Low-Oxalate Diet: One Way to Keep Away Kidney Stones

A basket of peaches. Peaches are a staple to a low-oxalate diet.A basket of peaches. Peaches are a staple to a low-oxalate diet.

Ask anyone who has had a kidney stone, and they’ll tell you that it’s one of the most unpleasant experiences they have ever had! Different types of kidney stones exist, but the most common is a calcium oxalate stone.[1] In some people, calcium oxalate accumulates in their body and forms stones that must be eliminated through the urinary tract or in stool. In the United States, kidney stones affect one in 11 people, with higher rates among men, and overweight men and women.[2]

If you tend to develop kidney stones, or if they run in your family, you may want to try a low-oxalate diet. Although a low-oxalate diet is commonly adopted by people who experience kidney stones, some experts also recommend it for autistic children. Preliminary evidence has linked a diet high in oxalate with autism; in some cases, experts recommend a low-oxalate diet as therapy.[3, 4, 5]

Here we will describe how to start a low-oxalate diet, what you can eat, what to avoid, and the benefits of eating this way.

Quick Tips to Start a Low-Oxalate Diet

  • On a low-oxalate diet, you will keep your consumption of oxalate in foods to around 40 to 50 milligrams (mg) per day. Some experts say that up to 100 mg per day is acceptable.
  • When following this diet, you do not always have to avoid higher-oxalate foods. Your diet should consist mostly of low-oxalate foods with occasional medium- or high-oxalate items.
  • Spinach has the highest oxalate level of any vegetable or fruit — more than 100 times higher than even most high-oxalate foods. On this diet, you’ll need to avoid it!
  • Most legumes are high in oxalate, but soaking them pulls the oxalate into the water (which you can then dump out).
  • Boiling vegetables reduces their oxalate content 30 to 90 percent.[6]
  • Consume 800 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day when following a low-oxalate diet because it reduces how much oxalate gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Limit your sodium intake because it increases the amount of calcium in your urine, which can lead to stones.
  • If you are male, don’t take high doses of vitamin C as it can increase your risk of developing stones.

What Is Oxalate?

Oxalic acid is a molecule that plants (and humans, actually) produce naturally, and as a result, it’s in many plant foods. When it is bound to minerals — like calcium — it is called an oxalate. Although oxalate is present in plant foods, it isn’t a nutrient. In fact, it’s sometimes called an anti-nutrient because when oxalic acid binds to minerals like calcium, the body can’t use those minerals. Second, oxalate is an insoluble crystal. When these crystals are small, they come out of the body easily. But, when they collect and grow in size, they’re what we refer to as kidney stones, and they’re painful and difficult to pass. Though other types of kidney stones exist, oxalate kidney stones are the most common type.

What Increases Oxalate Levels?

Men who consume more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) per day have a higher risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones.[7] This is likely because the body converts vitamin C into oxalate.[8]

Taking antibiotics may also increase oxalate levels. Antibiotics kill good gut bacteria that feed on oxalate. With less of those beneficial bacteria around, more oxalate persists and enters the bloodstream, where it forms calcium oxalate stones.[9]

Understandably, eating a diet high in oxalate is one thing that increases its level in the bloodstream and urine. If you tend to get kidney stones, you may consider this diet.

What Is a Low-Oxalate Diet?

A low-oxalate diet is, obviously, one that’s comprised of foods that are low in oxalate.

Many healthcare providers recommend this diet as a preventative measure for people who have developed kidney stones.

The average oxalate content of most diets is around 70 to 150 mg.[10] On a low-oxalate diet, you will typically keep your oxalate level at or under 40 to 50 mg per day. Some nutritionists say you can eat up to 100 mg of oxalate per day.[11, 12]

What Can You Eat?

When you follow a low-oxalate diet, you are not purely restricted to low-oxalate foods, as total consumption is what matters. Set a goal of keeping your oxalate levels below 40 to 50 mg per day. With planning, you can actually eat foods with medium levels of oxalate, or, occasionally, items on the high-oxalate list.

Also, think about portion size, when considering whether to eat a high-oxalate food. For example, sunflower seeds are a high-oxalate food, but when you add a tablespoon of them to your salad, the serving size is small enough to provide the benefit of their nutrients and a taste of their nutty flavor, while still keeping your overall oxalate levels low. On the other hand, when you eat multiple low-oxalate foods, it adds up.

Low-Oxalate Vegetables

The following vegetables are all low in oxalate. They are all good choices for someone following a low-oxalate diet.

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Green pepper 1/2 cup 5 mg
Mustard greens 1 cup 4 mg
Yellow squash 1/2 cup 4 mg
Cucumber 1/2 fruit 2 mg
Kale 1 cup 2 mg
Bok choy 1 cup 1 mg
Cabbage 1/2 cup 1 mg
Cauliflower 1/2 cup 1 mg
Peas 1/2 cup 1 mg
Zucchini 1/2 cup 1 mg
Chives 1 teaspoon 0 mg
Onions 1 small onion 0 mg
Romaine lettuce 1 cup 0 mg

Low-Oxalate Fruits

This list, while not exhaustive, provides some examples of low-oxalate fruits.

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Pineapple 1 cup 4 mg
Bananas 1 fruit 3 mg
Cherries 1 cup 3 mg
Limes 1/2 fruit 3 mg
Raisins 1 ounce (1 small box) 3 mg
Blueberries 1/2 cup 2 mg
Pears 1 fruit 2 mg
Cantaloupes 1/2 melon 2 mg
Strawberries 1/2 cup 2 mg
Apples 1 fruit 1 mg
Grapes 1/2 cup 1 mg
Mangoes 1 fruit 1 mg
Peaches 1/2 fruit 1 mg
Watermelon 1 slice 1 mg

Low-Oxalate Bread, Cereal, & Grains

There are not many healthy grains that you can eat on a low-oxalate diet. Processed white flour and wheat flour, as well as brown rice flour, are high in oxalate so do not eat foods made with either, including bread, pasta, and crackers. Wheat germ is also extremely high in oxalate, so avoid it.

Wheat and gluten-containing grains should be avoided because gluten can cause digestive and systemic issues in many people. But even gluten-free grains like millet, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa are high in oxalate, and might need to be avoided.

The best choices for a low-oxalate diet are:

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Whole oat bread 1 slice 5 mg
Oatmeal 1 cup 0 mg

Low-Oxalate Protein Sources

There are many plant-based sources of protein that are low oxalate. It’s not necessary to rely on meat and endure the negative health effects it causes.[13, 14] In addition, raising animals for consumption harms the environment in numerous ways. The best protein sources are certain legumes — but not all.

Most beans have high or at least moderate levels of oxalate, but if you soak them and then drain the water, oxalate levels in the beans are reduced.

Some moderate-oxalate protein sources include:[11, 12]

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Fava beans 1/2 cup 20 mg
Refried beans 1/2 cup 16 mg
Red kidney beans 1/2 cup 15 mg
Lentils 1/2 cup 5-10 mg
Garbanzo beans 1/4 cup 5-10 mg
Mung beans 1/2 cup 8 mg
Coconut meat (draw or raw) 1/4 cup <5 mg
Black-eyed peas 1/2 cup <5 mg
Split peas 1/2 cup 5-10 mg
Lima beans 1/2 cup 5-10 mg

Low-Oxalate Drinks

Water is always the best choice of a beverage and, in fact, if you have kidney stones or are trying to prevent them, it’s a good idea to increase your water consumption. On a low-oxalate diet, you can have the following beverages:

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Water infused with lemon 1 cup 0 mg
Pineapple juice 8 oz. 3 mg
Cranberry or CranApple 100% juice 1/2 cup <5 mg
Grapefruit juice 1/2 cup <5 mg
Apple juice 1/2 cup <5 mg
Brewed coffee 1 cup <5 mg
Herbal tea 2 cups <5 mg
Wine 1 cup <5 mg

High-Calcium Foods to Eat

Sometimes people see the name “calcium oxalate stones” and think they must avoid foods with calcium. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Increasing your dietary intake of calcium will actually reduce the amount of oxalate in your body.

When calcium binds to oxalate in your intestines, it’s more likely to be excreted in your stool before making its way to the kidneys.

Try to get two to three servings of calcium with each meal. If you eat a food that is high in oxalate, pair it with a high-calcium food. You can also get your calcium from certain vegetables or supplements.

Some studies link calcium supplements to higher stone formation rates — but only in people who already tend to get kidney stones, and this research is controversial.[13] Experts recommend getting your calcium from food or taking calcium supplements with meals to minimize the risk for stone formation.[15]

Avoid These High-Oxalate Foods

The good news? You can still eat many foods on a low-oxalate diet.[11, 16] While fruits like oranges are high in oxalate, one cup of commercial organic orange juice only has 2 mg (the processing reduces it).

Below we’ve listed common foods that are high in oxalate content, which you should generally avoid. Occasionally, you can eat some of these, but do not eat them regularly if you are following the low-oxalate diet.

Food Serving Oxalate Level
Spinach, raw 1/2 cup 656 mg
Rhubarb 1/2 cup 541 mg
Buckwheat groats 1 cup 133 mg
Almonds 1 ounce (22 nuts) 122 mg
Corn grits* 1 cup 97 mg
Baked potato with skin 1 potato 97 mg
Beets 1/2 cup 76 mg
Navy beans 1/2 cup 76 mg
Cocoa powder 4 teaspoons 67 mg
Cornmeal* 1 cup 64 mg
Okra 1/2 cup 57 mg
Cashews 1 ounce (18 nuts) 49 mg
Raspberries 1 cup 48 mg
Soybeans* 1/2 cup 48 mg
Walnuts 1 cup 31 mg
Dried pineapples 1/2 cup 30 mg
Orange 1 fruit 29 mg
Sweet potato with skin 1 cup 28 mg
Grapefruit 1 fruit 24 mg
Soy milk* 1 cup 20 mg
Avocados 1 fruit 19 mg
Celery 1/2 cup 19 mg
Pumpkin seeds 1 cup 17 mg
Black tea 1 cup 14 mg

*Best avoided at all times.

One study found some foods raise urine oxalate levels more than others, even ones with a higher oxalate content.[16] These foods include spinach, rhubarb, beets, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran, and strawberries. Consider avoiding them if you follow a low-oxalate diet.

Low-Oxalate Diet Meal Plan

The following is an example of what a low oxalate diet might look like:

Day One

  • Breakfast: Chickpea scramble, coffee
  • Lunch: Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and raw organic goat cheese with vinaigrette dressing
  • Dinner: Lentil chili, sliced pineapple for dessert

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Plain coconut milk yogurt with sliced banana and blueberries, coffee
  • Lunch: Roasted butternut squash topped with raw organic goat cheese
  • Dinner: Cooked black-eyed peas tossed with sautéed celery, red peppers, and onions and a vinaigrette dressing, fresh cherries for dessert

Day Three

  • Breakfast: Blueberry smoothie with banana and pea protein
  • Lunch: Romaine lettuce salad with avocado, cucumbers, mushrooms, and vinaigrette dressing
  • Dinner: Pumpkin soup

Other Natural Ways to Reduce Oxalate

There are several easy ways to reduce your oxalate levels, from drinking enough water and staying hydrated to lowering your salt intake.

Drink Plenty of Water

When you drink a lot of water, your urine becomes less concentrated with substances that can cause kidney stones. The extra fluid intake causes you to urinate more, which means that oxalate is less likely to settle in your kidneys, bind together, and form stones.

One study found that people who produce between 2 to 2.5 liters of urine a day are 50 percent less likely to have kidney stones than those who urinate lesser amounts. In order to produce 2 to 2.5 liters of urine a day, you need to drink about eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water a day.[17]

Reduce Salt Intake

When you consume more salt, calcium concentrates in your urine resulting in a greater chance of developing oxalate stones. Try to limit your daily salt intake to 1,500 mg per day. To do this, you will need to read nutrition facts labels.

Many processed foods such as canned food, fast food, and deli meat are high in sodium, so avoid them — they are generally bad for your health anyway.

Limit Vitamin C Supplements

On a low-oxalate diet, you’ll need to limit your vitamin C supplements. One study found that men taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day had a higher risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones than those who did not take vitamin C supplements.[7] Women who took the same amount of vitamin C did not have a greater risk of kidney stone formation, nor did men who took lower levels of vitamin C.

The researchers recommend that men who tend to form kidney stones reduce their intake of vitamin C. Dietary intake of vitamin C — in other words, vitamin C from food — was not associated with kidney stone formation in men or women, though few people consumed more than 700 mg per day from diet alone.

Consume More Citric Acid

You can find citric acid in many fruits and vegetables, especially lemons and limes. Citric acid can reduce your chances of developing calcium oxalate stones.[18] When citric acid binds with calcium in the urine, it prevents it from bonding to oxalate. Citric acid also binds to existing calcium oxalate crystals, preventing them from getting larger, which means they are easier to excrete in urine.[19]

How to Get Started

Begin by keeping a food diary and using online resources to calculate how much oxalate you typically consume. Next, start looking at charts of low-oxalate foods and look for opportunities to replace a high-oxalate food with one that is low in oxalate. If you have many high-oxalate foods in your regular diet, perhaps try switching to moderate-oxalate foods and then to low-oxalate ones.

Points to Remember

Oxalate forms when oxalic acid in plants binds with a mineral, such as calcium. Oxalate can create kidney stones in some people. A low-oxalate diet is one way to reduce your risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones. Some experts consider a low-oxalate diet a promising therapy for autistic children, as well.

Followers of a low-oxalate diet want to keep their consumption of oxalate around 50 to 100 mg. You can do so by consulting many of the charts available that list low-oxalate foods. In addition to a low oxalate diet, you may also want to increase your consumption of water, calcium, and citric acid and decrease your salt intake.

If kidney stones are or have been an issue for you, check out our article about the best remedies for kidney stones. It has more than a few good tips to help support normal, healthy kidney function.

Is a low-oxalate diet something you’ve tried or considered? What insight can you provide? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

The post Low-Oxalate Diet: One Way to Keep Away Kidney Stones appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/low-oxalate-diet/

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Varicose Veins: The 10 Best Natural Remedies to Try

Several horse chestnuts. Horse chestnut seeds and leaves are a natural remedy for varicose veins.Several horse chestnuts. Horse chestnut seeds and leaves are a natural remedy for varicose veins.

Varicose veins are a common condition in which enlarged veins are visible through the skin. Though varicose veins are usually unrelated to any serious medical conditions, some people feel uncomfortable because of their prominent blue or purple appearance or the itching, tingling, or discomfort that sometimes accompany them. Fortunately, you may be able to reduce their symptoms through healthy lifestyle habits and natural remedies. Let’s discuss what causes varicose veins, how to know if they are merely a cosmetic concern or an indication of something deeper, and what home remedies can help.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Veins are varicose (pronounced VAR-ih-kos) when blood pressure or valve issues cause them to become swollen, twisted, and visible just under the surface of the skin.

Varicose veins can also form deeper inside the body, but typically they appear as bulging blue or purple veins on the legs or ankles. They occur more frequently in women than men. Experts think that the hormone estrogen, which is more dominant in women, may influence vein health.[1]

You can visually diagnose varicose veins yourself, or have it done at a doctor’s office via an ultrasound test.[2]

Common Varicose Veins Symptoms

In some people, the only symptom of varicose veins is their blue or purple appearance. For others, varicose veins cause uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • An achy or heavy feeling in the legs
  • Throbbing, burning, tingling, or warmth in the legs
  • Leg cramps or pain
  • Skin discoloration
  • Itching

Spider vs. Varicose Veins

Spider veins are named for their appearance. With spider veins, tiny red or blue capillaries — the smallest blood vessels in the body — show beneath the skin in a spider web-like pattern.

Spider veins are smaller and finer than varicose veins and do not bulge out of the skin. They most commonly appear on the legs or face, and are usually a cosmetic issue.[3] Similar issues cause both varicose and spider veins: poor circulation, weak blood vessels, a sedentary lifestyle, and lack of exercise.

Natural Remedies for Varicose Veins

We will focus on remedies for varicose veins, though some of these also may help spider veins, as well. While these natural treatments may not completely eliminate varicose veins, they can provide symptom relief. Here are a few ideas to help with your varicose veins.

1. Use Essential Oils

Massage therapy cannot cure varicose veins, but it can help improve blood circulation in the leg muscles and reduce some of the swelling and discomfort associated with the condition.[4] Some massage therapists use essential oil to boost the benefits of massage therapy. Frankincense, chamomile, clary sage, geranium, lemon, lavender, and cypress oils help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and decrease swelling. A 2017 scientific review found that 20 percent of all essential oil use is to relieve inflammation.[5] Rockrose and bay oils are particularly helpful for varicose veins.[5]

2. Exercise

Physical activity encourages blood to move through the veins, improving overall muscle tone and circulatory health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.[6]

Activities like walking and bicycling provide the leg movement that supports vein health. The best shoes are low-heeled and fit snugly around your foot and ankle, which builds muscle tone in your calf muscles and promotes improved circulation.

If you are on a long flight, get up every couple hours and walk around. Likewise, at work, make sure to stretch your legs and walk around to promote healthy circulation.

3. Take Your Vitamins

Several vitamins support cardiovascular health, which can help reduce your chance of getting varicose veins and reduce their symptoms if they do appear. Research has linked low vitamin K with circulatory problems and age-related vein calcification that contributes to varicose veins.[7, 8]

Vitamin C plays a role in the production of collagen and elastin — proteins that affect vein elasticity. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that works to keep free radicals from damaging blood cells. Vitamins B-3, B-12, and folic acid promote healthy circulation. Make sure you get enough of these vitamins either through your diet or plant-based supplements.

4. Take Horse Chestnut

Instead of taking medication for a mere cosmetic issue, consider horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). Horse chestnut seeds and leaves are a natural remedy for circulation issues, including varicose veins.

Studies have found that this herb promotes healthy blood circulation and reduces systemic redness and swelling. Scientists believe horse chestnut may “seal” leaky or inflamed capillaries, improve vein wall elasticity, and encourage normal blood density.[9] Use horse chestnut cream on the legs to soothe the sores that appear with varicose veins.

5. Change Your Diet

Constipation and straining to move your bowels puts increased pressure on veins and blood vessels throughout your body, not just at the rectum. A high-fiber diet can prevent constipation and keep varicose veins from worsening or manifesting in different ways, including hemorrhoids — which are bulging veins in the anus.[10, 11]

Drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated and also discourage constipation, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Eat foods rich in flavonoids, also called bioflavonoids, such as berries, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, and green tea. These offer an abundance of health benefits, including improving blood circulation, reducing arterial pressure, and relaxing blood vessels.

Some people recommend fish oil, but you can get the omega-3 fatty acids they contain from plant-based sources such as algae oil or flaxseed oil. Omega-3s help blood vessel elasticity.

6. Wear Compression Stockings

Compression stockings put firm pressure on the legs, which promotes blood flow toward the heart.[3]

Three different levels of compression hose exist. Reinforced pantyhose offer the lowest level of support; you can buy them anywhere you get pantyhose. Compression hose provide a higher level of pressure. The most intensive compression stocking is available by prescription and requires a special fitting session.

Compression hose may seem like shapewear (think Spanx) but it supports healthy circulation. Conversely, shapewear can actually restrict blood flow — especially if you buy a size too small. Put compression stockings on first thing in the morning and remove them at night for maximum benefit.[12]

Do not wear compression stockings at night as it may reduce and constrict circulation in your legs if you are not moving, as you do during the day.

7. Elevate Your Legs

Experts recommend you elevate your legs six to twelve inches above your heart to reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and possibly reduce their unsightly appearance. Not only does it feel great to elevate your legs, but it also reduces the force of gravity that constantly weighs on your muscles, veins, and circulation. While sitting or lying down, put a couple of pillows under your legs to elevate them. You or your partner can massage your legs while you are relaxing, as well.

8. Take Pine Bark Extract

Pine bark extract is another herbal remedy that may help with cramps and swelling associated with varicose veins. One study compared the effects of pine bark extract to compression hose on varicose veins in women who had given birth.[13] After six months, women taking the extract has fewer varicose veins, fewer spider veins, and fewer symptoms than those who used compression hose — and these positive changes persisted for 12 months. This reduced the patients’ desire for surgery, and they left the study feeling more satisfied.

9. Apply Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a liquid astringent made from the twigs, leaves, and bark of the witch hazel plant (Hamamelis virginiana). Witch hazel contains tannins and volatile oils that tone and soothe the skin and help constrict blood vessels.

Witch hazel should be applied topically. For relief from discomfort, itching, and swelling, thoroughly soak a washcloth with witch hazel and place it onto the varicose veins appear. Or you can try adding 1/2 to 1 cup of witch hazel to a warm bath and soak your legs in it.

10. Try Herbal Supplements

Some herbal supplements promote healthy circulation. In addition to witch hazel, horse chestnut, and pine bark extract, gotu kola (Centella Asiatica) is another supplement known to support healthy veins.

Popular Medical Treatments for Varicose Veins

A number of medical treatments are used to alleviate the discomfort and appearance of varicose veins, either together with or in place of natural remedies. We recommend trying natural remedies first and using more invasive techniques as a later resort, but, for the sake of complete information, here are the three most commonly used procedures for varicose veins.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is a common outpatient treatment for varicose veins. There are multiple variations, but the two most popular are endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) and endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Both are non-surgical methods of treating varicose veins. With EVLA, laser beams heat the veins[14] and with RFA, lasers give off high-frequency radio waves[15] until abnormal veins collapse. The body reabsorbs the collapsed varicose veins within a few weeks.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is another non-surgical, outpatient medical treatment for varicose veins. Doctors will inject either a liquid solution or a foam into the varicose veins under ultrasound guidance.

Today, most sclerotherapists use a liquid solution that contains chemicals like sodium tetradecyl sulfate or polidocanol. These injected substances damage the internal lining of the vein, which causes the blood inside to clot so the body can reabsorb them.[16] We do not recommend introducing chemicals into your bloodstream in this way.

Endoscopic Vein Surgery

Sometimes, surgery is a possible treatment, but use it as a last resort. If your varicose veins cause you extreme discomfort or turn into ulcers, you might want to seek the advice of your healthcare professional.

In rare cases, varicose veins may carry the risk of blood clots, and your healthcare provider may recommend endoscopic vein surgery. Endoscopic surgery requires a few weeks of rest before you can resume your normal activities.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Poor circulation varicose veins. Increased blood pressure in the veins and weakened vein walls or valves may cause veins to bulge out. However, several factors increase your risk of getting varicose veins. Being aware of how lifestyle choices affect vein health can help you prevent varicose veins, especially if you adopt healthy habits in your younger years.

Age

As you age, your veins become less elastic and flexible, which can cause blood to pool and clot. Older adults might also be more sedentary than they were during their younger years, which increases their odds of getting varicose veins. The condition affects up to 35 percent of all people in the United States, especially those who have other risk factors.[17]

Genetics

If members of your family have had varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them. According to the National Institutes of Health, around half of all people with varicose veins have a family history of the condition.[3]

Spider veins are also hereditary. When these conditions do run in families, both varicose veins and spider veins can indicate conditions associated with vein weakness, like chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Becoming aware of your family medical history can help you stay healthier and make lifestyle choices to stay one step ahead.

Poor Circulation

Leg veins circulate blood in one direction — back to the heart. Along the way, the blood passes through a series of valves that open in a one-way direction. High blood pressure in the legs, called chronic venous hypertension, happens when vein valves become leaky or weak. Over time, blood gets trapped behind the valves and causes the swelling, leg cramps, and discoloration of varicose veins.[12]

Crossing your legs does not cause varicose veins, nor does too-tight clothing. However, they may worsen the condition once you have them.

Weight

Being overweight or obese puts added pressure on your venous valves, which may lead to varicose veins. Sedentary lifestyle habits often accompany excess weight, and this further contributes to varicose veins. Varicose veins may not be visible in overweight or obese individuals because of excess fat.

Too Much Standing or Sitting

People who live a more sedentary lifestyle have a higher chance of getting varicose veins. Sitting for long periods of time doesn’t allow blood to circulate properly and it can pool in the legs.

Too much time on your feet can cause varicose veins for a different reason — it increases the pressure on veins as gravity draws the blood down your legs. One study of hairdressers — who spend a lot of time on their feet — showed that after age 45, varicose veins became an occupational hazard.[18]

Experts recommend standing up and moving around every 30 minutes if you are sedentary, or taking a break to sit down (and elevate your feet, if possible) every 30 minutes if you spend hours at a time standing up.[19]

Pregnancy

Many pregnant women develop varicose veins during pregnancy because the extra weight of the growing fetus puts pressure on the circulatory system, especially in the legs.
Overall blood volume also increases during pregnancy, which can make veins stretch and dilate. For some women, multiple pregnancies make varicose veins worse. For others, varicose veins disappear after childbirth.[20]

Precautions

When varicose veins go untreated, they can cause significant discomfort and even disrupt daily life. In addition to making the legs feel warm, heavy, and achy, varicose veins can break through the skin and cause skin ulceration, which might itch and cause pain.

One study of more than 425,000 adults in Taiwan found that people with varicose veins have a significantly higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).[21] People with DVT should take precautions when traveling by air, making sure to move around often and explore other preventative measures with their healthcare provider.[22]

If you have varicose veins, stay aware of your health history, and act accordingly. If you are overweight or do not exercise, incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle. Even elevating your legs, taking the stairs at work, or increasing your activity level can help. If you have circulatory problems, try supplements known to help. Find out your family history and follow a healthy diet full of antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Points to Remember

Varicose veins are a very common condition in which twisted, enlarged veins in the legs become visible through the skin and bulge outward. People with varicose veins may experience discomfort, swelling, tingling, and itching. Family history, age, weight, and lifestyle all influence your likelihood of developing varicose veins. They are addressed with natural remedies and sometimes minimally-invasive medical procedures.

While options for medical intervention include laser therapy, sclerotherapy, or endoscopic vein surgery, first consider trying less-invasive natural remedies. Effective strategies to reduce the symptoms and appearance of varicose veins include massage, elevating your legs six to twelve inches above your heart, and wearing compression stockings. You can increase your intake of vitamins C, E, and K, or try supplements like horse chestnut or pine bark extract — both of which have shown positive results in studies.

Have you tried any of these remedies before? Please tell us about your experience below!

The post Varicose Veins: The 10 Best Natural Remedies to Try appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/varicose-veins/

DASH Diet: A Vegetarian Meal Plan for Heart Health

A salad of fresh fruit and vegetables in a bowl. Fruits and vegetables are a staple to the DASH diet.A salad of fresh fruit and vegetables in a bowl. Fruits and vegetables are a staple of the DASH diet.

If you’ve been thinking about changing your diet in order to lose weight, lower your blood sugar or blood pressure, or just improve your overall health, you might have heard about the DASH Diet. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet was named the “best overall diet” for eight consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report.[1]

Some of this distinction is owed to the fact that research suggests the diet may promote weight loss, lower your cholesterol, and help prevent diabetes. Many nutritionists applaud the diet for being less restrictive and more sustainable over the long haul compared to other eating plans.

Quick Tips to Start the Vegetarian DASH Diet

  • Eat at least one serving of vegetables at every meal.
  • Have a serving of vegetables or fruit at every snack.
  • Replace refined grains such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice with whole grains such as whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
  • Add beans or lentils to vegetarian dishes to boost the protein and fiber content, which will help satisfy your appetite with less food.
  • Snack on raw nuts, such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pistachios.
  • Cook with low-sodium seasonings such as herbs and spices rather than salt and processed condiments.
  • When grocery shopping, choose low-sodium foods.
  • When you crave sweets, choose fruit rather than candy or baked goods.

What Is the DASH Diet?

Scientists created the DASH Diet with funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The goal of the DASH Diet was to design an eating plan that reduced high blood pressure.

You have hypertension if your systolic blood pressure is 140 mmHg or higher or your diastolic blood pressure is 90 mmHg or higher.

DASH Diet recipes emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fat, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. The diet limits sugar and sodium and encourages foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, protein, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. While originally designed for omnivores, it is easily adapted by people who wish to follow a plant-based diet.

What Can You Eat?

One of the most attractive aspects of the DASH Diet is the diverse selection of foods it allows. In fact, the list of foods you can eat is, thankfully, longer than the list of foods to avoid — plus they’re easily found in grocery stores and farmers markets. The exact number of servings for each food type varies depending on your caloric needs. Those listed below are recommendations for an 1,800-calorie diet.[2]

Fruit

Aim for four to five servings of fruit daily. A serving is one medium piece of fruit, a quarter cup of dried fruit, a half cup of fresh or frozen fruit, or a half cup of 100 percent fruit juice.

The DASH diet allows all fruit, including apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, watermelons, peaches, apricots, pineapples, strawberries, and tangerines. Good dried fruits include dates, figs, prunes, or raisins.

Vegetables

Aim for four to five servings of vegetables daily. A serving is one cup of raw leafy vegetable, a half cup of cut-up raw or cooked vegetables, or one-half cup of 100 percent vegetable juice.

This diet allows you to eat any vegetable. Good options include broccoli, green beans, peas, kale, collard greens, bell peppers, spinach, winter or summer squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

Grains

Aim for six servings of whole grains every day. A serving is a slice of bread, one ounce of dry cereal (check the Nutrition Facts label for the recommended serving size), or a half cup of cooked rice, pasta, or oatmeal.

Other healthy grains include whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, and organic popcorn. Whole grains provide an excellent source of fiber. I recommend you avoid grains that contain gluten and look for gluten-free options like buckwheat, brown rice, amaranth, teff, and quinoa (which is technically a seed).

Nuts, Seeds, & Legumes

Aim for four servings per week. A serving is one-third cup of nuts, two tablespoons nut or seed butter, two tablespoons whole seeds, or a half cup cooked legumes. Choose any nuts, seeds, or legumes — lentils, navy beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans are all good options.

Healthy Fats

Aim for two to three servings of healthy fats daily. A serving is one teaspoon vegetable oil (olive, peanut, or avocado) or coconut oil. Technically, one tablespoon regular salad dressing or mayonnaise, or two tablespoons low-fat salad dressing or mayonnaise also qualify but those options are not ideal.

Low-Fat Dairy

The vegetarian DASH Diet recommends fat-free or low-fat dairy. If you do eat dairy, always choose organic products that come from pasture-raised animals. If you’re opting for a plant-based version of the DASH diet, try non-dairy yogurt, cheeses, or milk, like almond or coconut milk instead.

Foods to Reduce or Eliminate

Although the DASH Diet is diverse, there are a few foods you should eliminate or reduce your intake of.

Meat

On the vegetarian DASH diet, you will not eat any meat. The standard DASH diet recommends avoiding beef, pork, and ham because they are high in saturated fat and sodium. The vegetarian DASH Diet requires avoiding consumption of all meats, even lean cuts of chicken and fish.

Full-Fat Dairy

The DASH diet restricts full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and other sources of dairy since these choices are high in saturated fat.

Added Sugars & Sweets

The DASH diet allows for no more than five servings of low-fat sweets per week. Examples of a serving include one tablespoon sugar, jelly, or jam, a cup of lemonade, and a half cup of sorbet or gelatin dessert. Better yet, skip the refined sugar and reach for some fresh fruit when you crave something sweet.

Sodium

There are two sodium limits on the DASH Diet: 1,500 milligrams or 2,300 milligrams daily. Generally, the lower your sodium intake, the lower your blood pressure.

Alcohol

The DASH Diet allows for moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. Moderation means no more than one drink per day for women and two per day for men.

Keep in mind that one drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of spirits. Also, know that there’s virtually no health or nutritional benefit to consuming alcohol and a long list of benefits associated with avoiding it entirely.

Sample DASH Diet Menu

The following meal plan is an example of what following the DASH Diet could look like.

Day One

  • Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with peanut butter and banana
  • Lunch: Greek salad
  • Dinner: Whole grain spaghetti with sauce and side spinach salad

Day Two

  • Breakfast: Plain coconut milk yogurt with walnuts and berries
  • Lunch: Black bean and vegetable wrap
  • Dinner: Lentils with brown rice and kale

Day Three

  • Breakfast: Slice of toast, two-egg veggie omelet, orange
  • Lunch: Pita with hummus and vegetables
  • Dinner: Three bean chili with chunky tomatoes

The Top 5 Health Benefits of the DASH Diet

Although the DASH Diet was created to help people lower their high blood pressure, the diet has other health benefits as well, so don’t dismiss it if your blood pressure is in the healthy range (a systolic reading between 90 to 120 mmHg and a diastolic of 60 to 80 mmHg).

1. Lower Your Blood Pressure

Studies have found that the DASH Diet significantly reduces systolic blood pressure and that consuming fewer calories while on the diet compounds the effect.[3] Following a low-sodium diet alongside the DASH Diet may help reduce your blood pressure even more.[4]

2. Lose Weight

Being overweight is a risk factor for hypertension. Losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds may help lower blood pressure.[5] The DASH Diet is one plan that may help with weight loss. After 24 weeks on the DASH Diet, people lost three pounds more than other dieters and almost half an inch more off of their waistline.[6]

3. Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

The DASH Diet is appropriate for people living with diabetes, since the diet may help reduce blood pressure as well as weight. Some studies suggest the diet may also improve insulin sensitivity and therefore reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but more research is necessary.

The DASH Diet may help those living with metabolic syndrome — a pre-diabetic condition that includes hypertension, high blood sugar, and excess weight — to lower their blood pressure and manage their symptoms.

4. Lower the Risk of Some Cancers

The DASH Diet may reduce the risk of colorectal[7] and breast cancer.[8] Plus, some components of the DASH Diet — like eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and less dairy, salt, and meat — are associated with reduced risk of some types of cancer.[9]

In many ways, long-term good health is the cumulative effect of consistently making healthy dietary (and lifestyle) choices. Combining the principles of the DASH diet with a plant-based foundation is a good way to compound the health benefits each has to offer.

5. Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. By reducing your blood pressure, you help your heart. But following the DASH Diet also helps lower “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. High levels of LDL lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, which increases your risk or heart attack and stroke. Hypertension increases the risk of stroke, but the DASH Diet reduces this risk.[10]

How to Get Started

The DASH Diet seems easy to start, but — depending on your current diet — it may significantly shift how you eat. A few simple steps will ease the transition.

Check Your Current Eating Plan

Keep a food journal for a day or two, tracking what you eat and how much you eat at each meal and how often you snack. An easy way to do this is to download an app that tracks the sodium and nutrient levels of food. Then compare your current habits to the DASH Diet plan. You’ll quickly see what you’re already doing, plus what changes you need to make.

Start Gradually

You don’t have to go all the way overnight. Start with one or two changes, such as eating at least one serving of vegetables at every meal, and then add more as those old changes become new habits. These changes will add up.

Remember, It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

You don’t have to hit every single serving recommendation every single day, nor do you need to consume exactly 2,300 mg or 1,500 mg sodium daily. Strive to reach the recommended intakes but keep in mind that overall trends matter the most. So if the majority of your meals for the week fit the DASH Diet, view that as a success.

Be Active

Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity daily or one hour of activity if you are trying to lose weight. You can split this time up into 10-minute segments if that is easier. Choose something you enjoy, whether that’s walking, hiking, swimming, dance class, yoga, or anything else. The important thing is to move.

Follow Other Healthy Lifestyle Practices

Other changes can further reduce blood pressure and keep you healthy.

  • If you smoke or chew tobacco, stop. For tips and ideas, check out our how to quit smoking guide.
  • Manage your stress with a massage, meditation, or relaxation techniques.
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Points to Remember

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, or DASH Diet aims to reduce high blood pressure. However, the diet is appropriate for nearly everyone — not just people with high blood pressure. In addition to this benefit, following the DASH diet may help with losing weight, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease. The DASH Diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and limits red meat, added sugar, salt, and alcohol.

Have you tried the DASH diet? What did you think? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.

The post DASH Diet: A Vegetarian Meal Plan for Heart Health appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dash-diet/

Beat Seasonal Blues Naturally with these Flower Remedies from BACH Original

I truly love this time of year – the start of the holiday season. But as they do, it is usually under the familiar conditions of shorter days, busier lives and colder weather. It is a beautiful time, but it is also a time where there is a lot of pressure from society to be, well, merry.  The reality is, this time of year can be really challenging and stressful for many. It is important – more than ever during this time to beat seasonal blues naturally – that we prioritize our self-care habits and rituals.

Whether that means taking a long bath, finding a quiet corner to meditate, practising your yoga or getting out into nature, we can all benefit from a little more attention to our wellbeing. All of these practices are beneficial and I would also add to the list to reach for the healing power of plants. Today’s post is how to beat seasonal blues naturally with this super simple combination of BACH Original Flower Remedies. Here’s my favourite mood-boosting blend. 

BACH™ Original Flower Remedies’ ACH Blend: Beat the Seasonal Blues

So here is the very simple recipe using BACH™ Original Flower Remedies to help you find a state of peace and balance, naturally, during this time of year. 

 What You’ll Need

– 30 mL mixing bottle 

– Bottled or filtered spring water

– 2 drops BACH® Impatiens, to help you become less irritable so you can calmly cope with these changes

– 2 drops BACH® Hornbeam, to help you stop procrastinating so you can face the day (and the cold weather)

– 2 drops BACH® Mustard, to help lift sudden sadness to help you return to joy and inner peace of mind

– 2 drops BACH® Wild Rose, to help bring liveliness and interest back into your life

– 2 drops BACH® Gentian, to overcome setbacks (such as a long winter season!) with positivity and acceptance

Directions

– In a 30 mL mixing bottle add two drops of each of the BACH™ Original Flower Remedies.

– Fill the remainder of the bottle with spring water.

– Take four drops at least four times per day.

Notes

Your personal blend can last between two and three weeks, if you keep it in a cool dry place or in the fridge.

Alternatively, you can add a preservative: before putting the water into your mixing bottle, add one teaspoon of brandy, cider vinegar, or glycerin. I chose to use apple cider vinegar, as I always have that on hand in my cupboards. 

Well, loves, I am wishing you a very joyful time of year, and with that, a reminder, take care of yourself. 

Lots of love,

X

K

* Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.

Please consult your healthcare practitioner prior to introducing any new supplement or drug to you or your child.

This is a sponsored post; however, I only agree to do sponsored postings when I really love the brand. 

The post Beat Seasonal Blues Naturally with these Flower Remedies from BACH Original appeared first on Living Pretty, Naturally.

Source: http://livingprettynaturally.com/beat-seasonal-blues-naturally-flower-remedies-bach-original/

Brittle Nails: Top Causes & Natural Remedies That Work

A woman soaking her nails in a homemade cuticle oil to strengthen nails. This is a natural remedy for brittle nails.A woman soaking her nails in a homemade cuticle oil to strengthen nails. This is a natural remedy for brittle nails.

Having brittle nails that easily break, chip, and split is a common irritation for many people. Although brittle nails are painful and can affect day-to-day activities, fragile nails are usually just a cosmetic concern caused by normal, everyday wear and tear. Sometimes, however, they indicate a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or another health condition. Regardless of the cause, there are a number of simple actions and natural remedies to help your nails grow stronger.

The nails, which protect the fingers and toes, are composed of a hard protein called keratin that comes from a “matrix” of cells inside the fingers and toes. Healthy nails normally grow at one-tenth of an inch per month. At that rate, it takes between three and six months to replace a single nail. Thin, brittle nails, which are fragile and prone to breakage, rarely, if ever, appear healthy and normal.

Top Signs of Brittle Nails

If you have weak, brittle nails, you’re not alone. About 20 percent of the population has this condition, which is medically known as onychoschizia. Women are twice as likely to have brittle nails as men.[1] People who work jobs that expose their hands to water, cleaning chemicals, or irritating substances are also at a higher risk of having brittle nails.[2]

The top signs of brittle nails are:

  • Peeling at the tips
  • Nails that easily split, fracture, chip, or crack near the ends
  • Slow-growing nails or nails that will not grow long
  • Vertical ridges on the nails
  • Pain around the nails during normal daily activities
  • Hangnails or ripped skin near the cuticles

White spots on the nail bed are not associated with brittle nails, and actually are “nail bruises” caused by an abnormality in the nail matrix where the nail grows and are not a cause for concern.

What Causes Brittle Nails?

There are a number of variables that can cause brittle nails. External factors such as personal hygiene and exposure to chemical or physical irritants are among the most common contributors to brittle nails. Likewise, internal issues such as vitamin deficiencies, genetics, and health conditions are common causes. By and large, however, external factors are to blame for most cases of brittle nails. For example, weather conditions like low humidity and dry heat can worsen nail health.

An easy way to tell that something external is causing your brittle nails is if you have fragile fingernails but strong, healthy toenails.

Here are more causes of brittle nails:

Frequent Hand Washing

Wetting your nails causes them to absorb water and expand. As they dry, they lose this moisture and contract. People who do this frequently and repeatedly, such as swimmers or people who wash dishes without wearing gloves, are among the most likely to have brittle nails.[1]

Frequent Manicures

Painting your nails or getting manicures can dehydrate your nails and fracture the keratin.[1] Nail polish, primers, and removers typically contain harsh chemical solvents like acetone or alcohol, which can dry and weaken nails.[3] Some research suggests that the more frequently you get manicures, the higher your risk of having brittle nails.[4]

Iron Deficiency

Sometimes brittle nails indicate a vitamin or mineral deficiency. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, iron deficiency is the most common nutrient-related cause of brittle nails.[5] Iron is an important nutrient you need just the right amount of — not too much, and not too little. Whether it’s through food or supplements, be mindful of how much iron you’re consuming. If you need a boost, foods such as beans, lentils, spinach, Swiss chard, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, and cashews are good sources of iron.

Anemia

Anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin — the iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Hemoglobin also brings oxygen to the nail matrix at the root of the nail. Lack of oxygen due to anemia may impair nail development and formation.[1]

Biotin Deficiency

Biotin (vitamin B-7) deficiency is another cause of brittle nails. Biotin deficiency is more common in people who smoke, drink heavily, follow a diet that’s high in processed foods, have a liver condition, have Crohn’s disease, or are pregnant. Some studies have found that regularly supplementing with biotin increases nail thickness and durability.[6]

Thyroid Disease

Studies have linked both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism to brittle nails — specifically, nails that split from the nail bed.[7] People with hypothyroidism — an under-functioning thyroid gland — typically have under active sweat and sebaceous glands and, thus, less oil available to lubricate their nails.[8]

Aging

Natural age-related changes in the body can also cause brittle nails and dry skin. These changes may also make nails hard and thick or yellow, particularly toenails. With age, both fingernails and toenails may grow more slowly. This commonly occurs with women who have been through menopause or other hormone-related changes.

Natural Remedies for Brittle Nails

If you have brittle nails, you’re probably wondering how to make them stronger. Fortunately, several natural remedies and lifestyle adjustments can help improve your nail health.

Avoid or Reduce Manicures

One of the most effective ways to strengthen your nails is to avoid manicures. Nail polish, nail polish remover, and nail polish primer all contain drying ingredients that worsen brittle nails. Acrylic or artificial nails can also weaken nails. Gel manicures are harmful because they require nail polish remover that contains acetone in order to be removed. If you do get a gel manicure, do not pick at the polish to remove it.[9] If you must get manicures, try removing polish from your nails and leaving them unpainted for two weeks in between. This will reduce the nails’ exposure to these products and give them time to heal.[9]

Choose Healthier Nail Polish

No nail polish is completely chemical-free, but, at a minimum, look for one that’s free of toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), camphor, and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP or TPP). TPP is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that studies have found is absorbed into the body through the nails.[10] Look for water-based polish and base coats that contain protein or vitamins to help strengthen your nails.

Water-based nail polish takes longer to dry but is much better for your nails in the long run.

Moisturize Your Hands Regularly

Apply moisturizing lotion to your hands every time you wash them. This will help keep your nails hydrated and prevent chipping and breaking. Use an organic product to avoid the harsh chemicals that dry out your nails. Thick lotions and hand creams are more effective than thin, watery lotions at moisturizing nails.[2]

Avoid Excessive Hand Washing

Wash your hands only when necessary. Use mild, natural soap that doesn’t contain harsh, drying chemicals. Fully dry your hands after washing and follow with moisturizing lotion. Avoid waterless hand sanitizers that are high in alcohol as it can dry your skin and nails.[2]

Wear Gloves

When washing the dishes or doing other chores that expose your hands to water and harsh chemicals, wear natural latex gloves for protection. It may not seem like a big deal, but the effects of even a few minutes of exposure to hot water can accumulate and damage your nails. Use a moisturizing hand lotion after you finish — even if you wear gloves, the heat of the water can dry out your skin and nails.

Limit the Length of Showers

Although a long, hot bath or shower is relaxing, spending too much time in water over-saturates nails and makes them prone to bending and tearing. For strong, healthy nails, try to limit your showers to 15 minutes or less.

Apply Liquid Vitamin E to Your Hands

Vitamin E oil helps to nourish and strengthen nails and cuticles. Choose 100 percent organic liquid vitamin E oil to avoid toxic filler ingredients. Simply take the dropper from the bottle and apply a little oil to your nails and massage it into the nail bed and around the cuticle to soften and moisturize it.

Try All-Natural Cuticle Oils

While some types of cuticle oil contain chemicals, you can find varieties that contain all-natural ingredients, like beeswax, jojoba oil, flaxseed oil, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E oil. These oils are commonly used as carrier oils for aromatherapy or massages, so you may already have them lying around the house. As a bonus, making cuticle oil from all-natural oils is a great way to save money!

Try a Biotin Supplement

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin — vitamin B-7 to be exact – that helps the body convert fat, protein, and carbohydrates to energy. Since biotin deficiency is linked to brittle nails and hair loss, this B vitamin is often taken as a supplement to help support nail, skin, and hair health. Some research suggests that taking a biotin supplement may make nails firmer and harder and reduce splitting.[11, 12] If you need extra biotin, try our certified-organic, vegan Global Healing Center Biotin supplement.

Follow a Plant-Based Diet

Getting adequate protein helps support nail health.[2] A plant-based diet includes a variety of protein sources, such as beans, lentils, legumes, seeds, nuts, and quinoa. Not only can a plant-based diet provide enough protein, but it can provide the total spectrum of nutrients you need — including biotin. Natural plant sources of biotin include grains, bananas, and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, spinach, and broccoli.[6]

Be Gentle During Nail Care

Vigorously sawing away at your nails with a nail file, using metal tools, and cutting or picking at cuticles can damage them. Instead, use a fine-grit nail file and move it from the side to the center in one direction. Regularly filing off any jagged areas may prevent further splitting and breaking.[5] In fact, some experts recommend keeping your nails short if your nails are brittle.[13] It’s OK to use a wooden cuticle stick but avoid cutting your cuticles. If you buff your nails, do so in an X-shaped pattern rather than back and forth, as this can lead to nail splitting.[5]

When to Seek Medical Attention

Most of the time, brittle nails are a cosmetic issue, and simple lifestyle changes can remedy them. Sometimes, however, brittle nails are a sign of a medical condition such as thyroid disease, anemia, or Raynaud’s syndrome — a disorder associated with poor circulation in the fingers and toes that causes the hands and feet (and nails) to turn pale blue, usually after exposure to cold, and then flush with red when blood rushes back.

If your nails turn mostly white with darker lines at the edge near the tip, this may be a sign of jaundice. Jaundice is caused by excess bilirubin in the blood from obstruction of the bile duct in the liver. If your nails are yellow, it may be a sign of thyroid disease, lung disease, or diabetes. Or, if it’s present with brittleness and cracking, it may, and probably does, indicate a fungal infection.

Rippled or ridged nails that co-occur with discoloration under the nails may be a sign of psoriasis, a skin condition, or inflammatory arthritis. Rippled nails may also indicate Raynaud’s syndrome.

If you experience other symptoms alongside brittle nails or if your toenails are also brittle, consult your healthcare provider.

Points to Remember

Brittle nails that peel, chip, fracture, or grow slowly are usually due to frequent washing, drying, or manicures — particularly gel manicures. Simple changes such as wearing gloves when washing the dishes, moisturizing your hands with an organic lotion, applying liquid vitamin E, and avoiding manicures can strengthen brittle nails.

In less common instances, brittle nails indicate an underlying health condition such as anemia or thyroid disease. If you experience other symptoms or if several months (remember, healthy nails take time to grow) of maintained lifestyle changes do not seem to help, seek the advice of your healthcare provider.

Do you have experience dealing with brittle nails? Have you tried any of the remedies described in this article? We would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

The post Brittle Nails: Top Causes & Natural Remedies That Work appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/brittle-nails/

Fatty Liver Diet: Best Foods, Supplements, & Lifestyle Changes

A garlic glove and bulb. Garlic can reduce liver injury and inflammation.A garlic clove and bulb. Garlic can be part of a fatty liver diet.

As the most common chronic liver disease in the West, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a scary-sounding diagnosis. People with this condition are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, liver failure, hepatitis, and diabetes. But the good news is that you can manage NAFLD with dietary and lifestyle changes.

Unfortunately, most people wait until they’re diagnosed with NAFLD to take positive steps to improve their health. One of the best ways to reduce the chance you will get fatty liver disease, lessen its symptoms, or reverse its impacts involves following a plant-based diet.

In a nutshell, shifting to a healthier diet not only reduces your risk of this condition, but it can also help you manage its symptoms. Studies found that people with NAFLD who ate a vegetarian diet had less severe fibrosis (a symptom of fatty liver) compared with those who consume meat.[1] We will discuss the ideal diet tailored for people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What Is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Affecting approximately 25 percent of Americans, NAFLD occurs when fat accumulates in the liver, causing enlargement of this critical organ that supports digestion, removes toxins, and stores energy. Most people have small amounts of fat in their liver, but if it rises to more than 5 to 10 percent of the liver’s weight, you have NAFLD. The disease is mostly diagnosed in people between age 40 to 60 but can occur at any age.

If you do not deal with NAFLD early on, it may develop into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more severe type of inflammation that can lead to a variety of health problems, mostly in the liver.

How Does Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Differ From NAFLD?

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is related to excess alcohol intake, while NAFLD is not. Studies have shown that many people who engage in heavy drinking every day or almost every day will develop fatty liver disease.[2] Around 40 percent of people with moderate alcohol intake (defined as one to two drinks daily) also show changes associated with fatty liver disease.

Fortunately, this condition can usually be reversed by limiting or eliminating alcohol and improving one’s diet. On the other hand, NAFLD can be caused by diet and lifestyle and is influenced by genetics. Scientists believe that when the process by which the liver produces bile acids is affected, it can lead to the development of both diseases.

What You Can Eat

Changing to a healthy diet is key to fighting NAFLD, reducing its symptoms, and getting your liver health back on track. Strive for a plant-based diet that’s high in fiber and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you create a new diet plan, but here are some suggestions on which foods to eat and which to avoid.

Whole Grains

Unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, including oats, brown rice, and quinoa (technically a seed), are best on this diet. If bread is labeled as whole grain, check the ingredients to make sure the first ingredient listed is a grain. Oatmeal is particularly good on this diet because it reduces LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol — also known as the “bad” type of cholesterol.

Green Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, bok choy, kale, collards, cabbage, arugula, and watercress pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and horseradish) appear to reduce the amount of fat the liver absorbs.

Legumes

Beans are good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you… help your liver. Legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, green peas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, and peanuts, are great sources of fiber, complex carbohydrates, and protein, and can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Walnuts & Other Nuts

Tree nuts provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which improve liver fat levels and HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) in people with NAFLD. Walnuts, in particular, are high in omega-3s. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed that eating walnuts improved liver function in one group of patients.[3]

Good Fats

You can eat good, healthy fats on a plant-based diet designed for fatty liver disease. Monounsaturated fats are an excellent source of healthy omega-3s and are found in olive, peanut, and canola oils, as well as avocados and most nuts. Sources of polyunsaturated fats include avocado, flaxseed, walnuts, and peanut oils. For saturated fats, only use coconut oil — which may benefit a fatty liver — and avoid animal fats and palm oil. Use organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed oils.

Coffee

While more research is necessary to draw solid conclusions, preliminary studies suggest that drinking coffee may reduce symptoms of NAFLD, including fibrosis of the liver. Several possible mechanisms by which this occurs include antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrotic effects.[4]

Foods to Avoid

Take these foods off your shopping list. They can lead to inflammation, and increase your calorie, bad fat, and sugar intake unnecessarily.

Processed Foods & Empty Carbs

A diet that’s high in starches and sugars makes NAFLD worse by increasing blood glucose, insulin, and triglycerides. In one study, patients who restricted their carbohydrate intake to 40 percent of calories had significantly lower levels of liver enzymes than those with a high-carb diet, even though each group lost the same amount of weight. Avoid sugar, especially white sugar, white potatoes, white rice, and processed grains. Eliminate white bread, pasta, and pastries. No more than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from simple carbohydrates.[5]

Meat

I don’t recommend any meat consumption; red meat and processed meat are particularly harmful. Many studies have shown that eating meat increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and morbidity. Animals raised for meat are usually given hormones and antibiotics and fed unnatural corn diets versus being grass-fed. Factory-farmed meat, in turn, negatively affects your health.

Bad Fat

Studies have shown that a diet high in saturated fat can increase the risk of developing NAFLD and make the disease worse. Experts recommend you replace most saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It’s also smart to avoid fish oil, which can be high in mercury. Overall, you should get 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories from fat.

Fried Foods

Because they’re usually fried in processed, GMO cooking oils, fried foods are especially high in bad fat. They also add extra calories and salt to your diet. You can steam or bake most foods that you typically fry, using spices and herbs to heighten their flavor.

High-Fat Dairy

High-fat dairy products contain high levels of unhealthful saturated fat. I recommend skipping dairy altogether and opt for coconut milk or other non-dairy varieties. You can drink organic coconut or almond milk, use them in smoothies or coffee, or buy nut-milk yogurt.

Alcohol

Without exception, experts recommend that patients with NAFLD consume no alcohol at all.[6] A study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that drinking even a modest amount of alcohol can make it impossible for the condition to improve.[7]

Salt & Sugar

In general, limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams daily because it makes your body retain water. Also avoid added sugar, which increases fat levels in your liver. That means you should avoid soda, fruit juice, and many packaged foods. Sugar hides in a lot of items, so read the nutritional labels of all foods carefully!

Example a of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Diet Menu

In general, you want to follow a diet that is low in calories, carbs, sugar, and saturated fat, and high in dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.[8] Some experts recommend the Mediterranean diet — or a plant-based version of it. Not only will this way of eating reduce your bad fat consumption, but it can also help you better manage blood sugar issues or diabetes, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce cholesterol levels. Here is an example meal plan that could work for you.

DAY 1

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and chopped almonds on top; coffee
  • Lunch: Avocado, low-fat cheese, and sprouts on whole grain toast; carrot sticks; apple slices
  • Snack: Almond butter on apple slices
  • Dinner: Cold sesame peanut noodles; steamed spinach with a touch of olive oil and roasted garlic

DAY 2

  • Breakfast: Bananas in low-fat plain yogurt; whole grain toast with peanut butter; green tea
  • Lunch: Lentil soup
  • Snack: Carrot sticks and hummus
  • Dinner: Broccoli slaw salad with tofu, ginger, sesame seeds, carrots, green pepper, cilantro, sesame seeds with olive oil/vinegar/sesame oil dressing; avocado

DAY 3

  • Breakfast: Kashi with fresh peaches; black tea with lemon
  • Lunch: Green salad with hummus; a cup of raspberries
  • Snack: Trail mix of sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and cashews
  • Dinner: Cauliflower crust pizza with olive oil, goat cheese, basil, and fresh, chopped tomatoes; roasted asparagus with lemon juice

Herbs & Supplements That May Help

If you have NAFLD or any condition, consult your healthcare professional before you start taking any supplements or herbal remedies. Some can harm the liver or interact with medication. However, some supplements have shown promising results as specialized nutrition for the liver.

Carnitine

Carnitine, an amino acid that plays a crucial role in the body’s energy production, may slow down NAFLD’s progression.[9] Studies have found that this supplement may work particularly well for diabetics with NAFLD.[10]

Curcumin

As the most active nutrient in turmeric, curcumin contains powerful antioxidants. One study found that people who took curcumin had significantly lower liver fat content compared with those who did not — a 78.9 percent reduction in liver fat compared to only 27.5 percent.[11]

Garlic & Garlic Oil

Studies show that garlic can reduce liver injury and the buildup of fat and collagen. It may reduce liver inflammation as well. Garlic oil also may help with weight loss, and it reduces systemic redness and swelling in the body.[12]

Glutathione

In one study, thirty-four patients who took 300 milligrams of glutathione daily for four months showed a decrease in alanine aminotransferase levels, and also in triglycerides, non-esterified fatty acids, and ferritin — a blood cell protein that contains iron.[13]

Green Tea Extract

The key enzyme in green tea may slow the development and progression of NAFLD.[12] Green tea is a source of polyphenols, which have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Zinc & Selenium

NAFLD can cause mineral deficiencies in blood and the liver. An early study on animals showed that zinc and selenium supplementation may normalize disease symptoms but did not prevent its onset.[14]

Vitamins

Several vitamins may provide benefits for people with a fatty liver, or those looking to prevent it. Vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants that block reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body. One animal study found they helped prevent the progression of fatty liver disease.[15] New studies associate deficiency of vitamin D, an important nutrient, with NAFLD.[16]

Address Fatty Liver Disease With Lifestyle Changes

If you have NAFLD, you may want to consider making lifestyle changes that will propel you forward on your journey to greater health. In addition to changing your diet, one of the most important changes you can make is increasing your physical activity. Studies found that when patients with NAFLD engage in aerobic exercise or weight resistance, it reduced their risk of getting diabetes by 35 percent and cardiovascular disease by 49 percent.[17]

Studies have shown that even minimal physical activity can have a positive impact on NAFLD.[18] Consider working with a physical trainer to help you devise an appropriate workout plan.

A good nutritionist or registered dietitian can help tailor a diet for your specific needs. However, go slow with the weight loss as rapid weight loss through extreme low-calorie intake or fasting can make NAFLD worse. Experts recommend that you lose weight gradually and by following a healthy diet. Aim to lose seven percent of your body weight in regular increments over a year.[19]

Points to Remember

If you want to reduce your risk of developing the disease or manage its symptoms, your best bet involves enacting appropriate lifestyle changes, especially following a diet tailored to NAFLD. I recommend you follow a whole food, plant-based diet. Eat fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Avoid alcohol, red meat, fatty, and processed food.

In addition, perform a liver cleanse two or three times a year, stay active, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy body weight. Supplements such as garlic oil, curcumin, carnitine, or green tea extract may provide targeted nutrition to the liver. With the appropriate steps and guidance from your healthcare practitioner, you can point your liver health in the right direction.

The post Fatty Liver Diet: Best Foods, Supplements, & Lifestyle Changes appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/fatty-liver-diet/

17 Home Remedies for Migraines That Really Work

A cup of ginger tea. Ginger tea is a natural home remedy for migraines.A cup of ginger tea. Ginger tea is a natural home remedy for migraines.

There are headaches — and then there are migraines. About one in ten people experience these types of headaches, which bring intense pain and other symptoms. While some sufferers only get migraines occasionally, others have them several times a month, and they significantly interfere with daily life.

The good news: Research shows that many migraine remedies, including natural herbs and supplements, provide effective relief and reduce the need for medication. These natural therapies can not only decrease the number of migraines you experience but also lessen the severity when one strikes.

What Is a Migraine?

People describe migraine headaches as pulsing, pounding, or throbbing pain, often occurring on one area of the head. For some people, the pain is accompanied by sensitivity to light and sometimes nausea or vomiting. Bottom line? Migraines hurt.

One in four migraine sufferers also experiences “aura” — sensory disturbances that occur before a migraine strikes. The most common are spots, flashing lights, zigzags, or blind spots. Patients may also have tingling or numbness on one side of the body or face or problems with speech, such as slurred speech or the inability to find the right word.

Common Migraine Symptoms

  • Pulsing, pounding, or throbbing pain
  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Aura — sensory disturbances that are usually visual, but sometimes verbal or motor.

17 Home Remedies for Migraines

Although many people turn to over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or prescription medications, home remedies can serve as an effective first line of defense against migraines. The following natural remedies can often ease the pain of migraines.

1. Ice Pack

Just putting ice or a cold washcloth on your neck or head during a migraine can help quell the pain by cooling the blood that’s flowing through the carotid arteries, thus calming inflammation. A 2013 study showed that using a frozen neck wrap at the onset of a migraine significantly reduced migraine pain.[1]

2. Darkness

Most migraine sufferers experience sensitivity to light, also known as photophobia. The brighter the light, the more painful the headache. So, taking refuge in a cool, darkened room can help alleviate the pain.

3. Caffeine

Consuming caffeine or changing your caffeine intake — increasing or decreasing it — can trigger migraines in some people. Sometimes, a small amount of caffeine can help provide pain relief, which is why it’s an ingredient in common over-the-counter migraine medications.

4. Exercise

There’s evidence that exercise helps prevent migraines. At a minimum, it helps with stress, which can contribute to migraines.[2] Work out three days a week for at least 30 minutes to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.

5. Feverfew

Feverfew is one of several popular herbs that, according to research, is effective for migraine headaches. In one study, migraine patients who used feverfew experienced significantly fewer headaches than those taking a placebo.[3]

6. Vitamin B-2

The B vitamins, particularly B-2 (riboflavin), are often used for migraines. Studies show that vitamin B-2 lowers their frequency of occurrence.[4]

7. Yoga

Yoga is particularly beneficial for migraine pain. In a 2007 study where migraine patients were randomly told to engage in either yoga or self-care, those who practiced yoga had substantial reductions in headache intensity and frequency and migraine medication use, and lessened symptoms of anxiety and depression.[5]

8. Magnesium

Magnesium has a long history of easing migraine misery. Data from a large study found that patients taking 600 milligrams per day of the mineral saw a 41 percent reduction in the frequency of migraines compared to 15 percent in the group who took a placebo pill.[6]

9. Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is a centuries-old cure for nausea, which sometimes accompanies a migraine. There’s evidence that it can relieve pain, too. You can add the crushed dried leaves to hot water for a delicious herbal tea or buy it in the store.

10. Ginger Tea

Consider Ginger tea when you feel migraine or other headache pain. Data shows that ginger powder may relieve migraine pain as well as common migraine drugs known as “triptans.”[7]

11. Willow Bark

People have used willow bark for centuries for many types of pain, including headaches, although there is little data on its usefulness. It contains salicin, which is chemically similar to the salicylic acid in aspirin. You can take it as a supplement or find it in herbal teas.

12. Acupuncture

Authors of a recent review of studies found that completing at least eight weeks of acupuncture treatments worked as effectively as medicine for reducing the number of migraines patients experienced by 50 percent.[8] The study also found that acupuncture treatments were more effective than “sham” treatments which use needles but not on traditional locations on the body.

13. Butterbur

The botanical butterbur appears to help prevent migraines without producing significant side effects. In one study, butterbur extract was found to reduce both the number of migraines patients got and the number of days they had migraine pain.[9] Some 75 percent of people taking the herb reported improvement, as compared to only 20 percent in the placebo group.

14. Essential Oils

Several essential oils work well to counter migraine pain and symptoms. Data showed that applying peppermint oil to the forehead and temples was significantly more effective than a placebo in alleviating migraine pain.[10] If you are sensitive to undiluted oils, you can dilute them with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Inhaling lavender oil reduced migraine pain in less than 15 minutes in another study.[11] Chamomile oil, inhaled or added to a warm bath, may ease anxiety and sleeplessness related to migraine pain.

15. Cayenne Pepper

Migraines may respond to capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne. Dab a small amount of a capsaicin gel or cream inside each nostril or use a capsaicin nasal spray. In a 2014 study of headache sufferers who used a capsaicin nose spray, 72 percent felt relief.[12] Expect a burning sensation, runny nose, and sneezing for a few minutes after the application. Do not use too much, especially when you are trying it for the first time.

16. Apple Cider Vinegar

Famous for helping with weight loss, apple cider vinegar may also reduce migraine pain. Dip a cloth in the vinegar and apply it as a cool compress to your forehead. You can also try drinking it. Simply add a couple of tablespoons to eight ounces of distilled water.

17. Massage

The right pressure on your body and scalp could vanquish your migraine pain. A 2006 study found that patients who got massages for five weeks had fewer migraines and better sleep quality than those who didn’t get the weekly rub-downs.[13]

What Causes Migraines?

From disruptions to the flow of blood in the brain to neurological issues, migraines can be triggered by a host of issues, including:

  • Loud noise and sounds
  • Smells
  • Bright lights
  • Irregular sleep
  • Caffeine
  • Weather changes
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Medications
  • In women, hormonal changes
  • Foods

Additionally, the National Institutes of Health believes that a predisposition for migraines may be genetic.[14]

Foods That Trigger Migraines

Various foods trigger headaches for many migraine sufferers, though it’s different for everyone. If you want to discover if you have any food triggers for your migraines, keep a diary and log your diet daily, marking down when you have a migraine. You may be able to identify which, if any, foods are connected to your pain. According to the National Headache Foundation, these foods are common migraine triggers:[15]

  • Ripened cheese — cheddar, Emmentaler, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert
  • Herring — pickled or dried
  • Chocolate
  • Anything fermented, pickled, or marinated
  • Sour cream
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Sourdough bread
  • Broad beans, lima beans, fava beans, and snow peas
  • Foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Figs, raisins, papayas, avocados, and red plums
  • Citrus fruit
  • Bananas
  • Pizza
  • Sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, summer sausage, and hot dogs (contain the preservatives nitrates and nitrites)
  • Chicken liver and pâté
  • Alcoholic beverages

How Long Can Migraines Last?

Migraine length depends on the individual. But generally speaking, untreated migraines can last between four hours and three days. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if they last longer or you are unable to find relief.

Points to Remember

Migraines are intense, painful headaches that affect your quality of life. Fortunately, you can look to nutrition for natural remedies for headaches and migraines.

Many people get migraine relief from supplements and herbs, including magnesium and feverfew, yoga, essential oils like lavender and peppermint, acupuncture, massage, and tea, such as peppermint and ginger. These methods can help to beat the intensity and frequency of migraines and their symptoms.

The post 17 Home Remedies for Migraines That Really Work appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/home-remedies-for-migraines/