I've long recommended eating berries for their health-protective fiber and antioxidants. But new information about ellagic acid - an antioxidant found in numerous fruits, especially raspberries, strawberries and cranberries (as well as vegetables and nuts) - points to berries' potential as a topical application to help prevent collagen destruction and moderate the inflammatory response. A great deal of well-designed research shows that many compounds in berries, whether applied to the skin or eaten in the form of whole fruit, are among the most protective nutrients your body can utilize. Until topical ellagic acid based preparations are widely available, eating berries regularly is one of the best, not to mention tastiest, moves you can make for overall health.
Last Wednesday I covered five lifestyle measures to promote healthy vision, and today I discuss five more. Add these to an antioxidant-rich diet and a prudent supplement routine to help maintain visual health:
- Work in a well-lighted area. While dim lighting may not harm eyes, it can cause temporary eyestrain. When you do use artificial illumination, use full-spectrum light bulbs, which mimic natural light.
- Keep your computer screen clean, at or below eye level, and about two feet away from your eyes.
- Take frequent breaks. Look away from the computer screen or other reading materials every 10 minutes for about 10 seconds at a time. In addition, get up and move around or do some stretches every two hours or so.
- Get enough sleep. Fatigue can increase eyestrain, while rest refreshes tired eyes.
- See your eye doctor regularly. To catch potentially serious eye problems early, people ages 40 to 64 should have their eyes examined every two to four years and those who are age 65 and older should be tested every one to two years.
An estimated two million Americans have celiac disease, an inherited, autoimmune disorder that tends to run in families. Symptoms are caused by eating foods that contain gluten, and, like many autoimmune conditions, the disease itself can be triggered by physical and emotional stress.
If you are one of the one in 133 Americans with celiac disease, you should be following
Did you know that you can help promote healthy bones no matter what your age? It's not difficult - simply add the following foods to your diet:
- Non-fat dairy products. They are a good source of calcium, an essential mineral which is important to bone health.
- Non-dairy calcium-rich foods. Sardines, canned salmon (with bones), dark leafy greens, whole soy foods like tofu, and calcium-fortified products such as soymilk and orange juice are good calcium-rich options for those who don't eat dairy.
- Whole vegetables and fruit. They provide potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta carotene, all of which have been linked to higher total bone mass.
- Spinach, tofu, almonds, broccoli, lentils, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are good sources of magnesium - vital for healthy bones.
The experts and faculty at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AzCIM) have created this highly informative and interactive one-hour online course for anyone interested to learn more about prostate cancer. We encourage you to talk with your primary care provider, urologist, and/or oncologist if you have additional questions. Although this course is primarily intended for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, we also discuss risk factors, screening, and preventive measures that can help you or a loved one.
If you suffer from red, scaly, dry patches of skin that are extremely itchy, you may have eczema. Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is an allergy-related skin condition common in young adults, children and infants. Simple measures can often help to minimize symptoms and provide relief. Instead of turning to the topical steroids often prescribed for eczema, which I believe suppress the problem and may worsen it over time, try the six suggestions below and see if they work for you.
- Eliminate cows' milk and all cows' milk products from your diet, as well as foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (often found in snack foods and baked goods) and trans-fatty acids (margarine, vegetable shortening).
- Take 500 milligrams of black currant oil or evening primrose oil twice a day (half that dose for children younger than 12). These are sources of gamma-linolenic aid (GLA), an essential omega-6 fatty acid that promotes healthy growth of skin, hair and nails. You should begin to notice positive changes in six to eight weeks.
- Apply aloe vera gel (from a fresh plant or buy lotions or moisturizers containing aloe) or calendula cream to the affected areas of your arm.
- Experiment with lotions and salves containing chaparral (Larrea divaricata), a desert plant used topically in Mexican folk medicine for skin conditions.
- Bathe or shower as quickly as possible, and use a non-perfumed moisturizing soap. Apply a thick moisturizing cream immediately after patting yourself dry - don't rub your skin when you towel dry your body.
- Practice visualization and hypnotherapy. They can have a significant positive impact on allergy-related skin conditions. And try to relax - stress can make the condition worse. Explore relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and yoga.
Kasha boasts a wonderfully nutty flavor. You can buy it already toasted. If you buy the untoasted variety, toss it lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat until it colors. Hearty, but not too heavy, kasha is a staple of Northern Europe and Russia that is traditionally served as an accompaniment to meats, in pilafs or as the essential ingredient in traditional Jewish dishes like kasha varnishkes. Exotic though it may sound, kasha is just basic buckwheat groats, used like a grain, but botanically just a cousin of true grains. Once only available through specialty grocers, you'll find kasha in many health food stores and supermarkets now as well. So, by all means, go nuts with kasha!
Try this recipe: Kasha with Vegetables
The eye is a highly complex and sensitive organ that requires a careful combination of nutrients, protection, exercise and rest for optimal function. In addition to an antioxidant-rich diet and prudent supplementation, consider the following healthy habits to help maintain visual health:
- Don't smoke, and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking can decrease blood supply to the eyes by causing blood vessels to narrow and blood to thicken.
- Protect the eyes from the elements. Sunlight can damage the cells of the macula, which provides visual acuity. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that protect against at least 99 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- Use safety eyewear when working around potential hazards to help protect against injuries to vision.
- Stay active. Regular exercise promotes eye health by improving circulation and lowering the risk of diabetes.
- Keep blood pressure in check. High blood pressure increases the risk of glaucoma. Consider medication if lifestyle changes can't bring pressures into the normal range.