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Lack of Appetite: Four Typical Causes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

1.  Chronic Disease

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

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

2.  Hypothyroidism

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

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

Related:  Three Hormonal Causes of Depression

3.  Medications

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

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

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

4.  Depression

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

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

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

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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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What is Heart Disease?

by Health News

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

Avoid this by learning about what is heart disease

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

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

Atherosclerosis and Heart Attack

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

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

Related:  Heart Health Supplements

Life Changes after Heart Attack or Stroke

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

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

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

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

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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. 

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Dangers of Screen Time for Kids

by IVL Products

Cell phones, mobile devices, computers, video games, internet and TV – children today are surrounded by media. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children spend an average seven hours a day watching on-screen entertainment, so they recommend limiting screen time for kids

Too much screen time for kids can be more harmful than you think

Here are just a few dangers that responsible parents need to consider:

Lack of exercise

Sitting stationary indoors for hours at a time replaces the time when children naturally should be playing outdoors, running around and getting fresh air and exercise. Too much screen time for kids inevitably means that they are losing out in other ways that may be better for their health and social behavior.

Attention problems

Studies have shown that excessive media can lead to problems with concentration and attention. It is particularly important for young children to learn and interact with real people, not from screens and TV. Their brains are developing rapidly, so the AAP recommends avoiding or limiting screen time for kids under the age of two. A recent U.S. study by the Journal of Pediatrics found that children aged 1-3 who watched TV developed significant attention problems by the time they were seven.

Sleep issues

A study into media use and child sleep found that media can negatively affect a child's natural sleep particularly if it contains violent scenes or is viewed before bedtime. Specialists suggest monitoring content carefully and removing TVs from children’s' bedrooms.

Eating disorders

Media viewing can encourage snacking on junk food in response to junk food ads. Eating while watching TV can also distract so that children are unaware of what they have eaten and want to eat again.

Obesity

Every hour a child spends watching TV is associated with an additional 167 calories and raised blood pressure. Snacks and sweet drinks while they are entertained, coupled with a complete lack of physical exercise to burn off excess calories means that children quickly put on an unhealthy amount of weight. From the age they can walk, children should be active and mobile for at least three hours a day.

Trouble at school

A child's behavior and development are highly influenced by what they see and attention problems can be sourced back to watching TV during pre-school development. Pediatricians also report an increased risk of disengagement, poor skills and inability to express empathy, in children who have too much screen time for natural behavioral skills to develop.

Related:  Supplementing Children's Diets with Fish Oil

Limiting screen time for kids

Suggested controls for avoiding too much screen time for kids includes providing books, board games and other amusements, establishing a "screen-free" zone in the home, turning TV off during dinner and limiting screen time for kids to no more than two hours a day. 

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Three Best Ways to Lose Weight Naturally

by Health News

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 62% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.  Consequently, over 100 million Americans are currently on diets, and revenue brought in by the U. S. weight loss industry tops $20 billion.  People continue to the hunt for a magic pill or potion for shedding extra pounds, but a few ingredients found in any grocery store offer some of the best ways to lose weight naturally.

Simply adding fiber to the diet makes one of the easiest and best ways to lose weight.

Probiotics

A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition showed encouraging results for women looking to lose weight.  Researchers asked 125 overweight men and women to follow a 12-week diet plan and an additional 12 weeks of maintenance.  Half of the participants also took daily probiotic supplements, and the other half took a placebo.

Results showed that women subjects who took probiotics lost almost twice as much weight as women who took a placebo.  During the maintenance period, women taking probiotics continued to lose weight, while women taking the placebo plateaued.  Surprisingly, the probiotics had no effect on the weight of the male subjects.

Fiber

A long-term study from the University of Massachusetts shows that simply adding fiber to the diet makes one of the easiest and best ways to lose weight.  Researchers asked 240 overweight people with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol) to go on the American Heart Association (AHA) diet or to add at least 30 grams of fiber to their regular daily diet in the form of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

After one year, both groups lost similar amounts of weight, and the people in the fiber group showed similar reductions in blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels as the people in the AHA group.  This study shows that making one easy change (adding fiber to the diet) works as well as a strict eating plan for promoting weight loss and better overall health.

Related:  Green Tea: A- Promising Anti-Cancer Superfood

Green Tea

A number of studies show the fat and weight-reducing effects of green tea, especially when combined with exercise.  A study on mice at Penn State University showed that those who consumed decaffeinated green tea and exercised regularly showed significant reductions in body weight and better overall health. 

A group of mice on a high-fat diet ingested green tea extract and engaged in regular exercise for 16 weeks.  Following the research period, these mice showed an average reduction in body mass of 27.1% and an average reduction in abdominal fat of 36.6%.  Additional health benefits included reductions in blood glucose, plasma insulin levels, and insulin resistance, all factors which relate to diabetic health.

With a growing number of overweight people, weight loss has become a multi-billion dollar industry.  While special vitamins and costly exercise equipment boast big results, sometimes the best ways to lose weight are simple and inexpensive.  Find probiotics, fiber, or green tea at any grocery store or your favorite natural supplements website. 

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The Effects of a Poor Diet on Your Heart

by Cindy Gray

“You are what you eat,” is as true now as it was generations ago when the saying became popular.  A poor diet wreaks havoc on your entire body, but one area in particular that takes a beating is your heart.  

A poor diet can negatively impact the health of your heart.

First there was the low-fat diet craze, followed by the low-carb diet.  Despite all the natural fat in many foods being replaced by partially hydrogenated oils, also knows as trans fats, heart disease continued to top the list as the number one killer of men and women.  We all went on a low-carb diet to reduce our cholesterol and lose weight since fat-free didn’t seem be working and suddenly steak and bacon were back on the menu.  Little did we know, until now, that diet fads would cause more harm than good.

Research over the past decade has found that trans fats, the kind used in most processed foods, is the real killer.  All those low-carb foods were loaded with sugar so we could choke them down. Now we know the combination of highly processed foods loaded with sugar and trans fats are literally killing us.

Related:  Heart Health—The Benefits of Meditation

A nutrient poor diet high in trans fats, lots of sugar that send blood glucose levels soaring and copious amounts of sodium is linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.  Notice this theme:  poor diet leads to weight gain, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which all increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Eat Hearty Meals

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent these illnesses from happening in the first place.  What you eat can have a profound effect on your heart in a simple and delicious way.

Replacing fast foods and highly processed foods with healthy fats and foods with abundant vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will help stave off high blood pressure, bad cholesterol build up and prevent strokes and heart disease from developing.   Opt for fish like salmon, cod, herring or trout twice a week.  Choose lean cuts of chicken, pork and beef over those marbled with fat; keep portions sizes to about the size of your fist, and only eat them once or twice a week.

Nature provides in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only do these foods have a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they are low-fat, contain healthy glucose that does not lead to sugar-spikes and then crashes, and are full of fiber. Eating them instead of processed foods will help you keep your weight in check. You will not only feel good, but look that way too.

Heart Supplements

It is nearly impossible to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need to keep your ticker in tip-top shape.  A combination of a healthy diet and taking supplements is necessary to meet your dietary health goals each day.  Choosing a supplement with fish oil, Resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and quercetin is an easy way to get these heart healthy substances into your body every day.

Trading a nutrient poor diet for one that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but low in trans fats and carbs, will help promote longevity and a healthy heart. 

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Seven Symptoms of Poor Nutrition

by Cindy Gray

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adequate nutrition is the foundation of good health.  What we eat affects our physical, emotional, and mental health.  Poor nutrition results from insufficient amounts of food, an overabundance of food, or foods with low nutritive value.  All three result in insufficient nutrients, which can lead to seven symptoms of poor nutrition. These include tooth decay, anemia, depression, beriberi, constipation, diabetes, and stroke.   

 Avoid symptoms of poor nutrition by eating proper amounts and proper types of food.

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the most common symptoms of poor nutrition and one of the easiest to manage.  Avoiding foods like cake, candy, and dried fruits that stick to the teeth helps discourage tooth decay.  Dentists recommend replacing these foods with raw veggies, nuts, plain yogurt, cheese, and sugarless gum or candy.  Overeating also contributes to tooth decay because it creates more opportunities for oral bacteria to develop.  Cutting back on snacking helps prevent these opportunities.

2. Anemia

A diet low in iron, folate, and/or vitamin B12 can result in a reduced blood cell count or nutritional anemia.  Physical characteristics include pale skin, fatigue, and weakness.  Treatment includes vitamin supplements and foods rich in minerals like meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and fortified cereals.

3. Beriberi

Eating a normal, healthy diet should provide the body plenty of thiamine.  Bodies that don't get enough thiamine can develop beriberi.  Because many foods in the U. S. are vitamin-enriched, beriberi is rare.  It does show up in people who abuse alcohol because excessive alcohol limits the absorption of certain nutrients in the body, including thiamine.

4. Constipation

A number of poor dietary choices can cause constipation including eating foods high in animal fats like dairy products, meats, and eggs, or those high in sugar and low in fiber.  Inadequate amounts of water and drinking too much caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate the body, which also leads to constipation.

Related:  Dangers of Laxative Overuse For Chronic Constipation

5. Diabetes

When the body is unable to produce enough or any insulin it causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood, or diabetes.  Many experts attribute the development of type 2 diabetes to overeating and too little exercise.  In addition to engaging in more physical activity, people looking to avoid type 2 diabetes should add foods to the diet that help stabilize blood sugars like whole grains, beans, vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits.

6. Stroke

Because it can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, an unhealthy diet elevates risks for stroke.  Experts typically recommend plenty of low-fat, low-sugar, and high-fiber foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains.  Too much sodium raises blood pressure, so people should limit daily salt consumption to no more than 6 g (about one teaspoon).

7. Depression

In addition to physical symptoms, there are mental symptoms of poor nutrition.  Food patterns like poor appetite, skipping meals, and cravings for sweet foods can contribute to the onset, duration, and severity of depression.  Taking measures to eliminate these patterns may help offer relief.

Conclusion

When it comes to the health, nutrition plays a key role.  People can prevent symptoms of poor nutrition by eating proper amounts and proper types of food.  A nutritious, well-balanced diet contains:

  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Healthy fats 

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Top Three Supplements to Heal Vision Problems

by Cindy Gray

Some vision loss is normal as we age. However, you can help preserve good vision and ward off cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and vision problems by eating foods and taking supplements with three important nutrients.

Vision problems can be tackled with the right supplements

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Around the world more than 25 million people are affected by cataracts or AMD, which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55 in western society.  Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that filter damaging high-energy blue wavelengths of light.

Cataracts are caused by oxidation of the lens in the eye making it cloudy. Lutein and zeaxanthin act like antioxidants in the eye, helping to neutralize the free radicals that cause cataracts and maintain healthy eye cells. Recent research even found that combining vitamin E with lutein and zeaxanthin decreased the risk of developing cataracts even more. 

The human body does not synthesize these nutrients so we have to get them through our diet and supplements. The best sources are green leafy vegetables like:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Corn
  • Green peas
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Eggs
  • Oranges

Astaxanthin

This red pigment that comes from marine algae is getting a lot of buzz as one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants could be very beneficial for warding off vision problems.

Age, diabetes, glaucoma and other degenerative eye diseases affect millions of Americans each year. Other contributors to vision problems are exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, inflammation and glycation (when sugar in the blood stream attaches to proteins forming harmful new molecules).  Taking astaxanthin has shown to protect retinal cells, reduce oxidative stress and slow down advanced AMD.  It also helps restore normal pressure in the eye when glaucoma has caused a dangerous billed up of fluid and pressure there.

Taking astaxanthin with lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown in research studies to improve visual acuity and contrast detection in people with early signs of AMD.

RelatedParsley for Macular Degeneration and Vision Problems

Seeing Is Believing

If you are over the age of 55, have a history of glaucoma or cataracts in your family, taking these three supplements could help you keep vision problems at bay. If you are already showing symptoms of AMD, cataracts or other vision problems, these three supplements in conjunction with prescription medications could help heal your sight.

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Antioxidants and Vision Health - Three Factors That Could Affect Your Vision

by IVL Products

What you eat may have a significant effect your vision. Research by the National Eye Institute (NEI) found eating foods and supplements with antioxidants and vision health are very closely related.

Antioxidants and vision health are very much connected

Here are some of the different foods and supplements loaded with antioxidants to help assist the body for improved vision health.

1. Taking Supplements

Losing visual acuity is a normal and largely unavoidable result of natural aging.  Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes nearly 10 million Americans to suffer permanent vision loss. Approximately two million cataract extractions (surgery) are performed annually. In some people, AMD causes a slow loss of vision over a long period of time, while for others it can cause a rapid loss in vision.

 In the NEI study, antioxidant vitamins and zinc supplements “reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25% in the study subjects who were at a high risk for developing the advanced stage of this disease.”

The study went on to say that those in the high-risk group for AMD taking the supplement also reduced vision loss by approximately 19%.  The researchers concluded that taking supplements with high doses of antioxidants could be a very effective way to could delay progression of AMD, especially those who are already at a high risk for developing it like:

  • Those over the age of 55
  • Anyone who has a family history of the disease
  • People who have high blood pressure
  • Those who are obese
  • Smokers

If you are at risk for age-related macular degeneration or cataracts, eating a diet rich in antioxidants could save your sight!

2. Free Radical Exposure

It should come as no surprise that eating foods with antioxidants and vision health are related.  The research and medical community has long known that antioxidants are the number one way to slow down the aging process from deep inside the body to the outer most layer of the skin.

Free radicals, those cells that made up of a molecule with an oddly-unpaired electron, are very unstable molecules that have lost an electron. They then attack the nearest stable molecule with a full set of electrons in its outer shell, stealing an electron, and rendering the mugged molecule unstable.  This can cause a chain reaction that eventually disrupts the viability of a living cell.  Free radical damage accumulates with age and is sped up by lifestyle factors like smoking, excessive sun exposure, and environmental pollutants.

Antioxidants are nutrients that neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons and ending its electron-thievery.

Eye cells are delicate and years of free radical exposure can cause them to begin dying off, leading to vision loss and even total blindness.

RelatedThe Eyes are the Mirrors of your Health

3. Proper Diet

There are three main antioxidant vitamins: vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, which are converted by the body into vitamin A.  Many fruits and vegetables contain these vital nutrients that could greatly reduce your chances of AMD and other eye-related diseases.

Berries

Blue, black, raspberry, cranberry, and strawberries are a sweet way to get a healthy dose of antioxidants everyday.  Besides vitamins C and E, they also have other health benefits to benefit the entire body, so toss them in your breakfast cereal, salads and yogurt and you could be seeing “berry” well into your golden years.

Prunes

These are not just something your grandmother eats to stay regular anymore. These dark purple gems ranked the highest in antioxidants according to a Kansas State University Study. They may not look pretty, but if you are not eating them regularly, you won’t be able to see them anyway.

Walnuts and Pecans

A mere ounce of these tree nuts has an ample amount of antioxidants in cholesterol- and sugar-free bite-sized portions that are great companions alongside the aforementioned berries in many dishes. You would be nuts not to add them into your diet on a regular basis.

Spinach

This dark leafy green is not only a great source of antioxidants (fresh or cooked) but it also boasts a dose of iron, too.  In addition, kale, Brussels sprouts and even broccoli are rich in antioxidant power for healthy peepers.

Artichoke Hearts

These weird looking plants don’t resemble anything edible, but dig deep to get at the heart of the matter and you will be getting a good dose of antioxidants, along with fiber and other vitamins and minerals.

Green Tea

Tea for two, please—your left and right eye, that is.  This light, mild tasting beverage that is delicious served hot or cold is an easy way to sip a few antioxidants into your diet. If tea is not your thing, good old-fashioned coffee runs a close second in the category of best beverages with antioxidants for the eyes.

Eye Heart Supplements

The NEI study found that most Americans’ diets fall far short of the levels of antioxidants necessary to slow down age-related macular eye disease.  It can be difficult enough to include the abundance of fruits and vegetables needed to get the necessary antioxidants to be effective against vision loss, but with such strong research linking antioxidants and vision health, adding a supplement to your daily routine just makes good sense. See?

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The Many Ways Spirulina Benefits the Health

by Health News

With a shift toward health and wellness on the rise, many people are on the hunt for more nutritious foods.  It doesn't get much more nutritious than spirulina.  This blue-green algae is chock full of important nutrients.  Spirulina is sustainable and provides more nutrition per acre than any other type of food.  With 18 amino acids and 62 percent pure protein, it makes a good food choice for vegetarians and vegans.  Because the protein is 95 percent digestible, spirulina benefits people with gastrointestinal issues as well. 

Spirulina offers an abundance of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin B6, biotin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12 and important minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, and phosphorus.  If that weren't enough, spirulina also delivers important enzymes, essential fatty acids, and carotenoids like beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein.  Packed with so many nutrients, it's not surprising this green superfood is often the subject of scientific research.

Allergy and Infection

By stopping the release of histamines, spirulina may offer a protective effect against allergy symptoms according to a number of preliminary test tube and animal studies.  Research in the laboratory also shows that spirulina boosts the production of antibodies that help ward off certain types of infection and chronic disease.  Studies continue to determine if spirulina helps prevent allergies and infection in people.  

Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

A study published in Lipids Health Digest showed that spirulina benefits cholesterol and blood pressure.  Without making any other changes to diet or lifestyle, 36 people consumed 4.5 grams of spirulina each day.  After six weeks, subjects showed lower readings for total cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and body fat. 

Related:  Workout Tips to Lower Blood Pressure

Oral Cancer

People who chew tobacco sometimes develop white or gray precancerous lesions called leukoplakia.  One placebo-controlled study examined the effects of spirulina on these lesions in 77 tobacco chewers.  After taking spirulina supplements for one year, 45 percent of the subjects showed total regression of leukoplakia.  Several animal studies have also indicated that intervention with spirulina results in tumor regression.

Eye Disease

Due to nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, many experts believe spirulina benefits could extend to eye health, especially if combined with astaxanthin, another eye health nutrient.  More research is needed to verify these beliefs. 

Conclusion

Due to a wide range of wholesome nutrients and many proven health benefits, more people than ever are making spirulina part of their dietary plan.  Powdered spirulina makes a popular ingredient in green smoothies, or people can purchase dried spirulina in tablet form.  Before beginning any supplementary regimen, it is wise to consult with a health care provider, especially if on prescribed medication.

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Antioxidants and Heart Health

by Health News

Oxygen is necessary for important body functions like respiration and metabolism, but when oxygen reacts with some body tissues, it creates harmful free radicals.  These unstable molecules steal electrons from other molecules, which can result in tissue damage.  An overabundance of free radicals has been associated with a number of health problems including heart disease.  Fortunately, potent antioxidants like vitamin C and resveratrol help neutralize free radicals and keep body tissues healthy.  Learning more about antioxidants and heart health may result in a few new additions to the grocery cart and a healthier body. 

Because antioxidants and heart health go hand in hand, people may want to load up on citrus fruits and red grapes.

Vitamin C offers a number of benefits to heart health.  The powerful antioxidant helps keep blood pressure under control and is linked to lower levels of lipoproteins associated with stroke.  By neutralizing free radicals, vitamin C helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, and contributes to lower cholesterol by helping to repair damaged arterial walls.

Studies on antioxidants and heart health show excellent results for vitamin C.  One study found that men who consume at least 300 mg of vitamin C daily lower chances of dying from heart disease by 40 percent.  

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Supplement: Resveratrol

Resveratrol

Certain foods like red grapes contain a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol.  Experts suggest that it may help reduce chances for heart disease by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or what many people refer to as "bad" cholesterol.  A review study published in Cardiovascular Drug Review links regular consumption of resveratrol to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, healthier blood vessels, and fewer blood clots in animals, but more human studies are needed. 

Conclusion

When it comes to antioxidants and heart health, two in particular appear to offer preventative benefits:  vitamin C and resveratrol.  People can obtain vitamin C from dietary supplements or from fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, cantaloupe, pomegranates, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.  In addition to red grapes, other foods that contain resveratrol include blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts.  People can also get daily doses of resveratrol through dietary supplements. 

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

 

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Five Natural Supplements for Brain Health

by IVL Products

Some people believe that cognitive decline is an inevitable part of aging, but people stay sharp well into their golden years with the correct dietary supplements.  Studies show that nourishment directly affects brain performance, and brain decline can be delayed, or even reversed with the consumption of natural supplements for brain health.  Discover five supplements that help support a sharp and healthy brain

brain health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), promote good brain health.  In a study published in Neurology, researchers examined 1,575 people with an average age of 67 who were free of dementia.  Subjects underwent tests for omega-3 blood levels and mental function and had MRI brain scans.  Researchers found that subjects with lower levels of DHA showed lower brain volume than subjects with higher levels of DHA, and they scored lower on tests for abstract thinking, processing, and visual memory.  Fish oil supplements make a great daily source of omega-3 fats.

Curcumin

According to an animal study published in Biogerontology, the natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its golden color may help improve cognition.  During the course of the study, old female lab rats were given either curcumin or corn oil daily.  Animals were then given behavioral (maze) tests and were tested for blood levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker for oxidative stress.  Results showed that rats receiving curcumin performed better on behavioral tests and showed less MDA in the blood.

Phosphatidylserine

The chemical compound phosphatidylserine (PS) is found in many parts of the body, but the highest concentrations exist in the brain.  One of the most heavily-researched natural supplements for brain health, PS has been found to promote healthy memory and cognitive function.  One study tracked 51 people from 55-75 years of age over a 12-week period giving half of the subjects 300 mg of PS daily and the other half a placebo.  Subjects who took PS were better able to remember names and details of the previous day or past weeks and had an easier time locating misplaced objects.

Vinpocetine

Derived from vincamine, an alkaloid found in the periwinkle plant, vinpocetine is said to help dilate blood vessels and improve brain function.  Early research suggests that vinpocetine may improve symptoms of a number of conditions including age-related memory problems, Alzheimer's disease, clinical depression, and vascular dementia.  People with low blood pressure, bleeding or seizure disorders, or liver or kidney damage should not take vinpocetine.

Related:  Meditation Rewires Your Brain

Huperzine A

Derived from the plant Chinese club moss, huperzine A is an alkaloid that blocks cholinesterase, a compound that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  Because acetylcholine helps promote learning, memory, and other brain functions, taking a supplement that fosters its production naturally boosts brain health.

Conclusion

Many people worry about declining cognitive function as they age.  Fortunately, natural supplements for brain health help slow age-related cognitive decline.  Omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, phosphatidylserine, vinpocetine, and huperzine A possess chemicals and compounds that promote varying brain functions, from abstract thinking to learning to memory.  To avoid possible complications or interactions, people should consult with a health care practitioner before beginning a supplementary regimen.

30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge

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Fish-Free Wrinkle Free: The Vegetarian Answer to Omega-3s

by Health News

With supplements and a few additions to your shopping list, you can find fish-free omega-3 foods that will enhance your anti-aging diet, yet still honor your choice to live a vegetarian lifestyle. There are a lot of plant sources with essential nutrients to help keep you young, vibrant, and vegetarian!

Walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids and help you get essential nutrients into your anti-aging diet.

Power Plants

Mother Nature offers so many healthy ways to get your much needed fish-free omega-3s and other nutrients. Here are a few:

Flax

Grinding the seeds and adding them to cookie, bread, or muffin recipes is one method to get flaxseed into your diet.  Research shows that ground flax can be used in baked goods without losing their desired health benefits, such as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids as long as you keep the oven temperature at 300 degrees Fahrenheit—or less.

Flax offers other health benefits like phytonutrients called lignans, which are antioxidants, something essential for maintaining youthful energy levels and glowing skin. As little one ounce of flaxseed can help keep obesity at bay, improve circulation and lower blood pressure.

Barley

Barley is a delicious, nutty flavored and versatile cereal grain with lots of health benefits.  It is chock full of manganese, fiber, selenium, copper, vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin, just to name a few of its wonderful nutrients.

The selenium in barley make it a great anti-aging food because it strengthens metabolic pathways for a healthier immune system and lowers your risk of developing some cancers, something essential for keeping you feeling young and vibrant at any age.

Related:  Vegans May Benefit From Supplements of Omega 3s and Vitamin B12

Soy Lecithin

Lecithin is produced in the liver and makes up an important part of the mucus layer in our large intestines.   It’s made up of three fat-soluble molecules that are the building blocks of cell membranes that facilitate cell communication and keep cells from sticking to each other.

Soybeans are a good source of lecithin and beneficial as a meat-free food that helps keep your liver healthy by emulsifying (breaking down) fatty deposits that can lead to high cholesterol, liver and cardiovascular disease.

Seaweed

Seaweed offers nutrients from the ocean not found in land-based greens.  It has long been a part of the diet of many Asian cultures and should be in your anti-aging diet plan.

Seaweed is a great source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and it can help regulate estrogen and estradiol levels. Those two hormones can help women lower their risk of developing breast cancer.

One nutrient that is missing from many diets and is in few foods is iodine. Seaweed is rich in iodine, which is essential for keeping your thyroid healthy. Since thyroid problems are a common problem as we age eating more seaweed salad is good idea.

Walnuts

If you are vegetarian you would be nuts not to be eating walnuts regularly. When consumed whole with the skin still on them you get a healthy dose of:

  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Biotin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Numerous research over the last few decades have shown walnuts to help lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or suffering a metabolic disorder.  Walnuts are also rich sources of antioxidants, help reduce inflammation, and support collagen production, which keeps skin smooth and wrinkle free.

No Need to Fish for Compliments

Adding these foods to your shopping list to round out an effective anti-aging diet is a smart way for anyone looking to get fish free omega-3s and other essential nutrients without eating meat.  

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Detox for Clear Skin

by Cindy Gray

Detoxify for clear and healthy skinIf acne, wrinkles or cellulite have you feeling self-conscious and miserable, don’t despair! You can clear up your blemishes, smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and send cellulite packing with some herbs and supplements that can help you detox for clear skin.

First, here are some of the obvious things you should be doing to keep your skin clear, smooth and glowing:

  • Get enough sleep every night
  • Exercise
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Stop smoking
  • Wash your face before going to sleep

So now that you have sworn up and down to do all of the above, hasten the detox for clear skin with these gifts from Mother Nature:

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is an herb with anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants and soothes irritation.  Taking it can help your intestines and bowels stay healthier, which is essential for getting rid of toxic substances and bacteria.  This helps reduce the bacteria that can cause acne, and helps to reduce the redness and irritation of a breakout—plus it helps keep more breakouts from occurring.

A known blood purifier, milk thistle improves circulation to the skin and its demulcent properties help form a protective layer over skin cells to protect them from environmental damage.

Artichokes

Actually it’s the leaves, not the heart of an artichoke, where most of its powerful health benefits can be found.

As an antioxidant, artichoke can help reverse sun damage and encourage healthy cell regeneration.  It also helps reduce inflammation, and is a rich source of peptides that work to improve the texture of your skin to smooth away wrinkles and improve circulation.

Dandelion

Strangely enough, this noxious weed that spreads over your lawn is good for something.  Dandelion is a good source of beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A, a known friend to skin. It also has vitamins C and D, along with a host of B-complex vitamins.

Dandelion has been the foe of green thumbs everywhere, but for thousands of years it was used to treat scurvy, skin problems like rashes, and even blood disorders.  Eating dandelion can help reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and lower blood pressure.

Finally, dandelion is a mild diuretic, meaning it helps the kidneys flush out excess waste and water from the system; and helps to inhibit microbial growth in the urinary tract system.  When you feel good, you look good.

Related:  Five Fabulous Oils to Remove Wrinkles

Blessed Thistle

Seen in nature, blessed thistle looks wicked and spikey, but those are indicative of its detoxification powers. Blessed thistle has two anti-microbial compounds in it that are very beneficial to skin because it helps the body battle bad bacteria.

Blessed thistle also helps reduce inflammation and is beneficial to the liver so it can more efficiently remove toxins from the blood that contribute to skin problems.  The astringent properties of blessed thistle also makes it a natural remedy to treat boils and skin ulcers.

Methionine

Methionine is an essential fatty acid with many health benefits for the body and skin. It helps the body eliminate fat build up in the tissues to make cellulite less noticeable.

Methionine also supports liver function, critical to removing the toxins that find their way into our bodies.  It is essential to collagen production, too. As we age, the production of collagen protein starts to decline and wrinkles are the result.  It’s also an anti-inflammatory and contains amino acids that aid the body in eliminating toxins, support healthy tissue and improve your cardiovascular system.

Detox and Glow

Don’t let acne, wrinkles or cellulite keep you indoors and make you blue. You can detox for clear skin for healthy, wrinkle- and cellulite-free skin, thanks to nature’s bounty.

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A Fishy Solution to Anti-Aging

by IVL Products

If you happen to enjoy fish, that’s great!  There is no better source of protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients than those found in many kinds of seafood.  To keep the hands of time from wreaking havoc on your health, a good anti-aging diet should include a variety of fish. 

Omega-3 fatty acids for anti-aging

We are swimming in a sea of information touting the myriad health benefits of salmon and trout.  It’s true, because they are such a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but there are many other types of healthy choices available when it comes to selecting seafood.

Catch of the Day

How much fish should you eat a week? What about fish oil supplements?  Getting the right amount of fish in your diet through regular food and supplements is really quite easy.

Most health experts recommend adults eat between one to three servings of fish per week. That is not always possible, so supplementing your diet with fish oil capsules is a good idea. Taking supplements of 1,000-2,000 mg of fish oil a day is safe, healthy and an easy way to ensure you are getting enough of the two essential fatty acids so beneficial for anti-aging: EPA and DHA.

What’s In It for You?

EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids not naturally produced by our bodies. They are called essential fatty acids because they are critical to maintaining good health, and you can only get them through food and supplements.

Omega-3s are essential for:

  • Normal cognitive function
  • Blood circulation
  • Healthy Skin

Fish consumption is widely recommended by healthcare professionals because of research showing a diet rich in fish and fish oil supplements decreases the level of triglyceride (fat) in the blood which lowers your risk of developing coronary disease, a common affliction that comes with age. 

Eating fish also helps you maintain a healthy weight, lowers blood pressure, and helps your hair to grow longer, thicker and stronger, too.

Related:  Healthy Recipes: Make Fish For Dinner

Little Fish in a Big Pond

Of course, salmon, cod, trout, and tilapia are good choices, but variety is the spice of life and there are other fish that you can make part of your anti-aging diet that are versatile, healthy, and delicious.

Anchovies

Anchovies are small but mighty fish food! You only need a few to add intense flavor to salad dressing, sauces, pizza, or to pasta.  They taste salty rather than fishy when mixed into sauces and dressings.

Packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids anchovies are low in calories. They are a good choice for a fish that has little or no mercury, something large types of fish like salmon or cod are known to have, which of course, dictates that we cannot eat larger types of fish too frequently.

Sardines

It’s good to pack in sardines! These little critters are full of nutrients like EPA and DHA plus a rich source of vitamins B12, D and phosphorus. These nutrients promote cardiovascular health, strong bones, healthy teeth, and help lower risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. 

Sardines are a great source of unsaturated fat, protein, and essential amino acids that help maintain muscular strength, which is something that diminishes with age.

Pollock

Pollock is a great fish choice for its low levels of contaminants, high quality protein, flaky texture and mild flavor, making it a good choice for kids and adults. It also contains the essential fatty acids you need daily in only a 4-ounce serving.

In addition to being a great source of omega-3s and protein, Pollock has choline and vitamin B 12, which supports brain cells to slow down cognitive decline, so it makes it a good choice for any anti-aging diet.

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The Stress Menopause Connection

by IVL Products

The link between stress and menopause is well documented. It can become a vicious cycle of worsening menopausal symptoms leading to increased stress.  Jump off that debilitating merry-go-round and find natural menopause relief with a few simple changes to your diet, activity levels and outlook on life.

Studies are showing that there is a connection between stress and menopause.

The journal Menopause found in a study of over 400 women between the ages of 37 and 47 that those who reported the highest stress levels had as much as five times the hot flashes as those who women who reported less anxiety.  Even women who reported only moderate anxiety levels suffered three times more hot flashes than those who lived with less stress.

More bad news connecting stress and menopause came from a study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal that reported vaginal dryness, a common symptom of menopause due to decreased estrogen, was associated with high levels of psychological stress (not physical stress).

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Stress reduces the secretion of all sex hormones like estrogen. Women going through menopause are already experiencing a dramatic drop in estrogen production, which causes hot flashes, insomnia, depression and vaginal dryness.  Being stressed out about life situations and menopause symptoms can be debilitating and greatly affect one’s quality of life.

The Dangers of Chronic Stress

It is well known that chronic stress is not good for you. It is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, more illness and diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke and even cancer.  It makes chronic illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and diabetes worse as well. 

Add the dramatic physical changes of menopause to an already stressed out life, and you get a recipe for disaster. Your personal relationships, career, and over all sense of wellbeing can be negatively affected.  The good news is natural stress and menopause relief is available with a little effort on your part.

Diet

Your diet has so much to do with how you feel each day. Weight gain is a common side effect of menopause, so paying attention to what you eat can help you manage your stress levels and menopausal symptoms.

Foods rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, along with probiotic supplements help keep your GI tract functioning smoothly and your immunes system strong.  Suffering less sever colds, urinary tract infections (also common during menopause), gas pain and bloating will greatly reduce your stress levels. 

Being chronically run down and feeling ill is very stressful. Boosting your immune system with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, omega-3 rich foods and staying well hydrated will relieve stress and menopausal symptoms like fatigue, depression and hot flashes.

Exercise

Weight gain and insomnia are common menopause complaints.  Exercise can offset these two unpleasant symptoms and help you reduce your stress levels.  Making time every day for some physical activity is critical to managing your stress levels and menopause symptoms.

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or run a marathon, either.  A brisk walk or a few laps in the pool is all you need.  Being outside to exercise has many health benefits and makes working out less of a chore and something to look forward to.

Attitude

Your outlook on life makes a huge difference when it comes to managing stress and menopausal symptoms.  Menopause and stress are a fact of life for all women.  Accepting that and making plans to deal with both are critical for keeping your spirits high and warding off depression and other mood disorders. 

Women's Health Top Superfood Recipes

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Make Herbs Part of Your High Blood Pressure Diet Plan

by IVL Products

High blood pressure (or hypertension) affects more than 3 million people in the U. S. each year. Because it doesn't typically produce symptoms, it is often called the "silent killer."  If left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart disease or stroke. While some prescribed medications reduce blood pressure, changes in the diet can help as well.  Adding certain herbs to the grocery list makes a natural alternative for a high blood pressure diet plan

To optimize a high blood pressure diet plan, add herbs to the grocery list.

Cardamom

A plant that comes from India, cardamom is part of the ginger family and often used in South Asian cuisine.  A study examining the health benefits of cardamom found that consuming a powdered form each day for several months lowered blood pressure in study participants. Cardamom makes a good ingredient for spice rubs, soups, and stews, and it brings a delicious and unique flavor to baked goods.

Celery Seed

Celery seed makes a great addition to a high blood pressure diet plan.  Tasting and smelling like its whole vegetable counterpart, the seed has been used since ancient times to treat hypertension in China, and several studies back up its effectiveness.  People consume the seeds, seed extract, or juice the whole plant to gain benefits.  Celery seed makes a good ingredient for soups, stews, casseroles, and salads.

Related -  Natural Weight loss: Three Spices For Weight Loss

Garlic

While garlic is known for its pungent aroma and bold flavor, it also offers medicinal properties. Because the active ingredient, allicin, relaxes and dilates blood vessels, garlic may help to lower blood pressure.  A scientific review of 21 studies found that dried garlic supplements containing specific amounts of allicin consistently lowered blood pressure in the people taking it.  Garlic makes a delicious ingredient in a variety of savory dishes from pastas to soups.

Yucca

An evergreen native to North America, yucca goes by the nickname "ghosts in the graveyard" due to its tall white flowering stalks.  People consume the whole plant ─ mashed, fried, and grilled ─ or its extract as a supplement.  A study examining the anti-inflammatory effects of yucca extract found that it reduces blood pressure, cholesterol, and the incidence of migraine headaches.  Its anti-inflammatory benefits also help people with osteoarthritis, colitis, and poor circulation. 

In addition to adding flavor, certain herbs offer medicinal properties like the ability to lower blood pressure.  Cardamom, celery seed, garlic, and yucca all make good choices for a high blood pressure diet plan.  Whether using the whole herb or a supplement, consult with a health care professional first.  Used in large quantities, some herbs may interfere with certain medications or produce side effects.

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Cataract Surgery Reduces Fracture Risks

by Cindy Gray

Recent studies indicate that having cataract surgery to fix blurry vision significantly reduces the risk for fracture in patients who are 65 years old or older. The bottom line is that visual impairment such as blurry vision is a major factor in falls, which are the leading cause of fractures in the elderly. Vision plays a key role in providing a reference frame for balance and stability and cataracts impair the ability to focus.

Blurry Vision? Cataract Surgery Reduces Fracture RiskCataracts affect more than 20 million Americans. More than half of all adults will develop them by age 80, according to the National Eye Institute. Cataracts cause clouding in the lens of the eye, resulting in blurred vision. Surgery corrects the cataracts by replacing the cloudy lens with a clear artificial one.  About 3 million cataract surgeries are performed in this country each year. 

Risk factors for cataracts include heredity, advancing age, excessive exposure to ultraviolet light and cigarette smoking. People with high blood pressure and diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts and women are at higher risk than men.

While there are some factors, such as heredity, gender and age, that you can’t control, there are some proactive steps you can take to reduce your risk for developing cataracts:

Don’t smoke: Many studies have confirmed a direct link between cigarette smoking and vision problems, including cataracts. Government-sponsored studies have shown that smoking doubles your risk for cataracts and it significantly increases your chances for developing macular degeneration.

Wear sunglasses: Always wear sunglasses and a hat when you are in the sun. Prolonged UV exposure can increase your chances of developing cataracts because light that enters the eye is mainly absorbed by the cornea and the lens. Make sure the glasses you wear have lenses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays. 

Related: Top 6 Supplements for Improving Your Eyesight

Get adequate nutrition: Your daily diet should include plenty of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids as they have been shown to lower the risk for cataracts. Millions of Americans take nutritional supplements to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need to maintain vision health.

It is also important to have regular eye check-ups. While eye exams won’t prevent cataracts, they will diagnose them in their earlier, more treatable stages. Diagnostic tools include an eye chart test and eye pressure measurements which are performed by administering a small puff of air into the eye.

An overall healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, adequate rest, proper nutrition and frequent social interaction can help protect you from age-related health maladies. Make the healthy choices that protect both your health and your vision.   

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Risk+of+Fractures+Following+Cataract+Surgery+in+Medicare+Beneficiaries

http://www.nei.nih.gov

http://www.visionfoundation.org

 

 

 

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Green Tea: Food For The Brain

by Nancy Maneely

What’s not to love about a soothing hot cup of fragrant green tea?

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

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

Green Tea: Food For The Brain

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

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

Related Article: Green Tea: A Promising Anti-Cancer Superfood

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

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

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