Archive for June, 2009

What is Pycnogenol?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Pycnogenol is derived from the bark of European coastal pines, and is an amazingly superior antioxidant. It is not that this particular antioxidant provides a stronger or higher amount of antioxidants that are somehow more capable of destroying larger quantities free radicals. What makes Pycnogenol a superior antioxidant is the fact that it posses a vast amount of proanthocyanidinsa. These proanthocyanidinsa are a superior/special class of water soluble antioxidants that happen to be excellent free radical scavengers.

The name scavenger sounds like some sort of ocean bottom feeder… let’s call them free radical bounty hunters. These special bounty hunters leave very few places for their intended targets to hide, unlike your regular run of the mill antioxidants. The non-water soluble antioxidants are very good at their job, they scoop up and destroy all the free radicals in plain sight… the ones that don’t run and hide. While the bounty hunters, the water soluble antioxidants, are capable of following these “bad guys” in all the deep dark places where they may hide and cause deadly diseases like cancer.

You see, both types of antioxidants are necessary to provide complete coverage. I cannot stress this point enough, external aging is a cosmetic issue that no one wants to deal with very quickly, but internal aging can be very dangerous because of the common illnesses that these nasty little free radicals cause. Also, as a powerful antioxidant Pycnogenol acts as a natural anti-inflammatory that binds to connective tissues, as well as a vasodilator. Actually, Pycnogenol has shown promise in improving many conditions earning it the name the jack of all trades. There are many studies from which to pick information, because there has been such extensive research on the supplement.

One of the 170 published studies shows that Pycnogenol has definite promise in promoting blood sugar stabilization. While another states a definite connection between the supplement and improved cardiovascular function. Still yet another has linked the supplement to better skin, less severe menstrual periods, improved cognitive function, and sports nutrition…just to name a few. Remember, there have been over170 published studies. Most recently there has been a buzz about the use of Pycnogenol for behavior problems in children. Of course it is important to mention that you should never self medicate a child; always-always check with your doctor before giving your child anything.

Pycnogenol taken in conjunction with another water soluble antioxidant, like grape seed extract, is a perfect way to ensure your body seeks out and destroys all water soluble free radicals… make sure you get all the bad guys! There is a wonderful supplement that will combine these two perfect antioxidants together in an all in one formula. Once you build up that team of bounty hunters within your body there will be no stopping them, and your chances of developing certain age related illness are greatly reduced. So, stop by the N101, check out your options, and arm your internal bounty hunters.

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Meal Replacements for the Athlete

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Meal replacement shakes, bars, and drinks no new fad in our busy society. Whether they meant for weight loss or as a nutritional supplement these popular meal substitutes are gaining ground. There are supplemental drinks for the young and the elderly to replace either lost or lacking nutrition, as well as dieters or hard training athletes. These drinks are specially formulated for the intended group, for instance you would not give a toddler a supplemental drink intended for an elderly person, as the nutritional values are different among these groups. This is also true for the specialty drinks that are intended for athletes and dieters. Drinking a regular supplement drink may not be the best idea for a dieter because many of these drinks are intended to replace lost calories or build mass.

However, drinking a regular, or dieters supplement drink for an athlete can prove dangerous and counter productive. The problem is that many of these supplement drinks, while they are filling, lack the nutritional value needed to actually replace a meal, especially the nutritional value of an athlete! This lack of nutrition leaves the body starving, and this nutritional starvation can lead to blood sugar highs and lows that cause cravings and result in poor diet choices, not to mention muscle injuries due to insufficient nutrients. These poor diet choices have a negative impact on the body, and your goal whether it is losing weight or building muscle. Finding a good meal replacement shake that actually supplies the active body with a good source of whole food nutrition can prove to be a difficult task… until now.

There is a meal replacement shake that was specifically formulated for the active, hard training body of an athlete called Labarda Lean Body Instant Breakfast Shake. As an athlete you obviously need more vitamins and minerals than your average everyday person, to avoid injury and sustain energy. But, it is also important that these nutrients come from a good whole food source to prevent unwanted fat. The company states that one easy to prepare shake contains “more concentrated muscle-building, fat-burning nutrition than 10 scrambled egg whites, a bowl of oatmeal, and a handful of vitamins.” Amazing!

Lets look a little closer at the actual whole food ingredients in the shake.

40/45/15 (carbohydrate/protein/fat) ratio of macronutrients: Specially formulated to give you long lasting energy in a bio-available.

Blend of time-release proteins: This LeanPro blend gives you a flow of vital amino acids. Amino acids support intracellular nitrogen retention levels for faster muscle growth and strength increases.

Over 9,000 mg of BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAS) that prevent muscle tissue breakdown.

10,000 mg of Glutamine & Glutamic Acid To prevent muscle breakdown.

35 grams of Whole Food Carbohydrates: These all natural whole carbs are slow releasing natural grains: brown rice, oats, and rice bran. They stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels, to promote greater energy and fat burning.

7 grams of natural dietary fiber

Fructooligosaccharides: Are pre-biotics to promotes a healthy and happy digestive system.

Contains Omega-6 fatty acids

6:1 ratio of potassium to sodium: This helps support ideal electrolyte and fluid balance.

Excellent source of 24 vitamins and minerals

On top of all this, this meal replacement shake fits perfectly in the life of any busy hard training athlete, because it is an instantaneous breakfast. Simply mix the powder with water, or skim milk, as you are running out the door, and drink it in the car on your way to the gym. This shake is a great way to help your body reach your desired limits and stay healthy in the process.

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Joint Support and Cartilage Health…

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Supporting joint and cartilage health is of the utmost importance to help prevent certain mid-life conditions such as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis among older individuals, and is generally caused by wear and tear on the joints over the years. Our joints are made up of bones, ligaments, and cartilage; after years of bending, kneeling, and generally supporting the full weight of the body these components become weak and wore down. All of this wearing and tearing leads to the painful inflammatory condition known as arthritis, and while there are hundreds of arthritic conditions that joint supplements can help, osteoarthritis is the most common among aging individuals.

The common components in joint health supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin. These two components contain molecules similar to those found in the bodies own natural cartilage. The idea is that replacing this lost or damaged cartilage will repair the past insults to the tissue, and thus prevent any further damage to the joint. As with any type of supplement prevention is ideal, because preventing damage is much easier than correcting it. However, looking for a good joint health supplement is so much more than taking straight glucosamine and chondroitin. There are some other ingredients that your joints can benefit greatly from, and finding an all in one formula will save you a lot of pain and aggravation. Here are some key ingredients to look for:

Omega 3 and 6 Essential Fatty Acids These ingredients are a very good addition to the formula because of their ability to lubricate the joint and allow it to move with ease. These two fatty acids are also an excellent way to reduce the painful symptoms and reduce swelling in the joint.

Niacin, Folic acid, and Vitamin B12 Have shown the ability to reduce inflammation as well as relieve pain in the joint.

Vitamin E Studies have suggested that vitamin E is useful at preventing cartilage loss.

Manganese Helps build healthy bone structure and joints.

MSM Reduces the symptoms that accompany joint wear and tear.

Stinging Nettle Extract Is molecularly similar to aspirin, this herb is also an excellent way to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Indian Frankincense Extract Is widely used as an anti-inflammatory herb for many different conditions.

Of course all joint health supplements need to contain the key ingredients glucosamine and chondroitin. But, taking an all in one joint supplement that contains the ingredients above will give your joints the TLC they need to heal and become less painful. On top of all this the supplement needs to be bio-available; this simply means that the supplement needs to be friendly to the body and easily absorbed rather than taken and quickly excreted. Making sure that your all in one formula is bio-available ensures that the body receives the benefits of the supplement, and that you are not simply wasting your time and money. You can find this amazing all in one formula at N101.com

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Essential oils: A Quick reference Guide

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Essential oils are the liquids that are distilled from plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, bushes, and seeds. Distilling these completely natural oils from plant life is an ancient process that has been carried out for centuries. In history the Egyptians seem to have been the leaders of the essential oil revolution, not long followed by the Chinese, and of course the Greeks. The Egyptians however seem to have realized long before anyone the powers that the oils possessed as not only a medicine, but as a cosmetic device, and they even used them in several of their religious ceremonies. They extensively explored the uses of the oils as part of their healing rituals, and they even played a large role in the legendary Egyptian embalming process. Around this same time the Chinese were integrating the use of the oils into their healing practices as well.

Some time later the Ancient Greeks learned the distilling process from the Egyptians, whom had been performing the procedure since at least 3,500 BC. As you all know the father of medicine himself, Hippocrates was a firm believer in treating the body holistically, and repeatedly included aromatherapy in his healing sessions. Recently there has been an explosion of artificial oils that are trying to trick consumers into believing that they hold all the healing properties that the completely natural oils do. Essential oils are completely 100% botanical matter, nothing more, nothing less. Do not accept any imitations as they don’t possess the healing powers of the natural oils. Using these artificial oils is no different from smelling a chemical based perfume; the only thing they may do is give you a head ache and possibly a rash from the chemicals.

Completely natural essential oils on the other hand are chalked full of benefits and are known to help people suffering from different ailments as well as induce a calming effect. Remember, essential oils can come from basically any plant so choosing one is completely up to you, let’s go over a few of the popular ones here.

Citrus Oils Citrus oils are by far among the most abundant; therefore they are usually the cheapest oils you can purchase. Citrus oils, including lemon, orange, and lime, do possess many benefits such as a mild disinfectant to the skin, as well as having the ability to sooth away muscle aches and pains. Orange oil in particular is very sweet smelling and does wonders for dull oily skin. Lemon oil is an excellent astringent that works well to tighten and tone skin, all while relieving stress and fatigue. And finally, lime oil is generally used for its ability to relieve depression and leave the person feeling content and energized.

Lavender Lavender oil is very popular because of its great smell; it and Jasmine are by far my two favorite smelling oils. Besides smelling so very lovely lavender is extremely healthy, it is an all around wonder oil. Like citrus oils, lavender is an excellent disinfectant, and also has the same calming effect. As a matter of fact lavender is so good at calming that it has become known for its ability to induce serious relaxation and sleep; recently it has been added to many baby bath products to sooth fussy babies. Lavender is also known to relieve pain, enhance blood circulation, and treat respiratory problems. With regular use lavender oils can reduce urinary problems, and build a better immunity to fight disease.

Frankincense oil A lesser known oil, frankincense is an essential oil with tons to offer. This oil is known for its abilities to tighten and rejuvenate mature skin, all while reducing an oily appearance. Also, frankincense oil is a wonderful remedy for the common cold, severe cough or bronchitis, rheumatoid conditions, promotes internal warming by increasing circulation, fights exhaustion, reduces the effects of heavy periods, and is an excellent over all treatment for respiratory problems.

Essential oils are multi-functional, they can be diluted and used as a fragrance to lotions and soaps, or they can be added to a bath to sooth muscle aches and pains all while inducing relaxation. Essential oils can also be added to vaporizers to treat internal conditions such as respiratory problems. Please understand that you don’t have to vaporize the oil to receive the healing benefits, because the oil is absorbed through the skin, and from there it enters the bloodstream. However, to treat respiratory problems vaporizing is the best option.

Another great way to use essential oils is as massage oil; this massaging action will help work the oil into your skin, as well as cleansing and disinfecting the skin during the massage. Not to mention the relaxation benefits. There are so many essential oils and so many uses for these oils that discussing all of them is simply impossible. To see a complete list of essential oils as well as the most common uses please visit your one stop essential oil shop.

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All About Ashwaganda, one of the world’s most useful herbs

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Ashwagada, also known as Indian ginseng, is a member of the pepper family and grows in hot dry climates of the world such as western India, northern Africa, and the Middle East. This small plant that grows to reach 2-3 feet in height is an amazing plant that possesses medicinal properties in every aspect, from its roots to the tips of its leaves, as well as the blooms and berries that grow on it. Also, there are nearly as many names for the plant as there are uses for it, some people may call it winter cherry, withania, or asgandh, and the spelling may very; Ashwagada vs. Ashwagandha. No matter what you call it, or how you spell it the facts about it are the same; it is a powerful and extremely popular herb that possesses many uses.

This plant’s roots so to speak, run deep in the Ayurvedic system of health and healing, a hindu tradition that has been practiced in India for over 2,000 years. This natural form of healing is very patient specific, and takes all aspects of the mind and body in consideration when treating a problem. The tradional practioiners used Ashwagada as a stand alone herb sometimes, but mostly they would combine it with something to create a completely individualized prescription for the persons ailments. While this combination of herbs worked extremely well, it sometimes hid the true power of the ashwagada as a stand alone medicine. However, it wasn’t long before the herb was being taken for its outstanding abilities on its own.

The ashwagada plant is what is called an adaptogen. The encyclopedia of natural medicine says this simply means that the herb un-specifically enhances and regulates the body’s natural ability to withstand stress. As well as increases its general performance in ways that help the whole body resist disease. More specifically the plant is known for its ability to have an over all affect on the body. Some of these affects are:

Boosting strength

Increasing stamina and alleviate fatigue

Enhancing sexual energy and rejuvenate the body

Increasing the immune system

Strengthening the young and elderly

Naturally calming the body without causing drowsiness

Improving clarity and memory function

And, slowing the aging process

As you can imagine, with this many over all effects on the body, the disease specific uses are numerous. This plant is used for everything from anemia, to asthma, and arthritis, as well as cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, the common cold, depression, hypertension, hypoglycemia, leprosy, and lupus just to name a select few. The uses are endless because this plant is so very powerful… and the researchers are intrigued.

Studies on this plant have been on going since at least the 1960’s, quite possibly because of its wide spread popularity. After all it is the most common herb used in India, and it is rapidly gaining popularity in other parts of the world as well. Reports put out by these medical studies state that the ashwagada plant possesses compounds that have anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. While other compounds using different parts of the plant have been linked to anti-stress, and sedative effects.

There has been so much research performed on ashwagada that reporting every single case is nearly impossible. The fact is that clinical studies have shown that the herb increases endurance, and immune function. But it decreases inflammation, stress, tumor size, and fungal infections as well as working as a sedative. The reports have been posted, and the results are astounding, ashwagada is an herb that possesses so many different benefits that it may just be the most useful herb in the world!

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Natural Herbal Insect Repellents

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Ahh, tis the season. Not the season of jingle bells and holiday cheer, but the season of sun, fun, and mosquitoes. Summer is truly a wonderful time, and most people make the bulk of their memories during this season. However, if you are sensitive to the normal summertime insects, and the popular chemical based insect repellants, than summer can be a very miserable time for you. I must admit, out of all the chemically based products that we as a society buy tons of, and use with no reservations. I personally find the idea of bathing in chemicals meant to repel insects the most offensive and scary. We’ve all heard the horror stories of using these harsh chemicals on our skin to keep the bugs at bay, yet we still buy hundreds of thousands of gallons of the stuff every year.

A few years back the main ingredient in insect repellant was found to cause neurological disturbances such as seizures, especially in children. The really disturbing part was the fact that when companies took the chemical out that was causing the problem people actually got angry and demanded that they put it back. The good news is there is a natural alternative to this known neurological toxin, and you can easily make your summer more enjoyable by using it. There are many natural approaches to keeping bugs in the air and off your skin, and the really great thing is they actually leave your skin softer and healthier than it was prior to using the product.

Many of the ingredients in herbal insect repellants are interchangeable and used for other purposes as well as repelling bugs. For instance, Peppermint oil is a great way to treat several stomach issues, as well as fever, headache, and respiratory problems. Also many natural insect repellants are full of vitamin E, which everyone knows is an excellent way to soften and moisturize skin. Another fact is there are several different products to choose from, don’t fall under the misconception that herbal products are lacking the fancy perks that the other products have. There are time released lotions, and sweat and water resistant products.

When it comes to insect repelling Mother Nature has you covered, let’s not forget everyone’s favorite summertime candle or torch oil…Citronella. Citronella is a completely natural plant based product, and we all know that it works very well. Nearly all natural insect repellants contain some amount of citronella because it works so well in conjunction with other natural bug repellants. The combination of these all natural ingredients makes for one skin softening, aromatic, effective bug deterrent. There is no excuse to continue bathing yourself, and your family, in these harmful chemicals that are hurting you and your skin.

This summer make a meaningful product change that will impact the whole family. Do away with those expensive chemical based products and get back to nature with an effective natural bug repellant. Have a great summer!

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