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Top Natural Solutions for Ringing in the Ears

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Tinnitus is a persistent ringing in the ear that can be annoying to live with. Unfortunately, there is no medical cure, but our healthy living tips explore the holistic treatments for sufferers. The official number of tinnitus sufferers is almost 50 million Americans, according to the American Tinnitus Association, so you are not alone in suffering with this common problem.

Healthy habits and lifestyle changes may help Tinnitus sufferers.

Healthy habits and lifestyle changes may help Tinnitus sufferers.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is an ongoing ringing, hissing or buzzing noise in a person’s ear. It may affect the sufferer’s hearing but is not necessarily restricted to those with some degree of deafness. Tinnitus often develops after an ear infection, damage to nerve endings in the auditory canal, or exposure to a loud bang.

Our hearing works when vibrations caused by sound pass through the bones of the eardrum and reach a fluid-filled cavity in the inner ear. Tiny, sensitive hairs pick up the vibration and send an impulse to the brain through the auditory nerve. If these hairs are damaged or for some reason permanently vibrate, the brain “hears” non-stop noise vibrations which are known medically as tinnitus.  

To prevent tinnitus you should only play music at 60% when wearing earbuds, and wear ear plugs when operating noisy machinery or at a concert.

Doctors may prescribe a hearing aid to help control the noise, but there are some healthy living tips to help you live with tinnitus.

Related:  The Inside Scoop on BPPV

Healthy Living Tips to Treat Tinnitus Naturally

Some people suffering with ringing in the ears find that some food, drinks and medication can affect their symptoms. Keep a diary of the days when the ringing is worse and see if there is a common cause. These may include caffeine (tea, cola and energy drinks as well as coffee), salty foods, taking aspirin or after drinking alcohol.

If you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking affects the blood flow to the nerve cells that control your hearing. Nicotine also creates a kick of adrenaline which can make the tinnitus sound much worse.

Other healthy habits for tinnitus include creating soft background noise from a radio, white-noise machine or even a fan to help mask the ringing.

Stress and worry can make tinnitus even worse, so introduce some relaxation techniques into your life. Yoga, tai-chi, meditation and muscle relaxation CDs can all help reduce ringing in the ears.  

Of course, getting your overall health checked out by your doctor is a healthy habit to consider if you develop tinnitus. The ringing noise may be caused by other conditions such as a buildup of ear wax, fibromyalgia, hypertension, thyroid issues or Lyme disease. Hopefully these healthy living tips will help improve the problem over time.

 

 

 

 

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Three Strikes for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Although female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is much less common than male pattern baldness, it can be extremely distressing and socially inhibiting for anyone who suffers from it. We look at some healthy living tips to counter the cause of hair loss in women.

Healthy habits can help counter hair loss

The main cause of FPHL is acute telogen effluvium which is commonly caused by medication, metabolic or hormonal stress.  A study on 210 women suffering from alopecia and hair loss found that they typically had three medical conditions in common which were easily treatable:

  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Some hair loss is normal, but female pattern hair loss is often increased at menopause. The risk is higher is older women and those with a genetic history of hair loss.

Boosting vitamin D

Healthy living tips such as taking daily supplements including vitamin D are a sensible way to start to treat hair loss, particularly in those with a family history of androgenetic alopecia. Vitamin D can also be produced naturally in the body with regular exposure of the skin to sunshine for around 15 minutes per day. Another way to boost vitamin D levels is by eating more oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. Dairy products, egg yolks, liver and fortified cereals are another easy way to boost vitamin D as part of your new healthy habits to reduce hair loss.

Related:  Vitamins:  Natural Health Benefits of Vitamin D

 

Treating Hypothyroidism

Studies published in 2008 by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that hair follicles are directly affected by thyroid hormones, particularly T4 and T3. If you are shedding hair and are worried about FPHL, you should get your thyroid tested by your doctor to check for an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Eating healthily can help support a healthy thyroid but severe hypothyroidism can only be countered with medication.

Controlling Hypertension

Both vitamin D deficiency and poor thyroid function can put stress in the body, causing high blood pressure. However, other causes of hypertension include obesity, lack of aerobic exercise and eating a diet high in unsaturated fats. Adopting healthy habits such as losing excess weight, eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising daily can all help lower blood pressure and counter your hair loss problem.

Healthy living tips such as optimizing vitamin D levels, having your thyroid checked with a blood test and lowering blood pressure can all help counter alopecia and FPHL. You’ll soon feel the benefits of a healthier in-balance lifestyle and over time your hair loss will gradually be reduced.   

 

 

 

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Radiant Skin with Antioxidants

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of our top healthy living tips is the good news that radiant skin and natural beauty do not have to come with a branded label and a three-figure price tag. A French study into Clinical Cosmetics and Dermatology found that a formula of natural antioxidants is the best way to fight aging skin caused by environmental factors.

Healthy living tips include using these antioxidants for beautiful skin

Clinical Study on Antioxidants and Facial Skin

The clinical study used 35 women aged between 40 and 70 who had a noticeably dull complexion. The study measured the degree of improvement in skin radiance by evaluating skin color, luminosity, brightness and transparency. The clinicians also assessed skin imperfections and firmness; and the participants completed a questionnaire about their skin radiance before and after treatment.

Rather than lathering the skin with creams and potions, the study focused on oral supplementation, giving each woman a daily formula of 150 mg of antioxidants. The supplements included superoxide dismutase-rich melon concentrate and grape seed extract rich in flavanols, vitamin C and zinc. This supercharged overload of antioxidants was prescribed daily for eight weeks; and the results of the effect on the women’s skin were then reassessed.

The results showed skin color was improved with a healthier red-pink or olive tone. Luminosity of the skin also increased by 25.9%, but brightness and transparency of the skin remained the same. Existing skin imperfections were significantly improved and dark under-eye circles, spots and redness were reduced. The study concluded that taking an antioxidant-rich formulation improved the radiance of the skin naturally while reducing imperfections and blemishes. Antioxidants also appeared to improve dull skin and increased firmness.

Related:  Royal Jelly: Your Skin's Best Friend

How Antioxidants Work

The body is constantly exposed to free radicals from pollutants, sun damage, cigarette smoke and stress. These harmful molecules have unpaired electrons that seek to change and damage healthy cells. This ultimately weakens the skin’s cell structure. Antioxidants pair up with free radicals, putting them back in balance so they do not alter the structure of other cells.  

Healthy Living Tips about Antioxidants

The benefits of antioxidants can easily be enjoyed by adding antioxidant-rich foods and supplements to your healthy habits daily. As with the study, you should see a noticeable improvement in your skin’s radiance in eight weeks or less.

Grape seed extract is a wonderful way to obtain the concentrated benefits of grapes, which have been used in natural treatments for centuries. Taken in tablet or capsule form, or applied topically, the concentrated antioxidants in grape seed extract include vitamin C and vitamin E which are known to support youthful-looking skin. Grape seed extract also protects the skin from UV sun damage, a known cause of wrinkles and fine lines.

Vitamin C is considered a wonderful remedy for aging skin, and zinc helps repair damaged tissue, skin sores and spots and by helping cells regenerate. Green tea and resveratrol are also packed with antioxidants, making these healthy living tips a secret weapon for anti-aging and radiant skin.  

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Prevent Vaginal Infections with Probiotics

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Vaginal infections can be a problem even for those practicing healthy habits in their hygiene and diet. The most common vaginal infections include candida (thrush), bacterial vaginosis and other yeast infections, as well as sexually transmitted infections.

Healthy habits include eating probiotic-rich yogurt

Common symptoms of vaginal infection include vaginal itching, burning, irritation, redness and swelling, often accompanied by a discharge that may have an unpleasant smell. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat these infections, but unfortunately they are the opposite of probiotics. Antibiotics kill off the good bacteria along with the “bad” bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics prescribed for other health issues, such as a chest infection can similarly destroy the good bacteria in the gut and vagina, leading to an outbreak of thrush or other vaginal infection as an unwelcome side effect. There has to be a better way to balance bacteria and prevent vaginal infection outbreaks.

Related:  The Power of Probiotics

Study on Oral Probiotic Supplements

A study looked at the effect of oral probiotics on the presence of good bacteria in the vagina. The study was on 60 pre-menopausal women who were given oral probiotics daily for 14 days followed by a seven day period when the probiotics were stopped. Vaginal swabs were then taken from the participants to see how the orally administered probiotics had affected anti-microbial activity.

The study showed that the presence of beneficial “friendly” bacteria in the vagina had significantly increased in those administered orally with healthy probiotics, compared to the placebo group.

The Benefits of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus

The bacteria found to have increased due to probiotic supplementation included Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus and B Bifidobacterium lactis, which are all effective against pathogens responsible for causing vaginal infections.

Healthy habits and a balanced diet should encourage “friendly” bacteria to thrive and counter infection naturally. However, taking antibiotic medications and eating a diet high in sugar can upset the acidity and balance of bacteria in the vagina. This can lead to recurrent outbreaks of yeast infections such as thrush and other vaginal infections.

As well as preventing and treating vaginal infection, good bacteria are also known to promote overall health and well-being by boosting the immune system and lowering anxiety. Bifidobacterium aids digestion and can help avoid the need for antibiotic treatment against infection, which can cause diarrhea as a side effect. Lactobacillus acidophilus is particularly effective in treating and preventing vaginal yeast infections. All these benefits make a good case for including probiotics in your diet as one of nature’s healthy habits to fight off infection.

Include live yogurt containing L. acidophilus in your diet, and or take probiotic supplements.  Both are healthy living tips for treating and avoiding vaginal infections without the need for medications.

 

 

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Lemon for Lovely Locks

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Lemon is often added to hair products as it has plenty of beneficial properties for those with poor hair condition or suffering from hair loss. If you want to control dandruff, boost hair growth and naturally lighten hair color, look no further than this zesty citrus fruit. Packed with citric acid, calcium, magnesium, pectin, vitamin C and antioxidant flavonoids, lemon is a one-stop solution for healthy hair, and it smells good too!

Lemons are a natural beauty treatment for hair loss

Drink Lemon Juice as a Detox

Hair is constantly exposed to air pollution and toxins that can make it appear dull, weak and itchy. Drinking lemon juice, either as a hot tea or a refreshing icy smoothie, helps rid the body of toxins. Your new healthier body will be reflected in a head of glossy hair that is strong and thick. If you are worried about thinning hair or hair loss, drinking lemon juice is an easy way to boost vitamin intake and rectify the problem.

Lemon Scalp Cleanser

Dilute two tablespoons lemon juice in a cup of warm water and use as a scalp massage treatment. Work it deep into the follicles before washing out. The acidity will cut through the natural oils and remove the buildup of conditioners, chemicals and waxes that clog the follicles. If left, these chemicals can cause a dry scalp, flaky dandruff and hair loss. Giving your hair a lemon detox once or twice a month will keep your hair in first-class condition and will improve shine naturally.

Related:  How Omega 3s Could Save Your Hair

Lemon Lightens Hair

Lemon is an old treatment for bleaching white clothing. The same properties of lemon can be used to lighten hair naturally and bring out the highlights in those with fair or mousy-colored hair. The citric acid in lemon juice reacts in sunlight to gradually lighten hair over time.

Shampoo and rinse hair then add three tablespoons lemon juice to two cups of water and massage it through the hair. Leave on for 10-60 minutes. The lightening effect is enhanced if you sit in the sun after applying the lemon juice and allow the hair to dry naturally. Rinse out the lemon application and apply conditioner to restore some moisturizer to your newly-lightened hair.

Lemon for Hair Regrowth

Sickness and medication can take their toll on the body and your hair reflects that, often by falling out in alarming quantities. Lemon is an excellent natural treatment to speed up regrowth, reduce dandruff and cleanse clogged follicles that cause hair loss. Massaging dilute lemon juice into the scalp also boosts circulation to stimulate regrowth.

The acidity and vitamins in lemons are a natural way to boost follicle health, improve the condition of your hair and help reduce hair loss. Try it today!

 

 

 

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Herbal Hair Remedies

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Rosemary, lavender and thyme make a fragrant potpourri but when blended, the essential oils of these natural herbs can effectively treat hair loss.

Reverse hair loss with natural herbs

If you are concerned about thinning hair and hair loss, natural herbs can be a cheap and effective answer. They have been used for centuries to support lustrous, strong and healthy hair and the secret is that it stimulates the scalp.

Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center studied the effects of rosemary, lavender and thyme on patients with alopecia and hair loss. The results suggested that sufferers who massaged their scalps with rosemary and other essential oils every day for seven months had a significant improvement in hair growth. The study showed that the stimulating act of massaging herbal essential oils regularly to the scalp reversed the problem of significant hair loss in these patients.

Rosemary oil is known to stimulate the circulation. By rubbing it into the scalp daily it prompts the follicles to boost hair regrowth. It not only nourishes the follicles, rosemary has analgesic properties which soothe inflammation, repair damage, moisturize a dry scalp and helps cleanse blocked follicles.

Lavender Treats Alopecia

Herbalists often recommend the use of lavender oil for those suffering from hair loss and alopecia. This was backed up by studies that showed those who applied lavender oil to their scalp had faster hair regrowth that those who simply applied a carrier oil.

Lavender is a natural healer loaded with antioxidants. It reduces acne, improves eczema and reduces aging through its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and in similar way appears to support a healthy scalp and follicles which reduces hair loss.

Thyme Reduces Hair Loss

Thyme is another natural stimulant for the circulation. Rubbing an essential oil of thyme into the scalp delivers nutrients directly to the hair follicles and appears to stimulate circulation and hair growth. Professional hair loss treatments often include thyme in their remedies showing their faith in this natural herb.

Put a few drops of rosemary, lavender and thyme essential oils into your hand and rub to warm and distribute it. Gently run your oil-coated hands through your hair then brush to distribute it. Make sure you concentrate on applying it to the scalp too. 

Related:  Effective Migraine Relief with Essential Oils

Tips for Using Essential Oils

If you have never used essential oils before, there are a few tips to make it a safe and pleasant experience. Remember that essential oils are highly concentrated essences and should always be added to a carrier oil before being applied to the scalp or skin.

The first time you use an essential oil, dab it onto a small area of your inside arm. If it burns, itches or causes a red patch, avoid using it.   Essential oils are for external or topical use only and should never be ingested.

Keep essential oils away from the eyes, nose and mouth. This means always washing your hands after handling them as a tiny amount on the bottle can inadvertently be transferred to your eyes or mouth after contact.

By following these tips you can safely use essential oils for aromatherapy, particularly for reducing hair loss and treating alopecia.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dangers of Hair Dye + Tips for A Safer Hair Dye Experience

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the American Hair Loss Association, two thirds of American men will suffer hair loss by the age of 35 and 85% of men will have male pattern baldness by the age of 50. Hair loss can be a cause of distress, particularly for young men who may start to have thinning hair in their 20s, and for women suffering from alopecia.

Hair dye can disguise hair loss, but is it safe?

A good way to disguise hair loss and thinning hair is by using hair dye to make the remaining hair look bulkier and more noticeable. However, the National Cancer Institute has issued warnings about the risk of hair dye causing cancer.  We look at the facts to help you decide whether dying your hair to disguise hair loss is worth the risk.

Hair Dye and Cancer

Hair dye products use over 5,000 different chemicals to produce their hair enhancing dyes and stains and some of these are known carcinogens. Permanent hair dye works by mixing colorless aromatic amines and dye couplers with hydrogen peroxide. It produces a chemical reaction that forms pigment that is used to stain hair. Darker colors generally need higher levels of chemicals, and some of these have been found to cause cancer in lab tests on animals.

Newer techniques have switched to allegedly safer chemicals but there is still some concern that there is a correlation between hair dye and the higher risk of cancer in hairdressers and barbers. In particular, this profession has a higher-than-normal rate of bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia. A study at the Leibniz Research Center in Germany ruled out a connection between bladder cancer risk and oxidative hair dyes. However, scientists admit that exposure could be latent in hairdressers for at least 20 years, explaining why hairdressers working with hair dyes prior to the 1980s display a higher incidence of bladder cancer today.

Related:  How Omega 3s Could Save Your Hair

Tips for Safer Hair Dye

When it comes to cancer risk, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you choose to dye your hair, either to hide the telltale signs of gray or to disguise hair loss, there are some ways to lower your exposure to these chemicals.

  • Limit the time your head is in contact with the hair dye chemicals to the minimum time possible, then rinse off thoroughly
  • Wear gloves when applying the dye so that your hands do not increase your contact with the chemicals
  • Drink lots of water before, during and after treatment to flush through any absorbed toxins
  • Take a green supplement along with milk thistle liver supplement to regularly cleanse and detox your system

By following these safeguards, you can still dye your hair for hair loss or vanity while sensibly limiting the health risk.

 

 

 

 

 

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Grapefruit for Hair Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Goldilocks would definitely have approved of eating grapefruit to keep her hair shiny while acting as a natural remedy for hair loss. Grapefruit is often cited for clear skin and weight loss, but grapefruit oil is a wonderful tonic for healthy hair. Hair loss can be countered by consuming grapefruit, which is full of vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals and nutrients. As you will discover, grapefruit can also be used topically to provide many other benefits, even for those with a full head of hair!

Grapefruit is an excellent remedy for hair loss

Grapefruit as a Cleanser

Hair can become dull and lifeless as products build-up on the scalp and strands of hair. Grapefruit juice cuts through the natural oils, chemicals, waxes, chlorine and parabens that coat your hair to leave cleansed hair and a healthy scalp. Simply rinse hair through with one cup grapefruit juice, rest for a few minutes, then wash out.

Grapefruit for Dandruff

Dandruff and a dry scalp may be caused by the presence of bacteria and this can cause hair loss. The astringent properties of grapefruit seed extract help eliminate any bacterial infection which may be the cause of dandruff and thinning hair. The high levels of vitamin C fight bacteria and prevent the hair follicles from being clogged by particles of dry skin and dandruff. Apply grapefruit oil direct to the scalp, massage in then wash and rinse as normal.

Related:  The Science Behind the Grapefruit Diet

Grapefruit for Hair Growth

The antioxidants in grapefruit are excellent for those with mild to moderate hair loss. Massage grapefruit oil into the scalp for a proven way to stimulate hair regrowth. Grapefruit strengthens the connective tissue with the hair follicles and boosts circulation which feeds and promotes healthy hair growth from the roots, so no more hair loss.

For a regular grapefruit hair loss treatment, add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to your shampoo bottle to add a healthy shine and reduce hair loss every time you wash your hair.

Grapefruit as a Detangler

Make your own organic hair detangler to get amazing benefits from grapefruit. Mix a teaspoonful of aloe vera gel, two drops of glycerin, 30 drops of grapefruit seed extract and two cups distilled water in a spray bottle. Shake well and use on wet hair to smooth out the tangles. You’ll get all the benefits of grapefruit while naturally preventing hair loss.

Whether you choose to eat, drink, spray or massage grapefruit into your hair, it will provide plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants to your whole body while helping boost hair growth and prevent hair loss naturally. 

 

 

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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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Three Moves to Boost Your Sex Life

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Good sex is one of those healthy habits we should all get into. If your sex life has waned, feels like too much effort, or you just can’t get in the mood, you may be able to transform your sex life from blah to mind-blowing with a few simple exercises. 

Exercises to encourage healthy habits.

It’s long been said that exercise is a potent aphrodisiac and it is also one of the healthy living tips we wanted to share in this article. Getting in tune with your body is the best way to boost your sex life and one way to accomplish that is to exercise more.  The feel-good endorphins that follow a pulse-pounding run, Zumba class or a cross fit session can help you get in the mood for sure. 

Exercise also makes us feel stronger and more accomplished. Tap those good feelings and focus on these three specific exercises in your workout routine to get you in the mood, and enable you to enjoy better sex longer. You’ll be able to accomplish two healthy habits in one!

Related:  Is Depression Exercise Related?

Knee to Chest Stretch

This one is simple. Find a comfortable spot to lie down on the floor. The moves will open up your hips and loosen your lower back. 

Once you are comfortable lying on floor, have your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent.  Pull your right knee toward your chest and hug it briefly. Return to the start position and repeat with the left knee.  Begin by doing five times on each side and work up to ten over time.

One-legged Hip Thrusts

How this one can improve your sex life is pretty self-explanatory.  Simply lie flat on your back, knees bent with your arms relaxed at your sides.  Keeping one foot firmly planted on the ground, lift the other leg off the floor keeping the knee bent. Using your planted foot thrust your hips as high as possible toward the ceiling. Be sure to keep your back neutral, and not overly arched. 

Hold the leg up squeezing your glutes (gluteus maximus or your bottom) together, and then slowly lower your leg and hips back down; repeat with the other leg.  Start with eight lifts per leg and progress to over time to 20. Your hips, butt, thighs and legs will all become stronger.

Straight Leg Lifts

This simple move strengthens those hard to reach lower abdominals just beneath your belly button and above the pubic bone. Start by lying on your back with your legs and feet straight up pointing at the ceiling. With slow controlled movements, raise your hips and bottom off the ground as if to push your feet closer to the ceiling. 

Focus on tightening your lower abs forcing them to do the work and roll your feet closer to the ceiling slowly.  Hold for a count of three then slowly lower your hips back to the ground.  Try doing three sets of 12 with a minute of rest between each set.

These exercises are great to do at the end of your workout at the gym or run.  Now these are healthy habits we can all agree upon!

 

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The Scoop on Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Approximately 35 million men and 21 million women are experiencing hair loss in this country.  While for some it can be from conditions caused by chemotherapy, nutritional deficiencies, or hormonal imbalances.  Some of these causes can be corrected; however, most cases of alopecia (baldness) are hereditary.  As such, there are few treatments that slow the process or promote significant re-growth, but Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (or PRP) is showing great potential.

PRP for hair loss.

What is PRP?

Platelet Rich Plasma therapy is a relatively new, non-surgical procedure that has been producing great results for those with thinning hair, hair loss, and bald spots.  A doctor draws a small amount of the patient’s blood and places it for treatment in a centrifuge so that only the enriched platelet cells remain. These highly concentrated cells are known as platelet rich plasma, and contain various nutrients like protein.  These are then injected through a very thin micro-needle into the affected areas of the scalp. 

How Does PRP Work?

Platelet rich plasma contains essential growth proteins that when injected in a highly concentrated form can stimulate the hair follicle to regrow hair.  Many patients are seeing great results very quickly according to a study published by the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery

Related:  Can Nettle Root Protect Against Hair Loss?

The study involved eleven patients suffering from hair loss due to androgenic alopecia. They also showed no improvement in hair loss after six months of Minoxidil and finasteride treatments, the most common drugs used to reverse hair loss. They received PRP every two weeks for three months.  The recorded results showed significant reduction in hair loss between the first and fourth injections, indicating quick results. Other than discomfort during the injections process, the participants reported no side effects.

Researchers concluded that, PRP injection is a simple, cost effective and feasible treatment option for androgenic alopecia, with high overall patient satisfaction.”

Who Will Best Benefit From PRP?

The New York Times published an article about a hair restoration surgeon in Manhattan who has been getting very good results for patients using Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, especially for women. While fewer females than males suffer hair loss, they tend to have more angst about it than men because of social norms. Women are also not great candidates for hair transplants because, unlike men, they tend to lose hair all over their body making it difficult to find a place to harvest hair for a transplant

PRP has been called “extremely promising” by a spokesman from the American Hair Loss Association, though it was noted that more research was needed. Those undergoing treatment for hair loss could see improved results when they combine PRP with other treatments like a hair transplant.

 

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Three Sexy Solutions for Spicing Up the Bedroom

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It’s easy to fall into a rut, fall off the wagon, or fall out of the habit, when it comes to sex in a relationship. Healthy habits include an active and enjoyable sex life for most people, so if you and your partner have taken a fall when it comes to sex, turn that vanilla routine into a hot and spicy new love connection by trying these three sexy solutions for spicing up your bedtime routine:

  1. Entice Them Before Dinner
  2. Wear Red
  3. Use the Scent of Cinnamon and Cloves

Healthy habits for healthy sex.

Spontaneity

Try something new on the spur of the moment. Instead of waiting for your partner to initiate at bedtime, be ready to entice them before dinner.  People have a primal need for the unexpected, so you will most likely be met with enthusiasm.

Related:  Sex and Menopause: Is It Normal to Lose Desire?

Go Red

When it comes to healthy living tips, there is actually scientific evidence to support the idea that the color red can boost sexual desire.  That makes science our best chance for spicing things up.  Invest in something unique and dizzyingly red.

What’s Cooking?

It’s true; often the way to a partner’s heart is through their stomach. Since you already have their heart, you can entice the situation with the scent of cinnamon and cloves, two spices that are essential for a great pumpkin pie and sex life. These powerful scents trigger the libido so whip up a pumpkin pie for dessert.

If baking a pie is not one of your skills, a scented candle can have the same effect.  Don’t forget the whipped cream.

Make spicing up your sex life part of your healthy habits like exercise, eating right and having fun for greater love connection with your partner.

 

 

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Anemia & Hair Loss – Iron Deficiency Facts To Know

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Although hair loss is common and affects up to 40% of the population, it is still cause for great concern for men and women.  Alopecia is not limited to just men and often causes greater angst for women because of societal standards of beauty. Genetics is the main cause of thinning locks, but getting your iron levels checked is a good first step for anyone experiencing hair loss, because sometimes it may be linked to other more serious medical conditions.

The Bald Truth

Hair loss is usually not seen as life threatening, but it can be life changing and not for the better.  Not only is it damaging to one’s self esteem, but it might indicate a lack of adequate iron stores in the body, which over time can cause other health concerns, in addition to hair loss.

The American Academy of Dermatology published research collected over 40 years by Cleveland Clinic dermatologists that linked iron deficiencies with hair loss.

"We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without anemia, is treated," Leonid Benjamin Trost, MD; Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD; and Ellen Calogeras, RD, MPH, write in an issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.”

To be clear, not every study concerning hair loss from nutritional deficiencies has found the same link between low iron stores and hair loss, but research is piling up that suggests that once those with low iron began taking supplements, they experienced a sharp decline in hair loss and even began re-growing hair.

Lifting iron level may help with hair loss.

Ferritin Testing

Doctors can determine a person’s iron stores by measuring the amount of ferritin in the blood.  Ferritin is a protein that plays an important role in storing iron in the blood stream.  The less ferritin you have the less iron your body has stored.  

Normal levels of ferritin range between 10-15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), but that level may be too low according to physicians at the University of Pennsylvania Hair and Scalp Clinic.  Men should really have 24-336 ng/ml and women should have 11 to 307 ng/ml. However, the optimum number is 50- 70 ng/ml to halt hair loss and stimulate re-growth.

Causes of Anemia & Low Iron Levels

Women are especially susceptible to low iron levels because of menstruation. Hair follicles require a lot of iron since they are constantly growing hair. When iron levels are depleted by heavy periods, over time women may begin to notice thinning hair and hair loss. Pregnancy can also accelerate iron loss.  So women who are genetically pre-disposed to alopecia, have heavy menstrual periods, and go through one or multiple pregnancies have a much higher risk of hair loss than men.

There are other causes of anemia for men and women such as multiple nutritional deficiencies, some prescription drugs and even internal bleeding due to colon cancer.  Anyone who is experiencing hair loss, whether it runs in the family or not, should mention it to their doctor and ask to have their ferritin levels checked. If their ferritin levels are low, a supplement could help; in addition to adding more iron-rich foods to your diet.

Related:  Increase Energy Naturally with Iron

Do not start taking iron supplements without first consulting your physician.  Severe side effects are rare, but include:

 

  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Constipation and or upset stomach
  • Intestinal inflammation like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Hemoglobin disease known as thalassemia
  • Premature infants
  • Increased risk of heart disease in diabetics

 

 

Dosage

 

Once you have consulted with a doctor, had the appropriate tests, and it is determined that an iron supplement is right for you to prevent further hair loss, doctors generally recommend 50-100 mg of elemental iron (ferrous sulfate) three times per day for up to six months to reverse anemia and build up an adequate store of iron in the body. 

 

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Log On and Calm Down

by Institute for Vibrant Living

It’s a mad, mad world and the stress of daily life can make you wild. For those looking to form healthy habits to combat stress and anxiety, meditation should be at the top of your to-do list.  Meditating can slow a racing mind and help soothe and calm jangled nerves.

Meditation is one of our top healthy living tips.

We Are Living In a Digital World

In our busy lives learning to meditate might seem like one more thing on an already over-burdened to do list.  Luckily for us living in the modern world, there’s an app for that!  You can tap an app to find your happy place and slow down your crazy train for better decision-making, sleep and overall quality of life.  Here are a few apps to try to encourage meditation, one of the healthies habits you’ll find.

Headspace.com – Heavy on the science behind meditation but structured in an appealing way, this app has a lot to offer. It has a page that cites studies about meditation, an informative blog and guidance on how meditation can help with your mind, body, your relationships, and enhance your quality of life.

Meditation Studio – with over 200 solution-based guided meditations, this app offers the wisdom of dozens of teachers. You can find courses on meditation basics for beginners; and even on how to meditate to find more happiness, change a habit, or even be more kind.

Sattva – is a beautiful app with what it dubs “the world’s first advanced meditation timer and tracker.” For those who like to measure results, this is the app for you.  You can track your heart rate before and after meditating, time each session and record your mood. You will also have access to free guided meditations and sounds; and it offers challenges and trophies for meeting them.

Related:  Six Tips to Strengthen your Mind

Buddhify – busy professionals in high stress work environments might find this app the most appealing. It is a very minimalist app with guided meditations that center on what the designer calls urban meditation, which involves using the sights and sounds around your city to prompt mindfulness, a sense of calm and compassion. There are also three tracks related to meditating through pain and illness.

Meditation- Not Just For Hippies

The notion that meditation is only for new-agers and hippies has largely been dispelled. Actual scientific research shows the power of meditation and how it can have a meaningful and measurable impact on anyone’s life.

Taking up meditation is now recommended as a healthy living tip by more and more practitioners, many of whom are convinced by evidence that meditation is a powerful healer.

According to a study written about on WebMD, a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin, participants, after eight weeks in a meditation study, had increased electrical activity in regions of the left frontal lobe of the brain.  This is an area of the brain generally found to be more active in optimistic people who are generally happy most of the time.  An Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta study reported that those who meditated regularly for six weeks decreased their immune activity and reported less emotional distress even when purposely exposed to a stressful event or situation.

Healthy Living Tips: Find Your Preference

No two people meditate alike. For some it is repeating a mantra until their mind stills. For others to obtain that coveted oblivion it means staring at a candle flame while counting breaths in and out.  Explore the apps mentioned here to get you started on your new healthy habits.

 

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Amino Acids for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Diet plays a key role in keeping a healthy head of hair. There are four essential amino acids that are crucial to preventing hair loss and stimulating growth. If you are experiencing hair loss, you may be lacking in these amino acids, which will inhibit keratin production, the main component in hair.

What is Keratin?

Keratin is found in skin, fingernails, toenails, teeth and hair. Keratin is formed by amino acids, the protein-building blocks that play a critical role in many of the body’s biological processes, including hair growth.  Keratin is unique because—depending on the amino acids that form it in different parts of the body—keratin can be hard like fingernails or soft and flexible like hair.

Keratin can counteract hair loss.

The A Team

The four most important amino acids that make up the “A team” of the hair are:  cysteine, lysine, arginine and methionine.  These are the amino acids necessary for the body to produce adequate keratin.

Cysteine – is a not an essential amino acid, meaning the body can produce it, rather than having to rely on getting enough of it only through dietary consumption.  Keratin is made up of about a quarter of cysteine and it also assists with protecting hair follicles from oxidative stress.  Food sources of this amino acid are: poultry, pork, dairy, broccoli, legumes and whole grains.

Lysine – is an essential amino acid, meaning your body does not produce it so it must be consumed.  It is required for hair follicles to function properly and stimulates collagen production, another component in hair similar to keratin.  Dietary sources of lysine are, fish (especially salmon and sardines), chicken, beef, pork, spirulina, nuts and legumes. Those who suffer from cold sores and various forms of herpes tend to be lysine-deficient; therefore, a lysine supplement can offer help for more than hair loss.

Related:  Three Vitamins for Thinning Hair

Arginine – is needed to produce keratin and has many other health benefits. Arginine helps to boost immunity, as well as prevent hair loss.  It can also actually help mitigate the damage done to hair through coloring and bleaching. Arginine is essential for proper blood circulation to supply vital nutrients to hair follicles for more robust growth.  Arginine is produced by the body but production levels can drop sharply due to illness or prolonged stress, necessitating a supplement and eating arginine-rich foods such as dairy products, oatmeal, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soybeans, nuts, fish, chicken and beef.

Methionine – an antioxidant and the second major component of keratin, it also helps hair follicles resist oxidative stress. Methionine has been shown in studies to slow the graying of hair and hair loss. It is an essential amino acid.  Methionine supplements along with foods like eggs, seeds, fish, squash and nuts can help stop hair from thinning as rapidly.

Hair loss is usually a result of a genetic alopecia, but a healthy diet rich in foods with these important amino acids and supplements can help slow hair loss and make the remaining hair fuller, stronger and healthier overall.

 

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Low Level Laser Therapy for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Hair loss is a major concern for many people. While not recognized as a serious medical problem, whatever the reason, hair loss can be very traumatic and it takes a toll on one’s self esteem.

Here are some common reasons for hair loss:

  • Male pattern baldness (also affects women) which is genetic
  • Drugs such as those used in chemotherapy
  • Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies
  • High blood pressure

Whatever the reason, people suffering from significant hair loss are usually on the look-out for a way to slow and reverse the loss, and find something to encourage new hair growth. Laser technology is now being studied for its effectiveness in re-growing hair

Low Level Laser Therapy for Hair Loss

Isn’t Laser Technology Used for Hair Removal?

It’s true that laser technology has been found to be effective for permanent hair removal, so how could it possibly stimulate hair growth? The therapy used in studies to regrow hair is called low laser light therapy or LLLT. According to researchers featured on the television news show “Dateline,” the laser light is absorbed by the cells, which in turn repairs them and encourages hair regrowth.  The New York Times published an article saying the lasers “cannot bring dead hair follicles back to life, but will stimulate follicles in a state of decline and make existing hair thicker and fuller.”

Does It Really Work?

There is still debate within the medical industry about the effectiveness of low level laser therapy for hair loss.  A study by the National Institutes of Health concluded that LLLT could in fact stimulate some hair growth without serious side effects. However, dermatologists and doctors remain skeptical.  The general consensus is that nothing will reverse balding due to genetics. It is felt that while laser therapy might help slow down hair loss and even encourage some hair growth for a small percentage of the balding public, it will not, however, work for everyone.  Research has shown there are other methods that yield better results.

Related:  Stress and Hair Loss

What Can You Do To Slow Hair Loss Or Regrow Hair?

If you are genetically pre-disposed to hair loss, drugs like Minoxidil or hair transplants will probably offer you some positive results.  Laser therapy could compliment that kind of treatment by slowing hair loss and making existing hair fuller.

Diet is an important way to prevent hair loss or re-stimulate hair growth if balding is a result of drugs, nutritional deficiencies and or high blood pressure. Once the drugs are stopped, like in the case of chemotherapy for cancer patients, hair usually starts to grow back.  An antioxidant-rich diet has been shown to help with hair growth and encourages stronger, healthier-looking strands.

Adopting a high blood pressure preventative diet not only helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, but it can help slow hair loss and encourage hair regrowth. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oily fish such as salmon and trout, are rich in omega-3 antioxidants, with a history of improving hair and skin health.  Some supplements can also help with lowering blood pressure and slowing hair loss; and even encourage new growth. Supplements you may want to consider adding to your diet are fish oil, blackcurrant seed oil, vitamin E, vitamin C, and lycopene.

It’s always wise to check with your trusted health care practitioner before starting any new supplements; and inquire if LLLT might be right for you to stimulate hair growth.

 

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Tips for Dog Health: Feed Fido Raw Bones

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to keeping dogs happy, a few healthy habits go a long way.  Most dogs enjoy chewing on bones, but some bones are better than others.  Cooking removes much of the nutrition in dog bones including protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.  Cooking also makes bones harder and more brittle, and shards can splinter off and get caught in Fido's mouth or cause damage to his organs.  There is a more nutritional option that also benefits a doggie's dental health:  raw bones.  

Just like people, dogs benefit from healthy habits.  Try giving your dog raw bones instead of cooked ones.

The Benefits of Raw Bones

Raw bones offer a variety of health benefits for dogs:

  • They are easier to digest than cooked bones due to an abundance of enzymes
  • They are rich in calcium and contain trace minerals like chromium, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc
  • Sinew on raw bones helps remove plaque and tarter on the teeth
  • Chewing on raw bones helps relieve anxiety in some dogs

Bone Types and Size

Because they contain crevices that a dog's teeth dig into and rub against, knuckle bones can help remove plaque and tartar for better dental health and they keep dogs busy for hours.  Pet owners looking for meaty bones can try elk or lamb necks or beef femurs.  To prevent tooth damage, aggressive chewers benefit from soft bones like knuckles or turkey necks. 

When treating a dog with a bone, it is important to choose the proper size.  Owners of large dogs like Dobermans, German Shepherds and Labradors should choose bones that are larger than their dog's muzzle like a beef shank bone.  This encourages chewing on a bone rather than swallowing it whole.

Feeding bones isn’t appropriate for all dogs – certain breeds of dogs just can’t process bones and gain the same benefits that other dogs get from chewing on bones.  This has a lot to do with jawbone structure.

Brachiocephalic breeds such as boxers, bull dogs, pugs, and shitzu are NOT mechanically designed to be able to chew bones effectively and safely.  A Kong toy might be a better substitute if you have this kind of dog.  Look at your dog’s teeth closely especially the upper and lower molars in back of the mouth, the length of the muzzle, and the condition of the teeth and gums and ascertain if the mouth looks “in shape” to handle a bone. Or ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s mouth.

Little dogs and toys with delicate jaw structures and softer teeth should not eat bones. If your dog is too little to eat bones safely, you can still help maintain their dental health using a mix of hydrogen peroxide and aloe vera juice

Dogs with gut sensitivities might not process bones well either. If your dog is prone to loose stools or vomiting, be sure to resolve those GI issues first, and save the bones for after he/she has recovered. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on real meat bones, they can sometimes have a bout of diarrhea or soft stool after eating the bones. Over time, their system will adjust and they will be able to consume bones without issue (if fed bones on a regular basis).

Related:  The Power of Probiotics

Holistic veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko tells us the best time to give a dog a bone is after a full meal. Why? You don’t want your dog starving when he/she starts to chew on the bone. Ingesting too much of a bone could lead to constipation, and possible serious obstruction. Give your dog a bone for only 10 to 15 minutes, then take it away*, wash it, and store in a container in the fridge. Toss it out after 3-4 days.

*A good practice here is to replace the bone with something else (like a couple of pieces of mozzarella cheese) when you take it away. This will help reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues like resource guarding of the bones. If your dog growls when you approach his bone or try to remove it, definitely seek out a qualified dog behaviorist to help you retrain this behavior!

More Healthy Living Tips for Dogs

When it comes to canine health, giving raw bones is a good place to start, but like people, dogs benefit from a few healthy habits.  To keep a beloved pet in tip-top shape, owners should:

  • Visit the veterinarian for annual checkups and vaccines
  • Brush your dog’s teeth.  If they could brush their own teeth, they would; but they can’t so it’s up to you.  Puppies and young dogs get used to it, and some really like it; adult dogs will adapt—but brush your dog’s teeth at least several times a week.  Never use human toothpaste—it is poisonous to dogs. Purchase chicken or peanut butter flavor toothpaste for dogs.  Use a child-sized tooth brush for small dogs, and a larger toothbrush for larger dogs.  Brush the interior and exterior of front and canine teeth.  Brush only the exterior of the molars in the back by running the toothbrush along the gum and teeth, just lift the skin flap; no need to brush the inside of the back teeth (at the hinge area.)
  • Exercise dogs daily
  • Choose a high-quality, grain-free dog food
  • Take steps for the prevention of fleas, ticks and heartworm
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Tips for Breaking Your Facebook Addiction

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Facebook is a valuable worldwide tool for establishing and maintaining social connections.  Users communicate with "friends" and share information in a fun and creative way, but once people log into Facebook, it can be difficult to get back out.  Roughly 39 percent of people on Facebook admit to excessive use, which can eat into everyday activities and promote a sedentary lifestyle.  Take advantage of these healthy living tips to help break your Facebook addiction.  

 

A few healthy habits can help internet users limit their time on Facebook.

Login with a purpose.  Boredom is not the best reason for using Facebook.  Set higher standards for logging in like promoting a cause, checking out a particular page or messaging a friend.  Healthier cures for boredom include reading a good book or taking a bike ride.

Implement no-Facebook zones.  Making certain areas Facebook-free (or Facebook-less!) helps limit daily use.  Turn off technology during meals, when using public transportation, in the bathroom and before going to sleep at night. 

Set an alarm.  Allow yourself a designated period of time for Facebook enjoyment, and stick to it.  Set the alarm on your cell phone to signal when to sign off. 

Related:  Ten Relaxing Ways to Disconnect from Digital Technology

Turn off email notifications.  Of all the healthy habits for limiting Facebook use, this one works the best.  Email notifications taunt users to log into Facebook, and turning them off helps save valuable time. 

Take the weekend off from all social media.  Taking a two-day break from social media shows people how little they really need it. 

Try off-line communication.  Are you missing an old friend?  Is it your sister's birthday?  To communicate with loved ones, try a novel approach with actual communication, like sending a card via snail-mail or making a telephone call.

Think before you post.  Take time to self-evaluate before posting a photo or a status update on Facebook.  Will your post provide value to other users, or will it turn them off?  Friends may become bored after the fourteenth picture of your cat, and they may look at post after post of your accomplishments and pics of your beautiful home as boastful.

Facebook allows users to share information and network with people around the world.  Although social media makes a valuable tool for communication, excessive Facebook use can interfere with daily activities and encourage a sedentary lifestyle.  By showing users how to limit Facebook time, the healthy habits above allow more time for other enjoyable activities

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Creative Ideas for Better Spring Cleaning

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many people live by the old saying, "A clean home is a happy home."  While keeping living space tidy and clutter-free is one of the best healthy habits for reducing stress, a thorough spring cleaning offers even more benefits.  Deep cleaning is good exercise, and scrubbing the house from top to bottom helps reduce fire hazards and kill germs, mold and bacteria.  While some areas are forgotten during spring cleaning, they can have a big impact on health and safety.  Here are five spring cleaning tasks that help ensure a safer home and promote better health. 

 

Healthy living tips benefit Americans in many areas of life, and spring cleaning is no exception.

  1. Cleaning upholstered furniture:  In addition to brightening up your home, giving upholstered furniture a thorough cleaning helps rid homes of pet dander and dust mites.  To clean furniture, homeowners should remove cushions and vacuum all surfaces.  Next, clean upholstery carefully with a soft bristled brush and foam cleaner or rent a hand-held carpet or upholstery cleaner and follow the manufacturer's directions. If possible do all this out of doors, i.e. in garage, on the deck, patio, etc., so what gets kicked up can get kicked out!

Related:  Are Synthetic Fragrances Toxic?

  1. Scrubbing and Waxing floorsDeep cleaning floors removes dirt, dust mites and other allergens, and waxing helps protect floors from scratches and spills.  A wash-and-wax product takes care of both jobs with one easy application.
  2. Removing dust and dirt from ceiling fans and vents:  Because they circulate air, ceiling fans and vents can also spread dust and allergens throughout the house.  Use a vacuum hose and brush accessory to remove dust from bathroom exhaust fans and heater vent covers.  To clean ceiling fans, wipe each blade with a cloth and cleaner, spraying the cleaner onto the cloth instead of the fan.  
  3. Cleaning light fixtures:  Light fixtures collect dust, which casts a pall over the entire home.  To brighten living spaces and rid the home of harmful dust mites, wipe (cold) light fixtures with a sponge and window cleaner. 
  4. Vacuuming refrigerator coils:  If allowed to collect on refrigerator coils, dust becomes a fire hazard, and an energy waste.  Use a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum hose to remove dust from refrigerator coils and ensure a safer living environment.

When it comes to healthy habits, homeowners should put spring cleaning near the top of the list.  Annual deep cleaning helps prevent germs, mold and fire hazards.  Making an effort to complete these five jobs ensures extra-thorough cleaning and provides a healthy start to the warm-weather season.

 

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Three Signs Your Dog May Have Periodontal Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Most dog owners do everything they can to protect their pet's health, but some may not be aware of the prevalence of gum (or periodontal) disease among dogs.  When compared to people, dogs are five times more likely to develop periodontal disease.  This happens primarily because a dog's mouth is more alkaline than a human's, which triggers the development of plaque.  In addition, unlike people, few pets receive regular tooth brushing.  Understanding the symptoms of periodontal disease and engaging in a few healthy habits can help keep Fido feeling good.

A few healthy habits can help prevent periodontal disease in dogs.

How Periodontal Disease Can Affect Dogs

Periodontal disease in dogs can lead to gum inflammation, damage to gum tissue, bone loss and tooth loss.  If left untreated it can cause even larger problems.  Canine mouth tissue contains many blood vessels.  If the gums are damaged, it becomes easy for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body like the heart, lung, or kidneys. 

There are three ways to tell if your dog might have periodontal disease:  Teeth develop tartar; breath smells rancid; gums begin to recede.

Periodontal Disease Prevention

To reduce plaque and tartar in dogs, give raw bones instead of cooked ones.  Raw bones have cartilage, tendons and ligaments that get in and around a dog's teeth and gum line, acting like natural dental floss. 

Holistic veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko tells us that giving your dog a bone can be beneficial. Chewing helps stimulate saliva enzymes and when given AFTER meals for 10 or 15 minutes helps remove trapped food particles from the teeth. Chewing on bones also help prevent plaque buildup and gum disease especially in the back upper molars.

Dr. Basko goes on to say that bones provide minerals and other nutrients (depending upon what kind of bone) and help satiate your dog’s desire for food. Bones provide the nutrients needed to keep the skeletal system fed regenerating and adapting. Chewing on bones can also help pacify a dog’s habits such as excessive self-licking, scratching and other nervous behaviors.

Feeding bones isn’t appropriate for all dogs – certain breeds of dogs just can’t process bones and gain the same benefits that other dogs get from chewing on bones.  This has a lot to do with jawbone structure.

Brachiocephalic breeds such as boxers, bull dogs, pugs, and shitzu are NOT mechanically designed to be able to chew bones effectively and safely.  A Kong toy might be a better substitute if you have this kind of dog.  Look at your dog’s teeth closely especially the upper and lower molars in back of the mouth, the length of the muzzle, and the condition of the teeth and gums and ascertain if the mouth looks “in shape” to handle a bone. Or ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s mouth.

Little dogs and toys with delicate jaw structures and softer teeth should not eat bones. If your dog is too little to eat bones safely, you can still help maintain their dental health using a mix of hydrogen peroxide and aloe vera juice

Dogs with gut sensitivities might not process bones well either. If your dog is prone to loose stools or vomiting, be sure to resolve those GI issues first, and save the bones for after he/she has recovered. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on real meat bones, they can sometimes have a bout of diarrhea or soft stool after eating the bones. Over time, their system will adjust and they will be able to consume bones without issue (if fed bones on a regular basis).

The best time to give a dog a bone is after a full meal. Why? You don’t want your dog starving when he/she starts to chew on the bone. Ingesting too much of a bone could lead to constipation, and possible serious obstruction. Give your dog a bone for only 10 to 15 minutes, then take it away*, wash it, and store in a container in the fridge. Toss it out after 3-4 days.

*A good practice here is to replace the bone with something else (like a couple of pieces of mozzarella cheese) when you take it away. This will help reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues like resource guarding of the bones. If your dog growls when you approach his bone or try to remove it, definitely seek out a qualified dog behaviorist to help you retrain this behavior!

Bones must be Size Appropriate!

Dr. Basko emphasizes that large breed dogs such as Labradors, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc. need a large enough bone so they will not chew and swallow it quickly. Bones should be larger than the length of the muzzle so it is impossible to swallow whole. A beef shank bone is a good example of a size appropriate bone for larger breeds.  Hunt for beef shank, rib, and large soup bones mostly because of availability, but lamb and large pork bones are suitable for the right jaw and dog. In general, bigger is better.

What Kinds of Bones Should Be Avoided?

Avoid the “3 B’s”: Baked, Broiled, Barbecued

Dr. Basko does not recommend feeding any baked, broiled, or barbecued bones to pets because the heat dries up the bone and makes it more brittle and subject to splintering. Chicken bones and beef “T” bones are mostly the culprits. Keep pets away from these bones!

However, boiling the bone can be useful. If your dog isn’t used to chewing on bones it is best to soften the bone through boiling. This is a good opportunity to make a meat broth for later use. Put the bone in a pot with some water, a little salt, celery, carrot, and parsley and simmer for about 1 hour.

What about Raw Bones?

After the initial few weeks chewing on softer boiled bones, raw bones can be introduced. Raw bones provide more nutrition. Dogs are more prone to wanting to bury fresh bones because they like them to be “aged” and fermented with soild bacteria. This practice is safe (but messy) if your soil is clean and healthy. Dogs need some of the bacteria, yeasts, and minerals in the soil to help digest the bones better. They instinctually know this.

Related:  Ten Tips for Safe Car Travel with your Pets

Good Sources to Find Bones

  • The supermarket (make friends with the butchers and you’ll find yourself getting better cuts since they’ll know it’s for your dogs)
  • From your local CSA (community supported agriculture co-op)
  • Meat markets / butcher shops

Use Supervision

As with most chewable pet-friendly items, supervision is very important! Don’t buy a real meat bone and then toss it to your dog when you leave for work in the morning.

Check on your dog periodically as he/she is chewing on the bone. Then, when you remove the bone, check your dog’s teeth and gums afterwards. You might see minor gum irritation if chewing on real bones is new to your dog. Eventually, the gum tissue will get stronger with stimulation and chewing.

The most common hazard with bone chewing is a slab fracture of one of the upper hind molars. If a dog has been already been chewing on rocks, furniture, and other hard materials, the teeth might have been already weakened resulting in a fracture when the bone chewing was initiated. If this sounds like your dog, be especially careful when feeding real meat bones.

Certain types of chew toys also help to promote good dental health in dogs.  Regular oral exams identify any potential problems your dog may have, and veterinarians may recommend professional cleaning if teeth have excessive plaque or tartar. 

Brush your dog’s teeth.  If they could brush their own teeth, they would; but they can’t so it’s up to you.  Puppies and young dogs get used to it, and some really like it; adult dogs will adapt—but brush your dog’s teeth at least several times a week.  Never use human toothpaste—it is poisonous to dogs. Purchase chicken or peanut butter flavor toothpaste for dogs.  Use a child-sized tooth brush for small dogs, and a larger toothbrush for larger dogs.  Brush the interior and exterior of front and canine teeth.  Brush only the exterior of the molars in the back by running the toothbrush along the gum and teeth, just lift the skin flap; no need to brush the inside of the back teeth (at the hinge area.)

Other healthy habits that keep canines in good overall condition include:

  • Choosing a high-quality dog food devoid of extra fillers
  • Keeping filtered water available at all times for all pets; usually this means in more than one location in the house, and having water available outside if the pets are often outdoors
  • Providing plenty of exercise
  • Regular checkups and de-worming
  • Flea and tick prevention