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If you live in a place where sunshine tends to be scarce (such as a location where winter seems to last much longer than summer!), than you may be missing out on a vitamin that can help to slow down the aging process. Vitamin D3 is the vitamin in question. This vitamin is made by the human body when sunlight is absorbed into the skin.

Let the Sun Shine!

Too much sun is bad for your skin, but so is not enough. The former problem we hear about quite a bit, the latter is discussed less often. During the summer and fall months, getting enough sun is easy enough, but after daylight savings time, a vitamin D deficiency could definitely arise.  Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin after all, and you need it to be healthy! But it is also known as an anti-aging vitamin as well.

Lack of Sun = Aging Vulnerability:

Without enough vitamin D3, your vulnerability with regards to aging goes up. That is because the sunshine vitamin protects you against cancer, keeps your bones strong and keeps your cardiovascular system young and well-functioning.

But there is more. Vitamin D3 turns up the heat on your immune system and supports it in its daily work. This vitamin supports the development of the brain; increases muscle strength and is beneficial for blood pressure and insulin secretion. There are 36 organ tissues in the human body that contain cells that respond in a favorable manner to this very important vitamin.

Vitamin D3 is an anti-aging device that can help your health in so many essential ways. Its heart-boosting benefits are well-documented, as are the ways in which it can keep your blood vessels strong and resilient to damage.

What Will Not Work:

If you are out in the sun as often as you can be, you may still not be getting enough D3. For instance, it is possible that you could spend all day out on the ski slopes on a sunny day and still be lacking in this vitamin. In wintertime in many areas of the United States, the sun does not have the energy required to transform this inactive vitamin in your body into the active form you need for it to do you some good.

Even if you are a healthy eater, you cannot eat your way to enough D3. You can get some of this vitamin from eating salmon and tuna, not to mention, D-fortified foods, such as orange juice, but not nearly enough. Consider this- you would have to consume large amounts of D-fortified foods to get the amount you require. That would be like 10 glasses of orange juice a day! Drinking that much OJ daily would lead to other problems, such as issues with your blood sugar.

What Will Work:

If you take a multivitamin, you will probably get a little of vitamin D3 in it but not a sufficient quantity. Take a look at the product label and see what it shows. Most do not have enough to be of real use.

You can however, take a supplement of the sunshine vitamin that will help you out considerably. Find out what you are getting in your multivitamin and then add a supplement that contains a total of 1,000 international units (IU). Take this on a daily basis. If you are aged 60 or old, aim for 1,200 IU.

It is best to take it with a little monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind of fat). Vitamin D3 is best absorbed in this manner.

Becca

Does your lower back ache more often than not? Have you taken a close look at the positions you get your body into when you sleep at night? That may have something to do with the pain emitting from the lower portion of your spine.

You know what sleeping position you start in when you first go to bed and what position you wake up in. Of course, you don’t really know what position(s) you get yourself into while you sleep, but you can still improve the potential for lower back discomfort by starting out in the right position.

Seeking: Pain Free Sleeping Position:

What you want to find is the sleeping position that will cause you the least amount of discomfort, or preferably the most pain free position possible. If your lower back does not always cooperate with you, every position for sleeping is not ideal for your level of comfort.

Here is something you can try for a lower back that will not behave – try sleeping on your side. According to health experts, sleeping in this position puts less strain on the spine than sleeping on your back or sleeping on your stomach.

The reason that sleeping on your side is beneficial is because it causes fewer curves in the spine than other positions do. To further support your lower back, having a firm mattress to spend your nights on is very helpful. Another way to make your spine feel even more comfortable is to place a pillow between your knees and tuck your legs up a little bit. A small pillow would work best.

Other Suggestions for Back Issues:

To keep your back as strong and resilient as possible, keep it limber with exercise. Regular physical activity increases blood circulation to the spine and helps to prevent injuries from occurring. Remember that your spine is the support and structure for your whole body. Anything that you can do to keep it strong and flexible will benefit every part of you. Back-saving exercises are a must.

To have a strong and healthy spine, you need to feed it good food. Grapes are particularly good for the spine because the chemical compounds found in them are believed to be protective of the cartilage in your back.

Researchers theorize that it is the resveratrol in grapes that makes them a helpful ally for your back. Resveratrol is an anti-inflammatory compound that protects cartilage and has also been shown to yield heart-healthy benefits.

Resveratrol has the ability to hinder the degeneration of intervertebral disks. These disks are a part of the spine that is often connected with pain in the lower back. While studies are ongoing, it is believed that this compound, known as proteglycan, helps with the production and the build-up, of connective tissue in the disks.

Eating a handful of grapes every day, whether you prefer green, red or purple, can do your back cartilage a world of good! The protection it offers could be truly amazing!

Samantha

Are you looking for ways to improve your sex life? If you would like to pave the way for better sex, you first need to realize that a variety of factors come into play when it comes to something as complex as sexuality. There are physical and psychological responses to think about. But the good news is that help is within reach.

Medical Issue:

If you believe that a medical problem is underlying an intimacy issue you are having, go see your doctor. He or she can send you for tests to determine what the cause of the sexual dysfunction is. Your physician can also refer you to other healthcare providers who may be able to offer you help, such as therapists.

Spice Up the Night (or Day!):

If your troubles are not medically oriented, finding ways to enhance your libido or spice things up in the bedroom is simple enough to do. Read on.

Live a healthy life. It sounds so simple and straightforward but sometimes we veer off course and do not even realize it. Too many early morning lattes, too little sleep, too many happy hours and too few hours spent in the gym and our health compass sends us careening in the opposite direction.

To get your libido up to speed, eat a healthy and balanced diet. Make physical activity a priority in your life and get plenty of sleep. This will help you to feel better, look better and it will give your energy a boost.

A healthy body can help you feel better about yourself and it leads to an enhanced sex life. Regular exercise is believed to be one of the essential elements to health between the sheets. Studies have shown that individuals, who exercise on a regular basis, have more blood flow to every area of their body, including the genital region.

To improve your sex drive and get your partner revved up, leave the television and computer off. Turn your attention to your significant other instead. Make time for physical intimacy by giving your sweetie your undivided attention. Too much TV viewing is a killer for the sex drive. Without the tube on, you can turn each other on and take it from there!

Soft music and candlelight sets the romantic tone for a steamy night ahead, right? Not so fast! That is what we used to think. But now researchers say that arousing the nervous system, as opposed to suppressing it, can greatly enhance your sexual desire and make for a more romantic evening.

Try doing something that raises your heart rate and gives your cardiovascular system a workout. Go to the movies and take in an action flick that gets your heart pumping like crazy, visit a comedy club and laugh like there is no tomorrow, or go salsa dancing. Get your heart rate up and keep it there in preparation for the main event of the night!

Open up to your partner. When you share your ideas, thoughts and stories with your partner, the lines of communication remain open. You want them to remain wide open to keep physical intimacy alive. This will help each of you to understand and respect each other even more. Emotional intimacy is an important aspect of physical intimacy.

Your sense of smell is tied into desire and being amorous. Lavender is a scent that helps many people relax and get into the right mood. Research shows that it brings about a feeling of calm and relaxation and it reduces mental stress.

Not everyone responds the same way to every scent. Experiment with various ones to find the one that is best for your pairing. Some people have a favorite scent(s) because it triggers a pleasant memory. Use that to help work your sexual magic on your lover!

Becca

It is the start of a new year and this year you have promised yourself that you are going to make your health a top priority.

While you may not be guilty of any serious health infractions (such as smoking or drinking), you know that there is still room for improvement. You can tweak this and tweak this until you know that you have your health on the right track. But wouldn’t it be amazing, and so much simpler, if our bodies came with a manual, in much the same way as our cars and our new appliances do?

The human body is amazing in its ability to heal and to deal with the daily abuses that it encounters.  There is so much for it to contend with – chemicals, pollutants, preservatives, and the list go on and on.

When you really think about what you are eating and drinking, breathing in and putting on your skin, it is surprising that the life expectancy of human beings is as long as it is!

Taking Care of Details:

Every day of our lives our body takes care of thousands (no, millions) of big, medium and small details without us giving it any thought at all. The body just does what it was designed to do without our input.  Think about how the cardiovascular system works, the digestive system, the nervous system, and the endocrine system, just to name a few. Our bodies are on autopilot in effect. This is a feature that keeps every part of the body doing the job that it was given to do.

The down side to this autopilot feature, is that sometimes we can get lazy and do not do the things we need to do to stay healthy (you know, the OTHER things that our autopilot does not do for us). After all, our autopilot is already busy enough!

What the Manual Would Say:

Which brings us to talk of a manual. Wouldn’t it be great if we came with one? Then when we had questions about something that was happening with our body, we could look it up in the manual and know exactly what to do.

If there was such a manual it would tell us to get regular physical activity. It would also instruct us to eat nutritious foods and to drink enough water. It would also tell us to get enough sleep, develop a support system and find effective ways to manage stressful circumstances.

If you were to neglect any of these essential elements of life, your body would sound the warning bells and all hands would have to be on deck (to use an old navy term). It would be an emergency situation and the body would have to rally its resources to cope with it. That is what the symptoms of hunger and thirst are doing.

The same can be said for fainting, nausea and other symptoms. Any type of pain in the body is trying to get us to sit up and take notice because something is wrong.

We don’t come with a health manual. Instead we have to do what is necessary to keep ourselves healthy. Let the body take care of its details, and you take care of the rest. It is your body after all. Do not become complacent about your own health and well-being.

You only get one body for your entire life.

Samantha

It happens all the time – one minute your blood pressure is fine and the next it’s out of range and you’re wondering what happened and how you get it back down again.

First – don’t panic. If you used one of those machines at the local pharmacy then you should know they’re notoriously unreliable and often give false readings. Now, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it so schedule a test at your doctor’s office.

They’ll either confirm it is high or release you from the fear. They may also be able to diagnose why it is high by running other tests.

Even if it is above normal there are things you can do before resorting to prescription drugs. High blood pressure can be caused by many things and stress is a common culprit and diet and lack of exercise.

If you get a high blood pressure reading then here are things you can do to try and lower it, and frankly they are things you should be doing anyway. As always discuss these with a medical professional:

1. Lose weight. Even shaving 20/30 lbs off your weight unless you’re at ideal weight already should be in your plan. If you need to lose more than a few pounds then join a weight loss program or see a hypnotherapist.

2. Increase potassium intake. Bananas should be your first choice unless you dislike their taste.

3. Reduce sodium. Most food has salt added already and so there is no need to add more to taste.

4. Exercise regularly. Walking is fine but be consistent and set aside at least 20-minutes per day if you can or at least 3-4 times per week.

5. Limit alcohol. If you drink alcohol every day then ask yourself why? Sorry but water is much better for you. Alcohol is also full of calories (even lite beer) so it sabotages your effort of losing weight.

6. Cut back on caffeine. Yes, I love my coffee and tea as well but you don’t have to stop just reduce your caffeine intake. If you get your caffeine from soda then this is worse as its sugar-laden and again sabotaging your weight loss.

7. Finally, reduce stress. You can’t eliminate stress altogether but you can learn to cope better. Look into things such as yoga and meditation, and even treat yourself to a massage.

If you reach the stage where your Doctor prescribes drugs then continue to do these seven things as there is a good chance they will work together and allow you to eventually come off the drugs.

Take care.

Becca

It is that time of year again (groan!). Welcome to the cold and flu season. Your first inclination may be to head to the closest drugstore and stock up on tissues and cold medication. If you dread the thought of a runny or stuffed up nose, sneezing, sinus congestion, a headache, the chills and a dry scratchy throat, be proactive.

How can you accomplish that? Get regular physical activity (even walks will fit the fitness bill in the fall and winter months) and improve the work of your overworked immune system by paying attention to your nutrition.

Here’s how:

One – Think healthy protein:

One of the many tasks of protein is to improve the body’s ability to produce antibodies that fight diseases and infections. Choose high-protein foods that are also are made up of healthy fats. Examples of these include ground turkey breast, white-meat chicken, beans, fish, nuts, tofu and non-fat dairy. Stay away from fatty red meats and dairy foods that are high in their fat content. These foods promote inflammation around the heart and should be avoided.

Two – Enjoy a cup of black tea:

To improve your body’s ability to fight viruses, drink more black tea. Those who consume five cups (approximately three mugs) of black tea on a daily basis, produce 10 times more “virus-fighting interferon” than those individuals who drink coffee.

Three – Add some color to your diet:

Fruits and vegetables come in every color of the rainbow- well practically! Load up on as many colors as you can. Bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries and tomatoes are all excellent sources of vitamin C and flavonoids. These essential substances support the body in sending out protective immune cells. You need these foods so eat up as often as possible!

Four – Choose cereals that are 100 percent whole-grain:

Oatmeal and shredded wheat are two whole-grain cereals that are rich in the nutrients beta glucan, selenium and zinc. These three nutrients are particularly beneficial in the winter months because they enhance the work of the immune system.

Five – Fight illness with spiced up chicken soup:

Even with the best efforts, it is still possible to catch something during the cold and flu season. If you do come down with something, turn to the old standby, chicken soup. Chicken soup has the potential to shorten the duration of your illness by as much as 50 percent.

There have been many theories proposed as to why this may be the case. One of the theories has to do with an amino acid called cysteine.  When chicken is cooked, it releases this amino acid, which is chemically similar to a drug for bronchitis called acetylcysteine.

To enhance chicken soup’s power to fight the flu and a cold, add some garlic and hot red pepper to your soup. Garlic is excellent at fighting viruses while hot red pepper contains capsaicin, which is a very strong decongestant. Chicken soup with a little dill weed added to it can also do your infection a world of good.

Stay well!

Becca

You need to feed your face with healthy foods to keep it looking its best. The outside of your body and face reflects what is taking place on the inside. You cannot eat junk food and fast food all of the time and expect your skin to be soft, glowing and youthful. Make some changes in your food choices now and your skin will reflect the healthy way that you are eating.

A complexion that is dull and dry will be lackluster and signals that you are not eating as well as you could be. The good news is that it is never too late to turn things around.   Show the world your best face by improving your diet ASAP.

Include these foods in your meal planning and get ready to show that glow!

Avocados:

Avocados are a green, smooth tasting fruit that is creamy and so good for the skin. This fruit is high in essential oils and B-complex vitamins. Avocados nourish your skin from the inside out.

Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) is important for smooth and supple skin. It contains anti-inflammatory properties that sooth irritated and red skin. Enjoy avocados to eat but you can also smash them up and apply them to your face for a mask that will leave your skin looking lovely!

Mangoes:

This fruit is high in vitamin A and it has lots of it in it. This is an excellent face food. A deficiency in vitamin A will cause your skin to be flaky and dry.  This vitamin fights free radical damage that threatens to destroy the skin and it also repairs skin cells.

Almonds:

As far as almonds go, they go nuts for your complexion! Almonds are high in vitamin E and that is good news for your skin. Vitamin E contains oils that moisturize dry skin. Its antioxidant properties slow the aging process and protect skin from damage.

Cottage Cheese:

So maybe you don’t really like the look of it and maybe it is not your favorite type of cheese, but cottage choose is very nurturing for your skin. It is rich in the mineral calcium which makes for strong, healthy bones. But it is the mineral selenium found in cottage cheese that makes these white creamy curds a winner for your complexion.

As a face saving food, cottage cheese is a winner! Cottage cheese pairs up selenium with vitamin E. This antioxidant team is practically unstoppable when it comes to fending off free radicals. Not only that, but they protect the skin against cancer and they fight dandruff in your hair.

Oysters:

They may be a means of dialing up the libido, but oysters are so much more than that. Your skin will fall in love with them because they will be so good to it! Oysters are rich in zinc which means that they affect the production of sebum which can lead to acne and eruptions of the skin. Zinc, when teamed with vitamin E helps to boost the production of elastin (which is the elastic protein found in the skin).

Baked Potatoes:

Set aside the fries from McDonald’s and get yourself home and enjoy a baked potato instead. Your skin will thank you 10 times over.  One baked potato with the skin on it will provide you with 75 percent of your daily requirement for the mineral copper.

Baked potatoes also contain vitamin C and zinc. All of these important elements of health produce the elastic fibers that support the healthy structure of the skin.

When you do not take in enough copper, your skin can take on a lifeless and rigid appearance. It also hampers your skin’s ability to heal itself rapidly.

Be good to your skin and help it to look its best and be its best by feeding it right!

Samantha

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