Archived Articles - October 2015


Vitamin D, B12 deficiencies may cause multiple sclerosis
    Oct-01-2015

As far as our health is concerned, each and every nutrient plays a crucial role. Deficiency of a particular vitamin or mineral may be due to various reasons. One of them may be the fact that we are not consuming sufficient foods that supply us with these nutrients. Then again, it is possible that our health is not in a state that would enable us to metabolize as well as process these nutrients properly.

Findings of several studies have revealed that people suffering from multiple sclerosis usually have poor levels of particular vitamins as well as other nutriments - they are especially deficient in vitamin D and vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin).

The vitamin B12 connection

People with multiple sclerosis are usually deficient in vitamin B12. The content of this nutrient is low in their blood serum, cerebrospinal fluid or both. Often, people with vitamin B12 deficiency are mistaken for suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Findings of studies have revealed that the symptoms of people suffering from multiple sclerosis showed clinical improvement in their symptoms when they were given vitamin B12 supplements. Aside from vitamin B12, people with multiple sclerosis may also suffer from deficiency of other B vitamins and, hence, they need to consider taking B vitamin complex with additional B12. However, it is always advisable that they should take a B complex vitamin instead of taking any one B vitamin for any duration. In fact, B vitamins work in unison to carry out several vital functions in our body.

Several foods are rich in vitamin B12 content, especially milk, yogurt, scallops, beef, lamb, cod, salmon, sardines, shrimps, and tuna.

In case you are enduring any digestive disease, such as celiac disease, that slows down absorption of ingested nutrients or on the other hand, if you are an elderly person, a vegetarian or a vegan, you may find it difficult to attain your daily vitamin B12 requirement without taking supplements.

It is possible that even people who are not aware that they are suffering from any digestive problem, may actually be enduring leaky gut syndrome, provided they already have multiple sclerosis or any autoimmune disease. Taking a few steps like excluding gluten from one's diet, curing Candida overgrowth as well as repairing the gut will prove to be helpful in recovering from multiple sclerosis.

The vitamin D connection

It has been found that the distance of one's residence from the equator is directly related to multiple sclerosis. People staying farthest from the equator are more likely to develop this condition. This suggests that deficiency of vitamin D may have a crucial role in developing this disease.

Findings of several studies have shown that people who are chronically ill, they are actually deficient in vitamin D or may have suffered from deficiency of this nutrient earlier. Precisely speaking, vitamin D is basically a hormone that is produced by our body when it comes in contact with sunlight.

Vitamin D is amassed in fat in our body and released when necessary. However, this system does not function properly in people who are either toxic or overweight. The fact is that in contemporary times most people do not receive sufficient vitamin D during summer, irrespective of one's capability to store this nutrient. We should, therefore, be able to get enough vitamin D from our diet in order to compensate for the absence of outdoor activities.

If you too are suffering from multiple sclerosis, it is likely that your condition will improve almost immediately if you take vitamin D supplements. However, be careful to take elevated doses of this vitamin for prolonged periods at a stretch.

Some foods that contain exceptionally high amounts of vitamin D include mushrooms, cheese, fatty fish, egg yolk and beef liver.

While deficiencies of vitamin D as well as vitamin B12 have roles in multiple sclerosis, these are not solely responsible for this disease. There is no doubt that a leaky gut is a major problem for people suffering from multiple sclerosis. Hence, diet management is most important to manage the symptoms of this disease naturally and also to recover from the condition.

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Five excellent foods for boosting mental health
    Oct-07-2015

Findings of several studies have shown that foods we eat have a vital role in reducing our anxiety and, at the same time, lifting our mood. Therefore, eating more of healthy, whole foods compared to nutrient-empty fast food will be more beneficial for you - now as well as later.

Below are some snacks that may help to provide the desirable boost.

Avocado

There is hardly anyone who does not like fatty food. In fact, biologically we are engineered such that we would crave for fatty foods, which may at times result in dietary problems. There are times when even experts are unable to arrive at a consensus on the type of fats we need to consume. However, everyone agrees that eating avocados is beneficial for our overall health. Loaded with protein and monounsaturated fats that boost serotonin production, avocados are a wonderful natural resource of many B vitamins. As far as promoting mood is concerned, avocados are the perfect food. In addition, avocados are a handy addition to any type of menu - salads, smoothies, guacamole, tacos and anything that you can think of. You can simply cut avocados into halves and serve with a spoon.

Berries

Fresh berries are really tempting. They are plump and succulent with a burst of sweetness. As there is a wide variety of berries, it is easy for everyone to pick their preferred one. Most importantly, berries are a wonderful antioxidant source. It has been found that a balanced antioxidant supply reduces depression, besides repairing damaged cells and safeguarding us from developing cancer. They are also easy to use in recipes. You can either toss back some blueberries or prepare a blend of coconut milk smoothie and raspberry for self indulgence.

Chocolate

While many are of the view that chocolates are harmful for our health, you should know that they are loaded with antioxidants and can supply us with serotonin, dopamine and endorphins - neurotransmitters required by the brain to keep our mood in check. In addition, chocolates are also good for the health of our cardiovascular system. However, you need to remember that all chocolates are not the same. In fact, most of the nutrition in cacao can either be removed or altered during its processing. As a result, the majority of the conventional chocolates contain harmful additives such as soy lecithin. Aside from the additives, chocolates also enclose various kinds of sugars that upset the balance of microbes in the gut and may even lead to Candida overgrowth. Hence, it is advisable that you go for raw chocolates which make use of raw honey, raw coconut sugars or stevia as sweeteners.

Fermented foods

Often social anxiety can turn out to be a major disappointment. However, findings of a recent study suggest that people consuming fermented foods have a lesser chance of experiencing social anxiety. The study examined a group of young adults who had joined a psychology class and consumed plenty of naturally fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles. It was found that they showed fewer symptoms related to social anxiety. In fact, students who benefited most from consuming fermented foods where those that were genetically susceptible to social anxiety disorder.

Apart from the fermented foods mentioned above, even consuming foods that have been fermented traditionally are beneficial for the nervous as well as the immune system. These foods supply us with beneficial bacteria, which, in turn, make it easy to digest several nutrients. Ideally, if you wish to get the most out of the fermented foods, you should opt for those that have been fermented using lactic acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids

All the while we have been talking about snack foods, but omega-3 fatty acids do not fall in that category. Nevertheless, any nutrient providing adequate amounts of serotonin and dopamine and is called a natural Prozac, it is not possible to exclude it from a list of good foods that helps to lift our mood. An analysis of over 25 studies undertaken during the last 15 years found that people who consumed most fish had 17 percent less chances of suffering from depression.

It has been established that consumption of walnuts inhibits cognitive degeneracy and, at the same time, helps to promote sleep. In addition, walnut also possesses the aptitude to increase melatonin levels three-fold. In fact, chia, hemp and flax are considered to be the holy trinity in the seed shelf. These herbs supply us with dietary fiber, augment the health of brain and contribute some additional protein to make us feel fuller for a longer period. All health attributes of above mentioned herbs are attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids.

Sometimes, consumption of fish may be somewhat risky owing to contamination by mercury. However, including low-mercury fish such as salmon in your diet may offer important health benefits to the brain.

When you are having a salad or smoothie, just sprinkle some hemp on it. You may also substitute a not so pleasing snack at work with mishmash of soaked and sprouted trail mix with added walnuts. At the same time, you may also eat some smoked salmon and feel the improvement in your mental health.

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Five symptoms that show you may have thyroid problems
    Oct-14-2015

These days several million Americans endure thyroid dysfunction and what is worse is that many of these patients are not even aware of their condition. It is surprising to note that even standard tests undertaken by more than 80 percent people suffering from weak thyroid functioning do not show their problem. Hence, it would certainly be helpful if you are aware of the common symptoms related to thyroid issues, as it will enable you to get appropriate and early treatment.

For the uninitiated, the thyroid is a part of our endocrine system, which is responsible for producing the hormones required by the body. When the thyroid does not function properly it is likely that the adrenals, the hypothalamus, the penile gland and other glands in our body are also not functioning optimally.

Neck pain or swelling

Unrelenting neck pain is one of the common symptoms related to a poorly functioning thyroid. Precisely speaking, a subluxation or partial dislocation in your vertebrae from C3 to C7 in the neck may be a main sign of a problematic thyroid. When the thyroid does not function optimally, it not only swells, but also becomes inflamed. When this happens, the vertebrae close by is pushed out of its place, resulting in subluxation in the patient's cervical spine.

Low energy and poor sleep

If you are always feeling lethargic and exhausted, it may be an indication of a poorly functioning thyroid. When the thyroid does not produce adequate amounts of triiodothyronine (T3) and/ or thyroxine (T4), it may have an adverse effect on your energy levels throughout the day as well as when you are sleeping at night. In fact, thyroid problems may also be responsible for insomnia (sleeplessness) or the quality of sleep in several patients. In case you are always feeling tired throughout the day in spite of having sufficient sleep at night, it is possible that your thyroid isn't functioning optimally.

Joint pain

Aching joints anywhere in your body is yet another indication that you may be suffering from thyroid problems. In fact, when you endure swelling, achiness, or feel "out of place" in any of the joints in the body, it is a sign that your thyroid is not working well. Generally, these symptoms appear in the shoulders and neck, elbows, wrists or hips. Carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis, also known as inflammation of bursa, are frequent joint problems that point to thyroid problems.

Hair and skin problems

Issues related to hair and skin disorders are frequent, but not very familiar, symptoms of thyroid problems. If you have a very dry, thinning or brittle hair, it is an obvious warning that your thyroid is not functioning properly. In addition, a dry, peeling scalp is another sign of thyroid problem. People suffering from thyroid issues also find that that their eyebrows thin out gradually, particularly at the outer corners. Although this may sound incredible to many, even having dry, coarse and irritated skin is also an indication that you may be suffering from hypothyroidism or other related thyroid problems. People enduring hypothyroidism are also likely to experience their skin developing a yellowish trace owing to the decreased ability of their body to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A - a nutrient essential for good skin.

Sudden changes in weight

Sudden weight changes are one of the last major symptoms of thyroid problems, but not of least importance. In case you notice that you have gained weight all of a sudden or are struggling to shed some extra weight even with regular exercises and a healthy diet that is low in calorie content, it is very likely that you have a poorly functioning thyroid. There are chances that you are suffering from hypothyroidism. On the other hand, if you have been losing weight very rapidly, it is possible that you are enduring hyperthyroidism. When people suffer from hyperthyroidism, their body produces excessive thyroid hormones.

If you are enduring any or several of the symptoms discussed above, you may do a few things to improve the functioning of your thyroid. In fact, you can effectively treat and cure thyroid problems by taking suitable diet as well as supplements.

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How to augment breast milk production
    Oct-20-2015

Women who have poor breast milk production should first try to find if they are eating enough to provide the body with the nutrients required for lactation. In addition, they ought to ask themselves if they are drinking sufficient amounts of water. It has been found that sugar is helpful in increasing breast milk supply, but consuming too much sugar may also cause diaper rashes. It is advisable that rather than consuming refined foods and fruit juices, you should first opt for fruits and water. There are a number of means to improve breast milk production and below we will be discussing few simple ones.

Hydration

Keeping the body adequately hydrated is perhaps the most important factor for ensuring a good breast milk supply. However, if you drink Gatorade, which is full of synthetic colors, flavours and additives, it will certainly hamper breast milk production. One of the best ways to keep yourself hydrated is to drink a full glass (8 oz) of water whenever you breastfeed and also carry a water bottle with you to sip all through the day. It is important that you ensure that you mostly drink water. However, if you do not like to drink plain water always, there are other options to remain hydrated.

Drinking fruit infusions and coconut water is also excellent to keep one hydrated. Coconut water not only has a delectable flavour, but it also contains several essential minerals and electrolytes. On the other hand, fruit infusions are basically flavoured waters containing traces of several vitamins as well as minerals. Moreover, you can easily make them at home. While it may not be as easy as said for some, you should always try to stay away from caffeinated drinks. In case you drink tea or coffee, ensure that you also drink additional amounts of water.

Then again, drinking excessive amounts of water may result in the body retaining too much water and this, in turn, may slow down the production of breast milk. Therefore, it is advisable that you should remain hydrated, but should never drink excessive fluids unless it is necessary.

Breast pumping

Many mothers would not like this method of improving breast milk supply; the fact is pumping can be very effectual in increasing breast milk production provided it is done over and above nursing. The trick includes pumping the breasts after every breastfeeding session, cluster pumping, nursing vacation, power pumping and having a couple of additional pumping through the day.

When we talk about cluster pumping we denote nursing and pumping every 30 minutes or hour for some hours. On the other hand, power pumping is something akin to interval training for the purpose of breastfeeding. You need to do cluster pumping for some days. Choose an hour when you can actually sit and unwind. Pump your breast once in every 20 minutes, relax for 10 minutes and pump again for 10 minutes. Repeat this process a few times.

Nursing vacations entail trying to relax for two to three days and nurse as well as pump as frequently as possible.

The techniques discussed above certainly help in augmenting breast milk supply by acting in accordance to the enhanced requirement of a baby during his or her growth spurt. In other words, when the demand for breast milk is increased it will lead to enhanced supply too.

Natural galactagogues

Since autocrine control (local feedback systems) maintains production of breast milk, you will naturally have more milk supply when you empty your breasts more often as well as thoroughly. Galactagogue is basically a substance that stimulates breast milk production in humans as well as other mammals. Foods, herbal teas, herbs and nutritional supplements comprise natural galactagogues. Women who find that their breast milk production is not adequate even after adopting the different pumping techniques, they need to consider galactagogues. However, before you start using a galactagogue, you should essentially consult a natural medical practitioner or naturopath who is an expert in maternal health issues.

It has been found that often maternal hypothyroidism also results in poor breast milk production and, in such cases, use of thyroid medications may also affect milk production adversely.

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Sunlight can reduce eye problems!
    Oct-28-2015

We are all aware that sunlight offers several health benefits and now findings of a latest research reveal that it is also beneficial for our eyesight. Precisely speaking, sunlight may be helpful in alleviating problems related to the eyes. Aside from the numerous benefits of spending time outdoors during day time, the findings of the study show it also helps to cure myopia or nearsightedness. It was found that condition was less prevalent among children who spent more time outdoors daily.

During the study, findings of which were carried in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the researchers monitored two groups of students in grade I in China for a period of three years. While students of one group were persuaded to spend 40 additional minutes playing outdoors, the other group was asked to maintain their usual schedule. At the end of the study, it was found that the onset of myopia in students who spent more time outdoors was 23 percent less compared to the other group.

It is worth mentioning here that about 50 percent children in the United States are believed to endure myopia. In fact, this condition is more extensive among children in China as well as majority of countries in East Asia. As of now, there is no treatment to prevent the onset of myopia completely.

What is myopia?

In medical terms, the eye problem nearsightedness is known as myopia. Those suffering from myopia are unable to distinctly see or perceive distant objects. However, they have no problems in seeing objected that are closer to them. This condition occurs when one's eyeball becomes elongated or if they have a curvature to their cornea. Curvature is the transparent cover over our eyes. In this case, the light reaching the eyes is not properly focused and, hence, the distant objects appear to be blurry.

According to a rough estimate, about 30% people in America suffer from myopia. This eye condition worsens when the eyes are strained after reading for long hours, staring at the computer screens or long hours of cell phone use. Usually, myopia is first detected during the initial years of a child in school. Our eyes keep growing till the age of 20 and, hence, this condition can occur any time during this period. However, some people may also develop myopia at a later stage in life owing to severe strain on their eyes or other health conditions like diabetes.

When a child complains that he/ she cannot see the school chalkboard or watch television clearly, it is an indication of nearsightedness or myopia. It is possible to correct this condition by wearing spectacles, contact lenses or even through laser surgery. There are other non-surgical options such as corneal refractive therapy, wherein the affected person wears special contact lenses that help to reshape the cornea curvature and make it seem flatter. As a result, when light enters the eyes, distant objects appear less blurry.

Exposure to sunlight prevents myopia

Dr. Mingguang He from the Guangzhou-based San Yat-sen undertook the study on benefits of sunlight for vision. During the course of his study, which lasted for three years, he observed 1,900 first-graders from 12 different schools in the same vicinity. While students of six schools continued with their normal schedule, those in the other six schools played outdoors for an additional 40 minutes every day. He also encouraged the parents of the second group of students to let their children play outside more often.

At the end of Dr. He's research, it was found that about 39.5% students who did not play outdoors for extra time developed nearsightedness or myopia. Conversely, students who played outdoors more frequently showed 30.4% chances of developing myopia - difference of 9.1%.

Scientists as well as ophthalmologists are of the view that the issue needs to be studied further. At the same time, it needs to be mentioned that Dr. He's study contributes to the existing wide-ranging benefits of sunlight, including more vitamin D for the health of the skin, preventions from various diseases, lifting of mood and also reducing the risks of developing cancer.

Therefore, the main inference is that spending more time outdoors, playing in the sun, enjoying nature and also exposing oneself to the appropriate amount of sunlight is healthy for our eyes, in addition to our wellbeing. These activities also give us a sense of wellness.


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