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Seven Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 29 percent of American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension.  This is a condition where the force of blood pushing against arterial walls is too high.  Labelled "the silent killer" because of an absence of symptoms, hypertension causes a wide range of health problems including blood vessel weakness and scarring, greater risks for blood clots, more arterial plaque, and tissue and organ damage due to blocked arteries.  While research shows family history can increase the risks for hypertension, there are also a number of lifestyle factors that boost the chances for its development.

A high-sodium diet is just one of the risk factors for high blood pressure.

 

  1. Excessive Bodyweight and BMI:  People are considered overweight when body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 30, and BMI measuring over 30 indicates obesity.  Research shows that excessive bodyweight raises risks for developing high blood pressure.  Monitoring bodyweight and BMI can help people keep blood pressure in check.  For successful weight loss, most people can lose from 1-2 pounds per week by subtracting 500 calories per day from their diet and adding daily exercise. 

 

  1. Inactivity:  In addition to raising risks for high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle increases chances for blood vessel disease, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.  Engage in regular exercise to help ensure healthy blood pressure.  Whether walking or biking, tennis or martial arts, finding a physical activity you love ensures regular participation.

 

  1. A High-Sodium Diet:  Salt retains fluid in the body, which can put extra pressure on the heart and contribute to high blood pressure.  Keeping track of sodium consumption helps.  While people with normal blood pressure should limit daily sodium to 2,300 mg, people with hypertension should consume 1,500 mg a day or less.

 

Related:  Seven Tips to Lowering High Blood Pressure Naturally

 

  1. Tobacco Use:  Every cigarette raises blood pressure temporarily and can contribute to damaged arteries and heart disease.  Smokers, especially those already at risk for hypertension, should make a plan to quit.  Hypnosis, acupuncture, guided imagery, patches, gum and certain medications can help.

 

  1. Heavy Alcohol Use:  Daily alcohol use or binge drinking can contribute to high blood pressure.  At highest risk are people who consume more than three drinks per day (12 oz. of beer, 4 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of liquor).  To prevent the development of hypertension men should limit alcohol consumption to two drinks daily, and women should limit consumption to one daily drink.

 

  1. Stress:  Research hasn't proven that stress causes hypertension, but stressful situations can spike blood pressure temporarily.  In addition, some people smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or consume too many unhealthy foods in an effort to deal with stress, all of which are risk factors for high blood pressure.  Effective stress management techniques include meditation, yoga or guided imagery. 

 

  1. Gender and Age:  Up until 45 years of age, men are more prone to hypertension than women.  From 45 to 65 years of age, risks are roughly equal between men and women, and after the age of 65, more women are likely to get high blood pressure than men.

The healthy strategies listed above can help in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, but some people may need medication to keep it in check.  Because of the absence of symptoms, people should have regular checkups in order to know and monitor their blood pressure numbers.   

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Six Heart Heath Tips For High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Heart Savers

Heart disease is America’s leading cause of death.  Here are several important heart health tips and advice. Fortunately many everyday supplements for high blood pressure support a healthy cardiovascular system.

Top heart health tips include taking daily fish oil supplements

 

 

 

Here are six common supplements to help keep your heart in tip-top condition. Do you take them every day?

1.     Fish Oil

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is the natural way to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, most of us do not eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel on a regular basis, but help is at hand with fish oil supplements. For high blood pressure they provide an effective treatment, reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and premature death from heart disease.

2.     CoQ10

CoQ10 is a natural enzyme which the body produces in decreasing amounts as we age. It is a natural antioxidant which provides a wealth of heart-health benefits. It prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, maintains circulatory health, supports healthy arterial wall linings, lowers hypertension and ensures the optimal functioning of the heart by lowering cholesterol levels.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol should be on every list of heart health tips as it is full of antioxidants that help prevent heart disease. It increases good HDL cholesterol, prevents blood clots and protects arterial walls from damage. Found in red wine, the only sensible way to obtain sufficient resveratrol is by taking it as a daily supplement. Studies found that taking resveratrol in conjunction with statins reduced cardiovascular risk by reducing inflammation and clotting markers.

Natto

Nattokinase is a natural enzyme produced from fermented soybeans (natto) that prevents abnormal thickening of blood vessels. It has been used for centuries by the Japanese as a natural supplement for high blood pressure, lowering the risk of stroke, angina, deep vein thrombosis and heart disease.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto

Folic Acid

Folic acid is another everyday supplement that makes it onto the list of heart heath tips.  Researchers have found that it can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by around 20%. This lowers the levels of homocysteine that contribute to atherosclerosis and blood clots. It also supports normal cholesterol levels as well as being essential for the production of red blood cells.

Acetyl L-carnitine

A series of controlled trials on acetyl L-carnitine supplements found that it was associated with a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmia and a 40% reduction in the symptoms of angina. Found naturally in red meat, L-carnitine helps increase HDL cholesterol by metabolizing fatty acids.

By taking these supplements for high blood pressure and following our sensible heart health tips regarding diet and exercise, you can ensure you have the healthiest heart possible to carry you into a long and healthy old age.

 

 

 

 

 

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Stress and Allergies – The Surprising Stress Allergy Link

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that your nervous system and your immune system are closely linked? This means that causes of stress can increase allergy symptoms, and these in turn create more stress. That doesn’t mean that chronic stress actually causes allergies, but for those with existing sensitivity it can trigger the symptoms or make them worse, according to a study in The Journal of Investigative Allergology and Clinical Immunology.

Scientific trials on allergy sufferers showed a definite relationship between stress and allergies, which were measured using allergy skin tests. Participants were placed in a stressful position, such as having to calculate a math problem in their head in front of a panel of judges. The skin tests showed that the effects of stress raised allergy levels immediately after the stressful situation, and even more severely the day after.

Understanding Allergies

Allergies are increasingly common in children and evidence suggests that allergies may be caused by environmental factors such as stress. Allergies are a hypersensitivity to harmless environmental or food substances such as pollen, dust mites and mold. The body detects the presence of these “dangers” and produces a hormone response. This causes side effects such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, skin reactions and asthma which themselves put the body under stress.

Related:  Five Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

Effects of Stress on Allergies

Stress does not cause an allergy, but it can play a role in worsening the allergy symptoms. Doctors specializing in psychoneuroimmunology understand that when the body is under stress, it feels threatened and that triggers the chemicals and hormones in the brain that are responsible for that “fight or flight” response. The heart rate will increase and blood pressure will be raised as the effects of stress take their toll. This is known to trigger asthma, eczema or skin rashes (hives).

Suffering itchy skin and labored breathing understandably causes stress, overwhelming the immune system and setting up a viscous circle of stress = allergies = more stress.

Like many enigmas, it’s a matter of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. In this case, should you treat the causes of stress to reduce the allergies, or manage the allergies to lower stress?

Treating Allergies by Lowering the Causes of Stress

Advice from Dr. James Sublett of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises allergy sufferers to work with a board-certified allergist to help avoid allergy triggers and lower the effects of stress caused by the symptoms.

Other specialists suggest that allergy sufferers should alleviate stress levels using breathing exercises, meditation and adopting a healthy lifestyle. They should also quit smoking and avoid caffeine, which can contribute to stress. By reducing the causes of stress, allergy flares will be less severe and less frequent. It seems that managing stress lowers allergies and controlling allergies reduces stress, so it’s a win-win situation.

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Three Spicy Solutions to Heart Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, about 75 million Americans have high blood pressure and only half of them are taking steps to control it. Left untreated, high blood pressure, or hypertension as it is sometimes known, can seriously damage health and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and death.

Spices can be a natural way to treat high blood pressure

 

 

Many sufferers resort to prescription medications and beta blockers, but those wondering how to lower blood pressure naturally may find help in the spice rack. If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 you are at risk of hypertension, so try spicing up your life with these three heart-healthy ingredients.

Reduce High Blood Pressure with Curry

One of the main ingredients in curry is curcumin, which gives curry its distinctive yellow color. It is a natural antioxidant found in turmeric and has shown positive results in studies on natural treatments for high blood pressure. One notable study on curcumin at Japan’s Kyoto Medical Center showed that curcumin supported healthy blood pressure levels. It also helped prevent cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle and reduction in ventricle size caused by high blood pressure). The study concluded that curcumin could provide “novel therapeutic strategy for heart failure in humans.”

Ginger Improves Hypertension

Ginger is a root spice used by the Romans and ancient Chinese to cure a wide range of medical conditions. Studies now show that ginger is a potent blood thinner, helping to prevent or treat high blood pressure and heart disease. In tests, ginger was used to dissolve blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attack. It prevents thromboxane synthesis which causes blood clotting and platelets in the blood to clump together.

Tests on rats showed that ginger is also an anti-inflammatory agent. It works in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such ibuprofen and naproxen, but without the side effects.  

Adding ginger to savory and sweet dishes is an easy way to add this cholesterol-lowering anti-inflammatory blood thinner to your diet and lower blood pressure naturally.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels with Ginger

How to Lower Blood Pressure with Garlic

Another natural blood thinning agent is garlic. Thinner blood is easier for the heart to pump around, reducing high blood pressure, and it is less likely to form clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.

An Australian study compared garlic with commonly prescribed drugs used to lower blood pressure and found that it was equally effective. The studies found that eating four cloves of garlic a day had a noticeable positive effect on those with high blood pressure, lowering it by an average 8.4 systolic points and 7.3 diastolic points.

If you are wondering how to lower blood pressure without resorting to expensive drugs, try adding these three spices to your daily diet and watch your high blood pressure fall.

 

 

 

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De-Stress with Biofeedback Technology – Stress Management

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If only there was an app for stress management!  Actually there is, in the form of the latest biofeedback technology.  Founded on the basics of quantum science, biofeedback measures the body’s stress levels and helps you recognize and counter the effects naturally and holistically. Using sophisticated technology, biofeedback relies on specialized software and sensors to scan the electromagnetic fields of your body. In minutes, this new stress management technology can provide feedback and vital information about the energetic stresses that your body is undergoing at that moment in time. Once users see their elevated blood pressure or symptoms of rising stress, they can implement mental techniques to lower stress levels without the need for medications or other treatment. 

Stress management is the key to good health and longevity

Rather than allowing tension and negativity to build up for months or even years, biofeedback is the key to healthy stress management, reversing the harmful effects that stress can have on your life and health.

Health issues that biofeedback is used to treat include:

  • Stress Management        
  • Anxiety ​
  • Depression
  • Pain Management
  • Headaches                                                                                                               
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Fears and Phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • Raynaud's Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback uses sensors to collect data about the body. The information makes the patient aware of the physiological functions and can help control them as part of their stress management. The latest biofeedback developments include putting the sensors into portable wearable devices that are no more intrusive than a wrist watch.

Developed in the 1960s and 70s, biofeedback has been used by psychologists to treat health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hypertension, headaches and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Initially patients had to be hooked up to a device in a laboratory setting, but microtechnology now allows sensors and Galvanic Skin Resistance (GSR) monitors to track electro-dermal activity (EDA). The information can be used for stress management, monitoring mood and depression or even predicting seizures. 

Related:  Train Your Digestive System

How can Biofeedback Aid Stress Management?

Far from being a novelty gadget, biofeedback is the stress management tool of the future. There are over 900 studies published on PubMed alone about biofeedback and stress, and it has far-reaching medical relevance.

For example, a study on 41 soldiers found that those who used biofeedback-assisted stress management training on a regular basis had lower stress biomarkers than their colleagues.

Even in sports, biofeedback has invaluable health advantages. A study showed that advanced basketball players who trialed biofeedback for 20 minutes a day over a 10-day period as part of their personal stress management showed significant improvement in heart rate and anxiety levels.

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Omega 3 Fish Oil for Weight Loss

by Cindy Gray

We are conditioned to think that all fat is bad, especially if we are trying to lose weight. Low-fat diets have been promoted for decades as the only way to shed body fat, but now it seems that is not entirely true. A recent study by the University of South Australian found that there are definite benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when taken in conjunction with regular exercise.

Studies show the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss

Study on the Weight Loss Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil

The Australian study focused on 75 participants who were diagnosed as overweight (>25 BMI) or obese (>30 BMI) with other risk factors for metabolic syndrome. These increased risk factors included high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, hypertension and/or heightened insulin levels.

The group was divided into four different categories and each group was given either:

  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with no exercise
  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with no exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with exercise

The supplements were 6 x 100 mg capsules of omega-3 fish oil or sunflower oil. The participants who included exercise in their program also completed three 45-minute runs each week at 75% of their maximum heart rate. No dietary changes were made to any of the participants’ routine.

After three weeks, members of three of the groups remained the same weight.  However, the group taking tuna fish oil supplements combined with exercise showed an average weight loss of 4.5 pounds, and a marked decrease in percentage body fat. This clearly showed the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when combined with regular exercise.

The study concluded that if the fish oil supplements and exercise regimen were adopted by someone who was also on a calorie-controlled diet, the weight loss could be even more substantial.

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Supplement Resveratrol

How Does Omega-3 Fish Oil Benefit Weight Loss?

Omega-3 is known to improve blood flow to the muscles during exercise. It also helps trigger enzymes involved in burning or oxidizing fat when the metabolic rate increases during exercise. The combination of omega-3 and exercise prompts the body to carry fat to where the muscles can burn it as energy, thereby lowering body fat stores.

The study participants also underwent DEXA body scans which distinguish between fat, muscle and bone. Although three groups of participants remained unchanged, the group taking omega-3 with exercise showed a significant reduction of belly fat.

Those who took omega-3 fish oil without exercise still benefitted, as their blood pressure decreased during the study and there was a beneficial effect on their heart rate and triglyceride levels.

These encouraging results showing the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss will now be followed up with other studies by Professor Howe, Director of the Australian Technology Network for Metabolic Fitness. In the meantime, dieters have nothing to lose but fat if they add 600 mg omega-3 fish oil and regular exercise to their weight loss plan. 

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Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

by IVL Products

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

Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

High Risk Factors for AMD

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

Others at risk are:

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

What Is AMD: Symptoms

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

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

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

Related:  Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Eyesight

How to Reduce Your Risk of AMD

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

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

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

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5 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

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

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

1.  Weakness

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

2.  Gastrointestinal Disorders

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

Related:  Five Simple Tips for Healthy Vision

3.  Vision Loss  

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

4.  Shortness of Breath

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

5.  Memory Loss

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

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

Sources of Vitamin B12

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

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

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

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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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Five Benefits of Meditation

by Cindy Gray

The modern world provides many conveniences but it also brings increased stress and anxiety.  Busy schedules create the need for relaxation from time to time.  Meditation is a practice that people engage in to achieve a more peaceful state of mind through quiet contemplation or through sustained focus on sound, mantras, or the breath.  Virtually all forms of meditation induce a more peaceful state of mind, but the practice offers a host of additional advantages.  Five benefits of meditation in particular lead to enhanced health and happiness.  

People enjoy many physical and mental benefits of meditation

1.  Reduced Muscle Tension

By controlling breathing, calming the mind, and focusing attention on specific areas of the body, meditation can help reduce muscle tension.  A technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation is particularly helpful at the beginning of a session.  People purposefully tighten and relax muscles in a systematic way resulting in reduced muscle tension throughout the body.

2.  Lower Blood Pressure

Because meditation enhances relaxation, it makes one of the best natural high blood pressure remedies.  Relaxation triggers the release of nitric oxide, which expands blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.  A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the effects of meditation on 60 people with high blood pressure.  Results showed that 40 of the 60 subjects were able to stop taking blood pressure medication as a result of regular meditation.

3.  Slower Heart Rate

The many physical benefits of meditation also include a slower heart rate.  A Korean study showed that subjects who practiced the Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique experienced slower heart rates, and benefits lasted for up to 8 months after the study ended. 

4.  Better Sleep

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness programs which include meditation practice may help improve sleep.  A group of 49 middle-aged and older adults who reported trouble sleeping either participated in a mindfulness program or a sleep education class for improving sleep habits.  Both groups met once weekly for a period of six weeks.  The people in the mindfulness program reported less insomnia, fatigue, and depression after six weeks than the people attending the sleep education class.

Related:  Meditation Rewires Your Brain

5.  Less Stress

Many studies have shown the benefits of meditation for anxiety and stress.  Researchers from the University of Wisconsin in Madison found that people who practice Open Monitoring Meditation like Vipassana showed less gray matter in the areas of the brain related to anxiety and stress.  On the flipside, MRIs taken before and after meditation have shown more gray matter in areas related to learning and memory.  In layman's terms, these results indicate that regular meditation can lead to less stress and better learning and memory. 

With so many physical and mental benefits of meditation, people may want to give it a try.  One of the easiest ways to begin meditating is to focus on the breath.  Sit or lie comfortably, close the eyes, and breathe naturally.  Focus on the breath and the movement of the body with each inhale and exhale.  If the mind wanders, bring it gently back to focusing on the breath.  Start with a period of five minutes, and increase time with practice.  Start out with even a few minutes of meditation each day.  Increase the amount of time in meditation according to your comfort zone.  Consistency is the key.

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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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Discover the Benefits of Hatha Yoga for Stress Relief

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Stress-related anxiety and depression affect millions of people worldwide, but conventional medicines are not always beneficial or preferred.  Natural stress-relieving approaches make excellent alternatives.  A recent review of 25 randomized, controlled studies suggests that the practice of yoga may help reduce stress.  People who practice it experience better regulation of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system in the body.  By inhibiting physiological stress and inflammation, yoga may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve mood across a range of populations.  Many people turn to one particular kind of yoga for stress - hatha yoga.

Many people practice hatha yoga for stress relief, better fitness, and improved sleep.

Based on a centuries-old philosophy, hatha yoga encompasses a series of gentle poses, breathing exercises, and meditation.  People who practice hatha yoga appreciate its ability to promote relaxation, and most practitioners experience stress-relieving benefits after just one class.  Hatha yoga also contributes to overall fitness and enhances a sense of wellbeing.

Related:  Yoga Lowers Fatigue and Inflammation in Breast Cancer Survivors

More Evidence

According to Dr. Michael Craig Miller of Harvard Medical School, hatha yoga helps promote a calmer response in stressful situations, which means breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure do not climb.  A study from Harvard examining yoga for stress relief followed a group of participants who took two 90-minute yoga classes weekly for three months.  During and following the study, subjects reported lower perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and better sleep, less back pain, and fewer headaches.

People involved in a yoga study published in The Journal of Nursing Research claimed both immediate and long-term stress reduction as a result of yoga practice.  Subjects reported less perceived stress after one 90-minute class and a more pronounced effect after eight weeks of classes at one 90-minute class per week.  Researchers concluded that practicing yoga regularly results in better fitness and reduced stress levels.

Stress relief does not always demand medication.  Approaches like yoga reduce stress naturally, but certain types of hot yoga and power yoga may prove too draining.  Hatha yoga moves at a slow, relaxed pace, so beginners pick it up quickly, but it still offers plenty of challenge to more advanced practitioners.  People who worry or those who have demanding jobs may want to take up hatha yoga for stress relief and many more health benefits

 

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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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Why Stress Can Destroy Your Adrenal Glands

by Health News

We all understand that stress is not good for our overall health, but understanding how stress physically affects us can help us improve stress management techniques so we can benefit from a healthier life. 

Stress management is the key to avoiding adrenal failure

We all have times of stress in our lives, from a sudden emergency to ongoing stress in the workplace or in our families and relationships. The body's natural stress management response is managed by the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and adrenaline, the hormones responsible for the "fight or flight" stress response. These hormones trigger a faster heart rate, elevated blood sugar levels and an increase in blood flow to the joints and muscles.

Adrenal Fatigue

If the body is chronically stressed, the adrenal glands must work harder and longer. Eventually they reach the point of "adrenal fatigue" as the glands become overworked; this leads to symptoms of chronic fatigue. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Being tired all the time
  • Trouble getting out of bed
  • Feeling overwhelmed by life
  • Inability to recover from minor illness
  • Cravings for sugar or salty snacks
  • Being more alert in the evening than during the rest of the day

Adrenal fatigue can occur after illness such as influenza, pneumonia or acute respiratory infection. It is not relieved by sleep.  In fact, sufferers often feel more tired when they wake up than when they went to sleep. Although they may look and act normally, there is an underlying sense of ill health caused by the adrenal fatigue. 

Sufferers may try to alleviate the symptoms with coffee, cola and high energy drinks to help them through the day, which can make matters worse.  The answer lies in stress management.

RelatedMagnesium Deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

How the Adrenal Glands Work

The adrenal glands are triangular shaped organs consisting of the central medulla and the outer cortex. They are controlled by impulses sent from the sympathetic nervous system and produce hormones in response to stress.

The medulla secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine into the bloodstream while the cortex aids stress management by producing glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. The hormone cortisol accounts for about 95 percent of this adrenal-glucocorticoid activity.

Stress Management Supports Healthy Adrenal Glands

Although it’s not possible to always control the events that life throws at you, learning stress management techniques can help control the body's reaction to stress which then helps avoid adrenal fatigue.

A balanced diet and good sleep patterns can all help lower stress in your life. Keeping your hormones balanced will ensure your adrenal glands work effectively when required, rather than being overworked all the time. Careful stress management also helps support a healthy immune system, preventing stress-related illness, maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and normal blood sugar levels. 

Stress management can be initiated through:

  • Regular exercise (especially Hatha Yoga)
  • Breathing exercises (also part of Hatha Yoga)
  • Owning companion animals
  • Support from family and friends
  • Laughter
  • Meditation and faith

By reducing the unnecessary stress put on the adrenaline system, you can keep your hormones balanced and avoid the debilitating symptoms of adrenal fatigue. It's another simple way that stress management can lead to a healthier, happier life. 

Free 30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge

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Three Antioxidants for Anti-Aging

by IVL Products

Extending our life spans to enjoy more of those “golden years” is the goal of almost all societies. There are never ending studies being conducted in hospitals, clinics and research laboratories around the globe to find the most effective anti-aging products that will turn back the clock. 

Anti-aging compounds called antioxidants neutralize free radicals to preserve the longevity of cells, and thus our lives.

The Three Anti-Aging Amigos

What are the best anti-aging compounds that should be in your diet?  Vitamin C and E are widely known as powerful free radical erasers, but there are other lesser-known compounds that are quickly rising to the top of the list of most powerful antioxidants.

Resveratrol

This polyphonic compound is found naturally in peanuts, grapes, red wine and many berries.  Since resveratrol is easily absorbed and metabolized by the human body, it can quickly begin neutralizing cell damaging free radicals. 

Research is showing that resveratrol significantly helps to slow down the spread of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. In animal studies for years, and now in human studies, resveratrol has been shown to reduce the narrowing of blood vessels lessening the risk of heart attacks (the number one killer of men and women in this country!) and strokes.

Most of its anti-aging benefits come from resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation has long been linked to diseases of the cardiovascular system, the gums, joints and other organs.

Related:  For Healthy Aging: A Toast to Resveratrol

Astaxanthin

This is a carotenoid pigment found in trout, microalgae, yeast, crab, lobster and is highly concentrated in Pacific salmon. It is what gives the fish flesh its pinkish hue. New research over the past decade has been slow because it is very expensive to obtain, but the medical community is finding out that this is one very powerful antioxidant!

Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-ZAN-thin) is a potent anti-inflammatory and pain blocker. It reduces the inflammatory compounds that are the source of many chronic diseases and works like prescription analgesics (pain relievers) but is completely natural.  It is especially effective at suppressing levels of C reactive protein, a known cause of heart disease.

Some researchers theorize that astaxanthin is highly concentrated in Pacific salmon to give them the muscular endurance to swim upstream when they migrate.  It improves blood flow to muscles and reduces the amount of oxidative stress they suffer when working hard and helps increase endurance.

Finally, when applied topically, astaxanthin helps smooth out wrinkles and diminish age spots.

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 helps converts food into energy and is found in almost every cell of the human body.  The reason CoQ10 is as important as an anti-aging compound lies in its ability to lower blood pressure, help control blood glucose levels and neutralize free radicals ravaging cells.

Studies have shown that patients who took CoQ10 after a heart attack were less likely to have another one and had less chest pain than those who did not take it. Smaller studies involving people have also shown it to lower blood pressure.

Those with high cholesterol tend to have low levels of CoQ10 in their bodies. Though sufficient research has not been done to link this to improving cholesterol levels there has been some studies done showing taking it with prescription statins reduces the pain associated with statin treatment and restores normal cholesterol levels in the body. 

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Healthy Foods That Taste Better Than Junk Foods

by Health News

Ice cream sundae or sugar-free jelly?  Chocolate brownie or granola bar?  Kettle chips or green salad?

It's often very difficult to stick to choices from your healthy foods list, since junk food, snacks and sweet treats invariably look and taste better than a healthier low-calorie option.  But just to prove that wrong, here are 10 foods that somehow manage to taste even better than junk foods—plus they help teach your body how to reduce food cravings.

Fruits rank high on the healthy foods list

1. Strawberries

Brimming with antioxidants and phytochemicals, it’s hard to beat the taste of a fresh sun-ripened strawberry. These lush summer fruits are high in vitamin C, carotenes, calcium, fiber and minerals yet are low in calories. Eating three or more servings a week of strawberries and blueberries is certainly no hardship, yet they provide a 32% lowered risk of heart attack.

2. Watermelon

Lycopene is normally associated with tomatoes, but it's present in watermelon, too. On a hot day there's nothing more refreshing than biting into a crisp triangle of juicy water melon—and that's a great tip for how to reduce food cravings too!

3. Mangoes

Mangoes are so versatile. Add them to fruit salads, eat fresh in slivers or make a delicious sugar-free dessert with them. They contain calcium, iron and lots of trace minerals as well as 17 of the 20 amino acids in the human body.

4. Almonds

Did you know that almonds are an excellent source of protein? The skins are high in antioxidants that are normally associated with fruits and vegetables. In fact, a one-ounce serving of almonds has the equivalent quantity of polyphenols as a cup of broccoli, but their calorie content is five times higher, so portion-size is the watchword!

5. Avocados

Another food where a little goes a long way is avocado. Low in fructose and high in healthy monounsaturated fats for energy, avocadoes are particularly high in potassium and B-vitamins.

6. Blueberries

Packed with fiber and antioxidants, blueberries contain high levels of nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure safely and naturally. What better fruit to add to your healthy foods list?

Related:  Healthy Eating Habits

7. Sweet Potatoes

It’s the beta-carotene antioxidant that gives sweet potatoes their healthy color. As well as countering the aging effects of free radicals, sweet potatoes also support the immune system.

8. Cherries

Sweet cherries are high in quercetin, the most potent type of antioxidant, along with fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins which are important for cancer prevention. These glossy fruits should be top of your healthy foods list when they are in season.

9. Pistachios

Containing the same healthy oleic acid found in olive oil, pistachios are known to naturally help lower blood pressure.  High in lutein and beta-carotene (both good for ophthalmic health), pistachios are a good snack for dieters as they take time to shell and nibble slowly.

10. Dark Chocolate

Eating high-quality dark chocolate in small portions (1-2 squares per day) can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. It helps control hypertension and fasting glucose levels and is a great snack choice for those looking for how to reduce food cravings. 

So maybe it’s not so difficult after all to stick to choices from your healthy foods list!  Choose a delicious and healthier low-calorie option from this tasty list of 10 foods that really do taste even better than junk foods!  

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Why Perricone Has It Right

by IVL Products

The word "Perricone", apart from being a type of Italian wine grape, generally refers to the Perricone diet, developed in 2001 by Nicholas Perricone. Dr. Perricone is a dermatologist who developed a diet specifically to prevent wrinkles and aging of the skin. 

Salmon is a key part of following the Perricone diet

In his book The Perricone Prescription, he explains why a diet rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids is the key to anti-aging. His later book, The Perricone Weight Loss Diet, follows the same principles but is adapted to achieving weight loss along with healthy skin and other benefits.

What is Perricone?

Perricone is a series of books promoting different aspects of a healthy diet. The books by Dr. Perricone cover topics such as weight loss, reversing the visible aging process, diminishing wrinkles, skin care and treating acne. However, all the Perricone books emphasize the power of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Perricone and Fatty Acids

Dr. Perricone advocates eating salmon five times or more per week along with tuna, shellfish, cod, trout and other fish. These foods are all high in essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3s, which is a key principle of the Perricone diet.

Fish oils contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are heart-healthy. These essential fatty acids slow the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque and help to lower blood pressure. They are also particularly good for maintaining a youthful, wrinkle-free complexion.

Perricone and Antioxidants

Other foods promoted in the Perricone diet, regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or healthier skin, are green vegetables, nuts, beans, berries, egg whites, low-fat dairy products, olive oil, tomato juice, melons and many fruits. These provide the second key ingredient in the Perricone diet – antioxidants.

Antioxidants are one of the most important factors for good general health, because they help to prevent the oxidation of molecules in the body by countering harmful free radicals. Antioxidants are now believed to prevent many chronic diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease.

RelatedReel In Relief:  Include Fish In Your Arthritis Diet

Perricone has it Right

By concentrating on foods that deliver high levels of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, it appears that Perricone really does have it right. By ensuring a healthy body through his recommended diet, Dr. Perricone is delivering a radiant, moisturized skin free of spots and wrinkles, which is the direct result of a natural diet low in carbohydrates and high in fish-derived protein, fruit and vegetables. This diet also naturally helps the body shed unnecessary fat, reducing the health problems related to obesity and poor diet.

While the Perricone Diet was devised to deliver a specific niche of health requirements for anti-aging, it seems Dr. Perricone indeed had the right idea. His diet leads to a healthy body from top to toe, resulting in weight control and a glowing, wrinkle-free complexion.

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The Best Sprouts for Menopause

by Health News

Hormone replacement therapy for menopause is linked to a dramatic increase in your risk of developing breast cancer.  With that scary statistic in mind, you may want to consider finding natural menopause relief.

Different kinds of sprouts work for natural menopause relief.

Thanks to an abundance of research and anecdotal publishing, we know there are some natural remedies for menopause symptoms like hot flashes, fatigue, and weight gain. A food you may not realize can help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause is sprouts.

What about Sprouts?

All sprouted seeds are very rich sources of natural enzymes.  A sprout is a seed in the active state of maturation, or sprouting, and has a lot of nutrients and healthy enzymes to offer. In fact, when a seed sprouts to become the plant it was destined to be, its nutrient value increases dramatically, but only for a short time.

There are many different kinds of sprouts, but the best ones to eat for natural menopause relief are:

Bean Sprouts – easy to grown and rich in folate protein, vitamin C, B vitamins and iron, these are most commonly found as mung, or soybean sprouts. 

Alfalfa Sprouts – best eaten raw to retain their crunchy texture these sprouts are a great source of beta-carotene (about as much as carrots!) calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins C and K, riboflavin, manganese and copper. They are also loaded with fiber.

Alfalfa sprouts also contain high levels of phytoestrogens, a compound that can have the same effect on the human body as estrogen. This will help reduce the symptoms of menopause caused by a decline in estrogen production as women age.

Lentil Sprouts – These sprouts are a little high maintenance but worth it because of the vitamin C, thiamine, copper, iron, folate and manganese they contain.

Related:  Are Sprouts Superfoods?

Sprouted Grains – Found in brown rice and buckwheat, sprouted grains supply a crunchy texture to breads and a hefty dose of extra fiber.  They have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, helping to control diabetes, alleviate depression and reduce blood pressure.

Depression, higher blood pressure and weight gain are common side effects of decreased estrogen and progesterone production making lentil sprouts a great natural remedy for menopause.

How to Incorporate Sprouts Into Your Diet

You can easily incorporate sprouts into your diet. They make a great addition to any salad, stuffed in a pita, part of a sandwich, and are a tasty burger topper.  They are delicious in stir-fries, soups and stews as well. 

Eating them regularly and throughout the day will not only help relieve hot flashes, but will also provide you with several nutrients critical to good health.

Sprout Safety

You can easily find sprouts at most grocery stores.  Since sprouts are known to be contaminated with E. coli and salmonella sometimes, it is a good idea to look for the organic variety, keep them refrigerated and buy fresh sprouts with the buds still on them.

You can also grow your own at home with a jar, cheesecloth and a rubber band. Those you know for sure are not contaminated!

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Why the Color Orange Represents Good Health

by Health News

Acid reflux or heartburn is a common ailment that strikes nearly everybody at one time or another.  There are plenty of drugstore products you can use to help ease the pain and discomfort of heartburn, but if you want more natural heartburn relief, look to the color orange.

What Is Heartburn? What Causes It?

Heartburn is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or simply acid reflux. Symptoms included a painful burning sensation in your chest and a sour taste in your mouth. Stomach acids that have escaped into the esophagus are burning the lining. 

Orange foods, such as oranges, can help with natural heartburn relief.

Normally a muscle at the entrance to the esophagus opens when you swallow, but then tightens to close off the stomach from the esophagus. If for some reason it does not fully close, powerful digestive acids that break down your food into digestible nutrients can escape.  

There are many potential causes of heartburn:

  1. A hiatal hernia, when the stomach pushes into the chest
  2. Eating large portions that strain the stomach’s capacity
  3. Wearing tight, restrictive clothing
  4. Lying down right after eating a large meal

Food Triggers:

  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato based sauces
  • Fried and/or fatty foods
  • Highly acid foods and juices like grapefruit, lemons, limes
  • Carbonated drinks

Related How Do You Naturally Prevent Acid Reflux?

Drugs:

  • Antidepressants
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Progestin found in birth control pills
  • Sedatives
  • Some medications prescribed to treat Parkinson’s disease

Orange You Glad You Read This

Some dietary changes may help to reduce the severity or avoid heartburn. Many of them are come graced with a lovely orange hue.

  • Carrots – carrot juice contains alkaline compounds that can help the neutralize acid that causes heartburn. They have other health benefits like beta-carotene, which becomes vitamin A in the body and helps heal sores in the intestinal or esophageal lining
  • Mangos – these exotic orange slices are loaded with powerful antioxidants like ascorbic acid (vitamin C), dehydro-absorbic acid and carotenoids. These compounds promote anti-inflammatory action in the body to sooth the inflammation associated with GERD or heartburn
  • Apricots – these small little orange fruits are loaded with catechins, which are anti-inflammatories. They also have a lot of fiber and beta-carotene without being high in fat or calories
  • Nectarines – similar to peaches, but with a smooth skin, nectarines are a sweet way to get more beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber into your diet
  • Peaches – they come in a range of colors from white to yellow and orange.  Regardless of their color, you should be eating them.  These stone fruits contain vitamins C, E, and K.

Color Me Happy

Cherries are red, some berries are blue and foods that are orange are good for you too!

Eating a diet rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals in place of most fatty foods, alcohol and coffee can go a long way toward helping you maintain a healthy weight, boost immunity and enjoy natural heartburn relief.

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Blurry Vision with Diabetes – Diabetic Retinopathy Information

by Cindy Gray

Diabetes is a disease that affects the metabolism.  Essentially, the body is unable to produce any insulin or it produces too little insulin, resulting in elevated glucose (or sugar) in the blood.  High blood sugar contributes to a wide range of health problems, one of which is eye health. 

Diabetes can lead to eye damage through a condition called diabetic retinopathy.  Over time, elevated blood sugar causes blood vessels to leak into the retina, which lines the back of the eye and senses light.  A buildup of fluid can lead to blurry vision and vision loss.Don’t Sugarcoat Your Vision

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of retinopathy until the disease has advanced to an irreversible point.  For those with advance-stage diabetic retinopathy, symptoms include blurry and/or obstructed vision.  Getting a yearly eye exam with dilation helps eye doctors detect changes in vision.

Related: Exploring Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Eye Health

Retinopathy Diagnosis

To diagnose this disease, eye doctors use drops to dilate pupils in order to see the retina at the back of the eye.  Typically, this view alone is enough to make a diagnosis, but sometimes another test is required.  With fluorescein angiography, doctors use dye to track circulation in the retina to make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

If caught early, diabetic retinopathy is easy to treat with few complications.  Laser treatment seals blood vessels in the eye that have just begun to leak, but blood vessels leaking over a period of time may require surgery.

Prevention

The best way to stay on top of eye health is to have an eye exam once a year.  Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, especially if blood sugar levels are not kept in check.  Making sure blood sugars stay at healthy levels helps lower risks for this disease.

Relax.  Stress causes a release of adrenalin and the body reacts with elevated blood pressure, a slower digestive system, and a rise in blood sugar.  It stands to reason that relaxation techniques might produce the opposite effect.  In fact, studies show that people who participate in transcendental meditation show improvement in insulin resistance.  Other relaxation methods to try include guided visualization, yoga, biofeedback, and deep breathing.

Natural Ways to Control Blood Sugar:

  • Don't smoke; and limit alcohol consumption.

  • Engage in regular moderate exercise as it reduces blood sugar and helps make insulin more effective.Sessions of 30 to 60 minutes three to four times per week offer the most benefits.

  • Cut out processed foods.Because they have little nutrients and fiber, processed foods digest quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike.

  • Eat more soluble fiber.By delaying the emptying of the stomach, soluble fiber (which dissolves in water) slows the rate of absorption for carbohydrates which helps stabilize blood sugars and lowers demands for insulin. Some types of fruits and starchy foods containing soluble fiber convert too quickly to sugar, so focus on slower-converting choices like oatmeal, flaxseed, nuts, cucumbers, and asparagus. 

  • Relax.  Stress causes a release of adrenalin and the body reacts with elevated blood pressure, a slower digestive system, and a rise in blood sugar.  It stands to reason that relaxation techniques might produce the opposite effect.  In fact, studies show that people who participate in transcendental meditation show improvement in insulin resistance.  Other relaxation methods to try include guided visualization, yoga, biofeedback, and deep breathing.

People who are concerned about eye health should visit the eye doctor each year, particularly if they have diabetes.  Diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition that responds well to treatment if diagnosed early.  Taking steps to control blood sugar also helps ensure good eye health.