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The ABCs of Eye Floaters

by Cindy Gray

They come out of nowhere, those little dots, squiggly lines or strands in your field of vision.  They appear suddenly if you gaze at a bright white piece of paper or look up to admire a cloud-free, brilliant blue sky, then they vanish just as quickly as they appeared.  What are these pesky little eye floaters anyway?

The Ins and Outs of Eye FloatersThe good news is that eye floaters are generally harmless and only mildly annoying.  They are composed of clumps and strands of collagen, a substance produced naturally by the body.  They are a part of the natural aging process and usually appear more often between the ages of 50 and 75 years old.  They are most likely to appear to those who are very nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.

Over time, the millions of collagen fibers your body has produced can accumulate in the region of the eye known as the vitreous.  This is a thick transparent substance in the middle of the eye that makes up two-thirds of its volume.  They can alter the amount of light that gets through to your retina (the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) and appear as floaters.  In extreme cases, a doctor can replace your natural vitreous with a gel-like substance; but that is very rarely needed or recommended.

The best news is that floaters do not harm your vision or interfere with your ability to see clearly.  However, they can be annoying; and if you are near-sighted or have a family history of cataract surgery, you might want to take a few preventive steps to keep floaters at bay.

Related: Fruit May Help Reduce Vision Disabilities

Vitamins and Supplements

There are several dietary supplements you can use that have shown to help keep eyes healthy and lessen your risk of developing eye floaters as you age, such as:

Vitamin C – this essential nutrient plays a key role in eye health by encouraging healthy collagen production, which supports the connective tissue in the cornea.  It also keeps the delicate capillaries in the retina healthy.  Finally, this vital nutrient may help reduce your risk of forming cataracts or experiencing a loss of vision due to macular degeneration.

Vitamin A – is another crucial nutrient that keeps your eyes healthy.  It helps protect them from infection and eye disease, distinguish between a wide-array of colors and helps prevents night blindness.

Taurine – is an antioxidant that supports your body’s efficiency in getting rid of waste products and can help keep eye floaters from forming.

Bilberry – is a supplement, not a vitamin, which mimics vitamin C in supporting collagen production and strong blood vessels for good circulation to your eyes.

L-Methione – is an amino acid that assists the body in removing heavy metal toxins, which are especially damaging to delicate eye tissue.

Inositol – plays a vital role in maintaining cell membranes.  A low level of this substance in the body is linked to several health problems like eczema, constipation and eye issues. 

Minerals – magnesium, selenium, calcium, copper, chromium and zinc are all essential minerals that play important roles in keeping your eyes healthy.

Other Causes of Eye Floaters:

There are several things that contribute to increased eye floaters, such as:

  • Being severely nearsighted

  • Eye trauma

  • Stress (it causes problems for all parts of the body!)

  • Some liver or kidney medications

  • Pre-birth (you can be born with them)

Eye Floater 911

If you get a sudden increase in eye floaters that are accompanied by flashes of light, or you experience a sudden loss in your peripheral vision, get medical help immediately!  These are signs of a detached retina, retinal tear or internal bleeding in the eye.  All of these issues can lead to permanent vision loss so seek medical help immediately if you experience those symptoms.

Float Away

While you may not be able to completely avoid experiencing eye floaters, you can take preventive steps to keep them at a minimum with a few dietary enhancements. Adding some of the above supplements into your diet will probably help you “see” some great health benefits.

 

 

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A Fishy Solution to Smoking Cessation

by Cindy Gray

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of disability, disease and death in the United States.  Every year 480,000 Americans die premature deaths from smoking.  Despite these grim statistics, most smokers find it difficult to quit. However, if you’re looking for some natural ways to quit smoking, you’re in luck. New research out of Israel shows consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could significantly reduce cravings and provide a safe and natural way to help smokers kick the habit.

Natural Ways To Quit Smoking with Omega-3 Fatty AcidsMoth to the Flame

Why is it so hard to quit smoking? Tobacco use is a chronic disease and smokers quickly become addicted due the nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products. When they inhale or ingest the nicotine, in some way it causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which stimulates the body’s central nervous system.  Just like cocaine and heroin, nicotine increases levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls the pathways to the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. 

Many smokers long to quit permanently, but most fail after repeated attempts. The withdrawal symptoms are terrible and are often a combination of the following:

  • Intense cravings for nicotine

  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems

  • An inability to focus or concentrate

  • Increased appetite 

Those who seek treatment to stop smoking may have some initial success, but often relapse after a stressful event, or they dislike the side effects of anti-smoking medications and stop using them. 

The Study

In a strictly controlled study conducted in Israel, the test subjects were 48 smokers between the ages of 18 and 45 who smoked a daily average of 14 cigarettes.  All the participants had been smoking an average of 11 years and were diagnosed with a moderate dependency on nicotine.  The test participants were divided into two groups: one that received omega-3 capsules and one that received a placebo.

The study was conducted as a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled research project, meaning neither the participants nor the researchers knew who received the omega-3 capsules and who received a placebo.  None of the participants were asked to change their smoking habits in any way.

Throughout the 30-day study, levels of nicotine cravings and the number of cigarettes smoked per day were recorded by the participants.  At the beginning of the study neither group showed any difference in smoking habits.  However, after 30 days the omega-3 supplement takers had reduced their average cigarettes smoked per day by two.  They also recorded greatly reduced nicotine cravings.  Even another 30 days after they stopped taking the omega-3 supplements, those participants reported less intense cravings.

The group taking the placebo showed no measurable decrease in nicotine cravings nor did they reduce the average number of cigarettes smoked per day.

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Help

Levels of essential fatty acids like omega-3s are reduced in the brain by smoking.  Being deficient in these levels appears to cause damage to the nerve cells, interrupting the transmission of feelings of pleasure and satisfaction in the brain.  Smokers often having difficulty making decisions and experience reduced feelings of satisfaction by their accomplishments or efforts because of a lack of this vital nutrient.

Related: The Dangers of Krill Oil

What’s worse, not only is tobacco oppressing good feelings in the brain, it also interferes with your flight-or-fight response.  Just one stressful event can lead to a relapse for smokers trying to quit because of their reduced ability to handle stress.

Omega-3 fatty acids seem to reduce cravings for nicotine and help the brain cope better with pressure and stress.  Smoking has already been linked to depression and other mental disorders, so it’s not surprising that regular tobacco users experience less satisfaction and have more difficulty dealing with pressure, rejection or stress.

Safe, Natural and Healthy

Using omega-3 fatty acid supplements is one of the best natural ways to quit smoking because it is inexpensive and easy to obtain.  Plus, omega-3s have a long list of other health benefits besides helping you to quit smoking, such as reducing your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and some cancers.  It also helps keep your skin clear and supple and your hair shiny and strong; two things that also are greatly damaged by smoking.

Great food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Fish (especially salmon and trout)

  • Flax, Olive, Canola, Coconut and Hemp Seed Oils

  • Avocados

  • Eggs

  • Walnuts

Since the study participants were taking larger doses than is generally recommended, it would be virtually impossible to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through food alone to help with smoking cessation.  A supplement combined with adding foods rich in the essential acid is the best way to keep those levels high in the brain and help stave off nicotine cravings.

 

 

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Selenium and Vitamins for Cataracts

by Cindy Gray

Many vitamins have important roles in treating or preventing various medical conditions. Just as in science, where a combination of substances can produce a different or stronger effect by working together, so too a combination of vitamins can be more powerful and effective when they work together. This exponential benefit, when the combined effect of two or more substances is greater than their separate effects, is called "synergy".

Vision Problems: Selenium and Vitamins for CataractsWhen it comes to healthy eyes, scientists have found that some vitamins work synergistically together to slow down or prevent the development of cataracts and other vision problems.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a clouding condition in the lens of the eye that gradually reduces vision. Cataracts are usually age-related and by the age of 80, half of all adults will either have cataracts or will have had surgery to remove them.

Cataracts usually affect one eye more than the other but they do not spread and cannot be "caught" like an infection. Instead they gradually develop and require the lens to be replaced with an artificial intraocular lens under a simple surgical procedure.

The risk of developing cataracts is higher if you smoke, expose your eyes to bright sunlight or are diabetic. Some of these risks can be controlled or prevented but studies show you can also lessen your chance of getting a cataract by eating certain vitamins.

Related: How to Avoid Macular Degeneration Naturally

C is for Cataract!

Vitamin C has been shown to prevent or slow the progression of cataracts, along with vitamin E. As our levels of these vitamins decline with age, it’s important to take them either through diet or supplements. Research has shown that people with a diet high both in these vitamins have a lower risk of cataracts and other vision problems, suggesting these vitamins work synergistically together for good eye health.

Vitamin C is found in many fruits including oranges, blueberries, papaya, guava, strawberries, sweet peppers and spinach. Good sources of vitamin E are almonds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, peanuts, tomatoes and similarly in spinach and blueberries. Both these vitamins are high in antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body and help reduce oxidative stress. 

Other vitamins that have been found to be effective against cataracts include thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3). What is most interesting is that it is a combination of these vitamins that appear to be most effective in preventing or slowing the rate of cataracts, suggesting they work in synergy for maximum effect.

Studies on Cataracts and Vitamin Intake

A study by Professor Paul Jacques at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University was held on 112 older patients.  The study found that 77 of them had cataracts while 35 did not. However, those with low levels of vitamin C were 11 times more likely to have a cataract than those with higher levels. In fact, the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body is found in the eye and it appears to be a protective agent on eye health. Jacques' study also found that those who ate less than 3.5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day were 13 times more likely to develop cataracts.

A Nurses Health Study in the U.S. found that women who regularly ate vegetables, fresh fruit and whole grains (i.e. a diet high in antioxidants including vitamins C and E) were half as likely to develop cataracts as those who ate less healthily. However, when the study gave patients vitamin supplements, they did not appear to have the same beneficial effect on arresting cataract development. This may be because getting vitamins from your diet means they can act in synergy with other vitamins and nutrients, making them more effective.

Although no single vitamin is a magic "cure" for cataracts, one thing is for sure, getting a range of vitamins B, C and E from your 5-portions-a-day diet appears to reduce the quantity and severity of cataracts, and it certainly won't do you any harm at all!

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How Probiotics Can Regulate Your Digestive System

by Health News

A healthy regulated digestive system is the key to our bodies receiving all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to provide energy and overall good immune system health.

The bacteria in our intestine need to be perfectly balanced to efficiently digest our food. Any imbalance can lead to an irregular digestive system, which can cause physical discomfort and possible harm to our overall health.

Age, stress, illness, medications such as antibiotics, dehydration, lack of sleep and a harmful environment can all affect our microbial equilibrium which can cause gas, constipation, bloating, bad skin, fatigue and, in more severe cases, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

It all goes back to having a healthy regulated digestive system with a correct balance of microfloras to maximize the benefits of healthy eating.

Taking a natural probiotic dietary supplement can ensure that beneficial microflora are naturally maintained in proper balance.

Probiotics also play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system, helping to fight off bacteria, bugs and viruses. Good bacteria are vital to keep our immune system health in good working order.

Digestion Problemsn Free Ebook Download

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Green Tea: Food For The Brain

by Nancy Maneely

Green Tea: High Blood Pressure Natural TreatmentWhat’s not to love about a soothing hot cup of fragrant green tea?

It’s China’s favorite drink, and thanks to modern scientific research, we know it contains health benefits from its abundant antioxidants – making it the preferred beverage for healthy aging.

It’s long been established that green tea is a powerful agent for protection against cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related health concerns. In fact, many people concerned with cardiovascular health have started adding green tea to their diet as a high blood pressure natural treatment.

Now, new research from China suggests that drinking green tea may help boost the production of new brain cells – offering cognitive support for those of any age.

The studies with mice, published in the August issue of the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, found that epigallocatechin-3 galate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in green tea, boosts production of neural progenitor cells. These progenitor cells can help promote neurogenesis - the formation of new brain cells (neurons) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that transfers information from short term to long-term memory.

The new cells appear to sharpen memory, improve learning and ward off degenerative diseases. The research also noted that the mice treated with EGCG and trained to run mazes could accomplish this task faster than mice that didn’t receive EGCG. They found that, in mice, the new cells appear to improve memory, learning and combat degenerative diseases.

If you’re not a tea drinker, now is the time to start! Create a “green tea ritual” and view it as a few minutes of your day when you take the time to slow down, take a few deep breaths and treat your body well. The simple act of preparing the hot water and steeping the tea can provide that moment of quiet and calm in the midst of a hectic day. Soon you will find yourself looking forward to your daily tea ritual!

Talk to your doctor to see if taking green tea supplements as a high blood pressure natural treatment is right for you.

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5 Tips for a Healthy Digestive System

by Health News

While it might seem simple to grab a bite to eat, the digestive process is actually quite complicated. The food must travel through the intestines and then various processes work together to eliminate it from the body. If you have been having digestive issues like gas, cramps, constipation or acid reflux, there is really no reason to start taking medications before trying some simple cures. The truth is that there are a variety of natural cures, which should result in a healthy digestive system.

Probiotics
One simple remedy is yoghurt or kefir. Both these foods have beneficial bacteria that are essential to a healthy digestive system. If you don’t eat dairy, the good news is that yoghurt or kefir are both available in soy and coconut. Feel free to opt for the supplement option instead, as you can buy probiotics and take a capsule a day for the same effect. Plus, people who take probiotics are far less likely to get sick.

Pineapple
If you love pineapple, you are in luck. This fruit relieves gas through its powerful digestive enzymes. This fruit contains bromelain, which helps with digestion and breaks down proteins. Pineapple is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and can reduce any swelling that might be taking place in your intestines.

Chamomile
Chamomile is not only a calming tea; it also helps to sooth digestive ailments. It relaxes more than just your mind, and can relieve bloating, gas, diarrhea and more. Incidentally, ginger tea can also help with digestive problems including nausea, and cramps.

Turmeric
Turmeric is the yellow spice that is often used in Indian foods. It is related to ginger. It is another anti-inflammatory and aids fats to breakdown in the body due to the fact that it stimulates bile. Turmeric can also protect the liver and prevent ulcers. While you are taking turmeric for your digestive issues, you may get other benefits as well, as the spice could help with fever, infections and heart disease. Studies also show it may fight cancer. In addition to being used for Indian meals, turmeric is also available as a supplement. As you can see, even if you weren’t having digestive issues, there is no reason not to add a powerhouse spice like turmeric into your diet.

Water
Due to the hectic nature of day-to-day life, people often neglect to get enough water. However, water is crucial to a healthy digestive system. The number one reason for constipation is lack of water. When the body is constipated, the intestinal lining becomes inflamed and the balance of bacteria in the gut gets out of whack.

Often part of the reason that people have digestive problems is that they quickly consume their meals and don’t give enough attention to chewing and taking small bites. If you are looking to relieve your digestive issues, be sure to eat slowly and pay attention to the flavor of your meal. This will not only help you have a healthy digestive system, but you'll enjoy your food as well.

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5 Nutrients for a Healthy Heart

by Not in Use Not In Use

What are some of the best high blood pressure remedies?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Five Supplements that Help Heal Tissue Damage Caused by Acid Reflux

by Cindy Gray

Acid reflux is a common condition that most people suffer from at some stage in their life. The main symptom is a burning sensation in the lower chest as the acid contents of the stomach rise up into the tender esophagus causing an unpleasant effect. This condition is often known as heartburn, pyrosis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Acid reflux causes include smoking, hiatal hernia, pregnancy, medications, lack of exercise, stress, eating certain foods, overeating and obesity. If left untreated, acid reflux can lead to more serious diseases, including tissue damage and cancer. It is important to prevent the cause of the acid reflux and then treat any residual tissue damage left by the incident.

Acid Reflux Causes + Supplements That Can HelpHere are five supplements that are known to soothe and protect irritated tissue, fight pylori bacterial infections and support a healthy digestive process.

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)

DGL is a natural balm for the inflamed skin in the esophagus caused by acid reflux. This form of licorice has had the glycyrrhizin removed which may otherwise cause high blood pressure.

DGL is known to aid digestion and has excellent healing and antiviral properties. It works by increasing the layer of mucus that lines the digestive tract, providing a protective barrier and allowing the tissue to heal.

Licorice also controls the release of cortisol from the adrenalin glands which is often triggered by stress, so it may help treat the cause as well as the results of acid reflux.

Aloe Vera

Anyone who has used aloe vera on sunburn will appreciate the cooling and soothing properties of this natural gel. In some forms it may have a laxative effect, but taken as fresh juice (without the leaf latex) it will soothe the symptoms and promote healing in the digestive tract. The recommended amount of Aloe Vera juice is 4-8 fluid ounces a day.  This may be taken more easily if mixed with your favorite juice.

Related: Simple Tips for Relieving Common Digestive Issues

Marshmallow Root

Forget those fluffy white sugary sweets; marshmallow root is a natural herb that has excellent soothing properties for the stomach and esophagus. It can be taken as a capsule but is most effective for healing the esophagus if the powder is mixed with 4-6 ounces of fluid and drunk twice a day. Marshmallow root contains many polysaccharides which have been found in clinical trials to effectively soothe, heal and moisturize damaged tissue throughout the body.

Zinc Carnosine

Zinc and carnosine are both known to be natural healers and when combined they are as powerful as any pharmaceutical treatment for the stomach. It has been shown to be highly effective in many studies and is used in Japan as a prescription medication for stomach ulcers.

Zinc carnosine increases the insulin growth factor hormone and reduces the inflammatory compounds often present with stomach problems. It also absorbs toxins produced by pylori bacteria which can otherwise cause ulcers and sores in the stomach and digestive tract.

Slippery Elm

The herb Ulmas Fulva, better known as Slippery Elm, is similar to aloe vera as the extract is high in plant polysaccharides which coat and heal the tissue damage caused by acid reflux. Although Slippery Elm can be taken as a capsule, best results are found when it is taken as a tea or lozenge, which gives maximum exposure of the Slippery Elm to the gastrointestinal tract.

Take Slippery Elm twice a day by dissolving one teaspoon of the elm bark powder in hot water and sipping slowly. Not only is it good for the esophagus, it also treats an upset stomach.

If you have intermittent acid reflux, taking these natural remedies should help counter both the cause and the effect of this unpleasant condition before it becomes more serious.

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Prevent Decreased Muscle Mass in the Grocery Store

by Cindy Gray

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

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

What is Sarcopenia?

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

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

Related: 3 Healthy Foods That Support Healthy Aging

Study on Sarcopenia and Diet

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

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

Risk of Muscle Loss

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

 

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Inability to Focus? Feed your Brain!

by Cindy Gray

When your body lacks food, it tells you by slowing down and losing its normal efficiency. In the same way, when your brain needs a boost, it lets you know by becoming slow, muddled and lacking its normal clarity.  Several foods appear to boost memory and cognitive function, as if they are brain superfoods. Next time you feel the inability to focus, try these brain foods.Feed your Brain, Increase Focus

Maca for Brain Power

Maca is an unusual turnip-like root which thrives where other crops fail. It was grown by the Incas high in the Andes in places like Machu Picchu. This amazing food can be grown at altitudes of 9,000 to 14,000 feet, even in cold winds and strong sunlight.

Maca has been used as a food and a medicinal plant for thousands of years. The Inca people believe the root is a source of energy and endurance but it also improves memory and brain power. You may not be able to grow maca in your own backyard, or find it in the supermarket, but maca is available as a health supplement in powdered form and can easily be added to power smoothies and shakes.

Maca root is high in antioxidants which are known to aid memory and cognitive function. It comes in three forms: black, red and yellow maca. Clinical studies on maca found that black maca had a positive effect on the brain, with most people citing it helped them improve memory. Scientists believe that the antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the brain, allowing it to be more clear thinking and productive.

Cacao for Clarity and Alertness

Cacao, the raw form of cocoa and chocolate, contains over 300 beneficial compounds. Unfortunately many of these are destroyed by heating, refining and processing the cacao into chocolate.

Cacao has been shown to increase the activity in the brain's neurotransmitters, not only lifting mood and promoting a sense of well-being, but also increasing alertness and mental clarity. It works by stimulating the levels of endorphins and serotonin that makes us feel happy. It also prompts the brain to release anandamide, known as the "bliss chemical", along with phenylethylamine (PEA) which improves mental focus and alertness.

Related: Can Exercise Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Other benefits of cacao include dilating the blood vessels which allows better circulation to the brain; balancing mood and brain chemistry; providing a shield against stress and increasing mental sharpness.

Look for chocolate with a high percentage of cacao and proportionally less sugar, dairy and soy products to get the maximum benefits from nutrient-rich cacao.

Reishi Mushrooms for Boosting Mental Capacity

Certain types of mushrooms are known to affect the mind, sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively. Reishi mushrooms are referred to as the "King of Herbs" in Eastern medicine. This fungus has a positive mental benefit as it helps maintain equilibrium and balance in the whole body.

A balanced body is essentially healthy and has a strong immune system which leads to a positive and healthy outlook on life. It also allows us to deal with stress more easily, lowering anxiety levels that can otherwise inhibit brain function.

Reishi specifically strengthens the vagus nerve which connects the gut to the brain and this is thought to be the reason for the improvement in mental capacity.

Reishi mushrooms, along with maca root powder are key ingredients in several popular, powerful, and palatable meal replacement drinks used to boost energy and feed your brain.

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Understanding Leaky Gut Syndrome & Indigestion Home Remedies

by Cindy Gray

Leaky gut syndrome affects millions of Americans, and they may not even know they have it. This one condition may be at the root of an array of health problems, from indigestion and allergies to joint pain to autoimmune disorders.  While it sounds like a digestive problem, leaky gut syndrome affects various areas of the body if left unchecked.

indigestion home remedies

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Essentially, the walls of the digestive tract are lined with tiny pores that allow certain molecules and nutrients to pass through to the bloodstream.  Damage to these pores makes them bigger, allowing undigested food particles and other impurities to leak through.  The body reacts to these foreign invaders with an immune reaction.

What causes leaky gut syndrome?

An overabundance of unhealthy intestinal bacteria is a common cause of leaky gut syndrome, causing inflammation, irritation, and eventual damage to the intestinal wall.  Another cause is chronic constipation.  The stool sits in the digestive system and builds up toxins that irritate the intestinal lining and cause damage.

How does leaky guy syndrome affect the health?

When the immune system responds, it builds up antibodies to food particles and other foreign invaders.  This can lead to inflammation throughout the body causing a wide array of symptoms:

  • Digestive problems

  • Fatigue

  • Food sensitivities

  • Headache

  • Joint pain

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Skin problems like acne, rash, and rosacea

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Weight gain

Leaky gut can affect absorption of key nutrients including iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.  In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that if left unchecked, leaky gut can lead to autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, and depression.

Indigestion Home Remedies: What are some natural ways to soothe a leaky gut?

Modifying the diet and making other lifestyle changes can help heal a leaky gut.  People should eliminate foods that contain sugar and grain and replace conventional beef and lamb with grass-fed versions.  It is important to swap tap water for filtered water or pure spring water, and always eat organic fruits and vegetables.  People should not smoke or drink alcohol when trying to heal a leaky gut, and they should limit the use of NSAIDs and antibiotics.

Related: Start the Day out Right – Eat Breakfast

Foods that are especially helpful for leaky gut include:

Bone Broth – Collagen and important amino acids found in bone broth help repair damaged cell walls.

Coconut Products – Because medium-chain fatty acids in coconut are easier to digest than other fats, they take less of a toll on the system.  In addition, the antibacterial properties of coconut oil encourage a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.

Fermented Vegetables – Organic acids and probiotics found in fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi encourage proper pH balance and a healthy bacterial balance in the gut.

Foods High in Omega-3 Fats – Because of the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids, foods like wild-caught salmon and grass-fed beef help sooth certain symptoms of leaky guy syndrome.

Yogurt – Probiotics found in yogurt help populate the gut with healthy bacteria and promote healing.

Supplements that help sooth a leaky gut include:

Probiotics – A supplementary version of the good bacteria found in yogurt, probiotics help encourage healthy intestinal balance.

Digestive Enzymes – Products that contain protease, lipase, and amylase encourage better digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, lowering the chances that these particles might damage intestinal walls.

L-Glutamine – An essential amino acid with anti-inflammatory properties, glutamine helps encourage growth and repair of the intestinal lining. 

Quercetin – Because it promotes the production of tight junction proteins, quercetin helps repair damaged intestinal walls.  Studies show quercetin also curbs the release of histamine, a compound associated with immune response to allergies like those associated with food.

Because of a wide range of symptoms, people experience leaky gut syndrome in different ways. Taking advantage of a few natural methods can help repair intestinal walls and ease symptoms.  If these methods are unsuccessful, people who suspect they may have leaky gut syndrome should consult with a health care professional.

 

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Heart Health Benefits of Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats

by Cindy Gray

According to nutritionists from Penn State, increasing your daily omega-3 fat intake, whether you get it from marine or plant sources, will very likely lower your risk of getting heart disease.  There’s plenty of evidence to support the heart healthy benefits of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are marine-derived omega-3 fats. However, much less evidence exists about the positive effects of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat.

Naturally, the health benefits reported for EPA and DHA are stronger because when supplements of EPA and DHA were tested, EPA and DHA was the only difference between the treatment and control groups.  On the other hand in the ALA studies, there were dietary differences between the treatment and control groups that went beyond ALA itself.Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats for Heart Health

ALA is found in flaxseed and its oil, vegetable oils and in some nuts including walnuts and almonds; and it’s available in supplement form. In general, omega-3 fats are considered essential for human health, but our body does not produce them, therefore we must consume them regularly to take advantage of their many health benefits.

In reviewing existing scientific data on the subject, the Penn State researchers have come to the conclusion that ALA is likely to be just as effective in preventing cardiovascular disease as EPA and DHA have proven to be in the past. In fact, health experts now believe that dietary recommendations should be amended to increase the amounts of ALA consumed. However, they also note that randomized controlled clinical trials need to be conducted in order to determine the exact amount to be consumed.

Given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it makes sense that learning what can be done to prevent heart disease is important and relevant for all of us.

 

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Heart Health Benefits Of Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats

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Indigestion Remedies: Top 10 Foods for Fantastic Digestion

by Cindy Gray

Once food goes into the mouth, people typically don't give a thought to the process of digestion until something goes wrong.  Digestive trouble can result in temporary bouts of gas, bloating, and diarrhea or lead to more chronic health problems like Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or diverticulitis.  One of the easiest ways to boost digestive health is through healthy eating.  If you’re looking for indigestion remedies, adding ten foods to the diet can help ensure fantastic digestion and better overall health.

Fruit, Food, Healthy, Fresh, Orange, Organic, Red

1. Rice Bran

Because rice bran contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, it helps move food through the digestive system and keeps bowel movements regular.  Studies also show it provides relief from irritable bowel syndrome, boosts levels of friendly microflora in the gut, and reduces benign tumors in the colon by 51 percent.

2. Inulin

A source of soluble fiber with a smooth and creamy texture, inulin can be found naturally in chicory, bananas, onions, garlic, and wheat.  It helps prevent constipation and encourages healthy bacterial balance in the colon. 

3. Guar Gum

Derived from the guar bean, guar gum is ground into a powder that is often used by food manufacturers and cooks as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer.  Guar gum is a soluble fiber that controls the liquid content of stools and softens them, making them easier to pass.  Studies show guar gum may encourage healthy flora in the gut and reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.

4. Bananas

In addition to containing 12 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber, bananas are a rich source of potassium, an important mineral and electrolyte which is lost with the passage of waste.

Related: Natural Treatment for Lactose Intolerance

Digestion Problems - Resource Center

5. Flaxseed

By lubricating the digestive system, the oils in flaxseed help move food along.  In addition, flaxseed contains a unique mix of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber slows digestion and softens stools for easier passage, and insoluble fiber prevents diarrhea by adding more bulk to stools.

6. Pineapple

Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps the body digest protein.  Research shows that bromelain may also help soothe an upset stomach and ease heartburn.  It is most effective for heartburn when used with lipase and amylase, enzymes that help digest fat and starch, respectively.

7. Papaya

Delicious, juicy papaya contains papain, another enzyme that helps break down proteins in the stomach.  Anti-inflammatory properties in papain also help soothe upset stomach and heartburn.

8. Kimchi

A traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables, kimchi is a source of soluble fiber and probiotics.  In addition to the digestive benefits of soluble fiber, the fermentation process creates Lactobacillus, friendly bacteria that promote intestinal health.  In addition, the cabbage in kimchi offers detoxification properties that help rid the body of impurities and toxins.

9. Yogurt

Like kimchi, yogurt contains a host of probiotics that encourage healthy bacterial balance in the intestines.  Studies suggest daily probiotic supplements may improve frequency and regularity of bowel movements, help ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, and lower risks for diarrheal infections.

10. Blueberries

One cup of blueberries offers 14 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber.  Soluble fiber in blueberries slows the digestive process, pulling more nutrients from food for absorption and assimilation. 

Uncomfortable gas, bloating, and irregularity have become a standard part of life for some people, but a few dietary changes can make a big difference in indigestion treatment.  Incorporating foods like rice bran, flaxseed, yogurt, and more into the diet helps improve the inner workings of the digestive system and boosts overall health.

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How Olive Oil And Veggies Protect Against High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Looking for more foods to add to your healthy high blood pressure diet?

According to a new study led by King's College London, a diet that combines unsaturated fats such as those seen in olive oil, nuts and avocados along with nitrite Looking for more foods to add to your healthy high blood pressure diet? and nitrate-rich vegetables like lettuce, spinach, celery and carrots, can protect against high blood pressure (BP).

These findings may help to explain why the so-called ‘Mediterranean diet’ has previously been shown to lower BP, along with reducing other risk factors for heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil for cooking and is typically rich in fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grain bread and unrefined cereals. Dairy products, eggs, fish and poultry are consumed only in low to moderate amounts, with little or no red meat and moderate consumption of wine.

Combined with a healthy lifestyle such as increased physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption and not smoking, this diet has previously been shown to lower death rates caused by heart disease.

Key to this protective effect appears to be that when unsaturated fats are combined with nitrite and nitrate-rich foods, compounds called nitro fatty acids are formed.

Researchers in this study investigated whether nitro fatty acids lower BP in mice. Specifically, they examined whether nitro fatty acids can inhibit an enzyme known as soluble Epoxide Hydrolase, which is known to regulate BP.

As the study results show, consumption of nitro fatty acids lowered BP in normal mice. On the other hand, mice that were genetically engineered to be resistant to inhibition of soluble Epoxide Hydrolase still had high BP despite being fed the same diet.

This study concludes that the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet has to do at least in part from the generation of nitro fatty acids, which inhibit soluble Epoxide Hydrolase to lower BP.

These findings may help to explain why the Mediterranean diet - supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts - has been shown to reduce the risk and incidence of cardiovascular events like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.

Given the many health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, why not adopt it today?

Source: How Olive Oil and Veggies Protect Against High Blood Pressure (BP).
 

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Do Omega-3 Fats Benefit Cardiovascular Health?

by Health News

Many people come to our health blog with the question “What is good for high blood pressure?”

According to new research from several studies, regular intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is linked to a 35% lower risk of cardiovascular death in older adults; and may also benefit brain health and function in people of all ages. Specifically, omega-3 PUFAs reduced brain damage in infants after stroke, increased math scores in teenagers and boosted memory in young adults.

What is good for high blood pressure? Omega-3 Fats Benefits

First, an observational study at Harvard Medical School with nearly 2,700 participants showed that healthy older adults who consumed 400 mg per day of the omega-3 PUFAs EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) + DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) have up to a 40% lower risk of death from heart disease. Also, they tended to live two years longer after the age of 65.

This study clearly shows that higher levels of omega-3 PUFAs mean lower total mortality rates, contributing to a longer, healthier life. 

The second study at Columbia University used an animal model to see whether omega-3 PUFAs would influence brain recovery after pediatric stroke - which affects up to 1,700 U.S. infants each year.

The study authors found an almost 50% reduction in brain tissue loss in mice treated with omega-3 PUFAs or pure DHA immediately after a stroke, when compared to controls. What’s more, brain damage in these mice was significantly reduced for up to eight weeks.

In other words, omega-3 PUFAs may help to protect brain cells in human infants and may be useful for treating pediatric stroke.

Next, a study of 28 countries reported that higher DHA levels in the milk of nursing women was associated with better math scores in their children at the age of 15. Interestingly, only two-thirds of the highest-scoring countries reported DHA levels above the worldwide average of 0.32%, suggesting that other as yet unknown factors may also be involved.

Finally, healthy, young adults also appear to benefit from omega-3 PUFA consumption, according to a study from New Zealand. DHA supplementation was associated with improved response times for both autobiographical and working memory in these participants.

Along with supplements, fish oil and krill oil, cold water fatty fish such as sardines, wild salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna contain plenty of omega-3 PUFAs. Vegetable sources include flax seed, almonds and walnuts.

Other related blog posts...

5 Nutrients for a Healthy Heart

Could Fish Oil One Day Take the Place of Statin Drugs?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The “Brain Pill” of the Future

What's the #1 Supplement Every Man Should Take?

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How To Prevent Bone Loss Naturally

by Cindy Gray

Most middle-aged women nearing or undergoing menopause are told that they need to get their bone density tested because they are at a high risk for developing bone loss, which can potentially lead to hip fractures.

According to Christine Horner, MD, bone mineral loss happens as a result of physical inactivity, specifically lack of weight-bearing activity. This includes any activity that uses the weight of your body or outside weights to place extra stress on your bones and muscles.  As a result, your body responds to this weight and movement within your bone material and your bones become denser and stronger. Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to benefStrong Bones, Naturally!it bone strength.

Bone loss occurs when more bone is ‘reabsorbed’ than is formed by the body, typically after the age of 30 when reabsorption begins to exceed new bone formation. Bone loss in women occurs fastest in the first few years after menopause and continues into old age. By the age of 65, men catch up to women and lose bone at the same rate, primarily due to low testosterone levels.

Factors such as diet, exercise and age determine how much old bone is reabsorbed and how much new bone is made. Specifically, a diet that creates an acidic environment, not exercising, smoking and taking certain medications such as corticosteroids contribute toward bone loss.

A major risk factor for developing bone loss is the modern diet, which is typically poor in magnesium, potassium and fiber, while being enriched in saturated fat, simple sugars and salt. Such a diet is likely to induce so-called ‘metabolic acidosis’, especially with aging.

Calcium in the form of phosphates and carbonates is stored as a reservoir of base in our body. These calcium salts are released into blood to balance pH in response to metabolic acidosis, which depletes our body of the calcium it needs to function optimally. Health experts believe that this may be one of the main reasons for bone loss.

According to Dr. Horner, the bone density test measures ‘cortical’ bone, which is the outer layer of bone. Cortical bone is dense and found mainly in the shafts of long bones, such as the tibia.  The problem, according to Dr. Horner, is that bone strength doesn’t lie in cortical bone, so the bone density test isn’t an accurate reflection of bone strength!  Not only that, but the drugs prescribed to strengthen cortical bone does not reduce the incidence of hip fractures—in fact, they may even raise the likelihood of hip fractures.

Instead of treating bone loss with drugs or supplements, Dr. Horner believes that its far better to reverse it by regularly consuming a diet rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin D.

Foods that increase calcium intake include:

  • Leafy greens such as Chinese cabbage, bok choy, spinach and kale

  • Flax and lignans, which help to absorb calcium

  • Milk, yogurt and cheese

  • Sardines

  • Salmon, which contains both calcium and vitamin D

  • Peanuts and almonds which contain potassium, which protect against the loss of calcium in urine. They also contain proteins and other nutrients that support the building of strong bones

  • A low-salt diet, which prevents calcium loss from the body

  • Getting vitamin D through sunshine or a supplement

Given the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise in preventing bone loss, why not introduce these healthful changes into your daily life today?

 

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How to Prevent Bone Loss, Naturally  

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How To Cleanse Your Arteries With One Simple Fruit

by Cindy Gray

According to a recent study, pomegranate extract may prevent—and even reverse!—the progressive thickening of coronary arteries known as atherosclerosis, which invariably leads to heart disease. Pomegranate seeds and juice are rich in heart-healthy antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenol antioxidants—which are found in red wine, grapes, blueberries, soy milk, dark chocolate, tea and of course pomegranate—are known to lower levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, protect blood vessels and lower blood pressure (BP).One Delicious Fruit Can Cleanse Your Arteries

In the present study, mice with a genetic susceptibility toward spontaneous coronary artery blockages were given pomegranate extract in their drinking water for two weeks. The treatment reduced the size of atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta, while also decreasing the overall proportion of coronary arteries with atherosclerotic plaque.

Remarkably, pomegranate extract treatment also had the following beneficial effects in these mice:

  • Lowered levels of oxidative stress

  • Reduced levels of chemical messengers associated with inflammatory processes in the arteries

  • Less lipid accumulation in heart muscle

  • Reduced cardiac enlargement

  • Normalization of electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities

This study adds to already existing clinical research confirming that pomegranates can help unclog arteries.

For instance, the results of a three-year clinical trial published in 2004 showed that daily consumption of pomegranate juice reversed carotid artery stenosis by up to 29% within one year. Remarkably, blockages in the control group increased by 9% during the same period, indicating that pomegranate's artery unblocking effects were even greater than first believed.

Pomegranate's protective value in cardiovascular disease is likely because of the following experimentally confirmed properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory - like many other chronic degenerative diseases, inflammation plays a significant role in cardiovascular disease.

  • BP lowering - pomegranate juice is a natural blocker of angiotensin converting enzyme and enhances the activities of nitric oxide, both well-known pathways for reducing BP.

  • Anti-infective - plaque buildup in the arteries is often associated with viral and bacterial infections, including hepatitis C and chlamydia. Pomegranate is known to have a broad range of anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

  • Antioxidant - blood lipids become heart disease-promoting through oxidation. LDL, for instance, is harmless as long as it does not get oxidized and pomegranate reduces oxidative stress in blood. One study in mice found that this decrease in oxidative stress was associated with a 44% reduction in the size of atherosclerotic lesions.

Pomegranates are just one of the healthiest fruits provided by Mother Nature.  Enjoy a glass of pomegranate juice regularly, or check out the powerful superfruit supplements available for a mix of life-giving all-natural phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Source:

How to Clean Your Arteries with One Simple Fruit

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High Blood Pressure Causes: How Sleep Deprivation Affects your Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

High Blood Pressure Causes: Sleep Deprivation & Your HealthNo one feels good after getting a poor night of sleep. However, lack of sleep is much more serious than just feeling bad for a day. New studies are showing how sleep deprivation may be one of many potential high blood pressure causes.

For example in one study, researchers recruited 20 healthy young adults and measured their BP at rest and then after a stressful task - in this case, giving an impromptu speech defending themselves for a supposed transgression, either running a stop sign or taking someone’s wallet.

A week later, after staying up all night, study participants returned to take the tests again. Systolic BP, the top number on a BP reading, climbed about 10 points higher when fatigued study subjects gave their speech, compared to subjects who spoke after a good night’s sleep.

This suggests that not getting enough sleep may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can raise blood pressure, as can stress. But not many studies have examined what happens when sleep-deprived people also experience stress.

These results need to be replicated by larger studies - because not only is stress common nowadays, so is being sleep deprived - and one probably reinforces the other. For instance, if you’re experiencing a lot of stress, you are more likely to experience insomnia.

Another study looking at 331 healthy male medical students found that their BP when awake correlated negatively correlated with sleep duration.

According to the CDC, one in three Americans has high BP - a condition with few symptoms, often called the “silent killer” - because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, along with damaging the kidneys and other organs.

Further, nearly one in five Americans has uncontrolled hypertension - meaning that it is untreated or that that medications or other treatments have failed to bring it down.

In such a scenario, if someone is having difficulty with their BP being high, maybe getting six to seven hours of sleep daily is the way to lower their BP.

Other related articles:

Best Health Supplements for High Blood Pressure

Natural Heart Health: Making Sense of Blood Pressure Readings

High Blood Pressure Supplements Benefits

Why You Should Check Your Blood Pressure at Home