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Can Melatonin Help During Menopause?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many women dealing with menopausal symptoms experience disruptions in their sleep cycles. This can exacerbate some of the other side effects such as increased anxiety, depression, trouble focusing, memory lapses, hot flashes and a decreased libido, just to name a few. The good news is that increasing shows that melatonin supplements can be an effective menopause treatment to help you get more rest and relief.  

Can melatonin treatment relieve symptoms of menopause?

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce naturally in the pineal gland of the brain. It assists in the smooth operation of several bodily functions such as:

  • Regulating the release of the female reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, effecting the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles
  • Promoting the quality and duration of sleep
  • It is a naturally produced antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties to help the body repair itself. It has a protective effect on your heart by helping to lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels

Low levels of melatonin have been linked to an increased risk for developing breast and prostate cancer, and have more recently linked to ADHD symptoms in children. 

At optimum levels, melatonin can help improve conditions like:

  • Sunburn
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Pain regulation
  • Digestion
  • Epilepsy 

Melatonin as a Menopause Treatment

Trouble focusing, memory lapses, increased anxiety and feelings of depression, all common symptoms of menopause, are made worse by a lack of quality sleep.  Many women going through menopause have trouble falling asleep, and even after they do, they often wake up because of a hot flash. They may fall asleep, but rouse frequently during the night and have trouble going back to sleep.

As we age our production of the sleep hormone begins to decline, along with estrogen and progesterone. Children have high levels of melatonin, whereas adults in their late 40s, 50s and 60s and beyond have much lower levels. Melatonin supplements can increase levels to promote drowsiness and keep you asleep for longer stretches.  It can also help you fall back to sleep when a hot flash wakes you up.  In addition, the increased shut-eye can help you deal with stress more effectively, decrease anxiety and give you greater mental clarity.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation: Is it Dangerous to Your Health?

Along with melatonin supplements try these tips to help you unwind and fall asleep more easily:

  • Do not eat within two hours of going to bed
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants as much as possible
  • Try natural fiver sheets and pajamas to help whisk away sweat from hot flashes
  • Drop the temperature in your bedroom to about 68 degrees
  • Turn off the TV, put away your tablet and smart phone since the backlight on these electronic devices interferes with the natural release of melatonin
  • Make it as dark as possible in your bedroom with light-blocking blinds or curtains and turn the digital clock face away from the bed or cover it
  • Try a few relaxing yoga poses followed by a cool shower

Dosage

As with all supplements, you should first consult your doctor before deciding on your melatonin treatment.  Taking the lowest dose possible to achieve optimal sleep is the best way to go. In general adults should take 3-5 milligrams about one hour before bedtime.

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Why Vitamin D is Important for Healthy Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

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

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

Related:  Absorption is Key When it Comes to Calcium Supplements

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

Additional Vitamin D Benefits

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

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

 

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Inflammation and Aging Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to good health as we age, inflammation plays both good and bad roles.  In response to injury, acute or short-term inflammation helps promote healing, but chronic or long-term inflammation can harm just about every area of the body including the skin.  Conditions linked to chronic inflammation include acne, dermatitis, rosacea, rash, hives, and wrinkles.  Fortunately, following a few healthy tips can help prevent the development of inflammation and protect aging skin.

A number of environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to inflammation including tobacco, alcohol, stress, sun exposure, a sedentary lifestyle, and a high-sugar diet.  Engaging in healthy habits helps reduce levels of inflammation in the body and keeps aging skin looking and feeling as youthful as possible. 

Healthy changes involve quitting tobacco products, cutting down on alcohol consumption, wearing sunscreen, or getting regular moderate exercise.  Beneficial dietary steps include drinking plenty of water throughout the day, reducing the amount of sugar in the diet, and getting inflammation-fighting nutrients through food or dietary supplements.

Related:  Royal Jelly for Skin: Your Skin's Best Friend

Best Dietary Supplements for Inflammation

Research shows that a number of nutrients help battle the effects of chronic inflammation.  Many of these are available in the form of dietary supplements.  They include:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
  • Coenzyme Q-10
  • Curcumin
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
  • Ginger
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Topical Ingredients that Combat Inflammation

Certain creams and lotions feature beneficial ingredients for aging skin.  Topical nutrients that offer anti-inflammatory properties include aloe, ceramides, grape seed extract, green tea extract, and pomegranate.

Food Sensitivities and Skin Changes

Food sensitivities can also cause chronic inflammation in the body, and symptoms can include congestion, irritability, stomach pain, headache, and skin changes like hives or rash.  People concerned about possible food sensitivities should consult with a health care professional for testing.

Additional Health Problems Caused by Inflammation

In addition to affecting aging skin, chronic inflammation can lead to the development of a number of other health problems as people get older.  These include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hay fever
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Periodontitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Getting older does not mean people have to settle for premature wrinkles and age spots caused by inflammation.  A number of lifestyle changes, nutrients, topical products, and dietary testing can help promote healthy skin and encourage good overall health. 

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Can Too Many Multivitamins Be Dangerous?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

While Mae West famously joked, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”, when it comes to multivitamins a slightly more responsible attitude should be adopted. Two new studies into multivitamin dangers have shown why the National Institutes of Health and Office of Dietary Supplements publish carefully researched Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for most dietary supplements.

Avoid multivitamin dangers by buying a trusted quality product

Dangers of Multivitamin Excess

We all know the health problems caused by deficiencies of calcium, iron and vitamins, but in some instances too high doses can be equally unhealthy. A study in Iowa found that older women taking iron supplements actually had a slightly higher risk of dying than those who did not. This is because post-menopausal women no longer need iron supplements to offset the loss in monthly menstruation. Excess iron can cause a build-up of oxidants, the opposite of healthy antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables. The tragedy of this study result is that the women were doing everything they could to stay fit and healthy. They simply did not heed the recommended dosage.

Related:  Five Myths About Vitamins

Just like medications, while one aspirin may help reduce the risk of heart disease, 100 aspirins will kill you. When it comes to multivitamin dangers, the message is exactly the same. Read the label and take the recommended dose – no more and no less.

Another study found that men who took excessive amounts of vitamin E had a 17% higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Once again, the recommended international units (IU) of vitamin E supplements are just 22 IU per day. The participants had been taking over 400 IU per day for several years.

Although the results of both these studies are isolated and need deeper investigation, they still sound a wise note of caution about taking supplements responsibly in order to avoid multivitamin dangers.

How to Avoid Multivitamin Dangers

If you are taking a multivitamin supplement, check the label on the back for the RDA or International Units (IU) of each ingredient. In most cases you will find that the supplement provides a large proportion of your daily needs, with the balance being made up from a healthy balanced diet. Healthy people do not generally need more of each vitamin and mineral contained than that contained in a daily multivitamin.

It’s worth paying out a little more for quality multivitamins from a reputable company that specializes in health supplements. Many over-the-counter multivitamins skimp or omit some essential vitamins in order to cut costs, but this is false economy. Taking a multivitamin that is poorly balanced or lacking in certain essentials elements deceives you into thinking that you are getting your daily needs. To avoid multivitamin dangers, choose quality over price, so that you don’t need to top up with additional supplements and make sure you are staying within recommended guidelines.

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Three Supplements for a Gluten Free Diet

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many people today adopt a gluten free diet due to gluten sensitivity or an autoimmune condition known as celiac disease. Until recently, celiac disease was relatively rare, but now an estimated one percent of all Americans suffer from this digestive reaction. A further one percent may have a gluten allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Following a gluten-free diet excludes most of these foods

A simple Alcat test on a blood sample can detect an allergy to over 450 substances. However, most people who develop gluten intolerance are already aware of the problem as they develop digestive discomfort, abdominal bloating or diarrhea after eating wheat, barley or rye grains.

Adopting a gluten free diet can quickly solve these issues, but it does create another problem – vitamin B deficiency. By avoiding bread, beer, cereals, cakes, cookies, pastas and sauces containing gluten, you can be lacking certain essential nutrients. Celiac disease also inhibits the body’s ability to absorb minerals and nutrients, so it is particularly important for sufferers to top up their gluten free diet with the following supplements.

Related:  Boost the Immune System with Infection-Fighting Foods

Folic Acid (Folate) 

Usually found in enriched grain products, folate is a B vitamin that is essential for producing red blood cells and new cell growth. It is particularly important for pregnant women to ensure the baby develops correctly. Those on gluten free diets can find it in spinach, kale, liver and citrus fruits as well as in supplements.

Vitamin B6 

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps make serotonin and norepinephrine which transmit signals in the brain. Vitamin B6 is also needed to make myelin, a protein in nerve cells. Deficiency of vitamin B6 in gluten free diets can cause problems with the skin, heart, nervous and circulatory system. Mainly found in cereals, B6 is also present in smaller quantities in carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes, milk, eggs, fish and meat.

Vitamin B12 

This water-soluble vitamin is stored in the liver but deficiencies due to gluten free diets can cause pernicious anemia and excessive sweating. Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis and can be found naturally in protein in fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and dairy products.

B-Complex Supplements for Gluten-Free Diets

If you prefer, look for a B-complex supplement containing at least 800 mcg folic acid, 3 mg vitamin B6 and 500 mcg B12.  A study of patients on gluten free diets gave them a similar B-supplement for six months. They found their homocysteine levels dropped 34%, suggesting a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The participants also reported feeling healthier, less anxious and less moody.

You’ll find plenty more information about gluten-free diets on the gluten.org website.

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How Vitamin E Can Help Menopause Symptoms

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you are a woman between the ages of 45 and 55, you are likely going through the menopause. While outwardly nothing has changed, mentally and emotionally your body is dealing with a profusion of menopause symptoms. Fortunately, you don’t have to grit your teeth and put up with it. Vitamin E is the natural way to counter hot flashes and other major symptoms of menopause as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Vitamin E contains estrogen which helps relieve menopause symptoms

Research shows that vitamin E is effective for up to 75% of menopausal women. This natural substance can help reduce hot flashes and can also lower the effects of insomnia, nervousness, mood swings, fatigue, heart palpitations and thinning hair. Vitamin E actually contains small amounts of estrogen to help counteract the decline in hormone levels which are typical during menopause. 

Studies on Vitamin E and Menopause Symptoms

A study on the effect or vitamin E in menopausal women looked at the effect of vitamin E supplements on hot flashes. Led by Dr. Saeideh Ziaei at the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Tehran, the study was on 51 menopausal women.

Each participant received a placebo softgel daily for four weeks followed by a one week cleansing period to eliminate all traces of the softgel. The women then received an identical-looking vitamin E softgel of 400 IU daily for the next four weeks. The women recorded the frequency and severity of their hot flashes in a daily diary. The results showed that when vitamin E softgels were taken, the hot flashes reduced in severity and in frequency. The study concluded that vitamin E is recommended for the effective treatment of hot flashes.

Vitamin E also relieves vaginal dryness and stimulates immunity against cancer of the cervix, breasts, lungs and digestive tract. Other studies show that vitamin E can reduce heart disease by up to 66%, making it a beneficial health supplement for all ages.

Related:  Vitamin E:  Tricking Father Time

How Much Vitamin E to Take

The most potent form of vitamin E is the natural d-alpha-tocopherol type, rather than synthetic E. according to Dr. Leslie Packer at University of California, synthetic E contains only one eight of the amount of alpha-tocopherol compared to natural vitamin E.

Following the study guidelines, 400 IU vitamin E can reduce menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes. However, it is important not to take vitamin E in excessive amounts as it may cause problems with blood clotting and hemorrhaging. The recommended upper limit for vitamin E intake is 1,000 mg per day, which is equal to 1,500 IU, so the 400 IU is well within these safety guidelines. It may take up to six weeks to notice a significant improvement in symptoms, but it is worth persevering to lower menopause symptoms safely and naturally.

You should consult your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements if you are taking medications, aspirin or anticoagulant drugs as these may cause complications such as excessive bleeding.  

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Five Tips to Improve Brain Function | Memory Improvement Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may not be able to make yourself taller, or alter your shoe size, but there are ways to improve brain function. As you age, maintaining mental acuity is increasingly important to stave off the symptoms of mental decline. Here are our top five memory improvement tips to help you keep your brain healthy!

1.     Exercise

Exercise is not just good for the heart and joints; it is also essential for brain function. A study published in Neuroscience reported that regular exercise helped monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as the non-exercising control group. The study was performed on middle-aged and mature monkeys who were trained on treadmills for five weeks and then underwent cognitive tests using the Wisconsin General Testing Apparatus. Scientists believe that exercise can improve brain function in humans in the same way.

Exercise improves blood flow to the brain and causes nerve cells in the brain to multiply. These cells release proteins and chemicals during exercise which boost cognitive function and improve neural health.

2.     Omega-3 to Improve Brain Function

Almost 60% of the brain is made up of fats including DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid which is known to support the central nervous system. DHA deficiency can cause nerve cells to become rigid and inflamed leading to reduced neurotransmission between cells. Low levels of DHA have also been associated with memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.  Taking omega-3 supplements can be one of the easiest memory improvement tips to adopt. 

Related:  The Ultimate Food Guide to Omega 3s

3.     Sleep Well

Sleep allows the brain to rest and reset, so improving your sleep can improve brain function and improve mental insight.  A Harvard study on sleep showed that people are 33% more likely to recall facts from memory after a good night’s sleep. Study leader Dr. Ellen Bogen concluded that “sleep does not just passively protect memories, but rather, plays an active role in memory consolidation.”

Too little sleep can also upset the circadian rhythm and may cause the brain to stop producing new cells. It seems that sleep is vital if you want to maintain and improve brain function.

4.     Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for increasing nerve growth in the brain. It is present in the hippocampus and cerebellum areas of the brain which are responsible for tasks such as planning, processing of new information and retaining memories. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to poor brain function, so getting plenty of vitamin D from food, sunshine or supplements is another easy memory improvement tip.

5.     Use It or Lose It

It is a well known fact that an active brain in later life can significantly improve brain function. Doing puzzles, learning a skill, mastering a new language, or stimulating the mind with mnemonic techniques can all keep your brain alert and healthy as we age.

 

 

 

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Omega-3 Deficiency Symptoms – How Much do we Need?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Omega-3 deficiency is also known as FADS – Fatty Acid Deficiency Syndrome. The symptoms are hard to pinpoint as they are often shared with other health issues and can easily be overlooked, misdiagnosed or trivialized.

Do you have signs of Omega-3 deficiency?

 

Let’s consider first why we need omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. The body is unable to make omega-3 fatty acids, yet they are essential for every cell. In particular, our skin, joints, brain and cardiovascular system all need fatty acids to function properly.

We need EPA and DHA on a daily basis and the main source is seafood, oily fish or fish oil supplements. ALA omega-3s are sourced from plants such as flaxseed, soybeans and nuts, and these can be converted into EPA and DHA. Vegetable oils provide omega-6 fatty acids, but a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can contribute to inflammation and heart disease.

Related:  Is Krill Fish Oil Dangerous?

 

Symptoms of Omega-3 Deficiency

Many studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our mental health. Omega-3 deficiency has been linked to depression, poor memory, attention deficit disorder (ADD), schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Irritability, anxiety and low frustration tolerance may also indicate a lack of fatty acids. Other symptoms include fatigue and poor sleep quality.

More easy to diagnose is the dry itchy skin, cracked fingertips, eczema, hair loss, dandruff and brittle nails that are caused by insufficient omega-3.

Omega-3 eases joint pain by reducing inflammation so omega-3 deficiency may cause an increase in pain for those suffering from stiff joints and rheumatoid arthritis.

We know that omega-3 supports a healthy cardiovascular system, but symptoms of heart disease may not be evident until a heart attack or stroke occurs, which can be far too late.

How Much Omega-3 do we Need?

The FDA does not issue guidelines for recommended daily amounts (RDA) of omega-3 fatty acids but we can look elsewhere for guidance.

The European Food Safety Agency recommends at least 250 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily. The American Heart Foundation suggests 500 mg for healthy adults, but double that amount (1 gram) for those diagnosed with heart disease.

Pregnant and nursing mothers should aim for at least 300 mg per day, according to several advisory groups.

When it comes to DHA, a study by French scientists found that 200 mg DHA per day helped prevent heart disease in healthy men. This figure was reached after healthy male participants aged 53- 65 were given various daily doses of DHA from 200 to 1,600 mg. Blood and urine samples showed biomarkers indicating the effects of each dose. It concluded that 200 mg DHA per day provided the best cardiovascular protection.

By comparison, a 100 g serving of salmon contains up to 1,600 mg of omega-3 (400-1,000 mg DHA and 200-800 mg EPA). However, fish oil supplements are the easiest way to regulate daily fatty acid intake and avoid the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency.

 

 

 

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Ten Home Remedies for Tackling Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Periodontal disease is much more serious than many people suspect. Periodontal issues can be either destructive or non-destructive. When plaque forms around teeth, the end result can be inflammation of tissue. In some cases, tissue can be lost, and this weakens the supporting structure for teeth.

The end result of periodontal disease can be a loss of teeth, which, in turn, has a range of its own medical and health issues. Medical studies have conclusively shown that poor oral health can lead to not just dental issues, but also a range of health issues ranging from a weakened immune system and increase in the chances of developing diseases to heart problems.

Gum disease does not have to lead to the loss of teeth. By following these 10 tips you can keep your teeth and gums much healthier!

#1:  Co-enzyme Q10

Co-enzyme Q10 is extremely important not just for gum health but for overall health. Like other ingredients, such as baking soda, co-enzyme Q10 has made its way into toothpaste for its ability to help fight gum disease and assist in keeping periodontal disease at bay. Co-enzyme Q10 is available in toothpaste and pill forms.

#2:  Honey and Manuka Honey

Honey has amazing all-natural healing properties. One type of honey in particular, manuka honey, is particularly effective at treating wounds of all kinds including gum inflammation. Manuka honey has been well researched and is being used to treat everything from chronic wounds to burns.

Cure periodontal disease with honey and other natural remedies.

#3:  Lemons

Lemons are a power anti-inflammatory and are packed with vitamin C. Try adding lemons to your tea for a one-two punch.

#4:  Baking Soda

It is no accident that baking soda has made its way into toothpaste. Baking soda helps neutralize acid in your mouth and can also help remove stains.

#5:  Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be found in both toothpastes and dental floss and is very effective in killing bacteria. However, it is important to remember that tea tree oil is extremely powerful, so remember to only use a limited amount.

Related:  Tea Tree Oil for Acne:  A Natural Remedy With Proven Results

#6:  Dental Probiotics

The research is mounting that probiotics are a powerful contributor to overall good health. Dental probiotics containing lactobacillus reuteri are one way to improve your oral health via probiotics. Also, consider adding a probiotic supplement to your diet.

#7:  Consume Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have been shown to improve overall health and boost oral health. Fermented foods can contain lactobacillus reuteri as well as many other immune system boosting probiotics. If you want to fight periodontal disease, then consider boosting your fermented foods. Many researchers also believe that fermented foods can help reduce the chances of developing many different types of diseases.

#8:  Xylitol

Xylitol is one of the best kept secrets in oral health care. Since it works to actually stop the growth of the very bacteria responsible for cavities, xylitol has earned a special place in dental research. Xylitol mouthwashes, toothpastes, mints and even gum are widely available. Not only does xylitol help protect teeth, but it also creates a positive environment for gums and the entire mouth.

#9:  Floss Every Day

Flossing is one of the easiest ways to protect your oral health. In fact, flossing regularly may even protect your heart!

#10:  Brush Regularly and Change Your Toothbrush Often

The foundation of protecting your teeth and gums is to brush often. Also don’t forget to change your toothbrush every three mouths to help you keep periodontal disease at bay!

Follow these ten tips and you will enjoy greater overall oral health. You don’t have to live with gum disease or let gum disease develop. These simple tips can dramatically boost your chances of keeping your gums and teeth healthy and looking great.

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The Power of Plants

by Health News

Plants are under constant siege from animals, insects, humans, and the environment.  In addition, being literally rooted to the ground, it can be difficult to protect themselves. Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided for them.

Learn about secondary metabolites that help plants— and people— flourish nutritionally and help defend against viruses and germs.

They grow physical defenses like thorns or thick bark or spines. Or they can create chemical shields…defenses that allow them to fight fungus, battle viruses or bacteria, produce off-putting aromas or taste, or even forming poisonous pathogens to deter insects and animals alike from consuming them. These defenses are made possible, thanks to secondary metabolites.

Secondary metabolites are Darwin’s little secret. In addition to the defenses listed above, other secondary metabolites allow the plant to flourish in low sunlight or little water, to sustain high heats and lots of water, attract more insects to them to promote pollination, or promote quick healing of injuries sustained to the plant.

As it turns out, these secondary metabolites don’t just serve plants. Research has shown us that they can improve heart health (resveratrol), reduce inflammation (saponins, a class of plant steroids), ease pain (codeine and morphine from the opium poppy), treat cancer (glucosinolates), fight infection (erythromycin), and alleviate headaches (salicin from white willow bark). And this just the tip of the iceberg!

Related:  Why Plant-Based Powder Supplements are the Best

Contrary to what the pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe, you cannot simply remove these nutrients and use them in isolation and expect them to perform to their full capacity. The real key to the power of these secondary metabolites is the way they interact with the other metabolites and micronutrients in the plant to provide the best health benefits possible.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. Eat the foods that contain these powerhouses. These include primarily fruits and vegetables such as cherries, tomatoes, grapes, pineapple, apple, beets, and more.

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Enough Fruits & Veggies: What We May Know, But Don’t Do

by IVL Products
Fruits & Veggies, How Much is Enough?

There is no question that eating fruits and vegetables is at the heart of an optimum diet. However, most (if not nearly all) of us aren’t getting anywhere near the optimum quantity of fruits and vegetables.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than one-third of Americans eat two or more fruits per day; and a mere 27 percent eat vegetables three or more times a day. That is grossly insufficient to meet our vitamin and mineral needs.

Given this, it is not only practical but critical that people use a fruit and/or vegetable supplement to fill in the nutritional gaps left by a poor diet, high stress, malabsorption issues, and other deficiency-related concerns.

Related:  Are Green Leafy Vegetables Good for Your Bones

In today’s day and age, augmenting with a supplement that fills in these gaps is not an option—it’s a necessity. By choosing a product with care and aiming for optimal levels of key nutrients, you can begin to create a habit that will support you for the rest of your life!

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Even Healthy Eating and Supplements Aren’t Enough

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, large national surveys show that even healthy eating habits combined with some supplements, Americans are still not getting the average daily requirements of many key nutrients. In fact, nearly everyone falls short on two critical vitamins—vitamin D and vitamin A.

Healthy eating habits combined with supplementation is the best routine.

More than one third of us are low in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A, which are critical for bone, heart, and eye health. Plus, nearly half of us are short of our vitamin C intake. 

One of the surveys (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2003-2006 found, “Without enrichment and/or fortification and supplementation, many Americans did not achieve the recommended micronutrient intake levels set forth in the Dietary Reference Intakes.”

Related:  Are Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

They go on to say that not everyone uses supplements, so the ability to boost nutrient levels above and beyond food (even fortified food) is limited to those people who actually use supplements.

The takeaway? Be sure that you aren’t going the food-only route. The best way to get all the nutrients you need for optimum health is to eat a healthy diet of organic fruits and vegetables AND use a high-quality, food-based supplement to get the additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need.

 

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How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility

by IVL Products

Many Americans take fish oil supplements because they are known to help prevent heart disease, enhance the look and health of skin and hair and even bring relief from the symptoms of depression.  Another good reason to pop those pills is the benefits of omega-3 fish oils for joints.

What are the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for joints?

What Is Omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential fats because the body cannot make them and must rely on getting them from diet. Omega-3 fats are special because they are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body. They affect the function of cell receptors in these membranes and provide essential compounds for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, the contraction and relaxation of artery walls and help to control inflammation. They are also crucial to the binding of receptors in cells that regulate genetic function.  This is what makes them helpful in preventing heart disease, stroke, keeping your eyes moist, your skin soft and supple and your hair strong and shiny.

The key compounds in omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and are found in several types of foods. They are most abundant in fish, specifically cold-water “oily fish” like:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Trout

Other foods with omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flax seeds, olive oil and green leafy vegetables.

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

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oils for Joints

Joint pain is largely caused by inflammation of the cartilage and tissue in the joint, leading to stiffness and decreased range of motion.  EPA and DHA have been shown in clinical studies to reduce inflammation, and to a lesser degree ALA, by decreasing the presence of inflammatory markers like IL-10 and TGF beta.

In petri dish studies, when omega-3 fatty acids were incorporated into the cartilage cell membranes of joints they appeared to decrease the enzymes that degrade cartilage and inflammatory cytokines. An “over expression of cytokines” by the immune system causes inflammation to the body beyond what is needed, essentially attacking healthy cells and destroying them.

Fish Oil Supplements

It is difficult to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through diet alone. Taking a fish oil supplements is an easy way to incorporate enough into your daily diet so you don’t get burned out eating fish for every meal.

For adults choose a fish oil supplement with 30% or more EPA and DHA in addition to eating fish and plant foods rich in omega-3s. Be sure to consult with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet to avoid unfavorable drug interactions.  Then you’ll be on your way to enjoying the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for joints!

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Five Ways to Burn More Fat

by Health News

There are no magic ways to burn fat, although scientists are working hard to find some! In the meantime we are left with the cold hard fact – the only way to burn fat deposits is through metabolism. However, there are some ways to burn fat faster or more effectively by increasing the metabolic rate. Here are a few tips that can trick your body into burning more fat at a faster rate.

There are many different ways to burn fat besides exercise

1. Carb Cycling

Carb cycling is one of the top ways to burn fat. It involves having three low-carb days followed by two high-carb days, which provides the body with just the right amount of carbs for burning and then allows it to replenish its glycogen. On your highest day you should eat 1-1.5g carbs per pound of bodyweight, so a person weighing 200 pounds should eat:

  • Day 1   150 grams
  • Day 2   100 grams
  • Day 3   50 grams
  • Day 4   125 grams
  • Day 5   200 grams

Repeat throughout the diet to enhance the fat burning process.

2. Cardio Intervals

Intense interval training is a more effective way of burning fat than a steady jog as the body remains in the fat-burning zone, with the heart rate between 50-65%, for the intense exercise period and for up to four hours after. Interval cardio session also train the body to store more carbs as glycogen in the muscles and liver rather than as fat, providing easily accessible energy. The muscle stores raise your basal metabolic rate so that you burn more energy, even when you are not in intensive training.

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3. Fish Oil and Exercise

Studies focusing on omega-3 fish oil show that it can assist with weight loss. This is one of the easiest ways to burn fat simply and healthily. Results of tests published in the American Journal of Nutrition show that exercise and fish oil can each contribute to weight loss. However, when combined, the fish oil appears to increase fat metabolism and weight loss when exercise is performed. It also appears that the DHA in fish oil stops the body from converting pre-fat cells into fat.

4. Eat More Protein

Although eating protein does not burn fat, it does take more calories to digest protein than either carbohydrates or fats. Protein takes longer to digest in the stomach, making you feel full for longer, which also helps you eat less.

5. Eat More Dairy Foods

A study into dairy-rich vs. low-dairy diets showed that obese adults who ate a high-dairy diet lost more weight (and burned more fat) than those who ate the same number of calories from a low-dairy diet. Researcher Michael Zemel, PhD says, "Calcium is a critical factor in controlling what your body does with calories, and dairy is an even more critical factor. Without changing how many calories we take away, we can alter how much weight and fat you lose." These results were also confirmed by a dairy-rich diet trial by Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.

So, if you are looking for ways to burn fat more effectively, try these scientifically-proven tricks.

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Where Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Come From?

by IVL Products

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the normal functioning of cells and organs in the body. Unfortunately, the human body cannot make these essential fatty acids, so we need a regular supplemental intake in our diet. 

Oily fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids

There are three types of omega-3: EPA and DHA, which are found mainly in certain types of fish; and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is found in nuts and seeds. The body needs all three types of omega-3 fatty acids to function properly.

EPA and DHA Fatty Acids

A healthy balanced diet should include DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These important omega-3 fatty acids can be found in cold water fish such as salmon (wild salmon has more omega-3 than farmed salmon), mackerel, herring, sardines, herring, tuna, lake trout and anchovies. These fish all contain high concentrations of omega-3 as they feed off green plants and algae which themselves produce omega-3. The American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish at least two times a week to receive sufficient DHA and EPA fatty acids.

ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

ALA omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in plants sources including flax seed, walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil, seeds and nuts. These ALAs have less potent health benefits than the fish-sourced omega-3s but they still play an important part in our health. However, these omega-3 fatty acid sources are high in calories and should therefore only be consumed in moderation.

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Fish Oil Supplements

Most people find it easiest to source omega-3 fatty acids from daily supplements of fish oil. This is the only way to know for sure that you are consuming a measured daily dose of EPA, DHA and ALA fatty acids. Supplements are cheaper than fish, and do not contain the same high calories as nuts and oils.

If you find taking fish oil supplements unpleasant, there are some ways to reduce the risk of suffering fishy burps throughout the day. Keep your fish oil capsules in the refrigerator. If you consume them cold, they pass further through the digestive tract before being broken down, reducing the likelihood of "repeats".

It also helps if you take fish oil supplements with food, preferably not carbs. If you take them at breakfast time, follow them with a bowl of oat cereal rather than a couple of slices of bread or toast. Complex carbs such as cereal take longer to digest than bread and seem to have the same effect on the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements. If that fails, experiment with different brands as supplement qualities vary. Find one that contains 1000 mg fish oil concentration in a serving of two softgels.

Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to your long-term health, it’s worth persevering. Eventually you will find a fish oil capsule that you can take daily without any side effects providing you with those essential omega-3s.

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Top Five Fish Oil Benefits for Women

by Health News

fish oil benefits for woman are surprisingThe benefits of omega-3 fish oil cannot be overemphasized. Daily supplements of this simple, cheap source of omega-3 fatty acids can support healthy, supple arteries, lower the risk of heart disease and reduce inflammation which causes arthritis and joint pain; and that's just for starters. There are even more fish oil benefits for women –so checkout these top five reasons to start taking fish oil regularly.

1. Promotes Weight Loss

Studies show that taking 600 mg fish oil supplements per day in conjunction with regular exercise and a calorie-restricted diet can be far more effective than diet, or diet and exercise, alone. Fish oil appears to boost fat-burning by switching on the enzymes that oxidize fat during exercise.

2. Improves Skin

Women tend to be more conscious of their aging skin and want to keep it looking youthful and wrinkle-free for as long as possible. Fish oil is full of DHA and EPA essential fatty acids which support healthy glowing skin. Fish oil benefits for women's skin include increased hydration, less spots and acne, regulated oil production and fewer wrinkles.  Even men wouldn’t turn down those benefits!

3. Reduces Depression

Women are statistically twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. Hormonal changes in puberty and menopause, post-natal "baby blues," biological factors and personal circumstances can all lead to women being diagnosed with depression.

RelatedNatural Remedies for Mild Depression

Omega-3 fish oil supplements have been shown to help keep those overwhelming feelings at bay. Scientists noticed that people living in countries where cold water fish were a major part of the diet had fewer reported cases of depression. Research suggests that raising the level of omega-3 in the blood stream, either by eating fish regularly or taking fish oil supplements, allows more absorption of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant.

4. Improves Fetal Brain Function

There are dozens of compelling reasons why pregnant women should take omega-3, according to this American pregnancy article.  In particular, fish oil is essential for the development of the neurological system of the unborn baby. It is also important for baby's visual development and helps the mother provide breast milk after the birth – yet more excellent fish oil benefits for women.

5. Slows Breast Tumor Development

According to the American Association of Breast Cancer, studies show an inverse correlation between high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and the risk of breast cancer. Specific studies on breast cancer and fish oil have shown positive indicators that fish oil slows cancerous cell growth, particularly in breast tumor development.

These are all highly significant fish oil benefits for women, making it a must for every woman to eat oily fish or take supplements on a regular basis. 

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Omega 3 Fish Oil for Weight Loss

by Cindy Gray

We are conditioned to think that all fat is bad, especially if we are trying to lose weight. Low-fat diets have been promoted for decades as the only way to shed body fat, but now it seems that is not entirely true. A recent study by the University of South Australian found that there are definite benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when taken in conjunction with regular exercise.

Studies show the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss

Study on the Weight Loss Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil

The Australian study focused on 75 participants who were diagnosed as overweight (>25 BMI) or obese (>30 BMI) with other risk factors for metabolic syndrome. These increased risk factors included high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, hypertension and/or heightened insulin levels.

The group was divided into four different categories and each group was given either:

  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with no exercise
  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with no exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with exercise

The supplements were 6 x 100 mg capsules of omega-3 fish oil or sunflower oil. The participants who included exercise in their program also completed three 45-minute runs each week at 75% of their maximum heart rate. No dietary changes were made to any of the participants’ routine.

After three weeks, members of three of the groups remained the same weight.  However, the group taking tuna fish oil supplements combined with exercise showed an average weight loss of 4.5 pounds, and a marked decrease in percentage body fat. This clearly showed the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when combined with regular exercise.

The study concluded that if the fish oil supplements and exercise regimen were adopted by someone who was also on a calorie-controlled diet, the weight loss could be even more substantial.

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How Does Omega-3 Fish Oil Benefit Weight Loss?

Omega-3 is known to improve blood flow to the muscles during exercise. It also helps trigger enzymes involved in burning or oxidizing fat when the metabolic rate increases during exercise. The combination of omega-3 and exercise prompts the body to carry fat to where the muscles can burn it as energy, thereby lowering body fat stores.

The study participants also underwent DEXA body scans which distinguish between fat, muscle and bone. Although three groups of participants remained unchanged, the group taking omega-3 with exercise showed a significant reduction of belly fat.

Those who took omega-3 fish oil without exercise still benefitted, as their blood pressure decreased during the study and there was a beneficial effect on their heart rate and triglyceride levels.

These encouraging results showing the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss will now be followed up with other studies by Professor Howe, Director of the Australian Technology Network for Metabolic Fitness. In the meantime, dieters have nothing to lose but fat if they add 600 mg omega-3 fish oil and regular exercise to their weight loss plan. 

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Fish Oil and Weight Loss: the Amazing Connection

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to Business Week, U.S. consumers spend $40 billion dollars a year on weight-loss programs and products, and that's a conservative estimate. Despite throwing so much money at the obesity problem, the National Institutes for Health reports that 66% (two out of three) adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. While Jenny Craig meal plans and Atkins shakes continue to cost dieters a fortune, scientists are working on a much cheaper and more effective solution for weight loss:  fish oil.

Scientific studies are showing success with fish oil weight loss

Compelling Fish Oil Weight Loss Studies

Several new studies into fish oil weight loss are showing promising results. A scientific study in Japan showed that mice fed omega-3 fatty acids and encouraged to exercise had a faster metabolic rate and put on less weight than mice that did not have the same regimen.

In Australia, a scientific study on 75 people who were overweight/obese and had additional risk of heart disease found that taking 600 mg fish oil supplements along with regular exercise led to a loss of 4.5 pounds in the three week period, without any change to the participants' diet. In contrast, those who took sunflower oil supplements (with no omega-3) or those who took omega-3 supplements without exercising saw no change in their weight or fat deposits.

Finally, the University of Georgia reported their findings about fish oil weight loss in the Journal of Nutrition. Their studies showed that fish oil prevented pre-fat cells from becoming fat cells by effectively causing the pre-fat cells to die. This meant that there was less fat stored in the body.  

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How Fish Oil Weight Loss Works

Gathering together all the information from these studies, it appears that taking fish oil supplements of 600 mg per day acts as a catalyst for the body to increase fat metabolism when exercise is performed. This increase in fat-burning leads to lower fat deposits in the body, specifically belly fat.

If exercise is absent, then the fish oil provides many other health benefits including supporting a healthy cardiovascular system and lowering inflammation, but it does not trigger weight loss in itself.

The Australian study was performed on overweight/obese people who continued with the same eating habits. However, by combining omega-3 fish oil, exercise, and a calorie controlled diet, faster weight loss could be expected than just restricting calories alone.

Tips for Fish Oil Weight Loss Success

  • Choose a high quality fish oil supplement that has a high level of DHA and EPA for the best results.
  • Check the origin of the fish oil. Alaskan fisheries tend to supply fish with less toxic metals.
  • Discuss your fish oil supplementation with your doctor, especially if you are already on medication. Although fish oil is safe, it may counteract other meds.  

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Can the Body Produce Essential Fatty Acids?

by Health News

The human body is amazing because it can produce or synthesize most of the different fats it needs from your diet with two exceptions: linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic (omega-6) acids. These essential fatty acids are essential to everyday function and any deficiency can lead to serious health problems.

Fish, fish oil supplements, nuts and seeds all provide omega-3 essential fatty acids

The one thing many health issues have in common is inflammation, according to Joseph C. Maroon M.D., Professor of Neurological Science at the University of Pittsburgh. A deficiency in essential fatty acids causes internal inflammation, which is the cause of many chronic conditions such as arthritis, depression, heart disease, joint pain, liver and kidney disease, decreased immune function and even dry skin.

Good Sources of Essential Fatty Acids

An honest appraisal of your daily diet may quickly show that our modern westernized diet falls well short of providing the essential fatty acids we need. According to the American Heart Association, we need to eat a 3.5 ounce serving of oily fish at least two times a week along with a balanced amount of seeds and nuts to provide those all-important omega-3s and omega-6s.

People with heart disease are advised to consume one gram of EPA and DHA essential fatty acids every day. These can best be sourced from oily fish, or from fish oil supplements.

Related:  How Omega 3 Fatty Acids Could Save Your Hair

Omega-3 vs Omega-6

Without a doubt, we need omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids regularly in our diet, but we need them in the correct 1:1 ratio. Omega-3 is found mainly in a range of shellfish and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, albacore tuna and sardines. It is also found in animal meat, flaxseed, walnuts, eggs and dairy products. Omega-6 comes in the form of linoleic acid from green leafy vegetables, seeds, grains and vegetable oils produced from corn, sunflower and soybean.

Our modern-day diets tend to lean heavily towards omega-6 fatty acids with a ratio of about 10:1. Health scientists now know that omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3s for use in the body. Having such an excess omega-6 can actually inhibit the availability of omega-3, so we are then unable to benefit from the intake of omega-3.  

As the body cannot produce either of these essential fatty acids, we need to obtain them in balance, reducing omega-6 oil intake and increasing foods high in omega-3.

The best way to ensure that you reach the required amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids is by taking a daily fish oil supplement. As yet there is no official recommended daily value, but most sources agree that 1000 mg per day provides the required amount. Look on the label for the breakdown of ingredients to ensure you are getting the EPA and DHA you need to provide your body with these essential fatty acids which are the building blocks of good health. 

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Six Ways Your Health Suffers When You Stop Working Out

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It takes time to build up your fitness level as part of a regular training program, but unfortunately it doesn't take long at all to lose those health benefits after falling off the rails or “detraining." Here's what to expect when you swap neck presses for Netflix or have stopped working out for a while.

Obesity is more likely in those who stopped working out

We can all think of plenty of excuses why we stopped working out.

  • Too expensive
  • Too time consuming
  • Too busy
  • Too hard
  • Too tired
  • Too hot in summer
  • Too cold in winter

However, if you've stopped working out, steel yourself to hear some harsh truths about how your health will suffer within a very short span of time.

Here's what to expect if you've stopped working out:

1. Shrinking Muscles

In the space of just two weeks, those toned quads and biceps will quickly turn to flab as your muscle mass declines through lack of use.

2. Decrease in Brain Power

Grumpiness is often a symptom suffered by those who have stopped working out as the negative change in lifestyle takes its toll on your brain and behavior. Studies on rats showed that when they stopped moving for a week, the rats developed fewer brain cells and performed poorly on maze tests compared to their counterparts who steadily exercised on a wheel.

3. Increase in Body Fat

As your metabolism slows after you stopped working out, those unburned calories will gradually build up as stored fat. Exercise professor Paul Arciero D.P.E. found that a break of just five weeks for college swimming students led to a 12% increase in body fat.

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4. Blood Pressure Rises

Just a short time after you have stopped working out, your blood pressure will rise as your blood vessels adapt to taking things easy. Within a month, expect stiffened arteries and veins, according to Linda Pescatello, Ph.D., University of Connecticut.

5. Blood Sugar Spikes

When you eat, your blood glucose rises but quickly readjusts as your body uses the glucose for energy. Unfortunately, just five days after you have stopped working out, your blood sugar levels will remain elevated, according to a study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal.  In the long-term, this leads to an increased risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

6. Shortness of Breath

After two weeks of no exercise, your muscles will be using around 20% less oxygen as you lose the mitochondria that convert oxygen into energy. Any additional exertion, such as climbing a flight of stairs, will quickly lead to a shortness of breath.

If you don’t like the picture of the new unfit "you" after you've stopped working out, the good news is that these health consequences can be reversed. Resolve to get back in training, whatever it takes, for your health's sake.