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Healthy Aging: Supplements for Heart

by Health News

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

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

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

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

Talk to your health care practitioner about how much of these essential vitamin mineral supplements you need to keep your heart in top form and to set yourself on the path to healthy aging.

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The Key Supplement for a Healthy Heart?

by Health News

The best vitamin supplement for a healthy heart is vitamin B. Taking Vitamin B supplements may just be one of the key components to healthy aging. Let’s take a closer look at this essential vitamin.Healthy Aging Guide: Supplements for a Healthy Heart

The vitamin B complex is a group of 11 separate, water-soluble nutrients: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B12, biotin, folic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), choline, and inositol.

Of these, vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folic acid and niacin are the most beneficial for heart health.

B6 helps block blood clotting, lowers blood pressure, and reduces blood cholesterol levels. It also works to reduce homocysteine levels, which is a good thing, as this toxic substance has been shown to increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

B12 is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells. Like B6, it too reduces homocysteine levels, as well as improving arterial function, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and promoting blood vessel dilation.

Folic acid is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells. It also supports the adrenal glands to enhance energy and stamina, helps to maintain healthy homocysteine levels and arterial function, and supports normal cholesterol levels, blood vessel dilation, and decreased plasma viscosity. 

Niacin has been shown to raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. It also helps dilate your blood vessels, which increases blood flow and helps lower blood pressure.

Aim for 10-12 mg of B6, 50-65 mcg B12, 400 mcg folic acid, and 10-25 mg of niacin daily. Just be sure to take B vitamins with breakfast or lunch rather than at night, as they can be too stimulating.

Healthy Aging: Digestion Guide for Aging Adults
 

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Healthy Aging and Nutritional Supplement Vitamin E

by Health News

Healthy Skin and Healthy Digestion From Vitamin ENutritional health supplement Vitamin E is one of the most important nutrients we need to survive. It is a powerful antioxidant supplement with numerous scientific studies that have demonstrated how necessary it is for normal growth and development and for maintaining optimal health through adulthood.

But can it also help us age healthy and contribute to looking and feeling younger than our chronological age?

First of all, Vitamin E is not a single nutrient. It is actually made up of a group of individual compounds. Naturally-occurring Vitamin E actually contains 8 different compounds. One of these compounds is called d-alpha-tocopherol. D-alpha-tocopherol is the only form of Vitamin E that has been recognized to meet the requirements of the human body and that maintained in the body.

Because Vitamin E is such a powerful antioxidant, it helps prevent the body’s cells from being damaged by free radicals. This means that our organs stay healthier longer. One example of this is how it protects the cardiovascular system. Vitamin E has been shown in scientific studies to prevent arthrosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries).  Arthrosclerosis is a major cause of heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, because Vitamin E is such a potent antioxidant, scientists believe it can stave off a host of other degenerative diseases as well.

Vitamin E is also added to lotions, creams, and other skin care products to assist in anti-aging. It helps skin look younger by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And what it does for the internal organs applies to the skin as well: it protects the skin against free radical damage, in turn helping us age healthy. When applied 20 minutes before sun exposure, Vitamin E can also help protect the skin against sun damage because it increases the effectiveness of sunscreens.

Healthy Digestion and Vitamin E for Healthy Skin

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Natural Health Solutions: Vitamin E Deficiency & Diseases of the Digestive System

by Health News

Vitamin E deficiency may cause digestive problems and other diseaseVitamin E is one of the most important antioxidant nutrients our bodies need. It is found in nut oils, sunflower seeds, whole grains, wheat germ, and spinach. Not only is it a powerful antioxidant, it is also essential for child growth and development and for maintaining healthy tissues in adulthood. But what happens to people who don’t get enough of this important vitamin?

In infants, a Vitamin E deficiency can cause severe growth retardation. In adults, Vitamin E deficiency can have severe effects on the central nervous system including ataxia (difficulty coordinating body movements) and peripheral neuropathy. It can also cause anemia (insufficient red blood cells).

People who suffer from Vitamin E deficiency sometimes suffer from conditions or diseases of the digestive system that prevent them from absorbing fat. Because Vitamin E is fat soluble, people who can’t absorb fat properly will have a difficult time absorbing Vitamin E, even if they are getting plenty of the vitamin in their diets. Such people often get excellent results by taking Vitamin E as a nutritional supplement and may well see a reversal of the symptoms of deficiency.

Digestive problems? Download this guide to healthy holiday digestion.

Scientists also believe Vitamin E plays a role in preventing atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) by helping prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Several epidemiological studies have indicated that high dietary intake of Vitamin E is associated with high serum concentrations of alpha tocopherol, as well as with lower rates of ischemic heart disease.

The upshot? Eat plenty of foods that contain this important nutrient, and if you suffer from a condition or disease of the digestive system that prevents you from absorbing it properly, speak to your health care professional about taking a Vitamin E natural dietary supplement. 

Is your family taking enough Vitamin E?

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Healthy Holiday Eating: What Makes a Recipe Healthy?

by Health News

Healthy Eating - What Makes a Recipe Healthy?

A trend toward health and fitness is on an upswing, and one important component is a nutritious diet that provides needed vitamins and minerals, is satisfying and naturally boosts energy throughout the day. What is it that makes a recipe healthy? Here are some questions to ponder when it comes to deciding whether a recipe is healthful or hurtful. These are particularly useful during the winter months for people who are concerned with healthy holiday eating.

What type of cooking method is used? Steer clear of recipes that call for frying or deep frying, and focus on the following methods instead. The healthiest cooking method is steaming, where food is placed in a perforated container and suspended above boiling water. Besides a light coating of cook spray, baking and roasting are healthy and typically do not require adding extra fat to a dish, and stir-frying and sautéing can be accomplished with a minimal amount of healthy oil. Grilling and broiling are healthy methods because they allow fat to drip away from food, and braising and poaching involve gently simmering an ingredient in liquid until cooked.

What is the calorie count in the recipe? Whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain the weight you have, it is important to understand how many calories your body requires and find recipes that correspond to this amount. To determine the energy needed in calories to maintain your current weight, multiply your weight in pounds by 12. For a one pound per week weight loss, cut this amount by 500 calories per day. For a two pound per week loss, reduce the amount by 1000 calories per day. Note: It has been shown that two pounds per week is a healthy weight loss that has the best potential to be sustained.

Is the recipe made with nutritious ingredients? The healthiest ingredients include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados. Note: fats contain two times more calories per gram than proteins or carbohydrates, so it is important to keep portion sizes under control.

Unhealthy ingredients include sugar, sodium, white flour, processed foods and saturated and trans-fats. Trans-fatty acids occur naturally in meat and dairy products but can be artificially made (by hydrogenating oils) to boost the shelf life of some products. High trans-fat consumption has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and certain cancers. Read labels, and avoid any products containing partially hydrogenated oils. In place of table salt, use herbs and spices to season recipes, and if needed, try all-natural sea salt.

Here are some guidelines based on advice from the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic for a typical 2000 calorie-per-day diet. Remember to adjust values to your daily calories and divide by the number of meals you are eating per day to arrive at approximate amounts for each recipe.

  • Dietary cholesterol should not exceed 300 mg per day.
  • To keep full and satisfied, an individual should strive for at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
  • Proteins should be limited to 175 grams or less per day, total carbohydrates should not exceed 300 grams, and fats should be limited to 65 grams or less per day.
  • A healthy diet should contain at least 3,500 mg of potassium daily, but sodium intake should not exceed 2,400 mg per day (those on a low-sodium diet should limit each recipe serving to 140 mg or less).
  • Limit sugars to 6 to 10 percent of total daily calories.
  • For heart-healthy recipes use 3 grams or less total fat (with 1 gram or less saturated fat), 20 mg or less cholesterol, and 480 mg or less sodium per serving.

Take advantage of the healthy holiday eating tips above when looking for healthy recipes that are chock full of nutrients and packed with all-natural energy! Bon Appétit!

Healthy Aging starts with a healthy gut. Free guide to Healthy Holiday Digestion.

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Which Supplements are Best for You?

by Health News

Which Supplements are Best? Get a Healthy Digestive SystemOne of the best ways to get a healthy digestive system is by taking dietary supplements. In fact, more than half of American adults take dietary supplements, but with hundreds to choose from, how do you know which supplements are best for you personally? Here is a rundown on some of the most common natural supplements and why you should include them in your daily diet.

Multivitamins

Those with a busy lifestyle who rely on fast food and microwave meals will almost certainly have a deficiency in vitamins and minerals. While daily supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet in any way, multivitamins do make sure that trace elements and minerals such as magnesium and zinc are being consumed on a regular basis.

The best multivitamins are those specifically formulated for men or for women. Women need higher levels of iron, calcium and folic acid. A well blended formula for women can resolve issues such as irritability, mood swings, bloating, lethargy, cramps and breast tenderness while men benefit from ingredients such as beta-sitosterol and saw palmetto for healthy prostate function.

Fish Oil

Fish oil has been shown to significantly improve health when taken on a regular basis. From preventing heart disease to easing joint pain and arthritis with its anti-inflammatory properties, a good quality fish oil should be on everyone's supplement list. 

Some people avoid taking fish oil supplements due to the aftertaste. Choose a good quality brand from a reputable supplier.  If you still get nasty repeats, store the fish oil in the refrigerator and take them cold; and try taking them before going to bed. This allows the capsules to get deeper into the body before being digested which eliminates the problem. A good quality fish oil will also be properly distilled and processed to remove toxic metals and pollutants from the fish oil.

Calcium

More than 25 million Americans are diagnosed with osteoporosis and it is not just women that suffer from this "brittle bone" disease. It is too late to take a crash course once symptoms have been diagnosed. Our bodies need plenty of calcium (with vitamin D to help the body break it down) from an early age and throughout life. Calcium is also necessary for strong teeth as well as supporting the heart and nervous system.

Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 is a relative newcomer to the health market yet its comprehensive benefits make it a top seller. It helps prevent heart disease and metabolizes energy from food. It also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure without the harmful side effects of prescribed medications. CoQ10 is found naturally in every cell in our body, but as we age it naturally diminishes and needs replenishing. It has been found to help prevent migraines, reduce inflammation and increase energy. The ideal daily supplement is around 100 mg per 100 pounds of body weight, although higher doses are beneficial to counter chronic fatigue. 

Once you have established a few basic supplements, continue to read and learn more about specific supplements. The best way to judge which are best for you is by trial and error. If you are receiving the correct nutrients and supplements, your body will feel fit, healthy and full of energy.

Want more tips on how to get a healthy digestive system? Get our FREE guide: The Aging Adults Guide to Healthy Holiday Digestion

Guide to a Healthy Digestive System

 

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Broccoli: Role In Cancer Prevention

by Institute for Vibrant Living

As you probably already know, consuming fruits and vegetables regularly aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system and is very beneficial for your overall health and may even extend your lifespan. What many people don’t realize is just how good these foods are for you and how exactly they benefit your health.

For instance, broccoli should be in the weekly menu of every person on the planet. That’s because the entire family of cruciferous vegetables - including broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower - Broccoli: Role In Cancer Preventioncontain lots of fiber, along with many vitamins and minerals - all of which are believed to be why cruciferous vegetables help to prevent colon cancer and aid in contributing to a healthy digestive system.

Not only that, cruciferous vegetables contain the protective compounds isothiocyanates and indoles, which help to fight disease by reducing inflammation and preventing DNA damage.

Scientific research shows a strong correlation between eating broccoli at least three times a month and a significant reduction in incidence of various types of cancer.

For instance, in a study from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, researchers found that individuals who ate broccoli three times a week showed a 40 percent reduction in their rates of bladder cancer.

Similarly, women with breast cancer diagnosis who increased their consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, reduced their risk of cancer recurrence by 35 percent. Amazingly, they also cut their mortality rate by 62 percent!

Along with the US, researchers in Switzerland and Italy have studied data collected across various studies and reached similar conclusions about the positive link between cruciferous vegetables and cancer.

The most notable results were a 32 percent reduced rate of kidney cancer among individuals who ate cruciferous vegetables at least once a week. Similarly, a 17 percent reduction in oral, breast and colorectal cancers as well as a 28 percent reduction in esophageal cancer were seen in association with cruciferous vegetable consumption.

In other words, people who eat cruciferous vegetables roughly once a week are on average much healthier with a significant reduction in cancer risk relative to their counterparts who rarely, or never, eat vegetables.

The difference in their cancer rates is so significant that everyone - including you - should seriously consider increasing their cruciferous vegetable intake. 

Additionally, research shows having a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Fruits and vegetables also have a positive effect on blood sugar - helping to keep appetite in check and maintain a healthy digestive system. Bottom line? Fruits and vegetables are an essential ingredient to your overall health and well-being.

Source: Broccoli: Role in Cancer Prevention

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Acai Superfruit: A Nutritious And Powerful Superfood

by Institute for Vibrant Living

What are superfoods - and do they really exist? 

According to Dr. Christine Horner, a superfood is any nutrient-dense food that contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compunds and other ingredients proven to benefit health.Acai Superfruit: A Nutritious And Powerful Superfood  | Institute for Vibrant Living

On the list of superfoods is one you may not have even heard of. Studies have shown that the superfruit Açaí berry - found growing on a very special Amazon palm tree - is one of the most nutritious and powerful superfoods in the world.

Harvested in the rainforests of Brazil, açaí tastes like a blend of berries and chocolate. Nature's perfect energy fruit, açaí is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids.

Açaí may not be available in your local supermarket, but you can find it in health food stores, typically in juice form. A new product featuring the unsweetened pulp is now also available, which comes without the harmful effects of added sugar.

Royal purple in color, açaí pulp contains:

  • A remarkably high concentration of antioxidants that help combat premature aging, with 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and 10-30 times the anthocyanins of red wine.
  • A mutually enhancing combination of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, dietary fiber and phytosterols to help promote cardiovascular and digestive health.
  • A near-perfect essential amino acid complex along with with valuable trace minerals that are essential for proper muscle contraction and regeneration.

The fatty acid content in açaí resembles that of olive oil, and is enriched in monounsaturated oleic acid. Oleic acid helps essential omega-3 fats enter cells - and together, they help make cell membranes more supple and strong.

By keeping the cell membrane supple, our body’s hormones, neurotransmitter and insulin receptors function more efficiently inside and outside cells, keeping us healthy and disease-free. This is particularly important because high insulin levels create an inflammatory state.

As you already know, inflammation is believed to play a role in almost every modern disease including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more - while also contributing to the adverse health effects of aging.

Source

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Five Health Benefits Of Cinnamon

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The key to healthy aging is maintaining a healthy diet!

You may think of cinnamon as a winter spice - but this fragrant, potent bark can actually play an important role in your summer dishes, along with offering many health benefits in the process.

The key to healthy aging is maintaining a healthy diet! Here are five reasons you should include cinnamon in your diet

Here are five reasons you should include cinnamon in your diet, regardless of season:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties - essential oils found in cinnamon bark regulate blood flow, prevent clumping of blood platelets, and lower the release of certain cell membrane acids that contribute to inflammatory diseases, particularly arthritis. Additionally, a recent study showed that athletes who regularly ingested cinnamon powder showed a decrease in muscle soreness. Also, did you know that cinnamon can ease menstrual symptoms? Cinnamon contains the natural chemical cinnamaldehyde, which is known to balance hormones, reduce heavy bleeding and alleviate cramps.
  2. Blood sugar control - a recent study showed that adding cinnamon to carb-heavy meals increased the time it took to empty the stomach after eating. In other words, the spice reduced the rise in blood sugar that is normally associated with such meals. Previous studies had already indicated that cinnamon lowers total cholesterol concentrations. Regulated blood sugar levels work to stabilize both energy levels and mood - so adding cinnamon to your diet not only reduces your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, but also prevents the onset of fatigue or depression typically seen after carb-heavy meals.
  3. Antimicrobial actions - cinnamon prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi, making it a natural food preservative.
  4. Boosting brain activity - simply smelling cinnamon can increase cognitive functions such as memory and visual motor speed. When ingested, cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate. Elevated sodium benzoate levels in the brain have been linked to a boost in brain activity as well as lowered risk for some brain disorders.
  5. Delivering essential nutrients - cinnamon provides the body with fiber, calcium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and more - all of which are known to improve overall body and heart health.

So, are you ready to spice up your summer?

Just add a few pinches to your cereal, stir it into your oatmeal or sprinkle over peanut butter toast - and you’re good to go.

Source: Five Health Benefits of Cinnamon.   

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5 Tips On Staying Healthy And Fit During Those ‘Fabulous’ Fifties

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Each and every stage of life comes with different gifts and challenges - and who doesn't want to stay trim, youthful looking and energized with a well-functioning cardiovascular system as we enter the ‘fabulous’ fifties?

5 Tips On Staying Healthy And Fit During Those ‘Fabulous’ Fifties

Our bodies need different forms of nutritional support as we age - and that’s easy to understand, because each phase of life brings its own physiological and metabolic changes.

For instance, our heart health naturally declines with age.

Women experience the onset of menopause in their fifties, which also brings with it many hormonal and metabolic changes.

Overall, metabolism slows and belly fat starts to accumulate along with a decrease in muscle mass. This is why appropriate food intake becomes more critical during the fifties than ever before, with an emphasis on nutrient dense food and ingredient choices.

Here are five simple tips to help you stay healthy and fit during your ‘fabulous’ fifties -

  1. Integrate monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) into your diet - these essential fats help moderate hormones, appetite, insulin response and vitamin absorption, all of which are vital, especially for women during menopause. Increasing MUFA consumption can also lower cholesterol levels - which is why nuts, olive oil, avocado and tahini are both nutritious and heart healthy options. 
  2. Stay hydrated - this is very important at every age, since water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and every system in your body depends on water. With age, we lose our ability to conserve water. Also, some medications can cause dehydration. Don't wait for your body to tell you it's thirsty, because it may be too late!
  3. Avoid ‘processed’ foods - instead, opt for a high-fiber, moderate protein, low-carb and low-sodium diet based on natural foods. High salt intake can spike blood pressure (BP), leading to hypertension which puts the heart at risk. Processed foods are traditionally loaded with higher sodium and unhealthy oils.
  4. Just say no - your 50s is a great time to give up on overuse of alcohol and smoking. Both place a heavy toll on the cardiovascular system, along with prematurely aging and damaging the liver, lung and other organs. Smoking also adversely affects elasticity and collagen production in the skin, contributing to a less youthful appearance.
  5. Monitor your cardio history - regularly assess your heart health and your risk for cardiovascular disease through periodic testing that includes detailed cholesterol information and BP readings.

Source: Five Tips on Staying Healthy and Fit During Those Fabulous Fifties.   

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Want 5 Reasons To Eat More Blueberries?

by Health News

The key to healthy aging is maintaining a healthy diet. Powerful flavonoid and anthocyanin antioxidants found in blueberries may have a rejuvenating effect on the brain - slowing down and even reversing the effects of stress and inflammation on brain cells. What’s more, these antioxidants may also neutralize free radicals linked to the development of cancer, heart disease and age-related conditions.

5 Reasons To Eat More Blueberries - Healthy Aging Tips

Blueberries have only 80 calories per cup and are loaded with fiber that keeps you fuller longer. They are also an excellent source of manganese, which plays an important part in bone development and converting carbohydrates and fats into energy.

What else can this super-fruit do for your health and wellbeing?

  1. Provide a high dose of vitamin C - one serving of blueberries gives you almost one-fourth of your daily requirement of vitamin C - the most powerful antioxidant of them all - packing 14 milligrams per cup.
  2. Benefit heart health - heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. A recent study showed that blueberries reduced the risk of heart disease in women who ate three or more servings of blueberries a week. This heart protective effect is believed to be due to their high content of anthocyanins.
  3. Reduce cancer risk - not only do anthocyanins give blueberries their blue color, they may also neutralize cancer-causing free radicals and even block tumor cells from forming, according to a study which examined the effects of blueberries on prostate cancer.
  4. Fight UTIs - urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria that take hold and grow inside the urinary tract, causing an infection. Blueberries can help ward off these infections, because they contain substances that inhibit bacteria from binding to bladder tissue.
  5. Boost brain health - studies on rats show that object memory loss, which occurs with age, can be prevented and even reversed by feeding blueberries to older rats. In another study of nine human subjects, older adults who were given blueberry juice scored higher on memory tests.

Healthy Aging

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What Are The Benefits And Risks Of Regular Energy Drink Consumption?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Energy drinks are very popular nowadays, especially with teens and athletes - perhaps you’re a fan as well.

A recent study looked at the benefits and risks that come with regular energy drink consumption. In 2003, 16% of teens reported consuming them regularly - however, consumption had risen sharply to 35% by 2008. In fact, one study found that 50% of students drank at least 1-4 of these drinks in a typical month.

A sharp increase in energy drink-related emergency room visits led to demands that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) look into the effects of energy drinks on health.

Currently, the amount of caffeine added to energy drinks is not regulated by the FDA, so labeled amounts are often inaccurate. Also, the claims made by manufacturers on the ability of such drinks to maintain energy levels have not been verified.

The study authors examined the most common ingredients - caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, sugars and B vitamins - and assessed their effects on health.

Levels of caffeine, the main ingredient, vary widely between brands. Energy drinks may contain higher levels of caffeine than indicated on the label.

 Benefits And Risks Of Regular Energy Drink ConsumptionA typical cup of coffee contains 80-120 milligrams of caffeine, while tea has 50 mg and a 12-ounce cola roughly 65 mg. On the other hand, a 16-ounce Red Bull contains 154 mg while a 24-ounce Wired X505 contains 505 mg. While there is no prescribed safety limit for caffeine, excessive consumption has been linked to high BP, premature birth and even possibly sudden death.

Guarana is a South American plant that contains a caffeine-like compound called guaranine. One gram of guarana is equal to 40 mg of caffeine. In spite of this, guarana is usually not included in the total caffeine tally. And since the FDA has not tested guarana for human consumption, its risks and benefits are almost completely unknown.

Sugar in the form of sucrose, glucose, or high fructose corn syrup ranges from 21 grams to 34 grams in every 8 ounces of a typical energy drink. Teens who consume 2 or 3 drinks daily could be taking in 120-180 mg of sugar - or 4-6 times the maximum recommended daily intake - placing them at risk for obesity and dental problems.

Taurine is a common amino acid that supports brain development and regulates mineral and water levels. The amount of taurine consumed from energy drinks is higher than from a normal diet - as yet there is no evidence that this is unhealthy. In fact, many energy drinks that claim to be healthy contain excess, unregulated amounts of vitamins or minerals you can normally get from your diet.

The problem is, you never really know how much of these ingredients you are consuming, because the quantities are masked behind the term 'proprietary blend' or 'energy blend.'

Ginseng is believed to boost athletic performance, strengthen the immune system and improve mood. According to the study authors, there is not much proof of this - and there isn't enough ginseng in energy drinks anyway.

B vitamins and other additives in energy drinks can improve mood and even fight heart disease and cancer, but again their amounts in energy drinks aren’t enough to have any meaningful effects.

Adolescent consumers have no idea what these ingredients do. They assume that because they can buy it off the shelf, it must be safe for them. In reality, very little is known about the risks and benefits of various additives in energy drinks and how they affect health when consumed over the long term. Not much is known either about how energy drinks and alcohol interact as well as how they affect medications and antidepressants.

Therefore, study authors have urged physicians to be aware of energy drink consumption and suggest educating both teens and their parents on the potential negative health consequences of consuming energy drinks regularly.

Sources: What’s in Your Energy Drink?

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Healthy Recipe: Chicken Strawberry Spinach Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

by Nancy Maneely

There are so many great things about this recipe, it’s hard to know where to begin!

Healthy Recipe: Chicken Strawberry Spinach Salad | Institute for Vibrant LivingThe basics are lean, high-protein chicken breast and one of our favorite nutritional superfoods, spinach. The fats, which you can adjust to your taste and dietary preference, consist of just enough oil to sauté the chicken and a little mayo or yogurt for the dressing. Strawberries bring additional antioxidant-rich nutrients, as well as color and flavor. Toss in some almonds for essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and heart-healthy phytochemicals. And, the lime juice, garlic, ginger and black pepper not only contribute unbeatable flavors to this wonderful salad, they provide an extra antioxidant boost as well!

This is a tasty summertime treat your whole family will love. And not even the kids will suspect your real motive for serving this is to offer them a healthy alternative to fat and sugar laden, overprocessed meals. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half - cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or yogurt)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, stems removed
  • 4 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place chicken in skillet, season with garlic powder and cook 10 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, lime juice, ginger and milk.

3. Arrange spinach on serving dishes. Top with chicken and strawberries, sprinkle with almonds and drizzle with dressing. Season with pepper to serve.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 242
Total Fat: 17.3g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 117mg
Total Carbs: 7.5g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4g
Protein: 15.8 grams

Source: Allrecipes.com

 

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Healthy and Delicious Pasta Alternatives

by Nancy Maneely

If you're watching your weight (and overall health) you’ve probably ditched the white-flour pasta along with white bread as part of your everyday fare. And that’s a good thing. Still, once in awhile you may miss those steaming bowls of pasta from your childhood. Who doesn’t?

Pasta is one of the ultimate comfort foods.

But most pastas are made with refined wheat flour which is stripped of its essential nutrients. It’s filling, but mostly empty calories. Here’s the good news: If you want to know how to increase energy levels and still get your pasta fill, there are some delicious and healthy pasta options to explore. Try these with your favorite tomato sauce or just a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

How to Increase Energy Levels: Healthy Pasta Alternatives

  • Spaghetti Squash – Slice in half and bake, then shred the inside with a fork into noodle-like strands. Ultra-low in calories, squash is high in vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium for heart health.
  •  Zucchini – Shred with a peeler and steam for a quick spaghetti substitute.
  • Quinoa – This superfood from the Mayans is high in protein, vitamin B and delicious in salads as a pasta substitute.
  • Soba Noodles – These heart healthy Japanese noodles are made from buckwheat and are high in protein.
  • Black Bean Spaghetti – If you can get past the notion of eating black pasta, this stuff is wonderfully high in protein – more than 20 grams per serving! – and fiber.
  • Rice Pasta – Asian markets are the place to shop for these inexpensive noodles made from whole grains.
  • Whole Grain Wheat – If you really must have wheat pasta, choose this kind. It is rich in vitamin B and isn't stripped of its fiber and minerals.

What’s your favorite pasta dish? Share with us!

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Micronutrients: What are their Healing Powers?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Micronutrients: What are the Healing Powers?The rate of obesity has doubled in America over the last 30 years and has been accompanied by a massive health crisis - literally a nationwide epidemic of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Health experts are now convinced that this is because of the nutrient-deficient and calorie-rich US diet, not to mention crazy lifestyle, stress and lack of sleep.

And given the way US healthcare is structured, prevention by practicing a healthy diet and lifestyle is very unlikely. In fact, even most health caregivers receive very little nutritional training in medical school.

There is no doubt that solving this health crisis is going to take a lot of discipline and a complete dietary about-turn.

According to nutritionists, the root cause of chronic diseases is simple: lack of enough fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. The typical American diet couldn’t be further removed from this ideal. On average, Americans eat 60% processed foods and 30% animal products, leaving only 10% for raw, unprocessed fruits and veggies.

While most people understand something about macronutrients, they know very little about the undervalued, but much more important micronutrients - the 14 essential vitamins, 16 essential minerals, and thousands of phytochemicals.

These micronutrients do not contain calories and our body needs them only in tiny amounts, but their role in maintaining health cannot be overestimated.

What’s more, some health experts now believe that the major micronutrient in food is not vitamins or minerals, but phytochemicals. In fact they believe micronutrients are literally a fountain of youth that function to improve human health and longevity.

There are literally tens of thousands of phytochemicals in natural, whole, vegetable-based foods. Micronutrients are essential in helping to protect us from disease - and if we are already sick, they help in recovery.

Every tomato, head of cabbage, piece of lettuce, cucumber, bean or sprout has hundreds - even thousands - of nutrients critically important for health.

And while supplementing with micronutrients can be helpful, the makeup of nutrients in unprocessed fruits and vegetables is so complex that it can’t be replicated synthetically - and why would you need to, when they are already so plentiful in naturally occurring green vegetables and fruits?

The standard American diet provides a meager 4% of phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables - not to mention that processing removes delicate phytochemicals found in raw produce, while animal products don’t have them at all.

So if you’re concerned about taking care of your health or prone to falling ill, you may want to consider adding more raw and lightly cooked fresh veggies - along with fresh fruits - to your daily diet.

Source: The Healing Power of Micronutrients.

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Top 5 Supplements to Add To Your Smoothie

by Health News

There are a variety of vitamin supplements that can be added to smoothies that have all sorts of healthy properties. These ingredients can all be purchased at your local whole foods store or through natural supplement websites. 

  1. Brewers Yeast: A great source of selenium, chromium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, copper, manganese, iron, and zinc.
  2. Bee Pollen: Contains high concentrations of vitamin B-complex and vitamins A, C, D, and E.
  3. Green Tea Powder: The potent antioxidants in green tea have been said to help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol.
  4. Spirulina: Contains over 60% all-digestible vegetable protein with a high concentration of beta carotene, vitamin B-12, iron and GLA, an essential fatty acid.
  5. Wheat Germ Oil: A rich source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

Top 5 Supplements to Add To Your Smoothie

Check out this smoothie recipe, which offers a healthy and tasty balance of protein and carbohydrates to keep your engine running throughout the day! Bananas, which are an excellent source of potassium, dietary fiber and Vitamin B6, provide a rich and creamy base, and soy milk is a great source of isoflavones which aid in the prevention of many cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis.

TROPICAL TREAT - Serves Two

  • Place all ingredients in a blender:
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced
  • 2 scoops vanilla soy protein powder
  • 1/2 cup chunked cantaloupe
  • 1/2 cup chunked canned or fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk

Place lid on blender, and pulse until ingredients begin to mix. Set blender on "blend" for about 30 seconds and then move to "ice crush" or your highest blending button for 20 to 30 more seconds. Pour, and enjoy this quick and healthful smoothie – a taste of the tropics!

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Five Foods You're Eating Incorrectly

by Health News

As you already know, the food we consume has a tremendous impact on our overall health and quality of life. And while it’s a smart idea to make healthy choices when it comes to our diet, how we prepare our food Learn how to have more energy simply by preparing your food properlycan make all the difference.

Here are some examples and tips on how to have more energy by preparing your food properly:

  1. Microwaving or boiling vegetables - Sulforaphane is a plant compound with strong anti-cancer properties that is found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and arugula. The enzyme myrosinase is necessary to release sulforaphane so your body can absorb it, but microwaving and boiling destroy this enzyme. On the other hand, steaming provides a slower, gentler heat that preserves myrosinase and many other micronutrients as well.
    • Tip - cook broccoli in a steaming basket for 3-4 minutes for the most optimal cancer-fighting boost.
  2. Slicing strawberries before eating them - whole strawberries contain 8-12 percent more vitamin C than cut fruits, because vitamin C begins to break down when it’s exposed to light and oxygen.
    • Tip - for the biggest C boost, store whole strawberries in the fridge - because cool temperatures help to retain vitamin C as well.
  3. Letting a wine bottle ‘breathe for too long - when red wine is decanted for long periods of time, for example up to 12 hours, the organic acids and polyphenols in it begin to break down. In other words, leaving a wine bottle open overnight neutralizes the many health benefits of red wine - including reduced depression, increased testosterone and a healthier heart.
    • Tip - always drink wine from a freshly opened bottle.
  4. Eating tomatoes raw - tomato consumption has been linked to lowering men’s risk of stroke and prostate cancer, along with preserving brain power with age. Heating tomatoes significantly increases their levels of lycopene, a natural plant chemical that is part of a tomato’s antioxidant protection.
    • Tip - lightly cook tomatoes in olive oil, because lycopene is fat-soluble - meaning you need fat in your diet for your body to absorb it properly.
  5. Avoiding frozen fruits and vegetables at the grocery store - most people think only fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy, but this is a popular misconception. In fact, UK scientists found that in two out of three cases, frozen fruits and vegetables provide higher levels of antioxidants including polyphenols, vitamin C, and beta-carotene than fresh produce. As produce ages, the nutrients in them begin to break down. It's better to eat produce that was frozen at prime ripeness with nutrients intact than week-old produce that no longer has the same beneficial nutrient content.
    • Tip - incorporate frozen fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.

Source: Five Foods You’re Eating Wrong.

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Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure (Bp)

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that watermelon can lower your blood pressure (BP)?

Food scientists at Florida State University conducted a pilot study on four men and five postmenopausal women - all of whom suffered from prehypertension - between the ages of 51 to 57 years.  Each of these subjects was daily given six grams of the amino acid L-citrulline/L-arginine - derived from watermelon extract - for a period of six weeks. 

Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure (Bp) | Institute for Vibrant Living

L-citrulline is converted in the body to L-arginine, which is needed for the formation of nitric oxide (NO). NO is necessary for blood vessels to keep a proper tone and to maintain a healthy BP.

At the end of the pilot study, all nine participants showed improved arterial function and lower aortic BP - indicating that watermelon is effective against prehypertension, a precursor to cardiovascular disease.

L-arginine is available as a dietary supplement. However, it can cause nausea, gastrointestinal tract discomfort and diarrhea when taken regularly. On the other hand, eating watermelon causes none of those effects.

Study researchers say that watermelon dilates blood vessels, which may the underlying reason that it can prevent prehypertension from developing into hypertension - a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Watermelon is the richest edible natural source of L-citrulline. It is also a good source of vitamins A, B6 and C as well as fiber, potassium and the antioxidant lycopene. 

A previous study had shown that L-citrulline supplementation slows the increase in aortic BP in response to cold exposure which, combined with hypertension, is associated with higher rates of myocardial infarction (MI).

Along with L-citrulline, high levels of potassium along with watermelon’s refreshing hydrating quality contribute to its beneficial effects on heart health.

Source: Watermelon lowers Blood Pressure (BP).

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Why is Kale So Healthy?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

A nutritional powerhouse, the leafy green kale is becoming known as ‘the new beef’ and ‘the queen of greens’ in recognition of its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits and delicious flavor.

Grocery stores nowadays typically stock a variety of kale known as Tuscan, Italian black or dinosaur kale, with smoother leaves and a divine mellow flavor. Kale | Heath Benefits | Institute for Vibrant Living

Regularly consuming a wide variety of natural, unprocessed vegetables has many wide-ranging benefits for your health - and choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis has massive health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.

Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

What makes kale so exceptional? Let us count the ways.

  1. One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily recommended allowance of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
  2. Kale’s health benefits are mainly linked to the high concentrations it contains of antioxidant vitamins A, C and K as well as its sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
  3. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific antioxidants associated with many of kale’s anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
  4. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber in kale binds to bile acids and helps to lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease - especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
  5. Kale is also super-rich in vitamin K, which is why regular kale consumption is believed to reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer. Vitamin K is also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens and cheese and is necessary for normal blood clotting, antioxidant activity as well as bone health.
  6. Consuming too much kale can pose problems for people taking anticoagulants such as warfarin, the high levels of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs - so it’s always a wise idea to consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.

Although vegetable choices abound in summer, there are fewer in-season choices during fall and winter other than kale and other dark, leafy greens that thrive in cooler weather.

To find the freshest kale, look for firm, deeply colored leaves with hardy stems. Smaller leaves are generally more tender and milder in flavor. In general, kale leaves range from dark green to purple to deep red in color. 

Source: Health Benefits of Kale, the ‘Queen of Greens’

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Mango Consumption Associated With Lower Blood Sugar Levels

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Mangos are well known for their strong nutritional profile. They’re chockfull of healthful antioxidants and also contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, fiber, vitamin B6 and copper.

However, recent research now shows that there’s more to mangos than vitamins and minerals. Lower Blood Sugar Levels | Institute for Vibrant Living

In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition and Food Science, mango consumption was shown to be associated with a healthier diet in more than 29,000 children and adults who were participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Study researchers noticed that adults who consume mangos tended to have a higher intake of potassium and dietary fiber, both of which are known to contribute to a balanced diet. Also, mango consumption was associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. High levels of CRP in the blood have been linked to increased risk for heart disease.

Not only that - on average, adult mango eaters had higher intakes of whole fruit, vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber while having lower intakes of added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. Overall, both adults and children who consumed mangos scored higher on the Healthy Eating Index compared to those who did not eat mangos.

Emerging research further indicates that mango consumption may also lower blood sugar levels in obese adults.

A pilot study recently conducted at Oklahoma State University examined the effects of daily mango consumption in 20 obese individuals over 12 weeks. They found that all participants had significantly lower blood glucose levels compared to their baselines, even though there were no significant changes in their body composition.

These findings support the results from a previously published study which had shown that adding 1% mango to high-fat diets in mice effectively reduced body fat accumulation and lowered blood glucose levels.

Given these health benefits of mangos - why not add them to your diet today?

Source: Mango Consumption Associated with Lower Blood Sugar Levels.