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Holy Basil: A Divine Answer to Stress Management

by Institute for Vibrant Living

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

Holy basil for stress reduction.

History

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

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

Holy Health Benefits

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

  • Exhaustion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual/libido issues

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

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

Related:  Three Herbs for Stress Reduction

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

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

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

Holy Basil At Home

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

Holy Tea for Two

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

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

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

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Should You be Using a Fluoride-Free Toothpaste?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Have you ever noticed that most toothpaste come with a health warning? That’s because they contain a toxin which, if taken in larger-than-necessary doses, can be harmful to health. So why doesn’t everyone switch to fluoride-free toothpaste? The argument is far from clear-cut, as you will discover.

Fluoride-free toothpaste reduces the risk of fluorosis

Why Fluoride is Widely Used

Most dentists agree with federal government research, which shows that for most people the dangers of fluoride are far outweighed by the benefits. The exception to this rule is the 1% of the population who have a fluoride sensitivity which can cause lethargy or unpleasant flu-like side effects.

Many municipalities began adding fluoride to the drinking water supply in the 1960s to reduce tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), research shows that fluoride reduces tooth decay by up to 70% in children, and reduces tooth loss by up to 60% in adults. Water fluoridation is considered one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century and today around 72% of Americans with mains water receive fluoride every time they turn on the tap.

Fluoride works by strengthening or remineralizing the tooth structure to resist decay. It also reduces the risk of cavities by inhibiting the bacteria in plaque which produce acid, causing tooth decay.

Related:  Oral Health Care: Tips from a Holistic Dentist

Fluoride-Free Toothpaste may Counter Fluorosis

In moderation, fluoride may be a huge benefit to dental health, but how much fluoride do you actually get every day? It depends on how much tap water you drink and what strength of fluoride is in your municipal tap water, which varies from 2-4 mg per liter. In addition, fluoride is naturally present in some water supplies, with as much as 1.2 grams per liter. Unless you use fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash, you are probably getting far more fluoride than the “safe” recommended amount.

Although fluoride is toxic, too much fluoride will not kill you, although it does cause fluorosis on the teeth. Excess fluoride creates white or brown spots on teeth which can look ugly and require dental procedures to remove them. Too much fluoride may also kill the flora and bacteria in the gut, weakening the immune system.

Some people continue to protest against water fluoridation, either because it overrides their right to choose, or because they believe fluoride may cause allergies and brittle bones, although as yet these theories appear to be unfounded. 

According to recent studies, two in five adolescents receive too much fluoride, indicated by dental fluorosis. As a result of these findings, the Department of Health announced it would reduce the level of fluoride added to the water supply.

If you live in an area with fluoridated tap water (and chances are that you do), then consider using fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash to reduce the possibility of consuming too much fluoride, which can cause as many dental problems as too little.
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Six Tips to Strengthen Your Mind

by Institute for Vibrant Living

With a strong mind, your chance of achieving your goals skyrockets. Everything that you will accomplish both personally and professionally will stem from possessing a strong mind and a positive mentality. In this article, we will look at the six top tips for strengthening your mind so that you can achieve more. Follow these tips, and you will achieve results.

Achieve a positive mentality and balance

Tip One-Sleep

Fatigue can destroy both the mind and the body. If you want to achieve more and do so consistently, then don’t skip sleep. Without proper sleep, your mind will suffer. Many people feel that sleep is somehow optional, but as scientists and researchers study sleep more they realize just how essential it is for the proper functioning of the mind. Poor sleep interferes with memory and mental performance so make sure you get enough sleep every night.

Tip Two-Meditate

The power of meditation is difficult to overstate. Meditation is actually the brains only real “break.” When you are asleep, your brain is still very active; however, those who become proficient at meditation are able to give their minds a much deserved break. Scientific research has also shown that meditation reduces stress hormones. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, trigger inflammation throughout the body which can lower immune system function and cause pain. If you want to make great decisions and boost mental performance, then you need to keep stress under control and meditation can help.

Related:  Heart Health:  Benefits of Meditation

Tip Three-The Right Diet

Many people don’t associate diet and mental toughness, but the two are definitely related. A poor diet negatively impacts every aspect of a person. Chemicals in food can even impact one’s mood. Consuming a diet that is high in whole foods and avoiding processed foods, sugar and chemicals will help to reduce inflammation levels in the body. Additionally, a healthy diet will help you avoid the energy crashes associated with sugar.

Tip Four-Learn New Skills

Every time you learn a new skill, your brain forms new neurological pathways. If you want a sharper mind, then one of the best places to begin is by learning new skills. Whether it is learning a foreign language, the basics of computer programming or simply learning to throw a baseball, your mind will benefit from the challenge. Challenge your mind and you will be rewarded.

Tip Five-Be Social

A great way to challenge your mind is to be social. Talking to, and just as importantly, listening to others helps keep your mind sharp. The brain craves communication, so get out there and get social!

Tip Six-Achieve a Positive Mentality

All of the five aforementioned tips will be completely worthless unless you possess a positive mentality. Without a positive attitude and a deep belief that you can change your life and build your mental toughness, you will not achieve your goals. Simply stated, there is no replacement for a positive outlook and approach to life!

Use these tips together and you will see results. Success may not come overnight but by focusing and applying these six tips to different aspects of your life, you will achieve more than you thought possible.

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Fish-Free Wrinkle Free: The Vegetarian Answer to Omega-3s

by Health News

With supplements and a few additions to your shopping list, you can find fish-free omega-3 foods that will enhance your anti-aging diet, yet still honor your choice to live a vegetarian lifestyle. There are a lot of plant sources with essential nutrients to help keep you young, vibrant, and vegetarian!

Walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids and help you get essential nutrients into your anti-aging diet.

Power Plants

Mother Nature offers so many healthy ways to get your much needed fish-free omega-3s and other nutrients. Here are a few:

Flax

Grinding the seeds and adding them to cookie, bread, or muffin recipes is one method to get flaxseed into your diet.  Research shows that ground flax can be used in baked goods without losing their desired health benefits, such as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids as long as you keep the oven temperature at 300 degrees Fahrenheit—or less.

Flax offers other health benefits like phytonutrients called lignans, which are antioxidants, something essential for maintaining youthful energy levels and glowing skin. As little one ounce of flaxseed can help keep obesity at bay, improve circulation and lower blood pressure.

Barley

Barley is a delicious, nutty flavored and versatile cereal grain with lots of health benefits.  It is chock full of manganese, fiber, selenium, copper, vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin, just to name a few of its wonderful nutrients.

The selenium in barley make it a great anti-aging food because it strengthens metabolic pathways for a healthier immune system and lowers your risk of developing some cancers, something essential for keeping you feeling young and vibrant at any age.

Related:  Vegans May Benefit From Supplements of Omega 3s and Vitamin B12

Soy Lecithin

Lecithin is produced in the liver and makes up an important part of the mucus layer in our large intestines.   It’s made up of three fat-soluble molecules that are the building blocks of cell membranes that facilitate cell communication and keep cells from sticking to each other.

Soybeans are a good source of lecithin and beneficial as a meat-free food that helps keep your liver healthy by emulsifying (breaking down) fatty deposits that can lead to high cholesterol, liver and cardiovascular disease.

Seaweed

Seaweed offers nutrients from the ocean not found in land-based greens.  It has long been a part of the diet of many Asian cultures and should be in your anti-aging diet plan.

Seaweed is a great source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and it can help regulate estrogen and estradiol levels. Those two hormones can help women lower their risk of developing breast cancer.

One nutrient that is missing from many diets and is in few foods is iodine. Seaweed is rich in iodine, which is essential for keeping your thyroid healthy. Since thyroid problems are a common problem as we age eating more seaweed salad is good idea.

Walnuts

If you are vegetarian you would be nuts not to be eating walnuts regularly. When consumed whole with the skin still on them you get a healthy dose of:

  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Biotin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Numerous research over the last few decades have shown walnuts to help lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or suffering a metabolic disorder.  Walnuts are also rich sources of antioxidants, help reduce inflammation, and support collagen production, which keeps skin smooth and wrinkle free.

No Need to Fish for Compliments

Adding these foods to your shopping list to round out an effective anti-aging diet is a smart way for anyone looking to get fish free omega-3s and other essential nutrients without eating meat.  

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How to Exercise Away the Effects of Depression

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Depression is a debilitating mental disorder that affects approximately 14.8 million Americans.  Worse, studies show it is on the rise and has become a worldwide epidemic according to the World Health Organization.  It’s a relief to know that exercise is a safe and effective natural remedy for depression that most anyone can put into his or her daily routine.

New research has concluded that those who regularly exercise can combat depression.

Some people only suffer depression at one point in their life like post-partum depression, while others are afflicted with it chronically over a lifetime.  The medical industry has responded with a flood of powerful brain altering drugs to combat the effects of depression. Yet in many cases, exercise is proving to be just as effective, with positive side effects!

The Research: Exercise and Depression

A study published by the Archives of Medicine found exercise to nearly as effective as medication in treating patients with major depression.  

Another study conducted on students at the University of Virginia observed a significant reduction in depression symptoms for those students diagnosed with the disorder who jogged regularly.  Those who did not engage in any form of regular exercise showed no changes in their symptoms in contrast.

Related:  Ways to Lower Risk of Depression

To bolster these findings, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a report where researchers found that a mere one point increase in regular exercise appeared to lower study participants’ risk of being depressed by 10%. More importantly it cut their risk of becoming chronically depressed by 17%!

Effects of Exercise on Depression

The effects of exercise on depression are quite profound.  It can effect change in brain chemicals, reduce immune system chemicals that worsen depression and increases body temperature, which seems to have a calming effect.

Your Brain

When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in your brain while reducing your perception of pain.  While the effects are temporary, regularly feeling that “runner’s high” has a very positive, energizing affect, something those who suffer from depression need.

Your Immune System

There is a growing body of evidence that depression has as much or more to do with your immune system as it does your brain.  While most medications are prescribed to help balance chemicals in the brain, research out of the University of California has suggested that inflammation, an immune response, may be a contributing cause of depression.

Regular moderate exercise is known to strengthen the immune system.  It will also help keep body fat in check, and improve circulation, which benefits the brain and the body and could lead to fewer depression symptoms.

Exercise and Depression: Your Attitude Matters

The possibility of finding effective natural remedies for depression is good news for those who have resigned themselves to taking powerful anti-depressants and dealing with the side effects. With the many positive aspects of exercising to help with depression, it a good idea to make sure you get plenty of it on regular basis if you have or are at risk of developing symptoms of depression.

Besides the feel good brain chemicals and boost to your immune system, exercise will help you keep weight gain in check, make you stronger and give you more energy.

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Indigestion Symptoms: Five Signs of Unbalanced Beneficial Bacteria

by IVL Products

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

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

Unbalanced bacteria trigger indigestion symptoms

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

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

Related: Natural Treatment for Lactose Intolerance

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

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

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

 

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The Key to Healthy Aging: Can White Tea Prevent Cancer?

by Cindy Gray

Many people take low-dose aspirin, ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to promote healthy aging, as well as prevent cancer and heart disease. However, new research shows that white tea may have just as many cancer-prevention benefits without the harmful side effects of these over-the-counter drugs.

Is white tea the key to healthy aging?Green tea has been widely hailed as an excellent health drink due to its high levels of polyphenol antioxidants. It is even more beneficial than black tea because white tea undergoes less processing, keeping more of those important catechins and nutrients intact from tea bush to teacup.

Scientists followed the logic of this process and decided to investigate the less well-known white tea which has the least processing of all teas.

Differences Between Black Tea, Green Tea, White Tea and Herbal Tea

All teas begin as leaves on the tea bushes of the camellia sinensis family. Once picked, the leaves quickly begin to wilt and oxidize as the leaves dry and are broken down by natural enzymes. Once the leaves are fully oxidized and sufficiently dark for black tea, heating is applied to stop the enzyme process.

Green tea is made much faster from non-wilted green tea leaves which are processed before they have time to oxidize and ferment. 

White tea is made from the youngest leaves and buds of the tea bush which are covered in fine silvery down, giving the leaves a white appearance. These buds are subjected to dry heat or steam to quickly halt oxidation and then dried and made into white tea.

Herbal teas are infusions of fruit, herbs and flowers and do not have the antioxidant properties or catechins found in traditional tea.

All tea leaves must be brewed in water that has reached the boiling point in order to release the flavor along with the polyphenols, alkaloids, caffeine, amino acids, proteins and trace elements contained in a teaspoonful of leaves. Black tea has lower levels of these than green tea, but white tea has the highest concentrations of all.

Polyphenols in Tea

The main polyphenols in tea are known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). These plant-sourced antioxidants have powerful free-radical scavenging activity, protect cells from free-radical damage and have cancer-fighting properties.

In addition, green teas have a detoxifying effect, cleansing the body of harmful toxins while protecting against tumor development and colon cancer.

Related: Beware of Foods that Accelerate Aging

Research has shown that tea catechins inhibit tumor cell proliferation and encourage natural cell death through a process called apoptosis. They slow angiogenesis of cells and reduce tumor cell invasiveness. Polyphenols in tea also strengthen the immune system and protect against UVB radiation from the sun.

Comparative Studies on White Tea

A Study at the University of Malaya looked at the effects of white tea on all types of cells. It was found to inhibit to spread of colorectal cancer cells (HT-29) and increased caspase-3, -8, and -9 activity in the cells. The white tea extract also protected normal cells from DNA damage making it a powerful yet inexpensive way to protect the body.

Laboratory tests on bacteria at Oregon State University (OSU) showed that white tea inhibited cancer cell mutations even more efficiently than green tea. This suggests that white tea is even more effective in fighting cancer cells than green tea.

A further study by an OSU researcher used tea on mice that were genetically predisposed to developing intestinal tumors. Results showed that mice receiving no tea treatment developed 30 tumors over a 12 week study compared to 17 tumors in mice consuming green tea and 13 tumors in mice given white tea. However, by combining white tea and the NSAID sulindac, the tumor rate dropped to just six. The study concluded that tea, particularly white tea, can potentially block some cancers and help prevent intestinal cancer with just three mugs of tea a day.

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Inability to Focus? Feed your Brain!

by Cindy Gray

When your body lacks food, it tells you by slowing down and losing its normal efficiency. In the same way, when your brain needs a boost, it lets you know by becoming slow, muddled and lacking its normal clarity.  Several foods appear to boost memory and cognitive function, as if they are brain superfoods. Next time you feel the inability to focus, try these brain foods.Feed your Brain, Increase Focus

Maca for Brain Power

Maca is an unusual turnip-like root which thrives where other crops fail. It was grown by the Incas high in the Andes in places like Machu Picchu. This amazing food can be grown at altitudes of 9,000 to 14,000 feet, even in cold winds and strong sunlight.

Maca has been used as a food and a medicinal plant for thousands of years. The Inca people believe the root is a source of energy and endurance but it also improves memory and brain power. You may not be able to grow maca in your own backyard, or find it in the supermarket, but maca is available as a health supplement in powdered form and can easily be added to power smoothies and shakes.

Maca root is high in antioxidants which are known to aid memory and cognitive function. It comes in three forms: black, red and yellow maca. Clinical studies on maca found that black maca had a positive effect on the brain, with most people citing it helped them improve memory. Scientists believe that the antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the brain, allowing it to be more clear thinking and productive.

Cacao for Clarity and Alertness

Cacao, the raw form of cocoa and chocolate, contains over 300 beneficial compounds. Unfortunately many of these are destroyed by heating, refining and processing the cacao into chocolate.

Cacao has been shown to increase the activity in the brain's neurotransmitters, not only lifting mood and promoting a sense of well-being, but also increasing alertness and mental clarity. It works by stimulating the levels of endorphins and serotonin that makes us feel happy. It also prompts the brain to release anandamide, known as the "bliss chemical", along with phenylethylamine (PEA) which improves mental focus and alertness.

Related: Can Exercise Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Other benefits of cacao include dilating the blood vessels which allows better circulation to the brain; balancing mood and brain chemistry; providing a shield against stress and increasing mental sharpness.

Look for chocolate with a high percentage of cacao and proportionally less sugar, dairy and soy products to get the maximum benefits from nutrient-rich cacao.

Reishi Mushrooms for Boosting Mental Capacity

Certain types of mushrooms are known to affect the mind, sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively. Reishi mushrooms are referred to as the "King of Herbs" in Eastern medicine. This fungus has a positive mental benefit as it helps maintain equilibrium and balance in the whole body.

A balanced body is essentially healthy and has a strong immune system which leads to a positive and healthy outlook on life. It also allows us to deal with stress more easily, lowering anxiety levels that can otherwise inhibit brain function.

Reishi specifically strengthens the vagus nerve which connects the gut to the brain and this is thought to be the reason for the improvement in mental capacity.

Reishi mushrooms, along with maca root powder are key ingredients in several popular, powerful, and palatable meal replacement drinks used to boost energy and feed your brain.

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Learn How Gratitude Benefits Your Health

by Health News

What is Good for High Blood Pressure? Gratitude

Many people want to know what is good for high blood pressure. The answer may surprise you. Learn how gratitude benefits your health, including your heart, in this article.

In the fast-paced and stressful world of today, practicing positive mental states has been scientifically shown to improve quality of life and promote longevity.

A 1995 study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found that gratitude greatly benefits both the heart and immune system. In this study, participants were monitored while being asked to recall for five minutes any incident that triggered anger.

Next, they were told instead to focus on a particular memory that inspired gratitude. Immediately, their heart, pulse and respiration rates dramatically improved.

These results led study researchers to state that by cultivating gratefulness, stress is significantly reduced, boosting immune function and strengthening overall health, including heart health.

All emotions are intimately connected with the heart and body. The heart has a constant two-way dialog with the brain.

This study explains how our heart responds to our emotional reactions and why certain emotions stress our body and sap our energy. Feelings like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurity disturb our heart-rhythm patterns, making them erratic.

These erratic patterns signal emotional centers in the brain, which recognizes them as negative or stressful feelings. Not only that, but erratic heart rhythms block our ability to think clearly.

On the other hand, when we experience feelings of compassion, love and gratitude, our heart rhythm patterns become smooth and harmonious, indicating a balanced nervous and cardiovascular system.

In other words, when your heart is at ease, both your heart health and overall health are significantly enhanced.

Furthermore, those people who are grateful and appreciative often live longer.

In a long-term observational study described in the Graziadio Business Review, Catholic nuns who expressed gratitude, happiness and other positive emotions in their earlier years were found to live up to ten years longer than nuns who did not express gratitude.

Study researchers saw a significant inverse relationship between positive emotional content in handwritten autobiographies of 180 Catholic nuns (at the age of 22) and risk of death later in life, between ages 75 to 95.

In other words, an expression of gratefulness in early life was associated with a lifetime of longevity, even up to 60 years later.

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What Are The Benefits And Risks Of Regular Energy Drink Consumption?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Energy drinks are very popular nowadays, especially with teens and athletes - perhaps you’re a fan as well.

A recent study looked at the benefits and risks that come with regular energy drink consumption. In 2003, 16% of teens reported consuming them regularly - however, consumption had risen sharply to 35% by 2008. In fact, one study found that 50% of students drank at least 1-4 of these drinks in a typical month.

The Study Authors Examined the Following

  • A sharp increase in energy drink-related emergency room visits led to demands that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) look into the effects of energy drinks on health.
  • Currently, the amount of caffeine added to energy drinks is not regulated by the FDA, so labeled amounts are often inaccurate. Also, the claims made by manufacturers on the ability of such drinks to maintain energy levels have not been verified.
  • The study authors examined the most common ingredients - caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, sugars and B vitamins - and assessed their effects on health.
  • Levels of caffeine, the main ingredient, vary widely between brands. Energy drinks may contain higher levels of caffeine than indicated on the label.

Dangers of Energy Drinks to Your Health

Energy Drink Stats

  • A typical cup of coffee contains 80-120 milligrams of caffeine, while tea has 50 mg and a 12-ounce cola roughly 65 mg. On the other hand, a 16-ounce Red Bull contains 154 mg while a 24-ounce Wired X505 contains 505 mg. While there is no prescribed safety limit for caffeine, excessive consumption has been linked to high BP, premature birth and even possibly sudden death.
  • Guarana is a South American plant that contains a caffeine-like compound called guaranine. One gram of guarana is equal to 40 mg of caffeine. In spite of this, guarana is usually not included in the total caffeine tally. And since the FDA has not tested guarana for human consumption, its risks and benefits are almost completely unknown.
  • Sugar in the form of sucrose, glucose, or high fructose corn syrup ranges from 21 grams to 34 grams in every 8 ounces of a typical energy drink. Teens who consume 2 or 3 drinks daily could be taking in 120-180 mg of sugar - or 4-6 times the maximum recommended daily intake - placing them at risk for obesity and dental problems.
  • Taurine is a common amino acid that supports brain development and regulates mineral and water levels. The amount of taurine consumed from energy drinks is higher than from a normal diet - as yet there is no evidence that this is unhealthy. In fact, many energy drinks that claim to be healthy contain excess, unregulated amounts of vitamins or minerals you can normally get from your diet.
  • The problem is, you never really know how much of these ingredients you are consuming, because the quantities are masked behind the term 'proprietary blend' or 'energy blend.'
  • Ginseng is believed to boost athletic performance, strengthen the immune system and improve mood. According to the study authors, there is not much proof of this - and there isn't enough ginseng in energy drinks anyway.
  • B vitamins and other additives in energy drinks can improve mood and even fight heart disease and cancer, but again their amounts in energy drinks aren’t enough to have any meaningful effects.

Adolescent consumers have no idea what these ingredients do. They assume that because they can buy it off the shelf, it must be safe for them. In reality, very little is known about the risks and benefits of various additives in energy drinks and how they affect health when consumed over the long term. Not much is known either about how energy drinks and alcohol interact as well as how they affect medications and antidepressants.

Therefore, study authors have urged physicians to be aware of energy drink consumption and suggest educating both teens and their parents on the potential negative health consequences of consuming energy drinks regularly.

Related Article 28 Easy Energy Boosting Smoothie Recipes

 

Sources: What’s in Your Energy Drink?

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Allergy Answers in Your Cupboard

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Allergy RemediesThere are also several nutritional supplements that have powerful antihistamine properties, including vitamin E, quercetin, bromelain, and colostrum. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and natural antihistamine that has been shown to strengthen your immune system and its response to attack. Vitamin E is also a natural blood thinner. Therefore, if you are taking an anticoagulant, such as warfarin, check with your doctor before using vitamin E.

Quercetin has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, which makes a favorite natural treatment among allergists. It is believed to work by controlling the release of histamine and stabilizing cell membranes, making them less reactive to allergens.

A natural anti-inflammatory in its own right, bromelain also helps your body absorb quercetin. This pineapple derivative reduces inflammation in your respiratory system while also decreasing the amount and thickness of mucus in your respiratory tract.

Lastly, colostrum—the pre-milk all women produce immediately after the birth of a baby—is rich in immune-building and immune-enhancing properties. Colostrum contains several immunoglobulins, antibodies that help boost your immune system, as well as

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Benefits of Vitamin C

by Health News

You may have known this intuitively already, but now the results of five randomized trials on participants with heavy short-term physical stress haveBenefits of Vitamin C confirmed that vitamin C reduces the incidence of common cold by 50%.

Three of these trials looked at marathon runners, one studied Swiss school children in a skiing camp and one examined Canadian soldiers during a winter exercise.

Not only that, in a recent randomized trial carried out with adolescent competitive swimmers, vitamin C was shown to halve the duration of colds in men, although it had no effect on women.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that recycles other vitamins, for example vitamin E. It also strengthens the immune system. Vitamin C is found naturally in high levels in many fruits and vegetables including oranges, blueberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe and papaya, among others.

According to an updated Cochrane Review, vitamin C seems to be particularly beneficial for people who are experiencing heavy physical stress. Regular doses of vitamin C of one gram per day or higher were shown to decrease the average duration of colds in adults by 8% and in children by 18%.

At the same time, taking vitamin C every day to shorten infrequent colds may not be advisable. On average, adults have only a few common cold episodes per year and children typically only have some half a dozen colds per year.

The results of therapeutic trials - in which vitamin C was given after the first symptoms of a cold appeared - are not consistent.

However, given the consistent beneficial effects of vitamin C on duration and severity of colds in supplementation studies as well as the safety and low cost of vitamin C - it may be worthwhile to figure out for yourself whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial for you, when you’re suffering through an episode of common cold.

Sources:

Vitamin C is Beneficial Against the Common Cold.

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Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally

by Health News

As the temperature drops outside, it’s not unusual for our immune systems to take a nosedive too. Luckily, you can stop that dive in its tracks with good, old-fashioned blueberries.

Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally

According to a December 2011 study from Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, blueberries are a powerful immune booster. Not only did they increase natural killer cell activity, but also reduced inflammation and oxidation.

While you likely know how to incorporate blueberries into your diet, here are a few novel ideas:

  • Toss into a salad with a little goat cheese and sliced almonds.
  • Place frozen berries in high-speed blender with water and a touch of powdered stevia for instant sorbet.
  • Crush and add to mineral water for a healthy, alcohol-free cocktail.

 

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Go Loco for Coconut

by Health News

The largest seed known to man, the coconut has been used and praised by Malaysian and Polynesian cultures for centuries. Not only does it contain a multitude of amino acids, but it is also chock full of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, as vitamin C, and riboflavin (vitamin B2). 

But coconut’s most prized nutrient is lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that converts in your body to monolaurin. Monolaurin is a compound found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immune system. Not only does it boost brain and bone health, but it helps strengthen the immune system.

In fact, coconut has been heralded as an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It has even been shown to reduce fever and excess heat (hyperthermia) in animal studies.

And that’s just the coconut meat and oil. But if you’ve ever been to the islands and had a fresh coconut, you know that there’s a light, refreshing water found inside the hairy shell. But what you may not know is that this coconut water is identical to your blood plasma.

According to Mortin Salin, Chief of the U.N.’s Food & Agricultural Organization, coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage with the same level of electrolytic balance as blood. It is so comparable that during the Pacific War of 1941-1945, both sides in the conflict regularly used coconut water taken directly from the seed to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of ways you can get these health amazing coconut health benefits. Many companies are now packaging coconut water and marketing it as an electrolyte replacement. Just look for plain versus flavored varieties to avoid unwanted sugar.

Coconut oil is a great option for cooking, due to its high smoking point (350°F for unrefined and 450°F for refined). For us non-chefs, this means you can sauté and bake with coconut oil and not worry about it turning into a trans-fat.  Plus, coconut oil is great to use topically to soften your hands. 

Finally, you can use shredded coconut as a healthy snack or great and tasty alternative to bread crumbs on your favorite chicken or fish dish.

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Eyesight Improvement with Vitamin D

by Health News

You’ve probably heard what recent studies have concluded about vitamin D boosts you immune system naturally, and how it can be an invaluable ally during flu season. And you’ve no doubt heard the more recent news that vitamin D might protect against the ravages of type II diabetes. But here’s another amazing benefit this vitamin might offer: strengthen your eyesight as you age.

Eyesight Improvement with Vitamin DDr. Glen Jeffrey and other researchers at the University College of London Institute of Ophthalmology in the UK conducted a study* in which they treated middle-aged mice with vitamin D for six weeks. For the treated group, one-year-old female mice were injected with safflower oil containing 0.9 micrograms of vitamin D every three days.  One mouse year is roughly 50 human years.

After six weeks, tests measuring the electrical responses of retinal cells showed significant improvement in the vision of the treated mice. So, what is the mechanism behind these very promising results? According to Dr. Jeffrey, it has to do with the reduction in amyloid deposits and inflammation in the blood vessels—a finding that could have even broader implications beyond those gleaned from this study.

“Finding that amyloid deposits were reduced in the blood vessels of mice that had been given vitamin D supplements suggests that vitamin D could be useful in helping to prevent a range of age-related health problems, from deteriorating vision to heart disease, " says Dr. Jeffery.

Ask your health care professional about the best way to incorporate this important nutrient into your supplement regimen.

*http://www.neurobiologyofaging.org/article/S0197-4580(11)00519-7/abstract

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Boost Immune System Naturally

by Health News

Boost Immune System NaturallyA complex network of cells, glands, tissues and organs - this immune system support works to shield the body from disease. One quarter to one half of all body cells are committed to strengthen the immune system with important organs being the thymus and the spleen.

Certain white blood cells are important to boost your immune system and some herbs and spices work to stimulate these cells and occasionally boost the amount of white blood cells present in an infected body. Many of these herbs and spices have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine.

Astragalus – This is a perennial plant native to China, Korea and Mongolia which is harvested for its root and dried for medicinal purposes. Astragalus is labeled an adaptogen which is a medicine thought to help shield the body from physical, mental or emotional stress.

Many studies have found that astragalus can boost specific and non-specific immunity. It has been linked to increased white blood cells, and it works with prescribed drugs to enhance effectiveness of treatment for cancer and diabetes. As it contains powerful antioxidants, astragalus may also be helpful in the prevention of colds and upper respiratory infections.

Garlic – This plant contains several antioxidants that fortify the immune system and some think of it as the “herbal antibiotic.”   Garlic has been used to combat intestinal parasites, as an external antiseptic and it is said to strengthen the immune system.   It is also said to be an effective agent against H. pylori, a bacteria that has been linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.  To maximize the medicinal properties of garlic in meal preparation, peel and chop the cloves, and let sit for 15 minutes before cooking.

Ginger – This is a warming herb that helps the body sweat out a fever.   Ginger also soothes an upset stomach and is said to boost immunity. A cup of hot water, honey, lemon and steeped, fresh ginger root is a recommended folk remedy for the onset of a cold.

Goldenseal - This is a bitter root that contains a powerful compound called berberine which has been found to destroy many types of bacteria in test tubes. It can also destroy germs responsible for candida (yeast) infections, and it combats various parasites in the body. Berberine may also stimulate white blood cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.

Herbs and spices are generally a safe way to strengthen the immune system. You should always discuss any type of alternative medicine with your health care provider, however to check for contraindications. Medicinal herbs and spices come in many forms - capsules, powders, teas and tinctures – which can commonly be found at your local whole foods store or through natural supplement websites.

 

Sources: 

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-immune-foods

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2000/mar/03chen.html

http://www.mscd.edu/student/resources/health/healthymoves/Herbs%20to%20Support%20the%20Immune%20System%201~27~09.pdf

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/goldenseal-000252.htm

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Top 5 Tips for Preventing Colds and Flu

by Health News

Many people mistakenly believe that colds and flu are inevitable when winter sets in. The fact of the matter is that there are many steps you can take to keep your immune system strong and your body healthy all year long.

1. One of the most important things you can do to ward off illness is to stay active. When it’s cold outside it’s harder to get motivated to go for a walk or for that matter, even a workout inside. But you can get exercise without having to endure the bitter cold. Check out your community recreation center for exercise classes or take a stroll at the nearby shopping mall.  Avoid direct contact with germs on surfaces; use a gloved hand (or your scarf) to open the doors when you enter or exit public buildings.

2. During a recent interview, a well-known naturopathic MD revealed his secret to avoiding colds and flu while traveling around the world. He attributed his good health to washing his hands often. It’s hard to believe that something as simple as washing your hands can protect you from illness, but it can.  So wash your hands often during cold and flu season.

Use warm water and soap; wash your hands, up to the elbows if possible, for 20 seconds. Rinse thoroughly to remove soap. Also, make sure the children in your life understand the importance of frequent hand washing. 

3. Drinking plenty of fluids is another “stay-well” strategy for winter. Fluids, especially water, flush out toxins. The beauty of water is that it is readily available and it has no calories, salt or sugar. Bear in mind that fruits are comprised of 80-90 percent water, so they can be an excellent source for increasing the fluids in your diet. 

4. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 percent of adults use some form of herbs, botanicals and enzymes to enhance their health and boost their immunity. Consider adding supplements to your diet. Look for these popular immune boosters.

  • Vitamin C is especially helpful in strengthening the immune system.
  • Vitamin D is an effective dietary supplement that infuses your body with all-natural vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for immune function and the metabolism of calcium. Without vitamin D, you would be susceptible to constant infection and your bones would be weak and brittle.
  • Zinc is a mineral that is needed for a healthy immune system and is often sold as an over the counter natural treatment for the common cold.
  • Echinacea is available as a dietary supplement that can be used to prevent or decrease the duration of the common cold. 

5. It may surprise you to know that one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to nurture your mind, body and soul. Make sure you take time to pamper yourself. Indulge in a massage, a hot bath or an aromatherapy treatment session. Spend some quiet time with family and friends. Get plenty of sleep. Smile and laugh often. Focus on the positive people and events in your life.

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Antioxidant Supplements For Men

by Institute for Vibrant Living

I’ll bet you’re reading this because you have a man you dearly love; and you want nothing more than to help this man achieve optimum health. Or maybe you are a man and you’re keen on your own good health and everything it takes to be healthy and to stay healthy—for life. Either way, you can probably relate when I say, a healthy man is a sexy man. That’s right. No matter what the man may look like on the outside, no matter how old he may be, if he’s unhealthy on the inside, his attraction level drops way down. Right?   You know it’s true. In the converse, if this man is healthy, if he feels really good on the inside, it’s going to show—from the inside out! 

 

Antioxidant Supplements for Men

When a man is healthy and feels really good, he emits a certain energy: the allure of attraction... and THAT is what makes him desirable.   Like a magnet, good health pulls people toward him—it can even help attract and set the stage for good luck and positive happenings. When a man feels good and is healthy, it’s much easier for him to feel balanced, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Just like a woman with child is said to radiate “that glow,” when a man feels great, it shows. His color is true, his eyes are clear, his hair (or scalp!) has a shine, and he emits an aura of confidence. He has a positive energy that feels relaxed and centered. His inner chemistry thrives and everyone wants to be around him. 

 

So how does this man get there? How does he become healthy and sexy? The shortest path to optimum health is no surprise—it’s by making positive, intelligent, common sense health care choices. 

 

Profile of a healthy, sexy man:

 

  • He gets at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night, knowing that if he doesn’t, he’ll pay for it the next day. His bed is comfortable, and his bedroom is inviting. 
  • He drinks at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of pure water every day, knowing it’s hydrating his cells at their very core.
  • He doesn’t smoke and he limits his alcohol consumption to a reasonable minimum because it’s the smart way to go.
  • He eats lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. Whether he cooks or not, he knows the best restaurants in town.
  • He knows exactly which natural supplements he needs to strengthen his immune system, his organs, his heart, his mental agility and his libido.
  • He takes good care of his teeth by brushing and flossing every day—thus creating a very kissable mouth.
  • He works out at least three or more times a week, and has numerous activities because he’s so interesting.
  • He takes pride in his health, his life, his family, and his community, because he senses a profound connection that he know begins with him.

 

This healthy, sexy man has a vital voltage about his energy, and he has a personal strength that is simply delicious! If you took a peek into this fine gentleman’s personal “medicine cabinet” you’d probably see the following natural supplements—chosen by him because he knows what makes him feel his personal best.

 

This healthy, sexy man’s daily regimen consists of the following:

 

An antioxidant—chock full of powerful vitamins such as A, C and E. This healthy, sexy man is also smart, and he keeps up on the latest health information. He knows that recent research points to the encouraging role that antioxidants may play to help reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s—an age-related disease that he simply cannot risk. 

 

Vitamin D—to help him maintain not only his weight, muscle mass, athletic performance and strength, but his hair and his virility as well… You may see him on a treadmill in the gym, but he’s not watching TV…he’s reading recent research that helps him to understand that Vitamin D is vital to men’s health, and he won’t be without it.

 

L-Arginine—to help him avoid the dreaded erectile dysfunction that affects so many of his buddies. He’s told them that L-Arginine is an essential amino acid and one of the building blocks of proteins in a man’s body. He’s told them that this natural supplement has become known as a safe and effective pro-sexual nutrient for men (and women.) L-Arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide (NO) in the human body, and has been shown to be vital for blood circulation and normal sexual function. This healthy, sexy man knows that insufficient blood flow is a major cause of incomplete erection in men. He knows that L-Arginine has been shown to improve blood flow to the genital area by dilating blood vessels and helping to….well, let’s just say size, hardness, and frequency is something he doesn’t worry about.

 

And Fish Oil—Finally, this smart guy is in the know, and he knows that fish oil is loaded with the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. He knows that fish oil can reduce triglycerides, boost HDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.  He also knows that healthy fats may also reduce inflammation and improve cognitive performance, and may lower his risk of colon and prostate cancers. He relies on fish oil to protect his overall great health to help him keep up with his busy lifestyle.

 

As an aside, we switched family doctors recently. My smart, healthy, sexy man and I were relieved to find a doctor with whom we would be compatible in terms of health and wellness. I knew I liked this doctor right away when she asked my husband if he took supplements. She asked what dosages he takes, and she said that a quality fish oil supplement was top on her list of essential natural supplements for her patients. 

 

So for the man who wants to make the most of his life, he needs to make the most of his health—he can’t have one without the other. A healthy man is a sexy man. He’s strong and smart and proactive, and makes the best choices for himself. The élan of this man’s energy is vibrant. He’s like a magnet for the best things in life. A healthy, sexy man can easily be “himself,” because there’s no one else he’d rather be!

What supplements does your Sexy Man take? 

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How to Boost Immune System

by Health News

Having a strong immune system is key to a healthy life. Being sick is no fun and during the How to Boost Immune Systemcolder months our immune system needs all the support we can give it. Certain natural supplements and vitamins are known to help counter bacteria and viruses and should play an important part in boosting your immune system this winter.

Provide Your Body with Good Nutrition
If you are undernourished, either generally or lacking specific groups of vitamins and minerals, your body will be susceptible to disease and sickness. Eat nutrient-dense whole foods and concentrate on eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Avoid sugars and processed foods as they are known to decrease the function of your immune system and should be avoided at all costs if you are on the verge of sickness. Also drink plenty of clear liquids every day – water and herbal teas are best – to keep the body flushing out any toxins.

Get Plenty of Sunshine or Vitamin D
There is compelling evidence showing that colds and flu are related to a deficiency in vitamin D. Spending ten minutes in the sunshine each day, exposing arms and legs, is sufficient to allow your body to produce its own vitamin D. If you live in an area where that is not practical, then make sure you take a vitamin D supplement daily.

Take Vitamin E
Vitamin E naturally strengthens the immune system by stimulating the production of immune cells that create antibodies to fight germs and disease. In a study on vitamin E supplements conducted by Tufts University in Boston, the patients who received 200mg of vitamin E for four months produced more antibodies in response to vaccines for tetanus and hepatitis B than those who were given a placebo.

Consider Echinacea
Studies in Germany are way ahead of the U.S. and in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies Echinacea users had less frequent virus infections and less severe symptoms than those taking a placebo. Echinacea is most effective if taken when you feel a cold coming on, when you are under extra stress or when entering a situation that will challenge the immune system, such as returning to school after a break. A 300mg dose taken three times a day will be an effective natural immune booster.

Keep Active
Exercise helps boost the immune system as the increased blood flow stimulates all the body’s cells. Regular exercise allows the immune system to counter bacteria and viruses before they can cause problems, resulting in less colds, sickness and flu.

Get Plenty of Sleep
Your immune system will function best if you are well rested. During the cold and flu season your immune system is at its most stressed, so make a special effort to get plenty of sleep.

Manage Stress
Chronic stress is known to suppress the immune system. Studies have shown that people living stressful lives have a lower count of white blood cells, an indicator of a poor immune system. Laughter helps lower the stress hormones that circulate when you are under pressure, so make sure you laugh with friends or have a few good comedies to watch to boost your immune system and ward off illness the natural way this winter.