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Decreased Vitamin D Means Increased Pain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

Vitamin D3 Deficiency and Pain

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

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

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

Related:  How to the Improve Immune System Naturally

Healthy Habits Regarding Vitamin D

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Amino Acids for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

What is Keratin?

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

Keratin can counteract hair loss.

The A Team

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

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

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

Related:  Three Vitamins for Thinning Hair

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

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

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

 

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Improve Your Balance with Four Healthy Habits

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Balance is the awareness of body position and the ability to distribute weight in order to remain upright.  Young people have few problems maintaining balance on the playground or the athletic field, but as people age, balance weakens.  This can result in falls and injuries in later life.  In fact, 30 to 50 percent of people over the age of 65 suffer at least one fall, some never fully recovering.  Fortunately, four healthy habits can help improve balance and enhance fitness levels throughout life.

Practicing healthy habits helps people retain good balance as they age.

 

1.  Stand on one leg

The beauty of this exercise is its convenience.  You can do it on your coffee break or while you're watching television.  You can do it while standing in line at the post office or store.  Shoot for about 45 seconds on each side, and when you have mastered that, try it with your eyes closed—but have something to hold onto if you try doing it with your eyes closed.

2.  Practice tai chi or yoga.  

Tai chi and yoga offer big benefits for balance as people age.  Studies show that people in their mid-60s who practice tai chi score in the 90th percentile on measures of balance and stability according to American Fitness Standards.  A study from Temple University showed that women 65 years of age and older who took yoga classes twice a week showed better ankle stability and reported more confidence in walking.  Because 22 percent of people 65 and older have a fear of falling, confidence in walking makes a big difference when it comes to quality of life.

3.  Build strong legs with squats.  

Few healthy habits enhance mobility and balance like squats.  Connective tissue and nerve endings deteriorate with age, and doing squats helps rebuild muscle memory by improving communication between the muscles and the brain.  To perform a basic squat:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and clasp your hands in front of your body, about 12 inches from your chest.
  2. Keeping your back straight and abdominal muscles tight, lower your body slowly (as if sitting) until legs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold for five seconds.
  4. Pressing the heels into the floor, rise slowly until standing.
  5. Perform two or three sets of ten repetitions each, resting about 90 seconds in between sets.  (Hold onto the back of a chair in front of you for increased stability.)

4.  Get a good night's sleep.  

Studies show that sleep deprivation slows reaction time, which affects balance.  Additional research conducted at California Pacific Medical Center found a link between sleep deprivation and falls.  The study examined almost 3,000 aging females and found that those getting less than seven hours of nightly sleep were more likely to fall than women getting more sleep.  Healthy habits that contribute to a good night's sleep include a regular sleeping/waking schedule; a warm bath or a cup of chamomile tea; and avoidance of television, cellphones and computers before bedtime.  Supplements like melatonin can help.

Related:  Sleep Disorders Linked to Serious Health Issues

A large percentage of people over the age of 65 fall every year due to diminished balance.   An injury caused by a fall can result in lost independence, related illness and early death.  The healthy living tips listed above can help improve balance, lower risks for falling and enhance fitness levels for years to come. 

 

 

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Take Vitamin D to Prevent Falls

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to research, up to 41 percent of American adults are deficient in vitamin D.  Studies show that a lack of vitamin D raises risks for osteoporosis and may affect neuromuscular control and coordination.  This may explain the link between vitamin D deficiency and a higher risk for falls, especially in elderly men.  In balance tests requiring stepping and leaning tasks, elderly men with low levels of vitamin D showed poor performance.  While elderly people have a harder time absorbing vitamin D, eating certain foods and other healthy habits can help stabilize vitamin D levels.

Healthy habits for boosting vitamin D include adding fatty fish to the diet.

 

Healthy Living Tips for Getting More Vitamin D

Soak up the sun for short periods.  When sunlight hits the skin, the body makes its own vitamin D.  Exposure to ultraviolet B rays triggers the skin to convert cholesterol to vitamin D3.  During warm parts of the year, roughly 20 minutes of daily sunshine (sans sunscreen) results in about 90 percent of the vitamin D needed for the day.  After 20 minutes, people should apply organic sunscreen to protect the skin from too much sunlight.

Enjoy salmon.  When it comes to healthy habits for boosting vitamin D, eating fatty fish is one of the best.  In fact, one salmon filet provides all the vitamin D needed for one day.  Enjoy fresh steaks or filets for dinner or salmon-salad sandwiches or wraps for lunch.  In addition to providing vitamin D, salmon is an excellent source of essential fatty acids and lean protein.

Related:  Are You Vitamin D Deficient?  Take this Quiz!

Drink milk.  Most brands of pasteurized milk in the United States deliver good quantities of vitamin D.  Whole milk contains the most vitamin D, but skim milk still offers about 20 percent of the recommended daily value.  Many plant-based milk products like soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk also offer significant amounts of vitamin D, some even more than cow's milk.

Choose products fortified with vitamin D.  Check labels on breakfast cereals, yogurt and orange juice at the grocery store.  Many are fortified with vitamin D and other important nutrients. 

Take vitamin D3 supplementsVitamin D3 supplements offer an easy remedy for getting adequate amounts of vitamin D during the fall or winter months.  To protect bones, adults should aim for 800-1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day unless otherwise specified by a health care provider.

Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is important for bone health and good balance.  Because aging affects the absorption of certain nutrients, sufficient vitamin D is especially essential to the elderly.  While many studies show a link between falls and insufficient vitamin D levels, others show a correlation between falls and high-dose vitamin D supplementation.   Therefore, elderly people should have vitamin D levels checked before beginning a supplementary regimen.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sip Away Stress By Adding These Herbs To Your Tea

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Stress is just a fact of life. Even the things we enjoy doing can cause stress, like planning a vacation, preparing for a new baby’s arrival or getting a promotion and pay raise at work.  Stress management is critical to keeping your body and mind healthy. Sometimes it is difficult to get in a workout or eat healthy but it is very easy to sip away stress.

Effective stress management with herbs.

Herbs That Make Great Stress Reducing Teas

There are three herbs in particular that have a long and well-documented history of being healthy stress reducers. Ingesting them in the form of a tea can help with your stress management plan and they are all safe and easy to find.

Passionflower

This potent herb was first used in the 17th Century by Spanish Jesuits in Peru and is now consumed all over the world.  There are over 500 different species of Passilora, as it is also known, but the most common variety is Passionflower incarnate, which is native to the Midwest and Southeastern United States.

Passionflower has been used for centuries as an effective sedative, pain reliever, digestive aid, and anxiety reducer.  Studies in Western medicine have shown it to be an effective way to treat ulcers, boost the brain’s levels of feel-good hormones and help you relax and fall asleep. 

The herb comes in capsules, powders or tinctures, but the best way is to drink it as a tea. Soaking the dried leaves in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes will make you a brew strong enough to enjoy the health benefits.

Chamomile

Chamomile has a long and well documented history of use as a soothing and healing herb.  It is from a flowering plant in the daisy family and you can use the dried blossoms to make a wonderfully fragrant and slightly sweet tasting tea that has many health benefits, namely stress management.

Chamomile tea can help soothe an upset stomach, relieve tension by inducing muscles to relax and even help you fall asleep.  It has been shown to be effective in relieving stomach cramps, due to its chamazulene content, a kind of oil in the flowers of the plant. It is believed that this ingredient is what helps relieve muscle spasms. Those with irritable bowel syndrome may find it especially helpful in relieving spasms in the bowel to ease constipation or diarrhea.

Lemon Balm

Named for its lemony scent, this herb is native to Europe and the Mediterranean and is a member of the mint family. It has earned a reputation around the globe as a stress-busting herb and makes a great tea to help you sip away your stressful day.

One of the best benefits of drinking lemon balm tea is that it helps boost mental alertness. It is often recommended for the elderly to help stave off dementia by sharpening memory and enhancing problem solving cognitive function. In a Chinese study, eugenol, a compound in the herb was thought to be responsible for boosting memory.  A similar study found that lemon balm suppresses the brain chemical acetlycholinesterase, which breaks down the chemical acetylcholine, which is responsible for memory and mood.

Lemon balm is also a powerful antioxidant to help your cells start to regenerate after a long hard day in your daily life. It can also help you stabilize your blood sugar and that will keep your mood balanced instead of wildly fluctuating with sugar highs and lows.

Related:  History of Green Tea in Indigestion Remedies

All of these herbs are considered generally safe.  Always check with your doctor if you take prescription medication and your pediatrician before you offer any herbs or supplements to your children, though.

Try this tea recipe at home to help manage your stress:

Ingredients and Preparation:

  • 2 teaspoons dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon balm leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried passionflower leaves
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Steep tea leaves in water for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add in honey and lemon.
  • Sip while warm.
  • Serves 1.

These herbal teas are also delicious iced and topped off with slices of fruit.  
Enjoy!

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Five Tips to Avoid Constipation While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Nothing can take the fun out a vacation faster than suffering from constipation. If it happens to you, rest assured, you are not alone.  Bowel movement issues are very common among travelers so it’s important to follow these five healthy travel tips to keep you regular.

Healthy traveling without constipation

Change Is NOT Always Good

Preparing for a trip and traveling, even if it is on vacation, can be very stressful. If you turn to junk food, skip meals or are feeling stressed, this can cause irregularities in your bowel movements.  Often, using unfamiliar bathrooms can induce anxiety.  Just not following your normal routine can contribute to constipation.

Maintaining healthy eating and drinking habits while preparing for and traveling can help you avoid traveler’s constipation.  Find a food vendor that offers fresh salads, fruit and high fiber cereals or breads and skip the fast food restaurants in the terminal or on the road. If possible, pack your own healthy high fiber snacks to munch on during the flight, train ride or car trip.

1. Dehydration Nation

The TSA won’t let you bring water through security and buying airport bottled water is expensive, so you might be tempted to let yourself get a little dehydrated. If you are road tripping you might drink less to avoid frequent bathroom stops; not a good thing!

Drink plenty of clear fluids, namely water, and save the alcoholic or sugary sodas and cocktails for a special occasion. You may also want to limit your caffeine intake for the duration of your trip, too. It can act as a diuretic and you need adequate water in your bowels to form normal stools and pass them regularly.

Bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it at a drinking fountain once you clear security. Sip, don’t gulp, throughout the day and plan accordingly for adequate bathroom breaks.

Related:  Dangers of Laxative Overuse for Chronic Constipation

2. Bacteria Is Your Friend

If you are not regularly taking a probiotic supplement you should be. These gut-healthy bacteria are essential for good digestion.  Before your trip, start taking them and pack them in your suitcase. They will keep your immune system strong and aid in digestion so you don’t end up with stubborn bowels that won’t move.

Try to include foods on your trip that are rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (a spicy fermented cabbage) too.

3. You Got To Move It Move It!

The last thing on your mind when traveling might be exercise. Who has time for that?  You do!

You don’t have to run several miles or go to a boot camp class, just choose stairs instead of the elevator once in awhile, walk to and from dinner, plan an activity that incorporates some walking, hiking or just hit the hotel pool for a few laps.  Mild to moderate exercise keeps your metabolism revved up and increased circulation will wake up sluggish bowels while encouraging you to drink plenty of fluids.

4. Don’t Sugar Coat It

Your bowels do not need a layer of sugar when they are already a bit stressed from travel.  Cut back on the sweet stuff and you’ll most likely keep them humming along just fine. It’s easy to over-indulge while on vacation and airport sweets might be tempting, before you board a morning flight, but resist the temptation! 

Pack your own healthy snacks like almonds, a clementine, apple or snack-sized package of whole grain crackers and save the sugar indulgence for the end of your trip.

5. Go Green

Green foods like broccoli, lettuce, peas, asparagus and spinach will make for a much more pleasant trip. Having a few salads with fresh fruits and vegetables will help you stay hydrated and full of fiber; essential for avoiding constipation.

Try eating a small salad or munching on some raw broccoli before meals to ensure you get in your greens. You’ll stay regular and slimmer on your trip.

Following these healthy travel tips can be the difference between the best trip ever, or an unpleasant journey marred by the pain and bloating of constipation.

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19 Tips to Avoid Air Travel Illness & Germs While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Getting ill while traveling is no fun, yet it happens all the time.  Following these travel sickness tips could help prevent illness so you can enjoy the journey.

Tips for Preventing Travel Illness.

Airplane Germs

Airports and airplanes are petri dishes of germs from millions of travelers.  Travel in the winter means more exposure to cold and flu viruses, bacteria abounds on handrails, elevator buttons and you will undoubtedly find yourself shoeless walking where many other feet have tread at the security area.  

Give your immune system a boost before travel by regularly taking probiotics for optimal gut health and a stronger immune system. It is also helpful to increase your intake of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that has shown to help lessen susceptibility to bacteria and viruses.  Also, consider vitamin D-3 supplements and zinc, known immunity boosters that can help fortified your immune system before you travel.

Wash your hands, a lot! Frequently washing your hands, especially before you eat or touch your face, is very important.  Many germs and types of bacteria can live on handrails, elevator buttons, doorknobs and handles for hours.  Use soap, wash for at least as long as it takes you to hum the happy birthday song under your breath; and when possible use a paper towel to open the bathroom door to exit.

If washing your hands is not an option, have a few antibacterial wipes in your carry-on to keep your hands clean.

Related:  Healthy Travel Begins with Immune-Boosting Supplements

Jet Lag Drag

Traveling across several time zones can leave you exhausted and cut into the enjoyment of your trip as you struggle to adjust.  You can avoid the worst of jet lag by following a few simple guidelines.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends you stay on your home sleep schedule for trips lasting two or less days, regardless of the difference in time zones. This will minimize disrupting your internal sleep, bathroom, and eating schedule.  

For longer trips, however, you should start slowly adjusting your schedule to the time zone you will be arriving at to start your trip or vacation. At least four days before your trip begins, shift your sleeping and eating times to match the time at your destination. Though it might be difficult, stay on the new time zone schedule as much as possible and try to go to bed when it gets dark there, not back at home.

Other things that can help are:

  • Opt for an overnight flight
  • Cut back on caffeinated foods and beverages
  • Drink plenty of water and other non-sugary fluids
  • Avoid alcohol for a few days and on the plane, it is a sleep disruptor
  • Consider taking melatonin tablets to help you fall asleep once you reach your destination (1-2 mg daily)

Light can be your friend against a jet lag foe. Exposure to bright natural light can help you stay awake and regulate natural secretions of melatonin in the brain.  Exposure to light inhibits the brain from secreting melatonin, and when it becomes dark, it will trigger its release to help you fall asleep.  Seek out bright light in the evening hours when traveling west and in the morning when you are east bound. Get as much sunshine as you can when you arrive at your destination to help you stay awake and adjust to a new sleep time.

Don’t DVT

DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a vein deep within a muscle, usually your calf or thigh.  Prolonged sitting causes DVTs, like on a flight across the ocean, or several days on a train.  If the clot breaks off it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

Because of the danger in sitting too long, make sure you get up and move around whenever possible. Walk briskly to your gate, take the stairs, and on the plane or train be sure to get up frequently to walk to the bathroom and stretch.

Wearing compression garments can help.  There are socks and even full length compression suits that can be worn underneath your clothing. The gentle pressure helps keep blood flowing and reduces the chance of developing a blood clot.

Speaking of clothing, wear comfortable loose fitting clothing.  Avoid pants and belts that are constricting.  

Other things you can do to lessen your risk of a DVT is:

  • Avoid caffeine
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Taking circulation supplements like natto (made from fermented soybeans) and fish oil can help

Following these few travel tips can make for a much more pleasant journey.

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Holy Basil: A Divine Answer to Stress Management

by Institute for Vibrant Living

All hail holy basil! This potent herb has many health benefits, some of them being reduced feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.  It has a long history of use around the globe for not only being physically, but mentally healthy, as well, and could be very beneficial for stress management.

Holy basil for stress reduction.

History

Holy basil is closely related to the more familiar sweet basil used in many dishes, especially in Italian cooking; and is from the mint family.  It is a shrub with fuzzy stems and leaves and native to Eastern tropical parts of the world. In India and Hindu countries, it is considered a sacred plant, thus the name holy basil.  It’s been grown and cultivated in India for the past 3,000 years and is revered for being a plant that can heal the body, mind and spirit.

Ayurvedic medicine has included the use of holy basil (aka tulsi) because of its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, among others. It is used to treat physical ailments like headaches, upset stomach, insect bites, skin rashes, and to calm nerves and help one sleep better.

Holy Health Benefits

Western medicine has begun to offer evidence that holy basil extract can dramatically reduce symptoms of general stress like:

  • Exhaustion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual/libido issues

The benefits of the herb administered in an extract proved to be effective after only six weeks of use in one study. 

Another study in 2008 used holy basil to evaluate its effectiveness in treating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders. Test participants took 500 mg of the herb in supplement form twice a day for 60 days.  Test administers published results saying those who took the herb supplement reported significantly reduced feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, in contrast to those who received a placebo.

Related:  Three Herbs for Stress Reduction

Other health benefits attributed to holy basil are due to its anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve:

  • Fevers
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Bites, cuts or stings

As a powerful antioxidant, holy basil is also showing to be a healthy supplement to boost cognitive function, strengthen the immune system, help kidneys function better, and stabilize blood glucose levels.

Holy Basil At Home

It’s simple to cultivate your own unlimited supply of holy basil at home.  You can plant it in in a garden pot inside to get it going when it’s cold outside and transplant it to warm soil (where it grows best) in the summer (at least 65-70 degrees F). Put it somewhere that will allow for full sun and be sure to water it regularly.  To encourage a larger, bushier plant cut off the flowering blossoms, though letting them grown into flowers does not affect the health benefits of the plant. Make sure your plant is well established and growing strong before you harvest the first leaves.

Holy Tea for Two

The best way to get maximum health benefits from holy basil is to use the leaves to make tea.  Pour eight ounces of boiling water over two teaspoons of fresh leaves, cover and steep for five minutes, then enjoy!

If you are not too keen on growing your own you can find the herb in supplement form.

If you are looking for some easy stress management techniques, sipping some holy basil tea could be for you.

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Understanding Balance & Tips To Stay Steady On Your Feet

by Institute for Vibrant Living

We take many aspects of life for granted, such as the ability to balance. Healthy habits are important for maintaining many everyday activities such as walking on an uneven sidewalk, stepping off a curb to cross the street, or getting out of bed without falling over. Let’s look at how all the amazing parts of our body work together for perfect balance, and pick up some healthy living tips to keep it that way.

Healthy habits help maintain balance

 

Understanding Balance

Balance is defined as the “ability to maintain the body’s center of mass over its base of support.” We need perfect balance to stand upright, see clearly as we move around, and live a normal healthy life.

Related:  Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

Lack of balance is shown by a range of symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and the inability to walk steadily in a straight line. These can cause nausea, feelings of disorientation, and problems with sight, hearing, concentrating and remembering things. It takes a combination of systems all working synergistically together to maintain balance.

Balance requires:

  • Muscles, bones and joints that provide motor control. Movements and postural adjustments that help us stay balanced are driven by the brain through sensory receptors and motor impulses. Information from the joints and body relay information to the brain.
  • Vision to provide sensory input through sight, giving a sense of distance and proportion. Rods and cones in the retina provide fine detail and visual information about how the body is orientated in relation to other objects.
  • The inner ear contains semicircular canals filled with fluid that detect turning movements. It sends sensory information to the brain to make compensatory adjustments to the rest of the body
  • Nerves are used to detect changes in the body as we move around. For example, pressure on the front soles of the feet tells the brain that you are leaning forward. Movement in the neck tells the brain which way you are looking. All these allow the brain to make fine adjustments so that the body remains upright and balanced through an ongoing series of large and small movements.

Healthy Living Tips to Support Balance

Fortunately, all these activities go on subconsciously or proprioceptively, allowing us to think, move and get on with life while the body and brain control the task of keeping us upright and safe.

As balance requires a coordinated combination of several systems, if one component ceases to function correctly, it is likely to affect our balance. Disease, injury or aging can affect sight, muscles, joints, the nervous system and the brain, resulting in imbalance.

Balance also depends on other more subtle factors.  Make sure to get enough sleep, as being tired can affect your balance.  Side effects of prescription drugs can dizziness and a feeling of being imbalanced and off-center.  Having a clear mind also helps with balance, therefore stress can impact your ability to remain balanced.  Hatha yoga is one of the best ways to safely and naturally improve your ability to be balanced.  

By taking care of the body holistically, we can support the interaction of different components that allow us to balance. Healthy habits include taking supplements that support vision, active cognitive function and supple joints and bones. If just one part of the whole becomes incapacitated, your balance is likely to suffer as a result.

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Seven Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Next Cruise Vacation

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Those looking for healthy living tips for relaxing should definitely consider unwinding on a luxury cruise. We look at ways to get the most from your cruise while maintaining healthy habits such as daily exercise and eating five-a-day fruit and vegetables.

Healthy living tips recommend taking relaxing vacations such as cruises

 

Here are our seven top tips for successful cruising:

Book Last Minute

Although cruise lines offer tempting deals to get you to book early, the best prices are always last minute. If you are flexible on your travel dates you can pick up a bargain (as low as $40 a day per person) if you book one month or less before departure. That’s a great healthy habit for your bank balance!

Check in After 2pm

Sailings usually depart early evening so boarding commences around noon. Those staying overnight in the area or flying into a nearby airport create long lines prior to the official boarding time as they have nowhere else to hang out. Miss the rush by aiming to arrive at the port around 2pm. You’ll “sail through” check-in, missing the long lines and be just in time to enjoy afternoon tea in the buffet.

Splurge on a Balcony

Although you spend most of your time in the cabin asleep, having a balcony has definite advantages. It gives you a quiet space for sunbathing and quiet reading. It also provides a source of daylight so you wake naturally as part of your circadian rhythm, another useful healthy living tip.

Relax in the Spa

Healthy habits need not be abandoned while enjoying your cruise. Check out the dozens of massages and beauty treatments available at the onboard spa. Many cruise spas also offer a range of talks and beauty demonstrations so you can look and feel years younger at the end of your relaxing cruise.

Related: Safe Anxiety Treatments: Rose and Lavender are Scents that Soothe

Enjoy Specialty Restaurants

Whether you are celebrating a special event or just want to enjoy romantic dining with a table for two, the specialty restaurants really make a cruise extra special. The attentive waiter service, choice of dining times (book ahead!) and exquisite cuisine are well worth the modest supplement. Some specialty restaurants even include live entertainment or a dinner show.

Enjoy Top Entertainment

Cruises attract some top performers and the shows are free. Look forward to being entertained by international comedians, singers, dancers, musicians, acrobatics, Broadway-style costumes and more at the nightly shows. Bars also feature live musical entertainment from dueling pianos and Spanish guitarists to singing duos and dance bands. Healthy habits should include dancing off those calories!

Plan Shore Excursions in Advance

With over 2,000 cruisers onboard some popular shore excursions book up fast so it pays to be organized. Healthy living tips include joining in some watersport activities or walking tours as an enjoyable way to include some exercise on your fantastic luxury cruise. Bon voyage! 

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Seven Common Causes of Balance Issues

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Even the healthiest adults may encounter balance issues, particularly as they grow older. While some imbalance issues may require medication, other balance problems can be cured by understanding the cause and adopting healthy habits to prevent them.

Healthy living tips for the inner ear support balance

Here are some healthy living tips and advice about how to deal with seven common causes of imbalance, so you can feel a bit steadier on your feet.

1.     Migraine

Some people suffer visual disturbances, flashing images, partial blindness in one eye or dizziness as part of what is known as a migraine aura. Take preventative headache medication at the first signs of a migraine to avoid it developing into a cluster migraine and try to avoid any trigger foods such as chocolate, strawberries and red wine.

2.     Inflammation of the Inner Ear

The inner ear is made up of several semi-circular canals lined with hairs and nerves to sense when we turn our head or move. This is the balance control center of the body. Unfortunately the quantity of nerve cells steadily decline after the age of 55. If healthy habits are ignored, it can result in a loss of balance, vertigo, BPPV or acoustic neuroma. A knock on the head, low blood pressure or an ear infection can also affect the balance in the inner ear. Get a regular checkup with a health professional to ensure that your whole body is healthy as part of balance support.

Related:  Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?

3.     Heart arrhythmia

An irregular heartbeat can cause momentary loss of balance or co-ordination. Any irregular heartbeat, such as racing, throbbing or a rapid pulse should be checked out by a medical professional to avoid more serious health issues.

4.     Peripheral neuropathy

The brain relies on peripheral nerves to transmit sensory information which helps the different systems in the body to control balance. Physical injury, diabetes, repetitive stress and metabolic disorders can disrupt the nerve messages to the brain, resulting in balance problems.

5.     Depression and anxiety

Lightheadedness can be brought on by panic attacks, feelings of anxiety, hyperventilation and other emotional stresses. Regular exercise and good social support can help negate these serious health issues, helping ease anxiety and reducing associated dizzy spells.

6.     Standing up too quickly

Another cause of imbalance is suddenly standing or sitting up, or getting out of bed too quickly. Rapid movement can cause a drop in blood pressure, a common cause of unsteadiness. Healthy living tips for better balance include getting into the habit of rising slowly and steadily from a chair or bed.

7.     Muscle weakness

Regular exercise may help improve muscle weakness. In rare instances, loss of balance and weakness may be due to medical problems such as MS, Alzheimer’s, lupus and brain tumors.

If you are suffering from momentary balance issues it makes sense to get your overall fitness checked out by a doctor regularly as one of the healthy habits to ensure your whole body is functioning well.  Other commonsense healthy living tips include adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise suitable for your age and ability. Not only will this diagnose any health issues, it may also prevent balance issues in later life.

 

 

 

 

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Why You Can’t Crunch your Way to Six-Pack Abs

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you want a flat, toned stomach, six-pack, washboard, or whatever you call your midsection, there is no magic wand to get it; what is needed is core exercise. Our bodies are made in such a way that you cannot just concentrate on spot reduction for toning and reducing fat because it comes as part of the entire fitness physique.

Core exercise includes a variety of aerobic sports activities

Belly fat generally has two parts: subcutaneous fat (the type that forms “love handles”); and visceral fat that surrounds the stomach and organs. Visceral fat may be out of sight, but it is the most dangerous type of belly fat, because it is often associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Core exercise is needed to burn fat deposits to get core muscles around the trunk and pelvis in top shape.

Core exercise involves three things:

Phase 1 - Aerobic Exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 300 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise every week to burn calories. That’s 2½ to 5 hours.  High calorie aerobic exercise includes running, cycling, interval training and swimming to burn around 600 calories per hour. Low intensity exercise such as brisk walking only burns 300-400 calories per hour.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is best for burning calories, reducing fat and maintaining muscle mass. By using different types of gym cardio equipment and performing at alternating high and medium intensity for 30 seconds each, it can provide excellent core exercise to tone the midriff and reduce fat deposits.

Phase 2 - Strength Training

Core exercise should include at least two sessions of strength training per week. Core work and resistance exercises should include repeat squats, chin-ups and pushups to work multiple muscle groups along with crunches, reverse crunches, leg lifts and planks. As you burn fat and build muscle, strength training and core exercise will begin to produce a flat, toned six-pack stomach.

Related:  Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Phase 3 - Healthy Diet

If you need to lose fat around your waist and stomach you need to consume less calories than you burn. Scientists recommend a low-calorie diet based on nutritional food such as lean meat, low-fat dairy products, fruit and vegetables. Avoid sugar and include only small portions of complex carbs such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Aim to lose a steady two pounds a week. If weight loss reaches a plateau, cut the calories even more.

By combining core exercise with fat-burning aerobic exercise and a healthy diet, you will soon have a flat, toned stomach and a six-pack to make you proud.

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Six Heart Heath Tips For High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Heart Savers

Heart disease is America’s leading cause of death.  Here are several important heart health tips and advice. Fortunately many everyday supplements for high blood pressure support a healthy cardiovascular system.

Top heart health tips include taking daily fish oil supplements

 

 

 

Here are six common supplements to help keep your heart in tip-top condition. Do you take them every day?

1.     Fish Oil

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is the natural way to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, most of us do not eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel on a regular basis, but help is at hand with fish oil supplements. For high blood pressure they provide an effective treatment, reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and premature death from heart disease.

2.     CoQ10

CoQ10 is a natural enzyme which the body produces in decreasing amounts as we age. It is a natural antioxidant which provides a wealth of heart-health benefits. It prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, maintains circulatory health, supports healthy arterial wall linings, lowers hypertension and ensures the optimal functioning of the heart by lowering cholesterol levels.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol should be on every list of heart health tips as it is full of antioxidants that help prevent heart disease. It increases good HDL cholesterol, prevents blood clots and protects arterial walls from damage. Found in red wine, the only sensible way to obtain sufficient resveratrol is by taking it as a daily supplement. Studies found that taking resveratrol in conjunction with statins reduced cardiovascular risk by reducing inflammation and clotting markers.

Natto

Nattokinase is a natural enzyme produced from fermented soybeans (natto) that prevents abnormal thickening of blood vessels. It has been used for centuries by the Japanese as a natural supplement for high blood pressure, lowering the risk of stroke, angina, deep vein thrombosis and heart disease.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto

Folic Acid

Folic acid is another everyday supplement that makes it onto the list of heart heath tips.  Researchers have found that it can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by around 20%. This lowers the levels of homocysteine that contribute to atherosclerosis and blood clots. It also supports normal cholesterol levels as well as being essential for the production of red blood cells.

Acetyl L-carnitine

A series of controlled trials on acetyl L-carnitine supplements found that it was associated with a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmia and a 40% reduction in the symptoms of angina. Found naturally in red meat, L-carnitine helps increase HDL cholesterol by metabolizing fatty acids.

By taking these supplements for high blood pressure and following our sensible heart health tips regarding diet and exercise, you can ensure you have the healthiest heart possible to carry you into a long and healthy old age.

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Diet for Stress Relief – Best Foods For Stress

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Sometimes the simplest and oldest ideas for dealing with stress management can also be the most effective. We hear a great deal about superfoods and innovative stress-busting techniques, but when it comes down to an effective diet for stress relief, there are three food staples you need.

Eating these foods can significantly help stress management

Here’s are the best foods for stress:

Whole Grains Aid Stress Management

People who start the day with a bowl of whole grain cereal have lower cortisol levels, according to research. We know that highly refined, processed and fatty foods increase anxiety and mood swings, but whole grains can counter those feelings by providing steady energy levels, high spirits and calm nerves. These benefits come from a variety of sources found in whole grain foods including B vitamins.

Vitamin B is known to have mood-lifting properties which are part of any stress management process. A three-month trial at the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia confirmed that a diet high in B vitamins significantly lowers stress levels. Professor Con Stough reported that B vitamins found in whole grains are “integral to the synthesis of neurotransmitters critical to psychological well-being."

Good sources of B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid are:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Durum wheat
  • Wild rice
  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Buckwheat
  • Millett
  • Oats

Fruit and Vegetables Lower Stress Hormones

Loading your plate with fruit and vegetables at every meal helps neutralize free radicals that are known to be stress-related. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale contain folate which produces dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter that is responsible for reward-motivated behavior and feelings of happiness. A study on 2,800 seniors found that those who consumed more folate had a significantly lower risk of depression.

Related:  Tasty, Versatile Kale is an Antioxidant Powerhouse

A similar study by the University of Otago in New Zealand found that students who ate more fruit and vegetables were calmer, happier and less stressed than their counterparts. They also found that healthy eating predicted a positive mood the following day.

More specific fruit and vegetables to support stress management include blueberries. High in antioxidants and phytonutrients they also promote killer white blood cells in the body that counter stress.

De-stress with Omega-3 Fish Oil

Good old omega-3 fish oils once again come to the rescue when it comes to stress management. The fatty acids found in salmon and other oily foods contain anti-inflammatory properties. According to Lisa Cimperman from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, omega-3 counteracts the anxiety hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

To put the theory to the test, a study on medical students from Oregon State University found that taking omega-3 fish oil supplements lowered anxiety levels by 20%, compared to the control group who took a placebo.

As one 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon contains around 2,000 mg of omega-3, it’s easy to follow the American Heart Association recommendation of two servings per week for a healthy heart and sensible stress management.   For consistent daily support, consider omega-3 supplements too.

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Top Supplements to Erase Problems of Aging Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of the common aging skin problems is light or dark brown spots called age spots. They are show up on the face, chest, shoulders and hands in both men and women; and they can affect younger people, too.  They are also called liver spots and are a result of dietary deficiencies and years of exposure to the harsh rays of the sun.

Topical creams and cover-ups will temporarily disguise the unsightly spots but in order to get rid of them, or at the very least lighten them so they are less noticeable, you will need to treat them from the inside out.

Supplements and lifestyle changes can help prevent age spots and aging skin.

Supplements

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a power antioxidant that will help damaged skin cells repair themselves and prevent new ones from popping up.  Antioxidants help your body combat cell damaging free radicals by neutralizing them. It also aids in circulation by extending the life cycle of red blood cells, important for transporting oxygen to cells for energy and keeping toxins from building up in the body. Research suggests vitamin E may also help slow down the aging process by protecting cellular membranes.

The recommended dosage for adults is 200 IU of vitamin E in d-alpha tocopherol form daily for maximum benefit.

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency & Diseases of the Digestive System

Vitamin C

Everyone should get plenty of vitamin C in their diet, even if they don’t have age spots.  Found in abundance in citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), spinach and kale, it is a critical nutrient that supports good health and can help get rid of common aging skin problems like age spots, but also fine lines and wrinkles. 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant to rid your body of damaging free radicals. It also helps to combat the formation of new brown spots by offering protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s like an internal broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

Results are not immediate, meaning, you will need to take the vitamin C and be patient for up to a year for the dark spots to fade. In the meantime slather lots of sunscreen on your face, hands and where ever else spots have formed.

The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C supplements for adults is 2,000 milligrams per day.

Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is responsible for the bright vibrant color in many healthy foods like carrots, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe and winter squash.

When consumed, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, cell mucous membranes and skin.  It is also an antioxidant to help damaged cells regenerate.

Prevention

Of course, the most effective way to treat age spots is to not let them form at all. You can help yourself avoid this common aging skin problem by adopting a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, adding these supplements to your diet and applying sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to your exposed skin every day, year round.

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Natural Ways to Beat Fatigue Symptoms

by Institute for Vibrant Living

About one million Americans report feeling chronically fatigued.  Millions more report occasional but reoccurring tiredness as a health issue. Fortunately, there are natural, safe ways to relieve your fatigue symptoms and they don’t involve taking a new prescription in most cases. Simple lifestyle changes and the addition of some herbs and supplements can help naturally relieve your fatigue and give you a new lease on life.

Understanding fatigue symptoms and what we can do about them.

Too Tired

Occasional fatigue is normal. A hard workout, long day at the office, a fun-filled but activity packed vacation, are all reasons you may be tired. Unfortunately many people feel tired all the time and it takes an unfortunate toll on their health. Fatigued drivers account for 20% of all car accidents. Tired kids and adults show a decrease in cognitive function making school and jobs more difficult. 

You might think that being too tired all the time is a normal part of aging, but it’s not. If daily living has you dragging, it’s time to make some changes to your lifestyle.

Common Reasons for Fatigue

Sleep

It cannot be emphasized enough how important getting enough sleep is to maintaining your health, especially your energy levels. Unfortunately, most Americans do not get the minimum 6-8 hours needed every night to help the body restore itself after long, stressful days working, working out, caring for family, dealing with traffic, and the stuff of daily life.

Day after day, week after week of not getting enough shut-eye leads to fatigue and other unpleasant experiences like weight gain, cognitive decline and speeds up the aging process.  Experts recommend going to bed at a reasonable hour each night and rising at the same time each day, even on weekends and vacations. Establishing a soothing nighttime ritual and sticking to it will do wonders for your fatigue symptoms.

Hormones

Hormones out of balance are a leading cause of fatigue.  A trip to the doctor might be in order if your fatigue symptoms came on suddenly.  This could indicate a malfunctioning thyroid or adrenal gland malfunction. Women going through menopause may have fluctuating and declining hormones, which cause sleep disturbances and fatigue.  Ruling out hormonal imbalances is key to banishing fatigue.

Related:  Understanding the Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Nutrition

Our bodies run on carbohydrates, but not the kind found in a doughnut. Highly refined white flour and sugar-laden foods will cause a surge in blood sugar giving you a short burst of energy, only to send you crashing and feeling tired.  You know what to do: eat more complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grains and vegetables while consuming a lot less white flour products loaded with sugar.

You may also not be eating enough fat. Yes, fat. It is as essential to a healthy diet as carbohydrates and protein. You need to eat the right kind of fat in moderation to optimize energy levels.  Nuts, avocados, olive, coconut and canola oils, eggs and organic, grass fed-beef are all great sources of healthy fats that will help relieve your fatigue symptoms.

You may be dehydrated. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so before you reach for a candy bar to shake off that tired feeling, try drinking an eight ounce glass of good old fashioned water and see if you don’t feel better in about 10 minutes. Get in the habit of carrying around a bottle of H2O and drinking it a couple times a day.

Supplements

You could find relief from your fatigue symptoms by supplementing your diet with missing nutrients.

Magnesium – start with the lowest dosage (600 mg or less)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – a fish oil supplement can help you get enough of this essential nutrient every day

Vitamin B12 – you can get this crucial nutrient in pill form or through injections

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What Should You Do About Menopause Symptoms Like Hair Growth?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, memory lapses, increased anxiety and reduced libido are often kept private.  Dealing with them alone can be difficult, but made worse when more obvious symptoms appear, namely hair loss and/or excessive hair growth in unusual places. Hair growth during menopause, or hair loss, can be very disconcerting, but there are things you can do to minimize these hair woes.

Menopause symptoms include hair growth.

 

The Hairy Truth about Menopause

Fluctuating and declining hormone levels can cause excessive hair loss; and or hair growth such as facial hair.  While menopause is a natural phase of life, steps can be taken to help prevent hair loss and growth, such as lifestyle and dietary changes using natural herbs and supplements.

For Thinning Hair

There is HRT, or hormone replacement therapy, that is prescribed by your doctor and can help with hair loss. However, the known dangerous side effects are an increased risk for several types of cancer. Some women choose to avoid synthetic HRT because of the inhumane way horses are treated to obtain these hormones through pregnant mare’s urine.   If you want to avoid the risks and not contribute to cruel pharmaceutical practices, then forgo HRT.  Here are some natural ways to alleviate this problem.

Acceptance – While many people say, be patient, hair loss will ‘pass’, that’s much easier said than done.  Yes, hair loss in normal and natural when going through menopause, and your loved ones will continue to love you, regardless of your hair.  However, it can be emotionally devastating to experience hair loss or thinning hair.  Take steps to help reduce and remedy the situation, seek out an experienced hair stylist for the best cut for your hair type.

Reduce Stress – Get plenty of exercise, meditate, go to yoga classes, and get enough sleep. This will benefit you in many ways beyond helping to stave off hair loss. A few milligrams of melatonin might help you fall asleep on restless nights. Investing in natural fabrics for sheets and pajamas will whisk away the sweat caused by hot flashes so you can rest easier.

Related:  Restore Hair Growth and Improve Sleep

Diet – As is prescribed for every condition, eating a healthy diet will help you mitigate hair loss due to fluctuating and declining hormones. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be your dietary staples with avoidance of high-fat and sugar-laden treats.  B12 is linked to hair loss so choose foods that are rich in all the B vitamins like:

  • Spinach, mustard greens and romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli, beets, asparagus and turnips
  • Lentils, calf liver and snapper (fish)

Foods particularly high in B12 are:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Fortified soy products like tofu

Supplements & Herbs

Many menopause symptoms can be relieved by taking supplements and herbs that reduce inflammation, mimic declining hormones and boost your iron levels to help keep hair healthy and strong.  Try adding these supplements and herbs into your diet to promote hair growth during menopause:

  • B12 vitamins (all the B vitamins really)
  • Iron
  • Black cohosh – an herb that mimics estrogen in the body to help slow down hair loss due to the decline of natural estrogen production
  • Evening Primrose Oil, also a great source of essential fatty acids

Dealing with Unwanted Hair

How frustrating to experience thinning hair only to find it growing abundantly on your chin, around your lips, and on your chest.   Cosmetically there is no shade of cover up to disguise thick, course, and dark hair cropping up on your face.

What can you do about unwanted hair growth during menopause, then?  Show those stray strands no mercy!  Avoid shaving, since only more stubble will grow back.  Some better options are:

Epilators– there are several brands for use at home that come with different sized heads to use on the body and the face. Like waxing, these devices pull hair out by the root for longer lasting results.

Waxing – hair removed by waxing will be slower to grow back. Today’s waxing methods are less painful and most salons offer the service.

Electrolysis – choose a spa or facility with a medically trained staff and really get after unwanted hair growth. This is the most costly treatment option, but the one that is the most effective with the longest lasting results. Remember, unwanted hair growth is usually a temporary condition, so be patient.

 

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Antioxidants: Your Immune System’s Secret Weapon

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Our immune system is a complex army of warriors with different “weapons” patrolling the body to hunt down and kill invading bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, as we age, it does too, and becomes weaker along with muscles, eyes, and everything else. Fortunately, there are immune boosters in your refrigerator called antioxidants that can keep your disease fighting warriors stronger for longer.

Fruits and vegetables are powerful immune boosters.

Antioxidants to the Rescue

What exactly is an antioxidant? Our bodies naturally produce free radicals as a result of exposure to environmental toxins like too much sunlight, cigarette smoke, radiation and even some prescription drugs.  You also produce free radicals along with inflammation in the body when you exercise, become overly stressed, and as you age. Because free radical molecules are missing an electron, they seek out and capture electrons from other molecules turning them into free radicals, a process known as oxidation. 

 

Antioxidants generously lend molecules missing an electron one of theirs without becoming free radicals themselves, thus halting the destructive chain reaction in the body. Left unchecked free radicals disrupt DNA and cause your cells to become weaker and weaker until they die.  They are tiny superhero defenders of youth and vitality.

Antioxidants for What Ails You

Our immune system cells are as susceptible to free radical damage as any other kind of cell, and we need a steady supply to stay healthy. Incorporating antioxidants into your diet helps as an immune booster and assists your immune system to produce strong B and T lymphocytes, phagocytes and neutrophils.

Several of our organs play a key role in the immune system and also need to be constantly generating strong healthy cells to replace those lost to free radicals. Make sure you ingest plenty of antioxidants to boost your immune system to help stave off disease, and even slow down the aging process.

Related:  Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant

Essential Antioxidants

Fortunately, it’s easy to fill up on antioxidants. They are found in many of the healthiest and delicious foods available to us in abundance.  Certain antioxidants are not being produced by the body, so you need to get them from you diet. They are:

Resveratrol – found in grapes, many vegetables, dark chocolate (cocoa) and wine. It also helps lower blood pressure, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation in the body.

Carotenoids- give certain foods their bright color like tomatoes (lycopene) and carrots (beta-carotene). They are converted to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, in the body.

Xanthophyll – found in kiwis, maize (a kind of corn), grapes, squash and oranges.

Astaxanthin – a marine carotenoid that offers protection from ultraviolet radiation. It also has been found to slow down macular degeneration, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, several types of cancer and is a powerful immune booster.

Vitamins C and E – are generous electron donors and offer a host of other health benefits.

Best Sources of Antioxidants

Healthy and delicious foods can supply most of your antioxidant needs. You might also benefit from an antioxidant supplement to make sure you get adequate amounts daily. Be sure to add to your diet:

  • Nuts
  • Herbs and spices
  • Green tea
  • Fruits and vegetables

Fresh, organic produce and tea are your healthiest options, but even frozen foods offer some beneficial immune booster antioxidants.

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Why Vitamin D is Important for Healthy Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Originally introduced to the world as a fat-soluble vitamin and later as a steroid hormone, vitamin D offers myriad health benefits to the body.  Because it plays a role in over 1,000 physiological processes, it is easy to understand why vitamin D is so important as people get older.  According to results from a variety of scientific studies, this potent vitamin/hormone helps encourage healthy aging in many ways.

:  People can get vitamin D benefits through foods like milk, eggs and fish.

A British study conducted in 2007 showed that vitamin D may help slow the aging process and protect the body from age-related disease.  Researchers followed more than 2,000 women with ages ranging from 18 to 79 and examined their white blood cells.  Measuring the length of telomeres (the capped ends of DNA strands) is a reliable way to determine if a person is aging.  As people get older, telomeres become shorter and DNA becomes more unstable. 

According to their vitamin D levels, the female subjects were assigned to three groups.  Results showed that women with the highest vitamin D levels had longer telomeres than women with the lowest levels.  Researchers concluded that by keeping telomeres longer, vitamin D may slow the aging process, and this may explain the protective effect vitamin D appears to provide from conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Related:  Absorption is Key When it Comes to Calcium Supplements

Another important Dutch study examining people 55 years of age and older found that low vitamin D levels were linked with an inability to perform daily tasks.  Subjects were divided into two age groups and tested for activities like walking stairs, dressing and undressing, standing from a seated position, and self-care.  While results showed a link between lower vitamin D levels and reduced ability to perform the activities, more research is needed to determine if low vitamin D levels actually cause disability in performance.

Additional Vitamin D Benefits

Most people know that vitamin D plays a role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, but it offers many more benefits to the health.  Vitamin D boosts immunity and helps prevent colds, flus and other types of infection.  Mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D may also offer a preventative effect against Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, lymphatic system, ovaries and prostate. 

With all of the health benefits mentioned, it makes sense to get vitamin D on a daily basis, especially for people over 50.  The best source of vitamin D is the sun, and spending 10 minutes in sunshine before applying sunscreen usually provides a sufficient daily amount.  People can also find vitamin D in foods like fish, eggs, dairy and nut milk, cod liver oil, and fortified cereals and juices.  Vitamin D supplements work well during periods of colder weather, and health professionals recommend from 400 to 1,100 mg per day depending on age.

 

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Eat Broccoli for Healthy Breast Changes with Age

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Aging affects a woman's body in several ways, but it's particularly unkind to the breasts.  As women go through menopause, decreased estrogen production shrinks mammary glands and fat in tissue altering breast size and fullness.  Reduced elasticity in connective tissue can make breasts sag, and risks for breast cancer rise after menopause.  Fortunately, there's something women can do to promote healthy breast changes with age:  eat broccoli

A compound in broccoli and broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane may help keep breast changes with age healthy.

Sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts stimulates over 200 genes in the body to produce enzymes, proteins and antioxidants that protect cells.  One of these important antioxidants, glutathione, works inside cells to protect them from free radicals and inflammatory response.  Some enzymes and proteins even do battle with cancer cells and reduce over-expression of estrogen receptors, an action common in many types of breast cancer.

Current chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer are incapable of suppressing cancer stem cells, but broccoli sprouts have shown promise in various scientific studies.  One study published in Clinical Cancer Research in 2010 showed that sulforaphane suppressed breast cancer cells both in vivo (in live animals) and in vitro (under glass).

Related:  Natural Anti-Cancer Compound Found in Cruciferous Vegetables can Treat Leukemia

In a separate study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University examined women scheduled for breast reduction surgery to determine if sulforaphane actually showed up in breast tissue after women drank broccoli sprout juice.  Results showed measurable results of sulforaphane, proving that the compound actually reaches the target area in women with breast cancer when they consume broccoli sprout juice.

In addition to helping ensure healthy breast changes with age, broccoli sprouts have been shown to:

  • Aid in the treatment of autism
  • Help manage type 2 diabetes
  • Rid the body of toxic air pollutants
  • Destroy Helicobacter Pylori, a harmful gastrointestinal organism
  • Slow the development of osteoarthritis

While further studies are needed to determine if sulforaphane extract might offer promise as natural form of breast cancer treatment, adding broccoli to the grocery cart definitely doesn't hurt.  People can stock up on the whole vegetable, its sprouts, or purchase broccoli sprout supplements through local whole food stores or natural supplements websites.  For the best health benefits, organic forms broccoli and broccoli sprouts are recommended.