0 Comments

The Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to good health, it's all about equilibrium.  Too much acid in the body throws the pH balance out of whack and boosts vulnerability to viruses and disease.  When people eat acid-forming foods, the body releases alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorous into the bloodstream to restore pH balance.  If not available through food sources, these minerals are pulled from organs, teeth and bones, a process which compromises the health.  An alkaline diet can help. 

Fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and cucumbers make great options for an alkaline diet.

The pH balance in our blood should be slightly alkaline for good health, which can be achieved by eating more high-alkaline foods and fewer foods that produce acid.  Good alkaline diet foods include vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli and celery. For high-alkaline fruits, people often turn to red or yellow apples, avocados, grapefruit, lemons, limes, pomegranate and rhubarb. Additional alkaline-forming foods include almonds and almond milk, buckwheat, quinoa, chia seeds, herbs and herbal tea. Acid-producing foods include meats, fish, dairy products, beans, processed foods and many types of grains.

Alkaline Diet Benefits for the Health

A diet full of alkaline-rich foods offers a number of benefits to the health.

Bone Health

Maintaining a healthy pH balance can benefit bone health.  A study from the University of California showed that chronic acidosis contributes to bone loss.  Research also shows that hip fractures among middle-aged females are often linked to diets low in vegetables and high in animal products.

Related:  The Bone-Blood Connection

Muscle Mass

As people age, they lose muscle, which raises risks for falls and fractures.  Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that diets with more potassium-rich foods (like fruits and vegetables) and less acid might help prevent the loss of muscle mass in aging individuals.

Cancer

Adding high-alkaline foods to the diet can help people with cancer.  Research published in the journal Cancer shows that an alkaline diet makes some chemotherapy medicines more effective.

Adopting an alkaline diet doesn't mean eating only alkaline-rich foods.  Foods high in alkaline should make up about 60 to 80 percent of the diet, with acid-forming foods making up the remaining 20 to 40 percent.  Because pesticides are acid-forming, shoppers should purchase organic produce when possible. 

0 Comments

Seven Tips for Avoiding the Dangers of Sugar

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

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

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

Related:  Your Sugar Cravings Explained

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

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

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

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

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

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

0 Comments

Understanding Balance & Tips To Stay Steady On Your Feet

by Institute for Vibrant Living

We take many aspects of life for granted, such as the ability to balance. Healthy habits are important for maintaining many everyday activities such as walking on an uneven sidewalk, stepping off a curb to cross the street, or getting out of bed without falling over. Let’s look at how all the amazing parts of our body work together for perfect balance, and pick up some healthy living tips to keep it that way.

Healthy habits help maintain balance

 

Understanding Balance

Balance is defined as the “ability to maintain the body’s center of mass over its base of support.” We need perfect balance to stand upright, see clearly as we move around, and live a normal healthy life.

Related:  Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

Lack of balance is shown by a range of symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and the inability to walk steadily in a straight line. These can cause nausea, feelings of disorientation, and problems with sight, hearing, concentrating and remembering things. It takes a combination of systems all working synergistically together to maintain balance.

Balance requires:

  • Muscles, bones and joints that provide motor control. Movements and postural adjustments that help us stay balanced are driven by the brain through sensory receptors and motor impulses. Information from the joints and body relay information to the brain.
  • Vision to provide sensory input through sight, giving a sense of distance and proportion. Rods and cones in the retina provide fine detail and visual information about how the body is orientated in relation to other objects.
  • The inner ear contains semicircular canals filled with fluid that detect turning movements. It sends sensory information to the brain to make compensatory adjustments to the rest of the body
  • Nerves are used to detect changes in the body as we move around. For example, pressure on the front soles of the feet tells the brain that you are leaning forward. Movement in the neck tells the brain which way you are looking. All these allow the brain to make fine adjustments so that the body remains upright and balanced through an ongoing series of large and small movements.

Healthy Living Tips to Support Balance

Fortunately, all these activities go on subconsciously or proprioceptively, allowing us to think, move and get on with life while the body and brain control the task of keeping us upright and safe.

As balance requires a coordinated combination of several systems, if one component ceases to function correctly, it is likely to affect our balance. Disease, injury or aging can affect sight, muscles, joints, the nervous system and the brain, resulting in imbalance.

Balance also depends on other more subtle factors.  Make sure to get enough sleep, as being tired can affect your balance.  Side effects of prescription drugs can dizziness and a feeling of being imbalanced and off-center.  Having a clear mind also helps with balance, therefore stress can impact your ability to remain balanced.  Hatha yoga is one of the best ways to safely and naturally improve your ability to be balanced.  

By taking care of the body holistically, we can support the interaction of different components that allow us to balance. Healthy habits include taking supplements that support vision, active cognitive function and supple joints and bones. If just one part of the whole becomes incapacitated, your balance is likely to suffer as a result.

0 Comments

Five Tips to Eating Healthy While Tailgating

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Football and tailgating go hand in hand, but typical tailgate food isn't always healthy. Cheeseburgers, hotdogs, ribs, potato chips and dips often have high levels of fat and calories.  What's more, grilling produces heterocyclic amines (HCAs), cancer-causing compounds that form when muscle meats are cooked over high heat.  Fortunately, football fans can enjoy healthy tailgating by following five easy tips.

Enjoy healthy tailgating by blending grilled meats with plenty of vegetables.

1.  Incorporate more fruits and veggies into tailgate food.  Fill trays with sliced vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumber, broccoli and cauliflower, and substitute hummus for fatty dips.  Use prosciutto, fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fat-free dressing and skewers to create caprese on a stick.  Replace high-calorie desserts with fresh orange wedges, grapes, watermelon, or apple slices.

2.  Have fun with activity.  Tailgating isn't just about the food.  It's a time for relaxing and socializing with friends and family.  Active games like tag, corn hole, Frisbee or football make a tailgate party healthier and more fun.

Related:  Heart Healthy Recipes

3.  Make smarter beverage choices.  For healthy tailgating, make lighter choices when it comes to alcohol by packing the cooler with light beer or wine spritzers.  For the kids, replace high-sugar sodas and concentrated fruit juices with bottled water, coconut water or infused water.

4.  Stay hydrated.  Having plenty of water available helps prevent dehydration on a hot day.  Drinking H2O in between cocktails also helps counteract the effects of alcohol like headache and low energy.

5.  Reduce HCAs for healthy tailgating.  Studies show that well-cooked meat produces 3.5 times more HCAs than medium-rare meat.  Research also shows that the use of ingredients like herbs and vinegar can reduce HCAs by 50 percent or more.  Marinate chicken in a blend of white wine, garlic, thyme, rosemary and ginger for a yummy HCA-reducing recipe.  Combine ground beef with dried cherries, garlic, a little honey, cumin, and dried chilies and grill to medium-rare.

Tailgating is an activity long-enjoyed by football fans, but football foods aren't always the best when it comes to the health.  Fortunately, following the five tips above helps reduce fat, calories, alcohol content, and HCAs for happy, healthy tailgating.  

0 Comments

Cosmetic Vaginal Surgery – What You Need To Know

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The latest trend for healthy living tips includes vaginal rejuvenation, which is the third fastest-growing type of plastic surgery for women. Also known as vaginoplasty or vaginal tightening, this surgical or laser procedure may be required for practical, sexual or aesthetic reasons.  

Healthy living tips may include vaginal rejuvenation

 

What is Vaginal Rejuvenation?

Vaginal rejuvenation is a new type of cosmeto-gynecological surgery. It treats vaginal relaxation which is commonly associated with childbirth and aging. Unfortunately, as the vagina stretches and loses muscle tone it can reduce sexual satisfaction and cause a loss of self-esteem.

Vaginoplasty can also help reduce mild incontinence and leaking due to slack muscle tone associated with older age. The procedure is performed under general anesthetic and the surgeon tightens the inner and outer muscles and structures of the vagina to improve muscle tone, strength and control.

Healthy Living Tips for ConsideringVaginal Rejuvenation

There are several different reasons why a woman may want to undergo vaginoplasty. For many women post-childbirth, their vaginal muscles become loose as the years go by. Vaginoplasty can tighten the vaginal canal, restore lubrication and stimulate non-responsive areas, increasing sexual satisfaction. Vaginal rejuvenation also increases blood flow to the area. New tissue produces collagen and increases lubrication, particularly for those with atrophic vaginitis.

Some women seek out vaginal rejuvenation or labiaplasty for cosmetic reasons, shaping or reducing the vaginal lip area. This may help boost self-confidence or enhance sexual pleasure by restoring the vagina to pre-childbirth condition.

Vaginal tightening may also be advised to help control mild urinary incontinence and embarrassing bladder leakage caused by slack muscle tissue in the vaginal area. In some cases, healthy habits such as regular kegel exercises can tighten the vagina and reduce the risk of incontinence. However, some women still need vaginal rejuvenation surgery.

Related:  What You Should Know about Bladder Cancer

Laser or Non-Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation?

Although vaginal rejuvenation is a relatively new procedure, there are several different methods available including laser and surgical non-laser techniques. Patients considering vaginal rejuvenation should talk to their doctor about which method would be best suited to their needs.

Non-surgical laser treatment for vaginal rejuvenation is painless, FDA approved, and is usually provided in a series of treatments. Alternatively, vaginal rejuvenation surgery is usually recommended for women requiring treatment for a pelvic organ prolapse or significant vaginal relaxation. This is done using a Bovie electric scalpel or radiofrequency Elman technique.

As with all surgical enhancements, sensible healthy living tips should be followed including finding a well-qualified doctor who is experienced in vaginal rejuvenation to perform this highly personal procedure.

 

 

 

0 Comments

4 Dangers of Dry Dog Food – Pet Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

For many people across America, pets are part of the family, making pet health a high priority.  Many dog owners rely on dry dog food products to keep their four-legged companions strong and fit.  Hundreds of brands promise all the nutrition and goodness dogs need.  Unfortunately, dry dog food may not be as healthy as you might think. Here are four important facts you may not know about dry dog food:

Many dry dog food brands promise tartar prevention, but dry kibble may actually worsen tartar buildup and contribute to poor pet health.

1.  Dry dog food does not prevent tartar buildup.

Good pet health extends to your dog's teeth, and dry dog food does not help.  Because of its abrasive quality, it can remove some plaque at the tips of the teeth, but it can also collect at the gum line.  This can cause plaque, tartar and gum disease, and the amount of refined carbohydrates in some dry dog foods makes the problem even worse.

Get in the habit of regularly brushing your dog’s teeth. It’s easy, and it can prolong your dog’s life (just like good oral hygiene can extend human longevity.)  Regular brushing helps prevent bad doggy breath, it makes your pet more comfortable as they age; and over time, you can save a lot of money by not having to have professional intervention to repair what should have been tended to all along.  Get a tube of chicken or peanut butter flavored dog tooth paste from the pet shop.  Use a soft toothbrush size-appropriate for your dog’s breed.  Have a partner hold your dog, and gently brush their teeth several times a week.  They’ll get used to it and enjoy it once you develop a routine.

2.  Many dry dog foods are deficient in nutrients needed for good pet health.

Most dry dog foods lack an adequate amount of essential fatty acids (EFAs), nutrients that are needed for healthy pet function.  Found in fatty fish, chicken, pork and many plant oils, EFAs are important for your dog's growth and reproduction and they support healthy skin and fur.

3.  Some dry dog foods can cause bladder stones and bladder infections.

Certain dry dog foods lack important minerals, which can cause a buildup of other minerals in a dog's body to compensate.  This mineral buildup can lead to bladder stones.  Cereal products found in some dry dog foods can also cause mineral buildup in dog urine, which can lead to bladders stones and bladder infections. 

Related:  Which Holiday Plants are Poisonous to My Pets?

4Dry dog foods can be bad for your dog's health and the health of your lawn.

Lacking adequate sources of energy and high in insoluble fiber, many dry dog foods are difficult for dogs to digest.  This results in large, moist and smelly stools.  These wet stools contain concentrated urine that can burn grass, as evidenced by brown patches on the lawns of many dog owners.        

Devoted dog owners put pet health on top of their list of daily priorities.  There are good dry dog food brands available.  Learn to read the labels and seek out a healthy alternative for your pet.  Many are turning to homemade dog food as an alternative to dry kibble.  The foods below offer good daily nutrition for dogs:

  • Seeded apples, oats, blueberries, carrots – sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber
  • Chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish – sources of protein
  • Salmon, flax seed – sources of essential fatty acids
  • Plain yogurt, cottage cheese – sources of calcium
  • Brown rice, sweet potatoes, barley – sources of carbohydrates
0 Comments

The Effects of Stress on People with Diabetes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Sweaty palms, flushing in the face, feelings of anxiety… these are just a few of the signs of stress.  For most people, occasional stress is not a big deal, but the effects of stress on people with diabetes are markedly different and more dangerous.  Stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol that can raise glucose (blood sugar) levels. 

How does cortisol raise blood sugar?

The fight-or-flight response is the body's way of dealing with a stressful event.  The release of cortisol and other hormones creates a rush of glucose to use as energy for fight or flight.  When experiencing short-term episodes of stress, this response is healthy for most people.  However, for people with diabetes, it creates a serious problem.  Diabetic bodies have trouble moving glucose from the bloodstream into cells, so episodes of stress can lead to an excess of sugar in the bloodstream.

For people with diabetes, stress can cause a vicious cycle.  Stress raises blood sugar, and the diabetic becomes even more stressed over high glucose levels.  Chronic stress like that experienced when dealing with relationship problems or caring for a sick loved one can make diabetes management more difficult by taking the focus off of personal health care.

One of the effects of stress is emotional eating, but using food to relieve stress is dangerous for diabetics.  Many comfort foods are high in fat and sugar, which can impact blood glucose and body weight.  When people are overweight, body cells become less sensitive to insulin released from the pancreas and glucose pools in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed by the cells.

What are some stress-relief techniques for managing blood sugar?

Stress-relieving techniques that may help control blood sugar include meditation, yoga, tai chi, and guided imagery.  Exercise also helps relieve stress, and it may offer even more help for people with type 2 diabetes.  Some research indicates that fat cells are more insulin-resistant than muscle cells for people with type 2 diabetes.  Exercise and building muscle appears to lower insulin resistance because muscle cells use up excess glucose in the blood for energy. 

Related:  Health Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

What are some ways to manage blood sugar?

To metabolize carbohydrates, the body converts them into sugar and releases insulin to move sugar into cells.  Because diabetes hampers this process, the sugar stays in the bloodstream.  People with and without diabetes can manage blood sugar by limiting consumption of carbohydrates to fiber-rich, low-sugar forms like oatmeal and fresh vegetables.  Carbohydrates that contain fiber are metabolized slowly, so the rise in blood sugar is gradual.  

Drinking plenty of water also helps keep blood glucose in check.  Water helps the kidneys flush glucose out of the body through urine, and it keeps the bloodstream hydrated.

While some stress is acute or short-term like the stress we experience in traffic, other stress is long-term or chronic.  No matter what the causes of stress or the duration, people with diabetes have to work harder than others to keep it under control.  Following the tips above can help people manage blood sugar and reduce stress for diabetes and good overall health.

0 Comments

Cholesterol by Any Other Name

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Most people know that high total cholesterol usually indicates heart disease and high blood pressure. Although we are familiar with “good” and “bad” cholesterol, there are six main types of lipids (fats) in the bloodstream that can give a more informed view of our state of health. These can be very useful for those with high blood pressure symptoms and those wanting to counter high blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle.

Raised cholesterol is the main culprit for causing high blood pressure

 

HDL Cholesterol

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and is considered “good” cholesterol. It helps remove the less desirable LDL cholesterol fatty acids by transporting it to the liver where it is reprocessed. HDL cholesterol also helps maintain the inner endothelium lining of blood vessels by keeping them clear of plaque build-up, a common cause of high blood pressure.

In the case of HDL cholesterol, high numbers can be good. If you have 60 mg/dL of HDL cholesterol or more, this means you are at lower risk of heart disease than those with less than 40mg/dL. Anaerobic exercise, quitting smoking and losing excess weight can all help boost healthy HDL levels.

Related:  What is the Diabetes-Cholesterol Connection and Why is it Important?

LDL Cholesterol

LDL refers to low-density lipoprotein which is “bad” cholesterol as it collects on the walls of blood vessels, restricting the blood flow and causing the symptoms of high blood pressure. If left to build-up, plaque-causing LDL cholesterol can lead to a blockage where a blood clot might form.

High levels of LDL indicate a higher risk of heart disease or stroke. If your LDL levels are above 150 mg/dL, you need to exercise regularly, cut out saturated fats and eat more fiber.

RLP

RLP stands for remnant-like particle cholesterol which is considered one of the most harmful lipoproteins. High levels of RLP are associated with coronary heart disease, even in those with normal total cholesterol and low LDL. Omega-3 fatty acids can significantly lower levels of RLP in those with levels above 7.5mg/dL.

IDL

Intermediate-density lipoproteins are similar to LDL and can similarly be controlled with a low-fat diet and exercise. IDL creates damaging plaque build-up in the arteries causing high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, which lead to heart disease, stroke and sudden death.

Lipoprotein(a)

Recent research shows that Lp(a) levels can accurately assess the risk of future cardiovascular disease. Although more research needs to be done, doctors suggest Lp(a) levels should be below 50mg/dL to reduce the risk of heart disease

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are another form of fat which the body uses to store energy. Unfortunately, fat stored in the form of triglycerides tends to affect muscle tissue and creates fatty liver disease.

High triglycerides can be genetic but when accompanied by high blood pressure, obesity, increased blood sugars and high levels of inflammatory proteins they indicate a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Try to maintain triglyceride levels at 150 or below by losing weight and increasing exercise.

Learning more about these blood lipids helps us understand the importance of following a healthy lifestyle. The best way to reduce high blood pressure and raised cholesterol is by following a low-fat, high-fiber diet with regular exercise to keep all those lipids in check.

 

 

 

0 Comments

The Effects of Stress Include Faster Cancer Growth and Metastasis

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Whether sitting in heavy traffic or dealing with long-term financial woes, people are exposed to stress on a regular basis. The causes of stress are many, but all stress falls into one of two categories. The short-lived type of stress we might feel in traffic is known as acute stress, and this type usually wanes when the situation changes. The type of stress we feel when dealing with frequent financial trouble is known as chronic stress because it lasts for weeks, months, even years and has no clear end in sight. While acute stress presents little cause for concern, chronic stress can damage the health in many ways including encouraging the growth and spread of cancer.

A few simple practices can help counter the harmful effects of stress on health.

Research into the Effects of Stress on Cancer Growth and Metastasis

Isolation or confinement is a condition that creates stress in mice.  Research on mice with cancerous tumors found that tumors were more likely to metastasize (spread) when mice were isolated.  Another study showed that tumors transplanted into the mammary pads of mice metastasized much more quickly if mice were under constant stress than if mice were not under stress.  While scientists continue to research whether stress causes cancer directly, there's no doubt that it helps certain types of cancer grow and spread.  

How Stress Encourages the Growth and Spread of Cancer

Lorenzo Cohen, a professor of General Oncology and Behavioral Science explains that stress makes the body "more hospitable to cancer."  The release of hormones triggered by chronic stress hinders anoikis, a process in the body that destroys diseased cells and keeps them from spreading.  There is also some evidence to suggest that stress triggers the release of growth hormones that can boost blood supply to cancerous tumors.

Related:  Try Controlled Breathing for Difficulty Relaxing

While it is important for all people to try to counteract the effects of stress, it is essential for people with cancer.  Here are a few ways to keep stress at bay:

Try therapeutic strategies. Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reduce stress by discovering its sources and offering management tools for accompanying worry and anxiety.

Practice activities that encourage mindfulness.  Whether you enjoy painting or yoga, activities that keep the mind focused on something other than stress can provide temporary relief.

Get plenty of sleep.  A good night's sleep helps improve mood, memory and the ability to think clearly.  Proper sleep also helps boost the immune system, and a healthy body is the best defense against stress.

0 Comments

Seven Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Next Cruise Vacation

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Those looking for healthy living tips for relaxing should definitely consider unwinding on a luxury cruise. We look at ways to get the most from your cruise while maintaining healthy habits such as daily exercise and eating five-a-day fruit and vegetables.

Healthy living tips recommend taking relaxing vacations such as cruises

 

Here are our seven top tips for successful cruising:

Book Last Minute

Although cruise lines offer tempting deals to get you to book early, the best prices are always last minute. If you are flexible on your travel dates you can pick up a bargain (as low as $40 a day per person) if you book one month or less before departure. That’s a great healthy habit for your bank balance!

Check in After 2pm

Sailings usually depart early evening so boarding commences around noon. Those staying overnight in the area or flying into a nearby airport create long lines prior to the official boarding time as they have nowhere else to hang out. Miss the rush by aiming to arrive at the port around 2pm. You’ll “sail through” check-in, missing the long lines and be just in time to enjoy afternoon tea in the buffet.

Splurge on a Balcony

Although you spend most of your time in the cabin asleep, having a balcony has definite advantages. It gives you a quiet space for sunbathing and quiet reading. It also provides a source of daylight so you wake naturally as part of your circadian rhythm, another useful healthy living tip.

Relax in the Spa

Healthy habits need not be abandoned while enjoying your cruise. Check out the dozens of massages and beauty treatments available at the onboard spa. Many cruise spas also offer a range of talks and beauty demonstrations so you can look and feel years younger at the end of your relaxing cruise.

Related: Safe Anxiety Treatments: Rose and Lavender are Scents that Soothe

Enjoy Specialty Restaurants

Whether you are celebrating a special event or just want to enjoy romantic dining with a table for two, the specialty restaurants really make a cruise extra special. The attentive waiter service, choice of dining times (book ahead!) and exquisite cuisine are well worth the modest supplement. Some specialty restaurants even include live entertainment or a dinner show.

Enjoy Top Entertainment

Cruises attract some top performers and the shows are free. Look forward to being entertained by international comedians, singers, dancers, musicians, acrobatics, Broadway-style costumes and more at the nightly shows. Bars also feature live musical entertainment from dueling pianos and Spanish guitarists to singing duos and dance bands. Healthy habits should include dancing off those calories!

Plan Shore Excursions in Advance

With over 2,000 cruisers onboard some popular shore excursions book up fast so it pays to be organized. Healthy living tips include joining in some watersport activities or walking tours as an enjoyable way to include some exercise on your fantastic luxury cruise. Bon voyage! 

0 Comments

The Effects of Stress on Your Immune System

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to preventing or fighting infection, the body relies on the immune system.  This network of cells, proteins, tissues and organs works to combat foreign invaders like germs, bacteria, fungi and parasites.  A number of things can weaken the immune system including chronic stress.  Because causes of stress include work, relationships, health problems and life changes, it is impossible to avoid.  Knowing more about the how stress affects the immune system can help. 

Activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, reading or listening to soft music can help combat the effects of stress.

The Research

Research from Ohio State University has shown marked effects of stress on the immune systems of medical students, especially during arduous three-day exams.  Effects include weakened infection-fighting T-cells and reduced production of gamma interferon, a protein that helps boost the immune system.

Subsequent research examined the effects of stress-easing interventions on medical students during exams.  Results showed that the immune systems of medical students who participated in regular hypnosis and relaxation training were more robust than those of medical students who did not participate in these techniques.

Another study examined men infected with HIV who were asymptomatic at the onset of the study.  The research showed that men with higher levels of stress experienced a quicker progression of AIDS than men with lower stress levels.  After five years, the chances for developing AIDS were two to three times higher in men with higher-than-normal stress levels.

Related:  Does Stress Impair Memory?

In addition to causing physiological changes in the immune system, stress can lead people to engage in behaviors like drinking, smoking and unhealthy eating.  When combined with stress, any or all of these behaviors can wreak havoc on the immune system.

Fortunately, there are techniques to lessen the effects of stress on the immune system and other areas of the body.  These include:

  • Stress-relieving activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, reading, warm baths, or listening to soft music
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Bonding with a pet
  • Establishing and maintaining close relationships with friends and family

Research clearly shows that chronic stress can impact health by weakening the immune system. Instead of choosing to ignore stress or to eat, drink, or smoke it away, people can take advantage of the tips above to reduce stress levels and keep harmful foreign invaders at bay.

0 Comments

The Effects of Stress on Your Heart

by Institute for Vibrant Living

In a modern world, it is nearly impossible to avoid stress. Causes of stress include family or work issues, major life changes, health concerns and emotional problems.  Occasional stress is healthy, but chronic stress takes a toll on the body including the heart.  Prolonged exposure to stress can encourage people to engage in unhealthy behaviors that raise risks for heart disease, and stress can create real physiological changes within the body. 

Directly or indirectly, the effects of stress include inflammation, elevated cholesterol and higher blood pressure.

Physiological Effects of Stress:  Blood Pressure

When under stress, the body releases adrenaline, which causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise. This can be helpful and healthy in the event of an emergency but becomes harmful to the body over time. In an attempt to dull chronic stress, some people smoke or drink alcohol in excess, behaviors which can also contribute to high blood pressure.

Physiological Effects of Stress:  Cholesterol

When LDL cholesterol is too high, it can build up in the arteries and lead to heart disease. Research shows that stress has an indirect effect on cholesterol levels.  It can result in unhealthy dietary habits and increased body weight, which are proven risks factors for high cholesterol

Physiological Effects of Stress:  Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health conditions including heart disease.  A new study conducted by researchers from Ohio State University, UCLA, Northwestern University and the University of British Columbia shows that the body's immune cells change as a result of chronic stress.

When responding to prolonged stress, immune cells go into battle mode, as if the body were experiencing infection or trauma.  This can lead to high levels of inflammation.  Results showed that mice exposed to chronic stress and people with a low socioeconomic status (a predictor of chronic stress) showed higher levels of inflammation than counterparts experiencing lower levels of stress.

Related:  The Stress-Menopause Connection

Ways to Counteract the Effects of Stress

Engaging in stress-relieving activities and managing unhealthy behaviors can help counteract the effects of stress on the heart and the rest of the body.

Get adequate exercise.  Physical exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which are feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain that help counter stress.  Regular exercise also strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, and helps people maintain a heart-healthy body weight.

Keep a positive attitude.  Research shows that a positive attitude helps reduce the chances of death in people with heart disease.  Attitude-raising activities include watching funny movies, taking a gratitude inventory and engaging in positive visualization.

Try stress-relieving activities.  A number of activities can help relieve stress.  While some people enjoy reading, painting, taking a bubble bath or listening to soft music, others prefer yoga or meditation.  No matter what the technique, it's important to utilize it regularly if experiencing chronic stress.

0 Comments

Seven Common Causes of Balance Issues

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Even the healthiest adults may encounter balance issues, particularly as they grow older. While some imbalance issues may require medication, other balance problems can be cured by understanding the cause and adopting healthy habits to prevent them.

Healthy living tips for the inner ear support balance

Here are some healthy living tips and advice about how to deal with seven common causes of imbalance, so you can feel a bit steadier on your feet.

1.     Migraine

Some people suffer visual disturbances, flashing images, partial blindness in one eye or dizziness as part of what is known as a migraine aura. Take preventative headache medication at the first signs of a migraine to avoid it developing into a cluster migraine and try to avoid any trigger foods such as chocolate, strawberries and red wine.

2.     Inflammation of the Inner Ear

The inner ear is made up of several semi-circular canals lined with hairs and nerves to sense when we turn our head or move. This is the balance control center of the body. Unfortunately the quantity of nerve cells steadily decline after the age of 55. If healthy habits are ignored, it can result in a loss of balance, vertigo, BPPV or acoustic neuroma. A knock on the head, low blood pressure or an ear infection can also affect the balance in the inner ear. Get a regular checkup with a health professional to ensure that your whole body is healthy as part of balance support.

Related:  Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?

3.     Heart arrhythmia

An irregular heartbeat can cause momentary loss of balance or co-ordination. Any irregular heartbeat, such as racing, throbbing or a rapid pulse should be checked out by a medical professional to avoid more serious health issues.

4.     Peripheral neuropathy

The brain relies on peripheral nerves to transmit sensory information which helps the different systems in the body to control balance. Physical injury, diabetes, repetitive stress and metabolic disorders can disrupt the nerve messages to the brain, resulting in balance problems.

5.     Depression and anxiety

Lightheadedness can be brought on by panic attacks, feelings of anxiety, hyperventilation and other emotional stresses. Regular exercise and good social support can help negate these serious health issues, helping ease anxiety and reducing associated dizzy spells.

6.     Standing up too quickly

Another cause of imbalance is suddenly standing or sitting up, or getting out of bed too quickly. Rapid movement can cause a drop in blood pressure, a common cause of unsteadiness. Healthy living tips for better balance include getting into the habit of rising slowly and steadily from a chair or bed.

7.     Muscle weakness

Regular exercise may help improve muscle weakness. In rare instances, loss of balance and weakness may be due to medical problems such as MS, Alzheimer’s, lupus and brain tumors.

If you are suffering from momentary balance issues it makes sense to get your overall fitness checked out by a doctor regularly as one of the healthy habits to ensure your whole body is functioning well.  Other commonsense healthy living tips include adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise suitable for your age and ability. Not only will this diagnose any health issues, it may also prevent balance issues in later life.

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Why You Can’t Crunch your Way to Six-Pack Abs

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you want a flat, toned stomach, six-pack, washboard, or whatever you call your midsection, there is no magic wand to get it; what is needed is core exercise. Our bodies are made in such a way that you cannot just concentrate on spot reduction for toning and reducing fat because it comes as part of the entire fitness physique.

Core exercise includes a variety of aerobic sports activities

Belly fat generally has two parts: subcutaneous fat (the type that forms “love handles”); and visceral fat that surrounds the stomach and organs. Visceral fat may be out of sight, but it is the most dangerous type of belly fat, because it is often associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Core exercise is needed to burn fat deposits to get core muscles around the trunk and pelvis in top shape.

Core exercise involves three things:

Phase 1 - Aerobic Exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 300 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise every week to burn calories. That’s 2½ to 5 hours.  High calorie aerobic exercise includes running, cycling, interval training and swimming to burn around 600 calories per hour. Low intensity exercise such as brisk walking only burns 300-400 calories per hour.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is best for burning calories, reducing fat and maintaining muscle mass. By using different types of gym cardio equipment and performing at alternating high and medium intensity for 30 seconds each, it can provide excellent core exercise to tone the midriff and reduce fat deposits.

Phase 2 - Strength Training

Core exercise should include at least two sessions of strength training per week. Core work and resistance exercises should include repeat squats, chin-ups and pushups to work multiple muscle groups along with crunches, reverse crunches, leg lifts and planks. As you burn fat and build muscle, strength training and core exercise will begin to produce a flat, toned six-pack stomach.

Related:  Yoga and Natural Supplements for Back Pain Relief

Phase 3 - Healthy Diet

If you need to lose fat around your waist and stomach you need to consume less calories than you burn. Scientists recommend a low-calorie diet based on nutritional food such as lean meat, low-fat dairy products, fruit and vegetables. Avoid sugar and include only small portions of complex carbs such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice. Aim to lose a steady two pounds a week. If weight loss reaches a plateau, cut the calories even more.

By combining core exercise with fat-burning aerobic exercise and a healthy diet, you will soon have a flat, toned stomach and a six-pack to make you proud.

0 Comments

Six Heart Heath Tips For High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Heart Savers

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

Top heart health tips include taking daily fish oil supplements

 

 

 

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

1.     Fish Oil

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

2.     CoQ10

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

Resveratrol

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

Natto

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

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto

Folic Acid

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

Acetyl L-carnitine

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Think Spurts not Stretches – How HIIT Works

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you’re fit and up for a challenge, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) could be the perfect exercise regimen for you. Designed to burn calories faster than endurance exercises, the intense spurts of exercise mean that the body continues to burn calories long after you leave the gym.

Interval training is the most effective way to burn more calories

Studies show that interval training increases cardiovascular fitness, promotes healthy glucose levels in the body, increases endurance and burns calories fast. It also offers a fast workout for those who have a limited amount of time to spend in the gym. HIIT has been scientifically shown to significantly lower insulin resistance leading to decreased resting blood glucose levels and weight loss.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

High Intensity Interval Training is a series of intense anaerobic exercises interspersed with less intense recovery periods. Sessions can last from 4-30 minutes. After a warm-up period, high intensity exercise, from three repetitions to 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, is followed by the same repetitions at 50% intensity.

HIIT can embrace a range of different sports activities. For example, a 2:1 formula could be 30-40 seconds of hard sprinting followed by 15-20 seconds of jogging or walking, both repeated for the length of the interval training session. The exercises could be switched to exercise bikes or other gym cardio equipment, depending on your particular preference.

Why Internal Training Burns More Calories

Interval training intersperses intense periods of activity with short recovery sections. It allows you to work the body to maximum intensity in short spurts, rather than enduring a long period of steady exercise.

For those wanting to lose weight and burn more calories, HIIT is particularly effective. During a period of high intensity training the body cannot feed the muscles with oxygen fast enough, so muscles accumulate a debt of oxygen and energy that needs to be replenished after the workout is over. As a result, your body is still working hard long after the workout is over, simply to restore the normal status. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). It’s the hidden weapon of any intense interval training program.

Related:  Why You Need Yoga for Lower Back Pain

What is CrossFit?

One particular brand of interval training is CrossFit. Devised by Greg Glassman in 2000, CrossFit workouts are offered as classes in many gyms. The program includes aspects of high intensity interval training along with weightlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics and other exercises. Many participants sign up for the workout of the day (WOD) which offers a variety of different exercises on the same principle in group classes led by a certified trainer.

Interval training can be adapted to suit men and women of all ages and fitness levels. If you are looking to get fitter, build and maintain stamina, lose weight, and maintain strength and conditioning through an exercise program, interval training or CrossFit could be worth trying. Best of all, you can dedicate as much or as little time to interval training as you wish on a regular basis to achieve and maintain your fitness goal.

0 Comments

Is Stress Sabotaging Your Skin?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

We live in a stressful world and the effects of stress on our physical health are well documented. Stressful relationships or grueling work situations are the main causes of stress and can lead to headaches, elevated blood pressure levels, digestive problems and even stomach ulcers.

Wrinkles are just one of the effects of stress on skin

Research into a relatively new field of psychodermatology now reveals that the effects of stress can be etched forever on our skin.

Effects of Stress on our Skin

Doctors have found that there is a connection between stress, the brain/hormones and our skin. It seems likely that worrying over an impossible deadline, fretting about money or stressing out over a bad friendship can induce temporary or long-term skin problems including the following:

  • Acne

Stress is known to trigger inflammation in the body and when it reaches the face, it can cause breakouts of dry skin and spots. Topical application of cream containing salicylic acid to remove dead skin and benzoyl peroxide to counter bacteria can help. However, dealing with the root causes of stress is the best way to prevent acne and control sebum production from increased adrenal gland activity.

  • Wrinkles

One of the effects of stress is an increase in the production of the hormone cortisol, which causes the skin to dry out and produce less collagen which provides the skin’s elasticity. Lack of collagen is known to cause fine lines and wrinkles as we age. No one wants premature signs of aging as one of the effects of stress, so it’s important to deal with the causes of stress and control this undesirable side effect of living with stress.

Related:  Expert Tips for Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails

Reducing the Causes of Stress

It’s essential to take control of the causes of stress and counter the problems using mind control and relaxation techniques. Get a CD of breathing exercises to help you relax after a particularly stressful day. It can also help improve poor sleep patterns, another stress-related condition.

Enroll in a yoga class and learn to relax tense shoulder and back muscles, or treat yourself to an aromatherapy massage. Walking, cycling, jogging and other recreational activities provide a double benefit by helping reduce the effects of stress and getting some fresh air, which is the key to healthy glowing skin.

Finally, counter stress with a plateful of antioxidants in the form of a salad, vegetable stir fry or a platter of fresh fruit. Antioxidants can counter the harmful free radicals that are a known cause of wrinkles and aging. The effects of stress don’t have to show in your skin, but you have to take a proactive approach to counter the causes of stress in order to prevent long-term damage to your skin.

0 Comments

Six Medications That Can Make You Dizzy – Health Living Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Medications That Can Make You Dizzy

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

Healthy living tips include assessing medications for side effects

 

Here are some common culprits to consider:

1.     Antidepressants

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

2.     Blood pressure drugs

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

3.     Antihistamines

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

Related:  Five Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

4.     NSAIDS

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

5.     Sedatives

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

6.     Vasodilators

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

Healthy Habits to Counter Medication-Induced Dizziness

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Stress and Allergies – The Surprising Stress Allergy Link

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

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

Understanding Allergies

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

Related:  Five Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

Effects of Stress on Allergies

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

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

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

Treating Allergies by Lowering the Causes of Stress

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

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

0 Comments

Five Signs Your Relationship May Be In Trouble

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Professional couples therapists often know whether a relationship will succeed or fail after just a short session, according to Melissa Cohen, a relationship therapist practicing in New Jersey. She says there are several tell-tale signs indicating the strength of a relationship. We share some healthy living tips about relationships that may help you ascertain the strength of your love relationship.

Healthy living tips includes maintaining close relationships

 

Lack of Trust

Do you trust your partner completely? Is that trust well-placed? Couples have to be able to trust each other completely if they are to survive long-term. Lying, keeping financial secrets or having an affair all demonstrate an unacceptable breach of that trust. If that trust is broken, it takes some mature conversations and forgiveness to attempt to heal the breach. It’s always better not to break that trust in the first place.

Related:  Mindfulness: The Key to Love and Relationships

Contempt

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it that defines your relationship with your significant other. Statements that are filled with sarcasm and contempt attack the other person’s character and can quickly undermine a relationship. If a simple request is accompanied by a demeaning phrase such as “Are you too stupid to do what I ask?” it sparks a cycle of negativity. Similarly, contempt for your partner can often reveal feelings of superiority that do nothing to generate loving feelings. Eye-rolling, sneering, public criticism or comments such as “Am I the only one working around here?” are sure signs that your relationship is about to hit the skids.

Lack of Physical Non-Sexual Contact

Happy couples touch and connect. The stronger and more frequent the touch, the higher the emotional intimacy. Conversely, seeing a couple sit with arms folded or their back turned to each other shows that subconsciously the relationship is over. Revive a flagging relationship with healthy habits such as touching and see how it builds and strengthens your bond.

Lack of Empathy

Couples need to identify with the other’s feelings so that neither party feels alone and uncared for. Often couples resort to hurting each other verbally in a competition to make the other person feel bad and share the suffering. Empathy is a far better way to get through the bad times, together.

Making Mountains out of Molehills

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is good advice when it comes to relationships. People are not perfect and you can tell early on in a relationship whether you can overlook your partner’s imperfections. They may always run late, be untidy, never take out the trash or spend too much money, but is it a deal-breaker? Try to find several good points about your partner that compensate for minor annoyances and learn to focus on the positive.

By focusing on these healthy living tips for better relationships, hopefully you can avoid the pitfalls that tell the world your relationship is heading for the rocks.