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Ayurveda Honors the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

by Cindy Gray

Discover your Dosha: Ayurveda Honors the Mind-Body-Spirit ConnectionAyurvedic medicine originated in India, and is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Simply put, Ayurveda is rooted in two key principles: The mind, body and spirit are totally connected; and nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind and spirit.

Based on those principles, freedom from illness hinges on our ability to expand our awareness and bring it into balance so that the trinity of the mind, body and spirit benefit. Meditation is a prime example of this powerful connection. When you meditate you effortlessly enter into a state of peace and quiet that frees your mind. In that state of restful awareness your heart and breath rate slow down, your body decreases production of stress hormones and increases production of the “feel good” transmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.  It is within this calm and balanced state that many practitioners can feel a profound sense of their own spirituality. 

According to Ayurveda, every person is made up of a combination of five elements found in the universe including space, air, fire, water and earth. Your body works to keep you healthy through individual physical and psychological traits that comprise your body’s constitution or “prakriti.”

What Are Doshas?

The elements found in the universe combine to form three different life forces called “doshas.” The three doshas are vata dosha (space and air), pitta dosha (fire and water) and kapha dosha (water and earth).  While everyone has a mix of the three doshas, each individual has one dosha that is dominant. Each dosha controls a different bodily function and Ayurvedic practitioners believe that your odds of getting sick are linked to the balance of your individual doshas.

Understanding your dosha is critical for optimal health. An Ayurvedic practitioner determines your individual dosha through an exam that includes urine and stool samples, feeling your pulse, listening to your speech and voice and examining your eyes, teeth, tongue and skin.  The practitioner will also ask questions about your ability to recover from illness, your diet, lifestyle, medical history and how you tend to behave in certain situations.

Once your dosha is determined, you will receive treatments designed to maximize your mind-body balance. Typical treatments include conscious breathing exercises, aromatherapy, nutritional counseling, herbs and vitamins, plant-based oils, and meditation and stretching exercises.

If you decide to incorporate Ayurveda into your stay-well plan, it is important to seek out a reputable practitioner. Your holistic health practitioner can make recommendations or may even be able to provide Ayurvedic-based treatment for you.   

Related: Seven Ways to Filter out Stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Nutrients for a Healthy Heart

by Not in Use Not In Use

What are some of the best high blood pressure remedies?

Check out this list of 5 nutrients with proven scientific benefit for the cardiovascular system.


1) Omega-3 fatty acids - One of the best ways to help prevent heart disease is to eat a diet low in saturated fat and to eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids). Studies suggest that EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fish oil has been shown to decrease dangerous blood fats known as triglycerides by an average of 29 per cent and lower cholesterol by 12 per cent.

2) Vitamins A, C, E and Beta-carotene - Deficiencies of Vitamins A, C, E, and beta carotene have been linked to heart disease. All of these nutrients have antioxidant effects and other properties that may benefit the heart. Good natural foods with Vitamin A are fish oil, liver, and egg yolk. For Vitamin C, try eating citrus fruits, strawberries, peas, red peppers, and kiwis. Sources for Vitamin E include garbanzo beans, avocados, almonds, sunflower oil, tuna, and muesli. Lastly, eat spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, peas, carrots and sweet potatoes for natural sources of beta-carotene. These items can also be taken as all natural supplements.

3) Selenium and Zinc - Selenium and zinc help the body absorb antioxidants such as Vitamins, A, C, and E, and they are essential to the antioxidant process, ridding the system of free radicals. It is found in lentils, wholemeal bread, sardines and Brazil nuts.

4) Allicin - Studies have shown that allicin, which is found most abundantly in garlic and also in onions and leeks, lowers blood pressure, may help preventing blood clots from forming in coronary arteries, and is known to have blood-thinning properties, all of which keeps the heart in good shape.

5) Folic acid - Folic acid helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with high blood levels of homocysteine. It is found mainly in green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, fruits and roots.

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Prevent Decreased Muscle Mass in the Grocery Store

by Cindy Gray

The great thing about natural medicine is that most vitamins and supplements can be obtained from a grocery store rather than from a pharmacy. To be more exact, most health foods can be found in the produce department where fresh fruit and vegetables provide a ready supply of vitamins, minerals, natural fiber and antioxidants.

Prevent Decreased Muscle Mass in the Produce AisleYou may be aware that these foods are the key to weight management, balancing blood sugar and supporting a healthy heart, but scientists have also found they are essential for preventing decreased muscle mass.

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is a medical term that refers to a steady loss of lean body mass, specifically muscle and bone loss. It affects around 45% of older adults and generally starts at the age of 40 and accelerates in the mid-late 70s. Although it is most severe in those who are physically inactive, it also affects people who remain fit and active into older age.

Although sarcopenia affects older people, it may be an avoidable consequence of aging, as a recent Korean study showed.

Related: 3 Healthy Foods That Support Healthy Aging

Study on Sarcopenia and Diet

Scientists at Ajou University in the Republic of Korea looked at whether foods high in antioxidants, such as fruit and vegetables, could be associated with sarcopenia in older people. The study focused on data provided by 823 men and 1,089 women who were aged 65 and above. They used questionnaires to obtain information about the participants' diet, along with physical measurements including height and body mass.

The study found that men who had a high dietary intake of both fresh fruit and vegetables had a significantly lower risk of sarcopenia than those who ate fewer fruits and vegetables. In women, they found that those who had a high consumption of fruit showed a lower risk of decreased muscle mass/sarcopenia. The scientists concluded that a high consumption of fruit and vegetables was inversely associated with the presence of sarcopenia in older people.

Risk of Muscle Loss

The natural aging process means that we generally move more slowly as we age and there is a decline in muscle strength. When extreme, this loss of muscle increases the risk of injury from a fall due to weaker leg muscles, and it can eventually affect the ability to live independently.

Decreased muscle mass is related to bone loss (osteoporosis) as healthy muscles create a positive stress which keeps the bones strong and healthy. A decline of muscle through sarcopenia can start a vicious circle: less lean body mass causes decreased mobility which in turn results in yet more muscle loss.

Sarcopenia has other implications for general health too. The body stores reserves of proteins and metabolites in the muscles. The reason many frail elderly people do not survive a fall, major surgery, or illness such as influenza, is due to their lack of metabolic reserves in their muscles to support their immune system and aid recovery.

Although our western diet provides plenty of protein to fight the decline of muscle and bone mass, studies increasingly show that this must be accompanied by plenty of fruit and vegetables to provide the necessary antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are also needed to age healthily.

Next time you visit the supermarket, make sure you visit the produce aisle and top up your health reserves to stave off sarcopenia before it’s too late.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=PMID%3A+24646604

http://www.brinkzone.com/articles/sarcopenia-the-undiagnosed-epidemic/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527121104.htm

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/090112p62.shtml

 

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Homocysteine and Heart Disease Risk

by Cindy Gray

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is very complex, and hard to pinpoint in terms of any one mechanism or cause. To date, many factors have been identified which have been shown to increase the risk of developing atherosclerotic plaque. At the same time, traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) may account for only part of the actual risk of atherosclerosis development. In the past, when a patient was considered at risk for heart disease, treating physicians examined the usual suspects, such as smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, family history, physical inactivity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and other health conditions. Yet these risk factors cannot account for all incidence of CVD. New risk factors whose role is being seriously investigated include estrogen deficiency, different types of cholesterol, plasma and fibrinogen (protein essential for blood clot formation), C-reactive protein and homocysteine.Heart Diease Risk and Homocysteine

In the late 1960s, the first association emerged between elevated plasma homocysteine concentrations and atherosclerosis. A Harvard pathologist observed severe atherosclerosis in two young children with rare diseases marked by very high homocysteine levels. Children with this defect typically succumb at an early age to complications of arteriosclerosis. If great excesses of homocysteine can cause this, could moderately elevated levels contribute to heart disease in middle-aged and older people? Although initially not accepted as a valid theory, numerous studies have shown significant evidence to validate this relationship.

Researchers in at least three large, well-known studies have examined the complex association between hyperhomocysteinemia (a medical condition characterized by an abnormally high level of homocysteine in the blood) and CVD.

The Physicians' Health Study followed 14,916 male physicians without known atherosclerosis for an average of five years after baseline homocysteine measurement. In an analysis of data from 271 men who subsequently developed myocardial infarctions or MI (or heart attack) and paired controls, researchers found a relative risk for MI of 3.1 among men with homocysteine levels in the highest 5%; compared with those in the lowest 90%; that risk rose to 3.4 after adjustment for diabetes, hypertension and other potential confounding conditions.

In another study by the Physicians' Health Study, researchers examined plasma levels of folate and vitamin B6 in relation to subsequent MI occurrence. Over 7.5 years, 333 men experienced MI. In a comparison with paired controls, the researchers found that men with the lowest 20% of folate levels had a relative risk for developing MI of 1.4 compared with those in the remaining 80%. During the first half of follow-up, men with homocysteine levels in the top 5% had a nearly threefold increase in risk of MI.

Investigators in the ten-year Framingham Heart Study examined stroke incidence and all-cause and CVD mortality and determined that the relative risk for stroke rose in correlation to the increase in homocysteine levels.  A second long-term Framingham sub study confirmed the results of the first study, in that subjects with higher homocysteine levels had an increased relative risk for all-cause mortality and for cardiovascular disease. 

A Tufts University study of the elderly adds to the mounting evidence that blood levels of homocysteine can predict odds for having a stroke or heart attack. The study showed that the higher the homocysteine level, the greater the chance of carotid artery obstruction, a warning sign of increased risk for both stroke and coronary heart disease. Another finding was that odds for carotid blockage also rose as levels of folic acid and vitamin B6 dropped.

Based on their results, the authors propose clinical trials of the vitamins to determine whether fatal and nonfatal vascular disease in the elderly can be reduced. Using noninvasive ultrasound imaging to measure the degree of carotid artery narrowing, these researchers examined 418 men and 623 women who participated in the Framingham Heart Study. The subjects, ranging in age from 67 to 96 years, were divided into two groups. The first included people in whom no more than 24 percent of a carotid artery was obstructed. The second group consisted of those with a carotid blockage of at least 25 percent, a cutoff point above which stroke and coronary heart disease rates have been shown to rise.

The more dangerous obstructions were detected in 43 percent of men and 34 percent of women. An examination of the relationship between these blockages and the subjects' blood level of homocysteine strongly implicated homocysteine as an independent risk factor for vascular disease. Among men in the study, the odds for carotid blockage were more than twice as high in the 25 percent of the group with the highest homocysteine levels as in the bottom quartile. Disease risk increased gradually as homocysteine levels rose. Although women's risk did not increase with moderately elevated readings and somewhat fewer women with the highest levels had carotid blockages, the link between homocysteine levels and vascular disease was also statistically significant.

Among 27 studies of homocysteine and vascular disease cited by the University of Washington review was a Harvard project involving 15,000 physicians. The results showed that although relatively few of the doctors had coronaries, those in the five percent of the group with the highest homocysteine readings had a 3.4 fold increase in heart attack risk. Similarly a Tufts University study of over 1,000 elderly men and women showed that high homocysteine levels raised odds for significant carotid artery obstruction. A carotid blockage is considered a warning sign of above-average risk for both stroke and coronary artery disease.

The Washington researchers concluded that a 5 u.mol/L increment in homocysteine level raises coronary artery disease risk as much as a 20 mg/dL rise in cholesterol. No one has yet proven how homocysteine causes atherosclerosis, but scientists suspect it may do its harm during one or more steps in the process that transforms a healthy blood vessel into the site of a heart attack. The arteries of animals injected with homocysteine showed changes that may lay the groundwork for the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques. There is also evidence suggesting that homocysteine stimulates proliferation of blood vessel cells that may contribute to plaque formation, and that it encourages clotting.

 

Reference

http://www.diabetesindia.com/diabetes/recent_adv.htm#puzzle   

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Glutathione - the Master Antioxidant

by Cindy Gray

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

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

Glutathione performs many important roles in the body, including:

  • Managing cell growth and division

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference

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

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Top Three Heart-Healthy Nutrients

by Health News
Looking for some high blood pressure remedies? There’s no question that, when it comes to healthy aging, specifically lowering cholesterol, your first step should be to eat healthy and exercise. But when you want that extra boost, these three nutrients should be at the top of your list.High Blood Pressure Remedies: 3 Heart-Healthy Nutrients
 
CoQ10—Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble compound found in every plant and animal cell. Research has shown that CoQ10 also prevents the oxidation of LDL—the pivotal step in artery clogging—and, along with vitamin E, can help to lower cholesterol levels. Plus, many older adults are frequently prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs in the statins class which significantly deplete CoQ10 stores, so it is particularly critical that you use CoQ10 if you are taking a statin. Aim for 100 mg of CoQ10 (as ubiquinone) daily.
 
Essential Fatty Acids— Essential fatty acids (EFAs), the omega-3's EPA and DHA, are fats that your body does not produce and you must therefore obtain through diet or supplementation. They are important for the production of series 1 and 3 prostaglandins, potent hormone-like anti-inflammatory substances that help regulate blood pressure, the breakdown of fat or cholesterol in your blood, heart rate, blood clotting, and your immune system’s response to injury and infection. EFAs also help decrease inflammation. Aim for 200 mg of EPA and 100 mg of DHA every day.
 
Quercetin—Quercetin belongs to the bioflavonoid family—a subgroup of flavonoids known for their potent antioxidant and antiviral capabilities. It also helps to maintain the strength of small blood vessels and reduce vascular fragility. In addition to its ability to reduce bleeding and bruising, quercetin is beneficial in preventing “sticky” platelets and promoting relaxation of the entire cardiovascular system. It also helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. Aim for 250 mg a day.
 
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Could Going Vegan be the New Detox?

by Cindy Gray

Can a diet totally devoid of animal protein be healthy?   A new study seems to suggest that a stint of vegan eating benefits both heart health and weight loss, without imposing any restrictions on caloric intake. Rarely has a diet come under such criticism as the vegan diet. Not enough iron, zero vitamin B12, too little protein, lack of variety and no dairy.   Surely this can’t be a healthy way to live? Plenty of evidence suggests it may be.

For example, because of food rationing after World War I in Denmark, animal protein, fats and alcohol were severely restricted for some years, forcing the population to subsist mainly on potatoes, bread, barley and vegetables. During that period, the country recorded the lowest mortality rate from non-infectious chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, in its entire history.Could Vegan be the New Detox?

And now in November 2014, the Nutrition Journal published the results of a study attesting further to the powerful impact a restrictive diet can have on health.  This study involved 1,615 patients who took part in a 10-day residential dietary intervention program in California. An entirely vegan buffet was laid out for them at mealtimes, consisting of a selection of minimally processed plant-based foods, including wheat flour products, rice, oats, corn, barley, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, vegetables and fruit.

No additional oils were provided, but small amounts of simple sugars, salt and spices were provided. Low-fat desserts containing some sugar were also served, while participants were free to add sugar to their morning cereal. Overall, the quantity of food intake was entirely unrestricted.

After seven days, a number of key biomarkers for cardiovascular disease risk were measured including blood pressure (BP), blood lipids and blood sugar. Every biomarker showed significant improvements, especially in the most overweight study subjects. Last but by no means least, a median weight loss of 1.4 kg was also recorded.

The results of this study go against official healthy eating advice such as the Eatwell Plate advocated by the UK Food Standards Agency in which dairy products account for 15% of the plate depicting ‘optimum’ meal composition. Similarly, the USDA’s MyPlate arrangement is also based on the customary five food groups.

The vegan diet consumed by study subjects derived fewer than 10% of its calories from fat, around 80% from carbohydrates and the rest from protein. In contrast, the ideal U.S. macronutrient intake recommends 20-35% of total calories coming from fat, 45-65% from carbohydrates and 15-25% from protein.

At the start of the new year, most people typically crave lighter meals with fresh fruit and vegetables. The results of this study suggest that going vegan for a week or two after a prolonged period of overindulgence provides a significant health boost, including weight loss.

In fact, going vegan for a while could well be the new detox.

 

Source:

Could Going Vegan Be The New Detox?

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Can Vitamin D Work Without Magnesium?

by Cindy Gray

According to extensive research, vitamin D deficiencies play a major role in the development of breast, prostate and colon cancer as well as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriasis and mental illness.  While people are now beginning to realize the full extent of health benefits that vitamin D has to offer, they may not be getting the benefits of this vitamin without supplementing their diets with magnesium.

In order to receive the health benefits of vitamin D, its cofactors must be present, including magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, zinc and boron.

Does Vitamin D Work With Magnesium?Magnesium is a vital nutrient because it converts vitamin D into its active form. In fact, the effectiveness and benefits of vitamin D are greatly undermined in the absence of adequate magnesium in the body, yet most Americans do not get their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this important mineral.

The importance of magnesium as a nutrient required for proper vitamin D metabolism has been recognized by several studies as follows:

  • Magnesium is necessary for vitamin D metabolism

  • Magnesium influences utilization of vitamin D by activating cellular enzyme activity. All the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium

  • Magnesium has a possible role in vitamin D's effect on the immune system. Low magnesium has been shown to lower production of vitamin D's active form

  • Several studies show that magnesium is also necessary for vitamin D's beneficial actions on bone

  • Vitamin D inhibits calcium deposition in arteries, and magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form so that it can prevent calcium buildup into plaque in arteries. The combination of magnesium and vitamin D helps to prevent clogged arteries by drawing calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into bones, where it is needed to build healthy bone structure and prevent osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis and kidney stones.

 

Source:

Can Vitamin D Work Without Magnesium?

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Can Vitamin D Benefit You Without Magnesium?

by Cindy Gray

You may already know about the many powerful health benefits of having sufficient levels of vitamin D in your body. However, you may not be getting many of these benefits if you suffer from magnesium deficiency.

Vitamin D is made by skin cells in response to sunlight. It is also found naturally in fatty fish, fish liver oils and egg yCan Vitamin D Benefit without Magnesium?olks; as well as in fortified grains and dairy products.

Along with helping to build strong bones by maintaining proper calcium and phosphorus levels in the body, vitamin D also appears to protect against many other health problems.

For instance, having adequate levels of 25-hydoxyvitamin D (the biologically active form of vitamin D) can lower the risk of a first heart attack and peripheral vascular disease, along with reducing risk for many cancers.

Low levels of 25-hydoxyvitamin D are associated with increased likelihood of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (BP). Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency also plays a major role in the development of breast, prostate and colon cancer, as well as arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriasis and mental illness.

Increasing vitamin D intake to about 800 international units (IU) per day has been reported to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 30%.

While more and more people are learning about the powerful health benefits offered by vitamin D, they may not be getting many of these benefits if they suffer from magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form. It acts with and is essential to the activity of vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D’s effectiveness is significantly reduced without adequate levels of magnesium in the body. However, most Americans do not get their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this important mineral.

Nutrients act to enhance each other. To get the health benefits of vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, zinc and boron must also be present in suitable amounts.

The importance of magnesium for proper vitamin D metabolism has been confirmed by several studies as follows:

  • Magnesium is essential for the metabolism of vitamin D

  • Magnesium influences how the body uses vitamin D

  • All enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium (enzymes are special proteins that carry out chemical reactions in the body)

  • Magnesium may play a role in vitamin D's effects on the immune system

  • Magnesium is necessary for vitamin D's beneficial actions on bone structure

Last but not least, in its active form in the presence of magnesium, vitamin D stops calcium from being deposited in arteries, interfering with plaque formation or atherosclerosis, the first critical step towards developing heart disease.

Magnesium and vitamin D work together to draw calcium out of blood and soft tissues back into bones, where it is needed to build a healthy, strong bone structure; thereby preventing osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis and kidney stones.

If you feel you’re not getting enough vitamin D or magnesium, it may be a good idea to look for a supplement that gives you both of these vital nutrients and add it to your daily supplement regime right away.

 

Source:

Can Vitamin D Benefit You Without Magnesium?

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How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

by Health News

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

Bonito Peptide

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

L-Carnitine

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

Nattokinase

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

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

Garlic

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

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

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

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Healthy Recipes: Seasonal Foods

by Health News

Savory turkey, sweet pumpkin, tart cranberries…These are the flavors of the fall/winter season. But according to some nutritional experts, we should be eating more of these types of foods all year round because they are so full of natural antioxidants and fiber.

“Several foods we consume this time of year are actually good for you when prepared with minimal added fat, sugar and salt, and consumed in moderation," says Stacey Snelling, a registered dietitian and associate dean at American University's School of Education, Teaching and Health.

Many people do not eat with the seasons. They eat whatever they want all year round. However, if you’re wondering how to have more energy, eating with the seasons is one of the best things you can do for your body. Fueling it with ample antioxidants and fiber will help you stay energized throughout the day.

Here are some examples:

  • White turkey meat is low in fat, high in protein, high in B vitamins, and low in calories compared with dark turkey meat.
  • Cranberries are low-calorie, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and high in fiber and vitamins A and C.
  • Sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots are fat-free, cholesterol-free, and high in vitamins A and C, and fiber.
  •  Red wine is fat-free and high in heart-healthy antioxidants, but only one alcoholic beverage per day for women and two per day for men is recommended. How to Have More Energy: Seasonal Healthy Food Recipes
  • Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and a healthy indulgence when eaten in moderation.
  • Broccoli is the food that can do no wrong. It is low in calories, fat-free, and high in vitamins A and C.
  • Do you normally say “no” to the green bean casserole? You might want to reconsider it! Green beans are low in calories, fat-free, high in vitamins C and K, and high in fiber.
  • Green peas are fat-free, high in vitamin K and high in fiber.

The spices we use in these dishes might also provide health benefits, according to Snelling.

"Some research has found that cinnamon may lower blood sugar, improve diabetes and aid in treating bacterial infections," she says.

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7 Green Superfoods With Cancer-Fighting, Heart-Healthy Benefits

by Cindy Gray

SUPERFOODS FOR CANCER-FIGHTING, HEART-HEALTHY BENEFITSEat your greens! How many times have you heard that growing up? Well, it turns out green foods really are some of the healthiest foods on the planet.

For instance, these seven green Superfoods are chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavor - so they should always have a place of honor at your table:

  1. Brussels sprouts - are a cruciferous vegetable, related to cabbage. Rich in vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, these high-fiber vegetables are also a good source of amino acids and are considered delicious roasted with olive oil.

  2. Green tea - is brimming with cancer-fighting antioxidants and supports heart health, helps digestion and speeds up metabolism. Tea experts swear by loose-leaf teas for the best flavor.

  3. Avocados - are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol and keep you feeling full for longer. They are a good source of vitamins E and C, potassium and lutein. You can add avocados to a salad, use them to make guacamole, or simply eat them plain.

  4. Kiwi fruit - contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps with digestion and conveys feelings of fullness. It has double the vitamin C content of an orange and is very high in potassium. It’s also a good source of vitamin E and folate. Kiwi fruit has a delicious tangy flavor and is ideal for a fruit salad.

  5. Spinach - has double the fiber of other greens, making it a great choice for health-conscious eaters. It’s rich in vitamins A and K and is a good source of iron and folate. Spinach provides antioxidants like beta-carotene, which supports heart health, fights cancer and keeps your eyes healthy. Raw spinach is delicious in salads, or you can add a few handfuls to scrambled eggs, soup or pasta. You can even drink spinach by tossing a handful into a fruit smoothie or a green drink!

  6. High-fiber kale - along with being a good source of vitamins A, C and K, kale also contains calcium and heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Kale is rich in carotenoids, which help protect your eyes from damaging UV rays. Most people prefer to lightly steam or cook kale.

  7. Broccoli - is a great source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate and calcium. Like all cruciferous vegetables, it’s also rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Broccoli is very high in fiber, which helps with satiety and supports weight maintenance. It's delicious when lightly steamed or roasted with olive oil and a dash of salt.

However you like your greens - whether raw, cooked or mixed into soup, it’s important that you make them a part of your daily diet so that you can fully benefit from their cancer-fighting, heart-healthy properties. And don't forget, an easy way to add "green superfoods" to your diet is with a quality green powder supplement. 

Go green today and you will look and feel great every day!

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Nine Ways to Naturally Boost Energy

by Health News

Nine Natural Ways to Boost EnergyAre you experiencing a lull in energy? After age 35, fatigue becomes a more frequent problem. It can affect mental and physical health, and it may hinder an active lifestyle. Fortunately, there are steps that we can take to beat fatigue. Here are nine natural ways to boost energy.

Replace simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are typically high in sugar, which means they are quickly digested. The result is a spike in energy followed by a crash and cravings for more sugar. Simple carbs include white foods like bread and potatoes and high sugar foods like baked goods, candy bars and soda. Complex carbohydrates are low in sugar and include foods like fresh vegetables and whole grains.

Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Eating small meals more regularly results in a steady supply of energy and better digestion. Here are a few ideas for healthy, low-sugar snacks:

  • mixed nutsa rice cake with peanut butter
  • a fresh-fruit smoothie
  • fresh vegetables with low-fat dressing
  • plain yogurt with fruit

Stay hydrated.

Water helps maintain healthy cells within the body, removes toxins and enhances energy levels. For ultimate benefit, make sure to drink at least 64 ounces of pure water daily.

Get plenty of vitamin C.

Vitamin C helps the body absorb nutrients which would obviously increase energy levels. Also, research has shown a link between low levels of citric acid and chronic fatigue. Eat plenty of citrus fruits and berries or take a daily vitamin C tablet.

natural ways to boost energy

Introduce yogurt into your diet.

Like vitamin C, live cultures of healthy bacteria in yogurt help the body absorb nutrients. In addition to boosting energy, this enhances digestive health. Try brands that are low in sugar and add fresh fruit for an ultra-healthy breakfast or snack.

Eliminate chronic stress.

Some stress can actually boost energy levels, as is the case when a person somehow finds the energy to meet a deadline for a big project. While a little stress now and then can keep life enjoyable and interesting, chronic stress can be draining and unhealthy.  Try yoga, meditation, listening to soft music or a warm bath to battle chronic stress.
 

Have a good chuckle.

Laughter is great medicine for improving the mood and boosting energy. Spend time with humorous people, subscribe to daily email jokes or rent a funny movie.

Sleep well.

People generally need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep to be fully rested. Less than six hours of sleep per night on a regular basis results in sleep deprivation and low energy levels. Try these tips for better sleep: use your bed for sleeping only (no reading or television), take a warm bath before bedtime, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and try melatonin – a natural sleep aid – in a pinch.

Get regular, physical exercise.

While at times it may seem like your body needs a good nap, it might be better to take a walk instead. Research suggests that physical exercise on a consistent basis can boost energy levels in people, even those with chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

A review study published in Psychological Bulletin examined 70 studies on exercise and fatigue levels involving over 6,800 subjects. "More than 90% of the studies showed the same thing:  Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise," states study author, Patrick O'Connor, PhD.

Don’t reach for a Red Bull the next time fatigue sets in. Instead, try one or all of the nine tips above to naturally boost energy.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20061103/exercise-fights-fatigue-boosts-energy

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5 Fats You Should Be Eating

by Health News

Do you know the idea that all fats makes you fat is really a myth?

Most people believe that low-fat and fat-free products are healthier, but it’s simply not true. On the other hand, some fats are healthy and may even hold the secret to how to increase energy levels and promote weight loss. 

Some healthy fat may hold the secret to how to increase energy levels

Your body requires fat in order to function properly. Not only that, many necessary vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble. This means your body can only absorb them in the presence of fat.

These good fats will not only will you feel better - they will also satisfy your hunger without depriving your body of essential nutrients:

  1. Nuts are chockfull of amazing nutrients, healthy fats and protein. They are also rich sources of protein and unsaturated fats as well as concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and powerful anti-aging antioxidants. They are also one of the best sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a heart-healthy plant omega-3 fat. Nuts are also rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that boosts immune function, promotes wound healing, improves blood vessel function and helps lower risk of heart disease. Further, they contain soluble fiber and vitamin E. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and glucose levels, while vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant essential for proper immune function and healthy skin.
  2. Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps cleanse and protect your body by detoxifying, removing heavy metals and fighting free radicals. Glutathione helps maintain a healthy immune system and slows the aging process. Avocados are also rich in folate, which lowers the incidence of heart disease and stroke. They are also the best fruit source of Vitamin E.  Foods with omega-3 fats such as salmon, nuts, flax seed and avocados should be consumed regularly for good heart and brain health.
  3. Coconut products offer a wide range of health benefits. Coconut oil offers antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-cancer properties along with improving digestion, nutrient absorption and intestinal health. It also provides cardiovascular benefits and helps manage type 2 diabetes. Coconut oil promotes kidney and liver health and boosts the immune system. It also benefits metabolism, energy and weight management.
  4. Saturated fats in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides, which can be easily metabolized and used as energy by the body. Research suggests that these fatty acids may boost metabolism, promote weight loss and increase HDL, the ‘good’ protective cholesterol in the body.
  5. Olive oil is a very healthy oil to use when sautéing, baking and making salad dressing. This fantastic oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants such as chlorophyll (which accounts for part of the color in olive oil), carotenoids, and vitamin E.  Olive oil is great for reducing blood pressure, cancer prevention, managing diabetes and lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis. Researchers from the Seven Countries Study found that monounsaturated fats in olive oil were mainly responsible for the low rates of heart disease and cancer on the Greek island of Crete. Olive oil also contains polyphenols, which are powerful anti-aging antioxidants. Including olive oil in the diet can also help to maintain a lower, healthy weight.
  6. Seeds contain beneficial fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They are also packed with health-promoting minerals such as magnesium, selenium and zinc, as well as powerful antioxidants, fiber and minerals.

 

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How to Have More Energy & Improve Digestion with Pistachios

by Health News

Many people have a hard time staying alert and energized throughout the day. Whether you take hours to feel awake in the morning or struggle with post-lunch fatigue, there are ways you can increase your energy levels naturally. And as a bonus, you’ll also be improving your digestion. So what’s the secret to how to have more energy?

Pistachios. Pistachios are rich source of energy; 100 g of nuts provides 557 calories. In addition, they are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of antioxidants. Not only do they provide an energy boost, but they are also great for digestion.

According to a new study that uses an experimental model to imitate the digestive process, polyphenols and other antioxidants in pistachios are readily absorbed on digestion.

Along with earlier research showing that fat in pistachios is not completely absorbed, this creates a win-win situation for those people who like to use nuts as nutrient-rich snacks.

How to Have More Energy & Improve Digestion with Pistachios

The green, yellow, and purple-red colors of pistachios are because of the polyphenols and antioxidants in their kernels and skins. This particular study showed that polyphenols and other antioxidants such as gamma-tocopherol (vitamin E) found in pistachios - and also in fruits and vegetables - are released during digestion, making them readily available to the body.

This is significant because nutrients in food aren't always readily accessible. For example, iron in spinach is hard for the human body to absorb, although its absorption can be improved when it is combined with vitamin C.

In further good news, an analysis of the consumption of walnuts, almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts in nearly 10,000 randomly selected adults in the Isfahan Healthy Heart Program in Iran found a significant link between high nut consumption and lower triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol levels and Apo B/Apo A ratio - all of which protect the heart.

In other words, more frequent nut consumption meant better heart protection.

Not only that, a preliminary study published in 2012 suggests that we may be consuming fewer calories per serving of nuts such as pistachios than originally believed - approximately 160 calories per 30 gram or 1-ounce serving.

In brief, nuts including pistachios are a great-tasting, healthy snack that is rich in protein, fiber and antioxidants. Up to 90% of the fat in pistachios is the healthy monounsaturated type and consuming them protects us from heart disease.

So why not start snacking on nuts if you don’t do so already - or add them to your salads and stir-fries - today?

how to have more energy

Source:

Antioxidants in Pistachios Readily Absorbed on Digestion.

The Relationship between Nut Consumption and Lipid Profile Among the Iranian Adult Population; Isfahan Healthy Heart Program.

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Top 3 Vitamins and Minerals to Support a Healthy Heart

by Health News

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

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

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

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

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

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The Key Supplement for a Healthy Heart?

by Health News

Looking for some high blood pressure remedies? 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.Looking for some high blood pressure remedies? Learn how Vitamin B supplements may be able to help.

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.


 

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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.  Avoid microwaving food.

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, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, 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 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.