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Gut Bacteria Linked to Cholesterol Metabolism, Weight Gain and Cardiovasular Health

by Cindy Gray

As you may know, if you have high levels of cholesterol—specifically LDL-cholesterol—you are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.  Cholesterol is mainly made in the body, but you can also get it from dietary sources. It is converted to bile acids (a major component of bile secretions) in the liver, which are then secreted into the intestine and either removed from the body or recycled back to the liver.

Now new research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden shows that cholesterol metabolism is regulated by bacteria that live in our small intestine. This is an interesting development, as the influence of gut bacteria on human health and disease is of growing interest to health experts.  Gut bacteria may reduce bile acid synthesis in the liver by signaling through a specific protein in the small intestine known as FXR, which not only affects cholesterol metabolism but is also involved in sugar and fat metabolism.Cholesterol, Weight Gain and Cardiovascular Health Linked to Gut Bacteria

If future research is able to identify the specific bacterium that affects FXR signaling, it could lead to new ways to treat diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In an earlier study, researchers at University College Cork in Ireland had shown that gut bacteria communicate with their host via a bacterial protein known as bile salt hydrolase to manage weight gain and cholesterol levels by changing the chemical properties of bile acids. The higher the levels of bile salt hydrolase in mice, the lower their cholesterol levels and the lesser their weight gain. In other words, bile acids act as signaling molecules and can influence host metabolism. If gut bacteria can influence this process, it can have significant consequences for their human hosts.

In the future, these findings may help with the selection of probiotics or dietary interventions relative to managing weight gain and high cholesterol, although more research is needed to understand exactly how this system works in humans.

Millions of Americans are at risk for cardiovascular disease because of high LDL-cholesterol levels. The current research shows that improving the beneficial gut bacteria with probiotics can offer a convenient and inexpensive way to lower this risk.  Many people include probiotics in their daily diet by consuming foods such as yogurt and kefir, and by taking probiotic supplement.

There are many probiotic supplements on the market today, and some are offer an acid-proof delayed-release formula.  Once in your intestines, delayed-release probiotics can deliver the living probiotics necessary to balance your gut bacteria quickly; and as studies show, this can benefit your cardiovascular health.

 

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Gut Bacteria Linked to Cholesterol Metabolism and Weight Gain

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Glutathione - the Master Antioxidant

by Cindy Gray

Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in the body. Chemically, it is a very small molecule that is made within the body itself. It is considered to be an important antioxidant because it is located inside every cell in the body. In general, antioxidants, the most well-known of which are vitamins C and E, are important for health because they neutralize harmful free radicals which can build up in cells and cause damage. Along with its own antioxidant actions, glutathione recycles vitamin C and other antioxidants. It also helps the liver remove foreign chemicals such as drugs and toxins. It has widespread health benefits because it is present in immune cells and drives the functions of the immune system, whose job is to fight off disease and infections.Optimize Overall Health with Master Antioxidant Glutathione

Food sources that either contain glutathione or its precursors to help the body produce more include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, avocados, peaches, watermelon, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, tomatoes, peas, garlic, onions, red peppers as well as meat, fish and green leafy vegetables. Clearly, people who consume a varied, healthy diet get enough glutathione from their diet. On the other hand, those with poor diets may not get enough glutathione. Sufficient levels of selenium, a micronutrient found in meat, seafood, egg yolks and certain plants, and alpha-lipoic acid, another antioxidant, are both necessary to maintain glutathione levels. Glutathione production increases during exercise. However, strenuous exercise, alcohol, and drugs such as acetaminophen, deplete glutathione from the liver.

Glutathione performs many important roles in the body, including:

  • Managing cell growth and division

  • DNA synthesis and repair - protecting DNA when it’s being made and repairing damaged DNA

  • Protein function - helping to maintain proteins in their active, functional forms

  • Amino acid transport - moving many substances, including amino acids, in and out of cells as needed

  • Enzyme activation and catalysis - helping enzymes transform into their active state and increasing the efficiency with which they function

  • Detoxification - breaking down toxins in the liver. The enzyme glutathione S-transferase binds to toxins such as carcinogens, heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides and makes them water-soluble, so that they can be removed from the body as bile, sweat and urine. Glutathione-related enzymes also detoxify cancer-causing chemicals so that they can be eliminated without damaging the cell or DNA.

Our body is constantly under attack from harmful chemicals called ‘free radicals’ created by a process known as ‘oxidative stress’. Some free radicals are generated externally, while others are made in the body itself. When they come in contact with DNA or other cellular components, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule and ‘steal’ its electron. A molecule that loses an electron then becomes a free radical itself and attacks the next nearest stable molecule, thus setting off a chain reaction that can potentially cascade through hundreds of molecules. Glutathione performs a vital role in repairing damaged DNA by replacing missing electrons.

Glutathione can exist either in so-called ‘reduced’ or ‘oxidized’ states. In healthy cells and tissue, more than 90% of total glutathione is in the reduced form. An increased ratio of the oxidized-to-reduced-forms is considered to be a significant marker of oxidative stress and is used to assess cellular toxicity. Oxidative stress in blood vessels is associated with many diseases. Glutathione manages the cell’s oxidative stress response.

People who have cancer, AIDS, cancer and other very serious diseases are almost invariably found to be depleted in glutathione. Although the reasons for this are not completely understood, it is clear that glutathione is extremely important for maintaining intracellular health. Laboratory studies have shown that glutathione has the potential to help fight almost any disease, particularly those associated with aging, since free radical damage is believed to be one of the major underlying causes of many of the diseases associated with old age. The body’s immune and detoxification systems cannot function without glutathione, which is an essential part of staying young, active and healthy. Within the immune system itself, glutathione enhances the activity of immune cells and also functions as an antioxidant within them. Some health experts believe that raising and maintaining glutathione levels can help minimize the risk of diseases.

There is extensive evidence that antioxidants play a protective role in cardiovascular disease, a chronic disease that is worsened by oxidative stress and inflammation. Long-term, large-scale, population-based studies have found that higher levels of glutathione, as well as vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids, are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, results from large clinical trials do not support long-term use of single antioxidant supplements for prevention of cardiovascular disease, due to their null or even adverse effects. Overall diet quality rather than single nutrients have been shown to have protective effects.

Glutathione has been shown to increase energy levels, strength and endurance. Our energy levels are a result of many factors, including the biochemical reactions taking place within cellular mitochondria. Glutathione ensures that mitochondria remain fully charged. Clinical trials have shown that lowered or depleted glutathione in the mitochondria leads to cell death, suggesting that proper glutathione levels are vital for cellular and overall health.

While there are many strong arguments in favor of a therapeutic use of glutathione, the actual amount of research on glutathione as a supplement is very limited. Health experts disagree on who should take glutathione or its precursors. Some say everyone should take it in order to optimize overall health. Others say it should be reserved for people with cancer, or those who eat poorly and are thus unlikely to be getting much glutathione or its precursors in their diet. However, everyone agrees that people with severe diseases known to be associated with low glutathione levels, such as AIDS, heart disease and cancer are likely to benefit from glutathione supplements.

Reference

http://www.immunehealthscience.com/glutathione.html

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Fibromyalgia: 10 Possible Underlying Causes

by Cindy Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reference

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

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Curcumin - Heart Supplement Benefits

by Not in Use Not In Use

Looking for beneficial ingredients to add to your high blood pressure recipes? Look no further than turmeric.

high blood pressure recipes

Since ancient times, traditional Ayurvedic medicinal practitioners in India have known about the health benefits of tumeric - a plant with trumpet-shaped, yellow flowers, related to ginger, that flourishes in Southeast Asia. Its roots are bulbs that produce rhizomes, which then produce stems and roots for new plants. A common staple spice in Asia, tumeric was always praised for its healing properties as an anti-inflammatory, as well as for digestive and cardiovascular ailments.

In the 21st century, we now know that there are scientific explanations for the benefits from tumeric. Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid found in tumeric (and that which makes tumeric the color yellow), is a powerful antioxidant, a polyphenol, that combats the effects of free radicals in the body. And while curcumin has been linked with cancer prevention, detoxification, and countering inflammation, some of the most intriguing evidence revolves around its potential for heart health supplement.

Curcumin’s powerful antioxidant activity could be the cause for its ability to improve the circulatory system and thus cardiovascular health. It also can be effective in reducing cholesterol, a leading cause of heart attacks, and has been shown in studies to protect rats from adverse effects following a stroke. Other research shows curcumin’s effectiveness in countering heart enlargement and subsequent heart failure.

Turmeric, the main source of curcumin, can be taken as a delicious additive to your next meal. In fact, it is a principle ingredient in curry, those tasty dishes found in Indian restaurants. But if Indian food is not to your liking, they can be found in health supplements. Curcumin is further proof of the abundance of natural remedies found in common foods, known about for centuries.

Add turmeric to your high blood pressure recipes today to improve your overall heart health!

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Natural Heart Health: Making Sense of Blood Pressure Readings

by Health News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Heart Health Tips: Do Walnuts Benefit Your Heart?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Looking for high blood pressure diet foods? A new study from the University of Munich Medical Center in Germany indicates that a diet enriched with walnuts may reduce heart disease risk naturally, by lowering levels of two major risk predictors.

Walnuts: High Blood Pressure Diet Foods

Walnuts are made up mainly of polyunsaturated fats. They are an excellent natural source of the heart-healthy plant-based omega-3 fat known as alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is one of the reasons they top the list of high blood pressure diet foods.

In this study, researchers investigated the effects of daily walnut consumption on blood lipid levels. They found that levels of non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (ApoB) levels - both major predictors of heart disease risk - were significantly reduced in study participants.

Healthy men and women consumed walnuts as part of their normal diet for eight weeks. They simultaneously reduced intake of saturated fats and increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats, resulting in beneficial changes to their lipid profile.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., responsible for roughly 1 in every 4 deaths. Everyone knows that a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet play an important role in heart disease prevention.

This study shows that people can benefit their heart health naturally by supplementing their diet with walnuts, which reduce the levels of non-HDL cholesterol and ApoB, two of the most important risk factors for heart disease.

Previous research has already indicated that walnut consumption can lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure (BP), two other major risk factors for heart disease - along with managing other known risk factors such as endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammation.

In fact, the evidence for walnuts being a great source of natural heart health is so extensive that in 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially approved one of the first health claims for a whole food. Similarly, the European Union (EU) has also officially acknowledged the health benefits of walnuts - the only nut to ever be credited with such claims.

This study adds to previous research and confirms that walnuts are a natural source of multiple, powerful heart health benefits including managing levels of cholesterol and blood lipids.

 

Read related blog posts:
Is there a Connection Between Diet Soda and Stroke Risks?
Can Cherries help lower Your Risk for Heart Disease?
What is Cholesterol?
5 Nutrients for a Healthy Heart
Can Dietary Fiber Banish Inflammation?

 

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Natural Heart Health with Walnuts.

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How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

by Health News

Low Blood Pressure Natural Treatment - Improve Blood CirculationPoor blood circulation can have a serious impact on one’s overall health.  For example, poor blood circulation means less blood flowing to your brain and typically means you have low blood pressure. This alone comes with a variety of significant symptoms, such as dizziness, problems thinking or even headaches.  In fact, poor blood circulation can impact every organ in your body and may even explain tingling and a lack of sensation in your arms and legs.  In short, poor blood flow can be quite serious.  Luckily, there are many natural health solutions that one can take in treating poor circulation.  In this article, we will examine a few of these low blood pressure natural treatments and natural health products.

Bonito Peptide

The bonito peptide is one natural dietary supplements that is currently being used for improving blood circulation.  This supplement is believed to contribute to general heart health and may have the ability to help regulate one’s blood pressure.  This compound is derived from the bonito fish.

L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is a compound derived from the amino acids methionine and lysine.  It plays a vital role in the metabolism and has enjoyed great success as a nutritional health supplement.  Generally considered to be safe, L-carnitine is often used to treat heart conditions.  It is believed that L-carnitine can be used to increase blood flow as well, which could make it a potentially useful supplement for those with blood circulation issues.

Nattokinase

Enzymes are vital for life and can provide a wide variety of health and medical benefits.  For example, the bromelain enzyme derived from pineapples can be a very effective anti-inflammatory.  Likewise, nattokinase is another enzyme with a variety of interesting properties.  This enzyme is extracted from a food called natto

Natto is a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.  Nattokinase is often used as a blood thinner, and its role in overall heart health is being explored.  However, nattokinase is not for everyone and has been known to have negative interactions with aspirin.  Anyone considering taking nattokinase should consult with his or her doctor.

Garlic

You might be tempted to believe that there is little that garlic can’t do!  Garlic has been sought after for generations as a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent.  Garlic is, in fact, so complex and beneficial that it literally has different properties depending on whether or not its been cut or crushed.

Additionally, garlic is believed to even have anti-cancer properties and is high in an assortment of vitamins and minerals.  It should come as no surprise that garlic may even be a heart healthy food as well.  A great deal of attention has been given to garlic’s potential as a heart healthy food, as it may protect the heart from oxidative damage and might lower bad cholesterol levels.  Further, garlic has the ability to positively impact artery walls.  All in all, garlic is a great pick for those looking for a natural way to increase blood flow.

Of course, following a healthy diet comprised largely of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein choices will do wonders for your health, regardless of whether or not you have any heart or circulation issues.  Following a diet rich in these foods will not only keep your heart healthy and your blood flowing, but will also give your body the nutrition and anti-oxidants it needs to fight off aging and disease as well.

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Can Turmeric Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk?

by Cindy Gray

According to a 2013 study, curcumin—the main active ingredient in the South Asian spice turmeric—can significantly increase secretion of an anti-diabetic hormone known as Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in a laboratory setting.  GLP-1 is a potent hormone that stimulates insulin secretion. Its own secretion in the gut is normally triggered by dietary carbs, proteins and lipids.Can Turmeric Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk?

Boosting GLP-1 secretion is an important therapeutic target for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes; in fact, several drugs have been designed to do exactly that.

Turmeric is the yellow spice that flavors and colors South Asian curries. Used for many centuries in traditional Indian medicine, turmeric has recently been shown to act powerfully in the human body and brain.

Type 2 diabetes, also known as hyperglycemia, is a common disease condition in which blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) is higher than normal. People with this condition either do not produce enough insulin, or their body’s cells become unable to use insulin properly.

When you eat food, your body breaks down carbs into glucose, which is the basic fuel for your body’s cells. Insulin helps sugar from your blood enter the cells in your body that need them, including your brain, muscle and liver cells.

When glucose builds up in blood instead of entering your cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Your cells become starved of energy

  • Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart

As of 2010, nearly 300 million people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Long-term complications include heart disease, stroke, diabetic retinopathy, kidney failure and poor blood flow in the limbs, leading to amputations.

Some health experts believe that it may be possible to boost GLP-1 secretion in the body as a way of lowering type 2 diabetes risk. Indeed, in the present study, curcumin was shown to significantly increase GLP-1 secretion in a laboratory setting.

Also, the researchers were able to identify the exact mechanism of GLP-1 secretion, revealing a novel biological function of curcumin and suggesting that it may become an important tool in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

In a more recent study from India, 89 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were treated with a polyherbal combination drug that included curcumin for 8 weeks. Promisingly, both fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels were seen to be significantly lower in these patients after eight weeks of treatment.

If you’re worried about your blood sugar levels, you may want to consider adding turmeric to your diet—both in cooking and in supplement form.  Just sprinkle powdered turmeric in just about any dish, particularly in entrees and savory dishes—a little bit goes a long way!  To get even more turmeric into your system, seek out a quality nutritional supplement designed to improve your insulin response and maintain normal blood sugar levels. Many supplement formulas contain botanical extracts, including bitter melon, Shilajit, fenugreek, banaba, and of course curcumin. All of these natural therapies are used in Ayurvedic medicine and have been proven to stabilize blood sugar naturally, with no known side effects.

So if you’d like to safely and effectively manage your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, remember to include turmeric in your daily cooking, and in easy supplement form.

 

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Can Turmeric Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk?   

 

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Can Supplements Offset the Effects of an Unhealthy Lifestyle?

by Cindy Gray

According to a 2010 study, poor lifestyle choices, including a diet low in micronutrients and minerals, inactivity, smoking and excessive drinking, all add up to a massive increase in the likelihood of death.  Study researchers found that risk of ‘all-cause mortality’ (dying from any cause) rose 85% for people with any one of these risky health behaviors; and went up a massive 3.5 times in those who engaged in all four harmful activities.  In fact, the combination of all four behaviors prematurely aged a person 12 years, in terms of mortality risk!Can Supplements Offset the Effects of an Unhealthy Lifestyle?

These results are not surprising, since each factor has shown an independent effect on mortality in prior studies. However, this study shows the heavy price people pay when they engage in two or more of these poor lifestyle choices.

On the positive side, even modest positive adjustments to any of these lifestyle behaviors are likely to have a significant impact on health.

This study analyzed results from the prospective Health and Lifestyle Survey, in which 4,886 participants aged 18 or older were followed over an average of 20 years. Individuals were scored for unhealthy behaviors, including:

  • Eating less than three servings of fruits and vegetables a day

  • Getting less than two hours of leisure time physical activity per week

  • Drinking more than 14 eight-gram units of alcohol per week for women or 21 units for men

Men were seen to be more likely than women to meet each of these unfavorable criteria.  The effect on all-cause mortality was weakest for a nutrition-poor diet. Physical inactivity, current smoking, and high alcohol intake scored the highest.  Cardiovascular deaths were higher with all four unhealthy behaviors, but significantly associated only with lack of exercise. Cancer deaths were significantly associated with both current smoking and inactivity.  The greater the number of unhealthy behaviors, higher the overall death risk as well as specifically from cardiovascular, cancer and other causes of death.

Of these four unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, a nutrition-poor diet is perhaps the most common. A diet of overly refined, processed, overcooked foods and not enough fruits and veggies can deplete your body of the micronutrients and minerals it needs to function optimally, making you more susceptible to infections, premature aging and chronic diseases.

Fortunately, one simple solution is to include a high quality multivitamin supplement every day.  Many unique formulas are now available that include natural probiotics and enzymes to help with digestion and overall metabolism; energy boosting ingredients; antioxidants to help fight off harmful free radicals; phytonutrients to balance pH and combat acid overload; immunity boosters to help your body fight off disease; and multiple anti-aging constituents to help you look and feel young again.

So why not include a daily multivitamin supplement in your routine, and take a positive step towards a healthy lifestyle?

 

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Can Supplements Offset the Effects of an Unhealthy Lifestyle?   

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Chance of Stroke Rises with Less Magnesium in the Blood

by Health News

What is good for high blood pressure? Magnesium.Many people come to our health blog with the question: “What is good for high blood pressure?” Since high blood pressure is a common cause of stroke and heart attack, it’s no wonder people want to be proactive about their cardiovascular health. In this article we will take a look at how magnesium levels in the blood serve to decrease the chances of stroke and why exactly this is the case.

In order to understand why magnesium can impact the risk of stroke, it is first necessary to understand how magnesium impacts the body. Studies indicate that most Americans are actually at least somewhat deficient in this key mineral, which can lead to an assortment of illnesses including osteoporosis. In general, magnesium is believed to play a vital role in the regulation of blood pressure

Some studies indicate that an increase in magnesium intake could decrease the risk of a stroke and even lower the incidences of heart disease. In particular, it is believed that magnesium may be able to protect brain cells from dying when under stress.

It appears that a lack of magnesium can do more than weaken our teeth and bones. In fact, according to some medical professionals, a lack of magnesium might actually serve to increase our overall risk of stroke as well. Considering the impact that a stroke can have on one’s health and even on one’s longevity, eating magnesium rich foods and using magnesium supplements looks to be nothing short of a must.

Magnesium can be found both in vegetable and animal sources. Halibut is one of the highest known forms of magnesium, and yogurt and milk score well also. Luckily for vegans, magnesium can be found in a wide variety of foods, ranging from nuts, such as almonds and cashews, to leafy greens, such as spinach and even potatoes. The wide variety of food that contains magnesium makes it possible for most people to easily work more magnesium into their diets.

In light of the extraordinary importance of this somewhat overlooked mineral, it is important to take note of foods that are high in magnesium and regularly incorporate them into your diet. While calcium is undoubtedly also critical for good health, the simple fact is that the same can be stated for magnesium. As it turns out, magnesium can play a vital role in helping to avoid stroke. Of course, the best medicine is always prevention. Eating foods that are rich in magnesium and taking magnesium supplements is an absolute must.

Concerned about your heart health?

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Can Nettle Root Protect Against Hair Loss?

by Cindy Gray

Nettle root extract is a common ingredient found in hair products to stimulate hair growth and is believed to be effective for treating both male and female pattern Can nettle root protect against hair loss? baldness. Nettle root is also taken orally as a vitamin supplement.

The common or stinging nettle is a flowering plant with hollow stinging hairs on its leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles and inject chemicals that produce a stinging, burning sensation when they come into contact with skin. The nettle plant has a long history of use as a medicine, as a food source, and as a source of fiber.

The effectiveness of nettle root for hair loss has not been thoroughly studied. However, research shows that this herb can block production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is mainly responsible for hair loss - known as androgenic alopecia. DHT is the active form of testosterone and is 15-30 times more biologically potent than testosterone.

Only 2% of total testosterone in the blood is free and only free testosterone is biologically active. A protein known as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) binds to the remaining 98% of testosterone, keeping it inactive. When consumed, nettle root binds to SHBG instead of testosterone, increasing levels of free testosterone in men and estrogen in women.

To perform its biological functions, DHT binds to so-called ‘receptor sites’ for testosterone and DHT in the body. Nettle root competes with DHT for these receptor sites in the scalp, meaning that DHT is unable to interfere with hair growth.

Nettle root also directly blocks the enzyme that causes hair loss in androgenic alopecia and can be used as a stand-alone herb for treating male pattern baldness.

Additionally, women suffering from female pattern baldness have also seen positive effects with the use of topical solutions such as creams, lotions, shampoos and conditioners. Besides blocking production of excess DHT, topical nettle applications are thought to stimulate the scalp, strengthen the hair shaft, and stimulate the roots of the hair.

However, it may be a good idea to perform an allergy patch test or consult a medical professional before using nettle supplements or topical solutions, as some users have reported allergic reactions.

Having healthy, vibrant hair is important for both men and women. As we age, hair maintenance becomes even more important than ever before. If you’re unsure about what you can do to take care of your hair, there are natural supplements formulated with targeted nutrients that have been shown to support hair health, including nettle root extract. Natural supplements can be safe, effective alternatives to traditional cosmetic-based approaches.

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Can Nettle Root Protect Against Hair Loss?  

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Can Bitter Melon Counter Obesity-Associated Inflammation in the Brain?

by Cindy Gray

Bitter Melon May Counter Obesity-Associated Inflammation in the BrainAccording to a study from the University of Hawaii, bitter melon can counter inflammation in the brain caused by obesity, thereby lowering risk for brain-related diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and others.

The global epidemic of obesity is a major risk factor for many diseases, including those affecting the brain; and it is a major preventable cause of death worldwide. In 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) officially classified obesity as a disease.

An increase in metabolism due to excess nutrition and obesity can lead to inflammation in the brain; although health experts are not exactly certain of how this happens.

In the present study, the researchers from Hawaii looked at the effects of regular consumption of bitter melon on the consequences of a high-fat diet on inflammation in laboratory mice.

Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd, is a fruit that is used as food in many South Asian countries. It has long been used in the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda to treat a number of ailments, including type 2 diabetes. Bitter melon is also used in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to stimulate digestion, treat malaria, boost immune function and treat diabetes.

In the Hawaiian study, mice were fed a high-fat diet with and without bitter melon for 16 weeks. Their brains were then examined for so-called ‘markers’ of inflammation and stress.

Interestingly, study researchers found that the high-fat diet triggered the expression of inflammatory markers in the brains of these mice. However, expression of these markers returned to normal levels if the mice had been eating bitter melon as well.

Not only that, blood levels of antioxidants and pro-inflammatory compounds—which had increased in response to the special diet—also returned to normal with bitter melon consumption.

The study authors concluded that bitter melon is a potential therapy for obesity-associated inflammation in the brain and may lower risk for brain diseases.

Inflammation levels can be safely and effectively managed by adding bitter melon to your regime therapy.  There are nutritional supplements on the market today, such as elixirs, that may include all-natural, healthful nutrients, such as green tea extract, hibiscus, rose hips, pomegranate and of course bitter melon.  This type of supplement may provide your body with powerful protection against inflammation, for optimal brain and overall health.

Nutritional supplements like these are very easy to add to your daily routine to protect yourself against the toxic effects of inflammation.   Given the powerful health benefits of bitter melon and similar ingredients why not investigate a supplement like this today?

 

Source:

Can Bitter Melon Counter Obesity-Associated Brain Inflammation?

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Is Moderate Alcohol Consumption Healthy?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You’re probably already aware that a glass or two of red wine is good for your heart and reduces your risk of strokes and gallstones. Now, a new study suggests that moderate alcohol consumption can play a key role in healthy aging by bolstering your immune system, A new study suggests that moderate alcohol consumption can play a key role in healthy aging by bolstering your immune system, improving its responsiveness.improving its responsiveness.

In this study, 12 macaque monkeys were trained to drink alcohol freely and given free access to a 4 percent alcohol mixture as well as food and water. Their alcohol consumption - which mimicked human alcohol consumption - caused the research team to divide them into two groups.

The first group of macaques was made up of so-called ‘heavy drinkers’ who ended up with a blood ethanol concentration (BEC) of 0.08 percent or more. Interestingly, 0.08 percent is the maximum legal BEC for anyone driving a vehicle in the US. The second group of drinkers had lower BECs ranging from 0.02 to 0.04 percent.

Before giving the macaques access to alcohol, study researchers first observed their response to vaccinations. At first, all the macaques had comparable response times. However, after they were granted access to alcohol, their immune system response times to the vaccinations changed dramatically.

For instance, heavy drinking macaques showed diminished vaccine response times when compared to a group of macaques that consumed sugar water in place of alcohol.

Surprisingly though, macaques that consumed moderate amounts of alcohol actually showed enhanced immune system responses to vaccinations - in fact, these study researchers suggest that the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption may be linked directly to its positive impact on the immune system.

It’s important to remember that while moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial, downing too many glasses can prove detrimental to health and wellbeing.

This new study did not identify the specific alcohol component that acts to enhance the immune system. Once health experts know what it is, less controversial health supplements are likely to be developed in future.

Source: Moderate Alcohol Consumption may Boost the Immune System.

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15 Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fats in Vascular Disease

by Cindy Gray

While fish and fish oil have long been accepted sources of omega-3 fats, these essential fats are also present in a wide variety of plant-based foods and supplements. They are a necessary component of the membrane of each cell in our body and help to correct or prevent many adverse health conditions.

The term ‘omega-3 fat’ refers to a group of three polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFAs) that share certain characteristics. These fats are mainly referred to by their acronyms ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosatetraenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).15 BENEFITS OF OMEGA-3 FATS

According to scientific research, these are some of the many benefits of omega 3-fats it they apply to vascular disease:

  1. Dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil lowers blood pressure (BP) in people with elevated blood lipids, known as dyslipidemia.

  2. Omega 3 fats improve the cardiovascular risk profile of subjects with metabolic syndrome, including markers of inflammation and autoimmunity.

  3. In modest doses, omega-3 fats reduce incidence of cardiac deaths; while in high doses they reduce non-fatal cardiovascular events.

  4. Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fats reduces incidence of sudden cardiac death in patients with myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack.

  5. Omega-3 fat supplementation reduces total mortality and sudden death in patients who have already had one heart attack.

  6. Consuming fish is associated with a reduction in coronary heart disease incidence.

  7. Omega-3 fat and vitamin D supplementation leads to a substantial reduction in coronary calcium scores and slows plaque growth.

  8. Omega-3 fats improve macro- and micro-vascular function in patients with type 2 diabetes.

  9. Omega-3 fats improve endothelial function in peripheral arterial disease.

  10. Fish oil has a beneficial effect on blood viscosity in peripheral vascular disease.

  11. The omega-3 fat docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) reduces the risk of peripheral arterial disease associated with smoking.

  12. Fish and long-chain omega-3 fat intake reduce coronary heart disease risk and total mortality in diabetic women.

  13. Higher plasma concentrations of EPA and DPA are associated with a lower risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction or heart attack in women.

  14. Omega-3 fat consumption is inversely associated with incidence of high blood pressure, known as hypertension.

  15. Fish consumption reduces ischemic stroke risk in elderly individuals.

If you’re not sure how you can add omega-3 fats to your daily diet, we have just the solution for you!

Omega-3 supplements and comprehensive heart health formulas should contain enhanced ingredients to help protect your entire cardiovascular system. Often formulated with optimized levels of both EPA and DHA omega-3 fats, these supplements should be sourced from a certified sustainable and responsibly managed Alaskan fishery.

Given the many proven benefits of omega-3 fats in vascular disease, why not begin an omege-3 supplementation routine today?

 

Source:

15 Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fats In Vascular Disease.

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Natural Energy Boosters: How to Boost your Afternoon Energy with Green Supplements

by Health News

Natural Ways to Boost Energy with Green SupplementsWe all know how tough it can be making it through the afternoon hours once energy levels have dropped.  Yet, there are excellent natural ways to boost energy that are caffeine and chemical free, which can really revitalize you and improve your health at the same time.

Let’s face it; we all have days where our energy levels drop considerably in the afternoon.  Now on a particularly stressful or physically demanding day, this is understandable and quite natural.  However, it is important that you realize that there are steps you can take to keep this from happening to you. 

By using proper nutrition, such as vitamin, mineral and protein rich foods or green supplements, you can “recharge your battery” anytime of the day including during the all-important afternoon period.

When you are looking for natural ways to boost energy, its good to know that there are options other than caffeine.  The simple facts are that you don't have to reach for coffee, tea or an “energy bar or drink” to get your energy boost.  Energy bars and drinks tend to be high in an assortment of things that your body just doesn't need, such as sugar, chemicals, additives and preservatives. 

Even the best choices on the market have their problems.  For example, many of these products secretly contain caffeine.  What you really need to find are energy boosters that also improve health and well-being at the same time.  They will give you the “juice” you need to make it through those difficult afternoon hours.

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Antioxidant Supplements Provide Abundant Energy

by Health News

how to gain energyContrary to popular belief, energy levels do not automatically diminish with age and growing older doesn’t have to mean “moving slower.” If you want to learn how to gain energy, proper nutritional support that includes plenty of antioxidant supplements can give your body the boost it needs to increase energy naturally through all the years of your life.  

Energy loss can be traced to free radicals. These are the “bad guys” that damage cells and DNA. Free radicals are actually oxygen molecules that can be produced by the body, but there are also external sources such as air pollution, pesticides, food additives and cigarette smoke. As we get older these toxic oxidants build up in the body. If left unchecked free radicals will create a “perfect storm” within our bodies that accelerates the aging process and leads to a steep decline in energy levels.

Antioxidants are “good guys” that neutralize free radicals and help restore the body to health and balance. Antioxidants are plant-based phytochemicals, vitamins and nutrients that protect our bodies from the damage caused by toxic oxidants. They are abundant in raw fruits and vegetables, especially brightly colored ones.

Check out the selection at your local organic farmer’s market. Berries, including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts are also rich in antioxidants as well as tomatoes, spinach, carrots and red grapes. Green Tea is another potent source. March is National Nutrition Month and the American Dietetic Association chose the theme “Eat Right With Color” to promote consumption of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.   

Because the body’s natural ability to produce antioxidants decreases with age, millions of older Americans use antioxidant nutritional supplements to neutralize free radicals and slow down the aging process. A good natural antioxidant dietary supplement may reduce the level of free radicals in the body while helping you to maintain strong metabolic activity which increases our energy levels.

how to gain energy

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Enzymes Set the Stage For Vibrant Health

by Health News

Wondering how to gain energy?

Natural health products like enzymes are critical to tHow to Gain Energy: Enzymes Set the Stage For Vibrant Healthhe performance of virtually every process in the body. Although most people understand the vital roles that vitamins and mineral play in keeping us healthy and energized, many do not understand the importance of proper enzyme balance.

Enzymes serve as catalysts for the body’s essential chemical reactions that support health and vitality. They work their magic by breaking down the nutrients in our body so that the nutrients can pass through the intestinal walls and eventually be absorbed into the bloodstream. Vitamins and minerals are referred to as “coenzymes” which means that they require an enzyme in order to work.

Enzymes are the driving force behind tissue regeneration, proper digestion, cardiovascular health, kidney and liver function and many other life-sustaining processes. The powerful antioxidant properties associated with enzymes help protect the body from disease. When enzymes become depleted the body suffers. Chronic enzyme deficiency or malfunction can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening health problems.

Most scientists classify enzymes into three main groups: metabolic enzymes, plant enzymes and digestive enzymes. Because they play such a pivotal role in our health, it is essential to get the proper balance of enzymes. Ideally, we should get many of the enzymes we need from food, but that is rarely the case. Fruits, vegetables and other raw foods are good sources but the average American diet contains very few enzymes. In today’s fast-paced world most people turn to time-saving convenience foods that are overcooked and over processed to the point that essential enzymes are destroyed.   As we age, it becomes more difficult for our body to produce the enzymes it needs to thrive, so older people are at a higher risk for significant enzyme deficiency.   

As we have learned more about the critical role that enzymes play in our overall health, more and more medical researchers are recommending daily enzyme supplementation. Enzyme supplements can be purchased at natural health stores and come in powder, tablet or liquid form. The supplements make digestion more efficient by enhancing the absorption of vital nutrients. For best results choose an enzyme supplement which contains a blend of different enzymes. Your holistic health practitioner can help you determine which natural supplements will work best for you.   

Elevating the enzyme levels in your body through natural supplementation will result in improved metabolic and digestive function that will make you look and feel younger. Keeping enzymes in balance will also make you less susceptible to serious diseases. Consider adding enzyme supplements to your “stay-well” plan so you can enjoy vibrant health throughout your life.

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Increase Energy Naturally with Iron

by Health News

Natural Ways to Boost Energy with Iron If you’re a woman and you are tired all the time, an iron supplement might be one of the best natural ways to boost energy. A recent study* whose results were published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) showed that premenopausal women suffering from “unexplained” fatigue who had low blood levels of iron experienced significant improvement after 12 weeks of iron supplementation.

For the study, Dr Bernard Favrat and his associates of the Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine at the University of Lausanne enrolled 198 women, aged 18 to 53 in this double-blinded, randomized trial. Participants’ serum ferritin (iron) levels were less than 50 micrograms per liter and their hemoglobin levels were above 12 grams per deciliter (these levels are considered deficient) at the launch of the study. Subjects were divided to receive oral, timed-release ferrous sulfate containing 80 mg of elemental iron or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. The participants’ fatigue was evaluated and their blood analyzed for hemoglobin, ferritin and other factors at the beginning of the study (baseline), at 6 weeks and then again at 12 weeks.

For the women receiving the actual iron and not the placebo, hemoglobin, ferritin, and other factors increased after 6 weeks and continued to be improved at 12 weeks. Conversely, the participants in the placebo group had declining values in these areas by the end of the study.

The researchers found that in menstruating, iron-deficient, non-anemic women, iron supplementation for 12 weeks decreased fatigue by almost 59% from baseline; a significant difference of 19% compared with placebo.

The researchers believe that iron deficiency is an under-recognized cause of fatigue in menstruating women, and that this study underscores the importance of testing for iron deficiency in women with unexplained fatigue. The problem is easily treated, and for the woman, she might be spared the time, expense and frustration of being told it’s “an emotional problem.”

Iron supplements are widely available in tablet and liquid forms at most health food stores and supermarkets. It is important to note, however, that while the right amount of iron is excellent for your health, too much can lead to free radical damage and degenerative diseases. Before you begin an iron regimen, talk to your health care professional about the appropriate dosage for YOU.

*http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2012/07/09/cmaj.110950

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5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF DIETARY FIBER

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You likely already know that adding fiber to your diet is a great way to improve your regularity or to treat constipation.

However, the fact is that dietary fiber - ideally from plants and nuts - has many other important health benefits, including -  

5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF DIETARY FIBER

  1. Blood sugar control - because it is not broken down by the body, fiber in an apple or a slice of whole grain bread has no effect on blood glucose levels. Of course, most foods that contain fiber - such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals and pastas - also contain other types of non-fiber carbohydrates such as sugar and starch that do raise blood sugar levels. According to a recent study, people with diabetes who ate 50 grams of fiber daily - especially soluble fiber - were able to control their blood sugar much better than those who ate far less. The average person needs to consume between 20-35 grams of fiber every day.
  2. Better heart health - fiber-rich foods are clearly associated with lower risk of heart disease. Research shows that people who regularly consume a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease. A high-fiber diet also lowers levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and reduces blood pressure (BP). 
  3. Stroke protection - getting more fiber can reduce risk of stroke. Researchers found that each seven-gram increase in total daily fiber intake was associated with a 7 percent decrease in first-time stroke risk. One serving of whole wheat pasta plus two servings of fruits or vegetables provides about 7 grams of fiber. 
  4. Effective weight loss management - a high-fiber diet tends to be low in calories and takes longer to eat. It makes you feel full sooner and for longer. Also, if you're eating more fiber, you're eating less of other foods that cause weight gain - which is also beneficial for heart health. 
  5. Radiant skin health - fiber helps to make your skin appear radiant and healthy. Along with water, fiber cleanses the body of fats and toxins. For example, adding psyllium husk to your diet helps to remove harmful yeast and fungus out of your body, instead of being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.

What are the best sources of fiber? 

Vegetables are a major dietary source including artichokes, cooked green peas and broccoli. Fruits high in fiber include raspberries and pears, eaten with the skin. Legumes - including split peas, black beans and lentils - are also an excellent source of dietary fiber. 

Another way to get adequate fiber in your diet is to take a daily serving of a psyllium supplement. One serving with 8 ounces of water will provide you with about 20% of your daily fiber needs.

Psyllium seed husks are hygroscopic, which means they expand and become mucilaginous on contact with water. Being indigestible, they are a source of soluble dietary fiber and are typically used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. They are also used as a dietary supplement to improve and maintain regularity. 

Recent research has shown that psyllium seed husks may also be effective in lowering cholesterol and controlling certain types of diabetes. Other uses include gluten-free baking, where ground psyllium seed husks are used to bind moisture and make breads less crumbly.

 

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Top 3 Vitamins and Minerals to Support a Healthy Heart

by Health News

When it comes to heart health and aging healthy, most of us understand the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet rich in high-fiber vegetables and whole grains, and getting regular aerobic exercise.  But do you know what is good for high blood pressure? Your heart, arguably the hardest working organ in your body, needs a steady supply of certain vital vitamins? Here is a list of some of those vitamins and minerals, and why the getting proper balance of them is essential for optimal heart health.

What is good for high blood pressure?Calcium.
More than any other muscle in your body, you rely on your heart to contract regularly—and that’s a huge understatement. Calcium is vital for muscle contractions. Calcium is critical to healthy aging because it is stored in the bones, where it is released regularly to maintain a consistent level in the bloodstream. If you don’t consume enough calcium, you can get a condition called hypocalcemia, whose symptoms include muscle spasms and irregular heartbeat. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, leafy greens and broccoli. Many foods are now fortified with calcium, such as bread, juice and cereals.

Iron.
This mineral is essential for heart health because it delivers its supply of oxygen through the hemoglobin in red blood cells. Without oxygen, your heart cannot function. If you don’t have enough iron in your body, you can get a condition called anemia. Severe anemia can actually lead to heart failure. Sources of iron include animal meat, seafood, molasses, tofu, spinach, peas, raisins and beans. Iron-fortified products include breads and cereals.

Magnesium.
Magnesium is essential for maintaining heart rhythm. But with magnesium, balance is extremely important. Magnesium deficiency can cause muscle spasms and weakness. Too much magnesium can cause the heart to stop beating! Consume green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, peas and whole grains for a healthy supply of magnesium.

Talk to your health care practitioner about what is good for high blood pressure, and how much of these essential vitamin mineral supplements you need to keep your heart in top form and to set yourself on the path to healthy aging.