0 Comments

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.

 

0 Comments

Why Spinach May Be the Ultimate Way to Naturally Boost Energy

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Popeye was on to something.  You may not suddenly develop over-the top bulging biceps like he did, but spinach is an effective way to boost energy naturally.  It’s loaded with so many good things, if it’s not on your menu regularly, it should be! 

History of a Superfood

Spinach originated in central and southwestern Asia.  Though it typically did not grow well in hot climates, Arab ingenuity using sophisticated irrigation techniques in the eight century AD enabled it to be successfully cultivated throughout the Mediterranean.  It quickly spread across the globe with mention of it in the 12th century, dubbed “the captain of leafy greens” by the Arab agronomist Ibn al-‘Awwam. It is listed as an ingredient in dishes prepared in the 13th century, as part of vegetable gardens in the 15th century, 17th century, and it remains a hearty vegetable used in dishes around the world.  The French call spinach the broom of the stomach.

The Many Health Benefits of Spinach

Those bright, vibrant green leaves pack a powerful nutritional punch and are renowned for their ability to boost energy naturally.  They are loaded with nutrients like:

  • Vitamin C, K, B12, B1 B2, B6
  • Manganese
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin
  • Glycoglycerolipids – a compound found to help protect the lining of the digestive tract from inflammation damage

A common cause of low energy is iron deficiency; spinach a good dietary staple as a plant-based source of this important nutrient, which is critical to the production of abundant healthy red blood cells. The vitamin K is important for good bone health and lutein helps in maintaining eye health. Spinach also provides lots of antioxidants to hasten cell repair and is a healthy source of fiber.

Related:  Five Green Veggies You Need to Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet

Many Ways to Enjoy Spinach

You can get spinach canned (Popeye’s preference but the least appetizing), frozen and fresh.  Fresh raw spinach is best, and use organic whenever possible. Choose the bunch with dark green, firm leaves with the stems till attached. Avoid any with a mushy texture or with brown or yellow spots on the leaves. Baby spinach has more tender leaves and a more delicate taste.

Store unwashed spinach in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you plan to use it, keeping in mind it starts to lose nutrients after four days.  Wash it thoroughly and remove the stems (optional unless you are adding it to a smoothie) and let it drain before eating it raw or cooking it.

You can add spinach to any number of dishes whether they are baked, sautéed or boiled. It’s also a great addition to smoothies, adding nutrients, giving them a lovely color but with a mild taste that combines well with fruit, yogurt and whatever else you blend with it. You’ll boost energy naturally and enjoy a tasty snack in the process.

0 Comments

Fighting Fatigue with Green Tea – A Natural Fatigue Treatment

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many new studies have made exciting discoveries about the positive effects of green tea on energy and fatigue. High in antioxidants, green tea has many health benefits including fatigue treatment. Green tea is known to raise the metabolic rate, which helps boost fat burning and weight loss, and this could also explain why it helps counter fatigue.

Green tea can be an effective fatigue treatment

Exercise and Oxidative Stress

Tannins are polyphenols in green tea that help the body to eliminate toxins, boost fat burning and increase metabolism. These antioxidants also counter the harmful effects of free radicals which are produced as a byproduct during natural body functions such as digestion and exercise.

During exercise, free radicals are produced in the body and they are neutralized by antioxidants. Although regular moderate exercise is known to boost health, strenuous exercise can cause oxidative stress. Studies show that this free radical production during exercise is what causes fatigue and consequently reduces endurance performance. 

Oxidative stress is when the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced as a byproduct of burning energy threatens to overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defense.  If there are insufficient antioxidants in the body to detoxify the ROS, this leads to an undesirable level of oxidative stress. Free radical production is highest when exercise is exhaustive and therefore higher levels of antioxidants are required to neutralize them.

Related:  History of Green Tea in Indigestion Remedies

Study on Green Tea as a Treatment for Fatigue

The China University of Mining and Technology carried out a study on 40 mice into the effects of green tea polyphenols as a fatigue treatment. The mice were divided into four groups with one control group receiving distilled water. The other three groups received different amounts of green tea polyphenols, adjusted to each animal’s body weight.

The mice were given swimming exercises each week, carrying weights of 10% of their body weight to replicate the effects of strenuous exercise. After two weeks, the mice fed green tea polyphenols were able to swim for longer, indicating that the polyphenols were effectively acting as a fatigue treatment. The higher the dose of green tea polyphenols, the longer the mice were able to swim.     

Results showed that the green tea acted as an anti-fatigue treatment on the mice and allowed the mice to swim for longer with less fatigue.

Tips for Drinking Green Tea for Energy

  • Avoid ready-to-drink green tea as it does not have the same strength as freshly brewed green tea
  • Avoid decaffeinated green tea as it contains less than one third of the catechins found in regular green tea
  • Avoid green tea bags as they generally contain lower quality green tea than loose tea leaves
  • Use 4 grams of loose green tea per cup of boiling water (8 fluid ounces)
  • Do not add milk as this reduces the effect of the catechins
  • If you don’t like the taste of green tea, add honey, ginger, lemon or mint leaves to boost the flavor

You’ll find green tea is a refreshing drink and a great fatigue treatment when energy levels are low.

0 Comments

The Best Seeds for Health: Super Seeds to Boost Your Salads

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Everyone knows having a salad on a regular basis is good for you. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vegetables for the average adult is three to five servings, after all.  If you are going to eat your greens why not add a little something extra to them now and then to boost their flavor and your health? Seeds make a great addition to many dishes especially salads. Read on to learn about the best seeds for your health.

The five best seeds for great health!

The Fantastic Five

1. Chia Seeds

There’s a whole lot of goodness packed into these tiny seeds that are native to South America.  The ancient Aztecs and Mayans relied on them as an important food source providing hydration and sustained energy.  Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength.  Despite being small chia seeds are mighty with:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus
  • Vitamins B3 (niacin), B1 (thiamine) and B2
  • The ability to hold twice their weight in liquid

Chia seeds are also loaded with antioxidants, and can help reduce your risk of heart disease, from developing Type 2 Diabetes, promote bone strength and even aid in your weight loss efforts.

2. Hemp Seeds

While hemp seeds are from the same species of the much more famous and notorious cannabis family (aka marijuana) but they only contain trace amounts of THC, the compound that has a drug-like effect.  They have been a part of Chinese diets and medicine for the past 3,000 years, so their health benefits have stood the test of time.

Hemp seeds are a great source of two very important nutrients, the fatty acids omega-6 and omega 3. They are also a very good source of protein, vitamin E and minerals like phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.  Another nutrient from hemp seeds, amino acid arginine, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. These bland looking little seeds have also shown in other studies to decrease inflammation in the body, help reduce blood pressure and decrease your risk of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.

3. Pumpkin Seeds

This year at Halloween when you and the kids carve your Jack-O-Lanterns don’t toss the seeds you scrape out of the pumpkin!  They are one of the best seeds for health and wellness.

Indigenous to the Americas (North, South and Central) ancient cultures called the flat green seeds pepitas. In Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and much of India and Asia pumpkin seeds is a dietary staple.

Pumpkin seeds are recommended by the World Health Organization and for good reason.  They are a plentiful source of diverse antioxidants like vitamin E, phenolic acids and lignans, compounds linked to helping women reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.  Pumpkin seeds also contain a healthy dose of zinc, a mineral essential for healthy red blood cells.

Once you remove the seeds from your pumpkin clean them off and let them dry overnight, then roast them for about 20 minutes at a very low temperature like 160 to 190 degrees for the most flavor.

Related:  Here’s a Quick Way to Get Soy-Free Protein

4. Flax Seeds

If you are looking for one of the best seeds for health, here’s the flax you need to know. 

Ancient Babylonians in the 8th century cultivated flaxseed for King Charlemagne who believed strongly in their health benefits.  Modern day research has shown consumption of flaxseeds is a good way to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, according to health authority WebMD.

Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids called ALA, which are abundant in flaxseeds, have been shown to inhibit tumor growth.  Like pumpkin seeds they contain lignans that have been linked to decreasing the risk of breast cancer and are potent against reducing inflammation in the body.  Eating flaxseeds regularly may also help you keep your cholesterol levels in check and blood sugar levels steady to ward off diabetes.

5. Sunflower Seeds

A sunflower is a tall herbaceous annual plant native to Middle America but has since spread across the globe as a commercial crop in countries like Russian, China, Argentina and the United States. 

Sunflower seeds are delicious and crunchy little powerhouses of healthy goodness. Packed with essential fatty acids, high quality amino acids, natural antioxidants like vitamin E and folic acid, just a handful a day will help keep the doctor away.  They help lower your LDL levels of cholesterol, and provide essential minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and copper to keep your bones and red blood cell production strong.

Next time you whip up a salad be sure to sprinkle one of the fantastic five best seeds for health on top and enjoy!

 

0 Comments

Get Sweating to Reduce Stress

by IVL Products

It’s well known that regular physical exercise reduces stress.  Numerous studies have shown that almost any kind of physical exercise, from tennis to hiking is an effective way of inducing calm, relaxing tense muscles and elevating your mood.  What is interesting is how breaking a sweat regularly has such a positive impact on your mood, body and life in general.

Physical exercise is an effective way to reduce stress.

Cortisol Endorphins and Stress

It seems counter-productive to exercise when physical exertion causes the body to release the stress hormone cortisol.  But cortisol is a very natural substance produced by the body to energize us in stressful situations, often called the flight or fight hormone.  Prolonged stress causes cortisol to leak into the body, which causes damage to the cells over time and actually atrophies the brain. Stressed out people are often forgetful, too.

A burst of energy like a brisk walk or a game of tennis has the wonderful effect of flushing your brain with healthy and helpful hormones along with cortisol that stimulates the mind and muscles so that you can think more clearly, feel stronger and feel more energized.

Exercise causes the release of neuro-hormones like norepinephrine that improve your cognitive function and stimulate the body’s physiological systems. Your cardiovascular system leaps into action and rushes fresh oxygen and glucose to your cells and flushes out waste. Your muscles are activated and cortisol levels are restored to normal when you are finished with your exertion, thus relieving stress levels.

Related:  Five Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

How Does Physical Exercise Reduce Stress?

Exercise gives you a physical and mental boost. The more you do it the better you will feel. Your waistline will shrink, your back will ache less and you’ll have more feel good hormones circulating through your body.  When you look better, you tend to feel better. 

Sleeping Beauty

Not sleeping well causes elevated stress levels. The more you can’t sleep, the more stressed out about it you get, and the less you can sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. Exercise interrupts that merry-go-round by helping you sleep better. It reduces stress and induces sleep because tired muscles need rest and recovery.

The Fitness Fairy Tale

Working physical exercise into your life to reduce stress is really quite easy.  You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or run ten miles. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise that elevates your respiration and heart rate will significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Always check with your doctor before you start any kind of program using physical exercise to reduce stress especially if you have physical limitations. There are plenty of different types of that can induce a healthy sweat. Walking, swimming, playing tennis, or a spin class, are all beneficial to your mind and body.  In addition to the physical gains, the social aspect of getting together with others helps you enjoy it more.  It promotes a sense of relaxation and a positive attitude, so you can live happily ever after.

0 Comments

Three Protein Packed Breakfasts

by Cindy Gray

Starting the day off with a protein rich breakfast has significant benefits. If you want your body and mind to perform their best, then the right nutrition is a must. Proper levels of protein are an essential way to boost your energy level, help your brain function and rebuild. In this article, we’ll look at three protein rich breakfasts that are fast, easy and, of course, packed with plenty of protein.

Example of a protein rich breakfast

Protein Rich Breakfast #1-High Protein Pancakes

High protein pancake mixes and recipes are fast and a great way to start off the day. Protein powder can be added to many recipes and that means an instant protein pump. Oats and eggs are staple ingredients in high protein pancakes as well as egg whites, pea protein powder, almond butter and other options. Adding chia seeds and Greek yogurt are two easy ways to boost the protein in your pancakes to a new level.

Related:  How Breakfast Can Naturally Boost Your Energy

If you are looking for variety, consider sweet potato pancakes, peanut butter or other nut or seed butters, such as walnut butter or pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed butters. In this way, you’ll get tons of protein as well as vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants. The idea that a nutrient packed, protein packed breakfast must be a tough one to make is simply not true.

Protein Rich Breakfast #2-Oats, Milk and Berries

Can it really be that simple? Oats, milk and berries for a nutrient and protein packed breakfast? Oats have a lot going for them as they are easy to digest, packed with nutrition and are a source of low calorie protein and fiber. One of the best reasons to opt for oats in the morning is that oats leaves you filling full longer. You digest them slowly, which makes them great for dieters. Also, the addition of milk helps to add yet more protein. Berries, both fresh and frozen, are a way to boost the antioxidant and nutrition levels of your breakfast. A small serving of strawberries, for example, can provide nearly 100% of your daily requirement of vitamin C.

Protein Rich Breakfast #3-Omelets

When it comes to protein packed breakfasts it is tough to top what omelets have to offer. Eggs are more than just a source of protein, as they contain vitamins and minerals necessary for brain function, such as the all-important choline. Eggs are a complete protein and are high in many B vitamins including B12, B1, B2 and more. The seemingly simple egg is also a rich source of vitamins A and D as well as a range of minerals including calcium, iron, phosphorus and immune boosting zinc. It is no overstatement to conclude that eggs are nutrient dense. When selecting eggs for your omelet, it is best to opt for eggs that come from free-range hens.

Another key benefit of omelets is that they provide variety. You can easily incorporate other nutritious foods ranging from kale to mushrooms, peppers, garlic and onions into one super-nutrient dense meal.

If you are looking for easy and fast, nutrient and protein packed breakfast options, then these three options have you covered. A protein packed breakfast will help you stay full until lunch time and help you think more clearly during those early morning hours.

0 Comments

Sweat Too Much? Four Ways to Stop Excessive Sweating

by IVL Products

Sweating is normal when temperatures are high or during exercise. At other times, suffering from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) can be embarrassing, especially if it soaks through your clothing or makes your hands clammy and damp. It may help to know that you are not alone; an estimated eight million Americans have this problem.

There are ways to help reduce excessive sweating

Here are four suggested ways to help stop excessive sweating and gain control, simply by making a few lifestyle changes.

1.     Use Antiperspirant Twice Daily

Check that your deodorant actually includes an antiperspirant as well. Deodorants simply mask any odors while antiperspirants actually stop the underarm glands from producing sweat. You may need to change to a combination antiperspirant deodorant to control sweating.

If you have been using the same brand of antiperspirant for years, a change to a different product may produce a more effective response. Choose one containing aluminum chloride for added effectiveness.  (However, many health-conscious folks choose to avoid antiperspirants because of the aluminum content.)

As well as using antiperspirant in the morning, reapply in the afternoon for added effectiveness. This is usually the warmest part of the day and your morning antiperspirant may already have rubbed off onto clothing.

Related:  Chlorophyll:  Nature's Remedy for Fatigue, Bad Breath and More

2.     Eliminate Spicy Food

Hot peppers used in spicy dishes contain capsaicin which activates nerves that are heat sensitive. They send signals to the spinal cord and the hypothalamus in the brain, activating sweat glands to produce sweat and cool the body. By avoiding those hot and spicy dishes, you can control excessive sweating.

3.     Avoid Caffeine

In a similar way to hot spices, caffeine boosts energy and alertness, but it also increases sweating when consumed in large amounts. Once the caffeine is metabolized, the sweating stops, but it could be easier to avoid that caffeine rush by drinking caffeine-free sodas, coffee and herbal or green tea—or replace with purified water.

4.     Try Detox Supplements to Reduce Sweating

Your body is full of toxins and metals which collect in the kidneys and liver and may contribute to excessive sweating. Try a 3-5 day detox diet eating only fresh raw vegetables and fruits. Drink lots of water and squeezed fruit juices and avoid alcohol and smoking. A detox diet will cleanse the whole digestive system, eliminating excess water and waste along with toxins.

Taking a dietary supplement can help to make the detoxification more effective. As well as feeling energized and revitalized, you should also sweat less afterward.

You may find a few other useful tips in this article on stopping excess sweating. Once you have excessive sweating under control, you can relax and concentrate on enjoying life without feeling self-conscious.   

0 Comments

Three Herbs that Reduce Stress

by Health News

Stress is a normal part of life, and the body automatically reacts to it with a "flight-or-fight" response.  The adrenal glands release stress hormones that boost strength and energy in reaction to physical stressors and enhance focus and mental clarity during times of emotional upset.  Occasional stress is normal and healthy, but chronic stress can take a toll on mental and physical health.  While some people rely on prescribed medications for treatment, others prefer more natural ways to reduce stress.  Three herbs show promise for fighting stress.

Herbs that reduce stress include holy basil, kava, and chamomile.

1.  Holy Basil

An herb and a member of the mint family, holy basil is found in most tropical regions around the world.  Research shows that compounds in holy basil improve the body's response to stress.  One animal study examined the effects of holy basil on stress created by continual exposure to noise.  Albino rats were pretreated with holy basil extract for seven days and then exposed to noise containing a frequency of 10 kHz and a sound level of 100 dB.  While exposure to noise typically generates changes in acetylcholine and acetylcholinesterase activity in several areas of the brain, the treatment with holy basil prevented these changes.

2.  Kava

Kava is a root that comes from the islands of the South Pacific. Traditional use involves crushing the root and making it into a tea.  The drink offers relaxing or sedating effects but is non-addictive.  Kava is also available as a dietary supplement in powder, capsule, or tincture form.  When it comes to herbs that reduce stress and anxiety, kava has shown positive results in many studies. 

In 2013, an Australian study assessed the effects of kava in 75 people with generalized anxiety disorder.  Subjects were given kava or placebo each day for six weeks.  Levels of anxiety were measured using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA).  For people with mild to moderate anxiety, kava significantly reduced symptoms as compared to the placebo group.  Results were even more significant in the group with moderate to severe anxiety.

Kava should not be combined with alcohol or psychotropic medicines.  It has been shown that long-term use of kava can harm the liver, so people should use it for three months or less, and consult with a qualified herbalist or your health care provider for guidance.

Related:  Natural Remedies for Mild Depression

3.  Chamomile

Originating in Europe, chamomile is a plant that belongs to the daisy family.  While its dried flowers are used for a variety of physical ailments, chamomile also offers relief from anxiety according to several studies. 

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania examined 35 people diagnosed with anxiety and depression or with a history of anxiety and depression, along with a control group of 22 people without either disorder.  For eight weeks, subjects received daily doses of chamomile extract or placebo.  Dosages were increased for people who showed less benefit on anxiety scores by one extra tablet daily each week, capping at week five. 

Based on the results of several rating scales, 57 percent of the people in the chamomile group experienced significant reductions in anxiety.  To date, chamomile has been shown to have no adverse side effects, which makes it one of the best and safest ways to reduce stress.

Chronic stress takes a toll on the body both physically and mentally.  Herbs that reduce stress help take the edge off when people are exposed to physical, mental, or emotional stimuli on a regular basis.  Before starting a supplementary regimen with any herb, people should always consult with their health care provider. 

0 Comments

How to Reduce Food Cravings with Three Supplements

by Health News

Weight watchers and women going through menopause often suffer extreme food cravings that are hard to resist. Often those cravings are for sugary treats and comfort foods which, if indulged, can quickly lead to excess weight. If you want to know how to reduce food cravings, these three supplements could be your best weapons, and may help you to stay on track diet-wise. 

Three common health supplements can provide the answer to how to reduce food cravings

Decrease Hunger Pangs with 5-HTP

Some food cravings can be caused by a lack of serotonin which causes an increase in appetite. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that produces a "feel-good" factor as well as feelings of fullness after eating. Serotonin deficiency can cause cravings for sugar and carbohydrates as the body tries to increase serotonin levels in the brain.

The best natural supplement to boost serotonin levels is called 5-HTP (or hydroxytryptophan), a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan and a precursor to serotonin production. Taking a supplement of 5-HTP, according to the NBI, has been found in clinical trials to naturally boost serotonin production which is a powerful agent for those wondering how to reduce food cravings.

Taking 50-100 mg of 5-HTP with fruit once or twice a day can help reduce cravings for food, and as a bonus it can help to support a calm mood and healthy sleep patterns.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation:  Is It Dangerous To Your Health?

Control Blood Sugar Cravings with Chromium

Chromium is a mineral that helps control glucose levels. Sometimes cravings are due to low blood sugar levels or a deficiency of this mineral. Your body naturally urges you to eat sugar by creating strong food cravings, particularly for carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine.

Chromium supplements can provide support for those who are researching how to reduce food cravings safely and naturally. By balancing blood sugar levels, chromium can greatly reduce cravings. This was discovered in a 2005 study published by The Journal of Psychiatric Practice which showed chromium supplements were effective at reducing carbohydrate cravings for those with depression.  Taking 400 mcg of chromium a day as a supplement is a safe and easy way to help control those food cravings.

Suppress the Appetite Naturally with L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine provides a double-whammy when it comes to the question of how to reduce food cravings. First, this supplement suppresses the appetite, making it easier to control cravings and help with weight loss. Secondly, this amino acid also increases the metabolic rate of the body, burning more calories for energy and helping to maintain a normal weight.

A study on 80 obese subjects published in 2006 in The International Journal of Obesity backs up these claims, showing that L-tyrosine helped increase thermogenesis and aided weight loss. Taking 500-1000 mg once or twice a day may have a powerful effect on appetite and cravings.

By using these supplements to regulate blood sugar levels, reduce hunger pangs, and suppress the appetite, you really can gain control over cravings and enjoy a healthy happy life.

0 Comments

Ten Quick Tips about Superfoods

by Health News

True, superfoods have certain traits that make them, well, super, like vital nutrients, no artificial anything, and are often indigestion remedies. 

1. Marketing Misinformation

According to the health website Medicine Net, “there is no accepted medical definition of a superfood.” It’s really just marketing term that is generally thought to mean that any food labeled super has significant health benefits like reducing one’s risk of certain diseases or improving one’s physical or emotional health.

The Food & Drug Administration does not recognize the term superfood, and across most of Europe the use of the term for food labeling is not allowed without hard scientific evidence to back up the claim. The Daily Beast devoted an article to the term saying that “no food should be labeled as a superfood in the first place.”

So are there really any superfoods? The answer is yes…and no.

2.  Definition of a Superfood

In order for a food to be eligible for superfood status, there are a few things it must be, or at least have:

  • Nutrient dense with several vitamins, minerals and compounds with known health benefits
  • Have absolutely nothing artificial in it. No extra sugar, spray on vitamins, no preservatives of any kind. 
  • The calories count, fat content and carbohydrate amounts are irrelevant because of the foods are so full of essential vitamins, minerals and compounds that the body needs to function properly

3. Nutrient Dense

A true superfood will have more than one healthy compound. Just having a bit of vitamin C is not enough to give a food super status.  Nutrient dense means it has at least three essential vitamins and or minerals along with fiber, or protein or a high quality carbohydrate.

4. Nothing Artificial

More than one or two ingredients on the packaging means step away from the fake food.  True superfoods do not have added anything.  If it is in a box or container, it should need to be refrigerated and have an expiration date within a few days like pomegranate seeds, or a superfood salad with several fruits and or vegetables already prepared in the deli food aisle of your local grocery store.

5. Carbs Calories Fat? Who Cares?

You should be able to eat a serving or two of any true superfood without having to take a photo of it for the calorie counter app on your phone. If your meal consists of true superfoods, you can eat hearty servings of it and will feel full and stay that way for longer than anything offered in a vending machine.

Related:  Are Sprouts Superfoods?

6. Gut Friendly

A true superfood is not going to cause you a lot of pain or discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract (GI). In fact, most superfoods are great healthy indigestion remedies when enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.  They usually offer some kind of benefit to your gut by helping you absorb nutrients, keep your colon cleansed naturally and don’t cause cramping or excessive gas (some gas is normal, but a lot is not) and bloating.

7. Disease Fighting Properties

Superfoods originally got the term because of the compounds, vitamins and minerals they contained had some scientific research to back up their effectiveness against certain diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, arthritis and many forms of cancer.  Antioxidants, phytochemicals, flavonoids, and carotenoids are common in many superfoods and they are all known to help stave off disease.

8.  Not Every Healthy Food Is a Superfood

Onions, apples and carrots are not called superfoods, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating them regularly. Many vegetables and fruits may have only one or two health boosting compounds but are good for you.  You shouldn’t avoid a certain fruit or vegetable, especially if you enjoy eating it, just because it’s not labeled as super.

9. Foods That Truly Earn the Title

So what are some true superfoods?  There are three foods that meet all the criteria for being a true superfood and they are not grown on some exotic island in the South Pacific, but readily available at your local grocery store or farmer’s market.

Blueberries – Chock full of anthocyanins, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals you can’t go wrong by tossing a few into your morning oatmeal, lunch salad or stirring them into some Greek yogurt for a snack. With only 80 calories in one cup, go ahead and have seconds. The natural sugar content will keep your energy up, the fiber will fill you up and the phytonutrients and antioxidants will help keep your cells healthy.

Spinach – Popeye was a smart guy. Spinach is truly a superfood loaded with protein, iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin K with lots of hydrating water and filling fiber. It’s been shown in many research studies to have a positive impact on blood pressure, asthma symptoms, bone health and the GI tract.

Broccoli- Mom was right when she told you to eat your broccoli. Those little green spears of goodness have everything you want and nothing you don’t. They are a great source of vitamin C, K and A, fiber, and many other compounds that ward off cancer, help with allergies, acts as an indigestion remedy to keep your GI tract humming along normally and the list goes on and on. Eat some already!

10. The Truth about Superfoods

Always keep in mind that no official regulating body legally recognizes the term, superfood.  It’s a description to denote a food with many health benefits but low in calories, saturated fats and sugar carbohydrates. The honest truth is no one food is a miracle cure-all. But through superfoods, you can gain indigestion remedies and more. 

0 Comments

Why You Should Consider Yellow Superfoods

by Cindy Gray

When it comes to healthy aging, your favorite color should definitely be yellow! Many superfoods, fruits and healthy natural foods are yellow. Here are some yellow foods to consider including in your diet and some golden reasons why!

Yellow foods and fruits such as pineapples can help healthy aging

Bananas for Lowering Inflammation

Weightwatchers may have banished bananas from their diet, due to their slightly starchy texture containing slightly higher calories than an apple, pear or other fruits. However, bananas are a wonderful source of potassium, vitamin B6 and fiber and they help lower inflammation. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this low glycemic food has a score of minus 38 when it comes to measuring its inflammatory effect, and actually lowers existing inflammation in the body which may cause arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune disease. Start the day with a banana smoothie or slices of banana on cereal and get the benefits of healthy aging as soon as possible.

Eggs for Omega-3

Eggs, or egg yolks to be specific, can be an effective weapon against thyroid conditions, autoimmune disease and inflammation. Golden egg yolks are packed with essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, calcium, iron and many essential minerals. Egg yolks have a bad reputation when it comes to cholesterol content, but the body actually needs cholesterol in small amounts to maintain healthy cells, adrenals and sex hormones. Balance is the key when it comes to egg yolks; too little can be as damaging to healthy aging as too much.

RelatedHow Breakfast Can Naturally Boost Your Energy

Pineapple for Bromelain

The key enzyme in a juicy sweet pineapple is bromelain, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent for reducing swelling in sore throats, arthritis and gout. Bromelain also helps the body digest protein and research has now shown it to be effective at cancer prevention. A recent study by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research showed that bromelain had clear anti-inflammatory, anti-invasive and anti-metastic properties, reducing tumor size and quantity in mice. As a powerful weapon against cancer, bromelain could be deemed the ultimate aid to healthy aging.

Marigolds for Lutein

Marigolds are an edible plant, but they are more commonly grown for lutein extract and as a natural food colorant. Lutein is an important anti-oxidant found in leafy greens as well as egg yolks, yellow peppers and marigolds. The carotenoid lutein is particularly important for healthy eyes as it is found in the central macula of the retina. Studies show that a lutein deficiency can increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration by 57%.   

Now you know what health benefits are found in these yellow foods, add them to your diet as part of your healthy aging plan for a longer, healthier life. 

0 Comments

Choosing Foods that Reduce Stress Improves Your Health

by IVL Products

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

Stress Mess

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

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

Related:  Does Stress Impair Memory?

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

Fruits and Vegetables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Foods that Reduce Stress

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

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

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

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

Food for Combat

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

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

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

0 Comments

Take Lack of Sex Drive to 'Super Libido' with Tongkat Ali

by Cindy Gray

Eventually, all men must face getting older, which comes with a host of side effects including diminished libido.   When it comes to reduced sexual desire, aging men look to any remedy that promises to help.  While 20 percent of American men over the age of 40 have tried Viagra for enhancing erectile function, this drug has virtually no effect on sexual desire.  What's more, roughly 50 percent of men experience side effects from Viagra like flushing, headache, nasal congestion, upset stomach, or visual problems.  Fortunately, men who suffer a lack of sex drive have a natural option in the form of tongkat ali, an herb from Southeast Asia. 

In addition to many other health benefits, tongkat ali helps replenish a lack of sex drive.

Tongkat ali is a shrub-like tree found in Borneo, Burma, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sumatra, and Thailand.  Dubbed "Asian Viagra" by the New Sunday Times, this herb has been used to treat men with a lack of sex drive, reduced sexual performance, and low energy levels. 

According to research, tongkat ali contains potent phytochemicals that increase muscle growth, boost mental alertness, support healthy sex organs, promote semen quality, increase muscle growth, boost mental alertness, and promote healthy testosterone levels in men.  In fact, consumption of tongkat ali has been shown to boost free testosterone and nearly double total testosterone in men undergoing clinical trials. 

A Malaysian study in 2012 examined 76 men.  At the beginning of the study, only 35 percent of the men showed normal testosterone levels.  Following 30 days of supplementation with tongkat ali, over 90 percent of the participants showed normal levels of testosterone.  Many animal studies have also found success with tongkat ali in boosting sexual arousal and frequency of sexual behavior. 

Related:  Five Common Myths about Prostate Health

Tongkat Ali and Male Fertility

While fertility may not be important to some men as they get older, other men might appreciate the fruitful benefits offered by tongkat ali.  Because it improves sperm quality, the herb also enhances male fertility.  One study of 75 men showed improvements in sperm quality that lasted for months following the study, and nearly 15 percent of participants reported resulting pregnancies in female partners.

Other Uses for Tongkat Ali

Natural herbs often provide a host of health benefits, and tongkat ali is no different.  In addition to its use for lack of sex drive and diminished sexual performance, tongkat ali is said to benefit:

  • aches, pains, and fever
  • bleeding (as a coagulant)
  • dysentery
  • edema
  • glandular swelling
  • hypertension
  • sores and ulcers

Precautions for Supplementing with Tongkat Ali

While generally considered safe when consumed in appropriate amounts, tongkat ali sometimes causes side effects in doses higher than 1000 mgs.  These include insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and restlessness.  People should look for products that are certified for authenticity and free of mercury.   Before engaging in any supplementary program, it is always wise to consult with a health care professional. 

0 Comments

Natural Remedies for Depression Include Three Healthy Foods

by IVL Products

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

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

Garbanzo Beans

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

Turkey

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

RelatedWays to Lower Risk of Depression

Yogurt

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

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

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

0 Comments

Top Ways to Use Chia Seeds

by IVL Products

We've had buckwheat, kamut, faro and quinoa, and now it seems we can add the benefits of chia seeds to our ever-growing list of wholegrain foods.  Although ‘chia’ is technically a seed, health advisors are going crazy about the health benefits, diversity and ways to use chia seeds.

What are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica which grows mainly in South America. The word "chia" comes from the Mayan word meaning "strength."  Ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and the Mayans used the seeds as a source of energy and power.

Chia seeds are a rich source of nutrients and healthy fats. Just one ounce (28 grams) of these seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of Omega-3s. In addition, it delivers 18% of your recommended daily amount (RDA) of calcium, 30% of manganese RDA, 30% of your magnesium RDA and 27% of phosphorus RDA; along with zinc, potassium and B-vitamins—all in only 137 calories.

Further benefits of chia seeds include their ability to help fight inflammation.  Chia seeds are gluten-free, and they are high in antioxidants which fight free radical damage.

If you are going to be stranded on a desert island, a supply of chia seeds could be your salvation!

Related:  Flax Seed--Unleashing the Health Bounty of a Wonder Seed

The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

We've already covered some of the health benefits of chia seeds, but they have many more uses. Those on a weight-loss program will find chia seeds are high in quality protein which reduces the appetite and temptation to snack. They are high in fiber which slows down digestion and leaves you feeling fuller for longer which can all help you lose weight.

As the chia seeds pass through the digestive tract, they feed the good bacteria, yet another boost to health. Brimming with omega-3s, another benefit of chia seeds is that it has more omega-3, gram for gram, than salmon! With all these positives, it’s no wonder that chia seeds are promoted by healthy specialists for being heart healthy, lowering triglycerides and the risk of diabetes.

Ways to Use Chia Seeds in Your Diet

Ways to use chia seeds are almost as numerous as the benefits of chia seeds.  Grind one tablespoon in a food processor and add 3 tablespoons water to replace one egg in baking recipes. Blend the seeds with coconut milk, natural sweetener and cocoa powder then leave in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to make a delicious thick pudding.

Use chia seeds to thicken soups and gravies. Just sprinkle on top, or use ground chia seeds in place of breadcrumbs. Finally, eat in salads like beansprouts or just chew on them whole as a snack.

With so many excellent ways to use chia seeds, you'll wonder how you ever managed without them. 

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

0 Comments

The Multivitamin-Mood Connection

by Health News

We’ve all heard the saying "you are what you eat", but a recent study shows that diet does more than just affect our long-term body weight and energy levels - what we eat also controls our moods. Scientists now believe diet can even provide natural remedies for depression.

Study into Vitamins as Natural Remedies for Depression

In order to control and measure the association between depression and nutrient deficiency, scientists ran a study on a group of 50 healthy male volunteers aged between 50 and 69. They were given either a placebo or a multivitamin supplement for eight weeks.

The supplement contained a higher-than-recommended daily dose of 26 vitamins and minerals and extracts from 21 herbs, fruit and vegetables. At the end of the trial, the participants were required to complete a questionnaire on mood and stress levels before and after the trial to measure the possible effects of multivitamins as natural remedies of depression.

Those who took the supplement showed a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and stress compared to those on the placebo. They also noted an improved level of alertness. The study concluded that taking a daily supplement of multivitamins and minerals can improve mood and alertness. Supplement-takers also reported less negative mood symptoms and an improved sense of well-being, showing that a healthy diet high in vitamins and minerals can provide natural remedies for depression and poor mood.

RelatedIndigestion and Mood:  The Gut-Brain Connection

How Food Affects Mood

An example of how food affects our mood can be seen when we eat a heavy lunch and feel sluggish and dozy afterwards. That's due to higher blood sugar levels suppressing orexin, a chemical in the brain that's responsible for levels of alertness.

Similarly, when you are hungry and blood sugar levels are low, your brain triggers feelings of impatience and irritability – a throwback to when man was a hunter and needed to take action to address that hunger!

Understanding that food can affect our mood and feelings of happiness or depression can help us address the problems and find answers. Everything we eat has an effect on our hormones and neurotransmitters, which control our mood and energy levels.

Those suffering from feelings of depression are often low in dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Proteins can help boost the levels of these neurotransmitters and avoiding excess sugar can also help provide natural remedies of depression. As the study shows, the value of taking multivitamins and supplements in conjunction with a healthy diet can also be a powerful weapon, working together as natural remedies against depression

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

0 Comments

Three Vitamins for Thinning Hair

by Health News

There's nothing like a few extra strands in the hair brush or on the shower floor to raise anxiety levels, especially for women.  While once considered a male problem, roughly 80 percent of women experience some hair loss in their lifetime.  On average, people lose about 100 hairs each day, but more than that could be cause for concern.  While many people turn to topical products, an easy hair-thinning treatment might be hiding in the bathroom cabinet or refrigerator.  Take a look at three effective vitamins for thinning hair. 

Many men and women experience hair loss, but a hair-thinning treatment might be hiding in the medicine cabinet or refrigerator.

  1. Niacin

Also known as vitamin B3, niacin is an essential water-soluble vitamin that offers many healthy properties including the transformation of carbohydrates into energy.  It also helps boost circulation, which benefits the scalp by delivering more oxygen to hair follicles.  People can take niacin in supplement form or find it in foods like eggs, tuna, beef, mushrooms, and nuts.

  1. Biotin

Part of the B-complex vitamins, biotin is also known as vitamin B7.  It plays a role in the production of fatty acids, glucose, and certain amino acids like valine and isoleucine.  A study at Harvard University found that biotin is essential for preserving the strength, texture, and appearance of hair.  Although there are no studies to support biotin as a hair-thinning treatment, hair loss is one of the symptoms of biotin deficiency.  While deficiency is rare, certain populations are more susceptible like athletes, the elderly, and alcoholics.  Good food sources of biotin include Swiss chard, eggs, carrots, nuts, and milk.

Related:  What Is The Best Source of Biotin-Rich Foods?

  1. PABA

Also one of the B-complex vitamins, Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA) is a non-protein amino acid and non-essential, meaning it is manufactured by the body.  Some studies show that when combined with other nutrients like folate, biotin, and pantothenic acid, PABA may restore nature color to pre-maturely graying hair, and anecdotal evidence suggests it may be one of the more important vitamins for thinning hair.  People obtain PABA by taking a B-complex supplement or through foods like whole grains, liver, eggs, and brewer's yeast.

Hair loss is never fun for men or women, but the solution might be as simple as better nutrition.  Getting adequate amounts of niacin, biotin, and PABA may help pave the road to stronger, healthier hair.  Easy delivery methods include adding specific foods to the diet or convenient, daily supplements.

0 Comments

Five Herbs for Stress and Mood Swings

by Cindy Gray

Five Herbs for Stress and Mood SwingsTaking a pill to help you chill might sound appealing, but many prescription drugs have nasty side effects and are very expensive. Using herbs for stress relief is a lot less, well…stressful. 

For centuries, herbs have been the cornerstone of good health.  Many cultures have successfully used herbs as treatment for all types of medical issues.  Unlike western society that relies on powerful mind-altering drugs to help with severe mood swings and depression, other cultures have often looked to the natural world for stress relief.

The Fabulous Five Herbs for Stress Relief

1. Ashwagandha

One of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used since ancient times to treat a wide variety of conditions.  It is most well-known for its restorative benefits.  The name means “the smell of a horse” indicating it promotes the strength and vigor of a stallion.

Ashwagandha contains many potent medicinal compounds in the leaves and roots like:

  • Steroidal lactones – improve the power supply of nerve cells
  • Alkaloids – act quickly on the nervous system and can have a safe natural sedative effect
  • Choline - from the B vitamin family it has been shown to lower cholesterol and stave off cognitive decline by boosting brain function
  • Fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6 are critical to proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system
  • Amino acids – the building blocks of protein they play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of a healthy nervous system, immunity and brain function
  • Healthy sugars – for energy

2. Rhodiola rosea

This unique herbal remedy grows at high altitude in the sandy soil of artic areas of Asia.  It has long been used as a treatment for fatigue and western medicine is prompting scientists to examine its health benefits more closely.

Rhodiola rosea has been showing great promise by decreasing the harmful effects of chronic, long-term stress on the body.  It helps bring balance back to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems of the body.

In the modern world, we are often under constant pressure and stressed throughout the day.   This leads to feeling edgy, tired and depressed. Rhodiola rosea seems to be able to help the body re-establish balance by influencing the brain chemicals serotonin (the “happy” hormone) norepinephrine (the adrenaline hormone) and feel good opioids called beta-endorphins.

In a Columbia University publication, rhodiola’s remarkable effect on the nervous system was described as “emotional calming.”  Dr. Richard Brown stated that rhodiola “enhanced the healing properties of one’s own nervous system”

The health benefits of rhodiola rosea don’t stop there. Numerous studies have found it to:

  • Improve cognitive and memory function
  • Increase mental and physical resistance to stress due to fatigue
  • Reduce levels of C-reactive protein, and inflammatory marker that results from muscle damage due to physical exertion
  • Enhance sleep
  • Lessen depression symptoms
  • Keep blood sugar stable

3. Elueuthero (Wucha)

Elueuthero belongs to an amazing class of plants known as adaptogens. They are known for helping the body to adapt to environmental changes and reduce the effects of stress on the body.   Other health benefits include:

  • Stronger memory and clearer thinking under stress
  • Sustained energy without the side effects of stimulants like caffeine that cause the jitters
  • Increased tolerance to heat, noise, strenuous exercise
  • Increased sexual vigor
  • Sleep aid

Elueuthero’s effectiveness at reducing stress is believed to come from the compounds it contains called eleuetherosides. These enhance the immune system by helping T-cells engulf harmful microorganisms, damaged cells and foreign particles in the body. It also promotes the formation of protective B lymphocytes that are critical to a strong immune system.

Related:  Do Probiotics Benefit Your Overall Mood?

4. Holy basil

Holy basil is known to be a powerful antioxidant with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well. Modern science has been taking a closer look at this remarkable herb due to its great potential in relieving stress and promoting relaxation.

Like Eleuethero, holy basil functions as an adaptogen to enhance the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress.  It seems to be able to influence the secretion of stress hormones, corticosterone in particular.  A rush of cortisol is good when an actual predator confronts you.  However, work, traffic, and many other things keep us saturated with the stress hormone, and it wreaks havoc on the body.

Holy basil’s concentration of eugenol and caryophyllene release a pleasing and soothing aroma that has been shown to elevate mood.  Eugenol also has shown to enhance mental clarity, something that can suffer during periods of prolonged stress.

5. Suma root

Suma root has been used for hundreds of years in South America to increase physical strength, boost energy levels, stamina and the immune system. It contains two anabolic agents, allantoin and ecdysterone, which have been linked to muscle growth and enhanced endurance.

It also is an herb for stress release known as an adaptogen.  Packed with germanium, a potent immune booster and saponins, which have shown to improve immune function and lower cholesterol, suma root also has many important vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

A compound called beta-ecdysterone is also found in the herb and is showing great potential to treat sexual dysfunctions like impotency.  This is most likely due to its ability to provide more oxygen to cells. This has the added benefit of improving circulation to all areas of the body including the brain, which improves memory and sharpens mental clarity.

Suma root is an effective herb to combat stress due to its ability to affect the adrenal glands, which produce adrenaline and corticosteroid hormones, the ones that are responsible for our “flight or fight” response.  Suma root is effective at balancing these hormones in the body, which is important because constant long-term exposure to them causes many health problems.

Using herbs for stress relief has proven effective for thousands of years in many cultures.  Finding natural ways to reduce stress are preferable to taking powerful prescription drugs with harmful side effects.  Taking these five herbs to reduced stress and balance out mood swings is a safe natural way to combat the stressors of daily life without dangerous side effects.

0 Comments

How to Exercise Away the Effects of Depression

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Depression is a debilitating mental disorder that affects approximately 14.8 million Americans.  Worse, studies show it is on the rise and has become a worldwide epidemic according to the World Health Organization.  It’s a relief to know that exercise is a safe and effective natural remedy for depression that most anyone can put into his or her daily routine.

New research has concluded that those who regularly exercise can combat depression.

Some people only suffer depression at one point in their life like post-partum depression, while others are afflicted with it chronically over a lifetime.  The medical industry has responded with a flood of powerful brain altering drugs to combat the effects of depression. Yet in many cases, exercise is proving to be just as effective, with positive side effects!

The Research: Exercise and Depression

A study published by the Archives of Medicine found exercise to nearly as effective as medication in treating patients with major depression.  

Another study conducted on students at the University of Virginia observed a significant reduction in depression symptoms for those students diagnosed with the disorder who jogged regularly.  Those who did not engage in any form of regular exercise showed no changes in their symptoms in contrast.

Related:  Ways to Lower Risk of Depression

To bolster these findings, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a report where researchers found that a mere one point increase in regular exercise appeared to lower study participants’ risk of being depressed by 10%. More importantly it cut their risk of becoming chronically depressed by 17%!

Effects of Exercise on Depression

The effects of exercise on depression are quite profound.  It can effect change in brain chemicals, reduce immune system chemicals that worsen depression and increases body temperature, which seems to have a calming effect.

Your Brain

When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in your brain while reducing your perception of pain.  While the effects are temporary, regularly feeling that “runner’s high” has a very positive, energizing affect, something those who suffer from depression need.

Your Immune System

There is a growing body of evidence that depression has as much or more to do with your immune system as it does your brain.  While most medications are prescribed to help balance chemicals in the brain, research out of the University of California has suggested that inflammation, an immune response, may be a contributing cause of depression.

Regular moderate exercise is known to strengthen the immune system.  It will also help keep body fat in check, and improve circulation, which benefits the brain and the body and could lead to fewer depression symptoms.

Exercise and Depression: Your Attitude Matters

The possibility of finding effective natural remedies for depression is good news for those who have resigned themselves to taking powerful anti-depressants and dealing with the side effects. With the many positive aspects of exercising to help with depression, it a good idea to make sure you get plenty of it on regular basis if you have or are at risk of developing symptoms of depression.

Besides the feel good brain chemicals and boost to your immune system, exercise will help you keep weight gain in check, make you stronger and give you more energy.

0 Comments

The Estrogen, Serotonin, and Melatonin Connection: Balance is Essential

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Menopause management is a balancing act that can be very confusing for women who are suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms. Understanding the causes for menopausal symptoms can be difficult because there are physical, psychological and emotional components associated with the change of life. Recent studies have found a link between estrogen, serotonin and melatonin that might shed some light on the causes for certain symptoms. 

For a smoother transition into menopause, learn about how balanced estrogen levels lead to healthier serotonin and melatonin levels.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries nerve impulses from your brain to your body. It is often called the “happy hormone” because of its positive effects on mood. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and sleep disorders. Because estrogen is needed to produce serotonin, the declining levels of estrogen associated with menopause result in lower serotonin levels.

To further complicate matters, low serotonin levels lead to low melatonin levels. Serotonin is synthesized in the body to make melatonin, the hormone that is essential to restful sleep. Melatonin controls the body’s circadian rhythms to regulate sleep cycles.

RelatedNine Ways to Naturally Boost Energy

People with low melatonin levels are prone to sleep disorders that leave them in a perpetual state of fatigue. Chronic insomnia has adverse effects on all aspects of health and it can be especially troublesome for menopausal women.

Simply put, the estrogen, serotonin and melatonin imbalances can (and often do) create the perfect storm for menopausal symptoms mood swings and sleep disorders. The symptoms can become so troublesome that women seek help from their doctors who often prescribe hormone replace therapy (HRT) and sleeping pills. Both HRT and prescription sleep aids have unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. 

Fortunately both serotonin and melatonin levels can be boosted through dietary changes and nutritional supplements. Studies show that tryptophan supplements help to increase serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain. Food sources of tryptophan include soy, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peas, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Serotonin and melatonin supplements area available online and in natural heath stores. They come in pill, capsule or powdered forms. These supplements are a safe, natural alternative to prescription medications. Add them to your daily regimen to boost your mood, help you sleep and keep you healthy.