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Take Deep Breaths to Lower Blood Pressure

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“Take a deep breath”—it’s a phrase we’ve all heard countless times.  But it means more than you may realize, according to Dr. David Anderson of the National Institutes of Health.  Anderson says a few minutes of deep 6234339d03049db4d007922f2c25123cbreathing daily can drop blood pressure levels.  He believes how we breathe may alter how our bodies regulate blood pressure.

Studies also show that focusing on your breathing can alleviate stress levels… stimulate brain growth… and reduce your risk of heart attack.  Nonetheless, many of us neglect to address breathing habits as part of our overall health strategy.

“We take our breath for granted the way we take our heart beat for granted,” says Carla Ardito, a breathing expert at the Integral Yoga Institute in Manhattan.  But, explains Ardito, the difference is fundamental, because unlike our heart beat, ” we can work on our breathing.”

The Steep Risks Of High Blood Pressure 

Statistics indicate as many as 65 million Americans have hypertension (dangerously high blood pressure).  Hypertension brings an elevated risk of…

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Kidney damage
  • Blindness
  • Dementia

Individuals with hypertension are often unaware of their condition—which is why it’s often called “the silent clairvoyant-nature-nature2killer.”  By the time symptoms appear, serious, irreversible damage may already have occurred.

Deep Breathing Offers Answers

Anderson and other doctors believe deep breathing offers answers—and a 2002 study suggests they’re right.  In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a device designed tolower blood pressure by teaching users to slow their breathing.  The device, called RESPeRATE, measures your breathing pace by sensing chest or abdominal movements.
Users follow a series of chimes signaling inhales and exhales to slow their breathing from a typical rate of 16 to 19 breaths per minute to 10 or fewer.  Clinical trials found blood pressure drops of 10 to 15 points for individuals who used the device for 15 minutes each day for 2 months.

Dr. William J. Elliot, who headed some of the research, was surprised by the magnitude of slow-breathing’s impact on blood pressure—even though no one can quite explain why it works.  It “is still a bit of a black box,” he says.

Health’s Hefty Price Tag?

More than a decade has passed since the FDA approved the RESPeRATE, but many are still unaware of the connection between slow-breathing and blood pressure.  Part of the problem may be the high cost of leading slow-breathing devices.  But the fact is, you don’t need to spend money to slow your breathing and improve your health.

Simply by focusing on your breathing, you direct energy into the parasympathetic nervous system, says Ardito.  You send your whole body into a state of “relax and receive.”

Don’t Count Your Breaths

For best results, experts say you should never count your breathing or watch the clock.  Counting or tracking the time impedes relaxation, which is key to the benefits of slow-breathing.  Instead of a stopwatch or timer, some experts suggest using music as a regulator.  Select a song (or set of songs) with a slow, regular rhythm, and allow your breathing to automatically adjust to the beat.


Ginger for Arthritis

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There’s a reason some call arthritis the nation’s number one crippler.

More than 100 different diseases are collected into the category of arthritis, and the symptom that links all of them is inflammation.

That’s why a new study from Tel Aviv University is so exciting. The study’s authors identified an all-natural arthritis treatment that is just as effective as mainstream medicine’s beloved non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s)—but without the dangerous side effects.

Sharpen your mincing knives, and prepare to embrace the health benefits of ginger.

The latest statistics indicate that approximately 80% of individuals over the age of 50 suffer from osteoarthritis. Nearly 7 million people in the United States alone suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic condition that inflames the entire body.

Aspirin and other NSAID’s are among the most common treatments for inflammation and pain, yet these drugs, especially NSAID’s, are notorious for their diminishing effectiveness and nasty side effects.

Health Benefits of Ginger

Conventional arthritis treatments cause 3,300 NSAID’s-related ulcer deaths annually.

In contrast, ginger is not only a remarkably safe and natural arthritis treatment, but studies also show it to be equally effective as aspirin and NSAIDs.

On his site Herbal Legacy, Dr. John R. Christopher writes: “Modern science is beginning to demonstrate that the range of diseases that the health benefits of ginger can positively affect as an anti-inflammatory is staggering.” Two clinical trials in Denmark went further and strongly suggested that ginger be included in all arthritis treatment programs.

Health Benefits of Ginger – A Healing Gift

While modern science has only just begun to embrace the health benefits of ginger, it has appeared in the annals of nearly every medical system throughout history. In ancient Ayurvedic texts, ginger is called “vishwabhesaj,” the universal medicine.

Dr. Christopher notes that traditional Chinese and Indian practitioners considered ginger “a healing gift from God.” Now, thanks to advances in technology, scientists can connect inpidual chemical constituents to specific effects.

Somewhat surprisingly, ginger contains a high amount of protein. The root is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids—notably, vitamin A and niacin. Ginger also contains special components called volatile oils.

Volatile Oils in Ginger Pack A Disease Fighting Punch

These oils are the secret behind its characteristically pungent flavor and many of its health benefits. Two of the most potent of these volatile oils are shagaols and gingerol.

Studies confirm gingerol’s ability to reduce inflammation and block pain pathways. Gingerol and shagaol are proven to neutralize stomach acid… improve circulation… regularize blood pressure… and tone the muscles of the digestive tract. Existing research demonstrates ginger’s efficacy as a treatment for a variety of health issues, such as…

  • Elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • Cataracts
  • Some blood clotting disorders
  • Radiation exposure
  • Nausea (specifically, resulting from pregnancy or from chemotherapy)
  • Colon cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer

Ginger also combats a particular aggravating kind of pain: post-workout muscle soreness. An investigation carried out at the University of Georgia showed both raw and heat-treated ginger alleviates moderate muscular pain.


Eat Beans, Live Long

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Recent research suggests that how many beans you eat is a strong predictor of how long you’ll live.  Unfortunately, 96% of Americans fail to get even the paltry daily recommended intake of half a cup!  Considering there are 13,000 varieties of legumes—from chickpeas to split peas to lentils—this bean dearth is hard to excuse.2e458a024fbc274e_beans_2.preview

Beans Reduce Your Risk of Death

Researchers from different institutions across the globe examined food intake in Japan, Sweden, Greece, and Australia.  Only one food stood out as a contender for lowering risk of death—beans!  And the type of bean didn’t seem to matter at all.  In Japan soy is popular, in Sweden brown beans and peas are preferred, and in the Mediterranean, lentils, chickpeas, and white beans top the charts.  All of these beans were linked to increased longevity.

Load Up on Legumes 

Legumes are low in calories, high in protein, and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  They’ve got fiber, folate, vitamin B1, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper, to name a few.  All this goodness translates to bowel regularity, balanced blood sugar levels, low cholesterol, and optimal heart health!  Not to mention, legumes fill you up fast… with fewer calories.  They are the perfect weight loss and weight maintenance food.

Canned vs. Dried 

A recent study published in Food and Nutritional Sciences indicates that canned beans are on par with dried beans when it comes to nutritional value. Plus, they’re much more convenient, as dried beans can take hours to cook up!

It’s worth noting that canned beans are a tad more expensive (20 cents more) and can have up to 100 times the sodium of dried beans. That’s because rinsing and draining dried beans removes some of the excess sodium…but this same process can also remove some vitamins and minerals, too. If you’re a fan of canned legumes, then opt for the “no-salt” varieties to ensure you’re not going overboard on the sodium.

As for flatulence, don’t let a little gas deter you from the nutritional wellspring of legumes! Research shows that although flatulence kicks into gear when you start adding legumes to your diet, your digestive system eventually gets used to it and the flatulence subsides. In other words, stick it out—the gas will evaporate in due time!


Natural Blood Thinner 1: Salicylates

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There are a number of foods and supplements that are known to thin the blood. These include foods with high amounts of aspirin-like substances called salicylates, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E supplements, and foods with natural antibiotic properties.
People taking prescription anti-coagulant drugs also need to be careful not to consume too many foods with natural blood thinning compounds in addition to their regular medication. 

Blood coagulation should fall within a desirable range. If it coagulates too easily, clots can form which in turn can lead to adverse health conditions such as heart attacks. If blood doesn’t clot enough, conditions such as bleeding from the nose aka (nosebleeds or epistaxis), hemorrhages, hematuria (blood in the urine), heavy periods in women, and bleeding strokes may occur. If a person’s blood isn’t clotting enough and he has surgery or a traumatic event like a car accident, he could have a serious problem by losing too much blood from wounds or surgical incisions failing to clot properly.

Some of the foods that are generally thought to have natural blood thinning compounds will posted in this and future posts. Please note that this is a hodge-podge list based on information collected from various sources, so it’s possible it may contain some errors. See your doctor before you implement any diet, supplement or exercise changes, especially if you are taking any prescription medications or have any health concerns related to coagulation.


One type of natural blood thinners are substances that block vitamin K known as salicylates. The most well known of these is aspirin, but many foods, such as preservatives and flavorings, also contain salicylates or aspirin-like substances. Some individuals are known to be aspirin or salicylate sensitive. I’m one of those salicylate sensitive types, but I have found that I can eat more salicylates as long as I eat a balanced amount of vitamin K foods. (Vitamin K plays an important role in the body’s in blood clotting processes. The “K” in vitamin K gets its name from the Danish word for coagulation.)

Foods that are higher in salicylates include many spices, most fruits, especially dried fruits, nuts, and also some flavorings and preservatives.

Ginger is known as a warming spice in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Herbs and spices high in salicylates include:

  • Curry powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ginger
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Turmeric
  • Licorice
  • Peppermint

In Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) many of the above spices are known as “warming spices”. This may be because thinning the blood they increase a person’s blood circulation, which in turn speeds up the metabolism and makes a person feel warmer.


Fruits high in salicylates include

  • Raisins
  • Prunes
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Oranges

Other substances high in salicylates:

  • Chewing gum
  • Honey
  • Peppermints
  • Vinegar
  • Wine
  • Cider

Though there are some exceptions, in general most meat, fish, dairy, grains and vegetable foods are not high in salicylates. Many types of fish do however have blood thinning properties due to their omega-3 fatty acid content, as noted below.

A 2001 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found the salicylate content of organic foods to be higher than conventional foods. So if you are salicylate sensitive or have unexplained easy bleeding issues, you may want to experiment and see if you feel better by not eating organic foods.

Hopes this helps someone.


Beet Juice to Lower Blood Pressure

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More and more evidence is showing you can’t beat the heart healthy benefits of beet juice. It provides long-lasting energy, improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, enhances oxygen uptake, and increases stamina. A new study from the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology confirms that drinking beet juice regularly can improve exercise endurance.

Boost Exercise Stamina with Beet Juice

In this small-scale study 14 healthy males drank beet juice for 15 days. Scientists measured blood pressure and heart function both at rest and while the men performed progressive cycling. Results indicated that the heart required less oxygen and blood pressure was lowered.4_165_BeetJuice_720

Beet juice contains a high concentration of antioxidants and inorganic nitrates that help boost blood flow throughout the body—to the brain, heart, and muscles. It increases production of a molecule in blood vessels called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels relax and open up, thereby increasing oxygen flow to the heart and muscles so you can exercise stronger for longer.

Lower Blood Pressure with Beet Juice

Beet juice has also demonstrated a remarkable effect on blood pressure. A meta-analysis of studies from 2006-2012 showed very obvious reductions in blood pressure among the 254 people tested, especially in systolic blood pressure. When it comes to lowering blood pressure, beat juice outperforms whole beets. All it takes is one to two glasses of beet juice a day!


Acai Berry

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Direct from Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet, deep in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil, healing acai berries dangle from acai palm trees. Recognizing the curative powers of acai centuries before it was introduced to the West, the Yanomani tribe refers to the acai palm as the “Tree of Life.”

Impressed with its restorative properties, which work from the inside out, Brazilians have dubbed acai “The Beauty Berry,” and the West is finally catching on.

In his New York Times #1 bestseller, “The Perricone Promise,” celebrated nutritionist / dermatologist, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, lists acai health benefits as the #1 Superfood.

“Superfood” is the health food industry’s stamp of approval for low-calorie, antioxidant-rich foods that lower your risk for life-threatening diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Acai, pronounced (ah-sigh-EE), isn’t your typical antioxidant-laden fruit. It is also high in essential fatty acids, amino acids and fiber, making it perhaps the most well-rounded, edible fruit on the planet.acai_berries_hand

This small but mighty fruit measures approximately 1-inch long and is colored varying shades of dark purple. Made up of 90% inedible seed, acai’s 10% edible pulp packs in more grams of protein than an egg and contains 15 times the amount of antioxidants as red grapes and 30% more antioxidants than blueberries.

In fact, its ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)–the scientific measurement of a nutrient’s antioxidant magnitude–is over 3500, the highest capacity of any fruit!

The Low-Down on Antioxidants

You’ve probably heard the buzz about antioxidants, but just what are they, and what role do they play in your health?

Antioxidants are phytochemicals, vitamins and other nutrients that prevent oxidation from occurring in your body. To understand oxidation, just imagine what happens to a cut apple when it is left uncovered for a couple of hours. It begins to brown and rot. The same process happens inside your body if it is not protected by antioxidants.

What causes the oxidation? Your body produces harmful byproducts called free radicals–unstable molecules that scavenge your tissues looking for electrons to steal. In the process, healthy tissues are destroyed, leading to aging and disease.

Unfortunately, we have entered an age of free radical overload, as our bodies are also attacked from the outside in via pollution, cigarette smoke and toxins from cleaning products and herbicides.

Antioxidants interrupt this destructive cycle by volunteering one of their own electrons, satisfying the voracious free radical before it can damage your cells.

Fortifying your body with antioxidant rich foods, particularly acai berries, halts the aging process, restarting long-lasting health and protecting against the oxidative stress that triggers diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Acai’s Unique Composition

Acai health benefits have all the typical vitamins and minerals found in popular fruits, but also contains unique, never-before-seen plant compounds. Acai contains the potent antioxidants flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are responsible for acai’s rich color and thought to be the key to acai’s remarkable restorative and preventative powers.

Scientists have still not figured out the exact makeup of this Superfood. Dr. Stephen Talcott of the University of Florida discovered 50-75 active natural molecules in acai that have yet to be classified.

The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry published Talcott’s study, which showed that acai health benefits were able to trigger apoptosis (cell death) in 86% of leukemia cells tested in vitro. Talcott was realistic but hopeful, explaining, “This was only a cell-culture model and we don’t want to give anyone false hope,” Talcott said.acai-berry

“We are encouraged by the findings, however. Compounds that show good activity against cancer cells in a model system are most likely to have beneficial effects in our bodies.”

Antioxidants alone are enough to encourage indulgence in this decadent fruit. Add omegas 3-6-9 to the mix and acai health benefits truly earns its Superfood status. This perfect balance of omegas improves the look and feel of hair, skin and nails, and reduces inflammation inside the body.

Inflammation is recognized as one of the primary causes of life-threatening illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Acai health benefits also contains a healthy dose of fiber, amino acids and carbohydrates that boost your immune system and your metabolism, thereby slowing aging and promoting longevity.


Birth Control Pills may increase Chance of Breast Cancer

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More than 10 million American women use birth control pills. They are the go-to contraceptive not only for pregnancy prevention, but also for PMS symptoms, heavy periods, and acne. Previous studies have suggested that birth control pills increase breast cancer risk, and the most recent research strengthens this relationship.

Birth Control Pills: A Known Carcinogen

Birth control pills join tobacco, asbestos, plutonium, and diesel exhaust as a group 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization. This means birth control pills are “a known and probable cancer-causing agent to humans.”

The latest study published in the August 2014 edition of the journal Cancer Research confirms the finding of past birth control/cancer studies. Researchers studied 1,102 women with breast cancer, along with 21,952 controls, and found that recent oral contraceptive use—particularly high-dose estrogen birth control pills—increased breast cancer risk by more than 50%. Birth control pills with ethynodiol diacetate (a type of progestin) also raised breast cancer risk by more than double, while triphasic birth control pills (pills that deliver different hormone doses over three stages of the monthly cycle) more than tripled breast cancer risk! Not all birth control pills fared so badly, however. Low-dose estrogen birth control pills did not seem to increase breast cancer risk.

An open pack of birthcontrol pills on a white background with shallow depth of field

Birth control pills block pregnancy by delivering a mix of estrogen and progestin hormones to your body. But these same hormones also over-stimulate breast cancer cells, which increases breast cancer risk. Dr. Angela Lanfranchi writes in her booklet on Breast Cancer Risks and Prevention:

“Estrogen can cause cancers in two ways. First, estrogen acts as a “mitogen.” Estrogen stimulates your breast tissue to increase cell divisions (mitoses). This sometimes results in cancers due to errors in cell division (mutations). Second, certain metabolites of estrogen also act as carcinogen or genotoxins, by directly damaging DNA, thereby causing cancer cells to form.”

Your risk for breast cancer further increases if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you or a family member have had a biopsy that showed abnormal cells, or you carry an abnormal breast cancer gene.

If you are currently taking birth control pills, consider a safer method of contraception, such as the use of a diaphragm and/or condom. If you insist on taking birth control pills, then make sure you are on a low-dose estrogen pill.