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Monthly Archives: July 2017

 Natural Treatments for Brittle Nails

What Are Brittle Nails?

Your fingernails and toenails are made up of layers of protein called keratin. Healthy nails are smooth and strong with even coloring and no spots or discoloration. Sometimes healthy nails can become brittle.

Brittle fingernails tend to be noticed much sooner than brittle toenails, but both the nails on your fingers and the nails on your toes can become brittle for various reasons. It’s estimated that brittle nails, also called onychorrhexis, are quite common. In fact, it’s estimated that it affects around 20 percent of the population. (2) Women tend to struggle with brittle nails more than men. When you have brittle nails they are in a weakened state and tend to break, split or peel easily

 Natural Treatments for Brittle Nails

Reduce Water Exposure

Cleaning and doing dishes on a regular basis is pretty unavoidable, but it’s very trying on your hands and nails. The good news is that you can always invest in a good pair of protective gloves that can help prevent and heal brittle nails. Wearing gloves while you do household chores, especially ones involving drying hot water and soap, can really go a long way to save your nails from becoming dry and brittle.

 Stay Hydrated

While you may want to avoid too much water on the outside when it comes to brittle nails, you definitely don’t want to slack on your internal water intake. Staying hydrated with water as well as water-rich healthy foods like watermelon and cucumbers is a great way to moisturize your nails, skin and hair from the inside.

Use a Natural Hand Cream

If you’re struggling with brittle nails, then it’s an excellent idea to moisturize your hands and nails after washing and drying your hands each time. To make it easy to remember, try keeping a great natural hand moisturizer near your sink so you can quickly and easily apply it every time. You can even make your own hand moisturizer with my recipe for Handmade Lotion with Frankincense, Lavender & Peppermint Oils.

Try a DIY Cuticle Cream

One thing you can count on if you’re wondering how to fix brittle nails naturally or conventionally is that treatment always includes topical moisturizers. When nails are dry and brittle, my DIY Cuticle Cream makes a perfect brittle nails treatment. The contents of this cuticle cream are extremely healing to both the cuticles at the base of your nails as well as the nails themselves. With natural and moisture replenishing ingredients like beeswax, raw shea butter, coconut oil and vitamin E, you’ll definitely want to apply this cuticle cream a few times per day.

Avoid Harsh Nail Polish Remover

Most nail polish removers are loaded with chemicals and tend to dry out the finger nails and toe nails. Nail polish removers often contain highly toxic chemicals including acetone, formaldehyde, toluene and phthalates. Not only can nail polish removers negatively affect the health of your nails, research has shown they may cause reproductive harm and organ toxicity. They can also irritate the skin, eyes and lungs.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E capsules are inexpensive and can be an effective way to help the condition of your nails. The thick liquid that comes out of a vitamin Ecapsule is a perfect treatment for brittle nails. You simply need to puncture one of the capsules and put a little bit of the oil right onto each nail. It’s an easy yet highly potent and rejuvenating treatment for brittle nails.

Low-Fat Diets

 

Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet vs. Low-Fat Diet — Why High-Fat, Low-Carb Is Better

Why is it that a high-fat diet seemed to offer better protection against cardiovascular disease and mortality than a low-fat diet? Experts believe (and common sense tells us) that a major contributing factor is that low-fat diets are often higher in added sugar and refined grains, including products made with flour. When someone eats less fat they are likely to replace those calories with carbohydrates, often which are found in convenient, cheap and highly processed foods.

Replacing a percentage of calories from fat with healthy, whole-food sources of carbs, like starchy root vegetables for example, might not be unhealthy or a risk factor for disease, but this is rarely what happens in real life.

Here are some of the ways that a high-fat diet can be beneficial:

1. Fat May Fight Disease and Boost Longevity

Some studies looking at the effects of eating a low-carbohydrate diet, which usually includes higher levels of saturated fats, suggest that higher-fat diets don’t necessarily raise blood cholesterol levels and can even be beneficial for cardiovascular disease risk markers, such as triglyceride levels. High-fat diets can also be beneficial for lowering obesity risk, regulating insulin sensitivity, decreasing risk for diabetes and might even offering protection against cancer. (2)

2. Helps with Sustainable Weight Loss

Many people find that diets higher in fat are more satiating and turn off hunger signals and appetite much more so than lower-fat diets do. A high-fat diet may help regulate ghrelin levels, a hormone that controls appetite, and cut down on the desire to snack or overeat.

3. Helpful for Cognitive/Neurological Health

The brain requires a high amount of energy, including cholesterol, as a source of fuel. Certain kinds of fats, especially cholesterol, act like antioxidants and precursors to some important brain-supporting molecules and neurotransmitters. Some studies have found links between higher-fat intake and protection against conditions like dementia and depression.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found that elderly people who added more healthy fats to their diets were better able to maintain cognitive function compared to elderly adults who ate lower-fat diets. (3)

4. Important for Hormonal Balance & Reproduction

Cholesterol and other fats play a fundamental part in building cellular membranes and producing hormones. Some studies have found that low-fat diets raise the risk of menstrual problems and difficulty getting pregnant. For example, it’s been found that high intake of low-fat dairy foods may increase the risk of anovulatory infertility (when ovulation does not occur), but higher intake of high-fat dairy foods may decrease this risk. (4)

5. Needed for Proper Absorption of Vitamins

Dietary fats provide the body with lipid molecules, which have many roles in the body and are essential for life. We all need a certain amount of fats including cholesterol for our health not to suffer, and different lipids support various bodily functions including: providing energy storage, signal transduction, building cellular structures, production of hormones and steroids, activating enzymes, supporting brain function, and absorbing other dietary lipids and fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K.

Is Your Diet High Enough In Healthy Fats?

The Lancet study showed that low fat diets were associated with higher risk for mortality, and you may be wondering why that is. What specific types of health problems might low-fat diets contribute to, according to other research studies?

Low-fat diets have been shown to be associated with some of following symptoms and conditions:

  • Weight gain, due to increased hunger and cravings
  • Changes in heart health markers, including blood lipid profiles, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and glucose levels
  • Low energy levels, reduced recovery from exercise and muscular weakness
  • Neurological problems, including stroke and dementia, memory loss, brain fog, and poor performance on cognitive measures including abstract reasoning, attention/concentration, word fluency and executive functioning
  • Infertility, low sex drive or hormone imbalances (including of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen)
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gut-related issues
  • Nutrient deficiencies, especially in vitamin A, E D and K

Precautions If You’re Following a Low-Carb Diet

When it comes to drastically limiting your carb intake, one thing to be aware of is that the transition to eating a low-carb, high-fat diet isn’t always so smooth; some temporary side effects are common during the first several weeks of transitioning your diet, including symptoms like fatigue, cravings, constipation or weakness. But once your body adjusts these symptoms tend to go away, leaving you feeling clear-headed, more satisfied from your meals and more energized over all.

Final Thoughts on Low-Carb, High-Fat vs. Low-Fat Diets

A recent study published The Lancet found that high carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality.

Higher consumption of fat, especially from saturated fats, was even shown to offer increased protection against stroke.

To decrease your risk for problems like weight gain due to hunger and cravings, depression, insulin resistance and dementia, experts recommend getting around 35 percent of daily calories from healthy sources of fat (like coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed beef or poultry, nuts, seeds, eggs and wild-caught fish), while limiting intake of processed foods, refined carbohydrates and added sugar.

Dietitian Training

 

What Is a Registered Dietitian?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a dietitian is “a specialist in dietetics,” which is the science or art of applying the principles of nutrition to the diet. (4) Registered dietitians are also called registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs).

What types of clients do dietitians work with? Children or adults with a wide range of health concerns might choose to visit a dietitian, whether on their own or because they were referred to one by their primary doctors. Dietitians most often tend to work with people with one or more of the following health concerns:

Obesity or overweight

Food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities

Diabetes or prediabetes

Heart problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high triglycerides

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder

Digestive issues, including inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome

During pregnancy or for other hormone-related problems

 

Due to the type of training that most receive, below are five key underlying beliefs that many dietitians have in common — which can be problematic:

1. The USDA’s MyPlate Is an Example of a Balanced Diet

A high percentage of dietitians work in hospitals or other health care settings and are tightly regulated in terms of what type of dietary advice they should offer to clients. Most have been trained to educate their patients about eating in a way that matches the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate guidelines (formerly known as “The Food Pyramid”). MyPlate is definitely an improvement from previous recommendations, but it still has its criticisms. These include the fact that MyPlate doesn’t emphasize how important the quality of foods are, still recommends processed low-fat dairy, limits intake of certain healthy fats, and doesn’t drive home the need to avoid processed foods and refined grains quite enough.

2. Calorie Reduction Is Most Important for Weight Loss

While this can’t be said about every dietitian, many stress the importance of focusing on calorie reduction above all else. Some still offer their clients advice about eating low-fat foods, artificially sweetened foods and other processed diet foods in order to reduce calorie intake as much as possible in hopes of causing weight loss. (10)

Rather than solely focusing on lowering calorie intake, I recommend people put their efforts towards eating unprocessed whole foods as much as possible, even those that might be more calorie-dense, such as healthy fats. Whole foods are nutrient-dense, tend to be high in volume and fiber, and are naturally filling. Eating whole foods therefore helps regulate calorie intake, usually without the need to count calories or eat “diet foods” that have been chemically altered.

3. Everything Is OK “In Moderation”

It’s not uncommon for dietitians to tell their clients that any food is OK to have as long as it’s only eaten moderately. For example, some dietitians might recommend having fast food, diet soda, pizza, etc., about once weekly in order to satisfy cravings. While it’s not likely that having something like pizza once per week will negatively impact someone’s health, this approach might not be helpful for reducing cravings for unhealthy foods in the long term or for determining healthier ways to satisfy them.

4. Saturated Fat Is Unhealthy

The USDA and many dietitians still recommend that foods with saturated fat be limited, yet some saturated fat in the diet can actually have health benefits. For example, traditional foods that provide saturated fat — such as raw full-fat dairy products, coconut oil and grass-fed beef — contain important nutrients that help the body in various ways. Some of the benefits of saturated fatty acids include building cell membranes, helping protect bones, protecting the liver from alcohol and other toxins, helping with sex hormone production, enhancing the immune system, and retaining cognitive health.

5. Salt/Sodium Is Unhealthy

Too much sodium can definitely be a problem for people with a history of conditions like high blood pressure or edema, but it’s still important to remember that sodium is an essential mineral and we need a certain level in our diets to remain in balance. If unprocessed foods are kept to a minimum — such as canned soups or veggies, processed meats and cold cuts, and bottled condiments — then adding some real sea salt to freshly prepared foods should not be thought of as a problem.

Natural Treatments to Improve Symptoms

This chronic condition affects the central nervous system, especially the brain, and causes changes in motor control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers cerebral palsy to be the most common childhood motor disability. (1) While it’s not usually a life-threatening condition — most children who have cerebral palsy survive into adulthood — typically, managing the disorder requires a high level of care long-term due to how it makes everyday tasks like speaking, eating and writing more difficult.

There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy. But many options are available to help children with the disorder deal with physical and mental difficulties. Symptoms of cerebral palsy can sometimes affect many parts of the body, making it hard for someone to live on their own. But not every person with cerebral palsy will be very physically or intellectually challenged. Some can overcome many limitations with early intervention and have normal — or near-normal, sometimes even above-average — levels of intelligence.

Treatments for cerebral palsy vary depending on the severity of symptoms. Some common treatment approaches include:

  • special education training and resources
  • physical therapy and stretching muscles to prevent shortening and risk for deformities
  • using a walker or braces
  • in some cases, surgery to help decrease symptoms like spasms or developmental deformities

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that causes abnormal motor control and other symptoms due to changes that take place in the brain. (2) It affects about 2 to 4 of every 1,000 infants born. The disorder is much more common among prematurely born infants, especially those who are underweight, compared to full-term infants who are born at a normal weight. (3)

During early development of infants’ brains who have cerebral palsy, injuries occur that affect functions including movement, language and social skills. Symptoms associated with cerebral palsy can develop either before birth in the womb, during birth, or at some point during the first several months of life.

What is the underlying cause of cerebral palsy, and are there known risk factors? Researchers believe there are actually many causes and factors that can contribute to cerebral palsy in newborns or infants; however, sometimes no known cause can be found. When a cause is known, it can include: reduced blood flow/circulation to the brain during pregnancy, oxygen deprivation, infections affecting the brain or damage due to other illnesses, or brain injury that takes place during delivery.

Types of Cerebral Palsy:

Cerebral palsy is not one specific condition but rather refers to a group of symptoms including: poor motor and muscle control, weakness, developmental problems, spasticity and sometimes paralysis. There are four general categories of cerebral palsy, which have some overlaps but are different from one another due to the symptoms that tend to occur: (4)

  • Spastic cerebral palsy — This is the most common type, which causes convulsions and abnormal reflexes in newborns/infants. Infants with spastic cerebral palsy can experience prolonged newborn reflexes, such as having a very tight grip (the hand is held in a tight fist), and stiff, spastic limbs. In some infants a level of intellectual disability will also occur (no longer referred to as “mental retardation’”). Some only experience symptoms that affect their arms, called diplegia, but have near-normal mental capabilities and intelligence.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy — This type affects up to 20 percent of children with cerebral palsy and is characterized by slow, uncontrolled writhing movements. Symptoms usually cause abnormal control of the hands, feet, legs and arms. Sometimes the tongue and other muscles of the face are also impaired. This can cause trouble eating, difficulty speaking, drooling or grimacing (scowling or frowning).
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy — A rarer type of cerebral palsy, characterized by trouble with balance, coordination, walking and depth-perception. Having a wide-based stance and struggling with precise movements are some of the common symptoms that occur. This can cause problems with writing, gripping objects, and other everyday activities.
  • Mixed form cerebral palsy — When a child has symptoms of one or more of the above types of cerebral palsy, they are considered to have a mixed form of the disease. The most common mixed form of cerebral palsy is spastic combined with athetoid.

Cerebral Palsy Causes & Risk Factors

It’s believed that in most cases more than one cause contributes to the types of brain injuries that cause symptoms of cerebral palsy. Causes can include one or more of the following:

Inadequate blood flow reaching tissues in the developing brain, especially during early pregnancy in the first trimester.

Injury to the brain that occurs during labor and delivery.

Infection or illnesses that occur inside or near the brain during pregnancy. This can include rubella, toxoplasmosis, or cytomegalovirus.

Bleeding in the brain during pregnancy, which can happen due to fetuses having vulnerable blood vessels and sometimes high levels of bilirubin, which contribute to brain injury.

Illnesses that cause inflammation of brain tissue during the first year of life, such as meningitis, sepsis, impact/trauma, or severe dehydration.