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Top Natural Solutions for Ringing in the Ears

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Tinnitus is a persistent ringing in the ear that can be annoying to live with. Unfortunately, there is no medical cure, but our healthy living tips explore the holistic treatments for sufferers. The official number of tinnitus sufferers is almost 50 million Americans, according to the American Tinnitus Association, so you are not alone in suffering with this common problem.

Healthy habits and lifestyle changes may help Tinnitus sufferers.

Healthy habits and lifestyle changes may help Tinnitus sufferers.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is an ongoing ringing, hissing or buzzing noise in a person’s ear. It may affect the sufferer’s hearing but is not necessarily restricted to those with some degree of deafness. Tinnitus often develops after an ear infection, damage to nerve endings in the auditory canal, or exposure to a loud bang.

Our hearing works when vibrations caused by sound pass through the bones of the eardrum and reach a fluid-filled cavity in the inner ear. Tiny, sensitive hairs pick up the vibration and send an impulse to the brain through the auditory nerve. If these hairs are damaged or for some reason permanently vibrate, the brain “hears” non-stop noise vibrations which are known medically as tinnitus.  

To prevent tinnitus you should only play music at 60% when wearing earbuds, and wear ear plugs when operating noisy machinery or at a concert.

Doctors may prescribe a hearing aid to help control the noise, but there are some healthy living tips to help you live with tinnitus.

Related:  The Inside Scoop on BPPV

Healthy Living Tips to Treat Tinnitus Naturally

Some people suffering with ringing in the ears find that some food, drinks and medication can affect their symptoms. Keep a diary of the days when the ringing is worse and see if there is a common cause. These may include caffeine (tea, cola and energy drinks as well as coffee), salty foods, taking aspirin or after drinking alcohol.

If you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking affects the blood flow to the nerve cells that control your hearing. Nicotine also creates a kick of adrenaline which can make the tinnitus sound much worse.

Other healthy habits for tinnitus include creating soft background noise from a radio, white-noise machine or even a fan to help mask the ringing.

Stress and worry can make tinnitus even worse, so introduce some relaxation techniques into your life. Yoga, tai-chi, meditation and muscle relaxation CDs can all help reduce ringing in the ears.  

Of course, getting your overall health checked out by your doctor is a healthy habit to consider if you develop tinnitus. The ringing noise may be caused by other conditions such as a buildup of ear wax, fibromyalgia, hypertension, thyroid issues or Lyme disease. Hopefully these healthy living tips will help improve the problem over time.

 

 

 

 

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The Inside Scoop on BPPV

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Dizziness and vertigo may be caused by any number of health issues. Most causes are minor and treatable through healthy living tips and exercises developed as healthy habits. The most common cause of vertigo, particularly in the elderly, is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which is an inner ear condition.

Healthy habits such as regular Epley maneuvers can cure balance problems in the inner ear.

 

If you think you may be suffering from BPPV, lie down with the affected ear toward the floor. BPPV will trigger a brief but intense feeling of the world spinning around.

What Causes BPPV?

The inner ear is a series of semi-circular canals filled with fluid, nerves and fine hairs for hearing. BPPV is caused by loose calcium carbonate crystals called otoconia. These crystals are normally attached to the lining but if they break loose and tumble around the inner ear, they abnormally touch the sensory receptors causing dizziness, vertigo, disorientation and loss of balance.

The best non-surgical treatment for BPPV is to maneuver these loose particles into an area of the inner ear where they cannot trigger the receptors. This is done through simple repetitive exercises that move the head around and can be completed in just a few minutes. Healthy habits include repeating these exercises regularly to maintain efficacy.  

Related:  Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

Healthy Living Tips for BPPV Using Particle Repositioning Maneuvers

Particle positioning maneuvers are a safe and natural way to treat BPPV. They are 95% successful and the only side effect may be initial nausea or vomiting triggered by the BPPV.

If the sufferer has not ascertained which ear is affected, the Brandt-Daroff Maneuver is the best option. Those who know which ear is affected should use the Epley Maneuver.

  1. The Brandt-Daroff Maneuver

Sit on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor. Lay your head down sideways and tuck your feet up onto the bed so you are lying on one side. Keep your head in a fixed position, focusing on the head of an imaginary person stood about six feet from the bed. Lie still until the dizziness (if any) subsides. Return to the sitting position for 30 seconds then lie down on the opposite side, keeping your eyes fixed at that same imaginary point. The Brandt-Daroff Maneuver should be done three times a day and repeated five times per session for two weeks.

  1. Epley Maneuver for DPPV

Sit on the bed with your legs stretched out in front toward the foot of the bed. Turn the head 90 degrees to the left then lie down on your back, maintaining the head’s position. After 30 seconds, move the head to the right side and rest another 30 seconds. Roll the body onto the right side for 30 seconds then sit up in the original position. Rest for one minute. Repeat the cycle three times as a healthy habit for helping to alleviate BPPV each night before sleep.

If these maneuvers do not cure vertigo within two weeks, sufferers should consult their doctor to diagnose the cause.

 

 

 

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Understanding Balance & Tips To Stay Steady On Your Feet

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Healthy habits help maintain balance

 

Understanding Balance

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

Related:  Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

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

Balance requires:

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

Healthy Living Tips to Support Balance

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

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

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

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

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Seven Common Causes of Balance Issues

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Healthy living tips for the inner ear support balance

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

1.     Migraine

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

2.     Inflammation of the Inner Ear

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

Related:  Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?

3.     Heart arrhythmia

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

4.     Peripheral neuropathy

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

5.     Depression and anxiety

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

6.     Standing up too quickly

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

7.     Muscle weakness

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

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

 

 

 

 

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The Inside Scoop on BPPV

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Dizziness and vertigo may be caused by any number of health issues. Most causes are minor and treatable through healthy living tips and exercises developed as healthy habits. The most common cause of vertigo, particularly in the elderly, is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which is an inner ear condition.

Healthy habits such as regular Epley maneuvers can cure balance problems in the inner ear.

 

If you think you may be suffering from BPPV, lie down with the affected ear toward the floor. BPPV will trigger a brief but intense feeling of the world spinning around.

What Causes BPPV?

The inner ear is a series of semi-circular canals filled with fluid, nerves and fine hairs for hearing. BPPV is caused by loose calcium carbonate crystals called otoconia. These crystals are normally attached to the lining but if they break loose and tumble around the inner ear, they abnormally touch the sensory receptors causing dizziness, vertigo, disorientation and loss of balance.

The best non-surgical treatment for BPPV is to maneuver these loose particles into an area of the inner ear where they cannot trigger the receptors. This is done through simple repetitive exercises that move the head around and can be completed in just a few minutes. Healthy habits include repeating these exercises regularly to maintain efficacy.  

Related:  Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

Healthy Living Tips for BPPV Using Particle Repositioning Maneuvers

Particle positioning maneuvers are a safe and natural way to treat BPPV. They are 95% successful and the only side effect may be initial nausea or vomiting triggered by the BPPV.

If the sufferer has not ascertained which ear is affected, the Brandt-Daroff Maneuver is the best option. Those who know which ear is affected should use the Epley Maneuver.

  1. The Brandt-Daroff Maneuver

Sit on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor. Lay your head down sideways and tuck your feet up onto the bed so you are lying on one side. Keep your head in a fixed position, focusing on the head of an imaginary person stood about six feet from the bed. Lie still until the dizziness (if any) subsides. Return to the sitting position for 30 seconds then lie down on the opposite side, keeping your eyes fixed at that same imaginary point. The Brandt-Daroff Maneuver should be done three times a day and repeated five times per session for two weeks.

  1. Epley Maneuver for DPPV

Sit on the bed with your legs stretched out in front toward the foot of the bed. Turn the head 90 degrees to the left then lie down on your back, maintaining the head’s position. After 30 seconds, move the head to the right side and rest another 30 seconds. Roll the body onto the right side for 30 seconds then sit up in the original position. Rest for one minute. Repeat the cycle three times as a healthy habit for helping to alleviate BPPV each night before sleep.

If these maneuvers do not cure vertigo within two weeks, sufferers should consult their doctor to diagnose the cause.

 

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Dizziness: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

by IVL Products

From time to time everyone experiences bouts of dizziness.  Symptoms include an unsteady or spacey feeling, lightheadedness, and/or loss of balance.  While dizziness sometimes comes from something as simple as standing up too quickly, it can also result from a number of health problems, ranging from minor to serious.  Knowing what causes dizziness helps people access proper treatment and put an end to uncomfortable episodes.

A number of underlying health conditions cause dizziness, but are usually not serious.

Dehydration

Not getting enough fluids throughout the day can cause dizziness.  Dehydration can result from a strenuous workout, extra-warm weather, or just forgetting to replenish fluids.  The solution is as simple as rehydrating by drinking an adequate amount of water and a little rest.  If the feeling hasn't subsided within 15 minutes, people should contact a medical professional.    

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when low levels of glucose in the blood affect normal function.  Episodes produce a range of symptoms like intense hunger, anxiety, sweaty or clammy skin, and dizziness. 

Hypoglycemia is a common occurrence among people with diabetes.  According to a review study published in the Public Library of Science, people with type 2 diabetes experience an average of 19 mild episodes and one severe bout of hypoglycemia each year.  Drinking a glass of juice or eating complex carbohydrates like toast and jam help restore blood sugar levels quickly, making feelings of dizziness and other symptoms subside. 

Related:  Natural Health Solutions: Blood Sugar Levels

Benign Positional Vertigo

When people get out of bed and the room spins, they are most likely experiencing benign positional vertigo, or BPV.  Due to changes in the inner ear, this condition becomes more common with age.  In fact, according to the Vestibular Disorders Association, BPV is responsible for roughly 50% of the episodes of dizziness in people over the age of 50.  To realign calcium carbonate crystals in the ears, doctors may suggest repositioning techniques for the head.  Anti-nausea medication may also provide relief.

Stroke or Heart Attack

In addition to dizziness, people who have a stroke or mini-stroke may experience weakness on one side of the body; loss of movement, vision, hearing, or speech; blackout or memory loss; and/or severe headache.  Individual experiencing a heart attack may feel chest pain or have profuse sweating; discomfort in the neck, jaw, or arm; and/or nausea.

People who experience any of these symptoms in combination with dizziness should get immediate medical help.  Treatment for stroke or mini-stroke includes anticoagulants to break up clots and medications to lower blood pressure.  Serious stroke may require surgery and/or additional treatment.  Depending on the seriousness of a heart attack, treatment may include lifestyle changes, rehabilitation, medication, stents, or surgery. 

Additional conditions that may cause dizziness include:

  • Anemia
  • Anxiety
  • Certain medications
  • Ear Infection
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Meniere’s Disease

Not a disease in itself, dizziness is a symptom of an underlying health problem.  Occasional dizzy feelings are common and causes are usually not serious.  However, people should seek medical help immediately if they experience any symptoms of stroke or heart attack, or if they experience recurring episodes of dizziness with no known cause. 

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Sleeping: How Much Do You Really Need?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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.         

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Are Toxic Chemicals in Nail Polish Taxing your Tips?

by IVL Products

Girls love nail polish.  In fact, according to market surveys, 97% of American girls between 12 and 14 years of age use it.  While many parents think nail polish for young girls is a harmless precursor to makeup, they may want to think again.  Recent studies show toxic chemicals in nail polish have the potential to cause serious health problems for females of all ages.

Toxic chemicals in nail polish have been linked to a number of serious health problems.

Toluene

Manufacturers use the chemical toluene to dissolve paint, and workers using the product are protected from inhaling it.  Unfortunately, girls and women across the country inhale toluene every day when they paint their nails.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, inhalation of toluene is linked to a number of health issues including confusion, memory loss, physical weakness, headache, nausea, vision problems, hearing loss, and liver and kidney damage.

DBP

Di-butyl phthalate, or DBP, is a chemical commonly used for making plastics more flexible.  In nail polish, it acts as a solvent and it keeps polishes from becoming too brittle.  Unfortunately, DBP has been found to disrupt the endocrine system, which affects hormones, brain development, and fertility.  Exposure to DBP may also increase risks for cancers of the breast, prostate, thyroid, and ovaries. 

In an effort to remove toxic chemicals in nail polish and those found in other cosmetics and children's products, the European Union banned the use of DBP in 2003.  Since 2006, most American nail polish manufacturers have removed DBP from their products as well.  However, many have replaced this chemical with another chemical that may be just as harmful.

Related: 99% OF ALL SKINCARE PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET TODAY ARE TOXIC!

TPHP

In an effort to remove DBP from nail polish products, some companies have turned to triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP.  Like DBP, TPHP makes nail polish more flexible and durable, but it also comes with similar health concerns.  

Mounting evidence links TPHP to disrupted hormonal regulation, metabolism, reproduction, and development.  Recently, scientists at Duke University in conjunction with the nonprofit environmental research organization, EWG (Environmental Working Group) found metabolites of TPHP in the bodies of 24 women who had painted their nails 10 to 14 hours earlier.  According to EWG's cosmetics database, over 1,500 nail polish products contain this hazardous chemical. 

Women of any age shouldn't have to worry about toxic chemicals in nail polish or any other cosmetics.  Many manufacturers now make non-toxic, water-based polishes free of solvents and phthalates.  Some companies even offer vegan or gluten-free products.  Women who enjoy an occasional mani-pedi can bring these safe and natural products along to their next appointment.


 

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Do You Need to Invest in B Vitamins? Take This Quiz about the Benefits of B Vitamins

by Health News

If you are unsure about the benefits of B vitamins, take our quiz to see if you need to be getting more B’s in your diet. 

Q: Do you feel like you are not as strong as you used to be? Do you commonly lose your keys or having trouble remembering how to get home from a store you’ve shopped at for years?

A: Weak muscles, fatigue and low energy are symptomatic of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Confusion, feeling depressed, and having trouble remembering things that you can’t imagine ever forgetting are also signals.

Your body needs vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your cells to be converted into energy. A low red blood cell count means your cells become starved for air and your body shuts down your muscles to conserve energy. Brain cells that are deprived of oxygen begin to die off, leading to reduced cognitive function like memory loss and confusion.

To get the 6 mcg recommended daily amount (RDA) of B12 in your diet every day, eat eggs, dairy products, meats and fortified foods. Vegans should take a supplement. 

Q: Do you have cracked skin at the corners of your mouth that no amount of moisturizer will heal?

A: A vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with a variety of skin ailments including painfully cracked skin at the corners of your mouth called cheilosis. A lack of vitamin B6 is also associated with an inflamed tongue, sores around the mouth, painfully cracked lips, and greasy or dry, flaky, peeling skin.

A vitamin B6 deficiency is pretty uncommon in the U.S. since many foods contain it. Since a deficiency in the vitamin also known as pyridoxine or pyridoxamine can also cause nerve damage, fatigue, and loss of balance—so getting the 200-milligram RDA is essential for good health. You can find it in nuts, chicken, fish, most vegetables, and bananas.

Q: Are you running to the bathroom more frequently?

A: Loose stools due to Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s or celiac disease can cause a folic acid or B9 deficiency.  Being deficient in B9 is linked to anemia, fatigue, gray hair, mouth sores, and tongue swelling. 

Children who do not get enough folic acid may experience growth problems and pregnant women are at higher risk for delivering a low-birth weight baby.

You can get plenty of folic acid in your diet from foods like tomato juice, eggs, asparagus, chicken and pork and fortified cereals.

Related:  Hearing Problems Linked to Folate Deficiency Study Finds

Q: What do widespread muscle pain, constipation and loss of sensation in the hands and feet have in common?

A: These are all common symptoms of a thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiency.  The disorder is uncommon in the U.S. and tends to be a problem in countries where white rice is the main food source like South East Asia.  The bran in the outer covering of white rice is where the much-needed thiamine resides.

In the U.S. and in developed countries alcoholics are at risk for developing health issues due to a vitamin B1 deficiency.  However, if you consistently eat a diet of high carbohydrate low-nutrient foods like pretzels, chips, candy and most other common junk food items, you could be at risk for neurological disorders. Instead of vending machine fare, choose eat whole grain breads, peas, beans and fortified foods.

Q: Are your eyes itching, watering, bloodshot, and suddenly light sensitive?

A: If you are experiencing any of those problems with your eyes and have eliminated allergies as the culprit, you may be lacking enough vitamin B2 or riboflavin in your diet.

Riboflavin is essential for many metabolic processes in the body including normal cell growth and functioning, helping other B vitamins undergo the chemical changes necessary to be used by the body and is a powerful antioxidant. 

In addition to vision problems, a lack of vitamin B2 is also linked to skin disorders, anemia, and swelling of the throat and tongue. You can get plenty of it (0.5-0.6 mg/day) in your diet by eating dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, milk cheese and yogurt, whole grains and meat.

Related: 

Q: Are you feeling unusually fatigued even after a full night’s sleep and a cup of coffee?

A: You could be deficient in any number of the B vitamins. A lack of them in your diet causes anemia, which is characterized by muscle weakness and extreme fatigue. B vitamins are essential for helping the body convert food into energy and supply your cells with oxygen for energy.  Because the B’s work together in the body, not getting enough of one kind means you may not be metabolizing others leading to a variety of health issues.

B Happy

The benefits of B vitamins are well researched and documented. Getting enough of them in your diet is fairly simple. If you consume a variety of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, there is no reason you can’t B very happy and healthy!

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Discover the Stress-Busting Benefits of Exercise

by IVL Products

When you feel stressed out, it’s common to hear well-meaning advice such as “don’t sweat it.” But sweating (when it occurs during exercise) may be the best medicine to combat stress.  Numerous studies have confirmed the benefits of exercise for mental and physical health. 

People who suffer from chronic stress often have jam-packed schedules.  These busy folks cannot fathom how they could squeeze exercise into their already hectic lives. But it is essential to make time for physical exercise. When you are swimming, playing tennis, walking in the park, working in your garden or concentrating on yoga poses, your body produces endorphins, the “feel good” hormones that help fight stress and anxiety. Exercise also reduces stress-induced cortisol which has been linked to serious health problems including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems and heart disease.

A study published in the journal Sports Medicine and Science found that regular exercise can help people cope with even the toughest stressful situations. The study found that cancer patients who embarked on a 10-week program of light to moderate aerobic exercise had significantly increased energy levels and a more positive outlook on life. Another recent study found that quality of life and even medical outcomes improved among women with breast cancer who engaged in regular physical activity.

RelatedDetoxification Through Diet

Another benefit of exercise is that it helps to improve the quality and duration of sleep; and coping with stressful situations is much easier when you’re well-rested. Experts caution that you should get your exercise at least five hours before bedtime so that your body has the time to cool down before sleep. As an added bonus, regular exercise helps you maintain a healthier weight, reduce body fat and improve muscle tone.

Bear in mind you don’t have to run a marathon or participate in a triathlon to reap the benefits of regular exercise.  Studies have shown that even 10 minutes of exercise a day can help to improve your mood.  As your fitness level improves, increase the amount of time spent exercising. Enjoy the benefits of exercise and sweat away the stress. 

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Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

by Nancy Maneely

Many people will experience balance problems as they age.

Common symptoms of balance problems include:

  • Occasional feelings of unsteadiness or sudden dizziness are not uncommon
  • Vertigo, the feeling that you or the things around you are spinning, is another often-reported symptom
  • Disturbances of the inner ear are a common cause of these events

Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON TYPES OF BALANCE DISORDERS:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)– In BPPV, you experience a brief, intense feeling of vertigo or sudden dizziness when you change the position of your head, such as when rolling over to the left or right, upon getting out of bed, or when looking for an object on a high or low shelf.  In BPPV, small calcium particles in the inner ear become displaced and hit the inner ear balance sensors, causing dizziness. A doctor or specialist can treat BPPV by carefully moving the head and torso to dislodge these particles. For some people, one session will be all that is needed. Others might need to repeat the procedure several times at home to relieve their dizziness.
  • Labyrinthitis – Inflammation of the vestibular system, the part of the inner ear responsible for balance. To maintain your body's position, the labyrinth interacts with other systems in the body, such as the eyes, bones and joints. The cause is usually a viral infection, or less often, a bacterial infection.
  • Ménière's disease – This is a balance disorder that causes a person to experience vertigo, hearing loss that comes and goes, tinnitus (a ringing or roaring in the ears), and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Ménière's disease is caused by changes in fluid volumes in the inner ear. People with Ménière's disease can help reduce its dizzying effects by lowering the amount of sodium in their diets. Limiting alcohol and caffeine also may be helpful.

 

 

 

TOP NATURAL REMEDIES

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Omega-3 (fish oil)
  • Ginger root extract
  • Turmeric
  • Boswellia

NATURAL EXERCISE PRACTICES

  • Yoga
  • T’ai Chi
  • Qi Gong

IMPACT OF FALLS ON AN AGING ADULTS LIFE

Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

One of the biggest health risks to elderly adults may surprise you. Most would guess heart disease, cancer or other medical disorders. These certainly are a concern for senior citizens, but one of the most dangerous health hazards the aging population faces is falling.

More than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths. More commonly, falls can lead to a prolonged period of rehabilitation, diminished function, depression and declining health. And in many instances, people become more isolated after a fall.

Are you concerned about you or a loved one falling while getting up from a chair or sofa? Give yourself, and them, the security needed to live safely and independently.

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5 Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Healthy Foods

by Nancy Maneely

Effectiveness of Healthy Foods“Eat healthy food” is advice we hear at least once a day. It comes from everywhere: TV, magazines, our doctor, well-meaning family and friends. So, we make smart selections at the grocery store and feel very good about choosing an orange for a midday snack rather than, say, a donut.

That’s a great start … but really, how do you know your body is getting the benefit of the healthy foods you eat? Unfortunately, your body doesn’t issue an itemized receipt every time, listing the calories and nutrients that were effectively utilized. In fact, you might be surprised at how little of the valuable nutrients actually reach their goal – that is, being absorbed and put to work doing what they are meant to do: keep you functioning at an optimum level.

Here are five simple ways you can increase the effectiveness of the food you eat:

  1. Take a digestive enzyme supplement. What are digestive enzymes? Our bodies make their own digestive enzymes that break down food in the mouth, stomach, and small intestine into smaller, absorbable molecules. However, while all fresh food contains enzymes, our modern habits destroy them. We grow fruits and vegetables in depleted soil, gas them to prolong shelf life, and cook them at high heat. All of this reduces their enzyme levels.
  2. Take a probiotic to increase friendly flora. Friendly bacteria help produce the enzymes we need to break down food. They also support immune health and help protect the vulnerable cells along the linings of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
  3. Chew your food! Mom’s advice was sound. Chewing produces amylase that breaks down carbohydrates and stimulates digestive juices.
  4. Slow down. The chemicals needed to for healthy digestion are produced when we are relaxed. A calm, quiet atmosphere signals the digestive system to kick in.
  5. Avoid taking antacids. In the stomach, high levels of acid are necessary to break down food (and kill off bad bacteria like H. pylori that can lead to stomach cancer). There are natural ways to reduce the problems of heartburn and acid reflux. Drinking enough water, reducing salt, eating fewer fats, and taking digestive enzymes and probiotics can take care of the problem.

Do you take probiotics or digestive enzymes? What benefits have you experienced?

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Five Simple Tips For Healthy Vision

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Vision is the most important sense we possess. It plays an defining role in every waking minute of our daily lives.

No wonder that the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) annual American Eye-Q survey shows that 40 percent of Americans worry about losing their eyesight rather than their ability to walk or hear.

Five Simple Tips For Healthy Vision | Institute for Vibrant Living

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to incorporate lifestyle practices that ensure your eyes remain healthy.

Five tips for healthy vision include:

  1. Scheduling yearly comprehensive exams - health care experts say that eye care should begin early in life, starting in infancy. Comprehensive eye exams performed by a certified optometrist can not only evaluate vision, but can also detect health problems such as high blood pressure (BP) and diabetes well in advance so they can be treated in time. Early detection and treatment is key.
  2. Protect your eyes against against UV rays - long-term exposure to the sun poses significant risk not just to your skin, but to your eyes as well - which is why it’s always important to wear sunglasses. Choose a pair that blocks more than 95 percent of UV-A and more than 99 percent of UV-B radiation.
  3. Give your eyes a break - it is estimated that up to two-thirds of Americans spend up to seven hours daily using computers or other digital devices. This can lead to problems such as dry eye, eyestrain, headaches, neck aches, lower back pain and fatigue. Proper lighting, appropriate seating and viewing angles, and sitting at the correct  reading distances to eliminate visual stress and discomfort are all recommended to keep your eyes and vision healthy.
  4. Eat your greens - make sure you eat five servings of fruits and green leafy vegetables every day. This will ensure that your body gets a steady supply of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, essential fatty acids, vitamins C and E and the mineral zinc - all proven to protect eyesight and promote eye health. Your body doesn’t make any of these nutrients naturally, so you must get them from your diet.
  5. Practice safe wear and care of contact lenses - more than 40 million Americans use contact lenses to improve their vision. While some adhere to medical guidelines for wearing contacts, others are putting their vision at risk daily through unsafe practices. Improper contact lens use can lead to blurred or fuzzy vision, red or irritated eyes, pain in and around the eyes, or a more serious condition in which the cornea becomes inflamed, known as keratitis.

Source: Five Simple Tips for Healthy Vision.

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Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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.

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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. 
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The Risk Of Developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The Risk Of Developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?A new study carried out by scientists from the Universities of London and Oxford may provide clues as to why the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) is influenced by month of birth - it seems that vitamin D levels and immune system development vary according to month of birth in newborn babies.

MS is a disabling neurological condition which happens when the body's own immune system attacks and damages the central nervous system. This interferes with the transmission of electrical messages between the brain and the rest of the body - leading to problems with vision, muscle control, hearing and memory.

Previous population studies already indicate that month of birth can influence risk of getting MS. This effect is particularly evident in England, where MS risk peaks in individuals born in May and drops in those born in November. As vitamin D is formed by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, this effect may support a prenatal role for vitamin D in MS risk.

In this new study, blood was extracted from the umbilical cord of 50 newborn babies and analyzed to measure levels of vitamin D and autoreactive T-cells. Autoreactive T-cells are specialized immune cells whose role is to identify and destroy infectious agents such as viruses.

However, for some reason, some of these T-cells start attacking the body's own cells, triggering autoimmune diseases such as MS. Normally such self-harming T-cells should be eliminated by the immune system during its development by the thymus, a specialized organ in the immune system.

Study results showed that babies born in May had significantly lower vitamin D levels (around 20% lower than those born in November), along with nearly double the number of autoreactive T-cells compared to November babies.

In other words, lower levels of vitamin D in May babies are associated with twice the levels of autoreactive T-cells, which naturally increase the risk of damage to the central nervous system.

In the future, long-term studies are needed to understand whether vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women can impact immune system development and lower risk of MS and other autoimmune diseases.

Source:

 

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Healthy Recipes: Honey Mustard Grilled Trout

by Nancy Maneely

Rainbow trout farmed in the U.S. is designated as a “Best Choice” by the sustainable seafood experts at Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, because it's farmed in an ecologically responsible way. Trout sold in U.S. markets is farm-raised, mostly in Idaho. A small amount of farmed trout is imported into the U.S., but is marketed as steelhead.

We often hear that fish farming is problematic for health and environmental reasons. Most farmed fish eat more protein than they end up providing to the people who eat them. Also, farmed fish can escape, spreading disease among their wild cousins. Farm waste also can pollute the environment. But trout are efficient at converting their feed into protein. And escape and pollution problems are generally well-controlled in the U.S., according to Seafood Watch.

Here is a tasty, light trout recipe perfect for the grill. Serve with a green salad and a chilled glass of your favorite white wine for an elegant summer meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 large onions, cut in 1/2 inch slices
  • 6 (6 ounce) fillets trout

Directions

Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray before starting the grill. In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Place onions cut side down on grill rack with sides touching. Arrange fillets on onion slices. Cover and grill over medium-hot heat for 5 minutes. Baste with mustard mixture. Cook 5-6 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting frequently. Discard onion slices. 6 servings.

Nutritional Analysis:

One trout fillet equals 295 calories, 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 100 mg cholesterol, 201 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 35 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 5 lean meat.

What is your favorite way to prepare trout?

Source: Allrecipes.com

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Age-Related Hearing Loss: a Self Assessment

by Nancy Maneely

Hearing Loss PreventionHearing loss is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s not just an annoyance, or even a safety hazard; the diminishment of sound can wear away at a person’s self-confidence, their sense of being a part of the community and the larger world … ultimately, it can lead to social isolation and depression.

Factors that may lead to hearing problems include:

  • Aging. Exposure to sounds over the years can damage the cells of your inner ear.
  • Heredity. Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage.
  • Occupational noises. Jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the working environment, such as farming, construction or factory work, can lead to damage inside your ear.
  • Recreational noises. Exposure to explosive noises, such as from firearms and fireworks, can cause immediate, permanent hearing loss. Other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels include snowmobiling, motorcycling or listening to loud music. Personal music players, such as MP3 players, can cause lasting hearing loss if you turn the volume up high enough to mask the sound of other loud noises, such as those from a lawn mower.
  • Some medications. Drugs, such as the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs, can damage the inner ear. Temporary effects on your hearing — ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss — can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin, other pain relievers, antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.
  • Some illnesses. Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea.

If you suspect that your hearing isn’t quite what it used to be, here is a simple self-assessment you can take at home. If you answer yes to more than two of the following questions, you should have your hearing evaluated further by a health-care professional.

  1. Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
  2. Do you have trouble following the conversation with two or more people talking at the same time?
  3. Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
  4. Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
  5. Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
  6. Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  7. Do family members or coworkers remark about your missing what has been said?
  8. Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
  9. Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
  10. Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?

Have you had to deal with hearing loss in a loved one?

Sources:
www.mayoclinic.org: Age-related hearing loss
www.betterhearing.org: Hearing loss prevention

 

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Hearing Problems Linked to Folate Deficiency Study Finds.

by Health News

 

Hearing problems, or hearing loss, is thought to affect more than 28 million Americans aged between 60 and 74. Recent studies published by the Journal of Nutrition report that studies in Australia have found that a lack of folic acid, a B vitamin, is linked to the susceptibility of age-related hearing problems. In particular, low serum levels of folate were found to be linked to the loss of hearing at high frequencies.

Hearing Problems Linked to Folate Deficiency study finds.

The study was taken on 3,000 participants aged 50+ and found that low levels of folate in the blood were associated with an increased risk of hearing loss. Researchers at the University of Sydney examined blood levels of folate, vitamin B-12 and homocysteine and correlated this with the risk of age-related hearing loss. The data showed that folate levels below 11 nanomoles per liter were associated with a 34% increased risk of age-related hearing loss and levels of homocysteine over 20 micromoles per liter were associated with a 64% increase in the risk of hearing loss. Homocysteine levels can easily be controlled by maintaining correct levels of one of which is B9, also known as folate.

Earlier studies at the Waheningen University in the Netherlands in 2007 similarly reported that folic acid supplements were found to delay age-related hearing loss in the low frequency region.

Folate is essential for the maturation of red blood cells and prevention of anemia accoding to the National Institutes of Health. Lack of folate may be due to an imbalanced diet or malabsorption of the folate which is consumed. Folic acid is found naturally in leafy green vegetables, fruits, romaine lettuce, peas, dried beans, nuts and in cereals and breads which are made of folate-enriched cereals. Folic acid can also be taken as a dietary supplement such as is recommended for pregnant mothers. In poorer countries where malnutrition is a problem, these findings may be particularly relevant and would be relatively easy to implement as a preventative program for hearing loss in the elderly using vitamin health supplements.

 

 

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Natural Tips For Preserving A Youthful Mind

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Open the GIFT of the Present: |
We often hear the phrase, ‘be mindful,’ ‘stay present,’ ‘be fully conscious.’ But what does that mean? It simply means to become fully aware of yourself right now. It means becoming cognizant of your thoughts and feelings right now, and noticing if your mind tends to drift back into the past or if it starts to obsess about the future. The best tool to being fully present is to focus on your breath. Get in the habit of doing one thing at a time. Using all of your senses, notice your surroundings: take in the sights, sounds, scents and feelings of where you are right now. When your mind starts to wander, return again to your breath, and release your thoughts. In a very basic sense, this is the foundation of meditation. Meditation and relaxation techniques help combat stress and rejuvenate your mind and your brain, as well as your body. 

The Insitute for Vibrant Living

Avoid Dehydration:
The composition of our brain tissue is said to be staggering 85% water. We hear all the time, drink water, drink water, but many people don’t realize how important water really is. I have a beautiful plant on my porch that needs to be watered every day. Recently, I went away for a few days. When I returned, I saw that the plant appeared to be dead; completely drooped and flattened. I felt bad, and gave it a big drink of water anyway, and within minutes, the stems and leaves of that plant began to rise and stand tall. It was vibrant again, within minutes, just from being watered. When it comes to water, our brain is like that plant.

Next to air, water is the single most essential element for life. Just like the earth, we consist primarily of water. Our bodies are composed of 75% water, and 25% solid matter. No wonder they say the brain is like a sponge, it's composed primarily of water. Drinking plenty of pure water is one of the best things you can do to protect your brain, your mind, and your body. Water also provides our bodies with moisture and lubrication, both inside and out. Many people are dehydrated and don’t even know it. Common symptoms of dehydration are dry, itchy skin and frequent headaches and grogginess. Expert opinion varies, but the conventional prescription has been to drink a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day—about 64 ounces, or two quarts. 

Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, water expert and author of Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, insists that many people are unintentionally and chronically dehydrated and the body responds to a chronic lack of water by producing pain. He says that chronic dehydration can be responsible for most ailments, including heartburn, arthritis, back pain, angina, migraines, colitis, fibromyalgia and asthma; the common factor being a water shortage in the interior of the body. Dr. B. insists that “Pain signifies a thirst for water.”

Oil Your Gears:
You've heard the phrase, like a well-oiled machine? Well, our body (and brain) also needs lubrication in order to support health on the inside, and youthful skin on the outside. Skip the butter and margarine and reach for healthy oils. Oils may be fats, but just as bad fats can contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other maladies, there are good fats that fight those things by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol), reducing inflammation, and providing cancer-preventive antioxidants.

Purge your pantry of commercial vegetable oils; they are usually a mixture of unidentified oils that have been extracted with chemicals. Get rid of old oils, their shelf life is limited to less than a year. Take a whiff, if they don't smell fresh, get rid of them. Rancid oils are unhealthly to consume and can contribute to free radical damage. Toss out vegetable shortenings, they are usually made with partially hydrogenated oils, are high in trans fats, and are considered the unhealthiest of all fats. Reach for oils that have been cold pressed (not chemically extracted.) While oils like corn oil and soybean oil are high in polyunsaturates, most of us get too much of those omega-6 fatty acids. Nutritionists have learned that we should be getting more omega-3s. The best fats are those high in heart-healthy monounsaturates and other important nutrients such as oleic acids and omega-3 fatty acids.

Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest oil, as it contains the highest monounsaturate content, and is best for dressings and drizzling. It has a low smoke point, so it should not be used for frying or high heat cooking. Regular virgin olive oil is best for sautéing and cooking foods at low and medium temperatures. Safflower oil is the high-oleic version of this light, neutral-flavored oil. It's high in monounsaturates and has a high smoke point. For high-heat cooking, reach for light olive oil, followed by oils such as canola, peanut, sesame and avocado.

Go Fishing:
For proper brain development and function, include cold-water fish in your diet. Fish such as mackerel, salmon, anchovies and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Since it's nearly impossible to consume enough fish in your daily diet, reach for a quality fish oil supplement to provide natural omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been shown to promote heart and circulatory health, and they are essential for proper brain development and brain function. Research shows that diets rich in omega-3s can result in increased learning ability, problem-solving skills, focus, memory and communication between brain cells.

Stay Alert:
Just as physical exercise keeps your body young, mental exercise helps you stay alert and keeps your brain working efficiently, especially as you grow older. Keep your mind stimulated, find ways that appeal to you, like reading, jigsaw puzzles, games, playing cards, learning new skills and activities. Participating in varied activities is the best way to stimulate different parts of your brain. Try combining physical and mental activity. For example, learning to dance will stimulate the brain because you have to memorize different dance steps, moves and routines, but it also exercises the heart and gives the body a great work-out.  Challenge your mind and your body!

Cultivate Community & a Youthful Mind:
Keep up on current affairs. Encourage participation with friends and family. Join a club or organization. Volunteer to help those less fortunate. Learn new skills and nurture your social network. Seek out positive people who make you laugh! Humor stimulates the parts of the brain that use the “feel good” chemical messenger dopamine. Laughter is pleasurable, perhaps even addictive, to the brain. All these things help to create a feeling of support, help to relieve stress and encourage healthy living. A youthful mind requires a youthful attitude! 

Turn off the TV and Get Outside:
Watching television in moderation can be fine, but make a point to turn it off and get outside. Sitting on the couch (couch potato anyone?) and aimlessly watching TV is often called “mind numbing,” and for good reason. Increase your outdoor activities and oxygenate and exercise both your mind and your body. 

Give It a Rest: 
Finally, get at least 8 hours of sleep. In order to think clearly and creatively, it pays to “sleep on it.” A good night's sleep helps to clear brain fog. The value of sleep cannot be overestimated, no matter what your age.

What tips do you have for preserving a youthful mind?