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How to Have a Healthy Mouth

by IVL Products

There’s a lot more to a healthy mouth than just cleaning your teeth. Fresh breath and healthy gums need care, and what you eat also contributes to your oral health.

A healthy mouth requires daily cleaning of teeth and gums.

Food Do’s and Don’ts for a Healthy Mouth

Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods including milk, yogurt and cheese. Calcium maintains strong bones and teeth and is particularly important for children as they develop their adult teeth.

Avoid sticky sweets and taffies that coat the teeth with sugar. This breaks down and forms acid which rots the tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. If you do eat sweets, rinse your mouth or brush the teeth afterwards. Chewing gum after a meal stimulates saliva for a healthy mouth, but make sure you choose natural, sugar-free gum without artificial sweeteners.

Keeping Gums Healthy

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that reside in tartar and plaque build-up in the mouth. Plaque is the sticky coating on teeth that is caused by food and saliva. An important part of cleaning your teeth is to remove this bacteria-harboring plaque before it hardens into tartar.

Bacteria are also present in tartar, causing inflammation, bad breath and gum disease, called gingivitis. Tartar unfortunately needs a dentist or dental hygienist to remove it, which is why regular dental checkups and professional cleaning are an important part of maintaining a healthy mouth and gums.

Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of heart disease as it provides a portal for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Stage one gingivitis is evidenced by red tender gums that bleed easily when brushing your teeth. It can be reversed with regular brushing and flossing of teeth.

If left untreated, gingivitis will develop into second stage gum disease – mild to moderate periodontitis. Increased inflammation, pain when chewing, and bleeding gums are likely as the bacteria break down the teeth attachments within the infected gums. The gums recede and pockets open at the base of the teeth, allowing more infected material to lodge there. The third stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis with loss of bone supporting the teeth and eventually tooth loss.

Related: How To Prevent Cavities by Eating Cheese

Clean Teeth Mean a Healthy Mouth

Clean teeth are essential for a healthy mouth as this helps prevent cavities, gum disease and tooth loss. It’s important to brush teeth thoroughly with a soft brush every morning and before bed; and after each meal if possible. An electric toothbrush is particularly helpful as the rotating brushes give a thorough scrub of the surface of each tooth. Electric water flossers have become popular because a stream of water (mixed with mouth wash too) flushes debris out of the pockets and helps to soothe tender gums.

Store your toothbrush in the open air as a closed container can encourage the growth of microorganisms on the bristles.

Use floss to remove plaque between the teeth. Pull the floss to the gum then work it gently from side to side below the gumline for a thorough clean of each tooth base.

By eating healthily, cleaning and flossing daily and having regular dental check-ups you’ll have fresh breath, a healthy mouth, teeth and gums that should last a lifetime. 

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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.

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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How to Improve Short-Term Memory – Tips and Tricks

by IVL Products

Many people get frustrated with their increasing forgetfulness as they age. It's quite common to forget names, conversations or where you have put things. If this sounds like you, we'll show you how to improve short term memory with some useful brain-training tips.

Brain games are a good aid to how to improve short term memory

What is Short-term Memory?

Short term memory is the area of the brain that stores small amounts of information for a short time. If you are a computer buff, think of it as the equivalent to your computer's random access memory (RAM). Your brain sorts through your short-term memory and assigns some information to your long-term memory, discarding the remainder.

Unfortunately, the human brain stops growing and starts to shrink in your 20s, so you actually have less active brain cells as you age. This natural aging process usually affects short-term memory primarily. For instance, you are likely to easily recall people and places from back in the past; it’s only more recent encounters that you have problems with i.e. those committed to short-term memory.

Although memory loss can be associated with Alzheimer's disease, stress or depression, it is often the result of the natural aging process. Learning how to improve short term memory will set your mind at rest, as well as that of your family.

Related:  Five Simple Tips to Naturally Improve Brain Health

How to Improve Short Term Memory by Training Your Brain

Studies show that people who keep their mind active can delay the onset of dementia and mental decline. To keep your brain active and your mind alert, read, write your memoir, learn a new language, do puzzles, write poetry or play card games, anything to keep the brain busy and happy.

Lumosity is a popular site for online brain training providing a great answer to how to improve short term memory. It provides cognitive tests in fun games designed by scientists. A 10-week study on 4,714 participants showed that those who did Lumosity puzzles regularly retained better mental agility than those who did regular crossword puzzles – interesting food for thought!

Memory Chunking

Scientists know that the human memory can easily recall seven random numbers; however, most telephone numbers, bank accounts and even passwords have more than this. The answer is to break down large numbers into easy chunks. If you have a 9-digit telephone number, remember it as three groups of three-digit numbers. Repetition and writing it down a few times should help you recall the number weeks later. Give chunking a try!

Memory Supplements

Many natural supplements and vitamins boost blood supply to the brain or help improve cognitive function. The B vitamins, particularly B6, B12 and B9 (folic acid) are shown to improve verbal ability and help the brain process new data.

Antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene fight the effects of free radicals and help protect the brain from damage. Fruit and vegetables are a good source of these important nutrients.  Avoid artificial sweeteners as well; studies show an alarming connection between them and reduction in brain health.

Finally, omega-3 fish oils support memory and brain function, so enjoy salmon, tuna and mackerel twice a week and keep taking those daily fish oil supplements. Now you know how to improve short term memory, don’t forget to follow it through!

Everyone Ages. Learn How to Do It Better. Free Resource Guide.

 

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What’s Causing Your Memory Loss?

by IVL Products

A forgotten appointment, misplaced keys, or struggling to find the correct word during a conversation…some people might chock these incidents up to simple absentmindedness.  For those in middle age or older however, episodes of forgetfulness can be scary, conjuring worries of Alzheimer's disease or dementia.  Fortunately, according to the National Institute on Aging, memory loss is often treatable once a cause has been established.  Becoming better informed can help people determine whether their forgetfulness is cause for concern. 

A number of factors can contribute to memory loss.

Memory loss can strike at any time in life and is influenced by many factors.  Here are some of the key causes:

Sleep Apnea

Memory loss accompanied by headache and recurrent daytime fatigue may be related to sleep apnea.  This condition causes breathing to stop for brief but frequent periods in the course of a night.  Research shows that untreated sleep apnea can impair spatial navigational memory, which is the type utilized to locate objects like keys.

Related:  Five Natural Supplements for Brain Health

Medications

Some medications can impact memory and may need adjustment.  These include:

  • Medications for anxiety
  • Medications for diabetes
  • Medications for pain
  • Medications for reducing cholesterol
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Because vitamin B12 is important for healthy nerve function, a deficiency can result in confusion, memory loss, and other dementia-like symptoms.  Good food sources of vitamin B12 include dairy products, poultry, beef, and fish.  To ensure proper daily amounts, people can also obtain vitamin B12 through dietary supplements.

Anxiety, Depression, and Stress

High levels of anxiety or stress can affect attention, focus, and memory, particularly when paired with sleep problems.  Techniques like yoga, meditation, guided imagery, or tai chi can help manage stress and improve sleep.  

If left untreated, chronic anxiety can lead to depression, which can also impact memory.  According to the National Institute on Aging, people can try certain types of medication and/or counseling to ease symptoms of depression.

Silent Stroke

Sometimes people have a stroke without being aware of it.  While a silent stroke doesn't exhibit any of the normal symptoms, it does cause changes in brain function, which can affect cognition and memory.  Vascular cognitive impairment from silent stroke can range from mild to severe.

Tips for Preventing Memory Loss

According to a study from the School of Medicine at UCLA, healthy lifestyle strategies can have a beneficial effect on memory and cognition.  Take advantage of these tips to help prevent memory loss.

  • Don't use tobacco products.
  • Eat a nutritious diet, and drink plenty of water.
  • Get regular physical exercise.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one per day for women.
  • Manage stress levels.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise the brain with word, number, or jigsaw puzzles.
  • Boost brain power by reading books, learning a new language, or taking up a musical instrument.

Conclusion

People with concerns about forgetfulness should consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.  Sharing symptoms and submitting to any required testing can help doctors determine what's causing your memory loss.  A few beneficial lifestyle strategies help to promote a healthy brain and a strong memory.

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The Scary Connection between Dental Problems and Heart Disease

by IVL Products

With all the things we have to do in a day, it is not surprising that oral care sometimes gets pushed to the bottom of the list.  However, a connection between dental problems (specifically gum disease) and heart disease makes tooth brushing and flossing important for overall health.  Studies show that people with moderate to advanced gum disease experience higher risks for heart disease than people with healthy gums. 

Regular brushing and flossing help prevent dental problems like gum disease.

Known as gingivitis in early development and periodontitis in later stages, gum disease is caused by plaque that collects on and below the gum line.  According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), having chronic gum disease raises chances for suffering a heart attack.  Gum disease might promote the formation of blood clots, which reduces blood flow to the heart, raises blood pressure, and boosts risk for heart attack.  Gum disease might cause blood clots in a few ways:

  1. Some experts believe bacteria from infected gums can get into the bloodstream, adhere to blood vessel walls, and contribute to the production of blood clots.
  2. Some researchers suggest that blood clots may also be produced as a result of the inflammation caused by gum disease. 

In addition, research shows that some risk factors for heart disease match those for gum disease and other dental problems. These include poor nutrition, tobacco use, or the development of diabetes.  According to the AGD, many systemic diseases have oral symptoms, and dentists help promote good overall health by examining patients for signs of oral pain, infection, and inflammation.

Related:  Could Your Dentist be Your Most Trusted Health Source?

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

Often progressing undiagnosed, gum disease affects roughly 80 percent of adults in the U.S.  Certain warning signs may indicate the development of gum disease:

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing and/or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • The appearance of gums pulling away from the teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth

Prevention of Gum Disease

Stopping gum disease is important for a beautiful smile and a healthy body.  People can prevent gum disease and other dental problems with regular brushing and flossing, which helps to remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar.  It is also important to schedule annual dental checkups, and regular cleanings.  People with heart disease should make their condition known to their dentist as well as informing them of any prescribed medications.

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The Link Between Your Oral Health And General Health

by IVL Products

Research has discovered that there is a strong link between your oral health and your risk of many chronic diseases.

 Heart Disease

Poor oral health allows an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can lead to an infection of your gums called periodontitis. The inflamed tissues allow bacteria to pass into your blood. The bacteria can attach to the lining of your arteries and form plaques, which can lead to blockages that increase your risk of strokes and heart attacks. People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease compared to those don't have periodontitis. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis.

Dementia

Bacteria can also get into your brain through your blood or cranial nerves and build plaques there too, raising the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. One study that followed 118 nuns between the ages of 75 and 98 found that those with the fewest teeth were most likely to suffer dementia.

Diabetes

One of the strongest connections between poor oral health and disease is with diabetes. Each condition contributes to the other. Diabetes increases the risk of infections of your gums, and infections in the gums worsen symptoms of diabetes, especially blood sugar control.    

Related:   Three Protein Packed Breakfasts

Osteoporosis

Women with osteoporosis have gum disease more often than those that don’t. Researchers believe that inflammation triggered by periodontitis might also weaken bones in other parts of the body.

Lung Conditions

Periodontal disease may make pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse, possibly by increasing the amount of bacteria in the lungs.

Pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of periodontitis. Treatment is very important because it has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

The best way to protect your oral health is to practice good oral hygiene every day.  

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Floss daily
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups. 

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Four Ways to Recharge Your Cardio Routine

by IVL Products

Getting your heart pumping and breaking a sweat is good for you, but do you feel like you’ve somehow lost your workout mojo?  You are probably in what’s known as a cardio rut. Your brain and your body have become bored with the same old workout.  When this happens you need to bust the boredom and break out of that cardio rut. Here are four simple ways to help you pump up the volume again.

Four ways to help you get out of that cardio rut!

Change Is Good

If you work out on the same equipment every time you’re at the gym, your body can’t help but adapt to that routine.  As a result, your metabolism will plateau and your motivation will begin to wane.  It’s clearly time to change your routine with a new style of cardio—preferably one where you break a good healthy sweat alongside others.  Spin classes, Zumba, water aerobics, kick boxing, flow or hot yoga; something that will challenge your mind and your body in a brand new way.  This change will invigorate your workouts and you’ll begin to experience new fitness gains and have fun at the same time! 

Challenge Yourself

Nothing will bust you out of a cardio rut like a little fear.  Instead of a spin class, try a boot camp cardio class.  Are you a bored runner?  Pick up the pace by training for a 10k or half marathon.  Just signing up for the race and telling people about it will motivate you to train harder.  If you’re a downhill skier try cross-country skiing or vice versa.  This will activate new muscles, challenge your lungs and leave you exhausted but exhilarated. Yes, starting a new fitness challenge can be hard, but that’s the point.  Pushing your body in a new way will re-ignite your fitness fire. 

Related:  Is Your Depression Exercise Related?

Location, Location, Location

A change of scenery can do you good.  Skip the gym and head out on your bike, go for a run or grab your daypack and go hiking.  Getting outdoors is scientifically proven to improve mood and enhance feelings of wellbeing.  Get some fresh air and you might see your enthusiasm for working out return.

Seek Professional Help

Sometime we lack imagination when it comes to working out, and that can lead to a cardio rut and a loss of fitness.  Get professional help in the form of a trainer or coach.  Fitness professionals can show you new ways to ramp up your cardio routine.  Check out different options; maybe High-Intensity Interval Training classes (HIIT), a different type of cardio machine, maybe rowing?  Consider hiring a coach to help you build your fitness level safely, and to teach you new ways to make physical gains. Educate yourself on how to keep changing it to prevent boredom again.  

Breaking through a monotonous cardio routine is easier when you alter your routine and set new fitness goals for yourself.  Trying new things is good for the body, mind and the soul. 

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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.

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Night Vision and Driving

by IVL Products

Just how safe are drivers who suffer with night vision problems? Let’s take a closer look. 

Some people can experience night vision problems.

Vision and Reaction Times

There are many variables involved.  What complicates the topic of older drivers and safety is that, not too surprisingly, older drivers are not the same. Health and reflex time varies considerably between drivers within any age group. So there are some factors that can make older drivers more of a concern.

While it is true that older drivers usually have more experience behind the wheel, it is also true that older drivers are more likely to have vision issues and problems. Of particular concern with older drivers is the issue of night vision problems.

Of course, it is important to remember that we are dealing averages when it comes to older drivers in general. For example, many older drivers will realize that their reflexes or eyesight may not be what it once was. They will stay off the road in less than optimal conditions such as storms or nighttime driving.

Night Vision Problems-Cataracts, Macular Degeneration and Glare Issues

Night vision acuity can decrease with age, and that is only the beginning of potential concerns. Cataracts can serve to dim vision in general, and this is also true for macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the result of deposits building up on the macula. The macula is the center part of the eye and this buildup results in, to varying degrees, the loss of vision in the center of the eye. Older eyes may also become more sensitive to light glare, which can lead to difficulty driving at night.

Related:  Cataract Surgery Reduces Fracture Risks

Don’t Be Afraid to Discuss Nighttime Driving Issues with the Elderly

If you know an elderly driver, it is important to encourage him or her to take an annual driving test. Additionally, if you know an older driver and feel that their eyesight or reaction time has been compromised, be sure to discuss it with them.  After all, their safety as well as the safety of others could be at risk.

Safe Driving Depends on Proper Reaction Time and Good Vision

Ultimately, competent and safe driving is in part about reaction time. Proper reaction time, of course, depends on being able to see and then react. If vision is impaired at any age, then reaction time is greatly diminished. The correlation between vision and reaction time is well established.

Safe Driving Benefits Everyone

Before you or someone you know gets behind the wheel, it is necessary to establish healthy vision and reaction times. Night vision problems are serious and should be treated accordingly. Don’t be shy about approaching someone, regardless of age, who may be having reaction time problems behind the wheel. Safe nighttime driving benefits all of society.

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Get Sweating to Reduce Stress

by IVL Products

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

Physical exercise is an effective way to reduce stress.

Cortisol Endorphins and Stress

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

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

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

Related:  Five Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

How Does Physical Exercise Reduce Stress?

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

Sleeping Beauty

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

The Fitness Fairy Tale

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

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

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Five Reasons You Can’t Concentrate

by IVL Products

Do you find yourself unable to concentrate on your work assignments?  Do you seem to be forgetting appointments or constantly flicking through your emails or Instagram messages, even when you should be doing something more important? Perhaps your inability to focus is caused by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), technology overload or something more mundane, such as lack of sleep. Here are five common reasons why adults cannot concentrate, and how to fix the problem.


Inability to focus can be a serious problem

1.     ADHD Causes an Inability to Focus

It isn’t only children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to Timothy Wilens M.D., the Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, many adults are diagnosed with ADHD in their late 30s. He puts this down to excessive multitasking as people juggle a demanding career with starting a family, managing a home and numerous other personal obligations. The brain seems to overload, resulting in problems staying alert and focused.

If diagnosed with ADHD, typical treatment includes a stimulant medication, cognitive behavior therapy, and practical help such as using a life coach to get back on track.

2.     Technology Overload

We have so many more distractions than 20 years ago. Your cell phone, computer, iPod, personal organizer and other handheld devices demand your immediate attention. Although you downloaded apps to help manage your responsibilities, they seem to simply be demanding more of your time, making it impossible to stay focused on the task in hand.

Take control by limiting checking your emails or social media to once or twice a day. Write a list or commit everything to a day planner so you can prioritize and systematically work through the tasks. Make sure you have some technology-free time to go for a run, bake cookies, participate in a sport or read a non-electronic book.

3.     Lack of Sleep

Insomnia can be a common cause of an inability to focus. The National Sleep Foundation study recommends we need at least seven hours of sleep per night to function normally. If you cannot sleep, have interrupted sleep or wake up unrefreshed, then you may need to develop a pre-bedtime routine, including a hot milky drink and relaxing activities.

4.     Too Little Exercise

Spending most of your waking hours sitting at a desk or in meetings can cause physical restlessness and poor concentration. Regular exercise stimulates the circulation, sharpens the mind, increases learning and aids memory. Burning off excess energy and releasing those positive endorphins will help battle that inability to focus. Give yoga a try; it’s an ancient remedy for many ailments, including lack of focus. 

Related:  Discover the Benefits of Hatha Yoga for Stress Relief

5.     Boredom

New challenges stimulate the brain, banishing poor concentration as you get to grips with the new task. Try to make boring jobs more exciting by setting yourself a time limit. Alternatively, you may want to consider a career change.

There are many more reasons why you may have trouble concentrating such as stress, vitamin deficiency (such as lack of B-12), alcohol abuse or lack of job satisfaction. If it goes on long-term, you may need to consult your doctor to help you overcome your inability to focus for your health’s sake.

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Omega-3 Fish Oil for Weight Loss

by IVL Products

Many people understand how omega-3 fish oil can be great for healthy joints and skin, but there are also many benefits of omega-3 fish oil for weight loss.

Discover the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for weight loss

A study at the University of South Australia on 75 overweight individuals with a high risk of cardiovascular disease divided the participants into four groups.

  • Group one received doses of omega-3 fish oil supplements from tuna and did no exercise
  • Group two received doses of omega-3 fish oil supplements from tuna and ran for 45-minutes three times a week
  • Group three received doses of sunflower oil (without any omega-3) and did no exercise
  • Group four received doses of sunflower oil supplements and ran for 45-minutes three times a week.

After three weeks, tests showed that little had changed in three groups, but the group that took fish oil and exercised showed a decrease in body fat and lost an average 4.5 pounds. This is great news for dieters, showing the definite benefits of omega-3 fish oil for weight loss in conjunction with exercise.

Why Do Omega-3 Fish Oils and Exercise Promote Weight Loss?

It seems paradoxical that eating fatty oils can actual help you burn body fat and shed unwanted pounds, but this is what many other studies have also shown.

This anomaly works because taking omega-3 fish oil supplements increases the body’s metabolism by activating fat-burning enzymes, particularly around the belly.

In another study, researchers gave one group of people eight capsules of fish oil supplements; two at breakfast, three at lunchtime and three in the evening. The second group was given a placebo. Both groups were given exactly the same amount of food and exercise. Those who took the omega-3 fish oils lost an average of two pounds compared to the placebo group which lost on average 0.7 pounds. In addition, the omega-3 group burned 1,775 calories per day compared to 1,710 calories by the placebo group. This clearly shows that taking fish oil supplements in conjunction with exercise can burn calories as part of a calorie-controlled weight-loss diet. 

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Healthy Snacks for the Office

by IVL Products

Working in an office job can be sedentary, often with little chance for exercise.  This can quickly lead to excess weight and obesity. If you are trying to lose weight, going without food is a sure way to fail. Rather than having a stash of candy bars in your office drawer or succumbing to a donut, try having a few healthy office snacks on hand to help with appetite control and prevent boredom eating. Here are a few ideas to tempt you!

Healthy office snacks don’t have to be dry and boring!

Almonds

Almonds are a good choice for nibbling. Low in carbohydrates, they curb the appetite and satisfy hunger for longer. A study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who enjoyed 1.5 ounces of almonds daily as a healthy office snack did not put on weight. The almonds made people less hungry, so they consequently ate less at meal times, compensating for the additional 250 calories consumed in the almonds.

Related:  Satisfying Snacks for the Weight Conscious

Bananas

Fruit is always a good solution if you are looking for healthy office snacks without high calories. A large banana is around 120 calories. It is full of fiber, which helps you feel satiated for longer. 

Instant oatmeal

If you crave something warm and hearty, instant oatmeal is just 110 calories per serving. All you need is hot water.  Choose plain and add your own toppings.  You have plenty of calories left to add a mini box of raisins (42 calories), a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg (zero calories), an ounce of blueberries (16 calories), or a handful of strawberries (4 calories each).

Veggies with Ranch

Carrot and celery sticks are healthy office snacks that are easy to prepare and transport; or buy them ready prepared from the supermarket.  Add a small cup of ranch or blue cheese dressing as a dip. For variety, slice strips of sweet peppers, broccoli and cauliflower florets for a colorful crunchy treat.

Pita chips and salsa

Make homemade salsa for a healthy office snack that’s big enough to share!

Mix together:

  • One large can chopped tomatoes with chilies
  • One chopped onion
  • One can of sweetcorn (rinsed and drained)
  • One can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons low fat Italian dressing.

Stir and serve with low fat pita chips or tortillas. Yum!

Now there’s no excuse not to enjoy healthy office snacks and still maintain your recommended body weight.  

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How to Live with a Gluten Free Diet and Still Love what You Eat

by IVL Products

Gluten intolerance, also known as Celiac Disease, affects around one in every hundred Americans. You may suffer from it yourself, or know someone who does. Understanding the problem and learning to live with a gluten free diet can be challenging. Perhaps our diet tips and information will make it a little easier!

A gluten free diet may be the chance to start a new healthier lifestyle.

What is Gluten Intolerance?

A person is deemed gluten intolerant when their immune system reacts negatively to gluten, the protein found in barley, wheat and rye. When a gluten intolerant person digests gluten, the body produces antibodies to attack the gluten. It may cause damage to the intestines and can prevent the body from properly digesting other essential nutrients.

The internal inflammation triggered by eating foods containing gluten may cause severe bloating, nausea, gas and stomach cramps in anyone who is gluten intolerant. Some people have no internal symptoms but the resulting poor absorption of nutrients leads to tiredness, hair loss and malnutrition. The only treatment for gluten intolerance is to adopt a totally gluten free diet.

What You Can Eat on a Gluten Free Diet

Anyone forced to adopt a gluten free diet will quickly find that there are many foods that contain gluten. Bread, pasta, pizza bases, thickened sauces and soups, cookies, cakes, ice cream, canned and cured meats, condiments, breadcrumbs and spice blends…the list is depressingly long.

Related:  Gluten Brain:  Wheat Cuts off Blood Flow to Frontal Cortex

It’s easier to focus on what food groups you CAN eat on a gluten free diet. You can freely enjoy as much as you like of the following healthy gluten free foods:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Non-processed meats, chicken and fish
  • Eggs
  • Natural dairy products, milk and unprocessed cheeses
  • Grains and cereals such as corn, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and millet

How to Live a Gluten Free Lifestyle

As gluten intolerance affects around 3 million Americans, the food industry has developed a whole range of gluten-free foods to add to the above list of gluten-free staples. You’ll find gluten free bagels, muffins, pancakes, bread, doughnuts and desserts in most supermarkets and health-food stores.  

Treat yourself to a cookbook of gluten-free recipes and search for websites with more information on adopting a gluten free lifestyle. Pinterest is a good way to source gluten free meal ideas or try these tasty gluten free recipes as part of your new gluten free diet.

Read the Label

It’s important to understand that if you are gluten intolerant you can’t just reduce gluten intake, you must completely eliminate gluten to avoid serious damage to your health. Unfortunately, gluten is found in makeup, beer and in many ready meals. However, when dining out, most chain restaurants offer gluten free options.

If a product does not specifically say it is gluten free, you need to check the label for hidden gluten in words such as:

  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Triticale
  • Matzo
  • Licorice (made from wheat flour)
  • Semolina
  • Durum
  • Farina
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Malt products
  • Maltodextrin

Although a gluten free diet may have been forced upon you by circumstance, embrace the opportunity it brings and establish a new healthier lifestyle for yourself and your whole family.

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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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Study Shows Long-Term Results for People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by IVL Products

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disease marked by extreme tiredness that limits participation in normal daily activities.  Roughly one million Americans are currently diagnosed with CFS, and it affects at least twice as many women as men.  Although many suspect a virus or immune system reaction, there is no known cause of the disease, and there are no lab tests to confirm diagnosis.  Consequently, medical professionals have struggled with ways to treat the disease.  Fortunately, a recent study shows that a few different treatments can provide long-term results for people with chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Signs and symptoms of CFS can come and go, lasting anywhere from one month to many years.  Unfortunately, additional rest doesn't help reduce fatigue and other symptoms, which can include:

  • Achy muscles and joints with an absence of swelling
  • Changes in mood
  • Chills
  • Foggy thinking
  • Headaches
  • Low-grade fever
  • Impaired memory
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck or armpits

The Research

Examining participants of the PACE trial – a study published in 2011 – the new study follows up on results.  In the original study, 641 patients with CFS were randomly assigned to one of four treatments:

  1. Specialist Medical Care (SMC), which provides medication and ways to manage the disease.
  2. SMC combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to help patients understand how thinking affects disease progression. 
  3. SMC plus graded exercise therapy (GET), an exercise program tailored to a patient's fitness level and specific symptoms.
  4. SMC in combination with adaptive pacing therapy (APT), a treatment that helps patients better adapt to the limitations that come with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The original research found that outcomes for people treated with SMC plus CBT or SMC and GET were better than those for people treated with SMC alone or SMC plus ABT.  Further, improvements continued to last one year out.  

In the latest study, the research team found that improvements still continued after 2.5 years. It was also noted that patients in the SMC plus CBT or GET groups sought less follow-up treatment than patients in the other two groups after the original study ended.

Related:  The Ayurvedic Therapy Shilajit Reverses Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Conclusion

People who suspect they may have chronic fatigue syndrome should consult with a health care professional for proper diagnosis.  In addition to the treatments mentioned above, people can try a few lifestyle changes to improve symptoms.  Stop smoking, limit alcohol use, avoid napping during the day, adopt a regular night-time sleep routine, eat a nutritious diet, and try stress relieving activities like yoga, meditation, or tai chi.  

Challenge Yourself to Get Moving Today

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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

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Have Fun Protecting Your Heart Health

by IVL Products

You might think that the diet and lifestyle you need to follow to protect your heart health would be anything but fun. But, research shows there are a lot of extremely enjoyable activities that are particularly good for your heart. In this week's video you learned about the heart health benefits of vacations, hugs, and good friends.

Here are 5 more pleasurable activities that are great for your health:

#1) Tickle your funny bone. Watching comedies, joking around with friends or doing anything that makes you laugh is wonderful for your heart. According to a 2011 study, laughing relaxes your blood vessels, decreases blood pressure, and drops stress hormones. The benefits of laughing are so strong—researchers found it is equivalent to participating in aerobic exercise.

#2)  Make love. Research shows that regular sex can have good aerobic benefits. Also just like hugs, it produces feel good hormones that lowers your blood pressure and stress hormones.

#3) Get regular massages. Professional massages not only work out the kinks in your muscles, but also lower stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rate.

#4) Spend time with your pet. Quality time with your dog, cat or whatever animal you prefer can help relax you, boost your mood, lower your stress hormones, and decrease your blood pressure and heart rate. Studies show pets can even cause you to live longer.

#5) Get out in nature. Whether it’s the beach, the mountains or a park, being in nature can boost your mood and decrease stress. Add some aerobic activity for twice the benefit.

A heart-healthy diet and lifestyle doesn’t have to be boring or dull. In fact, the more fun you have the better it usually is for your heart. Find other activities that bring you joy and make you laugh, and don’t forget to invite your friends!

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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Three Strange Signs You May Have a Vitamin Deficiency

by IVL Products

In a modern world, people are busier than ever, which can have an effect on daily nutrition.  An influx of fast or processed foods and high levels of stress make it easy to become deficient in certain key nutrients.  When levels of vitamins and minerals are low, the body reacts.  Common symptoms of deficiency include insomnia, fatigue, and irritability, but the body can also respond in more unusual ways.  Here are three strange signs that may indicate vitamin deficiency. 

People concerned about vitamin deficiency should visit a health care professional for blood tests.

1.  Muscle Cramps

People who experience muscle cramps in the legs, calves, feet, or toes may be deficient in magnesium, calcium, and/or potassium.  Adding some mineral rich foods to the shopping cart can help.  Load up on nuts and seeds like almonds, hazel nuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Try fruits like apples, bananas, cherries, and grapefruit and vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, kale, and spinach.

2.  Tingly Hands and Feet

Certain vitamins help ensure good nerve health like B6, B9 (folate), and B12.  When the hands and feet feel pins-and-needles tingly, a deficiency of these important B vitamins may be indicated.  Additional symptoms may include anxiety, depression, or fatigue.  For relief, stock up on asparagus, beets, clams, mussels, oysters, and poultry as well as pinto, black, kidney, or lima beans.

Related:  How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

3.  Hair loss

Vitamin deficiency is responsible for hair loss in some people.  Those who are noticing more hair than usual in the shower drain may want to reevaluate their diet.  Low levels of iron or vitamin D may be to blame.  A study from Cairo University found that women suffering from telogen effluvium (TE) and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) showed low levels of these two nutrients, and the lower the levels, the more hair was lost. 

While the best way to get vitamin D is through the sun's rays, good food sources include wild-caught salmon and fortified milk and orange juice.  Foods high in iron include clams, eggs, liver, oysters, and spinach. People should always get their iron from foods first and consult with a medical professional before taking iron supplements.

The best way to avoid vitamin deficiency and resulting symptoms is to eat a well-balanced diet.  Taking a daily multivitamin helps fill in any nutritional gaps.  People concerned about deficiency of particular nutrients or absorption problems can speak to a medical professional for blood tests and proper treatment.

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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The Importance of Family Time on Kids’ Mental Health

by IVL Products

Parents today spend nearly three times as much time with their children than in the past.  However, new research shows that the quantity of time spent with your children is not as important as the quality of the time spent together. The importance of family time cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to the mental health of children, but how you spend that time is what makes the difference in their wellbeing.

The importance of family time cannot be underestimated.

Quality Not Quantity

Parents often spend a lot of time with their children rushing them to school, to sports practice, to the mall, to the doctor, day after day. However, this is not the kind of family time children need.  Spending quality time with your children is much more important than the number of minutes you are together.

A distracted, stressed-out parent in hurry makes for a stressed-out, anxious child. Child psychologists urge parents to make time to just be with their children, not rush them around from one thing to the next.  When you are relaxed and directly engaging with your child, not checking your email or nagging them to hurry up, but making it a point to just talk to them you will give them the chance to voice their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment.

Related:  Signs of Depression in Children

Children need meaningful time and attention from their parents. This means that 15 minutes of casual chatting while you drive to school is worth more than an hour distracted by electronic devices and other people at their basketball game. 

The Child-Parent Bond

When your children are talking to you, put aside distractions and really listen.  Get down on their level, look them in the eye, and ask questions when appropriate.  Then set the expectation of the same from them when you are speaking.  Not scolding, nagging or arguing with them, though.  Ask them to turn off the computer, put down their cellphone and listen to you.  You don’t need to ramble on for an hour to make it a meaningful conversation, either.  Five or ten minutes of fully engaged communication is vital for a healthy relationship.

This is especially true of adolescent children. Research shows that teens and tweens who have good communication with their parents and feel important to the family tend to have better grades and do not engage in risky behaviors like smoking or drinking.

Strong child-parent bonds are formed through consistent communication, meaningful time spent together directly engaged with one another,  When children are allowed and encouraged to voice their thoughts and opinions about their environment, the family, school and parental expectations of them, they have an outlet for sharing how they really feel and what may really be going on in their lives.

 Talk Really Is Cheap

You do not have to spend a lot of money or time planning elaborate ways to spend quality time with your children. There are endless ways to spend meaningful time with your children that are low cost and even free.  

Meal Time

This is the perfect opportunity for the entire family to gather, put aside electronic distractions and engage with one another. Make meal time a priority to engage your children in meal preparation (at the appropriate age) and to spend that time encouraging them to talk about their day and sharing something about yours. Setting an expectation for using good table manners and cleaning up afterwards models desirable social behavior and engages them in the family dynamic.

Hobbies

If your child likes to collect things, help them find the items for free or show them how to save their allowance or birthday cash to further their interest. More importantly, show your interest in their hobby by asking questions about it and offering your insights when appropriate.

Board Games

A ten-dollar board game can provide many hours of fun and quality family time.  There are games for all ages and levels from short games that are a few minutes for younger children to more complex games like Monopoly or Battleship for older children.  Engaging in some fun competition sets the stage for lots of laughing and a way to get your child talking about what’s on their mind, while reinforcing the message that you enjoy being with them.

Outdoor Activities

People who spend time outdoors regularly are generally happier and healthier according to science.  Nature has a way of helping us relax and put aside our worries for a short time.  Kids especially benefit from being outdoors because it promotes physical activity and exploration of the world around them.  From a short hike or bike ride to the park to a weekend-long camping trip, being outdoors engaged with your child is an easy way to get in some quality family time and much needed fresh air.  Look into the theory called nature deficit disorder.  In his book, The Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv argues that kids are so plugged into television and video games that they've lost their connection to the natural world—and it’s not just children!

Reading

Something as simple as reading to or with your child can have a much more profound and positive affect than enrolling them in an abundance of often expensive activities.  Parents who establish a reading habit with their children tend to have a closer lifelong relationship with them, and their kids are more likely to get better grades in school.  Reading to and with your child is a win-win for everybody.

The Time of Your Lives

The importance of family time on your kids’ mental health is profound. Children who feel connected and engaged in their family dynamic are less likely to threaten their siblings or parents, are more sociable, do better in school and other activities and have less behavioral issues. It’s simple and easy to spend quality time with your children no matter how demanding your career or other obligations.  Engaging your children in brief but meaningful conversations, including them in the daily chores of everyday life and emphasizing how their contribution to the family matters does not cost a lot of money or time—and the payoff is priceless.