Reducing Anxiety through a Simple Tapping Exercise

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Sometimes there’s a solution beyond taking drugs to help resolve anxiety. In some cases, a simple exercise can solve a serious problem. All you need is proper advice and instructions.

Tapping is a technique that helps fight stress, anxiety and contributes to focus mentally on those feelings that are positive and to discard everything that prevents you from continuing with a full life.

This practice consists of tapping the fingers on precise parts of the body to release the stagnant emotions. Tapping is based on the premise that all problems, whether physical, economic, emotional, etc., are rooted in an energy imbalance within the person who suffers. The purpose of Tapping is to eliminate this imbalance, by stimulating certain points of the body. Like acupuncture, this technique acts on the energy points of the body.

Experts in meditation say that when stimulating energy points signals are emitted to the brain that reduces emotional tension and allows relaxation. As soon as this happens, the anxiety is immediately reduced, allowing you to move forward more calmly.

This technique of emotional liberation has gained great popularity in recent years given the collective awareness of the importance of personal and spiritual care. One of the main advantages of Tapping is that it can be carried out in any place since it is a discrete method that does not require the use of force to achieve the desired effect.

It has been proven that Tapping can alleviate a wide variety of negative afflictions, such as chronic pain, emotional problems, addictions, phobias, post-traumatic stress, and even physical illnesses.

How is the tapping done?

The first step to practice Tapping is to identify the problem you want to address. It can be a general situation that produces anxiety or a specific concern.

After assessing from 1 to 10 the level of anxiety felt, the person begins to hit with the tips of the fingers at certain points of the body, while saying positive statements about themselves.

What points must be hit?

The tapping points coincide with points of beginning or end of acupuncture meridians, and they are the following:

        0: The side of the hand, between the base of the little finger and the wrist.

        1: The top of the head.

        2: The inner end of the eyebrow.

        3: The lateral of the eye.

        4: The bone under the eye.

        5: Between the nose and the upper lip.

        6: The point between the chin and the lower lip.

        7: The tip of the inner end of the clavicle.

        8: About four fingers below the armpit.

        9: The inner angle of the nail of the thumb.

        10: The inner angle of the nail of the index finger.

        11: The inner angle of the nail of the middle finger.

        12: The inner corner of the fingernail.

The points from 0 to 8 are the basic points of tapping and are always used. In contrast, the finger points (from 9 to 12) are optional. In principle, they are not used, but if you see that with the basic points you do not get good results, you can add them.

Do not worry too much about the accuracy of the points, hitting the area is enough. You just have to hit the points on one side of the body.

A tapping sequence to relieve stress.

Tap each point about seven times and repeat the following sentences out loud.

Point 0: "Even though I feel overwhelmed and afraid, I accept who I am and how I feel." Repeat it three times.

Continue touching on the other points with adjacent phrases:

Point 1: I know I can move through this

Point 2: I know that I have the inner strength

Point 3: I choose to believe that I will overcome this

Point 4: I know I can find my power inside

Point 5: I think this is my trip now

Point 6: I know I can go through this

Point 7: And to feel good about me again

Point 8: I choose to believe in my inner strength

 

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Eating Healthy with Farm-Raised Fish

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Unless you’re vegan, you should eat fish twice a week for good health.

It’s what the American Heart Association recommends.  Ditto researchers at the NIH/National Institute for Arthritis.  The US Department of Agriculture agrees. So do thousands of doctors and dieticians.

This is one of the rare bits of diet advice that is almost universally accepted. The reason is omega-3 fatty acids. They abound in cold-water fish like tuna, cod, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, pollack, and anchovies.

Studies have shown that regularly eating these kinds of fish can lower heart disease and stroke risk because of the omega-3 content. The habit may also improve arthritis, supply critical growth hormones to developing children, and ward off cognitive declines.

But if the benefit of eating cold-water fish is ingesting plentiful omega-3 fatty acids, so is the problem.

Here’s how: Numerous foods contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Both are polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Omega-6’s are more concentrated in grains, seeds, nuts, beef, and vegetables like avocados and soybeans, including tofu. Most cooking oils are high in it—one exception being olive oil, which is monounsaturated and full of omega-9’s. Only a few oils are rich in omega-3. These include canola, walnut, and fish oils like that wonderful-tasting (not!) cod liver oil. 

The issue is balance. The ideal diet for humans is a ratio somewhere between 1:1 or 4:1 of omega-6 to omega-3.

Our caveman forefathers were probably right at the 1:1 ratio. Some primitive societies get closer to the 4:1 range.

But today’s ratio is about 20:1 for most developed countries. That’s badly out of balance and invites numerous health problems. It is not simply a matter of too little omega-3; it’s also a case of too much omega-6. The two PUFAs have opposing effects in the body.

For instance, omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory. Omega-3 helps control weight. Omega-6 helps to gain it.

Gaining weight was an important biological edge in cave times where getting food was chancy from day to day. It’s not a good thing for us, where grocery stores, food trucks, and restaurants beckon us with constant temptation to eat and eat again. For most of us, gaining weight is the easiest thing in the world.

Eating more fish and less beef, lamb, and pork is a good way to bring your diet back into balance. Unfortunately, if you are choosing farm-raised fish, you may not be getting the omega-3 content you thought you were.

That’s because many fish farming operations feed their fish on grain products. And those fish will grow up to be high in omega 3 just like the grains that make up their diet, and low in omega 6.

The easiest way to make sure the fish you eat are as healthy as you hoped is to opt for wild-caught fish when you can. In the wild, cold water fish feed on other fish and algae. But you don’t have to make every serving of fish wild caught. There are responsible farming operations.

Farm-raised fish have become an environmental necessity, and it can be done right. It’s not all bad. Catching some species in the wild even means a lot of fuel burned to get to the fishing grounds and back for small hauls. In other causes, overfishing has meant that farm raising can be good for the species’ survival. In Norway, extensive cod farming has decreased the waste in this fish which loses some of its delicate appeal if frozen.

Good farming operations are careful to avoid using any pesticide-treated food stock, antibiotics, or unnatural foods like grains. It can be hard to know where supermarket fish originates, and how the owners work, however.

If you shop at an independent fish market, your purveyor can probably guide you right. Strike up a relationship, and try to shop when it’s not during peak hours. Friday afternoon is not the time to tie up the fishmonger for a long, philosophical chat. Nor will he want to guide you away from any choice when there’s a whole line of other customers standing around to hear every word.

Talking to your “fish guy” is not an option for everyone, alas. So if you are on your own, here are some general rules.

Sockeye salmon are never farmed, so you can buy knowing they will be wild caught.

Farmed fish that are usually responsibly raised, meaning no pesticide or antibiotics, no mercury concentrations, and proper sanitation and environmental impact include:

·         Barramundi farmed in the US and Australia

·         Bass farmed in the US

·         Catfish from the US

·         Char (Atlantic)

·         Farmed mussels--worldwide

·         Farmed oysters--worldwide

·         Farmed Pacific rainbow trout

·         Farmed sturgeon from the US and Canada

·         Farmed tilapia from Canada, Ecuador, and the US


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Move More, Live Better for Longer

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We’re all so healthy now compared to 100 years ago. An American born today has a life expectancy of 78. Before 1900 it was only 47.

The reason our grandparents had shorter lives was not, as many propose, mainly owing because of childbirth and childhood diseases. More than half of adult deaths in 1900 could be laid to pneumonia, tuberculosis, and intestinal infections. Accidental deaths occurred twice as often as they do now.

We can thank modern medicine and science for this change. We know how to avoid flu, get over pneumonia, and set a broken leg. Cholera hardly exists. Even kidney failure, another disease that plagued our grandparents, is treatable now.

With so many extra years added to our lifespans, the new challenge is reaching beyond thinking about our lifespan to the idea of a long “healthspan.” None of us wants an extra 20 years of pain, debility and mental confusion if we can avoid them.

Will those years be good ones? Will you be active, useful, mentally vital and engaged with life all the way to the end?

Medicine can give you a long lifespan; you have to give yourself a long healthspan.

 At a minimum that includes eating healthily, treating depression if it shadows you, avoiding stupid risks like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, building a network of friends and family, not smoking, and learning to deal with stress.

And exercise.

If you ever suspected that Americans were couch potatoes, the World Health Organization has the proof. In the US, 40% of adults fail to get minimal sufficient exercise every week. The Germans are even worse, at 42%.

On a global scale, the relationship of exercise to life expectancy isn’t simple. Poor countries like Uganda and Lesotho rank high for exercise, but healthcare and high HIV/AIDS rates devastate the population. China, which has a very active population also has world-class pollution that is presumed to knock three years of life off its people.

But overall, there is a positive relationship among developed nations between more exercise and longer lives. In Europe, the countries with the fewest couch potatoes—Sweden, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and Spain—have one to two years longer life expectancies than less active countries like Ireland, the UK, and Germany. Canadians with high rates of physical activity also have four more years of life expectancy than their US neighbors.

Those trends are complicated, as mentioned. But there’s plentiful research on individuals and the effects of exercise. More is better, as long as you are not trying to out-achieve super athletes.

When the WHO looked at the problem of inactivity, it also set guidelines for how much exercise is needed to keep people healthier. It’s actually a modest prescription. If you walk a dog and convince him to quit smelling the bushes and hup hup, you’re halfway there. All it takes for a start is a little more than 20 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity, a little resistance work, and some balancing exercises to help prevent falls.

Herewith, the guidelines:

150 minutes or more per week in moderate-intensity aerobic activity

That could include brisk walking at 4 mph, swimming, heavy cleaning, biking 10-12 mph, mowing the lawn with a power mower, volleyball, gardening, badminton, tennis doubles, or any similar effort)

Do all aerobic activity performed in bouts of 10 minutes or longer

Seek to increase this to 300 minutes a week for even more benefits

Balance exercises

Do these at least 3 days a week

You can keep it simple, like standing on one foot or heel-to-toe walking

Muscle strengthening

Do resistance exercises 2 or more days a week       

You can use resistance bands, weights, or body weight

If you don’t know what to do, find a trainer or class to get started


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MSG Myths and Facts

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These days almost every Chinese restaurant has a notice somewhere on the menu proclaiming it does not use MSG.  

Millions of people believe they are allergic to MSG, monosodium glutamate. Probably ten times as many believe it’s a harmful substance that ranks right up there with Red Dye #4 and propyl paraben.  

So a Chinese restaurant goer, we’ll call him Charley, is happy to know he is safe at his favorite MSG-free restaurant.

But perhaps not as safe as he thought Charley was a little hungry before going to dinner, so he grabbed a few cheesy goldfish crackers at home. At the restaurant, he started with a fried wonton app and dunked them in a dipping sauce. His wife chose the egg drop soup. When it came to the mains, Charley ordered chicken in garlic sauce, extra spicy; his wife went for the sweet and sour pork.  Both douse their rice with the tableside soy sauce.

Between them, Charley and his wife have just eaten at least seven different items with MSG in them—the goldfish, the soy sauce, probably the cream cheese, the dipping sauce, the tomatoes in the sweet and sour, the chicken broth used in cooking, and the mushrooms in the Szechuan dish.

Charley leaves happily, and he doesn’t get the headache he swears he always gets when he eats MSG.

MSG danger ranks right up there with the number of words Eskimos have for snow as one of the most often repeated and misinformed myths we all know. MSG goes by many names on packages, MSG, monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast, glutamic acid, soy protein, yeast food, gelatin, and whey protein to name a few. Several stabilizers and thickeners like carrageenan, guar gum, and pectin often have MSG. Most Americans eat it several times a week if not daily.

It’s not some crazy thing invented in a test tube. It’s not a preservative that creates Frankenfoods that never rot.

In fact, MSG is all the rage these days as the fifth flavor—sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Umami is glutamate. Parmesan cheese is a rich source of umami and MSG. Roquefort and cheddar are sources, too. Know what else is rich in glutamate? Green tea.

Fear of MSG originated with a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968  that  linked it to “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” It was not established in a clinical trial or widely reported. It began with one person assuming an association between one ingredient in his dinner rather than a dozen other things. But the idea of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was picked up and broadly repeated despite the lack of any human trials to back it up. Today numerous health blogs include MSG on their dangerous foods to avoid lists.

Is it dangerous? For a lot of people? For a few?

Eventually, scientists did perform research on the topic, but trial after trial failed to establish the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome as legitimate. The World Health Organization investigated the matter twice, in 1971 and 1987, and found no risk at normal consumption rates.

Nonetheless, there are hardly any foods that do not cause allergies in some people. So it’s more than likely that at least some people are affected by MSG.  

But it remains stubbornly unproven.

In 2016, yet one more attempt to get to the facts of the matter resulted in a meta-analysis on the topic. Yoko Obayashi and Yoichi Nagamura looked through the Medline and FTSA databases for all the human trials they could find.  It’s a wide net, FTSA abstracts more than 2,200 journals; Medline more than 5,600. If there was confirmed evidence, they were bound to find it. They were interested in papers written in English, of studies carried out in clinical trials on humans, that reported the incidence of headaches, and had a good statistical analysis or the data needed for one. They found ten papers that met their criteria.

There were five studies that gave MSG with food. Three of these were properly blinded (the researchers and the subjects didn’t know which food had the MSG and which didn’t). Two of these studies, however, used MSG in such high concentrations that some people might have detected it by taste. Even so, none of these studies found ANY proof of MSG causing headaches. Some of these studies also measured clinical data like blood pressure and pulse rate—also no proof.

In seven other studies that administered MSG given without food, researchers did find a few reports of headaches following MSG ingestion.  But once again, in the studies where subjects reported headaches, it happened with doses that were much higher than anyone would use in regular cooking. The subjects could easily tell which broth had the MSG and react according to their pre-set bias.

These adverse reactions occurred when the MSG was giving in a drink or broth at a concentration of 2% or higher. At a concentration of 1.2%, its flavor is detectable.

The usual concentration in food is much lower, 0.2% to 0.8%.

The bottom line—most people who believe they are allergic to MSG probably aren’t. But some few people could be. If you have a can of Accent or Sazon at home, don’t sprinkle it in the soup you feed to your guests unless you know it’s OK with them.

But to say MSG is bad for you is like saying shrimp are bad for you because someone somewhere is allergic to it. Lots of people are allergic to shrimp, but there’s no hysteria about it. Restaurants don’t post signs about it.  

The use of MSG was encouraged at one time to help people cut back on salt as a seasoning. It has about one-third as much sodium as table salt and sea salt. And if sodium is an issue for you, especially if you have high blood pressure, then a little MSG could do you some good if it helps you cut back on salt.

And if you are allergic to MSG, skip it in all forms, including the parmesan and the goldfish crackers. 

 

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Oatmeal Revised – Still a Premium Source of Fiber

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Oatmeal is one of those love/hate breakfast foods. The warm, full stomach that some people enjoy looks like a bowl of slimy glop to others.

I understand. Regular, boiled-in-the-pan oatmeal really is a gray, gelatinous pile of glop with lumps in it. If you’re fine with that and content with the usual brown sugar, nuts, and banana trimmings, bless you. You are doing yourself a lot of good. You are a saint.

You’re eating smart, too. Women should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, men 38 grams. One cup of oatmeal for breakfast will give you 8 grams of fiber. An average “bowl” of oatmeal is bigger than that for most people, however. It should bring you 12-16 grams of fiber.

The usual trimmings help. A medium banana adds another 3 grams. Or a half cup of blueberries is worth a little less than 2 grams of fiber. A few walnuts would add another gram.

If you prefer to go in the fruit and nuts direction, though, consider dates. A half cup is worth almost 6 grams of fiber.

Brown sugar provides no fiber, nor does milk, but they complete the traditional breakfast oatmeal offering. Which works fine for people who like oatmeal.

Now for the rest of us. There are other ways to eat oats, and you might succeed in taking a more savory approach. I don’t run well when I start my day with sweets, so I found a way to make that work for me. While I never liked oatmeal, grits with salt, pepper, and butter are in my wheelhouse. That seemed like a possibility worth trying for oats—sans butter. Success! Good quality oatmeal, cooked thick, and served with salt and pepper tastes just fine. It’s not glop. Add a scoop of fat-free cottage cheese on the side, and you have a protein bomb, too.

Other ideas I’ve found palatable for an oatmeal avoider… You can also stir in a large handful of spinach leaves toward the end of cooking. Siracha works well to liven oats if you can stand a hot, hot breakfast. This concoction goes well with avocado slices on top. Some people tell me that crumbled bacon and a soft poached egg are delicious, but this is supposed to be a health blog, so we’ll just pretend that bacon never happens, OK?

Another interesting way to add oatmeal to your daily regime is to make a batch and pour it into a pie pan or baking dish to set, let it chill until firm. Now it can be sliced and sautéed in very light oil. Sprinkle with any flavorings you like—chili works—or you can top it with yogurt, nuts, whatever hits your imagination.

I hope one of those ideas works for you. And if not, there’s always quinoa.


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Seeing Better Prevents Falls, Especially If You’re 50+

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The older we get, the more likely we are to fall. There is a bona fide public health problem in that issue.

But it is not these things:

·         25% of people over age 65 fall at least once a year

·         40% of hospital admissions for people over 65 are linked to injuries from a fall

·         8% of people age 70+ who show up in emergency rooms after falling will die from their injuries

·         If you exclude traffic accidents, falls are responsible for 80% of disabilities caused by an unintentional injury among patients age 50 or older

Those are all horrible stats. The public health issue is that most falls are avoidable, and we’re not doing enough to help people avoid them.

The injuries and fatalities visited on the elderly don’t have to happen to people just because they have celebrated more birthdays. Better balance and better vision are two things that could radically improve those awful statistics.

Falling is a risk of walking upright for all of us. There’s no age limit on tripping over a loose manhole cover. Anyone can slide when they step on an unexpected patch of ice.  I once owned a pair of shoes that turned into ice skates every time I got to a wheelchair ramp at the end of a sidewalk. A toy on the stairs can undo anyone.  

But while these mishaps can lead to severe injuries to people of any age, younger people are more likely to recover their balance in time to avoid splatting. A reasonable amount of muscle tone and good stability are all it takes. A healthy 80-year old can stumble, regain footing and go on without falling just like a teenager can.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t retain the strength or agility we enjoyed at age 16 when we’re 30 or 40 and certainly not when we’re 50+.  

In addition to recovering our balance under duress, we could often avoid falling if we see the risk in time. That’s why cataracts are strongly implicated in falling and being injured. Surgery to improve eyesight prevents accidents. In one British study, 97 patients who were scheduled for surgery on their cataracts were followed for three months before and three months after the operation to see if it made a difference.

Among the patients in the survey, 31 had fallen before surgery. In the months after surgery, only six of the fallers had another fall. And one of those was related to dizziness caused by medication. Among the patients who were not fallers before surgery, they were just as stable afterward. The study clearly showed that the risk factor for falling was not the patients’ ages—nobody got younger—it was their vision.

In the past, it was a common belief that if you had cataracts, you should wait for them to “ripen” before undergoing surgery. Some people still believe that, but it is no longer what doctors recommend.

The new thinking is about function. When your performance is affected, it’s time to take care of the problem. If you find your field of vision is fuzzy, if you don't see everyday things as sharply as you should even with glasses, then it’s time.

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As Effective Antibiotics Fail, This Research Could Help

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Germs cheat.  They’ve always been cheats, and they’re getting better at it.

Like all cheaters, they have an advantage in working outside the law. Bacteria don’t have to go through FDA approval to put a new variety out in the world. But the antibiotics that we develop to fight them have to play by strict rules. Even vabomere, a combination antibiotic released in 2017 took 8 years to get through FDA’s “expedited” approval process. One of the components in the combo was an already-approved antibiotic, the other was just an enabler to make it work better.

This mismatch between the wily and the lawful is becoming a frightening problem.

Penicillin was invented in 1928 and the first resistant staph germs didn’t show up until 1940. Penicillin-resistant pneumonia came along in 1965. In its early days, not many people got penicillin, which probably gave it a longer lead before resistant bacteria caught up.

But tetracycline was introduced in 1950, and a resistant form of shigella appeared in 1959. The record for fast retaliation was a near-simultaneous volley and return. In 1996, the FDA approved a new antibiotic, levofloxacin. A resistant strain of pneumonia arose the same year.

The problem of antibiotic resistance is so acute that, in 2017, the World Health Organization warned that we could run out of antibiotics.

We’ve all been taught the basic mechanics of the problem. It’s why our doctors and dentists warn us to take every last pill in our prescription. You get a strep throat or a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics begin to kill off the bacteria that cause your illness. The weakest ones go first.  Then, if you stop too soon, the strongest survive and multiply. In a few generations, those stronger iterations become antibiotic resistant.

There isn’t much science can do about that situation. At best, doctors can hit the pause button before prescribing antibiotics for minor ailments. Patients can be more careful to take their meds as directed.

Beyond that, the basic answer has been the medical equivalent of “throw a bigger rock.” If penicillin fails, move on to erythromycin. If that fails, proceed to methicillin…

The alternative would be to discover what is happening to make antibiotics more resistant. The “stronger germs live to multiply” explanation.  

Researchers are working feverishly to get ahead of bacteria, but as noted, germs cheat. Although several new antibiotics are in development, there has not been a whole new class of antibiotics since 1980.  If the approval process is not expedited, it can take decades of work to get a new antibiotic to market. Germs work faster.

But physicists at McMaster University in Canada have taken images that reveal what is going on micro-level. The images capture the cell processes at a resolution as fine as 1-millionth of a hair. What they discovered is how resistant bacteria hold off antibiotics. The usual process is that an antibiotic attacks bacterial cell walls, punching holes in them. The cell then dies. But the resistant bacteria behave as if they are armored. Their walls are more rigid and harder to penetrate.

As lead researcher Andree Khondker put it, “it’s like going from cutting Jello to cutting through rock.” In addition, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria had less intense negative charges on their surface. That made them harder for antibiotic molecules to find and less sticky.

The beauty of this kind of research is that it could lead the way to developing a mechanism that would apply to all bacteria.

That’s still a long ways away. But this kind of research is apt to be followed avidly. The antibiotic problem gets more urgent every day.

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Resveratrol + Exercise Renews Youth in Muscles

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The usual definition of “sarcopenia” is muscle loss related to aging. That’s grossly misleading because sarcopenia starts when we’re still officially young, sometime in our 30s.

People who do not exercise strenuously lose about 3% to 5% of their muscle mass every decade from age 30 onward. Those who do exercise also lose muscle mass, but somewhat less than that.

Sarcopenia is one of the reasons we tend to gain weight with age. Then, if we do gain a bit of weight, sarcopenia also makes it harder to shed those pounds. Less muscle mass means a lower calorie burn.

For instance, a six-foot male who weighed 180 in his youth (age 30) and was slightly active, could maintain that weight on 2500 calories per day. Now advance him to age 60 and a weight that has crept upward at just 1% a year. Now he weighs 242 pounds. Getting back to his youthful 180-pound weight would require dropping his intake to 2100 calories to lose weight slowly, over 18 months. If he wanted a “fast” loss, he could drop down to 1600 calories and make his goal weight in 8 months. That would more or less take a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs out of the diet.  

Most dieters want something faster than that, however. If this man wanted to shed his 62 pounds in 90 days with diet alone, he would need to cut his calories to less than 1,000 per day!

Women usually start at a lower weight, with less muscle mass, which means fewer allowable calories to begin with. Thus the effects of time and slow weight gain accrue even more bitterly. A 5’5” young woman weighing 120 pounds who is slightly active can maintain her weight on 1900 calories. But at age 60, after gaining 1% per year and becoming inactive, this woman would be at 161 pounds. Getting back to her earlier weight without exercise would limit her to only 1,017 calories per day for rapid weight loss or 1,350 to bring it down slowly in just under a year. A “rapid” 2-lb a week loss without adding heavy exercise is out of the question if she wants to maintain her health because the calorie allowance would be too low. 

This is why recent research on resveratrol alongside exercise is so encouraging. It can turn back the clock on your muscles. And that could speed up weight loss—just as if you were young again.

In an experiment at the University of West Virginia, researchers divided 12 men and 18 women into groups that undertook exercise alone or exercise combined with 500 mg per day of resveratrol.

The resveratrol did not lower their cardiovascular risk any more than exercise alone did, but it greatly enhanced their physical condition. The group that took resveratrol alongside exercise saw significant increases in their muscle fiber area, a boost in their maximal oxygen consumption, and an improvement in mitochondrial structure and density.

That last item is important for weight loss. The mitochondria in our cells control cell respiration and energy production. So an increase in well-formed mitochondria translates into better energy—a potentially higher metabolism—that essentially pushes the aging clock in the muscle cells backward.

Should you want to try this at home, the team at WVU had the exercise groups do moderate aerobic and resistance training that they felt was consistent with what a person age 65-80 (as their subjects were) could do on their own.

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Walking Is Good for You, And This Makes It Better

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Few activities have as much to say for themselves as walking does. It’s suitable for anyone age 2 to 100. You can meditate and gain peace while ambling around, or you can socialize and laugh while you walk with friends. Beyond suitable shoes, you don’t need elaborate gear or training.

Even that’s a minimal requirement if you are fairly healthy with good balance. I confess to regular five-mile hikes in flip flops, although it’s usually sturdy sandals. That said, sneaker-style walking shoes are probably a better choice. Do as I say, and all that…

If you live in a neighborhood like mine, walking can seem a little undemanding for physical activity. Where I live, riding a bike requires the purchase of skin-tight neon spandex clothes. Golf, beyond clubs, requires pastels and a different kind of clothes. Yoga, it seems simply cannot be done in cargo shorts and a snug tee shirt for modesty while doing shoulder stands.

Sometimes, I wonder what my mother was thinking, letting me grow up wearing the same kind of shorts and tops for working in the garden, biking, horseback riding, sailing, camping, and playing softball.

So if you feel walking doesn’t offer nearly enough shopping potential, I am glad to tell you that you can buy something special for your next walk to make it better—a set of Nordic poles.

The difference between regular walking and pole walking comes down to muscle engagement. According to Dr. Klaus Schwanbeck, regular walking uses 45% of the muscles in your body, almost all in the lower body. Pole walking uses 90% and engages the upper body as well. He claims that this also increases cardiovascular benefits by 22% compared to regular walking and burns 46% more calories.

 The increase in calories burned is incentive enough for many of us, but for people who are recovering from back surgery or anyone prone to lower back pain, walking with a pair of Nordic poles is more comfortable as well. Poles help you offload weight from your lower body—the hips, knees, and lower back—and transfers it to the upper body. That not only eases pain in the lower body but also increases the beneficial exercise in the upper body.

One older woman claims Nordic pole walking went beyond the known benefits to core and abdominal muscles and helped erase back fat and upper arm flab.

Anecdotes like this are encouraging, but we also have research confirming the benefits. Researchers at the University of Montreal recruited 128 walkers age 60 and older. Half undertook a 12-week program of Nordic pole walking. The rest served as a control group. The pole walkers gained significant strength in legs and arms. Those in the control group who did not exercise showed a measured loss in grip strength and walking speed after 12 weeks. That’s not so surprising, but the Nordic pole walkers also showed some improvement in cognitive function.

Another group of researchers put pole walkers on a treadmill then used electromyography to see what was happening in the muscles. When they raised the angle of the treadmill, the regular walkers and the pole walkers used their muscles alike. But when they sped it up, the pole walkers experienced more activation in the external oblique (EO) and rectus abdominus (RA) muscles.

The EO runs along your side and waistline from just below the ribcage to the top of the pelvis. The RA is the muscle that gives superfit young men and women washboard abs.

There’s another subtle benefit that’s worth mentioning, too. Walking with a cane might be a good idea for many older people and anyone of any age with hip, knee, ankle or foot problems that might interfere with their stability. But a cane looks “old,” and hence a lot of people refuse to adopt the habit even if it would be a good idea. Walking with TWO canes, called Nordic poles, however, looks pretty darn sexy.

So young or old, in need of support or not, there’s a lot to be said for taking up pole walking.

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Helping Your Hair Survive Shampoo and Sunlight

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California blondes. That’s all I need to say for you to get a picture of a nearly-mythical, natural, golden beauty with shiny, sun-streaked, beach-waved hair, a person who glows with good health. There’s a mythically gorgeous male surfer dude counterpart as well. Brazilian blondes of the female variety are all that Californians are, with perfect makeup.   

Mythic is the operative word here. We already know that unfettered time in the sun is bad for your skin. Scientists in Brazil just proved it’s not good for your hair, either. It doesn’t matter whether that hair is still a natural color or already gray. Sunlight causes morphological (structural) changes.

The outer part of the hair shaft, the cuticle, is where most of the damage happens. When the cuticle’s structure changes, the result is hair that is rough, dull, frizzy and rife with split ends.

Sun alone is damaging, but lots of men and women spritz their locks with salt to encourage waviness or lemon juice to lighten them. In the short run, these home-style treatments work. In the longer run, they can do so much damage the only solution is a shave to the scalp and starting over.   

So if you omit the salt and lemon juice abuse, then a nice gentle shampoo and conditioner after sunning restores your hair to glory, right?

Actually, shampoos tend to make the sun problem worse.

In an experiment to find out how sun and shampoo impact hair health, the Brazilian researchers literally split hairs. They kept half of each hair as a control then tested what happened with the other half. Some hairs got irradiation (light) from mercury lamps that mimicked sunlight. Some got light followed by hand washing. And some were only washed.

And the verdict? Sun does more damage than shampooing.  It causes fracturing and cavities in the hair shaft and cell lifting on the cuticle. But the combination of light and suds was the worst.

The interesting thing, however, is that while mainstream scientists have spent some time investigating what damages hair, they don’t report any cures. Published research on how to fix the damage is nearly nonexistent.  That work is done at cosmetic companies, and the likes of L’Oreal and Estee Lauder aren’t about to share their formulas.  

So what can you do to protect your hair in the sun? You can hardly smear it with a gob of zinc oxide. But some skin products are suitable for hair. Clarins makes a sun care spray-on oil that claims to work from head to toe. Opinions vary on whether it’s nice or gross on hair, however. Those who have very fine hair seem to object. Those with thicker, wavy hair love it. People with fine or colored hair seem to prefer Drybar’s Hot Toddy product. That one also includes protection from chlorine if you are a pool person.

It may take some trial and error to find a sunscreen for your hair that you like, but for most of us, it takes some experimentation to find a sunscreen that feels good on our skin, too, and this is no different. If you spend time in the sun and still want to have healthy looking hair, the search is worth it.

The alternative, if you hate hair products, of course, is to keep your hair covered with a hat or scarf. If that’s your option, you are in luck because you have thousands of variations to choose from.  Any hat will physically block at least some sunlight, but some hats and scarves are made with sunscreen-infused fibers for extra protection.

If you are fortunate enough to have a good head of hair, give it some protection.

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Why Your Food Should Mostly Be Processed

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A French study in the news this week warns that the risk of early death increases by 14% for every 10% increase in ultra-processed foods in your diet.

According to reports, Americans are devouring 61% of their diet as processed foods, followed closely by Canadians at 62% and the Brits at 63%. So, if the new study is right, we’ve just saddled ourselves with an 84% increase in the risk for an early death because of how we eat. That’s quite a feat considering that American lifespans have been increasing for two decades. 

Getting at the truth about food processing and health is complicated. It’s not surprising reporters pounce on the latest titillating research announcement and pass it along as a series of bad generalizations.

They’re not the only ones. Michael Pollan, who has done great work on nutrition education, has also been guilty of oversimplifying. A few of his rules that need rethinking…

Don’t eat food with more than five ingredients: Well, goodbye tossed salad. Au revoir ratatouille.

Don’t eat anything a third-grader can’t pronounce: So if the package promises Agaricus bisporus, put it back. But if it says mushrooms, keep it. Disregard the fact that they’re the same. Pronunciation is all.

Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize: That’s it for you, tofu. Grammy didn’t do sushi, chia seeds or quinoa, either. Fortunately, given my vast food knowledge today, my grandchildren will be able to partake of them all in the future.

Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot: That might take sauerkraut out of the diet. I’ve never seen rotten sauerkraut, and I’ve forgotten a lot of things in my refrigerator over the years.

My personal favorite Pollan rule is “buy your snacks at the farmer’s market.” Yippee! Have you been to a farmer’s market lately? I adore pecan pie.

A CNN story on the same French research illustrated the embargo on processed food with a picture of sausage patties. And smack in the middle of that, on the same page, it ran a photo of bread for an article touting the health benefits of fiber.

Let’s see how they stack up with regards to processing—

Fresh sausage: kill hog, grind up, add salt and spices like sage, cook in a pan over moderate heat.

Fresh bread: thresh wheat, clean, moisten and condition for 24 hours, grind, bleach (if you want white bread), grist with other wheat to get the right gluten levels, enrich with niacin, thiamine, and folate. Harvest barley, soak to partially germinate the seeds, dry, heat, grind. (Malted barley flour is in every brand of all-purpose, bread, whole wheat, and plain white flours.) Combine the finished wheat flour with sugar, yeast, salt, and milk. Knead for a long time, let rise, punch down, let rise again, shape, bake in the oven.

I’m inclined to believe bread is healthier in general than sausage, but to call it “less processed” is a prodigious feat of food delusion.

And by the way, though whole wheat flour is healthier, it is not a bit less processed.

When I looked up “overly processed foods”  for some examples and a good definition, I found that included chicken nuggets. OK. That’s probably fair.

But this all reminds me of the brouhaha over eating carbs—perpetrated by people who somehow don’t realize celery and lettuce are pure carbs. Did you know that washing food is technically considered “processing?” I highly recommend it nonetheless.

Altogether, the public advice on processed foods is a royal mess. The fact that we humans largely don’t die off before our 30th birthday is closely linked to processing our food. Fire kills bugs. Salt delays rot. Acid preserves produce so we can keep eating through the winter. So does canning, something my grannies both did. Numerous studies have established that frozen vegetables often have more intact nutrients than much of the “fresh” produce in grocery stores do after a long trip from field to processor, to warehouse, to distribution center, to local store.

Processed food includes canned tomatoes, black beans, and tuna. It also includes orange-dyed, banana-flavored marshmallow peanuts. This category is too vague to make any sense at all. 

No matter which scientific studies capture headlines, the secret to eating healthy will not come down to such an ambiguous concept as “processed” food.

Instead, we need to look at food content. Salt is good within limits. Keep the daily dose under control. Fat is fine, as long as there’s not too much fat in your diet.

In contrast, additives with known problems, like sodium nitrate and BHT, are best avoided.

And who says more processing is always worse? It takes months of “processing” and many steps to create a delicious bleu cheese and hardly anything beyond a knife and fork to turn an avocado into guacamole. But I’m apt to put a mere schmear of bleu cheese on my crackers and gobble the guac on fried tortilla chips by the spoonful. So I ask you, which one is healthier?

False categories don’t help us. Eat lots of veggies, and I don’t care if you cook and puree them even though that is double-processing. Enjoy some fruit every day. Oatmeal to start the day is nice, even if it is a “breakfast cereal” and breakfast cereals seem to be on all the lists of taboo processed foods. Have a bit of cheese, but remember to keep the portion small—not because it’s processed, but because it is calorie dense, high in saturated fats and cholesterol with only modest nutritional value.  Limit sugar, control salt and watch the fat. Of course, a pickle is less nutritious than a fresh cucumber, but a fresh cuke’s no powerhouse, either, since it’s mostly water.

We’re all searching for the best food for health. The answer is not to avoid “processed” foods in general. Avoid too much frying, excessive salting, and prodigious amounts of sugar. Pretty simple.

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Prevent Bloating, Gas, and Stomach Pain—This Is What Most Doctors Miss

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When you feel like you’ve been pumped full of air and just want to sit on the couch and groan, who cares how you got that way? Relief is the first order of business. We suggested several tactics that work in the previous article.

Now, we’ll look at how to prevent bloat, gas, and associated stomach pains. There are a lot of tactics that may help you. So let’s run through them and end up with the one doctors are most likely to miss. It’s the one most likely to solve the problem if none of the more conventional answers work.

What you’re doing wrong to cause bloating and pain can be pretty obvious when you’ve gone to a chili cook-off and sampled everything on offer. In other cases, the reason you get bloated can be surprising. And even when you think you know what it is, the culprit may be hidden.

A case in point is the food additive inulin. It’s perfectly safe and is naturally contained in onions, wheat, bananas, artichokes, asparagus, and many other fruits and vegetables. It’s often added to prepared foods to increase fiber content. In that case, it was probably derived from chicory root. But here’s the thing…. Say, you think wheat bothers you, so you buy gluten-free bread. That’s smart. However, some of them also contain inulin, which could be another thing that bothers your digestion. In fact, if wheat is a problem, inulin may very well be an issue, too.

There are a host of small things that can cause bloat. Stop doing them; problem solved for many people. For instance, chewing gum.  Or drinking through a straw. Also soft drinks and carbonated beverages. These all cause you to swallow air.

Do you talk a lot when you eat? Eat on the run and bolt your food down? That will do it for many people because those habits also cause you to swallow air. Air in the gut is gas, and the effect is bloat. Slow down. Put your sandwich down, or your fork on the plate, swallow first, then talk.

Another tactic you may try is dividing your intake into smaller meals. This isn’t for some mythical “natural way to eat” or “key to weight loss” reason. Here’s why that can really help a lot of people who suffer frequent rounds of bloat and gas: As with irritable bowel syndrome, there is some evidence that the misery of bloating is actually a sensitivity to your own digestive processes. It is believed that some of us simply feel what is going on in our stomach and colons more acutely than most people do.  

Sugar can be a culprit in bloating and gas as well. But don’t think honey is an automatic pass, or that sugar-free candies are the perfect solution because they all contain different kinds of sugar (fructose in honey; mannitol, xylitol, etc. in candies) that cause problems of their own for many people.

After these simple causes have been eliminated, your next step is to see whether there is an allergy or food sensitivity involved. Now you are in for some work, and unfortunately, you may have to take the lead here and do a lot of problem-solving yourself. But there is a place to get help

If you have persistent bloating and gas, have tried everything above, and have already had a clean colonoscopy, your doctor is very likely to check out on you. Even good doctors. He/she will say something like, “try cutting out dairy, a lot of people have trouble with that.” Or “wheat could be the problem.” But there’s something else that really could be at issue besides wheat and dairy.

It took me two years and several doctors before anyone said, “FODMAP.” The acronym stands for fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are all forms of sugar alcohol, and they are present in almost all foods.

If you are desperate and willing to do a bit of work, a FODMAP investigation is absolutely worth trying. In the time it takes to investigate what is bothering you, a low FODMAP diet won’t do you any harm. Even if it takes many weeks.

Basically, you go on a very strict low-FODMAP diet to clear the system. Only after you are reliably free of any gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, borborygmi ( that’s fancy for “stomach rumbling”) do you proceed. At that point, you begin to test a few foods to find out what you react to.

It’s important that in each test, or “challenge” you only look at one kind of FODMAP at a time. For instance, to see if the problem is sorbitol, which is one of the polyols, you will introduce high-sorbitol foods like blackberries and avocados. Nothing else in the FODMAP universe. This is not the time to slide in a bite of pizza.

Food sensitivities can be so puzzling; it’s critical to test only one thing at a time.

Ideally, you can work with a dietician, but even many dieticians aren’t very well trained in this procedure, so check credentials.

Medical schools are notorious for not doing a very good job in nutrition training. On top of that the first paper published on FODMAPs was in 2005, so most textbooks say nothing about it.

Let me give you a bit of encouragement if all the normal treatments like eating slower or avoiding dairy fail to help.  The process of a thorough FODMAP evaluation will take weeks, but when you are tired of hurting, you’ll try anything. And it is completely worth the effort. In fact, if you find one thing that you can say for certain causes a problem, keep going. Most people with FODMAP issues react to more than one category of sugar alcohols and you may be very surprised by what you find.

I was shocked. Truly.

 For me, dairy products –the most common intolerance—are no trouble at all. Despite four different doctors suggesting that.  Wheat is, which I already knew,  but my FODMAP tests showed me that wheat wasn’t the main problem.  

The big surprise was that fruit was making me feel lousy. Yes, fruit.

I used to eat fruit every day, striving for three servings or more, but always getting at least two.  It turns out that polyols and fructose are my weak spots. It was the daily apple and the frequent peaches and cherries that were getting me down. I never realized they were an issue because they were always in my diet. I also discovered that honey is a trigger for trouble. In fact, once I cleared myself of symptoms and tested honey, I discovered it causes a reaction almost instantly for me.

If you want to do this, I highly recommend buying the book “The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook: The Proven Low-FODMAP Plan for Eating Well and Feeling Great,” by Patsy Catsos. It will explain everything and walk you through the whole program. See if you can find a dietician also.  And good luck.

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How to Make Bloat Go Away Fast

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Bloat isn’t fat, thank goodness, it’s only gas. So it passes. Literally.

But it may be even more miserable when it’s around. Sometimes it comes with a stomach ache. Sometimes you just feel like a Macy’s parade balloon that was accidentally filled with cement. If you’ve been lounging in sweats or yoga wear for a few days, zipping up regular pants can be alarming.

For the most part, time alone will take care of it—that’s how millions of us cope with Thanksgiving every year. The problem is, Thanksgiving gluttony aside, you may keep on doing whatever it was that caused the problem in the first place.

Want to get rid of bloat fast? Antacids can help, particularly old-fashioned Alka-Seltzer when you want immediate relief from the gas and have a stomach ache.

Even more old fashioned, you can add a bit of lemon juice to a teaspoon of baking soda in a bit of room-temperature water. Many sources suggest a glass of water, but frankly, this remedy is not delicious. Dissolve the lemon and soda in as little water as you can tolerate then follow up with nice clear water to wash the nasty out of your mouth. Lots of water, because water is also good for bloat.

Or you can go extreme. A rather scary farm wife once dosed me with a heaping tablespoon of straight baking soda. In the mouth, as is, no water. It was as nasty as you might expect, but immediately relieving. But warning, the gas comes up as belching, so definitely try this at home, but never in public.

Less urgent, but far more pleasant, some teas do a nice job. The best choices are ginger tea, peppermint tea, rosemary tea, and turmeric tea. Peppermint is most likely to work fastest to relieve the feeling of pressure, but ginger is especially good for any feeling of nausea. Try whichever one sounds best and experiment to find one you like. If you are simply feeling a little sick from too much rich food, even a cup of hot black tea seems to help. Provided you like tea.

Although dairy foods and milk, in particular, can be the source of many people’s stomach woes, buttermilk is good for bloat. Some people with lactose intolerance can handle buttermilk as it is low in lactose. If you can, then Ayurvedic medicine has a remedy for you:  ¼ teaspoon of cumin and ¼ teaspoon of asafetida (should you have it around) in a glass of buttermilk. Blend well and drink. Asafetida alone is also good for bloat, too. It’s a garlicky-oniony substitute that is a staple in Indian cookery. The “fetida” in the name is related to the smell, which goes away with cooking.

Now that we’ve covered what to do when in trouble, how about preventing bloating? That’s the subject of the next article.

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Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants That Help You Lose Weight

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Ever since Alice wandered into Wonderland and partook of the cake that made her grow bigger and the elixir that made her shrink, we’ve given food and drink almost magical status. Thousands of grandmothers have promised their balky offspring that eating carrots would ensure good eyesight and fish, being brain food, would make them smart.  

A good deal of research has actually gone into looking for food magic, as well. More specifically, it’s investigated whether different micronutrients can help us take control of our weight, Type 2 diabetes, or metabolic syndrome.

Many different vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, minerals, and anti-inflammatories do have a relationship to weight control that is much stronger than mere coincidence. Sometimes it seems that obesity itself leads to a vitamin or nutritional deficit. Other times, the order appears to be reversed, where it’s the deficit that may lead to obesity.

Before going down the list of what works, however, we’d like to put guilt and shame behind us. Almost everyone who is overweight is well aware of it. Most people who decide to do something about it make that decision many times. Even research on the matter has shown that trying a score of different exercise plans and eating patterns is the norm. So is finding out that (a) most diets don’t work, or (b) they worked but only while doing something so difficult or restrictive it’s impossible to maintain it as a lifestyle, (c) you can’t exercise pounds away without changing your diet, too, and (d) the weight usually comes back, anyway.

Failure doesn’t have to happen though. There are a lot of success stories and yours might start with a little vitamin support.

Here’s a rundown on what science has to say:

Vitamin C—is a powerful antioxidant. That’s important because if you are overweight, you are also very likely to have or to develop high cholesterol, which antioxidants help manage. Also, a diet that is strong in antioxidant-rich foods can help speed up metabolism and decrease inflammation. Both of those actions support your weight loss goals.

So Vitamin C doesn’t cause you to lose weight, but it helps manage the side effects of being overweight and supports the things that do help you lose. For instance, people with adequate levels of vitamin C oxidize 30% more fat during exercise than people with low levels[1]. 

Vitamin C also decreases the risk of diabetes and helps in controlling blood pressure. It’s best to get Vitamin C from your food rather than from supplementation if possible.  In addition to citrus fruit, guava, bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes and kale are rich in vitamin C.

Vitamin E—Another antioxidant, vitamin E works in tandem with vitamin C. Everything above applies. It’s useful for controlling blood pressure…and it’s also better to acquire it from the diet if possible. Get it from sunflower seeds, spinach, avocados, almonds, butternut squash, kiwi, trout and shrimp.

Coenzyme Q10—Alas, despite claims, the proof that CoQ10 controls weight is not good. It has shown benefits for blood pressure and glycemic control, though. It’s also good for the heart among many other benefits. It just won’t make you skinny. This nutrient will probably need to come from a supplement if you are older since it’s hard to eat enough oil, seeds, and cold-water fish to bring levels up if they are seriously depleted. And even though it may not make you shed pounds, this micronutrient is getting a serious study for potential benefits in slowing Alzheimer’s, reducing migraines, and easing muscle pains.

Zinc—Taken as supplements or with adequate food zinc can improve blood lipid profiles—in other words, cholesterol and triglycerides. It seems to be especially beneficial for people who are obese or diabetic.

Cinnamon—Natural cinnamon varies widely in chemistry, which makes studies on its effects hard to compare. The region where it was grown, the amount of rain it got, the specific variety can all affect its strength. That said, it has been shown to improve fasting blood glucose levels, counter oxidative stress and may reduce fat. Cinnamon is a polyphenol. Other foods in this class include apples, cranberries, red beans, almonds and peanuts, but they have not been as widely studied for weight control yet.

Green tea—This may be the winner on the list. Green tea has shown that it can increase thermogenesis and fat oxidation. Thermogenesis is heat production and when it happens it burns calories.

Green coffee & chlorogenic acid—Though it doesn’t sound savory, chlorogenic acid is a component of green coffee, plums, peaches and dates. More studies are needed, but this shows promise for helping to lose weight. The fruits also contain ferulic acid, which is an antioxidant. Beware, however, that dates are high in sugar and thus a high-calorie snack.

Green coffee may be a champ, but studies so far have been small or lacked control groups. This looks very promising, so we will continue to monitor this situation and let you know if any new studies shed further light.

Lycopene—No help with weight loss, but it does help with glucose tolerance. Lycopene is found in guava, papaya, watermelon, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. But we already knew potatoes were not a weight loss food, didn’t we?

Antioxidants—Antioxidants do play a supporting role in weight loss. They help control low-grade inflammation which is associated with obesity and diabetes.


[1] C.S. Johnston, Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2005 Jun 24(3), pages 158-65

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Let Us Praise Sleep and Get More of It

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Not too long ago, we ran an article on the problem of blue light and poor quality sleep.

Recently, the Washington Post made sleep a front-page topic-- “Wake Up to a Health Crisis: We Need More Sleep.” Subhead, “Brain researchers warn that our lack of shut-eye may be making us sick.”

Sleep, it seems, is a hot topic with the brain research community now. As it should be.

A few highlights from the WaPo story illustrate how important good sleep is at every age. We’ll quote directly:

·         Preschoolers who skip naps are worse at a memory game than those who snooze

·         Poor sleep may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s

·         Even a single night of sleep deprivation boosts brain levels of the proteins that form toxic clumps in Alzheimer’s patients

·         All-nighters push anxiety to clinical levels

·         Even modest sleep reductions are linked to increased feelings of social isolation and loneliness

·         Adults over 50 with lots of insomnia were more likely to fall[1]

That’s the gist of the news from the Post. The question as always is how to get that sleep.

The first step, of course, is to go to bed. That may be the hardest one when there’s a late game running into overtime or a movie you want to watch to the end, a party that’s too much fun to leave. 

But assuming you have put your body into bed in a timely manner, comfort comes next. For most people, a cool bedroom helps. And banish the TV if you have the least trouble with sleep quantity or quality.

Then there’s the mattress. Good ones are expensive so we tend to hang on to them longer than we should. Stop it.  

There’s one other thing that matters more than you might think, as well—your pillow.

Every few years there seems to be a pillow fad. Once it was memory foam, which every woman of a certain age soon came to realize made hot flashes worse. A couple of years ago, it was a type of shredded foam that was “better than down.”

Speaking of down, and feathers, that may or may not be a good idea. Some of us clog up at night on a bed of chicken feathers, which is what the cheaper feather-foam pillows use. Hotels for instance.

Size and fluffiness count, too. If you sleep on your back all night a very soft or flat pillow will be good for your neck and not push your head out of position. But if you’re a side sleeper, you need a nice tall, firm pillow to fill in between shoulder and head and keep you aligned well.

Earlier today, I looked all over the Internet for pillow suggestions. You can buy foam, feathers, down, polyester, and latex. I’d suggest the choice is one of those personal things.

But nowhere did I see anyone recommend my own favorite—buckwheat.

 Yeah, that’s strange, I know. But if no other pillow ever seems to be just right, you hate hot pillows, you like your neck supported, and you want your pillow to stay in place, give it some thought. You can’t get one at your local mattress store, but they are available at Amazon.com.

Be warned, however, buckwheat pillows are hard as rocks. Not suitable for pillow fights. You could probably be arrested for throwing one of those babies around. And while hardness sounds like a bad idea, it’s actually comfortable… as if someone’s hands were propping your head in perfect position and keeping it there all night. With a buckwheat pillow, you actually push it into the shape you like and it stays there.

The other good thing about them is that you can push them to be thick enough for side sleeping, flat enough for back sleeping, and curved enough for stomach sleeping. The bad thing for some people, however, is that a fresh new buckwheat pillow will make a bit of sound as you shift. But if nothing else seems just right, it’s worth a try.

You may get so addicted you start taking it on trips with you.

[1]  Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post, page 1. Jan 24, 2019.


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Those Expensive Eggs Might Be Worth It—If You Have the Right Ones

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A lot of factors come into play when you push a shopping cart around the grocery store. First of all—will your family eat it? If no one is ever going to take even one bite of those excellent canned sardines, it doesn’t matter how much calcium, selenium, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids they have.

Then there’s quality. Blind comparisons at Serious Eats have established that Betty Crocker Instant Mashed Potatoes are markedly superior to Hungry Jack. So they say.

There’s also the question of whether you want to avoid GMO ingredients. And flavor preferences. I am personally certain that Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce is the only way to go. In fact, I am so certain of that, that I have never bought or tasted a competing brand. How’s that for objectivity?

But when it comes to ingredients that seem much the same from brand to brand—like eggs—is it worthwhile to pay more?

Honestly, the thought of chickens crowded in cages so small they can’t turn around is more than enough to keep me away from the brands known for their animal cruelty.  I’m not even going to mention some of the worst abuses because they are stomach turning. Let’s just say that for me there are reasons to avoid the cheapest eggs.

That doesn’t automatically mean the most expensive eggs are the best, however. I’ve tried top-dollar, cage-free, organic, small-farm eggs that turned out to be old and unworthy.  Organic foods protect you from exposure to pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones. They do not protect you from E. coli or other bacteria. That’s up to careful handling.

But what about those very pricey eggs that claim to have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids?

This is a case where, if your budget has room, paying up is a good idea. For your health, a diet that is close to a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids is best.

We don’t usually get that without making some effort because our diet is now tilted toward rich omega-6 foods and low in omega-3s. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average for Americans is about 4 ounces per week. Not enough.  The “average” also hides the fact that most of that consumption comes from just a portion of us. Only 10% of Americans get two or more servings of fish per week.

But they do eat a lot of things fried in vegetable oils, meats, and grains. Only canola oil or fish oils are high in omega-3.

Eggs that claim to be high in omega-3 fatty acids were raised to purposely achieve that. The hens were fed diets that include omega-3 sources like flaxseed or fish oil.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Different brands of omega-3 enriched eggs have different levels in the final product.  Research done by Nutrition Advance revealed these levels of omega 3 for different egg brands:

Organic Valley                   225 mg omega-3 per large egg

Christopher                        660 mg

4 Grain                               150 mg

Sauder’s Eggs                    325 mg

Eggland’s                           115 mg

Fresh & Easy                     160 mg

Gold Circle Farms             150 mg

Smart Balance                   192 mg

Now, you know that missives like this on health topics sometimes carry a caution: “This is not medical advice. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.”

Good thing. Because I just realized I was buying the wrong brand. Hope we all learned something useful today. Yours in good health—Lynn.

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Hands Hurt? Bring on the Frankincense

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Arthritis gets to most people sooner or later. Usually later. But “hand arthritis” can come very early.  

It’s a stress-related woe, and there’s no lower age limit on busy hands.

Believe me, I know. I will never forget the winter I decided to knit sweaters for four boys.   With a Christmas deadline, it was a nonstop venture, and my hands screamed.  Those were young hands. Finger exercises, stretching and ibuprofen was all I could do at the time. Because I didn’t know there was a better answer. 

That’s not surprising. Just try googling “hand stress arthritis” and you won’t get a lot of help—instead, your search engine will lead you into numerous blind alleys, and you’ll end up with articles on rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

This kind of pain isn’t osteoarthritis, bursitis or rheumatism. It disappears within a day or two when you stop overworking a joint and comes back when resuming your abuse.   For some people, ”hand stress” may be carpal tunnel syndrome that lands in the fingers instead of the more usual wrist area. But again, this is a pain that—unlike carpal tunnel—goes away if you stop doing whatever caused it.

That’s an obvious treatment: end the abuse. But what if you have an activity that you really, really need to pursue?

“Hand stress arthritis” doesn’t seem to be a medical condition that gets any attention. It doesn’t matter a lot, though, because if you’ve felt it, you know it’s definitely something real.  Stretching the fingers like a concert pianist warming up may help.

So does boswellia. At long last, the Italian journal, Edison Minerva Medica, reported on an experiment with young subjects who had this kind of pain. The researchers divided them into two groups. One got the standard medical treatment, basically physical therapy. The other got a boswellia supplement.

After two weeks the pain decreased significantly for the patients who got boswellia. Swelling was reduced more as well and their hands functioned better than the control group. Some of the control group had to resort to pain medications because the therapy alone was not enough, but none of the subjects who got boswellia needed any pain medication.

Boswellia, or boswellia serrata, to give the supplement its full name, is the plant that also yields the famous resin beloved of wise men—frankincense.

Finding this study was an interesting addition to what we already know about boswellia. At Renown Health, it is included in Isoprex, our solution for joint health.  It’s part of a formula that puts the brakes on a reaction called the “membrane attack complex” or MAC.

Most people think that the pain from arthritis is a simple mechanical problem. There’s nothing to cushion the cartilage between joints once the synovial fluid has been destroyed. But cartilage doesn’t have nerve cells. It’s the swelling and irritation in the muscles and tissues around the joint that cause the pain and set off a MAC attack. 

I still don’t have arthritis—knock on wood—but the next time I decide to knit four sweaters in six weeks, I know just what to do. Meanwhile, I can see why Isoprex gets such rave reviews from people with chronic problems. Boswellia is good stuff. 


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Remembering Pain Makes It Worse. Now, Guess Who Remembers It Best

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Men and woman are so different that John Gray became a rock star among self-help authors when he wrote a book with the catchy title, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” It resonated with those of us from both persuasions.

In the musical, My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins wants to know “Why Can't A Woman Be More Like a Man?” I can promise you that some women might reverse that question. But the French just wisely shrug their shoulders and say, “Viva la difference.” I can agree to that.

Men and women walk differently, talk differently, and now science has established that they tend to remember pain differently, too.

This applies, by the way, not only to male humans but male mice as well.

It matters because research has established that the memory of earlier pain plays a role in chronic pain. Male mice and humans clearly remember painful experiences very clearly. Take them back to the location where it happened and they will react with signs of stress and discomfort.

The researchers at McGill University and University of Toronto Mississauga are experts on pain, but this came as a surprise to them. At first, they noticed the difference between male and female mice, which they had not expected. When they tested humans, they found the same division.

One of the researchers opined that “because it is well known that women are both more sensitive to pain than men and that they are also generally more stressed out," they were gobsmacked by the results.

Naturally, the scientist who offered that opinion was a man. Would Human Resources please ask him to stop by for some sensitivity training?

In humans, the test consisted of strapping patients into a blood pressure cuff and blowing it up to be very tight. With the cuff in place, they were then asked to exercise their arms for 20 minutes and rate the pain.

That hurt so much that only 7 of the 80 people in the test rated the pain at lower than 50 on a 100-point scale.

Men and women both felt the pain acutely, the difference came the next day. Researchers either took the subjects back to the same room the next day or to a different one. When they returned to the same room, men rated the pain even worse the next day. That did not happen to men who were sent to a different room or to women in the test group. 

It suggests that the memory of pain may make chronic pain worse, especially for men.

At this point, you may be connecting some obvious dots. It is commonly said that women tend to forget the pain of childbirth. Some believe there might be an evolutionary reason for this difference in pain perception.

Alas, scientists have looked at that question before and consider it something of a myth.

Karolinska Institute studies found that about half of women do forget the level of pain, but only when conditions are right. It was only the women who felt they had a caring staff and good support and who viewed their experience as positive at the time of giving birth who were more likely to forget the pain over the years.

So, despite gender differences, we humans all don't like to be hurt once, and we really, really hurt when old pains take another jab. The difference between us may be that women tend to give more weight to the emotional elements and men to the physical.

Someone should test that. It could be one of those Mars-Venus things.

 

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Oh No, Canada... Chocolate's Not Health Food?

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It stands to reason that some foods are good for you—salads, spinach, carrots, that kind of thing.  But it's even better when your favorite pleasures turn out to be advisable. 

Millions of Brits are surely glad to know that their tea is full of antioxidants. Count me among those who are pleased to note that a glass of red wine is good for cholesterol and the heart.

Then there's chocolate. For millions, the news that chocolate was full of flavanols that might lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure was the best news since Adam and Even figured out where babies came from.

That doesn't mean a Snickers bar, of course. The health claims are reserved for dark chocolate with high cocoa content and cocoa powder.

The claims are probably overblown. Two years ago, a search and metanalysis of the Cochrane database turned up 40 pilot studies on chocolate and health. The improvements in blood pressure were there—but they were small.

Cochrane's is a database of all the studies it can find around the world on natural health supplements and therapies. It's massive and there's no better source anywhere. But even a search through Cochrane's couldn't come up with good randomized, controlled studies that linked chocolate to a reduction in heart attacks or strokes.

Then a few days ago, an article published in Trends in Food Science and Technology piled on. Scientists at the University of Manitoba reviewed 17 studies on chocolate that were conducted over the past 20 years to investigate whether cocoa flavanols lowered blood pressure.

This is not going to make chocoholics happy. The evidence was “inconsistent” and “conflicting.” Nine of the 17 studies showed a small decrease in blood pressure. Eight studies did not.

The bottom line in all this is that there is no scientific evidence to justify an “authorized health claim” for chocolate in either the US or Canada, where the latest bad results came in.

Then again, your friends probably don't know about the cachet of an “authorized health claim.”

To gain that status, the claims must be backed by strong scientific evidence and then approved by FDA after a thorough review. It's not easy. FDA has approved only 12 such claims since 1990. But those claims are valuable because food and supplement makers can point to them in marketing and on product labels. An example of this kind of claim is “Adequate calcium and vitamin D as part of a healthful diet, along with physical activity, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.”

Canada says chocolate isn't worthy of a claim like that yet, and it doesn't appear that one will be coming anytime soon.

But if you love chocolate, there is other good news from England. Professor Alyn Morice at the University of Hull says chocolate is better than codeine for suppressing a cough. It coats the throat and soothes. He should know, Professor Morice is the head of Respiratory Medicine at Hull Medical school and an international authority on treating coughs.

The catch is that he bases his opinion on research on a sticky cough medicine with cocoa in the ingredients. Sipping a warm cup of cocoa won't keep the throat coated and do the same.


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How To Tai Chi When You Can't Find a Teacher

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As the morning starts, the day goes.

If I had my preference, I'd always sleep in a bedroom with an east-facing window and wake to the morning light. My husband prefers the blinds drawn and nailed shut, fully-darkened approach to sleeping. Fortunately, our dog, Sally, is on the job to tell me when the sun is up.

It's not that I am actually a morning person. Just try talking to me and you'll soon give up. But I like a slow, calm start. Coffee, toast, reading, prayer. Walk the dog.

Then tai chi. Walking the dog is not always a calm thing. There are squirrels out there. Sometimes iguanas. People to say hello to. But tai chi puts me back into balance and gets the day going right.

A few years ago, for probably the third time, I signed up for classes—and what a difference a truly accomplished teacher made. It wasn't just the sequence of moves, it was the breathing, the exact tension in the hands, where my balance was... all revealed with kindness and encouragement.

Tai chi instructors at that level are rare and hard to find in most of the country. At best, you may find a yoga or taekwondo instructor who has learned the moves and added classes. The exercise itself is so valuable, even that will be a plus for you.

But if you have no instructor, then what? As I learned after spending my own money, most videos aren't very helpful. Books—some of them quite beautiful—are hard to follow because they can't show the flow of changes as they happen.

There's also the question of pacing. If you're like me, you will probably move too fast. The best benefits come from slow transitions from one position to another.

Now that I've brought up all those negatives, I will tell you where I found the best source ever for tackling tai chi when you can't find an instructor. It's a video that explains every move extremely clearly. So if you have to practice alone, this is the one video I would recommend for a complete beginner or even someone who wants to review his or her form:

Yang Tai Chi for Beginners Part 1, DVD from YMAA Publication Center

The instructor is Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming.

This is available from Amazon, and cheap! Only $8.99. I keep it on my Kindle Fire for use.

If you are already doing tai chi, you will know why I recommend taking it up. If you've just thought about it, here's why starting a tai chi practice is a wonderful gift to give yourself.

What you get from tai chi

                     It's a moving meditation

                     It's excellent for developing and preserving functional balance

                     It has been proven to help people with back pain

                     It is suitable for the fit and the not-fit because of its gentle, slow movements

                     Nonetheless, it is real exercise

                     It improves blood and lymph circulation

                     In one randomized, controlled trial, tai chi was as effective as physical therapy for people with knee osteoarthritis

                     It improves posture, which may also reduce neck pain

                     It lowers blood pressure

                     It helps with depression

                     It helps cognition, making decisions and other mental tasks

                     In one study on 400 people already showing signs of dementia, tai chi slowed the disease

And if you're lucky like me, it also makes the dog bark. That's a lot of benefit and entertainment to start the day.

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It Doesn't Plug In or Use a Fan, But This Air Purifier is GMO

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Quite a few savvy environmentalists are against genetically modified (GMO) plants for any reason.

There are definitely real concerns. But would you consider a GMO version of ivy that cleans chloroform and benzenes out of the air better than a HEPA filter? What if your baby was breathing that stuff in? If you have city water or an attached garage, the baby is definitely getting a dose of both.

Household air is usually more tainted than the air in offices and schools. Toxic substances off-gas from fabrics, furniture, cookware, and cooking. Chlorinated water means your home has chloroform in the air. A lawn mower or car in the garage contributes benzenes. Particle board furniture and wrinkle-free fabrics pile on with formaldehyde. A fireplace or poorly adjusted gas burner on your stove adds carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide.

You have probably heard that houseplants are good for indoor air. They do take out the carbon dioxide and add oxygen. But they aren't very efficient at fighting the other pollutants. It takes about 20 houseplants to clear the formaldehyde found in a typical living room.

I'm not sure how anyone got the brilliant idea, “hmm rabbit plus ivy might work.” But it does. When Professor Stuart Strand at the University of Washington tried introducing the P450 2e1 gene from a rabbit into the common houseplant known as pothos or devil's ivy, he had a winner. In mammals, that gene produces an enzyme that helps break down chemicals. In an ivy plant, it's extremely effective at clearing the air.

Strand and team tested the modified ivy in a container to measure how well it worked. Compared to a regular plant, or no plant at all, the GMO ivy was a star. It broke down 75% of benzene within 8 days. It was even better at making formaldehyde go away. Within 6 days, the pollutant was barely detectable.

The work looks like it has a lot of potential, but no one knows yet how well these plants might work in a regular room or how many it would take to clear the air.  

That's not the only concern. GMO plants have a habit of escaping their designated slots. A type of GMO bent grass intended for golf courses has escaped its bounds to clog irrigation systems in Oregon. GMO canola plants from Canada have invaded the Dakotas. Because canola can hybridize easily with other plants, it can become an invasive weed that farmers cannot control, thanks to its built-in resistance to RoundUp.

A Harvard study has concluded beyond any reasonable doubt that RoundUp-ready plants have played a big role in the loss of wild bees.

Most botanists saw that potential trouble coming, but other adverse effects are more shocking surprises.

Who foresaw that GMO crops would lead to more suicides in India? But they have, according to the country's Agricultural Ministry. Farming is hard there. It depends on adequate rain during the monsoon season. But Monsanto's GMO seeds require twice as much water. In years when monsoon rains are a little light, crops fail. Worse, the expensive seeds are often not even capable of resisting pests. They were developed for Western nemesis, not for Indian boll-worms.

We are careful about product sources at Renown Health. It's the reason all our products are made in the US, where we can be sure we know the quality and integrity of anything we use. We do not use GMO plant sources.

As a natural health company, we take the environment seriously. It's where we source everything from feverfew to grape skin extracts to mango seed butter. We think that as a person who uses natural healing products, that's important to you, too.

So, much as we like the idea of formaldehyde-eating ivy plants, we're not hanging any around the office.

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Copy an Athlete, Knees Need Help to Stay Strong

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I'm not sure what capabilities the guys in IT have. They may know what websites I visit, but truly, the stopover at Larry Brown Sports was work-related.  I was looking for new developments in knee care. 

That led to an item about New York Giants wide receiver Jawill Davis. He's out for the rest of the 2018-2019 season, placed on injured reserve.

Davis sustained a knee injury, which is not unusual among football players, but in this case no action on the field was involved. Davis was either dancing, or just plain horsing around, in the locker room when he slightly dislocated his knee.

Admittedly, Davis only played in four games for the Giants through the end of December. He's not a superstar. Still, even the least noticed athlete who makes it to any pro sport is well-conditioned, strong, and flexible. You wouldn't expect dancing to do them in.

Davis now has the distinction of owning the most embarrassing injury in sports for 2018. Larry Brown Sports Weird Injuries also lists such runners up as Kansas City pitcher Mike Moustakas who hurt his back picking up one of his kids. Or there was St. Louis pitcher Luke Weaver who missed a start after he cut his finger taking the aluminum foil off a food tray.

Pitcher Aaron Sanchez of the Toronto Blue Jays may win the prize for hiding the truth longest. He had a finger injury that kept him out of the game for two months. The reason was too embarrassing to share, he said. Probably what everyone was imagining was so bad, he finally 'fessed up that he caught his finger in his suitcase as it was falling off the bed.

But back to knees. They're really vulnerable. Even for athletes. Larry Brown Sports also reported that “On the eve of Opening Day, [Kansas City] Royals catcher Salvador Perez tore his MCL while carrying luggage, and is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks of action.” That's the medial collateral ligament, which runs along the inside of the knee.

If this can happen to healthy 20-somethings, should the rest of us just conclude our knees are dead dodos, bound to be injured sooner or later?

Despite weird injuries like those suffered by Davis and Perez, when you consider the extreme physical challenges professional athletes face, they don't have nearly as many knee injuries as you'd expect. There's a lesson in that. Athletes prepare for it.

If your knees are healthy now, dance with abandon, your knees can take it if you take care of them. If your knees already hurt, see your trainer or physical therapist for help and get ready to dance, even if you have to go gently.

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Squeezing Charmin', Pinching Baby Cheeks, Hugging Puppies... Just Normal Cute Aggression

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Did you ever wonder why all those women were squeezing rolls of toilet paper in those absurd Charmin' ads from years ago? It wasn't the TP, no matter what Mr. Whipple said when he told them to stop. It must have been the baby on the wrapper.

The term for that impulse is cute aggression, and it's a real thing.

Proctor & Gamble made a fortune on the phenomenon of cute aggression before it was even known to science. If you're over 30, you probably remember the ads where crazy housewives were pulling packages of Charmin' toilet paper off the shelf to squeeze them. Out comes grocery manager “Mr. Whipple” to make them stop. Of course, after he sends them all away, he squeezes the Charmin' in secret.

The ads ran from 1965 to 1989, 504 of them. Proctor & Gamble brought Mr. Whipple out of retirement briefly in 1999 after the company took the cute baby picture off the label and switched to the cute Charmin' bears. The ad campaign made Dick Wilson, the actor who played Mr. Whipple, one of the most recognized characters of all time. Silly, yes. But it worked because it touched a deep human urge.

In 2012, Yale scientists, Rebecca Dyer and Oriana Aragon, investigated the urge to squeeze, bite, or show aggression toward adorably cute baby animals and human babies (but not toilet paper). They originated the term “cute aggression”.

You've seen it or done it.  People pinch baby cheeks, which doesn't seem like a very loving gesture when you think about it. We pretend to growl at puppies, another not so friendly gesture.

You've surely heard someone say tell a baby, “I just want to bite your little toes off; I could eat you right up!” Or coo toward a puppy, “Oooh, I could squeeze you to death.” And they may be telling the literal truth if they say, “Oooh, I can't stand it!”

In 2015, neuroscientist Anna Brooks told a reporter that cute aggression is probably a natural mechanism to dial down feeling too good around cuteness.

People who are helplessly flooded with excessive levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine aren't functioning at their logical best. They could spend so much emotional energy feeling the love that they forget to do their chores, like change diapers and feed the baby.

Just recently, new research upheld that theory and added some details to the mystery of why some of us want to kill, maim, bite and squeeze cute things. As part of the testing, they asked participants to rate their response to cute and non-cute animals and babies then evaluate their reactions. They were asked about the statements “I can't stand it,” “I can't handle it” along with reactions of wanting to hold it and protect it.

This is what is most interesting: The higher the “I can't stand it” rating participants gave each picture, the more the reward centers in their brains lit up, and the more cute aggression they reported.

That strongly suggests that the early theory that cute aggression is a reaction to being emotionally overwhelmed.

It should be noted if you are shaking your head that all of us don't experience a high degree of cute aggression. I, for one, have never felt the urge to pinch baby cheeks or bite toes. OK, belly bubbles, yes, who could resist that? But my daughters give me pretty high marks for mothering, despite declining to eat them all up as infants.

And some people in the recent research group said they only felt the cute aggression urge toward animals and not toward babies. But I must admit, I've never squeezed a puppy, either, and I love dogs of all sizes and kinds. I do, however, force Squeaky, the tiny cat, to endure kitty kisses on her head. Sorry Squeaks, Mother Nature made me do it.

At any rate, the next time you hear someone threatening to squeeze a baby to death, it's probably all fine. Very much fine.

 

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Source:  

 Katherine K.M. Stavropoulos and Laura A. Albo. “It’s so Cute I Could Crush It!”: Understanding Neural Mechanisms of Cute Aggression. Front. Behav. Neurosci., 04 December 2018. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00300

 

Ignoring Your Internal Clock Is Risky

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There's a new way to lower your risk of diabetes: If you're a night owl, tell the boss you'll be in late. That's just one of the benefits of living in sync with your natural internal clock. Some of us are early birds, some are night owls, and it's risky to change.

It's obvious that all of us humans don't have our body clocks in sync because of some internal force.  In my own family, my brother was literally up with the birds. I suspect he's the one who told the rooster to get a move on it. As an adult, he liked to head into work at 4 a.m. to beat the traffic.  I pull the blanket over my head and hold out as long as possible. We both had the same childhood schedules, the same breakfast, school, and bedtime routines. But we have remained different all our lives.

Society hasn't made it easy for us to accommodate our different clocks, however.  Ever since Benjamin Franklin observed that early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, night owls have borne a slightly unsavory reputation. School hours favor people like my brother.  Ditto most workplaces. Nightclubs are for night owls. So are parties, concerts, and most baseball games.

Whichever style you are, you now have science to make your case that you should follow your own clock. A Harvard study almost says it all in the title: “Mismatch of Sleep and Work Timing and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.” The only word missing word is “causes,” but the report hints as much.

Harvard found that late chronotypes, or night owls, had higher rates of diabetes after several years of shift work that ran counter their natural schedule. Early birds were slightly affected by a mismatch, but not as much.

The work world is catching on. In Germany, a Thyssenkrupp steel factory put its morning people on the day shift and gave its night owls the evening shift. As a result, everyone got extra sleep, about an hour's worth per day on average.

“They got 16 percent more sleep, almost a full night’s length over the course of the week. That is enormous,”  Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, told the New York Times. 

Dr. Roenneberg believes that inefficiencies caused by workers laboring out of sync with their own clocks may cost society about 1% of GDP.

As the New York Times put it, “if you rely on an alarm clock to wake you up, you're out of sync with your own body”.

And your body will fight back.


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The Rude Truth: Constipation Isn't Funny

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Isn't it just a little weird? Sixty-second commercials for ED run on family television channels.

But we don't talk about constipation--a problem that is so common almost everyone suffers it occasionally.

Chronic constipation affects 15% to 20% of Americans—42 million people according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institute of Health.

That should give you a clue that those dry runs in the bathroom are not just uncomfortable and embarrassing. It's serious enough for the government to study.

Most of the time, constipation has innocent causes: too little exercise, the wrong food, not enough water, a medication that binds you up, pregnancy, and just plain bad habits like resisting the urge when it's not convenient to go.

It can be a sign something more serious is wrong. You should see your doctor if you have blood in your stools, excessive pain, unexplained weight loss or this is new and unusual for you.  But for the rest of us, constipation is usually a problem we can solve ourselves.

Constipation really isn't funny. It's miserable. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do. Here is some of the best and most respected advice, with a little extra insight.

Prosentials: Suffering with nasty digestive problems? This probiotic formula can make a difference.

1.                  Hydrate—Why this matters: not what you probably think. As we get older, our bodies hold water. Also, our thirst signals become less reliable as we age. So drink plentifully whether you feel thirsty or not. You may not be as well hydrated as you think you are. You don't have to glug down a quart of pure water at a time to stay healthy. Multiple small additions of beverages that you like throughout the day are ideal. It will make all your systems function better. Proper hydration benefits your skin, blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism. And helps soften stools, too.

2.                  Move—exercise helps speed up your digestive system and supports the muscles involved in pushing food through your system. Your colon is a muscle. Although doctors often advise constipated patients to exercise more, there is surprisingly little actual research on the topic.

However, a study on psychiatric patients in South Korea proved there was a strong reason to start exercising for better digestion. The constipated men who did both aerobic and strength exercises cut their colon transit time by almost half. That's ideal. The control group (no exercise regime) had no improvement at all.

3.      Increase fiber, perhaps—I'd be willing to bet you are not getting enough fiber. A study reported in The Journal of Nutrition claims that only 3% of Americans are on target. But if you want to do better, be careful with foods that have added fiber. Xanthum and inulin, which are added to foods to increase fiber content, for instance, can cause a gastric disturbance in people who are sensitive to them. Instead, increase your “herbivore” foods. Add a banana to your day. Grab a bowl of oatmeal, snack on raisins, love your lentils, or put some quinoa in your daily diet. If you work this right, you can decree your oatmeal cookies a necessary health food. Especially if you use applesauce or banana instead of sugar as a sweetener.

4.      This Is The Big One. FEED YOUR GUT RIGHT—Your colon muscles can weaken gradually, but the most critical element in digesting food, the bacteria in your gut, can go wrong overnight.  A round of antibiotics, stress, infections, drugs, surgery, changes in your diet, moving, travel, being around new plants and animals, there are dozens of reasons why your gut microbes can suddenly die off or change to a less favorable mix. It matters.

Feeding your gut is one of the most important and easiest measures you can take. Yes, it can solve a lot of problems, including constipation. A healthy microbiome—the community of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that normally live in our bodies – is the center of our health. According to Scientific American, there are 10 times more bacteria in your body than there are human cells. The right mix is critical.

Renown Health Products' Prosentials is designed to encourage the right microbiome in your digestive system.

It's radically different from anything you'll see in the drugstore. We have selected seven different microbes that support digestive health by a number of different means.

                     Strain #1 prevents harmful pathogens from entering your bloodstream

                     Strain #2 promotes lactose intolerance, a very common problem

                     Strain #3 gets past the stomach to prevent loose stools—AND CONSTIPATION!

                     Strain #4 promotes regularity and overall immune system strength

                     Strain #5 encourages your gut to produce lactase again, to naturally aid in digesting dairy  products (including things like whey found in cookies and protein bars)

                     Strain #6 seeks out and destroys toxins and helps maintain the correct pH in your gut

But the star of the show—Strain #7—is Saccharomyces boulardii... It's a powerful agent in restoring a healthy balance of gut bacteria. And this is the missing ingredient you won't find in cheap, grocery store products.


See what Prosentials can do for you. You have our 100% guarantee as always.


Here's to your health!

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Science Revises Its Brain Training Message Again

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In science, nothing is ever final. Brain training is still under investigation.

Several studies between 2010 and 2013 reported to our joy that doing crossword puzzles might delay mental aging and preserve memory and cognitive function. Maybe even hold back the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

That proved less than gospel. Next came “scientific brain training” exercises.

Companies like Luminosity attracted thousands of paying subscribers who did daily exercises. And then the doubters came. Luminosity ended up paying a $2 million fine for false advertising. Later, a large-scale study showed that games of the sort online training companies were touting didn't work.

Still, the feeling remains that “use it or lose it” must have some truth to it. We all had classmates who weren't mental giants in high school, didn't get any sharper as they aged, and seemed old before their time.

We also know people who stay interested and interesting all their lives. The proverbial grandmother who is sharp as a tack, the elderly professor who misses nothing...

Our instincts may have a basis. A new paper in the British Journal of Medicine explains why people who don't work their brains overly hard seem to go downhill faster while the curious and mentally active remain alert much longer.

Playing problem-solving games and learning new things help people stay mentally sharp longer. In effect, they are a sort of insurance policy on mental acuity. In the words of the study's lead researcher, Dr. Roger Staff:

"These results indicate that engagement in problem-solving does not protect an individual from decline, but imparts a higher starting point from which decline is observed and offsets the point at which impairment becomes significant."

No doubt, there will be more scientific research on this topic ahead. But for now, your instincts are right. Using your brain is good for your brain.

In fact, there are activities that have proved even better than solving crosswords or Sudoku puzzles. 

Try learning another language. In a group of Alzheimer's patients, scientist Ellen Bialystok at the University of York found that those who were bilingual experienced the onset of Alzheimer's about four years later than patients who never learned a second language. Another study on 648 patients in India found that learning a second language delayed Alzheimer's by 4.5 years. 

The patients in these studies had been bilingual since childhood. But Thomas Bak, who led the Indian study, thinks that learning a second language later in life may have the same benefits. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden found that learning a language when older actually led to brain improvements. They took MRI's that proved it.

And if crosswords, Sudoku, and a second language aren't your thing—try music.

Because the other activity that is especially good for brain health is learning a musical instrument. If you always saw yourself as a rock guitar star, or sedately strumming a heavenly harp, you have a good excuse to get started.

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Baby, It's Cold Outside, Get Your Immunity in Gear

The 1944 classic winter song, “Baby It's Cold Outside,” has stirred plenty of controversies lately.

The thing is, whether you choose to stay in where it's warm or venture out, you need your immune system in crack shape during the winter months.

But are you really more likely to get a cold in winter? Doctors usually say this is a myth. You don't come down with a cold because you got cold.  Except that in a roundabout way, you do.

The viruses that cause colds multiply faster at somewhat lower temperatures. In winter, as you inhale colder air outdoors, it temporarily reduces the temperature in your nose, which encourages the viruses to multiply more rapidly and infect you more easily.

Another study that confirms we're prone to more colds in winter comes from a different angle. It turns out that your genes change seasonally. In winter, our DNA dials up the activity in our genes that control inflammation. Thus we are more likely to respond to germs around us with swelling, mucus, achiness, low-grade fever, and other signs of inflammation at work to fight off cold germs.

This is an interesting reaction that seems to apply no matter where you live... with some local variations. That's what makes it even more likely that our bodies prepare to get more colds when it's cold outside. The scientists collected data on about 1,000 people distributed across six countries: the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Iceland, and the Gambia, in West Africa. 

People's immune systems and inflammatory processes revved up during the winter in the countries that had cold winters. But the Gambia is hot all year. In the Gambia, DNA dialed up the inflammatory readiness in the summer rainy season when mosquitoes abound. 

You can increase your immunity by simply not doing the things that lower it. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise moderately.

The other good thing you can do for yourself is to try Isoprex this winter. Inflammation to fight germs is a good thing—until the system goes into overdrive and fails to turn off. Then it causes havoc throughout the body. One way that shows up in middle age and later is in the pain of arthritis. It can also mean a stuffier nose and more fever than your body really needs to fight a cold.

Isoprex supports the body to keep the right balance—allowing your genes to do what they should, then helping them remember to shut off.

Your cold could thank you. If you even get one.


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Healthy sperm is declining everywhere -- except in NYC

If you're thinking about starting (or expanding) your family and would like an excuse to go to a taping of "The Dr. Oz. Show," come to NYC and you might get a two-fer. It seems that sperm counts everywhere (researchers also looked at Los Angeles; Palo Alto, California; Houston; Boston; and Indianapolis -- the Brit publication Daily Mail reports the same holds true in Europe) are plummeting, except in the Big Apple. The reason for decline in the West? Exposure to chemicals and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. 

But why is NYC exempt? As Dr. Peter Schlegel -- president-elect of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and New York resident -- said: "The exceptionalism of New York sperm donors is intriguing, but maybe not so surprising. New Yorkers tend to be physically active [walking culture] and our water system provides some of the cleanest and highest quality water in the U.S." He also added that NYC has the best pizza and the best bagels, both of which could owe their superiority to the water, too. In Boston, while total sperm count didn't decline, there were declines in categories such as average concentration and total motile sperm.

So men, to keep your swimming-sperm count up to speed (that's the motile count), get in your 10,000 steps a day (New Yorkers do it regularly), stay away from pesticides and processed foods, and bring your bride to "The Dr. Oz Show." Then stop for a slice and a whole-wheat bagel with lox, too. You'll be glad you did.

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

These 70-Year-Olds Have Muscles and Lungs Like 20-Year-Olds—Here's Their Secret

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Scientists have found a group of people in their 70s who have muscles and aerobic capacities that would be the envy of healthy 20-somethings. In fact, when they compared them to a group of 20-year-olds, they were just as strong.

The simple anti-aging elixir they used was one we can all access—regular exercise. The catch is that these super-fit 70-year-olds kept it up for five decades.

To find these fitness superstars, researchers at Ball State University went looking for senior men and women who had begun exercising vigorously in the 1970s when jogging and fitness were a big trend. They located 28 people who began exercising in the 1970s and continued to work out at a high level every day for the next five decades. 

When researchers brought them into the lab to test muscles and aerobic capacity, the older crew had muscle strength as good as the youngsters. Their aerobic capacity was slightly lower but still impressive. Compared to a control group of people their own age who had not been as active, however. The high exercisers were fitness heroes. They had 40% greater lung capacity compared to their inactive peers.

Five decades of steady, strong exercise is a difficult prescription for those of us who already let a few decades go by. But there is hope.

Even starting exercise later in life does pay off.  Strength training is effective in keeping youthful muscle mass and balance to any age.

Your aerobic condition benefits from exercise as well, but it seems to need a bit more help. That's where nutrition comes in.

Adding natural life-enhancing herbs such as baikal skullcap to your daily routine could be your smartest move to keep up easy breathing. This herb derived from a flowering perennial that has been widely used in traditional medicine in Korea and China. It is used for upper respiratory tract infections, allergic rhinitis, and bronchial diseases.

Baikal skullcap is not easy to find. It doesn't even make the list of 100 most popular medicinal herbs, but it is an important ingredient in Renown Health's Isoprex.

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The oral health-blood pressure connection

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After undergoing periodontal surgery, comedian and television personality Whoopi Goldberg returned to her seat on "The View" and admitted to the public that, despite her excellent dental insurance, she's never taken care of her teeth and is paying the price. "Your mouth is connected to your entire system," she told viewers. "If you do not take care of your mouth, then you are not taking care of your body, and it will kill you."

Mountains of research show that poor oral health increases your risk for many maladies, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and head and neck cancers. And now, new research has emerged that shows that good dental care (brushing and flossing your teeth daily and getting regular checkups) could prevent or help reduce high blood pressure.

The study published in the journal Hypertension found that people with healthier gums and little tooth decay have lower blood pressure. It also revealed that folks taking high blood pressure medications get more benefit from the meds if their gums are healthy. Specifically, patients being treated for high blood pressure who have inflamed gums are 20 percent less likely to have their blood pressure in a healthy range than patients with no signs of periodontal disease.

So, if you have periodontal disease, have your blood pressure monitored regularly, and get to your periodontist pronto! If you have high blood pressure, remember that maintaining good dental hygiene is as important for protecting your heart as eating fiber regularly or increasing your steps from 8,000 to 12,000 daily. 

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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The itch-scratch-itch cycle

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In "The Itchy & Scratchy Show," a cartoon featured on "The Simpsons," Itchy (Dan Castellaneta), a blue mouse, repeatedly kills Scratchy (Harry Shearer), a black cat. It's an endless cycle of torment. Creator Matt Groening really got that itchy and scratchy thing right. Just ask anyone who's ever had chronic dry skin, eczema or mosquito or fire ant bites. You gotta scratch, but the scratching just causes more itching!

Now there's proof: A study out of the Center for the Study of Itch (we kid you not!) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified how scratching damages the top layer of your skin and causes signaling proteins (inflammatory cytokines, for example) to be released. They activate the skin's itch-sensory neurons, which in turn produce signals that trigger inflammation and cause more scratching. In short, your skin barrier, your immune system and your peripheral nervous system all gang up on you.

What works to break the cycle? The American Academy of Dermatology recommends you apply a cold, wet cloth or an ice pack to itchy areas for 5-10 minutes. Moisturize with a cream free of additives and fragrances. Apply topical anesthetics with pramoxine and cooling agents such as menthol or calamine.

For itchiness that just won't stop, the itch researchers say a drug called nalfurafine hydrochloride may be the answer. It targets certain opioid receptors on spinal cord neurons. The drug is already approved in Japan to alleviate itching in dialysis patients and folks with severe liver disease. Ahh! Relief.  

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   (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Seeing Orange Could Keep Insomniacs From Seeing Blue and Maybe Trim the Waist As Well

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Light comes into the eye, hits the retina, and you see. The concept is pretty simple when it comes to vision. Lights on, you can see. Lights off, you're literally in the dark.

But a few cells in the retina aren't involved in seeing. They interpret prolonged light as a time to tell the brain, “wake up,” which they do by generating a protein called melanopsin.

It takes just 10 minutes of prolonged light exposure for the melanopsin-producing cells to start the process. Melanopsin signals your brain that it's daytime. The brain, in turn, signals your pituitary gland to stop producing melatonin.

You probably know something about the hormone melatonin from the drugstore...it makes you sleepy. Melatonin in a bottle is widely recommended for jet lag and insomnia.

We've long known what melatonin does and how to use it to encourage sleep. But until recent work at Salk Institute, the exact mechanics of the melanopsin-melatonin process has been unclear.

Like many other cells in your body, the cells in the retina can be “down-regulated,” or turned off by other chemicals called arrestins.

But the Salk Professor, Satchin Panda, found that the expected arrestin process doesn't work as expected with the melanopsin cells in the retina.

There are two varieties of arrestins involved, it seems. One of them follows the normal pattern to shut down activity. But the surprise that Professor Panda and his team at Salk found was that the other arrestin didn't behave as it “should” on the melanopsin cells. Instead of shutting down melanopsin production, the arrestin made it increase. Increased melanopsin causes wakefulness because it suppresses melatonin. 

OK, that's enough of a science lesson for today. This is what matters...

It's two things, actually. The new findings at Salk finally explain how your computer is keeping you awake, and, further, they could eventually lead to effective treatments for migraines, insomnia, jet lag and circadian disorders that may also play a role in obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive problems.

The research results, which were just published in the Nov. 27 issue of Cell Reports, explains why using computers, cell phones, and television after dark are especially bad for your sleep, much worse than simply reading an exciting mystery under normal lamplight. 

All these electronics emit large doses of blue light, and your melanopsin cells are especially sensitive to that color. They interpret light from the blue end of the spectrum as if it is full, blazing daylight.

You know what happens next. When it's daytime to your eyes, your brain will get a wake-up call and you will lie in bed praying for sleep.

If you are not likely to turn off the television and walk away from your computer or cell phone after dark, however, you have defenses.

The hands-down best one is to get glasses with blue-blocker lenses.

In fact, you don't need to spend $50 (nonprescription) or $300 (prescription) for help. Consumer Reports tested three brands of nonprescription blue-blocking glasses. The winner was the basic orange safety glasses. Cost $8. Go to a Home Depot near you.

The nice thing about the big orange safety glasses is that you are also protected from flying debris, should that happen around your house. Say champagne corks on New Years' Eve? But on a typical evening, they give your surroundings a lovely calming glow. It's like seeing the world by firelight. 

It's a cheap fix, and it actually works.

An article published in the European Journal of Neuroscience (December 2018) found that on workdays,a decrease in evening blue light exposure led to an advance in melatonin and sleep onset.”  Even for “late chronotypes,” which most of us call night owls, “controlling light exposure at home can be effective in advancing melatonin secretion and sleep.” The researchers used plain safety goggles and room darkening shades to test reactions. The safety goggles worked best.

Naturally, computers aren't the only thing that keeps people awake at night. Avoiding late-night screaming crowds at a sports arena, overdoing the Christmas punch, and resisting a snack of jalapeno poppers right before bedtime is also advisable if you want a gentle night's sleep.

But if your lifestyle doesn't include meditation before bedtime and dinner before sunset—or turning off the computer early—some sporty orange safety goggles are definitely worth the price.

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Talking truthfully to your doc -- not easy, but essential

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Comedian Rodney Dangerfield loved to complain about his physician, Dr. Vinnie Boombatz, whose careless instructions often left Dangerfield in worse condition. "He told me to run five miles a day for eight weeks," Dangerfield gripes. "I called him up and I said 'Doc, I'm 70 miles from my house!'"

Dangerfield isn't the only patient who has suffered from miscommunication with a physician ... and the miscommunication goes both ways.

From Doc to Patient: A survey published in JAMA finds more than a third of patients fail to tell their doctor if they disagree with treatment recommendations or don't understand them. That puts your health in jeopardy, and it's a major cause of hospital readmission!

 From Patient to Doc: The study also found that 80 percent of people have lied to their doctors in ways that could affect their health and medical treatment. The top reason? To avoid being judged.

What to Do: When your doc suggests treatment, make SURE you understand. Demand clear explanations. And if you have a bad feeling about something, express it! 

Now, when it comes to being honest with your doc: Your health history and lifestyle habits can be hard to discuss openly, especially if you've made poor choices, such as smoking, not exercising or drinking excessively. But you need to get that info to your doc (ask him or her not to put it in the electronic record), so appropriate care can be offered! Most docs are not judgmental; they just want to help you get and stay healthy. Trust us, we know these doctors exist!

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   (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Hungry Mice Live Longer, Hungry People Might, Too

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Can you starve your way to a long life and great health? According to several studies on calorie restriction in mice, possibly so.

Obviously, that's a plan that can go too far. Anorexia kills. And the consequences are dire even among the cured. Canadian researchers have calculated that girls who were anorexic at age 15 and recovered would cut 25 years off their life span.

But for those of us well above the anorexic level, what about all those studies that show calorie-restricted (CR) diets are linked to living longer? 

It's a pertinent question because roughly 40% of Americans are obese. And, 70% of us are at least a little overweight. People whose weights are “normal” on height-weight charts are actually a minority.

There are plenty of logical reasons for us to shed pounds. Obesity is highly correlated with some kinds of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, knee and back pains, asthma, sleep apnea...

Yet, Americans keep getting heavier. And those of us who do shed a few pounds almost always regain them.

Except for those who believe in CR. The CR advantage probably comes down to attitude:

                     Why diet to lose weight: Eat less to gradually get skinny because if you're fat you might get sick from one of many possible things (some of which could happen to you whether you diet or not) some day in the future.

                     Why CR: Eat less so you will live longer. Getting thin is a nice bonus.

CR can be approached in many ways. Some people just cut calories by a significant amount every day. That can range from 10% less than your normal intake to 30% less. Others choose to eat regularly for 5 days a week and fast or drastically reduce their calories on the other two.  Yet others fast on a different schedule.

The CR idea is so widely touted and has been “proven” so many times:

                     Nematodes (worms) lived longer when their calories were restricted and they were receiving resveratrol at the same time.

                     Another experiment on yeast and flies also showed they lived longer on restricted calories, again results were best when the subjects were fed resveratrol.

                     A new experiment just showed that mice also lived longer when fed only once a day, presumably because that meant they fasted longer as well as receiving fewer calories overall.

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Over the years, CR experiments have focused on mice, flies, worms, and fungi because their short lifespans make it easy to follow subjects through whole generations.

We don't know nearly as much about the effect on humans. There has never been an experiment where researchers began restricting the calories of dozens of children, kept them on restriction for the rest of their lives, and followed them all the way from cradle to grave. There never will be. 

The best we have are some correlations. Based on data from 900,000 western European and North American adults body mass is strongly associated with lifespan. Among the morbidly obese, half died by age 70. Among the lean, less than a quarter had died by age 70.

There have also been some short-term experiments. Valter Longo at USC had subjects cut their calories in half five days per month. After three months, they managed to lower their triglycerides, cholesterol, and body mass. Their blood glucose levels improved, too.

That seemed promising. Alas, the diet wasn't popular. A fourth of the subjects dropped out of the experiment before the three-month mark. The odds that millions of us would use this approach for our entire lives, as Longo suggests we should, are somewhere between dismal and impossible.

Now the good news... Everything we know about CR so far doesn't suggest you should go that route if you don't want to. While the disadvantages of obesity are real, the advantages of CR are still in question.

Let's start with the obvious. You are not a mouse.

Murine—mouse—studies are significant and very helpful, but they're limited. It's one thing to test the chemistry and physiology of a drug on mice with their similar biology. It's quite another to use mice to test lifestyle choices when their lives differ so greatly from ours.

Those long-living mice existed in a highly protected environment with no predators, food shortages, crummy bosses, bills due... you get the idea. So far there are no perfectly controlled studies that prove any one of us will live longer with a CR lifestyle. All we know for sure is that being obese is not good.

Second, there is definite support for the importance of resveratrol in life extension, and it seems especially helpful when cutting calories.

And finally, newer research with primates and studies on human data sets expand the story. Longevity may have a better relationship to maintaining muscle mass than it does to maintaining the waist you had when you were 18 years old and in your physical prime.

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Merry Sugarness to All

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Tell the truth. How many cookies have you had so far? That includes the broken pieces.

And, we know you have stoically resisted the fruitcake, but what about the gift box of Aunt Bessie's double-dark-chocolate homemade fudge? You couldn't hurt her feelings, could you?

It's the holiday season. We're surrounded by seasonal sweets at the office, at home, and at every party.

They're good, too. Only the Grinch would use this occasion to insist that sugar is bad for you and you should give it all up.

That would be unnatural.

The sweet taste exists in nature for a reason. It's not just your imagination or a regrettable character weakness—Mother Nature is tempting you. “Biochemistry,”a college textbook by Jeremy Berg et al. that has been around so long it's now in its 8th edition, makes quick work of that point:

Five primary tastes are perceived: bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami (the taste of glutamate from the Japanese word for “deliciousness”). These five tastes serve to classify compounds into potentially nutritive and beneficial (sweet, salty, umami) or potentially harmful or toxic (bitter, sour).”

See? Mother Nature is on your side if you would rather have a brownie instead of seconds on kale.

So, have a little sugar. Not too much. Sugar adds calories, and we are never in favor of packing on extra pounds if you can avoid it. Needless to say, if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, extreme self-discipline is needed.

But a little extra, occasional, sugar won't kill you. In fact, this time of year, sugary treats tend to come with one of life's greatest gifts—the company of friends and family. The smile of a friend and a cookie is a fair trade for sitting home alone. Especially during these short, dark days of the year when many of us feel more depressed than usual.

Still, you will no doubt encounter well-meaning people who make a point of letting you know they wouldn't indulge—because sugar's just bad for you always, forever, period, amen.

One of the favorite arguments by the sugar police is that sugar feeds cancer.

Well, it's time to tackle that myth. The sugar police are stretching the truth a bit.

Excess sugar does lead to obesity. And obesity is definitely implicated in some kinds of cancer. 

But there is no direct link from eating sugar to getting cancer. Or growing cancer. Just as there is no direct link from pumping gas into the tanks of hearses cause a prevalence of caskets inside.

In fact, you can hardly avoid ingesting sugar if you eat a normal diet. It is abundant in healthy fruit like apples. Milk has it. So do carrots, peas, corn, wheat, and potatoes.

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The modern problem is not sugar, it's excessive added sugar. And even then, the sugar-cancer link has been rejected in one high-quality study after another. What you have is a case of guilt by association.

A researcher named Otto Warburger first suggested that sugar caused cancer in 1924 because cancer cells use sugar (glucose) in a different way from regular cells. He got the science wrong, but the myth lives on.

The fact is, all the cells in your body use glucose—not just cancer cells. Your survival depends on it. 

Because they grow so much faster, however, cancer cells are real glucose hogs. Unfortunately, you can't starve your cancer cells by cutting all the sugar out of your diet. There's no way to tell those strawberries to head to your good cells and not your cancer cells.

That's the realm of science, and it may be possible with some drugs in the future.

Oncologists at Brunel  University in London have found a link between glucose and cancer cells that might be the answer. Cancer cells overproduce a protein named PARP 14. The protein allows cancer cells to grab enormous amounts of glucose from the system to fuel their rapid growth. The interesting thing with PARP14 is that it allows cancer cells to use glucose in a different manner than normal cells do. The scientists are looking for ways to block PARP14 production. In turn, that would prevent cancer cells from using the body's glucose stores while healthy cells could still access it.

Success along those lines is still years down the road.

In the meantime, a moderate amount of sugar is OK. Celebrate the season. Enjoy a cookie or two—but not dozens.

There's always New Year's Day for new resolutions. And in addition to cutting back on sugar, you could vow to eat more blueberries.

Because there is one thing that sugar is notorious for—dry skin. A rush of sugar causes an insulin spike, which causes inflammation, which leads to redness, dryness, and wrinkles through the process of glycation. Hence the blueberries...

Blueberries are chock full of vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonoids that are good for your skin. Your face will love you for it.

And while you're at it, treat yourself to a nice face cream, too.


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How to microwave your dinner safely

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According to some accounts, in 1953 C.A. Swanson & Sons had over 500,000 pounds of unsold turkey after Thanksgiving. One employee suggested they cook the leftovers, along with some favorite side dishes, package the meals in compartmented aluminum trays and freeze them. That was the first TV dinner.

The impulse to pull something pre-made out of the freezer, heat it up and eat it while watching a favorite show is now a way of life for millions. And these days microwave technology can make it happen very quickly (Netflix and chili, anyone?). But there are potential dangers in the foods' plastic containers and in under-heated foods.

Dr. Oz did his own investigation at the Good Housekeeping test lab (watch it at DoctorOz.com; search for "microwave dinners") and discovered that the plastic packaging stayed intact if the food was zapped when frozen, but if the food was thawed then microwaved, the plastic melted! That's toxic. Also, even intact plastics contain potentially harmful chemicals, especially hormone-disrupting BPA/BPS. But thankfully, the microwaved meals the show had tested by an independent lab didn't have BPA in the food.

Another risk from microwaving frozen precooked meals or uncooked foods: Uneven heating creates hot and cold spots, leaving you exposed to disease-causing bacteria (if they happen to be lurking there) and raising your risk of food poisoning.

The bottom line: Don't microwave in plastic. Transfer the foods to glass. For precooked foods, use a meat thermometer to make sure all areas are at least 140 F. For cooking raw foods, follow your microwave's safety guidelines.

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   (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Your Star Supplement Deserves a Brilliant Supporting Cast

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For safety and efficiency, nature designed the human body to be complex. Your vitamins and supplements need to respect that wisdom, too.

Think about it... Your feet can't drag your body down the road all by themselves. They need the help of your spine to balance your body overhead, bones to support it, and a brain to decide where to head. 

Your fingers may add a pinch of salt to your french fries, but your kidneys moderate it goes from your stomach to your bloodstream or gets washed out.

Yet we often talk about our vitamins and supplements as if each one was a standalone... Vitamin C is the one that is good for colds. Iron is the mineral that enriches the blood. Calcium is the one that supports healthy bones. And ashwagandha is terrific for anxiety. Or so we believe.

The truth is, vitamins and supplements need an entourage to work their best. Your body is complex and anything that goes into balancing or healing it needs to be well thought out. 

The term “entourage effect” was invented by Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, who is the world's leading cannabis researcher. It refers to compounds that have a better or different effect when they work together. There's no reason the hemp and cannabis people should have that term all to themselves, though. Because it's true for vitamins, minerals, and herbals, too. 

You have probably noticed a particular case of this in the past few years. Has your doctor checked your Vitamin D level? Vitamin D affects your energy level, but that's not why your physician makes this a routine check.

He's concerned about your bone density. Studies have shown that no matter how much calcium you ingest, it won't do the job of building bone unless your vitamin D levels are sufficient. Calcium is a star player for bone mass density, but it needs Vitamin D in its entourage.

As we said, the human body is a complex and marvelous instrument. We remember that at Renown Health Products.

If you look at the label on any Renown Health product, you will never, ever find that we have sent you a single-ingredient product.  We believe every star deserves an entourage. Our work always recognizes that all the herbals, minerals, and vitamins you take need support to support one another work their best.

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This is a far different prospect than the shotgun approach taken by makers of daily multiple vitamins. Multivitamins throw every known vitamin at your body in hopes that anything you lack is supplied and anything you don't need won't hurt you.

Multivitamins spectacularly fail to target dosages for specific uses. Vitamin C is a good example...

You may need 75 mg of vitamin C if you are a  typical adult woman, 90 mg if you are an adult male. But a nursing mom needs closer to 120 mg, and a smoker needs 110 to 125 mg of Vitamin C. People with macular degeneration responded positively to 500 mg doses in one study. 

And to complicate matters even more, people with iron overload, a disease called hematochromatosis, should not supplement with Vitamin C at all!

You will notice that Renown Health doesn't sell multivitamins. We offer you well-crafted products that are laser-targeted on specific health goals.   

For instance, our Cerbrexum has 2000 IU of vitamin D3 because it's intended to aid in mental alertness. That calls for high levels. The vitamin D3 in the formula is also supported by ashwagandha, an herb that is sometimes called Indian ginseng. It has a long tradition in Ayurvedic practice for memory and concentration.

But here's the magic of entourage thinking... The Cerbrexum formula also includes Bioperine.  It not only opens capillaries, good for the brain, it also enhances the action of vitamins and supplements like curcumin. And, of course, curcumin is part of Cerebrexum —which is found in the turmeric root powder in the formula. Curcumin is important in Chinese medicine and recent research has shown it aids cognitive function. All the ingredients focus on a clear mission... and there are no “kitchen sink” extras that you don't need.

In contrast, Renown Health's  Isoprex also has Vitamin D3, but much less of it—500 IU. That is exactly what is appropriate to support the calcium in this product. Other Renown Health products don't include D3 at all because as wonderful as vitamin D may be, it's not on mission in those other formulas.

The next time you are standing at the pharmacy looking at rows of B vitamins (was it 7 or 8 that's good for shiny hair?), Vitamin K (no! Not with Warfarin!), Milk Thistle (but not if you are allergic to ragweed), Licorice Root (wait, that raises blood pressure, doesn't it?) and fifty other choices you will probably feel like you need an expert to choose the right combination of bottles.

We couldn't agree more!  Trust us.


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When men have body image problems -- and they do!

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When Chris Pratt went from the pudgy (up to 300 pounds!) funny guy Andy Dwyer in "Parks & Recreation" to the ripped space scoundrel Peter Quill in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy," fans wondered how he transformed himself. He says: "There wasn't any trick or secret. You cannot do it in a month. It takes a year -- or a lifetime -- of consistency, every day."

 He did it right; he's maintaining a healthy weight and good nutritional habits. But a new study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that many men who get into weight loss and muscle building become trapped in a cycle of obsessive exercise, hyper food regulation and distorted body image, and develop what's called bigorexia or muscle dysmorphia. 

The researchers looked at data from the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) on 2,460 males ages 18 to 32. A third of the men had been on a diet in the past year. Not so they could run faster or improve their health, but to "look better." They also were more likely to binge drink and be depressed. 

 How many guys are affected? A study in Military Medicine found that in a group of 1,150 new enlistees 13 percent of males had body dysmorphic disorder and 12.7 percent had MD.

Signs of MD include extreme exercise routines, being convinced that your body isn't lean enough or muscular enough and using supplements excessively. Overcoming MD requires a commitment to change, ongoing talk therapy, medical support and patience. That's something to build on!

 

T-Boost: More Energy! More Muscle! More Sex Drive! ORDER NOW

                  (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

  

Is Your Immune System Trying to Kill You? Rare Disease Might Solve the Pain in Your Knees

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If your immune system doesn't cure you, it could kill you. More likely it will make you hurt all over. 

 

Inflammation that refuses to turn off is the real reason behind the pain of arthritis. It's an immune response gone awry. Now the proof piles up that inflammation and misdirected immunity also lead to burning pains in the feet, deafness, loss of muscle control, poor night vision, eventual blindness and cataracts caused by a rare disease known as PHARC. 

 

The disease is so rare, most doctors don't know about it. But research on it may bring pain relief to the millions of us that don't have it.

 

Scientists at Scripps Research Institute have linked PHARC to the lack of a specific protein, ABHD12. Until this research, scientists were not sure what that the ABHD12 protein was for. Now they know it acts as a brake on the immune system to keep it from being overactive, and that's the discovery that could lead to help for millions of us with everyday afflictions like migraines and arthritis.

 

Eventually, researchers hope their discoveries could help them develop drugs to target ABHD12, which most people have, in order to treat cancer and chronic viral diseases.

 

Benjamin Cravatt, the head researcher says, “it is now known that the immune system plays a big role in many brain diseases including neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. There have also been hints of immune involvement in developmental brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.” 

 

No drug to tame the release of the ABHD12 protein exists yet. But if it did, its action would likely mimic several natural healing agents that control inflammation such as bromelain, oregano, and baikal skullcap. These natural sources subdue pain by acting directly on the body to regulate inflammatory proteins.

 

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Three Super-Healthy New Things You Can Do with that Orange in Your Fruit Bowl

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Some plants were born to be superstars. Lately, hemp and cannabis have been hogging the news, but it's time to honor the orange. Besides delicious fruit and everyone's favorite breakfast juice, oranges have dozens of uses.

 

Here are three of our favorites you may be overlooking.

 

1. Make Orange Vinegar for the Freshest House In Town

 

Orange-scented cleaning products seem to have replaced lemon. The smell is great, but the chemicals in commercial products aren't always something you really should be spreading all over the house.

 

There's a natural alternative that does the trick just as well. It's so cheap it's almost free, too. Make an orange-scented vinegar solution for cleaning. Save those orange peels until you can fill a glass container with a lid. Stuff them in, and cover with white vinegar. Now seal the lid and send the bottle to storage for two weeks to a month. A dark corner of the cupboard is fine. To use the solution, strain out all the orange peels.

 

You can put ¼ cup to ½ cup of your new vinegar essence in water for a great all-purpose cleaner. And once you've strained out the orange peels, they make great garbage disposal deodorizer-cleaners, too.

 

By the way, if you like something a little more complex, add some sprigs of rosemary, cedar, or pine to spike your orange scent. You'll love how the house smells. But warning, it could make you hungry!

 

2. Work Out Your Arthritis Kinks

 

There are drugs and natural remedies to treat the pain of arthritis. But even with those in your medicine cabinet for pain or swelling, a little self-management can go a long way to keeping your fingers and hands functioning smoothly.

 

These routines will leave you feeling more like you had a massage than a workout. You can do them with a tennis ball, but an orange is even friendlier to hurting hands.

 

The easiest one is the big squeeze. Palm the orange and wrap your fingers around it evenly. Now squeeze gently if you are really sore. Hold each squeeze to the count of 5 then release. Repeat 10 times. On your good days, you can squeeze with all your might to build hand strength.

 

Now try the claw pinch. Put all your fingers together and place your clustered fingertips down on the top of the orange. Put the tip of your thumb below. Pinch the orange as if trying to dent it. Gently if needed. Hard if you can.  Hold each pinch 5 seconds and do 10 of them altogether.

 

Next come the solo finger presses... Put your thumb under the orange and place just your index fingertip on top, opposite your thumb. Keep the other fingers relaxed, they'll have to wait for their turn Now squeeze your thumb and index finger together for 5 seconds. When your index finger is done, move on to your middle finger and thumb. When that's done, do a press with your thumb and ring finger. Finish up with a thumb and pinky face off, and you've completed the first series. Try to reach 10 series of finger presses, 15 if you're feeling spunky.

 

Finish your routine with the unbender, because all you need after this squeezing is a good stretch.  Put the orange in the palm of one hand. Place the index finger of your other hand on top of the orange. Keep your finger straight, and use the orange to push your finger back as far as you can comfortably move it.

 

People usually do this last exercise by pushing on the fingers of one hand with the other, but it's easier to overdo it that way. The orange keeps it gentle.

 

3. Eat Them

 

Not exactly a new use, you say. Maybe so, but we're going to add an orange twist. Eat the peel.

 

Orange peels are rich in nutrients. Gram for gram, the peel of an orange contains about twice as much vitamin C as the fruit. Orange peels also include the B-complex vitamins riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, and folate along with Vitamin A.

 

Needless to say, but we'll say it anyway—only eat the peels of organic oranges. And wash them first.

 

Oranges are powerful. In addition to all those vitamins, they are a natural source for diosmin, a flavone with a strong pharmaceutical demand, especially for achy legs.


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Food choices today could affect your great-grandchildren

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When Joe Coleman pitched for the Philly Athletics, Baltimore Oriels and Detroit Tigers from 1942 to 1955, he could only hope his baseball talent would be passed on to the next generations of his family. Well, it was! Son Joe Coleman pitched for 15 seasons from 1965 to 1979 -- a two-time 20-game winner -- and today his grandson Casey Coleman is with the Cubs Triple A team in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sometimes it's talent that's passed down, and sometimes, unfortunately, it's health challenges such as obesity and addiction. A new study published in Translational Psychiatry explains how choices made during pregnancy and breastfeeding affect the health of future generations.

Swiss researchers fed healthy female mice a high-fat diet during pregnancy and while nursing. The repercussions showed up in three generations of their offspring (those generations didn't eat excess fat, and neither did their mates). They had changes in their brain's dopamine-powered reward system that predisposed them to "develop obesity and addictive-like behaviors ..."

Seems your choices today may force your next three generations to battle obesity, addictions and the health problems associated with those conditions.

So how much and what kind of fats should you eat everyday to protect your health and the health of future generations? Stick with fats in nuts, oils like extra virgin olive oil and animal proteins like salmon. Then, on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, aim for 20 to 35 percent of calories (400 to 700 calories or 33 to 78 grams) from those good-for-you fats. That's good pitching and good hitting!

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Safe sex for folks over 65

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In 1970, when Stephen Stills recorded "Love the One You're With," it became a rallying cry for the hippy "free love" movement (more myth than fact, but the lyric helped sell a lot of records).

Well, if that's your era, and today you're still sexually active, you're still part of a very, should we say, robust movement, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging. More than 1,000 people ages 65 to 80 were polled: Nearly three-quarters said they had a romantic partner, and 54 percent of them were sexually active.

They claim that they're not shy about it, either: 62 percent said if they were having problems with their sexual health, they would talk to their primary care provider. Unfortunately, only 17 percent had. That's a gap that's putting many older folks at risk.

Sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high among the elderly. From 2007 to 2012, the incidence of syphilis among seniors increased by 52 percent; chlamydia increased by 32 percent. And, according to AARP, every year since then has seen about a 20 percent jump in the incidence of STDs.

The reason? Divorce rates are up, while erectile dysfunction medications are easily available, and docs don't spend enough time talking with seniors about safe sex.

Well, it's time to get proactive. Ask your partner(s) about their sexual health, and get tested yourself. Medicare now offers free STD screenings for seniors. And use condoms -- many seniors don't. Keep it safe to love the one you're with.

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Is your antiperspirant putting you at risk for dementia?

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"Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things," comedian George Carlin once said. But staying cool, calm and collected isn't always easy. That may be why as many as 90 percent of Americans use deodorants and antiperspirants regularly, spending $18 billion a year in pursuit of pristine pits.

Ironically, though many of you worry about schvitzing (only 2 percent of you don't get smelly from sweat in your pits, groin, hands or feet), you also may sweat over the safety of the stuff you're applying under your arms. One ingredient in antiperspirants (not deodorants), aluminum chlorohydrate, is often targeted as dangerous. It stops you from perspiring by reacting with your sweat and creating gel plugs in your sweat glands' ducts, shutting them off.

Since the 1960s, when some poorly designed studies made people scared of aluminum (even in frying pans), it's been rumored that it could contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. But a 2001 study examined aluminum levels in urine of people who used antiperspirant daily and found that only 0.012 percent of aluminum from these products was absorbed through the skin. That's just about 2.5 percent of the aluminum you'll absorb over the same time period from food. And a larger review of research, published last year, concluded that there's not enough evidence to show that regular use of deodorants and antiperspirants increases your risk for dementia.

So that's one less thing to sweat over. Now where's that sweaty dog?

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Eating to tamp down inflammation

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When you have a kitchen fire, you might grab a fire extinguisher, but you wouldn't crank up Spotify. Well, maybe the day's coming when you would. Students from George Mason University have invented a deep bass sonic blaster that uses sound waves to put out fires. The technology knocks out flames in small, confined spaces.

It would be great if that kind of gizmo could sing away chronic inflammation in your cells!

Inflammation is a result of your body's immune response when it's called on to heal a wound or defeat a virus. It's why your sprained ankle swells or you form a scab. And after your immune warrior cells win their war, inflammation fades away.

But what if the immune system can't win the war, because your body is under attack from chronically elevated blood sugar, a constant flow of stress hormones or going-nowhere belly fat? Then inflammation persists and becomes as damaging to your organs, cells and sex life as California's 300,000-acre Mendocino Complex fire and as hard to put out.

In Dr. Mike's upcoming book, "What to Eat When," you can discover effective ways to tame the flame. Here are a few:

1. Don't eat flame-throwing, sugar-added or processed foods, especially at night. Inflammation increases while you're at rest.

2. Eat a plant-centered diet with lean animal proteins (no red meat). Get prebiotic fiber from 100 percent whole grains and produce.

3. Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Walking counts, but getting hot and sweaty cools off inflammation more quickly.

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Eating whole grains can prevent Type 2 diabetes

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In the NFL and college football, a "prevent defense" often is used late in the game to prevent a long pass completion from an offensive squad that needs to score a touchdown with time running out on the clock. But if it's not carried out correctly (as many pundits have said), the only thing it prevents is your team from winning.

The same is true with your own "prevent defense" against Type 2 diabetes. Execute it correctly, and you'll defeat that disease. Mess it up, and you'll have to contend with the complications that come from chronic elevation of blood glucose levels.

Now, you know 10,000 steps a day, ditching added sugars and syrups, highly processed foods and red meats (especially processed red meats) are essential parts of your defense. But did you know that eating whole grains puts extra muscle in your lineup?

Researchers recently reported in The Journal of Nutrition that 100 percent whole grains, such as wheat, rye and oats, help block diabetes. Each half-ounce serving a day can lower your risk by 11 percent (for men) and 7 percent (for women). And folks who ate a bit less than 2 ounces of these whole grains daily had the lowest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Want an even stronger defense? Add fiber- and nutrient-rich broccoli, nuts (walnuts and pecans) and legumes in your fight against Type 2 diabetes. You'll also get fatty acids that protect your brain health! Now there's a prevent defense that really works!

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Are your medications triggering depression?

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When Richard Farina wrote "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me" in 1966, he knew the Beat and Hippie subcultures from the inside out -- and felt the world was so topsy-turvy that feeling down was a kind of new normal, fueled in part by drugs.

Finding that depression is a new normal because of common drugs they take is something an astounding 37 percent of American adults can relate to, according to a study published in JAMA.

Researchers looked at the medication use of more than 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014. Turns out, 203 often-used prescription drugs, some of which are also available over-the-counter, have depression and/or suicide listed as side effects. The meds included proton pump inhibitors and antacids, as well as sedatives, anti-seizure meds, hormonal contraception, blood pressure and heart medications, and painkillers.

The research also showed that if you're taking more than one of these, your risk of depression increases. Around 15 percent of adults who use three or more, which is not uncommon, experience depression, compared with 5 percent of folks taking none, and 7 percent of those taking just one. Drugs listing suicide as a potential side effect showed similar results.

So if you're feeling fatigued, sleeping too much or not enough, are sad or disengaged, or think about suicide, talk to your doctor about the prescription and over-the-counter meds you're taking. You may want to explore alternatives, including lifestyle changes that could ease pain and digestive woes and lower blood pressure, or opt for nonhormonal contraception.

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Are you thumbing your nose at thumb arthritis?

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Thumbs are an essential part of your hands and our language. On the positive side, a "green thumb" is a good thing. And "opposable thumbs" -- well, they're what differentiates you from other animals that cannot grasp or manipulate objects well. Just try writing your name, tying your shoelaces or hitching a ride without using your very agile thumb! But "sticking out like a sore thumb"? You don't want that.

Unfortunately, for many women (10 to 20 times as many as men) age 40 and older, thumb arthritis makes the basal joint at the bottom of the thumb swell and hurt, sometime severely. This form of osteoarthritis can happen because of overuse and stress from hobbies or a job; diseases that affect cartilage, such as rheumatoid arthritis; and obesity, which triggers inflammatory reactions that can damage tissue and bone.

If you've got sore thumbs (they usually come in pairs), you don't want to twiddle them!

-- You can opt for wearing a brace, using heat and ice packs, oral medications or corticosteroid injections, or get off-label hyaluronic acid injections. (Although approved for arthritic knees, the Food and Drug Administration hasn't given the thumbs-up for thumbs.)

-- ASU (avocado/soybean unsaponifiable) supplements sometimes work.

-- There are two surgeries: One fuses the joint, easing pain but limiting mobility. Another removes a bone from the base of the joint and reroutes a tendon to provide a cushion and stability.

Nothing guarantees you'll regain full mobility, and physical/occupational therapy is essential, but all three approaches ease constant pain and may make you able to hitchhike again!

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Not enough sleep may be because of stress

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The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk looks just like an ordinary Jeep Grand Cherokee, but it has a 707-horsepower supercharged V8 that can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It's in a class of car Road and Track Magazine calls "sleeper cars." Well, if you want to be high performance, you should aim to be a super sleeper.

But is this you? You head for bed at a good hour, so you should be able to get seven to eight hours of sleep. But can't doze off. Well, there's a good chance you're bringing daytime stresses into bed: You worry about that task at work you didn't finish; you panic over an unpaid bill.

You're in luck. There are proven ways to deal with your disruptive stress response and cruise off into dreamland.

-- Eat a light, healthy dinner, three to four hours before turning in. Stay clear of fatty animal proteins and inflammatory processed foods that amp up your stress response.

-- Get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily (but not right before bedtime). Combine aerobics and strength training to dispel stress and ease depression.

-- Skip that nightcap. Your body needs a few hours to process alcohol before you snooze, otherwise, it may wake you later when it clears your system.

You exercised, ate healthfully, skipped that drink. Now slide between the sheets. It's time to try five minutes of mindful meditation (instructions at www.sharecare.com). You'll learn to be in the moment, and in the next moment, you'll be asleep.

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

CBT benefits moms with kids who have special needs

To paraphrase something the actress Allison Janney once said: If June Cleaver [Barbara Billingsley] made women in the 1950s and '60s feel bad because they didn't measure up to her all-too-perfect mom character in "Leave it to Beaver," Janney's character on the TV sitcom "Mom" should make moms everywhere feel great!


Well, laughter is great medicine. But there's something else that can make moms, especially those caring for children with special needs, feel better about themselves: cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.


Researchers at the University of Louisville have found that brief CBT sessions -- just five 45-to-60-minute meetings -- significantly improved the mental state of women who take care of children with chronic health conditions, such as cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis. The therapists also believe that CBT works in any situation where mothers are emotionally stretched because of a child's complex health condition.


One therapist describes the women as feeling isolated and blue because they couldn't hire a babysitter who knew how to deal with their child's special needs, and consequently couldn't find a way to spend time with friends. But even if such situations didn't change, after therapy, the moms reported decreased depressive symptoms, such as negative thinking, and their sleep quality greatly improved.


So if you (or someone you know), find yourself in a similar situation, locate a CBT program near you. Contact the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies at www.abct.org to find a CBT therapist in your area.


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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

The generic EpiPen is on its way

So what do the names Mark Sinclair, Caryn Johnson and Eric Bishop have in common? They sounded too generic -- even though they were the originals -- for their brands, which are better known as Vin Diesel, Whoopi Goldberg and Jamie Foxx.

But sometimes the generic version is a better choice. Take the original EpiPen from Mylan, which delivers lifesaving epinephrine to people suffering severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to thing like bee stings, peanuts and shellfish. The brand raised its price by 400 percent between 2010 and 2016. That led to a $465 million federal overcharge settlement against Mylan, and encouraged it to market an authorized generic version, which still costs a lot -- between $300 and $500 for a two-pack. Even with that, there's been a shortage of EpiPens lately, and the Food and Drug Administration has had to extend the expiration date on specific lots of 0.3 milligram versions of the EpiPen and their authorized generic by four months.

The FDA hopes the expiration-date extension will be timed to coincide with the release of a newly approved, truly generic version of both the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. It took a while for this generic to be developed because the delivery system was very difficult to duplicate. Once the device was proven to work (it took two years), the FDA gave Teva Pharmaceuticals permission to market its version. We hope everyone will breathe easier once the generic is available -- and (hopefully) affordable -- to all who desperately need it to protect themselves from anaphylaxis.

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Strength training? What to eat when, to lose weight

[Image 1] Last May, 27-year-old Icelander Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, renowned for his role as "The Mountain" Gregor Clegane, in "Game of Thrones," won the World's Strongest Man competition. At 6 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing over 390 pounds, Bjornsson eats eight meals a day, while lifting tons of weights.

His meals consist of lean meats, grains, vegetables and healthy fats found in avocados and peanut butter. He's said: "I eat quite healthy for a big guy ... but you get sick of eating all the time. Today, I was supposed to have chicken with sweet potatoes and greens. Because I didn't want that, I had salmon. We have very good fish in Iceland."

It's true that high-protein foods are good to eat after resistance exercising to encourage muscle building. But did you know that eating protein after working out --if you eat the right amounts -- also can help you lose weight? That is effective because refueling with protein after your muscle-strengthening activities increases the amount of energy-burning muscle mass you build, and that uses up extra calories. Just make sure you don't eat ever-more total calories as you exercise more!

To take advantage of the muscle building and weight loss:
-- Eat protein up to two hours after working out to take advantage of the protein synthesis it fuels.
-- Enjoy protein from salmon, trout and skinless chicken.
-- Eat 20-30 grams of protein (it's the equivalent of 4 ounces cooked salmon or 3.5 ounces grilled chicken breast).

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

To fight an aging brain, cool it!

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In mid-September, the National Interagency Fire Center reported that firefighters continued to battle 89 large blazes across the Western states and Alaska; in Canada last August, British Columbia alone had more than 500 separate wildfires. You could say that both the U.S. and our northern neighbor were an in-FLAME-nation!

But you don't need timber and lightning to witness the ravages of inflammation firsthand. Your own brain is a potential target, according to researchers from Germany's University of Bonn. They've done a study, published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, that pinpoints how poorly regulated inflammatory responses affect certain neurons and can lead to loss of brain cells -- especially as you get older.

Major triggers are inflammatory foods like added sugars and saturated fats, hormone-disrupting phthalates and BPA/BPS, and fiery habits like smoking, excess drinking and lack of sleep. If you have Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or chronic stress, your body's battling excess inflammation. So call out the fire brigade.

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Quick Coolers: To put out your fires NOW try these three steps:

-- Take 900 milligrams daily of DHA omega-3 from algae.

-- Take a probiotic.

-- Floss your teeth daily.

Long-Term Fixes: To banish destructive inflammation adopt these habits:

-- Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week (walking 10,000 steps or equivalent and strength building).

-- Sleep seven to eight hours nightly.

-- Eat inflammation-fighting foods, like salmon, olive oil, 100 percent whole grains and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower).

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Spot the clot

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Twenty-four-year-old Spanish skateboarding star Danny Leon got made up to look like a not-so-steady-on-his-feet 80-year-old man. His goal: To see if teens at a local skate park would teach him the sport. They obliged, but when Danny started speeding down the half pipe and doing aerial spins, well, the kids were blown away.

Being a force of nature disguised as a harmless old guy -- that's a pretty good metaphor for the way a blood clot can disguise itself as a simple bruise. Don't you fall for it.

Bruises can be painful and turn shades of black and blue, but generally they're not harmful. One caveat: Easy or spontaneous bruising can indicate underlying disease and a need to see your doc.

A blood clot, on the other hand, is a concentrated aggregation of blood. It forms from an external injury to blood vessels or internal injury to the lining of a blood vessel from plaque, or because of dysfunction in your blood's flow-and-clot chemistry. Clots can obstruct blood flow or dislodge and travel through your bloodstream, triggering heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). So if you spot a clot, see your doc.

Some tips:

Near your skin's surface, clots can appear bruise-like, but are generally redder and the underlying vein may be hard to the touch.

A clot that's moved and is causing trouble may trigger swelling and pain in an extremity (DVT); slurred speech and vision problems (stroke); chest pain or upper body discomfort, shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate (PE or heart attack).

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(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

How to Prevent the Widowmaker – the Worst Cardiac Attack

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The Widowmaker is a heart attack that is frequently fatal since it affects the left anterior descending artery (LAD). The LAD provides blood and oxygen to the entire frontal region of the heart, irrigating a more extensive area than other coronary arteries. The obstruction of the left anterior descending artery interrupts 40 percent of the blood that nourishes the heart, which leads to an increased risk of complications. The most common complications are irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and less frequently, sudden death.

A feature that makes the Widowmaker more fearsome is that it attacks silently. Most men who suffered sudden death due to coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Men 30 to 50 years old have a greater risk of death from coronary heart disease than women; this is because estrogen exerts protection against cardiovascular diseases.

Thanks to advances in medicine, an obstructed artery can be rapidly permeabilized with timely treatment. These procedures take place in a catheterization laboratory where the interventional cardiologist performs an angioplasty by threading a thin tube (catheter) in the blocked coronary artery expanding the diameter of the vessel and restoring blood flow.

How to prevent a heart attack from a widowmaker

Understand what happens in your body

A heart attack is caused by a blockage in an artery due to atherosclerosis (a process in which the fat called plaque adheres to the inside of blood vessels). However, to be at imminent risk of a sudden heart attack, there must be a blockage greater than 60% of the blood flow. A 90% blockage can cause a life-threatening heart attack. Plaque is often formed as a soft, unstable reservoir instead of a hard, stable reservoir. As it is soft, a fragment of the plaque often breaks off, and the fatty material flows into the bloodstream until it clogs a smaller artery.

Risk factors such as smoking, eating fatty foods, obesity, and having high cholesterol make the rupture of the atheromatous plaque more likely.

Calculate your risk of heart attack

Through the ASCVD Risk Estimator Plus of the American College of Cardiology, you can obtain an approximate risk of developing atherosclerosis in the next ten years. You simply need to enter your age, your cholesterol values (HDL and LDL), blood pressure, and answer questions regarding your lifestyle. If you get a score higher than 7.5 percent, you should consult your doctor for a full evaluation and establish therapeutic behavior.

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Adopt a healthy diet

Various studies in different populations have linked the consumption of high-quality, healthy foods with a lower risk of heart disease compared to the consumption of unhealthy foods of low quality, independent of other risks such as sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and smoking. To maintain a healthy diet, you must prioritize the consumption of vegetable proteins and reduce the consumption of red and processed meats. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and yogurt also have a beneficial effect on your health.

Exercise

The adult population should avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Performing any type of physical activity will provide great health benefits. To obtain recognizable benefits, you should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity a week or 75 minutes of intense physical activity. To obtain an additional benefit, physical activity should include 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 2.5 hours of high-intensity aerobic exercise. Exercising has very positive effects on emotional health. When exercising, the body releases endorphins; metabolites that make the person feel more calm and happy. Also, physical exercise helps some people sleep better. It can also be of great help in some psychological problems such as mild depression.

Take the medications recommended by your cardiologist

One of the most commonly prescribed drugs is the statin. This drug is to reduce cholesterol levels even if you have not been diagnosed with heart disease. Statins have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack by 25 to 33 percent by limiting unstable plaque deposits and reducing inflammation.

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Vitamin D, an Ally in the Treatment of Asthma

Vitamin D exerts various functions throughout the body including the immune system. This vitamin is synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight. The wide use of sunscreen, a characteristic of modern life, would partly explain the increase in the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency.

Multiple epidemiological studies have shown strong associations between asthma and reduced serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25 [OH] D), the main precursor in the circulation of vitamin D.

More severe asthma has been observed in patients with low vitamin D levels, but it is unknown at this time whether the linkages express causality or inverse causality. It is possible that the association between asthma and vitamin D is complex. The information as a whole supports the therapeutic role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of asthma exacerbations.

In the Childhood Asthma Management Program, an association was observed between baseline vitamin D insufficiency (<30 ng / ml) and the risk of severe exacerbations over four years.

Asthma triggered by allergens

The asthmatic inflammation was essentially due to immunological reactions in response to aeroallergens. In this situation, T-helper lymphocytes phenotype 2 (Th2), B lymphocytes (producers of antibodies) and mast cells have a fundamental role.

Th2 lymphocytes synthesize various interleukins (IL), such as IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13, involved in the etiopathogenesis of asthma. IL-4, in particular, induces the synthesis of immunoglobulin (Ig) E by B lymphocytes.

IgE binds to mast cells, and cross-linking induces rapid release of proinflammatory mediators such as leukotrienes and histamine, which cause bronchial obstruction and mucus production.

Adaptive immune responses are regulated by various classes of regulatory T lymphocytes (Treg), for example, Foxp3 positive Treg lymphocytes and Treg lymphocytes that synthesize IL-10. In healthy subjects, both lymphocyte subpopulations participate in the emergence of tolerance towards non-harmful antigens.

Vitamin D plays a decisive role in the function of responses mediated by Treg lymphocytes. In several studies, it has been observed that vitamin D is favorably associated with the frequency of Foxp3 positive Treg lymphocytes and with the levels of IL-10 in the airways of patients with asthma.

Likewise, the stimulation and the signals derived from dendritic cells (DC) determine the induction of tolerance or the appearance of inflammatory responses; Vitamin D regulates multiple functions of DC.

In vitro, vitamin D suppresses the synthesis of IgE by B lymphocytes and increases the synthesis of IL-10 with induction of a regulatory B phenotype. In children, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased levels of specific IgE against aeroallergens.

Vitamin D inhibits the activation of mast cells so that it reduces the synthesis of histamine and tumor necrosis factor alpha; it can also increase the production of IL-10 with anti-inflammatory properties.

Epithelial damage and asthmatic inflammation mediated by cytokines

The epithelial damage is accompanied by the release of IL-25, IL-33, and thymic stromal lymphopoietin, which directly stimulate various cell subtypes, including innate lymphoid cells type 2 (ILC2) and mast cells. ILC2 synthesize Th2-type cytokines, for example, IL-5, which induce eosinophilic inflammation.

Vitamin D modulates the epithelial response, especially by inducing synthesis in bronchial epithelial cells of soluble ST2, a suppressor of IL-33, associated with proinflammatory effects on effector cells, such as mast cells.

Viral infections induce the epithelial release of IL-33; in asthma, the mechanisms dependent on the Th2 phenotype alter the antiviral responses. Vitamin D is associated with increased immunological antimicrobial responses, through various mechanisms, including the increased production of antimicrobial peptides, such as cathelicidin, and autophagy, an important mechanism in viral and bacterial infections.

In a meta-analysis, the intake of vitamin D reduced the incidence of acute respiratory tract infections in selected patients with asthma.

Asthma resistant to steroids and IL-17

The physiopathological mechanisms involved in corticosteroid-resistant asthma would be somewhat different. The colonization of the airways with proinflammatory bacteria such as Haemophilusinfluenzae, oxidative stress (associated with air pollution) and vitamin D deficiency would play an important role in this type of asthma. Vitamin D increases the antimicrobial pathways and induces antioxidant responses.

Patients with asthma resistant to corticosteroids synthesize less IL-10. In these patients, the contribution of calcitriol is associated with the recovery of the clinical and immunological response of IL-10. Likewise, in patients with asthma resistant to corticosteroids, IL-17 would induce pathological neutrophilic inflammation, a phenomenon that reverts after the administration of vitamin D.

Vitamin D and remodeling of the airways

The final result of the abnormal immunological responses in asthma is the remodeling of the airways, associated with smooth muscle contraction and mucus secretion in the short term, and with remodeling and fibrosis in the long term. Vitamin D prevents the proliferation of smooth muscle cells in the airways.

Clinical data on the use of vitamin D for the treatment of asthma

In the study, Vitamin D Add-on Therapy Enhances Corticosteroid Responsiveness in Asthma (VIDA), showed that for every 10 ng / ml increase in serum levels of 25 (OH) D, the rate of therapeutic failures and exacerbations was reduced in a meaningful way.

Although the rate of asthma exacerbations did not decrease significantly in the total group assigned to vitamin D therapy, the exploratory analysis revealed a significant decrease in the frequency of exacerbations in the group of patients who reached levels of 25 (OH ) D3 ≥ 30 ng/ml.

In multiple investigations and Meta-analyses, it was observed that vitamin D supplements substantially decreased the rate of severe asthmatic exacerbations in patients with asthma.

With the exception of asthma resistant to corticosteroids, the different asthma endotypes have not been studied in detail in controlled clinical studies. Although more work will undoubtedly be required to answer these questions, the information as a whole suggests that the optimal state of vitamin D is important regarding the appearance and clinical evolution of asthma.

The Importance of Sleeping Well

Sleep is part of the daily routine, but most people find it difficult to sleep properly at some point in their lives, also known as insomnia. It usually lasts a short period, perhaps when the individual is worried, nervous, or stressed. When these situations disappear, you go back to sleeping normally. However, if the individual cannot return to sleep well, it can be a real problem because sleep keeps our minds and bodies healthy.

What is sleep?

Sleep is the regular period in every 24 hours during which we are unconscious and unaware of our surroundings. There are two main types of sleep:

• REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement): It comes and goes throughout the night, and constitutes a fifth of our sleep. The brain is very active, our eyes move quickly from side to side and we sleep, but our muscles are very relaxed.

• Non-REM sleep: The brain is quiet, but the body can move. Hormones are released into the blood, and the body is repaired after the day's wear and tear.

There are four stages of non-REM sleep:

1. "Pre-sleep": the muscles relax, the heart beats more slowly, and the body temperature drops.

2. "Light sleep": the individual can be easily awakened without feeling confused.

3. "Slow wave sleep": the blood pressure falls, the individual can talk or walk asleep.

4. "Slow and deep wave sleep ": during this time, it is very difficult to wake up, if someone wakes you up, you will feel confused.

Sleep is a biological necessity that allows restoring the physical and psychological functions essential for a full performance. Sleep and wakefulness are brain functions and, therefore, are subject to alterations of the nervous system. Sleep is neither a passive situation nor a lack of vigil, but an active state in which changes occur in bodily functions, in addition to mental activities of great importance for the physical and psychological balance of individuals. During sleep, hormonal, biochemical, metabolic, and temperature changes are necessary for the proper functioning of the human being during the day.

Sleeping adequately allows the release of oxytocin during non-REM sleep. It has been proven that this hormone helps relieve anxiety, increases confidence, and reduces social fear. Along with serotonin (a neurotransmitter released during sleep), oxytocin increases the feelings of love, empathy, and connection with other individuals due to its activity in the 5-HT1A receptors. Furthermore, maintaining adequate sleep hours generates an increase in serotonin concentrations in the brain which has been linked to the treatment of mental disorders such as depression.

Sleep also releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter widely known as being responsible for the sensation of pleasure. However, the latest findings show that its main function could be motivation since it was shown that people more focused on meeting certain demanding goals were those with the highest concentration of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex and the striatum.

How much sleep do we need?

This depends mainly on your age.

• Babies sleep about 17 hours a day.

• Older children only need 9 or 10 hours each night.

• Most adults need about 8 hours of sleep each night.

• Older people need the same amount of sleep, but usually have only one period of deep sleep at night, usually in the first 3 or 4 hours. After that, they wake up more easily. We also tend to dream less as we get older.

There are differences between people of the same age. Most of us need 8 hours per night, but some people (few) manage with only 3 hours per night. However, this can have serious consequences in the future.

Sleep disorders in adult life

You may feel that you do not get enough sleep or that even if you sleep the necessary hours, you do not get a good night's rest. There are many reasons for not sleeping well:

• The bedroom can be too noisy, hot, or cold

• The bed can be uncomfortable or too small

• Not having a regular sleep routine

• Not doing enough exercise

• Eat too late and find it difficult to go to sleep

• Tobacco, alcohol, and drinks that contain caffeine such as tea and coffee

Other more serious reasons include:

• Emotional problems

• Anxiety and worries

• Depression: wakes up very early and cannot go back to sleep

What happens if I do not sleep well?

Scientific studies increasingly give evidence that not sleeping well can affect our daily lives and our health. There are multiple consequences, both physical and psychological when we fail to have a restful sleep.

According to experts, a person must sleep between 8 hours a day to maintain an optimal physical, emotional, and mental state. However, the changes in the lifestyle of today have made the quality of sleep and the ideal time to rest much worse.

Studies have shown the negative health effects of restricting nighttime sleep. The results indicate that short periods of sleep have a negative impact on carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. Both factors are considered fundamental parts of the normal aging process, so if the habit of shortening sleep periods persisted in the organism, the severity of the chronic disorders associated with aging would increase.

Multiple studies showed a marked increase in glucose concentrations, which predisposes to metabolic diseases and increases the risk of obesity. The sympathetic nervous system also suffered negative alterations, increasing adrenergic activity and consequently, plasma levels of adrenaline and cortisol which is widely related to cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, among others.

In a study published by Harvard Health Publications, it was evidenced that with sleep deprivation, patients presented deterioration of verbal fluency, planning capacity, creativity and originality, slowing of reaction time, signs of deactivation in the EEG, and drowsiness. The performance of long, repetitive and monotonous tasks is affected, especially in the case of newly acquired skills. Short-term memory impairments or reversible neuropsychological disorders may also appear in tasks involving the prefrontal cortex.

According to research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation of the United States, people who cannot sleep at least 6 hours a day, triple the risk of falling asleep at the wheel as a result of deterioration of mental coordination. The mood can also be affected, with a slight increase in anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion, etc.

Also, sleep deprivation has immunosuppressive effects. The ability of lymphocytes to produce cytokines is negatively affected, and there is a decrease in the production of necrosis factor alpha tumors (TNF-alpha) and some interleukins, which predisposes to suffer infectious diseases, mainly those that affect the respiratory system. In fact, it was determined that those who slept less had a greater risk of dying at a young age compared to those who slept properly.

Other studies have indicated that sleep deprivation delays the recovery of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and produces alterations in glucocorticoid feedback. Thus, lack of sleep can decrease resistance to stress and accelerate the effects of glucocorticoid excess on metabolism and cognitive functions.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Linked to High Blood Pressure

Every day, like millions of Americans, Dr. Walter Koroshetz, 65, who directs the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, takes a pill to control his blood pressure. He claims besides the therapeutic benefit of lowering his blood pressure, his medication helps him reduce his risk of dementia and helps keep his brain healthy and sharp.

Koroshetz is responsible for the institute's public health campaign called Mind Your Risks. Its goal is to let people know that there is a link between high blood pressure and stroke and dementia.

Koroshetz, as part of his campaign, also endorses efforts to keep your blood pressure down by exercising and paying attention to weight and diet.

The science underlying his concerns over high blood pressure is solid. Researchers have long understood that when blood pressure rises, it strains the tiny blood vessels that keep brain cells alive.

"With every pulse of your heart, you are pushing blood into these very small blood vessels in the brain… and when the heart pushes too hard, as it does when blood pressure is elevated, it can cause damage that can lead to a stroke.”

Koroshetz points to two recent large studies that have revealed an alarming trend among stroke patients…

"If you had a stroke, even a small stroke, your risk of dementia within the next two years was greatly magnified… So there's something about having a stroke that drives a lot of the processes that give rise to dementia."

The evidence is clearest for a type of dementia called vascular dementia, which occurs when something blocks or reduces the flow of blood to brain cells. Now, as a result of new studies, it seems that high blood pressure also appears to increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, which is associated with the accumulation of plaques and tangles in the brain.

Koroshetz believes, as does many experts these days, if people really knew about the link between dementia and high blood pressure, they might be more inclined to do something about it…

"Only about 50 percent of people who have hypertension are actually treated," he says. "So I think there's a lot to be said for trying to get high blood pressure under control."

The Alzheimer's Association is helping get out the word through Koroshetz's campaign and via a presentation of new research on blood pressure and Alzheimer's at its annual scientific meeting in Chicago. And the group is encouraging people to control high blood pressure.

"The good news is that we can control blood pressure now," says Maria Carrillo, the group's chief science officer. "We can do that with exercise, with lifestyle, with healthy eating, and also with medications."

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4 Essential Nutrients You May Not Be Getting Enough Of

The USDA released its Dietary Guidelines, as well as information on the so-called “shortfall nutrients” that Americans are not getting enough of. Here are four important nutrients you may not be getting enough of and how to get them through the foods you eat.

1. Fiber
Why You Need It: Fiber can help prevent type-2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and heart disease. Research also suggests that consuming fiber-rich foods might boost weight loss by helping you to feel fuller after you eat. Fiber is also important to keep the digestive tract moving. But most of us eat only about half as much fiber as we should. Nutrition guidelines recommend that women eat 25 grams daily and men eat 38 grams daily; the average American consumes only about 14 grams.

How to Get It: Load up on plant-based foods—the less processed the better. (Consider this: a medium orange has 3 grams of fiber; a cup of OJ has zero.) Whole grains, such as oatmeal (3 grams per 1/2 cup), and beans (about 6 grams per 1/2 cup) are also great sources.

2. Calcium
Why You Need It: Calcium is important for keeping bones and teeth strong, but it also helps muscles contract, nerves transmit signals, blood clot and blood vessels contract and expand. Adults aged 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg per day; for women 51-plus (and men 70-plus), it’s 1,200 mg daily.

How to Get It: Dairy products are good choices (choose nonfat or low-fat to limit saturated fat), delivering between 300 mg (milk) to 490 mg (nonfat plain yogurt) per 1-cup serving. Some dark leafy greens also offer calcium that’s well absorbed by the body: for instance, kale and collard greens provide 94 mg and 266 mg per cup, respectively.

3. Potassium
Why You Need It: Potassium is critical for helping nerves transmit signals, muscles contract and cells maintain fluid balance inside and out. Newer scientific evidence demonstrates that potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure.

How to Get It: By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables—they’re full of this nutrient. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 32.5% of adults eat 2 or more servings of fruit per day and only 26.3% eat the recommended 3 or more servings of vegetables per day. Here are a few easy ways to increase intake of fruits and vegetables:
• Make fruit filled smoothies with fresh or frozen (not canned) mixed fruit, bananas, orange juice and pomegranate juice for an anti-oxidant boost
• Have a side salad with lunch and dinner.
• Use leftover veggies in a protein packed veggie frittata
• Have mixed fruit with a drizzle of chocolate sauce for an anti-oxidant packed dessert

4. Vitamin D
Why You Need It: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that’s important in bone building and has been linked with lower incidences of cancers and lower rates of immune-related conditions, such as type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The primary way we get vitamin D is by making it ourselves—UV rays from the sun help us to produce it. In the wintertime, in northern latitudes, many people start to run out of their internal vitamin D stores.

How to Get It: Soak up some sun (ultraviolet, or UV, rays cause skin cells to produce vitamin D). Eat vitamin-D-fortified foods, such as milk, soymilk and cereals. Vitamin D is also found naturally in a few foods: fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, and in egg yolks.

If you live in the northern part of the United States, spend lots of time indoors and/or slather on the sunscreen anytime you’re outside, you may not be getting enough. Some studies suggest that as many as 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in vitamin D. To be absolutely sure you’re covering your needs for this nutrient, consider a vitamin D supplement (for folks ages 1 to 70, the recommended amount is 600 IU).

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Found: The Link Between Sleep and Heart Health

Forty million Americans suffer from sleep problems, and 29% report averaging less than six hours of sleep a night. 70 million say they suffer from insomnia, while loss of productivity resulting from sleep issues costs U.S. employers $18 million per year.

New research shows that not getting enough sleep may have more serious consequences than missing a day or two of work.

In a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Chicago found that too little sleep can promote calcium and plaque buildup in the heart arteries. This buildup can ultimately cause heart attacks and strokes.

The research team documented for the first time the exact risk of not getting enough sleep, finding that one hour less on average each night can increase coronary calcium by 16%.

The study was comprised of a group of 495 men and women aged 35 to 47. The results of the study showed that 27% of those getting less than five hours of sleep each night showed plaque in their heart vessels. Of those sleeping five to seven hours a night, 11% had plaque while only 6% of subjects sleeping more than seven hours each night had evidence of plaque buildup.

Dr. Tracy Stevens, spokesperson for the American Heart Association and a cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute goes further and states that "We have enough evidence from this study and others to show that it is important to include sleep in any discussion of heart disease."

11 Year Study Finds that Insomniacs Are at Higher Risk for Heart Attacks

Insomnia can wreak havoc on your life. Chronic insomnia can last for months or years. Most people with chronic insomnia spend several nights a week struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep.

The results of a large-scale study investigating the connection between heart health and insomnia reinforce the findings of the University of Chicago team. Scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology surveyed 52,610 men and women and follow up with the participants over a period of 11 years.

The results of the study were adjusted for several health and lifestyle factors, including age, sex, education, physical fitness, smoking, alcohol consumption and high blood pressure. What the researchers found was revealing:

• Study participants who had difficulty falling asleep had a 45% greater risk of heart attack compared to those who didn't have problems falling asleep.

• Participants having trouble staying asleep throughout the night had a 30% greater risk of heart attack than those participants able to sleep through the night.

• Those who woke feeling tired had a 27% higher risk of heart attack than people who woke feeling refreshed.

If you're having sleep problems, consider keeping a journal. By keeping regular track of bedtimes and wake times, as well as how you feel in the morning when you wake up, can give you a clear picture of how you're really sleeping. Check with your doctor if problems persist.

These and other studies are making it clear getting enough sleep could save your heart. Taking a supplement like Oraescin is another preventative step you can take to promote the overall health of your circulatory system.

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Low-T and the Grim Reaper

Symptoms of low-testosterone such as a decreased sex drive, more belly fat and reduced vitality are alarming on their own... but several research studies are linking low testosterone levels with a higher risk of mortality as well.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that older men with low testosterone may die sooner than other men their age who have normal testosterone levels.

Researchers evaluated 794 men between 50 and 91 years old who were followed for an average of 11.6 years. Those with the lowest testosterone levels at the beginning of the study were 40% more likely to die over the course of the study than the men with higher T-levels.

Another study was carried out by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington at Seattle. This study evaluated 858 males over the age of 40 who were grouped according to their testosterone levels and followed for an average period of 4.3 years.

Men in the low testosterone group had an 88% increased risk of death compared to the group who had normal testosterone levels... even after variables such as age and other illnesses were factored in.

Another study worth mentioning was published in the online journal, Heart. Researchers in this study evaluated 930 men, each diagnosed with coronary artery heart disease.

They were followed for 7 years, during which time the research team took tissue samples from the participants to evaluate both bioavailable testosterone as well as total testosterone.

A total of one in four of the men was found to have low testosterone levels... and 42 % of these men died, or one out of every 5 participants.

Conversely, among those with normal hormone levels, approximately 12% died, which was equivalent to one out of every eight men who participated in the study.

A similar study was led by Dr. Giovanni Corona of the University of Florence in Italy. In this study, researchers evaluated the testosterone levels of 1,687 men who were seeking treatment of erectile dysfunction. There was an average follow up period of 4.3 years.

During that time, 137 of the men had had a heart attack or other major heart problem. 15 of the men died. Dr. Giovanni’s team found that those who had lower levels of testosterone were the most likely to die of heart problems.

The research is a wake-up call for men over the age of 50. Other studies are confirming these findings that having low testosterone not only impacts your every day health, including your heart health, it may shorten your life as well.

On the other hand, having higher levels of testosterone can be protective to the heart, and can lower your risk of other health problems like obesity and blood sugar issues.

Make a point of taking T-Boost, an-all natural supplement that promotes healthy testosterone levels.

Designed to turn on your body’s natural hormone production, T-Boost helps keep your heart healthy and the grim reaper at bay. As it’s been said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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How to Reduce Cholesterol Naturally

Strong circulation depends on a number of factors including a healthy heart, strong vein walls, and ideal levels of both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol.

When cholesterol levels are at their ideal balance, blood flows freely throughout veins and arteries carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain and other vital organs. If your cholesterol is high, lowering those levels is a critical part of improving your circulation as well as your overall health. Taking a more natural approach to lowering your cholesterol levels has a number of advantages. These include lowering the cost of medication, a decrease in unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office, and an increase in your overall health and well-being.

One of the best and easiest ways to start the process of reducing dangerously high levels of cholesterol is to get plenty of exercise.

Not surprisingly, regular physical activity has been shown to have an effect on the cholesterol levels in the body. Exercise, especially regular aerobic exercise can also be a great way to help burn calories, and maintain the body and weight that is right for you.

While researchers aren't exactly sure how exercise lowers cholesterol, they are beginning to have a clearer idea. What is known is that a healthy body weight and a healthy fat to muscle ratio for the body help to keep one’s cholesterol levels in a safe range.

What's more, when you're overweight, you tend to have a higher amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in your blood. This type of lipoprotein has been linked to heart disease.

If you are just starting a regular exercise regimen, it's important to start slowly. Be sure to check in with your doctor to evaluate your current cardiovascular health. You might require blood tests or a treadmill test to see how your heart reacts when you exercise.

Beyond the benefits of lowering your cholesterol, there are other positives that come with exercising regularly. These include keeping your bones strong, improving your mood and circulation, and reducing your risk of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and obesity.

Eat More Heart-Healthy Foods

A heart-healthy diet is another great way to help reduce cholesterol naturally. While it can be challenging to change years of accumulated eating habits, the effort is worth it.

To begin, choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, the kind found in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol. As an alternative, choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy products and monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive, peanut and canola oils.

The next thing is to eliminate trans fats, which are found in fried foods and commercial baked products like cookies, crackers and cakes. One way to tell if a food contains trans fat is if it contains partially hydrogenated oil. Even though these foods may taste good, they're not good for your heart.

In addition, put away refined flour products as well and choose whole grain foods. Various nutrients found in whole grains promote heart health. Look for whole-grain breads and whole-wheat pasta. Choose brown rice instead of white rice or try quinoa, a high fiber, protein rich whole grain.

Don't forget to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in dietary fiber and help lower cholesterol. Include a mixture of colors and consider including things like vegetable casseroles, soups and stir-fried dishes on the menu.

Other foods to include are those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts and almonds. Omega 3s have been shown to reduce the "bad" cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body.

Lastly, take a supplement high in bioflavonoids like Oraescin for optimal heart health. Taking Oraescin gives your arteries, capillaries, veins and heart great circulatory support.

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Are You At Risk for Shingles?

If you had chickenpox as a child or a young teen, you may think you're done with it. But without realizing it, you could be at risk for getting the disease known as "shingles".

In simple terms, the virus that caused your chickenpox can remain dormant in your nervous system. When your immune system is healthy and strong, it usually keeps the virus at bay. Aging and stress factors, however, can weaken your immune defenses and reactivate the virus, resulting in shingles.

Unfortunately, many people are either completely unaware of the disease, know very little about it and/or aren't aware of the risk factors.

A recent national survey by the American Pain Foundation found that over half of the respondents were not sure of the risk factors for shingles. Many of the respondents did not know about the relationship between chickenpox and shingles either.

While anyone who has had chickenpox can potentially develop shingles, 50% of the cases are among people over the age of 60. Stephen Tyring M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, noted that the risk of shingles increases with age.

"With each decade, a person's immunity weakens, so that by 60 years of age, the likelihood of shingles significantly increases," says Tyring. "In fact, one out of two people who live to the age of 85 will have had shingles." (1)

In addition, if you have a family history of shingles, you may be more susceptible to developing the disease. In a report published in the journal Archives of Dermatology, Tyring and his research team identified family history as one reason why some people might be more susceptible to shingles. (2)

According to Tyring, "Your risk is double that of someone who has had no relatives with the virus. The estimate, however, is most valid for first degree relatives such as a mother, father or sibling."

How to Minimize Shingles Pain

The onset of shingles isn't always noticeable. You may experience a tingling sensation, itchiness or varying degrees of burning and pain. During the initial days of symptoms, blisters will burst and a rash will form, usually on one side of the body or face. The rash will typically heal in two to four weeks. In some cases, there might be longer-term nerve pain which can persist for months or even years after the initial rash has healed. The older you get, the more at risk you are for long-term nerve pain, which can be quite severe.

Although there is no known cure for shingles, there are ways you can relieve the symptoms.

For the rash, keep your skin as dry and clean as possible, which helps reduce the risk of bacterial infection. You may want to wear loose-fitting clothes to minimize any rubbing against the skin from clothes that are too tight.

To help boost your immunity to the virus that causes shingles, consider taking up Tai Chi, which is a traditional Chinese form of exercise. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that Tai Chi may help older adults avoid getting shingles.(3)

Depending on the severity of the pain, an all-natural solution like Isoprex may provide relief. Isoprex not only helps relieve pain, it works safely and gently to stop dangerous inflammation in its tracks as well... without the side-effects or worries of over-the-counter and prescription pain medications.

References
(1) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/61233.php
(2) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/108022.php
(3) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/67304.php

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New Hope for Osteoarthritis Sufferers

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful and debilitating joint disease that affects 27 million Americans.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in two Americans will get some form of OA in their lifetime. In addition, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 2 will get symptomatic knee OA in their lifetime as well.

What’s more, it’s estimated that your risk of getting knee OA increases to 57% if you have had a past knee injury. In addition, your risk goes up to 66% if you suffer from obesity.

Medically speaking, OA is a joint disease that mostly affects the cartilage, which is the soft tissue that surrounds the bones in your joints. When you have OA, the cartilage breaks down and wears away, allowing the bones to rub directly against each other.

It’s this rubbing that causes you pain and causes the joint to swell, resulting in a loss of motion and mobility. Bone spurs may grow on the edges of the bones, and bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float around inside the joint space. As you might imagine, this can be quite painful.

The CDC goes on to report that many people fail to be proactive because they believe arthritis is something that happens as you age... and that you have to learn to live with the aches and pains.

The good news is that unless you have a family history of arthritis, such as one or both of your parents having OA, you don’t have to suffer needlessly. And perhaps most importantly, you can take steps to prevent OA from developing in the first place.

Could a Cure for Osteoarthritis Be On the Way?

A new study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that researchers may be closing in on a way to eliminate the pain associated with OA.

The study was conducted at Rush University Medical Center in collaboration with researchers at Northwestern University, both in Illinois. What makes this particular study so important is that researchers focused on the “pain pathway” rather than the “cartilage break-down pathway”.

Using a surgical mouse model, the medical researchers were able to track the development of both pain behaviors and the molecular events taking place in the nerves. Then, they correlated the data over an extended period of time.

In the assessment of the data, they looked at changes in the nerve ganglia that carry pain signals toward the brain. They were able to identify the mechanism that is central to the development of OA pain.

To confirm their findings, the researchers blocked the mechanism in the mice at nine weeks after surgery. They found that this reversed the decrease in the movement-provoked pain behavior observed in the mice that didn’t have the mechanism blocked.

The belief is that the research could have major implications for future treatment of OA, especially for those in whom the condition has become extremely debilitating. However, it’s too early to tell if this research will lead to a permanent cure to OA.

With that said, and depending on the severity of your pain, an all-natural solution like Isoprex can provide immediate joint pain relief. It works safely and gently to stop dangerous pain-causing inflammation in its tracks... without any side-effects.

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Sex and Middle Age... Are You Still Having Fun?

If you think turning 45 has to mean the end of having fun in the bedroom, you'll be happy to learn of a new survey conducted by Zogby International on sex after age 45.

Sex can still be fun when you hit your middle age, but it may take a little more work.

Nearly 3,000 people age 45 and older were interviewed nationwide about changes in their sex lives. Perhaps this may come as a surprise -- researchers found that Americans over 45 are often unaware of what happens to their own sexuality as they age.

"In this country with the kind of media saturation we have and where sex is certainly no longer a taboo, it is surprising that people are not more aware of the potential for changes in their sexuality as they age”, says Michelle Van Gilder, director of international marketing for Zogby.

That said, nearly three out of five survey participants consider themselves sexy and desirable, despite a cultural obsession with youth. The survey was conducted with sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, best known as Dr. Ruth.

The numbers are revealing, as 73% of men and women said that after turning 45, they noticed changes in their sexual desire. Over two-thirds say they began experiencing differences in sexual functioning about the same time. About 50% say they were surprised by the changes in their sex lives and over a third were caught off guard by the changes.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

According to Dr. Ruth, such ignorance is a hindrance to sexual bliss.

She went on to suggest that the need for sexual education is not limited to teens. Older men and women need information about what happens to their libido and bodies as they age.

"Somehow with all the talk, with all the television, the message is not going through as much as we need," Dr. Ruth says. "They believe they are always going to be 25, they believe the change of life doesn’t apply to them."

What's more, when properly educated and prepared for the changes in sexual functioning which occur over time, middle-aged folks "can learn to have sex in the morning, to not drink too much the day before, all kinds of things," she says.

Here are some of the interesting results from the survey...

-- 65% of men experienced noticeable loss of ability to have erections -- 45% of men took a drug for erectile dysfunction -- 34% of women reported that vaginal dryness lessened sexual satisfaction

On the positive side of things...

-- Survey participants said that less bed hopping meant less worrying about STDs -- 75% commented that they've discussed libido changes with their partner -- Over 50% of women say not worrying about birth control has had a positive effect on their sex lives

To help deal with unexpected changes in your libido, take a Resveratrol supplement every day. Resveratrol supports strong blood vessels by strengthening their walls. It also keeps damaged, stretched or stiff blood vessels from leaking. This all helps regulate blood flow and pressure, so that oxygen-carrying blood is delivered to your tissues and organs—including your penis.

That’s where Revatrol with its 100mg of erection-boosting Resveratrol comes in. It works to increase Nitric Oxide (NO) and the enzyme known as cGMP, which causes the tissues in the penis to relax so NO-rich blood can flow in and get you hard. Just one caplet a day gives your body the Resveratrol it needs to keep you ready for sex at a moment’s notice.

It’s the one supplement that won’t let you or your partner down.

Revatrol: A Unique 100mg Resveratrol, 95% OPCs, plus Key Antioxidants

Are You At Risk of Getting Migraines?

If you've ever had a migraine headache, then you know how debilitating they can be. Migraine sufferers typically experience a diminished quality of life along with impaired physical, social and occupational functioning. The pain can be severe.

The statistics may startle you. Migraine afflicts an estimated 10% of the world's population. In the United States, The Institute of Medicine recently reported that nearly 40 million Americans suffer from migraines. (1)

At a recent meeting of the American Pain Society (APS), David Dodick, M.D. and professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, noted that migraines have a genetic and biological basis.

"Today we know that migraine is a largely inherited disorder characterized by physiological changes in the brain, and, if attacks occur with high frequency, structural alterations in the brain," Dodick said. (1)

So... are you at risk for getting migraine headaches? It may not be a twist of fate if you are experiencing them right now. There could be something else going on that is a contributing factor.

Some of the triggers can be managed, such as stress, lifestyle choices including smoking and drinking, and high blood pressure. But equally important are the factors you have no control over that can predispose you to the condition.

Having one of more of the predetermined risk factors for migraine headaches doesn't mean you will inevitably develop migraines. However, being aware of the risks will help you arm yourself with the knowledge that you need to prevent and treat migraines should they occur.

Migraine Risk Factors You Need to Know:

The risk factors you have little control over include the following:

Family history — If your parents had migraines, your risk may be increased by up to 75%. If possible, it can be helpful to talk to them about their experience, so you can set into place a plan for prevention. Your family history of migraines will also make the diagnostic process simpler.

Gender — If you are female, you are at greater risk to develop migraines. During childhood, boys and girls have the same chance of developing migraine headaches. However, once hormones take center stage, the risks to a female jump significantly. In fact, adult women are three times more likely than men to get migraines. (2)

Hormonal changes — If you are a woman who gets migraines, hormones may be the culprit. During the menstrual cycle each month, hormone fluctuations can cause migraines. Any stress that causes hormones to spike can cause a migraine to occur if a person is susceptible.

Ethnicity — North American Caucasians appear to have a higher risk of developing migraines than either African Americans or Asian Americans. Migraines are less common in Europe or South America and much less common in Africa or Asia. Studies haven't connected this with any conditions in the environment, food supply, or medical knowledge, only genetics.(3)

If you have one or more of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about possible preventative measures. Discuss all your options to keep migraines from becoming a part of your life. In fact, according to Dr. Dodick, "Some studies have shown that migraine attacks can be cut in half or more with preventive treatments."

In addition, keep a bottle of Isoprex on hand. Isoprex is an all natural pain relief formula that can help minimize headache pains... without the side effects or dangers of NSAIDs.

References
(1) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120517131659.htm
(2) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120/DSECTION=risk-factors
(3) http://www.patientsmedical.com/healthaz/migraine/causes.aspx

Deal of the Day -- Isoprex: A pain-halting formula that works naturally

Five Ways to a Healthy Gut

1. Increase Fiber Intake

Dietary fiber plays an important role in the health of our digestive tract. Besides lowering cholesterol, fiber also feeds the healthy bacteria and helps them to flourish. The best sources of dietary fiber are actually whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and whole oats, along with beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds, then fruits and vegetables. Shockingly, most people get only half of the daily recommended 20 to 35 grams fiber. But be careful to increase your fiber intake gradually, otherwise you’ll most likely experience some unpleasant and painful gas and bloating. Be sure to get plenty of fluids at the same time you eat fiber-rich foods in order to soften the fiber during transit. A hearty bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea should move things along nicely.

2. Load up on Whole Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a variety of whole fruits and vegetables as opposed to fruit or veggie juice is a great way to get more fiber. Fruits like pears, blueberries, raspberries and apples all contain a minimum of 4 grams of fiber per serving. Vegetables such as red bell peppers, leafy greens, broccoli and sweet potatoes also have a hefty dose of fiber. The pulp of the fruit and veggies are what help scrub your digestive tract and allows better absorption of nutrients and antioxidants.

3. Try Yogurt for Lactose Intolerance

Research suggests that many people who are not able to properly digest lactose, the type of sugar in milk, can tolerate yogurt with live active cultures. Yogurt is relatively high in lactose, but the bacterial cultures used to make it produce some lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the sugar. Great news for those who are lactose-intolerant and looking for good sources of calcium!

4. Read Labels for Hidden (Lactose-Containing) Ingredients

Milk and foods made from milk are the only natural sources of lactose. But many prepared foods, including bread and other baked goods, processed breakfast cereals, instant potatoes and soups, margarine, lunch meats, salad dressing, candy, protein bars and powdered meal-replacement supplements contain milk derivatives. So be sure to read labels carefully if you are lactose intolerant.

5. Good Bacteria for Your Gut?

Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria found in the gut that help us digest foods and fight harmful bacteria. They also include live, active cultures used to ferment foods, such as yogurt. To get the potential benefits offered by probiotics, mix a cut-up banana into a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt—with a “Live & Active Cultures” seal on it—for a midday snack or turn it into breakfast and add some granola. Try different kinds of yogurt to see which one works best for you. Mix fresh or frozen berries, peaches and banana with yogurt and a couple teaspoons of ground flax seeds for a delicious breakfast on the go or snack. For optimal levels of the good stuff, look for a high quality probiotic supplement that contains several different strains of yeasts and bacteria.

Prosentials: Suffering with nasty digestive problems? This probiotic formula can make a difference.

The Link Between High Blood Pressure and a Healthy Sex Life

High blood pressure is dangerous and affects many of your daily activities. One of the problems with high blood pressure is that if you have it, you may not feel it. As a result, the absence of symptoms makes it a silent killer, one that can be easy to ignore.

According to the Harvard Heart Letter, high blood pressure can also affect your sex life. It can alter circulation in your body and damage the inner lining of arteries causing them to lose their elasticity making them less able to handle the blood flow to the penis.

Ironically, if you’re taking blood pressure medicine, you have to be careful about taking drugs for erection problems. The combination of the two can lead to a significant and potentially life-threatening drop in blood pressure.

According to WebMD, some types of blood pressure drugs can actually cause erectile dysfunction. Because of this, some men find it difficult to stay on their medication. In fact, it’s estimated that 70% of men who experience side effects from taking high blood pressure medicine (such as problems with erections) stop taking it.

Getting an erection is a highly orchestrated dance between nerves, hormones, blood vessels and psychological factors. Some blood pressure medicines interfere with the production of testosterone, affecting this dance and reducing your sex drive.

Your ability to ejaculate can also be affected if you are taking high blood pressure drugs. When you have an orgasm, the bladder neck closes which allows the semen to flow out of through the penis. Some of the medicines can interfere with this mechanism and make it difficult to ejaculate.

Revatrol: A Unique 100mg Resveratrol, 95% OPCs, plus Key Antioxidants

Resveratrol For Better Sex

The good news is that researchers at the UC Davis Med School found that Resveratrol reduces blood pressure. And the higher study participant’s LDL level, the greater drop they experienced. So what is it about resveratrol that makes it so special?

To begin, the skin and the seeds of red wine grapes are also the richest known source of oligomeric proanthocyanadins, or OPCs for short.

OPCs are powerful compounds that fight free radicals. They are crucial for supporting healthy circulation, and perform a variety of roles throughout the body that are essential to optimal health.

For example, OPCs act as gentle cardiovascular cleansing agents that keep your heart and arteries clean and healthy.They improve blood flow in your brain and body, and promote normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Essentially, resveratrol is a vasodilator—which means it opens up your arteries and capillaries to rush more blood and oxygen to your organs. Taking resveratrol gives your arteries, capillaries, veins and heart great circulatory support—without the headache or dizziness often associated with prescription drugs.

Resveratrol supports strong blood vessels by strengthen-ing their walls. It also keeps damaged, stretched or stiff blood vessels from leaking. This all helps regulate blood flow and pressure, so that oxygen- carrying blood is delivered to your tissues and organs—including your penis.

While you should always consult with your doctor about your high blood pressure concerns, an effective way to get your OPCs is by taking a resveratrol supplement such as Revatrol. Revatrol contains the highest amount of OPCs of any resveratrol supplement on the market – an astonishing 95%.

Important Stroke Information for Women

About 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States, with stroke being the third leading cause of deaths. Remarkably, studies show that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.

What's important is that you learn how to recognize and respond to the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Along with this, it's important that you learn how to manage your risk of getting a stroke as well.

To begin, women should consider drinking something other than soda pop. Researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that women who drink just one soft drink each day dramatically raised their risk of suffering a deadly stroke by 83%. (1)

The Japanese researchers tracked the eating habits of nearly 40,000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 59 for a period of 18 years. This included how many soft drinks they consumed. During the course of the study, almost 2,000 of the participants suffered a stroke.

When the study period ended, the soda consumption of those who had strokes was compared with those who didn't have a stroke. The results were startling.

In particular, researchers found that the women drinking soda every day were at a much higher risk of suffering what's called an "ischemic" stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts and causes hemorrhaging inside the brain.

What's more, it didn't matter if the participants were drinking regular or diet sodas, as the risk was equally high. As the Japanese researchers noted, "Soft drink intake was positively associated with risk of ischemic stroke for women".

Raise that Glass of Wine in a Toast to Stroke Prevention

On the other side of the coin, another study has found that drinking a glass of wine every day may help reduce the risk of stroke in women.

Published in the journal Stroke, a decades-long study of 84,000 women found that women who had a glass of wine every day were at less risk to suffer a stroke than women who abstained from drinking.

Specifically, the women who drank about a half glass of wine per day were 17 percent less likely to have a stroke, while those who drink a full glass per day reduced their risk of stroke by 21 percent. (2)

Researchers noted that the risk of stroke did not lessen further when the women drank more than a glass of wine per day. The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Monik Jimenez, commented although drinking wine can help reduce the risk of stroke, moderation is always advised.

"Higher intake can lead to high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation which are both risk factors for stoke," said Dr. Jimenez. "Our findings really stress moderation for women who do drink."

Another study published in the same journal, Stroke, found that a diet that includes oranges and grapefruits may also reduce the risk of stroke in women.(3) The study, which followed 69,622 women for 14 years, found that the women who ate the most citrus fruit had a 19 percent lower risk of having an ischemic stroke than women who ate the least.

To help strengthen your body's defense against heart problems, take Revatrol daily. In addition to containing 100mg of Trans-Resveratrol, which is a potent form of Red Wine extract, Revatrol gives your body all the heart, artery, cholesterol and cellular benefits of 50 bottles of red wine.

References

(1) http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/headline_health/soda_women_stroke_risk/2012/10/24/482308.html

(2) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/study-stroke-risk-women-wine-alcohol-daily-beer_n_1335893.html

(3) http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2012/02/22/10480733-oranges-grapefruits-lower-womens-stroke-risk?lite

Revatrol: A Unique 100mg Resveratrol, 95% OPCs, plus Key Antioxidants

The Dark Side of Antibiotics

Antibiotics were hailed as “miracle drugs” when they first burst onto the scene in 1942 with the introduction of penicillin. Doctors were finally able to subdue life-threatening infections with a single magic bullet.

It was a blessing—or so we thought.

For a long time, the medical mainstream did its best to ignore the frightening fact that the microbes were fighting back. Today, antibiotic resistance is headline news. The rise of “super bugs” like MRSA, that can be deadly no matter what antibiotics we throw at them, is practically common knowledge.

In addition, there is another side effect of antibiotics that may ultimately prove more deadly than the rise of the "super bugs" and it's this -- antibiotics don’t discriminate.

Instead, they kill all bacteria in their path. Not just the pathogenic germs that cause illness but also the nonpathogenic “good” bacteria in your gut that are absolutely critical to health.

Today’s wide-spectrum antibiotics like the penicillins, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and aminoglycosides are the biological equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Everything takes a bullet, not just the targeted germs. The collateral damage to your intestinal ecology can be significant and long-lasting.

Even if you took antibiotics years ago, your digestive system could still be comprised. And when the good bacteria are wiped out, it opens the door for toxic fungi Candida and toxic bacteria Clostridia difficile to take over.

Bouts of diarrhea and damage to the colon can result... as well as problems like yeast infections, colds and other immune problems, skin problems, mood swings and more.

Overuse of Antibiotics Kills the Good Bacteria Essential for Your Digestive and Immune Health

To your detriment, doctors have ignored this kill-off for decades. In fact, up to 25% of people taking antibiotics experience the immediate side-effect of diarrhea.(1) But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are some additional facts that highlight the risk...

• People who take a lot of antibiotics have much higher incidences of colds and flu.(2) This happens because the kill-off of good bacteria leads to a significantly weaker immune system.

• Microflora kill-off by antibiotics is directly tied to the epidemic rise in Clostridium difficile infections that strike 3 million people and kill up to 20,000 victims every year.(3) Even a single course of antibiotics can leave you vulnerable.

• Large-scale studies reveal an alarming correlation between antibiotics intake and increased cancer risk due to the destruction of the microflora that are critical to immune health.

For decades, doctors have willfully ignored the damage done by antibiotics to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In their eagerness to root out the bad guys, they’ve overlooked the fact that the good guys are being killed too.

In other words, they’ve been bombing the village to protect the people... but the village of your intestines is virtually destroyed in the process.

Until the medical establishment publicly acknowledges the threat that antibiotics pose and act accordingly, you're on your own. And that means taking steps to support your microflora with every healthy means available.

According to The World Health Organization, consuming probiotics on a daily basis helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses by providing friendly bacteria for the intestinal tract.(4)

The solution is to take a probiotic supplement like Prosentials. It is designed to help balance and protect your gut from the damaging effects of antibiotics.

(1) Ibid., Linder.

(2) Margolis, DJ. Antibiotics, acne, and upper respiratory tract infections. LDI Issue Brief. 2006 Feb;11(4):1-4.

(3) Parker-Pope, T. Stomach Bug Crystallizes an Antibiotic Threat. The New York Times. April 14, 2009.

(4) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/14903449/ns/today-food/t/getting-enough-good-bacteria-your-belly/#.UJDPLIa07M0

Prosentials: Suffering with nasty digestive problems? This probiotic formula can make a difference.

7 Foods for Healthy Aging and Longevity

Can you add years to your life by making smarter food choices? Yes! There are many variables involved in how long you live, but by following a healthy lifestyle, staying active and eating a nutrient-packed diet, you can help slow the aging process and perhaps even stave off age-related diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease.

Start right now by including more of these 7 antioxidant-rich foods in your diet. Here’s to your good health!

1. Olive Oil

Four decades ago, researchers concluded that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil were largely responsible for the low rates of heart disease and cancer on the Greek island of Crete. Now we know that olive oil also contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent age-related diseases.

2. Yogurt

While the age-defying powers of yogurt never have been proven directly, yogurt is rich in calcium, which helps protect against osteoporosis and contains “good bacteria” that help maintain gut health and diminish the incidence of age-related intestinal illness.

3. Fish

Fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel is an abundant source of omega-3 fats, which help prevent cholesterol buildup in arteries and protect against abnormal heart rhythms.

4. Chocolate

Cocoa is unusually rich in flavanols that help preserve the healthy function of blood vessels. Maintaining youthful blood vessels lowers risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia. Enjoy a serving of dark chocolate containing 60% cacao or more each day.

5. Nuts

Nuts are rich sources of unsaturated fats, so they offer benefits similar to those associated with olive oil. They’re also concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals, including antioxidants.

6. Wine

Drinking alcohol in moderation protects against heart disease, diabetes and age-related memory loss. Any kind of alcoholic beverage seems to provide such benefits, but red wine has been the focus of much of the research. Red wine contains resveratrol, a compound that likely contributes to its benefits—and, according to animal studies, may activate genes that slow cellular aging.

7. Blueberries

In a landmark study published in 1999, researchers at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging fed rats blueberry extract for a period of time that in “rat lives” is equivalent to 10 human years. These rats outperformed other rats fed regular chow on tests of balance and coordination when they reached old age. Compounds in blueberries (and other berries) mitigate inflammation and oxidative damage, which are associated with age-related deficits in memory and motor function.

What Do Resveratrol and Tomatoes Have In Common?

Stroke-related news for both men and women that can potentially save your life...

Below are some noteworthy facts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website.(1)

• Stroke kills nearly 130,000 Americans each year.
• More than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year.
• About 87% of all strokes are ischemic, which result when blood supply to the brain is cut off.
• Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

It's also important to know the risk factors. Topping the list are high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. 49% of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

In addition, there are several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can put you at a higher risk for stroke including diabetes, obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol use.

OK... now that you're armed with some facts, let's look at some recent research that may help you reduce your risk of getting a stroke.

"I'll Take Another Helping of Spaghetti, Please!"

Next time you're at an Italian restaurant, consider ordering the spaghetti. That's because a recent study published in the journal Neurology found that eating tomatoes, in particular cooked tomatoes, may help reduce your risk of stroke.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio tested the level of lycopene in the blood of more than 1,000 Finnish men aged 46 to 65, starting in 1991. The men were followed on average for more than a decade to record the number who had strokes.

The study found that those with the highest levels of lycopene in their blood were 55% less likely to have a stroke than their counterparts who had the lowest amounts.(2)

The author of the study, Jouni Karppi, suggests that lycopene helps protect the brain by soaking up free radicals that can damage cells. "A diet containing tomatoes... a few times a week would be good for our health" Karppi goes on to say.

While the research is not 100% conclusive, it's one more reason to eat more fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, as part of your regular diet.

Resveratrol May Help Shield the Brain From Stroke Damage

A study published in the journal Experimental Neurology reports how resveratrol may help shield the brain from stroke damage.

Researchers suggest that resveratrol increases levels of heme oxygenase, an enzyme already known to shield nerve cells in the brain from damage. When the stroke hits, the brain is ready to protect itself because of elevated enzyme levels.

Resveratrol appears to jump-start the protective enzymatic system that is present within the cells.

"Our study adds to evidence that resveratrol can potentially build brain resistance to ischemic stroke," says lead author Sylvain Doré, Ph.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.(3)

Taking a resveratrol supplement like Revatrol... as well as adding more tomatoes to your diet... are simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of stroke and potentially limit the damage a stroke might cause.

Combined with the additional antioxidants Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Quercetine, Revatrol is designed to give your body what it needs for optimal health.

References

(1) http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm

(2) ttp://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/08/tomatoes-may-put-the-brakes-on-stroke/

(3) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100421133118.htm

Revatrol: A Unique 100mg Resveratrol, 95% OPCs, plus Key Antioxidants

How to lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the most preventable conditions. But it plays a contributing role in more than 15% of deaths in the United States, according to a new Harvard study. Although it causes no symptoms, high blood pressure boosts the risks of leading killers such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. 28% of Americans have high blood pressure and don't know it, according to the American Heart Association. If you haven't had yours checked in 2 years, see a doctor. While medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. Fortunately, most people can bring down their blood pressure naturally without medication. First get to a healthy weight. Then try these strategies to reduce the risk of heart disease.

1. Go for power walks

Hypertensive patients who went for fitness walks at a brisk pace lowered pressure by almost 8 mmhg over 6 mmhg. Exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, so it doesn't work as hard to pump blood. Get a vigorous cardio workout of at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Try increasing speed or distance so you keep challenging your ticker.

2. Breathe deeply

Slow breathing and meditative practices such as qigong, yoga, and tai chi decrease stress hormones, which elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure. Try 5 minutes in the morning and at night. Inhale deeply and expand your belly. Exhale and release all of your tension.

3. Pick potassium-rich produce

Loading up on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is an important part of any blood pressure‚ lowering program, says Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medical. Aim for potassium levels of 2,000 to 4,000 mg a day, she says. Top sources of potassium-rich produce include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, kidney beans, peas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and dried fruits such as prunes and raisins.

4. Read food labels for sodium

Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to have blood pressure that's particularly salt (or sodium) sensitive. But because there's no way to tell whether any one individual is sodium sensitive, everyone should lower his sodium intake, says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. How far? To 1,500 mg daily, about half the average American intake, she says. (Half a teaspoon of salt contains about 1,200 mg of sodium.) Cutting sodium means more than going easy on the saltshaker, which contributes just 15% of the sodium in the typical American diet. Watch for sodium in processed foods, Obarzanek warns. That’s where most of the sodium in your diet comes from, she says. Season foods with spices, herbs, lemon, and salt-free seasoning blends. Get more tips on how to lower your sodium intake.

5. Indulge in dark chocolate

Dark chocolate varieties contain flavanols that make blood vessels more elastic. In one study, 18% of patients who ate it every day saw blood pressure decrease. Have 1/2 ounce daily (make sure it contains at least 70% cocoa).

6. Drink alcohol--but not too much

According to a review of 15 studies, the less you drink, the lower your blood pressure will drop—to a point. A study of women at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, for example, found that light drinking (defined as one-quarter to one-half a drink per day for a woman) may actually reduce blood pressure more than no drinks per day. One "drink" is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits. Other studies have also found that moderate drinking—up to one drink a day for a woman, two for a man—can lower risks of heart disease. "High levels of alcohol are clearly detrimental," says Obarzanek. "But moderate alcohol is protective of the heart. If you are going to drink, drink moderately."

8. Switch to decaf coffee

Scientists have long debated the effects of caffeine on blood pressure. Some studies have shown no effect, but one from Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine consumption of 500 mg—roughly three 8-ounce cups of coffee—increased blood pressure by 4 mmhg, and that effect lasted until bedtime. For reference, 8 ounces of drip coffee contain 100 to 125 mg; the same amount of tea, 50 mg; an equal quantity of cola, about 40 mg. Caffeine can raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and by magnifying the effects of stress, says Jim Lane, PhD, associate research professor at Duke and the lead author of the study. "When you're under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure," he says. "And caffeine exaggerates that effect." If you drink a lot of joe, pour more decaf to protect your ticker.

9. Take up tea

Lowering high blood pressure is as easy as one, two, tea: Study participants who sipped 3 cups of a hibiscus tea daily lowered systolic blood pressure by 7 points in 6 weeks on average, say researchers from Tufts University—results on par with many prescription medications. Those who received a placebo drink improved their reading by only 1 point. The phytochemicals in hibiscus are probably responsible for the large reduction in high blood pressure, say the study authors. Many herbal teas contain hibiscus; look for blends that list it near the top of the chart of ingredients—this often indicates a higher concentration per serving

10. Work (a little) less

Putting in more than 41 hours per week at the office raises your risk of hypertension by 15%, according to a University of California, Irvine, study of 24,205 California residents. Overtime makes it hard to exercise and eat healthy, says Haiou Yang, PhD, the lead researcher. It may be difficult to clock out super early in today’s tough economic times, but try to leave at a decent hour—so you can go to the gym or cook a healthy meal—as often as possible. Set an end-of-day message on your computer as a reminder to turn it off and go home. Follow these tips to make your weekends stress-free

11. Relax with music

Need to bring down your blood pressure a bit more than medication or lifestyle changes can do alone? The right tunes can help, according to researchers at the University of Florence in Italy. They asked 28 adults who were already taking hypertension pills to listen to soothing classical, Celtic, or Indian music for 30 minutes daily while breathing slowly. After a week, the listeners had lowered their average systolic reading by 3.2 points; a month later, readings were down 4.4 points.

12. Seek help for snoring

It's time to heed your partner's complaints and get that snoring checked out. Loud, incessant snores are one of the main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). University of Alabama researchers found that many sleep apnea sufferers also had high levels of aldosterone, a hormone that can boost blood pressure. In fact, it's estimated that half of all people with sleep apnea have high blood pressure. If you have sleep apnea, you may experience many brief yet potentially life-threatening interruptions in your breathing while you sleep. In addition to loud snoring, excessive daytime tiredness and early morning headaches are also good clues. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor if OSA could be behind it; treating sleep apnea may lower aldosterone levels and improve BP. Take Care of Your Ticker! 20 favorite comfort foods made heart-healthy

13. Jump for soy

A study from Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found for the first time that replacing some of the refined carbohydrates in your diet with foods high in soy or milk protein, such as low-fat dairy, can bring down systolic blood pressure if you have hypertension or prehypertension.

Top 10 Reasons To Have Sex Tonight

When you're in the mood, it's a sure bet that the last thing on your mind is boosting your immune system or maintaining a healthy weight. Yet good sex offers those health benefits and more.

That's a surprise to many people, says Joy Davidson, PhD, a New York psychologist and sex therapist. "Of course, sex is everywhere in the media," she says. "But the idea that we are vital, sexual creatures is still looked at in some cases with disgust or in other cases a bit of embarrassment. So to really take a look at how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health, both physical and psychological, is eye-opening for many people."

Sex does a body good in a number of ways, according to Davidson and other experts. The benefits aren't just anecdotal or hearsay -- each of these 10 health benefits of sex is backed by scientific scrutiny.

Among the benefits of healthy loving in a relationship:

1. Sex Relieves Stress

A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology. They studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Then the researchers subjected them to stressful situations -- such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic -- and noted their blood pressure response to stress.

Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.

Another study published in the same journal found that frequent intercourse was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in cohabiting participants. Yet other research found a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.

2. Sex Boosts Immunity

Good sexual health may mean better physical health. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Scientists at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA, took samples of saliva, which contain IgA, from 112 college students who reported the frequency of sex they had.

Those in the "frequent" group -- once or twice a week -- had higher levels of IgA than those in the other three groups -- who reported being abstinent, having sex less than once a week, or having it very often, three or more times weekly.

3. Sex Burns Calories

Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

"Sex is a great mode of exercise," says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist and president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists. It takes work, from both a physical and psychological perspective, to do it well, she says.

4. Sex Improves Cardiovascular Health

While some older folks may worry that the efforts expended during sex could cause a stroke, that's not so, according to researchers from England. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, scientists found frequency of sex was not associated with stroke in the 914 men they followed for 20 years.

And the heart health benefits of sex don't end there. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.

5. Sex Boosts Self-Esteem

Boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex, collected by University of Texas researchers and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

That finding makes sense to Gina Ogden, PhD, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist in Cambridge, Mass., although she finds that those who already have self-esteem say they sometimes have sex to feel even better. "One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves," she tells WebMD. "Great sex begins with self-esteem, and it raises it. If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it."

6. Sex Improves Intimacy

Having sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps us bond and build trust. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina evaluated 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands and partners ending with hugs. Tey found that the more contact, the higher the oxytocin levels.

"Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture and to bond," Britton says.

Higher oxytocin has also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So if you're feeling suddenly more generous toward your partner than usual, credit the love hormone.

7. Sex Reduces Pain

As the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase, and pain declines. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels.

In a study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 48 volunteers who inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked lowered their pain threshold by more than half.

8. Sex Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk

Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life, Australian researchers reported in the British Journal of Urology International. When they followed men diagnosed with prostate cancer and those without, they found no association of prostate cancer with the number of sexual partners as the men reached their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

But they found men who had five or more ejaculations weekly while in their 20s reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer later by a third.

Another study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, were linked to lower prostate cancer risk in older men, as well, compared with less frequent ejaculations of four to seven monthly.

9. Sex Strengthens Pelvic Floor Muscles

For women, doing a few pelvic floor muscle exercises known as Kegels during sex offers a couple of benefits. You will enjoy more pleasure, and you'll also strengthen the area and help to minimize the risk of incontinence later in life.

To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you're trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.

10. Sex Helps You Sleep Better

The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research.

And getting enough sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. Something to think about, especially if you've been wondering why your guy can be active one minute and snoring the next.

4 Essential Nutrients You May Not Be Getting Enough Of

Last year, the USDA released its Dietary Guidelines, as well as information on the so-called “shortfall nutrients” that Americans are not getting enough of. Here are four important nutrients you may not be getting enough of and how to get them through the foods you eat.

1. Fiber

Why You Need It: Fiber can help prevent type-2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and heart disease. Research also suggests that consuming fiber-rich foods might boost weight loss by helping you to feel fuller after you eat. Fiber is also important to keep the digestive tract moving. But most of us eat only about half as much fiber as we should. Nutrition guidelines recommend that women eat 25 grams daily and men eat 38 grams daily; the average American consumes only about 14 grams.

How to Get It: Load up on plant-based foods—the less processed the better. (Consider this: a medium orange has 3 grams of fiber; a cup of OJ has zero.) Whole grains, such as oatmeal (3 grams per 1/2 cup), and beans (about 6 grams per 1/2 cup) are also great sources.

2. Calcium

Why You Need It: Calcium is important for keeping bones and teeth strong, but it also helps muscles contract, nerves transmit signals, blood clot and blood vessels contract and expand. Adults aged 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg per day; for women 51-plus (and men 70-plus), it’s 1,200 mg daily.

How to Get It: Dairy products are good choices (choose nonfat or low-fat to limit saturated fat), delivering between 300 mg (milk) to 490 mg (nonfat plain yogurt) per 1-cup serving. Some dark leafy greens also offer calcium that’s well absorbed by the body: for instance, kale and collard greens provide 94 mg and 266 mg per cup, respectively.

3. Potassium

Why You Need It: Potassium is critical for helping nerves transmit signals, muscles contract and cells maintain fluid balance inside and out. Newer scientific evidence demonstrates that potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure.

How to Get It: By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables—they’re full of this nutrient. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 32.5% of adults eat 2 or more servings of fruit per day and only 26.3% eat the recommended 3 or more servings of vegetables per day. Here are a few easy ways to increase intake of fruits and vegetables:

• Make fruit filled smoothies with fresh or frozen (not canned) mixed fruit, bananas, orange juice and pomegranate juice for an anti-oxidant boost

• Have a side salad with lunch and dinner.

• Use leftover veggies in a protein packed veggie frittata

• Have mixed fruit with a drizzle of chocolate sauce for an anti-oxidant packed dessert

4. Vitamin D

Why You Need It: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that’s important in bone building and has been linked with lower incidences of cancers and lower rates of immune-related conditions, such as type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The primary way we get vitamin D is by making it ourselves—UV rays from the sun help us to produce it. In the wintertime, in northern latitudes, many people start to run out of their internal vitamin D stores.

How to Get It: Soak up some sun (ultraviolet, or UV, rays cause skin cells to produce vitamin D). Eat vitamin-D-fortified foods, such as milk, soymilk and cereals. Vitamin D is also found naturally in a few foods: fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, and in egg yolks.

If you live in the northern part of the United States, spend lots of time indoors and/or slather on the sunscreen anytime you’re outside, you may not be getting enough. Some studies suggest that as many as 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in vitamin D. To be absolutely sure you’re covering your needs for this nutrient, consider a vitamin D supplement (for folks ages 1 to 70, the recommended amount is 600 IU).

Surprising Ways to Keep Your Brain and Memory Sharp

Memory enhancement has become a hot topic in modern society. A quick Internet search reveals long lists of specially designed memory-enhancing games created by psychiatrists and dozens of pills and supplements the manufacturers guarantee will improve memory. Experts on talk show after talk show recommend intellectual stimulation: difficult crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, or strategy games like chess.

However, while research shows that cerebral activities do have plenty of benefits to memory and cognition, many other studies reveal that a strong social life and a sense of fun give a person’s memory definite advantages. Here are two Fun ways to keep your brain sharp:

Be a Social Butterfly

Humans are and have always been social animals. Even the most curmudgeonly of us generally want someone to socialize with on occasion. It has long been accepted that a satisfying social life helps a person stay emotionally healthy, but new research is showing that social activity also benefits a person’s cognitive health. A recent study done by the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that the most socially active subjects had the slowest rates of memory decline, and that’s just one study among many suggesting the same conclusion.

Increasing social interaction is not as difficult as you might think. Try joining a club that relates to your interests or finding a volunteer association. Put more effort into visiting with friends or relatives. The Internet has made it a simple matter to reconnect with friends and find times to meet up. Even people who find making and keeping friends difficult can get plenty of cognitive value from having a pet, especially very social ones like dogs. If you don’t have a dog, go visit a nearby animal shelter or pet store; the simple joy of playing with a fury little puppy or kitten is underrated.

Laugh it up!

Having a good laugh not only benefits your heart, it’s god for the brain as well. A standard emotional response will cause neurons to fire in only a specific section of the brain, but laughter actually causes many areas throughout the brain to activate. Listening to jokes and trying to figure out punch lines uses areas of the brain important to creativity and learning, much like solving puzzles.

Try increasing laughter in your life by finding fun people to spend time with, whether adults or children. Children especially are always good for a laugh; their playful attitude towards life will lighten your heart as well. Learn to laugh at yourself and take yourself less seriously. Surround yourself with fun items, such as small toys, pictures of yourself and your friends having a good time, or amusing posters. Remember all those nights sitting in front of the TV laughing hysterically? Re-runs of your favorite funny TV shows like I Love Lucy, The Benny Hill Show, and Johnny Carson are all available on DVD. Seek out laughter whenever you can; most often the cheerful people will be more than happy to let you in on the joke.

Foods That Fight Off an Afternoon Slump

We’ve all experienced that tired feeling after an afternoon lunch. Being unable to focus, a decline in energy levels and wishing you could curl up under your desk with a blanket for a quick nap are just a few cozy thoughts that may be running rampant through your mind. However, important deadlines and group meetings are more vital to your busy day than the slow close of your eyelids.

To placate your sagging energy and raging food cravings, you may rely on the hallway vending machine. While the sodium-laden treats and refined sugars in the snacks may give you that added burst, you’re sure to fall back into a fit of slumber within the hour.

Fortunately, you no longer have to suffer through the afternoon snooze fest. The following four foods will help you stay focused and alert, so you can conquer the remainder of your workday.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is often viewed as a decadent treat better left untouched. However, this aromatic and delicious indulgence can help you fight afternoon fatigue. While it does contain miniscule amounts of caffeine, phenylethylamine is the primary power source behind the feel good compounds being released to the brain. Just the smell of this intoxicating snack is enough to make you stay alert.

Green Tea

Most individuals reach for a cup of Joe as an afternoon wake-up-call. However, the nutrients in green tea can pack quite the punch. The caffeine in the tea and amino acid theanine can work to improve a person’s creativity, reaction time and ability to multi-task. The theanine’s in green tea interact specifically with the neurotransmitters in the body’s brain, so you’re feeling alert and calm, instead of jittery and nervous.

Greek Yogurt

In addition to afternoon fatigue, the body has been known to signal certain cravings. To quell the dangerous urges of doughnuts and birthday cake calling your name from the break room, you may want to try reaching for a container of Greek yogurt. The protein in the yogurt curbs the cravings by controlling your blood sugar levels. Try to aim for at least 20 to 23 grams of protein per snack.

Almonds

Nuts were shunned in the past because they were high in fat. However, this recharging snack can keep you feeling fuller longer and aid in your weight-loss. The fat, protein and fiber in this delicious treat will easily control your blood sugar levels by keeping your body focused and energized. Almonds can also reduce your risk of heart attack by as much as 50 percent.

10 Tips for Better Digestive Health

There are a number of factors that affect your digestive system such as your lifestyle, stress, and the foods that you choose to eat. Getting the required amount of fiber, drinking plenty of water and exercising can all aid in developing better digestive health. Your body works by breaking down the foods you consume into nutrients and if you fail to be kind to your digestive health, you could run into complications later on.

The following are ten important tips that will help boost and maintain your digestive system.

1. Consume a diet high in fiber. According to the latest studies, a diet that is rich in fiber, whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, can make great strides in the way that you digest your foods. Fiber laden foods provide regularity by keeping things moving throughout your digestive system. This makes you less susceptible to constipation, bloating and fatigue. It can also aid in preventing digestive ailments such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A smooth running digestive tract can also aid those who are trying to shed pounds by helping you to maintain a normal weight range.

2. Insoluble and soluble fiber. Both forms of fiber can aid in your digestive tract. Insoluble fiber is difficult to be digested by the human body and can add solidness to your stools. Forms of insoluble fiber can include vegetables, whole-grains and wheat bran. Soluble fiber attracts water in and discourages your stools from becoming watery. You can get soluble fiber from items such as legumes, seeds, oat bran and nuts.

3. Reduce your consumption of fatty foods. Fatty foods can slow down your digestive system and contribute to constipation. However, getting rid of all that fat is not necessary, as pairing high fibered foods with some that are fatty can bring digestive relief to many individuals.

4. Lean meats a good source of protein. Fatty cuts of meats can irritate your bowel and lead to gas and bloating. Lean protein is necessary to any diet and can be found in food source items such as skinless chicken breasts, pork loin, turkey breast and other lean cuts of meats.

5. The importance of probiotics. Probiotics are a necessary part of any healthy diet, and they can keep your digestive system on target with the amount of healthy bacteria. By combating foods that are not good for you, they can contribute to proper nutrient absorption, aid in breaking down lactose and give your immune system a boost. They may even aid those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics can be found in healthy products such as kefir and low-fat yogurt.

[Printable Version of This Page] 10 Tips for Better Digestive Health July 8, 2014 By Dr. William S. Gruss, M.D.

[Image 1]There are a number of factors that affect your digestive system such as your lifestyle, stress, and the foods that you choose to eat. Getting the required amount of fiber, drinking plenty of water and exercising can all aid in developing better digestive health. Your body works by breaking down the foods you consume into nutrients and if you fail to be kind to your digestive health, you could run into complications later on.

The following are ten important tips that will help boost and maintain your digestive system.

1. Consume a diet high in fiber. According to the latest studies, a diet that is rich in fiber, whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, can make great strides in the way that you digest your foods. Fiber laden foods provide regularity by keeping things moving throughout your digestive system. This makes you less susceptible to constipation, bloating and fatigue. It can also aid in preventing digestive ailments such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A smooth running digestive tract can also aid those who are trying to shed pounds by helping you to maintain a normal weight range.

2. Insoluble and soluble fiber. Both forms of fiber can aid in your digestive tract. Insoluble fiber is difficult to be digested by the human body and can add solidness to your stools. Forms of insoluble fiber can include vegetables, whole-grains and wheat bran. Soluble fiber attracts water in and discourages your stools from becoming watery. You can get soluble fiber from items such as legumes, seeds, oat bran and nuts.

3. Reduce your consumption of fatty foods. Fatty foods can slow down your digestive system and contribute to constipation. However, getting rid of all that fat is not necessary, as pairing high fibered foods with some that are fatty can bring digestive relief to many individuals.

4. Lean meats a good source of protein. Fatty cuts of meats can irritate your bowel and lead to gas and bloating. Lean protein is necessary to any diet and can be found in food source items such as skinless chicken breasts, pork loin, turkey breast and other lean cuts of meats.

5. The importance of probiotics. Probiotics are a necessary part of any healthy diet, and they can keep your digestive system on target with the amount of healthy bacteria. By combating foods that are not good for you, they can contribute to proper nutrient absorption, aid in breaking down lactose and give your immune system a boost. They may even aid those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics can be found in healthy products such as kefir and low-fat yogurt.

Prosentials: Suffering with nasty digestive problems? This probiotic formula can make a difference. 6. Follow a healthy schedule. Following a regular eating schedule can keep your digestive system running right. Plan to eat around the same time every day and include a healthy balance of snacks and regular meals.

7. Drink plenty of water. Water is refreshing and can help the body stay hydrated. It can also contribute to a healthy digestive system by helping to dissolve fats and soluble fiber. This can contribute to keeping the body running regularly and alleviate bloat and discomfort.

8. Ditch the bad habits. Alcohol, smoking and excessive caffeine usage are all bad habits that can hinder your digestive system from running right. It can also lead to other health issues such as heartburn and stomach ulcers.

9. Regular exercise. Exercising on a regular basis can keep the foods that you eat moving throughout your digestive tract. It can also reduce your chances of experiencing constipation and help you maintain a normal weight.

10. Dealing with stress. Stress and anxiety can lead to a dysfunctional digestive system. Stress reducing activities such as yoga and meditation can be helpful and should be practiced regularly. The foods you eat and a well-maintained digestive tract can go hand-in-hand. By following the above ten tips, you’re sure to enjoy comfort and regularity.

12 Foods That Control Your Appetite

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When it comes to losing weight, portion control and curtailing the amount of food you eat is important in order to see the best results. However, it can come at the price of hunger pangs and falling off the diet bandwagon in just a matter of weeks.

Without raiding the refrigerator and eating additional calories, there are ways you can calm your ravenous stomach. As a matter of fact, there are specific foods that will send a signal to your brain that you’re done eating.

In order to tune out the tempting voice of the pint of ice cream that keeps calling out your name in the freezer, you’ll want to concentrate on the following satisfying and healthy foods.

Dairy Whey

Whey protein is one of the heartiest and most satisfying of milk products. Individuals who drank this important protein-enriched beverage were found to reduce their calorie intact dramatically then those who consumed a carb-loaded beverage.

Avocado

Avocados are just as filling and incorporating them into your lunch is easy to do. Whether you fill one half with diced broiled chicken breast and vegetables or top them on your favorite salad, you won’t be tempted to visit the nearest vending machine.

Legumes

Lentils, beans and chickpeas are nutrient and protein-rich foods that can pack a lot of B vitamins, iron and antioxidants. Because they are also high in fiber, they are great at appetite control. When consuming super foods such as these, a recent study found that individuals were found to be at least 30 percent more satisfied after the conclusion of the meal.

Apples

An apple one half hour before meal time can keep your cravings at bay. Consuming an apple shortly before you eat can leave you feeling full longer. The water and fiber in the apple helps prevent hunger pangs, so you eat less during meals.

Pickles

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi are known as short-chain fatty acid (SCFAs) foods. In a recent study, researchers found that the correlation between the brain and stomach were often strengthened after consumption. In addition to relieving hunger pangs, the SCFAs were also known to host probiotics and aid in digestion. Probiotics have also been thought to aid in weight loss and reduce appetite.

Soup

A latest Penn State study concluded that broth-based soups are great at curbing your appetite when consumed right before the entrée. Since they take up a lot of space in your stomach, you can reduce your caloric intake by as much as 20 percent and with a lower number of calories.

Chili powder

The capsaicin responsible for giving chili’s their fired up kick can also rev up your metabolism. Research also pointed out that the same compounds when added to a meal can also keep your appetite from getting out of control. Simply adding ¼ tsp to your meal can increase your level of fullness and lessen the desire to snack later on in the evening.

Eggs

A healthy dose of eggs in the morning can help your body feel more satisfied and full. Researchers indicate that the power of not wanting to snack comes from the protein. A breakfast made up of 39 grams from eggs and sausage can help lessen the desire to snack in between breakfast and lunch. When consuming this high-protein breakfast, dieters were also found to consume a lower number of calories by the end of the day.

Dark chocolate

If you have a craving for something sweet and decadent, dark chocolate holds the key to your weight loss goals. Researchers found that in addition to protecting the heart, brain and lowering blood pressure, this delectable snack can prove more satisfying than its milk chocolate counterpart. As a matter of fact, participants in the study who consumed dark chocolate were shown to eat as much as 17 percent fewer amount of calories during meal time.

Oatmeal

While cold cereal can be good for you, a warm bowl of oatmeal can keep your tummy feeling fuller longer. Participants in a recent study were given either cereal or oatmeal to eat. The group who consumed oatmeal was found to be satisfied longer than those who didn’t. Since oatmeal is high in protein and fiber, this nutritious bowl of gooeyness can also aid in heart problem and hydration.

Nuts

While an essential nutrient to aid in your health and wellness, nuts are another feel good and filling food. Based on a study found in the British Journal, overweight women who paired orange juice, 3 tablespoons of peanut butter and Cream of Wheat had the capacity to feel fuller longer by as much as 12 hours. Nuts are a natural appetite suppressant because they are high in protein, fiber and unsaturated fat. This powerful food booster can regulate blood sugar and slow down digestion when mixed together with carbs such as brown rice and oatmeal.

Water

Running low on water can trick your body into thinking it’s ravenous. Because hunger symptoms are the same to feeling of dehydration, a reduction in cognitive development, crankiness and low energy can often ensue. The next time you get the afternoon munchies, reach for a tall glass of water instead. You’ll be amazed at how fast your hunger pangs dissipate.

The New Science Behind America’s Deadliest Diseases

[Image 2]These days there are all sorts of different body problems, diseases and sickness’ that people and scientists have a hard time figuring out exactly what is causing them; there are just so many different factors. But what some do not realize is that heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer have a lot in common. All of these, for certain, have one thing in common; scientists have found a connection from each of these to a condition called chronic inflammation. Along with this, they are also studying how a diet that is high in fatty foods, as well as having an exuberance of body weight, can also increase the risk for fatal disorders.

Chronic Inflammation is nothing out of the norm but is rather a natural response for the body; naturally responding to injury and outside irritation. Often those irritations do not go away, and this happens because of poor diets, being overweight and smoking. All of these components can then negatively affect the immune system which then increases the risk for disease. If the inflammation becomes chronic it can cause damage to the heart, brain, increase the chance of stroke and bring on diabetes. The worst part is that chronic inflammation is also linked to the development of cancer. Chronic inflammation is most common due to its relation to cardiovascular disease. Inflammation is natural, for instance, when the body has a cut, scrape or wound, and then the immune system rushes to the rescue. However, too much inflammation causes serious damage.

Research is being done to fight chronic inflammation with drugs, but a number of scientists are researching how a change from an unhealthy, high in fat diet to a healthy diet can actually lower the risk; dietary fiber and even dairy may protect from inflammation. Eating healthy and watching your weight is a good way of lowering the risk of chronic inflammation. Consuming a diet high in complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, unsaturated fats and dairy in moderation is a great way to lower the risk of inflammation. Along with a healthy diet, exercise is a key component when battling inflammation. Obesity is one of the easiest ways to promote inflammation. Fat cells create molecules called cytokines, which then give the okay for inflammation to occur when there is an excess of fat cells in the body. Dr. Peter Libby, chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School says, “We’ve learned that abdominal fat tissue is a hotbed of inflammation that pours out all kinds of inflammatory molecules.” Losing excess body weight can dramatically decrease inflammation in a short period of time.

Cancer is caused by many different abnormalities but one for sure is inflammation. Inflammation can be dealt with by keeping off excess body fat and eating a healthy diet. By living a healthy lifestyle the chance of inflammation is lowered which then eliminates at least one factor towards cancer.

7 Nutrients That Help Increase Muscle Tone

When it comes to achieving an awe-inspiring body, calories aren’t the only factor to be taken into consideration. With a mixture of eating the right foods and exercising, you’ll be able to achieve your goal of slimming down and building strong muscles.

Your muscles actually break down and cause microtears in the tissues fibers every time you perform exercises such as curls and presses. When your body is at rest, it’s then able to strengthen and rebuild muscles. However, in order for it to repair properly, it needs the right amount of fuel to get the job done. Essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals can allow you to get the recommended daily dosage that will help you to look good and feel great.

Vitamin C

A little color added to your plate at every meal can help create better tone and definition in your arms. Fortunately, a healthy dose of vitamin C can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. The health of your blood vessels is dependent on your vitamin C consumption. This essential nutrient can also contribute to the way your muscles work and recover after a workout. After your body receives the necessary 75 mg. daily requirements, you’ll be able to store the material properly in order to build strong bones and muscles. You can find the recommended allotment by consuming a cup of strawberries, medium orange or half a red pepper.

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are a crucial nutrient that will help decrease inflammation and help a body recover faster after a workout. Known to increase the flow of blood to the muscles and lessen the breakdown of muscle protein, consuming fish oil on a regular basis can even help prevent diabetes by improving an individual’s sensitivity to insulin.

The American Heart Association has guidelines in place that recommends consuming two servings of fish on a weekly basis. This could include anything from lake trout and herring to salmon and albacore tuna. If you can’t stomach the taste of fish or you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you can get your recommended 1,000 to 3,000 milligram supplement in chia seeds, walnuts, flax seeds or algae-based products.

Calcium

If you’re looking to maintain strong bones and healthy muscles, you’ll find calcium to be an essential nutrient. With every weight you lift, this important mineral gives your body the nutrients that it needs to contract and grow.

To get your allotted 1,200 mg. per day, you’ll want to try to consume foods such as green veggies, yogurt, cheese, milk and cottage cheese. You’ll also find fortified dairy-free products and supplements for those who are lactose intolerant. If you’re shooting for a pill, look for one with vitamin D. You should also select supplements that contain 500 to 600 mg. of calcium.

Magnesium

The deficiency of magnesium is a rare occurrence in the U.S. However, when it comes to not getting enough of this essential mineral, it is women who are actually lacking. Since your body needs this important nutrient in order to build muscles and ensure that you’re heart keeps ticking properly, you’ll want to get at least 310 to 320 mg. per day. In addition to regulating your heart, magnesium can also relive muscle soreness and cramps associated with PMS and weight lifting. Foods high in magnesium can include whole-grains, spinach, legumes and nuts. You can also soak it up by drawing yourself a relaxing Epsom salt bath.

B Vitamins

From B1, B2 and B3 to B6 and B12, this gang of supplements can pack a powerful punch. Essential in maintaining overall good health. Because of the way they metabolize protein, provide energy and help the body maintain optimum nerve health, you’ll find the vitamins to be especially important when you’re trying to tone muscles and gain strength.

Adequate amounts of vitamin B can be sought through a daily diet when you consume foods that include whole-grains, lean meats, eggs, nuts, legumes, fortified cereals and leafy greens. Unfortunately, B12 can only be found through animal sources. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll want to consider fortified food sources or taking a supplement to obtain the required 2.4 daily micrograms.

Vitamin D

It seems that everyone is singing the praises of this powerful sunshine vitamin today. From mood inducing powers and a strong immune system to muscle building properties, and the growth and development of your bones and teeth, you’ll find that vitamin D is an essential vitamin that you can’t do without.

While you can get adequate vitamin D through daily exposure to the sun, you have skin cancer to contend with. Mushrooms, eggs, fortified dairy products, oysters and cod liver oil can help you achieve your recommended 4,000 to 6,000 (IU) of vitamin D. You can also take a supplement. A simple blood test taken by your primary care physician can help you determine if you’re vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin E

Reaching for a handful of almonds after a workout can provide a wealth of nutrients that includes healthy fats, fiber, protein and vitamin E. This important antioxidant can be beneficial in your muscle recovery after you exercise. However, maintaining the right recommended dosage is important because anything over 300 mg. can cause weakness, nausea and stomach cramping

7 Times When Food is the Answer

While stuffing your face with food can bring momentary satiation, you’ll find it can fill you with remorse later on. However, noshing on fortifying foods can lead to greater satisfaction with every bite you take.

If You’re Going Through a Funk?: Reach for a Sweet Potato.

When you feel the urge to snack, try to resist the temptation to reach for unhealthy snacks such as candy or chips. A baked sweet potato is a nutritious alternative to junk food and a great source of carbohydrates. The surge of serotonin experienced when you consume an orange potato can boost your mood with this natural feel-good chemical. Because sweet potatoes are also loaded with fiber, the carbs will enter into your system gradually. This keeps your energy stabilized instead of crashing like you would experience after binging on peanut butter cups.

You Find it Difficult to Sleep?: Snack on Hummus

Hummus is a delicious and nutritious Middle Eastern snack that will help you sleep soundly. Chickpeas contain an important amino acid called tryptophan. This melatonin-like substance will naturally increase your sleep inducing hormones, making it easy to fall asleep at night.

Achy Muscles: Drink a Glass of Tart Cherry Juice

If you pushed yourself to extreme levels at the gym, and you want to ensure that you’re able to work out tomorrow, ditch your protein shake for a glass of tart cherry juice. The anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants in tart cherries can help an individual recover quicker after a workout. The anthocyanins can also reduce muscle soreness before and after you exercise.

Feeling Lethargic and Sluggish?: Try Adding a Glass of Coconut Water

Limited energy and feelings of tiredness indicate a lack of water consumption. Without this important nutrient, your muscles and brain won’t be able to function properly. Instead of turning to your typical cup of Java, you can switch to a glass of coconut water instead. This nutritious pick-me-up is chalk full of electrolytes, calcium, potassium and magnesium to keep your fluids flowing throughout your body.

Stomach Rebellion?: Make Time for Peppermint Tea

A heavy meal or unsettled tummy can leave you feeling bloated and doubled over in pain. However, drinking a cup of peppermint tea can relieve the discomfort and pain associated with stomach issues such as indigestion or IBS.

Pounding Migraine?: Consume Spinach

When a pounding headache or migraine appears, most people seek relief by popping a pill. However, spinach contains riboflavin, magnesium and other essential nutrients that can combat the pain and discomfort associated with a migraine. Most ERs and hospitals use a magnesium supplement to alleviate the pain, but greenery such as spinach is definitely worth a try.

Low Blood Sugar?: Get Out the Dried Apricots

If you’re looking to increase the levels of blood sugar in your system, you should consume something sweet. However, this shouldn’t send you scurrying for the nearest bowl of sugar. Apricots are a healthy and natural sweet source of sugar and a much better option for the body. Since they are also high in both fructose and glucose, dried apricots can also immediately spike your blood sugar levels. However, you don’t want to raise your blood sugar levels too high, so try to stick to three to five pieces.

10 Tips for Everlasting Energy

The following proven tips will help jump start your day and allow you to feel energized!

Get an Early Start

Individuals who get an early start by leaving the comforts of their bed by 7 a.m. will have a greater attention span throughout the day. An added bonus is that most of those early birds also experienced a happier and healthier outlook on life. Waking up early provides a person with the chance to sleep more sound at night as opposed to their night owl counterparts. Since society is on a nine-to-five schedule, early risers will find their internal alarm clocks to be more in sync.

You can engage a few tricks if getting out of bed early is not your thing. To snap yourself out of a night of slumber, you can try putting your alarm clock at the farthest part of your room. Your body will find it difficult to go back to bed once you’ve gotten up. You can also start your morning with a quick shower, brisk run or by drinking a refreshing glass of water.

Speed Up Your Metabolism with Sex

Getting frisky in the morning with sex can help release pent up tension. It can also speed up your metabolism and start your day off with an energized punch. Physical interaction in the early morning hours stimulates the body’s production of cortisol. For people who have obtained a good night’s sleep, higher levels of cortisol can contribute to their overall well-being and heightened energy levels. A great bout of sex can also increase a person’s endorphins. This will leave you with a skip in your step as you head off to work.

Replace Your Morning Cup of Java with Water

While a tall latte can sharpen your mental alertness, too much of a good thing can have the opposite effect. Drinking a cup of Joe can give you a much needed burst of energy. However, your body could experience quite the crash later in the day. Instead of becoming dependent on your morning java run, you can replace your mug of coffee with cold glasses of water. You can also be kind to the environment by ditching your plastic versions in favor of a stylish water bottle. Try to replenish your water a minimum of three to five times throughout the day.

If your body is still craving that cup of java to get you going, you can try to postpone your mug of coffee to later in the morning. Since most cortisol levels begin their decline between the hours of 9:00 and 11:30 a.m., the stimulant in coffee will be most effective.

Add a Meal to Your Day

The body requires food throughout the day and going for long periods of time in between can cause a reduction in energy. Low blood sugar caused by a lack of food can also make it difficult to focus. Replacing your morning and afternoon snack breaks with an extra meal can keep you fully functioning. They should also be spaced approximately four hours apart. Depending on your activity level, your meals should be between 400 and 600 calories.

To get the most out of your meals, try combining complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat. Menus options could include mixed greens, grilled chicken and an oil and vinegar based salad dressing and whole-grain toast with peanut butter and sliced banana.

Get Down with a Healthy Dosage of Vitamin D

Individuals who fail to consume the required amount of vitamin D can experience bone and muscle weakness, chronic fatigue and mental impairment. While the recommended daily intake is 600 IUs, most women average their daily intake around 276 IUs. The vitamin D deficiencies are most common in the winter months when the exposure to the sun’s light is more limited.

Fatty fish, fortified orange juice and non-fat milk are excellent sources, but you may need an additional daily supplement, especially when the sun is at its most limited levels. If you’re struggling with fatigue, you can also have your physician test your levels during your annual check-up.

Make a Commitment to Exercise

If you’re looking to recharge your batteries, a good workout is just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, convincing your body that it’s in need of exercise can be a difficult process. Strong motivators such as reminding yourself of how good you’ll feel afterward can help jumpstart your workout.

To lessen the levels of fatigue and improve your performance during your workout sessions, try scheduling your activity the same time each day. While any exercise and movement is great for your health and wellness, people who exercised early in the morning had the most effective boosts of energy after its completion.

Shake Up Your Routine

Whether you’re changing your route into work or you want to try a different workout, exposing your body to new experiences can increase your feel-good hormones. While you don’t have to make drastic changes such as scouring mountain tops or changing careers, you can open your normal routine up to new experiences.

Get Moving

Simple things around your home such as your comfy bed, chair and car can be stealing your energy levels. People who sit for long periods of time may find themselves more physically and mentally drained. It also raises your chances for illnesses and diseases, even if you get sufficient exercise each day.

You can prevent being chained to your desk by scheduling five minute bursts that allow your heart rate to get pumping and elevated. A simple run up and down the stairs, walk around the office building or session of group office jumping jacks can pump your blood. In addition to helping you stay more alert and focused, the brief bursts of activity could also contribute to weight loss.

Add Some Melody and Base

Music that is upbeat can be more inspiring than a good workout. The body is hardwired to subliminally tailor the body’s rhythm to rival what we are exposed to. If you find yourself tired and nodding off, you can select a song on your headphones that gets you moving.

If you’re at the gym, try selecting something with 140 beats per minute to get your body pumped and energized. If your gym mates don’t mind, you can even sing or hum along to the tunes. Individuals who incorporated music into their exercise routine also found it to be easier to do.

Steer Clear of Negative “Nancy’s”

Whether it’s the co-worker who seeks drama or the gym buddy who wants constant advice on their latest conquests, you need to avoid people who try to bring you down with their own problems. Listening to someone else’s hardships takes time. It can also be exhaustive to be the problem-solver.

While you don’t want to cut these people out of your life completely, you need to set some boundaries. Give them 10 minutes of your time to tell a condensed version of their story. Be brief and to the point in your response and move on. This allows you to help them out and retain your positive mental outlook on life.

5 Super Food Alternatives

If you’re looking to change up your food habits, you’ll find the following options an exciting alternative.

While super foods such as blueberries, quinoa, and garlic generate a lot of nutritional buzz, you’ll find that they’re not the only items that can prevent disease and improve your health and wellness. There are a number of foods equally loaded with nutrition that a person overlooks in favor of the originals.

Super Food: Quinoa
What it Does: The best whole-grain for losing weight
The Sleeper: Oatmeal

When you’re looking for a super grain, you don’t want to overlook the nutritional capabilities of oats. While quinoa has a total of eight grams of protein versus the six in oats, it doesn’t contain a unique ingredient like its counterpart. Beta glucan is a particular fiber that raises the body’s appetite controlling hormone called PYY. Oats can keep you feeling fuller longer and comes in at only 166 calories. That makes it a more weight conscious selection over the 220 in quinoa.

Super Food: Garlic
What it Does: Fights cancer
The Sleeper: Onions

Both garlic and onions come from the same vegetable family and are chalk full of organosulfur compounds. Onions also contain cancer fighting agents that can stall the growth of tumors. However, purple onions are loaded with a powerful disease fighting hue called anthocyanins and are more nutritious than both white and yellow onions.

Super Food: Blueberries
What it Does: Combats cardiovascular disease by protecting the heart
The Sleeper: Bananas

Bananas contain essential minerals and nutrients that can help combat cardiovascular disease. While blueberries are rich in nutrients, you’ll find that bananas contain over three times the potassium and magnesium. This can help regulate blood pressure and keep the heart in good physical condition.

Super Food: Almonds
What it Does: Some say they are the healthiest of nuts
The Sleeper: Peanuts

Some say almonds are the favorite nut at present. However, peanuts are just as delicious and nutritious. Similar in fiber and calories, you’ll find the peanut to be above average when it comes to protein. Peanuts are also a winner in antioxidants, as they contain just as many as the average berry.

Super Food: Black beans
What it Does: An excellent source of protein for vegetarians
The Sleeper: Peas

Black beans and split peas are both a great source of protein, complex carbs and fiber. While black beans offer 45 percent of a day’s worth of iron, split peas are just as nutritious and come in around 32 percent.

11 Surprising Facts About Your Heart

Straight from the Heart

One of the hardest working muscles in the human body is your heart. The heart beating capabilities of this extraordinary muscle are powerful with it being able to beat approximately 3 billion times throughout an individual’s lifetime. With every beat of your heart, it can also pump out close to two ounces of blood. Over the average day, this can equate to a minimum of 2,500 gallons of the red stuff.

Sedentary Lifestyle Could Equate to Trouble

For health conscious individuals who want to stay heart healthy, you may want to reduce the amount of time in front of the T.V. You may also want to do a little more walking than driving. A study of nearly 30,000 individuals across 52 countries showed that the group of people who owned a T.V. and automobile had a greater risk of a heart attack by as much as 27 percent over individuals without. However, the studies also cautioned that it was the lack of exercise that caused the increase risk of a heart attack and not the actual machines.

The Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

A slimmed down Mario Batali isn’t the only one who has benefited from the Mediterranean diet. Research suggests that individuals with heart disease who follow this particular eating regimen can prevent a second heart attack from occurring. Mediterranean eating consists of consuming fruits, vegetables, fish, high-fiber grain, beans, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Dieters are also asked to limit eating sweets and cheese.

Pollution is Just as Toxic for the Heart

Studies have shown the negative effects of pollution on a person’s lungs. Scientists are also finding the toxic air that you breathe can also be responsible for harming your heart. When the toxic air is inhaled, the harmful molecules can cause both your heart and lungs to become contaminated. Individuals who have been exposed to polluted air can also be at a higher risk for arrhythmias.

A Broken Heart

The despair and overwhelming feelings of depression and anger caused by grief can take a toll on a person. The sadness and shock of losing a loved one can also leave feelings of anguish and bring on a sudden heart attack. A recent study of more than 2,000 heart attack survivors indicated that the risk of a heart attack was greater after the death of a loved one than after any other time. As the grief subsided, so did the risk of a heart attack.

Your Heart as the Focal Point

When the Pledge of Allegiance is usually recited, you’ll notice that most individuals place their hands over the left side of their bodies. While the heart may feel like it’s favoring the left side, your heart is actually centered toward the middle of the chest. However, a heart defect called dextrocardia has the heart being placed on the opposite side.

A Cup of Java to Reduce Risks

Coffee with caffeine can cause the heart to beat faster. However, a surprising study found that individuals who drank coffee were less likely to be hospitalized or concerned about heart arrhythmia. While caffeine can often cause the heart to beat faster, studies have shown that consuming more than four cups of coffee daily were fund to lessen a person’s risk by as much as 18 percent. Individuals who drank between one to three cups per day found their risk to be at 7 percent. However, physicians are not likely to prescribe coffee as a way to protect the heart.

It’s the Size of an Apple

The heart is the size of an average apple and can weigh between seven and 15 ounces. This can equate to being a littler bigger than your fist.

It Never Stops Ticking

Your heart begins ticking approximately 22 days after you’ve been conceived. By the time it ends, the average heart can end up beating as much as 3.5 billion times according to research.

Men versus Women

Both male and female hearts experience the same rate of beat before conception. However, a male heart can beat approximately 70, while women can experience around 78 beats.

Does Sneezing Stop the Heart?

The age old saying says that sneezing can trigger the heart to stop. However, heart aficionados find that saying to be simply just a myth.

The 14 Best Things You Can Do for Your Body

Sleep

Hard working individuals can often be sleep deprived. Unfortunately, your sleep patterns can contribute to your health and wellness. The effort and time that you put into eating a healthy diet and exercising will be ineffective if you’re not getting the required seven to eight hours of sleep each night, especially if you try to play a game of catch up on the weekends. Researcher’s findings suggest that a lack of sleep can play havoc with the brain’s ability to flush out harmful toxins. It can also impair the way the brain functions properly.

Meditation

Thought to be a passing trend, meditation is a popular method of exercise that packs a serious health punch. While the om-ing party is optional, you’ll find that taking a minimum of 10 to 20 minutes to relax, focus and unwind on a regular basis can help improve a person’s mental capabilities and longevity. Studies have also shown that meditation can help individuals obtain a better night’s sleep, improve the body’s immune system, strengthen cardiovascular function and reduce stress. Because you’re disconnected from the problems associated with everyday life, you’ll find that you can retain a more positive and happy attitude through meditation.

Refresh with Warm Water and Lemon

It’s important to start your day off right with a nutritious breakfast, as it can set the tone for the remainder of your day. Try to select something rich in protein and fiber, as it will keep you satisfied and less prone to snacking. However, starting your day with a glass of warm water and lemon can help detoxify the body and stimulate your intestinal track. It can even give you that caffeine-free energy boost needed to get you through a busy day.

Floss Those Pearly Whites

In addition to brushing your teeth, you’ll find that regular flossing can improve your health and wellness. Gums that are ignored can get infected and cause bacteria to build up. It can then enter the body’s bloodstream and cause inflammation and infection. Try to floss after each meal or at least once a day to get rid of food and particles littering the mouth’s atmosphere.

Consume More Tea

Water aside, consuming green tea on a regular basis has a host of benefits that include boosting your metabolism, improve mental capabilities, lower blood pressure, reduce bad breath and strengthening the body’s immune system. Research also shows that the consumption of green tea can also provide anti-inflammatory agents to aid the body.

The Popularity of Probiotics

Probiotics have been the hottest topic in recent commercials and magazine articles. In order to maintain overall good health, the answer may lie within your digestive system. In order to keep your digestive system smooth and regular, you’ll want to consume a probiotic product every day. In addition to regularity, probiotics can also boost your mood and strengthen your immune system.

Warm-up Before Exercise

Individuals who started their routine with static stretching before exercising had reduced strength as opposed to people who followed a proper warm-up routine. The latest studies has shown that people who began their exercise regimen with a muscle warming routine that included high skips and lunges enhanced their performance and enjoyed an injury-free workout.

Stay Fit with HIIT

Studies from Liverpool John Moores University suggested that high intensity interval training (HIIT) can garner similar benefits that you would normally get from endurance training. However, you’ll spend about half the time or less at the gym to gain the same outcome. While any type of sweat-induced workout is crucial to your health and wellness, HIIT can improve your level of fitness and combat diseases that include diabetes, heart ailments and hypertension.

Steer Clear of BPAs

Bisphenol A is a chemical that is used in producing many of today’s common household items such as cans of food and water bottles. Over the years, the effects of BPA have commanded a bit of controversy. Based on the latest findings, being exposed to BPA can cause serious harm with issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and reproductive problems. However, the FDA has evidence to support both sides of the debate. You can steer clear of BPAs by purchasing products in glass bottles and avoiding recycle codes that state 3 or 7 on the bottom.

Implement a Proper Skincare Regimen

Since your skin is one of the biggest organs, you need to take proper care of it. This means that you should begin your day by liberally applying sunscreen after you’ve cleansed your skin. You should also carefully choose your skin care products and avoid chemicals and other harmful toxins. You can read labels carefully and avoid products that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. These items are harmful and could strip your skin and hair of special nutrients needed to retain moisture. They could also prove toxic when mixed with other skincare ingredients.

Limit UV Rays

Slathering your body in sunscreen is especially important in preventing sun damage. However, you can go a step further and protect your eyes with the right sunglasses. The UV protection that sunglasses provide can keep your eyes healthy and protect them from cataracts, sunburn and skin cancer. UV-400 and 99-100 percent do the best at providing the proper eye protection.

Go Green

Antioxidant-rich leafy green vegetables should be added to your menu at every meal. They are chalk full of nutrients and can help prevent cancer, control weight management and keep the body regular. You can also supplement with a green powder such as spirulina if you’re pressed for time. This greenish-blue form of algae is high in protein, B vitamins, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene and zinc.

Enjoy the Benefits of Fiber

Fiber is the main component to eating a healthy diet, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. In addition to keeping your body regular, fiber can aid in weight loss and contribute to your longevity. It has also been shown to moderate the body’s inflammation, reduce blood pressure, lower bad levels of cholesterol and reduce your risk of diabetes.

Make Love

While you may not have to be told to have more sex, you’ll find that research is in your favor about regular time spent underneath sheets. Regular sex has a variety of benefits that can enhance your sleep habits, make you feel and look more youthful, boost your immunity, improve your cardiovascular health and protect against cancers. Research has also shown that you can live longer too, so go ahead and get busy!

Can Staying Positive Extend Your Life?

The latest study in Lancet medical journal has strengthened the belief that a positive outlook can keep cancer at bay and give new hope to staying alive. Six dozen patients who were recovering from breast cancer were the basis for the study. The individuals who showed a fighting spirit and reacted to their situation positively had a better survival rate and reduced signs of residual cancer than the people who experienced feelings of despair and hopelessness. Additional studies seem to back this evidence up, allowing the optimal benefits to get admitted into the medical doctrine.

On the pessimistic side, multiple studies have also found the evidence to be lacking. Neither positive nor negative emotions were shown to impact the outcome and prognosis of those suffering from a serious illness. While there will always be new claims to the power of positivity, experts believe that the earlier results were based on the importance of a person’s living conditions, health, and their happiness.

While the data may be lacking, the powerful belief may be doing widespread damage. Patients battling cancer may try to act happy and upbeat when they’re actually feeling down and distraught, especially if their disease progresses. It could also keep them from getting treatment or solace during their time of need. Positive thinking could even complicate future research since it can be difficult to tell if a patient is suppressing their actual feelings or truly retaining a conquering spirit.

Why Women’s Immune Systems Are Stronger Than Men’s

The age old stereotype of women overreacting has been long touted. However, there could be a smidge of truth to it when you’re talking about their immune system.
A new study has found that the immune system in women is significantly stronger than a man’s when it comes to their reaction to the flu vaccine. Women of various age groups had a higher antibody production rate and a raise in the inflammatory cytokine count than their male counterparts.

Male Versus Female Immune System

The gender gap related to immune reactions has been commonly known. However, the mechanics behind the reasoning has remained a mystery among scientists. The latest study has shined new light on the findings identifying various genes regaled by testosterone. They may also deem them as a major component to the response mechanism. The greater the testosterone levels of the individual involved, you’ll find the immune reaction to the vaccine to be lower.

In general terms, the immune system response of a woman is stronger than those of a man. While this can mean good news because they’re less susceptible to viral, bacterial, fungal and other various types of infections than men, their immune systems are more suspect to overreact.

An over stimulated immune system can go after healthy tissue as seen in autoimmune illnesses that include lupus. It can also pose life threatening complications in post-infection issues where an abundance of immune cells have compromised the way the body functions normally.

It’s All in the Genes

The current study examined the way the immune system responded to seasonal vaccinations in both men and women between the ages of 20 to 89. Based on the blood tests, they were able to ascertain and isolate the genes at the center of fat metabolism. Regulated by testosterone, the researchers found that the male genes showing higher hormone levels had tested lower for the antibody response.

The latest findings centered on genes, the sex chromosome location and how the response to vaccinations is affected by the immune system. The current research has also paved the path for testosterones important role, the treatment of immunological overreactions, and the reasoning behind the raised rate of autoimmune diseases in women.

How Sleep Clears the Brain of Toxins

The latest studies have found that the brain gets rid of toxic materials through its cells after a good night’s rest. They also concluded that there is a biological purpose to sleeping and that waste disposal may be at the center of its restorative properties.

There could also be a significant connection for treating and comprehending certain diseases that include Alzheimer’s. The study also indicated the various functional states of the brain during the stages of sleeping and while awake.

The therapeutic nature of when you sleep is the outcome of activity clearance based on the neural movement that gathers during the waking up period.

Published in the journal of Science, the findings indicate the highest level of activity occurs during sleep, when the brain goes through its own method of cleansing. During the restful hours of slumber, the toxins that would typically build up and cause neurological complications such as Alzheimer’s disease instead clear away. It was also concluded the reduction of the size of the brain cells during sleep and how it allows waste to be effectively removed.

By pumping cerebral spinal fluid to the tissue of the brain and releasing the toxins into the liver and blood circulation system, you’ll realize the how the brain’s glymphatic waste disposal system runs.

It was also being speculated in regards to the compatibility between the cleaning process and brain functions that must be performed during wakefulness.

The brain has a certain amount of energy at its disposal, and it must make the selection between the two various states. Similar to a social gathering, you can either choose to entertain your guests or clean up after them. However, you can’t do both tasks at the same time.

5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 A.M.

Love it or hate it, morning time is inevitable, and taking advantage of the early bird hours before you head to work can hold the key to a healthy, happy and successful lifestyle. This common trait is found in some of the most influential early risers around the globe such as CEOs, government officials and world leaders who were known to get up before the crack of dawn. While most individuals think that they are at their best in the evening, a recent study concluded that people were more productive and energetic in the morning. The health benefits for morning revelers were also significant. The following are five productive activities successful individuals find to do before 8 a.m.

1. Exercise and Fitness

Exercising and keeping fit in the morning can pave the way for a successful and energized day ahead. Whether you work out at the gym, schedule a yoga session, bike ride, walk or run, a morning fitness routine can bring you a sense of accomplishment that carries over throughout your busy day. Tackling a mountain of paperwork is easier to do after starting your day with a couple of sets of push-ups. If the thought of a 5 a.m. wake-up call shocks your senses, try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier and stretch or do a couple of reps of sit-ups. This can still prep you for your day ahead.

2. Implement a Plan

You can maximize your day’s potential by implementing a plan ahead of time. The morning is the ideal time to put things in motion and map out a schedule of your day’s events. In addition to it being peaceful and quiet, you’ll be more alert to schedule and prioritize the tasks that need to be dealt with. Make time for mental health breaks, especially after a grueling set of meetings. A walk around the block or brief meditation can be beneficial to managing your stress and relaxation. You should also set time aside to pack nutritious snacks for the following day.

3. Make Time for Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and rushing out the door with a cup of coffee and an empty stomach won’t keep you satisfied all morning. Instead of relying on the vending machines or food trucks, you need to fuel your body with healthy food, especially if you’ve just worked out. Breakfast can keep you satisfied and in top physical shape to take on the challenges at work. Sitting down to an early morning meal with the family can promote bonding and lift your spirits before you start your day.

4. Meditation and Visualization

So much importance is placed on a person’s physical health now-a-days. However, mental health is equally important and can alleviate stress and mental exhaustion. Positive visualization and meditation can be beneficial in the early morning hours, when it’s most quiet. Focusing on your goals and accomplishments can improve your outlook for the day ahead.

5. Schedule Your Least Favorite Task for Early in the Day

Everyone has at least one dreaded task on their schedule that looms over them throughout their day or week. After much procrastination and nagging, you may finally set your mind to accomplishing it. To save yourself stress and aggravation, you should schedule a time to deal with the unpleasantness early on. In addition to getting it out of the way in the begining part of the day, you’ll find that you have more energy and a sharper mind to contend with the annoyance in the early morning hours. This can then leave you in a more jovial mood to enjoy the rest of your work day.

The Secret to Staying Motivated

Stop focusing on losing weight! You’ll find the following five reasons more of a motivator to get moving.

Managing a hectic schedule can be a challenge and tasks with immediate payoffs can often fall to the wayside. Included in that checklist is exercise. Working out typically competes with other tasks that need to get done throughout your busy day. In order for it to make the top of the list, it has to offer something beneficial. A recent study focused on woman who kept track of instant results after exercising. Many found that they had more energy and felt an overall sense of happiness. They also worked out 34 percent more during the course of the year than individuals who made their appearance and weight-loss goals their primary focus. Since it can take months to see any actual physical changes, you’ll find that exercise can feel like just another obligation.

Focusing on the following five instant health benefits will help you retool your motivation and reap the benefits of exercise.

REWARD 1: Encourage Productivity and Brainpower

Skipping your workout to get ahead at work may feel like a wise decision, but you may reap more benefits out of a quick class at the gym. Research has indicated that 20 minutes of exercise can increase brain functioning and allow you to plan, coordinate and schedule. This ramped up focus can last up to an hour, so you need to plan your exercise when it can benefit you most during the day.

REWARD 2: Connect on a Healthy Level

Social communication can have a significant effect on your health and aid in preventing high blood pressure, mental illness, alcoholism, suicide and illnesses or diseases. Finding shared activities such as a Zumba class at the gym or running with a group can keep you on task and benefit your mind and spirit. People who make exercise a part of their daily lives were perceived as more outgoing, personable, kind and attractive to others than individuals who don’t work out.

REWARD 3: Healthy and Hydrated Skin

Facials can be a pricey affair. However, you’ll find that exercise and sweating to be an inexpensive way to score healthy looking skin. Getting your heart rate to rise will increase your blood flow and circulation to the skins surface. After the body uses some of the sweat droplets to cool its system, the rest will be absorbed back into the skin to give it a hydrated and healthy glow.

REWARD 4: Great Sex

A good workout can make your love making sessions more stimulating. A published study found that women who exercised 20 minutes before watching an erotic movie experienced increased genital arousal by as much as 150 percent. Working out stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and increases the blood flow and lubrication to the vaginal tissue. The rise in sexual arousal can last up to 30 minutes, so you may want to plan your workout at home.

REWARD 5: A Good Night’s Sleep

People who exercised moderately at least 30 minutes a day each week found that they were able to go to sleep faster each night. They also experienced less drowsiness during the daytime hours. A good workout can reduce stress and anxiety and aids individuals in getting a more peaceful rest each night. It doesn’t matter when you work out, as long as you get it in daily throughout the week.

How to lower blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common. According to a new study done by Harvard, high blood pressure helps contribute to 15 percent of the deaths in the United States. Additionally, the American Heart Association has stated that 28 percent of people in America have hypertension and do not even know it. You should see your doctor if you have not had your blood pressure checked within the last two years.

There are several medications that have been approved to treat hypertension. These medications are very effective, but they can cause side effects such as insomnia, leg cramps and dizziness. The good news is that the majority of people can lower their blood pressure without using any medication. The first step in lowering your blood pressure is to bring your weight down to a healthy number. After that, here are a few suggestions:

1.) Power Walk Hypertensive patients who walked briskly were able to lower their systolic blood pressure, or top number, by 8 mmhg. They were able to lower their diastolic blood pressure, or bottom number, by 6 mmhg. If you exercise regularly, your heart will not have to pump as hard. Attempt to work out vigorously for 30 minutes a day, most days out of the week. Once you have gotten used to working out for a while, try increasing the distance and speed.

2.) Breathe Deeply Meditative and breathing practices, such as yoga, tai chi and qigong help decrease stress hormones. These hormones help increase renin, which is an enzyme in the kidney that causes the blood pressure to increase. Try inhaling and exhaling deeply for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night.

3.) Eat Potassium-Rich Produce Linda Van Horn, who is a professor of preventative medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medical, has stated that potassium-rich vegetables and fruits should be part of every blood pressure lowering regime. She recommends that everyone get between 2,000 mg and 4,000 mg of potassium per day. Dried fruits, orange juice, tomatoes, honeydew melon, bananas and potatoes are foods that are rich in potassium.

4.) Check The Sodium On The Food Labels African Americans, people with a family history of hypertension and the elderly are more likely to have high blood pressure because they may be more sodium sensitive. There is no way to tell whether a person is sodium sensitive, so everyone should watch their sodium intake. Eva Obarzanek, who is a researcher at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, recommends that people reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. Eating less processed foods and putting less salt on your food are two things that you can do to reduce your sodium intake.

5.) Have Some Dark Chocolate Have a ½ ounce serving of dark chocolate every day. There was a study done that showed that 18 percent of people who ate dark chocolate every day were able to lower their blood pressure.

6.) Consume Alcohol In Moderation You can lower your blood pressure by reducing the amount of alcohol that you drink. However, there was a study performed by Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital that showed that light drinkers may be able to lower their blood pressure more than people who do not drink at all. There have also been studies done to show that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease. Women should only consume one alcoholic drink per day, and men should consume two at the most. It is important to note that excessive alcohol consumption can be dangerous.

7.) Switch to Decaffeinated Coffee The debate about the effect that caffeine has on blood pressure has been going on for a long time. Some studies say that caffeine does not affect blood pressure, but there was a study done by Duke University Medical Center that showed that consuming 500 mg of caffeine per day can increase blood pressure by 4 mmhg. Jim Lane, who is a professor at Duke, states that caffeine can cause the blood vessels to tighten. That is why it is recommended to switch to decaffeinated coffee if you are a coffee drinker.

8.) Drink Some Tea There was a study done that showed the subjects who drank three cups of hibiscus tea every day were able to lower their systolic blood pressure by an average of seven points after six weeks. Hibiscus contains phytochemicals that can reduce blood pressure.

9.) Work Less If you work more than 41 hours a week, then you can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure by 15 percent according to a study that was done by the University of California, Irvine. Haiou Yang, who was the lead researcher in the study, stated that working overtime makes it harder for you to exercise and eat healthy. Even though it is hard, try to leave work at a decent time so that you can have time to cook a nutritious meal and go to the gym.

10.) Listen To Relaxing Music According to a study done at the University of Florence in Italy, listening to music can lower your blood pressure. The study involved 28 people who were taking high blood pressure medications. The subjects were asked to listen to Celtic, classical or Indian music for 30 minutes a day. The results of the study showed that the subjects were able to reduce their systolic blood pressure by an average of 3.4 points. After one month, the subjects were able to reduce their systolic blood pressure by 4.4 points.

11.) Get Help for Snoring Snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. People who have sleep apnea have higher levels of aldosterone, which is a hormone that can raise blood pressure. In fact, approximately half of sleep apnea sufferers have high blood pressure. Daytime sleepiness and morning headaches are two other signs of sleep apnea. See your doctor so that you can get checked for obstructive sleep apnea.

12.) Get More Soy In Your Diet There was a study done by Circulation: Journal of The American Heart Association that showed that replacing refined carbohydrates with soy-based foods can lower your systolic blood pressure.

7 Foods That Fight Aging

1. Avocado

This green, pear shaped fruit contains monounsaturated fat, a compound found to protect cells from free radical damage. Eating avocados daily can improve mental clarity, skin texture and bone density. Boron is a mineral that is important to the absorption of calcium and can aid in preventing broken bones. Toxins are another component that contributes to the aging process. Fortunately, avocados have close to 14 grams of fiber and can help speed up the removal of the premature aging toxins. Avocados are delicious when served in their natural form and best eaten when ripe. You can incorporate this protein enriched fruit in soups by adding cucumber and fresh mint. Another great idea is to place it in a favorite wrap with baby greens and wild salmon or mix in slices of avocado with your favorite salad.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is considered a must-have pantry staple. Known to contain important antioxidants that enhance the body, turmeric’s curcuminoid pigments can also protect brain and skin cells from free radical damage. It has also been shown to improve an individual’s focus, mental awareness and can reduce the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

This warm, peppery spice can add depth to your favorite dish such as a coconut, almond milk and banana smoothie. After harvesting a bounty of vegetables this season, you can also sauté kale or spinach in coconut oil and turmeric.

3. Juice Your “Greens”

Give yourself a gold star if you’re a juicer. Juicing has a host of benefits, especially for those who mix their favorite greens into a healthy beverage. Because it breaks down the walls of the plant cells, you’ll find that the nutrients are absorbed quickly into your system, with little digestive effort. One eight-ounce beverage of your favorite “green” juice is equal to consuming two salads without the dressing.

You can take advantage of what each season has to offer with items such as cucumber, spearmint, fennel, kale, dandelion greens and spinach. Add apple, kiwi and lime into the mixture to prevent oxidation.

4. Arctic Char

If you’re looking for the nutrients of salmon without the harmful effects on the environment, arctic char is an excellent nutrient for you. Farmed in an eco-friendly, sustainable manner, it can contain similar amounts of omega-3 fatty acids as wild salmon. Anti-aging benefits can include reduction in wrinkles, brain clarity, improved eyesight and protection against sun damaged skin.

For optimum use, you can pan-sear the salmon and place on a bed of kale or watercress. Add a touch of citrus such as grapefruit sections or orange segments.

5. Hijiki

Hijiki should be included in your next sushi adventure. This pasta-like sea vegetable is loaded with iodine and works in tandem with the thyroid hormone to boost an individual’s metabolism level. Since it’s loaded with fiber, it can also aid in the detoxification of the liver and regulate hormone levels.

Hijki is an ideal texture for individuals who are on a gluten-restricted meal plan. Simply soak it in water, boil for approximately 10 minutes, and you have a dish that resembles pasta. It can also be added to a bowl of mixed greens and tossed with avocado, hemp seeds and tangy pumpkin seeds.

6. Hemp Seeds

No need to break out the Birkenstocks and tie-dye. The consumption of hemp seeds can be beneficial to your skins cells by promoting radiance and firmness. Hemp seeds are the only edible source of omega-6 fat which can contribute to the health and condition of your skins appearance. It’s also an excellent source of protein for those who adhere to a plant-based diet.

Heat and cooking can destroy the delicate oils in hemp seeds, so you’ll find them to be most beneficial when eaten raw. They can also be tossed in your favorite kale salad or protein-enriched mango smoothie.

7. Chlorophyll

No need to do penance for your food sins. Chlorophyll makes up the green pigment in plants and can be purchased in liquid form. Made from mulberry leaves or nettles, it can help countermand the effects of alcohol, coffee and non-organic foods.

Try making your own chlorophyll beverage by mixing chlorophyll with filtered water. You can also flavor to the drink by adding fresh mint or cucumber. A green tea smoothie mixed with chlorophyll is also nutritious and delicious.

10 Tips for Better Digestive Health

There are a number of factors that affect your digestive system such as your lifestyle, stress, and the foods that you choose to eat. Getting the required amount of fiber, drinking plenty of water and exercising can all aid in developing better digestive health. Your body works by breaking down the foods you consume into nutrients and if you fail to be kind to your digestive health, you could run into complications later on.

The following are ten important tips that will help boost and maintain your digestive system.

1. Consume a diet high in fiber. According to the latest studies, a diet that is rich in fiber, whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, can make great strides in the way that you digest your foods. Fiber laden foods provide regularity by keeping things moving throughout your digestive system. This makes you less susceptible to constipation, bloating and fatigue. It can also aid in preventing digestive ailments such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A smooth running digestive tract can also aid those who are trying to shed pounds by helping you to maintain a normal weight range.

2. Insoluble and soluble fiber. Both forms of fiber can aid in your digestive tract. Insoluble fiber is difficult to be digested by the human body and can add solidness to your stools. Forms of insoluble fiber can include vegetables, whole-grains and wheat bran. Soluble fiber attracts water in and discourages your stools from becoming watery. You can get soluble fiber from items such as legumes, seeds, oat bran and nuts.

3. Reduce your consumption of fatty foods. Fatty foods can slow down your digestive system and contribute to constipation. However, getting rid of all that fat is not necessary, as pairing high fibered foods with some that are fatty can bring digestive relief to many individuals.

4. Lean meats a good source of protein. Fatty cuts of meats can irritate your bowel and lead to gas and bloating. Lean protein is necessary to any diet and can be found in food source items such as skinless chicken breasts, pork loin, turkey breast and other lean cuts of meats.

5. The importance of probiotics. Probiotics are a necessary part of any healthy diet, and they can keep your digestive system on target with the amount of healthy bacteria. By combating foods that are not good for you, they can contribute to proper nutrient absorption, aid in breaking down lactose and give your immune system a boost. They may even aid those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics can be found in healthy products such as kefir and low-fat yogurt.

6. Follow a healthy schedule. Following a regular eating schedule can keep your digestive system running right. Plan to eat around the same time every day and include a healthy balance of snacks and regular meals.

7. Drink plenty of water. Water is refreshing and can help the body stay hydrated. It can also contribute to a healthy digestive system by helping to dissolve fats and soluble fiber. This can contribute to keeping the body running regularly and alleviate bloat and discomfort.

8. Ditch the bad habits. Alcohol, smoking and excessive caffeine usage are all bad habits that can hinder your digestive system from running right. It can also lead to other health issues such as heartburn and stomach ulcers.

9. Regular exercise. Exercising on a regular basis can keep the foods that you eat moving throughout your digestive tract. It can also reduce your chances of experiencing constipation and help you maintain a normal weight.

10. Dealing with stress. Stress and anxiety can lead to a dysfunctional digestive system. Stress reducing activities such as yoga and meditation can be helpful and should be practiced regularly. The foods you eat and a well-maintained digestive tract can go hand-in-hand. By following the above ten tips, you’re sure to enjoy comfort and regularity.

14 Foods That Fight Inflammation

Inflammation is an integral part of the immune response and without it, it’s nearly impossible for the body to heal properly. However, when it’s out of control, such as in the case of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, it can do significant damage to the human body. It’s also thought to play a significant role in afflictions such as obesity, cancer and heart disease.

Foods with excessive amounts of saturated fats and sugar can cause the immune system to be over active and lead many to feelings of fatigue, joint pain and blood vessel damage. Other foods may reduce inflammation and should be added to your daily meal plan.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel contain high levels of omeg-3 fatty acids and have been show to lessen the levels of inflammation. To gain the necessary benefits, you need to consume fish at least three times a week, and it should be baked, broiled or boiled. Individuals who consumed this necessary nutrient found their risk of heart disease to be reduced by as much as 20 percent.

Not everyone is a fan of fish and fish oil supplements can lessen the levels of inflammation. However, too much of a good thing can instigate inflammation, so you want to limit your consumption to the daily recommendations for your height and weight.

Consumption of Whole Grains

Whole grains have a greater amount of fiber than refined items such as white rice, bread and pasta and can help with inflammation. A main contributor of inflammation in the blood stream is C-reactive proteins.

Unfortunately, not all products labeled “whole grains” are healthy, and you have to do diligence when shopping. Choose foods that read whole grain as the primary ingredient and no sugars.

Eat Your Leafy Greens

Today’s research has shown that vitamin E can play an important role in guarding the body from pro-inflammatory properties known as cytokines. Cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens have been proven to retain higher levels of vitamins and minerals than their lighter counterparts. Veggies such as kale, broccoli, collard greens and spinach are full of iron, calcium and disease fighting properties.

Antioxidant Packed Nuts

Nuts are another inflammation-fighting food that is rich in calcium, vitamin E and fiber. Almonds and walnuts have a high level of omega-3 fatty acids and are chalk full of antioxidants to aid your body in keeping illnesses and diseases at bay. Whole-grains, nuts, fish and leafy green vegetables all play an important role in the Mediterranean diet. Folks following the diet have seen a reduction in inflammation in as short a span as six weeks.

Soy

Soy is beneficial to the human body, especially in adult women. Many studies have indicated that the estrogen compounds found in many of the soy products contribute to lowering inflammation and CRP. It has also been proven to lessen the negative effects of the heart and bone health when tested on mice.

However, overly processed soy products should be avoided, as they don’t have similar benefits, especially when loaded with preservatives. Tofu, soy milk and edamame are healthier options and should be consumed regularly.

Low-fat Dairy Products

Products high in calcium can be trigger foods for inflammatory diseases because some individuals have a sensitivity and intolerance to casein. However, for those who are able to tolerate low-fat calcium products, skim milk, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt can be beneficial and lessen inflammation and irritability in the stomach.

Bell Peppers

The more color that is added to your diet, the better it is for you. Colorful choices can include peppers, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables and orange squash. In addition to their high levels of vitamins and antioxidants, they also produce lower levels of starch. Bell peppers can be found in an assortment of colors. Chili and cayenne peppers are a hotter variety and can aid as a property found in topical creams to lessen pain and inflammation.

However, physician’s advise that some peppers can irritate individuals who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, so you need to listen to your body and find items that work well for you.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another inflammatory fighting food because they contain lycopene. This has been proven to help individuals fight inflammation in problematic areas of the body such as the lungs. Cooked tomatoes are better than raw because they contain higher levels of lycopene. Tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato juice are all beneficial and have important healing properties.

Beets

Nothing is more brilliant in color than the beet, and its fine color showcases the levels of antioxidant properties. In addition to protecting an individual from heart disease and cancer, it has also been shown to reduce inflammation.

Ginger and Turmeric

Common spices found in Asian and Indian fare have been proven to have anti-inflammatory benefits to an individual. Turmeric regulates the immune system and can aid in the body’s process of reducing inflammation. Its spice relative ginger has also numerous benefits and in addition to reducing inflammation, it can relieve symptoms of indigestion and stomach upset issues.

Garlic and Onions

Aromatic vegetables such as garlic and onions can make a pasta sauce divine. It’s also known for boosting an individual’s immune system. Research has shown that garlic has similar benefits to medical products such as ibuprofen and can shut down the roads that lead to inflammation. Onions have similar anti-inflammatory properties and important compounds.

Olive Oil

Plant based fats such as olive oil is an integral part of a healthy diet, and it’s good for reducing inflammation. The Mediterranean diet has a host of benefits that are mainly due to the use of olive oil. The primary compound found in olive oil has been found to have similar effects of painkillers when consumed.

Berries

Fruits are low in fat and calories. Because they are high in antioxidants, they can aid in fighting inflammation. The properties that give them their deep color can help individuals with arthritis, intestinal inflammation and cancer.

Tart Cherries

One of the best foods for reducing inflammation is tart cherries and research has shown this magnificent fruit can aid it by as much as 50 percent. It’s also been shown to help athletes up their performance levels and recover properly afterward.

A recommended serving is approximately 1 ½ cups of the actual fruit or drinking one cup of the tart cherry juice each day to enjoy significant benefits. Unfortunately sweet cherries were not proven to be the same, so you need to make sure that you’re consuming the tart variety to gain the most benefits.

3 New Fat-Busting Supplements for Speedy Weight Loss

When you thought there couldn’t be more to say about weight loss supplements, researchers come out with some new information. By combining plant-derived compounds and methods of experimenting to boost their effectiveness, three new supplements can be added to the weight loss list.

1. Resveratrol: Boost Your Metabolism

Resveratrol was once praised for its anti-aging powers by extending the lifespan of mice, but it has since lost some of its magic. Taken from the skin of grapes and red wine, the extract had shown potential in reducing health issues such as cardiovascular disease.

As researchers began to give up on resveratrol, they found that it had great potential to aid in weight loss. Based on a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, men who consumed a daily dose of 150 mg experienced low blood sugar, reduced levels of blood pressure and a decrease in liver fat over a 30 day period. A study taken the previous year focused on mouse lemurs. With the use of resveratrol, the primates were able to control their body mass. Lemurs typically gain weight over the course of the winter, and they were shown to have less of an appetite and eat less when their food was supplemented with resveratrol. Because the temperature of their body and metabolic resting rates were affected, it was found to be a significant metabolism booster.

Recent published studies have proven the theory on resveratrol anti-aging effects by recognizing the pathway behind the energy production and prolonged lifespan. The company founded to test, study and market resveratrol was recently shut down. However, resveratrol is already showing up in a variety of weight loss supplements on the market.

2. White Kidney Bean Extract: Blocking Starch

White kidney bean extract rose in popularity thanks to Dr. Oz. Scientifically named Phaseolus vulgaris, it’s been praised as a fat blocker by slowing or preventing starch absorption.

Since 2007, the excitement over white kidney bean extract has been significant. Based on a study in the International Journal of Medical Science, individuals who took 445 mg per and were somewhat overweight, found that they were able to shed pounds, even while consuming a diet high in carbohydrates. The extract works by stopping alpha-amylase from breaking down the eaten carbs. Carbs that are normally broken down get absorbed in your body’s system and stored as fat.

Researchers followed 60 moderately overweight individuals for 30 days, while taking the white kidney bean extract. When taken 30 minutes before the consumption of a high carb diet, they noticed a decrease in the individual’s body measurements and BMI. A study in China found similar results, while over 90 percent noticed a weight loss over the course of two months.

3. DHEA: Regulate Hormones

DHEA is produced by the adrenals glands, and it’s found to be a natural steroid hormone. The many benefits include boosting energy levels and raising and maintaining the body’s muscle mass. As you age, you’ll notice a significant decrease in DHEA. Researchers wondered if supplementing the body with DHEA could have an effect on the way a body ages. Estrogen and testosterone play a significant role in the sexual hormones throughout the aging process and DHEA has been proven to boost the levels significantly.

While DHEA supplementation may come into play in aiding overweight men to lose weight, studies have been unable to replicate the same findings in younger individuals.

The Mayo Clinic summarizes the DHEA research by admitting that further research is needed on the subject before confirming any weight loss results. Other studies have recommended the energy boosting properties of DHEA as a cure of adrenal fatigue and lupus.

For those interested in learning the pros and cons of DHEA, you can check out the comprehensive analysis from the University of Maryland. Women should take 25 mg and men 50 mg. Because the DHEA supplement needs to be chemically synthesized, you won’t be able to enjoy the same results by consuming wild yams or soy.

Potential side effects could affect individuals who take a higher than recommended dosage and women may experience oily skin, acne and facial hair growth. Women under the age of 40 should still be producing enough DHEA naturally and should not take the supplement.

15 Ways to Get Better Sleep Every Night

Adults are supposed to get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night and anything less can leave you tired and out of sorts the next day. Since getting sufficient rest can contribute to a healthy and happy life, you’ll find the following tips to be helpful when getting ready for bed.

1. Catch Some Z’s

Thanks to the developer of YeloSpa’s, the public has taken power naps to a whole new level. David Edward’s educated the populace on the advantages of taking a 20 to 40 minute nap each day. Instead of digesting caffeinated products to stay awake, your body is more satiated when taking a 40 minute or less bit of shut eye. Without the caffeine coursing throughout your veins, you won’t be jittery and may even seem more focused and alert. However, anything more than 40 minutes will leave you feeling groggy.

2. Caffeine in Moderation

No need to stop your morning coffee ritual at Starbucks as long as you know when to quit. Julie Ruelle is a BluePrint Cleanse nutritionist and advises holding off on the afternoon and evening caffeine consumption. Beverages with moderate amounts of caffeine can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and disrupt your normal sleep patterns. Water, fresh-squeezed juices and seltzer are better alternatives. For those that need an afternoon pick-me-up, a 3 p.m. cut-off may be more of a forgiving timeframe.

3. Get Up and Go

Exercise has been shown to be beneficial in every aspect of your life, including improving your sleep patterns. Josh Holland is a personal trainer to the stars and has helped shaped celebrities such as Madonna. He believes that a high intensity workout can aid the body in how it recovers. Since recovery and sleep go in tandem, you’ll sleep like a baby after a vigorous exercise regimen. For example, working out in the morning can be a great way to start the day and boost your mood. It’s also the ultimate stress reliever and can last until you’re ready to hit the sheets. However, working out three hours before going to bed has been shown to make it more difficult to get to sleep.

4. Add Melatonin to Your Diet

Produced by your brain to help aid your sleep and wake patterns, consuming melatonin can be beneficial when added to your daily diet. Found in a variety of foods such as meat, vegetables, fish, whole-grains and fruit, you’ll find the nutrients to be sleep inducing. For those on the go, you can also purchase it in supplement form.

5. Digest a 5-HTP

If you’re looking for a natural supplement that helps with stress and sleep related disorders, you may want to pop a 5-HTP. It’s been highly touted as causing your brain to produce chemicals that affects the way your body sleeps. However, the evidence in regards to the side effects and its actual effectiveness are still inconclusive at the present.

6. Pressure Points of Acupuncture

When it comes to getting to the root of your sleep issues, acupuncture can help cure your insomnia blues. There are certain patterns and culprits behind your sleeping woes and by focusing on the various pressure points, and the right combination of Chinese herbs, you can address sleep disorders, anxiety, stress and indigestion through acupuncture.

7. Watch What You Eat

The foods you consume and how you digest them can have an effect on the way you sleep. Some nutritionists suggest eating almonds or one tablespoon of almond butter approximately two hours before bedtime. Almonds are rich in magnesium, which is a nutrient that’s beneficial to a sound sleep. The protein also helps keep your blood sugar at a normal level. For those unable to fall asleep easily, you may find your problems related to a weak digestion. Try to avoid heavy meals later in the evening and foods such as broccoli, cabbage and those with a lot of zip.

8. Get Your Zen On

The best way to relax before bedtime is to clear your mind. Yoga and meditation can benefit individuals who are having difficulty sleeping because it teaches the mind and body to get rid of stress. You’ll find numerous benefits through each of the poses and breathing exercises. Practicing yoga can be as simple as lying down and breathing for 10 minutes. In addition to being a great stress reliever, yoga teaches an individual how to calm the mind.

9. Ditch the Electronics

Electronic gadgets such as cellphones, computers, laptops, notebooks and reading devices can hinder your ability to get to sleep. In addition the bright lights emanating from the electronic screens, you may be consumed with thoughts of checking emails, playing games and doing business before bedtime. Make it a habit to turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before you hit the sheets.

10. Strive for a Healthy Relationship

Nothing can cause a disrupted night sleep more than getting into an argument with a loved one. Your bedroom should be used for passionate sex and sleeping. Strong emotions such as arguing or sadness can affect your sleep patterns. Save your serious discussions for earlier in the day and never argue before going to bed.

11. Reading

If you’re tossing and turning and can’t seem to fall asleep, you may want to open an audiobook. This allows your brain to go from alert to drowsy as the soothing voice reads the story. Reading on your own is another great option and can induce sleep quite a bit faster than counting sheep.

12. End the Day with Tea

Tea has been used to overcome insomnia since the ancient times. Herbal teas are free of caffeine and can help you relax. The best options include chamomile, lemon balm, lavender and teas infused with valerian root.

13. Soak Away Your Worries

Taking a bath at the end of the day is a great way to relax and ease away your stress and worries. Essential oils geared toward relaxation can help you sleep and keep your skin hydrated.

14. The Power of Crystals

Crystals have other powers than just an adornment to your finger. Many have healing properties and can induce peace and tranquility. Amethyst and rose quartz are favorites at balancing your emotions and relaxation.

15. The Benefits of Binaural Beats

Binaural tones have been proven to aid in relaxation and assisting in getting a good night’s rest. As they activate specific areas in your brain, the waves are produced to help individuals achieve a restful slumber.

10 Ways to Burn Fat Faster

The following are some medically proven tips to help lose weight:

Up Your Green Tea Consumption

Green tea isn’t just for helping to fight cancer: In addition to the number of amazing cancer fighting properties found in green tea, it can also help individuals rev up their metabolism too. Those who consumed green tea extract a minimum of three times per day noticed an increase in their metabolism by as much as four percent. What this translates to is that you could burn an additional 60 calories per day, the equivalent of six pounds each year. Nutrition experts think the reasoning behind this is due the catechins in green tea, which raises the levels of norepinephrine.

Lift Some Weight

Looking for a way to burn calories quickly? Pump some iron. Exercise physiologists praise the benefits of weight training and find it can burn a pound of muscle nine times the calories of fat. People who lift weight will find their metabolic rate boosted more than a cardio workout. After a strength training workout, you’ll find an added caloric increase that can last up to two hours after your most recent squat according to a Medicine & Science published study. If you find yourself short on time, quick moves such as squats, push-ups, crunches, lunges, bench step-us, and pull-ups will give you optimum results.

Consume Enough Iron

Iron isn’t just for lifting; you need to consume it too. Individuals short on iron will notice a slower rate of metabolism since the body is limited on its oxygen cells. The RDA for adults is around 18 mg and can be found in most multivitamins. You can also get the proper daily allotment by consuming foods rich in iron such as chicken, lean red meat, soy nuts and fortified cereals. For those experiencing feelings of weakness or fatigue, your physician can perform a simple blood test for anemia during your next physical exam.

Stay Hydrated

A current German study found that those who consumed approximately two glasses of water within a specific time frame found their metabolic rate to skyrocket up to 30 percent. Per this research, increasing your water intake by close to 1.5 liters per day could burn an extra 17,000 calories per year. This could result in significant weight loss yearly of up to five pounds.

Have Your Thyroid Tested

Is your metabolism slow and sluggish? Individuals who suspect that they have a slow metabolism may be experiencing an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. This condition can affect nearly 25 percent of women in America and most are unaware that they even have it. The thyroid gland has the means to control the body’s metabolism and one of the first indicators that something isn’t right could be ineffective weight loss. A simple blood test can be performed by your physician and a synthetic supplement for the thyroid will be prescribed if you test positive. In order for you to experience a normal metabolism and weight loss, you’ll need to take the thyroid supplement for the remainder of your life.

Skip the Alcohol

Looking for a way to keep your favorite foods from going to your belly, hips and thighs? Alcohol can slow your metabolism down by affecting the central nervous system. Those who wash their meal down with alcohol instead of a healthy glass of water found that less fat was burned and more remained in storage throughout the body.

Ramp Up Your Workouts

Boost your workout with interval training. Incorporating burst of high intensity movements throughout your workout is a great way to raise your metabolism. Researchers found that through the interval training moves, you could burn more fat than normal aerobic exercise. If an individual typically jogs at a 10 minute per mile pace, adding a 30 second burst or running uphill for one minute can raise the intensity and calorie burn of your workout significantly.

Increase Your Dairy Intake

According to a published study in the Obesity Research Journal, women who consumed low-fat dairy at least three to four times per day lost between 60 and 70 percent more fat than those with a lower dairy intake. Some of the beneficial products included non-fat yogurt, skim milk and low-fat cheese. Calcium can trigger your body to burn extra fat faster only when you consume the actual dairy products and not fortified food items such as orange juice with calcium. To reap the maximum benefits, you want to shoot for 1,200 mg per day.

Find a New Activity

If you’ve been doing the same moves, you need to find a new sporting activity. The body adapts to the same activity and causes it to burn fewer calories as it becomes used to the movements. To take your workouts to a new level and fire up that metabolism, you may want to consider something different such as rock climbing, cross training, jogging, swimming and biking. Most studies show that changing a workout every six weeks can improve your metabolic rate and give the body a wake-up call.

Catch of the Day

High levels of leptin have contributed to a lower metabolism and obesity and those who consume fish on a regular basis experience lower levels of the hormone. Eating three or more servings of salmon, tuna or another fatty type of fish each week can be beneficial in boosting your metabolic rate, so go fish!

7 Nutrients That Help Increase Muscle Tone

If you’re looking to achieve a lean, strong body, you’re going to want to make sure your diet includes the right mix of minerals and vitamins.

Many think that curbing your caloric intake is the only thing that leads to an amazing body. However, if you’re not consuming the right amount of nutrients, you’re not going to shed weight or tone and strengthen your muscles.

When you curl or bench press, the muscles break down and cause minuscule tears in the fibers. As you rest, the body uses that time to rebuild and strengthen, but it needs the proper nutrition in order to do so. The experts recommend the following seven vitamins and minerals to see a noticeable transformation in your body from head to toe.

1. Vitamin C

Loading your plate with color can lead to toned and well-defined arms. Vitamin C can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and is at the center of healthy blood vessels. It’s also a building block of collagen which is a necessary material needed to build strong bones and muscles.

In order to get the proper recommended nutritional requirement each day, take 75 mg. supplement or consume a cup of strawberries, medium orange or half of a red bell pepper.

2. Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are the right component for effective weight training and increasing the blood flow to support the muscles. It’s also a faster mode of recovery and can decrease inflammation in sore and tired muscles. The fatty acids found in omega-3 fish oil hold a variety of benefits such as toning muscles and preventing diabetes.

To get the proper nutrients, the American Heart Association recommends consuming two servings of fatty fish on a weekly basis. This includes items such as mackerel, herring, salmon, albacore tuna or sardines. For those that can’t tolerate fish, you may want to try taking a daily supplement consisting of 1,000 to 3,000 mg. of DHA and EPA. Vegetarians can also enjoy the benefits of omega-3 by consuming hemp seeds, walnuts, chia seeds and algae based vitamins.

3. Calcium

Calcium is an important nutrient that builds strong and healthy bones and muscles. It goes hand in hand with weight lifting and helps the muscles contract and develop.

In order to get the proper nutritional values, you need to consume at least 1,200 a day. This can be found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, dairy-free milk or supplements. If you go the pill route, stick to 500 to 600 mg. and space them hours apart to avoid stomach upset. It should also contain vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium quicker.

4. Magnesium

When it comes to magnesium, most women find themselves lacking. This is an important nutrient that keeps your muscles strong, and your heart beating steady. It’s also great for muscle recovery, cramps and can alleviate PMS symptoms.

The daily recommendation is anywhere between 310 to 320 mg. For individuals that lift weights more than three days a week, you can increase your intake to 400 mg. Magnesium can also be found in foods such as whole grains, legumes, spinach and kale or using Epsom salt in your bath water.

5. B Vitamins

If you’re looking to gain muscle and strength, B vitamins play an important role and include B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin) and B12 (cobalamin). Each of the essential vitamins are essential to maintaining proper health from energy boosting and metabolism to breaking down fat and carbs and maintaining a health nervous system.

B vitamins can be found by consuming a basic diet of whole grains, lean meats, eggs, nuts, leafy green vegetables, legumes and fortified cereals. Since B12 can only be found in animal sources, vegetarians and vegans may want to eat fortified foods and beverages or try taking a supplement that consists of 2.4 (mcg) on a daily basis.

6. Vitamin D

It seems that everyone is touting the benefits of the “sunshine” nutrient. Some of its magical powers include mood lifting properties, strong immune system and muscle tone. In order for your muscles to contract, grow and function, your body needs sufficient vitamin D. It’s also important for bone development and strength.

Most people get adequate vitamin D through their exposure to the sun, but you could be at risk for skin cancer. Instead of risking overexposure to the sun, you could take 4,000 to 6,000 (IU) of D3 every day. Your primary physician can also draw blood to measure your levels to ensure you’re getting an adequate amount.

7. Vitamin E

The next time you reach for a snack, grab a handful of almonds. They not only are a good source of vitamin E, they provide your body with protein, healthy fats and fiber necessary after a good workout. This amazing antioxidant also helps cells to recover and develop quicker after the stress of exercise.

Doses that exceed 300 mg. daily could lead to stomach pain, nausea, weakness or even death, so keep an eye on your intake. Try to stick with the recommended daily allotment of 15 mg. and consume nuts or seeds instead of a supplement.

Three Super Foods to Boost that Libido

There’s no great mystery involved that by eating a healthy diet you’ll be in top shape. You may even find yourself performing at peak levels……in bed! With the following three super foods added to your daily diet, you may experience your heart pumping faster, blood racing to all the right extremities and an extra helping of yum.

Scallops
Scallops are chalk full of zinc. Zinc is necessary in both men and women to retain a healthy sex drive, fertility, potency and good sexual health that can be enjoyed into your golden years. The mineral is necessary for sperm production and low amounts have been blamed for a decrease in testosterone levels and a reduction in semen production.

Almonds
Almonds have a host of benefits such as zinc, vitamin E and selenium. All of these trace minerals benefit your sexual health and can contribute to a healthy reproductive system.

Cherries
Cherries go beyond average and are considered a “super food” packed with antioxidants and melatonin necessary for promoting good sleep cycles. They are also rich in beta carotene and vitamins C, E, magnesium, iron, potassium and folate. Cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce soreness and pain related to a great workout at the gym or in bed.

To achieve optimum performance and a side of zing:

Stay Physical: Staying in shape and keeping active can increase testosterone levels in men and increase self-confidence for everyone.

Little changes mean BIG results: Simple changes such as reducing stress, getting adequate sleep and eating a healthy diet loaded with zinc can reap big results.

The Key is Stamina: If both parties are physically fit and feel attractive, you’re sure to feel confident, exude sex appeal and perform better in between the sheets. Stamina is everything, so get eating!

Six Quick Skin Fixes

Simple Ways to Take Care of Your Dry Skin During The Winter

The winter is more than half over, but if you are like us, then you may have noticed that your skin is dryer during this time. Cold temperatures, hot showers and dry indoor heat are some of the many the things that can cause our skin to become dry during the winter.

Jessica Krant is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and a board-certified dermatologist. She has stated that the humidity is lower when the weather is colder. Dry air removes moisture from our skin more quickly than normal. Our skin also dries out when we go inside to seek warmth. We just cannot win. We take a steamy, hot shower to get moisture, but we do not realize that the water from the shower takes water out of our skin by osmosis. Additionally, the water and heat strip natural moisturizing oils from our skin. When the shower is over, the last little bit of dampness evaporates. This causes our skin to dry out even more.

You may be wondering, “What can I do to prevent this problem?” Below are some tips from experts:

1. Use Cream Instead of Lotion

Dr. Krant has stated that people should choose a moisturizer that protects the dermis and locks in moisture. She recommends using a fragrance-free, thick cream instead of lotion. She also recommends putting it on after you take your shower.

Bobby Buka, a dermatologist who practices in New York City also recommends that people use a thick moisturizer. Dr. Buka prefers non-petroleum-based moisturizers. Ceramides are natural moisturizers that can be found in several emollients today.

2. Do Not Wear Perfume

Perfume irritates your skin, and the alcohol in it can interfere with your skin’s ability to retain moisture. That is why Buka recommends that people avoid using fragrances.

3. Reduce Your Shower Time

You might not like the idea of showering in cooler water or reducing your shower time, but your skin will benefit in the long run. Dr. Krant says that lengthy, hot showers can remove natural oils from your skin. Dr. Buka adds that you should not shower more than once a day.

4. Increase Your Water Intake

Dr. Krant advises that people drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will help replace the water that you are losing.

5. Wear Your Food

Patricia Fitzgerald, a physician and wellness editor for HuffPost Healthy living, has stated that coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil are great for your skin when they are applied topically. She has recommended these food-grade oils to many of her patients.

6.) Get Some Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Dr. Fitzgerald recommends that people take fish oil supplements or another supplement that contains omega 3 fatty acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is one of the omega 3 fatty acids components. According to Discovery Health, EPA helps regulate oil production in the skin.

4 Ways Poor Oral Hygiene Can Make You Sick

We all know the benefits of good oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing prevents tartar buildup, gingivitis, and periodontal disease with its painful, bleeding gums; it’s in all the toothpaste commercials. However, even people who brush regularly may still have bacteria hiding in their mouths, and these bacteria could lead to complications far beyond the teeth and mouth. Recent studies have shown that poor oral hygiene can cause illness in other parts of the body.

Blood Sugar

People who have diabetes are more prone to infections than non-diabetics, and this includes periodontal disease. Some studies indicate that periodontal disease and diabetes actually make each other worse; gum disease may make it more difficult for the body to regulate blood sugar. These studies also show that treating periodontal disease can help to relieve diabetes symptoms.

Cardiac Health

Periodontal disease sufferers are nearly two times more likely to be diagnosed with coronary artery disease as are people with good gum health. Research has yet to determine a cause for this tendency, but some scientists believe it has to do with the higher count of oral bacteria. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the bleeding gums. Once there, they attach to the fatty plaques building up in the arteries, leading to inflammation and an increased risk of blood clots.

Lung Health

The Journal of Periodontology reports that gum disease can increase the chance of respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia, and even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Oral bacteria can easily be inhaled and inflame the airways and lungs.

Memory and Dementia

Poor oral health may increase a person’s chance of memory deterioration. A study of 118 nuns aged between 75 and 98 discovered that the women who had fewer teeth were more likely to have some form of dementia. Researchers theorize that oral bacteria can spread to the brain either through the bloodstream or by way of the cranial nerves which run through the jaw. Oral bacteria may contribute to the development of the neural plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

How can you improve your oral hygiene and lower your health risks?

Keeping your mouth clean is the key. “Your teeth and gums should not bleed, be painful, or feel rough or sharp to your tongue,” explains registered dental hygienist Pam Atherton. “Your breath should be fresh for at least a couple of hours after brushing in the morning.” Here are some dentist-recommended techniques which can help improve oral health.

1. Don’t use too hard of a toothbrush. Brushes with hard and medium bristles can damage the teeth by scraping away the enamel over time and by hurting the tender gums. “Gum tissue can’t make a callous,” Atherton points out. The loss of enamel and gum tissue eventually exposes the root below the tooth and leads to sensitivity, pain, and possible bone loss in the jaw. Dentists and hygienists recommend toothbrushes with soft or extra soft bristles.

2. Floss before brushing. Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, DMD, a professor of periodontology at the University of Philadelphia School of Dental Medicine, explains that brushing after flossing helps to brush away any of the particles removed by flossing. For people who have difficulties using plain floss, Atherton recommends floss holders or floss picks.

3. Use proper brushing technique. Teeth should be brushed for a full two minutes, according to Atherton. “Make sure you brush your tongue and cheeks as well as the chewing surfaces to improve the removal of harmful bacteria in the crevices,” she says. Children can try brushing for the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” or “The Alphabet Song” twice through at normal speed for each half of their mouths. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months.

4. Rinse with a mouthwash. People who rinse twice a day cut their risk of gum disease by 60 percent, according to Jeffcoat. The best mouthwash to use is one which has microbial protection against plaque, and the rinsing should last for about 30 seconds.

5 Ways Sex Leads to Better Overall Health

Most standard guides to improving your health will tell you the basics; eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise, drink plenty of water. They’re not quite as likely to tell you to have an active sex life. A recent survey taken by Healthy Women, a nonprofit organization, indicates that a majority of women have sex more because they feel obligated to do it than because they enjoy it. Unfortunately, these women are depriving themselves of the many health benefits sex provides even above and beyond the good feelings of the moment. Here are five examples out of the many health advantages sex can give.

Sex is a good workout. “You can burn anywhere from 85 to 250 calories every time you have sex,” explained Dr. Naomi Greenblatt, medical director of The Rocking Chair, a women’s wellness center in New Jersey. Different positions lead the participants to work different muscle groups. Sex has also been shown to have a cardiovascular benefit; a research study in Ireland discovered that men with active sex lives are 50 percent less likely to die of a cardiac event than their less active counterparts.

Sex can decrease stress levels. Dr. Greenblatt pointed out that sex causes the body to release endorphins, the hormones responsible for feelings of contentment and well-being. A 2002 study done at the State University of New York at Albany showed that women who have regular sex display fewer signs of depression than women who do not; furthermore, women who have regular unprotected sex showed fewer indications of depression than women who have regular protected sex. This study is consistent with other research indicating that sex is a mood-booster on its own and that the compounds in semen may also have mood lifting capabilities.

Sex can help with pain relief. According to Dr. Greenblatt, people on the verge of orgasm have five times more oxytocin in their bodies than they would ordinarily have. Oxytocin is known to relieve many sorts of pain, from arthritis to menstrual cramping.

Sex can boost your immune system. “People who have sex also tend to have higher levels of immunoglobulin A,” explains Dr. Greenblatt. Immunoglobulin A is an antibody produced by the body to protect the mucus membranes from infection by germs.

Sex can help maintain a youthful appearance. Scottish researchers designed a study which consisted of a panel of viewers looking at various women through a one-way mirror and attempting to guess the women’s ages. The women who were judged to be seven to 12 years younger than their true age turned out to be the ones who had sex most often, as many as four times per week. Dr. Greenblatt says sex can also elevate the body’s production of estrogen and vitamin D, which help keep skin and hair healthy.

Researchers do point out that the strong correlations between frequent sex and well-being do not necessarily mean that sex is the cause of good health. It may instead mean that people with better health are more interested in sexual activity. Even so, no evidence shows that sex is bad for the general population, so most people have nothing to lose by increasing the frequency of their sexual activity

Smarter Snacking

It is possible to enjoy snacks without ruining your diet or gaining weight. If you follow these tips, then you will be able to choose healthy, low-fat snacks.

Cupcakes, cookies and potato chips are some of the things that may come to mind when you think about snacks. That is one of the reasons that people try to avoid snacks completely. However, healthy, low-fat snacks can make a nice addition to any diet plan. Healthy snacks can keep you feeling full, which can prevent you from overeating during mealtime. Jennifer E. Seyler, RD, president of the Chicago Nutrition Association, has the following to say about healthy snacking, “From a dietitian’s perspective, all foods within moderation can fit in a healthy meal plan.” “The key is the serving size of each food, with the realization that the foundation of the plan is based in variety.”

Top tips to Try for Healthy Snacking

*Exercise portion control.* Some people think that it is okay to eat healthy foods in abundance. However, Seyler warns people that 1,000 calories is still 1,000 calories, regardless of whether the calories come from fruit or chips. She also cautions people that eating that many calories in a short amount of time can lead to weight gain.*

* Make wiser food choices.* Seyler says that making healthy snack choices is one of the things that people can do to avoid overindulging on food. Low-fat cheese sticks, vegetables with a small amount of ranch dressing and fruits are examples of healthy snack choices. Vegetables and fruits are rich in fiber, and they also contain water, which can help keep you feeling full longer. As a result of this, you will naturally consume fewer calories. Low-fat cheese snacks are an excellent snack choice because they have adequate amounts of fat, carbohydrates and protein, which are the three macronutrients.

* Start planning ahead.* It is very easy to say that you will eat vegetables and fruits. However, if you are not prepared when hunger hits, then you can very easily get into trouble. Sue Decotiis, who is a physician in New York, urges you to plan ahead of time. You should bring your lunch to work and have two snacks in your car. Decotis also urges that you eat a healthy snack before you to go the party. You will be less likely to spend all of your time at the hors d’oeuvres tray if you eat something before you attend an event.

*Intelligent eat low-fat snacks*- You are bound to see a lot of low-calorie and low-fat options if you take the time to peruse the snack aisles. Seyler says that low-fat, low-calorie snack options can be great options if you consume the recommended serving size. She also reiterates that the key to snacking healthy is to exercise portion control. There are 100-calorie packs available now, but many people consume more than one pack. That really defeats the whole purpose of choosing a 100 calorie pack.

* Find good replacements.*- It is very hard for some us to give up ice cream, chips and cookies because those are some of our favorite foods. That is why Decotiis recommends that you satisfy your cravings with healthy replacements. Below are some of the healthy replacements that she recommends:

*Sweet potato chips* *Walnuts or almonds* *Protein bars *Low-fat yogurt *Yogurt dip

You will be prepared for a snack attack if you have a couple of healthy choices available.

Surprising ways to keep your brain and memory sharp

Memory enhancement has become a hot topic in modern society. A quick Internet search reveals long lists of specially designed memory-enhancing games created by psychiatrists and dozens of pills and supplements the manufacturers guarantee will improve memory. Experts on talk show after talk show recommend intellectual stimulation: difficult crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, or strategy games like chess.

However, while research shows that cerebral activities do have plenty of benefits to memory and cognition, many other studies reveal that a strong social life and a sense of fun give a person’s memory definite advantages.

Humans are and have always been social animals. Even the most curmudgeonly of us generally want someone to socialize with on occasion. It has long been accepted that a satisfying social life helps a person stay emotionally healthy, but new research is showing that social activity also benefits a person’s cognitive health. A recent study done by the Harvard School of Public Health discovered that the most socially active subjects had the slowest rates of memory decline, and that’s just one study among many suggesting the same conclusion.

Increasing social interaction is not as difficult as you might think. Try joining a club that relates to your interests or finding a volunteer association. The Internet has made it a simple matter to reconnect with friends and find times to meet up. Even people who find making and keeping friends difficult can get plenty of cognitive value from having a pet, especially very social ones like dogs.

Having a good laugh conveys benefits to the memory as well. A standard emotional response will cause neurons to fire in only a specific section of the brain, but laughter actually causes many areas throughout the brain to activate. Listening to jokes and trying to figure out punch lines uses areas of the brain important to creativity and learning, much like solving puzzles.

Try increasing laughter in your life by finding fun people to spend time with, whether adults or children. Their playful attitude towards life will lighten your heart as well. Learn to laugh at yourself and take yourself less seriously. Surround yourself with fun items, such as small toys, pictures of yourself and your friends having a good time, or amusing posters. Seek out laughter whenever you can; most often the cheerful people will be more than happy to let you in on the joke.

Six Tips for People Who Hate to Exercise

If you hate exercise, then following these tips will help you get the most out of your workout.

Set Small Goals

If you set the bar too high, then you will probably end up getting frustrated. Start with small goals. For example, you can set a goal to exercise 15 or 16 days out of the month. You will feel really good about yourself if you set a goal to exercise for 15 days out of the month but end up exercising for 20.

Keep A Record of Your Workouts

Every day, write down whether you have or have not been active. You can also keep an online log. When are working out, keep a journal of what weight you used and how many reps you could do. If you have trouble staying on track, then you should get your friends or online workout buddies to hold you accountable.

Be Mindful of Willpower Drains

Listening to a speaker or making decisions can drain the willpower that you need to exercise. That is why you should schedule exercise during the times when your willpower is at its peak. Morning workouts are a great way to start the day. You will feel stronger and be in a better mood throughout the day.

Put More Emphasis on Initiative

Starting an exercise program is hard, and you may get frustrated at first. However, once you have been working out for awhile, it will become easier for you to find a couple of minutes to exercise every day. Who knows, you may even begin to enjoy it!

Forget About Failures

Do not deal on failures. You should view them as the obstacles that you must overcome in order to reach your goal. Failure is not an option.

Adapt Your Workout So That It Fits Your Lifestyle

If you are a parent, then you may want to consider coaching your child's team or going for bike rides with your family. You can go for a run with your dog if you love animals. Best friends or coworkers are great workout partners and motivators.

5 foods with brain benefits you may not know about

We've all heard that fish is brain food, especially the kind that is rich with omega-3s. Blueberries and spinach also have notable brain-boosting abilities. However, these aren't the only foods which can help keep your brain strong and free of disease.

Red Wine

Certain compounds found in grape seeds may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. A 2011 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that in mice, these compounds helped prevent the formation of proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. Those same grape seed compounds are found in red wine, so wine may help protect the brain when consumed in moderation.

Coffee

Fully caffeinated coffee may also help protect against Alzheimer’s. A study done at the University of South Florida fed caffeine to mice specifically bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease as they aged; some mice received caffeinated coffee, some received decaf, and others were given plain caffeine. The mice who received regular coffee showed higher levels of a hormone called granulocyte colony stimulating factor, which reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms by increasing neuron production and connection. For humans, the useful dose would translate to about four cups of coffee spread throughout the day.

Citrus Fruit

While the vitamin C in citrus may or may not be useful in preventing colds, it seems that citrus fruit may help to prevent strokes. Flavones, found in oranges and grapefruit, seem to act as anti-inflammatories and improve the function of blood vessels. A 2012 study in Stroke reported that people who ate two or more servings of citrus each day over a period of 14 years had a 10% lower risk of stroke than people who ate less. Be wary of choosing juice instead of whole fruit; many juices contain added sugar.

Onions

Onions are full of antioxidants which may help prevent brain damage if a person has a stroke; the antioxidants can work to block the formation of oxygen compounds which damage the barrier between blood and brain. A study published in Nutrition reported feeding some mice an onion supplement. When researchers induced stroke in all the mice, the control group showed significantly higher brain damage than did the onion-fed group.

Eggs

Eggs are rich in choline, a nutrient which is required to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is linked to brain health and memory. A 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at nearly 1400 adults and found that those who consumed the most choline performed best on memory tests. The subjects with high choline intake were also less likely to have signs of potential dementia such as blood vessel disease in the brain.

Seven Foods That Help You Lose Weight

Many people are under the misconception that food is their enemy. However, you should not get sucked into that idea. In fact, if you eat the right foods, then you will be able to reach your weight loss goals much faster than you would if you were to just cut calories. Below are seven foods that nutritionists recommend that you eat if you are trying to lose weight:

Oats

You may be thinking to yourself, "Oats are a carb, aren't they?" The answer to that question is yes and no. Oats are a type of whole grain, and they help keep you full longer. Oats are also rich in soluble fiber, which means that they can lower blood pressure and blood fat. Oats are slowly digested by the body, so they will not cause your blood sugar to rise. Rolled oats and steel-cut oats both contain about five grams of fiber per serving. A serving of instant oatmeal has about three or four grams of fiber.

Eggs

Eggs have received a lot of negative attention over the years because they contain a large amount of cholesterol. However, nutritionists have stated that the cholesterol in eggs is different from the cholesterol in humans. Studies have shown that people who eat an egg in the morning along with their breakfast lose more weight than people who eat a carb-filled breakfast.

Skim Milk

Skim milk is filled with Vitamin D, calcium and low-fat protein. There have been numerous studies published in the Journal of Obesity that have shown that the combination of those nutrients can help build lean muscle and promote weight loss.

Apple

If you want to lose weight, then you should definitely consider eating one or two apples per day. Apples are an excellent source of fiber, which can help keep you feeling full. Apples are also filled with antioxidants that help prevent a condition called the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is the combination of high cholesterol, pre-diabetes and high blood pressure. This condition is strongly correlated with excess fat around the midsection. Additionally, apples contain pectin. Pectin helps reduce the amount of fat that gets absorbed by the cells.

Red Meat

Are you surprised to see red meat on this list? Many people think that red meat is unhealthy, but a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that red meat can actually help promote weight loss. Red meat is rich in protein, which helps you maintain muscle mass. However, it is important to note that you will also have to exercise to build muscle.

Cinnamon

A study done by the USDA has shown that cinnamon can help metabolize sugar. You can lower your blood sugar level and cut your cholesterol by up to 25 percent by eating 1/4 to 2 teaspoons per day. You should add some cinnamon to your cereal, smoothies or coffee.

Almonds And Almond Butter

Nuts and nut butters are two other foods that you may not expect to see on this list. Even though almonds are very high in calories, they can still help lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. In fact, there was one study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed that eating almonds can be just as effective as statins. You should spread some almond butter on your morning toast because that will give you a nice boost of protein.

Lengthy sitting doubles risk of diabetes

A British meta-analysis published in the November 2012 issue of the journal Diabetologia shows strong indications that extended time spent sitting greatly increases a person’s risk of diabetes, severe heart issues, and death. Previous studies have found a link between extended television watching and poor health, but this is the first study to specifically research the connection between any extended sedentary behavior and health.

The analysts searched previous studies for terms involving health outcomes and sedentary lifestyles. They looked at data involving 794,577 participants across 18 different studies. The data was adjusted to account for differences in measurement frequency and study length and then sorted with a random effects model.

Dr. Emma G. Wilmot of the University of Leicester, one of the study’s authors, says the research showed a particularly strong link between a sedentary lifestyle and diabetes. Analysis of the data showed that people with the highest levels of sedentary activity included in the study had twice the risk of developing diabetes than did the people with the lowest levels of sedentary behavior. People in the highly sedentary group also had 2.5 times the chance of suffering a cardiovascular event, a 90% higher chance of suffering a death related to cardiovascular problems, and a 49% greater chance of death from any cause.

Deeper analysis of the data indicated that the predictive effects were significant for diabetes, but far less so for the other health issues, which suggests that the diabetes results will be the most likely to be reproduced in future studies.

The results of the research, Wilmot says, may cause some changes in the way we think about fitness. “We've traditionally been focused on making sure we meet the physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes per day, but with that approach we've overlooked what we do with the other 23 and a half hours in the day,” she explained. “If you sit for the rest of the day, that is going to have an impact on health, and that's essentially what our meta-analysis shows.”

The health dangers of extended periods of sitting were first noted in the 1950s. Researchers realized that London bus drivers, who spend most of their day in the driver’s seat, had twice the risk of suffering a heart attack as did bus conductors, who move around inside the bus frequently. Unfortunately, the implications of this finding was more or less overlooked until recent researchers started looking for connections between lifestyle and the growing number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Wilmot and her colleagues estimate that on average, an adult is engaged in sedentary activities for 50% to 60% of each day. Modern lifestyles contribute to an increase in time spent sitting down. In a typical day, an adult might drive to work, sit at the office computer for hours on end, drive home, and spend the evening watching television or playing video games. "People don't realize that doing just small amounts of activity—it doesn't even need to be a proper walk—are important," she says. "If you are having a chat with a friend at your desk or the phone rings, stand up and chat. Just these small changes could make a big difference."

Sitting seems to have a negative effect on our body’s ability to metabolize glucose. Earlier studies have shown that people who sit immediately after eating have glucose levels 24% higher than do people who walk slowly after they eat. “When we sit, our muscles are not used, and we quickly become more insulin resistant," explained Wilmot. She also pointed out that people who have a genetic predisposition to diabetes may wish to be even more careful about prolonged sitting. Wilmot and her colleagues are not entirely certain of the exact mechanism by which extended sitting affects glucose metabolism.

Wilmot and her colleagues are currently undertaking a study of 200 young adults at risk for diabetes in hopes of increasing their evidence.

Journalists from around the world have been calling to ask Wilmot about the results of the study, indicating that these concerns are universal.

Future diabetes prevention programs might wish to use this evidence to start promoting less sedentary lifestyles along with traditional exercise and diet, Wilmot said. The possibilities include standing desks, treadmill desks, and alarms which can alert someone if they’ve been sitting for 40 minutes straight.

Wilmot was quick to add that physical activity is still very important to health and that people should not rush to give up their exercise programs if they start spending larger portions of the day standing. “There's a wealth of data showing that physical activity is important, but if people are spending a large percentage of their time sitting, they need to start thinking about how they can reduce this," said Wilmot.

The New Science Behind America’s Deadliest Diseases

[Image 2]These days there are all sorts of different body problems, diseases and sickness’ that people and scientists have a hard time figuring out exactly what is causing them; there are just so many different factors. But what some do not realize is that heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer have a lot in common. All of these, for certain, have one thing in common; scientists have found a connection from each of these to a condition called chronic inflammation. Along with this, they are also studying how a diet that is high in fatty foods, as well as having an exuberance of body weight, can also increase the risk for fatal disorders.

Chronic Inflammation is nothing out of the norm but is rather a natural response for the body; naturally responding to injury and outside irritation. Often those irritations do not go away, and this happens because of poor diets, being overweight and smoking. All of these components can then negatively affect the immune system which then increases the risk for disease. If the inflammation becomes chronic it can cause damage to the heart, brain, increase the chance of stroke and bring on diabetes. The worst part is that chronic inflammation is also linked to the development of cancer. Chronic inflammation is most common due to its relation to cardiovascular disease. Inflammation is natural, for instance, when the body has a cut, scrape or wound, and then the immune system rushes to the rescue. However, too much inflammation causes serious damage.

Research is being done to fight chronic inflammation with drugs, but a number of scientists are researching how a change from an unhealthy, high in fat diet to a healthy diet can actually lower the risk; dietary fiber and even dairy may protect from inflammation. Eating healthy and watching your weight is a good way of lowering the risk of chronic inflammation. Consuming a diet high in complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, unsaturated fats and dairy in moderation is a great way to lower the risk of inflammation. Along with a healthy diet, exercise is a key component when battling inflammation. Obesity is one of the easiest ways to promote inflammation. Fat cells create molecules called cytokines, which then give the okay for inflammation to occur when there is an excess of fat cells in the body. Dr. Peter Libby, chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School says, “We’ve learned that abdominal fat tissue is a hotbed of inflammation that pours out all kinds of inflammatory molecules.” Losing excess body weight can dramatically decrease inflammation in a short period of time.

Cancer is caused by many different abnormalities but one for sure is inflammation. Inflammation can be dealt with by keeping off excess body fat and eating a healthy diet. By living a healthy lifestyle the chance of inflammation is lowered which then eliminates at least one factor towards cancer.

Sugar Can Make You Dumb, US Scientists Warn

Washington- There was a study published Tuesday that suggests eating too much sugar can reduce your brain power. The study was performed at the University of Los Angeles California and involved two groups of rats. Both of the rats were fed high-fructose corn syrup for six weeks. One of the groups were supplemented with omega 3 fatty acids, while the other group did not get a supplement.

Before the study was carried out, the rats were enrolled in a training course in a difficult maze. After the experiment was completed, the rats were put back into the maze. Fernando Gomez-Pilla, who is a professor of medicine at the University of Los Angeles California, stated that the rats who were not given any omega 3 fatty acids were slower. He also found that their brains showed a decrease in synaptic activity. This means that the rats’ brain cells had trouble sending signals, which made it more difficult for the rats to think clearly and recall information.

Dr. Gomez-Pilla also found that the rats that were not given an omega 3 fatty acid supplement were starting to become insulin resistant. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating blood sugar. Dr. Gomez-Pilla believes that insulin may also play an important role in the brain. It seems that this hormone may disrupt learning and memory.

Dr. Gomez-Pilla also stated that high-fructose corn syrup damages the brain and the body. High-fructose corn syrup is an additive found in processed foods, baby food, sodas, condiments and apple sauce. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has found that the average person in America consumes over 40 pounds or 18 kilograms of high-fructose corn syrup every year.

However, it is important to note that the effects of high-fructose corn syrup on the brain have not yet been studied. Researchers do believe that the findings of the study suggest that the metabolic syndrome can also have a negative effect on the mind.

Dr. Gomez- Pilla concluded by saying that everything that you consume will have a direct effect on your mind and the way that you think. If you eat a lot of foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup, you could be altering your brain’s ability to process information. You can minimize this damage by adding an omega 3 fatty acid supplement to your diet. More information about the results of this study can be found in the Journal of Physiology.

Resveratrol May Protect Eye Sight

A recent study published in the American Journal of Pathology has found that the compound found in red wine known as resveratrol can stop out-of-control blood vessel growth in the eye. It’s a finding researchers say could have implications for preserving vision in some common blinding eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.

Conducting experiments in mouse retinas, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that resveratrol can inhibit angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels. When the mice were given resveratrol, they found that the abnormal blood vessels in their eyes began to disappear.

Researchers say because resveratrol is given orally, patients may prefer it to many current treatments for retinal disease, which involve eye injections. The compound also is easily absorbed in the body.

“This could potentially be a preventive therapy in high-risk patients,” said the study’s lead investigator, Rajendra Apte, M.D., Ph.D.

Resveratrol is one of the active, non-alcholic ingredients in red wine. It comes from the pulp of grapes used to make wine and has some of the highest levels of antioxidants found in nature.

Among its believed health benefits are increasing heart health, fighting cancer and delaying the aging process.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS DRUG-RESISTANT TB SPREADING FAST

[Image 2]Drug-resistant TB is spreading across the world much faster than medical experts had feared, warned the World Health Organization on February 26, 2008. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. says the U.S. is likely to fall far short of its goal to eliminate TB as a public health problem.

ACTION: Take a vitamin D3 supplement daily. There is some good evidence that vitamin D3 raises your immunity to TB. One study gave healthy adults who had been exposed to TB a single, large oral dose of TB or a placebo. After six weeks, the researchers found that the vitamin D supplement significantly enhanced immunity to TB compared to placebo.

World Health Organization. New survey finds highest rates of drug-resistant TB to date. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2008/pr05/en/index.html

Bornman L, et al. Vitamin D receptor polymorphisms and susceptibility to tuberculosis in West Africa: a case-control and family study J Infect Dis. 2004 Nov 1;190(9):1631-41.

Martineau AR , et al A single dose of vitamin D enhances immunity to mycobacteria. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. July 15, 2007.

Bill Gates funds British scientists in unorthodox health research

[Image 2]This story was posted by the Times of London. We think it is so interesting we highly recommend reading it…

There is a magnet that can detect malaria at the flick of a switch, a flu-resistant chicken, an “antiviral” tomato and a vaccine enhanced with the use of a laser. The ideas are so bold that, as the scientists behind them admit, they can often struggle for funding.

Today, though, more than 80 projects at the far edge of innovation in global health research will share millions of pounds of grants to support unorthodox thinking — and the outside chance of a world-changing discovery.

Among the recipients, announced today by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of their Grand Challenges initiative, are three British scientific teams pursuing novel approaches to prevent and treat infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and pneumonia, as well as viruses such as HIV.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk

At least 46 million Americans drinking water tainted with trace amounts of pharmaceuticals

According to tests prompted by Associated Press the number of people drinking water that’s been contaminated with trace amounts of drugs increased by 41 million people from AP’s last story on the situation this past March. The news service has been reporting there’s a potentially dangerous presence of pharmaceuticals in the nation’s reservoirs.

The AP stories on the tainted drinking water prompted both federal and local legislative hearings, which yielded by partisan calls for mandatory testing and disclosure. The substantial interest the AP stories generated also led officials in at least 27 additional metropolitan areas to analyze their drinking water. More than half, 17 cases of water proving positive for contamination from pharmaceuticals well known points of origin like Reno, Nev., Savannah, Ga., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Huntsville, Ala. Results are for still pending for three of the metropolitan location.

The increase in the number of known to be exposed to drug-contaminated drinking water supplies has grown dramatically simply because testing has finally to increase. Experts widely believe the actual number of Americans drinking tainted water to be much higher than 46 million.

[Read more...]

Before you spend $2 on a bottled water again…Think Again!

I don’t know about you but as far as I’m concerned the persistent reports by researchers about the low quality standards followed by bottled water companies really gets under my skin. In a day and age where a small bottle of water can cost as much as $2 out of a vending machine or convenience store you would think the water would be at least be pure. Apparently this isn’t the case.

According to study released this week by an environmental advocacy group water tested leading brands of bottled water turned up a variety of contaminants often found in ordinary tap water.

These findings of course make a mockery of the advertising claims by bottled water companies and challenge the popular impression that bottled water is purer than tap water, the researchers say. While, all the brands tested in this study met federal health standards for drinking water, two brands did violate a California state standard, according to the study.

A bottled water industry group International Bottled Water Association of course immediately branded the findings “alarmist.” According to the associations President Joe Doss said the study is based on the faulty premise that a contaminant is a health concern “even if it does not exceed the established regulatory limit or no standard has been set.”

Lousy argument as far as most people paying up to $2 a bottle would retort. Especially when you look closely at the results of the lab tests on 10 brands of bottled water detected 38 chemicals including bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium. Though some probably came from tap water that some companies use for their bottled water, other contaminants probably leached from plastic bottles, according to the researchers who prepared this latest study.

“In some cases, it appears bottled water is no less polluted than tap water and, at 1,900 times the cost, consumers should expect better,” said Jane Houlihan, an environmental engineer who co-authored the study.

The Washington-based Environmental Working Group, an organization founded by scientists that advocates stricter regulation conducted the study over 2 years. The study concludes the contaminants in bottled water purchased in nine states and Washington, D.C.

Of the 10 brands tested by Researchers, eight did not have contaminants high enough to warrant further testing. But two brands did, so more tests were done and those revealed chlorine byproducts above California’s standard. The researchers identified those two brands as Sam’s Choice sold by Wal-Mart and Acadia of Giant Food supermarkets.

In the Wal-Mart and Giant Food bottled water, the highest concentration of chlorine byproducts, known as trihalomethanes, was over 35 parts per billion. California’s limit is 10 parts per billion or less, and the industry’s International Bottled Water Association makes 10 its voluntary guideline. The federal limit is 80.

Wal-Mart insists its own studies did not turn up illegal levels of contaminants. Giant Food officials released a statement asserting that Acadia meets all regulatory standards. Acadia is sold in the mid-Atlantic states, so it isn’t held to California’s standard. In most places, bottled water must meet roughly the same federal standards as tap water.

The researchers also said the Wal-Mart brand was five times California’s limit for one particular chlorine byproduct, bromodichloromethane. The environmental group wants Wal-Mart to label its bottles in California with a warning because the chlorine-based contaminants have been linked with cancer. It has filed a notice of intent to sue.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Shannon Frederick said the company was “puzzled” by the findings because testing by suppliers and another lab had detected no “reportable amounts” of such contaminants. She said Wal-Mart would investigate further but defended the quality of its bottled water.

The researchers recommend that people worried about water contaminants drink tap water with a carbon filter.

Brain Washing Becoming a Scary Reality: Scientists Erase Specific Memories in Mice Now Testing Humans

All of a sudden the old book the Manchurian Candidate doesn’t seem so far fetched. Phillip K. Dick’s the famous Sci-Fi author of many mind control stories would be in his glory. This is because the stuff of science fiction is slowely becoming Science fact.

Scientists now report it might one day be possible to erase undesirable memories from the brain, selectively and safely.

Using a complex genetic approach, U.S. and Chinese researchers believe they have done just that in mice, but the feat is far from being tested on humans.

Study co-author Joe Z. Tsien, co-director of the Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, says the “work reveals a molecular mechanism of how [memory deletion] can be done quickly and without doing damage to brain cells.”

The finding is published in the Oct. 23 issue of Neuron.

Humans plagued by painful memories have long wished for a way to eject them from the brain. The concept was the premise of the popular 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which two former lovers pay a “memory-erasure” service to expunge the unhappy affair from their minds.

The subject of selective memory deletion was also covered in the film version of Philip K Dicks’ famous SciFi thriller PayCheck which starred Ben Affleck, who played the principal character Michael Jennings a reverse engineer who routinely has his recent memories erased after working on sensitive high-tech projects.

To explore the possibility of safely carving away bits of memory, the study authors first focused on the activity of a common protein found only in the brain, called CaMKII.

In both mice and people, this enzyme is often referred to as the “memory molecule” because of its key role in facilitating brain cell communication — especially people’s ability to learn and retain information.

To hone in on the specific workings of CaMKII, Tsien and his team first developed a “chemical-genetic method” that enabled them to instantly turn the protein “on” or “off” among mice intentionally bred to overproduce the molecule.

After exposing the mice to emotionally powerful stimulations, such as a mild shock to their paws, the scientists then observed how well or poorly the animals subsequently recalled the particular trauma as their brain’s expression of CaMKII was manipulated up and down.

When the brain was made to overproduce CaMKII at the exact moment the mouse was prodded to retrieve the traumatic memory, the memory wasn’t just blocked, it appeared to be fully erased.

This occurred without impacting the animal’s ability to recall any other memories, the scientists say.

A similar observation was made in experiments invol