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Anemia & Hair Loss – Iron Deficiency Facts To Know

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Although hair loss is common and affects up to 40% of the population, it is still cause for great concern for men and women.  Alopecia is not limited to just men and often causes greater angst for women because of societal standards of beauty. Genetics is the main cause of thinning locks, but getting your iron levels checked is a good first step for anyone experiencing hair loss, because sometimes it may be linked to other more serious medical conditions.

The Bald Truth

Hair loss is usually not seen as life threatening, but it can be life changing and not for the better.  Not only is it damaging to one’s self esteem, but it might indicate a lack of adequate iron stores in the body, which over time can cause other health concerns, in addition to hair loss.

The American Academy of Dermatology published research collected over 40 years by Cleveland Clinic dermatologists that linked iron deficiencies with hair loss.

"We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without anemia, is treated," Leonid Benjamin Trost, MD; Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD; and Ellen Calogeras, RD, MPH, write in an issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.”

To be clear, not every study concerning hair loss from nutritional deficiencies has found the same link between low iron stores and hair loss, but research is piling up that suggests that once those with low iron began taking supplements, they experienced a sharp decline in hair loss and even began re-growing hair.

Lifting iron level may help with hair loss.

Ferritin Testing

Doctors can determine a person’s iron stores by measuring the amount of ferritin in the blood.  Ferritin is a protein that plays an important role in storing iron in the blood stream.  The less ferritin you have the less iron your body has stored.  

Normal levels of ferritin range between 10-15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), but that level may be too low according to physicians at the University of Pennsylvania Hair and Scalp Clinic.  Men should really have 24-336 ng/ml and women should have 11 to 307 ng/ml. However, the optimum number is 50- 70 ng/ml to halt hair loss and stimulate re-growth.

Causes of Anemia & Low Iron Levels

Women are especially susceptible to low iron levels because of menstruation. Hair follicles require a lot of iron since they are constantly growing hair. When iron levels are depleted by heavy periods, over time women may begin to notice thinning hair and hair loss. Pregnancy can also accelerate iron loss.  So women who are genetically pre-disposed to alopecia, have heavy menstrual periods, and go through one or multiple pregnancies have a much higher risk of hair loss than men.

There are other causes of anemia for men and women such as multiple nutritional deficiencies, some prescription drugs and even internal bleeding due to colon cancer.  Anyone who is experiencing hair loss, whether it runs in the family or not, should mention it to their doctor and ask to have their ferritin levels checked. If their ferritin levels are low, a supplement could help; in addition to adding more iron-rich foods to your diet.

Related:  Increase Energy Naturally with Iron

Do not start taking iron supplements without first consulting your physician.  Severe side effects are rare, but include:

 

  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Constipation and or upset stomach
  • Intestinal inflammation like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Hemoglobin disease known as thalassemia
  • Premature infants
  • Increased risk of heart disease in diabetics

 

 

Dosage

 

Once you have consulted with a doctor, had the appropriate tests, and it is determined that an iron supplement is right for you to prevent further hair loss, doctors generally recommend 50-100 mg of elemental iron (ferrous sulfate) three times per day for up to six months to reverse anemia and build up an adequate store of iron in the body. 

 

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Three Signs Your Dog May Have Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Most dog owners do everything they can to protect their pet's health, but some may not be aware of the prevalence of gum (or periodontal) disease among dogs.  When compared to people, dogs are five times more likely to develop periodontal disease.  This happens primarily because a dog's mouth is more alkaline than a human's, which triggers the development of plaque.  In addition, unlike people, few pets receive regular tooth brushing.  Understanding the symptoms of periodontal disease and engaging in a few healthy habits can help keep Fido feeling good.

A few healthy habits can help prevent periodontal disease in dogs.

How Periodontal Disease Can Affect Dogs

Periodontal disease in dogs can lead to gum inflammation, damage to gum tissue, bone loss and tooth loss.  If left untreated it can cause even larger problems.  Canine mouth tissue contains many blood vessels.  If the gums are damaged, it becomes easy for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body like the heart, lung, or kidneys. 

There are three ways to tell if your dog might have periodontal disease:  Teeth develop tartar; breath smells rancid; gums begin to recede.

Periodontal Disease Prevention

To reduce plaque and tartar in dogs, give raw bones instead of cooked ones.  Raw bones have cartilage, tendons and ligaments that get in and around a dog's teeth and gum line, acting like natural dental floss. 

Holistic veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko tells us that giving your dog a bone can be beneficial. Chewing helps stimulate saliva enzymes and when given AFTER meals for 10 or 15 minutes helps remove trapped food particles from the teeth. Chewing on bones also help prevent plaque buildup and gum disease especially in the back upper molars.

Dr. Basko goes on to say that bones provide minerals and other nutrients (depending upon what kind of bone) and help satiate your dog’s desire for food. Bones provide the nutrients needed to keep the skeletal system fed regenerating and adapting. Chewing on bones can also help pacify a dog’s habits such as excessive self-licking, scratching and other nervous behaviors.

Feeding bones isn’t appropriate for all dogs – certain breeds of dogs just can’t process bones and gain the same benefits that other dogs get from chewing on bones.  This has a lot to do with jawbone structure.

Brachiocephalic breeds such as boxers, bull dogs, pugs, and shitzu are NOT mechanically designed to be able to chew bones effectively and safely.  A Kong toy might be a better substitute if you have this kind of dog.  Look at your dog’s teeth closely especially the upper and lower molars in back of the mouth, the length of the muzzle, and the condition of the teeth and gums and ascertain if the mouth looks “in shape” to handle a bone. Or ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s mouth.

Little dogs and toys with delicate jaw structures and softer teeth should not eat bones. If your dog is too little to eat bones safely, you can still help maintain their dental health using a mix of hydrogen peroxide and aloe vera juice

Dogs with gut sensitivities might not process bones well either. If your dog is prone to loose stools or vomiting, be sure to resolve those GI issues first, and save the bones for after he/she has recovered. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on real meat bones, they can sometimes have a bout of diarrhea or soft stool after eating the bones. Over time, their system will adjust and they will be able to consume bones without issue (if fed bones on a regular basis).

The best time to give a dog a bone is after a full meal. Why? You don’t want your dog starving when he/she starts to chew on the bone. Ingesting too much of a bone could lead to constipation, and possible serious obstruction. Give your dog a bone for only 10 to 15 minutes, then take it away*, wash it, and store in a container in the fridge. Toss it out after 3-4 days.

*A good practice here is to replace the bone with something else (like a couple of pieces of mozzarella cheese) when you take it away. This will help reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues like resource guarding of the bones. If your dog growls when you approach his bone or try to remove it, definitely seek out a qualified dog behaviorist to help you retrain this behavior!

Bones must be Size Appropriate!

Dr. Basko emphasizes that large breed dogs such as Labradors, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc. need a large enough bone so they will not chew and swallow it quickly. Bones should be larger than the length of the muzzle so it is impossible to swallow whole. A beef shank bone is a good example of a size appropriate bone for larger breeds.  Hunt for beef shank, rib, and large soup bones mostly because of availability, but lamb and large pork bones are suitable for the right jaw and dog. In general, bigger is better.

What Kinds of Bones Should Be Avoided?

Avoid the “3 B’s”: Baked, Broiled, Barbecued

Dr. Basko does not recommend feeding any baked, broiled, or barbecued bones to pets because the heat dries up the bone and makes it more brittle and subject to splintering. Chicken bones and beef “T” bones are mostly the culprits. Keep pets away from these bones!

However, boiling the bone can be useful. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on bones it is best to soften the bone through boiling. This is a good opportunity to make a meat broth for later use. Put the bone in a pot with some water, a little salt, celery, carrot, and parsley and simmer for about 1 hour.

What about Raw Bones?

After the initial few weeks chewing on softer boiled bones, raw bones can be introduced. Raw bones provide more nutrition. Dogs are more prone to wanting to bury fresh bones because they like them to be “aged” and fermented with soild bacteria. This practice is safe (but messy) if your soil is clean and healthy. Dogs need some of the bacteria, yeasts, and minerals in the soil to help digest the bones better. They instinctually know this.

Related:  Ten Tips for Safe Car Travel with your Pets

Good Sources to Find Bones

  • The supermarket (make friends with the butchers and you’ll find yourself getting better cuts since they’ll know it’s for your dogs)
  • From your local CSA (community supported agriculture co-op)
  • Meat markets / butcher shops

Use Supervision

As with most chewable pet-friendly items, supervision is very important! Don’t buy a real meat bone and then toss it to your dog when you leave for work in the morning.

Check on your dog periodically as he/she is chewing on the bone. Then, when you remove the bone, check your dog’s teeth and gums afterwards. You might see minor gum irritation if chewing on real bones is new to your dog. Eventually, the gum tissue will get stronger with stimulation and chewing.

The most common hazard with bone chewing is a slab fracture of one of the upper hind molars. If a dog has been already been chewing on rocks, furniture, and other hard materials, the teeth might have been already weakened resulting in a fracture when the bone chewing was initiated. If this sounds like your dog, be especially careful when feeding real meat bones.

Certain types of chew toys also help to promote good dental health in dogs.  Regular oral exams identify any potential problems your dog may have, and veterinarians may recommend professional cleaning if teeth have excessive plaque or tartar. 

Brush your dog’s teeth.  If they could brush their own teeth, they would; but they can’t so it’s up to you.  Puppies and young dogs get used to it, and some really like it; adult dogs will adapt—but brush your dog’s teeth at least several times a week.  Never use human toothpaste—it is poisonous to dogs. Purchase chicken or peanut butter flavor toothpaste for dogs.  Use a child-sized tooth brush for small dogs, and a larger toothbrush for larger dogs.  Brush the interior and exterior of front and canine teeth.  Brush only the exterior of the molars in the back by running the toothbrush along the gum and teeth, just lift the skin flap; no need to brush the inside of the back teeth (at the hinge area.)

Other healthy habits that keep canines in good overall condition include:

  • Choosing a high-quality dog food devoid of extra fillers
  • Keeping filtered water available at all times for all pets; usually this means in more than one location in the house, and having water available outside if the pets are often outdoors
  • Providing plenty of exercise
  • Regular checkups and de-worming
  • Flea and tick prevention

 

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Six Great Destinations for a Spring Break Family Getaway

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Happy families adopt healthy habits like taking family vacations.  While many people think of vacations as an indulgence, research shows that family getaways promote relaxation and build personal connections.  In addition, family vacations help broaden perspectives, encourage cooperation and create wonderful memories.  For a spring break getaway this year, think outside of the box.  Discover six Spring Break family destinations that combine dining, shopping and entertainment with healthy recreational opportunities

Good healthy habits for families include annual vacations to places like San Antonio, Texas.

 

  1. Carlsbad, California:  Situated between Orange County, California and San Diego, the City of Carlsbad offers a variety of exciting opportunities for a family vacation. Affectionately dubbed, "The Village by the Sea," Carlsbad delivers seven miles of scenic coastline for surfing, swimming and fishing.  Tourists enjoy an array of charming shops and boutiques, sidewalk cafes, and colorful flower gardens.  Close proximity to fun family attractions like Sea World and LEGOLAND resort make Carlsbad a favorite getaway location for children.
  2. Amelia Island, Florida:  A barrier island located off Florida's northeast coast, Amelia Island offers a number of attractive vacation features.  A history of French, Spanish, British and American rule supplies rich cultural diversity; and 13 miles of beaches provide opportunities for outdoor recreation.  Tourists enjoy a variety of shops and restaurants and strolling along the public boardwalk.
  3. San Antonio, Texas:  San Antonio offers a wonderful mix of history, cultural attractions and natural beauty.  Located in south-central Texas, San Antonio is home to the Alamo, a Spanish mission-turned-museum that played a key role in the Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico. Visitors to the city also enjoy the beautiful River Walk on the banks of the San Antonio River and proximity to theme parks like Six Flags and Sea World.

Related:  Lack of Exercise is More Harmful to the Health than You Might Think

  1. Lake Tahoe, California:  When it comes to healthy habits, many families enjoy snow skiing. Lake Tahoe, California, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, has much to offer families in the way of a skiing destination.  Because Tahoe transitions from a winter-to-beach destination in the springtime, vacationers enjoy lower prices and fewer tourists.  In addition to beautiful ski areas, popular attractions include charming mountain villages, a variety of shops and restaurants, and a number of cozy lodge-style resorts.
  2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:  The boardwalk at Myrtle Beach, located on the coast of South Carolina, makes every child's heart skip a beat.  Features include a variety of arcades and tourist-inspired restaurants.  The Family Kingdom amusement park offers Sky Wheel, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the United States.  Miles of coastline and celebrity-designed golf courses also provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor sporting.
  3. Wisconsin Dells:  For families that live in the central United States, Wisconsin Dells offers something special for children.  Affectionately known as the "Water Capital of the World," this southern Wisconsin city plays home to a number of water parks including Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park and Noah's Ark Water Park.  When families have had enough of this type of amusement, they can take to the wilderness for hiking and camping.

An annual vacation is one of the most valuable healthy habits that families can adopt.  While it may seem like a luxury, getting away as a group allows parents, children and siblings to form closer bonds and make wonderful memories.  The six destinations above offer something for every member of the family, from shopping and dining to entertainment and recreation.   

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Five Healthy Habits for Family Wellbeing

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to good health, it is more enjoyable when the whole family gets involved.  Parents lead the way by establishing boundaries, ensuring plenty of quality family time, and providing healthy meals.  In addition, staying physically active ensures greater confidence and a more positive self-image for each family member.  Five healthy habits help families build stronger connections and promote better fitness.

Healthy habits like bike riding together encourage better wellbeing for the whole family.

  1. Establish no-technology family time.  Televisions, computers and cell phones get in the way of family bonding, so establishing some tech-free together time is one of the best healthy habits for families.  Take 60 minutes after dinner to go for a walk together, walk the dog if you have one, play a board game, or go for a bike ride.
  2. Build healthier minds and bodies with yoga.  A family yoga class teaches adults and kids to become more aware of their bodies and builds balance, strength and flexibility.  In addition to the physical benefits, yoga also promotes a more relaxed and focused mind. Because family schedules can be hectic, this is something everyone can use.
  3. Connect to the great outdoors.  Living in the electronic age, it's easy to forget about all of the wonderful benefits Mother Nature offers.  From hiking through the forest to a day at the beach – outdoor outings allow family members to connect with nature.  In addition, studies show that people who spend more time outdoors are less likely to develop depression and anxiety. 

Related:  The Importance of Family Time on Kids' Mental Health

  1. Engage in a little family competition.  If parents set a good example by keeping activities light-hearted, family competition can be fun and healthy.  Competition teaches kids humility, respect for others and it builds confidence and physical fitness.  Fun, competitive activities for families include outdoor activities like kickball, basketball, ladder ball or spike ball and enjoyable indoor games like Pictionary, charades or Wii Sports.
  2. Enjoy "pick-and-play" activities.  Write ideas for fun family activities on small pieces of paper and stuff them into a colorful jar or box.  Set aside a little time each week, and draw from the container to see what the family will do together that day.  Make sure to take turns so that everyone feels involved.

In families, good health starts from the top down.  Parents set the tone by being healthy role models, ensuring plenty of quality family time and providing nutritious foods, physical activity, and spirited competition.  The healthy living tips above help families stay connected and have fun in enjoyable, wholesome ways.

 

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Seven Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 29 percent of American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension.  This is a condition where the force of blood pushing against arterial walls is too high.  Labelled "the silent killer" because of an absence of symptoms, hypertension causes a wide range of health problems including blood vessel weakness and scarring, greater risks for blood clots, more arterial plaque, and tissue and organ damage due to blocked arteries.  While research shows family history can increase the risks for hypertension, there are also a number of lifestyle factors that boost the chances for its development.

A high-sodium diet is just one of the risk factors for high blood pressure.

 

  1. Excessive Bodyweight and BMI:  People are considered overweight when body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 30, and BMI measuring over 30 indicates obesity.  Research shows that excessive bodyweight raises risks for developing high blood pressure.  Monitoring bodyweight and BMI can help people keep blood pressure in check.  For successful weight loss, most people can lose from 1-2 pounds per week by subtracting 500 calories per day from their diet and adding daily exercise. 

 

  1. Inactivity:  In addition to raising risks for high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle increases chances for blood vessel disease, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.  Engage in regular exercise to help ensure healthy blood pressure.  Whether walking or biking, tennis or martial arts, finding a physical activity you love ensures regular participation.

 

  1. A High-Sodium Diet:  Salt retains fluid in the body, which can put extra pressure on the heart and contribute to high blood pressure.  Keeping track of sodium consumption helps.  While people with normal blood pressure should limit daily sodium to 2,300 mg, people with hypertension should consume 1,500 mg a day or less.

 

Related:  Seven Tips to Lowering High Blood Pressure Naturally

 

  1. Tobacco Use:  Every cigarette raises blood pressure temporarily and can contribute to damaged arteries and heart disease.  Smokers, especially those already at risk for hypertension, should make a plan to quit.  Hypnosis, acupuncture, guided imagery, patches, gum and certain medications can help.

 

  1. Heavy Alcohol Use:  Daily alcohol use or binge drinking can contribute to high blood pressure.  At highest risk are people who consume more than three drinks per day (12 oz. of beer, 4 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of liquor).  To prevent the development of hypertension men should limit alcohol consumption to two drinks daily, and women should limit consumption to one daily drink.

 

  1. Stress:  Research hasn't proven that stress causes hypertension, but stressful situations can spike blood pressure temporarily.  In addition, some people smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or consume too many unhealthy foods in an effort to deal with stress, all of which are risk factors for high blood pressure.  Effective stress management techniques include meditation, yoga or guided imagery. 

 

  1. Gender and Age:  Up until 45 years of age, men are more prone to hypertension than women.  From 45 to 65 years of age, risks are roughly equal between men and women, and after the age of 65, more women are likely to get high blood pressure than men.

The healthy strategies listed above can help in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, but some people may need medication to keep it in check.  Because of the absence of symptoms, people should have regular checkups in order to know and monitor their blood pressure numbers.   

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The Worst Diet for Stress Reduction

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You are what you eat. It’s trite but true and some of the most common foods we eat increase the negative effects of stress on our mental and physical health.  Changing your diet may help change your life in a positive way by helping you manage stress more effectively while enhancing your overall physical health.

The worst foods for stress can and should be all but eliminated from your diet to be replaced by wholesome, more natural foods with the essentials like lean protein, high quality carbohydrates, very little sugar, low in fat and with fiber, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.

Avoid foods that worsen the effect of stress

The Dirty Diet

Highly processed foods are your body’s worst enemy. They provide very little nutrients while being loaded with empty calories made up of sugar and artery-clogging fat.  The foods that fall into this category are most things that come in a box or plastic wrapper and have white flour, sugar and hydrogenated oils listed first in the ingredients.  Here are some of the worst offenders:

Doughnuts, cookies, and cakes:  These are just sugar and fat bombs without fiber, vitamins or minerals of any kind. One glazed doughnut can have upward of 600 calories and will send your blood glucose levels soaring. You may get a temporary sugar high but it won’t be worth the ugly sugar crash that will leave you feeling sluggish and less able to tolerate life’s daily stressors.

Pretzels, potato chips, tortilla chips and crackers:  These foods are usually just a substitute for an eating utensil to transport some kind of fatty dip to your mouth. They offer no real vitamins or minerals, no fiber and are made with highly processed white flour, which spikes glucose levels in the blood. They are usually loaded with fat, excess salt and it is so easy to eat half of a bag of them. They don’t fill you up so once you come down from the sugar high they provide you will be looking for more food, packing on pounds and increasing your risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

Related:  Healthy Food that Tastes Better than Junk Food

Drinks:  Lattes, soda, juice, cocktails and beer:  It is so easy to guzzle down these empty calories that offer nothing in the way of health benefits. The caffeine boost in the latte will not be able to offset the sugar crash it also brings with it, and the carbonation in soda will leave you feeling bloated but still hungry.  Hello obesity!  Hard liquors mixed with sugary concoctions like juice will only make you tipsy and ultimately hung-over. Beer, while not sweet, is basically drinking a glass of sugar. Even a glass of pure orange, apple or cranberry juice is just a lot of sugar minus the fiber and nutrients you would get if you ate the fruit whole that it comes from.

Fast food and take-out:  Most of what you get at the drive-thru or have delivered is unhealthy with excess sodium, fat and calories without many healthy ingredients like vitamins, minerals or fiber.  You might think the Chinese take-out with broccoli and water chestnuts is healthy, but the greasy fatty meats, MSG preservatives and sugar-loaded soy sauce outweigh any health benefits a few vegetables have.  Any kind of fast food sandwich accompanied by French fries is just a lot of fat and carbs with little or no health benefits. The buns are white flour and sugar, the meat is fatty and the sodium levels are more than you should consume in a week, let alone one meal. 

Eating these kinds of foods increases the negative effects of stress on the body. They may provide temporary comfort, but your weight creeps up and you feel increasingly fatigued because you have been denying your body essential nutrients to rebuild, you will find stress levels rising. 

Unfortunately these foods are staples of Western diets, but research is not only showing these kinds of foods are not only physically unhealthy, but also mentally. People who consume highly processed foods and drinks, and regularly drink beer are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety, certainly things that will increase your stress levels.

The good news is, you can avoid all these kinds of foods and still enjoy delicious meals, drinks and treats. It just takes a little extra effort to plan your day so that you are not starving and find yourself chugging a soda to make it to the end of your day. Healthy options are out there and it’s worth your time and energy to find them and stave off the negative health consequences poor diet and stress will have on you.

 

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Seven Tips for Avoiding the Dangers of Sugar

by Institute for Vibrant Living

As more people are joining the health and fitness bandwagon, concerns about sugar are growing.  According to Time Magazine, the typical American consumes more than 56 pounds of sugar each year.  While everyone knows that sugary foods are bad for the teeth, too much sugar affects the body in many other ways.  Research shows that high-sugar diets can raise risks for diabetes, heart disease and obesity.  Food manufacturers make the problem worse by adding sugar to many common foods like bread, soups, sauces and condiments.   Fortunately, seven tips for avoiding the dangers of sugar can help.

The dangers of sugar include higher risks for tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

1.  Don’t add sugar to food or beverages.  Avoid adding sugar to foods and beverages like pancakes, cereal, coffee and tea.  Instead of using sugary syrups, top pancakes with almond butter and bananas.  Add fresh berries or dried fruits to cereals, and stir all-natural stevia into hot beverages.

2.  Avoid hidden sugars.  Recognizing sugar is the first step to reducing it in the diet.  Ingredients like corn syrup, agave, molasses, malt sugar, honey, and brown sugar are all types of sweeteners that affect the body the same way as white table sugar.  Reading the ingredient list on a product's label can tell you if it contains any of these hidden types of sugar.

Related:  Your Sugar Cravings Explained

3.  Beware of fat-free foods.  If the goal is to limit the dangers of sugar, fat-free foods may not be the answer.  When manufacturers remove fat from certain foods, they often remove taste as well.  To compensate, many fat-free foods contain extra sugar, salt, flour and other thickeners.  Make sure to read labels to determine sugar levels in fat-free foods.

4.  Shop the rainbow.  White makes a great color for decorating but not for the diet.  White foods like potatoes, rice, bread and pasta are almost always higher in sugar and calories.  Foods rich in color like bell peppers, berries, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and squash offer very little sugar but plenty of healthy phytochemicals, antioxidants and other nutrients.

5.  Steer clear of ingredients ending in –ose.  In addition to more obvious types of hidden sugars like honey and corn syrup, ingredients ending in –ose are also forms of sugar.  These include glucose, fructose, dextrose, lactose, sucrose, maltose and xylose.  Look for these ingredients on food labels. 

6.  Follow the law of four.  A simple math problem helps people determine how much sugar (in teaspoons) they are about to consume per serving.  For instance, if a serving of cereal contains 12 grams of sugar, divide the 12 by four to find that the serving contains three teaspoons of sugar.

7.  Skip the fruit juice.  In addition to removing all the fiber from fruit, juicing boosts sugar content.  For instance, a 12-ounce glass of apple juice has more calories and nearly the same amount of sugar as a 12-ounce glass of cola.

Too much sugar in the daily diet raises risks for many types of disease.  According to the World Health Organization, people who want to reduce the dangers of sugar should limit sugar calories to about 5 percent of their total daily calorie intake.  Fortunately, by following the tips above, consumers can slash daily sugar consumption for better overall health. 

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Six Heart Heath Tips For High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Heart Savers

Heart disease is America’s leading cause of death.  Here are several important heart health tips and advice. Fortunately many everyday supplements for high blood pressure support a healthy cardiovascular system.

Top heart health tips include taking daily fish oil supplements

 

 

 

Here are six common supplements to help keep your heart in tip-top condition. Do you take them every day?

1.     Fish Oil

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is the natural way to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, most of us do not eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel on a regular basis, but help is at hand with fish oil supplements. For high blood pressure they provide an effective treatment, reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and premature death from heart disease.

2.     CoQ10

CoQ10 is a natural enzyme which the body produces in decreasing amounts as we age. It is a natural antioxidant which provides a wealth of heart-health benefits. It prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, maintains circulatory health, supports healthy arterial wall linings, lowers hypertension and ensures the optimal functioning of the heart by lowering cholesterol levels.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol should be on every list of heart health tips as it is full of antioxidants that help prevent heart disease. It increases good HDL cholesterol, prevents blood clots and protects arterial walls from damage. Found in red wine, the only sensible way to obtain sufficient resveratrol is by taking it as a daily supplement. Studies found that taking resveratrol in conjunction with statins reduced cardiovascular risk by reducing inflammation and clotting markers.

Natto

Nattokinase is a natural enzyme produced from fermented soybeans (natto) that prevents abnormal thickening of blood vessels. It has been used for centuries by the Japanese as a natural supplement for high blood pressure, lowering the risk of stroke, angina, deep vein thrombosis and heart disease.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto

Folic Acid

Folic acid is another everyday supplement that makes it onto the list of heart heath tips.  Researchers have found that it can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by around 20%. This lowers the levels of homocysteine that contribute to atherosclerosis and blood clots. It also supports normal cholesterol levels as well as being essential for the production of red blood cells.

Acetyl L-carnitine

A series of controlled trials on acetyl L-carnitine supplements found that it was associated with a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmia and a 40% reduction in the symptoms of angina. Found naturally in red meat, L-carnitine helps increase HDL cholesterol by metabolizing fatty acids.

By taking these supplements for high blood pressure and following our sensible heart health tips regarding diet and exercise, you can ensure you have the healthiest heart possible to carry you into a long and healthy old age.

 

 

 

 

 

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Six Medications That Can Make You Dizzy – Health Living Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Medications That Can Make You Dizzy

Vertigo, dizziness and imbalance are particularly common in the elderly, affecting around one third of persons aged between 65 and 75. It can make daily activities such as getting out of bed, bathing, dressing and moving around the home more difficult. A common side effect of many groups of medications is vertigo which increases the risk of falling, the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in those over the age of 65 according to MMWR Morb Weekly. Healthy living tips suggest that those who are struggling with vertigo should check with the doctor to see whether any prescribed medications could be causing balance impairment.

Healthy living tips include assessing medications for side effects

 

Here are some common culprits to consider:

1.     Antidepressants

Antidepressants may occasionally cause vertigo or dizziness in some patients. If you experience a sense of the world spinning around, you may need to ask your doctor to change your antidepressant medication. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Celexa and Prozac may impair balance but stopping them abruptly can also cause dizziness. Healthy living tip: Don’t make any  changes without a full discussion with your doctor.

2.     Blood pressure drugs

Drugs for hypertensions, such as beta blockers, thiazide diuretics and ace-inhibitors sold under the brand names Tenormin, Zestril and Lotensin. One of the most common side effects of Angiotensin II receptor blockers and Central Agonists is dizziness, so report any symptoms of lightheadedness to your doctor and try a more suitable option.

3.     Antihistamines

Antihistamines usually improve balance but may cause a balance problem as a reaction to other drugs.

Related:  Five Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

4.     NSAIDS

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce fever, treat headaches and inflammation. Better known as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Aleve) they are intended for short-term use. If you have any side effects, such as dizziness or difficulty concentrating, try switching.

5.     Sedatives

Sleeping pills and sedatives are intended to cause drowsiness and can be addictive. They commonly cause dizziness, memory problems and drowsiness which can be dangerous. Healthy habits to embrace include avoiding driving or operating dangerous machinery and report all side effects to your doctor.

6.     Vasodilators

Vasodilators are prescribed to improve blood flow in those with angina, high blood pressure and heart failure. They are known to cause dizziness and patients should take necessary precautions as above. Avoid alcohol and make sure your doctor knows of any other drugs you are taking before being prescribed vasodilators and report any side effects.

Healthy Habits to Counter Medication-Induced Dizziness

If you feel that your medications are disrupting your balance or causing falls, talk to your doctor about reducing the dose, switching drugs or stopping non-essential medications.

Another healthy living tip includes taking medications later in the day when blood pressure is naturally higher. It may take time to establish healthy habits through trial and error, but you should never settle for taking medications that decrease, rather than improve, your quality of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three Spicy Solutions to Heart Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, about 75 million Americans have high blood pressure and only half of them are taking steps to control it. Left untreated, high blood pressure, or hypertension as it is sometimes known, can seriously damage health and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and death.

Spices can be a natural way to treat high blood pressure

 

 

Many sufferers resort to prescription medications and beta blockers, but those wondering how to lower blood pressure naturally may find help in the spice rack. If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 you are at risk of hypertension, so try spicing up your life with these three heart-healthy ingredients.

Reduce High Blood Pressure with Curry

One of the main ingredients in curry is curcumin, which gives curry its distinctive yellow color. It is a natural antioxidant found in turmeric and has shown positive results in studies on natural treatments for high blood pressure. One notable study on curcumin at Japan’s Kyoto Medical Center showed that curcumin supported healthy blood pressure levels. It also helped prevent cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle and reduction in ventricle size caused by high blood pressure). The study concluded that curcumin could provide “novel therapeutic strategy for heart failure in humans.”

Ginger Improves Hypertension

Ginger is a root spice used by the Romans and ancient Chinese to cure a wide range of medical conditions. Studies now show that ginger is a potent blood thinner, helping to prevent or treat high blood pressure and heart disease. In tests, ginger was used to dissolve blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attack. It prevents thromboxane synthesis which causes blood clotting and platelets in the blood to clump together.

Tests on rats showed that ginger is also an anti-inflammatory agent. It works in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such ibuprofen and naproxen, but without the side effects.  

Adding ginger to savory and sweet dishes is an easy way to add this cholesterol-lowering anti-inflammatory blood thinner to your diet and lower blood pressure naturally.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels with Ginger

How to Lower Blood Pressure with Garlic

Another natural blood thinning agent is garlic. Thinner blood is easier for the heart to pump around, reducing high blood pressure, and it is less likely to form clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.

An Australian study compared garlic with commonly prescribed drugs used to lower blood pressure and found that it was equally effective. The studies found that eating four cloves of garlic a day had a noticeable positive effect on those with high blood pressure, lowering it by an average 8.4 systolic points and 7.3 diastolic points.

If you are wondering how to lower blood pressure without resorting to expensive drugs, try adding these three spices to your daily diet and watch your high blood pressure fall.

 

 

 

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De-Stress with Biofeedback Technology – Stress Management

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If only there was an app for stress management!  Actually there is, in the form of the latest biofeedback technology.  Founded on the basics of quantum science, biofeedback measures the body’s stress levels and helps you recognize and counter the effects naturally and holistically. Using sophisticated technology, biofeedback relies on specialized software and sensors to scan the electromagnetic fields of your body. In minutes, this new stress management technology can provide feedback and vital information about the energetic stresses that your body is undergoing at that moment in time. Once users see their elevated blood pressure or symptoms of rising stress, they can implement mental techniques to lower stress levels without the need for medications or other treatment. 

Stress management is the key to good health and longevity

Rather than allowing tension and negativity to build up for months or even years, biofeedback is the key to healthy stress management, reversing the harmful effects that stress can have on your life and health.

Health issues that biofeedback is used to treat include:

  • Stress Management        
  • Anxiety ​
  • Depression
  • Pain Management
  • Headaches                                                                                                               
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Fears and Phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • Raynaud's Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback uses sensors to collect data about the body. The information makes the patient aware of the physiological functions and can help control them as part of their stress management. The latest biofeedback developments include putting the sensors into portable wearable devices that are no more intrusive than a wrist watch.

Developed in the 1960s and 70s, biofeedback has been used by psychologists to treat health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hypertension, headaches and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Initially patients had to be hooked up to a device in a laboratory setting, but microtechnology now allows sensors and Galvanic Skin Resistance (GSR) monitors to track electro-dermal activity (EDA). The information can be used for stress management, monitoring mood and depression or even predicting seizures. 

Related:  Train Your Digestive System

How can Biofeedback Aid Stress Management?

Far from being a novelty gadget, biofeedback is the stress management tool of the future. There are over 900 studies published on PubMed alone about biofeedback and stress, and it has far-reaching medical relevance.

For example, a study on 41 soldiers found that those who used biofeedback-assisted stress management training on a regular basis had lower stress biomarkers than their colleagues.

Even in sports, biofeedback has invaluable health advantages. A study showed that advanced basketball players who trialed biofeedback for 20 minutes a day over a 10-day period as part of their personal stress management showed significant improvement in heart rate and anxiety levels.

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Are You Squirreling Stress: Causes and Effects of Stress

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you a “squirreller?” Do you hide money, tuck away sweet treats and keep a few things in reserve, “just in case?” While these may be positive attributes, storing up the effects of stress, harboring negative thoughts and increasing physical tension can be extremely damaging for your health, according to experts.

In the fall, squirrels are particularly active as they search for nuts, seeds, acorns and pine cones which are a source of food. These furry creatures are known for their habit of burying caches of food in a favorite place, which will allow them to survive the winter. In the same way, you probably have a favorite place on your body where all the effects of stress and tension hang out.

Physical pain and hypertension are often the effects of stress

Physical Effects of Stress

Causes of stress in modern-day life can range from worrying about bills, lack of sleep and working long hours to frustrating traffic congestion on your morning commute. Stop and analyze your body for a moment, and find out where those effects of stress tend to linger. Common places that succumb to stress and tension include:

  • Tense, hunched shoulders
  • Unnatural neck and throat positions
  • A “tight” head causing headaches and migraine
  • Upper and lower back tension
  • Stiff arms
  • Queasy, acid-filled stomach

Harboring stress can lead to serious health conditions including stomach ulcers, back pain, migraine clusters and poor digestion. However, being aware of the tell-tale signs of stress in your personal “storage area” can be the first step to releasing that tension and dealing with the causes of stress.

Related:  Lose Stress to Gain Joy

How to Counter the Effects of Stress

Wherever you find yourself – at your desk, in the kitchen, driving the kids to school or lying awake at night – you can begin to de-stress by deep breathing. Become conscious of each breath and make each one slower and deeper than the last. This simple exercise is often enough to alleviate the pressure before the causes of stress take hold and find their way to your stress storage point.

Research into the brain shows that social engagement is an effective tool in the fight against the effects of stress. Making eye contact with a smiling face, talking to a friend and feeling understood, or even listening to someone else’s joys and sorrows can halt the natural “fight-or-flight” reactions to stress. As you respond to the causes of stress with social engagement you will begin to calm down, think more rationally and your heartbeat and blood pressure will return to normal.

Defusing stress also allows your digestive system to return to normal, and will stop the brain flooding the body with cortisol and other “emergency” hormones.

In the long-term, allowing the causes of stress to “get under your skin” can cause immeasurable harm to your heart, digestive and immune systems. By learning to let go of the harmful effects of stress you can lower hypertension, slow down the aging process and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

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Can Melatonin Help During Menopause?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many women dealing with menopausal symptoms experience disruptions in their sleep cycles. This can exacerbate some of the other side effects such as increased anxiety, depression, trouble focusing, memory lapses, hot flashes and a decreased libido, just to name a few. The good news is that increasing shows that melatonin supplements can be an effective menopause treatment to help you get more rest and relief.  

Can melatonin treatment relieve symptoms of menopause?

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce naturally in the pineal gland of the brain. It assists in the smooth operation of several bodily functions such as:

  • Regulating the release of the female reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, effecting the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles
  • Promoting the quality and duration of sleep
  • It is a naturally produced antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties to help the body repair itself. It has a protective effect on your heart by helping to lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels

Low levels of melatonin have been linked to an increased risk for developing breast and prostate cancer, and have more recently linked to ADHD symptoms in children. 

At optimum levels, melatonin can help improve conditions like:

  • Sunburn
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Pain regulation
  • Digestion
  • Epilepsy 

Melatonin as a Menopause Treatment

Trouble focusing, memory lapses, increased anxiety and feelings of depression, all common symptoms of menopause, are made worse by a lack of quality sleep.  Many women going through menopause have trouble falling asleep, and even after they do, they often wake up because of a hot flash. They may fall asleep, but rouse frequently during the night and have trouble going back to sleep.

As we age our production of the sleep hormone begins to decline, along with estrogen and progesterone. Children have high levels of melatonin, whereas adults in their late 40s, 50s and 60s and beyond have much lower levels. Melatonin supplements can increase levels to promote drowsiness and keep you asleep for longer stretches.  It can also help you fall back to sleep when a hot flash wakes you up.  In addition, the increased shut-eye can help you deal with stress more effectively, decrease anxiety and give you greater mental clarity.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation: Is it Dangerous to Your Health?

Along with melatonin supplements try these tips to help you unwind and fall asleep more easily:

  • Do not eat within two hours of going to bed
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants as much as possible
  • Try natural fiver sheets and pajamas to help whisk away sweat from hot flashes
  • Drop the temperature in your bedroom to about 68 degrees
  • Turn off the TV, put away your tablet and smart phone since the backlight on these electronic devices interferes with the natural release of melatonin
  • Make it as dark as possible in your bedroom with light-blocking blinds or curtains and turn the digital clock face away from the bed or cover it
  • Try a few relaxing yoga poses followed by a cool shower

Dosage

As with all supplements, you should first consult your doctor before deciding on your melatonin treatment.  Taking the lowest dose possible to achieve optimal sleep is the best way to go. In general adults should take 3-5 milligrams about one hour before bedtime.

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How Vitamin E Can Help Menopause Symptoms

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you are a woman between the ages of 45 and 55, you are likely going through the menopause. While outwardly nothing has changed, mentally and emotionally your body is dealing with a profusion of menopause symptoms. Fortunately, you don’t have to grit your teeth and put up with it. Vitamin E is the natural way to counter hot flashes and other major symptoms of menopause as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Vitamin E contains estrogen which helps relieve menopause symptoms

Research shows that vitamin E is effective for up to 75% of menopausal women. This natural substance can help reduce hot flashes and can also lower the effects of insomnia, nervousness, mood swings, fatigue, heart palpitations and thinning hair. Vitamin E actually contains small amounts of estrogen to help counteract the decline in hormone levels which are typical during menopause. 

Studies on Vitamin E and Menopause Symptoms

A study on the effect or vitamin E in menopausal women looked at the effect of vitamin E supplements on hot flashes. Led by Dr. Saeideh Ziaei at the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Tehran, the study was on 51 menopausal women.

Each participant received a placebo softgel daily for four weeks followed by a one week cleansing period to eliminate all traces of the softgel. The women then received an identical-looking vitamin E softgel of 400 IU daily for the next four weeks. The women recorded the frequency and severity of their hot flashes in a daily diary. The results showed that when vitamin E softgels were taken, the hot flashes reduced in severity and in frequency. The study concluded that vitamin E is recommended for the effective treatment of hot flashes.

Vitamin E also relieves vaginal dryness and stimulates immunity against cancer of the cervix, breasts, lungs and digestive tract. Other studies show that vitamin E can reduce heart disease by up to 66%, making it a beneficial health supplement for all ages.

Related:  Vitamin E:  Tricking Father Time

How Much Vitamin E to Take

The most potent form of vitamin E is the natural d-alpha-tocopherol type, rather than synthetic E. according to Dr. Leslie Packer at University of California, synthetic E contains only one eight of the amount of alpha-tocopherol compared to natural vitamin E.

Following the study guidelines, 400 IU vitamin E can reduce menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes. However, it is important not to take vitamin E in excessive amounts as it may cause problems with blood clotting and hemorrhaging. The recommended upper limit for vitamin E intake is 1,000 mg per day, which is equal to 1,500 IU, so the 400 IU is well within these safety guidelines. It may take up to six weeks to notice a significant improvement in symptoms, but it is worth persevering to lower menopause symptoms safely and naturally.

You should consult your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements if you are taking medications, aspirin or anticoagulant drugs as these may cause complications such as excessive bleeding.  

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How Free Radical Damage Affects Your Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

We hear a lot about free radicals and their harmful effect on our health and aging. It’s important to understand free radical dangers so that you can take steps to counter their effect. Here’s a simple explanation of how free radical dangers can be reduced to slow the aging process and reduce the risk of cancer.

Avoid free radical dangers and slow the aging process

Understanding Free Radical Dangers

The dangers of free radicals were uncovered by Dr. Denham Harman in the 1950s. He discovered that when cells produce energy for the body to function, the byproducts are harmful free radicals. Studies show that these free radicals damage cellular DNA, which is the main cause of aging in the body. It’s a bit like a car engine burning fuel for propulsion, but the waste produced is toxic carbon monoxide.

What is Oxidative Stress?

Free radicals contain unpaired electrons which try to pair up with other electrons to balance themselves. They “steal” electrons from other molecules and this creates damage to our cellular DNA. This process is called oxidative stress.

Related:  Astaxanthin May Prevent Heart Disease Caused by Inflammation and Free Radicals

How Free Radical Dangers Affect Aging

The reason why free radical dangers cause premature aging is because DNA controls cell division and the formation of new cells. If DNA is damaged by oxidative stress, it negatively affects new cell production. This leads to signs of aging in the skin and may also cause cancer, which is caused by abnormal cell division. Other free radical dangers include damage to the skin and organs due to collagen cross-linking, impaired cognitive function, weakened immune system and cardiovascular damage.

How to Counter Free Radical Dangers

We can’t stop the production of free radicals as it is a natural part of living, breathing, eating and exercise. However, there are some ways we can reduce oxidative stress. Smoking produces free radicals and is a cause of premature wrinkles and aging. Excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight, stress and over-consumption of alcohol can all increase oxidative stress and should be avoided whenever possible.

Heating vegetable oils is known to release toxic free radicals, so switch to butter or coconut oil when possible. You can still enjoy olive oil in salad dressings and unheated foods.

The most important way to combat free radical dangers is by consuming plenty of foods high in antioxidants such as fruit, vegetables and green tea. As their name suggests, antioxidants counter oxidative stress by pairing up with floating free radicals. This neutralizes them, preventing damage to our cells and DNA. This in turn slows the aging process, leading to a longer and healthier life.

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Health Dangers of Excess Weight | Weight Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you at higher risk than others of suffering from over 50 different health problems including cancer, diabetes and heart disease? If you are clinically overweight and struggle with weight loss, then unfortunately you are at this higher risk.

Discover the sobering facts about weight effect on aging

Excess pounds do more than just increase your weight; they actually increase your risk of mortality. It has been clinically proven that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from a stroke, heart attack, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression than those who maintain a normal healthy weight.

Weight effect on aging is another problem for many, and a Harvard study shows the risk of developing type-2 diabetes is 20 times more likely in those who are overweight. The good news is that you can do something to reverse this risk by seriously committing to a weight loss program.

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Tips

Benefits of Managing Weight Loss

There are many benefits to losing weight. You will feel more energetic and are statistically likely to enjoy a longer, better quality life. It can be daunting to face having to lose weight, but start with a manageable target that will immediately make you feel better, both physically and emotionally. Commit to achieving an initial weight loss of 5-10% of your body weight. When you feel your determination is faltering, remind yourself of these facts about the weight effect on aging and general health.

  • Losing 10 pounds can lower your systolic blood pressure by 2.8mm/Hg and your diastolic blood pressure by 2.5 mm/Hg. This is equal to the expected reduction when someone starts taking blood pressure medication
  • Losing 7% of your weight and exercising for 30 minutes a day lowers your risk of diabetes by nearly 60%
  • A study on 1.5 million adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of death increased by 44% in people who are mildly obese and by 250% in those with a BMI of 40 to 50

By achieving a normal weight for your height you can significantly reduce your risk of mortality and have a healthier, higher quality of life. You can use the NIH calculator to work out your BMI by entering your height and weight right now. Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; overweight is 25-29.9 and obese is 30 and above. If you are overweight or obese, now is a good time to commit to reducing that detrimental weight effect on aging by adopting a healthy diet that does not exceed 1,200 calories per day, and by engaging in 30 minutes of brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming or other exercise to burn off those excess pounds.

Weight loss is never easy, but it is definitely worth it! 

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Are Statins Killing You? The Top 6 Dangers of Statins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Studies are showing there may be hidden dangers to statins

The Dangers of Statins

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

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

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

Related:  Knock Down Bad Cholesterol with these Four Foods

When to Stop Taking Statins

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

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

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

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

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The Word on Sugar

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Those looking to achieve optimal health will want to limit daily sugar intake to less than 5% of their total calories, announced the World Health Organization. Recent medical studies have confirmed that sugar is not a friend to the human body. In fact, medical science now knows that sugar actually damages DNA.  Artificial sweeteners are even worse, as they have been linked to many potential diseases. Sugar is empty calories, and your body needs quality calories to build and repair. This is why sugar is especially harmful for children, as it steals away precious calories needed for growth and brain development.

Guard your health and beware of excess daily sugar intake.

In short, you should avoid sugar whenever possible, but doing so is more of a challenge than it might initially seem because sugar is hidden in a wide array of food.  When consumers start carefully looking for processed sugar, they soon realize it’s been well-hidden in processed and fast foods. Luckily, food manufacturers are required to list their ingredients, so we know what foods have sugar in them and what foods do not.

If you want to keep your daily sugar intake below 5%, then you either have to largely eliminate processed foods and fast foods or become an avid reader of labels. Reading labels may be time consuming, but once you identify which foods have sugar and which foods don’t, shopping becomes much quicker.

The big “wild card” in sugar consumption comes in the form of fast food. Unfortunately, fast food ingredients are not listed for consumers to quickly and easily read. The end result is that most people who dine out are also consuming far more sodium and sugar than they realize. If you’ve decided to keep your daily sugar intake below 5%, then you’ll have to do some research on your favorite restaurants so to know what foods are low in sugar and what foods should be avoided.

Related:  What Are The Best Sugar Substitutes?

There are many ways to avoid sugar. One way is to prepare more of your own foods. In this way, you know all the foods being used and the overall sugar levels. Another way to avoid sugar, and this one will also improve your overall health, is to eat more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are foods that you can usually trust as there is nowhere to add additional sugar, with the notable exception of nuts and seeds that have been dusted with sugar.

Reducing your sugar consumption doesn’t have to be a full time job. After you go through the process of learning which foods are loaded with sugar and which ones are not, your shopping and eating practices will become second nature. The bottom line is that the effort you put into lowering your daily sugar intake is well worth it. The empty calories of sugar lead to weight gain and diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

If you want to look great and feel great, then one of the first steps to take is to drop the sugar. Your body will thank you!

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Ten Home Remedies for Tackling Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

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

#1:  Co-enzyme Q10

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

#2:  Honey and Manuka Honey

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

Cure periodontal disease with honey and other natural remedies.

#3:  Lemons

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

#4:  Baking Soda

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

#5:  Tea Tree Oil

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

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

#6:  Dental Probiotics

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

#7:  Consume Fermented Foods

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

#8:  Xylitol

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

#9:  Floss Every Day

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

#10:  Brush Regularly and Change Your Toothbrush Often

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

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

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Ten Relaxing Ways to Disconnect from Digital Technology

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to research, more people in North America use the internet than people in Africa, Asia and Latin America combined.  While computers, cellphones and other electronic gadgets offer numerous benefits, it’s important to unplug from technology from time to time.  Taking a break from the digital world allows people to unwind and better connect with themselves and others.  Here are ten relaxing ways to disconnect from digital technology. 

A myriad of methods help people disconnect from digital technology.

1.  Practice yoga.  Considered a mind-body practice, yoga blends mental and physical disciplines to create a sense of peace and tranquility.  In addition, yoga helps tone the body, promotes better balance and improves sleep.

2.  Introduce a weekly game night.  Spending time playing cards or board games allows family members and/or friends to connect in meaningful ways and enjoy relaxing conversation.

3.  Spend time in nature.  There is nothing like a warm breeze, a bird's song, and the beauty of nature to disconnect from digital technology.  What's more, sunlight helps boost the mood and encourages good bone health by providing the body with a daily dose of natural vitamin D.

4.  Purchase an adult coloring book.  Using colored pencils or markers to fill in intricate designs allows adults to channel their inner child.  Coloring keeps people focused on the present moment and promotes a sense of calm.

5.  Get a massage. Studies on emergency room staff show that a 15-minute massage can lower job-related anxiety from 65 percent in winter and 54 percent in summer to just 8 percent no matter the season.  Adding essential aromatic oils like chamomile and lavender make massage even more relaxing.

Related:  Discover the Benefits of Hatha Yoga for Stress Relief

6.  Enjoy a hot bath.  Sinking into a tub of hot water soothes the mind as well as the body.  People can use products like bath salts, bath pillows, and candles to make a home bathroom spa-like and tranquil.

7.  Take the dog for a walk.  A 20-minute walk can help reduce stress by boosting endorphins, the 'feel-good' neurotransmitters in the brain.  In addition, walking offers owners and dogs an opportunity for quality bonding.

8.  Meditate.  Studies show that meditation helps lower heart rate and blood pressure, and it doesn't cost anything to practice.  To experience calming effects, people just need a quiet, comfortable space from which to focus on breathing for ten minutes or more.

9.  Keep a journal.  Writing about daily problems allows many people to let go of them.  Others prefer to jot down things for which they are grateful.  Both techniques are therapeutic and calming.

10. Take a catnap.  Short periods of rest can reduce help reduce stress.  Naps of 20 minutes or less encourage relaxation without affecting nighttime sleep.  

While some people can't imagine taking a break from their electronic devices, unplugging is important for peace of mind and human connection.  Any of the methods mentioned above allow people to disconnect from digital technology in minutes at very little or no expense, and many offer benefits that go well beyond stress relief.