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Green Superfoods You Should Be Eating

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Want to make your daily diet as nutritious as possible?  Try incorporating a few green superfoods into breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Asparagus, barley grass, kale and spirulina help keep bodies in tip-top health due to an abundance of vitamins, minerals and other disease-fighting ingredients. 

Green superfoods like asparagus are packed full of healthy nutrients.

1. Asparagus

People looking for tasty green superfoods should start at the beginning of the alphabet with asparagus.  It contains important nutrients like beta-carotene, folate, iron, manganese, selenium, and vitamins A, B6 and C.  Asparagus is also a rich source of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps flush toxins and free radicals from the body.  High in fiber but low in calories, asparagus makes a great food for weight loss.

2. Barley grass

The soft green shoots of the barley plant offer a host of health benefits.  With more calcium than dairy milk, more iron than spinach, and more vitamin C than orange juice, barley grass rates high on the list for healthful green superfoods.  Nutrients in barley grass include beta-carotene, chlorophyll, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E and K.  Barley grass helps neutralize heavy metals in the bloodstream, stimulates friendly bacteria in the gut, and helps maintain pH balance in the body.

3. Kale

With only 36 calories per cup and high in fiber, kale makes sense for weight loss.  In addition to containing carotenoids, flavonoids, calcium, copper, manganese, and vitamins A, C and K, kale contains isothiocyanates, chemicals that help prevent cancer by removing potential carcinogens from the body and triggering the production of tumor-suppressing proteins.

Related:  Kale and Spinach Help Prevent Vision Problems

4. Spirulina

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is cultivated worldwide and used as both a dietary supplement and a food.  Valuable nutrients in spirulina include amino acids, beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, copper, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).

Research shows that spirulina can help curb cravings and maintain blood sugar levels, making it a good food for people with diabetes.  Test tube and animal studies indicate spirulina may have allergy-fighting and immune-boosting properties as well as antiviral compounds that help fight herpes, influenza and HIV.  Further studies are needed to determine if these results transfer to humans.

People looking for a little extra nutrition can never go wrong with green superfoods.  Adding asparagus, barley grass, kale and spirulina to the grocery cart ensures a bevy of beneficial nutrients.  Asparagus and kale taste delicious sautéed with a little olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and pepper, and barley grass and spirulina add a powerful nutritional punch to fruity or green smoothies.

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Even Healthy Eating and Supplements Aren’t Enough

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, large national surveys show that even healthy eating habits combined with some supplements, Americans are still not getting the average daily requirements of many key nutrients. In fact, nearly everyone falls short on two critical vitamins—vitamin D and vitamin A.

Healthy eating habits combined with supplementation is the best routine.

More than one third of us are low in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A, which are critical for bone, heart, and eye health. Plus, nearly half of us are short of our vitamin C intake. 

One of the surveys (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2003-2006 found, “Without enrichment and/or fortification and supplementation, many Americans did not achieve the recommended micronutrient intake levels set forth in the Dietary Reference Intakes.”

Related:  Are Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

They go on to say that not everyone uses supplements, so the ability to boost nutrient levels above and beyond food (even fortified food) is limited to those people who actually use supplements.

The takeaway? Be sure that you aren’t going the food-only route. The best way to get all the nutrients you need for optimum health is to eat a healthy diet of organic fruits and vegetables AND use a high-quality, food-based supplement to get the additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need.

 

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Keeping Your Memory Sharp

by Health News

Do you ever walk into a room and forget what you went in there for? Or perhaps I should ask how many times a day? Researchers say that as you approach your 50s, it’s normal to notice that your memory isn’t as sharp. But having a significant memory problem isn’t normal—it could be a sign of dementia. The good news is that just like other chronic diseases—such as heart disease, diabetes and many cancers—dementia is largely preventable.

Eliminate the Causes First

Memory problems for example, can be a side effect of certain medications such as sleeping pills, pain medications and anti-depressants. They are also common with alcohol or drug abuse, smoking, sleep deprivation, and stress. Exposure to toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides are another source, as well as certain nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B1 and B12.

Diet and Lifestyle Tips to Avoid Dementia

Simple diet and lifestyle changes can dramatically lower your risk of dementia. Avoid inflammation-promoting foods such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, red meat, gluten, casein and fast foods. Instead, favor fresh organically grown fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and omega-3 fatty acids. Dietary supplements that are good for your brain include turmeric, alpha-lipoic acid, and probiotics, and the herbs ginkgo biloba and gotu kola. Also be sure to limit alcohol to only one or two glasses a day, socialize regularly with good friends, exercise every day—at least 30 minutes of brisk walking is ideal—and get the most from your sleep—that means sleeping 7-8 hours a night between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.  

Exercising your brain is also important. Working crossword puzzles or learning a new language are great. But certain computer training programs have been shown to be even better. For example, research shows that Lumosity (www.lumosity.com) and Posit Science (www.positscience.com) cause significant and long lasting improvements in cognitive abilities.

Remember that memory problems and dementia are largely preventable and you can minimize your risk by simply following some of these tips.

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Little Known Ways to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

by Cindy Gray

Almost everyone knows that the eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and not smoking are extremely important to lower your risk of heart disease. But, there are many other lesser known ways to protect your heart health. In this week's video you learned about the cardiovascular benefits of regular saunas, meditation and 3 nutritional supplements: nattokinase, vitamin K2 and CoQ10. Here are three more supplements that research shows can lower your cholesterol, as well as your risk of heart disease.

  1. Plant sterols: Found in legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and compete with its absorption. Supplemental plant sterols reduce cholesterol so well that the American Heart Association recommends them.
  2. Red yeast rice:  Considered a delicacy in Japan for over 1,000 years, this bright, reddish-purple yeast that grows on rice acquires its color from a fermentation process with a mold called Monascus purpureus.  Studies show supplemental red yeast rice is very effective at lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Unlike statin drugs, which can increase the risk of and/or worsen diabetes, red yeast rice extract seem to have the opposite effect—it may improve type 2 diabetes by lowering insulin and blood glucose.
  3. Guggal (Commiphora mukul). This gum from a tree resin has been used by Ayurveda for thousands of years for its heart health benefits. Studies show that guggul can reduce total cholesterol up to 30 percent, LDL by 35 percent and increase HDL by 20 percent within 12 weeks. Guggal also has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Good heart health starts with a healthy diet and lifestyle. But, remember there are many other techniques and dietary supplements that can be of benefit too. If you have heart disease, be sure to check with your doctor first before beginning any program to improve your heart health.

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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How to Reduce Food Cravings by Killing Candida

by Health News

As each year draws to a close, people begin to think about healthy resolutions for the year to come.  Eating a more nutritious diet often tops the list, but resisting cravings for sweets and other high-carbohydrate foods is easier said than done.  In people with candida overgrowth, cravings for sugar or foods that quickly convert to sugar are persistent and intense.  Learning about candida teaches people how to reduce food cravings once and for all.   

When considering how to reduce food cravings, people should start with dietary changes.

What is candida?

Candida albicans is a type of yeast found in the digestive tracts of most humans.  Amounts in the body largely depend on a person's diet.  Yeasts thrive on sugar, so people who don't eat a lot of sugar usually have a healthy balance of candida in the gut.  People with diets high in sugar or foods that quickly convert to sugar often have a surplus of candida in the gut.

How does candida influence food cravings?

Eating more sugar causes candida numbers to grow, and more candida results in more cravings for sugar and foods that convert to sugar. 

What are some dietary changes for reducing food cravings?

When considering how to reduce food cravings, eliminating sugar and other sweeteners makes the obvious first step.  In addition to white and brown sugar, people should avoid honey, molasses, corn syrup, and agave nectar.  Pure, organic stevia makes a good natural alternative sweetener because it doesn't spike blood sugar levels.

People should steer clear of refined carbohydrates like baked treats, French fries, pizza, bread, or pasta that convert to sugar quickly.  Because fruit has a lot of natural sugar (fructose), servings should be limited to two per day.  Raspberries, strawberries, and green apples offer lower amounts of fructose, while grapes, mangoes, cherries, and bananas contain higher amounts.  Wine, beer, and other types of alcohol also convert to sugar quickly and should be eliminated from the diet.

Dairy products like milk and cheese have high levels of sugar and should be avoided.  Almond milk and some brands of plain, Greek yogurt make good alternatives.  Look for yogurt with less than 15 grams of sugar per serving, and flavor with lemon juice and a little stevia for a dairy product high in healthy probiotics.

Include non-starchy vegetables, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught fish in the diet.  Take a probiotic supplement containing at least 5 individual strains to restore beneficial bacteria to the intestinal tract, and try a chromium supplement to help reduce cravings.

Related:  Probiotic Supplements: Not Just for Intestinal Health

What are some other symptoms of candida overgrowth?

Food cravings are not the only symptom of candida overgrowth.  Additional symptoms include:

  • Chemical and food sensitivities
  • Chronic vaginal yeast infections
  • Depression
  • Digestive issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Headache
  • Poor sleep
  • Sinus congestion

Cravings for sugary and high-carbohydrate foods lead to a catch 22 for many people.  Satisfying cravings results in more candida in the digestive tract, and more candida causes more food cravings.  People discover how to reduce food cravings and generate better overall health by learning about candida, nutrition, and sugar levels in food.

 

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Seven Symptoms of Poor Nutrition

by Cindy Gray

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adequate nutrition is the foundation of good health.  What we eat affects our physical, emotional, and mental health.  Poor nutrition results from insufficient amounts of food, an overabundance of food, or foods with low nutritive value.  All three result in insufficient nutrients, which can lead to seven symptoms of poor nutrition. These include tooth decay, anemia, depression, beriberi, constipation, diabetes, and stroke.   

 Avoid symptoms of poor nutrition by eating proper amounts and proper types of food.

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the most common symptoms of poor nutrition and one of the easiest to manage.  Avoiding foods like cake, candy, and dried fruits that stick to the teeth helps discourage tooth decay.  Dentists recommend replacing these foods with raw veggies, nuts, plain yogurt, cheese, and sugarless gum or candy.  Overeating also contributes to tooth decay because it creates more opportunities for oral bacteria to develop.  Cutting back on snacking helps prevent these opportunities.

2. Anemia

A diet low in iron, folate, and/or vitamin B12 can result in a reduced blood cell count or nutritional anemia.  Physical characteristics include pale skin, fatigue, and weakness.  Treatment includes vitamin supplements and foods rich in minerals like meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and fortified cereals.

3. Beriberi

Eating a normal, healthy diet should provide the body plenty of thiamine.  Bodies that don't get enough thiamine can develop beriberi.  Because many foods in the U. S. are vitamin-enriched, beriberi is rare.  It does show up in people who abuse alcohol because excessive alcohol limits the absorption of certain nutrients in the body, including thiamine.

4. Constipation

A number of poor dietary choices can cause constipation including eating foods high in animal fats like dairy products, meats, and eggs, or those high in sugar and low in fiber.  Inadequate amounts of water and drinking too much caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate the body, which also leads to constipation.

Related:  Dangers of Laxative Overuse For Chronic Constipation

5. Diabetes

When the body is unable to produce enough or any insulin it causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood, or diabetes.  Many experts attribute the development of type 2 diabetes to overeating and too little exercise.  In addition to engaging in more physical activity, people looking to avoid type 2 diabetes should add foods to the diet that help stabilize blood sugars like whole grains, beans, vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits.

6. Stroke

Because it can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, an unhealthy diet elevates risks for stroke.  Experts typically recommend plenty of low-fat, low-sugar, and high-fiber foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains.  Too much sodium raises blood pressure, so people should limit daily salt consumption to no more than 6 g (about one teaspoon).

7. Depression

In addition to physical symptoms, there are mental symptoms of poor nutrition.  Food patterns like poor appetite, skipping meals, and cravings for sweet foods can contribute to the onset, duration, and severity of depression.  Taking measures to eliminate these patterns may help offer relief.

Conclusion

When it comes to the health, nutrition plays a key role.  People can prevent symptoms of poor nutrition by eating proper amounts and proper types of food.  A nutritious, well-balanced diet contains:

  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Healthy fats 

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Five Myths about Vitamins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Taking vitamins seems like a good way to stay healthy even when your diet isn’t. Or at least that’s what we would like to believe. Vitamin supplements can be a healthy addition to your diet, but they are not magic pills.  Let’s dispel the five most common myths about vitamins.

Myth #1:  Expensive Urine

You may have written off vitamin supplements because of claims by so-called experts that you can’t absorb extra vitamins and minerals unless it is from actual food; and they just end up being secreted from the body as “expensive urine.”

Fact or fiction? Fiction! If any dietary compounds like vitamin C are detected in your urine it means they were circulating in your blood stream at some point. If the vitamin was in your bloodstream, then you absorbed it and your body used it. 

Myth #2:  A Vitamin Pill Is the Same as Food

Why eat broccoli or salmon if you could just pop a pill, right?  While vitamins are a healthy supplement to your diet, they cannot replace actual food. Vitamins are called supplements because they are a good way to supplement your healthy diet of real foods.  Vitamins contain micronutrients, but we need both micro and macronutrients like protein, fats and carbohydrates to properly fuel our bodies.

It is difficult to get the recommended daily allowance of all vitamins and minerals through your diet, so taking supplements are a good way to cover those little nutrition gaps we all experience. The truth is that there are many compounds in food that are good for you, and many that cannot be duplicated in pill form.

Myth #3:  All Vitamins Are Pharmaceutical Strength

Here’s another one of the most common myths about vitamins. Not all vitamins are pharmaceutical grade just because you bought them in the vitamin shop at a pharmacy.  There are food grade (or store grade) and pharmaceutical grade vitamins.

Food grade vitamin capsules are allowed to have only 20% of the nutrients they say they contain. All the nutrients may have been in the batch but did not necessarily end up in each capsule.

Pharmaceutical grade supplements must meet the U.S. Pharmacopeia standards, which states that the capsule must contain more than 99% of the ingredients listed. They also must have a higher bioavailability than store grade vitamins. The best ones are whole food based and chelated.  Chelated means they are firmly attached to an amino acid or other organic compound so as to not disassociate in the digestive system.

Related:  Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

Myth #4:  All Vitamin Are Safe

Generally this is true. Most of the supplements you purchase contain only trace amounts of the healthy compounds you take them for, making it hard to consume too many.  Water soluble vitamins dissolve in your bodily fluids while fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K, are stored in your fat cells. There is a chance of toxicity if you have too much of one vitamin build up in your system. They can lead to birth defects (vitamin A) or interfere with blood thinning drugs taken for cardiovascular or prevent normal blood clotting (vitamin K).

Some supplements can interfere with prescription drugs, so always consult your doctor before adding any supplement into your diet.

Myth #5:  It Doesn’t Matter Where You Store Your Vitamins

Wrong! Oxygen, light and water can render vitamins useless.  Many people store their vitamins in the bathroom medicine cabinet, which is the worse place for them. The humidity from the shower will seep into the container over time and start to break down the pills or capsules. 

Some vitamins like A and E are light sensitive, so sitting on the counter under the harsh glare of florescent lighting can cause photo-degradation.  Even exposure to oxygen can start to degrade the nutrients in vitamins.

The best place to store supplements with the cap screwed on tightly is in a cool dry place like a kitchen cabinet away from the stove or sink.   Always keep them out of reach of children. Look for those with childproof caps if you have curious little ones in the home.

Vitamins have an expiration date and overtime begin to degrade. Dispose of those over a year old or sooner if they look discolored, start to crumble or smell odd.

Myth Busters

Now that you know the myths about vitamins you can safely include them in your healthy eating plan and enjoy their many health benefits!

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The Many Ways Spirulina Benefits the Health

by Health News

With a shift toward health and wellness on the rise, many people are on the hunt for more nutritious foods.  It doesn't get much more nutritious than spirulina.  This blue-green algae is chock full of important nutrients.  Spirulina is sustainable and provides more nutrition per acre than any other type of food.  With 18 amino acids and 62 percent pure protein, it makes a good food choice for vegetarians and vegans.  Because the protein is 95 percent digestible, spirulina benefits people with gastrointestinal issues as well. 

Spirulina offers an abundance of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin B6, biotin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12 and important minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, and phosphorus.  If that weren't enough, spirulina also delivers important enzymes, essential fatty acids, and carotenoids like beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein.  Packed with so many nutrients, it's not surprising this green superfood is often the subject of scientific research.

Allergy and Infection

By stopping the release of histamines, spirulina may offer a protective effect against allergy symptoms according to a number of preliminary test tube and animal studies.  Research in the laboratory also shows that spirulina boosts the production of antibodies that help ward off certain types of infection and chronic disease.  Studies continue to determine if spirulina helps prevent allergies and infection in people.  

Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

A study published in Lipids Health Digest showed that spirulina benefits cholesterol and blood pressure.  Without making any other changes to diet or lifestyle, 36 people consumed 4.5 grams of spirulina each day.  After six weeks, subjects showed lower readings for total cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and body fat. 

Related:  Workout Tips to Lower Blood Pressure

Oral Cancer

People who chew tobacco sometimes develop white or gray precancerous lesions called leukoplakia.  One placebo-controlled study examined the effects of spirulina on these lesions in 77 tobacco chewers.  After taking spirulina supplements for one year, 45 percent of the subjects showed total regression of leukoplakia.  Several animal studies have also indicated that intervention with spirulina results in tumor regression.

Eye Disease

Due to nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, many experts believe spirulina benefits could extend to eye health, especially if combined with astaxanthin, another eye health nutrient.  More research is needed to verify these beliefs. 

Conclusion

Due to a wide range of wholesome nutrients and many proven health benefits, more people than ever are making spirulina part of their dietary plan.  Powdered spirulina makes a popular ingredient in green smoothies, or people can purchase dried spirulina in tablet form.  Before beginning any supplementary regimen, it is wise to consult with a health care provider, especially if on prescribed medication.

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Tell-Tale Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

Everyone knows vitamins benefit the body, and good health starts at the beginning of the alphabet.  Vitamin A is an essential, fat-soluble vitamin important to the eyes, bones, gums, skin, reproductive system, and the respiratory and intestinal tracts.  Two different types of vitamin A are present in foods.  Preformed vitamin A (retinol) can be obtained through animal products, and pro-vitamin A (carotenoids) are found in certain fruits and vegetables.  When people don't get enough vitamin A in the diet, they may experience signs of vitamin A deficiency. 

Night blindness is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency

What is the first sign of vitamin A deficiency?

Because vitamin A plays a key role in eye health, people who are deficient in vitamin A first experience symptoms of night blindness.  While people with night blindness see normally during the day, they have problems adjusting when light fades.  A study published in The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consumption of a daily vitamin A supplement protects against the development of night blindness.  If not treated, vitamin A deficiency can progress to dry eye syndrome and other serious vision problems.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Continued vitamin A deficiency can affect the conjunctiva (or the covering on the whites of the eyes) that keep eyes moist and lubricated.  The conjunctiva dry out and ulcers appear on the cornea.  If left untreated, vitamin A deficiency can lead to vision loss.

What are some other signs of vitamin A deficiency?

Vitamin A triggers inflammatory response and boosts production of collagen, which helps with repair and healing of wounds.  People who don't get enough vitamin A may experience slower healing and greater risks for infection.  In studies, vitamin A supplementation has been shown to be particularly helpful for people who take steroid medications because steroids impair collagen synthesis.  In addition to the skin, vitamin A also contributes to tooth and gum health.

Related:   The ABCs of Eye Floaters

How does vitamin A promote healthy teeth and gums?

In addition to promoting healthy skin (outer body lining) vitamin A helps maintain mucous membranes (inner body linings) like those of the gums, and healthy gums help anchor teeth. When gums become inflamed, adequate levels of vitamin A help to speed the healing process, but vitamin A deficiency impedes the healing process.  People with chronic gum problems may want to check with a medical professional for testing of vitamin A levels.

People can prevent signs of vitamin A deficiency by eating plenty of sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, fish, liver, and tropical fruits or by taking a daily vitamin A supplement.  As of this writing, for men over the age of 18, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 900 micrograms (mcg).  For women over the age of 18, the RDA for vitamin A is 700 mcg.  Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consume 770 mcg and 1,200 mcg respectively.  People who suspect a vitamin A deficiency should consult with a health care professional for confirmation before starting a supplementary regimen.

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Why Plant-Based Powder Supplements are the Best

by Institute for Vibrant Living

All supplements are not the same. Synthetic extracts and "green" supplements may sound healthy and full of goodness,  but the truth is you need to take plant based vitamins and supplements made from whole-food plant-based powders to get the nutritional benefits you are searching for. 

plant-based vitamins and supplements

Here's why plant based vitamins and supplements are just what you’ve been searching for:

Plant Based Vitamins and Supplements Work Synergistically

Some health supplements and vitamins sound full of highly concentrated health-giving benefits, but they are made from extractions, which mean they isolate the particular nutrient from the rest of the plant to provide concentrated vitamin and mineral supplements. However, using the extracted nutrient in isolation from the plant from which it was derived means that they do not perform as nature intended, to their full capacity.

The way many plant based vitamins and supplements work is by their interaction with other micronutrients and metabolites found in the whole plant. The nutrients often work synergistically with the rest of the plant to maximum their efficacy. In order to get the full power of these secondary metabolites, you need to look for whole-food, plant-based powders to get the best possible health benefits.

For example, you may drink a healthy smoothie for vitamin C, but think how much more you would benefit if that supplement was made from whole plants, not just a vitamin C extract. The same shake could deliver fiber, antioxidants, immune-boosting phyto-nutrients, probiotics and enzymes as well as the desired vitamin C boost if it was made from whole foods.

Related:  7 Tips for Becoming a Plant Eater

Plant Based Vitamins and Supplements are Naturally Absorbed

Those people taking plant based vitamins and supplements generally understand the benefits of nature and want a natural safe approach to health and weight loss, not a laboratory-created pill. When you choose whole-food plant-based supplements, you know that your body is absorbing and utilizing the nutrients to maximum effect, as it was designed to do.

One big difference between synthetic and natural plant-based supplements is that plant based vitamins and supplements include enzymes. They play an important role is making those nutrients available, helping the body to absorb and utilize the accompanying minerals and vitamins. Absorption takes place at cell level and the enzymes and amino acids present in plant based supplements ensure that the supplement absorption is natural and efficient. By giving your body the tools it needs to stay fit and healthy, you are allowing your body to self-correct, protecting the longevity of your health.

If you want to boost your dietary intake of vitamins and minerals, it makes sense to deliver plant based vitamins and supplements in the same form that nature already provides. 

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

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Natural Remedies for Depression Include Three Healthy Foods

by IVL Products

Depression affects nearly 19 million people across the United States.  While a number of factors contribute to depression, many people fail to consider daily nutrition.  What we put in our mouths plays a big role in mood as well as mental focus and energy levels.  According to experts, some foods that reduce depression include garbanzo beans, turkey, and yogurt.  Each of these nutritional foods contains mood-enhancing properties and a few extra health benefits, making them must-haves for the shopping cart.  

Add foods that reduce depression like garbanzo beans, yogurt, and turkey to the shopping cart.

Garbanzo Beans

According to a 2004 study published in "Human Psychopharmacology," people with depression show high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can hinder recovery and endanger the heart.  Folic acid helps keep homocysteine levels in check, and garbanzo beans make a rich source of this valuable nutrient.  Studies also show that folic acid may enhance the effectiveness of prescribed antidepressants, but people should consult with their doctor before using folic acid supplements.  Garbanzo beans also provide a rich source of fiber for better digestive health.

Turkey

People looking for natural remedies for depression should consider foods rich in protein, particularly turkey.  Many lean sources of protein provide amino acids that help improve mood as well as support the immune system, repair body tissues, and boost energy.  Turkey goes one step further with high levels of tryptophan, a chemical that stimulates the production of serotonin, a mood-enhancing and sleep-promoting neurotransmitter in the brain.  This might explain why people feel so drowsy and content following Thanksgiving dinner.  Other dietary sources of tryptophan include cottage cheese, milk, brown rice, peanuts, beef, and soy products.

RelatedWays to Lower Risk of Depression

Yogurt

Low-fat dairy products like yogurt contain calcium, vitamin D, and protein as well as specific peptides that support wellbeing.  In addition to these healthy ingredients, yogurt offers a rich source of probiotics ─ microorganisms that help maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines.  Some depressed people have an overgrowth of 'bad' intestinal bacteria, which can cause problems with the absorption of micronutrients.  These compounds are directly involved in the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.  To get the most health benefits, people should purchase plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or lemon juice and stevia.

In light of all their healthy properties, it makes sense to add these three foods that reduce depression to a dietary plan.  People who don't like the texture of garbanzo beans might try a smooth and creamy hummus spread with fresh veggies, crackers, or chips.  Natural turkey lunch meat makes a good alternative to a big roasted bird, and probiotic supplements make a good replacement for plain yogurt.

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Vitamins for Skin: ACE Your Skin Care with A, C and E

by IVL Products

Whether taken by mouth or slathered on the skin, the right combination of vitamins can be your complexion’s best friend. Your skin is a reflection of your overall health and vitamins provide the support that keeps your body at peak performance. 

ACE Your Skin Care with Vitamins A, C and E

Studies show that three of the most effective vitamins for skin are A, C and E.    Here’s why:

VITAMIN A:  This vitamin improves the overall health of the skin and is especially helpful for fighting acne.  As an added bonus, it rebuilds skin tissue and also mitigates the skin changes associated with aging. Add vitamin A supplements to your daily routine and seek out natural topical skin products that list it as an ingredient. Great dietary sources of vitamin A include leafy greens, carrots, eggs and pumpkins.

VITAMIN C:  An antioxidant powerhouse, Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen and elastin, both of which allow your skin to grow thicker, stronger and suppler. Vitamin C increases the effectiveness of sunscreens, reduces cell damage and encourages healing. Make sure you get plenty of vitamin C through your diet or nutritional supplements. Look for natural skin care products that contain at least a 10 percent concentration of L-ascorbic acid. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and kiwi. 

Related:  Top 5  Foods for Beautiful Skin

VITAMIN E: One of the best vitamins for skin, E has long been used in supplement and topical forms. It reduces UV damage and wrinkles, improves skin texture and promotes healing. It is an effective antioxidant that fights free radicals related to smoking, pollution and sun exposure. Natural topical skin care products containing vitamin E can reduce the appearance of age spots, wrinkles, stretch marks and fine lines. Good food sources of vitamin E include tofu, spinach, avocados, salmon, olive oil, broccoli and squash.

Nutritional supplements and topical products containing vitamins A, C and E are available online and at natural health stores. Talk to your dermatologist or your holistic health practitioner about supplements and skin care products containing these vitamins. Develop a vitamin-rich skin care regimen that will ensure healthy, supple skin throughout all of the phases of your life. 

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How Omega 3's Could Save Your Hair

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Man or woman ─ everyone wants a full head of hair.  While salon treatments and expensive hair products help, the key to healthy locks is to start from the inside out.  Good nutrition plays a key role, and healthy nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids keep hair in top condition.  These are essential fatty acids (EFAs) that the body needs but does not produce on its own.  People obtain plenty of omega 3s for hair health through certain foods and dietary supplements.

Wild-caught fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut provide omega 3 for hair and other health benefits.

Omega 3 Foods

Feeding hair follicles with EFAs helps keep the scalp and hair in healthy condition.  Foods high in omega 3 for hair health include wild-caught fish like salmon, tuna, or halibut, and three servings per week ensures adequate fatty acid consumption.  Other great sources of essential fatty acids include ground flaxseed or walnuts.

Omega 3 Supplements

Fish oil supplements offer a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).  Most experts recommend at least 1,200 mg of supplemental fish oil per day.  Make sure to find a pure product free of mercury and other harmful substances.

How Omega 3 Benefits Hair Health

Omega 3 fatty acids provide nourishment to hair follicles and help maintain shine.  Research published in the January 2013 issue of Dermatologic Clinics determined that fatty acid deficiency can lead to hair loss and changes in hair color.  Although many topical shampoos and other hair products contain omega 3 fatty acids, the body extracts the most nutrients when EFAs are taken internally.

Related:  Omega 3 Fats: Best Defense Against Premature Aging

Additional Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

In addition to taking omega 3 for hair, people may enjoy a few more benefits like a healthier heart. Thousands of clinical studies have determined that greater consumption of EPA and DHA boosts cardiovascular function.  Essential fatty acids also play a key role in skin health by ensuring a robust skin cell membrane.  The membrane allows nutrients to pass through and keeps harmful substances out.  It also affects the ability of skin cells to hold water, which keeps them plump, soft, and wrinkle-free.

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The Estrogen, Serotonin, and Melatonin Connection: Balance is Essential

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Menopause management is a balancing act that can be very confusing for women who are suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms. Understanding the causes for menopausal symptoms can be difficult because there are physical, psychological and emotional components associated with the change of life. Recent studies have found a link between estrogen, serotonin and melatonin that might shed some light on the causes for certain symptoms. 

For a smoother transition into menopause, learn about how balanced estrogen levels lead to healthier serotonin and melatonin levels.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries nerve impulses from your brain to your body. It is often called the “happy hormone” because of its positive effects on mood. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and sleep disorders. Because estrogen is needed to produce serotonin, the declining levels of estrogen associated with menopause result in lower serotonin levels.

To further complicate matters, low serotonin levels lead to low melatonin levels. Serotonin is synthesized in the body to make melatonin, the hormone that is essential to restful sleep. Melatonin controls the body’s circadian rhythms to regulate sleep cycles.

RelatedNine Ways to Naturally Boost Energy

People with low melatonin levels are prone to sleep disorders that leave them in a perpetual state of fatigue. Chronic insomnia has adverse effects on all aspects of health and it can be especially troublesome for menopausal women.

Simply put, the estrogen, serotonin and melatonin imbalances can (and often do) create the perfect storm for menopausal symptoms mood swings and sleep disorders. The symptoms can become so troublesome that women seek help from their doctors who often prescribe hormone replace therapy (HRT) and sleeping pills. Both HRT and prescription sleep aids have unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. 

Fortunately both serotonin and melatonin levels can be boosted through dietary changes and nutritional supplements. Studies show that tryptophan supplements help to increase serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain. Food sources of tryptophan include soy, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peas, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Serotonin and melatonin supplements area available online and in natural heath stores. They come in pill, capsule or powdered forms. These supplements are a safe, natural alternative to prescription medications. Add them to your daily regimen to boost your mood, help you sleep and keep you healthy.  

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Reel In Relief: Include Fish In Your Arthritis Diet

by Health News

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are key components for an arthritis prevention diet and the “catch of the day” may be just what the doctor ordered for pain relief. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that patients who increased dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids were able to reduce or even discontinue their use of pain medications. 

Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are called “essential” because your body cannot produce them so they must be obtained through dietary sources or supplementation. Fatty acids are converted by the body into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins.  Because they fight inflammation so effectively, omega-3 fatty acids can play a key role in arthritis pain management.

Related: Is Krill Fish Oil Dangerous?

Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, tuna and squid are premiere sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA. Wild salmon is considered the best source because it has the highest concentration. There are many simple, delicious ways to prepare salmon. It can be broiled, grilled, blackened or baked. Enhance the flavor with dill, capers or lemon grass. Leftover salmon is a healthy addition to salads.  

Because most people don’t eat enough fish to get the recommended amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, many people use fish oil supplements. The supplements come in capsule, soft gel, chewable tablet or liquid forms and are available online and at natural health stores. Reel in relief by adding fish oil supplements to your daily arthritis pain management regimen. 

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Are Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

by theintituteforvibrantliving admin

Natural supplements are not governed like drugs, as they are not drugs at all. However, they can be just as potent and those taking daily supplements should understand what checks are in place to maintain standards and support good health. You should be particularly careful of starting a new regime of natural supplements if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have chronic medical conditions or are on medications. 

The FDA has rules concerning dietary supplements that allow manufacturers to claim a product supports health or addresses a deficiency. However, the manufacturer must make a disclaimer that the FDA has not evaluated the claim.

Related Article: 10 Tips for Purchasing High-Quality Nutritional Supplements

Herbal supplement companies must follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and meet quality standards. GMPs ensure the right ingredients are included to match the product label and ensure that dangerous substances, such as lead, are kept out. Once a product is on the market, the FDA monitors it for safety and has the power to remove it if deemed dangerous. 

The FDA requires natural supplement labels to show the name of the supplement, the name and address of the distributor or manufacturer, a complete list of ingredients and the serving size, amount and active ingredients. This makes it easy to compare similar products from different brands or research more information. 

#vibrantliving

The best protection is to buy natural supplements from a reputable supplier who has been in the market for many years and has a good reputation. Buy from a company that has good information available on its products, is willing to answer questions and backs up its products with a fair, money-back guarantee. 

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From Chronic Diarrhea to Autism—The Power of Probiotics

by Health News

According to a recent study, a probiotic and nutritional supplement has beneficial effects on bowel issues in children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

Chronic diarrhea and constipation typically lasting for several days are major issues affecting autistic individuals, particularly children. These conditions also contribute to behavioral problems in these children, along with posing significant management challenges for both parents and teachers.

From Chronic Diarrhea to Autism—The Power of Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that confer a health benefit on the host they live in, by improving its intestinal microbial balance. Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria are the most common probiotics, but certain yeasts and bacilli can also be used. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures - such as in yogurt, soy yogurt or as dietary supplements.

In this study, probiotic and nutritional supplement capsules were given to 25 children with ASD over a 42-day trial period. Responses were measured using the ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist) scoring tool, which helps to evaluate autism severity in four categories:

  1. Speech/language/communication,
  2. Sociability,
  3. Sensory/cognitive awareness, and
  4. Health/physical/behavior.

The parents of participating children completed an ATEC questionnaire before the study started. Also, bowel issues, drugs or supplements used and any other special problems were carefully recorded.

After 21 days without therapy, the parents received a 3-week supply of the probiotic and nutritional supplement to be given to their children. Once again a daily record of each child's bowel behavior, as well as drugs or supplements administered was recorded. After 21 days of supplement therapy, the parents again repeated the ATEC survey.

At the end of the 42-day trial period, nearly half of participating children showed a reduction in diarrhea severity - while more than half showed a decrease in constipation severity.

Overall, nearly 90% of the participants showed a lower total ATEC score, meaning that their debilitating ASD symptoms improved thanks to treatment with the probiotic and nutritional supplement.

Source: Probiotic Supplement Relieves Autism Symptoms.

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How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

by Health News

Low Blood Pressure Natural Treatment - Improve Blood CirculationPoor blood circulation can have a serious impact on one’s overall health.  For example, poor blood circulation means less blood flowing to your brain and typically means you have low blood pressure. This alone comes with a variety of significant symptoms, such as dizziness, problems thinking or even headaches.  In fact, poor blood circulation can impact every organ in your body and may even explain tingling and a lack of sensation in your arms and legs.  In short, poor blood flow can be quite serious.  Luckily, there are many natural health solutions that one can take in treating poor circulation.  In this article, we will examine a few of these low blood pressure natural treatments and natural health products.

Bonito Peptide

The bonito peptide is one natural dietary supplements that is currently being used for improving blood circulation.  This supplement is believed to contribute to general heart health and may have the ability to help regulate one’s blood pressure.  This compound is derived from the bonito fish.

L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is a compound derived from the amino acids methionine and lysine.  It plays a vital role in the metabolism and has enjoyed great success as a nutritional health supplement.  Generally considered to be safe, L-carnitine is often used to treat heart conditions.  It is believed that L-carnitine can be used to increase blood flow as well, which could make it a potentially useful supplement for those with blood circulation issues.

Nattokinase

Enzymes are vital for life and can provide a wide variety of health and medical benefits.  For example, the bromelain enzyme derived from pineapples can be a very effective anti-inflammatory.  Likewise, nattokinase is another enzyme with a variety of interesting properties.  This enzyme is extracted from a food called natto

Natto is a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.  Nattokinase is often used as a blood thinner, and its role in overall heart health is being explored.  However, nattokinase is not for everyone and has been known to have negative interactions with aspirin.  Anyone considering taking nattokinase should consult with his or her doctor.

Garlic

You might be tempted to believe that there is little that garlic can’t do!  Garlic has been sought after for generations as a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent.  Garlic is, in fact, so complex and beneficial that it literally has different properties depending on whether or not its been cut or crushed.

Additionally, garlic is believed to even have anti-cancer properties and is high in an assortment of vitamins and minerals.  It should come as no surprise that garlic may even be a heart healthy food as well.  A great deal of attention has been given to garlic’s potential as a heart healthy food, as it may protect the heart from oxidative damage and might lower bad cholesterol levels.  Further, garlic has the ability to positively impact artery walls.  All in all, garlic is a great pick for those looking for a natural way to increase blood flow.

Of course, following a healthy diet comprised largely of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein choices will do wonders for your health, regardless of whether or not you have any heart or circulation issues.  Following a diet rich in these foods will not only keep your heart healthy and your blood flowing, but will also give your body the nutrition and anti-oxidants it needs to fight off aging and disease as well.

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Can Turmeric Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk?

by Cindy Gray

According to a 2013 study, curcumin—the main active ingredient in the South Asian spice turmeric—can significantly increase secretion of an anti-diabetic hormone known as Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in a laboratory setting.  GLP-1 is a potent hormone that stimulates insulin secretion. Its own secretion in the gut is normally triggered by dietary carbs, proteins and lipids.Can Turmeric Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk?

Boosting GLP-1 secretion is an important therapeutic target for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes; in fact, several drugs have been designed to do exactly that.

Turmeric is the yellow spice that flavors and colors South Asian curries. Used for many centuries in traditional Indian medicine, turmeric has recently been shown to act powerfully in the human body and brain.

Type 2 diabetes, also known as hyperglycemia, is a common disease condition in which blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) is higher than normal. People with this condition either do not produce enough insulin, or their body’s cells become unable to use insulin properly.

When you eat food, your body breaks down carbs into glucose, which is the basic fuel for your body’s cells. Insulin helps sugar from your blood enter the cells in your body that need them, including your brain, muscle and liver cells.

When glucose builds up in blood instead of entering your cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Your cells become starved of energy

  • Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart

As of 2010, nearly 300 million people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Long-term complications include heart disease, stroke, diabetic retinopathy, kidney failure and poor blood flow in the limbs, leading to amputations.

Some health experts believe that it may be possible to boost GLP-1 secretion in the body as a way of lowering type 2 diabetes risk. Indeed, in the present study, curcumin was shown to significantly increase GLP-1 secretion in a laboratory setting.

Also, the researchers were able to identify the exact mechanism of GLP-1 secretion, revealing a novel biological function of curcumin and suggesting that it may become an important tool in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

In a more recent study from India, 89 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were treated with a polyherbal combination drug that included curcumin for 8 weeks. Promisingly, both fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels were seen to be significantly lower in these patients after eight weeks of treatment.

If you’re worried about your blood sugar levels, you may want to consider adding turmeric to your diet—both in cooking and in supplement form.  Just sprinkle powdered turmeric in just about any dish, particularly in entrees and savory dishes—a little bit goes a long way!  To get even more turmeric into your system, seek out a quality nutritional supplement designed to improve your insulin response and maintain normal blood sugar levels. Many supplement formulas contain botanical extracts, including bitter melon, Shilajit, fenugreek, banaba, and of course curcumin. All of these natural therapies are used in Ayurvedic medicine and have been proven to stabilize blood sugar naturally, with no known side effects.

So if you’d like to safely and effectively manage your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, remember to include turmeric in your daily cooking, and in easy supplement form.

Source:

Can Turmeric Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk?   

 

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Antioxidant Supplements Provide Abundant Energy

by Health News

how to gain energyContrary to popular belief, energy levels do not automatically diminish with age and growing older doesn’t have to mean “moving slower.” If you want to learn how to gain energy, proper nutritional support that includes plenty of antioxidant supplements can give your body the boost it needs to increase energy naturally through all the years of your life.  

Energy loss can be traced to free radicals. These are the “bad guys” that damage cells and DNA. Free radicals are actually oxygen molecules that can be produced by the body, but there are also external sources such as air pollution, pesticides, food additives and cigarette smoke. As we get older these toxic oxidants build up in the body. If left unchecked free radicals will create a “perfect storm” within our bodies that accelerates the aging process and leads to a steep decline in energy levels.

Antioxidants are “good guys” that neutralize free radicals and help restore the body to health and balance. Antioxidants are plant-based phytochemicals, vitamins and nutrients that protect our bodies from the damage caused by toxic oxidants. They are abundant in raw fruits and vegetables, especially brightly colored ones.

Check out the selection at your local organic farmer’s market. Berries, including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts are also rich in antioxidants as well as tomatoes, spinach, carrots and red grapes. Green Tea is another potent source. March is National Nutrition Month and the American Dietetic Association chose the theme “Eat Right With Color” to promote consumption of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.   

Because the body’s natural ability to produce antioxidants decreases with age, millions of older Americans use antioxidant nutritional supplements to neutralize free radicals and slow down the aging process. A good natural antioxidant dietary supplement may reduce the level of free radicals in the body while helping you to maintain strong metabolic activity which increases our energy levels.

how to gain energy