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Friday, October 31, 2008

Beta Carotene and Smoking

People who smoked at least one pack a day or drank higher than average amounts of alcohol and took Beta Carotene or Vitamin A supplements were at a higher risk for developing lung cancer and a higher risk of dying.

Recent studies have shown that smoking and taking Beta Carotene supplements do not go together. Beta Carotene is an antioxidant, which means that it inactivates free radicals in the body. In the process it oxidizes and can become a kind of pro-oxidant or form oxidized by-products. Normally we don't have to worry about the by-products of Beta Carotene's antioxidant behavior. If you maintain a healthy diet with a variety of antioxidants they will work in combination to protect one another from oxidizing.

It appears that smokers on the other hand do have something to worry about. Two studies ending in the nineties found that people who smoked at least one pack a day or drank higher than average amounts of alcohol and took Beta Carotene or Vitamin A supplements were at a higher risk for developing lung cancer and a higher risk of dying. Each of these trials showed that Beta Carotene wasn't helping many of its smoking participants and was in fact hurting some of them. The first trial called The Alpha-Tocopheral, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Trial showed eighteen percent more lung cancer and eight percent more deaths in male smokers who took 20mg of Beta Carotene. The second trial called the Beta Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) initial results showed that there was twenty eight percent more lung cancer in the group of smokers and former smokers it had taking Beta Carotene and Vitamin A and seventeen percent more deaths. These results were so similar to the Cancer Prevention Trial final results that they told the participants to stop taking the supplements before the trial was scheduled to end.

Why is this so? Well, since it's thought that anti-oxidants protect each other from oxidizing scientists suspect that smokers don't have enough of the other types of antioxidant vitamins in their systems to prevent this from occurring. It has been found that smokers have low levels of Vitamin C in their blood stream-and that's' one of the antioxidants. So the Beta Carotene oxidizes in the body after it uses up its antioxidant properties an in effect becomes a free radical damaging or exacerbating damage done to the cells of smokers lungs which leads to abnormal cell growth and cancer. With low levels of other kinds of antioxidants in their bodies there's nothing to stop it. Scientists believe that the two antioxidants that work together to protect the body from Beta Carotene pro oxidant damage are Vitamins E and C.

If you are a smoker you should by no means try to avoid Beta Carotene or Vitamin A in your diet. These trials seem to show that all anti-oxidants work together to prevent cancer and isolating one or the other for consumption, especially in a non-natural form, simply negates its effects and sometimes causes problems. What you should be doing is focusing on eating a lot of foods with antioxidants in combination. There is no evidence as of current that suggests eating foods with Beta Carotene in them can increase the risk of cancer in smokers.


Source : Vincent Platania /

Author Vincent Platania represents the Stanley Home Products. Stanley Home Products has been in business since 1936, and offers high quality home and personal care products to keep your home and your body clean.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hiking Up The Mountain With Nutrition

Mountaineering is a strenuous activity; and the last thing you want to happen to you while in the mountains is to faint due to malnutrition. Thus, it is important to take the kinds of food that would help you survive in the mountains. Nutritionists say that mountaineers should take in as much carbohydrates as possible to quickly replenish the energy lost in hiking or climbing.

Carbohydrates provide one's body with glucose which functions as your body's fuel. Glucose can be extracted once carbohydrates have been broken down. Glucose joins the bloodstream and provides your body with energy it needs. Glucose can also be stored in your muscle tissues and in your liver.

Glucose maintains the body's endurance. If the body runs out of glucose in the bloodstream or in the muscle tissues, you will start feeling fatigue. Your muscles could not continue to perform at its optimal level. Since mountaineering consumes a lot of energy, it is advised to load your body with more carbohydrates.

It is highly recommended to start preparing your body's nutrition for your mountaineering expedition at least three days prior to the event. Your diet should compose of at least 70 percent carbohydrates. It doesn't necessarily mean you also have to increase your calorie content. Doing so would just make you gain weight.

The best thing to do is to reduce your protein and fat intake, instead. However, higher carbohydrate content in your diet runs you the risk of a decrease intake in other essential nutrients in the long run. That's why, carb loading would only do you good in the first few days. After which, you should get back to your regular diet.

Since mountaineering involves traveling at higher elevations, your food intake may change at higher altitudes. In fact, studies have shown that mountaineers tend to be more finicky when above 10 000 feet. In your choice of food to carry on your mountaineering trip, don't just consider the nutritional values. What good would nutritious food do if you don't feel like eating it?

Higher altitudes actually trigger anorexia and loss of appetite. Not only that, the body will go through an overall change in metabolism. Your body may not be able to digest some of the food you eat when you're at home. These are the reasons why mountaineering contributes to weight loss, on top of the fact that a climber should expect to burn more calories at elevated locations.

Because of this, you tend to consumer more food so pack more food than what you normally eat at home. Still, you will have to consider your nutrition intake. The recommended ratio is about 70% carbohydrate, and the rest for fat and protein. Fatty foods require much more oxygen to digest, thus, if you packed high-fat foods, it could slow down your acclimatization.

There are actually a lot of power bars which are specifically formulated for mountaineers available in the supermarkets. You could also check out their dehydrated foods and other packaged camping foods which are usually freeze dried. They won't weigh that much but they're packed with the nutrients you'll need to last for your trip.

However, as mentioned earlier, since you tend to become picky when it comes to food, plan your menu wisely. Pack foods that aren't only nutritious, but also palatable. Don't compromise your trip by packing food you're not willing to eat. You won't be able to enjoy the scenery when you're energy level's down.

Different people also have different dietary needs. Not all healthy camping foods work well with everyone. So that means you may have to experiment on what food works best for you. When you don't find a food appealing at a certain height, most likely, it won't taste any better higher up. Try to take with you the tastiest and healthiest foods you can find.

Mountaineering is one of the sports that you really need to prepare for. Aside from the physical training that you should get, you should always check that you're also getting enough nutrients to get through the activity. Even if you have the leanest body and the strongest lungs, but you weren't able to get proper nutrition, you may not thoroughly enjoy the trip as you'll probably get tired easily.

Source : Jake Saab /

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Bad Energy Drink Buzz

You don’t have to look far to get recent energy drink-related news. They are consistently a controversy in the news. The public touts all sorts of concerns – ranging from tooth decay to life-threatening caffeine and sugar dosages. These apprehensions over energy drinks are even more alarming when you realize that the energy drink market is primarily made up of unsuspecting children and teenagers…possibly your own kids!

Consumer reports show that the market for energy drinks has increased to over 75 percent just this past year; taking over for the once, more popular, soda market. However, like many who hear the news reports, you’re probably asking yourself – what exactly are the real health risks associated with the more popular energy drinks (Red Bull, Rockstar, and Jolt…just to name a few) - if any at all?

While energy drinks do “pump up the volume”, or rather increase one’s energy, this by no means is attributed to their healthy ingredients. In fact, your typically energy drink is nothing more than a combination of sugar, caffeine, and exotic-sounding stimulating substances – such as green tea extract, ginseng, and gurana. One widely accepted myth is that energy drinks are healthy – a common misunderstanding when you’re dealing with a drink that claims to increase your energy the same as say, exercise. Many parents and kids shrug off energy drinks as harmful because they understandably get them confused with more healthful sports drinks such as Gatorade, which is intended as a fluid replacement that actually replenishes an athlete’s vital electrolyte (sodium) levels, following very intense exercise. Energy drinks, on the other hand, are intended for quick bursts of alertness. The “caffeine rush” that they deal is similar to a few cups of coffee, and we all know how healthy a double full fat latte with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles is, now don’t we?

As you can see, energy drinks and sports drinks are used by two totally different crowds – energy drinks for the short burst of fuel-inducing energy they give computer hackers, truck drivers, club-goers, and students working those late night papers; while sports drinks are specifically intended to refuel the hydration of elite athletes.

But before you go running to your child’s room to inspect the empty cans that they left strewn across their bedroom floor to make a case against the dreaded energy drink, you may want to try to explain your concern rather then condemn their favorite beverages in a furry. Approach it from their level by explaining your concerns in a manner they will understand. For example, turn to their best friend - the Internet!

A new website called will provide your child with all they need to know about the health concerns surrounding energy drinks. This site provides valuable information you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, for example: the truth about energy drinks from real health professionals. explores the controversies surrounding energy drinks to the forefront. For example it discusses:

• How caffeine effects young people compared to adults.
• It talks about clinical studies that prove the more exotic-sounding ingredients in energy drinks - ginseng, gurana, and taurine – have no healthy properties.
• It notes that moderation is the key when it comes to energy drinks. They can provide a healthy alternative to coffee when consumed with a healthy diet.
• It reveals that even energy drink manufacturers admit that their beverages are not a substitute for good nutrition.

Knowledge is vital when it comes to your child’s realization of their body, and its limits when it comes to consuming any food or beverage.

Source : Amber Lynne /

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Healthy Tips : One-Minute Meditations You Can Do Anytime

Want an easy way to get stress relief any time you wish? You may know that meditation is a great way to relax, but feel it's too difficult for you. Here are some great, easy one-minute meditations which work anywhere.

Firstly, let's discover what meditation actually is. Meditation is just being -- it's not thinking about anything, or doing anything. It begins with a form of relaxed concentration. As you focus on something, stress drops away.

Here are four three simple one-minute meditations.

1. Breath Counting -- Easy

You can do this anywhere, with your eyes open or closed. Just breathe, and count your breaths in this way. Inhale deeply (without straining), counting ONE. Exhale. Inhale again, counting TWO, exhale. Inhale again, counting THREE, exhale. Inhale again, counting FOUR. Exhale. Repeat, inhaling and exhaling, starting your count again at ONE.

2. Choose a Sanskrit Mantra Which Appeals to You

Sanskrit mantras are powerful. They've been used for thousands of years to change lives of people who use them.

Repeat "Om Shanti Om" or just "Om", which is pronounced "Aaaummm", for a few minutes, with your eyes open or closed, and you'll feel much more relaxed. If you're going into a stressful situation, just keep repeating the mantra to yourself.

3. Photo Meditation from Your Favorite Vacation Location

If you've been on a relaxing vacation, look through your photos. If you have one photo which brings the ease of the vacation back to you, use the photo as a focus of a one-minute meditation.

Look at the photo, and imagine yourself in the scene.

4. Belly-Breathing at Traffic Lights

Driving becomes more enjoyable when you use traffic lights as a way to relax.

When you're stopped at a traffic light, start belly-breathing. This is similar to breath counting, but you're focused on your tummy area, around two inches below your navel.

Your belly expands with each inhale, and relaxes with each exhalation.

Want more stress relief tips? You'll get more information on stress management on the Just Stress Relief Blog at, and at the Easy Fab Yoga Blog at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to Prevent Bad Breath - 5 Food Types That Are the Key

For anyone that suffers from bad breath, a lot of their time and energy is usually spent on finding ways to fight bad breath. But wouldn't it be a much better idea to discover how to prevent bad breath in the very beginning? There are certain food types that have an effect on preventing bad breath. The one's that I will show you are not the foods to have, but the foods to avoid or reduce in your life.

Bad breath in 97% of cases is caused by volatile sulphur compounds, producing those nasty foul-smelling bacteria that gather on the top and back of your tongue. Regulating what you eat and don't eat is how to prevent bad breath.

1. High-protein foods such as cheese, milk, (actually all dairy foods in general), fish, meat, eggs, etc. when taken in large amounts, will feed the bacteria that cause bad breath. This is why a lot of people end up with bad breath when they are on the Atkins diet.

2. Foods that have high-sugar content will simply add fuel to the bacteria to reproduce and create more sulphur compounds. So taking mints, gum or other candy that contain sugar will make your breath worse, rather than better.

3. Onion and garlic are well known for creating bad breath. This is due to the fact that they are made up of odorous molecules that are actually sulphur compounds themselves.

4. Some foods are acidic in nature: such as coffee, tomato juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, etc. and the bacterium has been shown to react to the acid by reproducing much faster... not good.

5. Finally, alcohol will dry your mouth, which is the perfect environment for the bacteria to produce and multiply.

I'm definitely not saying that it will be easy to avoid the foods that I have listed above, but if you can make the effort to slowly reduce your intake over time, then in the long run it will make a huge difference. But avoiding these foods altogether is probably one of the best methods on how to prevent bad breath forever.

Andrew Johnstone has been helping people find possible causes and the best ways of how to prevent bad breath. Discover some of the ways for getting rid of bad breath here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Healthy Tips : Learn How You Can Save Money on High Health Care Costs - Even Without Health Insurance!

Today, if you have no health insurance, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you have an accident or major illness. The cost of health care has increased so much that it is impossible for many people to visit a physician when they are ill.

Emergency rooms are seeing more very serious illnesses now, because people do not visit their doctors when an illness is minor. Instead, they suffer with the illness until it becomes very serious, causing them to go to an emergency room instead. Fewer employers (smaller businesses in particular) are providing health insurance to their employees, leaving the employees the option of having no health care coverage or purchasing their own.

And the vast majority of families cannot afford to pay the full premium of health insurance, so most must choose to do without. In fact, some studies show that approximately 70 percent of Americans have either no health insurance or they are under-insured. Those who are considered poor, may qualify for assistance from the state or county in which they live. Each state has their own qualifying criteria, so those seeking such assistance will have to contact their own county or state for information.

In some states, the assistance is excellent for those who qualify, even paying for a taxi to transport them to their physician during inclement weather. In other areas, the assistance is minimal, i.e. a patient can have a tooth pulled and the county agency will pay for it, but they cannot have their tooth repaired, because it costs more.

So, if you are one of those with no health insurance for yourself or your family, what can you do to reduce your health care costs? There are several ways to reduce costs. Some are better than others, and some people will qualify for all of them, while others qualify for only one or two. We have all heard the horror stories of people going to an emergency room for an injury or illness only to have an extensive wait to be treated, often six hours or more.

A better alternative is to go to one of the many Urgent Care Centers that can be found in most cities. The wait to see a physician may not be quick, but it will most certainly be shorter than at the ER. And, if you are paying out of your own pocket, it will very likely be less expensive at the Urgent Care Center. To save money when you see your physician, you may want to join one of the discount health plan providers.

There are several companies that charge a monthly fee (sold either per person or per family or household), and when you visit their network of providers (which are usually available in abundance in large cities, fewer in smaller cities and towns); you pay a discounted rate for the services or treatment rendered. The discounts can vary from one area to another and depending upon the treatment received, from only about 15 to 50 percent or more.

These plans usually provide discounts on lab work and other tests ordered by your physician. Some also provide discounts at dentists, for prescriptions, vision care, chiropractic care and even elective procedures and alternative medicine. The discount plans usually have a monthly fee, paid by automatic debit that ranges from about $20 to around $60 per month, and often the fee covers an entire family/household. Another advantage of these programs is that, besides receiving discounted medical treatment, you need not get approval from an insurance company for tests or other treatment your doctor orders.

You will receive the discount on any treatment ordered by your doctor, and even for cosmetic surgery and other optional care. Also, everyone qualifies for these plans, and no one can be turned down. If you require a prescription, many physicians will provide you with samples, but you may have to ask. Pharmaceutical representatives provide many samples to doctors, wanting them to give them to their patients. There are also several Prescription Advocacy Programs that are suitable for those who take prescriptions regularly.

Each program has its own qualifying criteria, but they usually are restricted first by the income of the patient. Other criterion that sometimes comes in to play is whether or not the patient has insurance and whether the insurance will pay for particular medications.

You may have to become a member to receive the benefits of these programs, but the savings on your prescriptions can be huge. For instance, if all your monthly prescriptions total $200 per month, and you have no health insurance to cover any of the costs, you may be able to join a program for small start-up cost with an additional monthly fee. With one Prescription Advocacy Program of which I am aware, the sign-on cost is $25, and the monthly fee is $82 (per person).

Besides the monthly fee, you pay nothing toward the purchase of your prescriptions! Using the $200 per month example referred to above, you would save $118 every month. If you take even more prescriptions or very expensive prescriptions, you could save much more. If you are one of the unlucky many who have no health insurance, you may want to take advantage of one or all of these cost-cutting methods.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Control Your Blood Sugar With Natural Supplements

Diabetes is an inflammatory condition caused by the autoimmune system, and manifests as resting hyperglycemia. Your blood glucose levels have to be maintained within fine concentration limits: both too high and too low a blood glucose concentration can be dangerous to your well being.

Your blood glucose level is generally controlled by insulin and glucagons, both of which are biosynthesized in the pancreas. Insulin works by making the glucose bioavailable to the mitochondria to convert into energy, while glucagon, the lesser known of this twosome, stabilizes the level of insulin and mobilizes it to do its job. There are two types of diabetes, known as Type I and Type II or A and B.

Type I diabetes, also known as juvenile onset diabetes, is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system destroys Beta cells because they are recognized as being foreign. It is the Beta cells that generate insulin, and so the condition can be fatal. Patients with Type I diabetes must take insulin throughout their lives, and while potential cures are currently under investigation, none are yet available. Although insulin can be effective it does not guarantee survival, and a better form of treatment is required.

Type II diabetes is by far the more common of the two, and is a form of resistance to insulin, where the body cells cannot use insulin properly. The pancreas initially reacts to this by producing more insulin in response to the increased blood glucose level, but through time it loses its ability to produce insulin as a reaction to an increase in blood sugar, even though this occurs as a result of digesting a meal.

The exact causes of either type of diabetes are not known for sure, although the general mechanism by which they work is known. However, Type II diabetes is believed to be due to some form of interaction between genetics and environment, and it is known that the majority of Type II sufferers are obese and also over 40.

The treatment for this type of diabetes is rarely insulin, but a controlled diet, control of your cholesterol level and blood pressure, exercise and specific medicines designed for sufferers of this form of diabetes. However, there are also natural supplements that can be used to control your blood sugar levels. Diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death of the USA in 1999, with 450,000 deaths, and by 2005 had reached about 300 million sufferers world wide. It is therefore a serious and widespread condition, though Type II is less serious than Type I.

It is important to do what you can to control your diabetes, since after several years it can lead to problems with your nerves, eyes, kidneys and gums, and can also lead to heart disease. With diabetes you are at least twice as likely to have a stroke or heart problem as those without it, although you can reduce the risk of this by keeping your blood pressure under control, and the levels of fats in your blood to a minimum. Stopping smoking helps, and there are some natural treatments that can also help you control your diabetes.

The most important means of control is to reduce your blood sugar levels. While there are natural products that will help you to do that, do not stop taking the medication prescribed by your doctor, but use these in addition to what you are already taking. Among specific substances that can help are:

Chromium: chromium helps your body to use insulin properly. When taken in the form of chromium picolinate, it helps to replace chromium that diabetics appear to be short of. Human studies have indicated that chromium can decrease insulin levels and improve the metabolism of blood sugar in those with Type II diabetes. Some claim that chromium is harmful to health, but the general opinion is that it helps, though you should consult your doctor before using it.

Cinnamon: If you take cinnamon daily, your blood sugar levels should gradually decrease. It appears to enable your cells to make better use of the insulin your blood, although there still discussion as to the mechanism by which this occurs and of the active ingredient in cinnamon that promotes it. Some claim it to be a flavonoid known as methylhydroxychalcone polymer, or MHCP. However, others claim it not to be MHCP, but polyphenol type-A polymer. Whichever it is, many people are finding cinnamon to be effective in reducing high levels of blood sugar to a more manageable level.

Milk Thistle: It is known that antioxidants can help to control blood sugar, and the flavolignins in Silymarin marianum, an herbal extract available from milk thistle seeds, work in this manner. It is also good for protecting the liver from toxins. Although it is not clear how it is done, silymarin appears to help to control Type II diabetes possibly by way of liver digestion of sugars in the blood. The liver processed glucose and improving its function through the consumption of milk thistle could help reduce blood sugar as well. Mulberry: The Chinese make what is known as "sugar control herbal tea" from mulberry leaves, green tea and jasmine. Mulberry leaves contain adenine, pectin and choline, and also high levels of Vitamins A and B types. This tea is used by the Chinese to control blood sugar levels, which might occur through the antioxidant effect of the mulberry constituents.

Salacia oblonga: This is an herb used in India and Sri Lanka that appears to cause a dramatic drop in the levels of insulin and sugar in the blood. It binds to enzymes in the intestine that break carbohydrates down into sugars, and so reduces the amount of sugar in your blood. That in turn reduces the amount of insulin released by the pancreas.

Apple Cider Vinegar: There is evidence that apple cider vinegar can help to control your blood sugar levels if taken before a meal. Just two tablespoons appears sufficient to give a noticeable result. This is one of those home remedies that might be just anecdotal, but might also work, so is worth trying.

Zinc: It has been discovered that diabetics suffer a deficiency in zinc. This mineral plays a part in the storage and production of insulin in your body, and a deficiency could cause an increase in your sugar level. Oysters, pecans, almonds, lamb and chicken are all good sources of zinc.

Glyconutrient complexes: we know that diabetes is an autoimmune disease for type I individuals. Supporting a properly function immune system requires a good diet as well as a diet rich in Glyconutrients. The polysaccharides found in glyconutrient formulas can help the immune system communicate better with the body and just possibly correct some autoimmune diseases which attach our cells.

These are the natural supplements that people are taking to help control their blood sugar and diabetes. It is important that you take nothing that interferes with the medicines given to you by your physician, so you should let your doctor know of any natural supplement that you are using in addition to your prescription medicines. However, it is possible to control your blood sugar with natural supplements, and those mentioned above are just a few of the natural substances available that can help diabetics control their condition and so avoid the side effects.

About the Author

More information on blood sugar vitamins is available at VitaNet ®, LLC Health Food Store.