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Delicious Detox: Foods that Nourish and Cleanse

by Cindy Gray

Toxins are an unfortunate, inevitable fact of life. We are exposed to toxins through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the chemicals we use to print copies, wash our cars and disinfect our homes. Over time, toxic substances take a toll on our overall health and make us vulnerable to illFoods that Help to Nourish and Detox the Systemness and serious diseases.

To help mitigate some of the dangerous effects of toxins, it’s important to regularly consume foods that help cleanse your body. Fortunately many of the foods you need to detox your body are as near as your refrigerator or pantry.  Here are just a few of the best detox foods:

Beets: Packed with antioxidants and fiber, beets top the list of the best detox foods. They contain betaine, a compound that protects against liver damage and helps the liver process fats. Add thinly sliced beets to a sandwich, serve them as a side dish, or use them to add flavor, color and texture to salads.

Garlic: The sulfur-rich compounds in garlic fight harmful bacteria and boost the body’s ability to detox by increasing the production of glutathione, which is needed to eliminate toxins. Garlic should be eaten raw and must be chopped or crushed in order to release the beneficial compounds.

Artichokes: This spiky green staple has been used in many cultures for hundreds of years to cleanse the liver and purify the blood. Artichokes contain two key phytonutrients (cynarin and silymarin) which are among nature’s best detoxifying agents.

Related: 6 Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones from Forming

Apples: Known for their ability to “keep the doctor away” apples contain glucaric acid, which helps rid the body of chemicals and heavy metals. They are high in fiber which soaks up toxins and waste so they can be eliminated through the digestive process. Keep an apple handy at your desk for a health-boosting, nutritious snack. 

Olive oil: Hippocrates was the first healer to recognize the health benefits associated with olive oil. It is an effective tool for flushing out the liver and is particularly helpful in the prevention of gall stones. Make it go-to cooking oil and savor the fact that it’s on the list of the best detox foods.    

Broccoli: Cruciferous vegetables are nutritional powerhouses and broccoli is particularly potent.  Broccoli sprouts are especially important because they contain glucoraphanin which accelerates the body’s ability to detox from environmental pollutants.

Choose locally grown organic vegetables and products when possible. Certified organic vegetables are grown in chemical-free environments that support sustainable farming initiatives. Locally grown produce is healthier because vegetables and fruits lose much of their nutritional value when they are transported hundreds of miles. Opt for natural cleaning products and use air purifiers to mitigate pollutants in the air in your home and office.  Good luck, good health!

 

 

 

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The ABCs of Eye Floaters

by Cindy Gray

They come out of nowhere, those little dots, squiggly lines or strands in your field of vision.  They appear suddenly if you gaze at a bright white piece of paper or look up to admire a cloud-free, brilliant blue sky, then they vanish just as quickly as they appeared.  What are these pesky little eye floaters anyway?

The Ins and Outs of Eye FloatersThe good news is that eye floaters are generally harmless and only mildly annoying.  They are composed of clumps and strands of collagen, a substance produced naturally by the body.  They are a part of the natural aging process and usually appear more often between the ages of 50 and 75 years old.  They are most likely to appear to those who are very nearsighted or have had cataract surgery.

Over time, the millions of collagen fibers your body has produced can accumulate in the region of the eye known as the vitreous.  This is a thick transparent substance in the middle of the eye that makes up two-thirds of its volume.  They can alter the amount of light that gets through to your retina (the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) and appear as floaters.  In extreme cases, a doctor can replace your natural vitreous with a gel-like substance; but that is very rarely needed or recommended.

The best news is that floaters do not harm your vision or interfere with your ability to see clearly.  However, they can be annoying; and if you are near-sighted or have a family history of cataract surgery, you might want to take a few preventive steps to keep floaters at bay.

Related: Fruit May Help Reduce Vision Disabilities

Vitamins and Supplements

There are several dietary supplements you can use that have shown to help keep eyes healthy and lessen your risk of developing eye floaters as you age, such as:

Vitamin C – this essential nutrient plays a key role in eye health by encouraging healthy collagen production, which supports the connective tissue in the cornea.  It also keeps the delicate capillaries in the retina healthy.  Finally, this vital nutrient may help reduce your risk of forming cataracts or experiencing a loss of vision due to macular degeneration.

Vitamin A – is another crucial nutrient that keeps your eyes healthy.  It helps protect them from infection and eye disease, distinguish between a wide-array of colors and helps prevents night blindness.

Taurine – is an antioxidant that supports your body’s efficiency in getting rid of waste products and can help keep eye floaters from forming.

Bilberry – is a supplement, not a vitamin, which mimics vitamin C in supporting collagen production and strong blood vessels for good circulation to your eyes.

L-Methione – is an amino acid that assists the body in removing heavy metal toxins, which are especially damaging to delicate eye tissue.

Inositol – plays a vital role in maintaining cell membranes.  A low level of this substance in the body is linked to several health problems like eczema, constipation and eye issues. 

Minerals – magnesium, selenium, calcium, copper, chromium and zinc are all essential minerals that play important roles in keeping your eyes healthy.

Other Causes of Eye Floaters:

There are several things that contribute to increased eye floaters, such as:

  • Being severely nearsighted

  • Eye trauma

  • Stress (it causes problems for all parts of the body!)

  • Some liver or kidney medications

  • Pre-birth (you can be born with them)

Eye Floater 911

If you get a sudden increase in eye floaters that are accompanied by flashes of light, or you experience a sudden loss in your peripheral vision, get medical help immediately!  These are signs of a detached retina, retinal tear or internal bleeding in the eye.  All of these issues can lead to permanent vision loss so seek medical help immediately if you experience those symptoms.

Float Away

While you may not be able to completely avoid experiencing eye floaters, you can take preventive steps to keep them at a minimum with a few dietary enhancements. Adding some of the above supplements into your diet will probably help you “see” some great health benefits.

 

 

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A Fishy Solution to Smoking Cessation

by Cindy Gray

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of disability, disease and death in the United States.  Every year 480,000 Americans die premature deaths from smoking.  Despite these grim statistics, most smokers find it difficult to quit. However, if you’re looking for some natural ways to quit smoking, you’re in luck. New research out of Israel shows consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could significantly reduce cravings and provide a safe and natural way to help smokers kick the habit.

Natural Ways To Quit Smoking with Omega-3 Fatty AcidsMoth to the Flame

Why is it so hard to quit smoking? Tobacco use is a chronic disease and smokers quickly become addicted due the nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products. When they inhale or ingest the nicotine, in some way it causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which stimulates the body’s central nervous system.  Just like cocaine and heroin, nicotine increases levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls the pathways to the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. 

Many smokers long to quit permanently, but most fail after repeated attempts. The withdrawal symptoms are terrible and are often a combination of the following:

  • Intense cravings for nicotine

  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems

  • An inability to focus or concentrate

  • Increased appetite 

Those who seek treatment to stop smoking may have some initial success, but often relapse after a stressful event, or they dislike the side effects of anti-smoking medications and stop using them. 

The Study

In a strictly controlled study conducted in Israel, the test subjects were 48 smokers between the ages of 18 and 45 who smoked a daily average of 14 cigarettes.  All the participants had been smoking an average of 11 years and were diagnosed with a moderate dependency on nicotine.  The test participants were divided into two groups: one that received omega-3 capsules and one that received a placebo.

The study was conducted as a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled research project, meaning neither the participants nor the researchers knew who received the omega-3 capsules and who received a placebo.  None of the participants were asked to change their smoking habits in any way.

Throughout the 30-day study, levels of nicotine cravings and the number of cigarettes smoked per day were recorded by the participants.  At the beginning of the study neither group showed any difference in smoking habits.  However, after 30 days the omega-3 supplement takers had reduced their average cigarettes smoked per day by two.  They also recorded greatly reduced nicotine cravings.  Even another 30 days after they stopped taking the omega-3 supplements, those participants reported less intense cravings.

The group taking the placebo showed no measurable decrease in nicotine cravings nor did they reduce the average number of cigarettes smoked per day.

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Help

Levels of essential fatty acids like omega-3s are reduced in the brain by smoking.  Being deficient in these levels appears to cause damage to the nerve cells, interrupting the transmission of feelings of pleasure and satisfaction in the brain.  Smokers often having difficulty making decisions and experience reduced feelings of satisfaction by their accomplishments or efforts because of a lack of this vital nutrient.

Related: The Dangers of Krill Oil

What’s worse, not only is tobacco oppressing good feelings in the brain, it also interferes with your flight-or-fight response.  Just one stressful event can lead to a relapse for smokers trying to quit because of their reduced ability to handle stress.

Omega-3 fatty acids seem to reduce cravings for nicotine and help the brain cope better with pressure and stress.  Smoking has already been linked to depression and other mental disorders, so it’s not surprising that regular tobacco users experience less satisfaction and have more difficulty dealing with pressure, rejection or stress.

Safe, Natural and Healthy

Using omega-3 fatty acid supplements is one of the best natural ways to quit smoking because it is inexpensive and easy to obtain.  Plus, omega-3s have a long list of other health benefits besides helping you to quit smoking, such as reducing your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and some cancers.  It also helps keep your skin clear and supple and your hair shiny and strong; two things that also are greatly damaged by smoking.

Great food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Fish (especially salmon and trout)

  • Flax, Olive, Canola, Coconut and Hemp Seed Oils

  • Avocados

  • Eggs

  • Walnuts

Since the study participants were taking larger doses than is generally recommended, it would be virtually impossible to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through food alone to help with smoking cessation.  A supplement combined with adding foods rich in the essential acid is the best way to keep those levels high in the brain and help stave off nicotine cravings.

 

 

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Natural Relief for Lactose Intolerance

by Health News

Natural Relief for Lactose IntoleranceWhat is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the lactose sugar that comes from dairy products. When lactose intolerant individuals consume milk or milk products, they often feel gassy, bloated and the need to run to the restroom. It is estimated that in the United States, 15% of Caucasians over 50% of Mexican Americans and over 80% of African Americans suffer from lactose intolerance.

What causes lactose intolerance?

Normally, your stomach lining produces an enzyme called lactase which is used to break down lactose, the major sugar in milk. When we are babies, our lactase levels are highest but as we grow older, they get less and less. The less they are, the likely you are to suffer from lactose intolerance. When you drink milk or eat milk products and you don’t produce enough lactase, the lactose is not broken down into absorbable form (sugar, glucose and galactose). The milk passes through your stomach and through to your small intestine undigested, causing bloating, cramps, nausea and diarrhea.

If I am lactose intolerant, do I just have to avoid milk products?

While many people feel this is the best solution, giving up an entire food group is a pretty drastic measure, particularly when dairy products are so important for bone growth in children and bone density in adults. Fortunately, several studies suggest that supplementing the diet with certain probiotics is a safe and effective route to keeping the symptoms under control.

Probiotics, specifically certain strains of lactobacillus acidophilus, work by adhering to the intestinal lining and releasing lactase enzyme needed to digest dairy products.

A 1995 study* whose results were published in The Journal of Dairy Science showed that lactose-intolerant children who drank milk treated with probiotic lactobacillus acidophilus showed a significant reduction in symptoms.

A 1999 review** of hundreds of studies on the health benefits of probiotics found, among other things, that a certain strain of lactobacillus acidophilus has demonstrated consistent positive results against the symptoms of lactose intolerance. The author of this review states: “To date, its probiotic effects have been demonstrated in humans as reducing problems associated with lactose intolerance and as reducing levels of free amines in the intestine, thereby decreasing the risk of colon cancer. These properties make this strain of potential value in several patient populations.”

Digestion Health Problems - Free Ebook

 SOURCES:

*http://www.mendeley.com/research/effect-milks-inoculated-lactobacillus-acidophilus-yogurt-starter-culture-lactosemaldigesting-children/

**http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC99697/

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Ginger: Natural Digestive Relief

by Health News

In Western culture, ginger has mostly been used to add a distinct flavor to a variety of recipes from cookies, breads, candy to stir-fry and chicken dishes. But parts of the world, such as China and India, have been using this herb for more than 2,000 years for its therapeutic properties.

Over the last 20 years, numerous studies have demonstrated ginger’s efficacy in treating various conditions. In vitro studies suggest that ginger has antiemetic (anti-nausea) and anti-inflammatory effects and may even protect against Alzheimer's disease and cancer. But in clinical studies, ginger has shown most benefit to the gastrointestinal tract. 

Benefits of Ginger - Natural Digestive Relief

Ginger has been successfully used to treat various types of "stomach problems," including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, nausea caused by cancer treatment, nausea and vomiting after surgery and loss of appetite. Medical researchers believe two ingredients, shogoal and gingerol found in the ginger rhizome stimulate the flow of saliva, bile, and gastric secretions.

Ginger also has been found to suppress gastric contractions and improve intestinal muscle tone. Constituents in ginger are thought to interact with 5HT-3 receptors (receptors responsible for activating the vomit reflex) and may be partially responsible for the antiemetic (antinausea) benefits. 

Ginger products (as nutritional supplements) are made from fresh or dried ginger root, or from steam distillation of the oil in the root. It is available in extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils and can be found in health food stores as well as many drugstores and supermarkets. Fresh ginger root can be prepared as a steeped tea.

The therapeutic dose of ginger, generally, should not exceed 4 grams daily, with the standardized dose being 75 - 2,000 mg in divided doses with food.

Digestion Health Problems Quiz

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Green Tea: Food For The Brain

by Nancy Maneely

Green Tea: High Blood Pressure Natural TreatmentWhat’s not to love about a soothing hot cup of fragrant green tea?

It’s China’s favorite drink, and thanks to modern scientific research, we know it contains health benefits from its abundant antioxidants – making it the preferred beverage for healthy aging.

It’s long been established that green tea is a powerful agent for protection against cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related health concerns. In fact, many people concerned with cardiovascular health have started adding green tea to their diet as a high blood pressure natural treatment.

Now, new research from China suggests that drinking green tea may help boost the production of new brain cells – offering cognitive support for those of any age.

The studies with mice, published in the August issue of the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, found that epigallocatechin-3 galate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in green tea, boosts production of neural progenitor cells. These progenitor cells can help promote neurogenesis - the formation of new brain cells (neurons) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that transfers information from short term to long-term memory.

The new cells appear to sharpen memory, improve learning and ward off degenerative diseases. The research also noted that the mice treated with EGCG and trained to run mazes could accomplish this task faster than mice that didn’t receive EGCG. They found that, in mice, the new cells appear to improve memory, learning and combat degenerative diseases.

If you’re not a tea drinker, now is the time to start! Create a “green tea ritual” and view it as a few minutes of your day when you take the time to slow down, take a few deep breaths and treat your body well. The simple act of preparing the hot water and steeping the tea can provide that moment of quiet and calm in the midst of a hectic day. Soon you will find yourself looking forward to your daily tea ritual!

Talk to your doctor to see if taking green tea supplements as a high blood pressure natural treatment is right for you.

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Understanding Leaky Gut Syndrome & Indigestion Home Remedies

by Cindy Gray

Leaky gut syndrome affects millions of Americans, and they may not even know they have it. This one condition may be at the root of an array of health problems, from indigestion and allergies to joint pain to autoimmune disorders.  While it sounds like a digestive problem, leaky gut syndrome affects various areas of the body if left unchecked.

indigestion home remedies

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Essentially, the walls of the digestive tract are lined with tiny pores that allow certain molecules and nutrients to pass through to the bloodstream.  Damage to these pores makes them bigger, allowing undigested food particles and other impurities to leak through.  The body reacts to these foreign invaders with an immune reaction.

What causes leaky gut syndrome?

An overabundance of unhealthy intestinal bacteria is a common cause of leaky gut syndrome, causing inflammation, irritation, and eventual damage to the intestinal wall.  Another cause is chronic constipation.  The stool sits in the digestive system and builds up toxins that irritate the intestinal lining and cause damage.

How does leaky guy syndrome affect the health?

When the immune system responds, it builds up antibodies to food particles and other foreign invaders.  This can lead to inflammation throughout the body causing a wide array of symptoms:

  • Digestive problems

  • Fatigue

  • Food sensitivities

  • Headache

  • Joint pain

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Skin problems like acne, rash, and rosacea

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Weight gain

Leaky gut can affect absorption of key nutrients including iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.  In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that if left unchecked, leaky gut can lead to autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, and depression.

Indigestion Home Remedies: What are some natural ways to soothe a leaky gut?

Modifying the diet and making other lifestyle changes can help heal a leaky gut.  People should eliminate foods that contain sugar and grain and replace conventional beef and lamb with grass-fed versions.  It is important to swap tap water for filtered water or pure spring water, and always eat organic fruits and vegetables.  People should not smoke or drink alcohol when trying to heal a leaky gut, and they should limit the use of NSAIDs and antibiotics.

Related: Start the Day out Right – Eat Breakfast

Foods that are especially helpful for leaky gut include:

Bone Broth – Collagen and important amino acids found in bone broth help repair damaged cell walls.

Coconut Products – Because medium-chain fatty acids in coconut are easier to digest than other fats, they take less of a toll on the system.  In addition, the antibacterial properties of coconut oil encourage a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.

Fermented Vegetables – Organic acids and probiotics found in fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi encourage proper pH balance and a healthy bacterial balance in the gut.

Foods High in Omega-3 Fats – Because of the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids, foods like wild-caught salmon and grass-fed beef help sooth certain symptoms of leaky guy syndrome.

Yogurt – Probiotics found in yogurt help populate the gut with healthy bacteria and promote healing.

Supplements that help sooth a leaky gut include:

Probiotics – A supplementary version of the good bacteria found in yogurt, probiotics help encourage healthy intestinal balance.

Digestive Enzymes – Products that contain protease, lipase, and amylase encourage better digestion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, lowering the chances that these particles might damage intestinal walls.

L-Glutamine – An essential amino acid with anti-inflammatory properties, glutamine helps encourage growth and repair of the intestinal lining. 

Quercetin – Because it promotes the production of tight junction proteins, quercetin helps repair damaged intestinal walls.  Studies show quercetin also curbs the release of histamine, a compound associated with immune response to allergies like those associated with food.

Because of a wide range of symptoms, people experience leaky gut syndrome in different ways. Taking advantage of a few natural methods can help repair intestinal walls and ease symptoms.  If these methods are unsuccessful, people who suspect they may have leaky gut syndrome should consult with a health care professional.

 

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Processed Foods Cause Digestive Issues Like Abdominal Bloating

by Cindy Gray

Food has changed a lot over the last century.  In the not so distant past, people preserved foods with natural methods like fermentation, curing, and sun drying.  Now, food manufacturers use nearly six thousand different additives and chemicals to process and preserve food.  The problem with processing is that it strips food of important enzymes, fiber, minerals, and vitamins necessary for good health.  Regular consumption of processed foods contributes to a number of health problems including digestive issues such as abdominal bloating, constipation and diarrhea.

Processed Foods Cause Digestive Issues Like Abdominal BloatingReal Foods vs. Processed Foods

Real foods have a shelf life, and they mold or spoil over time.  Processed food is any food that has been changed from its natural state.  Processed foods include real foods that have been altered for longer shelf life like lunch meats, frozen meals, quick oats, and flavored yogurt.  Processed foods also include junk foods that contain very little nutritive value like many snack chips and baked treats. 

Processed Foods and Digestion

Because many processed foods lack enzymes and fiber needed for proper digestion, they take a long time to pass through the system, causing problems like bloating, constipation, and irritable bowel.  Certain sweeteners added to processed foods can also contribute to poor digestion. One artificial sweetener, sorbitol, cannot be digested at all, and many people have difficulty digesting fructose, a natural sugar added to many processed foods.  Reading food labels helps consumers learn the levels of processing for foods and ingredients added.  Basically, if you’re looking for constipation cures, eating a cleaner, less-processed diet can help enhance the digestive process and boost overall health. 

Related: Healthy Fast Food Choices

Other Ways to Improve Digestion

In addition to limiting processed foods in the diet, people can make these changes to improve digestion:

Eat More Fiber

By keeping food moving through the digestive system, soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water) fiber help ensure regularity and reduce abdominal bloating.  Fiber helps slow digestion so more nutrients are absorbed, and it adds bulk to stools and softens them for easier passage.  Good sources of soluble fiber include apples, pears, blueberries, beans, and oats.  Good sources of insoluble fiber include fresh vegetables and whole grains.

Limit Fats

Too many fatty foods overwhelm the stomach and delay emptying, causing bloating, discomfort, acid reflux, and heartburn.  To lower fat content, replace fatty beef and pork with fish, chicken, or turkey.  Trade whole-fat dairy products for low-fat or non-fat versions, and replace butter and margarine with healthier fats like olive oil or coconut oil.

Add Probiotics to a Daily Routine

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria similar to those found in the human gut.  Taking a daily probiotic or eating foods that contain probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, help improve bacterial balance in the gut and normalize digestion.

Stay Hydrated

Water helps ensure regularity and softer stools.  People should aim for 64 ounces of pure water every day and even more when exercising.  Clear urine throughout the day is one way to tell if water intake is adequate.

Exercise

Exercise improves blood flow to organs and stimulates muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, which makes the digestive process quicker and more efficient.  Whether walking, cycling, swimming, or playing sports, 30 minutes of daily exercise does wonders for digestion and overall health.

While they may taste good, processed foods wreak havoc with the digestive system by making it sluggish and inefficient.  Limiting processed and fatty foods and integrating fiber-rich foods and probiotics into the daily diet can help.  Adding plenty of water and daily exercise to the mix keeps the digestive system in tip-top shape.

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Health Benefits of Fiber – Stop Overeating & Lower Your Cholesterol

by Cindy Gray

Health professionals encourage people to eat 30 to 35 grams of fiber each day, but some people don't know exactly what fiber is.  This might explain why the average American consumes just 15 grams of daily fiber.  Knowing the ins and outs of fiber can help people make more informed choices when it comes to nutritious eating and good health. It can even help people stop overeating, control food cravings, and more.

Muesli, Breakfast, Bowl, Food, Healthy, Meal, CerealWhat is Fiber?

Fiber is the material within plant foods that the body cannot easily digest, such as the fiber in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.  The two types of fiber include soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water, while insoluble fiber does not.  When it comes to health benefits, these differences are important.

Best Sources of Fiber

The two types of fiber affect the body in different ways.  A good mix of soluble and insoluble fiber helps ensure optimal health. 

Good sources of soluble fiber include:

  • Oatmeal or oat bran

  • Peas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and navy beans

  • Apricots, grapefruit, mangoes, and oranges

  • Asparagus and Brussels sprouts

  • Flaxseed

Good sources of insoluble fiber include:

In addition to providing the body with a number of important phytochemicals and antioxidants, fiber offers an abundance of other health benefits.

Related: The Guide to Natural Weight Loss

Lowers LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and bile acids, moving both through the body for excretion. To make more bile acids, the liver needs more cholesterol, which it pulls from LDL molecules in the bloodstream, thereby lowering LDL cholesterol levels. In layman’s terms, eating fiber can help to lower cholesterol.

Type 2 Diabetes

Research from Harvard University on male and female health professionals linked diets high in cereal fiber to a lower risk for type 2 diabetes.  Additional studies like the Black Women's Health Study have come to similar conclusions.

Digestive Health

Insoluble fiber draws water to the intestine, which adds bulk to waste products and helps move them through the body.  Both types of fiber soften stools, making them easier to pass. 

Heart Health

According to research, boosting the consumption of soluble fiber is likely to reduce risks for the development of heart disease by lowering triglycerides in the blood.  What's more, soluble fiber can slow the progression of heart disease once it is diagnosed.

Skin

According to the author of "Fat Flush for Life," certain types of fiber bind with yeast, fungus, and other toxins, moving them through the digestive system to be excreted with waste products.  Without the help of fiber, toxins and impurities can be excreted through perspiration, causing skin rashes and breakouts.

Weight Management

Insoluble fiber adds bulk to foods.  Because bulky foods require more time for chewing and enhance a sense of fullness, they can help people stop overeating and control food cravings.   A 12-year study from Harvard Medical School found that women who increased consumption of high-fiber or whole-grain foods were 50 percent less likely to become obese as compared to women who lowered consumption of these foods.

Adding foods to the diet that are high in soluble and insoluble fiber result in many health benefits.  Eating more whole grains, nuts, legumes, and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy body weight and lowers risks for some types of disease.  In order to avoid uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloating, people not accustomed to eating fiber-rich foods should start gradually.

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Health Benefits of Maple Syrup

by Cindy Gray

According to a study from the University of Rhode Island published in 2010, maple syrup contains more than 20 antioxidant compounds with potential anti-cancer, antibacterial and antidiabetic properties.  Of these, 13 of were newly discovered in maple syrup while eight were found in the maple tree family for the first time. For instance, maple syrup was found to contain phenolic compounds, which are naturally occurring antioxidants that are also founMaple Syrup: Nature's Antioxidant Powerhoused in olive oil and berries.

Maple syrup is unique in that it is the only commercially available dietary product that comes from a tree’s sap. Maple syrup production is unique to the northeast region of North America. Canada is the biggest producer and the U.S. is the biggest consumer. 

Plants typically have strong antioxidant mechanisms because they are exposed to the sun throughout their lives. Maple syrup comes from sap located just inside the bark, which is constantly exposed to the sun.  The sugar maple tree is wounded when it is tapped for its sap and likely secretes phenolic compounds as a self-defense mechanism. The sap has low concentrations of these compounds to begin with. However, when it is concentrated by boiling down to make commercial maple syrup, it ends up having higher levels of these beneficial compounds.

It has long been known that maple syrup is rich in minerals and an excellent source of manganese and zinc. Manganese is a trace mineral with a long list of health benefits, including maintaining healthy bones and nerves, making cholesterol necessary for cell health, maintaining normal blood sugar levels, and promoting healthy thyroid function. Zinc is an antioxidant and also has heart protective qualities that can slow progression of atherosclerosis. Both these minerals support immune system function.

In spite of its many health benefits, most consumers don't buy pure maple syrup because of its relatively expensive price tag. Instead they settle for ‘maple-flavored syrup’ or ‘pancake syrup’ which often contains the unhealthy additive high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been associated with a greater risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. 

In other words if you choose to put syrup on your pancakes, it is a lot healthier to use real maple syrup. As with any concentrated sweetener, maple syrup should be used sparingly, so it's definitely better to get the best quality pure syrup if possible.

 

Source:

Health Benefits of Maple Syrup

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Hair Loss: Causes and Solutions

by Cindy Gray

Did you know that all hair exists in one of three different cycles: growth, transition and resting phases?  About 90% of head hair is in the growth cycle, which can last anywhere from two to eight years. The transition phase typically lasts 2-3 weeks, that’s when hair follicles shrink. During the resting cycle, which lasts around two to four months, hair ‘rests’.

So for most of the time the hair on your scalp is growing, while about 10% of hair strands are in transition or resting at any time.  Anything that interferes with hair growth cycles, such as medications, illness, infections or chemicals, can prevent your hair from growing properly. Although men’s hair tends to recede from the forehead or crown of the head, women typically experience thinning on the top third to one half of the scalp.Causes and Solutions for Hair Loss

These are the most common causes of hair loss in women:

  • Androgenic alopecia - Women with androgenic alopecia have diffuse thinning all over their scalp thanks to the actions of male hormones. The hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) appears to be to blame in women suffering with female pattern baldness. Heredity is another major factor.

  • Telogen effluvium - Traumatic events such as child birth, major surgery, intense illness, dramatic weight loss, too much vitamin A, malnutrition, severe infections or extreme stress can shift up to 90% of the hair in the growing phase or resting phase into the shedding phase. Hair loss can happen within weeks or months after any of these experiences.

  • Anagen effluvium - This type of hair loss occurs after an insult to hair follicles; for instance, after chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cancer cells, rapidly dividing cells such as hair follicles are also affected. Soon after chemotherapy begins, approximately 90% or more of hair can fall out.

  • Traction alopecia – This condition is caused by localized trauma to the hair follicles; for instance, from tight hairstyles that pull at hair. If the condition is detected early enough, the hair will regrow. Braiding, cornrows, tight ponytails and extensions are the most common styling causes. Dyes, chemical treatments, bad brushes, blow dryers and flat irons can also result in hair damage and breakage. Luckily, damaged hair typically grows back by itself or can be reversed with medical treatments.

A malfunctioning thyroid gland, autoimmune disease, and heredity can all contribute toward hair loss. Although some people have suggested a link with menopause, not everyone is convinced that there is a direct correlation.

Health experts agree that the primary cause of female pattern baldness is increased production of DHT in hair follicles. Currently available medications interfere with hair loss either by increasing blood flow and nutrient supply to the hair follicle, or by directly inhibiting DHT production.

If you’re suffering from hair loss, you may want to look for a natural supplement that contains multiple nutrients shown to block DHT as well as nutrients from the sea that are known to promote hair growth. These types of supplements should contain a comprehensive blend of extra-strength nutrients to stop hair loss and promote hair growth.  Look for a product that contains ingredients such as:

  • Powerful, proven nutrients that block DHT production;

  • Nutrients from the sea that revitalize and renew hair follicles;

  • Powerhouse antioxidants that neutralize destructive free radicals;

  • Proven phytonutrients that strengthen hair follicles and boost scalp circulation;

  • Anti-aging nutrients like zinc and cracked cell chlorella that stimulate production of keratin, the primary structural component found in skin and hair.

If you are worried about hair loss, don’t give up!  There are safe and natural remedies ready to help you! 

 

Source:

Hair Loss: Causes and Solutions   

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Top Tips For Insomnia

by Institute for Vibrant Living

There are many traits you can inherit from your parents. Some can be good, like a high metabolism, an easy sense of humor, or a great singing voice. But others can be downright bad—like insomnia.

Nearly one-third of American adults (about 40 million people) experience insomnia at some point in their life—be it difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. And now one cutting-edge study shows that not only is interrupted sleep as physically damaging as zero sleep, but it also can also reduce cognitive abilities, shorten your attention span, and even foster a negative outlook.

The study, conducted at Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences and published in Sleep Medicine, 61 adults between the ages of 20 and 29 years were monitored on two separate occasions. The first was a “normal” night of sleep and the second was either restricted sleep (just four hours) or interrupted sleep (four pre-planned, prolonged awakenings over an eight-hour period). On both occasions, researchers measured sustained attention using an online continuous performance test (OCPT), as well as mood via the Profile of Mood States (POMS).

Natural Sleep Aids

Researchers found that both sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep had the same impact on cognitive function and mood. Specifically, they found that there were more errors and omissions on the OCPT, as well as increased depression, fatigue, and confusion. Both groups also reported less energy and “vigor”—and all after just ONE NIGHT of interrupted or limited sleep.

The researchers concluded, “Our pilot study indicates that, similar to sleep restriction, one night of life-like repeated night-wakings negatively affects mood and sustained attention.” They believe this is particular important because “sleep research has focused in the last 50 years on sleep deprivation, and practically ignored the impact of night-wakings, which is a pervasive phenomenon for people from many walks of life.”

Clearly falling asleep, getting your eight hours, and getting them all in a row is a pretty powerful component of overall health. So how do you do that?

First, forget those over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids. Not only can they be dangerously addictive, but they also can leave you groggy and disoriented in the morning. Instead, rely on common sense…and Mother Nature.

First, create a sleep-promoting environment. Make sure your bedroom is dark. A very dark room stimulates natural production of melatonin. Research has shown that even minimal light such as those from a TV or even alarm clock can interfere with melatonin production. You may also want to use a white noise machine. The rhythmic humming of an air filter, dehumidifier, or a natural sounds machine can block outside noise and help you fall asleep faster.

Next, avoid caffeine at least six hours before going to bed. This includes sodas, tea, coffee and even chocolate. Caffeine is a stimulant and can stay in your body up to five hours and more in some people. Even if you think the caffeine is not keeping you awake, it could be impacting the quality of your sleep.

Lastly, work with your body’s natural rhythms rather than against them and give melatonin a try. This hormone helps to regulate your body’s natural rhythms, including waking and sleeping. It is produced in the body from serotonin and found in bananas, tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, and breast milk. Begin with a small dose (1 mg) at bedtime. For melatonin to be effective, your bedroom should be dark, as light destroys melatonin through the skin.

After a day or two of this routine, you should be nodding off—and staying asleep—in no time.

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Natural Heart Health: Making Sense of Blood Pressure Readings

by Health News

Take regular blood pressure readings to figure out if you have a normal blood pressure.Many people want to ensure they have a normal blood pressure. Learn how to make sense of blood pressure readings in this article.

Blood pressure is one of the primary vital signs for health. It refers to the pressure applied to vessel walls by circulating blood in the body. Blood pressure measurements generally gauge total pressure at the brachial artery in an individual’s upper arm which is the major vessel that transports blood away from the heart. The actual blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure, for example, 120/80. The systolic number measures arterial pressure when the heart beats, and the diastolic number measures arterial pressure between heartbeats, when the heart muscle is at rest and filling with blood.

There are five basic categories of blood pressure readings that span from normal blood pressure to hypertensive crisis. The blood pressure measurement determines what type of treatment an individual may need to normalize blood pressure. For accuracy, it is important for a health care provider to take two measurements at two different times.

The American Heart Association suggests that an individual get screened once every two years starting at age 20 if blood pressure is in the normal range.

The following lifestyle changes are recommended for keeping blood pressure in check.

Lose extra weight and watch your waist measurement: According to studies, men should have a waist measurement below 40 inches, and women should take care to keep waist size below 35 inches.

Get regular exercise: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day can help to lower blood pressure.

Eat a healthy diet:  Consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products, and skip foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Consider all-natural supplements to ensure adequate daily nutrients.

Reduce sodium consumption: Those who are 51 years of age or older should reduce sodium to 1500 mg per day or less.

Increase potassium:  Added potassium in the diet or through supplements can reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure.

Experts estimate that one in four American adults will get high blood pressure. This is a health problem that can raise risks for heart and kidney disease and stroke. Because high blood pressure typically exhibits no symptoms, it is important for adults to get checked regularly. Once it develops, high blood pressure generally lasts a lifetime but it can be prevented and controlled with a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

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Chronic Pain Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency in Men

by Cindy Gray

According to a new study, low levels of vitamin D may be the underlying cause of chronic widespread pain, a major public health problem in the UK that affects around 1 in 5 people.  Around 50% of UK adults have a vitamin D deficiency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods, including fish liver oil, fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks and liver. In the US, vitamin D is commonly added to food products including milk and cheese.

Vitamin D Deficiency in Men Linked to Chronic PainOne of the best ways to get vitamin D in the body is through exposure to sunlight, which is transported to the liver and converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Not only is vitamin D crucial for good bone health, but it also helps with muscle strength as well as protection against cancer and type 2 diabetes risk.

For the present study, researchers from the University of Manchester in the UK looked at over 2,300 men who were already enlisted in the European Male Ageing Study.  Their results show that men with vitamin D deficiency at the start of the study were more than twice as likely to experience chronic widespread pain, compared with those who had the highest levels.

Further, 1 in 15 men who had no symptoms at the start of the study developed chronic widespread pain over the next 4-5 years - and these men were more likely to suffer from obesity along with being physically inactive, depressed and experiencing other adverse health conditions.

Musculoskeletal pain is a recognized symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency states such as osteomalacia. Interestingly, when adverse health and lifestyle factors were taken into account, the link with vitamin D deficiency disappeared.

This might mean that such factors significantly impact the development of chronic widespread pain, and suggests that there may be a complex interplay between various factors responsible for this condition.

Further research is needed to find out whether normalizing the levels of vitamin D alone is enough to treat this painful condition.

 

Source:

Chronic Pain Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency in Men

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Can Vitamin D Benefit You Without Magnesium?

by Cindy Gray

You may already know about the many powerful health benefits of having sufficient levels of vitamin D in your body. However, you may not be getting many of these benefits if you suffer from magnesium deficiency.

Vitamin D is made by skin cells in response to sunlight. It is also found naturally in fatty fish, fish liver oils and egg yCan Vitamin D Benefit without Magnesium?olks; as well as in fortified grains and dairy products.

Along with helping to build strong bones by maintaining proper calcium and phosphorus levels in the body, vitamin D also appears to protect against many other health problems.

For instance, having adequate levels of 25-hydoxyvitamin D (the biologically active form of vitamin D) can lower the risk of a first heart attack and peripheral vascular disease, along with reducing risk for many cancers.

Low levels of 25-hydoxyvitamin D are associated with increased likelihood of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (BP). Many studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency also plays a major role in the development of breast, prostate and colon cancer, as well as arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriasis and mental illness.

Increasing vitamin D intake to about 800 international units (IU) per day has been reported to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 30%.

While more and more people are learning about the powerful health benefits offered by vitamin D, they may not be getting many of these benefits if they suffer from magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form. It acts with and is essential to the activity of vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D’s effectiveness is significantly reduced without adequate levels of magnesium in the body. However, most Americans do not get their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this important mineral.

Nutrients act to enhance each other. To get the health benefits of vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, zinc and boron must also be present in suitable amounts.

The importance of magnesium for proper vitamin D metabolism has been confirmed by several studies as follows:

  • Magnesium is essential for the metabolism of vitamin D

  • Magnesium influences how the body uses vitamin D

  • All enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium (enzymes are special proteins that carry out chemical reactions in the body)

  • Magnesium may play a role in vitamin D's effects on the immune system

  • Magnesium is necessary for vitamin D's beneficial actions on bone structure

Last but not least, in its active form in the presence of magnesium, vitamin D stops calcium from being deposited in arteries, interfering with plaque formation or atherosclerosis, the first critical step towards developing heart disease.

Magnesium and vitamin D work together to draw calcium out of blood and soft tissues back into bones, where it is needed to build a healthy, strong bone structure; thereby preventing osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis and kidney stones.

If you feel you’re not getting enough vitamin D or magnesium, it may be a good idea to look for a supplement that gives you both of these vital nutrients and add it to your daily supplement regime right away.

 

Source:

Can Vitamin D Benefit You Without Magnesium?

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How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

by Health News

Low Blood Pressure Natural Treatment - Improve Blood CirculationPoor blood circulation can have a serious impact on one’s overall health.  For example, poor blood circulation means less blood flowing to your brain and typically means you have low blood pressure. This alone comes with a variety of significant symptoms, such as dizziness, problems thinking or even headaches.  In fact, poor blood circulation can impact every organ in your body and may even explain tingling and a lack of sensation in your arms and legs.  In short, poor blood flow can be quite serious.  Luckily, there are many natural health solutions that one can take in treating poor circulation.  In this article, we will examine a few of these low blood pressure natural treatments and natural health products.

Bonito Peptide

The bonito peptide is one natural dietary supplements that is currently being used for improving blood circulation.  This supplement is believed to contribute to general heart health and may have the ability to help regulate one’s blood pressure.  This compound is derived from the bonito fish.

L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is a compound derived from the amino acids methionine and lysine.  It plays a vital role in the metabolism and has enjoyed great success as a nutritional health supplement.  Generally considered to be safe, L-carnitine is often used to treat heart conditions.  It is believed that L-carnitine can be used to increase blood flow as well, which could make it a potentially useful supplement for those with blood circulation issues.

Nattokinase

Enzymes are vital for life and can provide a wide variety of health and medical benefits.  For example, the bromelain enzyme derived from pineapples can be a very effective anti-inflammatory.  Likewise, nattokinase is another enzyme with a variety of interesting properties.  This enzyme is extracted from a food called natto

Natto is a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.  Nattokinase is often used as a blood thinner, and its role in overall heart health is being explored.  However, nattokinase is not for everyone and has been known to have negative interactions with aspirin.  Anyone considering taking nattokinase should consult with his or her doctor.

Garlic

You might be tempted to believe that there is little that garlic can’t do!  Garlic has been sought after for generations as a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent.  Garlic is, in fact, so complex and beneficial that it literally has different properties depending on whether or not its been cut or crushed.

Additionally, garlic is believed to even have anti-cancer properties and is high in an assortment of vitamins and minerals.  It should come as no surprise that garlic may even be a heart healthy food as well.  A great deal of attention has been given to garlic’s potential as a heart healthy food, as it may protect the heart from oxidative damage and might lower bad cholesterol levels.  Further, garlic has the ability to positively impact artery walls.  All in all, garlic is a great pick for those looking for a natural way to increase blood flow.

Of course, following a healthy diet comprised largely of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein choices will do wonders for your health, regardless of whether or not you have any heart or circulation issues.  Following a diet rich in these foods will not only keep your heart healthy and your blood flowing, but will also give your body the nutrition and anti-oxidants it needs to fight off aging and disease as well.

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Can Nettle Root Protect Against Hair Loss?

by Cindy Gray

Nettle root extract is a common ingredient found in hair products to stimulate hair growth and is believed to be effective for treating both male and female pattern Can nettle root protect against hair loss? baldness. Nettle root is also taken orally as a vitamin supplement.

The common or stinging nettle is a flowering plant with hollow stinging hairs on its leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles and inject chemicals that produce a stinging, burning sensation when they come into contact with skin. The nettle plant has a long history of use as a medicine, as a food source, and as a source of fiber.

The effectiveness of nettle root for hair loss has not been thoroughly studied. However, research shows that this herb can block production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is mainly responsible for hair loss - known as androgenic alopecia. DHT is the active form of testosterone and is 15-30 times more biologically potent than testosterone.

Only 2% of total testosterone in the blood is free and only free testosterone is biologically active. A protein known as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) binds to the remaining 98% of testosterone, keeping it inactive. When consumed, nettle root binds to SHBG instead of testosterone, increasing levels of free testosterone in men and estrogen in women.

To perform its biological functions, DHT binds to so-called ‘receptor sites’ for testosterone and DHT in the body. Nettle root competes with DHT for these receptor sites in the scalp, meaning that DHT is unable to interfere with hair growth.

Nettle root also directly blocks the enzyme that causes hair loss in androgenic alopecia and can be used as a stand-alone herb for treating male pattern baldness.

Additionally, women suffering from female pattern baldness have also seen positive effects with the use of topical solutions such as creams, lotions, shampoos and conditioners. Besides blocking production of excess DHT, topical nettle applications are thought to stimulate the scalp, strengthen the hair shaft, and stimulate the roots of the hair.

However, it may be a good idea to perform an allergy patch test or consult a medical professional before using nettle supplements or topical solutions, as some users have reported allergic reactions.

Having healthy, vibrant hair is important for both men and women. As we age, hair maintenance becomes even more important than ever before. If you’re unsure about what you can do to take care of your hair, there are natural supplements formulated with targeted nutrients that have been shown to support hair health, including nettle root extract. Natural supplements can be safe, effective alternatives to traditional cosmetic-based approaches.

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Can Nettle Root Protect Against Hair Loss?