Natural Home Remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome

Woman stretching on yoga mat. Stretching is a natural home remedy that can help alleviate symptoms of restless leg syndrome.Woman stretching on yoga mat. Stretching is a home remedy for symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

Yikes, what is that? You are lying down in bed but there is a creeping, tingling, pulling sensation in your legs, which gives you a strong, uncontrollable urge to move your legs. In fact, it feels likes bugs are crawling on your legs. Goodbye, sleepytime.

Welcome to restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease.

It’s estimated that seven to ten percent of Americans experience restless leg syndrome. Fortunately, you are not destined to spend your life like you are performing on the Rockettes’ kickline.

Although restless leg syndrome is a neurological condition, many natural home remedies can help you calm that jumpy, let’s-go-for-a-jog-now feeling.

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

On average, 7 to 10 percent of Americans experience restless leg syndrome.

Doctors categorize restless leg syndrome as a sleep disorder since symptoms occur mainly at night and while sleeping. However, the sensations may also happen during the day — especially when you sit still for a long time, such as on a plane or car ride.

A chronic condition, restless leg syndrome (sometimes abbreviated as RLS) affects both women and men, but women more often. It can also occur in children, particularly ones with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). More severe symptoms usually occur in middle-aged or older individuals.[1]

While not life-threatening, it can make life unpleasant and also negatively affect your sleep. Without proper care, the condition can even cause depression and anxiety.[1]

Note that restless leg syndrome is not just when you occasionally get tingly legs, but when it occurs on a regular, frequent basis.

Restless leg syndrome can be a symptom of another disease, such as diabetes, or may appear for no known reason.[2] If you think you might have restless leg syndrome, see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis. Some other conditions such as anemia and arthritis have similar symptoms.

Top 11 Remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome

Researchers have found that certain natural home remedies really help improve symptoms, and — even better — generally have no side effects.[3]

1. Make Some Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes the simplest actions are the most effective in improving health problems. With just a few tweaks, you can reduce your nightly can-can dance.

  • If you take medications, review them with your physician to see if any trigger restless leg syndrome symptoms. Certain antidepressants and antihistamines can make symptoms worse. Your doctor can find substitutions.
  • Quit smoking; cigarettes can trigger restless leg syndrome. If your partner smokes, have him or her smoke outside and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • If you have to remain seated for a while, such as at work, on a plane, or while driving, take walking and stretching breaks. Alternatively, do stretches while seated. Rotate your ankles, kick your legs outward, or stretch your hamstrings.
  • Wear loose clothing, especially while sleeping.

2. Exercise to Reduce That Jumpy Feeling

Exercise of any kind has long been the go-to for reducing restless leg syndrome symptoms. The main medication given to people with this syndrome has dopamine-boosting effects, and experts believe that exercise helps because it similarly boosts dopamine in the body — naturally.[4]

In one study, participants who performed aerobics and lower-body resistance training three times a week had significant improvement in symptoms.[5] If you’re interested in a custom fitness plan, a licensed physical therapist can help you devise an appropriate workout routine.

  • Try for 30 to 60 minutes at a moderate level — daily is optimal.
  • Even simple exercise like walking outside, or on a treadmill, can do wonders.
  • Avoid intense, long-duration workouts because they may make symptoms worse.
  • Work out earlier in the day, not within an hour or two of bedtime.

3. Get Some Rest

Insomnia or other sleep issues not only make restless leg syndrome symptoms worse, but they can also wreak havoc on your mood, concentration, and energy.[6]

You can’t sleep because you are flailing your legs all night, yet a restful night’s sleep will make the symptoms calm down! Here are some ways to calm your anxious legs at night and ensure you get the hours of slumber you need.

  • Make your bedroom calming. Use soothing colors such as blues, greens, and lavenders. Ensure good airflow, a quiet room, no light, and a temperature set at 68 degrees or cooler.
  • Sleep on cotton or linen sheets and wear pajamas that wick away sweat.
  • Get off all electronic devices an hour before bedtime.[7, 8]
  • Get plenty of sunshine in the morning and the late afternoon to set your circadian rhythm.
  • Do not consume caffeine after lunch, and drink no more than one glass of alcohol at an early dinner. You might even try giving up both permanently.
  • Stick to a pattern: Get up and go to bed around the same time every day and night.
  • Meditate and do deep breathing exercises with the lights off when you first get into bed.

4. Get Out From Under the Stress Monster

Restless leg syndrome symptoms can go haywire when you are under stress. Fortunately, many techniques can help reduce tension and anxiety — and they’re good for your mental health. For example, controlled deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, and mindful meditation are all beneficial for daily stress. Several kinds of meditation that help include:

  • Try Tai chi, which offers the double blessing of exercise and meditation.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation.
  • Do meditative walking: focus on your body, mind, and breath as you walk.
  • For more ideas, check out Dr. Group’s Recommendations for Stress Management article.

Be honest with yourself and others about your limitations. Learn to say no to requests that will overload and complicate your life. Instead, make room for friends and family who make you feel good. Research has shown that the support of a good buddy lessens the impact of negative events.[9]

5. Try Vitamins & Supplements

Some supplements are known to provide help for people with restless leg syndrome. When you can’t get enough of these minerals and vitamins from food, you can get them from supplements.


The strongest risk factor for restless leg syndrome is insufficient iron in the diet.[10] Interestingly, experts have linked a lack of iron in the brain, rather than in the rest of the body, to restless leg syndrome — so regular blood tests may not reveal the iron insufficiency that may exist. It’s unclear how or why the brain does not get enough iron in people with restless leg syndrome.

Did you know that an iron deficiency is the strongest risk factor for RLS?

Taking an iron supplement may help normalize its levels for those who do not have enough, although healthcare experts may need to administer it intravenously for best results.[11, 12]

Vitamin D

Low vitamin D may exacerbate restless leg syndrome. One study reported that giving people vitamin D3 helped their legs feel better and less restless.[13]

Vitamin C & E

Experts believe that oxidative stress plays a role in the development of restless leg syndrome. That means that antioxidants, which counteract oxidative stress, may help. Studies have found that vitamin C, either taken alone or with vitamin E, may normalize symptoms.[14]


Periodic leg movements during sleep — with or without having restless leg syndrome — can reduce sleep quality and wake you up. Taking magnesium may help you sleep better by calming your nervous system.[15]

Folate & Folic Acid

Folate, one of the B vitamins (B-9 to be precise), is found in leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, and tomato juice. Folate occurs naturally, while you get its cousin molecule, folic acid, in supplements.

Some studies indicate folate may help your legs feel less jumpy.[16] Folic acid is not used efficiently in the body, and studies indicate that you should either get your B-9 from foods so you get the natural folate form; alternatively, take it with other B vitamins, which enhances its absorption.

Vitamin A & Beta-Carotene

Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, a red-orange substance that’s abundant in carrots. Both improve iron absorption in the body. Because iron plays such a key role in this condition, getting enough vitamin A in your diet can only help![17]

6. Practice Yoga & Simple Stretches

As an exercise, yoga can stretch out your restless legs, but can also generally improve your mood as well as your sleep quality. Yoga is also known to lessen stress in women. In one study, nine out of ten participants saw a noticeable change in how tingly their legs were within days of starting yoga.[18] Here are some tips:

  • If you can’t find a good yoga studio near you, search for “gentle yoga stretches” on YouTube; try several until you find the one that works for you.
  • Listen to your body — don’t push past what feels right.
  • If yoga is not your thing, try simple leg stretches for relief.

7. Use Heat or Ice When You Have Symptoms

Some people with restless leg syndrome find their symptoms kick up in response to heat or cold. If you negatively react to one, applying the other may reduce symptoms.

  • Try applying heat or ice packs to your legs.
  • Take a warm or cool bath before bed. Add Epsom salts to the bath; they contain magnesium, which can work its way into your leg muscles.

8. Ease Poor Circulation With Massages

One theory is that poor circulation plays a role in restless leg syndrome. Massage can help blood get through congested areas, plus it promotes relaxation. Below are massage options for restless legs:

  • Stroke. Use a relaxed, open hand to lightly stroke in a circular motion from your ankle upwards. Occasionally press into muscles.
  • Press. Starting with your toes, pinch and press upwards, applying firm pressure on muscles and tendons. It should feel good; if it hurts, stop.
  • Firm tapping. Using an open palm or light fist, lightly punch or knock on your legs from the bottom up.

If you can’t manage to massage yourself or don’t have a partner to help, buy an electronic massager that targets calf muscles, or have a steady date with a masseuse who understands the condition.

9. Eat a Healthy Diet

You can improve your symptoms by changing what you eat. We recommend a whole food, plant-based diet rich in organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other healthy foods. For restless leg syndrome, in particular, try to get more of the following into your meals.

  • Foods with iron: spinach, legumes, dried apricots, potatoes, pumpkin, and sesame seeds.
  • Foods with vitamin A and beta-carotene: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, squash, red peppers, cantaloupe, apricots, oranges and orange juice, and peaches.
  • Foods with vitamin C: citrus and dark leafy green vegetables.
  • Foods with magnesium: avocado, nuts, flax, chia, pumpkin seeds, legumes, bananas, and leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach.
  • Avoid alcohol, refined sugar, and caffeine.

10. Try Aromatherapy to Relax

Research has found that essential oils can promote relaxation and sleep.[19] You can spray an oil-distilled water solution into the air or use a diffuser.

The following are good oils to use:

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Lavender
  • Roman chamomile
  • Marjoram
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang-ylang

11. Keep a Symptom Diary

If you want to better understand what triggers your restless leg syndrome, and what helps, try using a journal or diary. Some questions to record:

  • What time of day did symptoms occur?
  • For how long did symptoms last?
  • Did anything trigger symptoms, such as alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine?
  • Do symptoms get worse after that late night snack or if you exercise hard right before bedtime?
  • Do they get better if you take a bath?
  • Do you get daytime attacks after sitting at the computer too long?

Share the diary with your doctor who may also pick up on some patterns.

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

The causes of restless leg syndrome aren’t fully understood. Researchers believe they might be related to genetics and family history (especially if it begins before the age of 40), iron deficiency, or over-stimulation of the part of the brain that controls leg movement.[2] Some pregnant women experience it due to hormonal changes, but the symptoms usually go away after delivery.[20]

Restless leg syndrome can occur as a side effect of some drugs, such as certain antihistamines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

Points to Remember

While the exact causes of restless leg syndrome aren’t yet known, you can control the condition, reduce your symptoms, and improve your sleep with natural remedies. Take inventory of your lifestyle — making some easy changes can make a world of difference.

Improve your sleep habits, exercise regularly and look for activities that will help you relax and reduce stress. Say hello to nice massages, essential oils, and baths! Keep a diary of your symptoms for your own information and to share with your healthcare provider.

Chow down on foods rich in folate, iron, magnesium, beta carotene, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. If you can’t get enough that way, take supplements regularly. May all your nights be kickless ones!

Have you tried any natural remedies for restless leg syndrome? What worked best for you? Share below!

The post Natural Home Remedies for Restless Leg Syndrome appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.



Probiotics & Heart Health: How Your Gut Helps Your Heart

A jar of fermented vegetables, which is a healthy probiotic-rich food for your heart.A jar of fermented vegetables, which is a healthy probiotic-rich food for your heart.

The best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, or so the old adage goes. Believe it or not, there’s more truth behind it than you may think. While the saying elicits images of cooking dinner for your sweetheart, it also holds true for your actual heart and digestive system — of which your stomach plays a central role.

The food, water, vitamins, and supplements you consume affect the health of your “internal garden” — the microorganisms that form an integral part of your digestive system.

Your gut contains trillions of microbes, collectively called the microbiome. This internal garden can flourish with healthy microbes — known as probiotics — or harmful ones that act like weeds, making you sick, fatigued, and unwell.

Eating probiotic-rich foods and taking probiotic supplements helps your microbiome grow strong with healthy microbes, which push out the “weeds.” And having a healthy gut microflora will help your heart in several ways, which I’ll talk about below.

What Are Probiotics?

The short answer is that probiotics are helpful microorganisms that have a symbiotic relationship with your body.

Some gut bacteria are more helpful than others, and that is why you will find specific strains in your yogurt or supplement, like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.

A healthy human GI tract has more than 500 microbial species living inside it, and several trillion individual microbes at any one time. The more diverse your gut flora, the better your gut health.

Consuming probiotics from supplements or fermented foods helps push out the bad bacteria — think of them like weeds that wreak havoc on your digestive system and its microflora garden.

How Are Probiotics Good for the Heart?

Probiotic microbes not only help you digest food, they also play a role in everything from mental wellness to skin health. Less well known is that probiotics also help your heart, veins, arteries, and the entire cardiovascular system in several ways. Below are the top ways that probiotics influence heart health.

Normalize Blood Pressure

75 million Americans have high blood pressure, and taking probiotic supplements for eight weeks can improve numbers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75 million American adults have high blood pressure. Of that, only slightly more than 50 percent are doing something about it.[1] Probiotics can help normalize those blood pressure numbers, though.

In hundreds of people, taking probiotics balanced both the top (systolic) and bottom (diastolic) blood pressure numbers in multiple studies. It looks like probiotics can help keep your blood pressure where it needs to be.

What’s more, the people who saw the best numbers were the ones who took the most probiotics. If you want to see the benefits, stick to a steady routine of supplements or probiotic-friendly foods for the long-haul. In the study, it took a full eight weeks to see results.[2]

Balance Good & Bad Cholesterol

Some studies show that probiotics promote normal HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol), as well as total blood cholesterol levels.

Thirty-two different controlled trials dating between 2007 and 2017 showed that total cholesterol levels normalized in subjects taking probiotics for six weeks, compared to those in the control group, who saw no change.

The studies even showed that taking supplements in capsule form, rather than trying to get probiotics from food, may have had even more of an effect on cholesterol levels.[3]

Encourage Normal Triglyceride Levels

Triglycerides are fatty compounds found in your body. Having too many triglycerides floating around in your blood increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart disorders. Luckily, probiotics can help mitigate that risk.

In studies on both rats and humans, taking probiotics encouraged normal triglyceride levels for every test subject over a period of six to 12 weeks.

It appears that taking a probiotic supplement causes an increase in special proteins in the blood, called apolipoproteins, that bind lipids (fats), including triglycerides.[4, 5]

Support Balanced Blood Glucose Levels

Early research has shown that when people take probiotic supplements or eat probiotic-rich foods regularly, it balances the sugar level in their blood.

Blood glucose, or sugar, can lead to a number of disorders, including diabetes, metabolic disorders, and obesity — which are closely linked to heart health.

Maintaining relatively steady blood glucose levels is important for healthy individuals to keep metabolic disorders at bay, and for people with them to better manage symptoms. Taking probiotics can help keep blood sugar numbers at ideal levels.[6]

Help With Obesity & Boost Metabolism

As of 2014, about 67 percent of American adults and 30 percent of American children were overweight or obese.[7] Taking probiotics supplements could be part of an overall plan to help lower those numbers; maintaining a healthy weight is closely linked with a healthy heart.

Probiotics may be the boost your metabolism needs! It’s been shown to reduce hunger and increase energy levels.

The microbiome in your stomach affects the metabolism of your entire body. Medical professionals and researchers are so confident in the role that our gut biome plays in metabolism and weight that they have started manipulating the species found in the gut in order to manage certain health conditions, including obesity.[8]

Probiotics can reduce hunger, normalize systemic redness and swelling, support healthy energy levels, and boost metabolism.[8] That means fewer days of sitting on the couch eating sugar-filled foods and more days of getting up and exercising.

Boost Vitamin D Absorption

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential for bone strength, immune system function, and heart disease prevention. People deficient in vitamin D have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Thanks to climates without many sunny days — not to mention the epidemic of low levels of vitamins in the modern food supply — deficiencies are pretty common.

Taking probiotic supplements actually increases the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D by 25 percent compared to those not getting regular probiotics.[9]

So catch some rays when you can, or take a vitamin D supplement, but then take probiotics to help your body absorb as much of this heart-healthy vitamin as possible.

Aid Diabetes Management

Probiotics naturally help people with diabetes thanks to their part in promoting normal blood sugar levels.

In a review of research, experts concluded that probiotic supplements play a valuable role in immune health, reducing appetite, normalizing blood sugar, modulating the gut’s permeability, and boosting the body’s sensitivity to insulin.[10] That’s a lot of benefits from your gut microbes!

Probiotics not only reduce redness and swelling in the body, which is connected to a healthier immune system, but also act as antioxidants, counteracting so-called free radicals damage cells. Both of these factors provide important protection for people with metabolic conditions, like diabetes.

Best Natural Sources of Probiotics

Most people think of supplements when they hear the term probiotics, but you can also find beneficial bacteria and microbes in several foods. Here’s an overview of the best sources.

Probiotic Foods

Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods, and you can also find them in yogurt, kefir, and other non-dairy probiotic foods. Try adding these foods to your healthy eating regimen.

  • Nut-milk yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Nut-milk kefir
  • Umeboshi plums

If you want foods that help probiotics flourish, known as “prebiotics,” try dark chocolate and fiber-rich foods like chicory root, garlic, onions, sunchokes, and dandelion greens.


While in most cases, we recommend getting your nutrients from food, some studies indicate that for probiotics, supplements pack a stronger punch.[3]

We’ve gathered our best advice for picking the right probiotic supplement for your heart — and the rest of your body as well. Harvard Medical School recommends taking a supplement that contains at least one to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) to ensure you’re getting the biggest benefit.[11] We further recommend you choose a vegan-friendly supplement with multiple strains, plus prebiotics (fiber-rich food for probiotics).

Global Healing Center offers the vegan probiotic supplement Floratrex™ which includes 23 probiotic strains, and 50 billion CFUs, and the prebiotic inulin (a polysaccharide from chicory root) to help the probiotics thrive once inside the gut.

Points to Remember

Probiotics and heart health go hand in hand. Taking supplements or eating probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and pickles, will not only help balance the bacteria levels in your GI tract but will also boost certain bodily functions that help keep your heart healthy.

Studies show that you receive the full benefits of probiotics after six to 12 weeks of regular supplement use.

Probiotics promote normal cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, swelling, and glucose levels and can boost metabolism and lower appetite. Through these effects, the right strains of probiotics help heart health by encouraging a healthy body weight, normalizing metabolism, and giving the body a much-needed boost in its ability to absorb vitamin D — critical for heart health.

Be sure to continue to take your probiotics regularly, rather than intermittently. Studies showed benefits six to 12 weeks after starting a supplement regimen. Supplements themselves tend to have more of an effect than probiotic foods, but probiotic foods can provide you with added nutrition to your diet, as well as unique probiotic strains for your gut.

The post Probiotics & Heart Health: How Your Gut Helps Your Heart appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


5 Remedies I Use to Help Soothe My Irritated Skin

No matter the time of year, there’s always a point in each season when my skin decides to cause me issues. While these skin issues can vary, I find the most common issues to be:

  • dryness
  • acne
  • redness

As for the why, sometimes it’s down to a sudden change in weather, while other times the change is a result of stress from a looming work deadline or just getting off a long-haul flight.

Regardless of the reason though, I always try to apply the most natural and holistic remedies possible to help soothe my irritated skin.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and want to know how I get my skin back to looking stellar, you can find my tried and tested top five tips, below.

Water, water, and more water

My first go-to is making sure I’m drinking enough water. I find it helps with just about anything and everything when my skin is acting up, though this is especially the case when the issue is specifically dryness or acne.

Water helps to hydrate the skin and helps to prevent dehydration lines that can crop up on the face, which look a bit like wrinkles.

While it varies from person to person, I try to get at least 3 liters of water daily, though even more if my skin is looking a little rough.
Check out the article I wrote for Healthline HERE to get the inside scoop on my top 5 remedies I use to soothe irritated skin, so you can add to your regimen today!

The post 5 Remedies I Use to Help Soothe My Irritated Skin appeared first on Living Pretty, Naturally.


Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Tips, Benefits, & What to Eat & Avoid

A bowl of raspberries, which is a staple for an anti-inflammatory diet.A bowl of raspberries, which is a staple for an anti-inflammatory diet.

When you think of inflammation, you probably picture the rash you get from poison ivy or a bump that swells up when you hit your head. There’s another silent form of inflammation that occurs within your body, and it does not usually come with any painful symptoms — but it can seriously impact your health.

Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and diabetes are all linked to this type of constant, low-level inflammation. The good news? You can influence your body’s background levels of inflammation by eating specific foods.

An anti-inflammatory diet can help if you live with a chronic autoimmune illness, are trying to ward them off, or you just feel sluggish and want to improve your health.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation can be friend or foe. Inflammation is your immune system’s reaction to an injury, allergen, bacteria, or anything else it identifies as a problem.

Inflammation is OK when it’s a short-term cut or bug bite, but lingering inflammation can lower your overall immunity.

First, your body will fight these problem attackers, and then it will help that region to heal. Inflammation is good when the injury is short-term, like an insect bite or cut, but when it lingers in the body, it can lower your overall immunity.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation dies down once the issue is resolved. Chronic inflammation occurs when your immune system remains on alert, keeping a “low flame” going all the time. That much “heat” can do serious damage.

How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Help

Inflammation has a direct connection to the digestive tract. The microbiome — bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your gut — help to regulate your immune system.

Poor diets trigger your body’s inflammatory process, while healthy, balanced diets help your body thrive.

Everything you eat, the supplements you take, and your environment all affect the health of your gut. What you put in your stomach can either kindle or douse the flame of your body’s immune response.

For example, a poor diet — too high in calories or unhealthy fats — can activate your body’s inflammatory process.[1] However, a diet with the right balance of dietary omega-3 fatty acids (which control inflammation) and omega-6 fatty acids (which stimulate inflammation) along with exercise, sleep, water, and stress reduction can normalize inflammation and help your body thrive.[2]

Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods

What you don’t eat on an anti-inflammatory diet is just as important as what you do eat. Instead of eating foods that trigger inflammation, you will provide your system with dietary choices that soothe it.

The basics of an anti-inflammatory diet are very similar to the eating plan I recommend for optimum health.

Centered on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, herbs, and spices, it shares many of the features of a plant-based Mediterranean diet — which has been shown to extend length and quality of life.[3] Research also suggests that vegetarians and vegans have reduced inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease.

Be sure not to go overboard on carbohydrates, especially sugar, which can upset the balance of hormones in your body that affect inflammation.

Experts suggest you fill your plate according to the 40-30-30 rule:[1]

Organic Produce

Try to eat a rainbow of non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruits at every meal. Colorful produce typically contains a lot of antioxidants, which support the immune system by fighting disease-causing free radicals and preventing inflammation.

Fruits and vegetables also contain phytochemicals, compounds found in plants that help protect cells.


You can’t go wrong with most vegetables, but make sure to include the following:

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards
  • Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
  • Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and rutabaga
  • Onions, garlic, scallions, and other edible bulbs

Some people are sensitive to produce in the nightshade family (including eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers), but for most people, these are also great choices.


Increase your intake of:

  • Berries such as blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Stone fruits like cherries, plums, nectarines, olives, and avocados
  • Pome fruits like apples, pears, and quince

Citrus fruits are a great choice unless you have a citrus allergy, which can actually cause inflammation.

Fruits contain natural sugars, called fructose. When you eat fructose along with the fiber and other components of a fruit, your body processes it in a different way than processed sugar.

Legumes & Peas

Legumes, including beans and lentils, are a great source of protein and chock full of fiber and minerals along with several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Buy organic black beans, Navy beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, or red, green, or black lentils. Choose your favorite legume, soak overnight, and toss out that liquid before adding fresh water, and then cook it. You can also eat green peas for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

Gluten-Free Whole Grains

Whole grains contain both antioxidants and fiber, and research suggests they help reduce the inflammation marker called C-reactive protein (CRP).[4]

Always choose gluten-free grains, however, because gluten leads to digestive and systemic inflammation in many people.

Your best whole grain choices include oats, steel-cut oatmeal, barley, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, and ancient grains such as amaranth, teff, and buckwheat.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a healthy fat, good for cooking and recipes. EVOO contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidants, plus a compound called oleocanthal that can lower inflammation.[5]

EVOO should be your go-to for stove-top cooking, drizzling on salads, and more.

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in monounsaturated fat, and they contain heart-healthy fiber. Try raw seeds and nuts for optimal nutrition. Good choices include unsalted walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Herbs & Spices

Besides adding zest to meals, herbs and spices contain many antioxidants. The golden Indian spice turmeric is particularly powerful. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is extremely effective at normalizing redness and swelling.[6]

Garlic, ginger, and cinnamon also have particularly strong inflammation-fighting properties.

Foods to Avoid

Just as there are foods you should eat on an anti-inflammatory diet, you should avoid certain foods that aggravate inflammation in the body. Below are the most important foods to avoid.

Processed Foods

Many commercial products in the grocery store are highly refined and processed. As such, they are low on nutrients and fiber.

They also tend to be high in omega-6 fats (which lead to more inflammation), saturated fats, and trans fats. Processed foods also typically contain added sugars, which raise blood sugar and rev up inflammation.

Stay away from chips, crackers and other snack foods, white bread and pasta, most boxed breakfast cereals, mixes, and frozen dinners.


Sugar is one of the worst offenders at triggering inflammation. It causes the body to release cytokines, chemical messengers that amp up your immune system, causing systemic swelling.

When trying to avoid inflammation in the body, sidestep all sweets. Avoid cookies, candy, and cakes, ice cream, and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, lemonade, sweet tea.

Stay away not only from refined brown and white granulated sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, but also natural sweeteners with a high sugar content like honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup.

If you must have something sweet, have a small amount of organic dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa. Also avoid artificial chemical sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine, and Splenda.

Fried Foods

Fried foods, especially deep fried, contain inflammation-triggering saturated fats and trans fats. They are typically fried in unhealthy oils, like processed “vegetable oil” or lard, and are typically coated in batter made from refined flour. Steer clear of anything fried, especially fast food such as french fries and donuts.


Meat may be central to the standard American diet, but it is highly inflammatory, in part because it is laden with saturated fat, hormones, and antibiotics. Studies have linked processed meats with chemical additives, like nitrates, to cancer.[7] So say no to beef, lamb, poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), and game meats, along with hot dogs, sausage, pepperoni, and beef jerky.

Most Fats & Oils

As noted, both saturated and polyunsaturated fats are high in inflammation-promoting omega-6 fatty acids, and trans fats also raise your “bad” cholesterol.

Instead of using butter and margarine to add flavor to your food, use herbs and spices. Avoid cooking with lard, shortening, or vegetable oils including canola, corn, soybean, safflower, peanut, or cottonseed. There are some healthy cooking oils you can use, but lighten your load and cut down.

A Sample Meal Plan

The following meal plan is an example of what an anti-inflammatory diet could look like.

Day One

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries, flax seed, and walnuts with almond milk.
  • Lunch: Homemade three-bean chili on brown rice topped with chopped onions, with an apple on the side.
  • Dinner: Mixed spinach and kale salad dressed with EVOO, apple cider vinegar, and herbs; quinoa bowl with red bell peppers, black beans, and avocado; two squares of dark chocolate for dessert.

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Plain coconut-milk yogurt topped with strawberries, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
  • Lunch: Open-faced lentil-veggie burger on half an ancient-grain bun topped with raw onion, spinach leaves, and tomato slices; baked sweet potato fries.
  • Dinner: Soba (buckwheat) noodles topped with sautéed mixed vegetables and garlic, topped with nutritional yeast.

Day Three

  • Breakfast: Avocado toast (on gluten-free whole-grain bread) topped with pumpkin seeds.
  • Lunch: Tostada made with vegetarian refried beans seasoned with chili powder and turmeric on a wheat-free multigrain tortilla. Top with salsa, chopped tomatoes, and scallions.
  • Dinner: Mixed lettuce salad dressed with EVOO, apple cider vinegar, and herbs; Buddha Bowl atop brown rice; cherries for dessert.

Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet has two big benefits:

First. It can help you reduce the risk of developing diseases related to chronic over-activation of the immune system.

Second. It not only eases symptoms but also may even reverse the progress of chronic ailments you may already have, including:

  • Chronic gastrointestinal ailments like inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, and Crohn’s disease
  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus
  • Allergic disorders such as asthma and eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke
  • Metabolic disorders such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome — a group of conditions including elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and sometimes fatty liver disease
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety

An anti-inflammatory diet can also help reduce the risk of colorectal and other cancers by protecting healthy cells from DNA damage.

As a bonus, this diet can help you lose weight; weight gain is itself a cause of inflammation. The healthy fats and fiber in the diet help fill you up, so you’ll eat less.

Points to Remember

Inflammation is your immune system’s normal reaction to harm. However, when low-level inflammation becomes constant, it can cause many types of chronic disease.

What you eat can either rev up or cool down your body’s immune response. An anti-inflammatory diet can provide your system with the balance of nutrients, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants, to keep inflammation in check.

Centered on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, herbs, and spices, an anti-inflammatory diet — similar to a plant-based diet — eliminates processed foods, sugar, fried food, meat, and most fats and oils.

It can help prevent or reduce the symptoms of illnesses including diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, lower your cancer risk, and help you lose extra weight.

Have you tried an anti-inflammatory diet? Share your experience in the comments below!

The post Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Tips, Benefits, & What to Eat & Avoid appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Learn How to Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally

An individual stretching. Regular aerobic exercise can help reduce your cortisol and stress levels.An individual stretching. Regular aerobic exercise can help reduce your cortisol and stress levels.

Imagine you’re on your way to a crucial job interview. You’re stuck in traffic and worried you’ll miss the appointment. You can’t take an alternate route, and time is ticking.

If you could see your cells, you would realize that your body is most likely responding by releasing cortisol, a “stress hormone.”

Stressful situations, lack of sleep, and even busy lifestyles can elevate cortisol levels in your body.

However, when cortisol levels stay high for long periods of time, it can have a negative effect on your health. Fortunately, you can easily and naturally lower your levels of this stress hormone.

What Does Cortisol Do?

Cortisol is a stress hormone that plays a role in your body’s fight-or-flight response, which is how your body reacts to stress or threats.[1] When you’re in danger, your body prepares to either stay and “fight” or run away and “flee.”

In prehistoric times, the fight-or-flight response was crucial for our ancestors to survive attacks from enemies or animals. But you don’t have to be in a jungle fighting tigers to feel ongoing stress. Our bodies have similar reactions to less life-threatening issues, like stressful meetings at work or arguments with loved ones. A daily, busy lifestyle alone may lead to high cortisol levels.[1]

Cortisol affects many parts of your body. It increases your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle tension, and blood sugar levels. This is why your heart pounds, you sweat, and experience heavy breathing when you’re in a stressful situation.

Cortisol also slows down certain body processes, like digestion and reproduction, to conserve energy. Cortisol can even suppress the immune system, increasing your risk of infection.[1]

Normal Cortisol Levels

Cortisol levels can vary based on gender, age, health history, and time of day. In general, your cortisol levels are higher in the morning and decrease as the day progresses. Its levels are lowest at midnight.

From 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., normal levels range from 10 to 20 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL). Around 4 p.m., normal levels range from 3 to 10 mcg/dL.[2] All this can change with daily stress.

Time of the Day Cortisol Levels (mcg/dL)
6 a.m. to 8 a.m. 10 to 20
Around 4 p.m. 3 to 10

Your adrenal glands, hypothalamus, and pituitary glands control cortisol levels in your body. Together, they form what scientists call the “hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.”

What Causes High Cortisol Levels?

The hypothalamus (located in the brain), pituitary gland, and adrenal glands all play a role in releasing cortisol into your bloodstream.[1] The following factors can lead to elevated cortisol:

  • Chronic stress
  • Certain prescription drugs
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Poor diet
  • Physical issues with the pituitary or adrenal glands

Unfortunately, the stress response rarely if ever shuts down in many people. We worry about work, stress about kids, or bicker about chores with our partner — all of which trigger the release of cortisol. Sleep deprivation and poor diets can also increase cortisol levels, as can drinking a lot of caffeine.[3]

The side effects from certain drugs may also include raising your cortisol levels. For example, birth control pills for contraception, or corticosteroids, typically prescribed for autoimmune diseases, can raise cortisol.[4]

Occasionally, problems with your pituitary gland, a small organ in the brain, or problems with your adrenal glands can elevate cortisol levels.[5]

Common High Cortisol Symptoms

High cortisol levels can lead to a variety of symptoms. Too much cortisol has a negative effect on your health, and continued exposure may lead to what doctors call Cushing’s syndrome (also called hypercortisolism).[5] Cushing’s typically leads to weight gain around the mid-section, face, and upper back, with weight loss from legs.

High cortisol levels can also cause adrenal fatigue, which happens when your adrenal glands are in overdrive from producing this hormone.[6] Other common symptoms of elevated include:

  • Weight gain in the face, stomach, and chest
  • General obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  • Easily bruised skin
  • Muscle weakness
  • Purple stretch marks on the stomach and other parts of the body
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in women
  • Excess hair on the face and other parts of the body in women
  • Lower fertility in men and women

The Best Ways to Lower Cortisol Levels

If you’re wondering how to lower cortisol levels, relatively simple lifestyle and diet changes can help. In addition, specific supplements and herbs may also normalize cortisol levels. Below, we’ve listed several natural options.

Improve Your Diet

Studies show that stress often affects your eating behaviors; in particular, you may crave foods high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates.[7] Shifting to a plant-based diet centered around fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats is naturally anti-inflammatory.

The incredible array of healthy antioxidants you get from eating this way helps reduce both physical stress within your body (“oxidative stress”) and emotional stress — both of which influence cortisol. There is also a specific anti-inflammatory diet you can follow.

Try stress-relieving foods, including dark chocolate, walnuts, avocado, garlic, figs, Swiss chard, dulse seaweed, citrus fruits, and pumpkin seeds (which are also rich in amino acids).

Avoid dehydration — which can raise cortisol — by drinking plenty of water. Also, consider drinking green tea because experts believe it lowers cortisol.[8]

Manage Your Stress

One of the most important ways to lower cortisol involves healthfully managing your stress. Consider deep breathing exercises or focusing your mind on a soothing word when you begin to feel stressed. Some people like to visualize tranquil scenes and practice being happy in their mind’s eye. For more ideas, check out Dr. Group’s Recommendations for Stress Management article.

Find Ways to Relax

Finding ways to relax can help you reduce stress. Try these suggestions:

  • Listen to calming music
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Try gardening
  • Play with a pet
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Get a massage
  • Take a warm bath
  • Write in a journal
  • Go for a walk or hike

Have Fun

Having more fun can help you manage stress. Try these ideas:

  • Watch or attend a comedy show
  • Read funny books or magazines
  • Go to an amusement park
  • Play games
  • Host a karaoke night at home
  • Join a sports team
  • Do puzzles
  • Go stargazing
  • Attend concerts

Develop Healthy Relationships

Relationships, whether friendships, children, parents, workmates, or life partners, often cause a lot of our stress. Learning how to have healthy relationships goes a long way to lowering stress — and hence cortisol. Try these simple but powerful suggestions.

  • Learn to manage your time and expectations
  • Know your boundaries, and when to say no
  • Talk with family and friends about your worries
  • Forgive, and ask for forgiveness
  • Learn when to compromise, and when not to
  • Try counseling or therapy

Take Adaptogenic Herbs

Sometimes, supplements can help us manage the daily stresses of life. An adaptogen is a substance that helps your body “adapt” to stress. Some people benefit from taking adaptogenic herbs to normalize cortisol levels. Here are the ones I recommend:

  • Ashwagandha: This popular herb from India can help you manage stress. In one study, people who took ashwagandha for 60 days had 27.9 percent less cortisol in their blood.[9]
  • Holy Basil: Don’t confuse this green leafy plant with sweet basil used for cooking, a related but different plant. Holy basil, or tulsi, fights free radicals in the body, boosts the immune system, and improves your mood.[10]
  • Ginseng: This herb has many therapeutic properties. Studies show that ginseng positively impacts brain health, lowers stress, and boosts energy.[11]
  • Rhodiola: This flowering plant helps increase energy levels, and, as an antioxidant, it also helps the body resist physical, chemical, and emotional stressors. When people took Rhodiola daily, they reported less anxiety and stress.[12]

Get Enough Sleep

Over time, poor sleep habits can raise cortisol levels.[13] Strive to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Try these tips to improve your slumber:

  • Make your bedroom an inviting place to sleep
  • Engage in relaxing activities before bedtime
  • Keep all electronics out of the bedroom
  • Stick to a sleep schedule
  • Invest in a good mattress and comfortable pillows

Try Earthing & Grounding

Earthing or grounding refers to having direct contact with our planet’s surface, which can help your body better manage stress. When 60 people slept on conductive carbon fiber mattress pads, which helped ground their bodies to the earth, they reported falling asleep faster, having more energy, and experiencing less pain.[14]

Try these grounding ideas:

  • Walk barefoot in the backyard
  • Go to the beach and walk in the sand without shoes
  • Sit on the ground and enjoy nature
  • Sleep on a conductive carbon fiber mattress

Engage in Meditation or Yoga

Both meditation and yoga can lower stress. When 30 students did mindful meditation, their cortisol levels went down, from 381.93 nmol/L to 306.38 nmol/L.[15] Here are my tips for meditation or yoga:

  • Start slowly
  • Consider joining a class
  • Don’t push yourself too hard
  • Learn to observe your thoughts and let them go
  • Create a comfortable space to meditate
  • Establish a routine

Try Supplements

Although it’s always ideal to get your nutrients from food, a busy and stressful lifestyle can make it difficult to find the time to eat properly. Supplements can round out your nutrients and provide beneficial antioxidants, among other benefits. The following supplements may help reduce daily stress and normalize cortisol in your body:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in flax, algae oil, hemp seeds, and other foods, omega-3 fatty acids can help with mental stress. In one study, participants who took omega-3s every day for three weeks had lower cortisol levels.[16]
  • Lithium Orotate: This alkali metal can calm your mind, bring clarity to your thoughts, and boost overall mental wellness. One study found that people who took lithium orotate daily reported feeling happier and less down.[17]
  • Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits and other produce, vitamin C is an antioxidant. When people took vitamin C daily, they had lower cortisol levels after exercise, particularly running.[18]
  • Magnesium & B Vitamins: These important nutrients play a role in many body processes. One study found that combining magnesium and B vitamins reduced stress and cortisol levels, especially premenstrual anxiety.[19] The same benefit did not occur when either magnesium or B vitamins were taken without the other.
  • Probiotics: The gut is connected to the mind, and a healthy gut with a thriving microbiota of beneficial bacteria goes a long way towards lowering stress. You can try fermented foods or a probiotic supplement.

Do Aerobic Exercise

Not only does physical activity benefit the body and improve health, but it can also help you manage cortisol levels. Aerobic exercise can improve your sleep and mental health. Studies show that physical activity also reduces daily stress.[20]

I recommend trying tai chi if you can’t do strenuous physical exercise like aerobics. Some fun ideas include dancing, swimming, running, biking, hiking, and walking.

Points to Remember

When you’re under stress, your body releases cortisol. Too much of this stress hormone can hurt your health. High cortisol symptoms can range from weight gain to muscle weakness. However, there are natural ways to manage it — from meditation to yoga to adaptogenic herbs.

The most important step to lowering cortisol is managing stress in your life, because the two go hand in hand. I recommend eating a healthy, plant-based diet, finding ways to relax, exercising, and having fun.

You may also want to try supplements like holy basil, lithium orotate, or omega-3 fatty acids. Getting enough sleep, staying grounded to the earth, meditation, yoga, and aerobic exercises can also help you manage stress.

Do you have other methods to lower cortisol levels? Please share with us and our community!

The post Learn How to Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Healthy Heart Tips: 17 Ways to a Happy Heart

A woman waking up from a restful night's sleep. Adequate sleep is essential for heart health.A woman waking up from a restful night's sleep. Adequate sleep is essential for heart health.

The human heart is an organ that we all cherish, and for good reason! Be it the rush of love or the pumping of blood, our hearts are our life force.

Yet the leading cause of death in the world is not malnutrition, starvation, or violence, but heart disease. With growing accessibility to unhealthy food and more sedentary lifestyles, the world is facing a heart crisis.

Scientists have gathered a wealth of evidence on factors that affect heart health.

The bottom line? Your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and coronary disease go hand-in-hand with poor lifestyle and dietary decisions — and you can reverse these trends with positive action steps.

17 Natural Ways to Improve Heart Health

I’ve gathered together 17 of the most valuable choices you can make for a happier, healthier heart.

1. Eat Heart-Healthy Foods

Keep an eye out for foods rich in fiber, antioxidants, potassium, and plant proteins for good heart health. The foods that you eat make up the building blocks of your tissues, including your organs.[1]

A rule of thumb is to try and stick to fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Some of the healthiest foods for your heart include:

  • Berries
  • Whole grains such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, or barley
  • Beans and other legumes
  • Unsalted, raw nuts and seeds
  • Almond nut butter
  • Oats

2. Take Turmeric Supplements

Did you know Ayurvedic medicine practitioners have used turmeric for thousands of years? Now clinical research has confirmed that turmeric provides amazing heart benefits.[2]

Turmeric naturally reduces redness and swelling throughout the body, normalizing your circulation and making for a healthier circulatory system.[3] It appears that the curcuminoids in turmeric normalize cytokine levels in the blood, acting as an antioxidant and protecting the heart.

3. Try Omega-3s

There is such a thing as healthy fats! Every person needs lipids (fats) because they make up the membranes of every cell in your body.

Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, normalize your body’s clotting by smoothing blood flow. They also help maintain the rhythm of the heart.[4]

Eating foods rich in omega-3s will encourage healthy levels of arterial plaque as well as triglycerides. Triglycerides are an unhealthy form of fat that elevate risks of stroke.

Omega 3s also raise high-density lipoprotein levels, HDL, also known as “good cholesterol.” Foods such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, Brussels sprouts, walnuts, and flaxseed all contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids.[4] A further step is to try a plant-based supplement like flaxseed oil or micro-algae oil.

4. Quit Smoking

Tobacco is especially harmful to your heart because it causes plaque to build up on your artery walls. Over time, this narrows and hardens your arteries, so that your heart is pumping blood through a smaller and smaller straw.[5]

Smoking causes plaque to build up on your artery walls, making it harder for your heart to pump blood through them.

Quitting smoking is the most actionable step you can take to stop heart complications — among other health benefits. If you don’t smoke, good for you! But do your best to steer clear of second-hand smoke.

For more information, check out our how to quit smoking guide.

5. Increase CoQ10 Intake

Called the “essential nutrient,” experts recognize the incredible health benefits of CoQ10.[6] Also called coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, you can find CoQ10 in all air-breathing forms of life, from microbes to mammals.

CoQ10 plays a critical role in ATP creation, the energy molecule used in every cell to break down glucose — the process that keeps us alive![6]

ATP production occurs in every cell, but its density is highest in organs with a lot of action, like the heart. CoQ10 declines as you age, making supplementation helpful.

You can also find CoQ10 naturally in several plant-based foods, such as lentils, sesame seeds, pistachios, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, oranges, and strawberries.[6]

6. Catch Some Zzz’s

Sleep is the one time where we relax, let our hearts slow down, and give our bodies a chance to recover from the stress of the day. We often hype ourselves up on caffeine to substitute sleep, when sleep itself is truly irreplaceable.

Did you know that when you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep it protects your heart from chronic problems?

Healthy sleep habits protect our hearts from a range of chronic problems, such as high blood pressure, type two diabetes, and obesity.[7] That just goes to show what can happen when you don’t get enough zzz’s — aim for between seven and nine hours a night.

You can discover many natural ways to get more sleep, from avoiding cell phone and computer use at night to dabbing lavender oil on your pillow.

7. Eat a Plant-Based Diet

A diet based on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes is hands down the healthiest way to eat, according to numerous studies. Besides being healthier for the environment, a plant-based diet is healthier for you!

Eating more fruits and vegetables will not only reduce your risk of heart problems, but it’s overall healthier for your body!

A large study assessing how diet affected people’s risk for atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries found a large difference between the health of people who consumed more fruits and vegetables versus those who did not.[8]

The scientists concluded that increasing the intake of these foods reduces your risk of heart disease by 17 percent and recommended eating more leafy greens and vitamin-C rich foods.[8]

8. Give Vitamin C a Try

Vitamin C has a wide variety of health applications throughout the human body. Vitamin C plays an important role in healing tissues, producing collagen (a skin protein), and protecting arteries.[9]

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, meaning that it reduces the amount of free radical molecules in your body, which damage arteries and heart tissue in a process called oxidative stress.

9. Read Your Food Labels

Nutrition facts labels on food can be tricky. Look closely at the ingredients, serving size, and how much of the daily value for each nutrient is provided before making judgments on the health value of a particular food.

Avoid foods that have extensive ingredient lists, especially if you see high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, or complex chemicals.

Also, limit saturated fats and sodium, and avoid trans fats altogether, but be sure to get enough vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron for your heart.[10, 11]

10. Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Currently, the average daily salt intake is 10.5 grams when it should be only 5.5 grams a day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized salt reduction as a top priority to fight the global heart crisis.

Right now, the average intake of salt is 10.5 grams a day, and the goal is to reduce it to 5.5 grams a day, per person, around the world. WHO set the goal to decrease hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke worldwide.[12]

Lowering your sodium intake can directly lower your blood pressure.[13] If it’s on the international health agenda, then it should be on your agenda.

11. Start Exercising

Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease.[14] While it’s important to recognize the range in body types, nevertheless, maintaining a healthy weight will reduce your risk of heart issues. And maintaining a healthy weight is related to your physical activity level.

Exercising 30 minutes a day can help you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Experts recommend two and a half hours of exercise a week. That breaks down to less than 30 minutes a day.

Not only does burning calories lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, but exercise also reduces stress and increases happiness — which, in turn, make your heart healthier.[15]

12. Maintain Good Dental Health

Surprisingly, dental health is directly related to heart health. We know this because people who already have compromised hearts are extra susceptible to oral bacteria.[16]

It’s important to know that dental pathogens contribute to plaque building up in your arteries.[16]

Unfortunately, one study found that most children with heart conditions had not received even basic education in dental hygiene.[17] So remember to keep your mouth as clean as possible with brushing your teeth and flossing your gums, and educate your kids about dental hygiene, as well.

13. Learn to Manage Your Stress

When you feel stressed, your body does too. Stress raises blood pressure, swelling, cholesterol, triglycerides, and cortisol. It can even make your heart beat off rhythm.[18]

Many factors can lead to stress, such as poor working conditions or bad relationships — but managing it is essential to heart health. Try finding methods to release your stress such as exercise, journaling, talking to a friend, or listening to music.

14. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol affects the heart in a few ways. It increases your blood sugar levels and blood pressure to start with, but also raises the levels of triglycerides in your blood.

Keep in mind the effects of the calories and sugars in alcoholic drinks, especially if you have diabetes. Excessive drinking is the largest problem because it raises your risk of stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiac arrest.[19] Quitting, or cutting down, can have a tremendous impact on your heart.

15. Eat Some Garlic

Garlic does more than give you stinky breath! It can actually help reduce heart disease progression.

For thousands of years, people have used garlic because of its many benefits. Ancient clay tablets dating from 2600 BC show garlic being given to Olympians to increase their stamina.

Today, studies confirm that eating garlic can reduce heart disease progression.[20] As a bonus, garlic tastes amazing and goes well in so many recipes.

16. Walk for 10 Minutes Every Day

Sixty percent of Americans do not engage in regular physical activity, and 78 percent do less than what experts recommend.[21] We all have to start somewhere.

Many moderate exercises can benefit your heart without leaving you completely breathless. Try dancing, hiking, swimming, gardening, yoga, or walking.

Walking for just 10 minutes each day will boost your mood and your health. A study found that walking three or more hours per week reduced coronary risks 30 to 40 percent![21]

17. Take Note of Your Mental Health

Many people with heart disease also suffer from mental health disorders.[22] Our hearts are directly related to our mental wellbeing.[23]

If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or anger problems, you could be more at risk for immune dysfunction, inflammation, or eventual coronary artery disease.

You can potentially prevent serious heart complications by seeking counseling early on. If you aren’t finding relief from your own outlets, seek the help of a local professional to help live a happier and longer life.

Points to Remember

Smoking, eating saturated fat, suffering from stress, and living a sedentary lifestyle are some of the risks that contribute to poor heart health. But just a few positive choices can break this trend.

Paying attention to what you eat and the habits you build can make a direct difference in your heart health. I recommend staying active, sleeping well, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, reading labels, and adding supplements like turmeric or CoQ10.

Specific, simple, and actionable steps will put you on the right path for a healthy heart and a long life. I hope that the information that I shared with you in this article empowers you to make positive heart choices.

The post Healthy Heart Tips: 17 Ways to a Happy Heart appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.


Omega-7 Fatty Acids: Benefits of a Lesser-Known Omega Fatty Acid

A bowl of macadamia oil and macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts are one of the best sources of omega-7.A bowl of macadamia oil and macadamia nuts which are a great source of omega-7.

Fats often get a bad rap, but the truth is, your body needs healthy fats for energy production, nutrient absorption, and overall cell health.

Along with carbohydrates and protein, fats provide energy, maintain brain and heart health, and even help reduce inflammation in the body. Every cell in your body uses fats and their building blocks — called fatty acids.

You have probably heard of omega-3 fatty acids, which many people buy as supplements. You may have even heard of omega-6s — a fatty acid that people often get too much of.

However, a lesser known fatty acid — omega-7s— plays a vital role in your health, and it’s worth learning a bit more about them. In this article, we will discuss the many benefits of omega-7s and what they do for your body and your health.

What Is an Omega-7 Fatty Acid?

Omega-7s are a group of unsaturated fatty acids, including palmitoleic acid, rumenic acid, vaccenic acid, and others.

Palmitoleic acid is the most abundant omega-7 found in plant sources, including macadamia nuts, avocado, and sea buckthorn oils. Olive oil contains palmitic acid, which the body converts to palmitoleic acid.

Did you know that your body produces omega-7 fatty acids in your tissues!

Your body makes omega-7s on its own, so they are not considered “essential fatty acids” like omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-7s are one of the most abundant fatty acids in your tissues, especially in adipose (fat) and liver tissue.[1]

Omega-7’s have many functions in the body. Their benefits range from protecting your skin from premature aging to reducing internal and external inflammation.[2, 3]

Although no dietary recommendations exist for the intake of omega-7s, their importance is well-supported by science.

Omega-7 vs. Omega-3, -6, & -9

You may wonder how omega-7s relate to the more popular fatty acids, omega-3, -6, and -9. The number refers to where the first (or only, if there’s one) double bond occurs on the molecular structure. In an omega-3 fatty acid, the first double bond occurs three carbon atoms from the end of the molecule.

Omega-3s, -6s, and -9s are polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), while omega-7s can be monounsaturated (like palmitoleic acid), polyunsaturated fats, or even saturated (like rumenic acid).

Mono- and polyunsaturated fats have fewer hydrogen atoms in their carbon chains and are considered healthier compared to saturated fats and are liquid at room temperature, rather than solid.[4]

Top Omega-7 Benefits

If you’re looking for natural ways to reduce swelling, dampen skin irritation, curb hunger, or boost the health of your heart, don’t overlook omega-7s in your balanced diet or supplement toolkit.

Below are the top benefits omega-7s provide.

Boosts Heart Health

Swelling in blood vessels may lead to conditions like high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Studies have found that omega-7 fatty acids can reduce your risk of these conditions by normalizing blood vessel swelling, both acute (short-term) and chronic.[5, 6, 7]

With less chronic cardiovascular swelling, you lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Palmitoleic acid also encourages normal triglyceride levels in the body, which helps heart health.[8]

Last, but not least, omega-7s boost your immune system, which also reduces swelling and helps the heart.

Curbs Hunger & Reduces Weight Gain

Taking omega-7 fatty acids, whether in food or supplement form, may help you eat less.

Omega-7s are proven to curb hunger by releasing a fullness hormone!

When you feel more full and satisfied after a meal, you tend to eat less and lose weight. That’s exactly what happened in one study on laboratory rats. Consuming the omega-7 palmitoleic acid not only led rats to eat less, it also caused their bodies to release a fullness hormone. Olive oil did not have similar effects in the same study.[9]

Other studies show that palmitoleic acid may reduce fat cell size and total lipids (fats) circulating in the bloodstream, while boosting fat-burning. A study on sheep found that the omega-7 fat-burning powers may operate by increasing fatty acid oxidation and normalizing how much glucose is taken up by cells.[10]

Another study also found that omega-7s balanced insulin resistance in people prone to developing type 2 diabetes, and other studies suggest it has a positive impact on metabolism.[11] Overall, these factors may help curb hunger and weight gain.

Maintains Skin Health

If you want to have healthy skin, nails, and hair, consider omega-7s! They may prove useful as part of your anti-aging beauty regimen for multiple reasons.

When exposed to chemicals, pollution, or the sun, your skin cells get “oxidized,” which leads to premature skin aging. Omega-7 fatty acids protect against this “oxidative cell damage” by spurring the creation of new skin cells.

Omega-7 fatty acids spark the body’s production of new skin cells, and also boost collagen and elastin levels.

Omega-7s also boost the body’s production of collagen and elastin, proteins that keep your skin youthful and supple, with fewer wrinkles.[1]

Sea buckthorn berries, sold as a supplement, not only contain high levels of palmitoleic acid, but also tocopherols, a form of vitamin E that protects cells against sun damage, provides moisture, and reduces swelling.[12, 13] Sea buckthorn oil also increases blood circulation and can protect against infections and allergies.[14]

Normalizes Insulin Resistance

When a person experiences insulin resistance, cells cannot as easily absorb insulin, a protein that shuttles blood sugar (glucose) into muscles and throughout the body. As a consequence, the body pumps out more insulin in an attempt to regulate blood sugar levels.

If insulin resistance continues, the body can reach a prediabetic state, when blood glucose levels remain high.[10] Some animal studies have found that omega-7s protect against insulin resistance.[10, 11]

Palmitoleic acid may also improve glucose metabolism, or, in other words, breaking down glucose so that it does not build up in the blood. This is especially useful for people at higher risk of diabetes, prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome.

Reduces Swelling

Redness and swelling, part of your body’s immune response, can be helpful when your body is responding to an injury, whether it’s a bug bite or a bump on the head. But when inflammation becomes chronic and remains in your body, it can cause problems.

Studies found that sea buckthorn’s palmitoleic acid may reduce chronic swelling in various ways. Omega-7s like palmitoleic acid may curb the body’s swelling in response to chronic conditions such as ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.[2] It may also help dry eyes, which is connected to inflammation.

Heavy alcohol usage or obesity can also cause internal organs to swell, leading to alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. People with organ swelling may benefit from taking omega-7 fatty acid.[16]

Omega-7s also help get both your good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) where they need to be. It does this by balancing levels of an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP).[17]

Best Omega-7 Sources

You can find omega-7s in foods, particularly oils, but also in supplement form. Here are the most common sources. Medical professionals have not established an omega-7 recommended dosage, but eating foods rich in this fatty acid can help you stay on top of your game.

Macadamia Oil

The macadamia nut is one of the best sources of omega-7 fatty acids. It contains 80 percent monounsaturated fatty acids — around 60 percent oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid) and approximately 20 percent palmitoleic acid.[18]

Macadamia oil is one of the richest sources of omega-7s. Not only is it a heart-healthy oil, but it’s a great cooking agent.

A diet that contains moderate amounts of macadamia oil may be beneficial. Its unique balance of fats makes this oil heart-healthy. It protects against heart disease by protecting cells from oxidative stress.

Also, monounsaturated fats are less susceptible to going bad than polyunsaturated fats, so they are better for cooking and can handle higher temperatures.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

The oil from sea buckthorn contains a great source of omega-7s, especially for use on the skin and hair. Extracted from the pulp, the oil is also rich in vitamins C and A, the latter of which causes its orange color.

You will often find sea buckthorn in beauty products due to its collagen-boosting and elastin-enhancing properties.

This omega-7-rich oil isn’t for cooking. Try sea buckthorn oil as a face serum or a capsule to receive its powerful benefits.

Filled with antioxidants, sea buckthorn oil also protects against cell damage when used both externally and internally. Apply a small amount to skin after cleansing and adding serum to lock in the moisture and form a protective barrier on your skin. Or take a capsule to encourage similar benefits from the inside out.

Avocado Oil

The oil from avocado fruits contains palmitoleic acid, in addition to other monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats.

You can substitute avocado oil for other cooking oils; it has a very high smoke point (520 degrees Fahrenheit), meaning it can tolerate higher temperatures than many other oils. In fact, its smoke point is higher than extra-virgin olive oil and sunflower oil.

Olive Oil

You can find omega-7s in smaller concentrations in olive oil. Even trace amounts of the fat can be beneficial.

Olive oil contains healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats as well as up to 20 percent palmitic acid, which synthesizes into palmitoleic acid.

Olive oil is great for drizzling on prepared foods and salads after cooking and delivers a ton of health benefits beyond (and thanks to) its fatty acid content.

Precautions & Side Effects

Some people have found that sea buckthorn — one of the most common omega-7 supplements available — has a laxative effect, but these are also a benefit. In traditional Chinese medicine, it was used for its detoxifying properties as it helps the body process chemicals and shed excess waste.

Buckthorn, in particular, may also result in dark-colored urine, which resembles the yellow or orange color it takes on when you are dehydrated — even when you aren’t. This is simply due to the orange color of sea buckthorn berries. Some people find that it may also cause their body odor to change.

Some health experts believe that palmitic oil — which is found in some unpurified supplements — may have harmful health effects, primarily because it is a saturated fat. However, other experts believe that heart-healthy saturated fats exist in plant oils, like coconut oil. Also, it is believed that the palmitic oil in olive oil converts to palmitoleic acid in the body. Typically, omega-7s supplements come “purified,” whereby they contain only palmitoleic acid (a monounsaturated fat) without the palmitic acid (a saturated fat).

Points to Remember

There seems to be a wealth of reasons to consider adding omega-7 and omega-3 fatty acids to your supplement regimen, including heart health, weight loss, and skin health.

Omega-7s may reduce swelling and redness throughout the body, protecting blood vessels and the heart.

Studies have found omega-7s also may encourage weight loss. Taking omega-7s may reduce hunger, decrease fat cell size, normalize insulin sensitivity, and boost metabolism.

Palmitoleic is the most common plant-based omega-7 fatty acid, and much research has linked it to positive health benefits. You can find it in macadamia nuts and oil, sea buckthorn berries or oil, and small amounts in olive oil.

Omega-7s are yet one more heart-healthy fatty acid to consider adding to your dietary regimen. Have you added omega-7 to your diet? What’s your experience with it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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