Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits You Can’t Ignore

Vinegar is among the oldest substances that result from fermentation. In fermentation, sugars are chemically broken down creating gases, acids or even alcohol. Apple cider vinegar is apple juice that has yeast, added to it, turning it into alcohol in the fermentation process. Bacteria then transforms the alcohol to acetic acid and this why vinegar has a strong smell and sour taste.

This vinegar comes in organic and unpasteurized versions, and it is got by crushing and squeezing apples to get the liquid. Malic and acetic acids give the vinegar its taste, and acetic acid is what plays a crucial role in antibacterial functions of the vinegar, whereas malic acid plays a role in the balancing of cells improving absorption of water in each cell.

apple cider vinegar benefits

How it's used

The vinegar has for a long time been used as a home remedy for treating all kinds of issues, including a sore throat, building strength and managing wounds among others. Today the vinegar is not only used to boost health but also in baking, salad dressing, cooking and even as a preservative. Because of the high acid levels in the vinegar, it is not advisable to drink it directly. It is best that it is mixed with tea or water before consumption for the best results to be achieved.

Even though it lacks proper scientific back up as far as it benefits go, the majority of people attests to the fact that they have enjoyed lots of benefits using the vinegar. If you are among those who love natural products, then you will like the numerous benefits offered by apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar types

The vinegar comes in different strengths to match its usage and applications. You will find it into types:

  • Distilled vinegar, which is white and best for cleaning and other household applications
  • Organic vinegar, which is best for facial and health applications

The natural levels are usually indicated by a murky color referred to as mother vinegar and shows the high quality of the vinegar. It is important to know what you are getting the vinegar for and also ensure that you source it from stores you can trust for quality.

The health benefits of apple cider vinegar

Still wondering why you should incorporate apple cider vinegar in your life? The benefits below should be convincing enough.

1. Lowers blood sugar levels

People suffering type two diabetes can greatly benefit from using the vinegar. Studies have also shown that it can improve insulin function. If you have diabetes or you just wish to keep your sugar levels in check for whatever reason, then the vinegar can prove to be very beneficial.

2. Boosts immune system

The spread is germs is inevitable, especially in colder months of the year and it results into lots of people getting sick. Using the vinegar, you can fight colds and also prevent sicknesses. This is because it is hard for germs to survive in environments that are highly acidic. You can gargle the vinegar in warm water or drink too thin mucous and drain sinuses especially if you have a sore throat, stuffy nose, and other allergies.

3. Detoxifies the body

Apart from cleaning your home, the vinegar works greatly in ridding your body off all wastes, free radicals and toxins. It has amino acids that reduce lactic acid within the body greatly increasing energy. With its high levels of potassium, it manages to break down mucous boosting the detoxification process. Even though this product is acidic in nature, it contains alkaline effects on pH levels, balancing them to fight diseases, remove toxins from the lymphatic system and even reduce cravings. You can make a simple apple cider vinegar detox by adding a tablespoon of the vinegar in a glass of water and taking it first thing in the morning.

4. Reduces belly fat and aids weight loss

Losing weight can be a challenge, but there seems to be a little magic in apple cider vinegar. This is because it increases satiety so you eat less. With fewer calorie intakes, you will manage to lose some weight. It can be taken with high carb meals so you feel fuller for longer, hence reducing the amount of food you eat in a day. Studies show that daily intakes in people with obesity reduces belly fat and also aids weight loss. It is however important to remember that the product alone cannot work in delivering expected results; it should be coupled with exercises and proper diet too.

5. Clears acne

Acne can be very stubborn, especially because the foods you eat can contribute to the skin issue. Stress, hormonal imbalances and dehydration also do not make the issue any better. Apple cider vinegar contains antibacterial properties making it a very good natural skin toner. It softens and exfoliates the skin, thus reducing the acne and spots. It also works by balancing the pH of your skin. It can be applied to the skin mixed in water until the acne clears.

6. Aids and improves digestion

Considering that it is a probiotic, it feeds the body with good bacteria thus taking care of different digestive concerns. Taking the vinegar in water 30 minutes before eating ensures that you have enough hydrochloric acid to digest and absorb nutrients effectively. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and antibiotic effects that stop pain and spasms affecting the digestive tract. Other benefits include speeding up metabolism and leveling pH levels in the stomach.

7. Helps with hair growth

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is an all-natural health supplement that has been gaining popularity in recent years. One reason for this is due to its hair benefits, enabling you to cleanse your scalp and hair follicles and accelerate hair growth.


ACV benefits to your body are numerous. Whether you are looking for energy, clearer skin or proper digestion and weight loss, this inexpensive product can help you achieve that and more. It is however recommended to use Organic Non-GMO Apple Cider Vinegar Pills to enjoy the best results. It should also be taken in the right doses and on a regular basis for the results to show.

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Can mood swings be an indication of poor mental health?

Every person differs in the way they think, perceive things and react to different situations. Their feelings, behavior, and thoughts often vary widely from each other. As such, it is quite common that a considerable portion of the human population will lie quite far away from the median of the bell curve drawn based on human perception, feelings, and reactions. There is nothing weird about this as long as each person has stable behavioral patterns.

However, when a person starts showing symptoms of rapid mood changes, commonly known as mood swings, it may be a matter of concern, especially if there seems to be no apparent reason for the same. Swift mood swings that occur without any particular cause can be indicative of mental health problems in individuals.

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Mood swings – usual or not?

Having mood swings is normal. In fact, a person who doesn’t exhibit mood swings in response to different situations may be considered to be abnormal. Mood swings occur in response to sudden stress, problems in life, insufficient sleep, sudden ecstasy, emotional changes and much more. Immediate changes in mood are also seen during pregnancy, in women suffering from premenstrual syndrome, menopausal women, and youth in their puberty period. Such mood swings are perfectly normal and aren’t at all a matter of concern. However, if there seems to be no apparent reason for the change in mood, then it may indicate other problems, most importantly mental illness.

Why do mental health problems occur?

Though a lot of improvement has been achieved in the field of medical science, yet till today, it is quite impossible to determine a particular reason or factor that could cause mental illness in
individuals. As such, the cause of poor mental health may be attributed to the combined effects of a variety of psychological, environmental and biological factors like family history,
substance abuse, trauma or injury, extreme stress and depression, child abuse, and so on. 

Different types of mental illnesses

Diagnosis of the mental health problem is usually based on the symptoms exhibited by an individual. Common disorders that an individual may be diagnosed with are as follows:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Schizophrenia
- Depression
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

However, this list isn’t all-inclusive. Various other mental illnesses have been diagnosed in humans across the world and can affect a person’s life in varying degrees of severity. 

Common symptoms of mental illness

Though unexplained mood swings are a common symptom in the majority of people suffering from poor mental health, there are some other common symptoms as well. These symptoms, when exhibited frequently, can indicate mental illness. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Impulsive behavior
- Risky behavior
- Chronic anxiety
- Ebbing energy
- Lack of self-control
- Lack of empathy
- Low self-esteem
- Erratic thought patterns
- Loss of interest in socializing
- Difficulty in anger management
- Suicidal or paranoiac behavior

Though these symptoms may indicate mental illness, yet the presence of one or more of them in a person may not always mean that he/she is suffering from mental disorders. These symptoms may also be a regular part of an individual’s behavior. It makes the identification of deteriorating mental health very difficult at an early stage.

What should you do?

If you know someone who has been having a lot of rapid mood changes recently and also shows other symptoms of mental illness, it would be best to consult a doctor immediately. Signs of mental illness are usually tough to identify until at quite a developed stage, and hence, there must be no delay once you start recognizing the symptoms. A certified psychiatrist will be able to diagnose the exact cause and type of illness and suggest the best course of action for the treatment of the problem.


The incidence of mental illness has increased rapidly over the last decade or so and has affected the lives of many across the world. Unlike other diseases, mental illness is complicated to fight. As such, your loved ones need immediate treatment and unrelenting support to recover from the illness and get back the healthy life they once lived. So, be on the lookout for symptoms and seek medical help immediately if you feel concerned.

Enhance your mental power with Nootropics

People always tend to go out of their way to improve the physical appearance and well being. How about improving the memory? An enhanced memory can benefit you in so many different ways. It could help you work with a greater amount of focus, store more information without overstraining the brain and experience a greater amount of productivity with daily activities. Well, actually, there is a way for you to boost your cognitive functions and the process is very simple. All you have to do is include some effective Nootropics in your daily diet.

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What is nootropic?
A nootropic is any substance that enhances the cognitive function of the brain by improving the activity of the neurons. It can also be defined as a brain supplement that improves your reflexes, ease of processing and storing new information and increases overall well being. The benefit of opting for pharmaceutical Nootropics is that these are made using a combination of the most potent ingredients for increasing brain power. So, you will basically be reaping the benefits of all the different Nootropics in a single pill. Nootropics are not an overrated consumer item. Instead, their effectiveness has been proven by science. So yes, they are reliable when it comes to effectiveness.

How do nootropics work?

Nootropics mainly show the effect by changing the level of different neurochemicals, hormones, and enzymes available in the brain. They enhance the plasticity of the brain and promote the health and regeneration of neurons. It is usually the combined effect of different ingredients used in the composition that tends to increase their effectiveness in promoting brain power. There is no restriction on the number of ingredients that are used in nootropics. However, the choice of ingredients does play an important role in determining their potency. So, if you are opting for nootropics, it is advisable that you look up its composition carefully. It would also be helpful to consult your doctor to discuss your compatibility with the supplement and potential side effects.

What are the benefits of taking Nootropics?

The most obvious benefit of taking Nootropics as a brain supplement is that it improves your memory and cognition. You will find it easier to work with greater attention and focus. Furthermore, it also enhances your mood, motivation, and determination. These supplements can be helpful to almost anyone – students, athletes, people facing a cognitive decline and even an otherwise healthy person looking to gain more productivity in their day to day work.

Are nootropics effective?

Nootropics have different working mechanisms depending on the composition used by specific brands. There may be slight differences in the way they work. However, IAR Nutrition offering an ultimate solution, the premium blend of ingredients was carefully crafted to support Memory, Focus, Mental Clarity and Energy. All natural, Caffeine-Free Brain Pills help you to stay alert and focused using safe and natural ingredients without the crash and jitters from caffeine. The ingredients in Neuro 8 support healthy activity, combat stress and enhance your mood so you can focus on what’s important. Brain Function Support at its best!

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Effective solutions for weight loss

If you want an effective weight loss plan, then it is very much important that you have a clear roadmap as you go. This will give you scalable results so that you can accurately track your progress along the way. When you can see visible results, it serves as a great motivation for you to push forth. However, things do not always go the way as you expect. In fact, there are a number of people who complain about the ineffectiveness despite all the hard work and consistency. Well, this is because weight loss is a rather tricky process.

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When you increase the amount of daily exercise, the body senses it as a threat and builds up a mechanism to retain fat, just in case of an emergency. This results in a weight loss plateau. So, if you have some stubborn fat that simply refuses to go, it is probably because of this. Both exercise and diet seem to have no effect. However, with some smart changes, you can turn this around and effectively lose weight from any part of the body. Given below are some points that can be helpful if you are looking for a healthy, quick and effective weight loss.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar Capsules

Apple Cider Vinegar is an incredible method to cleanse the body,  encourages healthy bacteria and digestive flora so your body can break down foods more easily and take in the nutrients better. Scientific studies have shown that apple cider vinegar promotes weight loss, it will bind to toxins, helping them out of the body making detox much more effective. It is recommended that you take 2 veggie capsules a day 20-30 min before a meal. If you want to see effective weight loss, it is recommended that you continue this for a consistent period of time.

  1. Detox Diets

The accumulation of toxins within the body can be very damaging to the body. It also makes it increasingly difficult to lose weight, regardless of the effort you put in. So, the main purpose of detox diets is to provide a thorough cleaning effect on the body. It renews and rejuvenates your body. A well-planned detox diet has the ability to flush out all the impurities from your system. The results are fascinating and quite visible from the very beginning. You will start feeling healthier and lighter. You will also feel much more energetic from the very beginning. However, following a detox diet requires a high level of effort. You should have a clear idea about the things that you can and cannot eat. Furthermore, it could be quite expensive and time-consuming, mainly because you will be required to do a lot of cooking on your own.

  1. Maintenance

Maintenance is the key when you are trying to lose weight. For example, you cannot go for an intense workout today and gorge on calories tomorrow. You should also make it a point to drink lots of water and most importantly, try to stay active and maintain a high level of energy the entire day.

  • Introducing ultimate solution:

New Apple Cider Vinegar Capsules - Powerful 1250 mg per Serving! Weight Loss, Detox, Cleanser & Metabolism Booster. Find out yourself! 

Two myths of the brain: the Mozart effect and the gray color of matter

Have you given any thought to the color of your brain? Maybe not, unless you work in the medical field. We have all colors of the rainbow in our bodies in the form of blood, tissue, bone and other fluids. But you may have seen preserved brains sitting in jars in a classroom or on TV. Most of the time, those brains are a uniform white, gray or even yellowish hue. In actuality, though, the living, pulsing brain currently residing in your skull isn't just a dull, bland gray; it's also white, black and red.

Like many myths about the brain, this one has a grain of truth, because much of the brain is gray. Sometimes the entire brain is referred to as gray matter. Mystery writer Agatha Christie's famous detective Hercule Poirot often spoke of using his "little gray cells." Gray matter exists all throughout the various parts of the brain (as well as in the spinal cord); it consists of different types of cells, such as neurons. However, the brain also contains white matter, which comprises nerve fibers that connect the gray matter.

The black component is called substantia nigra, which is Latin for (you guessed it) "black substance." It's black because of neuromelanin, a specialized type of the same pigment that colors skin and hair, and it's a part of the basal ganglia. Finally, we have red -- and that's thanks to the many blood vessels in the brain. So why are preserved brains chalky looking and dull instead of spongy and colorful? It's due to the fixatives, such as formaldehyde, that keep the brain preserved.


Don't you just feel cultured when you tune in to a classical music station and take in an opera or a symphony by a great composer like Mozart? Baby Einstein, a company that makes DVDs, videos and other products for babies and toddlers incorporating classical art, music, and poetry, is a million-dollar franchise. Parents buy the products because they believe that exposure to great art (like Baby Mozart DVDs and CDs) can be good for their children's cognitive development. There are even classical music CDs designed to be played to developing fetuses. The idea that listening to classical music can increase your brainpower has become so popular that it's been dubbed "the Mozart effect." So how did this myth start?

In the 1950s, an ear, nose and throat doctor named Albert Tomatis began the trend, claiming success using Mozart's music to help people with speech and auditory disorders. In the 1990s, 36 students in a study at the University of California at Irvine listened to 10 minutes of a Mozart sonata before taking an IQ test. According to Dr. Gordon Shaw, the psychologist in charge of the study, the students' IQ scores went up by about 8 points. The "Mozart effect" was born.

A musician named Dan Campbell trademarked the phrase and created a line of books and CDs based on the concept, and states such as Georgia, Florida and Tennessee set aside money for classical music for babies and other young children. Campbell and others have gone on to assert that listening to Mozart can even improve your health.

However, the original University of California at Irvine study has been controversial in the scientific community. Dr. Frances Rauscher, a researcher involved in the study, stated that they never claimed it actually made anyone smarter; it just increased performance on certain spatial-temporal tasks. Other scientists have been unable to replicate the original results, and there is currently no scientific information to prove that listening to Mozart, or any other classical music, actually makes anyone smarter. Rauscher even said that the money spent by those states might be better spent on musical programs -- there's some evidence to show that learning an instrument improves concentration, self-confidence and coordination.

Mozart certainly can't hurt you, and you might even enjoy it if you give it a try, but you won't get any smarter.

Neurogenesis in the adults: it proves the brain plasticity in any age

When I was in college in the 1970's, we were taught that no new neurons ever formed in the mammalian brain. We were born, it was argued, with all the neurons we would ever get. Yet, a decade earlier, in 1962, a young scientist named in the prestigious journal Science that new neurons could form. Altman went on to publish other studies, but his research was ignored and rejected. Then, in the 1970's, another young scientist, Michael Kaplan discovered neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) in the brains of rats. Kaplan published 19 papers on the subject, but his work met with enormous resistance, and he eventually left research science and went on to a career as a rehabilitation doctor. It wasn't until the 1990's that scientists accepted the idea of neurogenesis in mammalian brains and discovered newborn neurons not just in the brains of rats but in the brains of people too.

Neurogenesis does not occur everywhere in the brain but is evident in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb and perhaps in the cerebral cortex. New neurons are born not from mature nerve cells but rather develop from neural stem cells that remain in our brains throughout life. Indeed, in some brain areas, there is continual turnover of neurons - old ones die and new ones are born - and these new neurons can participate in circuits that underlie learning.

If new neurons are being formed every day in our brain, how can we hold onto these cells and not let them simply die away? The answer has been lurking around in the scientific literature since the 1970's when Michael Kaplan reported that an enriched environment enhances the number of new neurons. In animals, placing them in cages full of interesting toys or giving them learning tasks promotes the survival of these newborn cells. New neurons born in the hippocampus may participate in the formation of long-term memories as well as in spatial perception. London taxi drivers who have extensive knowledge of the London city streets have larger-than-normal hippocampi. Perhaps, much neurogenesis has occurred in their hippocampi.

Physical exercise also increases the number of newborn neurons. But some conditions, such as excessive stress and depression, hamper the growth of newborn nerve cells.

Scientific studies on neurogenesis reveal what many of us already knew. We can learn new things throughout life. A person in their eighties still grows new neurons but to harness the potential of these newborn cells, we need to keep challenging ourselves, explore new things, exercise, and see the proverbial cup, not as half empty, but as half full.


The Surprising Way You Can Trick Yourself into Falling Asleep

Most night owls can recognize the clear signs you’re headed for an awful night’s sleep. But if you think that staying in bed will help you finally doze off, you might want to think again. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine suggests that getting out of bed when you can’t sleep might prevent your sleepless night from becoming chronic insomnia.

After monitoring the sleep habits of 416 participants for one year, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that night owls who restricted their time in bed were more likely to snooze soundly once they did fall asleep. Those who remained in bed when they couldn’t sleep, on the other hand, were more likely to develop chronic insomnia.

The preliminary findings, which were presented at the SLEEP 2016 conference, ultimately revealed that getting out of bed prevented 70 to 80 percent of cases from turning into chronic insomnia. Here’s how to fall back asleep after waking up in the middle of the night, too.

While this advice may seem counterintuitive at first, it makes sense once you understand what causes your tossing and turning. “Those with insomnia typically extend their sleep opportunity,” Michael Perlis, Ph.D., study author, and director of the Penn Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, said in a statement. “They go to bed early, get out of bed late, and they nap. While this seems a reasonable thing to do, and may well be in the short term, the problem in the longer term is it creates a mismatch between the individual’s current sleep ability and their current sleep opportunity; this fuels insomnia.” These seemingly harmless habits could be causing your insomnia, too.

So if you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, try getting out of bed and using that time to read a book or write in a journal. Not only could you fall asleep in just an hour, but you will also do so faster and sleep better than if you had just stayed in bed, Perlis told Real Simple. And try to resist the urge to take a nap or sleep in the next day; powering through can help you fall asleep the following night.


Yes, There’s Actually Caffeine in Decaf Coffee—Here’s How Much You’re Drinking

Uh, oh—it’s 7 p.m., and you have the sudden urge to drink a hearty cup of coffee. (It’s just one of the problems all coffee lovers understand.) But don’t even think about opting for a dose of caffeine so late in the evening. Caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for up to 24 hours, which could keep you tossing and turning at night. Still, if you think sipping a cup of decaf will let you snooze without a problem, you might want to think again.

Most people assume that decaf coffee is 100 percent caffeine-free. But in reality, USDA regulations require decaffeinated coffee to be just 97 percent caffeine-free. While a 3 percent dose of caffeine may seem relatively small, it might be enough to keep you wide-awake until the wee hours of the morning. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a serious pick-me-up, these are the best sources of caffeine.

But why that little sliver of caffeine? Turns out, the decaffeination process does remove most of the caffeine out of coffee beans—just not all of it. And some decaf brews have more caffeine than others. Generally speaking, Robusta beans will have more caffeine left after the decaffeination process than Arabica beans, according to Paul Toscano, chief marketing officer of Joyride Coffee.

The process itself can also determine how much caffeine is in your favorite decaf blend. The longer coffee brews, the more caffeinated it is; in other words, decaf drinkers should opt for a blend that was brewed quickly. And Toscano recommends choosing coffee that was processed using the Swiss Water method, which can remove 99.9 percent of the caffeine from the beans.

“You can really taste the difference. It’s more expensive, but it is more ecologically friendly because you’re not using chemicals,” he told Business Insider. Beware, though, that the process might slightly alter its taste—which not all coffee drinkers love.

The biggest factor that determines your decaf choice, however, is your overall tolerance for caffeine. If you show any of the signs you drink too much coffee, you probably don’t need to worry about getting an energy kick from decaf coffee. On the flip side, those who don’t usually drink coffee might be wide awake for hours.

Bottom line? The next time you’re in the mood for a piping hot drink at night, you might be better off playing it safe with green tea, instead. And if you’re thinking about quitting cold turkey, this is what happens to your body when you quit drinking caffeine.


How to protect the brain with aging: part two

The health of your brain is totally your responsibility. Here we are continuing the factors of powerful brain activity as a person is getting older. Do it to be smart even when you are 80 years old. 

1. Consider low-dose aspirin

Observational studies suggest that long-term use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the risk of dementia by 10%–55%. It's hopeful information, but it's preliminary. Experts are not ready to recommend aspirin specifically for dementia.

2. Avoid tobacco

Avoid tobacco in all its forms.

3. Don't abuse alcohol

Excessive drinking is a major risk factor for dementia. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to two drinks a day. But if you use alcohol responsibly, you may actually reduce your risk of dementia. At least five studies have linked low-dose alcohol with a reduced risk of dementia in older adults.

4. Care for your emotions

People who are anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, or exhausted tend to score poorly on cognitive function tests. Poor scores don't necessarily predict an increased risk of cognitive decline in old age, but good mental health and restful sleep are certainly important goals.

5. Protect your head

You may be surprised to learn that moderate to severe head injuries early in life increase the risk of cognitive impairment in old age. Concussions increase risk by a factor of 10.

6. Build social networks

Strong social ties have been associated with lower blood pressure and longer life expectancies.


How to protect the brain with aging: part one

Every brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it. Mental decline is common, and it's one of the most feared consequences of aging. But cognitive impairment is not inevitable. Here are 12 ways you can help reduce your risk of age-related memory loss.

1. Get mental stimulation

Through research with mice and humans, doctors suspect that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological "plasticity" and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.

Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try "mental gymnastics," such as word puzzles or math problems Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.

2. Get physical exercise

Research shows that using your muscles may also help your mind. Animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses). This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better performance in aging animals. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, fights diabetes, and reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart.

3. Improve your diet

Good nutrition can help your mind as well as your body. Here are some specifics:

  • Keep your calories in check. In both animals and humans, a reduced caloric intake has been linked to a lower risk of mental decline in old age.
  • Eat the right foods. That means reducing your consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol from animal sources and of trans-fatty acids from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
  • Remember your Bs. Three B vitamins, folic acid, B6, and B12, can help lower your homocysteine levels, high levels of which have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Fortified cereal, other grains, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of B vitamins.

4. Improve your blood pressure

High blood pressure in midlife increases the risk of cognitive decline in old age. Use lifestyle modification to keep your pressure as low as possible. Stay lean, exercise regularly, limit your alcohol to two drinks a day, reduce stress, and eat right.

5. Improve your blood sugar

Diabetes is an important risk factor for dementia. You can fight diabetes by eating right, exercising regularly, and staying lean. But if your blood sugar stays high, you'll need medication to achieve good control.

6. Improve your cholesterol

High levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol increase the risk of dementia, as do low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol. Diet, exercise, weight control, and avoiding tobacco will go a long way toward improving your cholesterol levels. But if you need more help, ask your doctor about medication.


Increase in resting heart rate is a signal worth watching

When you sit quietly, your heart slips into the slower, steady pace known as your resting heart rate. An increase in your resting heart rate over time may be a signal of heart trouble ahead.

Your heart rate changes from minute to minute. It depends on whether you are standing up or lying down, moving around or sitting still, stressed or relaxed. Your resting heart rate, though, tends to be stable from day to day. The usual range for resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Above 90 is considered high.

Many factors influence resting heart rate. Genes play a role. Aging tends to speed it up. Regular exercise tends to slow it down. (In his prime, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong had a resting heart rate of just 32 beats per minute.) Stress, medications, and medical conditions also influence the heart rate.

Results of observational research studies support a link between health and heart rate. Researchers from Norway previously reported the results of a large study looking at changes in resting heart rate over 10 years. They recruited more than 29,000 people without any history or heart disease, high blood pressure, or any other type of cardiovascular disorder, and measured their resting heart rates when they started the study and again 10 years later. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Compared to people whose resting heart rates were under 70 beats per minute at the study’s start and its end, those whose resting heart rate rose from under 70 to more than 85 were 90% more likely to have died during the course of the study. The increase in risk was slightly less for those with resting heart rates of 70 to 85 at the study’s start and who had a greater than 85 at the study’s end.

Although 90% sounds like a huge and scary increase, let me put it in perspective. Among the group whose heart rates stayed under 70 throughout the study, there were 8.2 deaths per 10,000 people per year. Among those whose heart rates rose above 85, there were 17.2 deaths per 10,000 people per year.

The results also suggested that lowering your heart rate over time may be beneficial, but the researchers could not say that for certain.

What this means for you

You don’t need a doctor’s visit to keep track of your resting heart rate. The best time to measure it is before you get out of bed in the morning. You can measure your heart rate at your wrist or neck by placing one or two fingers over a pulse point, counting the number of beats in 15 seconds, and multiplying by four.

By doing these 4 things you can slow your resting heart rate and also help maintain a healthy heart:

  1. Exercise more. When you take a brisk walk, swim, or bicycle, your heart beats faster during the activity and for a short time afterward. But exercising every day gradually slows the resting heart rate.
  2. Reduce stress. Performing the relaxation response, meditation, tai chi, and other stress-busting techniques lowers the heart rate over time.
  3. Avoid tobacco products. Smokers have higher resting heart rates. Quitting brings it back down.
  4. Lose weight if necessary. The larger the body, the more the heart must work to supply it with blood. Losing weight can help slow an elevated heart rate.

5 ways to control high blood pressure without medication

By making these 5 lifestyle changes, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you might be worried about taking medication to bring your numbers down.

Lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.

Here are 5 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down.

1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline

Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further raises your blood pressure.

Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure.

Besides shedding pounds, you generally should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.

In general:

Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters).

Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters).

These numbers vary among ethnic groups. Ask your doctor about a healthy waist measurement for you.

2. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It's important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again.

If you have slightly high blood pressure (prehypertension), exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.

The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.

3. Eat a healthy diet

Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

It isn't easy to change your eating habits, but with these tips, you can adopt a healthy diet:


  • Keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed surprising light on your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.
  • Consider boosting potassium. Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements. Talk to your doctor about the potassium level that's best for you.
  • Be a smart shopper. Read food labels when you shop and stick to your healthy-eating plan when you're dining out, too.

4. Reduce sodium in your diet

Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.

The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is appropriate for people with greater salt sensitivity, including:


  • African-Americans
  • Anyone age 51 or older
  • Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease

To decrease sodium in your diet, consider these tips:


  • Read food labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
  • Eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
  • Don't add salt. Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
  • Ease into it. If you don't feel you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet suddenly, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.

5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink

Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg.

But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol — generally more than one drink a day for women and for men older than age 65, or more than two a day for men age 65 and younger. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.


6 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

1. Promotes Weight Loss

One of the major intermittent fasting benefits is its ability to rev up fat burning and help the pounds slide off. In fact, many people prefer intermittent fasting to traditional diets because it doesn’t require you to meticulously measure your foods and track the calories and grams consumed.

Intermittent fasting results in increased fat burning and fast weight loss by forcing your body to use up fat stores as fuel. When you eat, your body uses glucose (sugar) as its primary source of energy and stores whatever is left over as glycogen in your muscles and liver.

When you don’t give your body a steady stream of glucose, it begins breaking down the glycogen to use as fuel. After the glycogen has been depleted, your body seeks out alternative sources of energy, such as fat cells, which it then breaks down to help power your body.

This is similar to the ketogenic diet, in which you deprive your body of carbohydrates and force it to use up stored fat for energy.

A 2015 review looked at the effects of alternate-day fasting on body composition and found that, on average, it slashed body weight by up to 7 percent and cut body fat by up to 12 pounds. Whole-day fasting led to similar results, but with up to a 9 percent reduction in body weight. (1) It’s less clear what whole-day fasting does to your valuable muscle stores.

Another study focused on the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting showed that it significantly reduced fat mass while retaining both muscle mass and strength. (2) This fact is why I recommend this style of intermittent fasting the most.

2. Improves Blood Sugar

When you eat, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream. A hormone called insulin is responsible for transporting the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can be used up as energy.

Insulin doesn’t always work effectively when you have diabetes, which can result in high blood sugar levels coupled with symptoms like fatigue, thirst and frequent urination.

Some studies have found that intermittent fasting benefits your blood sugar levels by keeping them well-regulated and preventing spikes and crashes.

In one study, participants with diabetes fasted an average of 16 hours daily for two weeks. Not only did intermittent fasting cause weight loss and a decrease in caloric intake, but it also helped significantly reduce blood sugar levels. (3)

Another study showed that fasting decreased blood sugar by 12 percent and also lowered insulin levels by nearly 53 percent. Preventing a build-up of insulin allows it to work more efficiently and keeps your body sensitive to its effects. (4)

3. Keeps Your Heart Healthy

One of the most impressive intermittent fasting benefits is its favorable effect on heart health. Studies show that intermittent fasting can help keep your heart healthy by lowering certain heart disease risk factors.

In one study, fasting was shown to influence several components of heart health. It increased good HDL resources and decreased both bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (5)

One animal study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that intermittent fasting caused an increase in levels of adiponectin. (6) Adiponectin is a protein involved in the metabolism of fat and sugar that may be protective against heart disease and heart attacks. (7)

In fact, in one study, rats who fasted every other day were nearly 66 percent more likely to survive a heart attack than those on a normal diet. (8)

4. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is a normal immune response to injury. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to chronic disease. Some research has even linked inflammation to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. (9)

A study published in Nutrition Research followed 50 individuals observing Ramadan and showed that they had decreased levels of some inflammatory markers during Ramadan fasting. (10) Another study in 2015 found that a longer duration of nighttime fasting was associated with a decrease in markers of inflammation. (11)

While more research is needed, these studies provide promising evidence showing that intermittent fasting may help reduce inflammation and fight off chronic disease.

5. Protects Your Brain

In addition to keeping your heart healthy and warding off disease, some studies have found that intermittent fasting could also protect the health of your brain.

One animal study showed that intermittent fasting enhanced cognitive function and protected against changes in memory and learning function compared to a control group. (12) Another animal study found that intermittent fasting helped protect the brains of mice by influencing certain proteins involved in brain aging. (13)

Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of intermittent fasting may also help slow the progression of disorders like Alzheimers disease. (14)

6. Decreases Hunger

Leptin, also known as the satiety hormone, is a hormone produced by the fat cells that helps signal when it’s time to stop eating. Your leptin levels drop when you’re hungry and increase when you’re feeling full.

Because leptin is produced in the fat cells, those who are overweight or obese tend to have higher amounts of leptin circulating in the body. However, too much leptin floating around can cause leptin resistance, which makes it harder for it to effectively turn off hunger cues.

One study with 80 participants measured leptin levels during intermittent fasting and found that levels were lower at night during the fasting period. (15)

Lower levels of leptin could translate to less leptin resistance, less hunger and potentially even more weight loss.


8 Unexpected Ways to Add Years to Your Life

The average American's life expectancy is 78.7 years. Whether you reach that age—or better yet, exceed it—largely depends on your genes, but there are also many keys to longevity that are totally within your control. Some, you probably already know about, like following a nutritious diet, exercising often, staying away from cigarettes, and maintaining a healthy weight. Other habits are a little less obvious. Read on for some surprising habits and lifestyle choices that could add years to your life.

Adopt a furry friend

Your four-legged companion may be helping you live a longer life, according to a review published in the journal Circulation. Researchers believe owning a dog might keep the owner more active and, as a result, lowers the risk of heart disease. 

"Dog owners are who walk their dogs are more likely to meet recommendations for daily physical activity (150 minutes weekly)," says Eric A. Goedereis, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Webster University in St. Louis, MO. Owning a pet also reduces stress, which may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, he adds. 

Have more sex

A roll in the hay may be the most pleasant way to extend your life. Several studies suggest there is a link between more orgasms and longevity. In a 1997 study, men who had more orgasms were less likely to die of heart disease than those who had less. While the study can't prove cause and effect (maybe healthier people are more likely to have sex), sex can be beneficial for health. "Of course sex feels good, but it also gives us the opportunity to work out nearly every muscle in the body and connect with another person," says Goedereis. "Sex has also been shown to boost the body's immune response, reduce stress, and even control one's appetite, among other things." Two to three orgasms a week yields best benefits. Doctor's orders. 

Floss every day

Daily flossing not only gets rid of food trapped between your teeth but also removes the film of bacteria that forms before it has a chance to harden into plaque—something your toothbrush cannot do. Periodontal disease from lack of flossing can trigger low-grade inflammation, which increases the risk of early heart attack and stroke. Numerous studies link oral bacteria to cardiovascular disease. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day.

Have a positive attitude

Think being mean and ornery is what it takes to live to 100? That's what scientists at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in the Bronx, New York thought until they studied 243 centenarians. When the researchers assessed their personalities, they discovered that most had a positive outlook on life, and were generally easygoing, optimistic, and full of laughter. 

If nothing else, try to laugh more often—go to comedy shows, take occasional breaks at work to watch silly videos on YouTube, or spend time with people who make you smile. "Laughter helps decrease blood pressure, reduce blood sugars, dull pain, and lower stress, all of which can make your body healthier," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and author of Better than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love.

Be social

Going to the movies or out for coffee with friends may help all of you grow old together. An analysis by Brigham Young University looked at data from 148 studies and found a clear connection between social ties and lifespan. "People with stronger social relationships have a 50% greater chance of continued living as compared to those with weaker relationships," says Lombardo. "Loneliness can also compromise your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease."

Go nuts

Snack on cashews, sprinkle chopped walnuts on your salad, stir almonds into your yogurt—however you eat them, it may be helpful. People who ate nuts several times a week had a reduced mortality risk compared with those who ate nuts less frequently (or at all), according to a 2013 study in a New England Journal of Medicine study. 

Nuts are high in antioxidants, fiber, and unsaturated fatty acids, and they help lower your risk of heart disease. "They are known to possibly improve certain risk factors for diabetes as well," says Keri Gans, RD, a New York-based nutrition consultant. As a healthy but high-calorie snack, limit portion sizes to 1 ounce, or about 20 nuts.

Find your purpose

Regardless of your age, finding purpose in life may help you live long enough to make a difference. In a study of 6,000 people, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York found that people who had a greater sense of purpose were less likely to die during the 14-year study than those who were less focused on a goal. "People who have a sense of purpose in their lives may be more likely to take steps to be healthier," says Lombardo. To develop a sense of purpose, focus on the positive impact you are making at work or at home instead of getting caught up with every little detail being perfect, she suggests.


How to calculate your maximum heart rate for running

Defining maximum heart rate (HR max) is easy: it’s the highest number of beats per minute your heart can pump under maximum stress.

Determining your maximum heart rate, however, is a little bit harder – but don’t despair.

There are several methods to calculate or estimate your maximum heart rate for running. Here are some of the most popular, arranged from the simplest to the most accurate.

First, though, a little background.


Heart rate-based training enables you to run at the right intensity in order to reach your training goals. In other words, training smart is better than always training hard.

Training intensity is divided into five heart rate zones – from very light to maximum intensity. The heart rate zones are calculated as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

To determine your personal heart rate zones, you first need to know or estimate your maximum heart rate.

For example, within heart rate zone 4, you’ll be training at 81–90% of your HR max and increasing your maximum performance capacity.

To determine your personal heart rate zones, you first need to know or estimate your maximum heart rate.





Your maximum heart rate can be estimated from the commonly used formula: 220 minus age. While a good starting point, research has shown that this formula is not perfectly accurate for all people, especially for people who have been fit for many years or for older people.

You can use our Maximum Heart Rate Calculator below to estimate your HR max using this method.


Besides estimations and tests, you can determine your maximum heart rate by putting on your running shoes, firing up your heart rate monitor and heading out into the real world.

You won’t need fancy laboratory equipment for the field test but you’ll still get an accurate and personal estimation of your maximum heart rate. The premise is simple: you warm up properly and then do an exercise that brings you close to your maximum effort.

For an example field test, see the end of this article.

Please note that for a maximum effort field test it’s best to call a friend and have them join you, just to be on the safe side. Also, make sure you have some hard training under your belt from recent weeks.



What You Should Eat During and After Antibiotics

Antibiotics are a type of medication used to treat bacterial infections. They work by killing the infection or preventing it from spreading.

There are many different types of antibiotics.

Some are broad-spectrum, meaning they act on a wide range of disease-causing bacteria. Others are designed to kill certain species of bacteria.

Antibiotics are very important and effective at treating serious infections. Yet, they can come with some negative side effects.

For example, excessive antibiotic use can damage your liver. One study has shown that antibiotics are the most common medication to cause liver injury.

Antibiotics may also have negative effects on the trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in your intestines. These bacteria are collectively known as the gut microbiota.

In addition to killing disease-causing bacteria, antibiotics may kill healthy bacteria.

Taking too many antibiotics can drastically change the amounts and types of bacteria within the gut microbiota, especially in early life.

In fact, only one week of antibiotics can change the makeup of the gut microbiota for up to a year.

Some studies have shown that changes to the gut microbiota caused by excessive antibiotic use in early life may even increase the risk of weight gain and obesity.

Furthermore, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, making them ineffective at killing disease-causing bacteria.

Finally, by changing the types of bacteria living in the intestines, antibiotics can cause intestinal side effects, including diarrhea.

SUMMARY:Antibiotics are important for treating infections. However, if overused, they can cause long-term changes to healthy gut bacteria and contribute to liver damage.

Take Probiotics During and After Treatment

Taking antibiotics can alter the gut microbiota, which can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhea, especially in children.

Fortunately, a number of studies have shown that taking probiotics, or live healthy bacteria, can reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

One review of 23 studies including nearly 400 children found that taking probiotics at the same time as antibiotics could reduce the risk of diarrhea by more than 50%.

A larger review of 82 studies including over 11,000 people found similar results in adults, as well as children.

These studies showed that Lactobacilli and Saccharomyces probiotics were particularly effective.

However, given that probiotics are usually bacteria themselves, they can also be killed by antibiotics if taken together. Thus, it is important to take antibiotics and probiotics a few hours apart.

Probiotics should also be taken after a course of antibiotics in order to restore some of the healthy bacteria in the intestines that may have been killed.

One study showed that probiotics can restore the microbiota to its original state after a disruptive event, such as taking antibiotics.

If taking probiotics after antibiotics, it may be better to take one that contains a mixture of different species of probiotics, rather than just one.

SUMMARY:Taking probiotics during antibiotic treatment can reduce the risk of diarrhea, although the two should be taken a few hours apart. Probiotics can also help restore the gut bacteria after antibiotics.

Eat Fermented Foods

Certain foods can also help restore the gut microbiota after damage caused by antibiotics.

Fermented foods are produced by microbes and include yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi, among others.

They contain a number of healthy bacterial species, such as Lactobacilli, which can help restore the gut microbiota to a healthy state after antibiotics.

Studies have shown that people who eat yogurt or fermented milk have higher amounts of Lactobacilli in their intestines and lower amounts of disease-causing bacteria, such as Enterobacteria and Bilophila wadsworthia.

Kimchi and fermented soybean milk have similar beneficial effects and can help cultivate healthy bacteria in the gut, such as Bifidobacteria.

Therefore, eating fermented foods may help improve gut health after taking antibiotics.

Other studies have also found that fermented foods may be beneficial during antibiotic treatment.

Some of these have shown that taking either normal or probiotic-supplemented yogurt can reduce diarrhea in people taking antibiotics.

SUMMARY:Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria, including Lactobacilli, which can help restore damage to the microbiota caused by antibiotics. Yogurt may also reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Eat High-Fiber Foods

Fiber can’t be digested by your body, but it can be digested by your gut bacteria, which helps stimulate their growth.

As a result, fiber may help restore healthy gut bacteria after a course of antibiotics.

High-fiber foods include:

  • Whole grains (porridge, whole grain bread, brown rice)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Bananas
  • Artichokes

Studies have shown that foods that contain dietary fiber are not only able to stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, but they may also reduce the growth of some harmful bacteria.

However, dietary fiber can slow the rate that the stomach empties. In turn, this can slow the rate at which medicines are absorbed.

Therefore, it is best to temporarily avoid high-fiber foods during antibiotic treatment and instead focus on eating them after stopping antibiotics.

SUMMARY:High-fiber foods like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables can help the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. They should be eaten after taking antibiotics but not during, as fiber may reduce antibiotic absorption.

Eat Prebiotic Foods

Unlike probiotics, which are live microbes, prebiotics are foods that feed the good bacteria in your gut.

Many high-fiber foods are prebiotic. The fiber is digested and fermented by healthy gut bacteria, allowing them to grow.

However, other foods are not high in fiber but act as prebiotics by helping the growth of healthy bacteria like Bifidobacteria.

For example, red wine contains antioxidant polyphenols, which are not digested by human cells but are digested by gut bacteria.

One study found that consuming red wine polyphenol extracts for four weeks could significantly increase the amount of healthy Bifidobacteria in the intestines and reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol.

Similarly, cocoa contains antioxidant polyphenols that have beneficial prebiotic effects on the gut microbiota.

A couple studies have shown that cocoa polyphenols also increase healthy Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus in the gut and reduce some unhealthy bacteria, including Clostridia.

Thus, eating prebiotic foods after antibiotics may help the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that have been damaged by antibiotics.

SUMMARY:Prebiotics are foods that help the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and may help restore the gut microbiota after taking antibiotics.

Avoid Certain Foods That Reduce Antibiotic Effectiveness

While many foods are beneficial during and after antibiotics, some should be avoided.

For example, studies have shown that it can be harmful to consume grapefruit and grapefruit juice while taking certain medications, including antibiotics.

This is because grapefruit juice and many medications are broken down by an enzyme called cytochrome P450.

Eating grapefruit while on antibiotics can prevent the body from breaking down the medication properly. This can be harmful to your health.

One study in six healthy men found that drinking grapefruit juice while taking the antibiotic erythromycin increased the amount of the antibiotic in the blood, compared to those who took it with water.

Foods supplemented with calcium may also affect antibiotic absorption.

Studies have shown that foods supplemented with calcium can reduce the absorption of various antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin and gatifloxacin.

However, other studies have shown that calcium-containing foods like yogurt don’t have the same inhibitory effect.

It could be that only foods that are supplemented with high doses of calcium should be avoided when taking antibiotics.

SUMMARY:Both grapefruit and calcium-fortified foods can affect how antibiotics are absorbed in the body. It is best to avoid eating these foods while on antibiotics.

The Bottom Line

Antibiotics are important when you have a bacterial infection.

However, they can sometimes cause side effects, including diarrhea, liver disease and changes to the gut microbiota.

Taking probiotics during and after a course of antibiotics can help reduce the risk of diarrhea and restore your gut microbiota to a healthy state.

What's more, eating high-fiber foods, fermented foods and prebiotic foods after taking antibiotics may also help reestablish a healthy gut microbiota.

However, it is best to avoid grapefruit and calcium-fortified foods during antibiotics, as these can affect the absorption of antibiotics.


Meditation as a stress reduction technique

Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation.

One study including over 3,500 adults showed that it lives up to its reputation for stress reduction.

Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines.

These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.

In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stress.

Another study in nearly 1,300 adults demonstrated that meditation may decrease stress. Notably, this effect was strongest in individuals with the highest levels of stress.

Research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

SUMMARY:Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can also reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.

9 natural methods to have a great sex

The natural approach

Looking to spice up your sex life? There are a variety of things you can do in your everyday life that can help boost your libido and enhance your sex life.

1. Try eating certain fruits

Little evidence supports the effectiveness of certain foods, but there’s no harm in experimenting.

Figs, bananas, and avocados, for example, are considered libido-boosting foods, known as aphrodisiacs.

But these foods also provide important vitamins and minerals that can increase blood flow to the genitals and promote a healthy sex life.

2. Try eating chocolate

Throughout history, chocolate has been a symbol of desire. Not just because of its delicious taste, but because of its power to improve sexual pleasure.

According to one study, chocolate promotes the release of phenylethylamine and serotonin into your body. This can produce some aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects.

According to another study, the effects of chocolate on sexuality are probably more psychological than biological.

3. Take your daily herbs

Next time you decide to sit down for a romantic dinner, add a little basil or garlic to your dish. The smell of basil stimulates the senses. Garlic contains high levels of allicin, and increases blood flow.

These effects may help men with erectile dysfunction.

Ginkgo biloba, an extract derived from the leaf of the Chinese ginkgo tree, is another herb found to treat antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.

4. Take a tip from Africa

Yohimbine, an alkaloid found in the bark of the West African evergreen, has been known to work as as a natural Viagra.

Some studies suggest that Yohimbine bark can help you maintain an erection. It will also enhance the quality of an erection. However, researchers say there is no natural equivalent to match Viagra.

5. Boost your self-confidence

The way you feel about your body affects the way you feel about sex. An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise may cause you to have a poor self-image. These things can discourage you from having and enjoying sex.

You can boost your self-esteem and your sex drive by shifting the focus from your flaws to your attributes. You can also focus on the pleasure experienced during sex.

6. Stick to one glass of wine

Two glasses of wine might be one too many. Drinking one glass of wine can put you at ease and increase your interest in becoming intimate. But too much alcohol can ruin your ability to perform by affecting erectile function. Too much alcohol can also inhibit your ability to orgasm.

7. Take time to meditate and relieve stress

No matter how healthy you are, being stressed out is going to affect your sex drive. Women are particularly susceptible to the effects stress can have on one’s sex life.

Men, on the other hand, sometimes use sex to relieve stress. And sometimes differences in the approach to sex may cause conflict.

To relieve stress, participate in sports activities, practice tai chi, or take a yoga class.

8. Get plenty of sleep

Those with a hectic lifestyle don’t always have the time to get the right amount of sleep. Being busy also makes it difficult to make time for sex.

People who balance work with caring for aging parents or young children are often left exhausted, which can lead to a reduced sex drive.

Boost your energy and sex drive by taking naps when you can and eating a healthy diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

9. Keep your relationship in check

After you’ve had an argument with your partner, chances are you’re not in the mood to have sex. For women, sensing emotional closeness is important to sexual intimacy. That means unresolved conflicts can affect your sexual relationship.


10 ways of increasing the bones health

1. Know your family history.

As with many medical conditions, family history is a key indicator of bone health. Those with a parent or sibling who has or had osteoporosis are more likely to develop it. “So, how’s your bone density, Grandma?” might seem like an awkward question at Thanksgiving dinner, but ask anyway before she passes the gravy.

2. Boost calcium consumption.

When most people think bones, they think calcium. This mineral is essential for the proper development of teeth and bones. (Not to mention it’s a huge helper in proper muscle function, nerve signaling, hormone secretion, and blood pressure.)

But calcium isn’t the end-all, be-all bone loss cure. The key might be to help the body absorb calcium by pairing calcium-rich foods with those high in vitamin D. Some studies on postmenopausal women have shown that simply adding calcium alone to the diet doesn’t have a huge affect on bone density (though follow-up studies have suggested the opposite…)   .

Foods that are good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach, and collard greens. Not a dairy fan? Check out our list of non-dairy sources of calcium.

3. Don’t forget the vitamin D!

Where there’s calcium, there must be vitamin D: The two work together to help the body absorb the bone-boosting calcium. Boost vitamin D consumption by munching on shrimp, fortified foods like cereal and orange juice, sardines, eggs (in the yolks), and tuna, or opt for a vitamin D supplement. Greatist Expert Eugene Babenko suggests getting your vitamin D (specifically vitamin D3) levels checked at your next doctor’s appointment, and to discuss the use of supplements with your doctor.

The body also produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun — 10 to 15 minutes of exposure three times per week will do. Vitamin D’s importance to bone health has been proven in studies on “seasonal bone loss” — elderly people can lose more bone mass during the winter because of lack of sun exposure  . Though these and many other studies on bone loss looked at elderly people specifically, bone health is all about prevention, so younger folks should catch a few rays to stock up on D.

4. Boost bone density with vitamin K.

Vitamin K is mostly known for helping out with blood clotting, but it also helps the body make proteins for healthy bones. However, the exact way vitamin K contributes to bone health is unclear. Two studies on young girls showed that vitamin K had different effects: One showed that vitamin K slowed bone turnover, but it didn’t have any effect on bone mineral density, while the other found the reverse  .

Another study specifically compared the effects of vitamins K and D on calcium absorption in rats, and it turns out the two vitamins work well as a team: Vitamin D stimulated calcium absorption in the intestines, while vitamin K reduced the amount of calcium excreted by the body .

Regardless of how vitamin K might help, fill up on it with foods like kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, and spinach.

5. Pump up the potassium.

Potassium isn’t necessarily known for aiding bone health: It’s a mineral that helps nerves and muscles communicate and also helps cells remove waste. But it turns out potassium may neutralize acids that remove calcium from the body.

Studies in both pre- and postmenopausal women have shown that a diet high in potassium can improve bone health  . In fact, the study involving premenopausal women showed an 8% difference in bone density between women with high potassium intake and those with low potassium intake .

Load up on potassium by eating foods like sweet potatoes, white potatoes (skin on!), yogurt, and bananas.

6. Make exercise a priority.

Seriously. Regular exercise is key to keep a number of health issues at bay, and bone health is no exception. In fact, living a sedentary lifestyle is considered a risk factor for osteoporosis . One study comparing bone density in college women with various body weights and activity levels found that athletes with low body weight had the highest bone density of any group in the study, showing exercise (and low bodyweight) can have a positive effect on bone density .

What type of exercise is most effective? Weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, jumping rope, skiing, and stair climbing keep bones strongest. Resistance training has also been shown to improve bone health in several studies, so pick up the weights after going for a jog   . Bonus for the older readers: Improved strength and balance helps prevent falls (and the associated fractures) in those who already have osteoporosis.

7. Consume less caffeine.

Caffeine does have some health benefits, but unfortunately those benefits aren’t for our bones. Too much of it can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. One study showed that drinking more than two cups of coffee per day accelerated bone loss in subjects who also didn’t consume enough calcium . Another study (albeit on elderly women) showed that more than 18 ounces of coffee per day can accelerate bone loss by negatively interacting with vitamin D . So enjoy the java, but keep it in moderation and consume enough calcium, too.

8. Cool it on the booze.

…But like caffeine, there’s no need to quit entirely. While heavy alcohol consumption can cause bone loss (because it interferes with vitamin D doing its job), moderate consumption (that’s one drink per day for women, two per day for men) is fine — and recent studies actually show it may help slow bone loss   . Bottoms up!

9. Quit smoking.

Here’s yet another reason to lose the cancer sticks: Multiple studies have shown smoking can prevent the body from efficiently absorbing calcium, decreasing bone mass  .

10. Don’t be an astronaut.

Not to kill any childhood dreams, but because of those hours and hours of weightlessness and low-calcium diets, astronauts often suffer from space-induced osteoporosis. Space- anything sounds kind of awesome, but space bones definitely aren’t: Astronauts can lose up to one to two percent of their bone mass per month on a mission! For those who simply must visit the moon, there is a possible solution: Two studies have found that vitamin K can help build back astronauts’ lost bone — more than calcium and vitamin D  .


Neuroplasticity: The 10 Fundamentals Of Rewiring Your Brain

Ten Fundamentals Of Neuroplasticity

Science has confirmed that you can access neuroplasticity for positive change in your own life in many ways, but it’s not quite as easy as some of the neuro-hype would have you believe. In the article, “Neuroplasticity: can you rewire your brain?,” Dr. Sarah McKay, neuroscientist, says:

“Plasticity dials back ‘ON’ in adulthood when specific conditions that enable or trigger plasticity are met. ‘What recent research has shown is that under the right circumstances, the power of brain plasticity can help adults minds grow. Although certain brain machinery tends to decline with age, there are steps people can take to tap into plasticity and reinvigorate that machinery,’ explains Merzenich. These circumstances include focused attention, determination, hard work and maintaining overall brain health.”

In his book, Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life, Dr. Michael Merzenich (which Dr. McKay cites above), a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research and co-founder of Posit Science, lists ten core principles necessary for the remodeling of your brain to take place:

1. Change is mostly limited to  those situations in which the brain is in the mood for it. If you are alert, on the ball, engaged, motivated, ready for action, the brain releases the neurochemicals necessary to enable brain change. When disengaged, inattentive, distracted, or doing something without thinking that requires no real effort, your neuroplastic switches are “off.”

2. The harder you try, the more you’re motivated, the more alert you are, and the better (or worse)  the potential outcome, the bigger the brain change. If you’re intensely focused on the task and really trying to master something for an important reason, the change experienced will be greater.

3. What actually changes in the brain are the strengths of the connections of neurons that are engaged together, moment by moment, in time. The more something is practiced, the more connections are changed and made to include all elements of the experience (sensory info, movement, cognitive patterns). You can think of it like a “master controller” being formed for that particular behavior, which allows it to be performed with remarkable facility and reliability over time.

4. Learning-driven changes in connections increase cell-to cell cooperation, which is crucial for increasing reliability. Merzenich explains this by asking you to imagine the sound of a football stadium full of fans all clapping at random versus the same people clapping in unison. He explains, “The more powerfully coordinated your [nerve cell] teams are, the more powerful and more reliable their behavioral productions.”

5. The brain also strengthens its connections between teams of neurons representing separate moments of successive things that reliably occur in serial time. This allows your brain to predict what happens next and have a continuous “associative flow.” Without this ability, your stream of consciousness would be reduced to “a series of separate, stagnating puddles,” explains Merzenich.

6. Initial changes are temporary. Your brain first records the change, then determines whether it should make the change permanent or not. It only becomes permanent if your brain judges the experience to be fascinating or novel enough or if the behavioral outcome is important, good or bad.

7. The brain is changed by internal mental rehearsal in the same ways and involving precisely the same processes that control changes achieved through interactions with the external world. According to Merzenich, “You don’t have to move an inch to drive positive plastic change in your brain. Your internal representations of things recalled from memory work just fine for progressive brain plasticity-based learning.”

8. Memory guides and controls most learning. As you learn a new skill, your brain takes note of and remembers the good attempts, while discarding the not-so-good trys. Then, it recalls the last good pass, makes incremental adjustments, and progressively improves.

9. Every movement of learning provides a moment of opportunity for the brain to stabilize — and reduce the disruptive power of — potentially interfering backgrounds or “noise.” Each time your brain strengthens a connection to advance your mastery of a skill, it also weakens other connections of neurons that weren’t used at that precise moment. This negative plastic brain change erases some of the irrelevant or interfering activity in the brain.

10. Brain plasticity is a two-way street; it is just as easy to generate negative changes as it is positive ones. You have a “use it or lose it” brain. It’s almost as easy to drive changes that impair memory and physical and mental abilities as it is to improve these things. Merzenich says that older people are absolute masters at encouraging plastic brain change in the wrong direction.