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Five Tips to Avoid Constipation While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Nothing can take the fun out a vacation faster than suffering from constipation. If it happens to you, rest assured, you are not alone.  Bowel movement issues are very common among travelers so it’s important to follow these five healthy travel tips to keep you regular.

Healthy traveling without constipation

Change Is NOT Always Good

Preparing for a trip and traveling, even if it is on vacation, can be very stressful. If you turn to junk food, skip meals or are feeling stressed, this can cause irregularities in your bowel movements.  Often, using unfamiliar bathrooms can induce anxiety.  Just not following your normal routine can contribute to constipation.

Maintaining healthy eating and drinking habits while preparing for and traveling can help you avoid traveler’s constipation.  Find a food vendor that offers fresh salads, fruit and high fiber cereals or breads and skip the fast food restaurants in the terminal or on the road. If possible, pack your own healthy high fiber snacks to munch on during the flight, train ride or car trip.

1. Dehydration Nation

The TSA won’t let you bring water through security and buying airport bottled water is expensive, so you might be tempted to let yourself get a little dehydrated. If you are road tripping you might drink less to avoid frequent bathroom stops; not a good thing!

Drink plenty of clear fluids, namely water, and save the alcoholic or sugary sodas and cocktails for a special occasion. You may also want to limit your caffeine intake for the duration of your trip, too. It can act as a diuretic and you need adequate water in your bowels to form normal stools and pass them regularly.

Bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it at a drinking fountain once you clear security. Sip, don’t gulp, throughout the day and plan accordingly for adequate bathroom breaks.

Related:  Dangers of Laxative Overuse for Chronic Constipation

2. Bacteria Is Your Friend

If you are not regularly taking a probiotic supplement you should be. These gut-healthy bacteria are essential for good digestion.  Before your trip, start taking them and pack them in your suitcase. They will keep your immune system strong and aid in digestion so you don’t end up with stubborn bowels that won’t move.

Try to include foods on your trip that are rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (a spicy fermented cabbage) too.

3. You Got To Move It Move It!

The last thing on your mind when traveling might be exercise. Who has time for that?  You do!

You don’t have to run several miles or go to a boot camp class, just choose stairs instead of the elevator once in awhile, walk to and from dinner, plan an activity that incorporates some walking, hiking or just hit the hotel pool for a few laps.  Mild to moderate exercise keeps your metabolism revved up and increased circulation will wake up sluggish bowels while encouraging you to drink plenty of fluids.

4. Don’t Sugar Coat It

Your bowels do not need a layer of sugar when they are already a bit stressed from travel.  Cut back on the sweet stuff and you’ll most likely keep them humming along just fine. It’s easy to over-indulge while on vacation and airport sweets might be tempting, before you board a morning flight, but resist the temptation! 

Pack your own healthy snacks like almonds, a clementine, apple or snack-sized package of whole grain crackers and save the sugar indulgence for the end of your trip.

5. Go Green

Green foods like broccoli, lettuce, peas, asparagus and spinach will make for a much more pleasant trip. Having a few salads with fresh fruits and vegetables will help you stay hydrated and full of fiber; essential for avoiding constipation.

Try eating a small salad or munching on some raw broccoli before meals to ensure you get in your greens. You’ll stay regular and slimmer on your trip.

Following these healthy travel tips can be the difference between the best trip ever, or an unpleasant journey marred by the pain and bloating of constipation.

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19 Tips to Avoid Air Travel Illness & Germs While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Getting ill while traveling is no fun, yet it happens all the time.  Following these travel sickness tips could help prevent illness so you can enjoy the journey.

Tips for Preventing Travel Illness.

Airplane Germs

Airports and airplanes are petri dishes of germs from millions of travelers.  Travel in the winter means more exposure to cold and flu viruses, bacteria abounds on handrails, elevator buttons and you will undoubtedly find yourself shoeless walking where many other feet have tread at the security area.  

Give your immune system a boost before travel by regularly taking probiotics for optimal gut health and a stronger immune system. It is also helpful to increase your intake of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that has shown to help lessen susceptibility to bacteria and viruses.  Also, consider vitamin D-3 supplements and zinc, known immunity boosters that can help fortified your immune system before you travel.

Wash your hands, a lot! Frequently washing your hands, especially before you eat or touch your face, is very important.  Many germs and types of bacteria can live on handrails, elevator buttons, doorknobs and handles for hours.  Use soap, wash for at least as long as it takes you to hum the happy birthday song under your breath; and when possible use a paper towel to open the bathroom door to exit.

If washing your hands is not an option, have a few antibacterial wipes in your carry-on to keep your hands clean.

Related:  Healthy Travel Begins with Immune-Boosting Supplements

Jet Lag Drag

Traveling across several time zones can leave you exhausted and cut into the enjoyment of your trip as you struggle to adjust.  You can avoid the worst of jet lag by following a few simple guidelines.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends you stay on your home sleep schedule for trips lasting two or less days, regardless of the difference in time zones. This will minimize disrupting your internal sleep, bathroom, and eating schedule.  

For longer trips, however, you should start slowly adjusting your schedule to the time zone you will be arriving at to start your trip or vacation. At least four days before your trip begins, shift your sleeping and eating times to match the time at your destination. Though it might be difficult, stay on the new time zone schedule as much as possible and try to go to bed when it gets dark there, not back at home.

Other things that can help are:

  • Opt for an overnight flight
  • Cut back on caffeinated foods and beverages
  • Drink plenty of water and other non-sugary fluids
  • Avoid alcohol for a few days and on the plane, it is a sleep disruptor
  • Consider taking melatonin tablets to help you fall asleep once you reach your destination (1-2 mg daily)

Light can be your friend against a jet lag foe. Exposure to bright natural light can help you stay awake and regulate natural secretions of melatonin in the brain.  Exposure to light inhibits the brain from secreting melatonin, and when it becomes dark, it will trigger its release to help you fall asleep.  Seek out bright light in the evening hours when traveling west and in the morning when you are east bound. Get as much sunshine as you can when you arrive at your destination to help you stay awake and adjust to a new sleep time.

Don’t DVT

DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a vein deep within a muscle, usually your calf or thigh.  Prolonged sitting causes DVTs, like on a flight across the ocean, or several days on a train.  If the clot breaks off it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

Because of the danger in sitting too long, make sure you get up and move around whenever possible. Walk briskly to your gate, take the stairs, and on the plane or train be sure to get up frequently to walk to the bathroom and stretch.

Wearing compression garments can help.  There are socks and even full length compression suits that can be worn underneath your clothing. The gentle pressure helps keep blood flowing and reduces the chance of developing a blood clot.

Speaking of clothing, wear comfortable loose fitting clothing.  Avoid pants and belts that are constricting.  

Other things you can do to lessen your risk of a DVT is:

  • Avoid caffeine
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Taking circulation supplements like natto (made from fermented soybeans) and fish oil can help

Following these few travel tips can make for a much more pleasant journey.

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Holy Basil: A Divine Answer to Stress Management

by Institute for Vibrant Living

All hail holy basil! This potent herb has many health benefits, some of them being reduced feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.  It has a long history of use around the globe for not only being physically, but mentally healthy, as well, and could be very beneficial for stress management.

Holy basil for stress reduction.

History

Holy basil is closely related to the more familiar sweet basil used in many dishes, especially in Italian cooking; and is from the mint family.  It is a shrub with fuzzy stems and leaves and native to Eastern tropical parts of the world. In India and Hindu countries, it is considered a sacred plant, thus the name holy basil.  It’s been grown and cultivated in India for the past 3,000 years and is revered for being a plant that can heal the body, mind and spirit.

Ayurvedic medicine has included the use of holy basil (aka tulsi) because of its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, among others. It is used to treat physical ailments like headaches, upset stomach, insect bites, skin rashes, and to calm nerves and help one sleep better.

Holy Health Benefits

Western medicine has begun to offer evidence that holy basil extract can dramatically reduce symptoms of general stress like:

  • Exhaustion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual/libido issues

The benefits of the herb administered in an extract proved to be effective after only six weeks of use in one study. 

Another study in 2008 used holy basil to evaluate its effectiveness in treating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders. Test participants took 500 mg of the herb in supplement form twice a day for 60 days.  Test administers published results saying those who took the herb supplement reported significantly reduced feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, in contrast to those who received a placebo.

Related:  Three Herbs for Stress Reduction

Other health benefits attributed to holy basil are due to its anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve:

  • Fevers
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Bites, cuts or stings

As a powerful antioxidant, holy basil is also showing to be a healthy supplement to boost cognitive function, strengthen the immune system, help kidneys function better, and stabilize blood glucose levels.

Holy Basil At Home

It’s simple to cultivate your own unlimited supply of holy basil at home.  You can plant it in in a garden pot inside to get it going when it’s cold outside and transplant it to warm soil (where it grows best) in the summer (at least 65-70 degrees F). Put it somewhere that will allow for full sun and be sure to water it regularly.  To encourage a larger, bushier plant cut off the flowering blossoms, though letting them grown into flowers does not affect the health benefits of the plant. Make sure your plant is well established and growing strong before you harvest the first leaves.

Holy Tea for Two

The best way to get maximum health benefits from holy basil is to use the leaves to make tea.  Pour eight ounces of boiling water over two teaspoons of fresh leaves, cover and steep for five minutes, then enjoy!

If you are not too keen on growing your own you can find the herb in supplement form.

If you are looking for some easy stress management techniques, sipping some holy basil tea could be for you.

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The Effects of Stress Include Faster Cancer Growth and Metastasis

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Whether sitting in heavy traffic or dealing with long-term financial woes, people are exposed to stress on a regular basis. The causes of stress are many, but all stress falls into one of two categories. The short-lived type of stress we might feel in traffic is known as acute stress, and this type usually wanes when the situation changes. The type of stress we feel when dealing with frequent financial trouble is known as chronic stress because it lasts for weeks, months, even years and has no clear end in sight. While acute stress presents little cause for concern, chronic stress can damage the health in many ways including encouraging the growth and spread of cancer.

A few simple practices can help counter the harmful effects of stress on health.

Research into the Effects of Stress on Cancer Growth and Metastasis

Isolation or confinement is a condition that creates stress in mice.  Research on mice with cancerous tumors found that tumors were more likely to metastasize (spread) when mice were isolated.  Another study showed that tumors transplanted into the mammary pads of mice metastasized much more quickly if mice were under constant stress than if mice were not under stress.  While scientists continue to research whether stress causes cancer directly, there's no doubt that it helps certain types of cancer grow and spread.  

How Stress Encourages the Growth and Spread of Cancer

Lorenzo Cohen, a professor of General Oncology and Behavioral Science explains that stress makes the body "more hospitable to cancer."  The release of hormones triggered by chronic stress hinders anoikis, a process in the body that destroys diseased cells and keeps them from spreading.  There is also some evidence to suggest that stress triggers the release of growth hormones that can boost blood supply to cancerous tumors.

Related:  Try Controlled Breathing for Difficulty Relaxing

While it is important for all people to try to counteract the effects of stress, it is essential for people with cancer.  Here are a few ways to keep stress at bay:

Try therapeutic strategies. Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reduce stress by discovering its sources and offering management tools for accompanying worry and anxiety.

Practice activities that encourage mindfulness.  Whether you enjoy painting or yoga, activities that keep the mind focused on something other than stress can provide temporary relief.

Get plenty of sleep.  A good night's sleep helps improve mood, memory and the ability to think clearly.  Proper sleep also helps boost the immune system, and a healthy body is the best defense against stress.

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The Effects of Stress on Your Immune System

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to preventing or fighting infection, the body relies on the immune system.  This network of cells, proteins, tissues and organs works to combat foreign invaders like germs, bacteria, fungi and parasites.  A number of things can weaken the immune system including chronic stress.  Because causes of stress include work, relationships, health problems and life changes, it is impossible to avoid.  Knowing more about the how stress affects the immune system can help. 

Activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, reading or listening to soft music can help combat the effects of stress.

The Research

Research from Ohio State University has shown marked effects of stress on the immune systems of medical students, especially during arduous three-day exams.  Effects include weakened infection-fighting T-cells and reduced production of gamma interferon, a protein that helps boost the immune system.

Subsequent research examined the effects of stress-easing interventions on medical students during exams.  Results showed that the immune systems of medical students who participated in regular hypnosis and relaxation training were more robust than those of medical students who did not participate in these techniques.

Another study examined men infected with HIV who were asymptomatic at the onset of the study.  The research showed that men with higher levels of stress experienced a quicker progression of AIDS than men with lower stress levels.  After five years, the chances for developing AIDS were two to three times higher in men with higher-than-normal stress levels.

Related:  Does Stress Impair Memory?

In addition to causing physiological changes in the immune system, stress can lead people to engage in behaviors like drinking, smoking and unhealthy eating.  When combined with stress, any or all of these behaviors can wreak havoc on the immune system.

Fortunately, there are techniques to lessen the effects of stress on the immune system and other areas of the body.  These include:

  • Stress-relieving activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, reading, warm baths, or listening to soft music
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Bonding with a pet
  • Establishing and maintaining close relationships with friends and family

Research clearly shows that chronic stress can impact health by weakening the immune system. Instead of choosing to ignore stress or to eat, drink, or smoke it away, people can take advantage of the tips above to reduce stress levels and keep harmful foreign invaders at bay.

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Stress and Allergies – The Surprising Stress Allergy Link

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that your nervous system and your immune system are closely linked? This means that causes of stress can increase allergy symptoms, and these in turn create more stress. That doesn’t mean that chronic stress actually causes allergies, but for those with existing sensitivity it can trigger the symptoms or make them worse, according to a study in The Journal of Investigative Allergology and Clinical Immunology.

Scientific trials on allergy sufferers showed a definite relationship between stress and allergies, which were measured using allergy skin tests. Participants were placed in a stressful position, such as having to calculate a math problem in their head in front of a panel of judges. The skin tests showed that the effects of stress raised allergy levels immediately after the stressful situation, and even more severely the day after.

Understanding Allergies

Allergies are increasingly common in children and evidence suggests that allergies may be caused by environmental factors such as stress. Allergies are a hypersensitivity to harmless environmental or food substances such as pollen, dust mites and mold. The body detects the presence of these “dangers” and produces a hormone response. This causes side effects such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, skin reactions and asthma which themselves put the body under stress.

Related:  Five Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

Effects of Stress on Allergies

Stress does not cause an allergy, but it can play a role in worsening the allergy symptoms. Doctors specializing in psychoneuroimmunology understand that when the body is under stress, it feels threatened and that triggers the chemicals and hormones in the brain that are responsible for that “fight or flight” response. The heart rate will increase and blood pressure will be raised as the effects of stress take their toll. This is known to trigger asthma, eczema or skin rashes (hives).

Suffering itchy skin and labored breathing understandably causes stress, overwhelming the immune system and setting up a viscous circle of stress = allergies = more stress.

Like many enigmas, it’s a matter of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. In this case, should you treat the causes of stress to reduce the allergies, or manage the allergies to lower stress?

Treating Allergies by Lowering the Causes of Stress

Advice from Dr. James Sublett of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises allergy sufferers to work with a board-certified allergist to help avoid allergy triggers and lower the effects of stress caused by the symptoms.

Other specialists suggest that allergy sufferers should alleviate stress levels using breathing exercises, meditation and adopting a healthy lifestyle. They should also quit smoking and avoid caffeine, which can contribute to stress. By reducing the causes of stress, allergy flares will be less severe and less frequent. It seems that managing stress lowers allergies and controlling allergies reduces stress, so it’s a win-win situation.

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Laugh Away Stress: 10 Tips on How to Laugh More

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may remember the Robin Williams movie, Patch Adams that illustrated how humor provided relief in a hospital setting. Based on the true story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams, the story holds more than a little truth when it comes to using laughter as a tool for stress management.

Try laughter as a form of stress management!

Here are just some of the health benefits that laughter and humor provide:

  • Lower hypertension
  • Reduces stress
  • Relaxes the body
  • Triggers the release of endorphins which promote happiness and relaxation
  • Cleanses the lungs of stale air
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Increases muscle flexibility
  • Boosts the production of T-cells
  • Helps us keep life’s problems in perspective

It’s a commonly quoted fact that adults laugh about 15 times a day while children laugh about 400 times.  No wonder the problems of the world and life in general, sometimes get us down.

Study on Stress Hormones and Laughter

A study led by Lee Berk at Loma Linda University in California showed that laughter not only lowers blood pressure and boosts mood-elevating endorphins, but even anticipating a fun event can lower the three main stress hormones: cortisol, adrenaline and dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC).

This study focused on 16 men. Half were told they would be watching a humorous video they had selected earlier, and half were told they would be sitting in a room reading magazines as a control group. The researchers measured hormone levels throughout the study and noted that 30 minutes after the video was over, cortisol was down 67%, adrenaline was down 35%, and DOPAC was down 69%. The surprise was that even before the group watched the video, the anticipation of laughter lowered cortisol by 39%, adrenaline by 70% and DOPAC by 38%.

The power of feel-good chemicals produced by the body should not be underestimated for stress management. They are believed to be up to 200 times more powerful than morphine and side effects are zero.

Related:  Five Fun Ways to Connect with your Partner

Ways to Use Laughter as Stress Management

Now we know the value of laughter to reduce stress and cortisol levels, we need to adopt some sure-fire ways to increase laughter in our lives. Here are 10 suggestions:

  • Read some funny jokes from a book, or search the internet
  • See humor in everyday life. There’s always something to smile about, such as wearing odd socks to work!
  • Plan a fun evening with some light-hearted friends
  • Spend time with younger members of the family; they are always able to raise a smile
  • Rent a funny movie – and anticipate laughter, just like in the study
  • Collect and share humorous sayings and true funny stories
  • Look out for a funny advertisement, ridiculous billboard or humorous commercial that makes you smile
  • Practice fake laughing as if you’re auditioning for a part. Even fake laughter triggers a response so spend a few minutes a day managing stress by perfecting that laugh out loud
  • Get together with friends and workmates and have a laughing contest. The effect is contagious and will soon have you laughing for real!
  • Find a few more funny activities as part of your stress management activity.
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5 Fabulous Foods For Fall and More Healthy Eating Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Fall is the season of harvest, Thanksgiving and hearty wholesome cuisine as the temperatures drop. Check out these fall food favorites and see how they contribute to a healthy eating plan.

Using oysters, nuts and fall fruits in your meals is an excellent way to focus on healthy eating while still getting in some fun flavors and textures.

Apples for Quercetin

Apples are seasonally harvested in fall. There are over 7,000 varieties, with some species better than others for cider-making, pie-baking, storing, drying or eating right from the fruit bowl. One medium apple has around 96 calories and is great for healthy eating as it delivers 4.4 grams of fiber, 8.4 mg vitamin C as well as calcium, iron and trace minerals. Apples also contain high levels of pectin and the antioxidant quercetin, which may help prevent allergy symptoms.

Squash for Beta Carotene

Pumpkins and winter squash are a healthy source of beta carotene and magnesium with their soft golden flesh. Roast, bake or add to casseroles and know you are getting around 4,600 mcg of beta carotene per half cup of butternut squash. Spaghetti squash has lower levels of beta-carotene but does have double the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, another great fall food for healthy eating.

Beta carotene is used in the body to make vitamin A.  In a study at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii researchers showed that beta-carotene can turn on a gene to help prevent the growth of cancerous cells.

Related:  Four Nutritional Powerhouses that should be a Part of Your Diet

Mushrooms for Immunity

Cool humid conditions are ideal for producing mushrooms with 10 different species being grown commercially. Mushrooms are currently being trialed as a suppressant for breast cancer as they remove estrogen from the blood. Beta-glucan protects against colds and flu viruses while reishi mushrooms have positive antiviral properties. In addition, shiitake, portobello, oyster and reishi mushrooms contain a polysaccharide molecule that stimulates the immune system. Slice mushrooms on salad or add them to almost any hot dish to boost immunity as winter approaches.

Oysters for Zinc

Eaten either raw or cooked, oysters are deliciously nutritious as part of any healthy eating lifestyle. However, to avoid food poisoning associated with eating raw contaminated oysters, play on the safe side and enjoy them cooked. Each serving of six oysters contains 43 calories packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Top of the list is 33 mg of zinc, which is 220% of the recommended daily value. And there’s always the unproven reputation that oysters have as an aphrodisiac!

Turkey for Tryptophan

Fall would not be the same without Thanksgiving turkey. A three-ounce serving of perfectly roasted turkey meat gives you 25 grams of lean protein (half your daily requirements) and far less calories and fat than an equivalent serving of roast beef. Turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that the body cannot make. It is used to make niacin and serotonin, so perhaps that’s why a nap is in order after any Thanksgiving turkey feast!

Now you can look forward to fall, knowing it is a great season for enjoying the tastiest healthy eating, from Apples to Zinc!

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Top Supplements to Erase Problems of Aging Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of the common aging skin problems is light or dark brown spots called age spots. They are show up on the face, chest, shoulders and hands in both men and women; and they can affect younger people, too.  They are also called liver spots and are a result of dietary deficiencies and years of exposure to the harsh rays of the sun.

Topical creams and cover-ups will temporarily disguise the unsightly spots but in order to get rid of them, or at the very least lighten them so they are less noticeable, you will need to treat them from the inside out.

Supplements and lifestyle changes can help prevent age spots and aging skin.

Supplements

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a power antioxidant that will help damaged skin cells repair themselves and prevent new ones from popping up.  Antioxidants help your body combat cell damaging free radicals by neutralizing them. It also aids in circulation by extending the life cycle of red blood cells, important for transporting oxygen to cells for energy and keeping toxins from building up in the body. Research suggests vitamin E may also help slow down the aging process by protecting cellular membranes.

The recommended dosage for adults is 200 IU of vitamin E in d-alpha tocopherol form daily for maximum benefit.

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency & Diseases of the Digestive System

Vitamin C

Everyone should get plenty of vitamin C in their diet, even if they don’t have age spots.  Found in abundance in citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), spinach and kale, it is a critical nutrient that supports good health and can help get rid of common aging skin problems like age spots, but also fine lines and wrinkles. 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant to rid your body of damaging free radicals. It also helps to combat the formation of new brown spots by offering protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s like an internal broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

Results are not immediate, meaning, you will need to take the vitamin C and be patient for up to a year for the dark spots to fade. In the meantime slather lots of sunscreen on your face, hands and where ever else spots have formed.

The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C supplements for adults is 2,000 milligrams per day.

Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is responsible for the bright vibrant color in many healthy foods like carrots, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe and winter squash.

When consumed, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, cell mucous membranes and skin.  It is also an antioxidant to help damaged cells regenerate.

Prevention

Of course, the most effective way to treat age spots is to not let them form at all. You can help yourself avoid this common aging skin problem by adopting a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, adding these supplements to your diet and applying sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to your exposed skin every day, year round.

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Antioxidants: Your Immune System’s Secret Weapon

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Our immune system is a complex army of warriors with different “weapons” patrolling the body to hunt down and kill invading bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, as we age, it does too, and becomes weaker along with muscles, eyes, and everything else. Fortunately, there are immune boosters in your refrigerator called antioxidants that can keep your disease fighting warriors stronger for longer.

Fruits and vegetables are powerful immune boosters.

Antioxidants to the Rescue

What exactly is an antioxidant? Our bodies naturally produce free radicals as a result of exposure to environmental toxins like too much sunlight, cigarette smoke, radiation and even some prescription drugs.  You also produce free radicals along with inflammation in the body when you exercise, become overly stressed, and as you age. Because free radical molecules are missing an electron, they seek out and capture electrons from other molecules turning them into free radicals, a process known as oxidation. 

 

Antioxidants generously lend molecules missing an electron one of theirs without becoming free radicals themselves, thus halting the destructive chain reaction in the body. Left unchecked free radicals disrupt DNA and cause your cells to become weaker and weaker until they die.  They are tiny superhero defenders of youth and vitality.

Antioxidants for What Ails You

Our immune system cells are as susceptible to free radical damage as any other kind of cell, and we need a steady supply to stay healthy. Incorporating antioxidants into your diet helps as an immune booster and assists your immune system to produce strong B and T lymphocytes, phagocytes and neutrophils.

Several of our organs play a key role in the immune system and also need to be constantly generating strong healthy cells to replace those lost to free radicals. Make sure you ingest plenty of antioxidants to boost your immune system to help stave off disease, and even slow down the aging process.

Related:  Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant

Essential Antioxidants

Fortunately, it’s easy to fill up on antioxidants. They are found in many of the healthiest and delicious foods available to us in abundance.  Certain antioxidants are not being produced by the body, so you need to get them from you diet. They are:

Resveratrol – found in grapes, many vegetables, dark chocolate (cocoa) and wine. It also helps lower blood pressure, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation in the body.

Carotenoids- give certain foods their bright color like tomatoes (lycopene) and carrots (beta-carotene). They are converted to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, in the body.

Xanthophyll – found in kiwis, maize (a kind of corn), grapes, squash and oranges.

Astaxanthin – a marine carotenoid that offers protection from ultraviolet radiation. It also has been found to slow down macular degeneration, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, several types of cancer and is a powerful immune booster.

Vitamins C and E – are generous electron donors and offer a host of other health benefits.

Best Sources of Antioxidants

Healthy and delicious foods can supply most of your antioxidant needs. You might also benefit from an antioxidant supplement to make sure you get adequate amounts daily. Be sure to add to your diet:

  • Nuts
  • Herbs and spices
  • Green tea
  • Fruits and vegetables

Fresh, organic produce and tea are your healthiest options, but even frozen foods offer some beneficial immune booster antioxidants.

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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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Top Ways to Flush Out Toxins – The Benefits of Detox

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Every day the human body is exposed to trace amounts of over 80,000 industrial chemicals, toxins and pollutants, according to Brenda Watson, nutritionist and author of The Detox Strategy. We need to embrace the benefits of detox to help counter this daily assault on our system.  These insidious poisons include lead pollutants in the air, heavy metals in seafood, pollutants in the water supply, smoke in public areas; and a host of chemicals in household cleaners, perfumes, plastics and insecticides. It’s essential to give your body a chance to expel these dangerous toxins and recover with a concentrated detox program.

Drink more water and natural juices for top detox benefits

Here are 5 steps to help you reap the benefits of detox:

1.     Boost fiber intake

The colon can become clogged and sluggish on a modern diet of junk food, sugar and processed meals. An overload of fiber acts as a garbage truck, removing toxic waste and thoroughly cleansing the digestive tract. Try to eat 30-40 grams of fiber daily, starting with a high fiber breakfast to kick start your detox benefits.

2.     Drink More Juice

Cranberry or orange juice? The best answer is BOTH! These juices are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Cranberry juice enables the liver to break down fat and acts as a diuretic, a key part of any successful detox program.

Related:  Five Reasons to Add Cranberries to Your Daily Diet

3.     Purified Water

Drink a minimum of eight glasses of water throughout the day, and use either filtered or distilled water to avoid the bacteria and chemicals found in bottled, spring and mains water. Water stimulates the kidneys to detoxify and helps reduce constipation from the increased fiber.

4.     Exercise Daily

Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system which is important for a strong immune system. Working up a sweat also eliminates toxins through the skin. Daily walks, jogging, swimming and other activities will be rewarded with many detox benefits as you feel an increased level of fitness and more energized.

5.     Exfoliate

Detox benefits can be stimulated from the outside as well as from within. Treat yourself to a full body rub with a sea salt scrub which increases perspiration. The salt increases detoxification and the scrubbing action helps to eliminate dead skin cells, opening the pores to allow more effective detox benefits.

An effective detox program will cleanse the whole body from top to toe, including the kidneys, liver and colon. You know it has done you good as you will feel lighter, healthier and far more energetic. Losing weight is another detox benefit, so keep up the healthy diet and exercise to shed those excess pounds. 

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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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Overweight AND Malnourished?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of the ironies of the American diet is that people can be overfed yet undernourished. Learning how diet contributes to obesity is just one part of understanding the link between diet and health. Even if you eat plenty of food, you can still display malnutrition symptoms if you are filling up on unhealthy foods.

Malnutrition symptoms may occur even if you are overweight

Studies show that despite the abundance of food, a huge proportion of Americans are suffering from basic nutritional deficiencies. Over 30% of people are short of magnesium and essential vitamins A, C and E. More than 80% of diets lack vitamin D, and 90% of adults do not eat enough omega-3 fats. These are essential for controlling inflammation and blood sugar levels in the body.  So what’s going wrong?

Processed Foods Provide “Empty Calories”

Eating processed foods such as burgers, canned food, sausages, bacon, French fries, snacks, convenience foods and soda means a diet high in calories but low in vitamins and nutrients. Laden with high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and preservatives, these foods are far from the meat, fruit and vegetables that our bodies are designed to consume, and they can quickly lead to malnutrition symptoms.

We need vitamins and minerals from fruit, vegetables and whole foods to maintain a healthy metabolism which helps burn fat and regulate sugar levels. Without them, the metabolism becomes sluggish. Instead of burning those excess calories it turns them into stored fat, making the problem even worse. It’s easy to understand how the diet contributes to obesity when it lacks the core elements.

Intensive farming can also lead to malnutrition symptoms. Intensive farming has depleted the soil. A study of the food we eat today shows it has far fewer vitamins, calcium and iron than it had in the 1950s.

Related:  Eight Tips:  A Healthy Foundation for the Food You Eat

Symptoms of Modern Malnutrition

While scurvy and rickets are thankfully a thing of the past, malnutrition symptoms from a lack of vitamins and minerals in a modern diet can include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Depression
  • Poor recovery after illness or surgery
  • Low white blood cells and weakened immune system
  • Fertility problems and poor libido
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Dry hair and hair loss
  • Pale dry skin and wrinkles
  • Constipation
  • Decreased mobility due to muscle wasting

Malnutrition symptoms may be due to digestive disorders, stomach conditions, alcoholism, or most likely an imbalanced diet. If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s worth analyzing what you are eating and how much you are eating. Understanding how diet contributes to obesity, and how at the same time it can cause malnutrition, is the first step to changing your life.

By adopting a more natural, healthy diet you can improve your health and increase your longevity.  Start by avoiding processed foods such as foods that come in boxes and cans; avoid excessive meat consumption, particularly sausage, bacon and deli meats; avoid fried foods such as French fries; reduce or eliminate snack  and convenience foods.  Commit to eliminating high fructose corn syrup and trans fats from your diet; instead include healthy oils such as olive and coconut oils.  Stop drinking soda pop, and avoid sugar consumption.  Never consume artificial sweeteners; they are dangerous to say the least.  Make sure to consume at least five servings of fresh vegetables and fruit a day to help lower your weight while boosting nutritional value. It’s a great recipe for better health!

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Are Statins Killing You? The Top 6 Dangers of Statins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you part of the one in four Americans over the age of 45 who take statins? Statin drugs are prescribed to help lower cholesterol, but the dangers of statins and the truth about its efficacy are now being questioned. One of the hurdles in reversing the policy on statins is the fact that Big Pharma makes huge profits from the sales of statin drugs, with a reported turnover of $29 billion in 2013.

Studies are showing there may be hidden dangers to statins

The Dangers of Statins

Several surveys have reported results that show statins may be doing more harm than good when it comes to our health. Their results show:

  • Statins interfere with the natural production of Coenzyme Q10, which helps maintain blood pressure, supports the cardiovascular system and is essential for the immune and nervous systems
  • Studies have found a link between statin use and memory loss, possibly because cholesterol is essential to brain function. Some patients find they are unable to remember words while others develop serious neurological problems such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Statins appear to weaken the immune system, so users are more prone to bacterial infections
  • Statin drugs promote inflammation due to the increased production of cytokines
  • Statin users are at higher risk of Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), according to Dr. David Williams
  • In animals studies, statins caused 226% more muscle damage in animals when they exercised, compared to animals that were not on statins

And the list goes on and on. It’s a cause for reflection for those who take statins and are so far unaware of the dangers of statins.

Related:  Knock Down Bad Cholesterol with these Four Foods

When to Stop Taking Statins

Although studies have shown that statins help reduce cholesterol, which is thought to lower the risk of heart disease, it may not apply to those over the age of 50. A Japanese study found that high cholesterol is not necessarily associated to coronary heart disease in those over the age of 50. This study suggests that older people would actually be healthier if they stopped taking statins at middle age.

Harlan Krumholz at the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at Yale discovered that elderly people with low cholesterol were twice as likely to die from heart attack as those with high cholesterol, which contradicts popular beliefs about the need for statins into old age.

In addition to this, the University of Minnesota Epidemiology Department studied 68,000 deaths and found that low cholesterol was associated with an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal or respiratory disease. This ties in with the above findings about the dangers of statins weakening the immune system.

While the debate continues about the dangers of statins, one message remains clear. By eating a healthy balanced diet based on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, such as the Paleo diet recommended by Dr. Mercola, your body may balance its own levels of cholesterol, leading to a longer life, safely and naturally.

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The Effects of Stress on Your Brain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Whether dealing with financial issues, relationship problems or trouble on the job, people are exposed to stress on a daily basis.  No matter what the causes of stress, getting a handle on it is important.  Over a prolonged period, stress wreaks havoc with the health, and research shows it is particularly damaging to the brain.  A moderate amount of stress makes the brain more resilient by building stronger neural circuits, but chronic stress can damage the brain in more ways than one.

It is important to take steps to counter the effects of stress and the release of cortisol.

 

Interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal are referred to as the HPA axis, which controls the body's response to stress.  Stressful situations activate the HPA, and the body responds by releasing cortisol, a hormone which prepares the body for fight or flight.  This hyper-sensitive state of being can prove healthy and necessary in emergency situations but not over prolonged periods of time.

Excess cortisol triggers electric signals in the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for learning, memory and emotion).  This weakens the hippocampus and slows activity in the HPA axis, which not only affects learning and memory but diminishes the body's ability to respond to stress.

French researchers found that stress triggers the release of an enzyme that attacks areas of the hippocampus responsible for synaptic connections.  Destruction of connections between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex can affect judgment, sociability, memory and understanding.

Related:  Keeping your Memory Sharp

Fortunately, you can take a number of easy steps to help counteract the effects of stress and the release of cortisol:

Participate in enjoyable activities.  Whether you enjoy painting, gardening or lunching with friends, it's hard to be stressed when you're having fun.

Keep a journal.  Writing down feelings and emotions can be cathartic.  Keeping a journal also helps track your stress and determine what's causing it.  

Be mindful.  Worrying about the past or what might happen in the future does not help stress levels.  A number of activities like meditation, yoga, or guided imagery will help keep you in the present. 

Get off the couch or office chair.  Physical activity triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.  If you can't commit to a full workout, try desk pushups, running stairs or walking the dog.

It is next to impossible to avoid stress, but it's important to the health of the whole body to do something about it.  The activities listed above help weaken the effects of stress on the brain, heart, immune system and more
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What Should You Know About Diet and Yeast Infections

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Too much sugar in one’s diet can contribute to the development of a yeast infection. Yeast infections are the result of candida, a fungus. Usually, the growth of this fungus is naturally limited by the body’s own immune system, but under some conditions candida can grow and yeast infection can occur.

Yeast infections have been linked to a poor diet and can be prevented by limiting excessive consumption of sugar.

Yeast infection causes can be diverse. Wearing damp underwear or wet swimwear can attribute to the conditions necessary for yeast infections to take place. Other risk factors include pregnancy, elevated levels of stress, as well as the use of oral contraceptives and even antibiotics. However, there are also dietary factors that can contribute to yeast infections.

When it comes to diet and yeast infections, too much sugar in a diet can cause this unpleasant issue. In many ways, this is no great surprise, as sugar damages DNA and compromises the immune system. Sugar has no nutritional value. Yet, it is widely found in processed foods and fast food. It is possible to believe that you are limiting your sugar consumption only to have sugar sneak in through a variety of different foods.

Candida feeds on sugar and sugar comes in many different forms. For example, fruits are nutritional superstars and packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and disease fighting compounds. However, too much fruit can play a role in yeast infections. While this may seem counterintuitive, it is important to remember that when it comes to candida, too much sugar in any form can be a problem.

There are many concrete steps you can take to fight off yeast infections. The most obvious step is of course to dramatically reduce your consumption of sugar. Many people add sugar, often large amounts, to tea and coffee or consume sugar-packed soft drinks, energy drinks or sports drinks. Eliminating this sugar is one of the easiest steps you should take. Consider replacing the sugar in your diet with increased amounts of lean protein, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Beans are another good choice as they are nutrient dense and are also rich in fiber.

Related:  Maintain Normal Blood Sugar Levels with Astaxanthin

Finally, consider taking probiotics to help in your fight against yeast infections. Acidophilus appears to be one of the more effective probiotics for treating yeast infections. While yogurt and kefir are also excellent sources of probiotics, they can also contain a good amount of sugar, so opt for probiotics in pill form.

By now you know that too much sugar in diet causes yeast infections, but you also now have the knowledge you need to address the situation.  Changing your diet is a big step toward getting your yeast infection under control. By reducing your sugar intake and opting for a healthier diet, you may find that you have more energy, look better and even enjoy a stronger immune system. Ultimately, your yeast infection could be a blessing in disguise if you make the right dietary adjustments.

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Mindfulness: The Key to Love and Relationships

by Institute for Vibrant Living

What does it take to be happy; and does mindfulness play a role? Traditional mindfulness involves paying close attention to one’s body and whatever happens at any given moment. The end goal of a mindful approach is to be aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, as well as one’s surroundings in an ongoing fashion.

The art of cultivating mindfulness, and what it can do for you.

Scientific research has concluded that mindfulness can help people reduce stress and even address a range of mental health disorders. Studies have also shown that mindfulness meditation can also change the structure of the brain causing changes in various regions including the anterior cingulate cortex.

The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are well documented. Meditation has been shown to increase overall brain function, boost the immune system and more. In particular, mindfulness and meditation has been shown to improve one’s mental health and help people achieve a more positive outlook on life. Such emotional chances can help people become more caring and more loving and, in turn, help them bring love into their own lives.

Most of us give a great deal of thought to what it takes to have a career, or get into the right school or even to finding the right mate. But what about happiness? What role does mindfulness play in finding love and building strong relationships?

Compelling Research from a 75 Year Harvard Study

Finding love is important and science is backing up this assertion. A study conducted by Harvard researchers called the Harvard Grant Study followed 268 male Harvard undergraduate men for over 75 years. This interesting study concluded that finding love really did make a difference in the lives of the men.

A key conclusion of the study was that men were only truly happy if they found love and enjoyed strong relationships. This can lead us to a very straightforward but powerful conclusion. The time you invest in becoming a calmer and more aware version of yourself is an investment in your ultimate happiness.

Related: Can Love Be The Cure For Cancer?

Improving Your Relationship with You

The bottom line is that those looking for love will first want to make sure that they love themselves. Self-loathing, self-abuse or hostility towards the world doesn’t mix well with bringing love into one’s life. Mindfulness and meditation can help you get in touch with your life and what you want, and that can help you create a personal climate that is right for love. In other words, you can’t find love if you are angry all the time, or if you simply can’t stand yourself.

Mindfulness is about being aware of the world you live in. By approaching the world in a mindful fashion, you are able to pay more attention to what is important. For those looking for love, nothing could be more significant. Most of us live very distracted lives, and that means failing to notice opportunities for love even when they could be right in front of our eyes. Being present in the moment and aware of what is happening around you is one of the best ways to discover love.

Embracing the Future

Looking to the future is important, but so is being aware of what is happening in the “here and now.” Instead of always thinking about the future, spend more time living and being in the moment. If you combine this approach with becoming a calmer and more grounded person, then your chances of finding love will soar!

 

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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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Researchers Reveal Melanoma Is More Deadly For Pregnant Women

by IVL Products

Melanoma is a cancer that affects certain types of skin cells.  While many experts target outdoor enthusiasts when it comes to taking precautions against this type of cancer, a recent study shows vulnerability in a new group:  pregnant women. The study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology revealed some shocking results when it came to pregnant women and skin cancer, specifically melanoma.

Pregnant or recently pregnant women experience higher rates for death from melanoma than women who are not pregnant.

Researchers studied 462 women with melanoma who were 49 years of age or younger.  Within the larger group were 41 women who had been diagnosed with the skin cancer while pregnant or within one year of giving birth.  

Researchers found that women diagnosed with melanoma while pregnant or recently pregnant were five times more likely to die from it than women with melanoma who were not pregnant.  Melanoma diagnosed in pregnant or recently pregnant woman was nearly seven times more likely to metastasize (spread to other parts of the body), and women in this group were nearly ten times more likely to experience a recurrence of the cancer within 7 ½ years.

Related:  Five Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

The study's results do not indicate that pregnant or recently pregnant women are more likely to develop melanoma, yet they do show melanoma is more aggressive in this group of women.  While they have not determined a cause for the increased virulence, the researchers do venture a few possibilities.  It may be related to a diminished immune system that helps prevent rejection of the fetus or it could be caused by hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy like a rise in estrogen levels.

Conclusion

Research shows that when it comes to skin cancer, women from 20 to 40 years of age are experiencing rising rates.  Females in this age group who have a history of heavy sun exposure, family members with skin cancer, or a large number of moles should examine their skin on a regular basis and contact a dermatologist with any concerns.  Women with high risks for skin cancer may also want to consult with a dermatologist before planning a family.

In addition to regular self-examination, most experts recommend the following tips for preventing melanoma and other types of skin cancer:

  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, specifically 10 am to 4 pm
  • Avoid tanning lamps or beds
  • Apply a broad-spectrum, natural sunscreen if expecting to be in the sun longer than 15 minutes
  • Wear protecting clothing