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Do You Need to Invest in B Vitamins? Take This Quiz about the Benefits of B Vitamins

by Health News

If you are unsure about the benefits of B vitamins, take our quiz to see if you need to be getting more B’s in your diet. 

Q: Do you feel like you are not as strong as you used to be? Do you commonly lose your keys or having trouble remembering how to get home from a store you’ve shopped at for years?

A: Weak muscles, fatigue and low energy are symptomatic of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Confusion, feeling depressed, and having trouble remembering things that you can’t imagine ever forgetting are also signals.

Your body needs vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your cells to be converted into energy. A low red blood cell count means your cells become starved for air and your body shuts down your muscles to conserve energy. Brain cells that are deprived of oxygen begin to die off, leading to reduced cognitive function like memory loss and confusion.

To get the 6 mcg recommended daily amount (RDA) of B12 in your diet every day, eat eggs, dairy products, meats and fortified foods. Vegans should take a supplement. 

Q: Do you have cracked skin at the corners of your mouth that no amount of moisturizer will heal?

A: A vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with a variety of skin ailments including painfully cracked skin at the corners of your mouth called cheilosis. A lack of vitamin B6 is also associated with an inflamed tongue, sores around the mouth, painfully cracked lips, and greasy or dry, flaky, peeling skin.

A vitamin B6 deficiency is pretty uncommon in the U.S. since many foods contain it. Since a deficiency in the vitamin also known as pyridoxine or pyridoxamine can also cause nerve damage, fatigue, and loss of balance—so getting the 200-milligram RDA is essential for good health. You can find it in nuts, chicken, fish, most vegetables, and bananas.

Q: Are you running to the bathroom more frequently?

A: Loose stools due to Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s or celiac disease can cause a folic acid or B9 deficiency.  Being deficient in B9 is linked to anemia, fatigue, gray hair, mouth sores, and tongue swelling. 

Children who do not get enough folic acid may experience growth problems and pregnant women are at higher risk for delivering a low-birth weight baby.

You can get plenty of folic acid in your diet from foods like tomato juice, eggs, asparagus, chicken and pork and fortified cereals.

Related:  Hearing Problems Linked to Folate Deficiency Study Finds

Q: What do widespread muscle pain, constipation and loss of sensation in the hands and feet have in common?

A: These are all common symptoms of a thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiency.  The disorder is uncommon in the U.S. and tends to be a problem in countries where white rice is the main food source like South East Asia.  The bran in the outer covering of white rice is where the much-needed thiamine resides.

In the U.S. and in developed countries alcoholics are at risk for developing health issues due to a vitamin B1 deficiency.  However, if you consistently eat a diet of high carbohydrate low-nutrient foods like pretzels, chips, candy and most other common junk food items, you could be at risk for neurological disorders. Instead of vending machine fare, choose eat whole grain breads, peas, beans and fortified foods.

Q: Are your eyes itching, watering, bloodshot, and suddenly light sensitive?

A: If you are experiencing any of those problems with your eyes and have eliminated allergies as the culprit, you may be lacking enough vitamin B2 or riboflavin in your diet.

Riboflavin is essential for many metabolic processes in the body including normal cell growth and functioning, helping other B vitamins undergo the chemical changes necessary to be used by the body and is a powerful antioxidant. 

In addition to vision problems, a lack of vitamin B2 is also linked to skin disorders, anemia, and swelling of the throat and tongue. You can get plenty of it (0.5-0.6 mg/day) in your diet by eating dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, milk cheese and yogurt, whole grains and meat.

Related: 

Q: Are you feeling unusually fatigued even after a full night’s sleep and a cup of coffee?

A: You could be deficient in any number of the B vitamins. A lack of them in your diet causes anemia, which is characterized by muscle weakness and extreme fatigue. B vitamins are essential for helping the body convert food into energy and supply your cells with oxygen for energy.  Because the B’s work together in the body, not getting enough of one kind means you may not be metabolizing others leading to a variety of health issues.

B Happy

The benefits of B vitamins are well researched and documented. Getting enough of them in your diet is fairly simple. If you consume a variety of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, there is no reason you can’t B very happy and healthy!

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Ten Quick Tips about Superfoods

by Health News

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

1. Marketing Misinformation

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

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

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

2.  Definition of a Superfood

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

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

3. Nutrient Dense

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

4. Nothing Artificial

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

5. Carbs Calories Fat? Who Cares?

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

Related:  Are Sprouts Superfoods?

6. Gut Friendly

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

7. Disease Fighting Properties

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

8.  Not Every Healthy Food Is a Superfood

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

9. Foods That Truly Earn the Title

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

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

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

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

10. The Truth about Superfoods

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

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Why You Should Consider Yellow Superfoods

by Cindy Gray

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

Yellow foods and fruits such as pineapples can help healthy aging

Bananas for Lowering Inflammation

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

Eggs for Omega-3

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

RelatedHow Breakfast Can Naturally Boost Your Energy

Pineapple for Bromelain

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

Marigolds for Lutein

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

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

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Here's a Quick Way to Get Soy-Free Protein

by Cindy Gray

Most vegetarians and vegans following an animal-free diet understand the importance of including protein in their diet to ensure healthy bones, skin and tissue. The easiest source of vegetable-based protein is soy. However, soy is thought to be highly genetically modified (GMO) and is high in phytoestrogens;  hardly suitable for eco-warriors and those seeking a more down-to-earth way to satisfy their protein needs without consuming ‘flesh foods.’ We suggest some of the best soy-free protein sources and what makes them so special.

best soy-free protein sources

Protein-rich Seeds

Seeds are the origin of natural nutrition and the embryonic symbol of life itself. They are also one of the best soy-free protein sources for vegetarians and meat-eaters but they must be eaten raw. If seeds are exposed to heat or roasted, the vitamins, minerals and essential oils are lost and they become a dead food.

Chia seeds are particularly high in protein, containing 2.5 times more protein than kidney beans while delivering eight times more omega-3 than salmon. They also have more fiber than rice, more vitamin C than oranges and more magnesium than broccoli!

Hemp seeds are also high in nutritional content delivering all 20 amino acids as well as being one of the best soy-free protein sources. They are also nature's highest botanical source of essential fatty acids, exceeding even the high levels found in flaxseed and nuts, so they are a key ingredient for anyone following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet.

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

Flaxseed has numerous health benefits.  One cup (168 grams) delivers 31 grams of protein as well as 46 grams of fiber. Ground flaxseed has more nutritional benefit than the whole seeds, so pulverize them in a blender and sprinkle on cereals, fresh banana pieces, baked goods and smoothies.

Munchy sunflower seeds have slightly less protein content than flaxseed but they are high in vitamin E to counter harmful free radical damage.

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

Nuts for Soy-free Protein

Although nuts are generally higher in calorific content than seeds, they are a staple for any non-meat-eater.

Almonds top the list for the best soy-free protein sources, delivering 20 grams of protein and 43 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat from a one cup (95 grams) serving, according to the USDA. They are also high in vitamin E, fiber and many essential minerals.

Walnuts are another good source of protein with 15 grams per 100 grams which is 30% of your daily requirement. 

The USDA recommends adults should consume between 5 and 6 ½ ounces of protein per day and should get up to 35% of their calories from protein. We hope we have provided some new ideas for the best soy-free protein sources to help you enjoy a healthy and balanced diet.  

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Why Stress Can Destroy Your Adrenal Glands

by Health News

We all understand that stress is not good for our overall health, but understanding how stress physically affects us can help us improve stress management techniques so we can benefit from a healthier life. 

Stress management is the key to avoiding adrenal failure

We all have times of stress in our lives, from a sudden emergency to ongoing stress in the workplace or in our families and relationships. The body's natural stress management response is managed by the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and adrenaline, the hormones responsible for the "fight or flight" stress response. These hormones trigger a faster heart rate, elevated blood sugar levels and an increase in blood flow to the joints and muscles.

Adrenal Fatigue

If the body is chronically stressed, the adrenal glands must work harder and longer. Eventually they reach the point of "adrenal fatigue" as the glands become overworked; this leads to symptoms of chronic fatigue. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Being tired all the time
  • Trouble getting out of bed
  • Feeling overwhelmed by life
  • Inability to recover from minor illness
  • Cravings for sugar or salty snacks
  • Being more alert in the evening than during the rest of the day

Adrenal fatigue can occur after illness such as influenza, pneumonia or acute respiratory infection. It is not relieved by sleep.  In fact, sufferers often feel more tired when they wake up than when they went to sleep. Although they may look and act normally, there is an underlying sense of ill health caused by the adrenal fatigue. 

Sufferers may try to alleviate the symptoms with coffee, cola and high energy drinks to help them through the day, which can make matters worse.  The answer lies in stress management.

RelatedMagnesium Deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

How the Adrenal Glands Work

The adrenal glands are triangular shaped organs consisting of the central medulla and the outer cortex. They are controlled by impulses sent from the sympathetic nervous system and produce hormones in response to stress.

The medulla secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine into the bloodstream while the cortex aids stress management by producing glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. The hormone cortisol accounts for about 95 percent of this adrenal-glucocorticoid activity.

Stress Management Supports Healthy Adrenal Glands

Although it’s not possible to always control the events that life throws at you, learning stress management techniques can help control the body's reaction to stress which then helps avoid adrenal fatigue.

A balanced diet and good sleep patterns can all help lower stress in your life. Keeping your hormones balanced will ensure your adrenal glands work effectively when required, rather than being overworked all the time. Careful stress management also helps support a healthy immune system, preventing stress-related illness, maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and normal blood sugar levels. 

Stress management can be initiated through:

  • Regular exercise (especially Hatha Yoga)
  • Breathing exercises (also part of Hatha Yoga)
  • Owning companion animals
  • Support from family and friends
  • Laughter
  • Meditation and faith

By reducing the unnecessary stress put on the adrenaline system, you can keep your hormones balanced and avoid the debilitating symptoms of adrenal fatigue. It's another simple way that stress management can lead to a healthier, happier life. 

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Seeing Red for Anti-Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

This getting older business has me seeing red.  No, not because I am angry about it, but because there are a host of red foods that should be in everybody’s anti-aging diet plan.

With the passage of time, our bodies undergo many changes—sometimes it can seem for the worst.  As youth fades, we begin to develop wrinkles, possibly suffer insomnia, our eyesight may decline, our muscles can weaken, and we are at an increased risk for many diseases.  In order to maintain good health, a diet rich in red can help keep these physical problems at bay. The best part is that these foods are sweet, healthy and readily available in grocery stores, restaurants, and farmer’s markets everywhere. 

Stave off the signs of aging with sweet, delicious fruits that are red in color and powerfully good for you!

Tomatoes

Often a salad staple, you might be surprised to learn tomatoes are actually a fruit. Lycopene is a powerful compound that has shown time and time again in research studies to be a powerful cancer fighter.  In addition to lycopene, tomatoes provide the body with powerful antioxidants like vitamins C and A.  The choline in tomatoes helps cells stay strong by supporting membrane structure and it aids in the transmission of nerve cell impulses.  This means less cognitive decline and loss of sensation in the fingers and toes.  The alpha-lipoic acid in tomatoes helps the body convert glucose to energy, keeping diabetes at bay and giving the body a boost of energy.

Raspberries

Sweet and delicious, raspberries may seem delicate, but in reality they are a superhero food.  Loaded with vitamin C, and E, they have been shown to inhibit tumor growth and protect your peepers from UV ray damage, a common cause of vision loss as we age.

Raspberries are also full of polyphenols, compounds that keep your memory sharp and reduce inflammation that can damage the brain, joints and organs over time.

Strawberries

What’s not to love about strawberries? With more vitamin C than an orange, a few of these every day on a regular basis and you will be loading up your bloodstream with a powerful “bioavailable food” that has a host of health benefits.

Bioavailable foods like strawberries are readily absorbed by the body and can be used to stave off disease, boost immunity and reduce inflammation days after you eat them.  With age comes more illness, joint pain, sun damage to the skin and wrinkles. Strawberries contain compounds to inhibit cell tumor growth, lower cholesterol, and reverse UV damage while boosting collagen production to keep skin smooth and firm.

They also taste delicious and can enhance any dish from a salad to smoothie or dish of ice cream.  The more you love strawberries, the more they will love you back.

Related:  What Are The Health Benefits of Bing Cherries?

Cherries

They come in many colors, but choose the dark red type in your anti-aging diet. Why?

Dark red cherries have melatonin in them that can help with insomnia, a common problem as we age. They are also full of anti-inflammatories that help reduce joint pain from arthritis, and relieve painful gout symptoms.

Endurance athletes have long been drinking tart cherry juice to ease muscle soreness after training. When daily life has your back aching, throw back a glass to ease the pain.

Cherries have been shown to help reduce belly fat, something that becomes stubborn and hard to get rid of the older you get, and they are known to significantly reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.

Tart cherries have the most health benefits, but even the sweetest varieties are a foe to the ravages of Father Time.

Cranberries

Cranberries should not be reserved for consumption only at Thanksgiving. These berries are nutritional all-stars with health benefits that you could be benefiting from when you eat them year-round.

It’s long been known that cranberries relieve the symptoms of urinary tract infections. Now the medical community knows why. They are rich in proanthocyanidins (PACs) that protect the lining of the bladder and gastrointestinal tract (GI). 

Compounds in cranberries have been shown to kill the stomach bacteria linked to stomach ulcers and they trigger apoptosis, tumor cell death. This makes them a powerful weapon to have in your cancer prevention arsenal.

Seeing Red

When it comes to a balanced and effective anti-aging diet, seeing red is a good thing. Tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, cherries and cranberries provide so many antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals that not eating them is sheer madness!

 

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Six Strategies for Healthy Aging

by IVL Products

Aging gracefully and healthily may take some effort, but knowing what to avoid and what to include in your life should be a vital part of your healthy aging plan, whatever your age.

Here are some anti-aging tips to ensure that optimum healthy aging is achieved.

Exercise is an important part of healthy aging.

1. Avoid Sugar

Not only does sugar introduce "empty" calories into your diet, it is also a trigger for inflammation. Eat fruits in moderation and swap sugary drinks for low-calorie drinks; or better still, drink plenty of water. Top your breakfast cereal with antioxidant rich berries rather than sugar and you are well on your way to establishing a healthy aging, sugar-free regimen.

2. Avoid Food!

Intermittent fasting has been found to be an important part of longevity. As well as being naturally detoxifying, fasting decreases excess body fat, boosts mental clarity, and controls blood sugar levels. Restricting calories has been shown in studies to be very effective at extending lifespan.

3. Avoid Stress for Healthy Aging

Stress is the biggest enemy of healthy aging. It negatively affects general health, lowers cognitive ability, and unnecessarily triggers the release of stress hormones.

4. Include Omega-3s

Omega-3s are essential for older adults. As well as improving joint and heart health, these fatty acids appear to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's by reducing brain inflammation. Omega-3s are found in oily fish, nuts and olive oil, but the only way to be sure of your daily intake is by taking an Omega-3 supplement.

Related:  Five Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Healthy Foods

5. Include Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise is essential for healthy aging as it improves muscle strength and counters the loss of stamina that is part of the aging process. Exercise also improves balance and supports stronger bones.

Checkout what high intensity anti-aging exercises you could incorporate into your life as part of your healthy aging plan. The American Heart Association advises doing 8-10 strength-building exercises and repeating them for 10 to 15 repetitions to build and maintain strength. Use hand weights to increase the effectiveness of simple weight training exercises such as biceps curls, lunges and squats.

6. Include Vitamin D for Healthy Aging

Scientists have found that higher levels of vitamin D can help slow the aging process and protect against age-related disease. It is thought to extend the telomeres responsible for cell regeneration. Studies indicate that people who have higher levels of vitamin D live significantly longer than their counterparts.

Sunshine is a natural source of vitamin D, but it also ages the skin, so enjoy the sunshine, but protect yourself from the sun.  Wear a hat when outside in the sun; wear a loose, gauzy shirt to protect your arms; wear sunglasses to protect your eyesight; and use a natural sunscreen when getting your vitamin fix. Taking vitamin D in supplement form or eating plenty of oily fish also boosts vitamin D levels, helping the body metabolize calcium for strong bones as well as protecting against heart disease.

It's never too early to starts a healthy aging plan, so consider these six strategies and get started!

 

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Best Diets for Acne: Healthy Skin Starts From Within

by Cindy Gray

Healthy skin starts from within. The link between a nutritious diet and a glowing complexion is well-established and healthy eating habits, which are especially important for people with acne. Skin care specialists agree that the best diets for acne minimize the impact that hormones have on the complexion. Unfortunately, many modern Western diets are dominated by over-processed foods, sugary snacks and hormone-laden dairy and meat products.  

For a beautiful complexion, the best diets for acne minimize the impact that hormones have on the complexion.

The following dietary guidelines encourage acne-free skin:

Avoid sugar:  When you eat sugary snacks or drink sweetened beverages you push blood sugar levels up very quickly which causes more insulin to circulate in your bloodstream. Several studies have linked high insulin levels to acne breakouts. Choose foods with a low glycemic index (GI), a measurement related to glycemic load. These foods cause smaller increases in blood sugar, as opposed to high GI foods. Instead of sugar, consider sweetening foods and beverages with stevia or honey. 

Eat small, frequent meals: Eating small meals every two to three hours helps keep blood sugar and insulin levels steady. This helps prevent the insulin spikes that trigger breakouts. It also helps balance energy levels throughout the day and reduces the chances that you’ll reach for an unhealthy snack to satisfy between-meal hunger pangs.    

Consume plenty of vegetables: Most nutritionists recommend eight to ten fist-sized servings of vegetables each day. Choose vegetables that include a range of deep and bright colors because they tend to be richer in antioxidants that fight free radicals and inflammation.

Related:  Royal Jelly for Skin:  Your Skin's Best Friend

Avoid dairy: Although there are varying opinions on whether dairy products are linked to acne, most experts agree that it is a good idea to reduce or eliminate them from your diet. The hormones in dairy products encourage production of androgen, a male hormone that can increase sebum production which leads to breakouts. If you choose to include dairy in your diet, consume fat-free versions of yogurt, milk or ice cream.

Drink water: Water helps hydrate your body which supports plump, healthy skin. Hydration helps flush out the toxins that cause skin problems. Most experts recommend a minimum of five to eight glasses per day.   

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Three Surprising Seafood Sources of EFAs

by Health News

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve heard about the health benefits of essential fatty acids like omega-3s.  Their long list of health benefits include:

  • Decreased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Healthier skin and hair
  • Less risk of depression and other mood disorders
  • Better immunity

Essential fatty acids can be super health boosters

Essential Fatty Acid Foods

Our bodies cannot produce the essential fatty acids omega-3 (EPA and DHA) or omega-6, but they are essential to the healthy functioning of all the tissues.  Therefore, we must get these critical nutrients from our diet.

Omega-6 fatty acids are easily obtained through animal foods like beef, chicken and pork. It is also plentiful in corn oils. Our western diet is over-saturated with omega-6 sources of food, which is not good for us since it promotes inflammation.

Taking fish oil supplements has been touted as a way to get those essential fatty acids like omega-3, but researchers have come to discover that the fish oil used in supplements is often too unstable to be of any real benefit to our bodies.  If you have been choking those giant capsules down and suffering fish-tasting burps, stop! There is a better way.

Related:   Could Fish Oil One Day Take the Place of Statin Drugs?

What we need to be eating more of is omega-3 rich foods.  It’s pretty well known that fish like salmon and trout have a lot of omega-3s. However, you have more choices than you may realize when it comes to getting more essential fatty acid foods in your diet.

There are three surprising seafood sources of EFAs that you should start eating.

Sablefish

Sablefish are also known as wild Alaskan cod or black cod.  This cold-water species is generally less contaminated with mercury like king salmon and abundant in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.  In fact, Sablefish has more of the essential fatty acids than most other fish except king salmon.

Since it lives in very deep cold water, sablefish accumulate more fat which makes them easier to prepare and less likely to dry out with a little overcooking.  You can bake it, sauté it or put it on the grill and it usually turns out melt in your mouth tender.

Shad

American Shad fish is hard to find if you don’t live on a coast.  They can be found along the coast from Alaska to Mexico and all along the East coast.

American shad are loaded up with omega-3 laden fat, but they are also very bony.  It takes some practice to prepare and eat them but it’s worth the effort.  To prepare them it is easiest to poach or smoke them then flake out the meat. It makes a great addition to a salad even cold and is full-flavored enough to pair with strong garlic and chili pepper sauces.

Oysters

These dull shellfish are full of healthy surprises.   They contain high levels of:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamins A, E, C and B12
  • Minerals zinc, iron, calcium selenium

Oysters taste the best in colder weather. They spawn May through July, which affects the taste somewhat.  You can incorporate them into a variety of stews and soups and easily get more EFAs into your diet.

It’s also worth noting that oysters are considered an aphrodisiac due to their high concentration of amino acids that trigger the release of sex hormones.  Choose farmed over wild and grind up the shells for your garden to help balance the pH of the soil.

Now you know about some main dish options to go along with the plant foods you have been eating that supply a lot omega-3 fatty acids.  Enjoy.

 

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The Probiotic Menopause Connection

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Women may find menopause relief in the form of probiotics.  These industrious bacteria are necessary for healthy functioning of the digestive tract and critical to our immune system.  

Probiotics have many health benefits including aiding with menopause relief.

Probiotics for menopause is a relatively new field of study that is showing great promise in making the unpleasant symptoms of going through the change more tolerable.  All women will go through menopause and each experience is unique for each woman. Some have less severe symptoms while other find them debilitating.  The worst symptoms most commonly reported are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal Atrophy (thinning and drying of the vaginal wall which can cause pain during intercourse)
  • Mood Swings (depression)
  • Sleep disturbances (hot flashes, insomnia)
  • Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and yeast infections

The dramatic decline in estrogen and progesterone levels as fertility declines is the root cause of symptoms but taking probiotics can provide relief.

Probiotics: The Good Bacteria

Our gut is teeming with bacteria. Some of it harmful, but most of it is beneficial and critical to proper digestion and a strong immune system.  When hormonal imbalances like those experienced during menopause upset the balance of good bacteria in our gut, there are many health issues that can wreak havoc on the body.

The Bad Bacteria

Two kinds of bacteria in our intestinal tract play a critical role in our health: aerobic bacteria, which require oxygen to thrive, and anaerobic bacteria, which do not.

A diet high in saturated fat stimulates the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which is known to upset hormone levels because of its effect on estrogen.  During menopause, the body is already experiencing unpredictable hormone fluctuations, which cause the hot flashes, urinary tract infections and vaginal wall thinning and dryness.  

Related:  The Idea That All Fats Makes You Fat is a Myth

Cutting your intake of saturated fat and consuming more probiotic rich foods and supplements can help restore hormone levels and ease these symptoms.  For those who want menopause relief without the use of synthetic hormones, this is good news.

Probiotics For General Health

When going through menopause, many women experience health issues that impact their quality of life. Probiotics can help offset some of these issues and make the going through the change more tolerable.

In addition to helping stabilize hormones, which are thrown out of sync by menopause, probiotics can help offset weight gain, keep your immune system strong and increase good bacteria in the vagina, lessening dryness and atrophy there. 

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EFAs for Menopause Treatment

by IVL Products

All women have to go through menopause at some point in their lives. The unpleasant symptoms can make life difficult, but there are ways to deal with some of the worst side effects of menopause simply through your diet.  

Women who consume essential fatty acids regularly can reduce the negative symptoms of menopause.

Increasing your intake of EFAs, (or essential fatty acids) is easy.  Not only will you experience less severe menopausal symptoms, but the EFAs offer many other health benefits as well.

What Are EFAs?

Essential fatty acids are so named because your body cannot produce them naturally. The only way to get them is through your diet. 

Your body cannot synthesize linolenic (omega-6) and linoleic acids (omega-3) that are critical to the normal functioning of all the tissues of the body.  Without sufficient EFAs, you are at an increased risk for:

  • Liver and kidney abnormalities
  • Depression
  • Dry Skin
  • Decreased immune function

However, when you get adequate amounts of omega-3s and omega-6s, you have a decreased risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Menstrual pain
  • Breast cancer

EFAs have been found to greatly help reduce the most troublesome menopausal symptoms like:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal, hair and skin dryness
  • Mood swings and depression

A study conducted by Italian scientist back in 2005 noted that women who ate a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids reported a “progressively and highly significant reduction” in hot flashes. They concluded that this could be a result of the influence omega-3s have on nerve cell membranes, helping to reduce their sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations.

Related:  Top Three Heart Healthy Nutrients

It has long been known that having an adequate intake of EFAs helps balance hormones, increase immune function, improve cardiovascular health and promote healthier skin and hair.

Happy Food

What you may not realize is that omega-3 fatty acid EPA helps the body produce adequate levels of serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter that greatly affects our moods. Depression and mood swings often accompany the hormonal changes you will be experiencing making EFAs an essential part of your menopause diet.

Brain Food

DHA is a natural brain booster. It keeps nerve cell membranes in the brain healthy, which means better cognitive function, and less memory loss. 

The Menopause Diet

By incorporating foods rich in essential fatty acids into your diet, you can greatly reduce unpleasant menopausal symptoms and improve your health overall.  It is essential that you get the right combination of omega-3s and omega-6s in your diet and that can take some research and planning. Omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3s for use in the body, so getting the right ratio of each is important. 

DHA (omega-6) is found in animal foods like beef and pork and corn oils. These are generally plentiful in our diets and most Americans eat too many omega-6 foods when they should be eating foods with more omega-3 fatty acids like.

  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Canola, soybean, walnut oils
  • Fruits
  • Beans
  • Fish

Trying to get your EFAs in supplement form is not the most efficient way to up your intake of them.  Besides the nasty fish tasting burps many pills cause, the fish oil molecules are highly unstable and can quickly decompose and release cell damaging free radicals.

Omega-3s for Everybody

Whether you are going through menopause or not, eating more food rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA just makes good sense. 

You will look better, feel better and be more prepared to handle the hormonal changes when you eat more foods with omega 3 for menopause relief.

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Vitamins for Menopause Offer Safe Alternatives To Hormone Replacement Therapy

by Health News

Millions of women experience hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, vaginal dryness, irritability and insomnia when they are menopausal. In many cases the symptoms are so severe that they ask their doctors for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which can have serious side effects including an increased risk for cancer. Recent studies have confirmed using vitamins for menopausal symptoms as a safe, natural way that women can find relief without putting potentially dangerous hormones into their bodies. 

Safely Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy with Vitamins for Menopause

Although there are several vitamins that help provide relief, vitamin E is at the top of the list. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects cells against free radicals. A study from the British Medical Journal found that vitamin E reduced hot flashes in 64 percent of the women tested and that it also helped reduce the symptoms of vaginal aging. Fifty percent of the women in the study reported healing of vaginal atrophy as well as a decrease in pain during sex.

Most holistic practitioners also recommend a B-complex supplement for menopausal women. B-6 helps balance out the hormone-related mood swings and B-12 fights the fatigue that many women experience as their estrogen levels drop. 

RelatedFour Common Myths About Calcium

In addition to vitamins for menopause calcium supplements are also recommended because this important mineral helps fight age-related loss of bone density. Studies show that calcium supplements are more effective when taken in conjunction with vitamin D. 

While vitamins have an important role to play in relieving menopause symptoms, an overall healthy lifestyle will support vibrant health at all stages of life. A healthy lifestyle includes:

A Nutritious Diet: A healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help you look and feel your best. Make sure you purchase organic, locally grown produce because it has the highest nutritional value.

Exercise: Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and also aids in coping with the stress that is associated with menopausal symptoms. Make regular workouts part of your daily regimen.

Sleep: Insomnia is a common problem for menopausal women and night sweats exacerbate the problem. Take melatonin supplements to help you sleep and make sure you keep a glass of cold water on your nightstand. There are cooling pillows on the market that can help you be more comfortable at night so you can get the rest you need.

Stress Management: Meditation, yoga, deep-breathing exercises, massages and soothing music are great stress reducers. Spend time with supportive friends and make time for your favorite hobbies. It’s easier maintaining a rich quality of life during menopause if you minimize your stressors. 

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Menopause Treatment is About More than Replacing Estrogen

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Menopause is a transition in a woman's life associated with a number of unpleasant symptoms.  While many people blame hot flashes, night sweats, and other side effects on a lack of estrogen, all female hormones diminish at this time.  Consequently, menopause treatment involves more than merely replacing estrogen.

Menopause Treatment is About More than Replacement Therapy

By the time menstruation stops, levels of estrogen are diminished by 75 to 90 percent, testosterone has lessened by up to 50 percent, and the female body has essentially stopped producing progesterone.  While hormone levels aren't entirely depleted, they fluctuate and vary from woman to woman.  Fluctuations continue to cause uncomfortable symptoms, sometimes over several years.

Estrogen

Often referred to as the "female hormone," estrogen is made up of three hormones:  estrone, estradiol, and estriol.  After menopause, production of estrogen from the ovaries greatly diminishes causing symptoms like fatigue, headaches, hot flashes, joint pain, memory problems, and mood swings.

Progesterone

Working with estrogen, progesterone plays an important role in menstruation and pregnancy, which is why production is so low after menopause.  Symptoms experienced with reductions in progesterone include anxiety, headaches, irregular heartbeat, mood swings, muscle weakness, and vaginal infections.

Related:  Take Control: Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer with Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Testosterone

In women, testosterone helps play a part in sexual development, fertility, and maintenance of the reproductive system.  Because levels are naturally low, many women do not notice when they drop during and after menopause.  A reduction in testosterone can reduce sexual desire, libido, energy, and have negative effects on mood.

Natural Menopause Treatment

Healthy menopause treatment addresses all three of these diminishing hormones and more.  Several natural methods help:

  • Maca is an adaptogenic herb.  While it does not contain hormones, it promotes a healthy endocrine system, which helps encourage hormonal balance.
  • Studies show that bioidentical progesterone cream helps correct hormonal imbalances, which often eliminates or reduces hot flashes and other symptoms.
  • Black cohosh is a phytoestrogen herb that resembles a weaker form of estradiol. One study of 704 women showed that black cohosh completely relieved menopausal symptoms in 49 percent of the subjects, and 37.8 percent of women experienced significant relief.
  • Arginine is an essential amino acid that encourages blood vessel elasticity, which increases circulation and reduces hot flashes.

These methods make up just one facet of natural menopause treatment.  A nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, daily exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices also contribute to a woman's wellbeing in menopause and beyond.

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Why Aloe is So Amazing for the Reflux Diet

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Aloe vera has been one of nature’s medicinal remedies for centuries. As well as being effective in healing wounds, calming nerves, purifying the blood, reducing inflammation and promoting a healthy complexion, aloe vera now appears to be a key component in a reflux diet.

What is Aloe Vera?

The healing properties of aloe vera make it an important aid in any acid reflux dietAloes are spiky succulent plants with fleshy grey-green leaves. They grow wild in the Caribbean, southern USA and North Africa. The gelatinous extracts and juice from aloe vera have been used in herbal medicine for over 2,000 years.

Rich in vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids such as collagen and elastin, aloe vera is commonly used in beauty treatments to promote a youthful, healthy skin. Aloe vera also has natural antibiotic and anti-viral properties and boosts the immune system.

Related A Humble Houseplant Works Wonders with Skin Issues

Healing Properties of Aloe Vera

The excellent healing properties of aloe vera are well known. It effectively soothes burned skin, heals stomach ulcers, regulates the balance of intestinal flora and eases the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

The alkaline juice from aloe vera can also aid digestion, making it an excellent component for those looking to counter troublesome stomach acid by adopting the Reflux Diet. Aloe vera contains beta-sitosterol to reduce bad cholesterol, campesterol to reduce the cholesterol absorption in the intestines, and lupeol which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

What is the Reflux Diet?

The Reflux Diet is made up of foods and substances that naturally control heartburn and the unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux. Diets that are high in protein and low in fat are known to help reduce acid reflux. Taking aloe vera as a supplement is an important part of any Reflux Diet. Eating smaller portions and avoiding citrus or spicy foods can also help to naturally control the problem without having to resort to medication.

By taking aloe vera in supplement form, you can support a controlled Reflux Diet to improve your digestive health.

Here are 12 More Reflux Diet Foods that fight acid reflux safely and naturally.

 

 

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How to Use Stevia in High Blood Pressure Recipes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Low calorie sweeteners are big business as people concerned about their health and/or weight switch to low calorie alternatives to sugar. Unlike aspartame, saccharin and even xylitol, stevia is completely natural. There are several reasons why stevia makes an excellent sugar substitute in high blood pressure recipes.

Stevia plants are a natural sugar-free sweetener for use in high blood pressure recipes

Stevia has been used in China and Japan as a sweetener for many years. Stevia extract comes from a green leafy herb (Stevia rebaudiana), native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas. Stevia has two compounds (stevioside and rebaudioside) that are 250 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose).

Reducing Hypertension with Stevia

In clinical trials, researchers found that stevia can reduce high blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity. This makes it an excellent sugar substitute for diabetics, those following a weight loss program, and those who wish to lover their blood pressure safely and naturally.

Related What are the Best Sugar Substitutes?

Stevia has also been found to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Unlike other artificial sweeteners that may be carcinogenic, stevia has no reported side effects or adverse reactions. However, stevia does have a slight aftertaste when used in some drinks and recipes.

High Blood Pressure Recipes Using Stevia

High blood pressure diets and natural remedies aim to lower hypertension by balancing the body’s acidity and removing toxins. By eliminating fatty junk food and substituting it with fresh fruit and raw organic vegetables, blood pressure levels can be effectively lowered.

One of the benefits of stevia is that it is pH-stable, so including it in a high blood pressure diet is important. Try drinking cranberry stevia lemonade throughout the day (a gallon if possible) and then check your blood pressure levels after 10 days. As well as boosting hydration, cranberry stevia lemonade helps balance acidity and removes toxins, which all help lower hypertension.

Fill a gallon jar with distilled or spring water  and add the juice of 3 organic lemons. Add one cup organic cranberry juice, a dash of liquid cayenne and liquid stevia to taste.  

Another excellent High Blood Pressure Recipe using stevia is to puree seedless watermelon in a blender with stevia to taste. Freeze in a shallow container overnight. Allow to thaw a little then break down the ice crystals with a fork and spoon the frozen fruit into paper snow cones. The combination of fresh fruits and stevia provide multiple benefits for those wanting to lower blood pressure naturally.

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Three Best Minerals to Improve Bone Density

by Cindy Gray

If you're concerned about how to improve bone density, the answer lies in three words: Calcium, Magnesium and Boron. These minerals are essential for building healthy bones and keeping them strong throughout the aging process. 

Dairy products and calcium-rich foods are nature's answer for improving bone density

The teens and twenties are the important years when we lay down the building blocks for bone density in later life. No one wants osteoporosis in their old age, yet it's almost too late to do anything about it once you reach middle age, or the age of menopause in the case of women. Here are three minerals that must be part of your diet for those who are serious about how to improve bone density.

Calcium

Calcium is one of the key building blocks for the development of healthy bones and teeth. However, simply having a high-calcium diet is not enough to avoid bone density problems in later life.

Studies show that postmenopausal women who increased their calcium intake did not see an improvement in bone density tests. It is important to couple calcium with vitamin D to give the body the tools it needs to break down and use that calcium. Yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach and collard greens are the main sources of calcium and you should consider supplementing your recommended daily allowance with a combination of calcium plus D supplement.

Related:  How To Prevent Bone Loss Naturally

Magnesium

Green leafy vegetables provide magnesium which is needed in small amounts for healthy bones. Scientists are unsure why magnesium is so important for how to improve bone density. However 99% of the magnesium found in the body is in stored in the bones and just 1% is recirculated in the blood. 

Boron

Another trace mineral that appears to be important for maintaining healthy bones and countering osteoporosis is boron. Athletes and bodybuilders take supplements of boron to help build muscle mass and maintain strong bones. Boron balances pH levels, increases estrogen levels and balances magnesium, calcium and phosphorus by producing enzymes.

Those looking for natural ways to improve bone density may be interested to learn that boron is linked with the prevention of osteoporosis as well as maintaining muscles and boosting memory. Adults require up to 20 mg per day of boron which is found naturally in coffee, milk, beans, whole grains, nuts, grapes, oranges and berries.

Calcium, magnesium and boron appear to be nature's answer for improving bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis as we age. 

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Why You Need Fiber for Constipation Relief

by Cindy Gray

People who suffer with digestive or bowel problems usually have one thing in common: they lack fiber in their diet. A healthy balanced diet with sufficient fiber will produce at least one bowel movement per day, without the need for artificial constipation relief. If your bowel habits are less frequent, you are likely to be suffering from constipation.

Fiber is the key to constipation relief

You may need constipation relief if you have the following symptoms:

  • Bloated feeling
  • Small hard stools
  • Infrequent or incomplete bowel movements
  • Discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen

The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25-30 grams. This may come from cereals and whole grain foods, legumes, vegetables, and fruit. If you eat less than this amount, you probably need to consider some constipation relief.  One natural form of relief is to enjoy a regular green energy drink powder mixed with water.  This type of health sustaining beverage is a refreshing energizing drink with the equivalent fiber of a portion of veggies, and a whole lot of natural goodness too!

How Much Daily Fiber do I Need?

Studies show that the modern westernized diet falls well short of the recommended figure. A 2003 study of 3,300 middle-aged women found that 87% of the test group consumed less than 20 grams of fiber per day. In the same test, 70% of those surveyed consumed 12.5 grams or less fiber per day – that’s less than half the amount they need to have a healthy functioning digestive system.

Related: Recharging Your Body in 5 Days

Constipation can lead to more serious health issues if not dealt with in the short term with constipation relief medications; and in the long term by increasing fiber in the diet. Eating a high fiber diet improves heart health, cholesterol levels, and lowers your risk of cancer, diabetes and intestinal disorders.

Tips for Constipation Relief

The best foods for constipation relief are oats and oatmeal. One portion at breakfast can deliver eight grams of fiber. Oats contain 55% soluble fiber and 45% insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber is important for rapid relief of constipation. It absorbs water and passes through the digestive tract to the bowel, producing stools that are bulky, soft and easy to pass. Drink plenty of water to allow the fiber to swell and do its job properly.

Flax is another great high-fiber food. Sprinkle flax on fruit or yogurt, or add it to muffins, bread dough and smoothies.

For fast constipation relief, nothing is more effective than senna. Prepare natural senna leaves in hot water with fennel seeds and peppermint; strain and drink as a tea. Be warned – senna is powerful and may cause diarrhea, nausea or stomach cramps.

Prevention is always better than cure, so when it comes to constipation relief, eat a high fiber diet and you will never have to worry.

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Why Vitamin D is Critical for Digestive Health

by IVL Products

Recent research into colitis, a painful inflammatory condition of the colon, showed that it could be caused by a lack of vitamin D. This allows an imbalance of flora to develop in the gastrointestinal tract causing inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease. 

Study connect vitamin D deficiency with inflammatory bowel diseases

Colitis is a serious and painful condition. The inflammation of the lining of the colon can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune illness similar to Crohn’s disease, is another inflammatory bowel disease possibly connected to vitamin D deficiency.

Colitis is known to be caused primarily by infections, viruses, bacteria, food poisoning and parasites in the gut. These develop when good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract are low and are unable to keep these infections at bay. Causes of low gut flora include stress, taking antibiotic medicines which kill gut bacteria, and drinking excessive alcohol. However, no one has previously made a connection between a lack of vitamin D and the presence of these colitis-causing bacteria and infections.

Vitamin D and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

A study by the University of Toronto investigated whether vitamin D deficiency could be implicated in the development of Crohn's disease and similar inflammatory diseases of the bowel. They found a positive association between lack of vitamin D and a corresponding lack of good bacteria in the gut (dysbiosis) in those diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Related: Diet soda can be dangerous to your health

Two further studies looked at the same issues. The first study, based on information supplied by the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study I and II, found that there was a much higher incidence of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in those who lived in the northern states. The lower levels of sunshine mean lower levels of vitamin D, which the body produces naturally when sunlight falls on the skin. The study found that women who lived in the southern states during their 30s were 50% less likely to develop Crohn’s disease in later life, and 35% less likely to suffer from colitis.

The second study by Cornell looked at whether the symptoms in patients already diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s could be improved with vitamin D supplements. After 26 weeks, those given higher doses of vitamin D showed an improvement in their symptoms, compared to those on a lower dose.

Researchers conclude that vitamin D can keep gut flora healthy and balanced, which in turn improves conditions for those with inflammatory bowel diseases.

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What You Need to Know About Fermented Foods and Constipation

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Antibiotics are used in medicine to kill harmful bacteria; in fact they kill off all bacteria in the digestive system, creating other problems. However, the opposite of antibiotics are probiotics. These beneficial bacteria aid digestion, fight harmful bacteria, act as chelators and detox agents to rid the body of heavy metals and toxins, and they help reduce constipation.

So where can we get a healthy daily dose of these useful probiotic bacteria? Fermented foods are the key. You probably already eat some occasionally without even realizing. Examples of fermented foods include fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, which are fermented, not pickled. Examples of fermented dairy products include probiotic yogurt and kefir. 

How Does Fermented Food Aid Constipation?

Fermented food can help prevent constipation

Most fermented foods are made using an ancient form of food preservation. This fermentation process uses beneficial bacteria to create lactic acid. This environment is high in good bacteria and preserves the food by not allowing bad bacteria to spoil and rot it. Modern-day fermented foods may be processed using pasteurization which actually kills all bacteria. You need to find products that have been organically fermented, or do the process yourself.

Even a small amount of sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, will provide many benefits. It is full of vitamin C, reduces inflammation in the bowel, reduces pain and constipation associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), lowers bloating and contains high levels of antioxidants.

Related: Top 10 Foods for Fantastic Digestion

Eating cultured or fermented foods tops up intestinal flora (bacteria) which boosts natural immunity. They balance bacteria in the stomach and digestive tract, releasing enzymes to improve digestion. Fermented foods also produce an acid environment in the bowel which can be helpful in preventing constipation. These bacteria make it easier for the body to absorb nutrients and speedier digestion means less likelihood of constipation.

Now you know the benefits of fermented foods on your overall health, banishing constipation, You may want to try adding some other fermented foods to your diet. Try fermented beets, tomatoes, radishes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, kimchi, green beans and sauerkraut. Dairy eaters can enjoy fermented yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk and some cheeses. Not only will these foods fight inflammation and disease-causing bacteria, you will also avoid unhealthy constipation, another big plus!

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Indigestion Symptoms: Five Signs of Unbalanced Beneficial Bacteria

by IVL Products

Did you know that the gastrointestinal tract, commonly called the gut, is lined with trillions of bacteria? They all have a job to do and are important in digesting the food we eat and controlling our health status.

There is a wide diversity of different bacteria, and not all gut bacteria are equal. Some “good” bacteria help improve digestion of food, manufacture essential vitamins, and strengthen the immune system.

Unbalanced bacteria trigger indigestion symptoms

The presence of “bad” bacteria may cause poor skin conditions, mental issues, nightmares, and indigestion symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea. The body cannot selectively banish all bad bacteria, but by creating an environment where good bacteria can flourish, the bad bacteria can be held in check. Probiotics are the answer.

The balance of bacteria in the gut can indicate how healthy we are (or are not). The presence of some bacteria causes inflammation while other bacteria strengthen the immune system or affect how the brain works. This is a wide topic of study, but the important fact is that if the balance of bacteria is off, it will affect our overall health.

Related: Natural Treatment for Lactose Intolerance

If you suffer from any or all of these indigestion symptoms, it may indicate low levels of good bacteria or flora (dysbiosis):

  • Painful bowel movements, usually caused by hard stools and constipation
  • Altered bowel habits, bloating or cramping pains may be caused by an irritable bowel. Diarrhea or loose stools may be caused by a bug, but more commonly they are a symptom of an imbalance of bacteria in the gut
  • Bad gas is another warning sign of poor indigestion. Symptoms such as excessive gas are caused by gut bacteria improperly digesting food. It may be caused by certain foods, such as beans, or by a sudden change of diet. Either way, managing your gut bacteria with probiotic-rich foods will help
  • Parasite infections can cause you to feel sick, or cause other symptoms of ill health. Normally these unhealthy parasites are controlled by good gut bacteria
  • Food allergies and food sensitivities can both cause irritable bowel movements, bloating, constipation and diarrhea

These common indigestion symptoms tend to indicate that there is an imbalance which can be addressed by introducing probiotics into the diet to improve the presence of healthy bacteria. Consider taking a probiotic supplement or add some fermented foods and live yogurt to your diet to raise levels of good bacteria and banish troublesome indigestion symptoms forever.