Posts Tagged ‘healthy sleep’

Happy (Tea)totalers

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

smallgreentea

Depression can sneak up on even the happiest among us.  But some groups seem to be more susceptible than others.  A recent study involving a group of older Japanese men and women who live in communities discovered that drinking green tea several times a day can significantly decrease incidence of depression in the group.  Green tea is also heavy on antioxidant properties and light on caffeine and is thought to be very good for overall health.  And now it can add “natural anti-depressant” to its roster of good attributes.

Of course choosing to live a healthy lifestyle can also make you happy, just as experiencing health problems can precipitate depression in many people.  Exercise can help release endorphins into your body, causing feelings of wellbeing and calm.  And seeking out feel good foods can also contribute to feeling happy (and healthy too).  Foods like wild salmon (rich in omega-3’s and vitamin D), lowfat or nonfat milk, (high in vitamin D and B12), blueberries and strawberries (high in antioxidants/great source of vitamin C) can all help fight free radicals that can cause cell damage and in turn compromise health.

Ideally we’d all eat healthy, vitamin and antioxidant rich food every day of our lives.  We’d train for marathons regularly, bicycle to and from work, and enjoy the requisite eight hours of sleep a night.  But most of us don’t live in this kind of world.  So do the best you can.  Take a walk after dinner.  Eat organically whenever possible.  And take your vitamins and supplements that help to fill in the nutritional gaps from your less-than-ideal-lifestyle.

And at the end of a particularly stressful or bad day, unwrap a little bit of dark chocolate (full of antioxidants), make yourself a cup of green tea, and end your day on a happy note.

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Learn health tips including how to achieve better cardiovascular health.  Read our health articles here.  We also carry natural stress relief solutions.

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/38595, “Green tea consumption is associated with depressive symptoms in the elderly,” Niu K, Hozawa A, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2009 Oct 14; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Division of Biomedical Engineering for Health and Welfare, Tohoku University Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, Sendai, Japan).

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Do what you want…sometimes

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

A Healthy Life Sign

We spend the majority of our lives enduring other people telling us what to do.  Teachers, bosses, and parents have filled our lives with no-no’s, admonishments, and well-meaning advice.  But here’s a radical idea-just do what you want.  If you want a chocolate bar, have one.  If you want to take a nap, go ahead.  If you feel like skipping down the street…you get the idea.

Something occurred to me after many sweaty hours at the gym, rifling through health magazines and reading countless advice columns.  Maybe obsessively counting calories and other deprivations work for some people, but they certainly don’t work for me.  In fact, it seems to have the opposite effect.  When I tell myself I can’t have something, I want it all the more.

Such is the human condition.

So I’m trying a different approach.  If one afternoon all I can think about is eating a hamburger with fries, I actually allow myself to go and get one.  Two things are accomplished.  Once I give into my craving, I am thereby sated.   Instead of eating everything else in its place and then still wanting the burger, I just have what my body wants and in the end I am convinced that I consume fewer calories overall.  After I’ve indulged in the “treat”, I don’t feel deprived and therefore will eat healthier over the next few days (or weeks in some cases).

I am absolutely not advocating a burger-large fries-pitcher-of-beer-a-day existence.  But I think cutting ourselves some slack once in a while is mentally healthy and can go a long way.  At the very least it can help us to manage our stress.  Because deep down, we all know what the healthy choices are.

Remember, eat as healthy as possible, get plenty of exercise, and catch up on as much sleep as time permits.  It’s your healthy life.  Now go enjoy it!

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To learn more daily health tips, please read our health archives.  Some of our favorites supplements that can boost your immune system, improve sleep patterns, and can promote heart health are found on our products page.

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I Want Candy!

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Pick supplements and not sugar for better health

“The sugar rush.”  Sometimes nothing else will do.  When I’m face to face with a box of candy, or a malted milk, I am truly powerless to resist.  And with a certain chocolate-centric holiday just around the corner, I have to tread lightly, or else I will fall into a different category, “the sugar coma.”

All joking aside, sugar is delicious and wonderful to enjoy, especially on holidays and birthdays.  But it is also full of empty calories.  For example, the average soda these days contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar.  10!  Even though I’m a sugar fanatic, I can’t bring myself to drink much soda anymore.  And that’s a great thing.  Instead I substitute milk, mineral water with a little lime, or even a small glass of wine and I save myself 100’s of calories a day.

Diabetes is on the rise.  It’s sad but true.  Some hypothesize that everything we eat nowadays is laden with sugar, and perhaps these ideas are not far off.  Be sure to check your food labels for hidden sugars, even in items like crackers, soups, and tomato sauces.  Awareness can make the difference in your health and also in your waistline.

Reward yourself properly.  As a society, we tend to reward a promotion, good grades, or any other success or special occasion with a big meal and lots of treats.  Choose wisely.  Now I love cake as much as the next person, but maybe it’s a better (and certainly healthier) idea to splurge on a massage, a night at the theater, or even a new outfit.  You will ultimately feel better, weigh less, and perhaps even spend a little quality time appreciating something you wouldn’t normally do.

Keep up the exercise, and work in lots of vegetables and fruits into your diet.  Take vitamins and supplements like Calcium, CoQ10, and Omega-3.  Get a proper night’s sleep as much as possible, and then, if all else fails, have that chocolate chip cookie with extra walnuts.  But just a couple.  Wash them down with a nice, cold glass of nonfat milk.  You’ve earned it!

Happy Valentine’s Day

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the power of downward facing dog

Monday, February 8th, 2010

yoga woman at peace

Have you ever gone on a hike, a walk, or a run and felt tired but also very relaxed and at peace afterwards? We thought so. That is the magic of exercise and of focusing on something other than every day minutiae. Yoga classes, meditation and even simple relaxation techniques can also quiet the noise within and calm the mind. And it turns out that these practices are exceptionally good for your health. A recent study was conducted on cancer patients who were asked to try an 8-week stress reduction program and the results were staggering:

In a study involving 49 patients with breast cancer and 10 patients with prostate cancer, participation in an 8-week “mindfulness-based stress reduction” (MBSR) program was found to enhance quality of life, reduce stress symptoms, reduce cortisol levels, improve immune patterns, reduce systolic blood pressure and improve mood. The 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program consisted of relaxation, meditation, gentle yoga, and a daily home practice. Various measurements were taken pre- and post-intervention, and at 6 and 12 months follow-up. Results of linear mixed modeling showed significant improvements in overall symptoms of stress after the intervention, which remained over the follow-up period. Reductions in pro-inflammatory cytokines, cortisol levels, systolic blood pressure, and mood disturbances were found. Furthermore, heart rate was positively associated with symptoms of stress. The results of this study suggest that participation in activities such as those included in this mindfulness-based stress reduction program may be of great benefit to cancer patients, with beneficial effects lasting well beyond the intervention. The authors conclude, “These pilot data represent a preliminary investigation of the longer-term relationships between MBSR program participation and a range of potentially important biomarkers.”

You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a renown Yogi to enjoy the benefits of exercise and relaxation. If you are short on time, buy a yoga or Pilates DVD, or simply find a nice place to sit, breathe, and quiet your mind for a few minutes. All together now: “Om”

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To learn more about managing stress levels for better health, see our health archives. Stress can compromise the immune system, cause irregular unhealthy sleep, and can even contribute to unwanted weight gain. Our effective, high quality supplements Relora® and Dual-Release Melatonin can really make a difference in your stress levels and can promote healthy sleep patterns.

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/36457, “One year pre-post intervention follow-up of psychological, immune, endocrine and blood pressure outcomes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in breast and prostate cancer outpatients,” Carlson LE, Speca M, et al, Brain Behav Immun, 2007 May 21; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Linda E. Carlson, Department of Psychosocial Resources, Tom Baker Cancer Centre Holy Cross Site, Alberta Cancer Board, 2202 Second St. S.W., Calgary, Alta., Canada T3B 0W7; Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada).

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To be or not to be…an ice cream sundae.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

woman with salad and antioxidants

You are what you eat.  Yes, a hackneyed expression, but nevertheless true.  I always feel better if I eat in a healthy way, and usually feel vaguely guilty if I’ve indulged in too much fat, sugar, or alcohol-and usually it’s a combination of all three-especially around the holidays.

If you’re anything like me, it can be very difficult to stay motivated.  For example, I like the gym, but I like sleeping more.  I enjoy sautéed Swiss chard, but I’d much rather have an oversized ice cream sundae dripping with chocolate sauce.  It’s very easy and tempting to stray off the healthy, antioxidant path.  There are cookie-laden forests and lakes of freshly whipped cream to explore instead!  But these empty calorie treats-as good as they may be-are nutrition traps.  What’s more, they aren’t doing anything to fortify my immune system.  I want to feel strong, healthy, and in control of my health destiny as much as possible.

So I recommit.  Every day to a healthy way of life.  For me, putting my continued good health at the top of my “to do” list empowers me to carry on with my eating-right-and-exercising-routine.  The fact that I will look better in my clothes is a nice byproduct, but not the main reason that I try very hard to take care of myself.  I cram as many antioxidant-enriched foods as I can possibly stand into my daily routine.  My body then has the tools it needs to fortify my immune system and defend against free radical damage and hopefully against various diseases and health conditions too.

In fact, there was a recent study conducted tracking midlife eating habits of Swedish twins.  It was hypothesized that those who fortified their diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables mid life seemed to lessen their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, compared with twins who did not eat as many antioxidant enriched foods.

I decided long ago to hedge my bets and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet replete with plenty of antioxidants.  I am also sure to take Omega-3 fatty acids and highly absorbable multivitamins and vitamin D supplements every day for better health.  By committing to good health habits on a regular basis, I can still have my sundae and eat it too-and that makes me very, very happy.

Be healthy and enjoy all of the holiday festivities!

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To read more about powerful antioxidant support, check out our health archives. Happy holidays from all of us at Solanova!

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/38666“Midlife Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Risk of Dementia in Later Life in Swedish Twins,” Hughes TF, Andel R, et al, Am J Geriatr Psychiatry, 2009 Nov 10; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Pittsburgh, PA, USA).

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Healthy is always helpful!

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

solanova blood sugar support supplements

Ever notice that when you’re really tired, rushed or stressed out that you also seem sluggish, fuzzy, and unmotivated?  I can only speak for myself, but I’ve noticed a pattern that I have to assume is fairly common.

Perhaps I have a particularly taxing week at work, and then the car breaks down, then I’m late for a flight that I already had to reschedule once before, and now the presentation won’t be done on time.  Stress then rears its ugly head, which in turn makes me count cracks in the ceiling all night, which leads to me feeling less than svelte as I go about my daily routine.

And then this domino effect continues.  It pervades my eating, drinking and exercising habits in an insidious way.  I start to make excuses why I absolutely have to have that maple doughnut bar oozing with sugary goodness, or that double cheeseburger-with fries of course, otherwise the burger is lonely.  Top all that off with a triple fat full mocha with extra whip and candied orange peels.  Here’s the troubling thing; all this actually makes me feel better!  I have more energy and I’m sated.  I can focus on my work, on driving, on saving that little kitten in the big Oak tree.  I feel like superman!

Until I don’t.  Then the crash comes, oh how I resent you sugar crash!  Just when I thought everything was going so well.  But I was simply fooling myself, masking what my body really needed with my out of control crazy cravings for sugar, caffeine, and lots o’ fat.  That’s not to say that there isn’t a time and place for indulgence.  But I was using this sustenance as a kind of super fat-sugar-coffee inflated life raft, rigged to help me handle my stressful, insomniac existence.  However, my little plan failed me miserably, so much so that I slogged home and blended myself an extra thick margarita for good measure.

At the risk of sounding like a 90’s fitness icon, it was time for me to “stop the insanity.”  I knew better.  I knew that the stress hormone cortisol was working against me and making me eat things I knew I shouldn’t.  And the fact that I wasn’t getting enough sleep made it all the worse.  My body craved instant (but not sustainable) energy to make it through the day and I ate it in abundance.  What I really should’ve done was take my vitamins, had one cup of coffee (which is my usual, sane practice), eaten my bran cereal, gone to work, drank plenty of water, had a very sensible and fuel-laden lunch of salad, a low fat turkey sandwich, and maybe some fruit which is my usual custom.  I then would’ve had enough sustained energy and patience to deal with the missed flight and the broken down car and maybe, just maybe, I still would’ve gone to the gym, just to blow off a little steam lifting weights.

Now I know better.  And you should too.  This is my cautionary tale.  It’s fine to have treats, but don’t rely on them to keep you going.  They will let you down every, single time.

Happy holidays.  And by the way.  Who moved my eggnog latte??

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Want to read more about enhanced energy and daily health?  Check out our health concerns archives.  And even if you overdo it at the dinner table, there is digestive help.  We also have powerful  probiotics to promote a healthy digestive tract and help synthesize vitamins and nutrients.

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To sleep perchance to dream

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Solanova Dual Release MelatoninNot being able to get to sleep or to stay asleep is one of the most frustrating things in the world.  Without proper sleep, it’s hard to do your job, stay healthy and enjoy life in general.  But now there is some exciting research that has concluded that taking a Melatonin supplement can make a huge difference and can assuage insomnia.  All without side effects or addictive properties.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled, multi-center study involving 170 primary insomnia outpatients (aged 55 years or older), treatment with prolonged-release melatonin (2 mg/d) for a period of 3 weeks was found to improve quality of sleep and morning alertness, without producing any rebound insomnia or withdrawal effects after discontinuation of treatment. Improvements in quality of sleep and morning alertness were strongly correlated, suggesting “a beneficial treatment effect on the restorative value of sleep.” When the effects of prolonged-release melatonin were assessed in a subgroup of subjects with greater symptom severity, similar beneficial effects were found. Adverse events were not common, with most side-effects considered minor. The authors conclude, “PR-melatonin is the first drug shown to significantly improve quality of sleep and morning alertness in primary insomnia patients aged 55 years and older�.” Vitasearch Comment: Since drugs can lead to dependence, it may be appropriate to try PR-melatonin 2-3 mg/d 60 minutes before bedtime for the treatment of insomnia.

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To read more about sleep problems, click here.  Try Solanova’s special Dual-Release Melatonin, a time release formula that delivers Melatonin at different intervals to increase duration of sleep and to improve your quality of sleep.

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/37146

“Prolonged-release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects,” Lemoine P, Nir T, et al, J Sleep Res, 2007; 16(4): 372-80. (Address: Nava Zisapel, Department of Neurobiochemistry, The George S Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. E-mail: navazis@post.tau.ac.il ).

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Cold Shoulder

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Very few things are more of a bummer than a summer cold.  While everyone else is playing in the pool, enjoying a warm, relaxing day at the beach, or boarding a plane for some exotic destination, you are sequestered at home, watching Dr. Phil reruns.

Yep.  Summer has given you the cold shoulder.

You retrace your steps.  In the wintertime, when the flu was spreading like wildfire, you were really methodical about getting enough rest, taking your antioxidants and vitamins to boost your energy level and ensure continued good health.  But then the clouds cleared, the sun shone brightly and you forgot all about your previous wellness regime.

Aside from staving off colds and other ailments, vitamins and antioxidants could help to lessen your risk of developing some kinds of cancers.  Having trouble with the summertime blues?  A recent study indicates that an increased daily dosage of Omega-3 fatty acids may help fight depression in adults and children.

What are you waiting for?  Click here to order up some healthy antioxidant supplements. Then go enjoy the rest of your summer!

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Check out Solanova’s health concerns page to learn more about healthy living.  And be sure to visit our product section to purchase additional antioxidant supplements.  Here’s to your health!

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/38324, Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies,” Osher Y, Belmaker RH, CNS Neurosci Ther, 2009 Summer; 15(2): 128-33. (Address: Ministry of Health Beer Sheva Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. E-mail: yamy@bgu.ac.il ).

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Let the Sunshine in

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Sunshine brings Vitamin D

You know that big, scary, powerful, orange fireball in the sky?  No? You mean you’ve been hiding from it for the last, say, twenty years?  Much like eggs and the cholesterol battle, our poor, neglected sun has been getting a bad rap lately.  That’s not to say you should go old school, break out the bathing suit and slather yourself with baby oil, but it turns out that a little- i.e. 15 minutes-of unprotected sun exposure 3 times a week can be good for you.  Yes, good for you.

There’s a good reason we have a sun smiling down on us (and who could afford the heating bill otherwise?).  We are running a vitamin D deficit; some studies show that overall we get 50% less vitamin D absorption than we need for a healthy lifestyle.  Vitamin D is best known for aiding calcium absorption and building strong bones but is now thought to also help thwart certain types of cancer, heart disease and other chronic health conditions.  Taking a quality supplement can help with our shortage of this crucial vitamin.  And the sun wants to help us out too.  Vitamin D is so vital to our health that our bodies manufacture it automatically, but only after our skin has been exposed to ample sunlight.

So toss off that oversized hat and leave the sun block at home-for a few minutes anyway.  It’s time to catch some rays, literally.  And be sure to take your vitamins too.  After all, they’re good for you and will help you have a happy and healthy summer.

Enjoy!

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Want to read more about vitamin D and calcium?  Check out our health library for more information.  Besides a healthy serving of sunshine, we offer several nutritional supplements that can aid vitamin D absorption and supplementation.  Liqui-Calcium is a high-powered amalgam of six essential sources of calcium which includes vitamin D and other minerals.  And our renown multi vitamin, MultiSential Plus, boasts a complete blend of vitamins and minerals including 600 IU’s of vitamin D.

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Got (enough) sleep?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Solanova Melatonin for Sleep Support

You’re not alone. We’ve all been there: Staring at the clock at 2 a.m., unable to sleep.

There are conflicting beliefs about how much sleep we need – but it’s clear there is a rough range to aim for. Getting too much or not enough sleep can have a negative effect on our health. Many studies show 7 to 8 ½ hours is your best bet for giving your body and brain enough time to restore. And although some research has shown 6 hours of sleep can be sufficient, fewer than 5-6 hours (or more than 9 hours) might be a detriment to not just our daytime energy and performance but also our health, possibly leading to health issues including heart health concerns, diabetes and obesity.

There are many factors that may be contributing to our insomnia. Some studies show that duration of sleep appears to decline with age. As well, stress, anxiety, depression, jet lag or even our sleep environment can all affect our ability to get a good night’s sleep. Other culprits could be medical conditions, medications or possibly just decreased levels of the hormone Melatonin. As we age, we produce less of this naturally occurring hormone in our brain that helps regulate sleep. In fact, those of us over 60 produce very little Melatonin at all.

There is good news:
There are some very easy things we can do to help us get a more restful and longer night’s sleep. First, it’s important to create a relaxing and soothing atmosphere in your bedroom. This means no t.v. in the room, as well as making sure to never do work or anything else stressful while lying in bed. It helps to train your body and your brain that once you retire to bed, it’s time to slow down, relax and go to sleep. (Although the common belief is that t.v. is “relaxing”, in fact it involves our brain, sometimes even creating elevated levels of adrenaline which make it hard to fall asleep.) Rather than watch t.v., some individuals find it helpful to read or even meditate for at least half an hour to help introduce relaxation.

Next, be sure to incorporate a regular exercise program into your routine. Studies have shown that regular exercise can fight insomnia. However, try not to exercise too close to bedtime as it takes time for regular stress hormones to decrease after a workout. Finally, it also helps to try and avoid caffeine, alcohol, food, and t.v. at least 2 hours before bedtime. In addition, consider the supplement Melatonin. Be sure to invest in a high quality Melatonin like ours that is specially formulated for dual-release: 1.5 mg is released immediately after ingestion and 1.5mg is released gradually over a 6 to 8 hour period. The first phase helps you fall asleep quickly, the second phase helps you to stay asleep.

Sweet dreams!

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Click here to read about insomnia and the proactive ways to help yourself feel better and get a good night’s sleep.  Sometimes stress can be an insomnia culprit.  Taking an all natural stress-relieving supplement can help.  Our nutritional supplement Relora® helps to relieve stress, anxiety, tension and can curb stress-related eating patterns and subsequent weight gain.  Try some today for a more restful sleep tonight.

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