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Willow Bark Trumps Aspirin For Lower Back Pain Relief

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Aspirin is derived from an herbal plant that has been used for centuries to treat lower back pain. Willow bark, which dates back to the time of Hippocrates, contains salicin, a chemical compound that reduces pain and inflammation and ancient healers advised patients to chew on the bark for pain relief. In the late 1800s a German company created a synthetic form of salicin called acetylsalicylic acids, which is the active ingredient in aspirin.

Because aspirin use is widespread many people assume that it is harmless. The truth is that prolonged use of aspirin can lead to ulcers as well as gastrointestinal and stomach bleeding.

Related: Headaches and Willow Bark

Willow bark offers the same pain-relieving benefits of aspirin without the harmful side effects. A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that people with lower back pain experienced “significant relief” from willow bark.

Although ancient healers advised patients to chew on willow bark you don’t have to resort to that. Willow bark is available in supplement form online and in natural health stores. It comes in tablet or powdered form and the dosage may vary from person depending on age, gender, weight and overall health.

Many people find lower back pain relief through hydrotherapy, massage and acupuncture. Regular exercise, good posture and stress management are also important tools to relieve lower back pain. A natural approach to back pain relief can keep you healthy and active throughout your life. Work with your holistic practitioner to develop a natural pain relief strategy. 

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Three Fruits with Big Benefits as Constipation Home Remedies

by Cindy Gray

It’s a well-known fact that people who eat a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables are less prone to ill heath, constipation, heart disease and sickness. If you are looking for natural solutions for increasing nutrient intake or constipation home remedies, buy guava, star fruit and passion fruit and experiment with them. These tropical fruits are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and we highlight each one for its unique benefits to counter constipation.

Check out passion fruit for constipation home remedies

The Benefits of Passion Fruit

Passion fruit is a round fruit with a wrinkly skin containing soft green flesh. It is delicious to eat fresh, add to a smoothie or consume as a healthy drink. High in fiber and vitamins A and C, passion fruit is packed with antioxidants to counter harmful free radicals and reduce heart disease.

What’s special about passion fruit is that it has enzymes that aid digestion, which makes it an excellent food for constipation home remedies. Passion fruit appears to increase the digestive juices in the stomach during digestion. It boosts electrolyte levels and acts as an effective colon cleanser, which is what makes it so good for reliving constipation.

Guava is Great for Constipation Home Remedies

Ripe guava fruits are pear-shaped and soft to the touch with a pink blush to the light green/yellow skin. Inside, the fruit may be white, red or salmon colored and flavors range from ripe strawberry to fresh citrus, depending on the species.

Guava is high in fiber, giving it value as an important home remedy for constipation. The seeds are edible and can be chewed or swallowed whole as they are excellent laxatives. Guava retains water and cleanses the intestines as it passes through, making it ideal for those suffering with bloating or poor bowel habits.

Star Fruit Aids Constipation

Star fruits are easily identified with their five lobes which, when cut through horizontally, create a wonderful star-shaped slice of fruity goodness. The fruits are ready to eat when they are golden yellow all over and the taste is mildly sour.

What makes star fruit good for constipation home remedies is that it adds bulk and water to the bodily waste.

Enjoy experimenting with different ways to eat these three tropical fruits and enjoy the benefits of these natural constipation home remedies. You may also want to supplement them with a powdered green energy drink for an extra boost of energy and antioxidants.  Finally, here’s a tip for retaining the flavor in these tropical fruits: Never refrigerate them, unless they are over ripe, as they quickly lose their sweetness. Enjoy!

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Reel In Relief: Include Fish In Your Arthritis Diet

by Health News

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are key components for an arthritis prevention diet and the “catch of the day” may be just what the doctor ordered for pain relief. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that patients who increased dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids were able to reduce or even discontinue their use of pain medications. 

Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are called “essential” because your body cannot produce them so they must be obtained through dietary sources or supplementation. Fatty acids are converted by the body into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins.  Because they fight inflammation so effectively, omega-3 fatty acids can play a key role in arthritis pain management.

Related: Is Krill Fish Oil Dangerous?

Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, tuna and squid are premiere sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA. Wild salmon is considered the best source because it has the highest concentration. There are many simple, delicious ways to prepare salmon. It can be broiled, grilled, blackened or baked. Enhance the flavor with dill, capers or lemon grass. Leftover salmon is a healthy addition to salads.  

Because most people don’t eat enough fish to get the recommended amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, many people use fish oil supplements. The supplements come in capsule, soft gel, chewable tablet or liquid forms and are available online and at natural health stores. Reel in relief by adding fish oil supplements to your daily arthritis pain management regimen. 

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Why You Need Yoga for Lower Back Pain

by Cindy Gray

Yoga has many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It incorporates a gentle range of effective stretching techniques which can be beneficial for reducing lower back pain while helping to strengthen back muscles, lowering stress, improving circulation and balancing mood.

Yoga can ease lower back pain and improve inflammatory arthritis of the hands

Yoga principles are a form of exercise, but they are the opposite of aerobic exercises. This means that yoga can be practiced by all ages and abilities, even those in pain. Two key areas of physical health that can be eased with regular yoga exercises are inflammatory arthritis and lower back pain.

Yoga for Inflammatory Arthritis

The Journal of Rheumatology reported the results of a study on patients who had inflammatory arthritis of the hands. They found that those who practiced yoga as a therapeutic treatment had a greater range of movement in their fingers. They also reported less pain and tenderness in their arthritic finger joints than those who did not practice yoga.

Yoga for Lower Back Pain

A study of 25 patients suffering from lower back pain found that yoga provided significant benefits. After a six month trial period, 80% of those participants who practiced yoga reported reduced lower back pain compared to 44% of the study group who were given medications instead. 

Over time, just 12% of the yoga practitioners suffered an acute episode of arthritis pain while 56% of the medication group suffered a serious arthritis episode.

Related: Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Yoga and Muscle Strength

The more physical form of yoga known as Hatha Yoga relies on learning controlled breathing techniques, Pranayama, while holding complex body postures. Yoga increases muscle strength as you practice positions and movements. As weak muscles and misaligned posture are the main cause of lower back pain, it makes sense that practicing postures that strengthen the muscles, particularly in the lower back, will reverse the unnatural muscle stretching and reduce back pain.

Other yoga positions strengthen abdominal muscles which, together with back muscles, maintain a healthy muscle network that supports the spine. When these muscles are toned and conditioned they can significantly prevent or reduce lower back pain.

Stress may be another cause of back pain, causing shoulders to be hunched and muscle to be misaligned. Yoga includes stretching and relaxing techniques which reduce that tension and alleviate the lower back pain it causes.

With the additional benefit of improved blood circulation, yoga stretches the lower back, lowers stress and strengthens muscle tone to align the body and reduce or prevent lower back pain. As it also improves mobility in those with inflammatory arthritis of the hands, it’s never too late to consider joining a yoga class to improve your physical and mental health.

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Two Natural Arthritis Treatments to GAG On

by Cindy Gray

Natural arthritis treatments use two specific supplements to maintain and rebuild worn cartilage which is the main cause of painful arthritis in the joints. Glycosaminoglycans, conveniently shortened to GAGs, are long unbranched polysaccharides containing amino sugars (N-acetylglucosamine or N-acetylgalactosamine) and gluronic acid.

Glucosamine is an Important Natural Arthritis Treatment

Glucosamine hydrochloride has been shown to be an excellent natural arthritis treatment. Derived from lobster, shrimp and crab shells, when taken as a supplement it stimulates the manufacture of amino acids, sulfur and chains of sugars to restore the gel-like cartilage content. This improves joint mobility and restores worn cartilage which is the cause of severe joint pain for arthritis sufferers.

Glucosamine supplements also reduce inflammation, another factor for those suffering from arthritis. If you are taking a joint supplement for natural arthritis treatments, look for those which contain glucosamine to help joint lubrication and support healthy cartilage.

Chondroitin Sulfate for Healthy Joint Cartilage

Another type of GAG, Chondroitin Sulfate works synergistically with glucosamine for maximum benefit of these painful swollen joints. It makes up to 20% of natural cartilage tissue and helps rebuild cartilage and replace lost synovial fluid.

Related: Hyaluronic Acid Use for Joint Health

Chondroitin stabilizes collagen, another important component of healthy cartilage, and is particularly effective when taken with vitamin C. It is an important supplement for arthritis as it helps maintain the collagen fibers in the bone.

Even if you do not have arthritis or painful joints, chondroitin sulfate helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage, preventing painful joints and arthritis in later life. It works with the glucosamine to promote a steady flow of nutrients and fluid to maintain healthy cartilage.

Dosage for GAG Supplements

Glucosamine can be taken as a supplement in capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form. Recommended dosage is 1500 mg per day. It is most effective when combined with chondroitin.

The typical dosage of chondroitin sulfate is 1000-1200 mg per day. However, it is most effective when taken in three separate doses during the day, of up to 400 mg at a time. If you are taking these supplements as natural arthritis treatments, you should start to see results within one month with less pain and increased movement in the joints. 

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Treating Rosacea: A Step-By-Step Guide

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Treating rosacea, an unsightly skin disorder that is characterized by red skin on the cheeks, chin, nose and forehead, requires careful monitoring of the condition.  Left untreated, the affected skin will thicken, become even ruddier with visible blood vessels and pimple-like bumps may form.  

Treating Rosacea

Rosacea is among the many different types of skin rashes.  It usually manifests itself after age 30 and is more prevalent in women and those with fair skin.  However, it can affect men and they often have the most severe symptoms, which includes the thickening skin and red, watery eyes.

While there is no cure for these skin rashes, carefully avoiding triggers that worsen the condition and taking simple precautions can lessen the symptoms of rosacea.

Following this step-by-step guide can be part of an effective rosacea treatment plan.

Step One: Diet

There is plenty of medical research to link diet and rosacea.  A 2003 National Rosacea Society study found that foods like hot sausage or peppers, black, red and white pepper, the spice paprika, garlic and vinegar are particularly virulent triggers that can cause a rosacea skin rash to worsen.

The best way to avoid a worsening of the condition when it comes to your diet is to keep a food journal carefully noting which foods seem to make worsen your symptoms, so you can more easily avoid them as much as possible.

Related: Using Hyaluronic Acid for Skin Care

In addition to spicy foods, highly acidic fruits, fried foods, sugar, caffeinated beverages, and alcoholic beverages have all been linked to an increase in rosacea symptoms.

Step Two: Cosmetic Products

The cosmetic products you use can definitely affect your rosacea.  It is critical that you consult with your dermatologist to formulate a skin-care plan immediately after a rosacea diagnosis.  There are companies that make cosmetics specifically for rosacea sufferers.

When cleansing your face, be particularly careful with the cleanser you choose.  Zinc containing soaps have shown to be a safe way to cleanse your skin and for treating rosacea.

Many facial cleansers have harsh ingredients that can worsen your condition.  Avoid those with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid.

Avoid scrubbing your face too hard and pat your skin dry with a fresh, soft cloth, rather than rub it with a towel.  If your skin is oily, use an oil-free moisturizer.  If you have particularly dry skin, a lightweight moisturizer is still best, while an oil ingredient may be okay.

Step Three: Sunscreen

Using sunscreen daily is critical to anyone treating rosacea.  Exposure to sun can quickly worsen the redness and irritation.  After you cleanse and moisturize your face, apply a layer of sunscreen of at least SPF 15 (SPF 30 is better) using a product, which contains zinc oxide, a physical sun blocker.

 

Once a day is not enough either.  You will need to reapply sunscreen at least once even if you are indoors and as frequently as every two hours if you are outside for long periods of time.  A hat and eye protection, like sunglasses, is also a good idea if you are outdoors for an extended period of time.  Again, take note of which sunscreens your skin can tolerate, as sunscreens too can aggravate skin conditions.

Step Four: Supplements

A high quality multivitamin is part of any effective rosacea treatment plan.  Find one that contains at least 25-100 milligrams of B-complex vitamins. 

B2 (also known as riboflavin) has been shown to be especially effective in lessening rosacea symptoms.  It helps the skin secret more mucous to aid in repair from damage due to rosacea.

Since many researchers believe rosacea sufferers have a disorder in the blood vessels just beneath the skin, vitamin C, zinc and copper supplements are often recommended.  These nutrients are essential for healthy blood vessels, capillaries and connective tissues.

Treating Rosacea

Just because there is no known cure for rosacea does not mean you must suffer with unsightly, irritated red skin.  Working with your dermatologist and following this checklist can help you keep rosacea symptoms in check.

 

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How Do Doctors Define Constipation

by IVL Products

A healthy lifestyle is your best defense against constipationMedical professionals agree that healthy bowel function is essential to good health, but they don’t always agree on how healthy bowel function is defined. So how often should you “go?” According to the National Digestive Diseases Foundation, more than 2 million Americans visit their physicians each year seeking relief from constipation. More than $700 million is spent annually on over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat irregularity.

Mainstream doctors have varying opinions but most contend that a person is constipated when they have less than three bowel movements per week. Holistic practitioners, however, believe that a person should have one to three bowel movements per day to help ensure that toxins are being removed from the body. Some even narrow that down to one bowel movement per meal each day.

Related: How Vitamins and Supplement May Help Improve Your Liver Health

The liver filters toxins from our blood and sends them to the colon to be eliminated. When the toxins build up they become absorbed through the colon wall; and if not removed, our health can be adversely affected in a variety of ways. The toxins associated with constipation can cause bloating, sluggishness, abdominal pain and flatulence.

In a perfect world we would avoid toxins, but that is virtually impossible. We are exposed to toxins through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the chemicals we use to clean our clothes, wash our cars and disinfect our homes.

Holistic practitioners subscribe to the “more is better” theory of bowel function. If you are having less than one bowel movement daily, talk to your practitioner about natural ways to restore regularity.

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Seven Exercises for Strains and Sprains Prevention

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Each year, many Americans experience strains or sprains, and those who face greater risk include athletes, overweight individuals, and people who have experienced these injuries in the past.  Strains are caused by physical overexertion or overstretching, and they affect the muscles or tendons.  Sprains result from trauma to a joint, and they affect one or more ligaments. Symptoms for both injuries include pain, swelling, bruising, and impaired range of motion. While the main form of treatment is RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation; and an ounce of strains and sprains prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Performed regularly, seven exercises help prevent the occurrence of strains and sprains.

For strains and sprains prevention, try stretching and flexibility exercises.

Stretching and Flexibility Routine for Strains and Sprains Prevention

Performed each morning, this exercise routine helps boost circulation to wake up muscles and joints and improves flexibility.

Begin by standing straight, with feet hip-distance apart.

  1. Drop the head gently to one side.  Keeping the shoulders straight, move one ear toward the shoulder.  Move the head gently to the other side, and repeat.  Roll the head forward slowly toward the chest, and through to the other shoulder.  Repeat in the opposite direction, but do not roll the head backward.
  2. Shrug the shoulders up and down gently 10 times.  Roll each shoulder gently forward 10 times and backward 10 times.  Roll both shoulders together forward 10 times and backward 10 times.
  3. Hold one arm straight out in front of the body.  Move it across the chest, using the opposite arm to pull it gently into the chest and down slightly toward the armpit to stretch the shoulder.  Repeat with the other arm.
  4. Hold the arms out to the side at shoulder height.  Move them in small forward circles, gradually widening with each rotation, and then back down to small circles.  Repeat the cycle with backward rotations.
  5. With eight repetitions in each position, start with the right leg and move it forward, backward, to the outside, and crossed over to the inside.  Repeat with the left leg.
  6. Hold the right foot out in front slightly.  Point and flex several times.  Rotate the ankle clockwise five times and counterclockwise five times.  Repeat with the left foot.
  7. Stand with knees bent slightly and hands resting on the thighs.  Move the right heel forward and flex the foot to straighten the right leg.  Bend forward slowly until you feel a gentle pull in the right calf and hamstring.  Hold for eight seconds, and switch sides.

Related: Ginger For Muscle And Joint Pain Relief?

More Strains and Sprains Prevention Suggestions for Athletes

To further prevent athletic strains and sprains, people should:

  • Always wear shoes that fit properly.
  • Warm up before sports, including practice.
  • Wear recommended protective equipment.
  • Do not participate if in pain or experiencing excessive fatigue or if you are sick.
  • Remember to drink plenty of pure water every day: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Also, take healthy internal oils such as flax seed oil, olive oil, etc.  Another supplement to take as an internal lubricant is aloe vera juice or gel.  
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How to Naturally Erase Age Spots

by Cindy Gray

Although age spots are harmless, these brown spots caused by the sun can be unsightly. But the good news is that there are several natural ways to help get rid of age spots.

First, you need to be sure that the problem is an age spot, or liver spot, and not something more sinister. Age spots are smooth and may be brown or black. If in doubt, get your doctor to check first that it is not a mole or other more dangerous skin issues such as a melanoma.

As age spots are caused by free-radical damage from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, it makes sense to treat them from the inside out.

Beta-Carotene for Age Spots

Free radical damage can be countered by eating foods high in antioxidants. Beta-carotene has been shown to be most effective as nature’s answer to how to get rid of age spots. Boost your diet with plenty of healthy foods such as carrots, kale, spinach, cabbage, sweet potatoes, squash, cantaloupe, mangoes and apricots. These natural fruits and veggies all have exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene to prevent age spots which are the result of free radical damage from the sun.

Related: Benefits of Mango: A Delectable Nutrient-Rich Powerhouse

Vitamin A for Age Spots

Research shows that higher levels of vitamin A can also help prevent, banish or fade age spots. Once again, sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens are a good natural source of vitamin A. It is also found in fish, liver and bell peppers, so there’s plenty of choice. The easiest way to ensure you have a daily dose of vitamin A is by taking spirulina in a greens-based powder. Just mix and drink – it’s that easy to get your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals.

How to Get Rid of Age Spots with Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a great natural aid for hyperpigmentation. As age spots are caused by the body producing melanin, a form of pigmentation, it makes sense to reduce age spots naturally with vitamin E. Take a daily supplement of vitamin E in the form of d-alpha tocopherol (400-600 IUs) for most people will be sufficient. However, those who are on insulin or have hypertension should take a lower dose of 100 IUs. 

These methods should all help fade ugly age spots. However, the best answer is to avoid getting age spots and other skin issues caused by the sun. Always wear an organic sunscreen of at least SPF15 whenever you go outside and save yourself from having those unsightly age spots on your hands and face in later life.

Remember to consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water each day.  Take good care of your skin on the outside by using a daily moisturizer, one filled with natural ingredients, and avoiding harmful ingredients such as petrolatum and dimethicone.   Don’t forget to remove dead surface skin cells by exfoliating with natural fine-grain sea salt mixed with water and a little natural liquid soap.  Another way to reduce age spots is by applying natural lemon juice to the surface of the skin.  

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Why Vitamin D is Critical for Digestive Health

by IVL Products

Recent research into colitis, a painful inflammatory condition of the colon, showed that it could be caused by a lack of vitamin D. This allows an imbalance of flora to develop in the gastrointestinal tract causing inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease. 

Study connect vitamin D deficiency with inflammatory bowel diseases

Colitis is a serious and painful condition. The inflammation of the lining of the colon can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune illness similar to Crohn’s disease, is another inflammatory bowel disease possibly connected to vitamin D deficiency.

Colitis is known to be caused primarily by infections, viruses, bacteria, food poisoning and parasites in the gut. These develop when good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract are low and are unable to keep these infections at bay. Causes of low gut flora include stress, taking antibiotic medicines which kill gut bacteria, and drinking excessive alcohol. However, no one has previously made a connection between a lack of vitamin D and the presence of these colitis-causing bacteria and infections.

Vitamin D and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

A study by the University of Toronto investigated whether vitamin D deficiency could be implicated in the development of Crohn's disease and similar inflammatory diseases of the bowel. They found a positive association between lack of vitamin D and a corresponding lack of good bacteria in the gut (dysbiosis) in those diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Related: Diet soda can be dangerous to your health

Two further studies looked at the same issues. The first study, based on information supplied by the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study I and II, found that there was a much higher incidence of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in those who lived in the northern states. The lower levels of sunshine mean lower levels of vitamin D, which the body produces naturally when sunlight falls on the skin. The study found that women who lived in the southern states during their 30s were 50% less likely to develop Crohn’s disease in later life, and 35% less likely to suffer from colitis.

The second study by Cornell looked at whether the symptoms in patients already diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s could be improved with vitamin D supplements. After 26 weeks, those given higher doses of vitamin D showed an improvement in their symptoms, compared to those on a lower dose.

Researchers conclude that vitamin D can keep gut flora healthy and balanced, which in turn improves conditions for those with inflammatory bowel diseases.

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Indigestion Symptoms: Five Signs of Unbalanced Beneficial Bacteria

by IVL Products

Did you know that the gastrointestinal tract, commonly called the gut, is lined with trillions of bacteria? They all have a job to do and are important in digesting the food we eat and controlling our health status.

There is a wide diversity of different bacteria, and not all gut bacteria are equal. Some “good” bacteria help improve digestion of food, manufacture essential vitamins, and strengthen the immune system.

Unbalanced bacteria trigger indigestion symptoms

The presence of “bad” bacteria may cause poor skin conditions, mental issues, nightmares, and indigestion symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea. The body cannot selectively banish all bad bacteria, but by creating an environment where good bacteria can flourish, the bad bacteria can be held in check. Probiotics are the answer.

The balance of bacteria in the gut can indicate how healthy we are (or are not). The presence of some bacteria causes inflammation while other bacteria strengthen the immune system or affect how the brain works. This is a wide topic of study, but the important fact is that if the balance of bacteria is off, it will affect our overall health.

Related: Natural Treatment for Lactose Intolerance

If you suffer from any or all of these indigestion symptoms, it may indicate low levels of good bacteria or flora (dysbiosis):

  • Painful bowel movements, usually caused by hard stools and constipation
  • Altered bowel habits, bloating or cramping pains may be caused by an irritable bowel. Diarrhea or loose stools may be caused by a bug, but more commonly they are a symptom of an imbalance of bacteria in the gut
  • Bad gas is another warning sign of poor indigestion. Symptoms such as excessive gas are caused by gut bacteria improperly digesting food. It may be caused by certain foods, such as beans, or by a sudden change of diet. Either way, managing your gut bacteria with probiotic-rich foods will help
  • Parasite infections can cause you to feel sick, or cause other symptoms of ill health. Normally these unhealthy parasites are controlled by good gut bacteria
  • Food allergies and food sensitivities can both cause irritable bowel movements, bloating, constipation and diarrhea

These common indigestion symptoms tend to indicate that there is an imbalance which can be addressed by introducing probiotics into the diet to improve the presence of healthy bacteria. Consider taking a probiotic supplement or add some fermented foods and live yogurt to your diet to raise levels of good bacteria and banish troublesome indigestion symptoms forever.

 

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C.L.A.P. for Constipation Relief

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Digestive enzymes are the chemicals that break down and digest food in the gastrointestinal tract. If they fail to do their task, or if there are insufficient enzymes in the gut, it is likely to cause chronic constipation. Eating a proper diet is one of the most natural ways to get constipation relief.

Constipation relief from enzymes

There are four key enzymes which are easy to recall by using the acronym C.L.A.P.:

  • Cellulase – breaks down fiber
  • Lipase – breaks down fat lipids
  • Amylase – breaks down carbohydrates
  • Protease – breaks down proteins

Enzymes are easy to spot in the lexicon of health terminology as they all end in “-ase.”

One of the causes of chronic constipation is an incomplete digestion of food. In a perfectly healthy body, the food is digested before it reaches the colon. Digestion starts as saliva and chewing begin to break down food. Stomach acids and enzymes work on the food in the stomach before it reaches the colon.

Related: The Power of Pomegranates

If food is not properly digested at that stage it can cause problems that may require constipation relief. Poor digestion means that the nutrients and vitamins are not released into the blood stream and made available to the cells.

If you think of the colon as a sewer, you can imagine that a buildup of undigested food caused by chronic constipation is an undesirable and unhealthy state. The toxic waste needs to be eliminated as quickly as possible, with a constipation relief supplement if necessary.

Even those who have regular bowel movements may have hidden problems if their enzymes are not working effectively. An unhealthy diet of fried foods high in starch, salt, fat and sugar can leave a deposit of slime on the inner walls of the colon if not properly digested by enzyme activity first. This coating may reduce the ability of the colon to absorb any remaining nutrients and can lead to a narrowing of the colon. This can hinder the peristaltic muscle movement that normally propels food through the digestive tract, leading to an ongoing need for constipation relief.

Causes of Constipation

When food is cooked, natural enzymes are destroyed. We need to include some raw fruit and vegetables in the diet to boost enzyme levels and reduce chronic constipation problems requiring constipation relief.

Overeating and living a stressful life are further problems hindering the digestive process. Age also means we produce less digestive enzymes and may need some extra help by taking a digestive enzyme supplement. 

By understanding how enzymes work, it is easier to make the changes necessary in our diet and lifestyle to prevent chronic constipation and avoid the need for constipation relief.

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Top Supplements for Healthy Skin

by Health News

Anyone looking for healthy and youthful looking skin can build a foundation with the right lifestyle choices, such as getting enough sleep, and avoiding harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco.  Of course, drinking plenty of water and eating the right foods and supplements is also key.  Your skin is, in fact, the largest organ in your body, and the health of your skin is most certainly a reflection of your overall health.  In this article, we will look at a few of the different vitamins and foods that can help you look your best.

Top Supplements for Healthy Skin

Omega-3

If your skin is in good shape, odds are that you are doing at least a few good things for your overall health and well-being.  In the last few years, medical science has become increasingly aware of the importance of omega 3-fatty acids in the role of brain, heart and skin health.  You can take omega-3 supplements for skin health, but you can also find omega-3 in foods such as wild Alaskan salmon and sardines.

Vitamins A and E

Foods rich in vitamins A and E, such as spinach, are great ways to improve not only the look of your skin, but also your overall health.  A good multivitamin supplement is also a way to make sure that you are getting enough of these important vitamins.

Carotenoids
Carotenoids, as found in foods like carrots and sweet potatoes, have a variety of health benefits and can also improve your overall skin health.  Foods rich in carotenoids are also high in antioxidants and anticancer properties.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid is a supplement that is getting increasing levels of interest.  The list of potential benefits of ALA is impressive and long and may help overall health and brain health in a variety of ways.  In addition to potentially improving skin health, ALA may play a role in liver health as well, making it a very important supplement.

Antioxidant Berry Extracts

Berries are very high in antioxidants.  However, it can be quite difficult to eat enough berries on a daily basis.  This is where antioxidant berry extracts and supplements can come into play.  Not only will antioxidant berry extracts improve your skin's overall health, but such supplements will also improve your general health.  They are high in antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and can combat premature aging.

One berry extract that has been getting a lot of attention lately is the Goji berry, which has the power to scavenge for free radicals. As a result, the Goji berry extract has been touted for its anti-aging properties.  High doses of Goji berry are available in capsule form.    

Healthy Skin Contributes to Long Term Health
There are many ways that you can keep your skin looking its best.  Luckily, these steps also have important additional health benefits as well, such as providing your body with important antioxidants and anticancer chemicals.  Smart supplementation, diet choices and lifestyle choices like getting enough sleep and drinking clean water can make a major impact on the look of your skin and even your longevity.

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Are Indigestion Symptoms Signaling Bigger Problems?

by Health News

With life moving at a lightning-fast pace and diets full of fast foods and refined sugar, it's not surprising that people suffer from indigestion now more than ever.  The digestive tract is home to a complex community of bacteria and other microbes, otherwise known as gut flora.  When in balance, the digestive process runs smoothly, but when harmful bacteria and microbes overtake beneficial forms, people experience indigestion symptoms like heart burn, acid reflux, constipation, or diarrhea.  Because almost three quarters of the immune system resides within the digestive tract, indigestion symptoms might be signaling bigger problems. 

indigestion symptoms

The Importance of Healthy Balance

For good health, the ratio of beneficial microbiota in the gut to harmful forms should measure 85 percent to 15 percent.  In addition to promoting vigorous gastrointestinal function, a healthy balance of gut flora helps prevent colon cancer, inhibits the buildup of yeast in the mouth and vagina, and protects the body from infection and the development of autoimmune disease. 

A host of modern lifestyle factors contributes to an imbalance of gut flora.  Some of these factors include:

  • Use of prescribed antibiotics
  • Consumption of over-the-counter NSAID pain relievers
  • Diets high in sugar, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates
  • Diets low in fermented and cultured foods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Chronic stress

Related: Healthy Living Is A Personal Choice

Ways to Restore Healthy Balance

Making changes according to the factors listed above is an obvious approach for reducing indigestion symptoms and restoring a healthy balance of gut flora. People can begin by changing their diet. Trade sugary, processed foods for those high in fiber like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and eat fermented and cultured foods like kimchi and Greek yogurt. Get more exercise, participate in stress-relieving activities, and limit the use of NSAID pain relievers. Take a probiotic supplement every day to boost beneficial bacteria in the gut, and when antibiotics are required, take extra probiotics. 

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Chronic Constipation? Avoid These Three Foods

by Cindy Gray

Four million people across America experience chronic constipation, a condition that causes inconvenience and discomfort. According to the National Institutes of Health, sluggish bowels account for over two million trips to the doctor each year. Because certain foods play a key role in digestive health, what you are putting into your mouth might be what is stopping things up. When it comes to the treatment of constipation, people should eliminate three types of food to see if their condition improves.

Chronic Constipation? Avoid These Three Foods

1. Gluten

People who suffer from chronic constipation may have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, a very serious form of gluten intolerance.  A sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, gluten comes with a molecular structure that many humans have difficulty digesting.  In addition to constipation, people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease experience bloating, abdominal pain, sore muscles, very dry skin, mouth sores, fatigue, and weight loss.

2. Dairy

Frequent consumption of dairy products like milk, cheese, sour cream, and ice cream may cause constipation in some people.  Scientists aren't exactly sure why dairy causes constipation, but sensitivity to lactose, an enzyme in dairy products, can cause gas and bloating, which make constipation even more uncomfortable.  One study examining constipated Iranian children found that the removal of cow's milk and cow's milk products from their diet promoted more regular bowel movements. 

Related: Natural Treatment for Lactose Intolerance

3. Sugar

Sugar feeds harmful bacteria and yeast in the gut, which can help promote constipation.   In addition to straight table sugar, many sweet products like cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries also contain refined flour which is low in fiber and spikes blood sugar.  Constipation is the most common digestive problem for people with diabetes because nerves located in the digestive tract control how long waste stays in the intestines.  When these nerves become damaged from sustained levels of high blood sugar, constipation can result.

Healthy Constipation Treatment Plan for the Diet

All of the foods mentioned above share one thing in common:  a lack of fiber. While the American Dietetic Association recommends 20 to 35 grams of soluble and insoluble plant fiber each day, Americans typically take in only half of this amount.  Lack of fiber can result in a buildup of pathogens in the colon.  This can cause inflammation which can exacerbate chronic constipation and lead to other, more serious conditions.

Healthy treatment of constipation involves removing gluten, sugar, and dairy foods from the diet and replacing them with high-fiber choices like whole fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and gluten-free grains like quinoa.  The introduction of a psyllium supplement is also a good idea, but people should start gradually to avoid gas, bloating, and other symptoms from the psyllium.

Non-Dietary Constipation Solutions

In addition to modifying the diet, constipation treatment might include getting regular exercise, reducing stress, or taking a daily probiotic that helps boost healthy bacteria in the gut.  People should also make sure to drink plenty of water each day – roughly 6 to 8 glasses should help. 

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