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Posts tagged ‘Women’s Health’

7 Ways Vitamin C Fights Heart Disease

7 Ways Vitamin C Fights Heart Disease

 

A recent study showed that men who consume at least 300 milligrams of vitamin  C, through food and supplements, slash their risk of death from heart disease by  40 percent.

Here are seven proven ways that vitamin C helps lower your risk of heart  disease:

1.  Vitamin C is linked to reduced levels of lipoprotein (a).  High  levels of  lipoprotein (a) are linked to stroke.

2.  Vitamin C helps to prevent high blood pressure.

3.  Vitamin C helps to prevent hardening of the arteries.

4.  It lowers blood cholesterol levels.

5.  Vitamin C helps repair damaged artery walls, thereby preventing  cholesterol from being deposited.

6.  As an antioxidant, it reduces free radicals which can damage the  heart and blood vessels.

7.  Vitamin C is also linked, in studies, to an increase in high density  lipoproteins (HDL), which is also frequently called the good cholesterol.

Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables, especially pomegranates, tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries, acai, and  red bell peppers.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.

Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 12-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: Healing  Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body  Detox, The Life Force Diet, The  Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme  Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and subscribe to her free  e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.

 

10 Risk Factors and Warning Signs of a Stroke

10 Risk Factors and Warning Signs of a Stroke

According to an American Heart Association survey, young adults have a  disconnect about how their lifestyle choices affect their chances of stroke, a  leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

More than 1,200 adults between the ages of 18 and 44 were surveyed on their  thoughts about health and stroke risk.

Of the 18-24 year-old group, most expressed desire to live a healthy and long  life — 98 years was their average desire — but one-third of those said they  don’t think their unhealthy behaviors today will affect their risk of stroke  later. Eighteen percent couldn’t even name one stroke risk factor.

Ralph Sacco, M.D., neurologist and president of the American Heart  Association/American Stroke Association, said in a press release:

“This survey shows the dangerous disconnect that  many young Americans have about how their behaviors affect their risks for  stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Starting healthy behaviors at a young  age is critical to entering middle age in good shape. The investment you make in  your health now will have a large payoff as you age. We want everyone – especially young people – to strive to avoid stroke, which can affect anyone at  any age.”

The survey also indicated that people become more aware of their overall  health as they age:

  • In the 35-44 year-old group, 22 percent were not worried about  cardiovascular diseases.
  • In the 18-24 year-old group, 43 percent said they weren’t concerned.

Lifestyle Choices to Lower Stroke Risk

Healthy lifestyle choices can lower risk of a first stroke by almost 80  percent, according to American Heart Association/American Stroke Association  guidelines. Those choices include:

Risk Factors for Stroke

  • Age: The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles  for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is common among the  elderly, a lot of people under 65 also have strokes.
  • Heredity/Race: Your stroke risk is greater if a parent,  grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. African-Americans have a higher  risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians.
  • Gender: Stroke is more common in men than in women, but  more than half of total stroke deaths occur in women.
  • Health Conditions: Having high blood pressure, diabetes,  heart disease, sickle cell disease, or high blood cholesterol raise your risk of  stroke.
  • Prior Stroke, TIA, or Heart Attack: The risk of stroke is  many times greater for someone who has already had one. Transient ischemic  attacks (TIAs) produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage, and if you’ve  had one or more TIAs, you’re 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone  of the same age and sex who hasn’t. If you’ve had a heart  attack, you’re at higher risk of having a stroke, too.

Warning Signs of Stroke

  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side  of the body
  • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden, severe headache with no known cause

If you, or someone near you should experience these symptoms, immediately  call 9-1-1.

Facts About Stroke

  • About 795,000 Americans each year have a stroke.
  • Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year, making it the third leading  cause of death, after diseases of the heart and cancer.
  • About 40 percent of stroke deaths occur in males, and 60 percent in  females.

By Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis.  She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a regular  contributor to Care2 Healthy & Green Living and Care2  Causes. Follow on  Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

 

4 Remedies to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

4 Remedies to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Dense breasts is more than a descriptor of breast mass. It’s a  condition that can have health consequences.

This week, children’s book author Judy Blume announced on her blog that she  recently received a diagnosis of breast cancer after getting a routine  ultrasound, and then underwent a mastectomy. She made a point of saying that her  dense breast tissue had made her cancer impossible to detect through either a  physical exam or mammogram.

Breast density can indeed prevent mammography from highlighting suspicious  markings. The dense tissue literally blocks the view. That’s why an ultrasound  is the better detection option for women who have dense breasts.

Not surprisingly, hormones are a big factor in many breast-related  conditions. Young women have more circulating hormones; therefore, their breast  tissue is typically dense. That’s because breast tissue contains estrogen  receptors, a destination for circulating estrogen. When the liver can’t break  down the body’s excess estrogen, then the risk of estrogen-related breast cancer  increases.

Fat also plays a role in breast density. Because estrogen loves fat,  premenopausal women who are overweight are generally more at risk for breast  cancer because their fat stores are greater than in women of normal weight. And  fat stores in the breast will attract estrogen.

However, even slim premenopausal women who ingest more estrogen than normal  through the environment–or through estrogen-mimickers in products, including  skin care items, cosmetics, and plastic containers–are also at risk for denser  breasts, if their livers are not helping rid the body of these substances.

Postmenopausal women produce only a small amount of hormones through their  adrenals. These hormones are converted, in the fat cells, to estrogen and  progesterone. However, postmenopausal women’s livers, which have often become  more toxic over many years, may not be up to the task of breaking down even the  small amount of circulating estrogen in their systems. Another factor that can  increase breast density is hormone replacement therapy.

The good news is that a woman with dense breasts and too much circulating  estrogen can take action to improve her condition. Here are four potential  remedies and strategies that can help.

1. Eliminate coffee and caffeine. Coffee contains  methylxanthine. Chocolate contains theobromine. Both substances, derived from  xanthine, are stimulants that are associated with creating fibrous tissue in the  breast. By going cold turkey off these two items for several days, a woman can  determine whether her breast tissue is sensitive to either coffee or  chocolate.

2. Go easy on red meat. Unless you buy certified organic  meat, you don’t know what hormone-related feed the animal has ingested. Also,  too much fat congests the liver, which in turn prevents the liver from breaking  down estrogens and other toxins.

3. Try iodine. If a patient has dense breasts, a small daily  amount of iodine–between 150 and 300mcg–from an OTC brand may help. (This iodine  supplement is not the first-aid iodine that one puts on wounds.)

Iodine helps support thyroid hormone production, which subsequently can  decrease estrogen stimulation of breast tissue. Women should also eat seaweed,  which is an iodine-rich food.

4. Eat cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels  sprouts, and cauliflower all containindole-3-carbinol, a compound that helps the  liver break down estrogen into more benign components. The detoxifying qualities  of these cruciferous vegetables make them an excellent choice for women with  dense breasts.

By Dr. Laurie Steelsmith

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and  licensed acupuncturist whose specialty is women’s health. She’s the author of a  new book, Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her  Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine (Hay House, 2012) and the  bestseller Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural  and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Learn more at www.drlauriesteelsmith.com.

Myths and Misapprehensions About Homeopathy

Myths and Misapprehensions About Homeopathy

 

Many homeopaths, believing that the explanation of how homeopathy works is  secondary to its success with literally millions of patients, have traditionally  refused to reveal the names of the medicines they give. This and the lack of  information they have provided about their practice has led to an aura of  secrecy in which myths abound. It is worth looking at a few of these  misapprehensions.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is a form of herbalism’

In my experience, this is the commonest myth of all. While it is certainly  true that a proportion of the remedies a homeopath uses are based on plants, and  though, as in homeopathy, the herbalist prescribes on the individual, the  principles that govern the two therapies are quite different.

Many plants have known healing properties; herbalism is concerned with the  known sphere of action of a plant based on its chemical constituents as well as  its known healing qualities. Herbalism has existed for thousands of years—for as  long as we have records—in some form or another and has its roots in mother  earth. It is the only form of medicine used by wild animals.

Homeopathy, on the other hand, is based on a very different set of  principles. Homeopathic remedies are not used in the material dose; nor are they  based solely on plants, using as they do poisons, metals, and disease products.  Homeopaths generally prescribe one remedy at a time rather than the mixtures of  plant tinctures that herbalists employ. And, of course, homeopathy in its modern  form is a mere 200 years old.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is safe

In the same way that homeopathy can cure—dramatically and permanently in many  cases—it can also cause harm. Kent said that he would rather share a room with a  nest of vipers than be subjected to the administrations of an inexperienced  homeopath! Potential dangers are:

Unintentional provings

If you take too many homeopathic pills over a period of time it is possible  to ‘prove’ the remedy—that is, to suffer from the symptoms that the remedy was  supposed to cure. This can mean that although your own symptoms may improve  initially, they may worsen again if you continue to take the pills. Worse still,  if the remedy did not fit your picture—was not right for you—you may experience  symptoms you never had before.

This is a danger with self-prescribing or over-the-counter prescribing, where  there is no professional homeopath to monitor the symptoms. In my first year in  practice a woman rang me one day in a frantic state, desperate for help. She  told me the following story:

I asked for help at a homeopathic chemist for thrush, which I had  suffered from for several months, and was prescribed Nux vomica 30 over the  counter and told to take it three times daily. After a few days I experienced a  marked improvement in my condition, so I carried on taking it. After a week of  no further changes my symptoms started to get worse so I carried on taking it. I  finished the bottle of pills and went back to the pharmacy and told them my  thrush was now as bad as when I had started taking the remedy. They gave me  another bottle of Nux vomica 30 and told me to continue with the treatment. It  is now two months since I started on this remedy and my thrush is unbearable. It  is so bad I can’t sleep at night and I am irritable all the time. Please help  me.

I advised this woman to stop taking the pills and to antidote the remedy with  strong coffee and camphorated ointment (to counteract its effects) and within  twenty-four hours she was back to her old self, having slept well for the first  time in over a month. The thrush was back to where it had been before she took  the Nux vomica—annoying but manageable.

A colleague of mine tells of a six-month-old baby who was treated at a local  hospital as an emergency out-patient in a state of collapse. The nurse on duty  was a student of my colleague’s and discovered that the mother had been giving  her baby Chamomilla 6 several times a day for colic since soon after birth. As  soon as the homeopathic remedy was discontinued for a period of time the muscle  tone returned.

It is important to be on your guard against this over-use of homeopathic  medicines.

Confusion of the symptom picture

If a remedy has not been prescribed on the whole person it will work in a  limited way, curing a restricted number of symptoms. In these cases some  complaints remain and it is possible to end up giving one remedy after another  in order to try to ‘get rid’ of the remaining symptoms. In the end the whole  picture becomes so changed that it is difficult to find the similimum (that  single remedy that was needed at the very beginning).

The professional homeopath has different ways of dealing with this phenomenon  in order to get back to the original symptom picture. If you find that you are  prescribing one remedy after another with only limited effect, then do get  professional help.

Suppression

A homeopathic remedy can cure a superficial symptom such as skin eruption in  the same way that, for example, the application of a Cortisone cream can. This  will only be the case if the remedy has been prescribed on the skin complaint  (single symptom) without taking into account the whole person and/or the cause.  The effect is to push the disease further into the body. Constitutional  treatment will often commence with the original symptom resurfacing. Suppression  is not common in homeopathy but is possible. In self-prescribing, if your  complaint disappears but you feel much worse in

yourself (i.e. your moods and your energy) then it is likely that you have  made a poor choice of remedy—antidote it and get some professional advice.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is form of vaccination’

People often say that they understand homeopathy to be like a vaccination in  that the patient is given a small quantity of the disease he already has in  order to make him immune to it.

This is not true. Homeopathy and vaccination have similar, not the same,  concepts and very different practices. Vaccines work on the physical body in a  very specific way, in that they stimulate the immune system directly to produce  specific antibodies as if that person has contracted that particular disease; in  so doing they are, of course, stressing the immune system. Many vaccines have  been known to produce permanent side effects. They must be tested on animals and  then on humans to verify their safety, and even then children and adults are  often damaged on a physical, emotional or mental level.

A homeopathic remedy works in a totally different way. Homeopathic remedies  affect the energy patterns or vital force of a person and by so doing stimulate  the body to heal itself. They are administered orally in a diluted (and safe)  dose as opposed to being introduced directly into the bloodstream, as is the  case with vaccination thereby bypassing the body’s natural defense system and  stressing it in a way that is not fully understood. Homeopathic medicines are  not tested on innocent animals and do not have side effects.

Myth: ‘Homeopathic remedies are placebos’

This myth can be rephrased to read ‘You need to believe in it for it to  work.’ This is patently ridiculous to anyone who has experienced or prescribed a  successful homeopathic cure for, say, a head injury or a middle-ear  infection.

A placebo is an unmedicated pill which the patient believes contains  something that will cure him or her. Double-blind trials always involve the  inclusion of a control group taking a placebo instead of the medicine being  tested in order to rule out the individual’s ‘suggestibility’.

It is because homeopathic remedies do not always work that they are sometimes  believed to be ineffective and, because routine prescriptions such as Rhus  toxicodendron for rheumatism and Chamomilla for teething babies are freely  available from high-street chemists, people are wrongly persuaded into thinking  that they need not consult a homeopath (or an adequate first-aid book). If the  remedies do not work it is assumed that homeopathy does not work; if they do  work it is attributed to a placebo effect—some double blind!

Homeopathic medicines work effectively on babies and animals, neither of whom  are open to being affected by placebos.

It is always essential to individualize the remedy to fit the patient and not  the disease, to ensure that the underlying principles are observed so that the  element of chance is decreased and homeopathy can be seen to work.

Of course, there are many people who will recognize the experience of  consulting a practitioner who inspires belief and hope, who left them feeling  buoyant and encouraged. But if this initial rapport is not backed up with good  solid prescribing, then no amount of that positive ‘transference’ will cure the  patient.

Myth: ‘Homeopathy is mysterious and unscientific’

The fact that homeopathic medicines are prepared in a pharmacy or a  laboratory and that their preparation involves a particular technique subject to  precise and clearly stated controls (it does not involve mysterious and secret  processes which put it into the realm of white magic or alchemy) is enough to  convince many people of its validity.

Homeopaths have traditionally justified their practice by their results,  without feeling a need to explain how their methods work. The homeopathic  philosophy or doctrine is a set of rules for practice—one that hasn’t changed  since it was formulated 200 years ago. These rules and principles constitute a  unified hypothesis whose validity is tested out empirically—with cured patients  confirming the hypothesis.

Harris Coulter, in his book Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine (The  Physics of healing with Microdoses), discusses this issue at great length and  also describes many of the trials that have been conducted over the past fifty  years or so using plants, animals and humans as controls to prove the  effectiveness of homeopathic medicines.

(In Atlanta, GA, Leesa recommends Dr. Seneca Anderson at www.longevityhealthcenter.com.  Be sure to tell them Leesa Wheeler referred you!)

 

Reprinted from The Complete Homeopathy Handbook by Miranda  Castro

by Miranda  Castro FSHom, RSHom (NA), CCH, Contributor to Homeopathy  on Allthingshealing.com

Editor´s Note from Judith  Hanna Doshi: Miranda’s article lays out some of the common misunderstandings  about Homeopathy. Although it is usually promoted as a “safe, gentle and  effective” mode of treatment, it must be recognized that Homeopathy is a complex  treatment modality that requires considerable skill to administer and manage effectively,  preferably by a professional homeopath. If poorly done, it can cause  aggravations and even complicate the existing disease picture. Fortunately,  these effects are usually short lived and in no way resemble the toxic effects  of conventional treatments  that leave their imprint permanently.

Dr. Neala Peake, selected  from AllThingsHealing.com

All Things Healing (allthingshealing.com) is an online  portal and community dedicated to informing and educating people across the  globe about alternative healing of mind, body, spirit and the planet at large.  We are committed to bringing together a worldwide community of individuals and  organizations who are working to heal themselves, each other, and the world. We  offer 39 healing categories, 80 plus editors who are experts in their fields, a  forum for each category, and an extensive “Find Practitioners” listing. Our  Costa Rica Learning Center and Spiritual Retreat is coming soon. Join  us!

 

11 Anti-Aging Foods for Women

11 Anti-Aging Foods for Women

Famed actress and octogenarian Bette Davis said getting older isn’t for  sissies. Those of us over 50 know that, while the second half of our lives can  be a time of emotional stability, mental acuity, wisdom, and power, the physical  fact of aging is undeniable. And the risk of age-related disease increases with  each passing year.

There’s not much you can do to stop the inexorable march of time; but you can  protect your health, and age more gracefully, with the following foods:

1. Flax seeds are high in lignans, especially important for  women; lignans help protect the body from xenoestrogens–toxic compounds found in  plastics, hormones in meat and dairy, and pesticides, that mimic natural  estrogen and can increase the risk of breast and hormonal cancers. Lignans also  protect against other cancers, including colon cancer.

2. Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables  like  kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and arugula contain di-indolylmethane  (DIM), a compound that protects against breast and hormone-related cancers.

3. Kale and other leafy greens are high in folic acid,  a type of B vitamin that protects against cervical cancer and cervical  dysplasia. Kale is also a member of the crucifer family, so it offers added  protection against breast cancer.

4. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that protect against  Alzheimer’s, which strikes one in every six women, as well as age-related  changes in brain and motor function. They also have powerful anti-inflammatory actions to reduce the risk of cancer and  heart disease. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries,  and prunes are other great sources of polyphenols.

5. Wild Alaskan salmon is high in omega-3 fats to help  prevent mood swings and depression, especially common in menopause. Salmon also  has high levels of astaxanthin and zeaxantin, hard-to-get antioxidants that  protect the eyes from age-related damage. Sardines are another good source of  omega-3 fats.

6. Green tea is rich in antioxidants that protect  against breast cancer and help kill existing cancer cells. It’s also protective  against skin cancer and may reverse the effects of sun damage, and seems to work  by repairing the cell’s DNA.

7. Olives are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, one of  the few fats that lower “bad” cholesterol and help prevent inflammation.  Additionally, olives and olive oil contain antioxidant compounds that also have  heart-protective, anti-inflammatory effects. Other foods high in monounsaturated  fats include almonds, avocados, and peanuts.

8. Turmeric slows and may prevent the development of  rheumatoid arthritis, which seems to affect women more often and more severely.  Curcumin, the active component in turmeric, also shores up the immune system to  protect the body from infection.

9. Beans are rich in soluble fiber, to reduce  cholesterol, protect the heart, and possibly reduce the risk of colon cancer.  Because they’re high in protein, they’re a good vegetarian substitute for  meat–important, because high intake of red meat may increase risk a woman’s risk  of colon cancer.

10. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a relatively hard-to-get  antioxidant that reduces the risk of heart attack, breast cancer and cervical  cancers. Some studies also suggest that cooking and oil make it easier for the  body to absorb lycopene, so eat tomatoes in sauces and soups with olive oil for  maximum effectiveness.

11. Spinach is one of the best food sources of leutin, a  carotenoid that protects the eyes from macular degeneration, the leading cause  of blindness as we age. Spinach is also rich in vitamin K, which is crucial in  bone health and protects the health of the arteries.

(Leesa recommends all produce be organic and turmeric from www.organicindia.com.)

By Lisa Turner

Lisa Turner

Lisa Turner is a food writer, intuitive eating coach, and nutrition  consultant in Boulder, Colorado.  In her consulting practice Lisa combines her  training and degrees in nutrition, mind-body practices and Food Psychology, to  help clients explore both what to eat and why they eat. For  more information, or to schedule a consultation, visit InspiredEating.com.  Lisa is also the developer of The Healthy Gourmet iPhone recipe app; for more  information, visit TheHealthyGourmet.net.

14 Things Your Eyes Say About Your Health

14 Things Your Eyes Say About Your Health

 

Looking someone straight in the eye may or may not reveal their honesty — but the eyes can tell you about cholesterol, liver disease, or diabetes, if you know what to look for.

“The eye is a unique window into health,” says ophthalmologist Andrew Iwach, spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and executive director of the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco. “It’s the only place in the body where, without surgery, we can look in and see veins, arteries, and a nerve (the optic nerve).”

The eyes’ transparency explains why common eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration can be detected early with regular eye exams.  “Unfortunately, people get busy and delay not only eye exams but regular physicals. That’s why eye doctors sometimes discover other issues, like diabetes or high blood pressure,” Iwach says.  Especially vulnerable, he says: People like caregivers, who worry about others around them while neglecting care for themselves.

Keep your eye out for these 14 problems:

1. Red flag: Disappearing eyebrows

What it means: Shaved eyebrows are a fad (or fashion, if you will) in some circles. But when the outer third of the brows (the part closest to the ears) starts to disappear on its own, this is a common sign of thyroid disease — either hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland). The thyroid is a small but critical gland that helps regulate metabolism, and thyroid hormones are among those critical to hair production.

More clues: Brows tend to thin with age naturally. But with thyroid disease, the brow-hair loss isn’t evenly distributed; it’s a selective dropout on the ends. There’s usually a loss of hair elsewhere on the body, too, but the brows are so prominent, it’s often noticed here first. Early graying is a related sign of a thyroid problem. Women are more often affected than men, and hyperthyroidism especially strikes women in their 20s and 30s.

What to do: Mention this symptom to a dermatologist or your regular doctor. Most other symptoms of both hyper- and hypothyroidism are notoriously broad and general. Before you see a doctor, make note of any other changes you’ve noticed, possibly concerning weight, energy levels, bowel or menstrual regularity, mood, or skin changes.

2. Red flag: A stye that won’t go away

What it means: The vast majority of the time, a small, raised, often reddish bump along the inner or outer eyelid margin is just an unsightly but innocuous stye (also called a “chalazion”). But if the spot doesn’t clear up in three months, or seems to keep recurring in the same location, it can also be a rare cancer (sebaceous gland carcinoma).

More clues: Actual styes are plugged-up oil glands at the eyelash follicle. Fairly common, they tend to clear up within a month. A cancerous cyst that mimics a stye, on the other hand, doesn’t go away.
(Or it may seem to go away but return in the same spot.) Another eyelid cancer warning sign: Loss of some of the eyelashes around the stye.

What to do: Point out a persistent stye to an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in the eye). A biopsy can confirm the diagnosis. The stye is usually removed surgically.

3. Red flag: Bumpy yellowish patches on the eyelid

What it means: Xanthelasma palpebra, the medical name for these tiny yellow bumps, are usually a warning you that you may have high cholesterol. They’re also called “cholesterol bumps” — they’re basically fatty deposits.

More clues: Sometimes people mistake these bumps for a stye, but with xanthelasma, there tends to be more than one bump and they’re quite small.

What to do: See your doctor or a skin or eye specialist. A diagnosis can usually be made by sight. An ophthalmologist can also examine the eye and see deposits; for this reason, in fact, sometimes high cholesterol is first diagnosed during a routine eye exam. The problem usually isn’t serious and doesn’t cause pain or vision problems. A physician will also evaluate you for other signs of coronary artery disease.

4. Red flag: Burning eyes, blurry vision while using a computer

What it means: You might be a workaholic, and you definitely have “computer vision syndrome” (CVS). The eyestrain is partly caused by the lack of contrast on a computer screen (compared with ink on paper) and the extra work involved in focusing on pixels of light. What’s more, by midlife the eyes lose some of their ability to produce lubricating tears. Irritation sets in, adding to blurriness and discomfort.

More clues: Does the problem worsen in the afternoon (when the eyes tend to become drier)? Is it
worse when you’re reading fine print (more eyestrain)? People who wear glasses or contacts tend to be bothered more by CVS. “Sometimes the problem is made worse by a fan positioned so it blows right in the face,” the AAO’s Iwach adds, noting that the air further dries tired eyes.

What to do: Reduce glare by closing window shades, investing in a computer hood, or checking out antireflective coating for your glasses (if you wear them). Simply tinkering with the contrast of your screen can help, too. White areas should neither glow brightly like a light source nor appear gray. Flat-panel LCD display screens (like those on laptops) cause less eyestrain than older models. Keep reference material close to the same height as your monitor, giving your eyes a break from having to refocus so much.

5. Red flag: Increasing gunk in the eye

What it means: Blepharitis — inflammation of the eyelids, especially at the edges — can have several causes. Two of them, surprisingly, are conditions better associated with other body parts: scalp dandruff and acne rosacea (which causes flushed red skin, usually in the faces of fair-skinned women at midlife).

More clues: The eyes may also feel irritated, as if specks have gotten in them. They may burn, tear, or feel dry. The crusty debris tends to gather in the lashes or the inner corners of the eyes, or even on the lids.

What to do: With clean hands, apply a warm, damp washcloth to the eyes for about five minutes at a time to loosen debris and soothe the skin. See a doctor, who may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics, as well as artificial tears.

6. Red flag: A small blind spot in your vision, with shimmering lights or a wavy line

What it means: An ocular migraine (also called an “ophthalmic migraine,” “optical migraine,” or “migraine aura”) produces this disturbed vision, with or without an accompanying headache. Changes in blood flow to the brain are thought to be the cause.

More clues: The visual distortion starts in the center of the field of vision. It might appear as a bright dot, dots, or a line that can seem to move and disrupt your ability to see properly, as if you were looking through a pocked or cracked window. It’s painless and causes no lasting damage. Individuals seem to have different triggers (ranging from chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol to stress). A headache, possibly severe enough to cause nausea, sometimes follows.

What to do: If you’re driving, pull over until the phenomenon passes (usually within an hour). Do have an eye specialist check it out if vision impairment lasts more than an hour or so, to rule out serious problems such as a retinal tear; or if you also experience other symptoms elsewhere that could indicate stroke or seizure (such as fever, loss of muscle strength, or speech impairment).

7. Red flag: Red, itchy eyes

What it means: Many things can irritate eyes, but itchiness accompanied by sneezing, coughing, sinus congestion, and/or a runny nose, usually screams “I’m allergic!” When the eyes are involved, the trigger is usually airborne, like pollen, dust, or animal dander.

More clues: An eye allergy can also be caused by certain cosmetics or ointments. Some people, for example, are allergic to the preservative in eye drops used to treat dry eyes.

What to do: Staying away from the allergic trigger is the usual treatment. Antihistamines can treat the itchiness; those in eye-drop or gel form deliver relief to the eyes faster. If the problem turns out to be an allergy to eye drops, look for a preservative-free brand.

8. Red flag: Whites of the eye turned yellowish

What it means: Two groups of people most often show this symptom, known as jaundice: Newborns with immature liver function and adults with problems of the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts, including hepatitis and cirrhosis. The yellow in the white part of the eye (the sclera) is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, the by-product of old red blood cells the liver can’t process.

More clues: “Other tissues of the body would have the same look, but we can’t see it as clearly as in the whites of the eye,” says ophthalmologist Iwach. (Skin can also turn yellowish when a person consumes too much beta carotene — found in carrots — but in those cases the whites of the eyes remain white.)

What to do: Mention the symptom to a doctor if the person isn’t already under care for a liver-related disease, so the jaundice can be evaluated and the underlying cause treated.

9. Red flag: A bump or brown spot on the eyelid

What it means: Even people who are vigilant about checking their skin may overlook the eyelid as a spot where skin cancer can strike. Most malignant eyelid tumors are basal cell carcinoma. When such a tumor appears as a brown spot, then — as with any other form of skin cancer — it’s more likely to be malignant melanoma.

More clues: Elderly, fair-skinned people are at highest risk. Look especially at the lower eyelid. The bump may look pearly, with tiny blood vessels. If the bump is in the eyelash area, some eyelashes may be missing.

What to do: Always have any suspicious skin spots or sores checked out by a dermatologist, family physician, or eye doctor. Early detection is critical, before the problem spreads to nearby lymph nodes.

10. Red flag: Eyes that seem to bulge

What it means: The most common cause of protruding eyes is hyperthyroidism (overactivity of the thyroid gland), especially the form known as Graves’ disease. (First Lady Barbara Bush had it.)

More clues: One way to tell if an eye is bulging is to see whether there’s any visible white part between the top of the iris and the upper eyelid, because normally there shouldn’t be. (Some people inherit a tendency toward eyes that bulge, so if the appearance seems to run in a family, it probably isn’t hyperthyroidism.) The person may not blink often and may seem to be staring at you. Because the condition develops slowly, it’s sometimes first noticed in photos or by the occasional visitor rather than by someone who lives with the person every day.

What to do: Mention the symptom to a doctor, especially if it’s present in tandem with other signs of Graves’, including blurry vision, restlessness, fatigue, increase in appetite, weight loss, tremors, and palpitations. A blood test can measure thyroid levels. Treatment includes medication and surgery.

11. Red flag: Sudden double vision, dim vision, or loss of vision

What it means: These are the visual warning signs of stroke.

More clues: The other signs of stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the arm or leg or face,
typically on just one side of the body; trouble walking because of dizziness or loss of balance or
coordination; slurred speech; or bad headache. In a large stroke (caused by a blood clot or bleeding in the brain), these symptoms happen all at once. In a smaller stroke caused by narrowed arteries, they can occur across a longer period of minutes or hours.

What to do: Seek immediate medical help by calling 911.

12. Red flag: Dry eyes that are sensitive to light

What it means: Sjogren’s (pronounced “show-grins”) syndrome is an immune system disorder. It impairs the glands in the eyes and mouth that keep them moist.

More clues: Sjogren’s usually affects women over age 40 with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Usually the eyes and mouth are affected together. The person may also have vaginal dryness, dry sinuses, and dry skin. Because of a lack of saliva, it can be difficult to chew and swallow.

What to do: A doctor can diagnose Sjogren’s through testing. Artificial lubricants (such as artificial tears) are usually necessary to protect the eyes, as well as to improve eating. Drinking plenty of water also helps.

13. Red flag: Sudden difficulty closing one eye, inability to control tears in it

What it means: Bell’s palsy is an impairment of the nerve that controls facial muscles (the seventh cranial nerve), causing temporary paralysis in half the face. It sometimes follows a viral infection (such as shingles, mono, or HIV) or a bacterial infection (such as Lyme disease). Diabetics and pregnant women are also at higher risk.

More clues: Half of the entire face, not just the eye, is affected. Effects vary from person to person, but the overall effect is for the face to appear droopy and be weak. The eyelid may droop and be difficult or impossible to close, and there will be either excessive tearing or an inability to produce tears. The effects tend to come on suddenly.

What to do: See a doctor. Most cases are temporary and the person recovers completely within weeks. Rarely, the condition can recur. Physical therapy helps restore speaking, smiling, and other tasks that require the facial muscles working in unison, and it also helps avoid an asymmetrical appearance. Professional eye care can keep the affected eye lubricated and undamaged.

14. Red flag: Blurred vision in a diabetic

What it means: Diabetics are at increased risk for several eye problems, including glaucoma and cataracts. But the most common threat to vision is diabetic retinopathy, in which the diabetes affects the circulatory system of the eye. It’s the leading cause of blindness in American adults.

More clues: The changes linked to diabetic retinopathy tend to show up in people who have had the disease for a long time, not those recently diagnosed. The person may also see “floaters,” tiny dark specks in the field of vision. Sometimes diabetes causes small hemorrhages (bleeding) that are visible in the eye. There’s no pain. People with poorly controlled blood sugar may have worse symptoms.

What to do: Someone with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam annually to catch and control the earliest stages of retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, or other changes — before they manifest as changes you’re aware of.

By Paula Spencer, Caring.com senior editor

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

24 Signs Your Stress Glands are Overworked

24 Signs Your Stress Glands are Overworked

 

Has the pace of life left you frazzled?  Has balancing work, home, and  family responsibilities left you overwhelmed?  The stresses of our modern  life can be too much for your stress glands to handle.  The stress glands,  primarily known as the adrenal glands, are two small, triangular-shaped glands  that sit atop the kidneys.  We don’t give them much thought until we start  to experience symptoms of poor health.  The adrenal glands keep us going  through life’s stresses, but over time they can show signs of being  overworked.  How do you know if your adrenal glands are overworked?   Here are 24 signs:

1. Allergies

2. Anxiety or Irritability

3. Arthritis

4. Cravings for  salty and/or sweet foods

5. Depression

6. Excessive hunger

7. Extreme  fatigue, exhaustion, or chronic fatigue

8. Eyes are sensitive to light

9.  Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with life’s stresses

10. Frequently  experience colds, flu, or other infections

11. Insomnia

12. Irritable  bowel syndrome, IBS

13. Low blood pressure

14. Low libido

15. Low  stamina

16. Menopause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal  dryness

17. Poor concentration

18. Poor digestion

19. Premenstrual  syndrome (PMS)

20. Reduced immune function

21. Reduced memory

22.  Sensitivity to cold

23. Sleep does not refresh or revitalize you

24. Slow  to recover from illness or injuries

These symptoms can also be signs of other health conditions so you should  always consult your doctor if you suspect any health issues.  And, of  course, you don’t need to be experiencing all of the above symptoms to be  suffering from adrenal fatigue.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and twelve-time book author and doctor of traditional natural  medicine, whose works include: Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet,  Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com

Best and Worst Foods for Menopause Symptoms

Best & Worst Foods for Menopause Symptoms

INSOMNIA AND HEADACHES

Studies suggest that eating carbs can increase the release of tryptophan, an  amino acid that helps the brain manufacture serotonin, which helps people fall asleep.

SAY YES TO:

  • Eating a piece of toasted whole grain bread or a small portion of  another  carbohydrate before going to bed.
  • Other foods that contain tryptophan are turkey, soy, cod, egg whites  and warm  milk.
  • Also, omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon, trout and  tuna, play a role in sleep induction.
  • And don’t forget cherries. They contain melatonin, a substance found in  the body, which helps regulate sleep.

SAY NO TO:

  • Large meals.  When you eat a large meal, digestion brings blood into the  abdomen, raises body temperature and tells the hypothalamus in the brain to  send a signal that causes hot flashes. Eating smaller meals can help reduce  the number of hot flashes.
  • Caffeine.   Coffee, tea, colas and dark chocolate contain caffeine. They  may trigger  hot flashes and affect your sleep. So drink water and avoid caffeine,  especially in the late afternoon and at night.
  • Alcohol.   Alcohol can increase the hot flashes and affect sleep, mood  and weight.  eavy use can lead to osteoporosis because alcohol prevents  cells from  building new bone. Limit yourself to no more than one drink a  day.

BLOATING

During the menopause transition, another common midlife symptom is bloating,  which may be due to hormone fluctuations, overproduction of estradiol and  conversion of androgen (a so-called “male” hormone) to estrogen through a  process called aromatization, which increases with age and body weight.

SAY YES TO:

  • Foods and herbs that have diuretic properties, such as celery seeds,  parsley, dandelion, juniper berries, asparagus, artichokes, melon and  watercress.  And drink plenty of water and herbal teas.

SAY NO TO:

  • Sugary and high-sodium foods such as frozen dinners and  canned soups. Read the sugar and sodium content on food labels, and reduce  the amount of sugar and salt you add to foods and beverages.

MOOD SWINGS

Many women during the menopause transition report a decreased sense of  well-being due to irritability and mood swings. Good nutrition plays a major  role in moods. So it is important to understand which foods stabilize our moods and which ones to avoid.

SAY YES TO:

  • Omega-3  fatty acids in foods such as tuna, salmon and mackerel.
  • Eating vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts and beets, which  are rich in B vitamins. Green vegetables such as spinach and peas are high  in folic acid, a member of the B-complex group that may also help stabilize  mood because it’s needed to make serotonin. Don’t forget that spinach and  other dark, leafy greens can be used raw in salads and sandwiches as  well.
  • Chicken and turkey, which are rich in vitamin B, a player in the  production of serotonin in the body.

SAY NO TO:

  • Sugary foods, which cause a rise in blood sugar and may increase mood  disturbances.

DECREASED SEX DRIVE

For some women, menopause and its associated decline in “sex” hormones can  lead to a decline in sex. A lower level of estrogen is the main culprit and that  can lower libido and cause vaginal dryness. Recent information suggests that food  can spice up your love life.

SAY YES TO:

  • Granola,  oatmeal, nuts, dairy, green vegetables, garlic, soybeans and  chickpeas.   These foods contain L-arginine, which is thought to be helpful  in improving sexual function.
  • Avocados contain potassium, which regulates thyroid hormones and may  enhance female libido.
  • Chocolate intake releases serotonin in the brain, producing feelings of  pleasure similar to having sex. But indulge in moderation for its benefit,  and try  eating it as a prelude to lovemaking.
  • Asparagus  is a vegetable to consider due to its vitamin E content.
  • Fresh fruits. Feast on fresh fruits such as strawberries, pomegranates  and grapes, which are delicious and rich in antioxidants.

SAY NO TO:

  • Chile peppers. Eating chili peppers in excessive amounts can lead to  hot flashes.   This will not help you set the mood. However, when enjoyed in  a flavorful  recipe, these feisty peppers can also help trigger the release  of natural endorphins, creating a high that is not unlike  lovemaking.

Source: Red Hot Mamas via Ode Magazine

5 Foods That Help You Sleep

5 Foods That Help You Sleep

Should you let yourself have that midnight snack if you’re having trouble  sleeping and you think hunger might be part of the problem? Here are five  foods that can actually help you drift off:

1. Cherries. Fresh and dried cherries are one of the only  natural food sources of melatonin, the chemical that controls the body’s  internal clock to regulate sleep. Researchers who tested tart cherries and found  high levels of melatonin recommend eating them an hour before bedtime or before  a trip when you want to sleep on the plane.

2. Bananas. Potassium and magnesium are natural muscle  relaxants, and bananas are a good source of both. They also contain the amino  acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP in turn  is converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and  melatonin.

3. Toast. Carbohydrate-rich foods trigger insulin  production, which induces sleep by speeding up the release of tryptophan and  serotonin, two brain chemicals that relax you and send you to sleep..

4. Oatmeal. Like toast, a bowl of oatmeal triggers a rise in  blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin production and the release of  sleep-inducing brain chemicals. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which many  people take as a sleep aid.

5. Warm milk. Like bananas, milk contains the amino acid  L-tryptophan, which turns to 5-HTP and releases relaxing serotonin. It’s also  high in calcium, which promotes sleep.

By Melanie Haiken, Caring.com  senior editor

Caring.com  was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other  loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet,  our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better  decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical  information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need  during this challenging time.

15 Ways to Boost Your Liver for Great Health

15 Ways to Boost Your Liver for Great Health

So, it’s no surprise that the liver can become sluggish, making it a factor  in many health conditions, including: allergies, arthritis, asthma, bad breath,  chronic fatigue syndrome, cravings for sweets,  depression, environmental  illness/multiple chemical sensitivities, fatigue, fibromyalgia, headaches and  migraines, hepatitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels,  hypoglycemia, hormone imbalances, immune system disorders, irritable bowel  syndrome, overweight or obesity, poor digestion, recurring nausea and/or  vomiting, skin diseases, and ulcerative colitis. Of course there are other  factors involved in these conditions so it is important to see a physician if  you suffer from any of them.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the liver is its ability to  regenerate itself.  When it is given the critical nutrients, a healthy  whole foods diet, and herbs to help it function, it can be restored to health in  most circumstances.  Strengthening the liver is one of the ways to boost  energy, balance weight, and strengthen overall health.

Here are 15 ways to give your liver a boost:

1.  The liver requires high amounts of vitamins and minerals to perform  its many functions.  Your diet should be high in fruits and vegetables and  fibrer-rich foods.

2.  Your liver must filter food additives.  Eliminate processed  foods, artificial food additives, colors, and preservatives from your diet to  give your liver a break.

3.  Eat plenty of fresh carrots and beets, both of which are powerful  liver cleansing and rebuilding foods.  In addition, eat plenty of green  foods.  The chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color, helps  cleanse the liver.

4.  Try to eat two heaping tablespoons of ground flaxseeds.  They  bind to hormone receptor sites, preventing excess hormones including synthetic  xenoestrogens from plastics and other chemicals, from floating around your  bloodstream.  One of the liver’s five hundred jobs is to filter excess  hormones.  By eating flaxseeds and flax oil you are helping it function  more effectively.  Flaxseeds can be sprinkled on cereal, toast, salads, or  blended into smoothies.

Keep reading to learn about the best liver-boosting herbs and  nutrients…

5.  There are many great herbs that help strengthen the liver,  including: milk thistle, dandelion root, globe artichoke, turmeric, slippery  elm, greater celandine, balmony, barberry, black root, blue flag, boldo,  fringetree bark, vervain, and wahoo.  I regularly use turmeric and milk  thistle to help strengthen the liver.  If you are pregnant, have a serious  health condition, or are taking medication, consult a qualified health  practitioner before using herbs.

6.  Significantly reduce refined sugar and avoid synthetic sweeteners  altogether.

7.  Lecithin helps the liver metabolize fats and reduce  cholesterol.  It contains a substance called phosphatidylcholine and  essential fatty acids that help keep liver cells healthy and help prevent fatty  deposits from building up in the liver.  Lecithin also helps reduce high  blood pressure by allowing the blood vessels to relax to allow better blood  flow. You can get lecithin in organic soyfoods like soy milk, tofu, and miso, as  well as organic eggs.  Alternatively, take 4000 mg of lecithin in capsule  form daily.

8.  Take a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to avoid any  deficiencies.  The liver depends on many nutrients to detoxify  properly.  Even a single nutrient deficiency can be harmful.

9.  In addition, take 1000 to 2000 mg of vitamin C daily, even if there  is vitamin C in your multivitamin.

Keep reading to learn about the foods that ensure toxins are neutralized, not  made more dangerous…

10.  Eat lots of garlic, onions and broccoli since these foods contain  sulfur that is required to increase enzyme activity that boosts  liver  cleansing. Without adequate levels of sulfur, the phase 2 of liver  detoxification cannot keep pace with level 1, meaning that many toxins can  become MORE dangerous in your body.

11.  Avoid eating large meals.  Instead, eat small meals made up of  plenty easy-to-digest foods.

12.  Eat steamed vegetables, raw salad greens, raw fruits, and bitter  greens.  The bitter greens, especially, help to cleanse the liver.

13.  Eat whole, raw, unsalted nuts and seeds for their essential fatty  acids as well as their usable protein.

14.  Avoid eating heavy, fatty foods since they just create more work  for the liver. Avoid margarine, shortening or commercial oils or any foods made  with them.

15.  Avoid eating for at least three hours before bedtime to allow the  liver adequate time during the night to perform its many functions, unimpeded by  other bodily processes like digestion.

Adapted with permission from The 4-Week  Ultimate Body Detox Plan by Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP,  ROHP.

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