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Prevent Heart Disease: Best Foods for Heart Health

by Cindy Gray

Heart disease continues to be a top killer of both men and women in the United States. However, just a few changes in your diet and lifestyle can dramatically lower your risk.

Prevent Heart Disease: Best Foods for Heart Health

In this week’s video you learned about the heart health benefits of dark leafy greens, berries, and whole grains. Foods containing healthy fats are particularly protective such as avocados, wild caught salmon, nuts and olive oil. Certain spices contain strong anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that can lower your risk. Ginger and turmeric are two great examples. Garlic is also great for your heart. Many studies show that it lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and has strong antioxidants that protect your blood vessels against damage. Just a few cloves a week can significantly lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you prefer, you can take an aged-garlic supplement.

Related What are the Top 5 Anti-Aging Foods?

Certain drinks are great for your heart health too. For example, green tea decreases several cardiovascular risk factors including high cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as blockages in arteries. Studies show that drinking 5 or more cups a day can reduce your risk of death from heart attaches and strokes by 26%. If you prefer drinking coffee, you’ll be glad to know it can lower your risk too. Researchers found women who drink at least 2 cups of coffee per day have a 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Five cups or more a day can reduce stroke deaths by 36%.

Even certain guilty pleasure foods can lower your risk of heart disease. For instance, dark chocolate (60-70% cacao) contains strong antioxidants, which can lower blood pressure, raise your “good” HDL cholesterol, and prevent blockages in your arteries. Because chocolate usually contains sugar and is high in calories, limit the amount you eat to just an ounce or two a day.

Remember that heart disease is mostly preventable. By simply making some wiser food choices, you can profoundly lower your risk. 

Everyone Ages. Learn How to Do It Better. Free Resource Guide.

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Heart-Healthy Foods to Add To Your Diet

by IVL Products

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

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

Fishing for a Healthy Heart

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

Related:  Include Fish in Your Arthritis Prevention Diet

Go Nuts

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

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

Be Fruitful and Thrive

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

Veg Out

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

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

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

Carbs Count

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

Enjoy Dessert

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

Here’s To Your Heart

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

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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Lack of Appetite: Four Typical Causes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

1.  Chronic Disease

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

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

2.  Hypothyroidism

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

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

Related:  Three Hormonal Causes of Depression

3.  Medications

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

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

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

4.  Depression

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

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

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

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Sweat Too Much? Four Ways to Stop Excessive Sweating

by IVL Products

Sweating is normal when temperatures are high or during exercise. At other times, suffering from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) can be embarrassing, especially if it soaks through your clothing or makes your hands clammy and damp. It may help to know that you are not alone; an estimated eight million Americans have this problem.

There are ways to help reduce excessive sweating

Here are four suggested ways to help stop excessive sweating and gain control, simply by making a few lifestyle changes.

1.     Use Antiperspirant Twice Daily

Check that your deodorant actually includes an antiperspirant as well. Deodorants simply mask any odors while antiperspirants actually stop the underarm glands from producing sweat. You may need to change to a combination antiperspirant deodorant to control sweating.

If you have been using the same brand of antiperspirant for years, a change to a different product may produce a more effective response. Choose one containing aluminum chloride for added effectiveness.  (However, many health-conscious folks choose to avoid antiperspirants because of the aluminum content.)

As well as using antiperspirant in the morning, reapply in the afternoon for added effectiveness. This is usually the warmest part of the day and your morning antiperspirant may already have rubbed off onto clothing.

Related:  Chlorophyll:  Nature's Remedy for Fatigue, Bad Breath and More

2.     Eliminate Spicy Food

Hot peppers used in spicy dishes contain capsaicin which activates nerves that are heat sensitive. They send signals to the spinal cord and the hypothalamus in the brain, activating sweat glands to produce sweat and cool the body. By avoiding those hot and spicy dishes, you can control excessive sweating.

3.     Avoid Caffeine

In a similar way to hot spices, caffeine boosts energy and alertness, but it also increases sweating when consumed in large amounts. Once the caffeine is metabolized, the sweating stops, but it could be easier to avoid that caffeine rush by drinking caffeine-free sodas, coffee and herbal or green tea—or replace with purified water.

4.     Try Detox Supplements to Reduce Sweating

Your body is full of toxins and metals which collect in the kidneys and liver and may contribute to excessive sweating. Try a 3-5 day detox diet eating only fresh raw vegetables and fruits. Drink lots of water and squeezed fruit juices and avoid alcohol and smoking. A detox diet will cleanse the whole digestive system, eliminating excess water and waste along with toxins.

Taking a dietary supplement can help to make the detoxification more effective. As well as feeling energized and revitalized, you should also sweat less afterward.

You may find a few other useful tips in this article on stopping excess sweating. Once you have excessive sweating under control, you can relax and concentrate on enjoying life without feeling self-conscious.   

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Simple Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness

by IVL Products

While we may know a lot about optimal health in theory, in reality, does our lifestyle measure up?  A truly healthy life consists of many different aspects, including diet, supplements and exercise. 

Optimal health includes eating plenty of fresh fruit

Health and fitness go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to choose regular exercise activities that you actually enjoy as part of your simple healthy lifestyle, to avoid it becoming a dreaded chore. 

Optimal Health and Fitness

Exercise should not be all about burning calories or how much time you spend at the gym. In order for fitness to be a part of your life naturally, exercise in a way that is intuitive and natural.

As humans, our bodies were never intended for life as a couch potato or sat at a desk all day; they were designed for daily activity. It helps to understand by thinking about the exercise our ancestors did: walking, sprinting, climbing, swimming, crawling and lifting heavy things. By replicating those activities on a daily basis, we will be giving our body a natural all-round workout as nature intended.

Related:  Exercise Your Right to Brain Health

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published an excellent Complete Guide to Fitness and Health which gives plenty of tips, instructions and illustrations on how to achieve optimal health through nutrition and exercise.

Health and Diet

Exercise is just one part of optimal health and it has to be done in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Once again, it pays to think simply and eat like our ancestors did. Their diet as hunter-gatherers would have included meat, fish, fowl, fruit, nuts, raw vegetables and plants. They would have drunk plenty of water rather than sugary, soda and drinks heavy in caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

Genetically engineered foods such as soy, corn, canola oil and varieties of vegetables and fruits would not have been part of our diet historically, and neither would pesticides and fertilizers. It’s a good reason to go organic and try to get back to the optimally healthy lifestyle nature intended.

Sleep and Stress

In the days before electricity brought TV entertainment, our ancestors would have risen and slept according to the hours of daylight and nightfall. They would have enjoyed plenty of sleep. Stress would have been limited to key moments during a hunt, when the “fight or flight” hormones of adrenalin and cortisol would have kicked in momentarily, not all the time as in our modern-day lives.

Although we may pride ourselves on our civilized and developed society, when it comes to optimal health and fitness, it can be good to look back and try to emulate the simple, natural lifestyle that our bodies are designed for. 

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Sex and Menopause: Is it Normal to Lose Desire?

by Health News

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

How to stay healthy and keep your sex life humming!

What Causes Desire to Wane?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Your Mojo Back

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

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

Improving Vaginal Dryness

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

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

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Your Tale-Tell Poor Diet Side Effects

by Cindy Gray

We all look at ourselves in the mirror at least once a day; so what do you see? Are you glowing with health or does your skin, hair and body show the effects of poor diet? 

Counter the effects of poor diet with a diet high in vitamins and antioxidants

So how does your skin, hair and body appear?  Check out these five tell-tale beauty signs:

Acne

Acne and spots is usually a sign of too much sugar and fat. The effects of poor diet, excessive processed and fried foods encourage pimples and spots to form underneath the oil glands in the skin and hair follicles. Treating pimply skin with external face washes, lotions and creams can treat the bacteria, but for long-term effectiveness and clear skin you need to eat a healthy diet with whole foods, fruits and vegetables.

Wrinkles

We can all expect wrinkles as we age, but the extent of those lines and wrinkles is entirely in your hands. Smoking is known to cause dry wrinkled skin, so it’s a good reason to quit. The sun's UV rays also cause premature wrinkles, so always use a sunscreen.

When it comes to the effects of poor diet, too much sugar causes inflammation and this can accelerate the natural aging process. On the other hand, antioxidant-rich foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables contain protective vitamin E. Oranges are full of collagen-producing vitamin C and avocadoes are loaded with hydrating monounsaturated fats to counter wrinkles.

Related:  The Effects of Poor Diet on Mental Health

Dry, brittle hair

Dry, damaged hair may be telling you that you need more protein, essential fatty acids (EFAs), zinc and vitamin C. Hair and nails are made from protein, so make sure you eat plenty of pork, broccoli, wheat germ and red peppers to provide keratin-producing cysteine for glossy locks and strong nails.

Dull ruddy complexion

Lifeless, dull skin says "too much caffeine; not enough water." Caffeine dehydrates while water, even with light fruit flavors, restores hydration. Remember that "eight glasses of water a day help keep the wrinkles away!"

Weak nails

A balanced diet is usually reflected in strong healthy nails so check that you are eating enough protein and vitamins (or taking a multivitamin supplement). Incidentally, white spots on nails are a sign that your diet is lacking zinc, so boost your intake of seafood and red meats to stimulate keratin formation. In the meantime, rubbing natural oils into the cuticle can help stimulate stronger nail growth.

Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, remember that "you are what you eat." Look for those tell-tale signs of deficiencies and the effects of poor diet and address them by changing to a natural healthy diet, before it’s too late.

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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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Foods for Weight Loss: The Science Behind the Grapefruit Diet

by Health News

It’s time to give the grapefruit diet another look. It may be more effective than you might think.  Grapefruit to help you lose weight is not a new idea, but more research is giving real weight to the anecdotal evidence that it is one of the best foods for weight loss.  Research shows that you can consume grapefruit regularly with few side effects, and lots of health benefits beyond weight control.

The infamous grapefruit diet has actually been around since the 1930s. Since anecdotal evidence has persisted for decades about the effectiveness of grapefruit as a food for weigh loss more research has been conducted to see if it really can have a positive effect on the body.

Effective foods for weight loss include the grapefruit.

The Bad News First

Grapefruit, grapefruit juice, nor grapefruit supplements are going to magically melt fat off your body without changing your eating habits or exercising.  No food or pill will do that. If there was such a thing out there we would all be lean and long-lived.

The reality that there is no one miracle food for weight loss is not a reason for dismay.  Certain foods can have a positive impact on your efforts to shed a few pounds and grapefruit is one of them.

The Good News

Besides weight loss there are many other good reasons to eat grapefruit.  It is a rich source of:

  • Vitamins C and A - both are powerful antioxidants
  • Potassium – a mineral that helps nerves and muscles communicate
  • Biotin – a B complex vitamin that helps the body synthesize fatty acids and glucose
  • Vitamin B1 –aka, thiamine, it helps the body convert food to fuel
  • Copper – necessary to aid the body in metabolizing iron and to form red blood cells
  • Pantothenic acid - aka vitamin B5, to help break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates and convert them energy

Grapefruit (not juice or supplements) also has lots of water and fiber to keep the body hydrated and the GI tract humming along normally.  Even if you don’t need to lose weight, you should be eating grapefruit.

Related:  Five Foods that Support Your Weight Loss Efforts

The Grapefruit Weight Loss Connection

The original grapefruit diet was pretty restrictive and thus doomed to fail.  In the various early versions of it the diet called for drinking the juice and eating grapefruit for every meal. Most of the diets also called for cutting out all sweets, most carbohydrates like vegetables, grains and cereals, which is not a healthy or sustainable eating plan.

The diet has evolved over the decades with different names like the Hollywood Diet and the 10 Days, 10 Pounds Off Diet. As with any temporary diet fad, it was ineffective over the long-term. 

Why the notion that grapefruit can aid in weight loss persists is studies like the one published in 2006 by the Journal of Medicinal Food.  The study was conducted with 91 obese participants divided into four groups.  Group one got a grapefruit capsule before every meal. Group two drank grapefruit juice daily. Group four ate a half of a grapefruit daily and the last group was given a placebo.

The results at the end of the study led researchers to conclude that grapefruit, the juice and the capsule did indeed aid in weight loss with the group that ate the actual fruit losing the most, an average of 1.5 pounds. Coming in at a close second and third was the grapefruit juice group who lost an average of 1.3 pounds and, finally, the capsule group who lost about 1.1 pounds.  The study participants who received the placebo lost a negligent 1/3-pound on average.

Also significant is the fact that all participants who received grapefruit in some fashion also had lower glucose insulin levels making it a potentially great choice for diabetics and anyone at risk for developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Based on the results of this study several more were conducted.  One study showed grapefruit to be highly beneficial in slowing weight gain when consumed with fatty foods.

More research is needed but the current studies support grapefruit as a one of the best foods for weight loss when consumed regularly.  With lots of nutrients, filling fiber and water, adding a half or whole grapefruit to your daily diet makes good sense whether you are trying to lose weight or not.

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How to Reduce Food Cravings by Killing Candida

by Health News

As each year draws to a close, people begin to think about healthy resolutions for the year to come.  Eating a more nutritious diet often tops the list, but resisting cravings for sweets and other high-carbohydrate foods is easier said than done.  In people with candida overgrowth, cravings for sugar or foods that quickly convert to sugar are persistent and intense.  Learning about candida teaches people how to reduce food cravings once and for all.   

When considering how to reduce food cravings, people should start with dietary changes.

What is candida?

Candida albicans is a type of yeast found in the digestive tracts of most humans.  Amounts in the body largely depend on a person's diet.  Yeasts thrive on sugar, so people who don't eat a lot of sugar usually have a healthy balance of candida in the gut.  People with diets high in sugar or foods that quickly convert to sugar often have a surplus of candida in the gut.

How does candida influence food cravings?

Eating more sugar causes candida numbers to grow, and more candida results in more cravings for sugar and foods that convert to sugar. 

What are some dietary changes for reducing food cravings?

When considering how to reduce food cravings, eliminating sugar and other sweeteners makes the obvious first step.  In addition to white and brown sugar, people should avoid honey, molasses, corn syrup, and agave nectar.  Pure, organic stevia makes a good natural alternative sweetener because it doesn't spike blood sugar levels.

People should steer clear of refined carbohydrates like baked treats, French fries, pizza, bread, or pasta that convert to sugar quickly.  Because fruit has a lot of natural sugar (fructose), servings should be limited to two per day.  Raspberries, strawberries, and green apples offer lower amounts of fructose, while grapes, mangoes, cherries, and bananas contain higher amounts.  Wine, beer, and other types of alcohol also convert to sugar quickly and should be eliminated from the diet.

Dairy products like milk and cheese have high levels of sugar and should be avoided.  Almond milk and some brands of plain, Greek yogurt make good alternatives.  Look for yogurt with less than 15 grams of sugar per serving, and flavor with lemon juice and a little stevia for a dairy product high in healthy probiotics.

Include non-starchy vegetables, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught fish in the diet.  Take a probiotic supplement containing at least 5 individual strains to restore beneficial bacteria to the intestinal tract, and try a chromium supplement to help reduce cravings.

Related:  Probiotic Supplements: Not Just for Intestinal Health

What are some other symptoms of candida overgrowth?

Food cravings are not the only symptom of candida overgrowth.  Additional symptoms include:

  • Chemical and food sensitivities
  • Chronic vaginal yeast infections
  • Depression
  • Digestive issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Headache
  • Poor sleep
  • Sinus congestion

Cravings for sugary and high-carbohydrate foods lead to a catch 22 for many people.  Satisfying cravings results in more candida in the digestive tract, and more candida causes more food cravings.  People discover how to reduce food cravings and generate better overall health by learning about candida, nutrition, and sugar levels in food.

 

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The Effects of a Poor Diet on Your Heart

by Cindy Gray

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

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

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

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

Related:  Heart Health—The Benefits of Meditation

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

Eat Hearty Meals

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

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

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

Heart Supplements

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

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

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Understanding the Relationship between Perimenopause and Acne

by Cindy Gray

Menopause is the result of declining sex hormones manufactured by female ovaries.  It marks the end of menstruation in women.  The term "perimenopause" refers to the transitional stage in a woman's life leading up to menopause.  Typically lasting from two to ten years, women in perimenopause experience a variety of symptoms, the most common being hot flashes, headache, irritability, mood swings, poor sleep patterns, and vaginal dryness.  As if these symptoms weren't enough, some women also develop acne.  Understanding the relationship between perimenopause and acne can help women restore blemish-free skin.  

There is a connection between fluctuating hormones in perimenopause and acne.

The Estrogen-Testosterone Connection

Just like with teenagers, women dealing with perimenopause and acne can chock it up to fluctuating hormones.  A woman's ovaries and adrenal glands manufacture female hormones like estrogen and progesterone, but they also produce small amounts of androgens, like testosterone.  While estrogen levels begin to decline during perimenopause, androgen levels remain constant. 

In some women, an imbalance of testosterone can cause the sebaceous glands of the skin to produce excessive sebum, an oily substance that clogs pores.  As women age, skin cell regeneration slows, and excessive skin cells can exacerbate the problem, blocking the clogged pores and causing pimples and blemishes.

Related:  Adult Acne—Wrinkles and Pimples At The Same Time?

OTC Remedies

Certain over-the-counter cleansers can help women deal with acne.  The American Academy of Dermatology recommends women dealing with perimenopause and acne choose cleansers and astringents made especially for adult women as they are typically less drying to the skin. Many women also appreciate cosmetics that contain salicylic acid, or other acne-fighting ingredients.

Balance Hormones Naturally

Balancing hormones can help keep acne in check during perimenopause.  A number of natural methods may help:  

  • Eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.  Cruciferous veggies contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is a precursor to diindolylmethane (DIM).  Both of these compounds can help keep estrogen hormones in balance.
  • Make foods containing phytoestrogens a part of the diet.  Foods like fermented soy, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, bean sprouts, and legumes contain small amounts of plant-based estrogen that may help women with declining estrogen levels.
  • Consider herbal remedies like black cohosh or the Ayurvedic herb, shatavari.  Although herbs have shown to be no better than placebo for relieving perimenopause symptoms in scientific research, anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.  Excess body fat can trigger the production of more estrogen in the body.

Women in perimenopause have to deal with enough symptoms without adding acne to the mix.  Fortunately, a number of over-the-counter products can help, or women may want to seek the advice of a dermatologist.  Natural methods that encourage hormonal balance may also help like dietary changes, herbs, and maintenance of a healthy body weight.  Because women’s bodies each differ, it is wise to consult with a health care practitioner before using herbal supplements. 

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The Effects of Perimenopause on the Libido

by Health News

Very few women welcome perimenopause with open arms.  The transitional period leading up to the cessation of menstruation comes with a variety of unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms.  Unlike hot flashes and night sweats however, the effects of perimenopause on the libido upset women and their partners.  The loss of libido – like other perimenopausal symptoms – results from hormonal imbalance. 

The effects of perimenopause include loss of libido and other distressing symptoms.

Estrogen Dominance

According to animal studies in the laboratory, estrogen primes the brain cells responsible for sexual desire, but progesterone activates them.  Many women in perimenopause experience estrogen dominance, a situation in which levels of estrogen overshadow levels of progesterone.  This can wreak havoc on the libido, causing marked reduction in sexual desire.

Ovulation and Libido

Ovulation and sexual desire go hand-in-hand.  Because progesterone levels rise during ovulation, most women experience a boost in sexual desire at this time, barring any medical issues or complications.  When ovulation lessens during perimenopause, so too does the production of progesterone and sexual desire.

How Emotions Influence the Libido during Perimenopause

The effects of perimenopause include a variety of unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, breast tenderness, mood swings, and irritability.  Combined, they lead to physical exhaustion and take an emotional toll on women, both of which can impact the libido.

Related:  Royal Jelly—How the Queen's Food Can Improve Your Health

Ways to Help Restore Sexual Desire during Perimenopause

Women who wish to boost sexual desire during perimenopause have several options.  Vaginal rings and injections can help restore levels of progesterone.  Foods high in phytoestrogens like soy products, flaxseed, tofu, and wheat germ help displace some of the body's stronger natural estrogens for better hormonal balance.  Supplementing with minerals like calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and zinc helps promote better sleep, and exercise, limiting alcohol use, and relaxation techniques help improve mood.

While loss of libido during perimenopause can prove distressing for females and their partners, certain techniques can help.  Women also take comfort knowing that when menopause is reached and hormones balance out, sexual desire often returns and other effects of perimenopause wane.

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The Connection between Perimenopause and Heavy Bleeding

by Cindy Gray

While many women associate declining estrogen and progesterone with menopause, female hormones actually begin to fluctuate years earlier during the transition period known as perimenopause.  With an average span of four years, perimenopause comes with a number of physical and emotional symptoms like hot flashes, sleep disturbance, vaginal dryness, reduced libido, mood swings, and headache.  Roughly 25 percent of women also experience heavy bleeding, or menorrhagia, which can cause weakness and extreme fatigue one to two days each month, and lead to anemia if severe.  Understanding the connection between perimenopause and heavy bleeding helps women better deal with this bothersome symptom.  

There is a connection between hormonal imbalance in perimenopause and heavy bleeding.

Menorrhagia Quiz

Women with concerns about perimenopause and heavy bleeding can start by answering a few questions:

  • Does your period arrive more frequently than every 21 days?
  • Does your period last longer than seven days?
  • Do you spot in between periods?
  • Is the amount of flow at least twice that of your normal period?
  • Are you changing even high-absorbency pads or tampons frequently?
  • Does menstrual flow contain large blood clots?

If you have answered "yes" to any of the questions above, you may be experiencing menorrhagia.  

The Cause of Menorrhagia during Perimenopause

According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, a prominent doctor and women's health expert, estrogen dominance (an imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone) causes menorrhagia in menopause.  Too much estrogen results in an overgrowth of uterine lining, which breaks down and sheds in a disorderly way.  This leads to irregular heavy bleeding or spotting in between periods.

Remedies for Menorrhagia

Natural progesterone creams may reduce the thickness of uterine lining, and women can also visit a health care provider for a stronger product in capsule form.  

An NSAID pain reliever like ibuprofen has the potential to cut menstrual flow in half by blocking prostaglandins.  The recommended dosage is 200 mg every six hours for the first few days of a woman's period.

The herb turmeric also shows promise for reducing menstrual blood flow.  It should be taken once per day throughout the month as an oral supplement. 

RelatedThe Probiotic-Menopause Connection

Research shows that women with diets high in phytoestrogens experience lighter periods.  Phytoestrogens compete with stronger endogenous estrogens that stimulate production of uterine lining.  Foods high in phytoestrogens include nuts, soy products, and flaxseed.

Women should incorporate foods with iodine into the diet.  Iodine has a down-regulating effect on estrogen receptors, which helps reduce the thickness of uterine lining.  Good sources of iodine include sea vegetables, scallops, cod, and yogurt.

Menorrhagia results from an overgrowth of uterine lining caused by hormonal imbalance. Women dealing with perimenopause and heavy bleeding can try several natural and/or prescribed remedies for relief.  Although 25 percent of women in perimenopause experience menorrhagia, it also results from certain medical conditions.  To rule out endometriosis, fibroids, infection, underactive thyroid, or uterine polyps, women with heavy bleeding should consult with a health care provider.  

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Seven Symptoms of Poor Nutrition

by Cindy Gray

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

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

1. Tooth Decay

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

2. Anemia

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

3. Beriberi

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

4. Constipation

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

Related:  Dangers of Laxative Overuse For Chronic Constipation

5. Diabetes

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

6. Stroke

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

7. Depression

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

Conclusion

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

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

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How to Reduce Food Cravings with Three Supplements

by Health News

Weight watchers and women going through menopause often suffer extreme food cravings that are hard to resist. Often those cravings are for sugary treats and comfort foods which, if indulged, can quickly lead to excess weight. If you want to know how to reduce food cravings, these three supplements could be your best weapons, and may help you to stay on track diet-wise. 

Three common health supplements can provide the answer to how to reduce food cravings

Decrease Hunger Pangs with 5-HTP

Some food cravings can be caused by a lack of serotonin which causes an increase in appetite. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that produces a "feel-good" factor as well as feelings of fullness after eating. Serotonin deficiency can cause cravings for sugar and carbohydrates as the body tries to increase serotonin levels in the brain.

The best natural supplement to boost serotonin levels is called 5-HTP (or hydroxytryptophan), a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan and a precursor to serotonin production. Taking a supplement of 5-HTP, according to the NBI, has been found in clinical trials to naturally boost serotonin production which is a powerful agent for those wondering how to reduce food cravings.

Taking 50-100 mg of 5-HTP with fruit once or twice a day can help reduce cravings for food, and as a bonus it can help to support a calm mood and healthy sleep patterns.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation:  Is It Dangerous To Your Health?

Control Blood Sugar Cravings with Chromium

Chromium is a mineral that helps control glucose levels. Sometimes cravings are due to low blood sugar levels or a deficiency of this mineral. Your body naturally urges you to eat sugar by creating strong food cravings, particularly for carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine.

Chromium supplements can provide support for those who are researching how to reduce food cravings safely and naturally. By balancing blood sugar levels, chromium can greatly reduce cravings. This was discovered in a 2005 study published by The Journal of Psychiatric Practice which showed chromium supplements were effective at reducing carbohydrate cravings for those with depression.  Taking 400 mcg of chromium a day as a supplement is a safe and easy way to help control those food cravings.

Suppress the Appetite Naturally with L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine provides a double-whammy when it comes to the question of how to reduce food cravings. First, this supplement suppresses the appetite, making it easier to control cravings and help with weight loss. Secondly, this amino acid also increases the metabolic rate of the body, burning more calories for energy and helping to maintain a normal weight.

A study on 80 obese subjects published in 2006 in The International Journal of Obesity backs up these claims, showing that L-tyrosine helped increase thermogenesis and aided weight loss. Taking 500-1000 mg once or twice a day may have a powerful effect on appetite and cravings.

By using these supplements to regulate blood sugar levels, reduce hunger pangs, and suppress the appetite, you really can gain control over cravings and enjoy a healthy happy life.

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Do You Need to Invest in B Vitamins? Take This Quiz about the Benefits of B Vitamins

by Health News

If you are unsure about the benefits of B vitamins, take our quiz to see if you need to be getting more B’s in your diet. 

Q: Do you feel like you are not as strong as you used to be? Do you commonly lose your keys or having trouble remembering how to get home from a store you’ve shopped at for years?

A: Weak muscles, fatigue and low energy are symptomatic of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Confusion, feeling depressed, and having trouble remembering things that you can’t imagine ever forgetting are also signals.

Your body needs vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your cells to be converted into energy. A low red blood cell count means your cells become starved for air and your body shuts down your muscles to conserve energy. Brain cells that are deprived of oxygen begin to die off, leading to reduced cognitive function like memory loss and confusion.

To get the 6 mcg recommended daily amount (RDA) of B12 in your diet every day, eat eggs, dairy products, meats and fortified foods. Vegans should take a supplement. 

Q: Do you have cracked skin at the corners of your mouth that no amount of moisturizer will heal?

A: A vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with a variety of skin ailments including painfully cracked skin at the corners of your mouth called cheilosis. A lack of vitamin B6 is also associated with an inflamed tongue, sores around the mouth, painfully cracked lips, and greasy or dry, flaky, peeling skin.

A vitamin B6 deficiency is pretty uncommon in the U.S. since many foods contain it. Since a deficiency in the vitamin also known as pyridoxine or pyridoxamine can also cause nerve damage, fatigue, and loss of balance—so getting the 200-milligram RDA is essential for good health. You can find it in nuts, chicken, fish, most vegetables, and bananas.

Q: Are you running to the bathroom more frequently?

A: Loose stools due to Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s or celiac disease can cause a folic acid or B9 deficiency.  Being deficient in B9 is linked to anemia, fatigue, gray hair, mouth sores, and tongue swelling. 

Children who do not get enough folic acid may experience growth problems and pregnant women are at higher risk for delivering a low-birth weight baby.

You can get plenty of folic acid in your diet from foods like tomato juice, eggs, asparagus, chicken and pork and fortified cereals.

Related:  Hearing Problems Linked to Folate Deficiency Study Finds

Q: What do widespread muscle pain, constipation and loss of sensation in the hands and feet have in common?

A: These are all common symptoms of a thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiency.  The disorder is uncommon in the U.S. and tends to be a problem in countries where white rice is the main food source like South East Asia.  The bran in the outer covering of white rice is where the much-needed thiamine resides.

In the U.S. and in developed countries alcoholics are at risk for developing health issues due to a vitamin B1 deficiency.  However, if you consistently eat a diet of high carbohydrate low-nutrient foods like pretzels, chips, candy and most other common junk food items, you could be at risk for neurological disorders. Instead of vending machine fare, choose eat whole grain breads, peas, beans and fortified foods.

Q: Are your eyes itching, watering, bloodshot, and suddenly light sensitive?

A: If you are experiencing any of those problems with your eyes and have eliminated allergies as the culprit, you may be lacking enough vitamin B2 or riboflavin in your diet.

Riboflavin is essential for many metabolic processes in the body including normal cell growth and functioning, helping other B vitamins undergo the chemical changes necessary to be used by the body and is a powerful antioxidant. 

In addition to vision problems, a lack of vitamin B2 is also linked to skin disorders, anemia, and swelling of the throat and tongue. You can get plenty of it (0.5-0.6 mg/day) in your diet by eating dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, milk cheese and yogurt, whole grains and meat.

Related: 

Q: Are you feeling unusually fatigued even after a full night’s sleep and a cup of coffee?

A: You could be deficient in any number of the B vitamins. A lack of them in your diet causes anemia, which is characterized by muscle weakness and extreme fatigue. B vitamins are essential for helping the body convert food into energy and supply your cells with oxygen for energy.  Because the B’s work together in the body, not getting enough of one kind means you may not be metabolizing others leading to a variety of health issues.

B Happy

The benefits of B vitamins are well researched and documented. Getting enough of them in your diet is fairly simple. If you consume a variety of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, there is no reason you can’t B very happy and healthy!

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Antioxidants and Skin Health: Three Steps to Consider

by Cindy Gray

Most folks know that eating foods and taking supplements with antioxidants are good for them.  Those critical nutrients found in vitamins like A, C and E are good for you, both inside and out.  

Consuming antioxidants and skin health go hand in hand, so to speak, and in just a few easy steps you can keep your skin looking younger for longer.

1. Layer It On

We are exposed to sunlight from our earliest days of life. Wearing sunscreen religiously every day is the best way to protect your skin from the ravages of the sun. However, most of us tend to skip it now and then.  And you may recall experiencing some sunburn back when you were just a kid. 

Those dark spots, dry patches and wrinkles are the result of cell damaging free radicals, which are molecules that have lost an electron.  Feeling bereft, these free radical molecules steal from healthy cells, which starts a chain reaction that eventually damages the cell leaving the evidence of their crime on your face in the form of wrinkles and sunspots.

If you neglected sun protection when you were younger, there is something you can do about it now.  Eat foods and take supplements rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E.  They contain nutrients that generously give free radicals the electron they so desperately want, thus halting their cell damaging thievery and restoring healthy skin cells.

2. Don’t Fan the Flames

The body’s natural response to cell damage is to ignite a fire—such as inflammation—to try to destroy whatever is causing the trouble. Most people suffer from chronic inflammation caused by sun exposure, smoking, and consuming too many sugary foods and drinks, along with the daily activities of life.

Over time, the inflammation takes a heavy toll on the body, especially the skin, leaving it dry, red and sometimes with a pimple or two to add insult to injury. 

Consuming antioxidants is like throwing a bucket of water on the fire. They quench the burn and help damaged cells repair themselves.

3. Eat Drink and Be Healthy

Here is a list of the top antioxidants that should be included in your healthy skin diet:

Lycopene

Known as a carotenoid, it is what gives certain food a red hue.  Lycopene helps improve the texture of your skin by supporting collagen production (a protein that makes up the support bands beneath the dermis) while it reverses free radical damage that causes wrinkles.  You can find it in cooked tomatoes, watermelons, grapefruit and sweet red peppers.

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

Vitamin C

This essential nutrient is showing to be a powerful weapon in the war on aging. It works as an antioxidant and collagen booster to help reverse the signs of aging by smoothing out wrinkles and encouraging healthy skin cell turnover to shed those dark spots for clearer, younger looking skin. You can find it in citrus fruits like oranges, kiwis and strawberries.

Vitamin A

This antioxidant plays an important role in bone growth, reproduction and keeping the immune system healthy. It also helps undo the damage from sun exposure by neutralizing free radicals. You can find it in sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and spinach.

Because too much vitamin A can be toxic, it’s best to get it from your diet rather than supplements.

Vitamin E

Since sun damage is the top producer of free radicals that damage skin cells, vitamin E is a critical antioxidant for skin health.  When combined with vitamin C, it is very effective at protecting skin from UV damage by halting inflammation and limiting DNA damage.  It is also known as a-tocopherol so check for it on the ingredients list when choosing an antioxidant-rich supplement.  You can find it in abundance in foods like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, asparagus and spinach.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin and has shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is especially helpful in getting rid of sunspots due to its depigmenting properties. Find it in pork, chicken and fish like tuna, farmed salmon and halibut or swordfish.

The Skin-ny:

Antioxidants and skin health are intertwined so if you want to keep your complexion radiant, eat foods rich in antioxidants and pop supplements with these essential nutrients. 

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

by IVL Products

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

Antioxidants and vision health are very much connected

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

1. Taking Supplements

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

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

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

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

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

2. Free Radical Exposure

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

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

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

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

RelatedThe Eyes are the Mirrors of your Health

3. Proper Diet

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

Berries

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

Prunes

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

Walnuts and Pecans

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

Spinach

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

Artichoke Hearts

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

Green Tea

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

Eye Heart Supplements

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

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Five Myths about Vitamins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Taking vitamins seems like a good way to stay healthy even when your diet isn’t. Or at least that’s what we would like to believe. Vitamin supplements can be a healthy addition to your diet, but they are not magic pills.  Let’s dispel the five most common myths about vitamins.

Myth #1:  Expensive Urine

You may have written off vitamin supplements because of claims by so-called experts that you can’t absorb extra vitamins and minerals unless it is from actual food; and they just end up being secreted from the body as “expensive urine.”

Fact or fiction? Fiction! If any dietary compounds like vitamin C are detected in your urine it means they were circulating in your blood stream at some point. If the vitamin was in your bloodstream, then you absorbed it and your body used it. 

Myth #2:  A Vitamin Pill Is the Same as Food

Why eat broccoli or salmon if you could just pop a pill, right?  While vitamins are a healthy supplement to your diet, they cannot replace actual food. Vitamins are called supplements because they are a good way to supplement your healthy diet of real foods.  Vitamins contain micronutrients, but we need both micro and macronutrients like protein, fats and carbohydrates to properly fuel our bodies.

It is difficult to get the recommended daily allowance of all vitamins and minerals through your diet, so taking supplements are a good way to cover those little nutrition gaps we all experience. The truth is that there are many compounds in food that are good for you, and many that cannot be duplicated in pill form.

Myth #3:  All Vitamins Are Pharmaceutical Strength

Here’s another one of the most common myths about vitamins. Not all vitamins are pharmaceutical grade just because you bought them in the vitamin shop at a pharmacy.  There are food grade (or store grade) and pharmaceutical grade vitamins.

Food grade vitamin capsules are allowed to have only 20% of the nutrients they say they contain. All the nutrients may have been in the batch but did not necessarily end up in each capsule.

Pharmaceutical grade supplements must meet the U.S. Pharmacopeia standards, which states that the capsule must contain more than 99% of the ingredients listed. They also must have a higher bioavailability than store grade vitamins. The best ones are whole food based and chelated.  Chelated means they are firmly attached to an amino acid or other organic compound so as to not disassociate in the digestive system.

Related:  Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

Myth #4:  All Vitamin Are Safe

Generally this is true. Most of the supplements you purchase contain only trace amounts of the healthy compounds you take them for, making it hard to consume too many.  Water soluble vitamins dissolve in your bodily fluids while fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K, are stored in your fat cells. There is a chance of toxicity if you have too much of one vitamin build up in your system. They can lead to birth defects (vitamin A) or interfere with blood thinning drugs taken for cardiovascular or prevent normal blood clotting (vitamin K).

Some supplements can interfere with prescription drugs, so always consult your doctor before adding any supplement into your diet.

Myth #5:  It Doesn’t Matter Where You Store Your Vitamins

Wrong! Oxygen, light and water can render vitamins useless.  Many people store their vitamins in the bathroom medicine cabinet, which is the worse place for them. The humidity from the shower will seep into the container over time and start to break down the pills or capsules. 

Some vitamins like A and E are light sensitive, so sitting on the counter under the harsh glare of florescent lighting can cause photo-degradation.  Even exposure to oxygen can start to degrade the nutrients in vitamins.

The best place to store supplements with the cap screwed on tightly is in a cool dry place like a kitchen cabinet away from the stove or sink.   Always keep them out of reach of children. Look for those with childproof caps if you have curious little ones in the home.

Vitamins have an expiration date and overtime begin to degrade. Dispose of those over a year old or sooner if they look discolored, start to crumble or smell odd.

Myth Busters

Now that you know the myths about vitamins you can safely include them in your healthy eating plan and enjoy their many health benefits!