Causes of Stress Vary from Person to Person

by Health News

While some level of stress is beneficial because it can motivate and energize us, too much of it can lead to serious health problems.  The causes of stress differ from person to person. An incident that might be extremely upsetting to one person might go totally unnoticed by another. Stress causes the body to produce excess cortisol, the hormone associated with the “fight or flight” response. Once the “stress threat” is over, cortisol levels typically return to normal.

When a person is chronically feeling stressed, cortisol levels remain high. Chronically high cortisol levels are linked to a host of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, eating disorders, muscle tension and fatigue. As some health experts put it: “Deal with your stress or it will deal with you – in harmful ways.”  In order to cope with stress, we must first understand it. There are two kinds of stress:

ACUTE STRESS: This is the type of stress is triggered by specific situations and it prepares the body to defend itself. Acute stress is associated with incidents such as job interviews, public speaking, accidents or injuries.

CHRONIC STRESS: This type of stress never really goes away. It is related to the way a person copes with the issues of everyday living such as bills, kids, job insecurity and relationship problems. It is also very common among caregivers. If left untreated, chronic stress can leads to consistently high cortisol levels that wreak havoc on the body and immune system.

To the extent that you can, remove yourself from situations and people that stress you out. While we can’t always make the causes of stress go away, we can find healthy ways to cope.  Here a few ideas:

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EXERCISE: Take a walk, go for a swim or join an exercise class.   Exercise provides physical and psychological benefits that reduce stress and boost your mood.  Learn yoga and incorporate it into your daily life, just five to 10 minutes a day is better than one hour once a week.  Yoga is a life-changing method for relaxation and breath control.  

GET YOUR REST: Inadequate rest is linked to stress and depression. It’s much easier to cope with stressful situations when you are rested.

DITCH THE GUILT: You are not a superhero and nobody (except you) expects you to be one. Learn to prioritize and say no.

HAVE SOME FUN: It can be hard to maintain your sense of humor during stressful times, but laughter truly is the best medicine. Paint, dance, sing out loud or watch a funny movie.

LEARN TO RELAX: Stressed-out people usually have difficulty relaxing. Yoga, meditation and conscious breathing techniques can help you stay calm and focused.


“B” Calm At Work: News Ways to Reduce Stress

by Cindy Gray

Long, stressed out days at the office, in traffic, and even at home is the new norm for most Americans.  Finding ways to reduce stress is critical to maintaining good health.  While it’s good to make time to meditate or go on relaxing vacations, the great news is to simply add more B vitamins to your diet and reduce stress on a daily basis!

An Australian study published in 2011 detailed a clinical trial that divided participants into two groups:  one group took a daily B complex multivitamin; and the other group took a placebo. The before and after assessment of the mood, personality traits, and work-related stress, found that the group taking the vitamin B reported significantly less personal stress.  They also reported less confusion, feelings of depression or rage, and were not as fatigued as the placebo group.

To “B” or Not To “B”?

It’s no secret that the body relies heavily on B vitamins to function properly physically and mentally.  Vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin B6 are essential for mental function.  Those who do not get enough B’s are often more irritable, have trouble focusing and report more feelings of depression or sadness. 

The human body cannot produce vitamin B12 or folic acid so we must eat foods rich in those nutrients or consume it in supplement form.  It’s best to get it from both food and supplement sources.  Fish, chicken, clams and oysters are good sources of vitamin B12.  Egg yolks, almonds, dried beans, wholegrain breads, and many fruits and vegetables contain folate, which becomes folic acid when absorbed by the body.

Meat and animal products are great sources of vitamin B12 and folic acid.  So for vegetarians and those who consume little meat, supplements are recommended, and should be combined with daily grains, fruits and vegetables.

A B (vitamin) By Any Other Name Is Still As…Healthy

Vitamin B 12 is also known as cyanocobalamin, and folic acid is the alias for B9.  Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin, pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin are all other names for B vitamins, so look for them in the list of nutrients in your supplements.

Thiamine keeps the nervous system healthy which greatly affects mood and can increase cognitive functions like memory and focus.  This can help you be more productive and focused on the job and in your work.

Niacin is important to the digestive and nervous systems. Without enough of it in your diet, you can feel more depressed, irritable and stressed out.  B6, (or pyridoxine), is important for the plentiful production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps reduce stress and feelings of anxiety while boosting the immune system. 

RelatedFor a Longer Life, Take B Vitamins

What Dosage Would B Healthiest?

It’s almost impossible to get all the B vitamins you need every day through diet alone, especially since we are a breakfast skipping, fast food nation. Taking a B-complex vitamin is one of the simplest ways to reduce stress in your job and in your life in general.

The average adult should aim for:

  • 75 mg B1 (thiamine)
  • 10 mg B2 (riboflavin)
  • 100 mg niacin
  • 68 mg B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • 25 mg B6
  • 30 mcg B12
  • 20 mcg biotin
  • 150 mcg folic acid

Don’t Worry “B” Happy

If you have been feeling irritable and more fatigued than usual, it could be that you’re not getting enough vitamin B’s in your diet.  Exit the traffic on your daily commute and pick up a bottle of B-complex vitamins and you’ll be feeling better in no time!


Looking for Ways to Reduce Stress? Try These Three Citrus Scents

by Health News

Aromatherapy has been shown to have a powerful impact on your mood. Of all the senses, smell is the one that can penetrate the brain and alter the neurochemistry within a few seconds!  This makes inhaling certain scents one of the easiest ways to reduce stress.

The Brain-Nose Connection

The sense of smell is directly connected to the limbic system, which is the most primitive part of the brain.  This section of the brain controls stress levels, blood pressure, pulse and breathing. This is also the part of the brain from where emotions stem.  So when you inhale a certain fragrance, it can affect you physically by making your breathing speed up or lower your pulse. It also affects you mentally, since an emotion becomes associated with the scent.

Throughout your lifetime you will smell millions of different scents and odors. Most will only linger in the conscious mind for a moment such as the good scent of baking bread; or the unpleasant odor of garbage. However, certain scents have shown to have an immediate effect on the brain, but they last longer, and can help to boost mood.

According to Dr. Alan R. Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, “The quickest way to change a mood state—quicker than with any other sensual modality—is with smell.”

So if you are looking for ways to reduce stress, inhaling certain fragrances could be a quick and easy way to pull you out of a funk and energize your brain and body.

The Mood Boosting Trio

So which scents are the most effective for stress reduction?  Citrus is the answer!


According to researchers at the UK’s Northumbrian University, exposure to lemon balm can improve cognitive function and improve one’s mood.  Study participants reported the lemon scent “sends you to a happy place,” which is advice often given to people in stressful situations.  Inhaling a mild lemon fragrance could be a first class ticket to your “happy place.”


It sounds vaguely exotic, but this smaller cousin to the orange with darker flesh emits a mood-boosting fragrance that can help you to relax and simultaneously can invigorate you.

While similar in health benefits, it’s helpful to know that mandarin oranges originated in China. Tangerines originated in Morocco and were exported through the port of Tangiers where they got their name.  They are often thought to be the same fruit.


Researchers at Japan’s Mei University noted that patients who inhaled an orange fragrance were able to significantly reduce the amount of anti-depressants they took.  Upon further testing, those patients who were inhaling the scent of orange regularly saw improvements to their endocrine and immune systems. 

Related:  Three Citrus Fruits to Add to Your High Blood Pressure Diet

The scent of orange not only seems to produce feelings of calm, but also promotes confidence, something that can help relieve stress in situations where you are facing the unknown.  Feeling like you can “handle it” will definitely have a calming effect on you as the scent of orange penetrates the brain and helps keep your heart rate down and your breathing even.

The Nose Knows

When you’re in a stressful situation or feeling down, and you can’t meditate or go for a calming quick walk, inhaling the fragrance of lemon, tangerine or orange can produce an immediate brain boost, making it one of the easiest ways to reduce stress in an instant. 

Your nose is a powerful link to the brain, so keep a few citrusy essential oils handy to keep calm and carry on!


Choosing Foods that Reduce Stress Improves Your Health

by IVL Products

When feeling stressed out and anxious, people often reach for vending machine junk food, huge, sugary coffee drinks, or head for the drive through of the nearest fast food joint.  That is the absolute worse thing you can do because highly processed, high fat, sugar-loaded foods can actually increase your stress levels.  Learn to easily reduce this by eating foods that reduce stress. This simple change can greatly improve your health.

Stress Mess

Caffeine found in coffee, sodas and energy drinks are a stress bomb.  The caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which responds by flooding your body with cortisol. The sugar in highly processed foods and drinks sends your blood glucose levels soaring, which causes more cortisol to start zipping through your body.

Sugar can have another wicked effect on the body by shutting down the adrenal medulla, the adrenal gland that helps your body cope with emotional and physical stress.

Related:  Does Stress Impair Memory?

Next time you are feeling tension or a little anxious, head off a full blown stress mess by avoiding the vending machine or trendy coffee shop and selecting foods that reduce stress.

Fruits and Vegetables

Asparagus - rich in folate, B vitamins in asparagus convert to folic acid and have a calming effect on the nervous system

Swiss chard – full of magnesium, chard can help the body balance cortisol levels in the body.

Bell Peppers – especially red, orange or yellow in color, these stress busters are rich in vitamin C, which helps produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, the feel good hormones

Spinach – rich in folate, spinach also contains iron and helps with keeping your immune system strong

Berriesberries are ideal foods that reduce stress, as they are full of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will give you a natural energy boost without an ugly sugar crash

Avocados –their creamy texture is a great source of heart healthy fat that keeps you energized and feeling full with vitamins and minerals to boot

Oranges – have vitamin C, folate and vitamin B6, all nutrients that help elevate your mood and keep you calm and relaxed

Dried apricots- they are rich in magnesium, which helps keep cortisol levels in check

Fruits and vegetables will boost your mood by providing hydration and nutrients that won’t send blood sugar levels soaring only to crash in about an hour.  The filling fiber staves off hunger so you can maintain focus and manage problems without sending you running for the nearest vending machine.

Additional Foods that Reduce Stress

Many other foods can help you manage stress and keep cortisol levels in check. Avoid fast food burgers and fries in favor of salmon, lean chicken or lamb, all of which have calming B vitamins.

Bread labeled multi-grain does not always contain whole grains and can cause your glucose levels to rise dramatically. Optimally, go for the gluten free grains like quinoa, millet, or rye because gluten is known to stimulate cortisol secretions in the body.

If you want to sweeten your green or chamomile tea, two natural stress-reducing beverages, reach for xylitol of stevia based sweeteners instead of chemical based ones.

Chocolate is actually one of the best foods that reduce stress. It can actually help you reduce your stress levels. A mere ounce of the dark organic kind provides potent antioxidants to help the body fight off stress damage.

Food for Combat

In the war on stress choose your weapons wisely.  Highly processed, sugary caffeinated drinks and foods that are low in fiber but high in white sugar calories are your enemies. They cannot be counted on to save you from a stress meltdown and are traitors once inside the body.

Instead, call a truce: go au natural. No, not naked, but with foods in their most natural state like raw fruits and vegetables. 

Nuts like almonds and cashews can help calm cravings and relieve stress, so keep a small pack of them around with an ounce of dark chocolate and you’ll stay cool as cucumber.


Try Controlled Breathing for Difficulty Relaxing

by Cindy Gray

With life moving at a faster pace than ever, many people have difficulty relaxing.  The inability to unwind often leads to differing physical effects.  While some people experience a build-up of tension in the arms, shoulders, or back, others feel the effects of stress in the neck, throat, or stomach.  Some people grind their teeth, feel tension in their eyes, or suffer from headaches, but almost everyone experiences reduced energy or downright fatigue as a result of built-up stress.  Whether stress targets the shoulders or stomach, controlled breathing can help ease symptoms.  

Breathing is an automatic body function regulated by the brain's respiratory center.  In the act of breathing, the body takes in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide with movement from the lungs.  The diaphragm and the muscles between the ribs control lung movement.

Related:  Breathe Your Way to Mental Clarity

When people have trouble relaxing muscles and stress builds up, the body goes into 'fight-or-flight' response and breathing changes.  Breathing often becomes shallow, and people breathe from the chest rather than the diaphragm.  Shallow breathing can upset the balance of gases in the body, prolong feelings of anxiety, and exacerbate physical symptoms of stress.  Fortunately, people have the ability to change their breathing.  Research shows that breath control helps with stress management and with stress-related conditions.

Controlled Abdominal Breathing

While there are varying breathing techniques to promote relaxation, the goal is to move from breathing with the upper chest to breathing with the abdomen.  To do this, find a quiet place free of disturbances for 10 to 20 minutes.  Sit comfortably with feet flat on the floor, and sit tall to help expand the chest.  Place one hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen, and breathe in deeply through the nose.  When breathing from the diaphragm, the chest and abdomen should be still.  Take slow, even breaths for 10 to 20 minutes, and envision the tension in various areas of the body beginning to relax. 

Additional Benefits of Controlled Breathing

In addition to easing stress for people who have difficulty relaxing, controlled breathing offers even more health benefits:

  • Lowers levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream
  • Promotes a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduces the build-up of lactic acid in muscles
  • Improves the function of the immune system
  • Boosts energy

People interested in more ways to incorporate controlled breathing into their lifestyle can look into yoga, tai chi, and meditation.

Free 30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge



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.


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.


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.

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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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 

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Five Herbs for Stress and Mood Swings

by Cindy Gray

Five Herbs for Stress and Mood SwingsTaking a pill to help you chill might sound appealing, but many prescription drugs have nasty side effects and are very expensive. Using herbs for stress relief is a lot less, well…stressful. 

For centuries, herbs have been the cornerstone of good health.  Many cultures have successfully used herbs as treatment for all types of medical issues.  Unlike western society that relies on powerful mind-altering drugs to help with severe mood swings and depression, other cultures have often looked to the natural world for stress relief.

The Fabulous Five Herbs for Stress Relief

1. Ashwagandha

One of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used since ancient times to treat a wide variety of conditions.  It is most well-known for its restorative benefits.  The name means “the smell of a horse” indicating it promotes the strength and vigor of a stallion.

Ashwagandha contains many potent medicinal compounds in the leaves and roots like:

  • Steroidal lactones – improve the power supply of nerve cells
  • Alkaloids – act quickly on the nervous system and can have a safe natural sedative effect
  • Choline - from the B vitamin family it has been shown to lower cholesterol and stave off cognitive decline by boosting brain function
  • Fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6 are critical to proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system
  • Amino acids – the building blocks of protein they play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of a healthy nervous system, immunity and brain function
  • Healthy sugars – for energy

2. Rhodiola rosea

This unique herbal remedy grows at high altitude in the sandy soil of artic areas of Asia.  It has long been used as a treatment for fatigue and western medicine is prompting scientists to examine its health benefits more closely.

Rhodiola rosea has been showing great promise by decreasing the harmful effects of chronic, long-term stress on the body.  It helps bring balance back to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems of the body.

In the modern world, we are often under constant pressure and stressed throughout the day.   This leads to feeling edgy, tired and depressed. Rhodiola rosea seems to be able to help the body re-establish balance by influencing the brain chemicals serotonin (the “happy” hormone) norepinephrine (the adrenaline hormone) and feel good opioids called beta-endorphins.

In a Columbia University publication, rhodiola’s remarkable effect on the nervous system was described as “emotional calming.”  Dr. Richard Brown stated that rhodiola “enhanced the healing properties of one’s own nervous system”

The health benefits of rhodiola rosea don’t stop there. Numerous studies have found it to:

  • Improve cognitive and memory function
  • Increase mental and physical resistance to stress due to fatigue
  • Reduce levels of C-reactive protein, and inflammatory marker that results from muscle damage due to physical exertion
  • Enhance sleep
  • Lessen depression symptoms
  • Keep blood sugar stable

3. Elueuthero (Wucha)

Elueuthero belongs to an amazing class of plants known as adaptogens. They are known for helping the body to adapt to environmental changes and reduce the effects of stress on the body.   Other health benefits include:

  • Stronger memory and clearer thinking under stress
  • Sustained energy without the side effects of stimulants like caffeine that cause the jitters
  • Increased tolerance to heat, noise, strenuous exercise
  • Increased sexual vigor
  • Sleep aid

Elueuthero’s effectiveness at reducing stress is believed to come from the compounds it contains called eleuetherosides. These enhance the immune system by helping T-cells engulf harmful microorganisms, damaged cells and foreign particles in the body. It also promotes the formation of protective B lymphocytes that are critical to a strong immune system.

Related:  Do Probiotics Benefit Your Overall Mood?

4. Holy basil

Holy basil is known to be a powerful antioxidant with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well. Modern science has been taking a closer look at this remarkable herb due to its great potential in relieving stress and promoting relaxation.

Like Eleuethero, holy basil functions as an adaptogen to enhance the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress.  It seems to be able to influence the secretion of stress hormones, corticosterone in particular.  A rush of cortisol is good when an actual predator confronts you.  However, work, traffic, and many other things keep us saturated with the stress hormone, and it wreaks havoc on the body.

Holy basil’s concentration of eugenol and caryophyllene release a pleasing and soothing aroma that has been shown to elevate mood.  Eugenol also has shown to enhance mental clarity, something that can suffer during periods of prolonged stress.

5. Suma root

Suma root has been used for hundreds of years in South America to increase physical strength, boost energy levels, stamina and the immune system. It contains two anabolic agents, allantoin and ecdysterone, which have been linked to muscle growth and enhanced endurance.

It also is an herb for stress release known as an adaptogen.  Packed with germanium, a potent immune booster and saponins, which have shown to improve immune function and lower cholesterol, suma root also has many important vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

A compound called beta-ecdysterone is also found in the herb and is showing great potential to treat sexual dysfunctions like impotency.  This is most likely due to its ability to provide more oxygen to cells. This has the added benefit of improving circulation to all areas of the body including the brain, which improves memory and sharpens mental clarity.

Suma root is an effective herb to combat stress due to its ability to affect the adrenal glands, which produce adrenaline and corticosteroid hormones, the ones that are responsible for our “flight or fight” response.  Suma root is effective at balancing these hormones in the body, which is important because constant long-term exposure to them causes many health problems.

Using herbs for stress relief has proven effective for thousands of years in many cultures.  Finding natural ways to reduce stress are preferable to taking powerful prescription drugs with harmful side effects.  Taking these five herbs to reduced stress and balance out mood swings is a safe natural way to combat the stressors of daily life without dangerous side effects.


How to Exercise Away the Effects of Depression

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Depression is a debilitating mental disorder that affects approximately 14.8 million Americans.  Worse, studies show it is on the rise and has become a worldwide epidemic according to the World Health Organization.  It’s a relief to know that exercise is a safe and effective natural remedy for depression that most anyone can put into his or her daily routine.

New research has concluded that those who regularly exercise can combat depression.

Some people only suffer depression at one point in their life like post-partum depression, while others are afflicted with it chronically over a lifetime.  The medical industry has responded with a flood of powerful brain altering drugs to combat the effects of depression. Yet in many cases, exercise is proving to be just as effective, with positive side effects!

The Research: Exercise and Depression

A study published by the Archives of Medicine found exercise to nearly as effective as medication in treating patients with major depression.  

Another study conducted on students at the University of Virginia observed a significant reduction in depression symptoms for those students diagnosed with the disorder who jogged regularly.  Those who did not engage in any form of regular exercise showed no changes in their symptoms in contrast.

Related:  Ways to Lower Risk of Depression

To bolster these findings, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a report where researchers found that a mere one point increase in regular exercise appeared to lower study participants’ risk of being depressed by 10%. More importantly it cut their risk of becoming chronically depressed by 17%!

Effects of Exercise on Depression

The effects of exercise on depression are quite profound.  It can effect change in brain chemicals, reduce immune system chemicals that worsen depression and increases body temperature, which seems to have a calming effect.

Your Brain

When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in your brain while reducing your perception of pain.  While the effects are temporary, regularly feeling that “runner’s high” has a very positive, energizing affect, something those who suffer from depression need.

Your Immune System

There is a growing body of evidence that depression has as much or more to do with your immune system as it does your brain.  While most medications are prescribed to help balance chemicals in the brain, research out of the University of California has suggested that inflammation, an immune response, may be a contributing cause of depression.

Regular moderate exercise is known to strengthen the immune system.  It will also help keep body fat in check, and improve circulation, which benefits the brain and the body and could lead to fewer depression symptoms.

Exercise and Depression: Your Attitude Matters

The possibility of finding effective natural remedies for depression is good news for those who have resigned themselves to taking powerful anti-depressants and dealing with the side effects. With the many positive aspects of exercising to help with depression, it a good idea to make sure you get plenty of it on regular basis if you have or are at risk of developing symptoms of depression.

Besides the feel good brain chemicals and boost to your immune system, exercise will help you keep weight gain in check, make you stronger and give you more energy.


Six Potent Probiotics

by Cindy Gray

If you are seeking a natural remedy to help with diarrhea, then look to probiotics.  These potent little strains of live bacteria and yeasts are very good for your digestive system and can bring relief to those suffering from occasional to chronic diarrhea.

Those who suffer from diarrhea will find probiotics a powerful remedy.

Probiotics are naturally helpful to your body; and you can ingest them easily from certain foods and supplements.  There are many kinds of bacteria classified as probiotics and they all have different health benefits, but almost all of them come from two groups:

  • Lactobacillus – the most common probiotic, it can be found in yogurt and other fermented foods.  It can help those who are lactose intolerant and ease diarrhea.
  • Bifidobacterium – this type is found in dairy products like milk and can help those with IBS relieve their symptoms.

You are not alone if you suffer from diarrhea. Those who have three or more loose stools per day for a period of four weeks or more are diagnosed with chronic diarrhea.

Related Top Three Fermented Foods for Constipation Relief

Taking over the counter medications is fine if you only experience diarrhea occasionally. However, if your condition is chronic, you’ll want to consider these diarrhea natural remedies.

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus – is found in foods like yogurt, kefir, pickles and soy products, and in supplement form.  It is very beneficial to the human GI tract because it helps break down sugars in milk products (lactose) and produces vitamin K.
  2. L. casei (lactobacillus casei) – is found naturally in fermented foods. It has shown to be a very effective way to speed up recovery time for those suffering from acute diarrhea. It helps the gut break down lactose, and relieve constipation. It also relieves gas and promotes healthy digestion, which improves your immunity.
  3. L. rhamnosus – is found in the human GI tract, mouth and vagina.  Its greatest health benefit is as an anti-inflammatory. This makes it beneficial for those with loose stools and vaginal infections.
  4. L.  plantarum – this strain of bacterial is a real powerhouse. It can take up residence in your gut and keep disease-causing microorganism from wreaking havoc there. It also has the ability to “stick” or coat the lining of your intestines and prevent dangerous bacteria from getting into your bloodstream
  5. Bifidobacterium breve – also known as B breve, a shortage of it in the intestinal tract has been linked to diarrhea, allergies, gas and irritable bowel syndrome. It can benefit you by balancing the acidity (pH) of your colon, reduce bloating and gas, and relieve constipation.
  6. B. longun (Bifidobacterium longum) – found naturally in the gastrointestinal tract and the vagina it is thought to be an effective way to help prevent certain diseases like colon cancer. It contains anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic properties that help keep the pH balance of your digestive track normal.

Eating fermented foods rich in the super six or taking supplements can improve your overall health by boosting your immune system, relieving painful gas or constipation and possibly even help lower your risk of developing some forms of cancer.


Royal Jelly: How the “Queen’s Food” Can Improve Your Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you are experiencing a lack of sex drive, bees could help. When your libido bottoms out, a substance called Royal Jelly—produced by these remarkable bee-ings—has been shown to enhance sex drive in humans.

Why Royal?

Honeybees secrete this gel-like substance to feed the hive’s new larvae for three days. They produce it in copious amounts and store it in the honeycomb in specially constructed “queen cells” to be fed to one female bee who will eventually become the queen of the hive. 

Royal jelly has a variety of health benefits including helping to counteract lack of sex drive.

A substance called royalactin is believed to be the most potent single protein in Royal Jelly and the way it benefits female bees can also help humans with adrenal problems, boost immunity and reverse a lack of sex drive.  

What It Does

In addition to royalactin, Royal Jelly is mainly composed of crude proteins, amino acids, simple sugars, fatty acids and water.  It also contains some trace minerals, enzymes with antibacterial and antibiotic compounds, along with the B vitamins pantothenic acid (B5) and pyridoxine (B6). It also has a bit of testosterone and vitamin C. 

The combination of these compounds greatly enhance the size, lifespan and fertility of one particular female bee, making her the queen who will outlive all other bees and the only female with active ovaries to lay eggs. 

How Royal Jelly Can Improve Your Health

Adrenal Glands

Malfunctioning or under-performing adrenal glands can lead to a host of health problems like fatigue, a lack of sex drive and other more severe disorders.  Royal Jelly has been shown to boost the important hormones the adrenal gland produces that control blood pressure, circulation, blood sugar levels, protein and sugar metabolism and sexual activity.

Related Idea That All Fats Make You Fat Is A Myth


Japanese researchers discovered in a 2010 study that Royal Jelly’s antibiotic and antibacterial properties greatly improved immunity in research participants.  It shortened the healing time for wounds and improved allergy symptoms as well. 

Fat Metabolizer

Royal Jelly can help you metabolize fat more efficiently due to its ability to suppress lipid peroxidation, which causes harmful fatty acids to form in the body. This helps regulate the amount of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood stream, both of which can lead to heart disease and stroke when at high levels.

Increased Libido

Queen bees are the only female bees with active ovaries capable of producing eggs. Increase in libido is probably due to the trace amounts of testosterone it contains and the fact that it boosts adrenal gland function, which secretes hormones that regulate sex drive.

Bee Sexy

A lack of sex drive does not mean you are doomed to be a lonely heart or forced to take artificial hormones or medications like Viagra.  Try adding a little Royal Jelly to your diet and see how the fat loss benefits, increased energy, boost to your immune system, and shot of the testosterone can greatly enhance your libido and overall health.


Healthy Licorice

by Cindy Gray

Candy for what ails you?  Forget the sweet stuff!  Licorice root is known to be helpful for treating an impressively long list of health problems, including as an effective chronic diarrhea treatment.

Licorice root may help those who suffer from chronic diarrhea

Licorice root, also known as Glycyrrhiza Glabra, grows wild across Europe. It is an herbal remedy that has been used for thousands of years by the ancient Greeks and Romans to treat many health issues.  Licorice has played a large role in Chinese medicine for many years.

Good For What Ails You

Western medicine is finally catching up and realizing just how beneficial licorice root can be for a very long list of health conditions including:

  • Upper GI health- it has been shown to ease coughs and the symptoms of cold and flu
  • Ulcers – packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, it has been shown to be almost as effective as conventional medicine for reducing pain due to ulcers
  • Chronic Diarrhea Treatment – licorice roots blend of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective treatment for this disorder

Related Why Ginger Should Be Your Gut’s Best Friend

There are two kinds of licorice root:

  • Glycyrrhiza, which has been shown to have some serious side effects like low blood pressure, headaches and heart problems.
  • Deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) seems to have less serious side effects but is just as effective in treating a long list of health ailments. 

The Right Stuff

The key therapeutic compound in licorice root is called glycyrrhizin. It has been shown in numerous animal and human research studies to have the ability to soothe and coat inflamed membranes.  That kind of anti-inflammatory ability is what makes licorice root a good treatment for the symptoms of chronic diarrhea.

Having occasional loose bowel movements can be normal, and it usually clears up on its own or with the help of over the counter medications.  However, chronic diarrhea is defined as having loose stools for four or more weeks, three or more times per day.  It can have a very harmful impact on one’s health.  The loss of fluids, nutrients and electrolytes for a prolong period of time can lead to poor health and a compromised immune system.

Taking licorice root can help ease the symptoms and provide pain relief. The compounds in the root inhibit spasms in the colon and sooth irritated membranes. It also enhances immunity by boosting production of interferon, a key immune system chemical that helps your body fight off attacking viruses.

Licorice root also has compounds called flavonoids that are powerful anti-oxidants. They help the body neutralize cell damaging free radicals that could be contributing to chronic diarrhea, severe coughing and other upper GI tract problems, and ulcers.  

Forms, Dosage, and Side Effects

You will find licorice root in several different forms:

  • Powdered
  • Thinly cut slices
  • In teas
  • Capsules and tablets
  • As an extract

For chronic diarrhea, ulcers and upper GI health, the recommended dosage for adults is two to four 380 mg tablets of DGL (see above) before meals and at bedtime.

If you or someone you know is seeking a natural treatment for ulcers, upper GI problems or an effective chronic diarrhea treatment, licorice root could be a good choice. 


Lack of Energy? Restore Vitality with Acai and Suma

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If the lack of energy is dragging you down you might want to consider two Brazilian superfoods to rev up your engine. Studies show that the acai berry and suma root provides energy-boosting nutrients that restore vitality and boost the immune system.  (FYI, Acai is pronounced ah-sah-EE.) 

The nutritional properties of acai and suma make them an energy-boosting supplement that enhances vitality and the immune system.

Demanding careers, inadequate sleep, poor nutrition, excessive stress, sedentary lifestyles and constant exposure to environmental toxins are taking their toll and millions of people spend their days feeling tired and sluggish.  Studies show that acai berries and suma root may be just what the doctor ordered for people suffering from a lack of energy. 

The purple-black acai berry, which is sometimes called Brazilian palm fruit, comes from the acai tree that is native to Central and South America. The acai berry surpasses all other berries in its antioxidant density and it is one of the few fruits that contain omega-3 fatty acids to support brain and joint health.  It has been lauded for centuries by natural healers as a healing, immune-boosting fruit that enhances energy levels.

RelatedHow the Antioxidants in Superfruits Keep You Healthy

Freshly picked acai berries have a short “freshness” window but they are available frozen, dried and in juice forms. Acai extract is an ingredient in many high-quality nutritional supplements.

Sometimes referred to as “Brazilian ginseng,” the suma root is another energizing superfood. Natives of South America have used it for thousands of years to increase strength and stamina.   Suma root contains potent levels of vitamin B and electrolytes, both of which are potent natural energy boosters. It is also rich in immune-boosting nutrients including vitamins B, E and K as well as minerals and amino acids.

While fresh suma root can be difficult to find in some parts of the country, it is available in powdered or supplement form online and at natural health stores. It is also an ingredient in many nutritional supplements.

If you are among the millions of Americans who struggle with a lack of energy, considering using acai berries and suma root to boost your vitality. This duo packs a nutritional punch that will put the spring back in your step so that you can enjoy a vibrant life and live each day to its fullest.

Easy Superfood Recipes


5 Green Veggies You Need to Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet

by Health News

Gluten-free diets have garnered a lot of attention in recent years as more and more people have been diagnosed with wheat allergies and celiac disease. Statistics indicate that three million Americans have celiac disease and nearly 18 million Americans have some level of gluten sensitivity. Unfortunately a large percentage of people with gluten intolerance don’t know they have it because the symptoms are similar to those of other disorders. 

Five Vegetable Vital to a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten is a sticky protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye. It has a molecular structure that many human digestive systems cannot process properly. If they ingest foods containing gluten, people with sensitivities may experience bloating, constipation, sore muscles, dry skin, mouth sores, fatigue and weight fluctuations. While there is no cure for gluten intolerance most people find that symptoms disappear when they embrace a gluten-free diet.

For best results, a gluten-free diet should include plenty of fresh vegetables because they are packed with immune-boosting nutrients. The top five vegetable superstars include:

Broccoli: This bright green cruciferous vegetable is packed with top-shelf phytonutrients and is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc. It is delicious raw, steamed or sautéed.

Related Why is Kale So Healthy?

Kale:  A nutrient-dense leafy green, kale is a member of the cabbage family and is rich in carotenoids as well as calcium and iron. It has so many nutrients per serving that many dieticians refer to it as the “king of greens.”

Spinach: Much like kale, spinach is high in carotenoids, calcium and iron. It is also rich in vitamin C. Research suggests that people who eat spinach on a regular basis reduce their risk for cancer and other inflammatory diseases.

Parsley: Because parsley is often used as a garnish, many people don’t eat it and are not aware of its powerful nutrient content. This small leafy herb is loaded with folic acid as well as vitamins A, K and C.  

Watercress: This little green is packed has more vitamin C per serving than oranges. It is also loaded with calcium, iron and folate.

By eliminating gluten and embracing smart food choices, you will feel and look your best.  Add these five veggie powerhouses to your gluten-free diet to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need.


Chlorophyll: Nature’s Remedy for Fatigue, Bad Breath & More

by Cindy Gray

If you struggle with fatigue, bad breath and excessive sweating your body might need to detox with chlorophyll. Foods containing chlorophyll can help neutralize and remove the toxins that cause tiredness and body odors. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants that collects energy from sunlight. Eating foods rich in these green pigments helps to cleanse the blood. 

If you struggle with fatigue, bad breath and excessive sweating, you may need to detox with chlorophyll.

Algae, seaweed and wheatgrass are among the most potent sources of chlorophyll. Other good sources include green leafy vegetables, sprouts, green juices and wild edible greens. Foods containing chlorophyll detoxify the body and work with the liver to restore vibrant health. They also absorb toxins from the intestinal tract and support the growth of “friendly” bacteria.

Some of the major benefits of chlorophyll include:

Neutralizes Body Odor:  Because chlorophyll cleanses you from the inside out, it can help reduce body odor. Chlorophyll has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that fight body odor at the source. It is so effective that it is often referred to as “nature’s deodorant.”

Eliminates Bad Breath: Foods containing chlorophyll fight bad breath because they cleanse the digestive tract.  Chewing on the leaves of parsley, dill, basil and cilantro can immediately freshen bad breath. Chlorophyll provides a natural alternative to chemical-laden mouthwashes and breath mints.

Related What Everybody Ought to Know About Liquid Chlorophyll

Removes Toxins: Toxic metals in the environment can take a toll on your health. Chlorophyll attaches to toxins and heavy metals and removes them from your body. It also increases your blood's oxygen-carrying capacity by stimulating red blood cell production. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of chlorophyll contribute to its cleansing effects.

Boosts Immune System: Chlorophyll-rich foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that are needed for disease prevention and vibrant health.

Speeds Healing: For the past 100 years researchers have studied the healing properties of chlorophyll. Studies show it speeds the healing process because it is a natural disinfectant and it fights inflammation.

Because it has so many beneficial health effects, many people use chlorophyll supplements to make sure they are getting recommended amounts. The supplements come in capsule, powder and liquid forms and can be obtained online and through natural health stores.

Boost your energy levels and eliminate embarrassing breath and body odors the natural way. Chlorophyll is a safe, plant-based detox method that can cleanse your body from the inside out. 


Why Aloe is So Amazing for the Reflux Diet

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Aloe vera has been one of nature’s medicinal remedies for centuries. As well as being effective in healing wounds, calming nerves, purifying the blood, reducing inflammation and promoting a healthy complexion, aloe vera now appears to be a key component in a reflux diet.

What is Aloe Vera?

The healing properties of aloe vera make it an important aid in any acid reflux dietAloes are spiky succulent plants with fleshy grey-green leaves. They grow wild in the Caribbean, southern USA and North Africa. The gelatinous extracts and juice from aloe vera have been used in herbal medicine for over 2,000 years.

Rich in vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids such as collagen and elastin, aloe vera is commonly used in beauty treatments to promote a youthful, healthy skin. Aloe vera also has natural antibiotic and anti-viral properties and boosts the immune system.

Related A Humble Houseplant Works Wonders with Skin Issues

Healing Properties of Aloe Vera

The excellent healing properties of aloe vera are well known. It effectively soothes burned skin, heals stomach ulcers, regulates the balance of intestinal flora and eases the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

The alkaline juice from aloe vera can also aid digestion, making it an excellent component for those looking to counter troublesome stomach acid by adopting the Reflux Diet. Aloe vera contains beta-sitosterol to reduce bad cholesterol, campesterol to reduce the cholesterol absorption in the intestines, and lupeol which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

What is the Reflux Diet?

The Reflux Diet is made up of foods and substances that naturally control heartburn and the unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux. Diets that are high in protein and low in fat are known to help reduce acid reflux. Taking aloe vera as a supplement is an important part of any Reflux Diet. Eating smaller portions and avoiding citrus or spicy foods can also help to naturally control the problem without having to resort to medication.

By taking aloe vera in supplement form, you can support a controlled Reflux Diet to improve your digestive health.

Here are 12 More Reflux Diet Foods that fight acid reflux safely and naturally.




How to Use Stevia in High Blood Pressure Recipes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Low calorie sweeteners are big business as people concerned about their health and/or weight switch to low calorie alternatives to sugar. Unlike aspartame, saccharin and even xylitol, stevia is completely natural. There are several reasons why stevia makes an excellent sugar substitute in high blood pressure recipes.

Stevia plants are a natural sugar-free sweetener for use in high blood pressure recipes

Stevia has been used in China and Japan as a sweetener for many years. Stevia extract comes from a green leafy herb (Stevia rebaudiana), native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas. Stevia has two compounds (stevioside and rebaudioside) that are 250 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose).

Reducing Hypertension with Stevia

In clinical trials, researchers found that stevia can reduce high blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity. This makes it an excellent sugar substitute for diabetics, those following a weight loss program, and those who wish to lover their blood pressure safely and naturally.

Related What are the Best Sugar Substitutes?

Stevia has also been found to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Unlike other artificial sweeteners that may be carcinogenic, stevia has no reported side effects or adverse reactions. However, stevia does have a slight aftertaste when used in some drinks and recipes.

High Blood Pressure Recipes Using Stevia

High blood pressure diets and natural remedies aim to lower hypertension by balancing the body’s acidity and removing toxins. By eliminating fatty junk food and substituting it with fresh fruit and raw organic vegetables, blood pressure levels can be effectively lowered.

One of the benefits of stevia is that it is pH-stable, so including it in a high blood pressure diet is important. Try drinking cranberry stevia lemonade throughout the day (a gallon if possible) and then check your blood pressure levels after 10 days. As well as boosting hydration, cranberry stevia lemonade helps balance acidity and removes toxins, which all help lower hypertension.

Fill a gallon jar with distilled or spring water  and add the juice of 3 organic lemons. Add one cup organic cranberry juice, a dash of liquid cayenne and liquid stevia to taste.  

Another excellent High Blood Pressure Recipe using stevia is to puree seedless watermelon in a blender with stevia to taste. Freeze in a shallow container overnight. Allow to thaw a little then break down the ice crystals with a fork and spoon the frozen fruit into paper snow cones. The combination of fresh fruits and stevia provide multiple benefits for those wanting to lower blood pressure naturally.


What You Need to Know About Fermented Foods and Constipation

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Antibiotics are used in medicine to kill harmful bacteria; in fact they kill off all bacteria in the digestive system, creating other problems. However, the opposite of antibiotics are probiotics. These beneficial bacteria aid digestion, fight harmful bacteria, act as chelators and detox agents to rid the body of heavy metals and toxins, and they help reduce constipation.

So where can we get a healthy daily dose of these useful probiotic bacteria? Fermented foods are the key. You probably already eat some occasionally without even realizing. Examples of fermented foods include fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, which are fermented, not pickled. Examples of fermented dairy products include probiotic yogurt and kefir. 

How Does Fermented Food Aid Constipation?

Fermented food can help prevent constipation

Most fermented foods are made using an ancient form of food preservation. This fermentation process uses beneficial bacteria to create lactic acid. This environment is high in good bacteria and preserves the food by not allowing bad bacteria to spoil and rot it. Modern-day fermented foods may be processed using pasteurization which actually kills all bacteria. You need to find products that have been organically fermented, or do the process yourself.

Even a small amount of sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, will provide many benefits. It is full of vitamin C, reduces inflammation in the bowel, reduces pain and constipation associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), lowers bloating and contains high levels of antioxidants.

Related: Top 10 Foods for Fantastic Digestion

Eating cultured or fermented foods tops up intestinal flora (bacteria) which boosts natural immunity. They balance bacteria in the stomach and digestive tract, releasing enzymes to improve digestion. Fermented foods also produce an acid environment in the bowel which can be helpful in preventing constipation. These bacteria make it easier for the body to absorb nutrients and speedier digestion means less likelihood of constipation.

Now you know the benefits of fermented foods on your overall health, banishing constipation, You may want to try adding some other fermented foods to your diet. Try fermented beets, tomatoes, radishes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, kimchi, green beans and sauerkraut. Dairy eaters can enjoy fermented yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk and some cheeses. Not only will these foods fight inflammation and disease-causing bacteria, you will also avoid unhealthy constipation, another big plus!


Five Foods for Boosting Immunity

by Cindy Gray

Do you feel like you have a weakened immune system? Our immune systems are constantly under attack from the endless bacteria, toxins and viruses we are exposed to as part of daily life.  This amazing system must remain hyper-vigilant at all times and be ready to strike at the first sign of an invading bacteria or virus.

Booste Immunity with these Five FoodsLack of sleep, stress and poor diet weaken your immune system making it tough to do its job.  Hitting a yoga class or meditating, calling it a night 30 minutes earlier and incorporating these five foods into your diet can help you keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

The Fabulous Five

Lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products can have a beneficial effect on a weakened immune system.  However, five foods in particular have shown to be especially beneficial in keeping your flu-fighters lean and mean.


Also known as a butter pear, this creamy, green, nutty flavored fruit (yes, fruit) provides a lot of immunity-boosting nutrients.  The amino acids, antioxidants and healthy omega-3 fats are good for the entire body. Avocados are rich in glutathione and phytonutrients that kill off free radicals. 

Current research is studying the effects of those phytonutrients on cells, telling them whether to grow, live or die.  These guacamole super-stars also help reduce inflammation, which lessens cold and flu symptoms.  They are packed with B-6 vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, minerals like zinc, iron and selenium, which are crucial to the formation of healthy immune system cells that attack invading pathogens.

Related: Boost Your Immune System With Garlic’s Healthy Benefits


This spicy, flavorful root has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is known to help break down toxins in organs, and contribute to a clean lymphatic system, the one that disposes of cellular wastes.  Ginger also helps regulate your immune system to keep it from over-reacting (allergy attack) and helps to activate T-cells. Those are the white blood cells that are virus and tumor-killing ninjas.


Gravi what!?  Graviola is a fruit that grows best in a rainforest climate and can be found abundantly in South America and many tropical islands.  This heart-shaped green fruit is also known as a Brazilian paw paw, soursop or guanaba and has been used by ancient peoples to modern times for a variety of health reasons. Graviola has been used to keep the liver healthy, reduce swelling in the mucus membranes, and reduce cold and flu symptoms.  Modern researchers are studying a substance in them called annonaceous acetogenins that tend to attack cancer cells. Graviola supports a healthy immune system by killing off parasites and reducing inflammation in the body.


These weird looking, chewy fungi are immune-boosting powerhouses, thanks to being loaded with the powerful antioxidant ergothioneine.  It survives cooking and quickly enters the blood stream to shore up your immunity by helping remove heavy metal toxins from your tissues and destroy free radicals that harm healthy cells.

Mushrooms are also a rich source of selenium—low levels have been linked to more severe flu symptoms.  They also provide the B-vitamins riboflavin and niacin and have antibacterial and antiviral properties, and may be effective in killing tumors.


There are just so many good things to say about eating oatmeal regularly.  For your immune system, oatmeal provides a healthy dose of three minerals critical to keeping it functioning at optimum levels.

  • Zinc- essential for the growth and function of the immunity cells that recognize and destroy invading pathogens.

  • Selenium – which we already discussed as an essential component to a healthy immune system, and it’s nice to know you can get it in a variety of foods. Its ability to bind with proteins to form seleno-proteins help regulate the immune system so it responds quickly to invaders but does not go overboard when it senses a harmless pollen (i.e. an allergy attack).

  • Iron – those with low levels of this mineral often have a weak immune system. It is a critical nutrient in the formation of healthy immune system red and white blood cells that eradicate invading pathogens.

Oatmeal also contains a soluble fiber called beta glucan that supports immune function and reduces susceptibility to infection.

Eating a diverse diet rich in all kinds of fruits and vegetables will help keep your immune system strong.  Be sure to add in the fabulous five to help you survive and thrive during dreaded cold and flu season and generally stay healthy year-round for life.