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Radiant Skin with Antioxidants

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of our top healthy living tips is the good news that radiant skin and natural beauty do not have to come with a branded label and a three-figure price tag. A French study into Clinical Cosmetics and Dermatology found that a formula of natural antioxidants is the best way to fight aging skin caused by environmental factors.

Healthy living tips include using these antioxidants for beautiful skin

Clinical Study on Antioxidants and Facial Skin

The clinical study used 35 women aged between 40 and 70 who had a noticeably dull complexion. The study measured the degree of improvement in skin radiance by evaluating skin color, luminosity, brightness and transparency. The clinicians also assessed skin imperfections and firmness; and the participants completed a questionnaire about their skin radiance before and after treatment.

Rather than lathering the skin with creams and potions, the study focused on oral supplementation, giving each woman a daily formula of 150 mg of antioxidants. The supplements included superoxide dismutase-rich melon concentrate and grape seed extract rich in flavanols, vitamin C and zinc. This supercharged overload of antioxidants was prescribed daily for eight weeks; and the results of the effect on the women’s skin were then reassessed.

The results showed skin color was improved with a healthier red-pink or olive tone. Luminosity of the skin also increased by 25.9%, but brightness and transparency of the skin remained the same. Existing skin imperfections were significantly improved and dark under-eye circles, spots and redness were reduced. The study concluded that taking an antioxidant-rich formulation improved the radiance of the skin naturally while reducing imperfections and blemishes. Antioxidants also appeared to improve dull skin and increased firmness.

Related:  Royal Jelly: Your Skin's Best Friend

How Antioxidants Work

The body is constantly exposed to free radicals from pollutants, sun damage, cigarette smoke and stress. These harmful molecules have unpaired electrons that seek to change and damage healthy cells. This ultimately weakens the skin’s cell structure. Antioxidants pair up with free radicals, putting them back in balance so they do not alter the structure of other cells.  

Healthy Living Tips about Antioxidants

The benefits of antioxidants can easily be enjoyed by adding antioxidant-rich foods and supplements to your healthy habits daily. As with the study, you should see a noticeable improvement in your skin’s radiance in eight weeks or less.

Grape seed extract is a wonderful way to obtain the concentrated benefits of grapes, which have been used in natural treatments for centuries. Taken in tablet or capsule form, or applied topically, the concentrated antioxidants in grape seed extract include vitamin C and vitamin E which are known to support youthful-looking skin. Grape seed extract also protects the skin from UV sun damage, a known cause of wrinkles and fine lines.

Vitamin C is considered a wonderful remedy for aging skin, and zinc helps repair damaged tissue, skin sores and spots and by helping cells regenerate. Green tea and resveratrol are also packed with antioxidants, making these healthy living tips a secret weapon for anti-aging and radiant skin.  

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Take Vitamin D to Prevent Falls

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to research, up to 41 percent of American adults are deficient in vitamin D.  Studies show that a lack of vitamin D raises risks for osteoporosis and may affect neuromuscular control and coordination.  This may explain the link between vitamin D deficiency and a higher risk for falls, especially in elderly men.  In balance tests requiring stepping and leaning tasks, elderly men with low levels of vitamin D showed poor performance.  While elderly people have a harder time absorbing vitamin D, eating certain foods and other healthy habits can help stabilize vitamin D levels.

Healthy habits for boosting vitamin D include adding fatty fish to the diet.

 

Healthy Living Tips for Getting More Vitamin D

Soak up the sun for short periods.  When sunlight hits the skin, the body makes its own vitamin D.  Exposure to ultraviolet B rays triggers the skin to convert cholesterol to vitamin D3.  During warm parts of the year, roughly 20 minutes of daily sunshine (sans sunscreen) results in about 90 percent of the vitamin D needed for the day.  After 20 minutes, people should apply organic sunscreen to protect the skin from too much sunlight.

Enjoy salmon.  When it comes to healthy habits for boosting vitamin D, eating fatty fish is one of the best.  In fact, one salmon filet provides all the vitamin D needed for one day.  Enjoy fresh steaks or filets for dinner or salmon-salad sandwiches or wraps for lunch.  In addition to providing vitamin D, salmon is an excellent source of essential fatty acids and lean protein.

Related:  Are You Vitamin D Deficient?  Take this Quiz!

Drink milk.  Most brands of pasteurized milk in the United States deliver good quantities of vitamin D.  Whole milk contains the most vitamin D, but skim milk still offers about 20 percent of the recommended daily value.  Many plant-based milk products like soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk also offer significant amounts of vitamin D, some even more than cow's milk.

Choose products fortified with vitamin D.  Check labels on breakfast cereals, yogurt and orange juice at the grocery store.  Many are fortified with vitamin D and other important nutrients. 

Take vitamin D3 supplementsVitamin D3 supplements offer an easy remedy for getting adequate amounts of vitamin D during the fall or winter months.  To protect bones, adults should aim for 800-1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day unless otherwise specified by a health care provider.

Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is important for bone health and good balance.  Because aging affects the absorption of certain nutrients, sufficient vitamin D is especially essential to the elderly.  While many studies show a link between falls and insufficient vitamin D levels, others show a correlation between falls and high-dose vitamin D supplementation.   Therefore, elderly people should have vitamin D levels checked before beginning a supplementary regimen.

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Diet for Stress Relief – Best Foods For Stress

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Sometimes the simplest and oldest ideas for dealing with stress management can also be the most effective. We hear a great deal about superfoods and innovative stress-busting techniques, but when it comes down to an effective diet for stress relief, there are three food staples you need.

Eating these foods can significantly help stress management

Here’s are the best foods for stress:

Whole Grains Aid Stress Management

People who start the day with a bowl of whole grain cereal have lower cortisol levels, according to research. We know that highly refined, processed and fatty foods increase anxiety and mood swings, but whole grains can counter those feelings by providing steady energy levels, high spirits and calm nerves. These benefits come from a variety of sources found in whole grain foods including B vitamins.

Vitamin B is known to have mood-lifting properties which are part of any stress management process. A three-month trial at the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia confirmed that a diet high in B vitamins significantly lowers stress levels. Professor Con Stough reported that B vitamins found in whole grains are “integral to the synthesis of neurotransmitters critical to psychological well-being."

Good sources of B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid are:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Durum wheat
  • Wild rice
  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Buckwheat
  • Millett
  • Oats

Fruit and Vegetables Lower Stress Hormones

Loading your plate with fruit and vegetables at every meal helps neutralize free radicals that are known to be stress-related. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale contain folate which produces dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter that is responsible for reward-motivated behavior and feelings of happiness. A study on 2,800 seniors found that those who consumed more folate had a significantly lower risk of depression.

Related:  Tasty, Versatile Kale is an Antioxidant Powerhouse

A similar study by the University of Otago in New Zealand found that students who ate more fruit and vegetables were calmer, happier and less stressed than their counterparts. They also found that healthy eating predicted a positive mood the following day.

More specific fruit and vegetables to support stress management include blueberries. High in antioxidants and phytonutrients they also promote killer white blood cells in the body that counter stress.

De-stress with Omega-3 Fish Oil

Good old omega-3 fish oils once again come to the rescue when it comes to stress management. The fatty acids found in salmon and other oily foods contain anti-inflammatory properties. According to Lisa Cimperman from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, omega-3 counteracts the anxiety hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

To put the theory to the test, a study on medical students from Oregon State University found that taking omega-3 fish oil supplements lowered anxiety levels by 20%, compared to the control group who took a placebo.

As one 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon contains around 2,000 mg of omega-3, it’s easy to follow the American Heart Association recommendation of two servings per week for a healthy heart and sensible stress management.   For consistent daily support, consider omega-3 supplements too.

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What Should You Do About Menopause Symptoms Like Hair Growth?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, memory lapses, increased anxiety and reduced libido are often kept private.  Dealing with them alone can be difficult, but made worse when more obvious symptoms appear, namely hair loss and/or excessive hair growth in unusual places. Hair growth during menopause, or hair loss, can be very disconcerting, but there are things you can do to minimize these hair woes.

Menopause symptoms include hair growth.

 

The Hairy Truth about Menopause

Fluctuating and declining hormone levels can cause excessive hair loss; and or hair growth such as facial hair.  While menopause is a natural phase of life, steps can be taken to help prevent hair loss and growth, such as lifestyle and dietary changes using natural herbs and supplements.

For Thinning Hair

There is HRT, or hormone replacement therapy, that is prescribed by your doctor and can help with hair loss. However, the known dangerous side effects are an increased risk for several types of cancer. Some women choose to avoid synthetic HRT because of the inhumane way horses are treated to obtain these hormones through pregnant mare’s urine.   If you want to avoid the risks and not contribute to cruel pharmaceutical practices, then forgo HRT.  Here are some natural ways to alleviate this problem.

Acceptance – While many people say, be patient, hair loss will ‘pass’, that’s much easier said than done.  Yes, hair loss in normal and natural when going through menopause, and your loved ones will continue to love you, regardless of your hair.  However, it can be emotionally devastating to experience hair loss or thinning hair.  Take steps to help reduce and remedy the situation, seek out an experienced hair stylist for the best cut for your hair type.

Reduce Stress – Get plenty of exercise, meditate, go to yoga classes, and get enough sleep. This will benefit you in many ways beyond helping to stave off hair loss. A few milligrams of melatonin might help you fall asleep on restless nights. Investing in natural fabrics for sheets and pajamas will whisk away the sweat caused by hot flashes so you can rest easier.

Related:  Restore Hair Growth and Improve Sleep

Diet – As is prescribed for every condition, eating a healthy diet will help you mitigate hair loss due to fluctuating and declining hormones. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be your dietary staples with avoidance of high-fat and sugar-laden treats.  B12 is linked to hair loss so choose foods that are rich in all the B vitamins like:

  • Spinach, mustard greens and romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli, beets, asparagus and turnips
  • Lentils, calf liver and snapper (fish)

Foods particularly high in B12 are:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Fortified soy products like tofu

Supplements & Herbs

Many menopause symptoms can be relieved by taking supplements and herbs that reduce inflammation, mimic declining hormones and boost your iron levels to help keep hair healthy and strong.  Try adding these supplements and herbs into your diet to promote hair growth during menopause:

  • B12 vitamins (all the B vitamins really)
  • Iron
  • Black cohosh – an herb that mimics estrogen in the body to help slow down hair loss due to the decline of natural estrogen production
  • Evening Primrose Oil, also a great source of essential fatty acids

Dealing with Unwanted Hair

How frustrating to experience thinning hair only to find it growing abundantly on your chin, around your lips, and on your chest.   Cosmetically there is no shade of cover up to disguise thick, course, and dark hair cropping up on your face.

What can you do about unwanted hair growth during menopause, then?  Show those stray strands no mercy!  Avoid shaving, since only more stubble will grow back.  Some better options are:

Epilators– there are several brands for use at home that come with different sized heads to use on the body and the face. Like waxing, these devices pull hair out by the root for longer lasting results.

Waxing – hair removed by waxing will be slower to grow back. Today’s waxing methods are less painful and most salons offer the service.

Electrolysis – choose a spa or facility with a medically trained staff and really get after unwanted hair growth. This is the most costly treatment option, but the one that is the most effective with the longest lasting results. Remember, unwanted hair growth is usually a temporary condition, so be patient.

 

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Antioxidants: Your Immune System’s Secret Weapon

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Our immune system is a complex army of warriors with different “weapons” patrolling the body to hunt down and kill invading bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, as we age, it does too, and becomes weaker along with muscles, eyes, and everything else. Fortunately, there are immune boosters in your refrigerator called antioxidants that can keep your disease fighting warriors stronger for longer.

Fruits and vegetables are powerful immune boosters.

Antioxidants to the Rescue

What exactly is an antioxidant? Our bodies naturally produce free radicals as a result of exposure to environmental toxins like too much sunlight, cigarette smoke, radiation and even some prescription drugs.  You also produce free radicals along with inflammation in the body when you exercise, become overly stressed, and as you age. Because free radical molecules are missing an electron, they seek out and capture electrons from other molecules turning them into free radicals, a process known as oxidation. 

 

Antioxidants generously lend molecules missing an electron one of theirs without becoming free radicals themselves, thus halting the destructive chain reaction in the body. Left unchecked free radicals disrupt DNA and cause your cells to become weaker and weaker until they die.  They are tiny superhero defenders of youth and vitality.

Antioxidants for What Ails You

Our immune system cells are as susceptible to free radical damage as any other kind of cell, and we need a steady supply to stay healthy. Incorporating antioxidants into your diet helps as an immune booster and assists your immune system to produce strong B and T lymphocytes, phagocytes and neutrophils.

Several of our organs play a key role in the immune system and also need to be constantly generating strong healthy cells to replace those lost to free radicals. Make sure you ingest plenty of antioxidants to boost your immune system to help stave off disease, and even slow down the aging process.

Related:  Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant

Essential Antioxidants

Fortunately, it’s easy to fill up on antioxidants. They are found in many of the healthiest and delicious foods available to us in abundance.  Certain antioxidants are not being produced by the body, so you need to get them from you diet. They are:

Resveratrol – found in grapes, many vegetables, dark chocolate (cocoa) and wine. It also helps lower blood pressure, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation in the body.

Carotenoids- give certain foods their bright color like tomatoes (lycopene) and carrots (beta-carotene). They are converted to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, in the body.

Xanthophyll – found in kiwis, maize (a kind of corn), grapes, squash and oranges.

Astaxanthin – a marine carotenoid that offers protection from ultraviolet radiation. It also has been found to slow down macular degeneration, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, several types of cancer and is a powerful immune booster.

Vitamins C and E – are generous electron donors and offer a host of other health benefits.

Best Sources of Antioxidants

Healthy and delicious foods can supply most of your antioxidant needs. You might also benefit from an antioxidant supplement to make sure you get adequate amounts daily. Be sure to add to your diet:

  • Nuts
  • Herbs and spices
  • Green tea
  • Fruits and vegetables

Fresh, organic produce and tea are your healthiest options, but even frozen foods offer some beneficial immune booster antioxidants.

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Why Vitamin D is Important for Healthy Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Originally introduced to the world as a fat-soluble vitamin and later as a steroid hormone, vitamin D offers myriad health benefits to the body.  Because it plays a role in over 1,000 physiological processes, it is easy to understand why vitamin D is so important as people get older.  According to results from a variety of scientific studies, this potent vitamin/hormone helps encourage healthy aging in many ways.

:  People can get vitamin D benefits through foods like milk, eggs and fish.

A British study conducted in 2007 showed that vitamin D may help slow the aging process and protect the body from age-related disease.  Researchers followed more than 2,000 women with ages ranging from 18 to 79 and examined their white blood cells.  Measuring the length of telomeres (the capped ends of DNA strands) is a reliable way to determine if a person is aging.  As people get older, telomeres become shorter and DNA becomes more unstable. 

According to their vitamin D levels, the female subjects were assigned to three groups.  Results showed that women with the highest vitamin D levels had longer telomeres than women with the lowest levels.  Researchers concluded that by keeping telomeres longer, vitamin D may slow the aging process, and this may explain the protective effect vitamin D appears to provide from conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Related:  Absorption is Key When it Comes to Calcium Supplements

Another important Dutch study examining people 55 years of age and older found that low vitamin D levels were linked with an inability to perform daily tasks.  Subjects were divided into two age groups and tested for activities like walking stairs, dressing and undressing, standing from a seated position, and self-care.  While results showed a link between lower vitamin D levels and reduced ability to perform the activities, more research is needed to determine if low vitamin D levels actually cause disability in performance.

Additional Vitamin D Benefits

Most people know that vitamin D plays a role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, but it offers many more benefits to the health.  Vitamin D boosts immunity and helps prevent colds, flus and other types of infection.  Mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D may also offer a preventative effect against Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, lymphatic system, ovaries and prostate. 

With all of the health benefits mentioned, it makes sense to get vitamin D on a daily basis, especially for people over 50.  The best source of vitamin D is the sun, and spending 10 minutes in sunshine before applying sunscreen usually provides a sufficient daily amount.  People can also find vitamin D in foods like fish, eggs, dairy and nut milk, cod liver oil, and fortified cereals and juices.  Vitamin D supplements work well during periods of colder weather, and health professionals recommend from 400 to 1,100 mg per day depending on age.

 

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Inflammation and Aging Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to good health as we age, inflammation plays both good and bad roles.  In response to injury, acute or short-term inflammation helps promote healing, but chronic or long-term inflammation can harm just about every area of the body including the skin.  Conditions linked to chronic inflammation include acne, dermatitis, rosacea, rash, hives, and wrinkles.  Fortunately, following a few healthy tips can help prevent the development of inflammation and protect aging skin.

A number of environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to inflammation including tobacco, alcohol, stress, sun exposure, a sedentary lifestyle, and a high-sugar diet.  Engaging in healthy habits helps reduce levels of inflammation in the body and keeps aging skin looking and feeling as youthful as possible. 

Healthy changes involve quitting tobacco products, cutting down on alcohol consumption, wearing sunscreen, or getting regular moderate exercise.  Beneficial dietary steps include drinking plenty of water throughout the day, reducing the amount of sugar in the diet, and getting inflammation-fighting nutrients through food or dietary supplements.

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

Best Dietary Supplements for Inflammation

Research shows that a number of nutrients help battle the effects of chronic inflammation.  Many of these are available in the form of dietary supplements.  They include:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
  • Coenzyme Q-10
  • Curcumin
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
  • Ginger
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Topical Ingredients that Combat Inflammation

Certain creams and lotions feature beneficial ingredients for aging skin.  Topical nutrients that offer anti-inflammatory properties include aloe, ceramides, grape seed extract, green tea extract, and pomegranate.

Food Sensitivities and Skin Changes

Food sensitivities can also cause chronic inflammation in the body, and symptoms can include congestion, irritability, stomach pain, headache, and skin changes like hives or rash.  People concerned about possible food sensitivities should consult with a health care professional for testing.

Additional Health Problems Caused by Inflammation

In addition to affecting aging skin, chronic inflammation can lead to the development of a number of other health problems as people get older.  These include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hay fever
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Periodontitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Getting older does not mean people have to settle for premature wrinkles and age spots caused by inflammation.  A number of lifestyle changes, nutrients, topical products, and dietary testing can help promote healthy skin and encourage good overall health. 

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Do Free Radicals Cause Skin Changes?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The skin is the body's largest organ, so it is important to take good care of it.  Knowing about free radicals and how to eliminate them can help.  A free radical is an unstable oxygen molecule that is missing an electron.  In the hunt for the absent electron, free radicals destroy healthy molecules and create more free radicals. A number of environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to the production of free radicals including exposure to the sun, smoking, excessive use of alcohol, a poor diet, and air pollution.  Over time, excessive free radicals can cause oxidative damage leading to skin changes like acne, wrinkles and even skin cancer. 

Lifestyle choices like smoking can promote free radical production and cause skin changes.

Young skin contains an abundance of antioxidants that protect it from free radicals.  However, aging skin produces fewer antioxidants and becomes more susceptible to damage. Fortunately, as people age, they can prevent the production of free radicals by engaging in a number of healthy lifestyle strategies.

1.  Use Sunscreen

Prolonged exposure to the sun encourages the production of free radicals. According to a study examining the effects of oxidative stress on skin cells, the use of sunscreen offers the best protection for preventing these free radicals from forming.  Natural, mineral-based sunscreens provide safe, broad-spectrum protection without harsh chemicals.  Remember to wear a wide-brimmed hat when out in direct sunlight.  Other protection methods are long-sleeved clothes and even using an umbrella for sun protection.

2.  Eat Foods High in Antioxidants

In the same study, the Slovenian research team from the University of Ljubljana also concluded "Foods rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals such as fruits, vegetables, wine and green tea help protect against oxidative damage and free radical attack."  Specific fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants include leafy greens, red grapes, citrus fruits, melons, papaya, berries, and pomegranate.

Related:  Internal Sun Protection With ALA

3.  Take Dietary Supplements

A number of vitamin and mineral supplements block the development of free radicals.  These include vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, coenzyme Q10, lutein, lycopene, and zinc.  Protective herbal supplements include bilberry, gingko biloba, grape seed extract, and turmeric.

4.  Try Skincare Products with Vitamin C or Copper

It's hard to sift through the multitude of skincare products for one that actually works, but a few added ingredients have been shown to truly benefit the skin. Vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen, the main structural protein in connective tissue. Research shows that topical application of vitamin C promotes the production of collagen and diminishes the effects of free radicals. Copper is an ingredient added to many products for aging skin. Copper peptides can help improve skin elasticity, enhance skin tone and reduce symptoms of skin conditions like rashes, eczema, and rosacea.

While environment and lifestyle can affect the skin, certain healthy strategies help keep skin changes to a minimum. People looking to enhance skin health should use sunscreen when spending more than twenty minutes outdoors. Other ways to benefit the skin include eating foods high in antioxidants, taking certain dietary supplements, and using topical skin products with vitamin C or copper.

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The Best Brain Supplements to Improve Your Memory

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

There are many supplements for memory support.

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

Ginkgo Biloba

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

Related:  Effects of Overeating on Brain Health

Asian Ginseng

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

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

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

Creatine

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

L-Theanine

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

Vitamin E

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

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

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

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

 

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The Best Five Natural Alternatives to Fluoride

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Neem leaves are one of the best natural alternatives to fluoride

 

1. Coconut Oil

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

2. Neem

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

3. Vitamin D

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

4. Myrrh

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

5. Chocolate!

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

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

 

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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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Ten Home Remedies for Tackling Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Periodontal disease is much more serious than many people suspect. Periodontal issues can be either destructive or non-destructive. When plaque forms around teeth, the end result can be inflammation of tissue. In some cases, tissue can be lost, and this weakens the supporting structure for teeth.

The end result of periodontal disease can be a loss of teeth, which, in turn, has a range of its own medical and health issues. Medical studies have conclusively shown that poor oral health can lead to not just dental issues, but also a range of health issues ranging from a weakened immune system and increase in the chances of developing diseases to heart problems.

Gum disease does not have to lead to the loss of teeth. By following these 10 tips you can keep your teeth and gums much healthier!

#1:  Co-enzyme Q10

Co-enzyme Q10 is extremely important not just for gum health but for overall health. Like other ingredients, such as baking soda, co-enzyme Q10 has made its way into toothpaste for its ability to help fight gum disease and assist in keeping periodontal disease at bay. Co-enzyme Q10 is available in toothpaste and pill forms.

#2:  Honey and Manuka Honey

Honey has amazing all-natural healing properties. One type of honey in particular, manuka honey, is particularly effective at treating wounds of all kinds including gum inflammation. Manuka honey has been well researched and is being used to treat everything from chronic wounds to burns.

Cure periodontal disease with honey and other natural remedies.

#3:  Lemons

Lemons are a power anti-inflammatory and are packed with vitamin C. Try adding lemons to your tea for a one-two punch.

#4:  Baking Soda

It is no accident that baking soda has made its way into toothpaste. Baking soda helps neutralize acid in your mouth and can also help remove stains.

#5:  Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be found in both toothpastes and dental floss and is very effective in killing bacteria. However, it is important to remember that tea tree oil is extremely powerful, so remember to only use a limited amount.

Related:  Tea Tree Oil for Acne:  A Natural Remedy With Proven Results

#6:  Dental Probiotics

The research is mounting that probiotics are a powerful contributor to overall good health. Dental probiotics containing lactobacillus reuteri are one way to improve your oral health via probiotics. Also, consider adding a probiotic supplement to your diet.

#7:  Consume Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have been shown to improve overall health and boost oral health. Fermented foods can contain lactobacillus reuteri as well as many other immune system boosting probiotics. If you want to fight periodontal disease, then consider boosting your fermented foods. Many researchers also believe that fermented foods can help reduce the chances of developing many different types of diseases.

#8:  Xylitol

Xylitol is one of the best kept secrets in oral health care. Since it works to actually stop the growth of the very bacteria responsible for cavities, xylitol has earned a special place in dental research. Xylitol mouthwashes, toothpastes, mints and even gum are widely available. Not only does xylitol help protect teeth, but it also creates a positive environment for gums and the entire mouth.

#9:  Floss Every Day

Flossing is one of the easiest ways to protect your oral health. In fact, flossing regularly may even protect your heart!

#10:  Brush Regularly and Change Your Toothbrush Often

The foundation of protecting your teeth and gums is to brush often. Also don’t forget to change your toothbrush every three mouths to help you keep periodontal disease at bay!

Follow these ten tips and you will enjoy greater overall oral health. You don’t have to live with gum disease or let gum disease develop. These simple tips can dramatically boost your chances of keeping your gums and teeth healthy and looking great.

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Even Healthy Eating and Supplements Aren’t Enough

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, large national surveys show that even healthy eating habits combined with some supplements, Americans are still not getting the average daily requirements of many key nutrients. In fact, nearly everyone falls short on two critical vitamins—vitamin D and vitamin A.

Healthy eating habits combined with supplementation is the best routine.

More than one third of us are low in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A, which are critical for bone, heart, and eye health. Plus, nearly half of us are short of our vitamin C intake. 

One of the surveys (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2003-2006 found, “Without enrichment and/or fortification and supplementation, many Americans did not achieve the recommended micronutrient intake levels set forth in the Dietary Reference Intakes.”

Related:  Are Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

They go on to say that not everyone uses supplements, so the ability to boost nutrient levels above and beyond food (even fortified food) is limited to those people who actually use supplements.

The takeaway? Be sure that you aren’t going the food-only route. The best way to get all the nutrients you need for optimum health is to eat a healthy diet of organic fruits and vegetables AND use a high-quality, food-based supplement to get the additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need.

 

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Could You Be Vitamin Deficient?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may be surprised to know that even if you eat a healthy diet, you might be deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients. There are several reasons why.

First, conventional agriculture has depleted our soil of nutrients, and therefore so is the food that’s grown in it. Selenium is a good example of a mineral that is no longer found in high quantities in soil. Selenium is essential for your body to make glutathione—a powerful antioxidant—and for the repair of your DNA—both are very important to reduce your risk of cancer. Research shows that the incidence of cancer in various regions is directly linked to the amount of selenium in the soil. Areas with the highest selenium have up to a 50 percent lower incidence of certain cancers.

Next, your body can’t absorb nutrients from certain food sources as well as they can from others. For example, your body can’t absorb the calcium in dairy as well as it can from plant sources, such as spinach and kale. So if you rely on dairy rather than plants for all your calcium needs, you may be getting far less than actually you think.

Related Five Natural Anti-aging Solutions

Vitamin D is another great example of a nutrient dangerously low in most Americans. You can manufacture your own vitamin D by a reaction between your skin and sunlight, but most people can’t regularly get enough sun exposure to make enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for thousands of reactions in your body. When your Vitamin D levels are low, your risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers is significantly increased.

For these and many other reasons, you may not be getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, so taking supplements can be important. I recommend seeing a holistic physician to have your levels of nutrients checked. Your physician can then precisely prescribe the nutritional supplements that are best for your unique physiology.  

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Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

by IVL Products

Loss of visual acuity is normal as we age. The most common cause of vision loss is in this country is due to age-related macular degeneration or AMD and there is no known cure. Knowing who is at the highest risk for developing age-related macular degeneration can help you determine your risk factors and take steps to delay or possibly avoid it.

Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

High Risk Factors for AMD

While AMD can affect anyone at any time, it is most common in adults over the age of 60.

Others at risk are:

  • Anyone with a family history of the disease
  • Smokers
  • People with high blood pressure
  • People with high cholesterol
  • Those who are obese
  • Being a light skinned female with a light eye color 

What Is AMD: Symptoms

Age-related macular degeneration is when the central portion of the retina, which is at the back of the eye, begins to deteriorate and a small blurry spot develops in your vision.  The macula is in the central part of the retina and responsible for focusing central vision in the eye. In some people AMD progresses slowly, in others, much more quickly. There are two kinds of AMD:

  1. Dry – this form of AMD is the most common and the cause is not entirely known. Small white or yellowish spots form on the retina and cause it to deteriorate over time
  2. Wet—while less common, many who start with dry AMD progress to wet or neovascular AMD.  Wet macular degeneration is caused by abnormal blood vessels under the retina that break, bleed and leak fluid, damaging the macula and causing it to lift away from its base. This type of AMD usually results in rapid and almost total loss of central vision.

The most common symptom of AMD is the formation of a dark, blurry spot over the center of the eye and a diminished capacity to perceive colors. If you think you might be developing AMD see your eye doctor right away for a definite diagnosis.

Related:  Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Eyesight

How to Reduce Your Risk of AMD

If you are at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration there are several things you can be doing now that could help delay the onset and severity of symptoms.

  • Stop smoking - for so many other reasons as well
  • Lose weight – obesity is a common risk factor for AMD
  • Get high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels under control; this goes hand in hand with losing weight and these two conditions put you at risk for many other fatal diseases.
  • Clean up your diet – recent studies have shown the positive affect eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, walnuts, olive oil) and dark green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, arugula) can have on slowing AMD from developing.  Foods rich in vitamins C, E, zinc, copper lutein and zeaxanthin are the best for preventing AMD.
  • Supplements – researchers at the National Eye Institute found that of supplements with higher than average doses of vitamin C, E, zinc oxide, copper, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin reduced the risk of developing late AMD, like after age 60.

It should be noted that beta-carotene has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer so if you are a smoker or ex-smoker you should not take it.  Consult your doctor about the safe amount of these supplements and seek out foods rich in these nutrients to help you avoid or delay age related macular degeneration.

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5 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin D Deficiency

by Health News

When it comes to good health, people depend on vitamins.  Dubbed the "sunshine vitamin" because it is made by the body when exposed to the sun, vitamin D is important to the health in many ways.  It aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, it helps maintain healthy bones and teeth, and it offers protection against the development of certain types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Despite the many benefits of vitamin D, roughly 75 percent of American teens and adults have deficient levels.  Five signs and symptoms can help determine whether you may have a vitamin D deficiency.

1.  Darker Skin

According to research, vitamin D deficiency is more widespread among people with darker skin because pigmentation in the skin works like a natural sunscreen.  Therefore, people with darker skin need to spend more time in the sun than people with lighter skin to maintain healthy levels.

2.  Age of 50 Years or Greater

People age 50 and over tend to spend less time outdoors than younger people, which contributes to vitamin D deficiency in this age group.  In addition, aging skin makes less vitamin D when exposed to the sun, and the kidneys aren't as efficient in converting vitamin D into a usable form.

3.  Depressed Mood

A study in 2006 examined how vitamin D levels affected the mood of 80 elderly patients.  Those with the worst vitamin D deficiency were 11 times more likely to be depressed than patients with normal vitamin D levels.  Experts believe this effect may have to do with serotonin, a hormone in the brain associated with mood.  Research shows that serotonin levels rise with greater exposure to sunlight and fall when exposure lessens.

Related:  Three Hormonal Causes of Depression

4.  Excessive Body Weight

Studies have found that body fat collects vitamin D and keeps it from entering the bloodstream.  Research published in the International Journal of Obesity also showed that excessive body fat may inhibit the body's ability to use vitamin D effectively.

5.  Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and gluten sensitivity can affect the body's absorption of fat.  Because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, people with these conditions often have lower vitamin D levels. 

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for good health.  While sunlight offers the best source, people can also obtain this valuable nutrient through certain foods or vitamin D supplements.  Good food sources include wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, or vitamin D-fortified milk, yogurt, cereal, or juice.  When it comes to daily supplements, many experts suggest 600 to 800 IU for children and adults, but others recommend 1000 IU.

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Three Strange Signs You May Have a Vitamin Deficiency

by IVL Products

In a modern world, people are busier than ever, which can have an effect on daily nutrition.  An influx of fast or processed foods and high levels of stress make it easy to become deficient in certain key nutrients.  When levels of vitamins and minerals are low, the body reacts.  Common symptoms of deficiency include insomnia, fatigue, and irritability, but the body can also respond in more unusual ways.  Here are three strange signs that may indicate vitamin deficiency. 

People concerned about vitamin deficiency should visit a health care professional for blood tests.

1.  Muscle Cramps

People who experience muscle cramps in the legs, calves, feet, or toes may be deficient in magnesium, calcium, and/or potassium.  Adding some mineral rich foods to the shopping cart can help.  Load up on nuts and seeds like almonds, hazel nuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Try fruits like apples, bananas, cherries, and grapefruit and vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, kale, and spinach.

2.  Tingly Hands and Feet

Certain vitamins help ensure good nerve health like B6, B9 (folate), and B12.  When the hands and feet feel pins-and-needles tingly, a deficiency of these important B vitamins may be indicated.  Additional symptoms may include anxiety, depression, or fatigue.  For relief, stock up on asparagus, beets, clams, mussels, oysters, and poultry as well as pinto, black, kidney, or lima beans.

Related:  How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

3.  Hair loss

Vitamin deficiency is responsible for hair loss in some people.  Those who are noticing more hair than usual in the shower drain may want to reevaluate their diet.  Low levels of iron or vitamin D may be to blame.  A study from Cairo University found that women suffering from telogen effluvium (TE) and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) showed low levels of these two nutrients, and the lower the levels, the more hair was lost. 

While the best way to get vitamin D is through the sun's rays, good food sources include wild-caught salmon and fortified milk and orange juice.  Foods high in iron include clams, eggs, liver, oysters, and spinach. People should always get their iron from foods first and consult with a medical professional before taking iron supplements.

The best way to avoid vitamin deficiency and resulting symptoms is to eat a well-balanced diet.  Taking a daily multivitamin helps fill in any nutritional gaps.  People concerned about deficiency of particular nutrients or absorption problems can speak to a medical professional for blood tests and proper treatment.

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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Heart-Healthy Foods to Add To Your Diet

by IVL Products

Even though the number of American deaths attributed to heart disease has dropped, it is still the number one cause of death for adults in this country. Good dietary choices play a key role in preserving healthy cardiac function, but instead of focusing on what you should not eat, here’s a list of heart-healthy foods that are delicious, nutritious and good for your heart and your waistline. 

There is a direct correlation between the circumference of your waistline and your risk of heart disease. Belly fat is the most dangerous to your health and the hardest to remove.

Fishing for a Healthy Heart

The catch of the day keeps the cardiologist away. Fish should be a staple in your diet; and become a replacement for processed fatty meats like hamburger, sausage and bacon.  Not only are fish a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, they have the most abundant and most easily absorbed omega-3 fatty acids. The body does not produce this essential nutrient naturally, but it does a body good.  Eating fish two to three times a week will give you plenty of it. Salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are especially high in omega-3s, so be sure to put them on the menu.

Related:  Include Fish in Your Arthritis Prevention Diet

Go Nuts

Enjoying nuts regularly is a heart-healthy idea. Almonds and walnuts are heart-healthy foods to enjoy in moderation since they are high in calories.  Adding a handful to your cereal, salad or dipping your banana in some almond butter will give you a healthy dose of omega-3s, and the unsaturated fat and fiber will keep you satisfied longer. The healthiest nuts to eat are almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts and macadamias.

Flaxseed belongs in your diet along with a variety of nuts. They are loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, which is a fancy name for omega-3. These small but mighty seeds can be ground to replace some of the fat in baked items and sprinkled on top of salads or cereal to add a little crunch with significant benefits.

Be Fruitful and Thrive

Fruits high in vitamin C and fiber are also loaded with phytonutrients to help reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation due to obesity, environmental pollution and poor diet are a leading contributor to heart muscle damage.  Berries are particularly heart-healthy foods because they are not only sweet, delicious and plentiful, but contain copious amount of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Orange-hued fruits like oranges, tangerines, peaches and cantaloupe offer plentiful amounts of potassium and magnesium.

Veg Out

Mom was right when she said, “eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” They come in so many varieties and you can eat as much as you want.  Be sure to avoid heavy cream or butter-based sauces or oily condiments.  Add these all-stars to your grocery list:

  • Asparagus – beta-carotene, folate and fiber
  • Broccoli- vitamins C and E, calcium and fiber
  • Spinach – iron, vitamins A, B2, C and K along with folate calcium, magnesium and potassium, just to name a few.

So, grill up some asparagus to pair with a salmon fillet, steam some broccoli or add a handful of spinach to your salads and you will be helping your heart and your waistline.

Carbs Count

The body cannot run on protein and fats alone. Carbohydrates are the key for high, sustaining levels of energy.  Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal (toss a handful of nuts, seed and berries on top) is a great way to give your body the fuel it needs. The fiber in oatmeal will keep you feeling satisfied longer and keep cholesterol levels in check.  Steel cut is best and avoid instant varieties loaded with sugar.  

Enjoy Dessert

Yes, a heart-healthy diet includes dessert! It’s been called the fourth food group for good reason. Dark chocolate made from 70% cocoa is one of the healthiest treats you can eat. A one-ounce square daily offers soluble fiber, antioxidants, iron, magnesium and potassium, zinc and selenium. These are all nutrients that contribute to a healthy heart.  Like nuts, chocolate has a lot of calories, so a little goes a long way.

Here’s To Your Heart

Hopefully reading this has encouraged you to add these foods to your grocery list.  There are many other heart-healthy foods you can work into the mix, and consider supplements as an additional way to pump up your daily vitamin and mineral consumption.  

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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Women’s Top Five Health Concerns

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

#1 Heart Disease

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

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

Related:  Yoga Lowers Fatigue and Inflammation in Breast Cancer Survivors

#2 Breast Cancer

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

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

#3 Osteoporosis

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

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

#4 Depression

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

#5 Autoimmune Diseases

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

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Sex and Menopause: Is it Normal to Lose Desire?

by Health News

Unfortunately, it’s a common myth that people age their sex drive takes a dive. While it may be true that some women’s sexual desire may decline following menopause, for the majority of women, desire does not decline.  In fact, a survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons, (AARP ) reported that 57% of women said they considered a satisfying sexual relationship to be one of the most important factors in terms of quality of life. Only 36% agreed with the statement that sex is less important as people age. In fact, sexual desire and satisfaction may increase after menopause. With factors such as children moving out of the home, no chance of unwanted pregnancy, no interruptions due to menstrual periods, and the deeper self-awareness and wisdom that comes with age, many women are pleased to experience their sexual drive and enjoyment actually blossoming.  

How to stay healthy and keep your sex life humming!

What Causes Desire to Wane?

If you find that your desire has shifted into low gear after fifty, a simple physical issue such as lower levels of estrogen is rarely the full explanation. Sex drive is complex and multifaceted. It is influenced by physical issues, and also by psychological, emotional, and relationship concerns; and even cultural beliefs.

Physical Problems: Your overall health and well-being—independent of hormonal levels—plays a significant role in your libido. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, underactive thyroid, depression, and bladder problems; or chronic pain and fatigue, can dramatically decrease sexual desire.  Add to that list: drug use, smoking, and certain prescription medications including tranquilizers, sedatives, steroids, antihistamines, antidepressants and peptic ulcer medication.  

The only biological condition that is clearly linked to a woman’s desire for sex is vaginal dryness. Lack of lubrication can cause pain, muscular spasms, and difficulty reaching orgasm. Lower estrogen levels are a major issue, but there are other contributors to this condition, including certain prescription medications; chemically treated sanitary products and synthetic underwear; and chemical deodorants, douches, and perfumes. The side effects of the treatment of certain health conditions can also lead to excessive dryness, especially treatments for cancer including radiation, chemotherapy, and estrogen-blocking drugs.

Related:  Is Your Lack of Sex Drive Due to Low T?

Psychological and Emotional Factors: The fire of desire can also be dampened by a variety of psychological and emotional factors. The most common include:

  • Excess stress. Around the time of menopause, a number of significant sources of stress often converge at one time. They may include raising teenagers, being a caregiver for an elderly parent, job-related issues, and marriage or relationship tensions.
  • Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Self-esteem issues. Being uncomfortable or self-conscious about your weight, aging body, or health problems can cause you to feel less attractive and desirable.
  • How you feel about your partner.  If you are upset with or feel distant from your partner, your desire for them won’t be burning. Likewise, your appetite for your partner may be poor if you find their bedroom skills disappointing. One third of women in the AARP study who reported having no sexual problems, said they had previously had problems, but when they changed partners, the issue went away.
  •  Beliefs about sex and aging. If you believe it is normal to lose sexual desire as you age, then more than likely, you will lose it.

Getting Your Mojo Back

If your lack of libido is due to physical issues, the best approach is to work on improving your health. There are no short cuts, quick fixes, or magic pills. Good health only comes from good habits, which include: 

  • Eating a diet high in organically produced fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and supplemental omega-3 fatty acids
  • Exercising daily—even brisk walking can do wonders for your sex drive, as well as the rest of your health
  • Getting enough quality rest by going to sleep by 10 p.m. and rising before 6 a.m.
  • Practicing effective stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises
  • Keeping your weight ideal—either being significantly overweight or underweight can have a tremendous negative impact on your health

Improving Vaginal Dryness

If you suffer with vaginal dryness, there are many approaches that can improve or reverse the condition. The typical western medicine course of treatment consists of topical estrogens. Although they can increase your risk of breast cancer, the relative risk of topical estrogens compared to oral hormone replacement therapy is much less. I recommend always trying natural approaches first. Studies show that certain foods high in phytoestrogens, such as soy and flax seeds, can help reduce vaginal dryness without increasing your risk of breast cancer. The herbs black cohosh and ginseng have been documented by several studies to improve vaginal moisture. Vitamin E vaginal suppositories and supplemental oral omega-7 fatty acids (from a plant called Sea buckthorn) can also be of benefit. The holistic system of medicine Ayurveda recommends topical aloe vera gel and coconut oil for vaginal dryness, and the herbs marshmallow root and Shatavari for low libido.

Be sure to use natural lubricants without synthetic chemicals and toxins. Organic coconut oil and aloe vera are two of the best choices.