Diagnosing Arthritis: Do You Already Have It?

Arthritis is a chronic condition resulting from the wearing away of cartilage or inflammation in the joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in every five Americans over 18 has arthritis in a minimum of one joint.

The condition causes an impairment of the natural cushion in the joint, which can cause pain and swelling. Both symptoms of arthritis make it difficult to walk or handle simple everyday tasks, such as opening jars.

Not all joint pain and swelling point to arthritis. Sometimes, injuries can result in similar symptoms. However, along with stiffness and difficulty moving a joint, swelling and pain are common warning signs of the condition.

Learning More About the 4 Primary Arthritis Warning Signs

Arthritis pain is hard to define. The condition can cause constant pain or bouts of discomfort that come and go. The pain also doesn't discriminate between resting or moving, and it may occur in one place or in multiple joints throughout the body.

Swelling resulting from arthritis typically affects the skin over a joint. The skin often becomes red and warm to the touch. Depending on the severity of the condition, swollen skin might be tender to the touch. Medical experts warn that people experiencing localized swelling for three days or more should see their doctor.

Stiffness is a classic arthritis symptom that typically occurs after sitting or resting for extended periods. For example, someone's knees or hips might become stiff after riding in a car for more than an hour. It is common for people with arthritis to experience stiffness; some experiences last about an hour.

People without arthritis can easily lift themselves out of a chair while those people with arthritis of the knees, hips, hands, feet, etc., will often struggle with such seemingly simple tasks because they have difficulty moving their joints.

Dealing With a Suspected Diagnosis

Experiencing arthritis symptoms is not a definitive diagnosis. For an official diagnosis, you will need to go to a doctor. However, before you make an appointment, many experts suggest recording your symptoms for several weeks to help your doctor determine the type of arthritis you may have.

In your journal, record when and where you experience swelling and stiffness. Also, please note how long symptoms last and what eases them. You should also note symptoms that don't seem related, like a rash, fatigue, or fever. If you experience a fever, you should seek medical attention immediately.

If your physician suspects arthritis, they may perform different range of motion tests. Any pain you experience during these tests is another sign of arthritis.

A family history of arthritis can also indicate a diagnosis. Your primary doctor may refer you to a specialist for an official diagnosis.

Arthritis is a common condition. Four main symptoms are associated with a diagnosis: pain, swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving a joint. While the combination of the symptoms provides a safe assumption of a diagnosis, you will need to seek a medical opinion for an official diagnosis, especially if you need help with pain management.

Vertigo: What You Need To Know If You Live With This Dizzying Condition

Vertigo is the sensation that the environment around you is spinning. Though many people refer to it as a condition, the truth is that it is a symptom of another underlying condition. Vertigo can be disconcerting, as it can make you feel dizzy and off balance. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, vertigo may make it difficult for you to complete daily tasks.

If you live with vertigo, you may wish to learn more about the condition. Here you can find out everything from why it occurs to how long it lasts to what you can do to achieve relief both on your own and with medical help.

Common Causes of Vertigo

One thing that many people who live with vertigo want to know is, why does it happen? Is it hereditary?

Vertigo is not hereditary, but several conditions that are hereditary can trigger it, such as the following:

  • Labyrinthitis
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
  • Vestibular neuronitis
  • Cholesteatoma
  • Meniere’s disease

Vertigo can have numerous other causes. Among others, those include migraines, stroke, diabetes, head injuries, shingles near or on the ear, ear surgery, arrhythmia, prolonged bed rest, hyperventilation, ataxia, low blood pressure and syphilis. Certain medications can also trigger vertigo.

The Two Types of Vertigo

There are two types of vertigo: central vertigo and peripheral vertigo. Knowing the differences between the types and which you have can inform you as to the severity of the underlying condition. For instance, peripheral vertigo is the result of a problem within the ear. Central vertigo, however, may be indicative of a brain tumor, infection, traumatic brain injury or impending stroke.

The Length of Vertigo Attacks

In most cases, vertigo attacks last for just a few seconds to a few minutes. However, some people experience vertigo for days, weeks or even months. The length of an attack is often indicative of the severity of the underlying cause.

Signs You Have Vertigo

Many people experience vertigo but chalk it up to bouts of dizziness. If you ever feel dizzy or off-center, you may want to familiarize yourself with the signs of vertigo, as you may be living with an untreated medical condition:

  • Feelings of being motion sick
  • Rocking feeling
  • Tilting feeling
  • Spinning
  • Unbalance

If you experience any of these sensations — particularly when you walk or change positions — there is a strong likelihood that what you are experiencing is vertigo.

Vertigo Is Not a Fear of Heights

It is a long-standing myth that vertigo occurs at heightened elevations and in people who live with a fear of heights. The scientific term for a fear of heights is “acrophobia.” Acrophobia is characterized by dizziness, but said dizziness is triggered when a person looks down from a high place.

How To Get Relief From Vertigo

Depending on the underlying cause, you may be able to achieve relief with a bit of self-care. Some steps you can take are as follows:

  • Sit or stand slowly
  • Engage in simple exercises
  • Avoid bending to pick up items
  • Avoid extending your neck
  • Sleep with your head in a raised position
  • Avoid exercises that trigger your symptoms
  • Avoid moving your head quickly

If these simple self-care tricks don’t work, try herbal remedies, such as cayenne, ginger, turmeric and Ginkgo biloba. If the condition still does not resolve, talk to your doctor, who may prescribe an antibiotic to treat an infection or a medication to treat an underlying condition. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to relieve the symptoms of motion sickness.

Vertigo can be a disconcerting feeling. If you live with it, consult with your doctor about ruling out any underlying conditions.

Can Sleeping With a Sound Machine Help You Sleep Better?

Even though adults need seven to eight hours of sleep every night, nearly one-third of Americans don’t get enough. Almost 50% are sleepy during the day every week. Can keeping a sound machine next to the bed help?

Improving Sleep Quality

Sound machines work by producing white noise, a combination of sounds similar to the hiss of static from the radio. There’s a lot of scientific evidence suggesting that these sounds can help people fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. In one study, the participants fell asleep almost 40% faster with white noise.

The better the quality of your sleep, and the longer you remain asleep, the better your body and mind feel the next day.

Blocking Out Loud Noises

Today’s cities are filled with noise 24/7. This is even true in many suburbs. It only takes one unkind neighbor to ruin things for the whole block. Parties echoing, car alarms sounding, horns blaring, people arguing and dogs barking can all interrupt your sweet slumber.

Sound machines are incredible at blocking outside noises. White noise covers all sound frequencies, so it acts like a kind of wall against loud sounds from the street.

Helping You Stay Asleep

If you’re regularly waking up during the night, you should seriously consider trying a white noise machine in your bedroom. Having your sleep interrupted constantly can have real impacts on your health:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Diabetes risks
  • Low sex drive
  • Weakened immune system
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mental tiredness and physical fatigue

Even people who are deep sleepers should take steps to make the bedroom a calm, quiet place. Studies show that these people may be semi-awaking countless times without realizing it. They feel exhausted all the time without realizing why.

Promoting Relaxation and Calm

Sound machines produce a range of soothing sounds. In addition to the static hiss of white noise, there are deeper tones of pink noise (the sound of a waterfall) and red noise (rain sounds). Some of these devices also play endless recordings of ocean waves and other nature sounds.

These noises actively help you relax. If you’ve ever visited a spa for a massage, you’ve heard these calming sounds. They can have the same stress-relieving effects before bedtime.

Are you the type of person who tends to fall asleep during long road trips? This happens because of the vibration of the vehicle’s wheels on the highway, a version of white noise. A sound machine may be perfect for helping you get better Zs at night.

Training Your Brain To Sleep

The brain loves patterns and habits. From how you put on your socks to what time you wake up in the morning, many parts of your day happen automatically because of the routines your brain makes.

Some scientists think that sound machines can help create a positive habit for bedtime. As soon as your brain hears the familiar white noise, it starts getting in the mood for sleep. Another possibility is that the brain finds the full spectrum of neutral sounds pleasant.

Creating a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Sound machines can be a great help for chasing away anxiety, blocking unwanted noise and sleeping consistently. Take things to the next level with a bedtime routine. Add things that help you relax, such as soaking in a bubble bath, massaging your feet with silky cream or sipping a cup of turmeric tea.

5 Tips for Healthier Nails

Healthy fingernails are a sign of wellness and beauty. There are several ways to get healthier fingernails.

1. Try a Biotin Supplement

Most people who eat a varied, healthy, and balanced diet do not need dietary supplements to ensure healthy nails. However, some people naturally have weak nails, or they lack proper nutrition, which contributes to fragility.

Vitamin B7, biotin, is an essential nutrient in milk, eggs, bananas, and other foods. The vitamin is crucial to hair and nail health. If a person has a deficiency, their hair may thin, and their nails might become brittle and weak.

A biotin supplement can help people with a deficiency, but it may also help those with naturally weak nails. Some studies suggest biotin helps promote nail growth and health.

2. Take a Break From Manicures and Polish

Many people enjoy manicures and dressing their nails up with polish. While healthy nails can often handle the abuse and coverage, it is still a good idea to let them breathe every so often.

Overworking your nails can cause damage, and it may weaken their integrity. There is nothing wrong with having an occasional manicure, but when a manicurist shapes and works your nails too much, you can open yourself up to greater infection risks.

Also, choose an acetone-free nail polish remover, and avoid acrylic nails. Using harsh chemicals or applying false nails can weaken the nail's structure and lead to infections.

3. Moisturize Your Cuticles

People often underestimate the importance of nail cuticles. Cuticles work like caulk around a shower; they keep damaging bacteria and other elements away from the nail bed.

Many people trim their cuticles or push them down. Being too aggressive with your cuticles can damage them. Damaging a cuticle can open your nails and fingers up to infection. Signs of infection include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Pus

Also, do not believe that visiting a professional manicurist to have your cuticles trimmed eliminates the risk of infection. Even professionals can make mistakes.

4. Practice Good Nail Hygiene

If you want healthy and strong nails, it is best to maintain good nail hygiene. Keep nails trimmed and clean.

In the past, long nails were fashionable. Unfortunately, long nails are also more prone to breakage and infection than shorter nails.

Today, shorter, more natural nails are in fashion, which is better for your health. Keeping your nails trimmed reduces the risks of snagging or breaking. It also helps keep the underside of the nail cleaner.

A nail brush allows you to clean between the nail and nail bed without aggressively opening or widening the gap. You do not need to scrub vigorously. Gently scrubbing back and forth with the brush will clean your nails without an increased risk of injury or infection.

5. Wear Gloves and Take Infections Seriously

Whenever you are working with your hands, wear gloves. Gloves protect against the elements and guard against dirt, grime, and accompanying bacteria. However, even the most diligent individual might experience an infection.

If you get a nail infection, seek treatment. Nail infections can spread if not corrected. Also, some people are at a greater risk of severe infections because of medications or health conditions.

Nail hygiene matters to overall well-being. For more advice on healthy nails, contact a local dermatologist.

BRCA Genes Affect More Than Your Breast Cancer Risk

BRCA gene tests have been prominent on the news lately. Do you need to get tested? This helpful guide can answer all of your questions about BRCA genes, including what they do and why they matter.

What Are BRCA Genes?

BRCA genes are an important part of your DNA. Everyone should have two healthy copies of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Both of these genes are designed to prevent cancer from appearing or growing. That’s why BRCA genes are sometimes called tumor suppressor genes.

The name BRCA (for BReast CAncer) is kind of misleading because these genes are connected to much more than breast cancer. They also help prevent ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, melanomas and some rarer forms of leukemia.

What Is DNA?

DNA is the blueprint for your body. It gives your cells instructions on how to work properly. It helps your body build everything from strong muscles to smooth skin.

What Does This Have To Do With You?

Cancer is something both women and men should take seriously. Over 10% of women experience problems with breast cancer. In 2022, over 3.8 million women had been treated for breast cancer in the United States.

One of the biggest cancer risks for men is prostate cancer. Experts predict almost 270,000 new cases of prostate cancer in 2022. About 12.5% of men will develop prostate cancer at some point.

Why Are BRCA Genes Important?

BRCA genes protect your health in several ways:

  • Creating tumor suppressor proteins
  • Repairing DNA damage
  • Controlling cell multiplication
  • Keeping cell growth within healthy levels

BRCA genes are like factory managers making sure production equipment operates smoothly. Without supervision and maintenance, the machinery could go crazy. Similarly, cancer happens when cell growth goes out of control. That’s what tumors are.

What Things Trigger DNA Damage?

Many everyday things put your DNA in harm’s way, especially with today’s world so filled with environmental problems:

  • UV rays: Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause deep DNA damage. Health experts recommend wearing sunblock and sunglasses every time you go outside.
  • Toxic chemicals: From microplastics in the water to industrial chemicals in city air, many types of contamination can negatively affect your health. These dangers specifically hurt DNA.
  • Genetic malfunctions: Some people inherit defective copies of BRCA genes from their parents. These genetic errors can lead to mistakes with cell growth and healing.

What Are the Risks of BRCA Gene Mutations?

People who have defective BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are at a much higher risk for certain types of cancers. It’s like having a defective security alarm for your home. It makes your body much more vulnerable to DNA damage.

Anywhere from 45%–72% of women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations get breast cancer, compared to 13% in general. BRCA1 increases the risk of ovarian cancer from 1.2% to a whopping 39%. Men with defective BRCA2 genes have a 20% risk of prostate cancer.

Who Should Test for BRCA Gene Problems?

Before you rush out and get tested for BRCA malfunctions, you should know that the chance you have a problem is pretty small. Most people only have a 1 in 400 chance, or 0.2%. Your doctor may recommend a test if you have a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer or similar cancers.

5 Exercises To Help With Sciatica

People with sciatica often avoid exercising because they don't want to aggravate the condition. Unfortunately, avoidance makes the problem worse. Physical therapists recommend trying at least five exercises to improve mobility and reduce pain.

1. Pelvic Tilt

To perform the pelvic tilt, lie on your back. Bend your legs, bringing your feet toward your butt, and put your arms flat by your sides.

Before lifting your hips off the floor, tighten your core muscles. Putting pressure on your bike like you were pressing it into the floor, lift the pelvis and hips slightly and hold, remembering to breathe.

After a few seconds, release the hold, lowering your hips back to the floor. Repeat the exercise eight to 12 times.

2. Knee-to-Chest

The knee-to-chest exercise targets the upper thigh and lower buttocks. Again, lie on your back, legs bent and feet flat. Keeping one foot flat on the floor, lift the other, bringing the knee to your chest.

Your back should remain flat against the floor. Continue to hold the knee to your chest for about 30 seconds. After you release, do the same with the opposite leg. Repeat the exercise two to four times on each side.

You can increase the difficulty level by keeping one leg stretched and flat on the floor while lifting the other. Another version of the exercise requires lifting both knees to the chest simultaneously.

3. Glute Bridges

Glute muscles play a significant role in managing sciatic pain. If the muscles are too tight, they can press on the nerve. Glute bridges help to stretch and loosen the muscles.

Lie on the floor on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet about shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms at your sides, relaxed. Pushing into your heels, lift your hips. Your body should make a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Hold the position for a few seconds before slowly lowering your hips to the floor. Do two to three sets with eight to 10 reps, and focus on form.

4. Standing Hamstring Stretch

Changing things up, you will need to stand for the hamstring stretch. Also, hold on to something to ensure balance and safety. This exercise is best used with a designated raised platform, like a stair step.

Stand tall with one foot on the step and the other on the floor. The toes on the step should point upward. Keep your back straight and lean forward slightly. You should feel tension or pulling in the hamstring area. Hold the position for 30 seconds.

Swap legs and repeat the exercise. Perform a minimum of two to three reps with each leg.

5. Deep Gluteal Stretch

The deep gluteal stretch might be a little challenging for those with limited flexibility. Like other exercises for sciatica, you will start on the floor with your legs bent. Raise your left ankle and rest it on your right knee.

With hands together and fingers laced behind your right thigh, pull the thigh toward your upper body. Your head and back should remain on the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds before releasing and repeating on the opposite side. Perform two or three reps per side.

If you have sciatica, give any of the above exercises a try. However, talk to your doctor first.

Food Labels: How To Read Them Without Being Tricked

As a health-conscious consumer, you may rely on food labels to inform you of what you put into your body. While it’s good practice to always read food labels, it may discourage you to learn that labels aren’t always transparent. Many labels are purposely complex — and spare — so as to hide the true nutritional value (or lack thereof) of the products within the packaging. So that you don’t fall victim to misrepresentations, it may be worth your while to learn how to interpret food labels accurately. Below are a few tips to help you out.  

Always Check the Serving Size

If you rely on food labels to tell you how much of any given ingredient is in a certain product, it’s crucial that you don’t rely on the numbers alone. First, check out the serving size information.

Most packaged foods contain more than one serving. For instance, a can of soup typically contains two servings. A box of Cheez-Its contains 12 servings. You can generally find both the serving size and the number of servings per container at the top of the food label. The nutritional values listed next to each ingredient apply to each serving, not the entire container. So, if a serving size of soup is half a can and you eat the whole can, you consume twice the amount of calories, fat and nutrients listed on the label.

Double Check the Calorie Count

In addition to highlighting serving size, most food labels like to draw attention to calorie counts. Because calories provide a measure of energy you gain from a serving of food — and because they directly contribute to weight goals — many health-conscious consumers strive to control the number of calories they consume on a daily basis. If you’re one such consumer, compare the advertised calorie count with the serving size. If a package asserts that the contents within contain 120 calories but the container contains 4 servings, the actual calorie count is 480.

Calculate % Daily Value

The % daily value refers to the percentage of the daily value of nutrients that each serving contains. More specifically, these values tell you how much a food or beverage contributes to your daily diet. The DVs are merely recommendations for how much of a particular ingredient you should consume or not exceed each day and are based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. For example, if a food contains 3% cholesterol, it provides 3% of the total amount of cholesterol a person who needs 2,000 calories a day should consume.

The DV percentages can help you assess just how nutritional or non-nutritional a food or beverage is. DVs of 5% or less are low in nutrients. DVs of 20% or more, on other hand, have a high nutrient count per serving. That said, whether a food is good for you depends on which ingredients have high DVs. Foods with high % daily values of vitamin D, iron, calcium, fiber and potassium are nutritious. Foods that are high in sodium, saturated fats and added sugars, however, are not.

Ignore Front-of-Box Labels

If you take anything away from this article, let it be this: Ignore all the claims and assertions on front-of-box labels. Front labels are not regulated and often use misleading — and sometimes downright false — health claims to lure health-conscious consumers into making impulse purchases. If you think you are above falling for these tactics, know that research indicates that front-of-box health claims convince an overwhelming majority of people to purchase a product.

Manufacturers are tricky with their food labels. If you are serious about building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you need to outsmart them by learning how to read labels accurately.

6 Reasons To Consider Adding Hemp Seeds to Your Diet

Hemp seeds may not seem like a popular nutritional addition to your diet, but they are full of healthy protein, fats, and other vitamins and minerals. The seeds come from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is the same hemp plant that produces marijuana.

While hemp seeds contain trace amounts of THC, they do not have enough of the compound to induce psychoactive properties. Therefore, many professionals consider hemp seeds safe and beneficial.

Not convinced? Nutritionists point to at least six health benefits of hemp seeds as reasons to try adding them to your diet.

1. Nutritional Value

Hemp seeds are members of the nut family. Often called hemp hearts, the seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. Over 30% of the seed is fat, with much of that content being two essential fatty acids — linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Also, the seeds contain a fair amount of gamma-linolenic acid.

Besides a healthy fat content, over 25% of hemp seed calories come from protein. The high-quality protein source is richer than comparable chia seeds and flaxseeds.

Finally, the seeds are an excellent source of other vitamins and minerals. Some of the nutrients in hemp seeds include:

  • Vitamin E
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorous

2. Skin Condition Relief

As a resource of polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids, hemp seeds provide a good balance between omega-6 and omega-3. The balance between these essential fatty acids can affect the immune system.

Inflammation is an immune system response that can aggravate certain skin conditions, such as eczema. Hemp seeds can reduce symptoms of such conditions because it provides an optimum ratio of fatty acids. Also, some research indicates hemp seed oil can reduce the need for skin medication, relieve dry skin, and reduce itchiness.

3. Plant-Based Protein

As a complete protein source, hemp seeds provide all essential amino acids. They are also excellent protein options for people on plant-based diets. Researchers suggest hemp seeds provide protein amounts similar to beef and lamb by weight. For example, two or three tablespoons of hemp seeds are equivalent to about 11 grams of protein.

4. Digestive Health

Whole hemp seeds provide soluble and insoluble fiber, 20% and 80%, respectively. Fiber is crucial to a healthy diet. Unfortunately, shelling hemp seeds eliminates nearly all fiber benefits.

5. PMS and Menopause Relief

PMS and menopause can cause physical and emotional symptoms in up to 80% of women. Prolactin is likely responsible for many adverse PMS symptoms. Hemp seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, which produces prostaglandin E1. Prostaglandin E1 can help reduce the effect of the hormone, easing menstrual symptoms. Also, some studies indicate GLA can help with menopause, but it is not yet clear how this works.

6. Heart Health

According to the CDC, in the U.S., one person dies every 34 seconds from cardiovascular disease. Hemp seeds can reduce the chances of heart problems with the amino acid arginine. The amino acid produces nitric oxide. The gas molecule forces blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart issues.

Hemp seeds are excellent sources of fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients. Try adding a couple of spoonfuls to recipes every week. Talk to your doctor before adding any new food to your diet.

Ultimate Anti-Aging Foods for Preventing Alzheimer’s, Wrinkles and Cataracts

Many natural foods are proven to help prevent heart disease and support diabetes. Are these healthy ingredients the real answer to fighting aging, too? Many scientists say yes.

The Best Anti-Aging Diets

Doctors around the world have told people to eat plenty of veggies and fruit for decades. Now, they’re going a step further and specifically recommending two diets for preventing aging: the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet.

The Mediterranean Diet

An all-around powerhouse for health, the Mediterranean diet supports weight loss, heart health, pain relief and mood benefits. It revolves around home cooking with nutritious ingredients:

  • Healthy fats
  • Lean proteins
  • Whole grains
  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Wine in moderation

Extra-virgin olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish play a big part.

The MIND Diet

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This diet combines elements of Mediterranean eating with other foods that help lower blood pressure:

  • Lots of leafy greens (romaine lettuce, cabbage, kale, sprouts, spinach, etc.)
  • Plenty of whole grains every day
  • Vegetables daily
  • Fresh berries each week
  • Fish and poultry
  • Nuts and beans

Real Science, Real Benefits

These two diets are backed by a large number of studies. In one study, the MIND diet significantly lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental decline. The Mediterranean diet appears to keep the brain healthy and prevent dementia.

Scientists aren’t completely sure how these foods help, mainly because they still don’t understand exactly what causes Alzheimer’s disease. Healthy fats such as omega-3s are amazing for fighting inflammation and stress, so maybe that’s what helps the brain stay in excellent shape.

Tasty Ingredients That Fight Aging

When you write down your grocery list, make space for foods that are rich in antioxidants. You also need good sources of protein and nutrients that help your body repair itself. Here are some of the top natural ingredients for avoiding wrinkles, cataracts, depression and dementia.

Salmon

A recent study found that eating fish regularly was the most important factor for long-term brain health. Fish is high in omega-3s, lean protein and antioxidants. Other types of seafood are great, too, including shrimp, clams, tuna, tilapia, trout and Atlantic mackerel.

Berries

Foods with vitamin C can help with overall skin brightness, elasticity, moisturizing and repair. Those things are a recipe for preventing wrinkles. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are high in vitamin C and several other age-defying antioxidants.

Chicken Breast

Lean protein replenishes your body’s reserves of collagen, an essential building block of smooth skin and healthy joints. Collagen can also contribute to less joint pain and muscle stiffness.

Dark Green Vegetables

Broccoli and spinach aren’t everyone’s favorite veggies, but you’ll love what they do for your eyes. Rich in an antioxidant called lutein, leafy greens can prevent cataracts, reduce glare and improve vision. They also have vitamin B2 and vitamin E for better nerve health.

These natural ingredients help to protect your cells from the damaging effects of pollution, UV rays, anxiety and other causes of premature aging. Other favorites include green tea, turmeric and probiotic foods such as cottage cheese.

Intermittent Fasting Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

The weight loss industry is worth $58 billion. The industry continues to push out new diets every year. Currently, people are jumping on another fad diet: intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a scheduled eating plan. Dieters alternate between intervals of severe calorie reduction and periods of normal eating. Advocates of the diet claim people can lose weight quicker, reduce inflammation, and limit other heart disease risk factors.

Critics claim the dietary fad is dangerous. Many health professionals worry about the physiological and psychological effects of prolonged intermittent fasting programs, and some suggest there are short-term risks.

Who is right about the diet, and is there only one correct answer? Some people seem to do well in the program, and others seem to fail quickly. While commitment to an intermittent fasting program is challenging, is it worth it?

The Risks of Intermittent Fasting

The reality is researchers still don't have a lot of information about the pros of intermittent fasting. On the positive side, medical professionals are all too familiar with the risks of fasting, especially when it becomes a habit.

Sleep Disruptions

Fasting can cause sleep disruptions. Several studies show that fasting reduces REM sleep, meaning you wake feeling less rested. REM sleep is also responsible for memory, learning capacity, and mood improvements.

Poor sleep can affect concentration and leave you feeling more irritable. Also, insufficient sleep can cause problems with blood sugar. It can also lead to obesity and toxin buildup in your brain.

Loss of Awareness

Fasting can cause your body to enter starvation mode, depending on the duration of the fast. The diet can reduce energy levels to conserve calories if you stick to intermittent fasting. Depending on how deprived your body is, you may feel adverse symptoms, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of focus
  • Fainting

If you are experimenting with fasting and feel or experience any of the above symptoms, you should eat something. The above symptoms are your body's way of telling you it needs food.

Loss of Muscle

When listening to advertising for intermittent fasting and similar dietary fads or products, you will often hear claims about how fasting can break down fat reserves. Sure, everyone wants to lose those few extra pounds, but the advertisements don't tell you that fat is not the only thing your body breaks down.

The human burns a combination of fats and carbohydrates. However, fat stores and carbohydrates only last about six hours before your body looks for alternatives. If you fast too often or too long, your body begins converting lean tissue into carbohydrates. Lean tissue is muscle.

While you will lose weight and look leaner, burning muscle and fat, you will also look frailer. This is because losing too much lean tissue is not healthy.

Increase in Stress

Fasting for too long and too often increases the body's cortisol production. Medical professionals refer to cortisol as the stress hormone.

When cortisol builds up in the system, it can negate any good intermittent fasting might be doing. For example, high cortisol levels can increase fat storage. As a result, many people might experience some weight loss in the first few months of fasting, but it will not last. Also, the body will begin storing as many calories as possible to prevent starvation and prepare for other moments of fasting.

The additional cortisol can wreak havoc on your system. You will probably feel tired, angry, depressed, anti-social, etc.

Intermittent fasting isn't a good choice for weight loss. While some people may find temporary success with it, the success is often short-lived. It is better to talk to your doctor about healthier options.