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The ABCs of Eye Floaters

by Cindy Gray

They come out of nowhere, those little dots, squiggly lines or strands in your field of vision.  They appear suddenly if you gaze at a bright white piece of paper or look up to admire a cloud-free, brilliant blue sky, then they vanish just as quickly as they appeared.  What are these pesky little eye floaters anyway?

The Ins and Outs of Eye FloatersThe good news is that eye floaters are generally harmless and only mildly annoying.  They are composed of clumps and strands of collagen, a substance produced naturally by the body.  They are a part of the natural aging process and usually appear more often between the ages of 50 and 75 years old.  They are most likely to appear to those who are very nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.

Over time, the millions of collagen fibers your body has produced can accumulate in the region of the eye known as the vitreous.  This is a thick transparent substance in the middle of the eye that makes up two-thirds of its volume.  They can alter the amount of light that gets through to your retina (the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) and appear as floaters.  In extreme cases, a doctor can replace your natural vitreous with a gel-like substance; but that is very rarely needed or recommended.

The best news is that floaters do not harm your vision or interfere with your ability to see clearly.  However, they can be annoying; and if you are near-sighted or have a family history of cataract surgery, you might want to take a few preventive steps to keep floaters at bay.

Related: Fruit May Help Reduce Vision Disabilities

Vitamins and Supplements

There are several dietary supplements you can use that have shown to help keep eyes healthy and lessen your risk of developing eye floaters as you age, such as:

Vitamin C – this essential nutrient plays a key role in eye health by encouraging healthy collagen production, which supports the connective tissue in the cornea.  It also keeps the delicate capillaries in the retina healthy.  Finally, this vital nutrient may help reduce your risk of forming cataracts or experiencing a loss of vision due to macular degeneration.

Vitamin A – is another crucial nutrient that keeps your eyes healthy.  It helps protect them from infection and eye disease, distinguish between a wide-array of colors and helps prevents night blindness.

Taurine – is an antioxidant that supports your body’s efficiency in getting rid of waste products and can help keep eye floaters from forming.

Bilberry – is a supplement, not a vitamin, which mimics vitamin C in supporting collagen production and strong blood vessels for good circulation to your eyes.

L-Methione – is an amino acid that assists the body in removing heavy metal toxins, which are especially damaging to delicate eye tissue.

Inositol – plays a vital role in maintaining cell membranes.  A low level of this substance in the body is linked to several health problems like eczema, constipation and eye issues. 

Minerals – magnesium, selenium, calcium, copper, chromium and zinc are all essential minerals that play important roles in keeping your eyes healthy.

Other Causes of Eye Floaters:

There are several things that contribute to increased eye floaters, such as:

  • Being severely nearsighted

  • Eye trauma

  • Stress (it causes problems for all parts of the body!)

  • Some liver or kidney medications

  • Pre-birth (you can be born with them)

Eye Floater 911

If you get a sudden increase in eye floaters that are accompanied by flashes of light, or you experience a sudden loss in your peripheral vision, get medical help immediately!  These are signs of a detached retina, retinal tear or internal bleeding in the eye.  All of these issues can lead to permanent vision loss so seek medical help immediately if you experience those symptoms.

Float Away

While you may not be able to completely avoid experiencing eye floaters, you can take preventive steps to keep them at a minimum with a few dietary enhancements. Adding some of the above supplements into your diet will probably help you “see” some great health benefits.

 

 

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A Fishy Solution to Smoking Cessation

by Cindy Gray

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of disability, disease and death in the United States.  Every year 480,000 Americans die premature deaths from smoking.  Despite these grim statistics, most smokers find it difficult to quit. However, if you’re looking for some natural ways to quit smoking, you’re in luck. New research out of Israel shows consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could significantly reduce cravings and provide a safe and natural way to help smokers kick the habit.

Natural Ways To Quit Smoking with Omega-3 Fatty AcidsMoth to the Flame

Why is it so hard to quit smoking? Tobacco use is a chronic disease and smokers quickly become addicted due the nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products. When they inhale or ingest the nicotine, in some way it causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which stimulates the body’s central nervous system.  Just like cocaine and heroin, nicotine increases levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls the pathways to the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. 

Many smokers long to quit permanently, but most fail after repeated attempts. The withdrawal symptoms are terrible and are often a combination of the following:

  • Intense cravings for nicotine

  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems

  • An inability to focus or concentrate

  • Increased appetite 

Those who seek treatment to stop smoking may have some initial success, but often relapse after a stressful event, or they dislike the side effects of anti-smoking medications and stop using them. 

The Study

In a strictly controlled study conducted in Israel, the test subjects were 48 smokers between the ages of 18 and 45 who smoked a daily average of 14 cigarettes.  All the participants had been smoking an average of 11 years and were diagnosed with a moderate dependency on nicotine.  The test participants were divided into two groups: one that received omega-3 capsules and one that received a placebo.

The study was conducted as a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled research project, meaning neither the participants nor the researchers knew who received the omega-3 capsules and who received a placebo.  None of the participants were asked to change their smoking habits in any way.

Throughout the 30-day study, levels of nicotine cravings and the number of cigarettes smoked per day were recorded by the participants.  At the beginning of the study neither group showed any difference in smoking habits.  However, after 30 days the omega-3 supplement takers had reduced their average cigarettes smoked per day by two.  They also recorded greatly reduced nicotine cravings.  Even another 30 days after they stopped taking the omega-3 supplements, those participants reported less intense cravings.

The group taking the placebo showed no measurable decrease in nicotine cravings nor did they reduce the average number of cigarettes smoked per day.

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Help

Levels of essential fatty acids like omega-3s are reduced in the brain by smoking.  Being deficient in these levels appears to cause damage to the nerve cells, interrupting the transmission of feelings of pleasure and satisfaction in the brain.  Smokers often having difficulty making decisions and experience reduced feelings of satisfaction by their accomplishments or efforts because of a lack of this vital nutrient.

Related: The Dangers of Krill Oil

What’s worse, not only is tobacco oppressing good feelings in the brain, it also interferes with your flight-or-fight response.  Just one stressful event can lead to a relapse for smokers trying to quit because of their reduced ability to handle stress.

Omega-3 fatty acids seem to reduce cravings for nicotine and help the brain cope better with pressure and stress.  Smoking has already been linked to depression and other mental disorders, so it’s not surprising that regular tobacco users experience less satisfaction and have more difficulty dealing with pressure, rejection or stress.

Safe, Natural and Healthy

Using omega-3 fatty acid supplements is one of the best natural ways to quit smoking because it is inexpensive and easy to obtain.  Plus, omega-3s have a long list of other health benefits besides helping you to quit smoking, such as reducing your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and some cancers.  It also helps keep your skin clear and supple and your hair shiny and strong; two things that also are greatly damaged by smoking.

Great food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Fish (especially salmon and trout)

  • Flax, Olive, Canola, Coconut and Hemp Seed Oils

  • Avocados

  • Eggs

  • Walnuts

Since the study participants were taking larger doses than is generally recommended, it would be virtually impossible to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through food alone to help with smoking cessation.  A supplement combined with adding foods rich in the essential acid is the best way to keep those levels high in the brain and help stave off nicotine cravings.

 

 

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Selenium and Vitamins for Cataracts

by Cindy Gray

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

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

What are Cataracts?

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

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

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

Related: How to Avoid Macular Degeneration Naturally

C is for Cataract!

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

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

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

Studies on Cataracts and Vitamin Intake

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

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

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

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How Probiotics Can Regulate Your Digestive System

by Health News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digestion Problemsn Free Ebook Download

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5 Nutrients for a Healthy Heart

by Not in Use Not In Use

What are some of the best high blood pressure remedies?

Check out this list of 5 nutrients with proven scientific benefit for the cardiovascular system.


1) Omega-3 fatty acids - One of the best ways to help prevent heart disease is to eat a diet low in saturated fat and to eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids). Studies suggest that EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fish oil has been shown to decrease dangerous blood fats known as triglycerides by an average of 29 per cent and lower cholesterol by 12 per cent.

2) Vitamins A, C, E and Beta-carotene - Deficiencies of Vitamins A, C, E, and beta carotene have been linked to heart disease. All of these nutrients have antioxidant effects and other properties that may benefit the heart. Good natural foods with Vitamin A are fish oil, liver, and egg yolk. For Vitamin C, try eating citrus fruits, strawberries, peas, red peppers, and kiwis. Sources for Vitamin E include garbanzo beans, avocados, almonds, sunflower oil, tuna, and muesli. Lastly, eat spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, peas, carrots and sweet potatoes for natural sources of beta-carotene. These items can also be taken as all natural supplements.

3) Selenium and Zinc - Selenium and zinc help the body absorb antioxidants such as Vitamins, A, C, and E, and they are essential to the antioxidant process, ridding the system of free radicals. It is found in lentils, wholemeal bread, sardines and Brazil nuts.

4) Allicin - Studies have shown that allicin, which is found most abundantly in garlic and also in onions and leeks, lowers blood pressure, may help preventing blood clots from forming in coronary arteries, and is known to have blood-thinning properties, all of which keeps the heart in good shape.

5) Folic acid - Folic acid helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with high blood levels of homocysteine. It is found mainly in green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, fruits and roots.

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Natural Heart Health: Test Your Doctor

by Health News

Natural heart health starts with the conversations you're having with your doctor. Once you get to a certain age, your physician should talk to you about heart health, including high blood pressure treatments if you have high blood pressure. If you are younger but have noticeable risk factors for heart disease, they need to approach the subject. When you have concerns about your heart and your health, bring them up. Let’s see how your doctor responds. Do they:

Heart Health & High Blood Pressure Treatments: Test Your Doc

• Ask you about your diet?
• Offer ways to reduce your risk factors?
• Perform blood work to determine various levels like cholesterol, insulin and C-reactive protein?
• Do a thorough examination?
• Ask about family history?

If your doctor is on top of things, any one of the above points can get the conversation started on heart health. But, don’t be shy, join in on the conversation. If you are afraid you might forget your questions, write them down ahead of time.

Ask your doctor about the results of your tests. What do the cholesterol numbers mean? What is my blood pressure? Are there alternatives to medication? What if I experience side effects?

You can begin online. All the information you ever wanted to know is there. You can employ your doctor to explain what you don’t understand. Use it as a guide to getting the answers you want from your doctor not to replace your doctor.

Get Additional Resources

Your doctor can help you by recommending supplements for high blood pressure, nutritionists, internists and other professionals to help you protect your heart. Some people don’t know enough about supplements for high blood pressure to choose the best option and nutrition to choose better foods. Or, they don’t know how to get started with exercise. Your doctor has resources to lead you in the right direction. After a complete physical, they can also tell you what type of exercise is right for you.

Your doctor works with you to protect your heart. If you have questions, ask. The important thing is to go and see a doctor to get the ball rolling. Participate in your own heart health. 

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Heart Health Benefits of Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats

by Cindy Gray

According to nutritionists from Penn State, increasing your daily omega-3 fat intake, whether you get it from marine or plant sources, will very likely lower your risk of getting heart disease.  There’s plenty of evidence to support the heart healthy benefits of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are marine-derived omega-3 fats. However, much less evidence exists about the positive effects of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat.

Naturally, the health benefits reported for EPA and DHA are stronger because when supplements of EPA and DHA were tested, EPA and DHA was the only difference between the treatment and control groups.  On the other hand in the ALA studies, there were dietary differences between the treatment and control groups that went beyond ALA itself.Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats for Heart Health

ALA is found in flaxseed and its oil, vegetable oils and in some nuts including walnuts and almonds; and it’s available in supplement form. In general, omega-3 fats are considered essential for human health, but our body does not produce them, therefore we must consume them regularly to take advantage of their many health benefits.

In reviewing existing scientific data on the subject, the Penn State researchers have come to the conclusion that ALA is likely to be just as effective in preventing cardiovascular disease as EPA and DHA have proven to be in the past. In fact, health experts now believe that dietary recommendations should be amended to increase the amounts of ALA consumed. However, they also note that randomized controlled clinical trials need to be conducted in order to determine the exact amount to be consumed.

Given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it makes sense that learning what can be done to prevent heart disease is important and relevant for all of us.

 

Source:

Heart Health Benefits Of Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats

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How To Prevent Bone Loss Naturally

by Cindy Gray

Most middle-aged women nearing or undergoing menopause are told that they need to get their bone density tested because they are at a high risk for developing bone loss, which can potentially lead to hip fractures.

According to Christine Horner, MD, bone mineral loss happens as a result of physical inactivity, specifically lack of weight-bearing activity. This includes any activity that uses the weight of your body or outside weights to place extra stress on your bones and muscles.  As a result, your body responds to this weight and movement within your bone material and your bones become denser and stronger. Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to benefStrong Bones, Naturally!it bone strength.

Bone loss occurs when more bone is ‘reabsorbed’ than is formed by the body, typically after the age of 30 when reabsorption begins to exceed new bone formation. Bone loss in women occurs fastest in the first few years after menopause and continues into old age. By the age of 65, men catch up to women and lose bone at the same rate, primarily due to low testosterone levels.

Factors such as diet, exercise and age determine how much old bone is reabsorbed and how much new bone is made. Specifically, a diet that creates an acidic environment, not exercising, smoking and taking certain medications such as corticosteroids contribute toward bone loss.

A major risk factor for developing bone loss is the modern diet, which is typically poor in magnesium, potassium and fiber, while being enriched in saturated fat, simple sugars and salt. Such a diet is likely to induce so-called ‘metabolic acidosis’, especially with aging.

Calcium in the form of phosphates and carbonates is stored as a reservoir of base in our body. These calcium salts are released into blood to balance pH in response to metabolic acidosis, which depletes our body of the calcium it needs to function optimally. Health experts believe that this may be one of the main reasons for bone loss.

According to Dr. Horner, the bone density test measures ‘cortical’ bone, which is the outer layer of bone. Cortical bone is dense and found mainly in the shafts of long bones, such as the tibia.  The problem, according to Dr. Horner, is that bone strength doesn’t lie in cortical bone, so the bone density test isn’t an accurate reflection of bone strength!  Not only that, but the drugs prescribed to strengthen cortical bone does not reduce the incidence of hip fractures—in fact, they may even raise the likelihood of hip fractures.

Instead of treating bone loss with drugs or supplements, Dr. Horner believes that its far better to reverse it by regularly consuming a diet rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin D.

Foods that increase calcium intake include:

  • Leafy greens such as Chinese cabbage, bok choy, spinach and kale

  • Flax and lignans, which help to absorb calcium

  • Milk, yogurt and cheese

  • Sardines

  • Salmon, which contains both calcium and vitamin D

  • Peanuts and almonds which contain potassium, which protect against the loss of calcium in urine. They also contain proteins and other nutrients that support the building of strong bones

  • A low-salt diet, which prevents calcium loss from the body

  • Getting vitamin D through sunshine or a supplement

Given the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise in preventing bone loss, why not introduce these healthful changes into your daily life today?

 

Source:

How to Prevent Bone Loss, Naturally  

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How To Cleanse Your Arteries With One Simple Fruit

by Cindy Gray

According to a recent study, pomegranate extract may prevent—and even reverse!—the progressive thickening of coronary arteries known as atherosclerosis, which invariably leads to heart disease. Pomegranate seeds and juice are rich in heart-healthy antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenol antioxidants—which are found in red wine, grapes, blueberries, soy milk, dark chocolate, tea and of course pomegranate—are known to lower levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, protect blood vessels and lower blood pressure (BP).One Delicious Fruit Can Cleanse Your Arteries

In the present study, mice with a genetic susceptibility toward spontaneous coronary artery blockages were given pomegranate extract in their drinking water for two weeks. The treatment reduced the size of atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta, while also decreasing the overall proportion of coronary arteries with atherosclerotic plaque.

Remarkably, pomegranate extract treatment also had the following beneficial effects in these mice:

  • Lowered levels of oxidative stress

  • Reduced levels of chemical messengers associated with inflammatory processes in the arteries

  • Less lipid accumulation in heart muscle

  • Reduced cardiac enlargement

  • Normalization of electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities

This study adds to already existing clinical research confirming that pomegranates can help unclog arteries.

For instance, the results of a three-year clinical trial published in 2004 showed that daily consumption of pomegranate juice reversed carotid artery stenosis by up to 29% within one year. Remarkably, blockages in the control group increased by 9% during the same period, indicating that pomegranate's artery unblocking effects were even greater than first believed.

Pomegranate's protective value in cardiovascular disease is likely because of the following experimentally confirmed properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory - like many other chronic degenerative diseases, inflammation plays a significant role in cardiovascular disease.

  • BP lowering - pomegranate juice is a natural blocker of angiotensin converting enzyme and enhances the activities of nitric oxide, both well-known pathways for reducing BP.

  • Anti-infective - plaque buildup in the arteries is often associated with viral and bacterial infections, including hepatitis C and chlamydia. Pomegranate is known to have a broad range of anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

  • Antioxidant - blood lipids become heart disease-promoting through oxidation. LDL, for instance, is harmless as long as it does not get oxidized and pomegranate reduces oxidative stress in blood. One study in mice found that this decrease in oxidative stress was associated with a 44% reduction in the size of atherosclerotic lesions.

Pomegranates are just one of the healthiest fruits provided by Mother Nature.  Enjoy a glass of pomegranate juice regularly, or check out the powerful superfruit supplements available for a mix of life-giving all-natural phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Source:

How to Clean Your Arteries with One Simple Fruit

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High Blood Pressure Causes: How Sleep Deprivation Affects your Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

High Blood Pressure Causes: Sleep Deprivation & Your HealthNo one feels good after getting a poor night of sleep. However, lack of sleep is much more serious than just feeling bad for a day. New studies are showing how sleep deprivation may be one of many potential high blood pressure causes.

For example in one study, researchers recruited 20 healthy young adults and measured their BP at rest and then after a stressful task - in this case, giving an impromptu speech defending themselves for a supposed transgression, either running a stop sign or taking someone’s wallet.

A week later, after staying up all night, study participants returned to take the tests again. Systolic BP, the top number on a BP reading, climbed about 10 points higher when fatigued study subjects gave their speech, compared to subjects who spoke after a good night’s sleep.

This suggests that not getting enough sleep may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can raise blood pressure, as can stress. But not many studies have examined what happens when sleep-deprived people also experience stress.

These results need to be replicated by larger studies - because not only is stress common nowadays, so is being sleep deprived - and one probably reinforces the other. For instance, if you’re experiencing a lot of stress, you are more likely to experience insomnia.

Another study looking at 331 healthy male medical students found that their BP when awake correlated negatively correlated with sleep duration.

According to the CDC, one in three Americans has high BP - a condition with few symptoms, often called the “silent killer” - because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, along with damaging the kidneys and other organs.

Further, nearly one in five Americans has uncontrolled hypertension - meaning that it is untreated or that that medications or other treatments have failed to bring it down.

In such a scenario, if someone is having difficulty with their BP being high, maybe getting six to seven hours of sleep daily is the way to lower their BP.

Other related articles:

Best Health Supplements for High Blood Pressure

Natural Heart Health: Making Sense of Blood Pressure Readings

High Blood Pressure Supplements Benefits

Why You Should Check Your Blood Pressure at Home

 

 

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Improve Your Memory With Supplements

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It’s no overstatement to say that your brain can be considered the “leader” of your entire body. After all, it controls everything that you do, think, feel, see, and hear—both consciously and subconsciously. 

Maintaining the health, wellness, and optimal functioning of your brain is essential if you are to remain capable of carrying out the many complex activities of human life in its most evolved state. And the key to this optimal functioning depends on a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones.

Improve Your Memory With Supplements

In addition to memory and emotions, these brain chemicals are also responsible for stress, blood pressure, pleasure and pain, motivation, learning, attention, muscle movement, energy, thyroid function, reproductive function, sleep, and even your very heartbeat. In other words, virtually every body function you can think of.

While many people realize that the brain performs all of these functions, most of us think of memory and/or comprehensive first and foremost when we think brain health. And, in our darker moments, these thoughts may turn to Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia.

This makes total sense when you consider that more than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia in the U.S. And while most adults fear the idea of Alzheimer’s, the majority of treatments for the disease center around treatment rather than prevention. Ludicrous, isn’t it?

That’s exactly what researchers from Switzerland thought. Rather than look at ways to treat the disease, they foods at ways to prevent the disease by focusing on maintaining a healthy neural function in an effort to protect against the development of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

They found that the essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as well as B vitamins and vitamins C, D, and E all play a role in brain health and work to delay brain aging. This makes perfect sense!

First of all, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which is known to fight the free radical damage that has been associated with both dementia and Alzheimer’s. Similarly, vitamin E is an antioxidant powerhouse, working to prevent cell damage throughout the body.

To this point, a Johns Hopkins University study examined the use of vitamins C and E in 4,740 patients ages 65 and older. Researchers found that the people who took both vitamins had significantly lower incidence and severity of Alzheimer’s disease compared to the people who took one or neither of the nutrients.

Vitamin D supports brain and nervous system function and correlates with cognitive function and mood. Additionally, there is evidence that low levels of vitamin D are correlated with low mood and poor cognitive performance. 

B vitamins are a group of 11 separate water-soluble vitamins that are known to support brain health and boost energy levels. Within this group, vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid appear to be the most beneficial for brain health.

Vitamin B6 is important to a healthy inflammatory response, and one disease in particular that has been associated with inflammation is Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B6 is also critical for the synthesis of neurotransmitters.

Similarly, vitamin B12 is also important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Plus, it helps in DNA synthesis, nervous system health, and brain functioning. 

Folic acid is known to prevent neural tube defects in the first eight weeks of pregnancy, and research indicates that folic acid helps with brain health, DNA synthesis, and neurotransmitter function. Additionally, folic acid deficiencies have been associated with depression and dementia. 

Lastly, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is a natural brain booster. Your brain needs DHA to create healthy nerve cell membranes. Your brain uses nerve cells for mood, attention, and memory.  

Given all this, it’s no wonder the researchers concluded, “The use of vitamins and DHA for the aging population in general, and for individuals at risk in particular, is a viable alternative approach to delaying brain aging and for protecting against the onset of AD pathology.”

What does this mean for you? Simple. If you aren’t already, immediately start taking a high-quality multinutrient and fish oil supplement that is high in DHA. Your body—and your brain—will thank you.

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Hair Loss: Causes and Solutions

by Cindy Gray

Did you know that all hair exists in one of three different cycles: growth, transition and resting phases?  About 90% of head hair is in the growth cycle, which can last anywhere from two to eight years. The transition phase typically lasts 2-3 weeks, that’s when hair follicles shrink. During the resting cycle, which lasts around two to four months, hair ‘rests’.

So for most of the time the hair on your scalp is growing, while about 10% of hair strands are in transition or resting at any time.  Anything that interferes with hair growth cycles, such as medications, illness, infections or chemicals, can prevent your hair from growing properly. Although men’s hair tends to recede from the forehead or crown of the head, women typically experience thinning on the top third to one half of the scalp.Causes and Solutions for Hair Loss

These are the most common causes of hair loss in women:

  • Androgenic alopecia - Women with androgenic alopecia have diffuse thinning all over their scalp thanks to the actions of male hormones. The hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) appears to be to blame in women suffering with female pattern baldness. Heredity is another major factor.

  • Telogen effluvium - Traumatic events such as child birth, major surgery, intense illness, dramatic weight loss, too much vitamin A, malnutrition, severe infections or extreme stress can shift up to 90% of the hair in the growing phase or resting phase into the shedding phase. Hair loss can happen within weeks or months after any of these experiences.

  • Anagen effluvium - This type of hair loss occurs after an insult to hair follicles; for instance, after chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cancer cells, rapidly dividing cells such as hair follicles are also affected. Soon after chemotherapy begins, approximately 90% or more of hair can fall out.

  • Traction alopecia – This condition is caused by localized trauma to the hair follicles; for instance, from tight hairstyles that pull at hair. If the condition is detected early enough, the hair will regrow. Braiding, cornrows, tight ponytails and extensions are the most common styling causes. Dyes, chemical treatments, bad brushes, blow dryers and flat irons can also result in hair damage and breakage. Luckily, damaged hair typically grows back by itself or can be reversed with medical treatments.

A malfunctioning thyroid gland, autoimmune disease, and heredity can all contribute toward hair loss. Although some people have suggested a link with menopause, not everyone is convinced that there is a direct correlation.

Health experts agree that the primary cause of female pattern baldness is increased production of DHT in hair follicles. Currently available medications interfere with hair loss either by increasing blood flow and nutrient supply to the hair follicle, or by directly inhibiting DHT production.

If you’re suffering from hair loss, you may want to look for a natural supplement that contains multiple nutrients shown to block DHT as well as nutrients from the sea that are known to promote hair growth. These types of supplements should contain a comprehensive blend of extra-strength nutrients to stop hair loss and promote hair growth.  Look for a product that contains ingredients such as:

  • Powerful, proven nutrients that block DHT production;

  • Nutrients from the sea that revitalize and renew hair follicles;

  • Powerhouse antioxidants that neutralize destructive free radicals;

  • Proven phytonutrients that strengthen hair follicles and boost scalp circulation;

  • Anti-aging nutrients like zinc and cracked cell chlorella that stimulate production of keratin, the primary structural component found in skin and hair.

If you are worried about hair loss, don’t give up!  There are safe and natural remedies ready to help you! 

 

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Hair Loss: Causes and Solutions   

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Gymnema Sylvestre: the Sugar Destroyer

by Cindy Gray

According to a 2010 study, regular consumption of an extract of the medicinal plant Gymnema sylvestre increased levels of circulating insulin, while lowering fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.  Over the years many plant-based products have been suggested as potential antidiabetic agents, but few have been shown to be effective so far in treating type 2 diabetes. However, extracts of Gymnema sylvestre—known in India as the ‘sugar destroyer’—have been used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in India for centuries.The Sugar Destroyer:  Gymnema Sylvestre

An herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India and Sri Lanka, chewing Gymnema sylvestre leaves suppresses the taste of sweet foods, an effect attributed to the presence of natural compounds known as gymnemic acids.

Previously, two small clinical trials had shown that Gymnema sylvestre consumption lowers glycated hemoglobin levels. Glycated hemoglobin is formed by hemoglobin's exposure to blood glucose. Normal levels of glucose produce a normal amount of glycated hemoglobin. However, as blood glucose levels rise in diabetes, glycated hemoglobin also increases in a predictable way.

In the 2010 study, researchers from India, the UK and the U.S. examined the effects of an extract of Gymnema sylvestre on levels of blood insulin, C-peptide and glucose in a small group of patients with type 2 diabetes.  Oral consumption of one gram of Gymnema sylvestre daily for 60 days increased levels of circulating insulin and C-peptide, while also reducing fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels. Not only that, the Gymnema sylvestre extract triggered insulin secretion when insulin-producing areas of the human pancreas were directly exposed to it.

Together, these findings suggest that the ancient ‘sugar destroyer’ may be a safe, yet effective potential alternative therapy for treating type 2 diabetes.

If you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels, then you may want to consider including Gymnema sylvestre in your diet.  There are several nutritional supplements designed to improve your insulin response and maintain normal blood sugar levels. Many contain nutraceutical-grade botanical extracts including bitter melon, Shilajit, turmeric, fenugreek, banaba, and of course, Gymnema sylvestre. All of these natural therapies, used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine, have been shown to stabilize blood sugar naturally with no known side effects.

So if you want to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, why not consider trying Gymnema sylvestre today?

 

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Gymnema Sylvestre - The Sugar Destroyer

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Fibromyalgia: 10 Possible Underlying Causes

by Cindy Gray

Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. Typical symptoms of this condition include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems and painful tender points, also known as trigger points. These symptoms can be relieved through medications, lifestyle changes and stress management. Other symptoms include sleep problems, fatigue, anxiety and depression, along with brain fog or cognitive impairment. It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects nearly six million or one in 50 people in the U.S. Conventional medicine has yet to uncover the cause of fibromyalgia and only offers management of symptoms through pain medications and antidepressants. On the other hand, functional medicine looks to find the root cause of fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, treating these health problems at the root level as a means to restore patients to health.10 Possible Underlying Causes of Fibromyalgia

According to health experts, these are the top ten likely root causes of fibromyalgia:

  1. Gluten Intolerance - symptoms of gluten intolerance are not only digestive in nature, but also neurological such as pain, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, behavioral issues, fatigue and depression.

  2. Candida overgrowth - candida is a fungus or yeast, and a very small amount lives in our intestines. However, when overproduced, candida can break down the intestinal wall and penetrate the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts that are known to cause a number of unpleasant symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, digestive issues and pain.

  3. Thyroid - more than half the people with thyroid issues have no idea they have a problem; 90% of these have hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland. Up to six different blood markers must be assessed to measure thyroid gland function. Every individual needs to get their thyroid levels into the optimal range, rather than the standard reference range, in order to alleviate fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression.

  4. Vitamin deficiencies - magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiency are the most common vitamin deficiencies seen people diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Some physicians report that several patients completely reversed their fibromyalgia symptoms with magnesium alone. The best way to measure magnesium is a red blood cell (RBC) magnesium level test, which can be tested in any conventional lab.

  5. Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and leaky gut - there are more bacteria in our bodies than there are of our own cells. When harmful bacteria, normally kept in check, overgrow or otherwise get out of balance through use of antibiotics or a sugar-rich diet, we lose our ability to digest and absorb nutrients, particularly vitamin B12. Gluten can cause SIBO and leaky gut, while SIBO and leaky gut in turn can lead to gluten and other food intolerances. It's a vicious cycle. Most functional health experts recommend 'fixing the gut' first in anyone with fibromyalgia.

  6. Adrenal fatigue - is usually a result of chronic, uncontrolled stress, whether real or perceived. Chronic pain overstimulates the adrenal glands, though typically it is not the initial adrenal stressor. The initial stressor is usually something such as food intolerances, candida, mercury toxicity, vitamin deficiencies or mycotoxins. One goal can be to support the adrenal glands with adaptogenic herbs while searching for the root cause of stress and eliminating it.

  7. Mycotoxins - are very toxic substances produced by molds. Approximately 25% of the human population carries genes that make them susceptible to the effects of mycotoxins. Conventional environmental mold testing only tests for levels of mold spores whereas a urine test can help to determine the extent of exposure to toxic molds and mycotoxins.

  8. Mercury toxicity - nowadays everyone needs to have their mercury amalgam fillings removed. Mercury is toxic to our bodies and can be one piece of the puzzle for those with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders and cancer.

  9. MTHFR mutations - can be identified by a genetic test carried out in most conventional labs. The more mutations in the MTHFR gene, the less able you are to methylate and detoxify toxins such as mercury and lead. Further, the more mutations, the higher your requirements for methyl-B6, methyl-B12 and folinic acid to keep your detoxification pathways working properly. (Note: Folinic acid is different from folic acid, or vitamin B9).

  10. Glutathione deficiency - glutathione is the most critical component of the body's detoxification system. It gets recycled in the body unless the toxic burden gets too high or there is a lack of the two enzymes needed to recycle and produce glutathione. Taking glutathione or its precursors such as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and milk thistle as supplements have been shown to help fibromyalgia patients dramatically with their fatigue issues.

Many of these causes are interrelated. Often there is no one single root cause to fibromyalgia, which appears likely to be a combination of several or possibly all of the above causes. Because getting to the root cause can be complex, it is advisable to find a physician who practices functional medicine to help uncover the root causes and treat them, removing the need for unnecessary suffering or masking the symptoms with pain medication, antidepressants and other drugs.

 

Reference

http://www.justnaturallyhealthy.com/articles/203-10-root-causes-of-fibromyalgia?showall=&start=1

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Does Banaba have Anti-Diabetic Properties?

by Cindy Gray

Chances are you’ve never heard of Banabá - also known as Giant Crape-myrtle, Queen's Crape-myrtle and Pride of India - a plant found all over tropical South Asia.  The leaves and other parts of this potent medicinal plant are used widely in the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan for making tea. In fact, Banabá is one of 69 herbal plants promoted by the Philippine Department of Health.Are There Anti-Diabetic Properties in Banaba?

Much to the interest of health experts, corosolic acid (CRA) - a natural compound present in Banabá - was seen in a 2006 study to lower glucose levels in human subjects. In this study, 31 subjects were given corosolic acid five minutes before an oral glucose tolerance test. Of these, 19 subjects had diabetes, seven had impaired glucose tolerance, one had impaired fasting glucose, and four had normal glucose tolerance.

The oral glucose tolerance test is used to test for diabetes and insulin resistance. A fixed dose of glucose is given to a subject and blood samples taken afterward to determine how quickly it is cleared from the subject’s blood.  Subjects treated with corosolic acid had lower glucose levels from 60 to 120 minutes after the oral glucose challenge, showing for the first time that a natural compound in Banabá has an anti-hyperglycemic effect in humans.

Other studies have also shown that Banabá extracts trigger glucose transport similar to insulin in a laboratory setting, further confirming that Banabá may be useful for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.

You may want to consider this if you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels but you’re not sure what to do about it. 

Check out the available nutritional supplements designed to improve your insulin response and maintain normal blood sugar levels. Some contain no less than nine high-quality nutraceutical-grade botanical extracts including bitter melon, Shilajit, turmeric, fenugreek, Gymnema sylvestre - and of course Banabá. Each one of these natural therapies, used traditionally in Ayurveda, has been shown to stabilize blood sugar naturally with no known side effects.

So if you want to manage your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, why not check out Banabá today?

 

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Does Banabá Have Antidiabetic Properties?  

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Natural Heart Health: Making Sense of Blood Pressure Readings

by Health News

Take regular blood pressure readings to figure out if you have a normal blood pressure.Many people want to ensure they have a normal blood pressure. Learn how to make sense of blood pressure readings in this article.

Blood pressure is one of the primary vital signs for health. It refers to the pressure applied to vessel walls by circulating blood in the body. Blood pressure measurements generally gauge total pressure at the brachial artery in an individual’s upper arm which is the major vessel that transports blood away from the heart. The actual blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure, for example, 120/80. The systolic number measures arterial pressure when the heart beats, and the diastolic number measures arterial pressure between heartbeats, when the heart muscle is at rest and filling with blood.

There are five basic categories of blood pressure readings that span from normal blood pressure to hypertensive crisis. The blood pressure measurement determines what type of treatment an individual may need to normalize blood pressure. For accuracy, it is important for a health care provider to take two measurements at two different times.

The American Heart Association suggests that an individual get screened once every two years starting at age 20 if blood pressure is in the normal range.

The following lifestyle changes are recommended for keeping blood pressure in check.

Lose extra weight and watch your waist measurement: According to studies, men should have a waist measurement below 40 inches, and women should take care to keep waist size below 35 inches.

Get regular exercise: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day can help to lower blood pressure.

Eat a healthy diet:  Consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products, and skip foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Consider all-natural supplements to ensure adequate daily nutrients.

Reduce sodium consumption: Those who are 51 years of age or older should reduce sodium to 1500 mg per day or less.

Increase potassium:  Added potassium in the diet or through supplements can reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure.

Experts estimate that one in four American adults will get high blood pressure. This is a health problem that can raise risks for heart and kidney disease and stroke. Because high blood pressure typically exhibits no symptoms, it is important for adults to get checked regularly. Once it develops, high blood pressure generally lasts a lifetime but it can be prevented and controlled with a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

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Can Vitamin D Benefit You Without Magnesium?

by Cindy Gray

You may already know about the many powerful health benefits of having sufficient levels of vitamin D in your body. However, you may not be getting many of these benefits if you suffer from magnesium deficiency.

Vitamin D is made by skin cells in response to sunlight. It is also found naturally in fatty fish, fish liver oils and egg yCan Vitamin D Benefit without Magnesium?olks; as well as in fortified grains and dairy products.

Along with helping to build strong bones by maintaining proper calcium and phosphorus levels in the body, vitamin D also appears to protect against many other health problems.

For instance, having adequate levels of 25-hydoxyvitamin D (the biologically active form of vitamin D) can lower the risk of a first heart attack and peripheral vascular disease, along with reducing risk for many cancers.

Low levels of 25-hydoxyvitamin D are associated with increased likelihood of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (BP). Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency also plays a major role in the development of breast, prostate and colon cancer, as well as arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriasis and mental illness.

Increasing vitamin D intake to about 800 international units (IU) per day has been reported to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 30%.

While more and more people are learning about the powerful health benefits offered by vitamin D, they may not be getting many of these benefits if they suffer from magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form. It acts with and is essential to the activity of vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D’s effectiveness is significantly reduced without adequate levels of magnesium in the body. However, most Americans do not get their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this important mineral.

Nutrients act to enhance each other. To get the health benefits of vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, zinc and boron must also be present in suitable amounts.

The importance of magnesium for proper vitamin D metabolism has been confirmed by several studies as follows:

  • Magnesium is essential for the metabolism of vitamin D

  • Magnesium influences how the body uses vitamin D

  • All enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium (enzymes are special proteins that carry out chemical reactions in the body)

  • Magnesium may play a role in vitamin D's effects on the immune system

  • Magnesium is necessary for vitamin D's beneficial actions on bone structure

Last but not least, in its active form in the presence of magnesium, vitamin D stops calcium from being deposited in arteries, interfering with plaque formation or atherosclerosis, the first critical step towards developing heart disease.

Magnesium and vitamin D work together to draw calcium out of blood and soft tissues back into bones, where it is needed to build a healthy, strong bone structure; thereby preventing osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis and kidney stones.

If you feel you’re not getting enough vitamin D or magnesium, it may be a good idea to look for a supplement that gives you both of these vital nutrients and add it to your daily supplement regime right away.

 

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Can Vitamin D Benefit You Without Magnesium?