0 Comments

19 Tips to Avoid Air Travel Illness & Germs While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Getting ill while traveling is no fun, yet it happens all the time.  Following these travel sickness tips could help prevent illness so you can enjoy the journey.

Tips for Preventing Travel Illness.

Airplane Germs

Airports and airplanes are petri dishes of germs from millions of travelers.  Travel in the winter means more exposure to cold and flu viruses, bacteria abounds on handrails, elevator buttons and you will undoubtedly find yourself shoeless walking where many other feet have tread at the security area.  

Give your immune system a boost before travel by regularly taking probiotics for optimal gut health and a stronger immune system. It is also helpful to increase your intake of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that has shown to help lessen susceptibility to bacteria and viruses.  Also, consider vitamin D-3 supplements and zinc, known immunity boosters that can help fortified your immune system before you travel.

Wash your hands, a lot! Frequently washing your hands, especially before you eat or touch your face, is very important.  Many germs and types of bacteria can live on handrails, elevator buttons, doorknobs and handles for hours.  Use soap, wash for at least as long as it takes you to hum the happy birthday song under your breath; and when possible use a paper towel to open the bathroom door to exit.

If washing your hands is not an option, have a few antibacterial wipes in your carry-on to keep your hands clean.

Related:  Healthy Travel Begins with Immune-Boosting Supplements

Jet Lag Drag

Traveling across several time zones can leave you exhausted and cut into the enjoyment of your trip as you struggle to adjust.  You can avoid the worst of jet lag by following a few simple guidelines.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends you stay on your home sleep schedule for trips lasting two or less days, regardless of the difference in time zones. This will minimize disrupting your internal sleep, bathroom, and eating schedule.  

For longer trips, however, you should start slowly adjusting your schedule to the time zone you will be arriving at to start your trip or vacation. At least four days before your trip begins, shift your sleeping and eating times to match the time at your destination. Though it might be difficult, stay on the new time zone schedule as much as possible and try to go to bed when it gets dark there, not back at home.

Other things that can help are:

  • Opt for an overnight flight
  • Cut back on caffeinated foods and beverages
  • Drink plenty of water and other non-sugary fluids
  • Avoid alcohol for a few days and on the plane, it is a sleep disruptor
  • Consider taking melatonin tablets to help you fall asleep once you reach your destination (1-2 mg daily)

Light can be your friend against a jet lag foe. Exposure to bright natural light can help you stay awake and regulate natural secretions of melatonin in the brain.  Exposure to light inhibits the brain from secreting melatonin, and when it becomes dark, it will trigger its release to help you fall asleep.  Seek out bright light in the evening hours when traveling west and in the morning when you are east bound. Get as much sunshine as you can when you arrive at your destination to help you stay awake and adjust to a new sleep time.

Don’t DVT

DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a vein deep within a muscle, usually your calf or thigh.  Prolonged sitting causes DVTs, like on a flight across the ocean, or several days on a train.  If the clot breaks off it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

Because of the danger in sitting too long, make sure you get up and move around whenever possible. Walk briskly to your gate, take the stairs, and on the plane or train be sure to get up frequently to walk to the bathroom and stretch.

Wearing compression garments can help.  There are socks and even full length compression suits that can be worn underneath your clothing. The gentle pressure helps keep blood flowing and reduces the chance of developing a blood clot.

Speaking of clothing, wear comfortable loose fitting clothing.  Avoid pants and belts that are constricting.  

Other things you can do to lessen your risk of a DVT is:

  • Avoid caffeine
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Taking circulation supplements like natto (made from fermented soybeans) and fish oil can help

Following these few travel tips can make for a much more pleasant journey.

0 Comments

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.

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Stress and Allergies – The Surprising Stress Allergy Link

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that your nervous system and your immune system are closely linked? This means that causes of stress can increase allergy symptoms, and these in turn create more stress. That doesn’t mean that chronic stress actually causes allergies, but for those with existing sensitivity it can trigger the symptoms or make them worse, according to a study in The Journal of Investigative Allergology and Clinical Immunology.

Scientific trials on allergy sufferers showed a definite relationship between stress and allergies, which were measured using allergy skin tests. Participants were placed in a stressful position, such as having to calculate a math problem in their head in front of a panel of judges. The skin tests showed that the effects of stress raised allergy levels immediately after the stressful situation, and even more severely the day after.

Understanding Allergies

Allergies are increasingly common in children and evidence suggests that allergies may be caused by environmental factors such as stress. Allergies are a hypersensitivity to harmless environmental or food substances such as pollen, dust mites and mold. The body detects the presence of these “dangers” and produces a hormone response. This causes side effects such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, skin reactions and asthma which themselves put the body under stress.

Related:  Five Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

Effects of Stress on Allergies

Stress does not cause an allergy, but it can play a role in worsening the allergy symptoms. Doctors specializing in psychoneuroimmunology understand that when the body is under stress, it feels threatened and that triggers the chemicals and hormones in the brain that are responsible for that “fight or flight” response. The heart rate will increase and blood pressure will be raised as the effects of stress take their toll. This is known to trigger asthma, eczema or skin rashes (hives).

Suffering itchy skin and labored breathing understandably causes stress, overwhelming the immune system and setting up a viscous circle of stress = allergies = more stress.

Like many enigmas, it’s a matter of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. In this case, should you treat the causes of stress to reduce the allergies, or manage the allergies to lower stress?

Treating Allergies by Lowering the Causes of Stress

Advice from Dr. James Sublett of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises allergy sufferers to work with a board-certified allergist to help avoid allergy triggers and lower the effects of stress caused by the symptoms.

Other specialists suggest that allergy sufferers should alleviate stress levels using breathing exercises, meditation and adopting a healthy lifestyle. They should also quit smoking and avoid caffeine, which can contribute to stress. By reducing the causes of stress, allergy flares will be less severe and less frequent. It seems that managing stress lowers allergies and controlling allergies reduces stress, so it’s a win-win situation.

0 Comments

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.

 

 

 

0 Comments

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.

0 Comments

Antioxidants: Your Immune System’s Secret Weapon

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Our immune system is a complex army of warriors with different “weapons” patrolling the body to hunt down and kill invading bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, as we age, it does too, and becomes weaker along with muscles, eyes, and everything else. Fortunately, there are immune boosters in your refrigerator called antioxidants that can keep your disease fighting warriors stronger for longer.

Fruits and vegetables are powerful immune boosters.

Antioxidants to the Rescue

What exactly is an antioxidant? Our bodies naturally produce free radicals as a result of exposure to environmental toxins like too much sunlight, cigarette smoke, radiation and even some prescription drugs.  You also produce free radicals along with inflammation in the body when you exercise, become overly stressed, and as you age. Because free radical molecules are missing an electron, they seek out and capture electrons from other molecules turning them into free radicals, a process known as oxidation. 

 

Antioxidants generously lend molecules missing an electron one of theirs without becoming free radicals themselves, thus halting the destructive chain reaction in the body. Left unchecked free radicals disrupt DNA and cause your cells to become weaker and weaker until they die.  They are tiny superhero defenders of youth and vitality.

Antioxidants for What Ails You

Our immune system cells are as susceptible to free radical damage as any other kind of cell, and we need a steady supply to stay healthy. Incorporating antioxidants into your diet helps as an immune booster and assists your immune system to produce strong B and T lymphocytes, phagocytes and neutrophils.

Several of our organs play a key role in the immune system and also need to be constantly generating strong healthy cells to replace those lost to free radicals. Make sure you ingest plenty of antioxidants to boost your immune system to help stave off disease, and even slow down the aging process.

Related:  Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant

Essential Antioxidants

Fortunately, it’s easy to fill up on antioxidants. They are found in many of the healthiest and delicious foods available to us in abundance.  Certain antioxidants are not being produced by the body, so you need to get them from you diet. They are:

Resveratrol – found in grapes, many vegetables, dark chocolate (cocoa) and wine. It also helps lower blood pressure, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation in the body.

Carotenoids- give certain foods their bright color like tomatoes (lycopene) and carrots (beta-carotene). They are converted to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, in the body.

Xanthophyll – found in kiwis, maize (a kind of corn), grapes, squash and oranges.

Astaxanthin – a marine carotenoid that offers protection from ultraviolet radiation. It also has been found to slow down macular degeneration, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, several types of cancer and is a powerful immune booster.

Vitamins C and E – are generous electron donors and offer a host of other health benefits.

Best Sources of Antioxidants

Healthy and delicious foods can supply most of your antioxidant needs. You might also benefit from an antioxidant supplement to make sure you get adequate amounts daily. Be sure to add to your diet:

  • Nuts
  • Herbs and spices
  • Green tea
  • Fruits and vegetables

Fresh, organic produce and tea are your healthiest options, but even frozen foods offer some beneficial immune booster antioxidants.

0 Comments

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! 

0 Comments

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.

0 Comments

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.

 

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

Essential Fatty Acids: Benefits and Sources

by Cindy Gray

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

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

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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

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

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

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

Related:  Three Surprising Seafood Sources of EFA’s

Health Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

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

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

EFAs and Disease

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

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

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

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

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

 

0 Comments

Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

by IVL Products

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

Who Gets Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

High Risk Factors for AMD

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

Others at risk are:

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

What Is AMD: Symptoms

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

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

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

Related:  Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Eyesight

How to Reduce Your Risk of AMD

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

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

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

0 Comments

Are You Suffering from Vitamin C Deficiency?

by IVL Products

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

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

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

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

Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency

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

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency

Sources of Vitamin C

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

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

30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge

0 Comments

5 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

Vitamin B12 is one of the B-complex vitamins that are essential for good health.  The body uses it to manufacture red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA, and vitamin B12 is important to metabolism and cardiovascular health.  Like many other vitamins, B12 is not manufactured by the body, which means people must get it from food or supplements.  Consuming inadequate amounts of this important vitamin, or problems with its absorption, can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency, a condition that is somewhat common, especially among older people.  Read on to learn about five signs and symptoms of deficiency

Clams are just one of the many food sources that help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency.

1.  Weakness

One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is body weakness, a natural consequence of reduced levels of red blood cells.  Because weakness is a symptom of a variety of physical conditions, people should consult with a medical professional to rule out possibilities.

2.  Gastrointestinal Disorders

Certain gastrointestinal disorders like colitis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and leaky gut syndrome can affect absorption of vitamin B-12.  Supplements and B-12 shots can help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency in people with these conditions.

Related:  Five Simple Tips for Healthy Vision

3.  Vision Loss  

Low levels of vitamin B12 can have a negative effect on the optic nerve, but supplements can help.  A study from Japan examining 28 patients with glaucoma showed improvements with a daily dose of 1500 mcg of vitamin B12 over five years.  The participants receiving B12 experienced reduced peripheral vision loss, more stable visual acuity, and better control over eye fluid pressure than participants that did not receive vitamin B12.

4.  Shortness of Breath

Failure to absorb vitamin B12 can result in a reduction of red blood cells that can lead to a condition called pernicious anemia.  Symptoms of this condition include shortness of breath and fatigue.

5.  Memory Loss

Vitamin B12 deficiency can impact brain function, causing symptoms like disorientation, difficulty thinking, and memory loss.  Research shows supplements can help. 

A study from Australian National University found that older adults who received supplements containing vitamin B12 and folic acid over two years experienced better results on tests for short-term and long-term memory than participants who did not receive the supplements. Researchers speculated that results might be due to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to poor cognitive function.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Natural food sources of B12 all come from animal products and good options include clams, beef, turkey, oysters, chicken, trout, and salmon.  People who are vegan, vegetarian, or those with absorption issues can benefit from foods fortified with synthetic B12 or B12 supplements. 

People need vitamin B12 to stay healthy, but according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, about 23 percent of adults above the age of 49 have some level of deficiency.  People who are concerned about vitamin B12 deficiency should visit a medical professional for a blood test and treatment options.

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

0 Comments

What is Heart Disease?

by Health News

“What is heart disease?” may seem an obvious question to some, but understanding the connection between diet, heart disease, stroke, and heart attack can help us to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Avoid this by learning about what is heart disease

Heart disease is often called cardiovascular disease. It is a condition covering a range of common yet serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure and arrhythmia. It also includes atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arterial lining).

You may already have elevated risk factors for heart disease, such as atherosclerosis and aging. Men over the age of 45 and women over 55 are automatically at increased risk of heart disease. It’s important to know what heart disease is, what causes it, and how it can be reduced.

Atherosclerosis and Heart Attack

Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fatty substances, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) which eventually cause a hardening of the walls of the main arteries. The problems begin when the plaque begins to block blood flow, decreasing the oxygen supply and causing elevated blood pressure as the heart works harder to force the blood through the narrower arteries.

Blood clots may form on the plaque surface, or the plaque deposits may break off. If plaque or a blood clot travel toward the heart and stop the blood flow completely, it causes a heart attack which can be fatal. In a similar way, if a blood clot or plaque deposit stops the flow of blood to the brain, it causes a stroke, which is similarly life-threatening.

Related:  Heart Health Supplements

Life Changes after Heart Attack or Stroke

Often people do not understand what heart disease is until after they have experienced a heart attack or stroke. To avoid a repeat incident, life changes are necessary to boost heart health, such as:

Tests can be performed to determine what damage has been caused by a stroke or heart attack. Your doctor may recommend blood-thinning medication to reduce the risk of clotting, installing a pacemaker, heart valve surgery, coronary angioplasty or even a surgical arterial bypass graft to help improve blood flow.

Better still, adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent heart disease, plaque and all the associated problems. Natural supplements such as coenzyme Q10 to lower blood pressure, fish oil supplements to reduce triglycerides and green tea to lower cholesterol can all boost heart health naturally.

So if you’re asking, “What is heart disease?” make sure you put into practice what you learn to significantly lower your risk of heart disease before it’s too late.

0 Comments

Sleeping: How Much Do You Really Need?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

As a general life rule, either too much indulgence or too much restriction of virtually anything that is considered “good”—even essential—usually leads to problems. Sleep is a perfect example. Sleeping too few or too many hours can create a serious and negative impact on your health. These less than optimal amounts of sleep is associated with premature aging, increased mortality, and a higher incidence of disease including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and cancer. 

Trouble sleeping?  Check out these gentle, natural approaches to help you get the full benefit of a healthful, restful night’s sleep.

The magic number of hours for sleep appears to be seven to eight hours.  In a study published in the journal Sleep in August 2010, and conducted by researchers at the West Virginia University’s faculty of medicine, study participants who slept fewer than five hours a day including naps, had more than double the risk of angina, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Those who slept more than seven hours also had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The participates who slept nine hours or longer were one-and-a-half times more likely than seven-hour sleepers to develop the disease.

A study published in The Journal of Sleep Research in 2009, looked at the association between sleep duration and all-cause and cause-specific mortality.  Researchers found a statistically significant increase in all-cause mortality, especially of cardiovascular disease and cancer in those who slept either too many or too few hours.  In another study conducted by UCSD and published in 2002, researchers found a 15% increased risk of mortality in those who slept more than 8.5 hours or less than 4.5 hours.

Too Little is Too Big of a Problem

How big of a problem is disrupted sleep in America? According to a study published in 2006, fifty- to seventy-million Americans chronically suffer from sleep disorders that hinder daily functioning and adversely affect health and longevity. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll of Americans and the majority (63%) said they do not get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Nearly one third (31%) reported sleeping less than seven hours a night. One in five adults stated that they were so sleepy during the day that it interfered with their daily activities. Seven in ten adults (69%) said they experience frequent sleep problems.

Chronic Disease and Accelerated Aging

A Harvard University study published in 2010 followed 56,000 U.S. adults and found that sleeping less than seven hours a night increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Another study published in the journal Lancet in October 1999 found several biological signs of “accelerated” aging in healthy young men after they slept only four hours per night for one week. Those signs included changes in their glucose and stress hormone (cortisol) levels compared to that typically seen in middle age. According to researchers, the physiological changes observed in the sleep deprived young men could predispose them to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and memory loss.  

Related:  Link Between Sleep and Inflammation

Sleeping at the Correct Times

As important as the number of hours you sleep is to your health and longevity, the exact times that you go to sleep and wake up is equally important. Staying up late or working the night shift, even if you get seven or eight hours of sleep, has a significant deleterious effect on various hormone levels and inflammatory markers. Sleeping at the “wrong” times increases your risk of the same chronic diseases associated with sleeping too few hours: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, depression and cancer—especially breast, prostate, endometrial and colorectal cancers. For example, a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in August 2010 found that staying up until 2 a.m. upset the body’s internal clock and caused fatty acids in the blood, called triglycerides, to become abnormally high. High triglycerides are known to increase the risk of heart disease.

In another study, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonia, Texas, reported that epidemiological studies find an increase of breast, prostate, endometrial and colon cancer in individuals who work at night or whose circadian rhythms had been disrupted for other reasons. Disruption of the normal circadian rhythms has also been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes (Mosendane et al 2008). In contrast, going to bed before 10 p.m. and getting up by 6 a.m. can reduce your risk of all of these conditions by as much as fifty percent.

15 Tips for Better Sleep:

  1. Eat three nutritious meals a day. The evening meal should be light and early. 
  2. Exercise regularly, preferably early in the morning. If you exercise in the late evening, it may keep you awake.
  3. Go to sleep by 10 p.m.
  4. Eliminate or severely restrict stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.
  5. Wear comfortable clothing to bed.
  6. Avoid spicy foods at the evening meal. 
  7. Do not bring work-related material into the bedroom and turn off the television, and avoid the news or negative information.
  8. Keep your bedroom dark.
  9. A gentle massage of the hands, feet, and neck before sleeping can aid in relaxation.
  10.  Stress can definitely interfere with sleep. So practicing an effective stress reducing technique such as Transcendental Meditation, Qi Gong, or yoga can be very beneficial.
  11.  Make sure that your room is dark. If you can’t make it completely dark, wear a comfortable eye mask. It can also be helpful to keep your room quiet and cool.
  12.  Avoid alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the sleep hormone melatonin. Alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep, but it can also cause you to wake up in the middle of night.
  13.  Listen to soothing music before going to sleep. According to a 2005 study conducted by Marion Good Ph.D., R.N., at Case Western Reserve University, listening to soothing music for 45 minutes in bed improved subjects sleep quality by an average of 35% over a three week period.
  14.  Take a warm bath in the evening. A 1999 study published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology found that a ten minute evening bath helped the elderly to sleep better.
  15.  Don’t bring your electrical devices into the bedroom. The electromagnetic frequencies they produce can disrupt the flow of melatonin. Shut off your cell phone, Wi-Fi, and any other electrical devices in or near the room where you sleep. Don’t use an electric blanket (or at least unplug it before you go to sleep.) Choose a battery operated alarm clock instead of an electrically powered clock radio.

If you have trouble sleeping, please try all the gentle, natural approaches presented above, rather than using pharmaceutical medications which can disrupt the full health-producing benefits available in sleep. You may also want to create a ritual that is most relaxing for you—one that best prepares you to ease into this extraordinarily powerful, health-promoting, sublime activity. Soothing music, warm baths, gentle massages, perhaps reading an uplifting book or hearing the calming voice of an enjoyable book on tape, or simply being in quiet meditation or prayer, you may find is the perfect approach that consistently and magically lulls you to health-giving, life-enhancing sleep.         

0 Comments

Sex and Menopause: Is it Normal to Lose Desire?

by Health News

Unfortunately, it’s a common myth that people age their sex drive takes a dive. While it may be true that some women’s sexual desire may decline following menopause, for the majority of women, desire does not decline.  In fact, a survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons, (AARP ) reported that 57% of women said they considered a satisfying sexual relationship to be one of the most important factors in terms of quality of life. Only 36% agreed with the statement that sex is less important as people age. In fact, sexual desire and satisfaction may increase after menopause. With factors such as children moving out of the home, no chance of unwanted pregnancy, no interruptions due to menstrual periods, and the deeper self-awareness and wisdom that comes with age, many women are pleased to experience their sexual drive and enjoyment actually blossoming.  

How to stay healthy and keep your sex life humming!

What Causes Desire to Wane?

If you find that your desire has shifted into low gear after fifty, a simple physical issue such as lower levels of estrogen is rarely the full explanation. Sex drive is complex and multifaceted. It is influenced by physical issues, and also by psychological, emotional, and relationship concerns; and even cultural beliefs.

Physical Problems: Your overall health and well-being—independent of hormonal levels—plays a significant role in your libido. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, underactive thyroid, depression, and bladder problems; or chronic pain and fatigue, can dramatically decrease sexual desire.  Add to that list: drug use, smoking, and certain prescription medications including tranquilizers, sedatives, steroids, antihistamines, antidepressants and peptic ulcer medication.  

The only biological condition that is clearly linked to a woman’s desire for sex is vaginal dryness. Lack of lubrication can cause pain, muscular spasms, and difficulty reaching orgasm. Lower estrogen levels are a major issue, but there are other contributors to this condition, including certain prescription medications; chemically treated sanitary products and synthetic underwear; and chemical deodorants, douches, and perfumes. The side effects of the treatment of certain health conditions can also lead to excessive dryness, especially treatments for cancer including radiation, chemotherapy, and estrogen-blocking drugs.

Related:  Is Your Lack of Sex Drive Due to Low T?

Psychological and Emotional Factors: The fire of desire can also be dampened by a variety of psychological and emotional factors. The most common include:

  • Excess stress. Around the time of menopause, a number of significant sources of stress often converge at one time. They may include raising teenagers, being a caregiver for an elderly parent, job-related issues, and marriage or relationship tensions.
  • Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Self-esteem issues. Being uncomfortable or self-conscious about your weight, aging body, or health problems can cause you to feel less attractive and desirable.
  • How you feel about your partner.  If you are upset with or feel distant from your partner, your desire for them won’t be burning. Likewise, your appetite for your partner may be poor if you find their bedroom skills disappointing. One third of women in the AARP study who reported having no sexual problems, said they had previously had problems, but when they changed partners, the issue went away.
  •  Beliefs about sex and aging. If you believe it is normal to lose sexual desire as you age, then more than likely, you will lose it.

Getting Your Mojo Back

If your lack of libido is due to physical issues, the best approach is to work on improving your health. There are no short cuts, quick fixes, or magic pills. Good health only comes from good habits, which include: 

  • Eating a diet high in organically produced fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and supplemental omega-3 fatty acids
  • Exercising daily—even brisk walking can do wonders for your sex drive, as well as the rest of your health
  • Getting enough quality rest by going to sleep by 10 p.m. and rising before 6 a.m.
  • Practicing effective stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises
  • Keeping your weight ideal—either being significantly overweight or underweight can have a tremendous negative impact on your health

Improving Vaginal Dryness

If you suffer with vaginal dryness, there are many approaches that can improve or reverse the condition. The typical western medicine course of treatment consists of topical estrogens. Although they can increase your risk of breast cancer, the relative risk of topical estrogens compared to oral hormone replacement therapy is much less. I recommend always trying natural approaches first. Studies show that certain foods high in phytoestrogens, such as soy and flax seeds, can help reduce vaginal dryness without increasing your risk of breast cancer. The herbs black cohosh and ginseng have been documented by several studies to improve vaginal moisture. Vitamin E vaginal suppositories and supplemental oral omega-7 fatty acids (from a plant called Sea buckthorn) can also be of benefit. The holistic system of medicine Ayurveda recommends topical aloe vera gel and coconut oil for vaginal dryness, and the herbs marshmallow root and Shatavari for low libido.

Be sure to use natural lubricants without synthetic chemicals and toxins. Organic coconut oil and aloe vera are two of the best choices. 

0 Comments

Is Your Depression Exercise-Related?

by IVL Products

Psychologists, scientists and doctors are intrigued by the inverse relationship between exercise and depression. According to The Times newspaper, "neurologists have begun to show that exercise may alter brain chemistry in much the same way that antidepressant drugs do, by regulating the key neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine."

Studies show that exercise and depression may be inversely related

Despite lack of funding, as there are no huge profits in studying something that cannot be patented, studies have shown that aerobic exercise appears to be a simple treatment for relieving mild to moderate depression.

One such study at Duke University, NC on a group of clinically depressed patients divided them into three groups and treated them with exercise only, exercise plus antidepressant drug or antidepressant drug only. Initially those taking antidepressant drugs reported slightly better results but after 10 months, it was the patients on exercise-only that had the best mood and highest remission rate.

Related:  How to Exercise Away the Effects of Depression

Health Benefits of Exercise and Depression

We already know that regular exercise provides a wealth of benefits, whether you choose walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, golf (on foot), tennis, aerobics, gardening, dancing or even yoga.

Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, improves muscle tone, lowers body fat and strengthens bones. But while all that is going on, exercise is also triggering neurotransmitters to release endorphins from the brain, spine and other parts of the body.

The endorphins interact with brain receptors to promote a sense of happiness and positivity. The effect of endorphins is similar to analgesics or a morphine kick, reducing the perception of pain. Sometimes this is reported as a "runner's high" at the end of a vigorous workout or run. These natural chemicals also act as sedatives and reduce stress, yet unlike chemical drugs, they do not lead to addiction or dependence.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mood issues and depression, why not encourage them to take up a sport or exercise and depression may be eased. It can be all the more beneficial for them to participate with a partner or in a group class, as there is ongoing support to continue even when the going gets tough. It's a simple, easy and free remedy, with absolutely nothing to lose.

0 Comments

Five Benefits of Meditation

by Cindy Gray

The modern world provides many conveniences but it also brings increased stress and anxiety.  Busy schedules create the need for relaxation from time to time.  Meditation is a practice that people engage in to achieve a more peaceful state of mind through quiet contemplation or through sustained focus on sound, mantras, or the breath.  Virtually all forms of meditation induce a more peaceful state of mind, but the practice offers a host of additional advantages.  Five benefits of meditation in particular lead to enhanced health and happiness.  

People enjoy many physical and mental benefits of meditation

1.  Reduced Muscle Tension

By controlling breathing, calming the mind, and focusing attention on specific areas of the body, meditation can help reduce muscle tension.  A technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation is particularly helpful at the beginning of a session.  People purposefully tighten and relax muscles in a systematic way resulting in reduced muscle tension throughout the body.

2.  Lower Blood Pressure

Because meditation enhances relaxation, it makes one of the best natural high blood pressure remedies.  Relaxation triggers the release of nitric oxide, which expands blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.  A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the effects of meditation on 60 people with high blood pressure.  Results showed that 40 of the 60 subjects were able to stop taking blood pressure medication as a result of regular meditation.

3.  Slower Heart Rate

The many physical benefits of meditation also include a slower heart rate.  A Korean study showed that subjects who practiced the Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique experienced slower heart rates, and benefits lasted for up to 8 months after the study ended. 

4.  Better Sleep

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness programs which include meditation practice may help improve sleep.  A group of 49 middle-aged and older adults who reported trouble sleeping either participated in a mindfulness program or a sleep education class for improving sleep habits.  Both groups met once weekly for a period of six weeks.  The people in the mindfulness program reported less insomnia, fatigue, and depression after six weeks than the people attending the sleep education class.

Related:  Meditation Rewires Your Brain

5.  Less Stress

Many studies have shown the benefits of meditation for anxiety and stress.  Researchers from the University of Wisconsin in Madison found that people who practice Open Monitoring Meditation like Vipassana showed less gray matter in the areas of the brain related to anxiety and stress.  On the flipside, MRIs taken before and after meditation have shown more gray matter in areas related to learning and memory.  In layman's terms, these results indicate that regular meditation can lead to less stress and better learning and memory. 

With so many physical and mental benefits of meditation, people may want to give it a try.  One of the easiest ways to begin meditating is to focus on the breath.  Sit or lie comfortably, close the eyes, and breathe naturally.  Focus on the breath and the movement of the body with each inhale and exhale.  If the mind wanders, bring it gently back to focusing on the breath.  Start with a period of five minutes, and increase time with practice.  Start out with even a few minutes of meditation each day.  Increase the amount of time in meditation according to your comfort zone.  Consistency is the key.