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What are the Health Benefits Red Wine Vinegar?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Red wine vinegar is typically used as a condiment and in salad dressings, but it appears that it may be a healthy addition to your diet as well.Health Benefits Red Wine Vinegar | Institute for Vibrant Living

In fact, red wine vinegar has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for many ailments - and now modern research shows that some of the claims attributed to red wine vinegar, ranging from lowering blood pressure (BP) to improving digestive health, may actually be true.

For instance, studies have shown that patients with type 2 diabetes who consumed vinegar as part of a complex carbohydrate-rich meal experienced a reduction in glucose levels afterwards. Other studies have reported a drop in waking glucose levels in diabetes patients who consumed vinegar prior to bedtime.

Researchers have also noticed reductions in fat production in animals that were fed a high-fat diet supplemented with acetic acid - most likely because genes responsible for fatty acid oxidation are activated when acetic acid is ingested. Acetic acid in red wine vinegar also reduces levels of the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin, helping to control cravings and reducing fat buildup.

In fact, a Swedish study has shown that vinegar supplementation helps people eat less and reduce cravings after meals. Because acetic acid helps to slow sugar absorption, it also prevents blood sugar levels from spiking following a meal, lowering risk for type 2 diabetes.

Improved calcium absorption has also been linked to the consumption of red wine vinegar - animals given vinegar for just over a month showed a better rate of calcium absorption. Not only that, adding a dilute solution of acetic acid has been shown to be effective in preventing the growth of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Yersinia and monocytogenes.

Finally, resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found in red wine - present also in red wine vinegar - that has been shown to counter the harmful effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and extend their lifespan. Red wine and balsamic vinegars may help combat obesity, which is often linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer.

Given all these health benefits, why not add red wine vinegar to your diet today?

Source: Health Benefits of Red Wine Vinegar.

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Decreased Vitamin D Means Increased Pain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a painful and debilitating condition that affects 13.9% of adults over the age of 25 and 33.6% of those over 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studies of osteoarthritis patients showed a positive correlation between low levels of vitamin D3 and pain.  Those with higher serum levels of IL-17A and IL-23 had lower D3 and increased osteoarthritis pain.

Healthy living tips include plenty of sunshine for generating vitamin D.

Vitamin D3 Deficiency and Pain

Further studies support the relationship between low levels of vitamin D3 and increased pain. A study published by the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Journal found that breast cancer patients who took aromatase inhibitors significantly lacked vitamin D3. The patients reported severe bone and muscle pain, fractured bones and had difficulty standing and walking. However, when treated with a supplement of high levels of D3 (50,000 IU per week) their muscle and joint pain was significantly reduced.

A group of Korean researchers found that injecting vitamin D3 into fibromyalgia patients every four weeks reduced pain and decreased the symptoms of fatigue and tiredness.

Perhaps most relevant is a four-year study on 418 volunteers with osteoarthritis of the knee. They found that those with low levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to find their osteoarthritis worsening over the period of the study compared to those with higher vitamin D levels. The study recommended that increased dietary supplements of D3were beneficial to counter the pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Related:  How to the Improve Immune System Naturally

Healthy Habits Regarding Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency causes many easily preventable health issues including rickets, soft bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness. Following healthy living tips to avoid vitamin D deficiency includes consuming fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolks and fortified milk in your diet, although this can be a problem for those following a strictly vegan diet.

The body is also able to make vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight for as little as 15 minutes a day. This can be difficult for those living in northern states and work indoors during daylight hours in winter. Those with dark skin also are at risk of vitamin D deficiency as the pigment reduces the effectiveness of the skin to absorb the sun’s rays.

People who are obese, with a body mass index of 30 or higher may also have low levels of vitamin D as fat cells absorb the vitamin, leaving less for the body to use to support healthy bones and muscle.

Why not adopt healthy habits by including vitamin D3 supplements in your daily diet and including daily exercise in the outdoors for some healthy sun exposure? These natural healthy living tips can only do you good, particularly if you suffer from osteoarthritis pain.

 

 

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Three Moves to Boost Your Sex Life

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Good sex is one of those healthy habits we should all get into. If your sex life has waned, feels like too much effort, or you just can’t get in the mood, you may be able to transform your sex life from blah to mind-blowing with a few simple exercises. 

Exercises to encourage healthy habits.

It’s long been said that exercise is a potent aphrodisiac and it is also one of the healthy living tips we wanted to share in this article. Getting in tune with your body is the best way to boost your sex life and one way to accomplish that is to exercise more.  The feel-good endorphins that follow a pulse-pounding run, Zumba class or a cross fit session can help you get in the mood for sure. 

Exercise also makes us feel stronger and more accomplished. Tap those good feelings and focus on these three specific exercises in your workout routine to get you in the mood, and enable you to enjoy better sex longer. You’ll be able to accomplish two healthy habits in one!

Related:  Is Depression Exercise Related?

Knee to Chest Stretch

This one is simple. Find a comfortable spot to lie down on the floor. The moves will open up your hips and loosen your lower back. 

Once you are comfortable lying on floor, have your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent.  Pull your right knee toward your chest and hug it briefly. Return to the start position and repeat with the left knee.  Begin by doing five times on each side and work up to ten over time.

One-legged Hip Thrusts

How this one can improve your sex life is pretty self-explanatory.  Simply lie flat on your back, knees bent with your arms relaxed at your sides.  Keeping one foot firmly planted on the ground, lift the other leg off the floor keeping the knee bent. Using your planted foot thrust your hips as high as possible toward the ceiling. Be sure to keep your back neutral, and not overly arched. 

Hold the leg up squeezing your glutes (gluteus maximus or your bottom) together, and then slowly lower your leg and hips back down; repeat with the other leg.  Start with eight lifts per leg and progress to over time to 20. Your hips, butt, thighs and legs will all become stronger.

Straight Leg Lifts

This simple move strengthens those hard to reach lower abdominals just beneath your belly button and above the pubic bone. Start by lying on your back with your legs and feet straight up pointing at the ceiling. With slow controlled movements, raise your hips and bottom off the ground as if to push your feet closer to the ceiling. 

Focus on tightening your lower abs forcing them to do the work and roll your feet closer to the ceiling slowly.  Hold for a count of three then slowly lower your hips back to the ground.  Try doing three sets of 12 with a minute of rest between each set.

These exercises are great to do at the end of your workout at the gym or run.  Now these are healthy habits we can all agree upon!

 

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The Scoop on Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Approximately 35 million men and 21 million women are experiencing hair loss in this country.  While for some it can be from conditions caused by chemotherapy, nutritional deficiencies, or hormonal imbalances.  Some of these causes can be corrected; however, most cases of alopecia (baldness) are hereditary.  As such, there are few treatments that slow the process or promote significant re-growth, but Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (or PRP) is showing great potential.

PRP for hair loss.

What is PRP?

Platelet Rich Plasma therapy is a relatively new, non-surgical procedure that has been producing great results for those with thinning hair, hair loss, and bald spots.  A doctor draws a small amount of the patient’s blood and places it for treatment in a centrifuge so that only the enriched platelet cells remain. These highly concentrated cells are known as platelet rich plasma, and contain various nutrients like protein.  These are then injected through a very thin micro-needle into the affected areas of the scalp. 

How Does PRP Work?

Platelet rich plasma contains essential growth proteins that when injected in a highly concentrated form can stimulate the hair follicle to regrow hair.  Many patients are seeing great results very quickly according to a study published by the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery

Related:  Can Nettle Root Protect Against Hair Loss?

The study involved eleven patients suffering from hair loss due to androgenic alopecia. They also showed no improvement in hair loss after six months of Minoxidil and finasteride treatments, the most common drugs used to reverse hair loss. They received PRP every two weeks for three months.  The recorded results showed significant reduction in hair loss between the first and fourth injections, indicating quick results. Other than discomfort during the injections process, the participants reported no side effects.

Researchers concluded that, PRP injection is a simple, cost effective and feasible treatment option for androgenic alopecia, with high overall patient satisfaction.”

Who Will Best Benefit From PRP?

The New York Times published an article about a hair restoration surgeon in Manhattan who has been getting very good results for patients using Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, especially for women. While fewer females than males suffer hair loss, they tend to have more angst about it than men because of social norms. Women are also not great candidates for hair transplants because, unlike men, they tend to lose hair all over their body making it difficult to find a place to harvest hair for a transplant

PRP has been called “extremely promising” by a spokesman from the American Hair Loss Association, though it was noted that more research was needed. Those undergoing treatment for hair loss could see improved results when they combine PRP with other treatments like a hair transplant.

 

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Three Sexy Solutions for Spicing Up the Bedroom

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It’s easy to fall into a rut, fall off the wagon, or fall out of the habit, when it comes to sex in a relationship. Healthy habits include an active and enjoyable sex life for most people, so if you and your partner have taken a fall when it comes to sex, turn that vanilla routine into a hot and spicy new love connection by trying these three sexy solutions for spicing up your bedtime routine:

  1. Entice Them Before Dinner
  2. Wear Red
  3. Use the Scent of Cinnamon and Cloves

Healthy habits for healthy sex.

Spontaneity

Try something new on the spur of the moment. Instead of waiting for your partner to initiate at bedtime, be ready to entice them before dinner.  People have a primal need for the unexpected, so you will most likely be met with enthusiasm.

Related:  Sex and Menopause: Is It Normal to Lose Desire?

Go Red

When it comes to healthy living tips, there is actually scientific evidence to support the idea that the color red can boost sexual desire.  That makes science our best chance for spicing things up.  Invest in something unique and dizzyingly red.

What’s Cooking?

It’s true; often the way to a partner’s heart is through their stomach. Since you already have their heart, you can entice the situation with the scent of cinnamon and cloves, two spices that are essential for a great pumpkin pie and sex life. These powerful scents trigger the libido so whip up a pumpkin pie for dessert.

If baking a pie is not one of your skills, a scented candle can have the same effect.  Don’t forget the whipped cream.

Make spicing up your sex life part of your healthy habits like exercise, eating right and having fun for greater love connection with your partner.

 

 

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Anemia & Hair Loss – Iron Deficiency Facts To Know

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Although hair loss is common and affects up to 40% of the population, it is still cause for great concern for men and women.  Alopecia is not limited to just men and often causes greater angst for women because of societal standards of beauty. Genetics is the main cause of thinning locks, but getting your iron levels checked is a good first step for anyone experiencing hair loss, because sometimes it may be linked to other more serious medical conditions.

The Bald Truth

Hair loss is usually not seen as life threatening, but it can be life changing and not for the better.  Not only is it damaging to one’s self esteem, but it might indicate a lack of adequate iron stores in the body, which over time can cause other health concerns, in addition to hair loss.

The American Academy of Dermatology published research collected over 40 years by Cleveland Clinic dermatologists that linked iron deficiencies with hair loss.

"We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without anemia, is treated," Leonid Benjamin Trost, MD; Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD; and Ellen Calogeras, RD, MPH, write in an issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.”

To be clear, not every study concerning hair loss from nutritional deficiencies has found the same link between low iron stores and hair loss, but research is piling up that suggests that once those with low iron began taking supplements, they experienced a sharp decline in hair loss and even began re-growing hair.

Lifting iron level may help with hair loss.

Ferritin Testing

Doctors can determine a person’s iron stores by measuring the amount of ferritin in the blood.  Ferritin is a protein that plays an important role in storing iron in the blood stream.  The less ferritin you have the less iron your body has stored.  

Normal levels of ferritin range between 10-15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), but that level may be too low according to physicians at the University of Pennsylvania Hair and Scalp Clinic.  Men should really have 24-336 ng/ml and women should have 11 to 307 ng/ml. However, the optimum number is 50- 70 ng/ml to halt hair loss and stimulate re-growth.

Causes of Anemia & Low Iron Levels

Women are especially susceptible to low iron levels because of menstruation. Hair follicles require a lot of iron since they are constantly growing hair. When iron levels are depleted by heavy periods, over time women may begin to notice thinning hair and hair loss. Pregnancy can also accelerate iron loss.  So women who are genetically pre-disposed to alopecia, have heavy menstrual periods, and go through one or multiple pregnancies have a much higher risk of hair loss than men.

There are other causes of anemia for men and women such as multiple nutritional deficiencies, some prescription drugs and even internal bleeding due to colon cancer.  Anyone who is experiencing hair loss, whether it runs in the family or not, should mention it to their doctor and ask to have their ferritin levels checked. If their ferritin levels are low, a supplement could help; in addition to adding more iron-rich foods to your diet.

Related:  Increase Energy Naturally with Iron

Do not start taking iron supplements without first consulting your physician.  Severe side effects are rare, but include:

 

  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Constipation and or upset stomach
  • Intestinal inflammation like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Hemoglobin disease known as thalassemia
  • Premature infants
  • Increased risk of heart disease in diabetics

 

 

Dosage

 

Once you have consulted with a doctor, had the appropriate tests, and it is determined that an iron supplement is right for you to prevent further hair loss, doctors generally recommend 50-100 mg of elemental iron (ferrous sulfate) three times per day for up to six months to reverse anemia and build up an adequate store of iron in the body. 

 

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Log On and Calm Down

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It’s a mad, mad world and the stress of daily life can make you wild. For those looking to form healthy habits to combat stress and anxiety, meditation should be at the top of your to-do list.  Meditating can slow a racing mind and help soothe and calm jangled nerves.

Meditation is one of our top healthy living tips.

We Are Living In a Digital World

In our busy lives learning to meditate might seem like one more thing on an already over-burdened to do list.  Luckily for us living in the modern world, there’s an app for that!  You can tap an app to find your happy place and slow down your crazy train for better decision-making, sleep and overall quality of life.  Here are a few apps to try to encourage meditation, one of the healthies habits you’ll find.

Headspace.com – Heavy on the science behind meditation but structured in an appealing way, this app has a lot to offer. It has a page that cites studies about meditation, an informative blog and guidance on how meditation can help with your mind, body, your relationships, and enhance your quality of life.

Meditation Studio – with over 200 solution-based guided meditations, this app offers the wisdom of dozens of teachers. You can find courses on meditation basics for beginners; and even on how to meditate to find more happiness, change a habit, or even be more kind.

Sattva – is a beautiful app with what it dubs “the world’s first advanced meditation timer and tracker.” For those who like to measure results, this is the app for you.  You can track your heart rate before and after meditating, time each session and record your mood. You will also have access to free guided meditations and sounds; and it offers challenges and trophies for meeting them.

Related:  Six Tips to Strengthen your Mind

Buddhify – busy professionals in high stress work environments might find this app the most appealing. It is a very minimalist app with guided meditations that center on what the designer calls urban meditation, which involves using the sights and sounds around your city to prompt mindfulness, a sense of calm and compassion. There are also three tracks related to meditating through pain and illness.

Meditation- Not Just For Hippies

The notion that meditation is only for new-agers and hippies has largely been dispelled. Actual scientific research shows the power of meditation and how it can have a meaningful and measurable impact on anyone’s life.

Taking up meditation is now recommended as a healthy living tip by more and more practitioners, many of whom are convinced by evidence that meditation is a powerful healer.

According to a study written about on WebMD, a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin, participants, after eight weeks in a meditation study, had increased electrical activity in regions of the left frontal lobe of the brain.  This is an area of the brain generally found to be more active in optimistic people who are generally happy most of the time.  An Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta study reported that those who meditated regularly for six weeks decreased their immune activity and reported less emotional distress even when purposely exposed to a stressful event or situation.

Healthy Living Tips: Find Your Preference

No two people meditate alike. For some it is repeating a mantra until their mind stills. For others to obtain that coveted oblivion it means staring at a candle flame while counting breaths in and out.  Explore the apps mentioned here to get you started on your new healthy habits.

 

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Amino Acids for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Diet plays a key role in keeping a healthy head of hair. There are four essential amino acids that are crucial to preventing hair loss and stimulating growth. If you are experiencing hair loss, you may be lacking in these amino acids, which will inhibit keratin production, the main component in hair.

What is Keratin?

Keratin is found in skin, fingernails, toenails, teeth and hair. Keratin is formed by amino acids, the protein-building blocks that play a critical role in many of the body’s biological processes, including hair growth.  Keratin is unique because—depending on the amino acids that form it in different parts of the body—keratin can be hard like fingernails or soft and flexible like hair.

Keratin can counteract hair loss.

The A Team

The four most important amino acids that make up the “A team” of the hair are:  cysteine, lysine, arginine and methionine.  These are the amino acids necessary for the body to produce adequate keratin.

Cysteine – is a not an essential amino acid, meaning the body can produce it, rather than having to rely on getting enough of it only through dietary consumption.  Keratin is made up of about a quarter of cysteine and it also assists with protecting hair follicles from oxidative stress.  Food sources of this amino acid are: poultry, pork, dairy, broccoli, legumes and whole grains.

Lysine – is an essential amino acid, meaning your body does not produce it so it must be consumed.  It is required for hair follicles to function properly and stimulates collagen production, another component in hair similar to keratin.  Dietary sources of lysine are, fish (especially salmon and sardines), chicken, beef, pork, spirulina, nuts and legumes. Those who suffer from cold sores and various forms of herpes tend to be lysine-deficient; therefore, a lysine supplement can offer help for more than hair loss.

Related:  Three Vitamins for Thinning Hair

Arginine – is needed to produce keratin and has many other health benefits. Arginine helps to boost immunity, as well as prevent hair loss.  It can also actually help mitigate the damage done to hair through coloring and bleaching. Arginine is essential for proper blood circulation to supply vital nutrients to hair follicles for more robust growth.  Arginine is produced by the body but production levels can drop sharply due to illness or prolonged stress, necessitating a supplement and eating arginine-rich foods such as dairy products, oatmeal, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soybeans, nuts, fish, chicken and beef.

Methionine – an antioxidant and the second major component of keratin, it also helps hair follicles resist oxidative stress. Methionine has been shown in studies to slow the graying of hair and hair loss. It is an essential amino acid.  Methionine supplements along with foods like eggs, seeds, fish, squash and nuts can help stop hair from thinning as rapidly.

Hair loss is usually a result of a genetic alopecia, but a healthy diet rich in foods with these important amino acids and supplements can help slow hair loss and make the remaining hair fuller, stronger and healthier overall.

 

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Low Level Laser Therapy for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Hair loss is a major concern for many people. While not recognized as a serious medical problem, whatever the reason, hair loss can be very traumatic and it takes a toll on one’s self esteem.

Here are some common reasons for hair loss:

  • Male pattern baldness (also affects women) which is genetic
  • Drugs such as those used in chemotherapy
  • Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies
  • High blood pressure

Whatever the reason, people suffering from significant hair loss are usually on the look-out for a way to slow and reverse the loss, and find something to encourage new hair growth. Laser technology is now being studied for its effectiveness in re-growing hair

Low Level Laser Therapy for Hair Loss

Isn’t Laser Technology Used for Hair Removal?

It’s true that laser technology has been found to be effective for permanent hair removal, so how could it possibly stimulate hair growth? The therapy used in studies to regrow hair is called low laser light therapy or LLLT. According to researchers featured on the television news show “Dateline,” the laser light is absorbed by the cells, which in turn repairs them and encourages hair regrowth.  The New York Times published an article saying the lasers “cannot bring dead hair follicles back to life, but will stimulate follicles in a state of decline and make existing hair thicker and fuller.”

Does It Really Work?

There is still debate within the medical industry about the effectiveness of low level laser therapy for hair loss.  A study by the National Institutes of Health concluded that LLLT could in fact stimulate some hair growth without serious side effects. However, dermatologists and doctors remain skeptical.  The general consensus is that nothing will reverse balding due to genetics. It is felt that while laser therapy might help slow down hair loss and even encourage some hair growth for a small percentage of the balding public, it will not, however, work for everyone.  Research has shown there are other methods that yield better results.

Related:  Stress and Hair Loss

What Can You Do To Slow Hair Loss Or Regrow Hair?

If you are genetically pre-disposed to hair loss, drugs like Minoxidil or hair transplants will probably offer you some positive results.  Laser therapy could compliment that kind of treatment by slowing hair loss and making existing hair fuller.

Diet is an important way to prevent hair loss or re-stimulate hair growth if balding is a result of drugs, nutritional deficiencies and or high blood pressure. Once the drugs are stopped, like in the case of chemotherapy for cancer patients, hair usually starts to grow back.  An antioxidant-rich diet has been shown to help with hair growth and encourages stronger, healthier-looking strands.

Adopting a high blood pressure preventative diet not only helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, but it can help slow hair loss and encourage hair regrowth. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oily fish such as salmon and trout, are rich in omega-3 antioxidants, with a history of improving hair and skin health.  Some supplements can also help with lowering blood pressure and slowing hair loss; and even encourage new growth. Supplements you may want to consider adding to your diet are fish oil, blackcurrant seed oil, vitamin E, vitamin C, and lycopene.

It’s always wise to check with your trusted health care practitioner before starting any new supplements; and inquire if LLLT might be right for you to stimulate hair growth.

 

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Tips for Dog Health: Feed Fido Raw Bones

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to keeping dogs happy, a few healthy habits go a long way.  Most dogs enjoy chewing on bones, but some bones are better than others.  Cooking removes much of the nutrition in dog bones including protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.  Cooking also makes bones harder and more brittle, and shards can splinter off and get caught in Fido's mouth or cause damage to his organs.  There is a more nutritional option that also benefits a doggie's dental health:  raw bones.  

Just like people, dogs benefit from healthy habits.  Try giving your dog raw bones instead of cooked ones.

The Benefits of Raw Bones

Raw bones offer a variety of health benefits for dogs:

  • They are easier to digest than cooked bones due to an abundance of enzymes
  • They are rich in calcium and contain trace minerals like chromium, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc
  • Sinew on raw bones helps remove plaque and tarter on the teeth
  • Chewing on raw bones helps relieve anxiety in some dogs

Bone Types and Size

Because they contain crevices that a dog's teeth dig into and rub against, knuckle bones can help remove plaque and tartar for better dental health and they keep dogs busy for hours.  Pet owners looking for meaty bones can try elk or lamb necks or beef femurs.  To prevent tooth damage, aggressive chewers benefit from soft bones like knuckles or turkey necks. 

When treating a dog with a bone, it is important to choose the proper size.  Owners of large dogs like Dobermans, German Shepherds and Labradors should choose bones that are larger than their dog's muzzle like a beef shank bone.  This encourages chewing on a bone rather than swallowing it whole.

Feeding bones isn’t appropriate for all dogs – certain breeds of dogs just can’t process bones and gain the same benefits that other dogs get from chewing on bones.  This has a lot to do with jawbone structure.

Brachiocephalic breeds such as boxers, bull dogs, pugs, and shitzu are NOT mechanically designed to be able to chew bones effectively and safely.  A Kong toy might be a better substitute if you have this kind of dog.  Look at your dog’s teeth closely especially the upper and lower molars in back of the mouth, the length of the muzzle, and the condition of the teeth and gums and ascertain if the mouth looks “in shape” to handle a bone. Or ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s mouth.

Little dogs and toys with delicate jaw structures and softer teeth should not eat bones. If your dog is too little to eat bones safely, you can still help maintain their dental health using a mix of hydrogen peroxide and aloe vera juice

Dogs with gut sensitivities might not process bones well either. If your dog is prone to loose stools or vomiting, be sure to resolve those GI issues first, and save the bones for after he/she has recovered. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on real meat bones, they can sometimes have a bout of diarrhea or soft stool after eating the bones. Over time, their system will adjust and they will be able to consume bones without issue (if fed bones on a regular basis).

Related:  The Power of Probiotics

Holistic veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko tells us the best time to give a dog a bone is after a full meal. Why? You don’t want your dog starving when he/she starts to chew on the bone. Ingesting too much of a bone could lead to constipation, and possible serious obstruction. Give your dog a bone for only 10 to 15 minutes, then take it away*, wash it, and store in a container in the fridge. Toss it out after 3-4 days.

*A good practice here is to replace the bone with something else (like a couple of pieces of mozzarella cheese) when you take it away. This will help reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues like resource guarding of the bones. If your dog growls when you approach his bone or try to remove it, definitely seek out a qualified dog behaviorist to help you retrain this behavior!

More Healthy Living Tips for Dogs

When it comes to canine health, giving raw bones is a good place to start, but like people, dogs benefit from a few healthy habits.  To keep a beloved pet in tip-top shape, owners should:

  • Visit the veterinarian for annual checkups and vaccines
  • Brush your dog’s teeth.  If they could brush their own teeth, they would; but they can’t so it’s up to you.  Puppies and young dogs get used to it, and some really like it; adult dogs will adapt—but brush your dog’s teeth at least several times a week.  Never use human toothpaste—it is poisonous to dogs. Purchase chicken or peanut butter flavor toothpaste for dogs.  Use a child-sized tooth brush for small dogs, and a larger toothbrush for larger dogs.  Brush the interior and exterior of front and canine teeth.  Brush only the exterior of the molars in the back by running the toothbrush along the gum and teeth, just lift the skin flap; no need to brush the inside of the back teeth (at the hinge area.)
  • Exercise dogs daily
  • Choose a high-quality, grain-free dog food
  • Take steps for the prevention of fleas, ticks and heartworm
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Tips for Breaking Your Facebook Addiction

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Facebook is a valuable worldwide tool for establishing and maintaining social connections.  Users communicate with "friends" and share information in a fun and creative way, but once people log into Facebook, it can be difficult to get back out.  Roughly 39 percent of people on Facebook admit to excessive use, which can eat into everyday activities and promote a sedentary lifestyle.  Take advantage of these healthy living tips to help break your Facebook addiction.  

 

A few healthy habits can help internet users limit their time on Facebook.

Login with a purpose.  Boredom is not the best reason for using Facebook.  Set higher standards for logging in like promoting a cause, checking out a particular page or messaging a friend.  Healthier cures for boredom include reading a good book or taking a bike ride.

Implement no-Facebook zones.  Making certain areas Facebook-free (or Facebook-less!) helps limit daily use.  Turn off technology during meals, when using public transportation, in the bathroom and before going to sleep at night. 

Set an alarm.  Allow yourself a designated period of time for Facebook enjoyment, and stick to it.  Set the alarm on your cell phone to signal when to sign off. 

Related:  Ten Relaxing Ways to Disconnect from Digital Technology

Turn off email notifications.  Of all the healthy habits for limiting Facebook use, this one works the best.  Email notifications taunt users to log into Facebook, and turning them off helps save valuable time. 

Take the weekend off from all social media.  Taking a two-day break from social media shows people how little they really need it. 

Try off-line communication.  Are you missing an old friend?  Is it your sister's birthday?  To communicate with loved ones, try a novel approach with actual communication, like sending a card via snail-mail or making a telephone call.

Think before you post.  Take time to self-evaluate before posting a photo or a status update on Facebook.  Will your post provide value to other users, or will it turn them off?  Friends may become bored after the fourteenth picture of your cat, and they may look at post after post of your accomplishments and pics of your beautiful home as boastful.

Facebook allows users to share information and network with people around the world.  Although social media makes a valuable tool for communication, excessive Facebook use can interfere with daily activities and encourage a sedentary lifestyle.  By showing users how to limit Facebook time, the healthy habits above allow more time for other enjoyable activities

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Creative Ideas for Better Spring Cleaning

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many people live by the old saying, "A clean home is a happy home."  While keeping living space tidy and clutter-free is one of the best healthy habits for reducing stress, a thorough spring cleaning offers even more benefits.  Deep cleaning is good exercise, and scrubbing the house from top to bottom helps reduce fire hazards and kill germs, mold and bacteria.  While some areas are forgotten during spring cleaning, they can have a big impact on health and safety.  Here are five spring cleaning tasks that help ensure a safer home and promote better health. 

 

Healthy living tips benefit Americans in many areas of life, and spring cleaning is no exception.

  1. Cleaning upholstered furniture:  In addition to brightening up your home, giving upholstered furniture a thorough cleaning helps rid homes of pet dander and dust mites.  To clean furniture, homeowners should remove cushions and vacuum all surfaces.  Next, clean upholstery carefully with a soft bristled brush and foam cleaner or rent a hand-held carpet or upholstery cleaner and follow the manufacturer's directions. If possible do all this out of doors, i.e. in garage, on the deck, patio, etc., so what gets kicked up can get kicked out!

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  1. Scrubbing and Waxing floorsDeep cleaning floors removes dirt, dust mites and other allergens, and waxing helps protect floors from scratches and spills.  A wash-and-wax product takes care of both jobs with one easy application.
  2. Removing dust and dirt from ceiling fans and vents:  Because they circulate air, ceiling fans and vents can also spread dust and allergens throughout the house.  Use a vacuum hose and brush accessory to remove dust from bathroom exhaust fans and heater vent covers.  To clean ceiling fans, wipe each blade with a cloth and cleaner, spraying the cleaner onto the cloth instead of the fan.  
  3. Cleaning light fixtures:  Light fixtures collect dust, which casts a pall over the entire home.  To brighten living spaces and rid the home of harmful dust mites, wipe (cold) light fixtures with a sponge and window cleaner. 
  4. Vacuuming refrigerator coils:  If allowed to collect on refrigerator coils, dust becomes a fire hazard, and an energy waste.  Use a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum hose to remove dust from refrigerator coils and ensure a safer living environment.

When it comes to healthy habits, homeowners should put spring cleaning near the top of the list.  Annual deep cleaning helps prevent germs, mold and fire hazards.  Making an effort to complete these five jobs ensures extra-thorough cleaning and provides a healthy start to the warm-weather season.

 

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Three Signs Your Dog May Have Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Most dog owners do everything they can to protect their pet's health, but some may not be aware of the prevalence of gum (or periodontal) disease among dogs.  When compared to people, dogs are five times more likely to develop periodontal disease.  This happens primarily because a dog's mouth is more alkaline than a human's, which triggers the development of plaque.  In addition, unlike people, few pets receive regular tooth brushing.  Understanding the symptoms of periodontal disease and engaging in a few healthy habits can help keep Fido feeling good.

A few healthy habits can help prevent periodontal disease in dogs.

How Periodontal Disease Can Affect Dogs

Periodontal disease in dogs can lead to gum inflammation, damage to gum tissue, bone loss and tooth loss.  If left untreated it can cause even larger problems.  Canine mouth tissue contains many blood vessels.  If the gums are damaged, it becomes easy for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body like the heart, lung, or kidneys. 

There are three ways to tell if your dog might have periodontal disease:  Teeth develop tartar; breath smells rancid; gums begin to recede.

Periodontal Disease Prevention

To reduce plaque and tartar in dogs, give raw bones instead of cooked ones.  Raw bones have cartilage, tendons and ligaments that get in and around a dog's teeth and gum line, acting like natural dental floss. 

Holistic veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko tells us that giving your dog a bone can be beneficial. Chewing helps stimulate saliva enzymes and when given AFTER meals for 10 or 15 minutes helps remove trapped food particles from the teeth. Chewing on bones also help prevent plaque buildup and gum disease especially in the back upper molars.

Dr. Basko goes on to say that bones provide minerals and other nutrients (depending upon what kind of bone) and help satiate your dog’s desire for food. Bones provide the nutrients needed to keep the skeletal system fed regenerating and adapting. Chewing on bones can also help pacify a dog’s habits such as excessive self-licking, scratching and other nervous behaviors.

Feeding bones isn’t appropriate for all dogs – certain breeds of dogs just can’t process bones and gain the same benefits that other dogs get from chewing on bones.  This has a lot to do with jawbone structure.

Brachiocephalic breeds such as boxers, bull dogs, pugs, and shitzu are NOT mechanically designed to be able to chew bones effectively and safely.  A Kong toy might be a better substitute if you have this kind of dog.  Look at your dog’s teeth closely especially the upper and lower molars in back of the mouth, the length of the muzzle, and the condition of the teeth and gums and ascertain if the mouth looks “in shape” to handle a bone. Or ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s mouth.

Little dogs and toys with delicate jaw structures and softer teeth should not eat bones. If your dog is too little to eat bones safely, you can still help maintain their dental health using a mix of hydrogen peroxide and aloe vera juice

Dogs with gut sensitivities might not process bones well either. If your dog is prone to loose stools or vomiting, be sure to resolve those GI issues first, and save the bones for after he/she has recovered. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on real meat bones, they can sometimes have a bout of diarrhea or soft stool after eating the bones. Over time, their system will adjust and they will be able to consume bones without issue (if fed bones on a regular basis).

The best time to give a dog a bone is after a full meal. Why? You don’t want your dog starving when he/she starts to chew on the bone. Ingesting too much of a bone could lead to constipation, and possible serious obstruction. Give your dog a bone for only 10 to 15 minutes, then take it away*, wash it, and store in a container in the fridge. Toss it out after 3-4 days.

*A good practice here is to replace the bone with something else (like a couple of pieces of mozzarella cheese) when you take it away. This will help reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues like resource guarding of the bones. If your dog growls when you approach his bone or try to remove it, definitely seek out a qualified dog behaviorist to help you retrain this behavior!

Bones must be Size Appropriate!

Dr. Basko emphasizes that large breed dogs such as Labradors, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc. need a large enough bone so they will not chew and swallow it quickly. Bones should be larger than the length of the muzzle so it is impossible to swallow whole. A beef shank bone is a good example of a size appropriate bone for larger breeds.  Hunt for beef shank, rib, and large soup bones mostly because of availability, but lamb and large pork bones are suitable for the right jaw and dog. In general, bigger is better.

What Kinds of Bones Should Be Avoided?

Avoid the “3 B’s”: Baked, Broiled, Barbecued

Dr. Basko does not recommend feeding any baked, broiled, or barbecued bones to pets because the heat dries up the bone and makes it more brittle and subject to splintering. Chicken bones and beef “T” bones are mostly the culprits. Keep pets away from these bones!

However, boiling the bone can be useful. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on bones it is best to soften the bone through boiling. This is a good opportunity to make a meat broth for later use. Put the bone in a pot with some water, a little salt, celery, carrot, and parsley and simmer for about 1 hour.

What about Raw Bones?

After the initial few weeks chewing on softer boiled bones, raw bones can be introduced. Raw bones provide more nutrition. Dogs are more prone to wanting to bury fresh bones because they like them to be “aged” and fermented with soild bacteria. This practice is safe (but messy) if your soil is clean and healthy. Dogs need some of the bacteria, yeasts, and minerals in the soil to help digest the bones better. They instinctually know this.

Related:  Ten Tips for Safe Car Travel with your Pets

Good Sources to Find Bones

  • The supermarket (make friends with the butchers and you’ll find yourself getting better cuts since they’ll know it’s for your dogs)
  • From your local CSA (community supported agriculture co-op)
  • Meat markets / butcher shops

Use Supervision

As with most chewable pet-friendly items, supervision is very important! Don’t buy a real meat bone and then toss it to your dog when you leave for work in the morning.

Check on your dog periodically as he/she is chewing on the bone. Then, when you remove the bone, check your dog’s teeth and gums afterwards. You might see minor gum irritation if chewing on real bones is new to your dog. Eventually, the gum tissue will get stronger with stimulation and chewing.

The most common hazard with bone chewing is a slab fracture of one of the upper hind molars. If a dog has been already been chewing on rocks, furniture, and other hard materials, the teeth might have been already weakened resulting in a fracture when the bone chewing was initiated. If this sounds like your dog, be especially careful when feeding real meat bones.

Certain types of chew toys also help to promote good dental health in dogs.  Regular oral exams identify any potential problems your dog may have, and veterinarians may recommend professional cleaning if teeth have excessive plaque or tartar. 

Brush your dog’s teeth.  If they could brush their own teeth, they would; but they can’t so it’s up to you.  Puppies and young dogs get used to it, and some really like it; adult dogs will adapt—but brush your dog’s teeth at least several times a week.  Never use human toothpaste—it is poisonous to dogs. Purchase chicken or peanut butter flavor toothpaste for dogs.  Use a child-sized tooth brush for small dogs, and a larger toothbrush for larger dogs.  Brush the interior and exterior of front and canine teeth.  Brush only the exterior of the molars in the back by running the toothbrush along the gum and teeth, just lift the skin flap; no need to brush the inside of the back teeth (at the hinge area.)

Other healthy habits that keep canines in good overall condition include:

  • Choosing a high-quality dog food devoid of extra fillers
  • Keeping filtered water available at all times for all pets; usually this means in more than one location in the house, and having water available outside if the pets are often outdoors
  • Providing plenty of exercise
  • Regular checkups and de-worming
  • Flea and tick prevention

 

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Six Great Destinations for a Spring Break Family Getaway

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Happy families adopt healthy habits like taking family vacations.  While many people think of vacations as an indulgence, research shows that family getaways promote relaxation and build personal connections.  In addition, family vacations help broaden perspectives, encourage cooperation and create wonderful memories.  For a spring break getaway this year, think outside of the box.  Discover six Spring Break family destinations that combine dining, shopping and entertainment with healthy recreational opportunities

Good healthy habits for families include annual vacations to places like San Antonio, Texas.

 

  1. Carlsbad, California:  Situated between Orange County, California and San Diego, the City of Carlsbad offers a variety of exciting opportunities for a family vacation. Affectionately dubbed, "The Village by the Sea," Carlsbad delivers seven miles of scenic coastline for surfing, swimming and fishing.  Tourists enjoy an array of charming shops and boutiques, sidewalk cafes, and colorful flower gardens.  Close proximity to fun family attractions like Sea World and LEGOLAND resort make Carlsbad a favorite getaway location for children.
  2. Amelia Island, Florida:  A barrier island located off Florida's northeast coast, Amelia Island offers a number of attractive vacation features.  A history of French, Spanish, British and American rule supplies rich cultural diversity; and 13 miles of beaches provide opportunities for outdoor recreation.  Tourists enjoy a variety of shops and restaurants and strolling along the public boardwalk.
  3. San Antonio, Texas:  San Antonio offers a wonderful mix of history, cultural attractions and natural beauty.  Located in south-central Texas, San Antonio is home to the Alamo, a Spanish mission-turned-museum that played a key role in the Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico. Visitors to the city also enjoy the beautiful River Walk on the banks of the San Antonio River and proximity to theme parks like Six Flags and Sea World.

Related:  Lack of Exercise is More Harmful to the Health than You Might Think

  1. Lake Tahoe, California:  When it comes to healthy habits, many families enjoy snow skiing. Lake Tahoe, California, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, has much to offer families in the way of a skiing destination.  Because Tahoe transitions from a winter-to-beach destination in the springtime, vacationers enjoy lower prices and fewer tourists.  In addition to beautiful ski areas, popular attractions include charming mountain villages, a variety of shops and restaurants, and a number of cozy lodge-style resorts.
  2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:  The boardwalk at Myrtle Beach, located on the coast of South Carolina, makes every child's heart skip a beat.  Features include a variety of arcades and tourist-inspired restaurants.  The Family Kingdom amusement park offers Sky Wheel, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the United States.  Miles of coastline and celebrity-designed golf courses also provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor sporting.
  3. Wisconsin Dells:  For families that live in the central United States, Wisconsin Dells offers something special for children.  Affectionately known as the "Water Capital of the World," this southern Wisconsin city plays home to a number of water parks including Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park and Noah's Ark Water Park.  When families have had enough of this type of amusement, they can take to the wilderness for hiking and camping.

An annual vacation is one of the most valuable healthy habits that families can adopt.  While it may seem like a luxury, getting away as a group allows parents, children and siblings to form closer bonds and make wonderful memories.  The six destinations above offer something for every member of the family, from shopping and dining to entertainment and recreation.   

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Three Exercises to Improve Balance

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to healthy habits, few people think of taking steps to improve balance.  However, making good balance a priority can help boost quality of life well into the golden years.  With age, muscles get weaker and the stride becomes shorter.  Add in worsening vision and susceptibility for a serious fall rises.  In fact, one out of every three adults over the age of 65 suffers a serious fall each year.  Staying physically active can help.  Here are three specific exercises to build better balance.  

Healthy habits like balance exercises can help people stay mobile as they age.

 

  1. Heel-to-Toe Walk:  A long hallway makes a great space in which to perform this exercise.  Start by taking a step with one foot, and place the heel of the other foot directly in front of the toes.  Focusing on a spot ahead, continue walking heel-to-toe for 20 steps.  For more challenge, try walking backwards 20 steps toe-to-heel.    
  2. Stand on One Foot:   Standing on one foot is easy, or is it?  Using a chair back for support if needed, stand on one foot for a count of 15 seconds and repeat with the other foot.  Complete five sets of this exercise with each foot.

Related:  Discover the Benefits of Hatha Yoga for Stress Relief

  1. Balance Walk:  This is a modified version of the heel-to-toe-walk.  Raise the arms to shoulder height at the sides, palms down.  Focus on a spot ahead and walk in a straight line, placing one foot in front of the other, but with a normal (not heel-to-toe) stride.  With each step, lift the leg, hold and balance for one second before stepping.  Do two sets of 20 steps.    

When it comes to quality of life as we age, it helps to engage in healthy habits like building better balance.  Many people take good balance for granted, but it is wise to take steps to improve it.  The three exercises above can help.  By increasing muscle mass and improving upright stability, performing balance-boosting exercises promotes better mobility and keeps people active and injury-free through age 65 and beyond.

 

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Five Tips for Productive Family Meetings

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It takes work to build a happy family, and one handy tool can help:  regular family meetings.  Getting together to talk on a regular basis helps families build connections, work out problems and share information.  Because family meetings give parents and children an equal voice, kids feel listened to and respected.  Starting family meetings when children are young provides an invaluable sense of cooperation, safety and stability that transcends to school and social situations.  Five healthy living tips help ensure successful family meetings.

Healthy habits like regular family meetings teach children about compromise and cooperation.

  1. Follow a weekly schedule.  Set aside a little time one day a week for a family meeting, and stick to it.  When it comes to healthy habits, consistency is the key to success, and in the case of family meetings, consistency helps keep them calm and orderly.  It also shows children that family time is important.  If families have to skip a meeting for one reason or another, get back on track the following week.

 

  1. Keep meetings short and fun.  Start with 10-15 minutes for kindergarteners, and extend time as children grow.  Add enjoyment with refreshments or a special post-meeting dessert or game. 

 

  1. Make meetings a "safe place" to share concerns, worries and issues.  Encourage everyone to participate in calm problem-solving, and teach children that sometimes it is okay to "agree to disagree."

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  1. Start the meeting with appreciation for other family members.  This puts everyone in a "feel good" mood and builds family bonds.  It is up to Mom and Dad to make sure everyone gets a mention. 

 

  1. End family meetings with "can't-waits."  These are things that family members are looking forward to in the week to come.  Can't-waits might include an exciting new work project for Mom or Dad or a special activity at school or sporting event for the kids. 

Both kids and parents benefit from healthy habits like family meetings.  These valuable get-togethers foster independence by allowing children to have a voice in important matters, but they also teach the value of interdependence.  Learning how to cooperate and compromise helps kids become more effective problem-solvers as they grow into young adults.

 

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Five Healthy Habits for Family Wellbeing

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to good health, it is more enjoyable when the whole family gets involved.  Parents lead the way by establishing boundaries, ensuring plenty of quality family time, and providing healthy meals.  In addition, staying physically active ensures greater confidence and a more positive self-image for each family member.  Five healthy habits help families build stronger connections and promote better fitness.

Healthy habits like bike riding together encourage better wellbeing for the whole family.

  1. Establish no-technology family time.  Televisions, computers and cell phones get in the way of family bonding, so establishing some tech-free together time is one of the best healthy habits for families.  Take 60 minutes after dinner to go for a walk together, walk the dog if you have one, play a board game, or go for a bike ride.
  2. Build healthier minds and bodies with yoga.  A family yoga class teaches adults and kids to become more aware of their bodies and builds balance, strength and flexibility.  In addition to the physical benefits, yoga also promotes a more relaxed and focused mind. Because family schedules can be hectic, this is something everyone can use.
  3. Connect to the great outdoors.  Living in the electronic age, it's easy to forget about all of the wonderful benefits Mother Nature offers.  From hiking through the forest to a day at the beach – outdoor outings allow family members to connect with nature.  In addition, studies show that people who spend more time outdoors are less likely to develop depression and anxiety. 

Related:  The Importance of Family Time on Kids' Mental Health

  1. Engage in a little family competition.  If parents set a good example by keeping activities light-hearted, family competition can be fun and healthy.  Competition teaches kids humility, respect for others and it builds confidence and physical fitness.  Fun, competitive activities for families include outdoor activities like kickball, basketball, ladder ball or spike ball and enjoyable indoor games like Pictionary, charades or Wii Sports.
  2. Enjoy "pick-and-play" activities.  Write ideas for fun family activities on small pieces of paper and stuff them into a colorful jar or box.  Set aside a little time each week, and draw from the container to see what the family will do together that day.  Make sure to take turns so that everyone feels involved.

In families, good health starts from the top down.  Parents set the tone by being healthy role models, ensuring plenty of quality family time and providing nutritious foods, physical activity, and spirited competition.  The healthy living tips above help families stay connected and have fun in enjoyable, wholesome ways.

 

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Is Your Hair Loss a Symptom of Failing Health?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Everyone wants a full, healthy head of hair, which is why hair loss can be devastating.  Unfortunately, 85 percent of men and 40 percent of women lose their hair at one time or another.  How well and how fully hair grows may be dependent on the health.  A number of health conditions can interrupt the normal cycle of hair growth, resulting in lost locks.  

Eighty-five percent of men and 40 percent of women experience hair loss.

The Three Phases of Hair Growth

Each hair on the head goes through its own growth cycle.  The normal cycle of hair growth is made up of three phases.  When hair is growing, it is in the anagen phase, which can last from two to six years.  Then, hair enters the catagen phase, which lasts approximately two weeks.  During this phase, the hair follicle gets smaller and growth stops.  Hair then rests for a period of two to four months, known as the telogen phase, before falling out and being replaced with new hair. 

Related:  Tips on How To Counter Male Pattern Baldness

Normal Hair Loss

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair daily.  Unusually excessive hair in a brush or more than normal on the pillow or shower drain may indicate excessive hair loss.  Women tend to lose hair on the top of the scalp, and they may find that their part is widening, while men often notice hair receding from the forehead or crown. 

Sudden loss of hair is sometimes caused by a medical condition, and proper treatment can help.  The following medical problems can result in hair loss:

  • Addison’s disease – destruction of the adrenal gland affects production of certain hormones that may result in hair loss
  • Celiac disease – damage to the intestinal lining caused by this disease affects absorption of nutrients that contribute to healthy hair growth
  • Diabetes – this disease can lead to alopecia areata, a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles
  • Hodgkin’s disease – symptoms of this cancer of the lymphatic system can include alopecia
  • Hyperandrogenism  – a hair-thinning condition in women caused by excessive levels of androgens like testosterone
  • Hypothyroidism  – an underactive thyroid gland affects hormone production, which can contribute to hair loss
  • Lupus – can cause hair follicles to become brittle and hair to fall out in patches
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – can lead to hair loss in women due to an imbalance of male and female sex hormones.
  • Scleroderma – this disease of the connective tissue causes hardening of the skin, which can affect the scalp
  • Syphilis – Some people in the latter stages of this venereal disease experience hair loss

Finding excess hair on the pillow or in the shower can be distressing, but there may be an easy fix.  People who are experiencing abnormal hair loss benefit from a visit to a medical professional.  By taking a health history and doing blood work, doctors can rule out disease as a cause for hair loss and look for other contributors.  

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13 Medications that Can Cause Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you noticing more strands than normal in your hairbrush?  Many people assume that hair loss is a problem only experienced by men, but 40 percent of women across the country also deal with this unpleasant conundrum.  It's normal to shed from 50 to 100 strands of hair each day, but more than this may be cause for concern.  While there are a number of possible reasons for hair loss, a new medication just might be the culprit.

The Cycle of Hair Growth

Each strand of hair goes through its own growth cycle. The hair growth cycle begins with the anagen phase in which hair grows for two to six years.  In the catagen phase, which lasts approximately two weeks, the follicle shrinks.  This cuts off blood supply to the follicle and stops hair growth.  During the telogen phase, follicles rest for a period of one to four months. Finally, hair falls out, new hair emerges, and the cycle begins anew. 

Related:  Fight Hair Loss with these Vitamins and Supplements

How Medications Create Hair Loss

Certain medications interfere with the hair growth cycle, which can result in two types of hair loss called anagen effluvium and telogen effluvium.  Anagen effluvium occurs during the growth phase and affects the normal division of cells that produce new hair.  This type of hair loss often occurs shortly after beginning a medication.  It can be extreme and result in the loss of eyebrows, eyelashes and other hair on the body.  Chemotherapy medications are examples of medicines that can cause anagen effluvium.

The most common type of medication-related hair loss is telogen effluvium.  It typically occurs after an individual has taken a medication for two to four months.  The medication triggers hair follicles to enter the resting phase too early, which leads to loss of approximately 100 to 150 hairs strands per day.

Medications that Can Cause Hair Loss

In addition to chemotherapy medications, a number of other drugs can cause hair loss:

  • Acne medications that contain retinoids
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
  • Antibiotics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Diuretics
  • Heart failure and hypertension medications
  • NSAIDs
  • Statins
  • Steroids
  • Thyroid medications

The type of medication, the amount taken and a person's level of sensitivity can all affect how much, if any, hair loss is experienced.  While many people re-grow hair as soon as a medication is stopped or the dosage is adjusted, others may experience permanent hair loss.  People taking a new medication who have concerns about hair loss should check with their pharmacist and health care provider.  Switching to a new medication may be all that is needed.

 

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Seven Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Related:  Seven Tips to Lowering High Blood Pressure Naturally

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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Three Exercises to Improve Balance & Prevent Falls

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many of us take balance for granted, but as we get older, it becomes more of a challenge to remain upright.  Our stride becomes shorter, we walk slower and our muscles and vision begin to weaken.  All of these factors contribute to diminished balance, which can increase susceptibility to falls and related injuries.  In fact, one in three adults over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, some with devastating results.  Fortunately, people can maintain good balance with healthy habits and an active lifestyle.  Three exercises in particular help improve and preserve good balance.

Balance begins to wane as we get older, but healthy habits can help.

 

  1. Heel-To-Toe Walk:  Perform this exercise in a wide open area or hallway.  Holding arms slightly or all the way out to the sides, take a step with one foot and place the heel of the other directly in front.  Find a focal point ahead, and repeat stepping this way for 20 steps.  For even more challenge, walk backward toe-to-heel for 20 more steps.
  2. Leg Swings:  With your arms at your sides, stand on the left leg and swing the right leg forward and back ten times without touching the floor.  Switch to standing on the right leg and swing the left leg ten times.  Next, hold arms out to the side, stand on the left leg and swing the right leg slightly in front of the right leg and out to the side without touching the floor.  Perform a total of ten swings and repeat on the other side.
  3. Wobble Board Training:  Certain thingamajigs make practicing healthy habits fun.  A wobble board features a flat surface in a round or rectangular design over one or two cylinders.  Standing on a wobble board helps improve balance, build lower-body strength and enhance focus.  When it comes to balance, more practice on the board delivers better results.

Related:  Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

As with flexibility or strength, balance improves with practice, but balance exercises aren't just for the elderly.  People who work on balance training early in life enjoy an active lifestyle well into the golden years.  Adding the exercises above to your list of healthy habits helps ensure more stability on your feet and the confidence to take on exciting active challenges.