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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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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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Stop Stress-Related Insomnia with GABA

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you have difficulty getting off to sleep, or wake up and cannot return to sleep, you may find it comforting to know that one in three people have some degree of insomnia, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. Much of the problem is due to a stressful lifestyle, but effective stress management using natural herbs and supplements can help.

Nutritionist Patrick Holford states in his book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind that every week Brits pop 10 million tranquillizers, smoke a similar number of cannabis joints and drink 120 million alcoholic drinks, often as a socially accepted form of stress management. This disturbing trio of alcohol, cannabis and tranquilizers all has one common ingredient – GABA – which is known to have a calming, soporific effect. Taking it in supplemental form has none of the alarming side effects that drugs and alcohol cause, but what is GABA, is it safe and how does it work?

How Does GABA Work for Stress Management

GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid which acts as a natural relaxant and calming neurotransmitter in the brain. Our bodies produce GABA from glutamine and it is vital for proper brain function. GABA influences mood, producing endorphins that make us relaxed and happy. GABA deficiency is linked to insomnia and epilepsy as well as feelings of anxiety, stress and tension, so it has an important part to play in stress management.

Research shows that GABA increases the production of alpha brain waves, similar to a state of meditation during yoga, for example. It also reduces beta waves which are associated with nervous tension and hyperactivity. These wave patterns can be measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG).  People who are stressed have high levels of beta waves, and GABA helps restore the balance. This natural calming effect makes GABA an excellent natural answer for stress management as well as for insomnia.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation: Is it Dangerous to Your Health?

Chronic Stress Lowers GABA

Low natural levels of GABA may be caused by a lack of glutamine, low levels of B vitamins, zinc, iron and manganese, or by chronic stress. A simple saliva or urine test can show whether you are producing sufficient GABA.

High amounts of caffeine, excessive exposure to electromagnetic radiation, low levels of progesterone and chronic pain can all reduce GABA levels in the body. Ironically, lack of sleep also lowers GABA levels, which in turn means you cannot sleep the following night. This sets up a vicious circle on insomnia. Taking GABA supplements can break the cycle, particularly for those suffering with stress-related insomnia.

How Much GABA to Take?

Taking 500 mg of GABA once or twice a day can significantly support stress management.  For stress-related insomnia, taking 100 mg about 30 minutes before bedtime will help you feel sleepy and relaxed. However, GABA should not be mixed with alcohol, drugs containing barbiturates, anti-anxiety medications or benzodiazepine tranquillizers, so check with your doctor if you are already taking other prescription drugs.

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Natural Ways to Beat Fatigue Symptoms

by Institute for Vibrant Living

About one million Americans report feeling chronically fatigued.  Millions more report occasional but reoccurring tiredness as a health issue. Fortunately, there are natural, safe ways to relieve your fatigue symptoms and they don’t involve taking a new prescription in most cases. Simple lifestyle changes and the addition of some herbs and supplements can help naturally relieve your fatigue and give you a new lease on life.

Understanding fatigue symptoms and what we can do about them.

Too Tired

Occasional fatigue is normal. A hard workout, long day at the office, a fun-filled but activity packed vacation, are all reasons you may be tired. Unfortunately many people feel tired all the time and it takes an unfortunate toll on their health. Fatigued drivers account for 20% of all car accidents. Tired kids and adults show a decrease in cognitive function making school and jobs more difficult. 

You might think that being too tired all the time is a normal part of aging, but it’s not. If daily living has you dragging, it’s time to make some changes to your lifestyle.

Common Reasons for Fatigue

Sleep

It cannot be emphasized enough how important getting enough sleep is to maintaining your health, especially your energy levels. Unfortunately, most Americans do not get the minimum 6-8 hours needed every night to help the body restore itself after long, stressful days working, working out, caring for family, dealing with traffic, and the stuff of daily life.

Day after day, week after week of not getting enough shut-eye leads to fatigue and other unpleasant experiences like weight gain, cognitive decline and speeds up the aging process.  Experts recommend going to bed at a reasonable hour each night and rising at the same time each day, even on weekends and vacations. Establishing a soothing nighttime ritual and sticking to it will do wonders for your fatigue symptoms.

Hormones

Hormones out of balance are a leading cause of fatigue.  A trip to the doctor might be in order if your fatigue symptoms came on suddenly.  This could indicate a malfunctioning thyroid or adrenal gland malfunction. Women going through menopause may have fluctuating and declining hormones, which cause sleep disturbances and fatigue.  Ruling out hormonal imbalances is key to banishing fatigue.

Related:  Understanding the Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Nutrition

Our bodies run on carbohydrates, but not the kind found in a doughnut. Highly refined white flour and sugar-laden foods will cause a surge in blood sugar giving you a short burst of energy, only to send you crashing and feeling tired.  You know what to do: eat more complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grains and vegetables while consuming a lot less white flour products loaded with sugar.

You may also not be eating enough fat. Yes, fat. It is as essential to a healthy diet as carbohydrates and protein. You need to eat the right kind of fat in moderation to optimize energy levels.  Nuts, avocados, olive, coconut and canola oils, eggs and organic, grass fed-beef are all great sources of healthy fats that will help relieve your fatigue symptoms.

You may be dehydrated. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so before you reach for a candy bar to shake off that tired feeling, try drinking an eight ounce glass of good old fashioned water and see if you don’t feel better in about 10 minutes. Get in the habit of carrying around a bottle of H2O and drinking it a couple times a day.

Supplements

You could find relief from your fatigue symptoms by supplementing your diet with missing nutrients.

Magnesium – start with the lowest dosage (600 mg or less)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – a fish oil supplement can help you get enough of this essential nutrient every day

Vitamin B12 – you can get this crucial nutrient in pill form or through injections

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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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Fish Oil and Weight Loss: the Amazing Connection

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to Business Week, U.S. consumers spend $40 billion dollars a year on weight-loss programs and products, and that's a conservative estimate. Despite throwing so much money at the obesity problem, the National Institutes for Health reports that 66% (two out of three) adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. While Jenny Craig meal plans and Atkins shakes continue to cost dieters a fortune, scientists are working on a much cheaper and more effective solution for weight loss:  fish oil.

Scientific studies are showing success with fish oil weight loss

Compelling Fish Oil Weight Loss Studies

Several new studies into fish oil weight loss are showing promising results. A scientific study in Japan showed that mice fed omega-3 fatty acids and encouraged to exercise had a faster metabolic rate and put on less weight than mice that did not have the same regimen.

In Australia, a scientific study on 75 people who were overweight/obese and had additional risk of heart disease found that taking 600 mg fish oil supplements along with regular exercise led to a loss of 4.5 pounds in the three week period, without any change to the participants' diet. In contrast, those who took sunflower oil supplements (with no omega-3) or those who took omega-3 supplements without exercising saw no change in their weight or fat deposits.

Finally, the University of Georgia reported their findings about fish oil weight loss in the Journal of Nutrition. Their studies showed that fish oil prevented pre-fat cells from becoming fat cells by effectively causing the pre-fat cells to die. This meant that there was less fat stored in the body.  

Related:  Seven Psychological Barriers to Maintaining Healthy Weight Loss

How Fish Oil Weight Loss Works

Gathering together all the information from these studies, it appears that taking fish oil supplements of 600 mg per day acts as a catalyst for the body to increase fat metabolism when exercise is performed. This increase in fat-burning leads to lower fat deposits in the body, specifically belly fat.

If exercise is absent, then the fish oil provides many other health benefits including supporting a healthy cardiovascular system and lowering inflammation, but it does not trigger weight loss in itself.

The Australian study was performed on overweight/obese people who continued with the same eating habits. However, by combining omega-3 fish oil, exercise, and a calorie controlled diet, faster weight loss could be expected than just restricting calories alone.

Tips for Fish Oil Weight Loss Success

  • Choose a high quality fish oil supplement that has a high level of DHA and EPA for the best results.
  • Check the origin of the fish oil. Alaskan fisheries tend to supply fish with less toxic metals.
  • Discuss your fish oil supplementation with your doctor, especially if you are already on medication. Although fish oil is safe, it may counteract other meds.  

Healthy Living Starts Here... Free Resource Guide

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Essential Fatty Acids: Benefits and Sources

by Cindy Gray

With an enthusiasm for better health on the rise in America, many people are making quality nutrition a top priority.  Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a key role.  They are called "essential" because they are not made naturally by the body, but must be obtained through food or supplements.  Learning more about these important nutrients can help to ensure a nutritious diet and a healthy body.

The only way to obtain essential fatty acids is through foods or supplements.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Essential omega 3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  The body converts ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two more essential fatty acids; however, the process isn't very efficient.  Therefore, EPA and DHA are considered "conditionally essential."

Sources of omega 3 fatty acids include green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, flaxseeds, citrus fruits, melons, and cherries which contain ALA.  Omega 3 sources of EPA and DHA include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and other marine life, such as algae and krill.  Flax oil (ALA) and fish oil (EPA and DHA) supplements also make good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Linoleic acid (LA) is an essential fatty acid present in many leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and grains.  Oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut, and canola oil also offer linoleic acid.  LA breaks down to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) within the body or arachidonic acid (AA), two other essential fatty acids.  Natural sources of GLA include oils like black currant, borage, evening primrose, and hemp oils.  You can also obtain AA through consumption of eggs, fish and meat.

Related:  Three Surprising Seafood Sources of EFA’s

Health Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids help promote a variety of functions in the human body including:

  • Cell development
  • Absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Nourishment of skin, hair, and nails
  • Proper nerve function
  • Hormone production

EFAs and Disease

EFA deficiency has been linked to a number of diseases and disorders including:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Hypertension
  • Certain mental disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
  • Learning disorders
  • PMS
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Studies show the consumption of EFAs can help improve these conditions.  For instance, it has been found that diets high in ALA, EPA and DHA can help protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and providing anticoagulant properties.  Research shows that supplementation with GLA can relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and subjects with eczema are able to reduce their use of antibiotics and steroids for treatment of the disease.

People can consume large amounts of essential fatty acids with few side effects.  Occasionally some experience stomach upset, gas, or diarrhea, but these effects typically diminish over time.  Individuals on anticoagulant or blood thinning medications should check with their doctor before taking fish oil supplements as they can thin the blood.

While scientists continue to study how EFAs affect the health, it is clear they offer many benefits.  Whether consumed through a meal or taken as a supplement, EFAs are safe and well tolerated by the body. 

 

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Where Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Come From?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids are among the most important nutrients we need for a healthy body and sharp mind. Not only do omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, they also regulate cholesterol triglyceride levels, ease joint pain and support brain health. Let’s look at where these essential fatty acids come from.

Oily fish is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Although there is no official recommended daily amount (RDA) of omega-3 fatty acids, the American Heart Association recommends 1gram per day for people with heart disease, and 2-4 grams per day for those using Omega-3 to lower triglyceride levels. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

Fish

Fish and krill are the best sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main omega-3 fatty acids we need for top health benefits. Enjoy fish in your diet two to three times a week to top up your levels of omega-3 fatty acids naturally. Sources include:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Sturgeon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Freshwater trout

Unfortunately, many sources of fresh fish are polluted and contain traces of industrial toxins, poisons, heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Tuna, sea bass and marlin are known to have levels of mercury that exceed the amounts approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The exceptions to this potential health hazard are wild-caught Alaskan salmon and small fish such as sardines and krill that are lower down the food chain.

Even farmed salmon does not escape the problem of toxic pollution. In addition, the levels of omega 3 fatty acids it contains are only about half of that found in wild-caught fish.

Related:  Omega 3, 6 and 9: the Basics

Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements are an easy way to source omega-3 fatty acids. However, you need to check the source to avoid the same contaminants as fresh fish. In addition, fish oil supplements generally have lower levels of antioxidants than fresh fish.

Krill Oil

Krill are small marine creatures that have 48 times more potency for omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil. Krill naturally contains astaxanthin, which metabolizes with the EPA and DHA to make them more bioavailable in the body. In addition, krill fishing is completely sustainable and eco-friendly, making it a recommended source of those essential omega-3 fatty acids. 

What about Plant-Sourced Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Plant-sourced omega-3 fatty acids come from flaxseed, hemp and chia which all produce alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). This is converted into EPA and DHA in the body, but it is a much less efficient way of obtaining the required amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although plant-based omega-3 does not have the possible dangers of metal toxins found in marine animals, you need sufficient enzymes for the body to convert the ALAs for use in the body.

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is to choose a high quality fish oil supplements from a reputable company who source their omega-3 from certified, sustainable Alaskan fisheries. 

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What’s Causing Your Memory Loss

by Health News

Although memory loss is a normal part of growing older, we don’t have to accept this as inevitable. Understanding the causes of memory loss and taking action are the first steps to minimize memory problems before they escalate. As well as allowing you to enjoy a full life, preventing memory loss can also save on medical costs and worry down the road.

Word games can help reduce memory loss

Causes of Memory Loss

Age-related memory loss is commonly attributed to early stage Alzheimer’s and dementia, but it can be caused by other social choices and medical problems such as:

Memory Loss Symptoms

Memory loss is defined as becoming more forgetful than normal. The aging process means that older people may take longer to remember things, particularly names of people and places. You may become more forgetful and absentminded, starting off to get something and forgetting what it was you needed. This is very different from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which are a form of brain disease.

Related:  Sleep Plays a Vital Role in Brain Health

Reducing the Risk of Memory Loss

Although dementia is currently irreversible, there are plenty of ways to help you improve your memory and reduce forgetfulness. First of all, ensure you are eating a healthy diet and sleeping well. Saturated fat is known to impair memory and concentration, while fresh fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants to protect the brain cells from damaging free radicals.

If you feel your memory loss is caused by certain medications, consult your doctor about substitutes. Keep a record of the days you feel particularly woolly headed and see if it improves with a change of medication or activity. Treating depression can be helpful if depression is the root cause of your poor memory, although antidepressants may contribute to memory loss.

Taking daily supplements can ensure that your memory loss is not caused by a vitamin deficiency. A lack of vitamin B12, for example, can lead to pernicious anemia. Symptoms include tiredness, a yellowish skin tone, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty maintaining balance and poor memory. Other health supplements are formulated to support brain health, cognitive function and memory.

Although our frenetic lifestyle means we have to remember far more in terms of passwords, multiple phone numbers and PINs, our brains are capable of far more than we ever require of them. Keep your brain active and alert with puzzles such as Sudoku or crosswords. Reading is another way to continually make use of words which can exercise and improve your memory.

Finally, try using mnemonics tricks using word association, rhymes, acronyms, colors and other devices to recall a word, name or information. It’s fun and with a little practice it can counter your memory loss.

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The Facts about Vitamin Deficiency Hair Loss

by Cindy Gray

Extra hair in the shower drain can cause some people undue stress and anxiety.  While there are a number of reasons for hair loss, sometimes vitamin deficiency is to blame.  Hair follicles need a steady supply of certain nutrients for optimal health, and a less-than-adequate diet can lead to excessive shedding.  Fortunately, vitamin deficiency hair loss is easily corrected with better nutrition and/or supplements.  

B vitamins, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin D are all important for correcting vitamin deficiency hair loss.

The Growth Process

Hair on the head sprouts from specialized follicles, forming strands of condensed cells.  Normal hair growth follows a cycle which includes an active phase, a transitional phase, a resting phase, and a new growth phase.  During the last phase, follicles push out the old hair, and it sheds.  A vitamin deficiency or other condition that disrupts any part of the growth cycle can cause more shedding than is normal. 

Vitamins Important to Hair Health

Due to busy lifestyles, many people eat on the run or skip meals.  Nutrient-poor fast food and not eating at all can add up, resulting in a vitamin deficiency.  Low levels of any of the following nutrients can affect hair health

B Vitamins

A number of B vitamins help guard against vitamin deficiency hair loss.  B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B7 (biotin), and B12 (cobalamin) all help promote stronger hair follicles.  In addition, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) makes hair more flexible and shiny, and B6 (pyridoxine) helps prevent dandruff.

Foods high in many B vitamins include dairy products, fortified whole grain cereals, leafy green vegetables, various meats, legumes, and nuts, but people can take a vitamin B-complex supplement to ensure adequate daily amounts of all of these nutrients and more.

Related:  The One Tactic that Can Stop Hair Thinning

Vitamin D

A study from Cairo University showed that women with Telogen effluvium (TE) and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) showed lower levels of vitamin D than women in a control group.  People can get most of the vitamin D they need through the sun, but inhabitants of northern regions or those who don't spend much time outdoors can benefit from foods rich in vitamin D and/or vitamin D supplements.  Wild-caught salmon, mushrooms, beef liver, and fortified grains are good sources of vitamin D.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Many people are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, which help keep various parts of the body healthy, including the hair.  Good sources of these important fats include cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines; and plant sources like walnuts and flaxseed. 

Iron

In addition to vitamin D deficiency, the study from Cairo University also showed low levels of iron for women with TE and FPHL.  Because too much stored iron can also cause health problems, people should get this mineral from foods in lieu of supplements, unless otherwise specified by a medical professional.  Good food sources include clams, oysters, red meat, fortified cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and spinach. 

Excessive hair loss can be distressing, but sometimes it's only a side effect of nutrient deficiency.  People can correct vitamin deficiency hair loss by simply changing their diet.  Because excessive shedding is a symptom of several conditions, people dealing with this problem should consult with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge

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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.

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Do You Have a Vitamin A Deficiency?

by Health News

It takes an entire alphabet of nutrients to keep the body healthy, and the list begins with vitamin A.  This important vitamin helps ensure that photoreceptors, or light-sensitive nerve cells in the eye's retina, function properly.  Vitamin A is also important to the health of the skin, lungs, intestine, and urinary tract, and it helps prevent infection.  Most people around the world get plenty of vitamin A through foods or multivitamins, but vitamin A deficiency is common in developing countries or in areas where people do not eat enough eggs or vegetables. 

Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and orange bell peppers help prevent vitamin A deficiency.

Problems with Vitamin A Absorption

While most cases of vitamin A deficiency come from inadequate nutrition, it can also be a side effect of certain health disorders.  Conditions like celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, blockage of the bile ducts, and some pancreatic disorders can diminish the body's ability to metabolize fats, which impairs vitamin A absorption.  

Related:  Five Myths about Vitamins

Vitamin A Deficiency Symptoms

The first symptom of vitamin A deficiency is a reduced ability to see in dimmer light, or night blindness.  If left untreated, foamy deposits called Bitot spots can form in the whites of the eyes, and people can develop xerophthalmia, a condition in which the whites and corneas of the eyes become thick and dry.  Softening and deterioration of dry corneas can result in blindness.  In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a common cause of blindness in developing countries.

Other vitamin A deficiency symptoms include:

  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Thickening of the lungs, intestine, and urinary tract
  • Frequent infection

Sources of Vitamin A

There are two types of vitamin A:  preformed vitamin A found in animal products and provitamin A found in fruits and vegetables.  Foods that contain vitamin A include dairy products, organ meats, fortified breakfast cereals, salmon, leafy green vegetables, and orange and yellow produce like cantaloupe, apricots, mangoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash. 

Research

Studies show that people who consume high amounts of plant-based vitamin A (but not vitamin A supplements) may reduce risks for lung or prostate cancer.  On the flipside, smokers who consume high doses of vitamin A supplements actually can increase their risk of lung cancer.

Studies have found that vitamin A supplements can be valuable for deficient children in developing countries who contract the measles.  High doses of the vitamin reduce fever and diarrhea caused by measles and lower risks for death from the disease.

Dangers of Excessive Vitamin A

Just as vitamin A deficiency can have negative effects on the body, so too can having an excessive amount of vitamin A levels.  Side effects include cracked lips, dry skin, hair loss, headache, weak bones, and brain pressure.  Getting vitamin A from food rather than supplements helps because the conversion process is very slow.  However, if consumed in large quantities, carotenoids in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables can turn the skin yellow, particularly on the palms and soles of the feet.

Vitamin A is important to the human body in many ways.  To maintain good health, it is important to get enough vitamin A, but too much can cause problems.  People worried about vitamin A deficiency should see a medical professional for a blood test and treatment options.

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Are You Suffering from Vitamin C Deficiency?

by IVL Products

Vitamins and minerals play a significant role when it comes to obtaining adequate nutrition and staying healthy.  Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, contributes to cell growth and repair, circulation, and iron absorption.  It is also important for the production of collagen, a protein found in blood vessels, skin, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.  In most parts of the world, serious vitamin C deficiency (or scurvy) is relatively uncommon because vitamin C is found naturally in many foods and is added to other food as well.  However, smoking, excessive alcohol use, a compromised diet, or certain medical conditions can result in lowered levels of vitamin C in the body.

Foods like citrus fruits, papaya, bell peppers, and broccoli help prevent vitamin C deficiency.

According to medical center experts at the University of Maryland, vitamin C deficiency has been linked to various medical problems like atherosclerosis, certain cancers, gallbladder disease, and high blood pressure.  Animal studies also indicate that low levels of vitamin C can lead to biochemical changes in the body which affect behavior. 

A study from Vanderbilt University found that mice deprived of vitamin C showed depressive-like behavior, reduced movement and strength, and greater preference for sugar.  Behaviors returned to normal with restoration of vitamin C, with the exception of depressive-like symptoms.  

Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency

People with scurvy often develop anemia and swollen, bleeding gums.  Additional signs and symptoms that may indicate a vitamin C deficiency include brittle hair, easily bruised skin, and nosebleeds.

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency

Sources of Vitamin C

Because it is water soluble, vitamin C is not stored by the body.  This means people need to get it through food or supplements.  Some excellent food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, mangoes, papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and kale.  Vitamin C supplements come in tablets, capsules, effervescent powders, and liquids.  People who depend on supplements for vitamin C should strive for 250-500 mg, twice a day. 

Vitamin C deficiency can result in a number of uncomfortable symptoms.  Fortunately, they can be prevented with the consumption of certain foods or supplements.  People who are concerned about a vitamin C deficiency should first consult with a health care professional to rule out other possibilities. 

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5 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

Vitamin B12 is one of the B-complex vitamins that are essential for good health.  The body uses it to manufacture red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA, and vitamin B12 is important to metabolism and cardiovascular health.  Like many other vitamins, B12 is not manufactured by the body, which means people must get it from food or supplements.  Consuming inadequate amounts of this important vitamin, or problems with its absorption, can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency, a condition that is somewhat common, especially among older people.  Read on to learn about five signs and symptoms of deficiency

Clams are just one of the many food sources that help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency.

1.  Weakness

One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is body weakness, a natural consequence of reduced levels of red blood cells.  Because weakness is a symptom of a variety of physical conditions, people should consult with a medical professional to rule out possibilities.

2.  Gastrointestinal Disorders

Certain gastrointestinal disorders like colitis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and leaky gut syndrome can affect absorption of vitamin B-12.  Supplements and B-12 shots can help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency in people with these conditions.

Related:  Five Simple Tips for Healthy Vision

3.  Vision Loss  

Low levels of vitamin B12 can have a negative effect on the optic nerve, but supplements can help.  A study from Japan examining 28 patients with glaucoma showed improvements with a daily dose of 1500 mcg of vitamin B12 over five years.  The participants receiving B12 experienced reduced peripheral vision loss, more stable visual acuity, and better control over eye fluid pressure than participants that did not receive vitamin B12.

4.  Shortness of Breath

Failure to absorb vitamin B12 can result in a reduction of red blood cells that can lead to a condition called pernicious anemia.  Symptoms of this condition include shortness of breath and fatigue.

5.  Memory Loss

Vitamin B12 deficiency can impact brain function, causing symptoms like disorientation, difficulty thinking, and memory loss.  Research shows supplements can help. 

A study from Australian National University found that older adults who received supplements containing vitamin B12 and folic acid over two years experienced better results on tests for short-term and long-term memory than participants who did not receive the supplements. Researchers speculated that results might be due to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to poor cognitive function.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Natural food sources of B12 all come from animal products and good options include clams, beef, turkey, oysters, chicken, trout, and salmon.  People who are vegan, vegetarian, or those with absorption issues can benefit from foods fortified with synthetic B12 or B12 supplements. 

People need vitamin B12 to stay healthy, but according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, about 23 percent of adults above the age of 49 have some level of deficiency.  People who are concerned about vitamin B12 deficiency should visit a medical professional for a blood test and treatment options.

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Three Strange Signs You May Have a Vitamin Deficiency

by IVL Products

In a modern world, people are busier than ever, which can have an effect on daily nutrition.  An influx of fast or processed foods and high levels of stress make it easy to become deficient in certain key nutrients.  When levels of vitamins and minerals are low, the body reacts.  Common symptoms of deficiency include insomnia, fatigue, and irritability, but the body can also respond in more unusual ways.  Here are three strange signs that may indicate vitamin deficiency. 

People concerned about vitamin deficiency should visit a health care professional for blood tests.

1.  Muscle Cramps

People who experience muscle cramps in the legs, calves, feet, or toes may be deficient in magnesium, calcium, and/or potassium.  Adding some mineral rich foods to the shopping cart can help.  Load up on nuts and seeds like almonds, hazel nuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Try fruits like apples, bananas, cherries, and grapefruit and vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, kale, and spinach.

2.  Tingly Hands and Feet

Certain vitamins help ensure good nerve health like B6, B9 (folate), and B12.  When the hands and feet feel pins-and-needles tingly, a deficiency of these important B vitamins may be indicated.  Additional symptoms may include anxiety, depression, or fatigue.  For relief, stock up on asparagus, beets, clams, mussels, oysters, and poultry as well as pinto, black, kidney, or lima beans.

Related:  How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

3.  Hair loss

Vitamin deficiency is responsible for hair loss in some people.  Those who are noticing more hair than usual in the shower drain may want to reevaluate their diet.  Low levels of iron or vitamin D may be to blame.  A study from Cairo University found that women suffering from telogen effluvium (TE) and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) showed low levels of these two nutrients, and the lower the levels, the more hair was lost. 

While the best way to get vitamin D is through the sun's rays, good food sources include wild-caught salmon and fortified milk and orange juice.  Foods high in iron include clams, eggs, liver, oysters, and spinach. People should always get their iron from foods first and consult with a medical professional before taking iron supplements.

The best way to avoid vitamin deficiency and resulting symptoms is to eat a well-balanced diet.  Taking a daily multivitamin helps fill in any nutritional gaps.  People concerned about deficiency of particular nutrients or absorption problems can speak to a medical professional for blood tests and proper treatment.

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Simple Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness

by IVL Products

While we may know a lot about optimal health in theory, in reality, does our lifestyle measure up?  A truly healthy life consists of many different aspects, including diet, supplements and exercise. 

Optimal health includes eating plenty of fresh fruit

Health and fitness go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to choose regular exercise activities that you actually enjoy as part of your simple healthy lifestyle, to avoid it becoming a dreaded chore. 

Optimal Health and Fitness

Exercise should not be all about burning calories or how much time you spend at the gym. In order for fitness to be a part of your life naturally, exercise in a way that is intuitive and natural.

As humans, our bodies were never intended for life as a couch potato or sat at a desk all day; they were designed for daily activity. It helps to understand by thinking about the exercise our ancestors did: walking, sprinting, climbing, swimming, crawling and lifting heavy things. By replicating those activities on a daily basis, we will be giving our body a natural all-round workout as nature intended.

Related:  Exercise Your Right to Brain Health

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published an excellent Complete Guide to Fitness and Health which gives plenty of tips, instructions and illustrations on how to achieve optimal health through nutrition and exercise.

Health and Diet

Exercise is just one part of optimal health and it has to be done in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Once again, it pays to think simply and eat like our ancestors did. Their diet as hunter-gatherers would have included meat, fish, fowl, fruit, nuts, raw vegetables and plants. They would have drunk plenty of water rather than sugary, soda and drinks heavy in caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

Genetically engineered foods such as soy, corn, canola oil and varieties of vegetables and fruits would not have been part of our diet historically, and neither would pesticides and fertilizers. It’s a good reason to go organic and try to get back to the optimally healthy lifestyle nature intended.

Sleep and Stress

In the days before electricity brought TV entertainment, our ancestors would have risen and slept according to the hours of daylight and nightfall. They would have enjoyed plenty of sleep. Stress would have been limited to key moments during a hunt, when the “fight or flight” hormones of adrenalin and cortisol would have kicked in momentarily, not all the time as in our modern-day lives.

Although we may pride ourselves on our civilized and developed society, when it comes to optimal health and fitness, it can be good to look back and try to emulate the simple, natural lifestyle that our bodies are designed for. 

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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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Three Cellulite Home Remedies for Tighter, Smoother Skin

by IVL Products

When it comes to physical appearance, few things frustrate women more than cellulite, and it is an equal-opportunity annoyance.  From teenagers to seniors, cellulite affects up to 90% of women at some point in life.  While connective tissue in men forms in a crisscross pattern, female connective tissue takes on a honeycomb shape.  Any extra fat tends to bulge out and create a dimpled effect on the skin, particularly on the stomach, hips, and thighs.  Women are always searching for ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite, and three cellulite home remedies show promise according to anecdotal and scientific evidence.

When it comes to cellulite home remedies, many women use coffee.  Instead of drinking it, they rub the grounds on their skin.

1. Coffee Grounds and Olive Oil

Women looking to reduce cellulite should try this easy recipe:  add 2 T of olive oil to 1/2 cup caffeinated coffee grounds, and heat in the microwave for 10 seconds.  Massage the mixture into the affected areas and wrap with plastic wrap.  Remove after 20 minutes.  For the best results, repeat the process two or three times per week for six weeks.

How it works:  The olive oil helps bind the coffee grounds to the skin, and the caffeine within the coffee dilates blood vessels, which improves circulation.  This gives cellulite-ridden skin a firmer, more toned appearance.

Related: Drinking Coffee:  The Benefits

2. Gota Kola

Several studies verify that oral consumption of Gota kola supplements makes one of the better cellulite home remedies.  For optimal results, people should take 30 mg of Gota kola three times per day.  Use it for six weeks or less with at least two weeks in between re-use.  People with liver disease or diabetes, or people taking diuretics should not use Gota kola.  Check with your health care practitioner if you have any concerns.

How it works: 

Called triterpenoids, the active ingredients in Gota kola help minimize the appearance of cellulite by strengthening connective tissue which makes skin thicker and improves its elasticity. 

3. Grape Seed Extract

An herb used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, grape seed extract is best known for its benefits to memory and cognitive function.  However, it also possesses antioxidants called proanthocyanidins that help reduce the appearance of cellulite.  People taking anti-coagulants or Phenacetin should not take grape seed extract.  Always check with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

How it works:

Active ingredients in grape seed extract enhance circulation by strengthening blood vessels and inhibiting elastase and collagenase, enzymes that can damage human connective tissue.  The recommended dosage for grape seed extract is 50 mg twice per day.

Factors that Contribute to Cellulite

In addition to cellulite home remedies, becoming aware of factors that contribute to cellulite can also help people reduce its appearance.  These factors include:

  • Dehydration
  • Excess body fat
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor nutrition or fad dieting
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Slow metabolism
  • Skin color and thickness

While many women spend a fortune on creams, teas, and other products for fighting cellulite, the truth is, most of them don't work.  Three cellulite home remedies that have shown success come at a reasonable price and offer minimal side effects.  Before purchasing the latest wonder cure for cellulite, women should try coffee grounds and olive oil, Gota kola, or grape seed extract. 

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Three Best Ways to Lose Weight Naturally

by Health News

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 62% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.  Consequently, over 100 million Americans are currently on diets, and revenue brought in by the U. S. weight loss industry tops $20 billion.  People continue to the hunt for a magic pill or potion for shedding extra pounds, but a few ingredients found in any grocery store offer some of the best ways to lose weight naturally.

Simply adding fiber to the diet makes one of the easiest and best ways to lose weight.

Probiotics

A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition showed encouraging results for women looking to lose weight.  Researchers asked 125 overweight men and women to follow a 12-week diet plan and an additional 12 weeks of maintenance.  Half of the participants also took daily probiotic supplements, and the other half took a placebo.

Results showed that women subjects who took probiotics lost almost twice as much weight as women who took a placebo.  During the maintenance period, women taking probiotics continued to lose weight, while women taking the placebo plateaued.  Surprisingly, the probiotics had no effect on the weight of the male subjects.

Fiber

A long-term study from the University of Massachusetts shows that simply adding fiber to the diet makes one of the easiest and best ways to lose weight.  Researchers asked 240 overweight people with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol) to go on the American Heart Association (AHA) diet or to add at least 30 grams of fiber to their regular daily diet in the form of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

After one year, both groups lost similar amounts of weight, and the people in the fiber group showed similar reductions in blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels as the people in the AHA group.  This study shows that making one easy change (adding fiber to the diet) works as well as a strict eating plan for promoting weight loss and better overall health.

Related:  Green Tea: A- Promising Anti-Cancer Superfood

Green Tea

A number of studies show the fat and weight-reducing effects of green tea, especially when combined with exercise.  A study on mice at Penn State University showed that those who consumed decaffeinated green tea and exercised regularly showed significant reductions in body weight and better overall health. 

A group of mice on a high-fat diet ingested green tea extract and engaged in regular exercise for 16 weeks.  Following the research period, these mice showed an average reduction in body mass of 27.1% and an average reduction in abdominal fat of 36.6%.  Additional health benefits included reductions in blood glucose, plasma insulin levels, and insulin resistance, all factors which relate to diabetic health.

With a growing number of overweight people, weight loss has become a multi-billion dollar industry.  While special vitamins and costly exercise equipment boast big results, sometimes the best ways to lose weight are simple and inexpensive.  Find probiotics, fiber, or green tea at any grocery store or your favorite natural supplements website.