Seven Common Causes of Balance Issues

by IVL

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

Healthy living tips for the inner ear support balance

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

1.     Migraine

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

2.     Inflammation of the Inner Ear

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

Related:  Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?

3.     Heart arrhythmia

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

4.     Peripheral neuropathy

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

5.     Depression and anxiety

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

6.     Standing up too quickly

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

7.     Muscle weakness

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

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






Sleeping: How Much Do You Really Need?

by IVL

As a general life rule, either too much indulgence or too much restriction of virtually anything that is considered “good”—even essential—usually leads to problems. Sleep is a perfect example. Sleeping too few or too many hours can create a serious and negative impact on your health. These less than optimal amounts of sleep is associated with premature aging, increased mortality, and a higher incidence of disease including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and cancer. 

Trouble sleeping?  Check out these gentle, natural approaches to help you get the full benefit of a healthful, restful night’s sleep.

The magic number of hours for sleep appears to be seven to eight hours.  In a study published in the journal Sleep in August 2010, and conducted by researchers at the West Virginia University’s faculty of medicine, study participants who slept fewer than five hours a day including naps, had more than double the risk of angina, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Those who slept more than seven hours also had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The participates who slept nine hours or longer were one-and-a-half times more likely than seven-hour sleepers to develop the disease.

A study published in The Journal of Sleep Research in 2009, looked at the association between sleep duration and all-cause and cause-specific mortality.  Researchers found a statistically significant increase in all-cause mortality, especially of cardiovascular disease and cancer in those who slept either too many or too few hours.  In another study conducted by UCSD and published in 2002, researchers found a 15% increased risk of mortality in those who slept more than 8.5 hours or less than 4.5 hours.

Too Little is Too Big of a Problem

How big of a problem is disrupted sleep in America? According to a study published in 2006, fifty- to seventy-million Americans chronically suffer from sleep disorders that hinder daily functioning and adversely affect health and longevity. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll of Americans and the majority (63%) said they do not get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Nearly one third (31%) reported sleeping less than seven hours a night. One in five adults stated that they were so sleepy during the day that it interfered with their daily activities. Seven in ten adults (69%) said they experience frequent sleep problems.

Chronic Disease and Accelerated Aging

A Harvard University study published in 2010 followed 56,000 U.S. adults and found that sleeping less than seven hours a night increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Another study published in the journal Lancet in October 1999 found several biological signs of “accelerated” aging in healthy young men after they slept only four hours per night for one week. Those signs included changes in their glucose and stress hormone (cortisol) levels compared to that typically seen in middle age. According to researchers, the physiological changes observed in the sleep deprived young men could predispose them to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and memory loss.  

Related:  Link Between Sleep and Inflammation

Sleeping at the Correct Times

As important as the number of hours you sleep is to your health and longevity, the exact times that you go to sleep and wake up is equally important. Staying up late or working the night shift, even if you get seven or eight hours of sleep, has a significant deleterious effect on various hormone levels and inflammatory markers. Sleeping at the “wrong” times increases your risk of the same chronic diseases associated with sleeping too few hours: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, depression and cancer—especially breast, prostate, endometrial and colorectal cancers. For example, a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in August 2010 found that staying up until 2 a.m. upset the body’s internal clock and caused fatty acids in the blood, called triglycerides, to become abnormally high. High triglycerides are known to increase the risk of heart disease.

In another study, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonia, Texas, reported that epidemiological studies find an increase of breast, prostate, endometrial and colon cancer in individuals who work at night or whose circadian rhythms had been disrupted for other reasons. Disruption of the normal circadian rhythms has also been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes (Mosendane et al 2008). In contrast, going to bed before 10 p.m. and getting up by 6 a.m. can reduce your risk of all of these conditions by as much as fifty percent.

15 Tips for Better Sleep:

  1. Eat three nutritious meals a day. The evening meal should be light and early. 
  2. Exercise regularly, preferably early in the morning. If you exercise in the late evening, it may keep you awake.
  3. Go to sleep by 10 p.m.
  4. Eliminate or severely restrict stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.
  5. Wear comfortable clothing to bed.
  6. Avoid spicy foods at the evening meal. 
  7. Do not bring work-related material into the bedroom and turn off the television, and avoid the news or negative information.
  8. Keep your bedroom dark.
  9. A gentle massage of the hands, feet, and neck before sleeping can aid in relaxation.
  10.  Stress can definitely interfere with sleep. So practicing an effective stress reducing technique such as Transcendental Meditation, Qi Gong, or yoga can be very beneficial.
  11.  Make sure that your room is dark. If you can’t make it completely dark, wear a comfortable eye mask. It can also be helpful to keep your room quiet and cool.
  12.  Avoid alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the sleep hormone melatonin. Alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep, but it can also cause you to wake up in the middle of night.
  13.  Listen to soothing music before going to sleep. According to a 2005 study conducted by Marion Good Ph.D., R.N., at Case Western Reserve University, listening to soothing music for 45 minutes in bed improved subjects sleep quality by an average of 35% over a three week period.
  14.  Take a warm bath in the evening. A 1999 study published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology found that a ten minute evening bath helped the elderly to sleep better.
  15.  Don’t bring your electrical devices into the bedroom. The electromagnetic frequencies they produce can disrupt the flow of melatonin. Shut off your cell phone, Wi-Fi, and any other electrical devices in or near the room where you sleep. Don’t use an electric blanket (or at least unplug it before you go to sleep.) Choose a battery operated alarm clock instead of an electrically powered clock radio.

If you have trouble sleeping, please try all the gentle, natural approaches presented above, rather than using pharmaceutical medications which can disrupt the full health-producing benefits available in sleep. You may also want to create a ritual that is most relaxing for you—one that best prepares you to ease into this extraordinarily powerful, health-promoting, sublime activity. Soothing music, warm baths, gentle massages, perhaps reading an uplifting book or hearing the calming voice of an enjoyable book on tape, or simply being in quiet meditation or prayer, you may find is the perfect approach that consistently and magically lulls you to health-giving, life-enhancing sleep.         


Three Running Gadgets for a Safer, More Enjoyable Workout

by Cindy Gray

With an interest in health and fitness on the rise, many people are hitting the pavement or the trail on a regular basis.  Walking and running make two of the best options available for aerobic exercise, and they don't require a fancy gym membership.  Many people get by with a good pair of shoes and comfortable clothing, but some walkers and runner like to take it one step further.  Three running gadgets can help people monitor progress, have more fun, and stay safe while logging miles

People monitor progress, have more fun, and stay safer with running gadgets.

Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers make great motivators. These nifty walking or running gadgets track distance, steps taken, calories burned, and some even monitor quality of sleep.  Most products provide users with the ability to sync information to smartphones or computers for the preparation of charts and graphs. The ability to visualize progress over time helps keep people inspired.

Mp3 Player or Wireless Headphones

An Mp3 player or a set of wireless headphones loaded with favorite music makes any physical activity more enjoyable.  A recent study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows additional benefits before, during, and after running.  Scientists from Brazil examined the effects of music on 15 runners before, during, and after a timed 5K trial run.  

Results from a host of physical tests showed that pre-run music aroused runners and better prepared them for the run.  Music during the run generated faster times for the first two laps but did not affect the remaining lap times.  Post-run music resulted in a faster recovery time for runners, which is the time it takes the body to return to its pre-run state.

For optimal safety, walkers and runners should limit the use of headphones to treadmills.  To increase safety outdoors, people should keep music low enough to hear cars and other noises and always run against traffic.

Related:  Nine Tips for a More Effective Workout

ID Tag or Wrist Band

In lieu of carting around a wallet, runners rely on a simpler means of identification.  Companies like Road ID make wrist bands, shoe tags, or necklaces for recording name, contact information, and blood type in case of emergency.

People don't have to depend on an expensive gym for regular exercise.  Walking and running make great options, and these activities are even safer and more fun with the use of a few running gadgets.  A fitness tracker, Mp3 player, and an ID tag make great additions when hitting the treadmill, track, road, or trail. 


Lack of Exercise - Effects on Three Areas of Health

by IVL

It's not breaking news to hear that exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy heart and managing weight loss, but lack of exercise effects are evident on our hormones, energy levels and digestion. That's three more reasons to find a type of exercise you can enjoy three to five times a week to ensure a long and healthy life.

Lack of exercise effects can negatively impact on your whole body health

The American Heart Association recommends that whatever your age you should be aiming for 30 minutes of brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing or exercise to stay strong, fit and healthy. Here are some less well known facts about the lack of exercise effects on our overall health.

Lack of Exercise Effects on Hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the body. They affect almost every physical and mental function. Hormones control a vast array of functions in the body and mind, including:

  • Growth hormones stimulate protein synthesis to build muscles and strengthen bones
  • Endorphins block pain and control appetite
  • Testosterone controls metabolism, sexuality and libido
  • Estrogen increases fat breakdown, controls mood and libido
  • Thyroxin (T4) manages energy levels
  • Epinephrine directs and controls blood flow
  • Insulin controls blood glucose levels and fat production
  • Glucagon raises blood sugars and breaks down fat for fuel


All these hormones are secreted during exercise to keep the entire body functioning as nature intended. Lack of exercise effects on hormones means reduced triggers that stimulate the all-important hormone production throughout the body.   How is your hormone health?

RelatedTips on How Not To Sabotage Your Health Goals

Fitness Fights Fatigue

Exercise does not actually lower energy levels, conversely it increases them. Studies on poor energy levels in children were undertaken by Dr. Karen Heath from the University of Cape Town Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine. She reports that causes of lethargy in children could simply be a lack of exercise.

Regular exercise increases the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the cells. Exercise increases blood flow and the demand for cell energy. Conversely, lack of exercise means naturally low energy levels. Exercise also increases glucose circulation, making use of blood sugar and avoiding the possibility of hypoglycemia and insulin spikes. Exercise also builds muscle so the effects of lack of exercise include lean muscle mass and a lack of energy.  Exercise fights fatigue and low energy in many surprising ways.

Lack of Exercise Effects on Digestive Health

If you have a sluggish digestive system, you probably suffer from irregular bowel movements and constipation. Exercise helps by raising the body's metabolic rate, pushing food through the digestive system faster so that it retains some of the water in the stool. Regular exercise helps to stimulate peristalsis, which stimulates health bowel movements, thereby reducing constipation and toxic overload.

Lack of exercise effects also means a slower heart beat and breathing rate. This fails to stimulate the intestinal muscles which contract to evacuate the bowels efficiently and frequently.

As Harvard School of Public Health researcher I-Min Lee, ScD reports, "Physical inactivity has a large impact on the health of the world…comparable to that of cigarette smoking."  By adding regular physical activity to your life you will be in better shape in terms of hormone production, energy and digestion. Isn't that worth the effort?


Video Blog: How To Naturally Slow Down Aging

by IVL

Dr. Christine Horner shows you some of the reasons some people appear to age faster than others, and how to become one of those people.

Sarah James from Wyoming writes, "Getting old is not as bad as feeling old, why do some people age faster than others, what can I do to slow things down?" 

That's a great question, as a plastic surgeon I noticed when people would come into my office, that suddenly as we start to get older, there are certain people that look really old at forty and some people that look really young at sixty, so what's the difference? Well we can definitely look to our diet and lifestyle, the good old diet and lifestyle as far as making the big difference.

When we look at our genes we know that they do have an influence, but they've done lots of twin studies, so these are some of the best ones where they have the same genes and they will find that the twin that has the healthier diet and lifestyle has all the indicators as far as having slowed aging and even on their chromosomes they have the little ends of them that telomeres that correspond to lifespan they'll be longer in the twin that has the better diet and lifestyle. Wow, so how about calorie restriction, I mean I've read that the only proven test or theory that we have for extending life is actually not eating as much, have you found that to be true in your reading. 

Yes, so it actually, that was the first experiment they did on rats back in the thirties and they thought well lets see what happens if we restrict calories to the rats and they thought that they would become less healthy and in fact it was the opposite. So they became healthier, their heart rate slowed, their blood lipids became better, their blood pressure went down, and their life span increased fairly significantly so it was tested then on monkeys and then actually there was a human test on it, where they had people that went into the desert of Arizona and lived in a bubble for two years, and they did calorie restriction and they found all the same parameters, as far as improved blood lipids and blood pressure, and all the things that help with aging, they also looked genetically to see what genes we have that are turned on as far as longevity genes, and the length of our telomeres at the end of our chromosomes. 

So, calorie restriction is most proven, but there' actually some supplements that we can take that have the same gene activations and lengthening the telomere without having to starve yourself. 

Ok, so what are those? 

Believe it or not resveratrol which is a substance that comes out of grape skins, so this is the French. You like to talk about the French and their drinking of their wines, and one of the reasons is because of the substance resveratrol, and so resveratrol actually to get enough of it you need to take it in supplement form but it activates the same longevity genes and all the different patterns that we see in calorie restrictions. 

Well I have to stop you there, so the French live longer than we do but they smoke, they drink red wine the eat cheese, pâté. What's up with that? I mean how do they get to live that type of lifestyle and live longer than we do? Please explain that. 

So you know the interesting thing is that when we look at that culture as well as other cultures say like the Japanese the Japanese will smoke 10 times more than Americans do, but they have like 10 times lower instances of lung cancer. Well why is that? 

Well it's because of how we eat. So if you're eating you know fast foods processed foods, burgers and fries and colas and so forth it accelerates the damage you know that occurs, VS eating a diet that is full of fruits vegetables, and the French eat very well.

The Japanese eat primarily a plant based diet and they're also eating smaller portions. So you know Americans we do all these supersized and the French do these little tiny portions so the calorie restrictions definitely tells us we don't need to be eating as much as we are and cultures of extraordinarily longevity, they eat about a third of the calories of what Americans do so we can cut down our portion size and make sure that we're eating nutrient dense foods that are primarily found in plants. 

That's why sometimes I have gone into a French restaurant and the entrée cost thirty five dollars and I have to use this microscope to find it on the plate. 

You savor it more? Ok, ok. 

So the other troubling thing is, we're living longer in America but we have just as many or more chronic diseases, many rates of cancer are going up cardiovascular disease is not going down, so how do we bring those two back to into some parody so we're actually living longer but we're living at a high quality of life rather than a lower quality of life, just with more years? 

So some things kind of skew the statistics on life expectancy that most people just don't think about and
has to do with infant mortality, because we're averaging life expectancy, so if we actually have a better longevity or of our infants then it skews the whole life expectancy so sometimes it seems like we're living longer than we actually are because of that. 

In addition to that we also have a lot of different technologies that help to keep us alive as you point out there seems to be an increase in a lot of these different diseases so I say hey if your going to be around you might as well take care of yourself because you want to enjoy your life and not be sick. 

So this is where it's really important to pay attention to your diet and lifestyle. I think that western medicine is going to save you, they can but you don't want that kind of assistance. 

So lets just say if we have one or two things that will really help promote longevity at a high quality. What would those one or two things would be for you? 

Well again we're talking diet and lifestyle, so eating lots of plants, getting lots of exercise, getting plenty of sleep, stress reduction. 

I'm listing more, and a few key supplements you can take like the resveratrol. 

Great, well thank you very much Dr. Horner for sharing your views on how to promote longevity. 

If you have any questions about aging, or any other health matter please click on the link below, we'd love to hear from you.

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide


Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?

by IVL

Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?Hearing loss is a very common medical condition, believed to affect more than 28 million Americans. It can be caused by multiple factors including aging, excessive exposure to loud noise, illness, chemicals or physical trauma - or any  combination of these.

Animal studies have already shown that intake of antioxidant vitamins along with magnesium can protect against hearing loss. A recent study looked at the association between daily intake of the antioxidant vitamins beta-carotene and vitamins C and E and magnesium on hearing thresholds in US adults.

Data on hearing thresholds was assessed from over 2500 participants aged 20 to 69 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This study clearly showed that higher intakes of magnesium along with beta-carotene and vitamin C were associated with better hearing thresholds. In other words, dietary intake of antioxidants and magnesium is associated with a lower risk of hearing loss.

Similarly, studies have shown that a lack of folic acid, a B vitamin, is linked to susceptibility to age-related hearing problems. For example, a Dutch study reported that folic acid supplements delayed age-related low frequency hearing loss in middle-aged people, suggesting that supplementing with folic acid may help to lessen this type of hearing loss.

Sensori-neural hearing loss (SSNHL) is another type of hearing loss - one that can happen suddenly, without warning. In such cases, a person typically experiences complete or partial loss of hearing in one or both ears.

Occasionally, a viral upper respiratory infection or very loud noise may precede SSNHL. In such cases, hearing can recover within a twenty-four hour period if attended to. However, if not treated properly, hearing loss may become a permanent condition.

Some doctors prescribe Niacin, another B vitamin which seems to improve blood circulation to the inner ear, to treat SSNHL. Niacin may also help some people with tinnitus, but only if their condition was originally caused by circulation problems.

Source: An Ear Health Supplement for Better Hearing.


The Top Weight Loss Tips

by Health News
The Top Weight Loss TipsBefore you embark on that weight loss journey, make a commitment to have your thyroid checked.
The thyroid is the organ that sits right next to your Adam’s apple, at the base of your neck, and it controls your metabolism. It also happens to be a critical part of your immune system.
When it comes to thyroid health, you often hear of the thyroid being underactive—which is the case 95 to 98 percent of the time—or overactive, which can lead to Grave’s disease. 
Up to 14 million Americans suffer from hypothyroidism and millions more suffer from the sub-clinical hypothyroidism that has yet to be diagnosed by their doctor or health care provider.  
One of the reasons for these non-diagnoses is the fact that many doctors only test for TSH, which is only one of four thyroid hormones. Worse yet, millions of people fall into the “normal range” when it comes to TSH, but still suffer from all the symptoms associated with an under-functioning thyroid gland. 
This year, get the real story with your thyroid. Ask your doctor to test you for all four thyroid hormones, including:
  • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
    • The normal range for THS is 0.45 to 4.5 (see the problem!). The reality is that anything over 3 is too high. Ideally you want you fall between 1 and 2.
  • Free T3
    • For T3, 2.0 to 4.4 is normal. The higher end of this spectrum is ideal, with numbers between 3.0 and 4.4 being the goal.
    • For T4, the range is a bit tighter—0.82 to 1.77. Again, the higher within this range, the better.
  • Thyroid antibodies
    • When it comes to thyroid antibodies, there are two in particular to pay attention to: thyroid peroxidase (range is 0-34) and antithyroglobulin Ab (range is 0-40). In this case, lower is better. Numbers that fall above these ranges (especially in the 100s) is a key sign of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition. 
So forget that new diet or weight loss pill. This year, resolved to get your thyroid checked properly. It will create a foundation of health all year long. 

Omega-3 Found in Fish Promotes Vision Health

by Nancy Maneely

We’ve been hearing for some time that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish – especially cold water fatty fish such as salmon – can promote heart health when eaten as a regular part of a healthy diet. Now researchers have found that a specific omega-3 known as DHA can prevent age-related vision loss as well.

A team of researchers at the University of Alberta discovered that that lab animals fed DHA did not accumulate a certain specific toxic molecule at the back of the eyes. The toxin normally builds up in the retina with age and causes vision loss.

The discovery could result in a therapeutic use of DHA to prevent vision loss in older people, according to the team, which published the results of their study in the peer-reviewed journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

"In normal aging, this toxin increases twofold as we age. But in lab tests, there was no increase in this toxin whatsoever,” said Yves Sauve, one of the researchers. “This has never been demonstrated before -- that supplementing the diet with DHA could make this kind of difference."

Inspired by their success, the researchers recently began another study, recruiting humans who have age-related macular degeneration, a condition that results in loss of central vision and is the main cause of blindness in people over 50. Examining the DNA markers in the blood of study participants, they will attempt to determine whether participants with certain genetic markers will respond better to varying levels of DHA in their diet.

If you want to add DHA and other healthy omega-3's to your diet, the best source is cold-water fatty fish including salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies. These days, certain foods are fortified with additional omega-3s – eggs (Eggland’s Best) and butter substitute spreads (Smart Balance). You can find organic versions of these in your health food store.

For vegetarians, among the best omega-3 sources are flaxseeds and walnuts. To best preserve the omega-3 goodness, buy fresh, whole flaxseeds and store them in your fridge. As you need them, grind them in a coffee grinder or food processor. Get into the habit of adding a teaspoon or two to salads, smoothies, soups and other recipes.

What’s your favorite food source of omega-3?

Science Daily: Fatty Acid Found in Fish Prevents Age-related Vision Loss
US News: 8 Easy Ways to Load Up on Healthy Omega3 Fats