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Where Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Come From?

by IVL Products

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the normal functioning of cells and organs in the body. Unfortunately, the human body cannot make these essential fatty acids, so we need a regular supplemental intake in our diet. 

Oily fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids

There are three types of omega-3: EPA and DHA, which are found mainly in certain types of fish; and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is found in nuts and seeds. The body needs all three types of omega-3 fatty acids to function properly.

EPA and DHA Fatty Acids

A healthy balanced diet should include DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These important omega-3 fatty acids can be found in cold water fish such as salmon (wild salmon has more omega-3 than farmed salmon), mackerel, herring, sardines, herring, tuna, lake trout and anchovies. These fish all contain high concentrations of omega-3 as they feed off green plants and algae which themselves produce omega-3. The American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish at least two times a week to receive sufficient DHA and EPA fatty acids.

ALA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

ALA omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in plants sources including flax seed, walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil, seeds and nuts. These ALAs have less potent health benefits than the fish-sourced omega-3s but they still play an important part in our health. However, these omega-3 fatty acid sources are high in calories and should therefore only be consumed in moderation.

Related:  Fish Oil: A Miracle Cure for Stress?

Fish Oil Supplements

Most people find it easiest to source omega-3 fatty acids from daily supplements of fish oil. This is the only way to know for sure that you are consuming a measured daily dose of EPA, DHA and ALA fatty acids. Supplements are cheaper than fish, and do not contain the same high calories as nuts and oils.

If you find taking fish oil supplements unpleasant, there are some ways to reduce the risk of suffering fishy burps throughout the day. Keep your fish oil capsules in the refrigerator. If you consume them cold, they pass further through the digestive tract before being broken down, reducing the likelihood of "repeats".

It also helps if you take fish oil supplements with food, preferably not carbs. If you take them at breakfast time, follow them with a bowl of oat cereal rather than a couple of slices of bread or toast. Complex carbs such as cereal take longer to digest than bread and seem to have the same effect on the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements. If that fails, experiment with different brands as supplement qualities vary. Find one that contains 1000 mg fish oil concentration in a serving of two softgels.

Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to your long-term health, it’s worth persevering. Eventually you will find a fish oil capsule that you can take daily without any side effects providing you with those essential omega-3s.

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Top Five Fish Oil Benefits for Women

by Health News

fish oil benefits for woman are surprisingThe benefits of omega-3 fish oil cannot be overemphasized. Daily supplements of this simple, cheap source of omega-3 fatty acids can support healthy, supple arteries, lower the risk of heart disease and reduce inflammation which causes arthritis and joint pain; and that's just for starters. There are even more fish oil benefits for women –so checkout these top five reasons to start taking fish oil regularly.

1. Promotes Weight Loss

Studies show that taking 600 mg fish oil supplements per day in conjunction with regular exercise and a calorie-restricted diet can be far more effective than diet, or diet and exercise, alone. Fish oil appears to boost fat-burning by switching on the enzymes that oxidize fat during exercise.

2. Improves Skin

Women tend to be more conscious of their aging skin and want to keep it looking youthful and wrinkle-free for as long as possible. Fish oil is full of DHA and EPA essential fatty acids which support healthy glowing skin. Fish oil benefits for women's skin include increased hydration, less spots and acne, regulated oil production and fewer wrinkles.  Even men wouldn’t turn down those benefits!

3. Reduces Depression

Women are statistically twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. Hormonal changes in puberty and menopause, post-natal "baby blues," biological factors and personal circumstances can all lead to women being diagnosed with depression.

RelatedNatural Remedies for Mild Depression

Omega-3 fish oil supplements have been shown to help keep those overwhelming feelings at bay. Scientists noticed that people living in countries where cold water fish were a major part of the diet had fewer reported cases of depression. Research suggests that raising the level of omega-3 in the blood stream, either by eating fish regularly or taking fish oil supplements, allows more absorption of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant.

4. Improves Fetal Brain Function

There are dozens of compelling reasons why pregnant women should take omega-3, according to this American pregnancy article.  In particular, fish oil is essential for the development of the neurological system of the unborn baby. It is also important for baby's visual development and helps the mother provide breast milk after the birth – yet more excellent fish oil benefits for women.

5. Slows Breast Tumor Development

According to the American Association of Breast Cancer, studies show an inverse correlation between high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and the risk of breast cancer. Specific studies on breast cancer and fish oil have shown positive indicators that fish oil slows cancerous cell growth, particularly in breast tumor development.

These are all highly significant fish oil benefits for women, making it a must for every woman to eat oily fish or take supplements on a regular basis. 

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Omega 3 Fish Oil for Weight Loss

by Cindy Gray

We are conditioned to think that all fat is bad, especially if we are trying to lose weight. Low-fat diets have been promoted for decades as the only way to shed body fat, but now it seems that is not entirely true. A recent study by the University of South Australian found that there are definite benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when taken in conjunction with regular exercise.

Studies show the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss

Study on the Weight Loss Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil

The Australian study focused on 75 participants who were diagnosed as overweight (>25 BMI) or obese (>30 BMI) with other risk factors for metabolic syndrome. These increased risk factors included high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, hypertension and/or heightened insulin levels.

The group was divided into four different categories and each group was given either:

  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with no exercise
  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with no exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with exercise

The supplements were 6 x 100 mg capsules of omega-3 fish oil or sunflower oil. The participants who included exercise in their program also completed three 45-minute runs each week at 75% of their maximum heart rate. No dietary changes were made to any of the participants’ routine.

After three weeks, members of three of the groups remained the same weight.  However, the group taking tuna fish oil supplements combined with exercise showed an average weight loss of 4.5 pounds, and a marked decrease in percentage body fat. This clearly showed the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when combined with regular exercise.

The study concluded that if the fish oil supplements and exercise regimen were adopted by someone who was also on a calorie-controlled diet, the weight loss could be even more substantial.

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Supplement Resveratrol

How Does Omega-3 Fish Oil Benefit Weight Loss?

Omega-3 is known to improve blood flow to the muscles during exercise. It also helps trigger enzymes involved in burning or oxidizing fat when the metabolic rate increases during exercise. The combination of omega-3 and exercise prompts the body to carry fat to where the muscles can burn it as energy, thereby lowering body fat stores.

The study participants also underwent DEXA body scans which distinguish between fat, muscle and bone. Although three groups of participants remained unchanged, the group taking omega-3 with exercise showed a significant reduction of belly fat.

Those who took omega-3 fish oil without exercise still benefitted, as their blood pressure decreased during the study and there was a beneficial effect on their heart rate and triglyceride levels.

These encouraging results showing the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss will now be followed up with other studies by Professor Howe, Director of the Australian Technology Network for Metabolic Fitness. In the meantime, dieters have nothing to lose but fat if they add 600 mg omega-3 fish oil and regular exercise to their weight loss plan. 

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Fish Oil and Weight Loss: the Amazing Connection

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to Business Week, U.S. consumers spend $40 billion dollars a year on weight-loss programs and products, and that's a conservative estimate. Despite throwing so much money at the obesity problem, the National Institutes for Health reports that 66% (two out of three) adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. While Jenny Craig meal plans and Atkins shakes continue to cost dieters a fortune, scientists are working on a much cheaper and more effective solution for weight loss:  fish oil.

Scientific studies are showing success with fish oil weight loss

Compelling Fish Oil Weight Loss Studies

Several new studies into fish oil weight loss are showing promising results. A scientific study in Japan showed that mice fed omega-3 fatty acids and encouraged to exercise had a faster metabolic rate and put on less weight than mice that did not have the same regimen.

In Australia, a scientific study on 75 people who were overweight/obese and had additional risk of heart disease found that taking 600 mg fish oil supplements along with regular exercise led to a loss of 4.5 pounds in the three week period, without any change to the participants' diet. In contrast, those who took sunflower oil supplements (with no omega-3) or those who took omega-3 supplements without exercising saw no change in their weight or fat deposits.

Finally, the University of Georgia reported their findings about fish oil weight loss in the Journal of Nutrition. Their studies showed that fish oil prevented pre-fat cells from becoming fat cells by effectively causing the pre-fat cells to die. This meant that there was less fat stored in the body.  

Related:  Seven Psychological Barriers to Maintaining Healthy Weight Loss

How Fish Oil Weight Loss Works

Gathering together all the information from these studies, it appears that taking fish oil supplements of 600 mg per day acts as a catalyst for the body to increase fat metabolism when exercise is performed. This increase in fat-burning leads to lower fat deposits in the body, specifically belly fat.

If exercise is absent, then the fish oil provides many other health benefits including supporting a healthy cardiovascular system and lowering inflammation, but it does not trigger weight loss in itself.

The Australian study was performed on overweight/obese people who continued with the same eating habits. However, by combining omega-3 fish oil, exercise, and a calorie controlled diet, faster weight loss could be expected than just restricting calories alone.

Tips for Fish Oil Weight Loss Success

  • Choose a high quality fish oil supplement that has a high level of DHA and EPA for the best results.
  • Check the origin of the fish oil. Alaskan fisheries tend to supply fish with less toxic metals.
  • Discuss your fish oil supplementation with your doctor, especially if you are already on medication. Although fish oil is safe, it may counteract other meds.  

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Can the Body Produce Essential Fatty Acids?

by Health News

The human body is amazing because it can produce or synthesize most of the different fats it needs from your diet with two exceptions: linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic (omega-6) acids. These essential fatty acids are essential to everyday function and any deficiency can lead to serious health problems.

Fish, fish oil supplements, nuts and seeds all provide omega-3 essential fatty acids

The one thing many health issues have in common is inflammation, according to Joseph C. Maroon M.D., Professor of Neurological Science at the University of Pittsburgh. A deficiency in essential fatty acids causes internal inflammation, which is the cause of many chronic conditions such as arthritis, depression, heart disease, joint pain, liver and kidney disease, decreased immune function and even dry skin.

Good Sources of Essential Fatty Acids

An honest appraisal of your daily diet may quickly show that our modern westernized diet falls well short of providing the essential fatty acids we need. According to the American Heart Association, we need to eat a 3.5 ounce serving of oily fish at least two times a week along with a balanced amount of seeds and nuts to provide those all-important omega-3s and omega-6s.

People with heart disease are advised to consume one gram of EPA and DHA essential fatty acids every day. These can best be sourced from oily fish, or from fish oil supplements.

Related:  How Omega 3 Fatty Acids Could Save Your Hair

Omega-3 vs Omega-6

Without a doubt, we need omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids regularly in our diet, but we need them in the correct 1:1 ratio. Omega-3 is found mainly in a range of shellfish and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, albacore tuna and sardines. It is also found in animal meat, flaxseed, walnuts, eggs and dairy products. Omega-6 comes in the form of linoleic acid from green leafy vegetables, seeds, grains and vegetable oils produced from corn, sunflower and soybean.

Our modern-day diets tend to lean heavily towards omega-6 fatty acids with a ratio of about 10:1. Health scientists now know that omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3s for use in the body. Having such an excess omega-6 can actually inhibit the availability of omega-3, so we are then unable to benefit from the intake of omega-3.  

As the body cannot produce either of these essential fatty acids, we need to obtain them in balance, reducing omega-6 oil intake and increasing foods high in omega-3.

The best way to ensure that you reach the required amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids is by taking a daily fish oil supplement. As yet there is no official recommended daily value, but most sources agree that 1000 mg per day provides the required amount. Look on the label for the breakdown of ingredients to ensure you are getting the EPA and DHA you need to provide your body with these essential fatty acids which are the building blocks of good health. 

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Six Ways Your Health Suffers When You Stop Working Out

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It takes time to build up your fitness level as part of a regular training program, but unfortunately it doesn't take long at all to lose those health benefits after falling off the rails or “detraining." Here's what to expect when you swap neck presses for Netflix or have stopped working out for a while.

Obesity is more likely in those who stopped working out

We can all think of plenty of excuses why we stopped working out.

  • Too expensive
  • Too time consuming
  • Too busy
  • Too hard
  • Too tired
  • Too hot in summer
  • Too cold in winter

However, if you've stopped working out, steel yourself to hear some harsh truths about how your health will suffer within a very short span of time.

Here's what to expect if you've stopped working out:

1. Shrinking Muscles

In the space of just two weeks, those toned quads and biceps will quickly turn to flab as your muscle mass declines through lack of use.

2. Decrease in Brain Power

Grumpiness is often a symptom suffered by those who have stopped working out as the negative change in lifestyle takes its toll on your brain and behavior. Studies on rats showed that when they stopped moving for a week, the rats developed fewer brain cells and performed poorly on maze tests compared to their counterparts who steadily exercised on a wheel.

3. Increase in Body Fat

As your metabolism slows after you stopped working out, those unburned calories will gradually build up as stored fat. Exercise professor Paul Arciero D.P.E. found that a break of just five weeks for college swimming students led to a 12% increase in body fat.

Related:  Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

4. Blood Pressure Rises

Just a short time after you have stopped working out, your blood pressure will rise as your blood vessels adapt to taking things easy. Within a month, expect stiffened arteries and veins, according to Linda Pescatello, Ph.D., University of Connecticut.

5. Blood Sugar Spikes

When you eat, your blood glucose rises but quickly readjusts as your body uses the glucose for energy. Unfortunately, just five days after you have stopped working out, your blood sugar levels will remain elevated, according to a study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal.  In the long-term, this leads to an increased risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

6. Shortness of Breath

After two weeks of no exercise, your muscles will be using around 20% less oxygen as you lose the mitochondria that convert oxygen into energy. Any additional exertion, such as climbing a flight of stairs, will quickly lead to a shortness of breath.

If you don’t like the picture of the new unfit "you" after you've stopped working out, the good news is that these health consequences can be reversed. Resolve to get back in training, whatever it takes, for your health's sake.

 

 

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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. 

 

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Could You Be Vitamin Deficient?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may be surprised to know that even if you eat a healthy diet, you might be deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients. There are several reasons why.

First, conventional agriculture has depleted our soil of nutrients, and therefore so is the food that’s grown in it. Selenium is a good example of a mineral that is no longer found in high quantities in soil. Selenium is essential for your body to make glutathione—a powerful antioxidant—and for the repair of your DNA—both are very important to reduce your risk of cancer. Research shows that the incidence of cancer in various regions is directly linked to the amount of selenium in the soil. Areas with the highest selenium have up to a 50 percent lower incidence of certain cancers.

Next, your body can’t absorb nutrients from certain food sources as well as they can from others. For example, your body can’t absorb the calcium in dairy as well as it can from plant sources, such as spinach and kale. So if you rely on dairy rather than plants for all your calcium needs, you may be getting far less than actually you think.

Related Five Natural Anti-aging Solutions

Vitamin D is another great example of a nutrient dangerously low in most Americans. You can manufacture your own vitamin D by a reaction between your skin and sunlight, but most people can’t regularly get enough sun exposure to make enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for thousands of reactions in your body. When your Vitamin D levels are low, your risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers is significantly increased.

For these and many other reasons, you may not be getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, so taking supplements can be important. I recommend seeing a holistic physician to have your levels of nutrients checked. Your physician can then precisely prescribe the nutritional supplements that are best for your unique physiology.  

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Keeping Your Memory Sharp

by Health News

Do you ever walk into a room and forget what you went in there for? Or perhaps I should ask how many times a day? Researchers say that as you approach your 50s, it’s normal to notice that your memory isn’t as sharp. But having a significant memory problem isn’t normal—it could be a sign of dementia. The good news is that just like other chronic diseases—such as heart disease, diabetes and many cancers—dementia is largely preventable.

Eliminate the Causes First

Memory problems for example, can be a side effect of certain medications such as sleeping pills, pain medications and anti-depressants. They are also common with alcohol or drug abuse, smoking, sleep deprivation, and stress. Exposure to toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides are another source, as well as certain nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B1 and B12.

Diet and Lifestyle Tips to Avoid Dementia

Simple diet and lifestyle changes can dramatically lower your risk of dementia. Avoid inflammation-promoting foods such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, red meat, gluten, casein and fast foods. Instead, favor fresh organically grown fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and omega-3 fatty acids. Dietary supplements that are good for your brain include turmeric, alpha-lipoic acid, and probiotics, and the herbs ginkgo biloba and gotu kola. Also be sure to limit alcohol to only one or two glasses a day, socialize regularly with good friends, exercise every day—at least 30 minutes of brisk walking is ideal—and get the most from your sleep—that means sleeping 7-8 hours a night between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.  

Exercising your brain is also important. Working crossword puzzles or learning a new language are great. But certain computer training programs have been shown to be even better. For example, research shows that Lumosity (www.lumosity.com) and Posit Science (www.positscience.com) cause significant and long lasting improvements in cognitive abilities.

Remember that memory problems and dementia are largely preventable and you can minimize your risk by simply following some of these tips.

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Where Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Come From?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids are among the most important nutrients we need for a healthy body and sharp mind. Not only do omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, they also regulate cholesterol triglyceride levels, ease joint pain and support brain health. Let’s look at where these essential fatty acids come from.

Oily fish is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Although there is no official recommended daily amount (RDA) of omega-3 fatty acids, the American Heart Association recommends 1gram per day for people with heart disease, and 2-4 grams per day for those using Omega-3 to lower triglyceride levels. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

Fish

Fish and krill are the best sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main omega-3 fatty acids we need for top health benefits. Enjoy fish in your diet two to three times a week to top up your levels of omega-3 fatty acids naturally. Sources include:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Sturgeon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Freshwater trout

Unfortunately, many sources of fresh fish are polluted and contain traces of industrial toxins, poisons, heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Tuna, sea bass and marlin are known to have levels of mercury that exceed the amounts approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The exceptions to this potential health hazard are wild-caught Alaskan salmon and small fish such as sardines and krill that are lower down the food chain.

Even farmed salmon does not escape the problem of toxic pollution. In addition, the levels of omega 3 fatty acids it contains are only about half of that found in wild-caught fish.

Related:  Omega 3, 6 and 9: the Basics

Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements are an easy way to source omega-3 fatty acids. However, you need to check the source to avoid the same contaminants as fresh fish. In addition, fish oil supplements generally have lower levels of antioxidants than fresh fish.

Krill Oil

Krill are small marine creatures that have 48 times more potency for omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil. Krill naturally contains astaxanthin, which metabolizes with the EPA and DHA to make them more bioavailable in the body. In addition, krill fishing is completely sustainable and eco-friendly, making it a recommended source of those essential omega-3 fatty acids. 

What about Plant-Sourced Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Plant-sourced omega-3 fatty acids come from flaxseed, hemp and chia which all produce alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). This is converted into EPA and DHA in the body, but it is a much less efficient way of obtaining the required amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although plant-based omega-3 does not have the possible dangers of metal toxins found in marine animals, you need sufficient enzymes for the body to convert the ALAs for use in the body.

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is to choose a high quality fish oil supplements from a reputable company who source their omega-3 from certified, sustainable Alaskan fisheries. 

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How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility

by Cindy Gray

Did you know there are over 300 joints in the human body?  Each one of those joints benefit from omega-3 fish oil sourced from oily fish or fish oil supplements. Here’s how!

There are many proven benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints

The ends of the bones in the body are cushioned with cartilage, which buffers unyielding bones from jolts and shocks that are part of daily wear and tear. Synovial fluid also fills the cavities of joints, further reducing friction between the bone and cartilage. In a healthy joint, this works well, but inflammation, wear and tear, and loss of synovial fluid due to age can all lead to painful joints. Research now shows that the significant benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints can help significantly reduce inflammation, and ease painful joints.

Causes of Joint Pain

Arthritis is a common cause of joint pain in older adults. Osteoarthritis in particular can limit joint mobility as the cartilage deteriorates, exposing the bone and making walking painful. It may be the result of advancing age, obesity or it may be triggered by injury. There are many studies underway to better understand the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints.

Unlike arthritis, which tends to be age-related, rheumatoid arthritis affects all ages. This autoimmune disease means that the body attacks its own tissue resulting in painful deformed joints. Gout is another type of arthritis caused when uric acid crystals form in the synovial fluid, inevitably causing excruciating pain.

Related:  Top Foods to Help Ease Chronic Joint Pain

Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil for Joints

Research has shown that certain foods help relieve painful joints, namely oily fish and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil contains two different types of fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Both demonstrate the significant benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis.

Although doctors do not yet fully understand why omega-3s help relieve painful joints, research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that omega-3 produces resolvin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that helps to relieve arthritic joints.

Other benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints include relieving morning stiffness and reducing tenderness in the affected joints. Unlike NSAID medications, fish oil does not cause unpleasant side effects such as kidney problems, stomach ulcers and tinnitus.

Numerous clinical trials have shown the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for joints, making it a safe, affordable and effective treatment for all types of joint pain; as well as supporting a healthy heart, helping to lower cholesterol and maintain mental acuity. Check with your doctor if you are on medications or blood thinners before taking fish oil supplements, and choose a high quality omega-3 supplement from a safe and sustainable source. 


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5 Tricks to Battle Insomnia and Finally Get Some Rest

by Health News

Can’t sleep? Having trouble dropping off or staying asleep? Waking up feeling unrefreshed or waking up early and unable to drop back off? According to the National Sleep Foundation, one in three people suffer from insomnia, so, if you’re suffering from one or more of these problems, you are not alone. 

Yoga can be helpful in combatting insomnia

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is not a medical condition; it is usually a symptom of another problem. Common causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pain
  • Medication
  • Physical discomfort
  • Environmental noise, light or unsuitable room temperature
  • Traveling across time zones
  • Working shifts
  • Digestive problems such as indigestion or acid reflux

Insomnia, as sufferers know all too well, can seriously affect your quality of life. Lack of sleep may jeopardize your safety or affect your levels of concentration. It can also be a contributing factor to more serious health issues such as heart disease or depression.

According to poll data, 48% of Americans report occasional insomnia while 22% experience it almost every night. Studies show that women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than men, and older people suffer from it more than the younger generation. In 1997, a survey by the National Sleep Foundation calculated that lost productivity alone from insomnia topped $18 billion!

Treating Insomnia

It’s important to treat insomnia before it becomes a set pattern. Instead of opting for medication, try some natural ways to aid sleep such as:

Exercise

Exercise can be a good aid to sleep and should be done about six hours before bedtime. As well as tiring your body, exercise clears the mind and triggers a release of mood-enhancing hormones and chemicals including estrogen, dopamine and endorphins to make you feel happy and relaxed.

Yoga

Yoga can help break the cycle of stress and sleep deprivation. Practicing yoga calms the mind, relieves physical tension and helps induce sleep naturally. Some of the best poses to help you sleep better include the Easy Forward Bend position, Child’s Pose (Balasana), Legs Up the Wall or the Seated Spinal Twist.

Related:  Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Change of Diet

Eating more fruit and vegetables and consuming less sugar can be helpful to counter insomnia. Drinking less caffeine and more water can also help your body relax and sleep better.

Bedtime Routine

Establish a bedtime routine, perhaps a warm shower or bath before putting on your PJs, or sipping a milky drink and reading before turning out the light. If necessary, write down the things that are worrying you and rid them from your mind before sleep.

Breathing Exercises

There are many relaxation techniques available to listen to on CD. Dr. Andrew Weil’s breathing exercises are designed to help you fall asleep and can be a useful aid to relaxation as well as countering insomnia.

It’s worth trying all these tricks to battle insomnia and find whatever helps give you a good night’s sleep, better health and an improved quality of life.

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7 Exercises for Better Sex

by IVL Products

Regular exercise has many health benefits including weight management, lower risk of heart disease and hypertension and it helps you sleep better. Certain exercises can enhance your sex life too.  Dr. Andrew Weil ran a study on swimmers in their 60s. The results showed that they had sex lives comparable to people 20 years younger. Read on to discover some exercises for sex that will improve your strength, stamina and flexibility in the bedroom. 

Certain exercises for sex can enhance your performance in the bedroom

So here goes:

1.     Squats Exercises

Squat exercises strengthen and tone the thighs, hips and buttocks. Use weights for more effectiveness. From a standing position, move the hips back and bend the knees to a squat position then return to the upright position.

2.     Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises were designed by a gynecologist to strength the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle which contracts during female orgasm. Practicing kegel exercises for sex can improve orgasm in women and give men a stronger erection. While driving the car, sitting at the computer or watching TV, squeeze the PC muscle as if you are stopping a stream of urine. Hold for a count of three and relax. Repeat 10 times.

3.     Happy Baby Exercises for Sex

This easy exercise is used in yoga and Pilates to stretch and tone the inner thigh and groin. Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Flex both feet with soles to the ceiling. Pull on your big toes with your fingers, just like a baby does, pulling the knees closer to the chest and hold for as long as possible.

RelatedYoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

4.     Pelvic Tilt Exercises

To strengthen the abdomen and tone pelvic muscles, lie on the floor on your back with knees bent and arms at your side. Lift your hips so that your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold for 10 seconds then relax back to the floor and repeat 20 times.

5.     Plank Exercises

Strengthen your core and sculpt your waistline with plank exercises. Lie on your stomach; put your forearms flat on the floor in front of you. Lift the body using just the toes and forearms to hold your weight. Keep the stomach tight and hold the position for as long as possible. Other plank exercises can be found on this video.

6.     Biceps Curls

Stand and hold a curl bar weight or dumbbell with arms by your side and elbows extended. Curl the arm/arms upwards towards the shoulder, keeping the elbow close to the body, and then lower the arm to the start position in a controlled arc. Repeat.

7.     Ab Rolls

You need to invest in an ab wheel for this final exercise for sex which tones the core. Kneel with your hands on the wheel, push your hips out and roll forward extending the body fully using the wheel. Return to the start position and do 15 reps.

As well as toning and strengthening, all these exercises for sex will help you to have a positive body image, another important part of having a better sex life. 

Challenge Yourself to Get Moving Today

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Little Known Ways to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

by Cindy Gray

Almost everyone knows that the eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and not smoking are extremely important to lower your risk of heart disease. But, there are many other lesser known ways to protect your heart health. In this week's video you learned about the cardiovascular benefits of regular saunas, meditation and 3 nutritional supplements: nattokinase, vitamin K2 and CoQ10. Here are three more supplements that research shows can lower your cholesterol, as well as your risk of heart disease.

  1. Plant sterols: Found in legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and compete with its absorption. Supplemental plant sterols reduce cholesterol so well that the American Heart Association recommends them.
  2. Red yeast rice:  Considered a delicacy in Japan for over 1,000 years, this bright, reddish-purple yeast that grows on rice acquires its color from a fermentation process with a mold called Monascus purpureus.  Studies show supplemental red yeast rice is very effective at lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Unlike statin drugs, which can increase the risk of and/or worsen diabetes, red yeast rice extract seem to have the opposite effect—it may improve type 2 diabetes by lowering insulin and blood glucose.
  3. Guggal (Commiphora mukul). This gum from a tree resin has been used by Ayurveda for thousands of years for its heart health benefits. Studies show that guggul can reduce total cholesterol up to 30 percent, LDL by 35 percent and increase HDL by 20 percent within 12 weeks. Guggal also has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Good heart health starts with a healthy diet and lifestyle. But, remember there are many other techniques and dietary supplements that can be of benefit too. If you have heart disease, be sure to check with your doctor first before beginning any program to improve your heart health.

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Six Little-Known Signs of Iron Deficiency

by Institute for Vibrant Living

To function properly, the human body relies on a variety of nutrients, and iron plays an important role.  This essential mineral is important to the production of hemoglobin, a protein responsible for the transport of oxygen to cells and tissues.  People who don't get enough iron in their diet may develop an iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia.  Iron-deficient anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and people who have it often experience extreme fatigue.  While anemia is a well-known symptom of too little iron, people may not be aware of six additional iron deficiency symptoms. 

Red meat is just one of the many foods that can help combat iron deficiency.

1.  Hair Loss

With iron deficiency, the body goes into survival mode, conserving oxygen for its most vital functions.  Unfortunately, protecting hair follicles falls low on the priority list.  Before getting too anxious about a few extra hairs in the brush however, people should be aware that a loss of about 100 hairs per day is normal.

2.  Swollen Tongue

In addition to affecting hemoglobin, iron deficiency lowers levels of myoglobin.  This protein impacts muscles in the body, including the tongue, which can become swollen and sore, a condition known as glossitis.

3.  Frequent Sickness

When body cells don't receive enough oxygen, the entire immune system takes a hit.  This is why people who are iron deficient often experience frequent illness, especially affecting the respiratory tract.

4.  Pale Skin

Hemoglobin is responsible for blood's red color, so low levels result in less rosy skin.  For people with lighter skin, this is one of the most noticeable iron deficiency symptoms.  People with a darker complexion can check the skin on the inside of the lips, gums, and bottom eyelids, which is also affected.

5.  Restless Leg Syndrome

Research shows that some people develop restless leg syndrome (RLS) because of a dopamine abnormality, but a study published in Movement Disorders also found that RLS can be a symptom of iron deficiency.  According to experts at Johns Hopkins University, roughly 15 percent of people with RLS are deficient in iron.  

Related:   Some Facts about Restless Leg Syndrome

6.  Pica

Pica is the craving or consumption of unusual substances like chalk, clay, dirt, or paper, and medical experts have yet to understand exactly why it develops.  According to research published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, pica (also called pagophagia) "is frequently associated with iron deficiency, and iron supplementation is an effective therapy in most cases."

In addition to these symptoms, iron-deficient people may also experience shortness of breath, headache, and anxiety, and women may have heavier-than-normal menstruation.

People concerned about iron deficiency can try various food sources to see if symptoms subside.  Good options include red meat, chicken, blackstrap molasses, clams, spinach, lentils, nuts, sunflower seeds, and chick peas.  Before taking iron supplements people should see a medical professional for a ferritin test to establish iron levels.  Too much iron can increase risks for cancer, diabetes, and heart attack, particularly as one ages.

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Prevent Heart Disease: Best Foods for Heart Health

by Cindy Gray

Heart disease continues to be a top killer of both men and women in the United States. However, just a few changes in your diet and lifestyle can dramatically lower your risk.

In this week’s video you learned about the heart health benefits of dark leafy greens, berries, and whole grains. Foods containing healthy fats are particularly protective such as avocados, wild caught salmon, nuts and olive oil. Certain spices contain strong anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that can lower your risk. Ginger and turmeric are two great examples. Garlic is also great for your heart. Many studies show that it lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and has strong antioxidants that protect your blood vessels against damage. Just a few cloves a week can significantly lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you prefer, you can take an aged-garlic supplement.

Related What are the Top 5 Anti-Aging Foods?

Certain drinks are great for your heart health too. For example, green tea decreases several cardiovascular risk factors including high cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as blockages in arteries. Studies show that drinking 5 or more cups a day can reduce your risk of death from heart attaches and strokes by 26%. If you prefer drinking coffee, you’ll be glad to know it can lower your risk too. Researchers found women who drink at least 2 cups of coffee per day have a 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Five cups or more a day can reduce stroke deaths by 36%.

Even certain guilty pleasure foods can lower your risk of heart disease. For instance, dark chocolate (60-70% cacao) contains strong antioxidants, which can lower blood pressure, raise your “good” HDL cholesterol, and prevent blockages in your arteries. Because chocolate usually contains sugar and is high in calories, limit the amount you eat to just an ounce or two a day.

Remember that heart disease is mostly preventable. By simply making some wiser food choices, you can profoundly lower your risk. 

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Heart-Healthy Foods to Add To Your Diet

by IVL Products

Even though the number of American deaths attributed to heart disease has dropped, it is still the number one cause of death for adults in this country. Good dietary choices play a key role in preserving healthy cardiac function, but instead of focusing on what you should not eat, here’s a list of heart-healthy foods that are delicious, nutritious and good for your heart and your waistline. 

There is a direct correlation between the circumference of your waistline and your risk of heart disease. Belly fat is the most dangerous to your health and the hardest to remove.

Fishing for a Healthy Heart

The catch of the day keeps the cardiologist away. Fish should be a staple in your diet; and become a replacement for processed fatty meats like hamburger, sausage and bacon.  Not only are fish a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, they have the most abundant and most easily absorbed omega-3 fatty acids. The body does not produce this essential nutrient naturally, but it does a body good.  Eating fish two to three times a week will give you plenty of it. Salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are especially high in omega-3s, so be sure to put them on the menu.

Related:  Include Fish in Your Arthritis Prevention Diet

Go Nuts

Enjoying nuts regularly is a heart-healthy idea. Almonds and walnuts are heart-healthy foods to enjoy in moderation since they are high in calories.  Adding a handful to your cereal, salad or dipping your banana in some almond butter will give you a healthy dose of omega-3s, and the unsaturated fat and fiber will keep you satisfied longer. The healthiest nuts to eat are almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts and macadamias.

Flaxseed belongs in your diet along with a variety of nuts. They are loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, which is a fancy name for omega-3. These small but mighty seeds can be ground to replace some of the fat in baked items and sprinkled on top of salads or cereal to add a little crunch with significant benefits.

Be Fruitful and Thrive

Fruits high in vitamin C and fiber are also loaded with phytonutrients to help reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation due to obesity, environmental pollution and poor diet are a leading contributor to heart muscle damage.  Berries are particularly heart-healthy foods because they are not only sweet, delicious and plentiful, but contain copious amount of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Orange-hued fruits like oranges, tangerines, peaches and cantaloupe offer plentiful amounts of potassium and magnesium.

Veg Out

Mom was right when she said, “eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” They come in so many varieties and you can eat as much as you want.  Be sure to avoid heavy cream or butter-based sauces or oily condiments.  Add these all-stars to your grocery list:

  • Asparagus – beta-carotene, folate and fiber
  • Broccoli- vitamins C and E, calcium and fiber
  • Spinach – iron, vitamins A, B2, C and K along with folate calcium, magnesium and potassium, just to name a few.

So, grill up some asparagus to pair with a salmon fillet, steam some broccoli or add a handful of spinach to your salads and you will be helping your heart and your waistline.

Carbs Count

The body cannot run on protein and fats alone. Carbohydrates are the key for high, sustaining levels of energy.  Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal (toss a handful of nuts, seed and berries on top) is a great way to give your body the fuel it needs. The fiber in oatmeal will keep you feeling satisfied longer and keep cholesterol levels in check.  Steel cut is best and avoid instant varieties loaded with sugar.  

Enjoy Dessert

Yes, a heart-healthy diet includes dessert! It’s been called the fourth food group for good reason. Dark chocolate made from 70% cocoa is one of the healthiest treats you can eat. A one-ounce square daily offers soluble fiber, antioxidants, iron, magnesium and potassium, zinc and selenium. These are all nutrients that contribute to a healthy heart.  Like nuts, chocolate has a lot of calories, so a little goes a long way.

Here’s To Your Heart

Hopefully reading this has encouraged you to add these foods to your grocery list.  There are many other heart-healthy foods you can work into the mix, and consider supplements as an additional way to pump up your daily vitamin and mineral consumption.  

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Lack of Appetite: Four Typical Causes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Eating delicious foods can be one of the greatest pleasures in life, and a healthy appetite is a sign of positive wellbeing.  People who develop a lack of appetite lose their desire to eat.  They either experience complete disinterest, or the idea of eating makes them feel nauseous.  While a number of factors may cause appetite loss, four in particular are worth noting.

People who develop a lack of appetite either experience complete disinterest, or the idea of eating makes them feel nauseous

1.  Chronic Disease

Lack of appetite is a common symptom of a number of chronic diseases.  These include liver disease, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, HIV, hypothyroidism, gastroparesis, and kidney or heart failure.  People with cancer of the ovaries, pancreas, colon, or stomach may also find their appetite lacking. 

Nutritious snacks high in protein and calories help people with chronic illness or cancer maintain body weight while trying to recover.  Eating small amounts several times throughout the day and supplementing with liquid protein drinks can be helpful.  Supportive family members can keep favorite foods handy and record meals in a food diary for reference.

2.  Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is most common in women from 35 to 65 years of age.  It is a condition in which the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone.  It causes a range of symptoms, including lack of appetite, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and brittle nails.

A simple blood test can determine whether people suffer from an inactive thyroid.  Doctors usually prescribe synthetic T4 (levothyroxine sodium), in the form of a daily pill, to bring the thyroid hormone into the normal range.

Related:  Three Hormonal Causes of Depression

3.  Medications

Use of certain medications can affect the appetite.  These include:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Codeine
  • Diuretics
  • Morphine
  • Sleeping pills
  • Tranquilizers

Regardless if it is listed above, people who experience a lack of appetite in conjunction with starting a new medication should consult with their doctor for solutions, which may include changing the drug or dosage.  People should not stop taking their medication without their doctor's approval.

4.  Depression

A change in appetite is one of the most common signs of depression.  For some people, depression increases appetite, and for others it leads to a lack of appetite.  When people experience appetite loss along with symptoms like sadness, guilt, disinterest in activities, digestive issues, sleep problems, or nausea, they should consult with a medical doctor or mental health care professional.

A healthy diet may help ward off depression.  According to research, a Mediterranean-style eating plan high in fruits vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fatty fish can help lower risks for depression.  Studies also show that deficiencies in vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and tryptophan can have a negative influence on mood.

While periods of appetite loss are normal, a persistent lack of appetite is not.  It can be a symptom of chronic disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, depression or a reaction to a new medication.  People should contact their health care provider if appetite loss is chronic or if they are shedding weight without trying. 

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Women’s Top Five Health Concerns

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Advancing years, the sudden onset of illness, or the death of someone close can all make us think about our own health. According to Saralyn Mark, M.D. there are five main medical conditions that top the list of women’s health issues. We look at the risk factors for each and see how experts suggest we can be proactive in reducing or preventing such health problems.

Breast cancer is one of the top five women’s health issues

#1 Heart Disease

As the leading cause of death, heart disease is responsible for around 29% of all deaths in women, according to the CDC.  Although we eventually all have to die, it is the premature death or limitations caused by heart disease that is the greatest health concern.

Regular health checks to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol can help reduce the risk along with a healthy diet, regular exercise, non-smoking and maintaining a normal body weight. Any new symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest, and shoulder or jaw pain should be reported to your doctor and investigated.

Related:  Yoga Lowers Fatigue and Inflammation in Breast Cancer Survivors

#2 Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is understandably one of the main women’s health issues as it is the most common cancer for women. Risk factors include family history, age, alcoholism, lack of children, genetics and race, with Caucasian women having a higher risk of developing the disease than African-American women.

Regular self-examination can detect lumps at the earliest stage, along with mammograms. Fear and denial can stop women going to see their doctor when a lump is discovered, and this can be crucial for the best chance of survival. 

#3 Osteoporosis

Another disease that affects women is osteoporosis, due to lower estrogen levels after menopause. This “brittle bone disease” affects 44 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

Clinical trials by the NOF show that taking 1,000 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D daily reduces the risk of hip fracture and osteoporosis. Those most at risk are small, thin women with a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, particularly Caucasian and Asian women or those with as family history of osteoporosis.

#4 Depression

Depression commonly affects women more than men, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 12 million women are affected each year. It may be triggered after giving birth or due to hormonal changes. Those with a family history of depression, marital problems, a stressful life or taking medications known to cause depression are most at risk. Having a purpose in life such as a job, a pet, volunteering and community work can all help. Regular exercise also releases endorphins that lift mood.

#5 Autoimmune Diseases

Disorders such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and lupus are among this group of chronic diseases. Autoimmune diseases are not widely understood and you may need to consult a specialist to diagnose and address these women’s health issues that affect three times more women than men. Worrying about your health can only make things worse. Instead, take every precaution to eat and exercise sensibly, top up with daily supplements and if anything is amiss, share it immediately with your doctor. 

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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.