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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.

Source:

Can Nettle Root Protect Against Hair Loss?  

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Natural Energy Boosters: How to Boost your Afternoon Energy with Green Supplements

by Health News

Natural Ways to Boost Energy with Green SupplementsWe all know how tough it can be making it through the afternoon hours once energy levels have dropped.  Yet, there are excellent natural ways to boost energy that are caffeine and chemical free, which can really revitalize you and improve your health at the same time.

Let’s face it; we all have days where our energy levels drop considerably in the afternoon.  Now on a particularly stressful or physically demanding day, this is understandable and quite natural.  However, it is important that you realize that there are steps you can take to keep this from happening to you. 

By using proper nutrition, such as vitamin, mineral and protein rich foods or green supplements, you can “recharge your battery” anytime of the day including during the all-important afternoon period.

When you are looking for natural ways to boost energy, its good to know that there are options other than caffeine.  The simple facts are that you don't have to reach for coffee, tea or an “energy bar or drink” to get your energy boost.  Energy bars and drinks tend to be high in an assortment of things that your body just doesn't need, such as sugar, chemicals, additives and preservatives. 

Even the best choices on the market have their problems.  For example, many of these products secretly contain caffeine.  What you really need to find are energy boosters that also improve health and well-being at the same time.  They will give you the “juice” you need to make it through those difficult afternoon hours.

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Enzymes Set the Stage For Vibrant Health

by Health News

Wondering how to gain energy?

Natural health products like enzymes are critical to tHow to Gain Energy: Enzymes Set the Stage For Vibrant Healthhe performance of virtually every process in the body. Although most people understand the vital roles that vitamins and mineral play in keeping us healthy and energized, many do not understand the importance of proper enzyme balance.

Enzymes serve as catalysts for the body’s essential chemical reactions that support health and vitality. They work their magic by breaking down the nutrients in our body so that the nutrients can pass through the intestinal walls and eventually be absorbed into the bloodstream. Vitamins and minerals are referred to as “coenzymes” which means that they require an enzyme in order to work.

Enzymes are the driving force behind tissue regeneration, proper digestion, cardiovascular health, kidney and liver function and many other life-sustaining processes. The powerful antioxidant properties associated with enzymes help protect the body from disease. When enzymes become depleted the body suffers. Chronic enzyme deficiency or malfunction can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening health problems.

Most scientists classify enzymes into three main groups: metabolic enzymes, plant enzymes and digestive enzymes. Because they play such a pivotal role in our health, it is essential to get the proper balance of enzymes. Ideally, we should get many of the enzymes we need from food, but that is rarely the case. Fruits, vegetables and other raw foods are good sources but the average American diet contains very few enzymes. In today’s fast-paced world most people turn to time-saving convenience foods that are overcooked and over processed to the point that essential enzymes are destroyed.   As we age, it becomes more difficult for our body to produce the enzymes it needs to thrive, so older people are at a higher risk for significant enzyme deficiency.   

As we have learned more about the critical role that enzymes play in our overall health, more and more medical researchers are recommending daily enzyme supplementation. Enzyme supplements can be purchased at natural health stores and come in powder, tablet or liquid form. The supplements make digestion more efficient by enhancing the absorption of vital nutrients. For best results choose an enzyme supplement which contains a blend of different enzymes. Your holistic health practitioner can help you determine which natural supplements will work best for you.   

Elevating the enzyme levels in your body through natural supplementation will result in improved metabolic and digestive function that will make you look and feel younger. Keeping enzymes in balance will also make you less susceptible to serious diseases. Consider adding enzyme supplements to your “stay-well” plan so you can enjoy vibrant health throughout your life.

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Exercise Your Right to Brain Health

by Health News

If you’re wondering how to have more energy, exercise can be a potent defense against brain fatigue and mental fog. When you move, you greatly improve blood flow and oxygenation to the brain.

In fact, anyone who is engaged in strenuous mental activity should participate in frequent aerobic exercise. Without continually replenishing the supply of oxygen to the brain and nervous system, individuals who are engaged in intellectual work will, at some point, experience mental exhaustion and burnout. Regular aerobic exercise is crucial if one is to maintain one’s mental edge. Similarly, elderly individuals who are engaged in regular physical activity will maintain better cognitive function than their housebound or sedentary peers.

How to Have More Energy: Exercise Your Right to Brain Health

Walking, swimming, bicycling, and dancing all improve mental alertness and cognitive function when practiced on a regular basis. Aerobic exercise does this by improving oxygenation and circulation to the brain and nerves and by opening up and dilating blood vessels of the head and brain. Thus, more nutrients can flow into and more waste products can be removed from this vital system.

Research studies done on adults who exercise on a regular basis compared with similar groups who are sedentary show striking differences in a variety of mental functions. Adults engaged in an active exercise program have better concentration and clearer and quicker thinking and problem-solving abilities. In addition, reaction time and short-term memory improve with exercise.

Exercise your right to mental clarity! Move your body for 30 to 60 minutes a day at least five days a week.

Read this other related blog posts:
5 Simple Tips to Naturally Improve Brain Health

Brain Foods: How To Concentrate Better

Midlife fitness keeps chronic disease at bay

Prevent Alzheimer’s with Exercise

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The “Brain Pill” of the Future

Regular Exercise Provides Amazing Benefits for Arthritis Sufferers

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Don't Reach for Antacids for Digestive Problems

by Health News

Digestive Enzymes versus Antacids

Most men and women over forty suffer from poor some type of digestive problem. It doesn't have to be that way. Natural food supplements such as spirulina and chlorella are the best health supplements for people with digestion issues, who are looking for a natural solution.

According to the American Pharmacists Association, Americans spend more than $3 billion a year on over-the counter antacids. Plus we spend another $13 billion on prescribed acid reducing drugs.

Worse than the expense: antacids cause a great deal more harm than good.

In fact, taking antacids regularly is one of the most dangerous things you can do for your health. Here are two reasons why they are dangerous and why you should stop taking them.

REASON #1: Antacids Prevent Digestion
Antacids work by neutralizing stomach acid, but you need acid to digest your food. Because digestion gets stopped, people eat more which is why antacids are one of the primary reasons why so many people are overweight.

REASON #2: Antacids Disrupt the Balance Of Power in Your Gut
Stomach acids do more than just break down your food. They also destroy dangerous bacteria in your food that could make you sick or even kill you. But when your stomach acid is neutralized, it can't destroy these dangerous microorganisms, so they get into your intestines. And unless you've got a healthy army of good bacteria in your gut (and few people do), you're going to get sick. Spirulina is especially good at helping people stop taking antacids and start eating again with gusto.

How?
Spirulina and Chlorella are both loaded with digestive enzymes and they help stimulate the production of good intestinal flora. Once you start using Spirulina, you'll never need to turn to an antacid solution again (which is no solution at all).

Adding a Spirulina-based supplement as a daily food normalizes an under-active intestinal tract by enhancing the natural contraction of the intestinal walls; and by supplying cellulose, a form of fiber.

Aging Adults Guide to Healthy Digestion

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Top 5 Anti-Aging Tips

by Health News

Top 5 Anti Aging Tips Institute for Vibrant LivingLooking for ways to stay youthful through the holidays and all year round? Check out these top 5 anti-aging and healthy holiday eating tips.

1. Get plenty of essential fatty acidsAmong the nutrients that our bodies need for good health are essential fatty acids – alpha-linolenic acid (of the Omega 3 family) and linoleic acid of the Omega 6 family.  These essential fats also help to promote youthful skin and can be obtained through supplementation or through diet.  Alpha-linolenic acid can be found in flaxseed, canola oil, wheat germ and soybeans, and vegetable oils and grass-fed beef are good sources of linoleic acid.

The benefits of EFAs to the body are many, but they are of particular importance to body cells as they are a fundamental component of cell membranes. A steady supply of EFAs in the diet is necessary to maintain healthy-looking skin because skin cells are regularly reproduced.

2. Look into HGH supplement products.  A 1990 medical study published by Dr. Daniel Rudman in the New England Journal of Medicine reported exciting results from the injection of synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) in men over 60 years old. These included an increase in muscle mass, decreased body fat, elevated energy levels, improved sleep and enhanced skin and muscle tone. This synthetic, injection therapy is very expensive, but today there are several natural, non-prescription HGH supplement products on the market (called releasers) that stimulate release of the body’s own human growth hormone by the pituitary gland.

3. Eat plenty of whole, organic fruits and vegetables.  When waging war against the effects of time, there are anti-aging fruits and vegetables that actually work. They help to hydrate the body and provide fiber and important disease-fighting antioxidants.  Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, bananas are loaded with potassium and berries contain a host of vital anti-oxidants.  Green, leafy vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce and kale are loaded with nutrients, and broccoli, carrots and cucumbers provide fiber and a good, crunchy texture!

4. Discover the importance of water for healthy aging.  Drink at least 64 ounces of pure, filtered or spring water throughout the day.  When aging skin is not properly hydrated, it loses resilience and becomes more susceptible to wrinkling. Water fights wrinkles by keeping skin moist and supple and helps to deliver essential nutrients to skin cells.

5. Try glucosamine supplements to retain moisture in aging skin.  Research by the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School studied the effects of N-acetyl glucosamine and niacinamide on in-vitro human skin cultures and on women aged 35-60 in clinical trials with fine-to-moderate wrinkles. The research found that the two compounds accelerated the production of hyaluronic acid, a key ingredient in skin hydration and in the formation of collagen.

The tests also showed that in human subjects, improved hydration brought about by glucosamine and niacinamide led to a visible reduction in fine lines and wrinkles of tested subjects, particularly in the area around the eyes.  The researchers concluded that together these compounds could be a highly effective anti-aging treatment.

These tips are but a few of the many new, natural anti-aging practices coming to light. For many who are approaching the golden years, there is still a lot of living to do. 

Overall Health Starts with Your Digestive System

Are you adopting a few of these natural habits to promote healthy holiday eating and healthy aging?

Sources:

New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 323, July 5, 1990, Number 1:   EFFECTS OF HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE IN MEN OVER 60 YEARS OLD, Daniel Rudman, M. D.

http://www.consumerproductsreview.org/hgh-supplement.aspx

http://www.cosmeticsdesign.com/Formulation-Science/Research-suggests-glucosamine-is-an-effective-anti-aging-treatment

 

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Healthy Aging and Nutritional Supplement Vitamin E

by Health News

Healthy Skin and Healthy Digestion From Vitamin ENutritional health supplement Vitamin E is one of the most important nutrients we need to survive. It is a powerful antioxidant supplement with numerous scientific studies that have demonstrated how necessary it is for normal growth and development and for maintaining optimal health through adulthood.

But can it also help us age healthy and contribute to looking and feeling younger than our chronological age?

First of all, Vitamin E is not a single nutrient. It is actually made up of a group of individual compounds. Naturally-occurring Vitamin E actually contains 8 different compounds. One of these compounds is called d-alpha-tocopherol. D-alpha-tocopherol is the only form of Vitamin E that has been recognized to meet the requirements of the human body and that maintained in the body.

Because Vitamin E is such a powerful antioxidant, it helps prevent the body’s cells from being damaged by free radicals. This means that our organs stay healthier longer. One example of this is how it protects the cardiovascular system. Vitamin E has been shown in scientific studies to prevent arthrosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries).  Arthrosclerosis is a major cause of heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, because Vitamin E is such a potent antioxidant, scientists believe it can stave off a host of other degenerative diseases as well.

Vitamin E is also added to lotions, creams, and other skin care products to assist in anti-aging. It helps skin look younger by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And what it does for the internal organs applies to the skin as well: it protects the skin against free radical damage, in turn helping us age healthy. When applied 20 minutes before sun exposure, Vitamin E can also help protect the skin against sun damage because it increases the effectiveness of sunscreens.

Healthy Digestion and Vitamin E for Healthy Skin

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Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

by Health News

If you are eating a healthy diet you may simply assume that you are getting all of the vitamins that you need. However, increasingly, people have different vitamin deficiencies and aren’t even aware that this is the case. If your body is lacking in essential vitamins like Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, your health can quickly deteriorate.

If you’re experiencing frequent digestive problems or other regular health issues, your body may be lacking in essential vitamins.

If you’re experiencing frequent digestive problems or other regular health issues, your body may be lacking in essential vitamins.

In order for your body to function optimally, your body should be exposed to ample amounts of every key vitamin. After all, each kind of vitamin serves a vital purpose in the body. You may not immediately realize that you have a vitamin deficiency. However, there are signs that you can look for.

Do you get an upset stomach or experience other digestive problems on a regular basis? Your body may be having a hard time absorbing the nutrients from the food you eat. It could also be you're lacking in the proper amount of good bacteria and enzymes in your stomach needed to break down and digest your food. Probiotic supplements can help in these instances to provide your body with the bacteria it needs to support a healthy digestive system. It's important to consult your doctor about these symptoms.

One sign of vitamin deficiency that you can easily recognize occurs via changes in your hair, skin, teeth and nails. For example, is your skin is dry and cracking? Do you have dandruff?   Further, your nails and hair may break easily, and you may also experience hair loss due to vitamin deficiencies. Lack of Vitamin C in the body can also cause impaired wound healing, loose teeth and bleeding gums, while lack of Vitamin A can cause dry hair, and acne. People also commonly have eye problems, like dry eye and night blindness, when they have deficiencies in Vitamin A.

You might think that you are just depressed or tired. However, mood related issues could also be caused by lack of vitamins in the body. For example, a B12 deficiency can cause depression, fatigue, personality changes, and even psychosis. Lack of Vitamin D has also been traced to memory impairment in seniors. If you are finding that you are suddenly experiencing problems with your mood and just don’t feel like yourself, this could also be due to a vitamin deficiency.

Deficiency in Vitamin D is also a serious issue that is increasingly of concern to scientists and doctors. Research has linked this lack of Vitamin D to a variety of serious illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular disease and immune disorders. If you have a vitamin deficiency in D, there are measures you can take such as drinking fortified milk that is rich in Vitamin D. Also exposure to sunlight will help to maintain your body’s natural production of the vitamin.

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Healthy Holiday Eating: What Makes a Recipe Healthy?

by Health News

Healthy Eating - What Makes a Recipe Healthy?

A trend toward health and fitness is on an upswing, and one important component is a nutritious diet that provides needed vitamins and minerals, is satisfying and naturally boosts energy throughout the day. What is it that makes a recipe healthy? Here are some questions to ponder when it comes to deciding whether a recipe is healthful or hurtful. These are particularly useful during the winter months for people who are concerned with healthy holiday eating.

What type of cooking method is used? Steer clear of recipes that call for frying or deep frying, and focus on the following methods instead. The healthiest cooking method is steaming, where food is placed in a perforated container and suspended above boiling water. Besides a light coating of cook spray, baking and roasting are healthy and typically do not require adding extra fat to a dish, and stir-frying and sautéing can be accomplished with a minimal amount of healthy oil. Grilling and broiling are healthy methods because they allow fat to drip away from food, and braising and poaching involve gently simmering an ingredient in liquid until cooked.  Avoid microwaving food.

What is the calorie count in the recipe? Whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain the weight you have, it is important to understand how many calories your body requires and find recipes that correspond to this amount. To determine the energy needed in calories to maintain your current weight, multiply your weight in pounds by 12. For a one pound per week weight loss, cut this amount by 500 calories per day. For a two pound per week loss, reduce the amount by 1000 calories per day. Note: It has been shown that two pounds per week is a healthy weight loss that has the best potential to be sustained.

Is the recipe made with nutritious ingredients? The healthiest ingredients include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados. Note: fats contain two times more calories per gram than proteins or carbohydrates, so it is important to keep portion sizes under control.

Unhealthy ingredients include sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, white flour, processed foods and saturated and trans-fats. Trans-fatty acids occur naturally in meat and dairy products but can be artificially made (by hydrogenating oils) to boost the shelf life of some products. High trans-fat consumption has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and certain cancers. Read labels, and avoid any products containing partially hydrogenated oils. In place of table salt, use herbs and spices to season recipes, and if needed, try all-natural sea salt.

Here are some guidelines based on advice from the American Heart Association for a typical 2000 calorie-per-day diet. Remember to adjust values to your daily calories and divide by the number of meals you are eating per day to arrive at approximate amounts for each recipe.

  • Dietary cholesterol should not exceed 300 mg per day.
  • To keep full and satisfied, an individual should strive for at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
  • Proteins should be limited to 175 grams or less per day, total carbohydrates should not exceed 300 grams, and fats should be limited to 65 grams or less per day.
  • A healthy diet should contain at least 3,500 mg of potassium daily, but sodium intake should not exceed 2,400 mg per day (those on a low-sodium diet should limit each recipe serving to 140 mg or less).
  • Limit sugars to 6 to 10 percent of total daily calories.
  • For heart-healthy recipes use 3 grams or less total fat (with 1 gram or less saturated fat), 20 mg or less cholesterol, and 480 mg or less sodium per serving.

Take advantage of the healthy holiday eating tips above when looking for healthy recipes that are chock full of nutrients and packed with all-natural energy! Bon Appétit!

Healthy Aging starts with a healthy gut. Free guide to Healthy Holiday Digestion.

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Probiotic Supplements: Not Just for Intestinal Health

by Health News

If you’re taking probiotics to improve your digestion problems, current research suggests you’re not just helping your gut—you’re doing your entire body a favor! And if you’re not taking probiotics, you might want to consider starting. Read on to find out why!

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast in a person's digestive tract. These microorganisms are “friendly” (beneficial to the host). Among many benefits, they help degrade toxic and allergenic substances in the intestine and colon. Probiotics occur naturally in certain foods like yogurt and cottage cheese. They are also available as nutritional supplements which can be purchased in health food stores. 

Probiotic Supplements

How do probiotics help my whole body?

These tiny organisms can do some pretty amazing things! To name just a few:

They help you absorb nutrients. The friendly bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus helps with the absorption of the B vitamins and vitamin K, along with fatty acids and minerals such as calcium.

They improve immune function. Beneficial bacteria have a critical and powerful effect on your gut’s immune system and your systemic immune system. They also aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens.

A study* published in the journal Pediatrics in 2009 looked at the potential benefits of probiotics in children during cold and flu season. According to the authors, “Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.”

They have a systemic, anti-inflammatory effect. While mechanism behind this benefit is not fully understood, recent studies strongly suggest that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus works against inflammation. One such study** looked at biological markers for inflammation in patients taking the probiotics and those take a placebo. The researchers concluded “…probiotic bacteria have strain-specific anti-inflammatory effects in healthy adults.”

Another study*** from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, looked at the effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in infants with eczema, an inflammatory skin condition. The researchers concluded that infants receiving this probiotic had a significantly reduced risk of eczema symptoms.

So if you thought probiotic supplements were just for digestion problems, think again! Now you have many more reasons to consider taking probiotic supplements.

Digestive Health

Sources:

*http://www.umm.edu/pediatrics/residents/journal-club/probioticscolds.pdf

**http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?orig_db=PubMed&db=pubmed&cmd=Search&term=%22World%20journal%20of%20gastroenterology%20%3A%20WJG%22%5BJour%5D%20AND%202029%5Bpage%5D%20AND%202008%5Bpdat%5D

***http://www.umm.edu/pediatrics/residents/journal-club/Wickens%20Lactobacillus%20rhamnosus%20JACI%202008.pdf

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Heart Health Benefits Of Meditation

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that meditating once or twice daily for 20 minutes at a time can have significant health benefits, especially for your heart? In fact, many people have started using meditation as a natural high blood pressure treatment.High Blood Pressure Treatment: Benefits of Meditation

It’s true.

Two methods of meditation have been scientifically proven to reduce the chances of heart attack, stroke - and add years to your life.

The idea that meditation has measurable effects on heart and general health is not well known by physicians and other healthcare givers. However, several exciting research findings have emerged recently on the very real benefits of meditation.

Much of this research has come from a research team at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention who recently completed a study on 201 people with heart disease. These people were taught to practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) 20 minutes twice a day or alternatively, spent 20 minutes daily learning about health.

During a follow up just over five years, the group that meditated saw a 48% reduction in the combined occurrence of death, heart attack and stroke!

The second style of meditation is known as kirtan kriya - a 12-minute meditation consisting of repeating a ‘mantra’ aloud in a song, in a whisper and silently, while using repeating finger movements known as ‘mudras’.

A study from UCLA has shown that kirtan kriya resulted in different patterns of brain metabolism in practitioners compared to other general relaxation methods.

Further, PET scanning showed that this form of meditation led to some genes becoming more active while others became less active - resulting in production of fewer mediators of inflammation, along with increasing telomerase activity by almost 50%.

What is so interesting about telomerase is that a Nobel Prize winning group of scientists have shown a clear connection between increased telomerase activity and greater longevity.

Last but not least, the group taught kirtan kriya meditation also had higher scores on mental health, along with lower levels of depression.

Although more research is needed to confirm these results, why wait to begin these practices? With the powerful benefits of heart health and longevity, meditation is clearly a powerful preventive therapy with no apparent side effects - so why not start exploring meditation practices today?

 

 

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Acai Superfruit: A Nutritious And Powerful Superfood

by Institute for Vibrant Living

What are superfoods - and do they really exist? 

According to Dr. Christine Horner, a superfood is any nutrient-dense food that contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compunds and other ingredients proven to benefit health.Acai Superfruit: A Nutritious And Powerful Superfood  | Institute for Vibrant Living

On the list of superfoods is one you may not have even heard of. Studies have shown that the superfruit Açaí berry - found growing on a very special Amazon palm tree - is one of the most nutritious and powerful superfoods in the world.

Harvested in the rainforests of Brazil, açaí tastes like a blend of berries and chocolate. Nature's perfect energy fruit, açaí is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids.

Açaí may not be available in your local supermarket, but you can find it in health food stores, typically in juice form. A new product featuring the unsweetened pulp is now also available, which comes without the harmful effects of added sugar.

Royal purple in color, açaí pulp contains:

  • A remarkably high concentration of antioxidants that help combat premature aging, with 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and 10-30 times the anthocyanins of red wine.
  • A mutually enhancing combination of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, dietary fiber and phytosterols to help promote cardiovascular and digestive health.
  • A near-perfect essential amino acid complex along with with valuable trace minerals that are essential for proper muscle contraction and regeneration.

The fatty acid content in açaí resembles that of olive oil, and is enriched in monounsaturated oleic acid. Oleic acid helps essential omega-3 fats enter cells - and together, they help make cell membranes more supple and strong.

By keeping the cell membrane supple, our body’s hormones, neurotransmitter and insulin receptors function more efficiently inside and outside cells, keeping us healthy and disease-free. This is particularly important because high insulin levels create an inflammatory state.

As you already know, inflammation is believed to play a role in almost every modern disease including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more - while also contributing to the adverse health effects of aging.

Source

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5 Tips On Staying Healthy And Fit During Those ‘Fabulous’ Fifties

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Each and every stage of life comes with different gifts and challenges - and who doesn't want to stay trim, youthful looking and energized with a well-functioning cardiovascular system as we enter the ‘fabulous’ fifties?

Eat healthy foods for high blood pressure treatment, drink water, avoid junk food, and limit alcohol.

Our bodies need different forms of nutritional support as we age - and that’s easy to understand, because each phase of life brings its own physiological and metabolic changes.

For instance, our heart health naturally declines with age.

Women experience the onset of menopause in their fifties, which also brings with it many hormonal and metabolic changes.

Overall, metabolism slows and belly fat starts to accumulate along with a decrease in muscle mass. This is why appropriate food intake becomes more critical during the fifties than ever before, with an emphasis on nutrient dense food and ingredient choices.

Here are five simple tips to help you stay healthy and fit during your ‘fabulous’ fifties -

  1. Integrate monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) into your diet - these essential fats help moderate hormones, appetite, insulin response and vitamin absorption, all of which are vital, especially for women during menopause. Increasing MUFA consumption can also lower cholesterol levels - which is why nuts, olive oil, avocado and tahini are both nutritious and heart healthy options. Many people use these foods for high blood pressure treatment.
  2. Stay hydrated - this is very important at every age, since water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and every system in your body depends on water. With age, we lose our ability to conserve water. Also, some medications can cause dehydration. Don't wait for your body to tell you it's thirsty, because it may be too late!
  3. Avoid ‘processed’ foods - instead, opt for a high-fiber, moderate protein, low-carb and low-sodium diet based on natural foods. High salt intake can spike blood pressure (BP), leading to hypertension which puts the heart at risk. Processed foods are traditionally loaded with higher sodium and unhealthy oils.
  4. Just say no - your 50s is a great time to give up on overuse of alcohol and smoking. Both place a heavy toll on the cardiovascular system, along with prematurely aging and damaging the liver, lung and other organs. Smoking also adversely affects elasticity and collagen production in the skin, contributing to a less youthful appearance.
  5. Monitor your cardio history - regularly assess your heart health and your risk for cardiovascular disease through periodic testing that includes detailed cholesterol information and BP readings.

So to recap: Eat healthy foods for high blood pressure treatment, drink water, avoid junk food, limit alcohol and monitor your cardiovascular health on a regular basis. These simple steps will ensure you feel fabulous all through your 50s.

  

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Fruit Juice Vs Soda: Health Risks

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to choosing between sodas and ‘natural’ fruit juices in the beverage aisle, the juice industry has always enjoyed the reputation of being way healthier.

The reasons are familiar. Juice comes from real fruit, while soda is artificially prepared. Also, the sugars in juice seem more ‘natural’ than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the main sweetener in many sodas.

However, a study published recently shows that on average, fruit juice has a fructose concentration of about 45.5 grams per liter - that’s only slightly less than the average of 50 grams per liter for sodas.

In fact, some juices contain more sugar per liter than most sodas!

Fruit Juice Vs Soda: Health Risks

A recent study conducted at the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the University of Southern California decided to measure fructose concentrations in juices and sodas, because a growing body of evidence suggests fructose is riskier for health than glucose.

According to the study authors, our body isn't designed to process fructose at such high levels. Unlike glucose, which serves as a natural fuel for the body, fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat - increasing the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.

The presence of HFCS in soda and food has become a focal point for researchers and public health advocates in recent years. However, there's been less attention on the link between fruit juice and obesity and diabetes - even though it's hard to imagine why juices wouldn't be as harmful as sodas if they're delivering the same amount of sugar.

Consuming fructose from whole fruit is a different story. That fructose comes with fiber, which slows down and reduces it’s absorption into the body, somewhat reducing the negative effects of fructose metabolism on our health.

Long-term studies carried out in Singapore, Australia, the US and Europe clearly show that 100 percent fruit juice is as bad as sugar-sweetened beverages for its effects on our health - for instance, every long-term study shows that 100 percent fruit juice intake raises diabetes risk significantly.

So what’s a juice lover to do with so many sweet juice products on the market?

Some beverage makers are now starting to cut the sugar. Another option is to dilute the juice you buy at the store with at least 50 percent water or even more, according to your personal taste.

Source: ‘Natural’ Fruit Juice vs Soda: Health Risks.   

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The Many Health Benefits Of Nutrient-Rich Wakame

by Institute for Vibrant Living

People living by the coast of the world’s great seas and oceans have been eating seaweed for thousands of years. The Native Americans ate it, as did many prehistoric cultures - and it is common in Asian cuisine today.

The Health Benefits Of Wakame | Institute for Vibrant Living

Science has confirmed that seaweeds are a very healthy food, extremely nutrient rich and containing 10 times as much fiber and over twice as much protein as cabbage. At the same time, a 20 gram serving of kelp contains just nine calories.

More than that, brown algae seaweeds including kelp, wakame, and others have been shown to have tremendous medicinal properties especially because of their content of bioactive compounds called fucoidans.

Wakame, an edible brown seaweed or kelp common in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisines, has been shown to have beneficial effects on stroke, hypertension or high blood pressure (BP), viral infections, tumors, oxidation and inflammation while promoting a good immune system.

In fact, there are few foods in nature that are so chockfull of nutrients and health benefits. Wakame is a great source of the following minerals and vitamins:

  • Magnesium - known to be critical in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of certain enzymes in the body, production and transport of energy and protein production.
  • Iodine - needed for the process of converting food into energy. It also maintains the balance of the thyroid gland and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones.
  • Calcium - every 100 grams of raw wakame contains 150 milligrams of calcium, which is necessary for strong healthy bones and prevention of osteoporosis.
  • Iron - essential for the production of red blood cells and prevention of anemia.
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and K - all important for skin health and repair, along with boosting the immune system.
  • Vitamin D - promotes absorption of calcium for healthy bones and enhances the nervous, muscle and immune systems.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) - is needed for proper use of nutrients in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the foods we eat. It is also necessary for red blood cell production. Riboflavin functions as an antioxidant and works in the body with other vitamins such as niacin, folate, and vitamin B6.
  • Folate - helps make new cells and is especially important for infant development.
  • Lignans - these natural chemicals are thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Source: The Many Health Benefits of Nutrient-Rich Wakame.

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The Health Benefits of Superfoods

by Health News

In the past few decades it has been determined that signs of aging like wrinkles and diminished skin elasticity are enhanced by oxidation, a process in which damaging free radicals begin to break down DNA.  Research is showing that we can slow the aging process with the consumption of antioxidant-rich foods.  Studies also show that the amount of antioxidants consumed is directly proportional to longevity.The Health Benefits of Superfoods | Institute for Vibrant Living

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but not all of these have the same effect.  The effects of antioxidants are measured by a food’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC).

Check out these ORAC-rich fruits and vegetables, and implement them into your daily diet to generate a youthful appearance. 

  • Avocado
  • Berries
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Red Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli

Here are a few other superfoods that have shown great potential for enhancing a youthful appearance. 

Acai Berries – These tiny, purple berries can be found in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.  In addition to boosting energy, this antioxidant-laden superfood is said to promote healthy hair, nails and skin.  Acai is available in supplement form in various powders and caplets.

Red Ginseng – A study published in the December, 2009 edition of the Journal of Medicinal Foods showed that red ginseng reverses wrinkles.  The study examined a group of female volunteers over the age of 40. The subjects took three grams of red ginseng extract daily for 24 weeks, and it was found that facial wrinkles were significantly reduced and collagen levels were increased.  Collagen is a product made from proteins in the body which is necessary for healthy skin.  Further, a gene that destroys collagen was inhibited and elastin, a protein that enhances skin elasticity, was increased.

Resveratrol - This important nutrient can be found in the skin of red grapes and in blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates.  Besides supporting cardiovascular health, resveratrol is said to promote a youthful appearance.  In addition to the fruits mentioned above, resveratrol supplements are available in whole foods stores and through natural supplement websites.

Sea Buckthorn Berries – This small, sour berry is found in harsh environments of Eastern Asia and is packed with vitamin C, providing 12 times more than an orange.  It is said to provide weight loss and immune system support and to foster good hair, nail and skin health.  Typically the fruit cannot be found in your local grocery store, but liquid and caplet supplements are available in stores and online.

Soy – Research that is soon-to-be-published in the British Journal of Pharmacology has concluded that soy can have positive effects on age-related skin changes in post-menopausal women. 

As adequate estrogen levels are required for youthful skin in women, an ovariectomy can accelerate aging of the skin.  This study examined the effects of soy on the skin of ovariectomized rats.  Researchers began treating rats six months after ovariectomy with genistein, a soy-derived isoflavone, for a period of 12 weeks.   At the end of treatment, the thickness of collagen and skin strength was significantly improved, which suggests that soy therapy might be a reliable alternative for age-related skin changes in post-menopausal women.

Everyone wants to look young for as long as possible and adequate nutrition is an easy fix.  In addition to a daily vitamin and mineral supplement, it might be worth a try to incorporate some of the foods above into your daily diet for a more youthful appearance.

Sources:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article6986044.ece
http://theview.abc.go.com/blog/top-7-superfoods-women

Cho, S. et al.  Red ginseng root extract mixed with Torilus fructus and Corni fructus improves facial wrinkles and increases type I procollagen synthesis in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  Journal of Medicinal Food, 2009 Dec;12(6):1252-9.

Polito, F. et al.  Genistein Aglycone, a Soy-derived Isoflavone, Improves Skin Changes Induced by Ovariectomy in Rats.   British Journal of Pharmacology.  2011 Aug 9. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01619.x. [Epub ahead of print]