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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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Eat Broccoli for Healthy Breast Changes with Age

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Aging affects a woman's body in several ways, but it's particularly unkind to the breasts.  As women go through menopause, decreased estrogen production shrinks mammary glands and fat in tissue altering breast size and fullness.  Reduced elasticity in connective tissue can make breasts sag, and risks for breast cancer rise after menopause.  Fortunately, there's something women can do to promote healthy breast changes with age:  eat broccoli

A compound in broccoli and broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane may help keep breast changes with age healthy.

Sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts stimulates over 200 genes in the body to produce enzymes, proteins and antioxidants that protect cells.  One of these important antioxidants, glutathione, works inside cells to protect them from free radicals and inflammatory response.  Some enzymes and proteins even do battle with cancer cells and reduce over-expression of estrogen receptors, an action common in many types of breast cancer.

Current chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer are incapable of suppressing cancer stem cells, but broccoli sprouts have shown promise in various scientific studies.  One study published in Clinical Cancer Research in 2010 showed that sulforaphane suppressed breast cancer cells both in vivo (in live animals) and in vitro (under glass).

Related:  Natural Anti-Cancer Compound Found in Cruciferous Vegetables can Treat Leukemia

In a separate study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University examined women scheduled for breast reduction surgery to determine if sulforaphane actually showed up in breast tissue after women drank broccoli sprout juice.  Results showed measurable results of sulforaphane, proving that the compound actually reaches the target area in women with breast cancer when they consume broccoli sprout juice.

In addition to helping ensure healthy breast changes with age, broccoli sprouts have been shown to:

  • Aid in the treatment of autism
  • Help manage type 2 diabetes
  • Rid the body of toxic air pollutants
  • Destroy Helicobacter Pylori, a harmful gastrointestinal organism
  • Slow the development of osteoarthritis

While further studies are needed to determine if sulforaphane extract might offer promise as natural form of breast cancer treatment, adding broccoli to the grocery cart definitely doesn't hurt.  People can stock up on the whole vegetable, its sprouts, or purchase broccoli sprout supplements through local whole food stores or natural supplements websites.  For the best health benefits, organic forms broccoli and broccoli sprouts are recommended.

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Do Free Radicals Cause Skin Changes?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The skin is the body's largest organ, so it is important to take good care of it.  Knowing about free radicals and how to eliminate them can help.  A free radical is an unstable oxygen molecule that is missing an electron.  In the hunt for the absent electron, free radicals destroy healthy molecules and create more free radicals. A number of environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to the production of free radicals including exposure to the sun, smoking, excessive use of alcohol, a poor diet, and air pollution.  Over time, excessive free radicals can cause oxidative damage leading to skin changes like acne, wrinkles and even skin cancer. 

Lifestyle choices like smoking can promote free radical production and cause skin changes.

Young skin contains an abundance of antioxidants that protect it from free radicals.  However, aging skin produces fewer antioxidants and becomes more susceptible to damage. Fortunately, as people age, they can prevent the production of free radicals by engaging in a number of healthy lifestyle strategies.

1.  Use Sunscreen

Prolonged exposure to the sun encourages the production of free radicals. According to a study examining the effects of oxidative stress on skin cells, the use of sunscreen offers the best protection for preventing these free radicals from forming.  Natural, mineral-based sunscreens provide safe, broad-spectrum protection without harsh chemicals.  Remember to wear a wide-brimmed hat when out in direct sunlight.  Other protection methods are long-sleeved clothes and even using an umbrella for sun protection.

2.  Eat Foods High in Antioxidants

In the same study, the Slovenian research team from the University of Ljubljana also concluded "Foods rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals such as fruits, vegetables, wine and green tea help protect against oxidative damage and free radical attack."  Specific fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants include leafy greens, red grapes, citrus fruits, melons, papaya, berries, and pomegranate.

Related:  Internal Sun Protection With ALA

3.  Take Dietary Supplements

A number of vitamin and mineral supplements block the development of free radicals.  These include vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, coenzyme Q10, lutein, lycopene, and zinc.  Protective herbal supplements include bilberry, gingko biloba, grape seed extract, and turmeric.

4.  Try Skincare Products with Vitamin C or Copper

It's hard to sift through the multitude of skincare products for one that actually works, but a few added ingredients have been shown to truly benefit the skin. Vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen, the main structural protein in connective tissue. Research shows that topical application of vitamin C promotes the production of collagen and diminishes the effects of free radicals. Copper is an ingredient added to many products for aging skin. Copper peptides can help improve skin elasticity, enhance skin tone and reduce symptoms of skin conditions like rashes, eczema, and rosacea.

While environment and lifestyle can affect the skin, certain healthy strategies help keep skin changes to a minimum. People looking to enhance skin health should use sunscreen when spending more than twenty minutes outdoors. Other ways to benefit the skin include eating foods high in antioxidants, taking certain dietary supplements, and using topical skin products with vitamin C or copper.

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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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The Best Five Natural Alternatives to Fluoride

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many people are aware of the dangers of fluoridation, but are reluctant to forego the protection that fluoride gives against cavities and tooth decay. We explore a range of natural alternatives to fluoride that will not only protect your teeth but will also safeguard your overall health from the side effects caused by fluoride.

Neem leaves are one of the best natural alternatives to fluoride

 

1. Coconut Oil

The most effective protection against tooth decay is regular brushing and flossing twice daily. This removes traces of food that may be broken down by bacteria in the mouth, creating the acid that rots enamel and causes cavities. If you want to do more, include regular daily use of a tongue scraper—a tool used in Ayurvedic healing medicine for years.  Also try using coconut oil as a fluoride alternative to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Use it as toothpaste or swish through the teeth like a mouthwash to reduce plaque. Its antibacterial properties detour the presence of bacteria which cause tooth decay. (Oil pulling is the traditional name for this technique, again, and Ayurvedic method of oral hygiene.)

2. Neem

Neem is another amazing natural alternative to fluoride. Look for a neem-based mouthwash to help reduce plaque buildup and counter gingivitis (gum disease). Another good way to use neem is with fluoride-free toothpaste which includes neem extract.

3. Vitamin D

Taking a supplement of vitamin D is good for your general health, promoting strong bones and teeth. It’s a safe and natural alternative to fluoride.

4. Myrrh

Myrrh extract is great for promoting healthy teeth and combating bad breath; the best way to include myrrh in your dental health routine.  There are several products available that are fluoride-free formulas containing herbs such as eucalyptus and peppermint which support oral health and reduce cavities.

5. Chocolate!

Clinical trials on a chocolate extract have shown it is more effective than fluoride for treating hypersensitivity due to thinning dental enamel or periodontal disease. The cacao extract was able to restore and repair enamel and dental occlusions in just seven days. This natural fluoride alternative re-mineralizes the tooth better than fluoride and without the toxic side effects.

With so many natural alternatives to fluoride, you can banish fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes and get natural tooth protection without the risk of dangerous side effects.

 

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Facial Care Tips: Dos and Don’ts for Naturally Beautiful Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Your skin reflects your lifestyle and health so natural beauty tips for face care are important. Too much sun, too little water, too much alcohol and too little sleep all take their toll on your skin.  However, plying your pores with more chemicals and oily lotions can simply make the problem worse. Here are our top beauty tips for face care naturally.

Top beauty tips for face care include using edible products

 

Cleanse and Exfoliate

If you wear makeup, always cleanse your face at night. It allows your pores to breathe and prevents clogged pores from turning into blackheads or zits. You don’t need expensive cleansers and tonics; just pour a drop of olive oil onto a cotton pad and gently massage into the skin to loosen and remove makeup, dirt and pollution.

You should exfoliate your skin once a week to remove the dead skin cells that accumulate. Mix powdered walnut with yogurt and apply to the face in gentle circular motions. The paste will loosen and lift layers of dead skin and the antioxidants will help promote a glowing complexion that feels smooth and soft.

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

 

Watch What You Eat

You are what you eat when it comes to skincare, so healthy food means a healthier complexion. One of the best beauty tips for face care is eating fresh green vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Salmon oil supplements are excellent for moisturizing the skin from the inside out. Things to avoid are sugary and fatty foods, salt and spicy foods.

Sun Protection Always!

Even on dull days the sun’s harmful UV rays are evident, so you should always wear a moisturizer with sunscreen to avoid wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. Choose a quality product that is labelled “noncomedogenic” so that it does not block pores and cause acne. Don’t forget the chemical-free alternatives to sunscreen:  a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved shirts, an umbrella—or sunbrella, and an all-natural moisturizer.

Hydrate Naturally

Your skin quickly shows if you are dehydrated, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. Hydrate your skin with a spritz of rose water to maintain pH balance and reduce puffy eyes in the morning.  Drink a shot or two a day of organic aloe vera juice to help hydrate your skin from the inside out.

Beauty Sleep is the Best

At the end of the day, you can’t beat a restful night’s sleep, one of nature’s basic beauty tips for face care. Pale, tired skin, dark circles and baggy eyes never look attractive so ensure that you wind down each evening with a calming routine that will ensure eight hours’ undisturbed sleep every night.

By following these top beauty tips for face, eyes and skin you really can look as healthy and energetic as you feel!

 

 

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Ten Home Remedies for Tackling Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

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

#1:  Co-enzyme Q10

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

#2:  Honey and Manuka Honey

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

Cure periodontal disease with honey and other natural remedies.

#3:  Lemons

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

#4:  Baking Soda

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

#5:  Tea Tree Oil

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

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

#6:  Dental Probiotics

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

#7:  Consume Fermented Foods

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

#8:  Xylitol

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

#9:  Floss Every Day

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

#10:  Brush Regularly and Change Your Toothbrush Often

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

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

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The Power of Plants

by Health News

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

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

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

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

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

Related:  Why Plant-Based Powder Supplements are the Best

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

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

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What You Should Know About Excess Sugar and Yeast Infections

by IVL Products

Three out of four women will get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. The burning and itching “down there” is unpleasant but not necessarily harmful.  What many women may not realize is the link between too much sugar in their diet and yeast infections.

The connection between excess sugar and yeast infections.

Yeast Infection Causes

Yeast actually grows naturally all over our bodies.  The most common type of yeast found on our bodies and in the vagina is known as Candida albicans, or Candida for short.  This fungus thrives in warm moist places like a woman’s vagina and can be caused by a variety of things like:

  • Low estrogen
  • Wearing synthetic fabric pantyliners
  • Vaginal eczema
  • Spermicidal condoms
  • Synthetic chemicals in feminine hygiene sprays
  • Poor diet

Related:  Fibromyalgia: Ten Possible Underlying Causes

Diet and Yeast Infections

Yeast loves sugar as much as you do. Too much sugar in your diet can give yeast a boost causing it to spread and increase, especially if your immune system is depressed from a lack of sleep or stress.  If you are prone to yeast infections, or feel one coming on, try avoiding the following:

  • Foods with simple sugars
  • Starchy foods like white flour products or rice
  • Foods fermented with yeast like alcohol

Alcohol is very sugary.  A few drinks, some highly refined foods like pretzels or candy at the bar makes for a perfect combination to feed yeast and help it spread.

Probiotics Can Help

Probiotics are living microorganisms very similar to the “good” bacteria in your gut essential for digesting your food. This so-called “good” bacterium is prevalent in your digestive tract and in other places on the body. If you take antibiotics for a bacterial infection, you can inadvertently destroy the good bacteria along with the harmful stuff, paving the way for yeast to overrun your already-battered immune system; and they begin to multiply.

Eating foods that contain probiotics can help keep yeast levels in check.  Yogurt with live and active bacterial cultures, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, or a daily probiotic supplement can help keep yeast infections at bay.

Avoid Acidic Foods

Candida thrives in an acidic environment. Acidic foods to avoid if you are prone to yeast infections are:

  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts and walnuts)
  • Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower)
  • Acidic fruits like blueberries, cranberries and plums
  • Corn oil
  • Sugar and sweeteners including molasses, maple syrup, honey and especially aspartame
  • Salt
  • Condiments like mayonnaise, soy sauce or vinegar

Once Is Enough

If you have ever endured the painful symptoms of a yeast infection you’ll agree once is enough.  Making a few simple dietary changes can help stave off yeast infections.  Try to consume less sugar and alcohol and eat more probiotic-rich foods—you’ll get a host of other health benefits to boot.

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Are Fish Oil Supplements Good For The Skin?

by IVL Products

What you eat may be more important to the look and feel of your skin than what you put on it.  Research shows that what you put into your body in the form of nutrients has a big impact on how your skin looks and feels.  One critical nutrient found in foods like, walnuts, flaxseed, and olive oil but most abundantly in certain fish is omega-3 fatty acids.  More and more research is piling up to support the benefits of omega-3s from fish oil for skin.

Exploring the benefits of omega-3s from fish oil for skin

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Promote Healthy Skin

Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential acids because the body needs them to maintain the health of the cell membrane, yet cannot produce it naturally.  Our bodies rely on getting essential acids solely from our diet.  Cell membranes not only act as a barrier to keep harmful substances out of the cell, but also to transport nutrients in and waste products out of it.  The membrane is also what enhances the cells ability to retain water so that you have moist, soft supple skin cells that are more resistant to wrinkles.

Another way omega-3 fatty acids, found most abundantly in fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, cod, and tuna (so called “oily” fish) are beneficial is to help reduce inflammation throughout the body.  Insulin spikes from eating sugary, highly processed starchy foods, sun exposure and environmental toxins like cigarette smoke induce inflammation in the skin making it dry, flaky and red.

Related:  Supplementing Children’s' Diets with Fish Oil

Additionally, according to a study published back in 2003 in “Carcinogenesis,” omega-3 fatty acids such as those in fish oil contain properties that protect the skin from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays from the sun.  EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), a compound in omega-3s, was shown to be especially beneficial in reducing sunburn and ultra-violet radiation induced skin breaks.

Best Way to Get the Most Out Of Fish Oil

One of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and glowing is to eat foods rich in the omega-3 compounds EPA, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linoleic acid).  A few of the foods that contain the largest amounts of these substances are:

  • Fish –the cold-water or oily kind
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oils
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli
  • Canola oil

Unfortunately it is difficult to get the amount of omega-3s needed for optimum health through food alone.  Taking a fish oil supplement is an easy way to get the most beneficial amounts of omega-3s into your diet.  

When shopping for a fish oil supplement be sure to read the label carefully and choose one with at least 30% EPA and DHA in it.  Also, look for the kind labeled “non-fishy” aftertaste.

The benefits of omega-3 fish oils for skin are numerous, plus they benefit many other parts of the body reducing your risk of cardiac disease, joint inflammation and can even aid in weigh loss.  Adding a fish oil supplement to your diet is a good idea if you would like to keep your skin looking and feeling younger and healthier. 

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Where Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Come From?

by IVL Products

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

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

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

EPA and DHA Fatty Acids

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

ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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

Related:  Fish Oil: A Miracle Cure for Stress?

Fish Oil Supplements

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

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

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

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

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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How to Improve Short-Term Memory – Tips and Tricks

by IVL Products

Many people get frustrated with their increasing forgetfulness as they age. It's quite common to forget names, conversations or where you have put things. If this sounds like you, we'll show you how to improve short term memory with some useful brain-training tips.

Brain games are a good aid to how to improve short term memory

What is Short-term Memory?

Short term memory is the area of the brain that stores small amounts of information for a short time. If you are a computer buff, think of it as the equivalent to your computer's random access memory (RAM). Your brain sorts through your short-term memory and assigns some information to your long-term memory, discarding the remainder.

Unfortunately, the human brain stops growing and starts to shrink in your 20s, so you actually have less active brain cells as you age. This natural aging process usually affects short-term memory primarily. For instance, you are likely to easily recall people and places from back in the past; it’s only more recent encounters that you have problems with i.e. those committed to short-term memory.

Although memory loss can be associated with Alzheimer's disease, stress or depression, it is often the result of the natural aging process. Learning how to improve short term memory will set your mind at rest, as well as that of your family.

Related:  Five Simple Tips to Naturally Improve Brain Health

How to Improve Short Term Memory by Training Your Brain

Studies show that people who keep their mind active can delay the onset of dementia and mental decline. To keep your brain active and your mind alert, read, write your memoir, learn a new language, do puzzles, write poetry or play card games, anything to keep the brain busy and happy.

Lumosity is a popular site for online brain training providing a great answer to how to improve short term memory. It provides cognitive tests in fun games designed by scientists. A 10-week study on 4,714 participants showed that those who did Lumosity puzzles regularly retained better mental agility than those who did regular crossword puzzles – interesting food for thought!

Memory Chunking

Scientists know that the human memory can easily recall seven random numbers; however, most telephone numbers, bank accounts and even passwords have more than this. The answer is to break down large numbers into easy chunks. If you have a 9-digit telephone number, remember it as three groups of three-digit numbers. Repetition and writing it down a few times should help you recall the number weeks later. Give chunking a try!

Memory Supplements

Many natural supplements and vitamins boost blood supply to the brain or help improve cognitive function. The B vitamins, particularly B6, B12 and B9 (folic acid) are shown to improve verbal ability and help the brain process new data.

Antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene fight the effects of free radicals and help protect the brain from damage. Fruit and vegetables are a good source of these important nutrients.  Avoid artificial sweeteners as well; studies show an alarming connection between them and reduction in brain health.

Finally, omega-3 fish oils support memory and brain function, so enjoy salmon, tuna and mackerel twice a week and keep taking those daily fish oil supplements. Now you know how to improve short term memory, don’t forget to follow it through!

Everyone Ages. Learn How to Do It Better. Free Resource Guide.

 

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What’s Causing Your Memory Loss?

by IVL Products

A forgotten appointment, misplaced keys, or struggling to find the correct word during a conversation…some people might chock these incidents up to simple absentmindedness.  For those in middle age or older however, episodes of forgetfulness can be scary, conjuring worries of Alzheimer's disease or dementia.  Fortunately, according to the National Institute on Aging, memory loss is often treatable once a cause has been established.  Becoming better informed can help people determine whether their forgetfulness is cause for concern. 

A number of factors can contribute to memory loss.

Memory loss can strike at any time in life and is influenced by many factors.  Here are some of the key causes:

Sleep Apnea

Memory loss accompanied by headache and recurrent daytime fatigue may be related to sleep apnea.  This condition causes breathing to stop for brief but frequent periods in the course of a night.  Research shows that untreated sleep apnea can impair spatial navigational memory, which is the type utilized to locate objects like keys.

Related:  Five Natural Supplements for Brain Health

Medications

Some medications can impact memory and may need adjustment.  These include:

  • Medications for anxiety
  • Medications for diabetes
  • Medications for pain
  • Medications for reducing cholesterol
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Because vitamin B12 is important for healthy nerve function, a deficiency can result in confusion, memory loss, and other dementia-like symptoms.  Good food sources of vitamin B12 include dairy products, poultry, beef, and fish.  To ensure proper daily amounts, people can also obtain vitamin B12 through dietary supplements.

Anxiety, Depression, and Stress

High levels of anxiety or stress can affect attention, focus, and memory, particularly when paired with sleep problems.  Techniques like yoga, meditation, guided imagery, or tai chi can help manage stress and improve sleep.  

If left untreated, chronic anxiety can lead to depression, which can also impact memory.  According to the National Institute on Aging, people can try certain types of medication and/or counseling to ease symptoms of depression.

Silent Stroke

Sometimes people have a stroke without being aware of it.  While a silent stroke doesn't exhibit any of the normal symptoms, it does cause changes in brain function, which can affect cognition and memory.  Vascular cognitive impairment from silent stroke can range from mild to severe.

Tips for Preventing Memory Loss

According to a study from the School of Medicine at UCLA, healthy lifestyle strategies can have a beneficial effect on memory and cognition.  Take advantage of these tips to help prevent memory loss.

  • Don't use tobacco products.
  • Eat a nutritious diet, and drink plenty of water.
  • Get regular physical exercise.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one per day for women.
  • Manage stress levels.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise the brain with word, number, or jigsaw puzzles.
  • Boost brain power by reading books, learning a new language, or taking up a musical instrument.

Conclusion

People with concerns about forgetfulness should consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.  Sharing symptoms and submitting to any required testing can help doctors determine what's causing your memory loss.  A few beneficial lifestyle strategies help to promote a healthy brain and a strong memory.

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Essential Fatty Acids: Benefits and Sources

by Cindy Gray

With an enthusiasm for better health on the rise in America, many people are making quality nutrition a top priority.  Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a key role.  They are called "essential" because they are not made naturally by the body, but must be obtained through food or supplements.  Learning more about these important nutrients can help to ensure a nutritious diet and a healthy body.

The only way to obtain essential fatty acids is through foods or supplements.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Essential omega 3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  The body converts ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two more essential fatty acids; however, the process isn't very efficient.  Therefore, EPA and DHA are considered "conditionally essential."

Sources of omega 3 fatty acids include green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, flaxseeds, citrus fruits, melons, and cherries which contain ALA.  Omega 3 sources of EPA and DHA include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and other marine life, such as algae and krill.  Flax oil (ALA) and fish oil (EPA and DHA) supplements also make good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Linoleic acid (LA) is an essential fatty acid present in many leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and grains.  Oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut, and canola oil also offer linoleic acid.  LA breaks down to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) within the body or arachidonic acid (AA), two other essential fatty acids.  Natural sources of GLA include oils like black currant, borage, evening primrose, and hemp oils.  You can also obtain AA through consumption of eggs, fish and meat.

Related:  Three Surprising Seafood Sources of EFA’s

Health Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids help promote a variety of functions in the human body including:

  • Cell development
  • Absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Nourishment of skin, hair, and nails
  • Proper nerve function
  • Hormone production

EFAs and Disease

EFA deficiency has been linked to a number of diseases and disorders including:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Hypertension
  • Certain mental disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
  • Learning disorders
  • PMS
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Studies show the consumption of EFAs can help improve these conditions.  For instance, it has been found that diets high in ALA, EPA and DHA can help protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and providing anticoagulant properties.  Research shows that supplementation with GLA can relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and subjects with eczema are able to reduce their use of antibiotics and steroids for treatment of the disease.

People can consume large amounts of essential fatty acids with few side effects.  Occasionally some experience stomach upset, gas, or diarrhea, but these effects typically diminish over time.  Individuals on anticoagulant or blood thinning medications should check with their doctor before taking fish oil supplements as they can thin the blood.

While scientists continue to study how EFAs affect the health, it is clear they offer many benefits.  Whether consumed through a meal or taken as a supplement, EFAs are safe and well tolerated by the body. 

 

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Could You Be Vitamin Deficient?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may be surprised to know that even if you eat a healthy diet, you might be deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients. There are several reasons why.

First, conventional agriculture has depleted our soil of nutrients, and therefore so is the food that’s grown in it. Selenium is a good example of a mineral that is no longer found in high quantities in soil. Selenium is essential for your body to make glutathione—a powerful antioxidant—and for the repair of your DNA—both are very important to reduce your risk of cancer. Research shows that the incidence of cancer in various regions is directly linked to the amount of selenium in the soil. Areas with the highest selenium have up to a 50 percent lower incidence of certain cancers.

Next, your body can’t absorb nutrients from certain food sources as well as they can from others. For example, your body can’t absorb the calcium in dairy as well as it can from plant sources, such as spinach and kale. So if you rely on dairy rather than plants for all your calcium needs, you may be getting far less than actually you think.

Related Five Natural Anti-aging Solutions

Vitamin D is another great example of a nutrient dangerously low in most Americans. You can manufacture your own vitamin D by a reaction between your skin and sunlight, but most people can’t regularly get enough sun exposure to make enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for thousands of reactions in your body. When your Vitamin D levels are low, your risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers is significantly increased.

For these and many other reasons, you may not be getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, so taking supplements can be important. I recommend seeing a holistic physician to have your levels of nutrients checked. Your physician can then precisely prescribe the nutritional supplements that are best for your unique physiology.  

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Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

by IVL Products

Loss of visual acuity is normal as we age. The most common cause of vision loss is in this country is due to age-related macular degeneration or AMD and there is no known cure. Knowing who is at the highest risk for developing age-related macular degeneration can help you determine your risk factors and take steps to delay or possibly avoid it.

Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

High Risk Factors for AMD

While AMD can affect anyone at any time, it is most common in adults over the age of 60.

Others at risk are:

  • Anyone with a family history of the disease
  • Smokers
  • People with high blood pressure
  • People with high cholesterol
  • Those who are obese
  • Being a light skinned female with a light eye color 

What Is AMD: Symptoms

Age-related macular degeneration is when the central portion of the retina, which is at the back of the eye, begins to deteriorate and a small blurry spot develops in your vision.  The macula is in the central part of the retina and responsible for focusing central vision in the eye. In some people AMD progresses slowly, in others, much more quickly. There are two kinds of AMD:

  1. Dry – this form of AMD is the most common and the cause is not entirely known. Small white or yellowish spots form on the retina and cause it to deteriorate over time
  2. Wet—while less common, many who start with dry AMD progress to wet or neovascular AMD.  Wet macular degeneration is caused by abnormal blood vessels under the retina that break, bleed and leak fluid, damaging the macula and causing it to lift away from its base. This type of AMD usually results in rapid and almost total loss of central vision.

The most common symptom of AMD is the formation of a dark, blurry spot over the center of the eye and a diminished capacity to perceive colors. If you think you might be developing AMD see your eye doctor right away for a definite diagnosis.

Related:  Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Eyesight

How to Reduce Your Risk of AMD

If you are at risk for developing age-related macular degeneration there are several things you can be doing now that could help delay the onset and severity of symptoms.

  • Stop smoking - for so many other reasons as well
  • Lose weight – obesity is a common risk factor for AMD
  • Get high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels under control; this goes hand in hand with losing weight and these two conditions put you at risk for many other fatal diseases.
  • Clean up your diet – recent studies have shown the positive affect eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, walnuts, olive oil) and dark green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, arugula) can have on slowing AMD from developing.  Foods rich in vitamins C, E, zinc, copper lutein and zeaxanthin are the best for preventing AMD.
  • Supplements – researchers at the National Eye Institute found that of supplements with higher than average doses of vitamin C, E, zinc oxide, copper, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin reduced the risk of developing late AMD, like after age 60.

It should be noted that beta-carotene has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer so if you are a smoker or ex-smoker you should not take it.  Consult your doctor about the safe amount of these supplements and seek out foods rich in these nutrients to help you avoid or delay age related macular degeneration.

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Where Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Come From?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids are among the most important nutrients we need for a healthy body and sharp mind. Not only do omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, they also regulate cholesterol triglyceride levels, ease joint pain and support brain health. Let’s look at where these essential fatty acids come from.

Oily fish is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Although there is no official recommended daily amount (RDA) of omega-3 fatty acids, the American Heart Association recommends 1gram per day for people with heart disease, and 2-4 grams per day for those using Omega-3 to lower triglyceride levels. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

Fish

Fish and krill are the best sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main omega-3 fatty acids we need for top health benefits. Enjoy fish in your diet two to three times a week to top up your levels of omega-3 fatty acids naturally. Sources include:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Sturgeon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Freshwater trout

Unfortunately, many sources of fresh fish are polluted and contain traces of industrial toxins, poisons, heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Tuna, sea bass and marlin are known to have levels of mercury that exceed the amounts approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The exceptions to this potential health hazard are wild-caught Alaskan salmon and small fish such as sardines and krill that are lower down the food chain.

Even farmed salmon does not escape the problem of toxic pollution. In addition, the levels of omega 3 fatty acids it contains are only about half of that found in wild-caught fish.

Related:  Omega 3, 6 and 9: the Basics

Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements are an easy way to source omega-3 fatty acids. However, you need to check the source to avoid the same contaminants as fresh fish. In addition, fish oil supplements generally have lower levels of antioxidants than fresh fish.

Krill Oil

Krill are small marine creatures that have 48 times more potency for omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil. Krill naturally contains astaxanthin, which metabolizes with the EPA and DHA to make them more bioavailable in the body. In addition, krill fishing is completely sustainable and eco-friendly, making it a recommended source of those essential omega-3 fatty acids. 

What about Plant-Sourced Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Plant-sourced omega-3 fatty acids come from flaxseed, hemp and chia which all produce alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). This is converted into EPA and DHA in the body, but it is a much less efficient way of obtaining the required amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although plant-based omega-3 does not have the possible dangers of metal toxins found in marine animals, you need sufficient enzymes for the body to convert the ALAs for use in the body.

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is to choose a high quality fish oil supplements from a reputable company who source their omega-3 from certified, sustainable Alaskan fisheries. 

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Are Fish Oil Supplements Good for the Skin?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Don’t underestimate the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for skinWhoever said that “beauty is only skin deep” probably had beautiful skin! Skin is the body’s largest organ and millions of dollars a year are spent on creams, lotions and treatments to make it look glowing and wrinkle-free. However, it makes sense to treat the skin from the inside, as well as externally.  That’s where the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for skin come into play.

According to Laurie Tansman, a New York nutritionist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, foods high in omega-3s such as oily fish, nuts and green vegetables, heal the skin and repair damaged cell membranes from the inside out.

Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil for Skin Irritation

So what can omega-3 fish oils do for the skin? Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which is why fish oil is so good for our overall health. The benefits of omega-3 fish oil for skin quickly become apparent when you start taking a daily fish oil supplement.

Omega-3 fish oil reduces redness and limits irritation, moisturizing each skin cell naturally from the inside. These natural omega-3 oils are particularly effective for those who suffer from eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, producing a clearer skin as the fatty acids encourage the skin cells to produce chemicals to control the inflammation.

Omega-3 Fish Oil for Dry Skin

Rich in polyunsaturated fats, fish oils are a natural source of moisturizer for skin, particularly if it is naturally dry. Its restores lost oils and locks in moisture to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

In addition, fish oil supplements were used in a clinical study at Maryland Medical Center to show that taking fish oil can help those with sun sensitive skin (called photo dermatitis). Although sunscreen is essential for protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, fish oil strengthens and supports that defense.

Related:  Omega-7: There's a New Healthful Omega Fat in Town

EPAs Improve Skin

There are three main types of omega 3 fatty acids:

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) sourced from plants, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are both found in fish oils. EPA has been found to help reduce stress, a major cause of premature skin aging. By reducing the effects of stress on the whole body, EPAs indirectly provide further benefits of omega-3 fish oil for skin.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive creams for healthy looking skin. Taking high quality fish oil supplements daily will soon provide you with beautiful, clear skin, and there’s a beauty bonus too. Omega-3 fish oils are also good for strong nails and a healthy head of hair. Beauty may seem to be only skin deep, but it definitely starts from the inside!

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6 Super Easy Ways to Get Rid of Indigestion Fast

by Cindy Gray

Indigestion affects most people at one time or another. It can range from mild discomfort below the ribs to severe pain that prevents you from sleeping. Understanding the cause of indigestion can be the first step in remedying this common health issue.

Indigestion is a common health issue

Causes of Indigestion

Indigestion is generally caused by what you eat. Spicy foods can be hard to digest, especially late in the evening. Fatty foods laden with oil and cholesterol may also be hard for the body to digest. Overeating and excess alcohol are further common causes of indigestion. These can all cause acid reflux or GERD, when the stomach contents and pancreatic juices flow back up the esophagus causing pain, irritation, inflammation or a burning sensation.

If none of these causes apply, there is a chance that your indigestion is caused by a medical condition such as a stomach ulcer, gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome or pancreatitis, so you should consult your doctor without delay.

Related:  Five Supplements that Help Heal Tissue Damage Caused by Acid Reflux

Treat Indigestion Naturally with:

  1. Fruit and Vegetables

Returning to a more wholesome diet based on fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole wheat products can quickly remedy any ongoing problems of heartburn. In particular, bananas are high in potassium which alkalizes acid. They also prompt the stomach to produce more mucus which protects the stomach lining and esophagus. Apples also create an alkaline environment, reducing indigestion and acid reflux symptoms fast.

  1. Water

Sipping warm water can calm the stomach and aid digestion, particularly if the cause is overindulgence. However, you should not drink too much water or it may make you feel bloated.

  1. Peppermint Tea

Peppermint is a known digestive aid and is easily taken as peppermint tea to soothe indigestion. Immerse the peppermint tea bag in hot water for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and cool before slowly sipping this healthy remedy.

  1. Fennel Seeds

Fennel is particularly good for treating stomach upsets caused by spicy foods. Fennel neutralizes the acid and reduces nausea quickly and safely. Simply added ground roasted fennel seeds to a glass of water and drink twice a day until the indigestion has gone.

  1. Ginger

Ginger is another excellent treatment for indigestion, especially if it is caused by overeating. Ginger accelerates the digestive process by helping the digestive process juices break down the food, moving it into the intestine faster. Simply grate a little ginger root into a glass of warm water. Add a few drops of lemon juice and honey to taste, then drink it down.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a versatile home remedy for all types of ailments including indigestion. Add one tablespoon to a cup of water sweetened with a little honey. Drink 3-4 times a day to relieve persistent indigestion naturally.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure, so try to work out what caused your indigestion, and take steps to avoid it in the future. 

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Are You Suffering from Vitamin C Deficiency?

by IVL Products

Vitamins and minerals play a significant role when it comes to obtaining adequate nutrition and staying healthy.  Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, contributes to cell growth and repair, circulation, and iron absorption.  It is also important for the production of collagen, a protein found in blood vessels, skin, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.  In most parts of the world, serious vitamin C deficiency (or scurvy) is relatively uncommon because vitamin C is found naturally in many foods and is added to other food as well.  However, smoking, excessive alcohol use, a compromised diet, or certain medical conditions can result in lowered levels of vitamin C in the body.

Foods like citrus fruits, papaya, bell peppers, and broccoli help prevent vitamin C deficiency.

According to medical center experts at the University of Maryland, vitamin C deficiency has been linked to various medical problems like atherosclerosis, certain cancers, gallbladder disease, and high blood pressure.  Animal studies also indicate that low levels of vitamin C can lead to biochemical changes in the body which affect behavior. 

A study from Vanderbilt University found that mice deprived of vitamin C showed depressive-like behavior, reduced movement and strength, and greater preference for sugar.  Behaviors returned to normal with restoration of vitamin C, with the exception of depressive-like symptoms.  

Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency

People with scurvy often develop anemia and swollen, bleeding gums.  Additional signs and symptoms that may indicate a vitamin C deficiency include brittle hair, easily bruised skin, and nosebleeds.

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency

Sources of Vitamin C

Because it is water soluble, vitamin C is not stored by the body.  This means people need to get it through food or supplements.  Some excellent food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, mangoes, papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and kale.  Vitamin C supplements come in tablets, capsules, effervescent powders, and liquids.  People who depend on supplements for vitamin C should strive for 250-500 mg, twice a day. 

Vitamin C deficiency can result in a number of uncomfortable symptoms.  Fortunately, they can be prevented with the consumption of certain foods or supplements.  People who are concerned about a vitamin C deficiency should first consult with a health care professional to rule out other possibilities. 

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