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Decreased Vitamin D Means Increased Pain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a painful and debilitating condition that affects 13.9% of adults over the age of 25 and 33.6% of those over 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studies of osteoarthritis patients showed a positive correlation between low levels of vitamin D3 and pain.  Those with higher serum levels of IL-17A and IL-23 had lower D3 and increased osteoarthritis pain.

Healthy living tips include plenty of sunshine for generating vitamin D.

Vitamin D3 Deficiency and Pain

Further studies support the relationship between low levels of vitamin D3 and increased pain. A study published by the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Journal found that breast cancer patients who took aromatase inhibitors significantly lacked vitamin D3. The patients reported severe bone and muscle pain, fractured bones and had difficulty standing and walking. However, when treated with a supplement of high levels of D3 (50,000 IU per week) their muscle and joint pain was significantly reduced.

A group of Korean researchers found that injecting vitamin D3 into fibromyalgia patients every four weeks reduced pain and decreased the symptoms of fatigue and tiredness.

Perhaps most relevant is a four-year study on 418 volunteers with osteoarthritis of the knee. They found that those with low levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to find their osteoarthritis worsening over the period of the study compared to those with higher vitamin D levels. The study recommended that increased dietary supplements of D3were beneficial to counter the pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Related:  How to the Improve Immune System Naturally

Healthy Habits Regarding Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency causes many easily preventable health issues including rickets, soft bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness. Following healthy living tips to avoid vitamin D deficiency includes consuming fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolks and fortified milk in your diet, although this can be a problem for those following a strictly vegan diet.

The body is also able to make vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight for as little as 15 minutes a day. This can be difficult for those living in northern states and work indoors during daylight hours in winter. Those with dark skin also are at risk of vitamin D deficiency as the pigment reduces the effectiveness of the skin to absorb the sun’s rays.

People who are obese, with a body mass index of 30 or higher may also have low levels of vitamin D as fat cells absorb the vitamin, leaving less for the body to use to support healthy bones and muscle.

Why not adopt healthy habits by including vitamin D3 supplements in your daily diet and including daily exercise in the outdoors for some healthy sun exposure? These natural healthy living tips can only do you good, particularly if you suffer from osteoarthritis pain.

 

 

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Is Your Hair Loss a Symptom of Failing Health?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Everyone wants a full, healthy head of hair, which is why hair loss can be devastating.  Unfortunately, 85 percent of men and 40 percent of women lose their hair at one time or another.  How well and how fully hair grows may be dependent on the health.  A number of health conditions can interrupt the normal cycle of hair growth, resulting in lost locks.  

Eighty-five percent of men and 40 percent of women experience hair loss.

The Three Phases of Hair Growth

Each hair on the head goes through its own growth cycle.  The normal cycle of hair growth is made up of three phases.  When hair is growing, it is in the anagen phase, which can last from two to six years.  Then, hair enters the catagen phase, which lasts approximately two weeks.  During this phase, the hair follicle gets smaller and growth stops.  Hair then rests for a period of two to four months, known as the telogen phase, before falling out and being replaced with new hair. 

Related:  Tips on How To Counter Male Pattern Baldness

Normal Hair Loss

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair daily.  Unusually excessive hair in a brush or more than normal on the pillow or shower drain may indicate excessive hair loss.  Women tend to lose hair on the top of the scalp, and they may find that their part is widening, while men often notice hair receding from the forehead or crown. 

Sudden loss of hair is sometimes caused by a medical condition, and proper treatment can help.  The following medical problems can result in hair loss:

  • Addison’s disease – destruction of the adrenal gland affects production of certain hormones that may result in hair loss
  • Celiac disease – damage to the intestinal lining caused by this disease affects absorption of nutrients that contribute to healthy hair growth
  • Diabetes – this disease can lead to alopecia areata, a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles
  • Hodgkin’s disease – symptoms of this cancer of the lymphatic system can include alopecia
  • Hyperandrogenism  – a hair-thinning condition in women caused by excessive levels of androgens like testosterone
  • Hypothyroidism  – an underactive thyroid gland affects hormone production, which can contribute to hair loss
  • Lupus – can cause hair follicles to become brittle and hair to fall out in patches
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – can lead to hair loss in women due to an imbalance of male and female sex hormones.
  • Scleroderma – this disease of the connective tissue causes hardening of the skin, which can affect the scalp
  • Syphilis – Some people in the latter stages of this venereal disease experience hair loss

Finding excess hair on the pillow or in the shower can be distressing, but there may be an easy fix.  People who are experiencing abnormal hair loss benefit from a visit to a medical professional.  By taking a health history and doing blood work, doctors can rule out disease as a cause for hair loss and look for other contributors.  

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Five Tips to Avoid Constipation While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Nothing can take the fun out a vacation faster than suffering from constipation. If it happens to you, rest assured, you are not alone.  Bowel movement issues are very common among travelers so it’s important to follow these five healthy travel tips to keep you regular.

Healthy traveling without constipation

Change Is NOT Always Good

Preparing for a trip and traveling, even if it is on vacation, can be very stressful. If you turn to junk food, skip meals or are feeling stressed, this can cause irregularities in your bowel movements.  Often, using unfamiliar bathrooms can induce anxiety.  Just not following your normal routine can contribute to constipation.

Maintaining healthy eating and drinking habits while preparing for and traveling can help you avoid traveler’s constipation.  Find a food vendor that offers fresh salads, fruit and high fiber cereals or breads and skip the fast food restaurants in the terminal or on the road. If possible, pack your own healthy high fiber snacks to munch on during the flight, train ride or car trip.

1. Dehydration Nation

The TSA won’t let you bring water through security and buying airport bottled water is expensive, so you might be tempted to let yourself get a little dehydrated. If you are road tripping you might drink less to avoid frequent bathroom stops; not a good thing!

Drink plenty of clear fluids, namely water, and save the alcoholic or sugary sodas and cocktails for a special occasion. You may also want to limit your caffeine intake for the duration of your trip, too. It can act as a diuretic and you need adequate water in your bowels to form normal stools and pass them regularly.

Bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it at a drinking fountain once you clear security. Sip, don’t gulp, throughout the day and plan accordingly for adequate bathroom breaks.

Related:  Dangers of Laxative Overuse for Chronic Constipation

2. Bacteria Is Your Friend

If you are not regularly taking a probiotic supplement you should be. These gut-healthy bacteria are essential for good digestion.  Before your trip, start taking them and pack them in your suitcase. They will keep your immune system strong and aid in digestion so you don’t end up with stubborn bowels that won’t move.

Try to include foods on your trip that are rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (a spicy fermented cabbage) too.

3. You Got To Move It Move It!

The last thing on your mind when traveling might be exercise. Who has time for that?  You do!

You don’t have to run several miles or go to a boot camp class, just choose stairs instead of the elevator once in awhile, walk to and from dinner, plan an activity that incorporates some walking, hiking or just hit the hotel pool for a few laps.  Mild to moderate exercise keeps your metabolism revved up and increased circulation will wake up sluggish bowels while encouraging you to drink plenty of fluids.

4. Don’t Sugar Coat It

Your bowels do not need a layer of sugar when they are already a bit stressed from travel.  Cut back on the sweet stuff and you’ll most likely keep them humming along just fine. It’s easy to over-indulge while on vacation and airport sweets might be tempting, before you board a morning flight, but resist the temptation! 

Pack your own healthy snacks like almonds, a clementine, apple or snack-sized package of whole grain crackers and save the sugar indulgence for the end of your trip.

5. Go Green

Green foods like broccoli, lettuce, peas, asparagus and spinach will make for a much more pleasant trip. Having a few salads with fresh fruits and vegetables will help you stay hydrated and full of fiber; essential for avoiding constipation.

Try eating a small salad or munching on some raw broccoli before meals to ensure you get in your greens. You’ll stay regular and slimmer on your trip.

Following these healthy travel tips can be the difference between the best trip ever, or an unpleasant journey marred by the pain and bloating of constipation.

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19 Tips to Avoid Air Travel Illness & Germs While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Tips for Preventing Travel Illness.

Airplane Germs

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

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

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

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

Related:  Healthy Travel Begins with Immune-Boosting Supplements

Jet Lag Drag

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

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

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

Other things that can help are:

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

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

Don’t DVT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Holy Basil: A Divine Answer to Stress Management

by Institute for Vibrant Living

All hail holy basil! This potent herb has many health benefits, some of them being reduced feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.  It has a long history of use around the globe for not only being physically, but mentally healthy, as well, and could be very beneficial for stress management.

Holy basil for stress reduction.

History

Holy basil is closely related to the more familiar sweet basil used in many dishes, especially in Italian cooking; and is from the mint family.  It is a shrub with fuzzy stems and leaves and native to Eastern tropical parts of the world. In India and Hindu countries, it is considered a sacred plant, thus the name holy basil.  It’s been grown and cultivated in India for the past 3,000 years and is revered for being a plant that can heal the body, mind and spirit.

Ayurvedic medicine has included the use of holy basil (aka tulsi) because of its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, among others. It is used to treat physical ailments like headaches, upset stomach, insect bites, skin rashes, and to calm nerves and help one sleep better.

Holy Health Benefits

Western medicine has begun to offer evidence that holy basil extract can dramatically reduce symptoms of general stress like:

  • Exhaustion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual/libido issues

The benefits of the herb administered in an extract proved to be effective after only six weeks of use in one study. 

Another study in 2008 used holy basil to evaluate its effectiveness in treating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders. Test participants took 500 mg of the herb in supplement form twice a day for 60 days.  Test administers published results saying those who took the herb supplement reported significantly reduced feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, in contrast to those who received a placebo.

Related:  Three Herbs for Stress Reduction

Other health benefits attributed to holy basil are due to its anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve:

  • Fevers
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Bites, cuts or stings

As a powerful antioxidant, holy basil is also showing to be a healthy supplement to boost cognitive function, strengthen the immune system, help kidneys function better, and stabilize blood glucose levels.

Holy Basil At Home

It’s simple to cultivate your own unlimited supply of holy basil at home.  You can plant it in in a garden pot inside to get it going when it’s cold outside and transplant it to warm soil (where it grows best) in the summer (at least 65-70 degrees F). Put it somewhere that will allow for full sun and be sure to water it regularly.  To encourage a larger, bushier plant cut off the flowering blossoms, though letting them grown into flowers does not affect the health benefits of the plant. Make sure your plant is well established and growing strong before you harvest the first leaves.

Holy Tea for Two

The best way to get maximum health benefits from holy basil is to use the leaves to make tea.  Pour eight ounces of boiling water over two teaspoons of fresh leaves, cover and steep for five minutes, then enjoy!

If you are not too keen on growing your own you can find the herb in supplement form.

If you are looking for some easy stress management techniques, sipping some holy basil tea could be for you.

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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.

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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.

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5 Fabulous Foods For Fall and More Healthy Eating Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Fall is the season of harvest, Thanksgiving and hearty wholesome cuisine as the temperatures drop. Check out these fall food favorites and see how they contribute to a healthy eating plan.

Using oysters, nuts and fall fruits in your meals is an excellent way to focus on healthy eating while still getting in some fun flavors and textures.

Apples for Quercetin

Apples are seasonally harvested in fall. There are over 7,000 varieties, with some species better than others for cider-making, pie-baking, storing, drying or eating right from the fruit bowl. One medium apple has around 96 calories and is great for healthy eating as it delivers 4.4 grams of fiber, 8.4 mg vitamin C as well as calcium, iron and trace minerals. Apples also contain high levels of pectin and the antioxidant quercetin, which may help prevent allergy symptoms.

Squash for Beta Carotene

Pumpkins and winter squash are a healthy source of beta carotene and magnesium with their soft golden flesh. Roast, bake or add to casseroles and know you are getting around 4,600 mcg of beta carotene per half cup of butternut squash. Spaghetti squash has lower levels of beta-carotene but does have double the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, another great fall food for healthy eating.

Beta carotene is used in the body to make vitamin A.  In a study at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii researchers showed that beta-carotene can turn on a gene to help prevent the growth of cancerous cells.

Related:  Four Nutritional Powerhouses that should be a Part of Your Diet

Mushrooms for Immunity

Cool humid conditions are ideal for producing mushrooms with 10 different species being grown commercially. Mushrooms are currently being trialed as a suppressant for breast cancer as they remove estrogen from the blood. Beta-glucan protects against colds and flu viruses while reishi mushrooms have positive antiviral properties. In addition, shiitake, portobello, oyster and reishi mushrooms contain a polysaccharide molecule that stimulates the immune system. Slice mushrooms on salad or add them to almost any hot dish to boost immunity as winter approaches.

Oysters for Zinc

Eaten either raw or cooked, oysters are deliciously nutritious as part of any healthy eating lifestyle. However, to avoid food poisoning associated with eating raw contaminated oysters, play on the safe side and enjoy them cooked. Each serving of six oysters contains 43 calories packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Top of the list is 33 mg of zinc, which is 220% of the recommended daily value. And there’s always the unproven reputation that oysters have as an aphrodisiac!

Turkey for Tryptophan

Fall would not be the same without Thanksgiving turkey. A three-ounce serving of perfectly roasted turkey meat gives you 25 grams of lean protein (half your daily requirements) and far less calories and fat than an equivalent serving of roast beef. Turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that the body cannot make. It is used to make niacin and serotonin, so perhaps that’s why a nap is in order after any Thanksgiving turkey feast!

Now you can look forward to fall, knowing it is a great season for enjoying the tastiest healthy eating, from Apples to Zinc!

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Top Supplements to Erase Problems of Aging Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of the common aging skin problems is light or dark brown spots called age spots. They are show up on the face, chest, shoulders and hands in both men and women; and they can affect younger people, too.  They are also called liver spots and are a result of dietary deficiencies and years of exposure to the harsh rays of the sun.

Topical creams and cover-ups will temporarily disguise the unsightly spots but in order to get rid of them, or at the very least lighten them so they are less noticeable, you will need to treat them from the inside out.

Supplements and lifestyle changes can help prevent age spots and aging skin.

Supplements

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a power antioxidant that will help damaged skin cells repair themselves and prevent new ones from popping up.  Antioxidants help your body combat cell damaging free radicals by neutralizing them. It also aids in circulation by extending the life cycle of red blood cells, important for transporting oxygen to cells for energy and keeping toxins from building up in the body. Research suggests vitamin E may also help slow down the aging process by protecting cellular membranes.

The recommended dosage for adults is 200 IU of vitamin E in d-alpha tocopherol form daily for maximum benefit.

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency & Diseases of the Digestive System

Vitamin C

Everyone should get plenty of vitamin C in their diet, even if they don’t have age spots.  Found in abundance in citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), spinach and kale, it is a critical nutrient that supports good health and can help get rid of common aging skin problems like age spots, but also fine lines and wrinkles. 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant to rid your body of damaging free radicals. It also helps to combat the formation of new brown spots by offering protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s like an internal broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

Results are not immediate, meaning, you will need to take the vitamin C and be patient for up to a year for the dark spots to fade. In the meantime slather lots of sunscreen on your face, hands and where ever else spots have formed.

The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C supplements for adults is 2,000 milligrams per day.

Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is responsible for the bright vibrant color in many healthy foods like carrots, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe and winter squash.

When consumed, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, cell mucous membranes and skin.  It is also an antioxidant to help damaged cells regenerate.

Prevention

Of course, the most effective way to treat age spots is to not let them form at all. You can help yourself avoid this common aging skin problem by adopting a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, adding these supplements to your diet and applying sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to your exposed skin every day, year round.

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Antioxidants: Your Immune System’s Secret Weapon

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Fruits and vegetables are powerful immune boosters.

Antioxidants to the Rescue

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

 

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

Antioxidants for What Ails You

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

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

Related:  Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant

Essential Antioxidants

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Sources of Antioxidants

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

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

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

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Why Vitamin D is Important for Healthy Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Originally introduced to the world as a fat-soluble vitamin and later as a steroid hormone, vitamin D offers myriad health benefits to the body.  Because it plays a role in over 1,000 physiological processes, it is easy to understand why vitamin D is so important as people get older.  According to results from a variety of scientific studies, this potent vitamin/hormone helps encourage healthy aging in many ways.

:  People can get vitamin D benefits through foods like milk, eggs and fish.

A British study conducted in 2007 showed that vitamin D may help slow the aging process and protect the body from age-related disease.  Researchers followed more than 2,000 women with ages ranging from 18 to 79 and examined their white blood cells.  Measuring the length of telomeres (the capped ends of DNA strands) is a reliable way to determine if a person is aging.  As people get older, telomeres become shorter and DNA becomes more unstable. 

According to their vitamin D levels, the female subjects were assigned to three groups.  Results showed that women with the highest vitamin D levels had longer telomeres than women with the lowest levels.  Researchers concluded that by keeping telomeres longer, vitamin D may slow the aging process, and this may explain the protective effect vitamin D appears to provide from conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Related:  Absorption is Key When it Comes to Calcium Supplements

Another important Dutch study examining people 55 years of age and older found that low vitamin D levels were linked with an inability to perform daily tasks.  Subjects were divided into two age groups and tested for activities like walking stairs, dressing and undressing, standing from a seated position, and self-care.  While results showed a link between lower vitamin D levels and reduced ability to perform the activities, more research is needed to determine if low vitamin D levels actually cause disability in performance.

Additional Vitamin D Benefits

Most people know that vitamin D plays a role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, but it offers many more benefits to the health.  Vitamin D boosts immunity and helps prevent colds, flus and other types of infection.  Mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D may also offer a preventative effect against Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, lymphatic system, ovaries and prostate. 

With all of the health benefits mentioned, it makes sense to get vitamin D on a daily basis, especially for people over 50.  The best source of vitamin D is the sun, and spending 10 minutes in sunshine before applying sunscreen usually provides a sufficient daily amount.  People can also find vitamin D in foods like fish, eggs, dairy and nut milk, cod liver oil, and fortified cereals and juices.  Vitamin D supplements work well during periods of colder weather, and health professionals recommend from 400 to 1,100 mg per day depending on age.

 

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Top Ways to Flush Out Toxins – The Benefits of Detox

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Every day the human body is exposed to trace amounts of over 80,000 industrial chemicals, toxins and pollutants, according to Brenda Watson, nutritionist and author of The Detox Strategy. We need to embrace the benefits of detox to help counter this daily assault on our system.  These insidious poisons include lead pollutants in the air, heavy metals in seafood, pollutants in the water supply, smoke in public areas; and a host of chemicals in household cleaners, perfumes, plastics and insecticides. It’s essential to give your body a chance to expel these dangerous toxins and recover with a concentrated detox program.

Drink more water and natural juices for top detox benefits

Here are 5 steps to help you reap the benefits of detox:

1.     Boost fiber intake

The colon can become clogged and sluggish on a modern diet of junk food, sugar and processed meals. An overload of fiber acts as a garbage truck, removing toxic waste and thoroughly cleansing the digestive tract. Try to eat 30-40 grams of fiber daily, starting with a high fiber breakfast to kick start your detox benefits.

2.     Drink More Juice

Cranberry or orange juice? The best answer is BOTH! These juices are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Cranberry juice enables the liver to break down fat and acts as a diuretic, a key part of any successful detox program.

Related:  Five Reasons to Add Cranberries to Your Daily Diet

3.     Purified Water

Drink a minimum of eight glasses of water throughout the day, and use either filtered or distilled water to avoid the bacteria and chemicals found in bottled, spring and mains water. Water stimulates the kidneys to detoxify and helps reduce constipation from the increased fiber.

4.     Exercise Daily

Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system which is important for a strong immune system. Working up a sweat also eliminates toxins through the skin. Daily walks, jogging, swimming and other activities will be rewarded with many detox benefits as you feel an increased level of fitness and more energized.

5.     Exfoliate

Detox benefits can be stimulated from the outside as well as from within. Treat yourself to a full body rub with a sea salt scrub which increases perspiration. The salt increases detoxification and the scrubbing action helps to eliminate dead skin cells, opening the pores to allow more effective detox benefits.

An effective detox program will cleanse the whole body from top to toe, including the kidneys, liver and colon. You know it has done you good as you will feel lighter, healthier and far more energetic. Losing weight is another detox benefit, so keep up the healthy diet and exercise to shed those excess pounds. 

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Overweight AND Malnourished?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of the ironies of the American diet is that people can be overfed yet undernourished. Learning how diet contributes to obesity is just one part of understanding the link between diet and health. Even if you eat plenty of food, you can still display malnutrition symptoms if you are filling up on unhealthy foods.

Malnutrition symptoms may occur even if you are overweight

Studies show that despite the abundance of food, a huge proportion of Americans are suffering from basic nutritional deficiencies. Over 30% of people are short of magnesium and essential vitamins A, C and E. More than 80% of diets lack vitamin D, and 90% of adults do not eat enough omega-3 fats. These are essential for controlling inflammation and blood sugar levels in the body.  So what’s going wrong?

Processed Foods Provide “Empty Calories”

Eating processed foods such as burgers, canned food, sausages, bacon, French fries, snacks, convenience foods and soda means a diet high in calories but low in vitamins and nutrients. Laden with high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and preservatives, these foods are far from the meat, fruit and vegetables that our bodies are designed to consume, and they can quickly lead to malnutrition symptoms.

We need vitamins and minerals from fruit, vegetables and whole foods to maintain a healthy metabolism which helps burn fat and regulate sugar levels. Without them, the metabolism becomes sluggish. Instead of burning those excess calories it turns them into stored fat, making the problem even worse. It’s easy to understand how the diet contributes to obesity when it lacks the core elements.

Intensive farming can also lead to malnutrition symptoms. Intensive farming has depleted the soil. A study of the food we eat today shows it has far fewer vitamins, calcium and iron than it had in the 1950s.

Related:  Eight Tips:  A Healthy Foundation for the Food You Eat

Symptoms of Modern Malnutrition

While scurvy and rickets are thankfully a thing of the past, malnutrition symptoms from a lack of vitamins and minerals in a modern diet can include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Depression
  • Poor recovery after illness or surgery
  • Low white blood cells and weakened immune system
  • Fertility problems and poor libido
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Dry hair and hair loss
  • Pale dry skin and wrinkles
  • Constipation
  • Decreased mobility due to muscle wasting

Malnutrition symptoms may be due to digestive disorders, stomach conditions, alcoholism, or most likely an imbalanced diet. If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s worth analyzing what you are eating and how much you are eating. Understanding how diet contributes to obesity, and how at the same time it can cause malnutrition, is the first step to changing your life.

By adopting a more natural, healthy diet you can improve your health and increase your longevity.  Start by avoiding processed foods such as foods that come in boxes and cans; avoid excessive meat consumption, particularly sausage, bacon and deli meats; avoid fried foods such as French fries; reduce or eliminate snack  and convenience foods.  Commit to eliminating high fructose corn syrup and trans fats from your diet; instead include healthy oils such as olive and coconut oils.  Stop drinking soda pop, and avoid sugar consumption.  Never consume artificial sweeteners; they are dangerous to say the least.  Make sure to consume at least five servings of fresh vegetables and fruit a day to help lower your weight while boosting nutritional value. It’s a great recipe for better health!

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Are Statins Killing You? The Top 6 Dangers of Statins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you part of the one in four Americans over the age of 45 who take statins? Statin drugs are prescribed to help lower cholesterol, but the dangers of statins and the truth about its efficacy are now being questioned. One of the hurdles in reversing the policy on statins is the fact that Big Pharma makes huge profits from the sales of statin drugs, with a reported turnover of $29 billion in 2013.

Studies are showing there may be hidden dangers to statins

The Dangers of Statins

Several surveys have reported results that show statins may be doing more harm than good when it comes to our health. Their results show:

  • Statins interfere with the natural production of Coenzyme Q10, which helps maintain blood pressure, supports the cardiovascular system and is essential for the immune and nervous systems
  • Studies have found a link between statin use and memory loss, possibly because cholesterol is essential to brain function. Some patients find they are unable to remember words while others develop serious neurological problems such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Statins appear to weaken the immune system, so users are more prone to bacterial infections
  • Statin drugs promote inflammation due to the increased production of cytokines
  • Statin users are at higher risk of Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), according to Dr. David Williams
  • In animals studies, statins caused 226% more muscle damage in animals when they exercised, compared to animals that were not on statins

And the list goes on and on. It’s a cause for reflection for those who take statins and are so far unaware of the dangers of statins.

Related:  Knock Down Bad Cholesterol with these Four Foods

When to Stop Taking Statins

Although studies have shown that statins help reduce cholesterol, which is thought to lower the risk of heart disease, it may not apply to those over the age of 50. A Japanese study found that high cholesterol is not necessarily associated to coronary heart disease in those over the age of 50. This study suggests that older people would actually be healthier if they stopped taking statins at middle age.

Harlan Krumholz at the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at Yale discovered that elderly people with low cholesterol were twice as likely to die from heart attack as those with high cholesterol, which contradicts popular beliefs about the need for statins into old age.

In addition to this, the University of Minnesota Epidemiology Department studied 68,000 deaths and found that low cholesterol was associated with an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal or respiratory disease. This ties in with the above findings about the dangers of statins weakening the immune system.

While the debate continues about the dangers of statins, one message remains clear. By eating a healthy balanced diet based on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, such as the Paleo diet recommended by Dr. Mercola, your body may balance its own levels of cholesterol, leading to a longer life, safely and naturally.

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The Effects of Stress on Your Brain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Whether dealing with financial issues, relationship problems or trouble on the job, people are exposed to stress on a daily basis.  No matter what the causes of stress, getting a handle on it is important.  Over a prolonged period, stress wreaks havoc with the health, and research shows it is particularly damaging to the brain.  A moderate amount of stress makes the brain more resilient by building stronger neural circuits, but chronic stress can damage the brain in more ways than one.

It is important to take steps to counter the effects of stress and the release of cortisol.

 

Interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal are referred to as the HPA axis, which controls the body's response to stress.  Stressful situations activate the HPA, and the body responds by releasing cortisol, a hormone which prepares the body for fight or flight.  This hyper-sensitive state of being can prove healthy and necessary in emergency situations but not over prolonged periods of time.

Excess cortisol triggers electric signals in the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for learning, memory and emotion).  This weakens the hippocampus and slows activity in the HPA axis, which not only affects learning and memory but diminishes the body's ability to respond to stress.

French researchers found that stress triggers the release of an enzyme that attacks areas of the hippocampus responsible for synaptic connections.  Destruction of connections between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex can affect judgment, sociability, memory and understanding.

Related:  Keeping your Memory Sharp

Fortunately, you can take a number of easy steps to help counteract the effects of stress and the release of cortisol:

Participate in enjoyable activities.  Whether you enjoy painting, gardening or lunching with friends, it's hard to be stressed when you're having fun.

Keep a journal.  Writing down feelings and emotions can be cathartic.  Keeping a journal also helps track your stress and determine what's causing it.  

Be mindful.  Worrying about the past or what might happen in the future does not help stress levels.  A number of activities like meditation, yoga, or guided imagery will help keep you in the present. 

Get off the couch or office chair.  Physical activity triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.  If you can't commit to a full workout, try desk pushups, running stairs or walking the dog.

It is next to impossible to avoid stress, but it's important to the health of the whole body to do something about it.  The activities listed above help weaken the effects of stress on the brain, heart, immune system and more
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Ten Home Remedies for Tackling Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Periodontal disease is much more serious than many people suspect. Periodontal issues can be either destructive or non-destructive. When plaque forms around teeth, the end result can be inflammation of tissue. In some cases, tissue can be lost, and this weakens the supporting structure for teeth.

The end result of periodontal disease can be a loss of teeth, which, in turn, has a range of its own medical and health issues. Medical studies have conclusively shown that poor oral health can lead to not just dental issues, but also a range of health issues ranging from a weakened immune system and increase in the chances of developing diseases to heart problems.

Gum disease does not have to lead to the loss of teeth. By following these 10 tips you can keep your teeth and gums much healthier!

#1:  Co-enzyme Q10

Co-enzyme Q10 is extremely important not just for gum health but for overall health. Like other ingredients, such as baking soda, co-enzyme Q10 has made its way into toothpaste for its ability to help fight gum disease and assist in keeping periodontal disease at bay. Co-enzyme Q10 is available in toothpaste and pill forms.

#2:  Honey and Manuka Honey

Honey has amazing all-natural healing properties. One type of honey in particular, manuka honey, is particularly effective at treating wounds of all kinds including gum inflammation. Manuka honey has been well researched and is being used to treat everything from chronic wounds to burns.

Cure periodontal disease with honey and other natural remedies.

#3:  Lemons

Lemons are a power anti-inflammatory and are packed with vitamin C. Try adding lemons to your tea for a one-two punch.

#4:  Baking Soda

It is no accident that baking soda has made its way into toothpaste. Baking soda helps neutralize acid in your mouth and can also help remove stains.

#5:  Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be found in both toothpastes and dental floss and is very effective in killing bacteria. However, it is important to remember that tea tree oil is extremely powerful, so remember to only use a limited amount.

Related:  Tea Tree Oil for Acne:  A Natural Remedy With Proven Results

#6:  Dental Probiotics

The research is mounting that probiotics are a powerful contributor to overall good health. Dental probiotics containing lactobacillus reuteri are one way to improve your oral health via probiotics. Also, consider adding a probiotic supplement to your diet.

#7:  Consume Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have been shown to improve overall health and boost oral health. Fermented foods can contain lactobacillus reuteri as well as many other immune system boosting probiotics. If you want to fight periodontal disease, then consider boosting your fermented foods. Many researchers also believe that fermented foods can help reduce the chances of developing many different types of diseases.

#8:  Xylitol

Xylitol is one of the best kept secrets in oral health care. Since it works to actually stop the growth of the very bacteria responsible for cavities, xylitol has earned a special place in dental research. Xylitol mouthwashes, toothpastes, mints and even gum are widely available. Not only does xylitol help protect teeth, but it also creates a positive environment for gums and the entire mouth.

#9:  Floss Every Day

Flossing is one of the easiest ways to protect your oral health. In fact, flossing regularly may even protect your heart!

#10:  Brush Regularly and Change Your Toothbrush Often

The foundation of protecting your teeth and gums is to brush often. Also don’t forget to change your toothbrush every three mouths to help you keep periodontal disease at bay!

Follow these ten tips and you will enjoy greater overall oral health. You don’t have to live with gum disease or let gum disease develop. These simple tips can dramatically boost your chances of keeping your gums and teeth healthy and looking great.

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How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility

by IVL Products

Many Americans take fish oil supplements because they are known to help prevent heart disease, enhance the look and health of skin and hair and even bring relief from the symptoms of depression.  Another good reason to pop those pills is the benefits of omega-3 fish oils for joints.

What are the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for joints?

What Is Omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential fats because the body cannot make them and must rely on getting them from diet. Omega-3 fats are special because they are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body. They affect the function of cell receptors in these membranes and provide essential compounds for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, the contraction and relaxation of artery walls and help to control inflammation. They are also crucial to the binding of receptors in cells that regulate genetic function.  This is what makes them helpful in preventing heart disease, stroke, keeping your eyes moist, your skin soft and supple and your hair strong and shiny.

The key compounds in omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and are found in several types of foods. They are most abundant in fish, specifically cold-water “oily fish” like:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Trout

Other foods with omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flax seeds, olive oil and green leafy vegetables.

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

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oils for Joints

Joint pain is largely caused by inflammation of the cartilage and tissue in the joint, leading to stiffness and decreased range of motion.  EPA and DHA have been shown in clinical studies to reduce inflammation, and to a lesser degree ALA, by decreasing the presence of inflammatory markers like IL-10 and TGF beta.

In petri dish studies, when omega-3 fatty acids were incorporated into the cartilage cell membranes of joints they appeared to decrease the enzymes that degrade cartilage and inflammatory cytokines. An “over expression of cytokines” by the immune system causes inflammation to the body beyond what is needed, essentially attacking healthy cells and destroying them.

Fish Oil Supplements

It is difficult to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through diet alone. Taking a fish oil supplements is an easy way to incorporate enough into your daily diet so you don’t get burned out eating fish for every meal.

For adults choose a fish oil supplement with 30% or more EPA and DHA in addition to eating fish and plant foods rich in omega-3s. Be sure to consult with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet to avoid unfavorable drug interactions.  Then you’ll be on your way to enjoying the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for joints!

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Seven Lifestyle-Based Ways to Improve Your Memory

by Cindy Gray

How you live impacts how you feel and how well your brain functions. In this article, we will take a closer look at seven lifestyle changes that you can make. We’ll cover everything from ways to improve memory and memory improvement tips to tricks and tips such as the use of mnemonic devices.

Puzzles are one of the best ways to improve memory

Tip #1:  Great Sleep

Without a doubt one of the single most important steps you can take to improve your memory, your mood, your immune system and your overall health is to invest in better sleep. The choice to use the word “sleep” is no accident, as great sleep has been proven to help build great brains.

Tip #2:  Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, chia seeds, walnuts and more. The brain is essentially 3 pounds of fat and it needs healthy fat, like omega-3s to stay healthy. The bottom line is that if you want to enhance your memory, your body needs omega-3s.

Related:  Five Tips to Avoiding Memory Loss

Tip #3:  Invest in a Healthy Diet

The food you eat will impact your mood, the health of your body and, of course, your brain health and memory. Poor food choices weaken the immune system, can lead to disease, increase inflammation throughout the body and can leave one simply feeling sluggish. If you want excellent recall, then invest in a healthy diet consisting largely of fruits and vegetables as well as healthy protein sources such as nuts, seeds and organically raised lean cuts of meat.

Tip #4: Exercise

Studies have shown that those who exercise actually build and maintain healthier brains that those who do not and this does make sense as exercising increases blood flow to the brain. When selecting any type of exercise whether it is resistance training or aerobic conditioning, your number one priority is to perform all exercises correctly and safely. Remember if you are injured, you can’t work out, and that means no brain benefits!

Tip #5: Skip the Multitasking

Multitasking is unpleasant, your brain hates it and it can negatively impact your memory. It takes focus to build a great memory and that focus can’t be achieved while multitasking. Also, for most people multitasking is stressful. Increased stress means increased stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones will negatively impact your health, so skip the multitasking!

Tip #6:  Brain Games

The best brain games are the ones you love. There are many different ways that you can use brain games to improve your memory. Playing just a few minutes of brain games per week can help you see improvements. Games such as chess, even puzzle and action video games can all be used to help you build your memory.

Tip #7:  Mnemonic Devices

Simply stated, mnemonic devices work! A mnemonic device is any tool that helps you remember something better and with greater recall. Some famous mnemonic is ROY G BIV which is used to remember the colors of the rainbow. Try adapting the strategy of mnemonics in your own life and you’ll see that you can remember and recall a great deal of information.

Together these seven memory improvement tips will help you boost your memory. When you improve your health you’ll enjoy greater mental clarity and focus. Armed with this clarity and focus you can expect to enjoy a significant improvement in overall memory and recall.

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Five Reasons You Can’t Concentrate

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The bottom line is that if you can’t concentrate, you simply can’t accomplish. There is no success without being able to concentrate. In this article we will explore five of the best ways to boost concentration.  If you are experiencing an inability to focus, as this article will help you focus and achieve more.

What can you do about an inability to focus?

#1:  Sleep

A lack of sleep isn’t just tough on the body. Scientific research has shown that the human body goes through a great deal of stress when it is unable to sleep. Inefficient sleep leads to an increase in the production of stress hormones, which trigger inflammation. This is critically important, as inflammation is the mechanism through which many diseases spread including cancer.

Poor sleep can lead to a weakened immune system and also increase one’s inability to focus. If you want to achieve greater focus, then adequate, high-quality sleep is the place to begin.

#2:  A Poor Diet

Just as a lack of sleep triggers inflammation, weakens the immune system and can hamper one’s ability to focus, the same holds true for a poor diet. While a nutritious wholesome diet can boost one’s health, conversely a poor diet can have serious, negative implications.

Improving your concentration means improving your diet. By opting for a diet that mostly consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, low-fat proteins and healthy grains, your body will see positive results. You’ll feel better and enjoy greater sleep. A healthy diet, rich in whole foods and vitamins and minerals is one that fights inflammation and boosts overall health.

Related:  Link Between Poor Quality Sleep and Inflammation

#3:  Needless Distractions

It is no shock that distractions can prevent you from achieving greater levels of concentration. However, much of what leads to an inability to focus is centered on needless distractions. Social media overuse, keeping one’s phone on around the clock and excessive media consumption can all lead to significant focusing problems and issues. So turn off your gadgets and step away from the computer.

#4:  You’re Over-committed

Feel like you have too much on your plate? You are, of course, not alone, but feeling as though you have too much on your plate also means you are likely to be distracted. Multitasking is difficult and requires a great deal from the brain. A better option is to focus on one task at a time until completed as often as possible. Follow this simple rule and you’ll see your concentration levels soar!

#5:  You Need Practice

Achieving greater concentration is like many other things in life. The more you practice improving your concentration the more likely it is that your concentration levels will improve. Meditation is an excellent place to begin improving your concentration levels. Additionally, studies show that meditation can boost the immune system, improve one’s mood and even improve brain function and memory.

By putting these five tips into action you will see your concentration levels improve. Greater concentration is about more than simply pushing yourself. Ultimately, it is about taking great care of both your body and your mind.

 

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The Ultimate Food Guide to Omega-3s

by Health News

Once you’ve discovered the unparalleled health benefits of omega-3, the next logical step is to stock up on foods high in omega-3. Here are some of the foods with omega-3 that you should put on your shopping list every week, and they are far wider than just fish!

Cold water fish are an excellent example of foods high in omega-3

Top omega-3 fatty acids foods are cold water fish including:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Halibut
  • Sardines

Fortified dairy foods with omega-3:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Margarine
  • Soy milk
  • Yogurt

Grains and nuts that are omega-3 food sources:

  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Flaxseed
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter
  • Oatmeal
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnuts

Fresh produce foods high in omega-3:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Watercress
  • Parsley
  • Mint

Vegetables oils and foods with omega-3

  • Canola oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Soybean oil

You’ll also find fruit juices, enriched protein powders and weight loss shakes are good omega-3 fatty acids foods to top up your daily omega-3 intake.

Related:  15 Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fats in Vascular Disease

Doctors recommend foods high in omega-3, particularly those that contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). The third type of omega-3, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) can actually be made from DHA and EPA by the body, although it is not an efficient way to obtain it. ALA is a plant-based omega-3, which is high in antioxidants and supports a healthy immune system, muscle mass and memory. Spinach and kale are good sources of omega-3 foods in the diet.

How Much Omega-3 Foods are Required Daily?

As yet there is no official recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for omega-3, but Dr. Andrew Weil suggests eating oily fish 2-3 times a week and topping up with walnuts, ground flaxseed and salads for ALA.

The National Institutes of Health has recommended that people eat at least 2% of their total daily calories as omega-3 fats (that’s about 2000 mg for a 2,000-calorie/day diet). Other sources recommend aiming for 500-1000 mg omega-3 daily. As a guideline, a small can of tuna or salmon contains 500mg. If you suspect any shortfall, it’s worth topping up your daily allowance of omega-3 foods with fish oil supplements.