you take a vitamin E supplement to boost intake. 

Dry or Thinning Hair

Vitamin E ensures good circulation which is essential for a healthy head of hair. Vitamin E deficiency may cause dry brittle hair or significant hair loss. Boost your intake by eating more beans (garbanzo beans make delicious hummus), nuts, seeds and olives in order to feed the scalp, nourish the hair follicles and boost blood circulation.

Even if you do not suffer from any of the above symptoms of vitamin E deficiency, you will benefit from a diet rich in vitamin E. It helps slow the aging process, reduces cardiovascular disease and maintains youthful-looking skin. That’s three good reasons to eat a healthy diet including eggs, broccoli, breakfast cereals, vegetable oils, fruit and vegetables. Alternatively, take a daily supplement that provides 100% of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin E.

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5 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

Vitamin B12 is one of the B-complex vitamins that are essential for good health.  The body uses it to manufacture red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA, and vitamin B12 is important to metabolism and cardiovascular health.  Like many other vitamins, B12 is not manufactured by the body, which means people must get it from food or supplements.  Consuming inadequate amounts of this important vitamin, or problems with its absorption, can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency, a condition that is somewhat common, especially among older people.  Read on to learn about five signs and symptoms of deficiency

Clams are just one of the many food sources that help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency.

1.  Weakness

One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is body weakness, a natural consequence of reduced levels of red blood cells.  Because weakness is a symptom of a variety of physical conditions, people should consult with a medical professional to rule out possibilities.

2.  Gastrointestinal Disorders

Certain gastrointestinal disorders like colitis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and leaky gut syndrome can affect absorption of vitamin B-12.  Supplements and B-12 shots can help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency in people with these conditions.

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3.  Vision Loss  

Low levels of vitamin B12 can have a negative effect on the optic nerve, but supplements can help.  A study from Japan examining 28 patients with glaucoma showed improvements with a daily dose of 1500 mcg of vitamin B12 over five years.  The participants receiving B12 experienced reduced peripheral vision loss, more stable visual acuity, and better control over eye fluid pressure than participants that did not receive vitamin B12.

4.  Shortness of Breath

Failure to absorb vitamin B12 can result in a reduction of red blood cells that can lead to a condition called pernicious anemia.  Symptoms of this condition include shortness of breath and fatigue.

5.  Memory Loss

Vitamin B12 deficiency can impact brain function, causing symptoms like disorientation, difficulty thinking, and memory loss.  Research shows supplements can help. 

A study from Australian National University found that older adults who received supplements containing vitamin B12 and folic acid over two years experienced better results on tests for short-term and long-term memory than participants who did not receive the supplements. Researchers speculated that results might be due to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to poor cognitive function.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Natural food sources of B12 all come from animal products and good options include clams, beef, turkey, oysters, chicken, trout, and salmon.  People who are vegan, vegetarian, or those with absorption issues can benefit from foods fortified with synthetic B12 or B12 supplements. 

People need vitamin B12 to stay healthy, but according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, about 23 percent of adults above the age of 49 have some level of deficiency.  People who are concerned about vitamin B12 deficiency should visit a medical professional for a blood test and treatment options.

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

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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!