Antioxidants and Skin Health: Three Steps to Consider

by Cindy Gray

Most folks know that eating foods and taking supplements with antioxidants are good for them.  Those critical nutrients found in vitamins like A, C and E are good for you, both inside and out.  

Consuming antioxidants and skin health go hand in hand, so to speak, and in just a few easy steps you can keep your skin looking younger for longer.

1. Layer It On

We are exposed to sunlight from our earliest days of life. Wearing sunscreen religiously every day is the best way to protect your skin from the ravages of the sun. However, most of us tend to skip it now and then.  And you may recall experiencing some sunburn back when you were just a kid. 

Those dark spots, dry patches and wrinkles are the result of cell damaging free radicals, which are molecules that have lost an electron.  Feeling bereft, these free radical molecules steal from healthy cells, which starts a chain reaction that eventually damages the cell leaving the evidence of their crime on your face in the form of wrinkles and sunspots.

If you neglected sun protection when you were younger, there is something you can do about it now.  Eat foods and take supplements rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E.  They contain nutrients that generously give free radicals the electron they so desperately want, thus halting their cell damaging thievery and restoring healthy skin cells.

2. Don’t Fan the Flames

The body’s natural response to cell damage is to ignite a fire—such as inflammation—to try to destroy whatever is causing the trouble. Most people suffer from chronic inflammation caused by sun exposure, smoking, and consuming too many sugary foods and drinks, along with the daily activities of life.

Over time, the inflammation takes a heavy toll on the body, especially the skin, leaving it dry, red and sometimes with a pimple or two to add insult to injury. 

Consuming antioxidants is like throwing a bucket of water on the fire. They quench the burn and help damaged cells repair themselves.

3. Eat Drink and Be Healthy

Here is a list of the top antioxidants that should be included in your healthy skin diet:


Known as a carotenoid, it is what gives certain food a red hue.  Lycopene helps improve the texture of your skin by supporting collagen production (a protein that makes up the support bands beneath the dermis) while it reverses free radical damage that causes wrinkles.  You can find it in cooked tomatoes, watermelons, grapefruit and sweet red peppers.

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

Vitamin C

This essential nutrient is showing to be a powerful weapon in the war on aging. It works as an antioxidant and collagen booster to help reverse the signs of aging by smoothing out wrinkles and encouraging healthy skin cell turnover to shed those dark spots for clearer, younger looking skin. You can find it in citrus fruits like oranges, kiwis and strawberries.

Vitamin A

This antioxidant plays an important role in bone growth, reproduction and keeping the immune system healthy. It also helps undo the damage from sun exposure by neutralizing free radicals. You can find it in sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and spinach.

Because too much vitamin A can be toxic, it’s best to get it from your diet rather than supplements.

Vitamin E

Since sun damage is the top producer of free radicals that damage skin cells, vitamin E is a critical antioxidant for skin health.  When combined with vitamin C, it is very effective at protecting skin from UV damage by halting inflammation and limiting DNA damage.  It is also known as a-tocopherol so check for it on the ingredients list when choosing an antioxidant-rich supplement.  You can find it in abundance in foods like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, asparagus and spinach.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin and has shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is especially helpful in getting rid of sunspots due to its depigmenting properties. Find it in pork, chicken and fish like tuna, farmed salmon and halibut or swordfish.

The Skin-ny:

Antioxidants and skin health are intertwined so if you want to keep your complexion radiant, eat foods rich in antioxidants and pop supplements with these essential nutrients. 


Battle Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Two Red Superfoods

by IVL Products

Modern life comes with jam-packed schedules, making people more tired than ever.  While occasional fatigue is normal, chronic fatigue is not, especially when severe.  If people experience debilitating physical and mental fatigue that lasts for more than six consecutive months, they may have chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS.  Additional symptoms associated with CFS include poor memory, headaches, sore throat, and pain in the muscles or joints.   

Watermelon contains an array of nutrients that may benefit people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Cause and Treatment

Experts have yet to identify a lone cause, but some think chronic fatigue syndrome may develop from a number of triggers including immune disorder, infection, stress, trauma, or toxins.  While there is no known cure for CFS, treatment involves a number of strategies including cognitive-behavioral therapy, moderate exercise, sleep management techniques, and good nutrition.  A wholesome diet may help prevent or relieve symptoms of CFS.  Two red fruits in particular offer many benefits.

Red Apples

Red apple skins are a rich source of the antioxidant, quercetin.  This potent flavonoid helps fight free radicals that can cause cell damage and disease, and it raises energy levels by enhancing the immune system and increasing the number of mitochondria in cells. 

Studies on trained athletes show that treatment with quercetin supplements can boost endurance.  Another study from the University of South Carolina at Columbia tested the endurance of somewhat-active college students on an exercise bicycle.  After taking 500 mg of quercetin twice a day for one week, cycling endurance improved as well as lung function in all students.  The lead author of this study indicated the results might be good news for people suffering from energy-draining conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Related:  Magnesium Deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


While tomatoes offer a rich source of lycopene, scientists at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (SCARL) in Lane, Oklahoma have shown that watermelon offers even more.  This powerful antioxidant and others in watermelon help fight harmful free radicals that contribute to disease.  Nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin B1, magnesium, potassium, and L-citrulline found in watermelon also help people with CFS by boosting energy levels by as much as 23 percent.


A nutritious diet helps prevent a wide range of health problems.  Additional red superfoods that may help prevent or relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, and raspberries.  In addition to whole fruits and vegetables, people with CFS should add lean poultry, wild fatty fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds to the shopping cart.  It helps to eliminate processed foods and sodas and drink plenty of pure, clean water.  People with CFS shouldn't smoke, and they should limit consumption of alcohol.   


A Guide to Antioxidants and Skin Health

by IVL Products

Because the skin is the largest organ, taking care of it is important and antioxidants can help.  These potent nutrients battle free radicals, potentially harmful compounds that attack all types of body cells including those of the skin.  By neutralizing free radicals, certain antioxidants ensure healthier skin and may even help prevent skin cancer.  People who desire fresher, smoother skin can benefit from this guide to antioxidants and skin health.  

When it comes to antioxidants and skin health, people should consider lycopene, retinoic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin E


A carotenoid responsible for the color in red fruits and vegetables, lycopene promotes the production of collagen, the key protein in skin tissue.  A powerful antioxidant, lycopene helps neutralize free radicals that damage the skin and cause wrinkles.  In addition to these benefits, one study showed that people who consume tomato products containing lycopene regularly reduce chances for UV damage to the skin by 30 percent.  In addition to red fruits and vegetables like ruby red grapefruit, watermelon, and tomatoes, people can obtain lycopene through supplements or look for it as an ingredient in skincare products.  Because lycopene degrades easily, people should keep skincare containers well sealed.

Retinoic Acid

The active from of vitamin A in the skin, retinoic acid protects skin from further sun damage if applied topically as a gel or cream.  Because too much retinoic acid can lead to redness, dry skin, and peeling, people should start with a low concentration and apply it every second or third day.  In addition to offering a protective effect from photo-aging, a study published in The Journal of Dermatological Science showed that treatment with retinoic acid helps improve skin fibers and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is an essential nutrient often touted for immune system benefits, but scientists are also looking into its skin health properties.  While foods rich in vitamin C have not been shown to benefit the skin, researchers at Duke University Medical Center interested in antioxidants and skin health found that topical application of vitamin C offers protection from photo-aging, particularly when paired with vitamin E.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in skin cells that boosts the production of collagen, helping to reduce the appearance of age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.  Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin E has been shown in several studies to help prevent inflammatory damage associated with UV exposure.  People can obtain vitamin E through foods like almonds, sunflower seed, and olive oil or through dietary supplements and topical skincare products. 


Taking care of the skin not only benefits overall health, but helps people look better as they age.  A number of antioxidants like lycopene, retinoic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin E can help.  When it comes to antioxidants and skin health, people can consume certain foods, choose daily dietary supplements, or obtain these beneficial compounds topically through skincare products.

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Go Orange for Healthy Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Everyone wants to be as healthy as possible well into their golden years, and adding certain foods to the diet can help.  An abundance of nutritional benefits linked to orange-colored fruits and vegetables help promote healthy aging.  Chock full of nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin, orange foods like citrus fruits, bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash make a wise and delicious choice for the shopping cart.

Orange foods like butternut squash offer a host of nutritional ingredients that support healthy aging.

Beta-Carotene and Retinoic Acid

Orange fruits and vegetables are perhaps best known for being a rich source of beta-carotene, the powerful antioxidant that gives them their color.  As people age, beta-carotene offers benefits for eye and brain health and protects the skin from sun damage.  Because beta-carotene is a fat-soluble nutrient, one scientific study questioned whether the body could access more of the nutrient from certain orange vegetables if prepared with oil.  It was determined that stir-frying carrots and pumpkin with a little oil increases the amounts of beta-carotene the body can use by 63 percent for carrots and 53 percent for pumpkin.

Beta carotene is a precursor for vitamin A, which also goes by the name retinol or retinoic acid.  This nutrient helps ensure healthy night vision and neutralizes free radicals, which promotes a thriving immune system.  Research conducted at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia showed that retinoic acid can help fight early-stage breast cancer (stages one and two) but does not offer help in later stages.

Related:  Why the Color Orange Represents Good Health

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

According to a study published in The Archives of Ophthalmology, consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin found in orange vegetables may support healthy aging by preventing cataracts.  Researchers followed more than 35,000 women and found that those who consumed the highest amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet showed an 18 percent lower risk for developing cataracts when compared to women who consumed the lowest amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin.

Vitamin C

The vitamin C found in orange citrus fruits and bell peppers can help destroy free radicals, which boosts immunity and plays an important role for healthy aging of the skin.  The elimination of free radicals results in better skin texture and less wrinkles.  Vitamin C is also essential for the production of collagen, the skin's main structural protein.  One study showed that vitamin C added to a culture of skin cells in the laboratory resulted in a significant increase in the production of collagen.


As people get older, they appreciate any foods that contribute to healthy aging.  With so many nutritional benefits, it makes sense for people of all ages to fill the shopping cart with the color orange.  In protecting the eyes, skin, the immune system, and more, orange fruits and vegetables help keep people looking and feeling good for a very long time. 



How to Cope with Symptoms of Chronic Stress

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Is stress actually dangerous?  Numerous studies have confirmed that stress really does have the potential to be hazardous to your health.  The mental and emotional impact of chronic stress can be debilitating; and the physical symptoms can be harmful, even life-threatening.  Chronic stress symptoms include irritability, insomnia, appetite changes, muscle tension, frequent colds or flu, cold sores, bladder infections, hypertension and gastrointestinal disturbances. 

Stress means different things to different people. A life struggle that might be “taken in stride” by one person could be a significant challenge for someone else. A lot depends on genetics, environmental factors, age, gender and overall health.

Left unchecked, chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body’s immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to serious health maladies including heart disease, diabetes and immune system dysfunction.

Chronic stress triggers the consistent release of cortisol, a hormone associated with the “flight or fight syndrome” that tells the body to defend itself.  For most people, cortisol levels return to normal after a stressful situation is resolved, but people with chronic stress have consistently high cortisol levels that put their health at risk.

Many people struggle with how to cope with stress symptoms such as loss of appetite or muscle tension. There are several prescription drugs on the market that claim to treat stress-related problems, but they come with potentially dangerous side effects. Your best option is to seek out natural ways to deal with chronic stress.

Related:  Banish Stress with this Self-Healing Meditation

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION: This type of meditation requires you to focus your complete attention on each breath as it flows in and out. When you focus on each breath you are able to deal with your thoughts as they occur and gradually let go of the ones that trouble you. The conscious breathing techniques used in meditation nurture and calm the body, mind and spirit. 

EXERCISE: Regular exercise is a great stress-buster. Physical activity causes your body to release endorphins, the “feel good” hormone.  Learn some basic yoga to teach your body to let go of the grip of stress in your life.  Tai chi also helps to reduce cortisol and increase a sense of calm and balance.

ENJOY A HOBBY: Find an activity that you enjoy that requires your total focus. Paint, write, dance, listen to music or join a book club. Immersing yourself in something you love encourages you to shift your mind away from stressful thoughts.

TALK IT OUT: If you can’t shake chronic stress by yourself consider talking to a qualified counselor.  A holistic health practitioner could help steer you toward a counselor who could offer a fresh perspective on your situation, and provide you with an outlet for your feelings. 


Causes of Stress Vary from Person to Person

by Health News

While some level of stress is beneficial because it can motivate and energize us, too much of it can lead to serious health problems.  The causes of stress differ from person to person. An incident that might be extremely upsetting to one person might go totally unnoticed by another. Stress causes the body to produce excess cortisol, the hormone associated with the “fight or flight” response. Once the “stress threat” is over, cortisol levels typically return to normal.

When a person is chronically feeling stressed, cortisol levels remain high. Chronically high cortisol levels are linked to a host of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, eating disorders, muscle tension and fatigue. As some health experts put it: “Deal with your stress or it will deal with you – in harmful ways.”  In order to cope with stress, we must first understand it. There are two kinds of stress:

ACUTE STRESS: This is the type of stress is triggered by specific situations and it prepares the body to defend itself. Acute stress is associated with incidents such as job interviews, public speaking, accidents or injuries.

CHRONIC STRESS: This type of stress never really goes away. It is related to the way a person copes with the issues of everyday living such as bills, kids, job insecurity and relationship problems. It is also very common among caregivers. If left untreated, chronic stress can leads to consistently high cortisol levels that wreak havoc on the body and immune system.

To the extent that you can, remove yourself from situations and people that stress you out. While we can’t always make the causes of stress go away, we can find healthy ways to cope.  Here a few ideas:

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EXERCISE: Take a walk, go for a swim or join an exercise class.   Exercise provides physical and psychological benefits that reduce stress and boost your mood.  Learn yoga and incorporate it into your daily life, just five to 10 minutes a day is better than one hour once a week.  Yoga is a life-changing method for relaxation and breath control.  

GET YOUR REST: Inadequate rest is linked to stress and depression. It’s much easier to cope with stressful situations when you are rested.

DITCH THE GUILT: You are not a superhero and nobody (except you) expects you to be one. Learn to prioritize and say no.

HAVE SOME FUN: It can be hard to maintain your sense of humor during stressful times, but laughter truly is the best medicine. Paint, dance, sing out loud or watch a funny movie.

LEARN TO RELAX: Stressed-out people usually have difficulty relaxing. Yoga, meditation and conscious breathing techniques can help you stay calm and focused.


“B” Calm At Work: News Ways to Reduce Stress

by Cindy Gray

Long, stressed out days at the office, in traffic, and even at home is the new norm for most Americans.  Finding ways to reduce stress is critical to maintaining good health.  While it’s good to make time to meditate or go on relaxing vacations, the great news is to simply add more B vitamins to your diet and reduce stress on a daily basis!

An Australian study published in 2011 detailed a clinical trial that divided participants into two groups:  one group took a daily B complex multivitamin; and the other group took a placebo. The before and after assessment of the mood, personality traits, and work-related stress, found that the group taking the vitamin B reported significantly less personal stress.  They also reported less confusion, feelings of depression or rage, and were not as fatigued as the placebo group.

To “B” or Not To “B”?

It’s no secret that the body relies heavily on B vitamins to function properly physically and mentally.  Vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin B6 are essential for mental function.  Those who do not get enough B’s are often more irritable, have trouble focusing and report more feelings of depression or sadness. 

The human body cannot produce vitamin B12 or folic acid so we must eat foods rich in those nutrients or consume it in supplement form.  It’s best to get it from both food and supplement sources.  Fish, chicken, clams and oysters are good sources of vitamin B12.  Egg yolks, almonds, dried beans, wholegrain breads, and many fruits and vegetables contain folate, which becomes folic acid when absorbed by the body.

Meat and animal products are great sources of vitamin B12 and folic acid.  So for vegetarians and those who consume little meat, supplements are recommended, and should be combined with daily grains, fruits and vegetables.

A B (vitamin) By Any Other Name Is Still As…Healthy

Vitamin B 12 is also known as cyanocobalamin, and folic acid is the alias for B9.  Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin, pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin are all other names for B vitamins, so look for them in the list of nutrients in your supplements.

Thiamine keeps the nervous system healthy which greatly affects mood and can increase cognitive functions like memory and focus.  This can help you be more productive and focused on the job and in your work.

Niacin is important to the digestive and nervous systems. Without enough of it in your diet, you can feel more depressed, irritable and stressed out.  B6, (or pyridoxine), is important for the plentiful production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps reduce stress and feelings of anxiety while boosting the immune system. 

RelatedFor a Longer Life, Take B Vitamins

What Dosage Would B Healthiest?

It’s almost impossible to get all the B vitamins you need every day through diet alone, especially since we are a breakfast skipping, fast food nation. Taking a B-complex vitamin is one of the simplest ways to reduce stress in your job and in your life in general.

The average adult should aim for:

  • 75 mg B1 (thiamine)
  • 10 mg B2 (riboflavin)
  • 100 mg niacin
  • 68 mg B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • 25 mg B6
  • 30 mcg B12
  • 20 mcg biotin
  • 150 mcg folic acid

Don’t Worry “B” Happy

If you have been feeling irritable and more fatigued than usual, it could be that you’re not getting enough vitamin B’s in your diet.  Exit the traffic on your daily commute and pick up a bottle of B-complex vitamins and you’ll be feeling better in no time!


Looking for Ways to Reduce Stress? Try These Three Citrus Scents

by Health News

Aromatherapy has been shown to have a powerful impact on your mood. Of all the senses, smell is the one that can penetrate the brain and alter the neurochemistry within a few seconds!  This makes inhaling certain scents one of the easiest ways to reduce stress.

The Brain-Nose Connection

The sense of smell is directly connected to the limbic system, which is the most primitive part of the brain.  This section of the brain controls stress levels, blood pressure, pulse and breathing. This is also the part of the brain from where emotions stem.  So when you inhale a certain fragrance, it can affect you physically by making your breathing speed up or lower your pulse. It also affects you mentally, since an emotion becomes associated with the scent.

Throughout your lifetime you will smell millions of different scents and odors. Most will only linger in the conscious mind for a moment such as the good scent of baking bread; or the unpleasant odor of garbage. However, certain scents have shown to have an immediate effect on the brain, but they last longer, and can help to boost mood.

According to Dr. Alan R. Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, “The quickest way to change a mood state—quicker than with any other sensual modality—is with smell.”

So if you are looking for ways to reduce stress, inhaling certain fragrances could be a quick and easy way to pull you out of a funk and energize your brain and body.

The Mood Boosting Trio

So which scents are the most effective for stress reduction?  Citrus is the answer!


According to researchers at the UK’s Northumbrian University, exposure to lemon balm can improve cognitive function and improve one’s mood.  Study participants reported the lemon scent “sends you to a happy place,” which is advice often given to people in stressful situations.  Inhaling a mild lemon fragrance could be a first class ticket to your “happy place.”


It sounds vaguely exotic, but this smaller cousin to the orange with darker flesh emits a mood-boosting fragrance that can help you to relax and simultaneously can invigorate you.

While similar in health benefits, it’s helpful to know that mandarin oranges originated in China. Tangerines originated in Morocco and were exported through the port of Tangiers where they got their name.  They are often thought to be the same fruit.


Researchers at Japan’s Mei University noted that patients who inhaled an orange fragrance were able to significantly reduce the amount of anti-depressants they took.  Upon further testing, those patients who were inhaling the scent of orange regularly saw improvements to their endocrine and immune systems. 

Related:  Three Citrus Fruits to Add to Your High Blood Pressure Diet

The scent of orange not only seems to produce feelings of calm, but also promotes confidence, something that can help relieve stress in situations where you are facing the unknown.  Feeling like you can “handle it” will definitely have a calming effect on you as the scent of orange penetrates the brain and helps keep your heart rate down and your breathing even.

The Nose Knows

When you’re in a stressful situation or feeling down, and you can’t meditate or go for a calming quick walk, inhaling the fragrance of lemon, tangerine or orange can produce an immediate brain boost, making it one of the easiest ways to reduce stress in an instant. 

Your nose is a powerful link to the brain, so keep a few citrusy essential oils handy to keep calm and carry on!


Choosing Foods that Reduce Stress Improves Your Health

by IVL Products

When feeling stressed out and anxious, people often reach for vending machine junk food, huge, sugary coffee drinks, or head for the drive through of the nearest fast food joint.  That is the absolute worse thing you can do because highly processed, high fat, sugar-loaded foods can actually increase your stress levels.  Learn to easily reduce this by eating foods that reduce stress. This simple change can greatly improve your health.

Stress Mess

Caffeine found in coffee, sodas and energy drinks are a stress bomb.  The caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which responds by flooding your body with cortisol. The sugar in highly processed foods and drinks sends your blood glucose levels soaring, which causes more cortisol to start zipping through your body.

Sugar can have another wicked effect on the body by shutting down the adrenal medulla, the adrenal gland that helps your body cope with emotional and physical stress.

Related:  Does Stress Impair Memory?

Next time you are feeling tension or a little anxious, head off a full blown stress mess by avoiding the vending machine or trendy coffee shop and selecting foods that reduce stress.

Fruits and Vegetables

Asparagus - rich in folate, B vitamins in asparagus convert to folic acid and have a calming effect on the nervous system

Swiss chard – full of magnesium, chard can help the body balance cortisol levels in the body.

Bell Peppers – especially red, orange or yellow in color, these stress busters are rich in vitamin C, which helps produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, the feel good hormones

Spinach – rich in folate, spinach also contains iron and helps with keeping your immune system strong

Berriesberries are ideal foods that reduce stress, as they are full of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will give you a natural energy boost without an ugly sugar crash

Avocados –their creamy texture is a great source of heart healthy fat that keeps you energized and feeling full with vitamins and minerals to boot

Oranges – have vitamin C, folate and vitamin B6, all nutrients that help elevate your mood and keep you calm and relaxed

Dried apricots- they are rich in magnesium, which helps keep cortisol levels in check

Fruits and vegetables will boost your mood by providing hydration and nutrients that won’t send blood sugar levels soaring only to crash in about an hour.  The filling fiber staves off hunger so you can maintain focus and manage problems without sending you running for the nearest vending machine.

Additional Foods that Reduce Stress

Many other foods can help you manage stress and keep cortisol levels in check. Avoid fast food burgers and fries in favor of salmon, lean chicken or lamb, all of which have calming B vitamins.

Bread labeled multi-grain does not always contain whole grains and can cause your glucose levels to rise dramatically. Optimally, go for the gluten free grains like quinoa, millet, or rye because gluten is known to stimulate cortisol secretions in the body.

If you want to sweeten your green or chamomile tea, two natural stress-reducing beverages, reach for xylitol of stevia based sweeteners instead of chemical based ones.

Chocolate is actually one of the best foods that reduce stress. It can actually help you reduce your stress levels. A mere ounce of the dark organic kind provides potent antioxidants to help the body fight off stress damage.

Food for Combat

In the war on stress choose your weapons wisely.  Highly processed, sugary caffeinated drinks and foods that are low in fiber but high in white sugar calories are your enemies. They cannot be counted on to save you from a stress meltdown and are traitors once inside the body.

Instead, call a truce: go au natural. No, not naked, but with foods in their most natural state like raw fruits and vegetables. 

Nuts like almonds and cashews can help calm cravings and relieve stress, so keep a small pack of them around with an ounce of dark chocolate and you’ll stay cool as cucumber.


Try Controlled Breathing for Difficulty Relaxing

by Cindy Gray

With life moving at a faster pace than ever, many people have difficulty relaxing.  The inability to unwind often leads to differing physical effects.  While some people experience a build-up of tension in the arms, shoulders, or back, others feel the effects of stress in the neck, throat, or stomach.  Some people grind their teeth, feel tension in their eyes, or suffer from headaches, but almost everyone experiences reduced energy or downright fatigue as a result of built-up stress.  Whether stress targets the shoulders or stomach, controlled breathing can help ease symptoms.  

Breathing is an automatic body function regulated by the brain's respiratory center.  In the act of breathing, the body takes in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide with movement from the lungs.  The diaphragm and the muscles between the ribs control lung movement.

Related:  Breathe Your Way to Mental Clarity

When people have trouble relaxing muscles and stress builds up, the body goes into 'fight-or-flight' response and breathing changes.  Breathing often becomes shallow, and people breathe from the chest rather than the diaphragm.  Shallow breathing can upset the balance of gases in the body, prolong feelings of anxiety, and exacerbate physical symptoms of stress.  Fortunately, people have the ability to change their breathing.  Research shows that breath control helps with stress management and with stress-related conditions.

Controlled Abdominal Breathing

While there are varying breathing techniques to promote relaxation, the goal is to move from breathing with the upper chest to breathing with the abdomen.  To do this, find a quiet place free of disturbances for 10 to 20 minutes.  Sit comfortably with feet flat on the floor, and sit tall to help expand the chest.  Place one hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen, and breathe in deeply through the nose.  When breathing from the diaphragm, the chest and abdomen should be still.  Take slow, even breaths for 10 to 20 minutes, and envision the tension in various areas of the body beginning to relax. 

Additional Benefits of Controlled Breathing

In addition to easing stress for people who have difficulty relaxing, controlled breathing offers even more health benefits:

  • Lowers levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream
  • Promotes a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduces the build-up of lactic acid in muscles
  • Improves the function of the immune system
  • Boosts energy

People interested in more ways to incorporate controlled breathing into their lifestyle can look into yoga, tai chi, and meditation.

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Natural Remedies for Depression Include Three Healthy Foods

by IVL Products

Depression affects nearly 19 million people across the United States.  While a number of factors contribute to depression, many people fail to consider daily nutrition.  What we put in our mouths plays a big role in mood as well as mental focus and energy levels.  According to experts, some foods that reduce depression include garbanzo beans, turkey, and yogurt.  Each of these nutritional foods contains mood-enhancing properties and a few extra health benefits, making them must-haves for the shopping cart.  

Add foods that reduce depression like garbanzo beans, yogurt, and turkey to the shopping cart.

Garbanzo Beans

According to a 2004 study published in "Human Psychopharmacology," people with depression show high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can hinder recovery and endanger the heart.  Folic acid helps keep homocysteine levels in check, and garbanzo beans make a rich source of this valuable nutrient.  Studies also show that folic acid may enhance the effectiveness of prescribed antidepressants, but people should consult with their doctor before using folic acid supplements.  Garbanzo beans also provide a rich source of fiber for better digestive health.


People looking for natural remedies for depression should consider foods rich in protein, particularly turkey.  Many lean sources of protein provide amino acids that help improve mood as well as support the immune system, repair body tissues, and boost energy.  Turkey goes one step further with high levels of tryptophan, a chemical that stimulates the production of serotonin, a mood-enhancing and sleep-promoting neurotransmitter in the brain.  This might explain why people feel so drowsy and content following Thanksgiving dinner.  Other dietary sources of tryptophan include cottage cheese, milk, brown rice, peanuts, beef, and soy products.

RelatedWays to Lower Risk of Depression


Low-fat dairy products like yogurt contain calcium, vitamin D, and protein as well as specific peptides that support wellbeing.  In addition to these healthy ingredients, yogurt offers a rich source of probiotics ─ microorganisms that help maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines.  Some depressed people have an overgrowth of 'bad' intestinal bacteria, which can cause problems with the absorption of micronutrients.  These compounds are directly involved in the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.  To get the most health benefits, people should purchase plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or lemon juice and stevia.

In light of all their healthy properties, it makes sense to add these three foods that reduce depression to a dietary plan.  People who don't like the texture of garbanzo beans might try a smooth and creamy hummus spread with fresh veggies, crackers, or chips.  Natural turkey lunch meat makes a good alternative to a big roasted bird, and probiotic supplements make a good replacement for plain yogurt.

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Why Stress Can Destroy Your Adrenal Glands

by Health News

We all understand that stress is not good for our overall health, but understanding how stress physically affects us can help us improve stress management techniques so we can benefit from a healthier life. 

Stress management is the key to avoiding adrenal failure

We all have times of stress in our lives, from a sudden emergency to ongoing stress in the workplace or in our families and relationships. The body's natural stress management response is managed by the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and adrenaline, the hormones responsible for the "fight or flight" stress response. These hormones trigger a faster heart rate, elevated blood sugar levels and an increase in blood flow to the joints and muscles.

Adrenal Fatigue

If the body is chronically stressed, the adrenal glands must work harder and longer. Eventually they reach the point of "adrenal fatigue" as the glands become overworked; this leads to symptoms of chronic fatigue. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Being tired all the time
  • Trouble getting out of bed
  • Feeling overwhelmed by life
  • Inability to recover from minor illness
  • Cravings for sugar or salty snacks
  • Being more alert in the evening than during the rest of the day

Adrenal fatigue can occur after illness such as influenza, pneumonia or acute respiratory infection. It is not relieved by sleep.  In fact, sufferers often feel more tired when they wake up than when they went to sleep. Although they may look and act normally, there is an underlying sense of ill health caused by the adrenal fatigue. 

Sufferers may try to alleviate the symptoms with coffee, cola and high energy drinks to help them through the day, which can make matters worse.  The answer lies in stress management.

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How the Adrenal Glands Work

The adrenal glands are triangular shaped organs consisting of the central medulla and the outer cortex. They are controlled by impulses sent from the sympathetic nervous system and produce hormones in response to stress.

The medulla secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine into the bloodstream while the cortex aids stress management by producing glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. The hormone cortisol accounts for about 95 percent of this adrenal-glucocorticoid activity.

Stress Management Supports Healthy Adrenal Glands

Although it’s not possible to always control the events that life throws at you, learning stress management techniques can help control the body's reaction to stress which then helps avoid adrenal fatigue.

A balanced diet and good sleep patterns can all help lower stress in your life. Keeping your hormones balanced will ensure your adrenal glands work effectively when required, rather than being overworked all the time. Careful stress management also helps support a healthy immune system, preventing stress-related illness, maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and normal blood sugar levels. 

Stress management can be initiated through:

  • Regular exercise (especially Hatha Yoga)
  • Breathing exercises (also part of Hatha Yoga)
  • Owning companion animals
  • Support from family and friends
  • Laughter
  • Meditation and faith

By reducing the unnecessary stress put on the adrenaline system, you can keep your hormones balanced and avoid the debilitating symptoms of adrenal fatigue. It's another simple way that stress management can lead to a healthier, happier life. 

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Healthy Foods That Taste Better Than Junk Foods

by Health News

Ice cream sundae or sugar-free jelly?  Chocolate brownie or granola bar?  Kettle chips or green salad?

It's often very difficult to stick to choices from your healthy foods list, since junk food, snacks and sweet treats invariably look and taste better than a healthier low-calorie option.  But just to prove that wrong, here are 10 foods that somehow manage to taste even better than junk foods—plus they help teach your body how to reduce food cravings.

Fruits rank high on the healthy foods list

1. Strawberries

Brimming with antioxidants and phytochemicals, it’s hard to beat the taste of a fresh sun-ripened strawberry. These lush summer fruits are high in vitamin C, carotenes, calcium, fiber and minerals yet are low in calories. Eating three or more servings a week of strawberries and blueberries is certainly no hardship, yet they provide a 32% lowered risk of heart attack.

2. Watermelon

Lycopene is normally associated with tomatoes, but it's present in watermelon, too. On a hot day there's nothing more refreshing than biting into a crisp triangle of juicy water melon—and that's a great tip for how to reduce food cravings too!

3. Mangoes

Mangoes are so versatile. Add them to fruit salads, eat fresh in slivers or make a delicious sugar-free dessert with them. They contain calcium, iron and lots of trace minerals as well as 17 of the 20 amino acids in the human body.

4. Almonds

Did you know that almonds are an excellent source of protein? The skins are high in antioxidants that are normally associated with fruits and vegetables. In fact, a one-ounce serving of almonds has the equivalent quantity of polyphenols as a cup of broccoli, but their calorie content is five times higher, so portion-size is the watchword!

5. Avocados

Another food where a little goes a long way is avocado. Low in fructose and high in healthy monounsaturated fats for energy, avocadoes are particularly high in potassium and B-vitamins.

6. Blueberries

Packed with fiber and antioxidants, blueberries contain high levels of nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure safely and naturally. What better fruit to add to your healthy foods list?

Related:  Healthy Eating Habits

7. Sweet Potatoes

It’s the beta-carotene antioxidant that gives sweet potatoes their healthy color. As well as countering the aging effects of free radicals, sweet potatoes also support the immune system.

8. Cherries

Sweet cherries are high in quercetin, the most potent type of antioxidant, along with fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins which are important for cancer prevention. These glossy fruits should be top of your healthy foods list when they are in season.

9. Pistachios

Containing the same healthy oleic acid found in olive oil, pistachios are known to naturally help lower blood pressure.  High in lutein and beta-carotene (both good for ophthalmic health), pistachios are a good snack for dieters as they take time to shell and nibble slowly.

10. Dark Chocolate

Eating high-quality dark chocolate in small portions (1-2 squares per day) can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. It helps control hypertension and fasting glucose levels and is a great snack choice for those looking for how to reduce food cravings. 

So maybe it’s not so difficult after all to stick to choices from your healthy foods list!  Choose a delicious and healthier low-calorie option from this tasty list of 10 foods that really do taste even better than junk foods!  

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Considering Acne Treatments at Home? Maybe it’s Time to See the Light

by Health News

If you suffer from frequent acne outbreaks, maybe it’s time you saw the light. Studies have shown that exposure to certain types of light can help clear up acne-prone skin. In fact, many skin care specialists recommend light therapy as one of the best acne treatments at home.  For years moderate exposure to sunlight has been recommended as a way to treat acne. The problem is that too much sunlight can damage the skin and pave the way for wrinkles or skin cancer.

Light Therapy for Effective Acne Treatment at Home

In recent years, two synthetic types of light have become popular as acne treatments at home:

Blue light kills acne bacteria. Blue light penetrates pores and kills acne bacteria. The type of blue light used for treatments is visible and does not have UV rays. Millions of people who have had blue light treatments report improved skin in as little as one day and believe it is one of the best treatments to get rid of acne. Killing the bacteria stops inflammation and then the immune system stops producing the inflammatory chemicals that cause redness and swelling.

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Red light activates hemoglobin: Red light reaches deeper into the skin than blue light and cuts off the blood supply of oil-producing sebaceous glands. This helps reduce the amounts of oil that can be produced so that acne is less likely to occur.

For optimum results, most skin care specialists recommend a combination of red and blue light. Acne light therapy is a pain-free, chemical-free and cost-effective way to clear up the skin.

You can receive light therapy treatments in a professional setting and there are also hand-held devices on the market that you can use at home. Acne light systems don’t generate the wavelengths of light that cause cancer and won’t burn the skin if used as directed. Remember that “more” is not better. Always follow directions carefully and never exceed the recommended dosages.   

Acne light treatments, when used in conjunction with natural skin care products, can make a difference for many people. Never use products that contain chemicals that can irritate your skin or expose you to carcinogens. Talk to your holistic health practitioner about the best acne treatment products for your personal needs.  Millions of people have “seen the light” and are enjoying clearer, smoother complexions


Seeing Green for Anti-Aging

by Cindy Gray

An anti-aging diet must contain a lot of greens.  Immediately you might think about broccoli, lettuce, peas, green beans, etc. Well, these are all great green foods to have in your diet, but there are a few others you might be interested in that are nutritional powerhouses and should also be a part of your regular diet.


Called the King of Grains, alfalfa’s not just for cows anymore. This remarkable plant shoots its roots 20 to 30 feet down to draw out minerals from the soil not available near the surface.  It is a rich source of vitamins, A, B1, B6, C, E and K, which are critical to maintaining a health immune system.

Alfalfa also helps prevent heart disease, the number one killer in this country, by preventing the absorption of cholesterol in the gut.  That makes it a good green to toss into your next salad.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It also has long been known for its skin healing and softening effects as a treatment for sun burns, eczema and psoriasis, just to name a few.

Recent clinical evidence suggests that this gel-filled plant is highly effective at fighting tumors that can cause colorectal cancer.  Its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to lower cholesterol and relieve constipation make it a good green to add to your diet. Since aloe vera does not occur naturally in foods, you will need to enjoy it juice or gel form, or take it in supplement form.


Spinach is a unique plant; chock full of iron and vitamin C.  Iron is more readily absorbed into the body when accompanied by vitamin C, so it is perfectly packaged to deliver maximum anti-aging compounds.  Research shows that in addition to the powerful antioxidants it contains, spinach also helps protect the lining of the intestinal tract. This makes for a healthier immune system to help fight off colds and quickly rid the body of toxic bacteria.

Men, take note: Spinach also helps reduce the risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer, so add this dark leafy green cancer fighter to your anti-aging diet.

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Astragalus is known as an adaptogen.  An adaptogen is something that helps the body “adapt” to the damage of physical, mental and emotional stress more quickly, before it can harm your cells and overall health.  Astragalus contains antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory compounds to help you avoid getting frequent colds, bladder infections and it helps to stimulate the immune system.

As a powerful antioxidant, astragalus also lowers cholesterol, improves heart function and protects the kidneys from disease.  Look for supplements made from the root of the plant, where all the medicinal properties are contained.


Compounds in seaweed so closely resemble human plasma that it is a great blood purifier. It also has chelating properties, meaning it converts heavy metal pollutants in our bodies to harmless salt that we can easily excrete.  Compounds found in seaweed called lignans have been shown to help treat and prevent certain types of cancers.

Seaweed is high in iodine, which stimulates the thyroid to help keep your metabolism humming along, making it a good weight loss green. The minerals in seaweed act as electrolytes to break the chemical bonds sealing fat cells, allowing excess fluids and waste trapped there to escape and be excreted from the body.

Since seaweed can be hard to find in standard grocery stores, here is a quick list of the types you should be adding to your anti-aging diet:

  • Nori
  • Kelp
  • Dulse
  • Arame
  • Kombu

Seeing green is a smart way to take charge of your health and add variety to your diet and lifestyle!


Fish-Free Wrinkle Free: The Vegetarian Answer to Omega-3s

by Health News

With supplements and a few additions to your shopping list, you can find fish-free omega-3 foods that will enhance your anti-aging diet, yet still honor your choice to live a vegetarian lifestyle. There are a lot of plant sources with essential nutrients to help keep you young, vibrant, and vegetarian!

Walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids and help you get essential nutrients into your anti-aging diet.

Power Plants

Mother Nature offers so many healthy ways to get your much needed fish-free omega-3s and other nutrients. Here are a few:


Grinding the seeds and adding them to cookie, bread, or muffin recipes is one method to get flaxseed into your diet.  Research shows that ground flax can be used in baked goods without losing their desired health benefits, such as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids as long as you keep the oven temperature at 300 degrees Fahrenheit—or less.

Flax offers other health benefits like phytonutrients called lignans, which are antioxidants, something essential for maintaining youthful energy levels and glowing skin. As little one ounce of flaxseed can help keep obesity at bay, improve circulation and lower blood pressure.


Barley is a delicious, nutty flavored and versatile cereal grain with lots of health benefits.  It is chock full of manganese, fiber, selenium, copper, vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin, just to name a few of its wonderful nutrients.

The selenium in barley make it a great anti-aging food because it strengthens metabolic pathways for a healthier immune system and lowers your risk of developing some cancers, something essential for keeping you feeling young and vibrant at any age.

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Soy Lecithin

Lecithin is produced in the liver and makes up an important part of the mucus layer in our large intestines.   It’s made up of three fat-soluble molecules that are the building blocks of cell membranes that facilitate cell communication and keep cells from sticking to each other.

Soybeans are a good source of lecithin and beneficial as a meat-free food that helps keep your liver healthy by emulsifying (breaking down) fatty deposits that can lead to high cholesterol, liver and cardiovascular disease.


Seaweed offers nutrients from the ocean not found in land-based greens.  It has long been a part of the diet of many Asian cultures and should be in your anti-aging diet plan.

Seaweed is a great source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and it can help regulate estrogen and estradiol levels. Those two hormones can help women lower their risk of developing breast cancer.

One nutrient that is missing from many diets and is in few foods is iodine. Seaweed is rich in iodine, which is essential for keeping your thyroid healthy. Since thyroid problems are a common problem as we age eating more seaweed salad is good idea.


If you are vegetarian you would be nuts not to be eating walnuts regularly. When consumed whole with the skin still on them you get a healthy dose of:

  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Biotin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Numerous research over the last few decades have shown walnuts to help lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or suffering a metabolic disorder.  Walnuts are also rich sources of antioxidants, help reduce inflammation, and support collagen production, which keeps skin smooth and wrinkle free.

No Need to Fish for Compliments

Adding these foods to your shopping list to round out an effective anti-aging diet is a smart way for anyone looking to get fish free omega-3s and other essential nutrients without eating meat.  


Detox for Clear Skin

by Cindy Gray

Detoxify for clear and healthy skinIf acne, wrinkles or cellulite have you feeling self-conscious and miserable, don’t despair! You can clear up your blemishes, smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and send cellulite packing with some herbs and supplements that can help you detox for clear skin.

First, here are some of the obvious things you should be doing to keep your skin clear, smooth and glowing:

  • Get enough sleep every night
  • Exercise
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Stop smoking
  • Wash your face before going to sleep

So now that you have sworn up and down to do all of the above, hasten the detox for clear skin with these gifts from Mother Nature:

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is an herb with anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants and soothes irritation.  Taking it can help your intestines and bowels stay healthier, which is essential for getting rid of toxic substances and bacteria.  This helps reduce the bacteria that can cause acne, and helps to reduce the redness and irritation of a breakout—plus it helps keep more breakouts from occurring.

A known blood purifier, milk thistle improves circulation to the skin and its demulcent properties help form a protective layer over skin cells to protect them from environmental damage.


Actually it’s the leaves, not the heart of an artichoke, where most of its powerful health benefits can be found.

As an antioxidant, artichoke can help reverse sun damage and encourage healthy cell regeneration.  It also helps reduce inflammation, and is a rich source of peptides that work to improve the texture of your skin to smooth away wrinkles and improve circulation.


Strangely enough, this noxious weed that spreads over your lawn is good for something.  Dandelion is a good source of beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A, a known friend to skin. It also has vitamins C and D, along with a host of B-complex vitamins.

Dandelion has been the foe of green thumbs everywhere, but for thousands of years it was used to treat scurvy, skin problems like rashes, and even blood disorders.  Eating dandelion can help reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and lower blood pressure.

Finally, dandelion is a mild diuretic, meaning it helps the kidneys flush out excess waste and water from the system; and helps to inhibit microbial growth in the urinary tract system.  When you feel good, you look good.

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Blessed Thistle

Seen in nature, blessed thistle looks wicked and spikey, but those are indicative of its detoxification powers. Blessed thistle has two anti-microbial compounds in it that are very beneficial to skin because it helps the body battle bad bacteria.

Blessed thistle also helps reduce inflammation and is beneficial to the liver so it can more efficiently remove toxins from the blood that contribute to skin problems.  The astringent properties of blessed thistle also makes it a natural remedy to treat boils and skin ulcers.


Methionine is an essential fatty acid with many health benefits for the body and skin. It helps the body eliminate fat build up in the tissues to make cellulite less noticeable.

Methionine also supports liver function, critical to removing the toxins that find their way into our bodies.  It is essential to collagen production, too. As we age, the production of collagen protein starts to decline and wrinkles are the result.  It’s also an anti-inflammatory and contains amino acids that aid the body in eliminating toxins, support healthy tissue and improve your cardiovascular system.

Detox and Glow

Don’t let acne, wrinkles or cellulite keep you indoors and make you blue. You can detox for clear skin for healthy, wrinkle- and cellulite-free skin, thanks to nature’s bounty.


How Lavender Can Stop You From Losing Your Hair

by Cindy Gray

Native to the Mediterranean region, the lavender plant has been used since ancient times as a bath additive and an antiseptic.  The name "lavender" comes from the Latin "lavare," meaning "to wash."  These days, people use lavender's essential oil for aromatherapy.  When inhaled, the calming floral scent helps to relieve anxiety, depression, headache, insomnia, and upset stomach.  In addition to its benefits in aromatherapy, some research shows promise with the use of lavender for hair loss, or alopecia.

Lavender for hair loss shows promise in people with alopecia areata.

Causes and Types of Alopecia

Differing causes for alopecia include fungal infections and damage to the hair shaft or follicles causes by illness, hereditary conditions, prescription medication, poor nutrition, and hormonal changes that come with pregnancy and menopause.  People experience two main types of alopecia.  Alopecia areata causes patchy hair loss as a result of a confused immune system that mistakenly attacks hair follicles.  Androgenetic alopecia is a hereditary condition that causes hair loss in men and women.  In men, this type of alopecia is called male pattern hair loss due to thinning or complete hair loss along the hairline and top of the scalp.  In women, it is called female diffuse hair loss because thinning typically occurs all over the scalp.

Lavender Research

One study on 86 patients with alopecia areata found that a combination of lavender oil and other essential oils showed new hair growth in 44 percent of the subjects when massaged into the scalp daily for seven months.  Lavender for hair loss was shown to be safe and effective with no adverse side effects.  Anecdotal reports also indicate that lavender oil offers deep conditioning to the hair, keeps it shiny, and helps control dandruff.

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Side Effects and Cautions

Diluted and used topically, lavender for hair loss is generally considered safe for adults, but applying the oil to the skin can cause irritation in some people.  Because lavender oil can cause breast growth in young boys, use should be restricted to adults.  Lavender teas and other forms of the herb taken orally may cause appetite changes, headache, and constipation.  Used with sedative medications, lavender may increase drowsiness.

Overall, lavender has been successfully used by people all over the world for centuries.  It’s refreshing to learn that lavender has yet another use for humanity: natural help with hair loss!


The Stress Menopause Connection

by IVL Products

The link between stress and menopause is well documented. It can become a vicious cycle of worsening menopausal symptoms leading to increased stress.  Jump off that debilitating merry-go-round and find natural menopause relief with a few simple changes to your diet, activity levels and outlook on life.

Studies are showing that there is a connection between stress and menopause.

The journal Menopause found in a study of over 400 women between the ages of 37 and 47 that those who reported the highest stress levels had as much as five times the hot flashes as those who women who reported less anxiety.  Even women who reported only moderate anxiety levels suffered three times more hot flashes than those who lived with less stress.

More bad news connecting stress and menopause came from a study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal that reported vaginal dryness, a common symptom of menopause due to decreased estrogen, was associated with high levels of psychological stress (not physical stress).

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Stress reduces the secretion of all sex hormones like estrogen. Women going through menopause are already experiencing a dramatic drop in estrogen production, which causes hot flashes, insomnia, depression and vaginal dryness.  Being stressed out about life situations and menopause symptoms can be debilitating and greatly affect one’s quality of life.

The Dangers of Chronic Stress

It is well known that chronic stress is not good for you. It is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, more illness and diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke and even cancer.  It makes chronic illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and diabetes worse as well. 

Add the dramatic physical changes of menopause to an already stressed out life, and you get a recipe for disaster. Your personal relationships, career, and over all sense of wellbeing can be negatively affected.  The good news is natural stress and menopause relief is available with a little effort on your part.


Your diet has so much to do with how you feel each day. Weight gain is a common side effect of menopause, so paying attention to what you eat can help you manage your stress levels and menopausal symptoms.

Foods rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, along with probiotic supplements help keep your GI tract functioning smoothly and your immunes system strong.  Suffering less sever colds, urinary tract infections (also common during menopause), gas pain and bloating will greatly reduce your stress levels. 

Being chronically run down and feeling ill is very stressful. Boosting your immune system with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, omega-3 rich foods and staying well hydrated will relieve stress and menopausal symptoms like fatigue, depression and hot flashes.


Weight gain and insomnia are common menopause complaints.  Exercise can offset these two unpleasant symptoms and help you reduce your stress levels.  Making time every day for some physical activity is critical to managing your stress levels and menopause symptoms.

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or run a marathon, either.  A brisk walk or a few laps in the pool is all you need.  Being outside to exercise has many health benefits and makes working out less of a chore and something to look forward to.


Your outlook on life makes a huge difference when it comes to managing stress and menopausal symptoms.  Menopause and stress are a fact of life for all women.  Accepting that and making plans to deal with both are critical for keeping your spirits high and warding off depression and other mood disorders. 

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The Probiotic Menopause Connection

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Women may find menopause relief in the form of probiotics.  These industrious bacteria are necessary for healthy functioning of the digestive tract and critical to our immune system.  

Probiotics have many health benefits including aiding with menopause relief.

Probiotics for menopause is a relatively new field of study that is showing great promise in making the unpleasant symptoms of going through the change more tolerable.  All women will go through menopause and each experience is unique for each woman. Some have less severe symptoms while other find them debilitating.  The worst symptoms most commonly reported are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal Atrophy (thinning and drying of the vaginal wall which can cause pain during intercourse)
  • Mood Swings (depression)
  • Sleep disturbances (hot flashes, insomnia)
  • Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and yeast infections

The dramatic decline in estrogen and progesterone levels as fertility declines is the root cause of symptoms but taking probiotics can provide relief.

Probiotics: The Good Bacteria

Our gut is teeming with bacteria. Some of it harmful, but most of it is beneficial and critical to proper digestion and a strong immune system.  When hormonal imbalances like those experienced during menopause upset the balance of good bacteria in our gut, there are many health issues that can wreak havoc on the body.

The Bad Bacteria

Two kinds of bacteria in our intestinal tract play a critical role in our health: aerobic bacteria, which require oxygen to thrive, and anaerobic bacteria, which do not.

A diet high in saturated fat stimulates the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which is known to upset hormone levels because of its effect on estrogen.  During menopause, the body is already experiencing unpredictable hormone fluctuations, which cause the hot flashes, urinary tract infections and vaginal wall thinning and dryness.  

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Cutting your intake of saturated fat and consuming more probiotic rich foods and supplements can help restore hormone levels and ease these symptoms.  For those who want menopause relief without the use of synthetic hormones, this is good news.

Probiotics For General Health

When going through menopause, many women experience health issues that impact their quality of life. Probiotics can help offset some of these issues and make the going through the change more tolerable.

In addition to helping stabilize hormones, which are thrown out of sync by menopause, probiotics can help offset weight gain, keep your immune system strong and increase good bacteria in the vagina, lessening dryness and atrophy there.