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5
SEP

Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits and Uses

Filed Under: Health Aids,Nutrition,Supplements at 9:49 am | By: Deidre Grieves

Antioxidants are trendy. You’ve probably seen them advertised in everything from tea and energy bars to moisturizers and facial oils. Antioxidants are the reason everyone has been telling you to eat leafy greens and indulge in dark chocolate.

And while common antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene may be familiar, there is one health-boosting, super antioxidant that should be on your radar. We’re talking about alpha lipoic acid (ALA).

What Is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

“ALA is a powerful fatty acid that plays a role in metabolism. It binds with proteins to help the body convert carbohydrates into energy,” says Dr. Pamela Reilly, a naturopathic doctor and certified nutrition consultant based in Indianapolis. “When excess ALA exists in the body, it stops binding to proteins and begins to work as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body eliminate free radicals that can cause cell damage and even cell mutation.”

One property that makes ALA particularly distinct is that it is soluble in both fat and water, says Dr. Evan Chait, a certified nutritionist and president and co-founder of AcuWellness. Most antioxidants are either fat soluble or water soluble, but because ALA is both, it has the unique capability of entering into all parts of a cell within the body.

There are three forms of ALA: alpha R-lipoic acid, alpha S-lipoic acid, and alpha RS-lipoic acid. Alpha S-lipoic acid and alpha RS-lipoic acid are both synthetic versions and are often found in ALA supplements. According to Chait, R-lipoic acid is the natural form of lipoic acid and the only version that exists in nature. It is produced by plants, animals, and the human body. “R-alpha lipoic acid assists in mitochondrial energy production,” says Chait.

Because ALA is only produced in small amounts in humans, supplementation is often recommended if people want to boost their ALA levels and receive the health benefits and antioxidant properties of the fatty acid.

The medical community rarely tests for low ALA levels, says Reilly, but ALA deficiencies may result in a variety of health problems. “Low ALA levels could potentially result in fatigue, poor insulin sensitivity, higher than normal blood sugars, nerve pain, vision issues, accelerated aging, coronary issues, and even wrinkles,” she says.

Dietary Sources of Alpha Lipoic Acid

ALA is found naturally in a variety of foods including leafy vegetables and certain types of meat. Chait explains that the following foods are rich in ALA:

  •     Spinach
  •     Broccoli
  •     Tomatoes
  •     Brussels sprouts
  •     Brewer’s yeast
  •     Rice bran
  •     Potatoes
  •     Bone broth
  •     Organ meats (liver, kidney and heart)

Although these foods contain natural ALA, people would have to consume large quantities to receive the full health benefits. “The levels from food are still far too low to be clinically relevant,” says Dr. Joseph Feuerstein, director of integrative medicine at Stamford Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University. “For example, a gram of spinach might only have a few micrograms of ALA.”

Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits

ALA has numerous benefits. In addition to facilitating energy production in the body, lowering ocular pressure, and reducing the likelihood of developing cataracts, ALA supplementation is commonly used to help treat patients with diabetic nerve pain. “ALA has a long history of being used to help the body restore insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugars, and improve the body’s ability to maintain nerve health in the presence of any form of diabetes,” says Reilly.

But assisting with insulin levels and diabetic nerve pain isn’t the only advantage of ALA. Studies have shown ALA to be effective in slowing down the aging process in the brain (1) and improving brain function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and in having small—yet significant—benefits in assisting with weight loss (2).

In addition, says Chait, ALA supports the liver and heart, promotes healthy skin, and assists with maintaining glucose levels. “ALA supplements also replenish vitamins C and E, which are so important for body function,” he adds.

When to Take an Alpha Lipoic Acid Supplement

Because the body only produces small amounts of ALA, supplementation is often necessary to experience the benefits of this multifaceted antioxidant. Supplements often come in capsule form that can be taken 1-2 times per day.

“Almost anyone can benefit from taking an ALA supplement, but I especially recommend them to anyone over the age of 50, anyone with known blood sugar imbalances, anyone with insulin resistance, and anyone with ocular issues,” says Chait.

Suggested dosages for ALA supplements vary, but often range from 300-600 milligrams per day. Doctors may recommend 600-1,800 milligrams for patients suffering from diabetic nerve pain, says Feuerstein, but dosages in this range should only be taken when recommended by a medical professional.

If you’re confused about where to start with ALA supplements, it’s a good idea to look for quality, clean products from respected manufacturers. Check for products with a USP or UL seal, says Feuerstein. Supplements containing these verifications show that the brands conduct regular testing to maintain quality standards.

If you feel overwhelmed, ask a medical professional for advice. “Check with your doctor,” says Reilly. “They may have a specific brand they prefer.”

Alpha Lipoic Acid Side Effects

Side effects from taking ALA supplements are rare, and they are usually associated with high dosages. But as with any supplement, consumers should pay close attention and watch for adverse reactions.

Alpha lipoic acid side effects may include:

  •     Rashes
  •     Nausea and vomiting
  •     Stomach pain
  •     Diarrhea
  •     Hives
  •     Heartburn

“People with known blood sugar imbalances should check their blood glucose levels more frequently when they start taking ALA,” says Reilly. “Lower blood sugars may result and may create a need for reduced medication levels.”

Before taking ALA supplements, check with your doctor to make sure ALA supplementation is a good fit for your overall health and lifestyle.




30
AUG

6 Quercetin Benefits

Filed Under: Health Aids,Nutrition,Superfoods,Supplements at 9:40 am | By: Kate Hughes

What do cherries, wine, broccoli and green tea have in common? All of these foods are rich in the bioflavonoid quercetin. One of the most commonly found bioflavonoids—seriously, quercetin is in a lot of foods—research has shown that this particular compound is a powerful antioxidant with widespread and encouraging health benefits for people from all walks of life (1). But what is quercetin exactly? And what are the top quercetin benefits?

What Is Quercetin?

“Specifically, quercetin is a plant pigment that offers that plant protective qualities. More broadly, quercetin is a bioflavonoid, which is in turn a phytochemical,” describes Marissa Ciorciari, a registered dietitian based in South Florida who specializes in inflammatory conditions, food sensitivities, plant-based eating and wellness through integrative and functional nutrition.

Phytochemicals refer to the biologically active compounds found in plants and are known to have antioxidant and anti-cancerous qualities, as well as an ability to regenerate essential nutrients (2).

6 Quercetin Benefits

Research has shown that quercetin can benefit a person’s health in many ways. The qualities listed below just scratch the surface, as more research is needed to further explore quercetin benefits.

Anti-inflammation. A known antioxidant, one of quercetin’s top health benefits is its anti-inflammatory properties (3). By battling inflammation, quercetin may positively impact people suffering from inflammation-related issues such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. “Inflammation can be the root cause of many chronic conditions,” Ciorciari notes. “So you can apply the potential benefits of quercetin to a lot of health concerns.

Anti-carcinogenic. Quercetin is also known to be anti-carcinogenic, which means it could potentially reduce a person’s cancer risk. Ciorciari says that there hasn’t been a lot of official research into this particular benefit, but she believes that it’s an area that deserves more attention. “As a nutritionist who used to work in cancer therapies, I think there’s a lot of great, promising literature out there showing quercetin’s role in this area. We just need more long-term studies.”

Cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that quercetin may help reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health (4).

Reduce the risk of infection. Quercetin has unique properties that may help reduce the risk of infection, a research review published in Nutrients describes. The same review stated that it may also improve mental and physical performance (3). Ciorciari also notes that quercetin can have a positive effect on wounds and skin abnormalities.

Allergies. Ciorciari says that some people have used quercetin to treat allergies, with some success.

Improving insulin resistance. There have been a number of studies showing that quercetin use can reduce insulin resistance, and it has been shown to improve diabetic condition in animals with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (4).

Ways to Add Quercetin to Your Diet

People looking to reap the benefits of quercetin use are in luck—it can be found in all kinds of produce. “There are so many ways to add quercetin to your diet,” Ciociari says. “Citrus fruit, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, berries and cherries, onions, especially red onions, red bell peppers and the cacao plant, so cocoa is an option! You’ll also find it in green tea and lots of herbs, like mint. It can even be found in wine.”

Ciorciari recommends that anyone looking to add more quercetin to their diets look for foods rich in the flavonoid before resorting to supplements. “I always advocate for a ‘food first’ approach to adding nutrients to someone’s diet,” she explains. “If a person is eating a diet full of different colors—and by that I mean colors that occur in nature in fruits and vegetables—they’re going to be able to ingest a good amount of antioxidants just from their everyday food.”

How to Choose a Quercetin Supplement

If adding more fruits and veggies to your diet isn’t feasible, there are also quercetin supplements available. Ciorciari recommends caution, however, when looking into supplements because they aren’t closely regulated in the United States. “Purity and quality of the source is always something to keep in mind,” she says. “Stick to reputable brands that you are familiar with.”

Possible Quercetin Side Effects

Ciorciari says that one of the major benefits of adding more quercetin to your diet is that it doesn’t have many documented side effects.

She does say, though, that pregnant and breastfeeding moms, as well as anyone with compromised health, should consult with their doctor before starting a quercetin regimen.

“There’s some research that shows quercetin interactions with certain medications, like antibiotics and even blood thinners,” Ciorciari says. “It can also have some impact on chemotherapy. When in doubt, talk to your health care provider.”




29
AUG

5 Glutathione Benefits

Filed Under: Health Aids,Nutrition,Supplements at 1:23 pm | By: Jodi Helmer

When it comes to antioxidants, glutathione might not be the most well known, but it deserves more attention. Our bodies produce glutathione, also known as GSH, and use it for tissue repair, building the immune system and preventing cell damage.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly glutathione is and glutathione benefits you should know about.

What Is Glutathione?

GSH is made up of three amino acids—glycine, glutamate and cysteine—and has been cited as useful in managing several health issues, including cataracts, glaucoma, liver disease, hepatitis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, dementia and anemia (1). Lylen Ferris, a naturopath in Portland, Oregon, calls glutathione “one of the most powerful antioxidants naturally produced in the body.”

5 Glutathione Benefits

While natural health practitioners tend to be big fans of GSH, peer-reviewed scientific studies to support such a wide range of uses are limited. There is, however, solid data to support these five major glutathione benefits from this super supplement:

Improves insulin resistance: GSH is involved in metabolizing insulin and regulating blood glucose levels, making it a popular supplement for diabetics. Research published in the journal Diabetes Care found that patients with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes had severe deficiencies in glutathione synthesis and supplementation helped restore that function (2). A 2018 animal study found that using glycine supplements to correct GSH deficiencies helped improve insulin sensitivity (3).

Reduces inflammation: Given that inflammation depletes GSH, it makes sense that glutathione supplementation could help control inflammation. Studies have linked glutathione to regulating inflammation (4, 5). Maintaining normal GSH levels could also help protect against inflammatory diseases.

“[Glutathione] plays a critical role in the body’s defense system against oxidative stress by directly neutralizing free radicals [and] maintaining the activity of vitamins C and E,” explains Ferris.

Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that supplements helped restore GSH levels and reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (6).

Alleviates side effects from cancer treatment: For cancer patients, glutathione can help reduce the toxic side effects of chemo. Patients with gastric cancer who received GSH via intramuscular injection showed a significant reduction in hemo-transfusion requirements and treatment delays, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (7). In patients with ovarian cancer, one study found that administering GSH in conjunction with chemotherapy allowed health care providers to use higher doses of drugs while minimizing chemo’s debilitating side effects (8).

Helps burn fat: GSH helps control the oxidation of fat. When our bodies are deficient, we store more fat and burn less. For older adults, who find it harder to lose weight and are more apt to be GSH-deficient, supplementation helped restore fat-burning abilities, according to researchers at Baylor College of Medicine (9). Within 14 days, adults taking supplements boosted their metabolisms and improved their fat oxidation so it was on par with that of younger adults.

Reduces oxidative stress: Ferris notes that chronic exposure to toxins, such as smoke, radiation, chemicals and food additives, leads to an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, including glutathione. The result is oxidative stress, which has been linked to a host of health conditions.

GSH supplements can help our bodies fight off free radicals, reducing the risks of developing diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis and asthma to cancer and liver disease, according to Ferris.

“Glutathione helps stave off the impact of oxidative stress, which may, in turn, reduce disease,” she says.

Ways to Boost Glutathione

Glutathione contains sulfur molecules, so Ferris recommends eating foods high in sulfur, including eggs, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and alliums like garlic and onions, to boost the natural GSH production. If a supplement is needed, a glutathione supplement is best, but Ferris notes that taking its building blocks, cysteine, L-glutamine (which converts to glutamate) and glycine, may also be beneficial. Vitamins C and E could help, too.

Glutathione Side Effects

Although GSH might offer health benefits, supplements should be taken with care. Ferris cautions against taking glutathione while pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, asthmatics should not use the inhaled version of the supplement. To reduce common side effects like gas and bloating, take supplements at least 30 minutes before eating.

How to Choose a Glutathione Supplement

When choosing a glutathione supplement, Ferris suggests looking for liposomal, reduced glutathione for the best absorption, and liquid formulas might be better absorbed than powders or capsules. GSH can also be injected or inhaled. The most effective delivery depends on the condition being treated and the health of the patient. Common doses range from 250 to 1,000 milligrams per day. Your health care provider can recommend the right dose and delivery method to meet your health goals.




3
AUG

Why We Need Fermentation Now More Than Ever 

Filed Under: Health Aids,Nutrition,Superfoods,Supplements at 10:12 am | By: Guest Blogger

This post was provided by our friends at Genuine Health.

Fermentation’s popularity is growing in culinary and nutritional circles, but it’s been around since the Neolithic Age. We have our ancestors to thank for learning to harness the process, eventually mastering methods to improve the nutrition of their foods, not to mention the taste and more practical aspects like food preservation. Traditional techniques took time, as microbes and enzymes slowly worked in converting carbohydrates in foods to organic acids and/or alcohol—improving their digestibility and nutritional value in the process.

Why We Should Care About Fermentation

But why should we care about fermentation now? Here are just a few reasons:

  • The Standard North American (SAD) diet of processed and refined food is severely lacking in essential nutrients.
  • Industrial agriculture has depleted soil of both nutrients and beneficial bacteria, and transporting food over long distances further reduces nutrient potency.
  • A cultural fear of bacteria, heavy reliance on antibiotics and rampant use of chemical cleansers has resulted in over-sanitization.
  • This trifecta has damaged our food supply, our digestive health and the essential bacteria in and on our bodies—our microbiome—resulting in the rise of dietary sensitivities, allergies, digestive issues and chronic disease in our culture.

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

With fermentation, you nourish more, digest more and absorb more. Cultured foods may be (very) old news, but how they can nourish us is being brought to light. Research is revealing a significant range of health benefits from fermented foods, in how their unique properties are of enormous benefit to our nourishment and gut ecology, aiding in the prevention of disease by:

  • Partially breaking foods down to rid them of “anti-nutrients”—physical or chemical features that inhibit nutrient absorption, thus readying them for effective human digestion
  • Increasing food’s bioavailability by “unlocking” vitamins, minerals, amino acids and carbohydrates
  • Amplifying the nutritional value of foods by increasing and even generating nutrients
  • Improving digestive health by supporting a strong gut ecology, helping allergies, food sensitivities, weight management, inflammation, skin health, mood and immunity

How to Get the Most Out of Fermentation

While traditional diets were up to 30 percent fermented, in today’s world, it’s not very realistic for it to make up that much of your diet. Some fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and natural sourdough breads can be incorporated into your diet for a dose of fermented fare, but supplementation is an easy and time-efficient way to increase your intake.

In fact, the plant and whole-food based ingredients used in high-quality fermented supplements have been shown to provide specific health benefits. For instance, fermentation intensifies the strength of phytonutrients in superfood supplements, increasing their ability to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body.

Do vegan or dairy-based protein supplements leave you feeling bloated? If so, select a fully-fermented version, which renders the proteins more tolerable with no bloat. Lastly, seek out unique ingredients, such as VitaFiber, a fully fermented prebiotic fiber that helps to feed your friendly gut bacteria.

So there you have it. If you want to absorb maximum nutrients from your food, support digestion and satisfy your beneficial microbes without the bloat, fermentation is the way to go!




26
JUL

5 Essential Oils for Sleep, Backed by Science

Filed Under: Aromatherapy,Health Aids,Herbs at 9:00 am | By: Monica Weymouth

In theory, sleep is simple. All you have to do is lie down, close your eyes and enjoy sweet dreams as your body runs on autopilot.

But in practice, of course, things are a little more complicated. In a 2016 survey by Consumer Reports, 27 percent of respondents reported having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep most nights, while 68 percent struggled with sleep at least once a week (1). This goes a long way in explaining the $41 billion Americans spent on sleep aids in 2015—a number that’s expected to be around $52 billion by 2020.

While everybody is different and some pharmaceuticals work wonders for those with insomnia, many sleeping pills have harsh side effects, including dizziness, gastrointestinal issues, drowsiness, memory problems and a particularly troubling phenomenon known as “sleep driving” (2).

Prefer a more natural way to catch some zzzs? Essential oils—potent, concentrated oils extracted from the leaves, flowers and stems of plants—have been used for thousands of years to treat conditions ranging from epilepsy to migraines to sleeplessness. When used safely and in combination with other sound sleep practices, they can be an invaluable addition to your bedtime routine.

Why Is Sleep Important to Your Health?

Sleep is a crucial, non-negotiable component of your health and well-being, both physical and mental. As you sleep, your brain devotes its energy to preparing for the day ahead and forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Meanwhile, your body is busy repairing and healing itself—and, in the case of children and teens, growing.

Potential side effects of not getting enough sleep range from the pesky—think crankiness, forgetfulness and trouble concentrating—to the dangerous and potentially deadly. Chronic sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk in heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke, as well as car accidents (3).

So, how much sleep do you need? According to research by the National Sleep Foundation—a national nonprofit promoting healthy sleep and safety—adults ages 18-64 should be logging 7-9 hours nightly (4). (Recommendations are slightly less for seniors and more for children.)

Common Causes of Insomnia

Chronic insomnia can be caused by a number of factors. It may be the primary condition or a symptom of an underlying problem. Common causes include:

  • Stress
  • A change to your schedule
  • Using computers, TVs, video games, smartphones and other screens near bedtime
  • Eating close to bedtime
  • Mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
  • Medical conditions including chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol

Symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, waking up throughout the night, waking up too early, daytime sleepiness, difficulty focusing, irritability, depression and anxiety (5).

5 Best Essential Oils for Sleep

As a certified clinical aromatherapist, Robin B. Kessler frequently recommends essential oils for sleep and relaxation. “Essential oils are very effective in treating insomnia and sleep disorders, as long as they are used correctly and safely,” says Kessler, who serves as the New Jersey regional director of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy.

Before introducing essential oils into your routine, Kessler recommends consulting a professional, as some oils can inhibit blood clotting, interfere with medications and cause severe allergic reactions. In her own practice, Kessler frequently uses the below oils to treat sleeplessness.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Prized for its healing properties since the Middle Ages, lavender has a long history of therapeutic uses. More recently, lavender oil—with its sweet, floral, slightly woodsy scent—has been shown to help with sleep disorders. A 2015 study concluded that, when combined with healthy sleep habits, lavender improved sleep quality in college students (6); another 2015 study showed that lavender was successful in treating both insomnia and anxiety in ICU patients (7).

Because lavender oil can also be a stimulant, Kessler uses it cautiously.

Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

Derived from the outer peel of the orange fruit, sweet orange oil can be both energizing and relaxing. Numerous studies have found that the fresh, citrusy scent is effective in lowering the pulses and anxiety levels of patients undergoing dental procedures (8), and aromatherapists frequently use it for stress-related sleep disorders.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)

Derived from the roots of vetiver grass, vetiver essential oil has a strong, earthy, grounding scent. Although a lesser-known oil in the West, it’s extremely popular in its native India, and has recently attracted attention for its calming properties. A small study suggested that vetiver was helpful for children with ADHD (9), while another showed the oil to be as effective as commercial anti-anxiety medications (10).

Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica)

Warm and woodsy, cedarwood oil is extracted from the wood of cedar trees. When inhaled, studies have shown that cedar has significant sedative effects (11), and it has been effective in improving the sleep quality of people with dementia (12).

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

A popular tea choice, chamomile has been used for therapeutic purposes since ancient times. And while a cuppa is certainly calming, chamomile essential oil is even more effective. A 2006 study showed that inhaling chamomile induced feelings of drowsiness and calmness while reducing stress hormone levels (13). Have trouble falling asleep? Another study found that chamomile may significantly reduce the time it takes to drift off (14).

How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep

There are a number of ways to incorporate essential oils and calming scents into your sleep routine. Using a diffuser is a popular method, and there are plenty of models on the market. “Diffusing is an excellent way,” says Kessler. “If you’re using it at bedtime, I suggest closing the windows and doors, running the diffuser for an hour, then shutting it off and going to sleep—it will still be in the room and air as you drift off.” Each diffuser is different, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s dosing instructions.

You can also make a spray by mixing your oil with a high-proof alcohol (oil and water don’t mix!) and a few drops of liquid Castile soap. Kessler recommends spritzing it on your linens and pillow a half hour before turning in for the night.

Because essential oils are highly concentrated, they should be diluted before being applied directly to the skin. Kessler recommends making a dilution using a “carrier oil”—essentially a complementary, milder oil—such as coconut or jojoba, then applying to your wrists. If you have especially sensitive skin, consider a hydrosol. Also known as “flower waters,” hydrosols are by-products of the essential oil distillation process and are more gentle in nature, says Kessler.

Essential Oil Recipe for Sleep

Ready to try essential oils for sleep? Be sure to carefully research a safe oil recipe, or consult a certified aromatherapist. This recipe from Kessler is designed to be used with an essential oil inhaler.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 drops Roman chamomile essential oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put the wick into the inhaler and add each oil. Close the inhaler and shake to mix the oils. Inhale in each nostril deeply before going to bed.




6
JUN

6 Diarrhea Remedies You Should Try

Filed Under: Health Aids,Health Concerns & Ailments at 4:49 pm | By: Helen Anne Travis

Diarrhea can be caused by anything from digestive problems to food poisoning to too much caffeine. But when you’re stuck on the porcelain throne, you’re not so much concerned about what caused your condition. Instead, you want to know how to fix it. Fast.

We caught up with Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in New York City and self-proclaimed “poop expert,” to help you do just that.

Here are six tips on how to get off the pot and back to feeling like yourself again.

1. Reduce Stress Levels

If your belly starts rumbling before a job interview, a public speaking event or a long flight, it could be a symptom of stress. In these cases, meditation, visualization and other relaxation techniques could help settle your stomach.

“The calmer you are, the calmer the stomach will be,” Malkoff-Cohen says. But she warns that this won’t help with all cases of diarrhea. “If you get E. coli, singing Kumbaya won’t help.”

2. Eat a Bland Diet

Sticking to the BRAT diet (which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) is Malkoff-Cohen’s top tip for anyone experiencing stomach issues, especially diarrhea. These foods contain fiber, pectin and other ingredients that have a binding property, which can help firm up your stools.

“Those foods will help clog you up, if you will,” Malkoff-Cohen says. “Think about it: You use applesauce as a binding ingredient when baking.”

3. Avoid Fats and Dairy

Eating high-fat foods makes your digestive system work harder and can lead to loose stools, which is the last thing you want when you have the runs, Malkoff-Cohen says. It’s also wise to avoid dairy when you’re dealing with diarrhea, she says. Milk products contain lactose, a natural sugar that can be harder to digest when your stomach’s fighting a bug.

“When your digestive system is already on the fritz, why add anything into the mix to complicate things?”

4. Embrace Probiotics

Diarrhea is sometimes a symptom of an imbalance in your gut flora. Probiotic supplements can help strengthen the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal system and shorten a diarrhea spell, she says.

5. Be Careful What You Drink

You want to stay hydrated when you have diarrhea, but some drinks can make your symptoms worse, Malkoff-Cohen advises.

Coffee, tea, soda and alcohol are all diuretics. Drinking these can cause you to lose fluids. You also want to watch out for drinks that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, including many sodas, juices and energy drinks. Large quantities of fructose can cause gas, bloating and, you guessed it, more diarrhea. Finally, any food or drink sweetened with sorbitol and other artificial sweeteners can have a laxative effect on the digestive system.

“Say no to all sugarless items,” Malkoff-Cohen says.

6. Try Over-the-Counter Remedies

Over-the-counter medicines like Pepto-Bismol and Imodium A-D can help bring fast relief when you have diarrhea, Malkoff-Cohen says. Both drugs slow peristalsis, the involuntary muscle movements responsible for digestion. Pepto-Bismol also reduces inflammation and kills bacteria that may cause diarrhea, she says, while Imodium A-D reduces the frequency and volume of your stools.

Pro tip: “Beware, the next poop you have after ingesting Pepto-Bismol may be very dark or even black,” she says. That’s because Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth. When the bismuth mixes with small amounts of sulfur (which can be found in saliva and the gastrointestinal tract), a black chemical compound called bismuth sulfide is formed.

“Do not freak,” Malkoff-Cohen assures. “It is both temporary and harmless.”




23
MAY

How to Use Hemp and CBD in Dogs

Filed Under: Health Aids,Pet Care,Supplements at 12:38 pm | By: Paula Fitzsimmons

Living with a dog suffering through a health or behavioral problem can be a struggle. You hate seeing your canine companion in distress and naturally want him to receive immediate relief. Pinpointing an effective treatment is not always straightforward, however.

Pet parents have a number of available treatment options, and cannabis-based products like hemp and CBD are becoming increasingly popular. But do they work, are they safe and, most importantly, are they right for your dog?

Hemp for Dogs

Hemp is essentially the same plant (Cannabis sativa) that marijuana comes from, says Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian who practices at Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California. “Except legally speaking, hemp plants are only allowed to contain, at most, 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC is the compound that triggers euphoria). So there are effectively no issues as far as drug abuse.”

“Hemp seeds are incredibly nutritious,” adds Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary writer, editor and consultant based in Fort Collins, Colorado. “They are rich in essential fatty acids, particularly in the form of hemp seed oil, and hemp seed powder is an excellent plant-based protein source.”

“The essential fatty acids in hemp seed oil may be helpful in the management of some skin problems and possibly also with diseases like osteoarthritis that benefit from a reduction in inflammation,” Coates continues.

Hemp is also added to products containing other supplements meant to treat a variety of conditions, but Coates stresses that more research is needed into the use of hemp in pets.

CBD for Dogs

While hemp oil is made from hemp seeds, CBD oil is made from the flowers, stems and leaves of the hemp plant, which is where cannabidiol (CBD) is concentrated. According to Richter, “CBD can have a very positive effect as it pertains to stress, anxiety and a number of other medical conditions. It’s a pretty good pain reliever, too.”

Most of the research for veterinary use is in its infancy, he says. “We’re just starting to see some studies come out looking at the use of CBD to treat arthritis in dogs (1), but with regards to studies for stress and anxiety, there’s all types of evidence when it comes to humans, but not just yet in the vet field.”

Despite the lack of research, experts say CBD is generally safe for pets. “There really is no such thing as CBD toxicity,” Richter says. “Worst case scenario is if a dog gets too much, he might get too sleepy, and every once in a blue moon you might see a dog with a tummy upset, and they may have vomiting and diarrhea. And if that happens, you just stop giving it and they get better.”

When it comes to problems related to anxiety, what CBD can do is make behavior therapy easier to administer, Richter says. “You cannot medicate an anxiety disorder away. At best, a medication or supplement like CBD will calm dogs down enough to where they can pay attention to training and behavioral modification, and in many ways that’s what you’re hoping to do,” he explains.

When Should I Give My Dog Hemp or CBD? 

As with any supplement or pharmaceutical, hemp and CBD are not cure-alls. “They may be effective on their own for some dogs or for some conditions, or work better in combination with additional treatments in other cases,” says Coates.

Experts strongly recommend giving dogs hemp and CBD only under the guidance of a vet. The challenge here is that vets can seem evasive on the subject, and with good reason. The DEA—the agency that licenses a vet’s prescription-writing ability—classifies all cannabinoids, including commercially-available hemp and CBD, as Schedule 1 substances, says Dr. Casara Andre, founder of Veterinary Cannabis – Education and Consulting, based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

These legal concerns can be confusing. A company that’s certified to grow hemp in its state can produce a product as long as it remains at or below .03 percent THC, Andre says. “Tracking the ‘correctness’ of this is often difficult, but it does take advantage of loopholes in the law and differences between state and federal regulations,” she says.

In multiple places, the policy contradicts itself. “However, between written policy and verbal stances by the DEA, no veterinarian can prescribe or recommend any cannabinoid,” she says.

Vets can provide education, however. “Vets can absolutely educate pet parents to promote harm reduction,” Andre says. If you’d like to consider giving your dog hemp or CBD, still talk to your vet, but be aware that the information you receive may be limited by necessity.

If you keep your expectations about hemp-based products for pets realistic, your furry family member may benefit. Whether or not hemp or CBD is suitable for your dog and situation is a decision that should be made with your vet.

 

This article has been edited for accuracy by Jennifer Coates, DVM. 




21
MAY

How to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar

Filed Under: Detoxification and Cleansing,Diet & Weight Loss,Health Aids,Recipes at 4:24 pm | By: John Gilpatrick

What if someone told you that one simple liquid could help you lower your blood sugar, lose weight, whiten your teeth, and even clean your house?

You’d think that it was some sort of neon blue potion gifted to you by a genie or else it was a Saturday morning infomercial special that could be all yours for just three simple payments of $49.99.

In reality, it’s just humble vinegar—apple cider vinegar, to be specific. It’s not just great on a salad—various studies have suggested it can do a lot for your overall health and wellness.

Here’s why you should drink apple cider vinegar, and how to get your daily dose.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Of all the claims made by apple cider vinegar proponents, this one has the most meat to it: One study by researchers at Arizona State University found that the glucose levels of participants were 34 percent lower than the controls when they drank 20 grams of apple cider vinegar mixed with 40 grams of water and one teaspoon of sugar during a meal (1).

A separate study found that patients with diabetes who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed woke with improved fasting glucose levels (2).

It’s not a direct link, but for some of the same reasons apple cider vinegar helps with your blood sugar levels, it can also help with your waistline. Glucose levels were lower after participants in the Arizona State study drank vinegar because it contains acetic acid, which increases insulin sensitivity and can slow the absorption of calories from a meal.

Additionally, lower glucose levels have been linked to feeling more full and, presumably, eating less. To date, however, there isn’t much data linking apple cider vinegar directly to weight loss.

What’s the Best Way to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?

The most basic way you can get your daily fix of apple cider vinegar is by taking it straight up as a shot. But not everyone enjoys that burning sensation in the back of their throats, especially first thing in the morning!

If a shot of ACV is too strong or sour for your taste, you can try diluting it with water, seltzer or tea and sweeten it up with a bit of honey to make it more palatable.

If you’re feeling even more creative, you can incorporate apple cider vinegar into everything from smoothies and detox drinks to cocktails and mocktails.

Here are some ACV drinks you can enjoy equally for their taste and their health benefits:

Detox Tonic

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon LuckyEats Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon raw honey

1 dash cayenne pepper

8 oz. filtered water

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add ACV, lemon juice, ground ginger, raw honey and cayenne pepper to a glass of filtered water.
  • Drink for overall good health!

Spiced Cranberry & Rosemary Mocktail

(Recipe and photo courtesy of Miss Allie’s Kitchen)

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups water

1 cup fresh cranberries

¼ cup raw honey

2 tablespoons Fire Cider Original

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 cups lime seltzer

Cranberries, lime and rosemary for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add the water, cranberries, raw honey, Fire Cider Original and rosemary to a medium saucepan.
  • Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture out, and place it in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.
  • Fill a glass with ice and to each, add ½ cup of the spiced cranberry and rosemary syrup and 1 cup of lime seltzer.
  • Mix, garnish with desired toppings and enjoy.

Turmeric Hot Toddy

(Recipe courtesy of Catherine Franklin)

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup hot water

1.5 oz. whiskey

1 oz. lemon juice

½ oz. Vermont Village Turmeric Sipping Vinegar

1 oz. honey

Star anise

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a mug, add whiskey, lemon juice and turmeric sipping vinegar.
  • Top with hot water and mix well.
  • Add one star anise and serve.

Other Ways to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar

If you’re still not keen on drinking apple cider vinegar, there are other ways to consume it. For example, you can work it into a marinade or sauce for a little extra zip.

Of course, salads are a great vehicle for apple cider vinegar, and a tasty vinaigrette or dressing might make you more likely to eat nutritious leafy greens and veggies. Combining vinegar with oil also helps balance the pH level and prevent tooth enamel erosion from the acetic acid.

If you can’t stand the taste no matter how you prepare it, apple cider vinegar capsules might be your best bet. Keep in mind that the amount of acetic and citric acids in commercially available apple cider vinegar tablets reportedly varies dramatically between samples (3). This means dosage information on apple cider vinegar capsule packages may not be accurate, and taking too much can cause digestion issues.




17
MAY

6 Natural Remedies for Sunburn

Filed Under: Health Aids,Health Concerns & Ailments,Personal Care at 11:23 am | By: Jessica Remitz

As tempting as it is to bask in the sun on a warm summer day, you’ll want to protect yourself from its rays every time you head outdoors.

The best way to prevent a sunburn, of course, is to not get one in the first place. But we all know that things happen, even to the savviest SPF advocates.

As soon as you notice a burn, cover up, head inside and try one of these natural healing remedies:

The Right Moisturizer

Dr. Jeremy Wolf, LuckyVitamin’s lead health advisor, recommends using calendula lotion to treat sunburns or even urtica urens, a plant-based cream that can be used to treat first-degree burns.

Stacey Rex, creator and owner of Pure Stella Skin Care in North Carolina, suggests using aloe vera to soothe and hydrate sunburned skin. If possible, she recommends using aloe straight from the plant, but it can also be used in a gel or lotion.

In addition, Wolf cautions against using lotions or creams that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Moisturizers with petroleum trap heat in your skin, he says, and benzocaine and lidocaine can also be irritating.

“Stick to moisturizers that are free from fragrances and preservatives, which may further irritate your skin,” Rex adds.

Black Tea

Florida-based beauty chemist David Pollock considers tea to be the greatest at-home remedy for sunburns.

“You can brew a strong pitcher of black tea using several tea bags, then bring it to room temperature,” says Pollock, founder of JustAskDavid.com. “The tannic acid in the tea will instantly restore the acidic nature of your skin, take out the stinging and help to prevent peeling.”

He suggests using a compress to dab the tea across your burn, or run a bath and pour the pitcher of tea into the tub to soak in.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can have a similar soothing effect on sunburns. “It helps balance the pH of your skin to promote healing and soothe your skin,” Rex says.

Add a cup of baking soda to a cool or lukewarm bath and soak for 20 to 30 minutes, Rex says, or apply a paste of baking soda and water to clean skin with a cotton ball. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water.

Vinegar

Like tea, white wine vinegar is acidic and can be used to soothe a sunburn naturally, Pollock says. (It just has a stronger smell.) In addition, Rex recommends using apple cider vinegar as a sunburn-treating solution.

“Mix equal portions of water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray on skin,” she says. “I also recommend adding lavender essential oil; not only will it mask the vinegar smell, but lavender is also great for soothing burns and speeding up the healing process. You can also add a cup of vinegar to a warm (not hot) bath and soak.”

Yogurt

The acidic nature of yogurt is close to that of our skin and can help promote natural healing, Pollock says.

In addition, Rex says that the probiotics in yogurt help moisturize and reduce pain. “Make sure you find a plain, full-fat version, then apply to the skin, wait 10 minutes and rinse off in the shower.”

Hydrating Foods and Beverages

One of the most important things you can do to help heal a sunburn is to stay hydrated, Wolf says. Drink plenty of water, and even consider adding a scoop of electrolyte powder to your water bottle to maintain hydration, he says.

You can also consider trying certain foods to help ease your pain. “Snack on foods that are high in vitamin C, like oranges and watermelon, to promote healing,” Rex adds. “As an added bonus, they also help keep you hydrated.”




16
MAY

4 Genius Ways to Use Castor Oil

Filed Under: Beauty,Health Aids,Personal Care at 11:42 am | By: Joe Palinsky

Though trends in the world of health and beauty might come and go pretty fast, there are some products that can withstand the tests of time. Castor oil, for example, has been used for so long that there is a ton of anecdotal evidence suggesting Egyptian ruler Cleopatra regularly relied on the oil to keep her skin and face fresh (1). Whether you’re presiding over an entire nation or you’re simply looking to get rid of some acne before a date, castor oil might be a great fit.

Take a look at some of the exciting ways you can incorporate castor oil into your daily routine. The more you learn about its benefits, the easier it will be for you to grab yourself a bottle and see for yourself.

1. Heal Your Skin

To begin, let’s look at the example of Cleopatra. In order to keep her face moisturized and protected against the harsh climates of Ancient Egypt, the ruler was said to have used castor oil regularly. There is a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that this would have been a very sensible move for anyone living in this region at the time. The fatty acids found in castor oil can do wonders for dry, irritated skin (2). The fatty acids keep the skin moisturized while simultaneously helping to heal any wounds or abrasions on the skin’s surface.

Several studies also suggest that castor oil can help to reduce inflammation of the skin. By using castor oil on your face, you might be able to reduce the odds of an acne breakout by reducing inflammation and encouraging healthy skin cell growth (3). For best results, rub a small amount of castor oil on your face before you go to bed. You can wash it off right away or leave it on until the morning. Some health experts suggest using a warm cloth to open the pores on your face before applying castor oil to see the best results.

2. Protect Your Hair

Your hair can also benefit from a bit of castor oil. As with your skin, the fatty acids found in this oil can help to keep your hair hydrated. These same fats reinforce hair follicles, making it far less likely you’re going to see breakage or feel like your locks are in an unhealthy place (4). You can also expect your scalp to benefit from using a bit of castor oil when you wash your hair. Some studies have suggested that you can lower the odds of developing dandruff by using a little of this oil (5).

The best way to use castor oil on your hair is as a conditioner. After washing, apply a small amount of the oil on your hair and vigorously rub it in. Start with warm water and slowly switch to a cold rinse. The colder water at the end helps to lock the oil into your hair. For best results, be sure to condition in this fashion two or three times a week.

3. Ease Stomach Troubles

Castor oil is also useful by the spoonful as a laxative. No matter how much time you dedicate to cultivating a healthy diet, there are plenty of surprises that can come along. When you find yourself feeling constipated, it can make you feel terrible and prevent you from going about your routine with the same vigor. Castor oil is perfect in this situation. The oil itself is a fantastic natural laxative, helping to encourage muscle movement in the intestines (6).

While there is a ton of evidence out there suggesting that castor oil can relieve constipation, there are also some drawbacks to stay mindful of. Using castor oil might actually be too much of a good thing when unblocking your system and cause diarrhea. If you go from being backed up to being in the bathroom every five minutes, you might want to reduce how much castor oil you’re using or try another method.

4. Dental Health

You might not like hearing it, but your mouth is swarming with bacteria (7). For the most part, the germs that lurk in the mouth are safe. Some simply exist on the tongue and teeth to encourage healthy digestion. Of course, you also want to get rid of most of this bacteria when you brush. Some substances that grow in the mouth can lead to serious dental issues like plaque. By swishing some castor oil around in your mouth before brushing, you can clear our some of this bacteria in an effective manner (8).

Castor oil is a simple product with a ton of uses. When you want to add an extra level of protection to your teeth, hair, and skin, this is definitely an option worth your consideration!




8
MAY

4 Easy Ways to Work Fermented Foods Into Your Diet

Filed Under: Health Aids,Health Foods,Immunity at 5:06 pm | By: Joe Palinsky

Fermented foods seem to have become quite popular in recent months. Whether you’ve heard about the benefits of drinking vinegars or are simply wondering why yogurt is such a hot option for breakfast, you most likely want to know what all the fuss is about. People are clamoring for fermented products lately because these foods and drinks are excellent sources of probiotics.

For those a bit shaky on what probiotics are exactly, it is best to think of them as good bacteria for your gut (1). While you might associate bacteria with germs and other sickness-causing agents, the truth is there are many bacterias your body requires for healthy functions. Probiotics help to encourage digestion by affecting the nerves that control the various muscle movements in the stomach and intestines, keeping a person regular and comfortable (2).

If you feel like you’re ready to explore these options for yourself, you will be happy to learn there are several simple ways to get started. Take a look at these tips on how to work fermented foods into your diet and see which tactics work for your lifestyle.

Eat Yogurt

Do you like yogurt? If you do, then you’re already on your path to including more fermented products in your diet. The cultures found in dairy products like kefir and yogurt can provide your body with the right daily dose of probiotics to encourage a happy gut. Start your morning right by grabbing a bowl of yogurt and topping it with your favorite crunchy granola and fresh fruit slices. You might even enjoy the experience so much that you forget you’re treating your body to a healthy meal.

While dairy cultures are excellent fermented products to include in your daily meals, there are a number of people who cannot eat dairy. For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, there are other avenues to explore. Coconut yogurt cultures can offer all the digestive power offered by dairy without the discomfort or bloating.

Add Pickles

Yogurt is the centerpiece ingredient for fermented breakfast options, but there are less obvious ways to include probiotics in your meals. Plenty of people enjoy eating quick meals like sandwiches and salads for lunch. For those who want to work more probiotics into lunchtime, consider adding fermented pickles to the mix.

By themselves, pickles do not offer a ton of nutritional value. Though tasty, these briny cucumbers are more for flavor and crunch than anything else. Still, eating a pickle on or with your lunch has been reported to increase the good bacteria in your gut and promote easy digestion (3). While pickles might be an acquired taste, the simple health benefits can make them a lot more palatable.

Use Sauerkraut

Speaking of acquired tastes, sauerkraut is another great option when it comes to eating more fermented foods. Since it is made from cabbage, sauerkraut contains a ton of fiber. This by itself is enough to encourage a healthier digestive system (4). Due to the fermented nature of sauerkraut, it also enhances the digestive experience by introducing healthy probiotics into the mix.

It is also important to note that introducing too much sauerkraut to your system at once can have a negative impact on the way your stomach feels. You don’t want your stomach to turn from the experience, so it is best to use sauerkraut sparingly at first. Increase how much of it you use with time and you’re likely to feel the benefits in your stomach in no time at all.

Switch to Sourdough

Finally, you can do wonders for your diet by switching what kind of bread you eat at home. Unlike other options found at your local grocery store, sourdough bread packs a ton of digestive benefits into one loaf. This type of bread is made with only water, salt and flour, with the rest of the process being more about fermentation than anything else. While sourdough has long been considered a great option for people having trouble achieving glucose homeostasis (5), there are many who are now seeing the digestive benefits.

The longer the dough has been fermenting, the better it will be for your gut. Instead of opting for whole wheat or white, see how using long-fermented sourdough can transform your meals.

Get creative with the way you infuse fermented foods into your day. While you might not want to eat a sauerkraut and pickle sandwich on sourdough with a side of yogurt, you can easily find more practical ways to ingest these helpful sources of probiotics.




30
APR

How to Make Your Own Bug Spray

Filed Under: Health Aids,Personal Care at 5:00 pm | By: Ysolt Usigan

When summertime rolls in, so do the mosquitoes and other biting pests. If you’re looking to protect your skin without resorting to harsh chemicals, try DIY bug spray!

Benefits of Homemade Bug Spray

That’s right, you can totally make your own bug spray using natural ingredients (like apple cider vinegar and witch hazel) and essential oils. And the best part is, your homemade solution can also nourish your skin while it repels. Plus, it’ll smell better than traditional bug sprays!

Essential Oils That Repel Insects

“Many essential oils have properties that are known for repelling insects,” says Jessica Klingbaum, certified aromatherapy specialist. Consider using the following for your homemade concoction: arborvitae, cedarwood, cinnamon, citronella, clove, geranium, lemongrass, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary and thyme.

There are also some oils that are said to be more effective in repelling specific kinds of insects, Klingbaum adds. For example, citronella, peppermint, lemon, lemongrass, geranium and lavender repel mosquitoes. Grapefruit, juniper berry, thyme and oregano can keep ticks at bay. For spiders, you can use peppermint, melaleuca, eucalyptus and cinnamon.

Vanilla is a great addition to any bug spray because it not only will make it more effective, it’ll also add a nice aroma, Klingbaum says.

Klingbaum warns that essential oils are volatile and aromatic compounds can dissipate fairly quickly. “It’s very important to have a fixative ingredient, like fractionated coconut oil, to help keep the essential oils on the skin longer,” she says. Doing so will then help to increase the efficacy of the bug spray and help it last longer.

DIY Bug Spray Recipe

Ready to make your own bug spray? Here’s a recipe from Klingbaum, founder of BeHipandHealthy.com: Start with a 4-ounce bottle. Add 2 ounces of fractionated coconut oil and 2 ounces of distilled water. Then, add 30-40 drops of essential oils in any blend that you prefer from the list above. And voila! It’s that easy!




11
APR

Are Drinking Vinegars the Next Kombucha? What You Need to Know

Filed Under: Health Aids,Health Foods at 10:17 am | By: Joe Palinsky

When you’re looking for a bit of refreshment on a hot day, you might not immediately think about tossing back a cup of vinegar. Yeah, it sounds a bit weird at first. Still, drinking vinegars seem to be the newest obsession among people who want to revitalize their bodies.

While drinking this pungent liquid is not an appealing prospect to many, the people behind the brands of drinking vinegars currently lining the shelves have taken some great considerations to make the beverage more palatable.

If you still find yourself shaking your head, you are not alone. Many publications have been discussing how odd this beverage trend seems at first glance and pointing out that many celebrities are getting into the fad (1). Though drinking the tangy beverage might seem unusual, people also turned their noses up at kombucha when it first hit the market. Nowadays, kombucha is a very popular fermented drink for health enthusiasts (2), and it seems like drinking vinegars might be following the same path.

If you want to determine whether drinking vinegar should be a part of your daily routine, here’s everything you need to know.

Digestive Health

We know vinegar is mainly comprised of acetic acid and water, but what else is inside the bottle? Vinegar also contains chemicals called polyphenols. These chemical compounds are naturally found in plants and help them to fight off predators, enhance pigmentation, and strengthens flora against potential infections (3). Beyond these functions, polyphenols have also been shown to be incredibly resistant to rot, whether found in a natural form or within a processed item like vinegar.

Research on polyphenols over the years has revealed some impressive benefits. While there are a number of different types of polyphenols found in the various plants of the world, the types found in vinegar are excellent when it comes to protecting and preserving the functions of the gut. Specifically, drinking vinegars help to strengthen the gut microbiota found along the lining of your stomach and intestinal tract. By using vinegar to keep this bacteria present and active, you are likely to experience improved digestive functions (4).

Antioxidant Awareness

Gut microbiota aside, you might be wondering why people are drinking vinegar when there are so many other sources of this chemical chain readily available in nature. Polyphenols are just one of several antioxidizing components of vinegar. That’s right, vinegar is packed with antioxidants (5). While you’ve been hunting down blueberries and acai extract, there has been a great antioxidant source right in your pantry!

Now, to clarify, you probably should not just grab any bottle of clear vinegar from your kitchen, toss in a straw, and see what happens. In fact, you have to go for the right kinds of vinegar to see the benefits. Of the household varieties of vinegar out there, apple cider vinegar is your best choice. You probably have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar is good for your throat and the same is true of drinking a small amount and feeling a difference in your gut.

Taste Testing

If you want to test out the drinking vinegar craze, you’re not limited to sipping on the same apple cider vinegar you use to cook with. There are a variety of exciting brands currently on the market made with fruits, herbs and spices. Instead of plugging your nose and hoping for the best, you can explore a wide range of flavors and ingredients, including honey, ginger, turmeric, pineapple and pomegranate.

Whether you jump on the bandwagon or not, there is a lot of science behind the act of drinking vinegar for health. Look more into polyphenols and see what foods and beverages you can find these chemical chains in. If vinegar isn’t for you, then there’s bound to be another option to provide your body with some helpful antioxidants.




23
MAR

7 Ways to Banish Digestive Bloating

Filed Under: Health Aids,Health Concerns & Ailments at 10:26 am | By: Jodi Helmer

You can’t count how many times you have struggled to zip up your skinny jeans or caught a glimpse of your four-month-pregnant-looking belly in the mirror. Blame bloat.

Digestive bloating is caused by air, fluid or gas in the digestive tract. It makes your belly look and feel swollen or tight. While bloating is normal, it can also be uncomfortable.

Whether it happens occasionally or every month during your period, follow these seven tips to prevent stomach bloating and improve digestion.

Get Moving

Regular exercise can help keep you regular. One study found that physical activity helped participants move gas and ease their symptoms (1).

Remember, “Movement of the body is good for movement of the bowels,” notes dietitian Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, which worsens gas and bloating. Drink plenty of water each day to help keep your stool soft and easier to pass through the colon, Sandon advises.

Steer Clear of Artificial Sweeteners

Certain artificial sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol and xylitol, are linked with bloating. “Artificial sweeteners are poorly absorbed in the intestines,” explains Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach. “If you’re having increased bloating, check food labels for artificial sweeteners.”

Eat Mindfully

The faster you eat, the more air you swallow (and the more gas you create). If you struggle with bloating, Wolf suggests slowing down during mealtimes. Eating more frequent, smaller meals may also help.

“A larger meal will take longer to empty out of your stomach and that can leave you feeling bloated,” says Wolf, who is also an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Avoid Carbonated Drinks

The fizz in your favorite drinks can cause bubbles to build up in your belly. “Carbonated beverages are a huge trigger for bloat,” Wolf warns. Instead of soda or seltzer, choose flavored water or green tea. A 2016 study also found that peppermint helped alleviate bloating (2).

Focus on Fiber

Foods high in fiber and sulfur like apples, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, onions and garlic are harder for your gut bacteria to break down, according to Sandon. These are also really nutritious foods, so you don’t want to cut them from your diet. In fact, Sandon notes, “The more you eat them, the better your bacteria are likely to get at breaking them down.”

Cook fruits and vegetables to soften them. (Your gut has to work harder to digest raw fruits and veggies). Sandon also suggests switching to canned fruits packed in their own juices or water, or applesauce if eating raw fruit triggers bloating.

Get OTC Relief

Although diet and lifestyle changes can reduce digestive bloating, you may need to reach for an over-the-counter remedy for immediate gas relief. Your doctor may also recommend supplements to improve digestion, such as probiotics or digestive enzymes.

With the right lifestyle changes, you can beat bloat and start feeling better.

 




10
JAN

Vitamin C Won’t Shorten Your Cold, But These 3 Supplements Might

Sick young woman at home on the sofa with a cold, she is covering with a blanket and blowing her nose

There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about what to do when you start developing the symptoms of a seasonal cold. Everyone has a recipe or suggestion for what will get rid of your sniffles and help you to feel well again. For the most part, Vitamin C is a popular choice. Though many studies show how helpful Vitamin C can be for the immune system, it is not the best supplement for shortening a cold.

To take full advantage of the power of Vitamin C, one must take the right level of the supplement before the onset of a cold. This helps to shorten the presence of the symptoms, though it is not effective at changing the overall duration of the sickness. To fight back in a more effective way, consider these three helpful supplements that might pack more of a punch.

1.) Elderberry

The downside to Vitamin C is you have a very limited window for taking it in order to see the results you’d like. With other supplements like elderberry, the experience is a bit different. The extract of the black elderberry plant has been used for medicinal purposes for a long while. Native Americans first used the plant as a way of combating fevers brought on by various conditions. Nowadays, black elderberry extract can be found in a multitude of cough syrups and lozenges.

Elderberry is effective at treating both the symptoms of the common cold as well as the symptoms brought about by influenza. About a day after experiencing the aches and pains of being sick, taking an elderberry supplement should help. Studies show this extract is incredibly useful at eliminating some of the more frustrating symptoms of a cold, including sore throat, coughs, and aches of the head and body. The next time you feel a cold coming on, see what this supplement can do for your situation.

2.) Ginger

The common cold tends to appear the most prevalently in the winter. Since this has been the case for most of human history, a large chunk of remedies for colds contain ingredients that are bountiful in this season. This is especially true when it comes to ginger root. This spicy and delicious root is used in everything from cooking, to baking, to brewing teas and other elixirs. The anti-inflammatory agents in ginger assist with relieving the many pains associated with the common cold, including calming down a sore throat.

When one is suffering from a cold or the flu, it can be incredibly difficult to feel comfortable. Hot flashes and cold chills can rock the body and cause a person to feel as if he or she is completely disconnected. Ginger is useful here because it can help a body to return to normalcy in regards to temperature. Ginger can easily warm a person up when consumed in the form of tea, which can be perfect for anyone dealing with terrible chills throughout the duration of a cold.

3.) Zinc

Finally, there is zinc. Though ginger and elderberry are far better at helping a person get through the stages of a cold, zinc plays a slightly different part. Various studies over the years have concluded a person taking zinc during a cold helps to prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading throughout the body. This can be a huge help in fighting the cold but there is little to suggest it can prevent a cold outright.

Before taking zinc it is important to remember that there are side effects. Many people who take zinc supplements complain about nausea, which is something to stay alert of. Whenever a supplement you are taking is making you feel ill, stop taking it right away and consult with your primary care physician. This is the best way to get the most from your health without causing any adverse effects along the way.

 

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.