Author Archives: Michelle

Who Should Avoid Green Tea? Is it Healthy?

Green tea is often thought of as one of the healthiest drinks in the world. People associate it with weight loss and loads of potential health benefits. It offer’s a smaller dose of caffeine than a typical cup of coffee, has a unique flavor and aroma and can be used in recipes. What is not to like right? There may be even more to like about green tea than you realize, but is it healthy for everyone? Who should avoid green tea? Keep reading to find out more about this beverage and whether it’s right for you.

What is green tea?

Green tea is tea made from the unfermented leaves of Camellia Sinensis, which is also sometimes referred to as “tea plant”, “tea shrub”, and “tea tree.” It has a pale green color and a slightly bitter, earthy flavor. Green tea originated in China but is now produced in other countries in East Asia as well. Contrary to popular belief, green tea is not a herbal tea.

Matcha green tea

Matcha is a much more powerful form of green tea that is stone ground into a bright green powder. It comes from the same plant but is grown and prepared very differently than green tea. Many believe that since you consume the whole leaf, matcha may offer even more health benefits than regular green tea. It is likely higher in antioxidants, but remember that it also contains more caffeine as well.

Health benefits of green tea

Because green tea is rich in polyphenols, a health promoting macronutrient that can reduce inflammation, it may be very beneficial for those who suffer from fibromyalgia and arthritis. It may also improve bone density, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, improve memory and decrease the risk of dementia.

Because of the high antioxidant content in green tea, research suggests it may also help prevent cancer. A meta-analysis of studies for breast cancer risk and recurrence published between 1998 and 2009, encompassing 5,617 cases of breast cancer observed that increased green tea consumption may be inversely associated with risk of breast cancer recurrence in women.

Green tea for weight loss

Ever wonder why green tea is often listed on the ingredients list of many over the counter, weight loss supplements? Some studies suggest that green tea can boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning, especially in the abdominal area. However, not all studies agree, and many of these benefits can also be attributed to the caffeine content in the tea.

Green tea in food

Tea is the most consumed beverage second only to water and green tea is an incredibly popular tea, especially in China and Japan. But green tea can also be use as an ingredient in food. There are many green tea recipes out there, like this amazing green tea cheesecake recipe I happened to find. Give it a try and experiment to see what works for you.

Possible side effects from green tea

Up until now I have discussed many of the health benefits of green tea, and it is usually safe for adults to consume. But there are some things to keep in mind. Because it contains tannins, for example, too much green tea has been known to upset the stomach. Drinking green tea with food however may help prevent this problem from occurring.

Remember those polyphenols I mentioned earlier? Yes, they are healthy, but they also bind to the iron in your body making it less available. Adding vitamin C, such as a few drops of lemon juice, may help prevent this. However, it is still not recommended for those who suffer from iron deficiency and anemia.

Green tea also contains caffeine, and although it is less than a cup of coffee, it may have a negative effect on certain individuals, especially when consumed in excess. Caffeine can aggravate or cause irregular heartbeat, accelerate heart rate, aggravate or cause headaches, and may also contribute to insomnia, anxiety and diarrhea.

Green tea and pregnancy

The caffeine as well as the catechins, and tannic acids found in green tea are substances that have been linked to pregnancy risks, including miscarriage. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, most health providers recommend no more than 2 cups (200 mg) per day. Remember this amount should be decreased if consuming other beverages or foods containing caffeine. Caffeine also passes into breast milk and can affect a nursing infant.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that moderate consumption of green tea for adults is generally regarded as safe and you shouldn’t feel that you have to give up your favorite tea as long as you are aware of the possible risks and side effects. Green tea consumption is still associated with many health benefits, but as with many other things, moderation is usually key. Talk to your doctor and find out what he or she suggests for you. I hope you liked this article and don’t forget to comment below. Take care!

 

Dodow Sleep Device Review – Could This Be The Best Cure for Insomnia?

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The first time I heard about the Dodow sleep device, I was so excited. For so long I had been searching for a solution regarding my insomnia that did not involve taking medication. Could it be true? Could this little device that has now helped over half a million people, actually help me fall asleep faster too? And will it improve the overall quality of my sleep, naturally? I must admit, it sounded a little too good to be true, but I was desperate. I had tried so many things to beat insomnia in the past and I was willing to give in a go. Here’s my Dodow sleep device review.

What is Dodow?

The name Dodow is derived from the French for sleep. The Dodow is a small white circular metronome device with a built-in light system. It has a touch sensitive surface, so there are no buttons to try to find in the dark, this feature makes it very user-friendly. It is also small and lightweight, so it’s easy to take with you when you travel. I also liked the convenience of having the batteries included with the product.

One of the things that interested me from the start was the fact that this device was invented by three insomniacs, Pierre, Alex and Guy. That’s right! People just like me, and perhaps you too, who were basically tired of being tired all the time, first came up with this brilliant idea.

How it works

You will want to set the Dodow down on a hard surface close by your bed, such as a nightstand. I found this worked best for me. There are two different modes, one for 8 minutes and one for 20. If you just started using the Dodow or it usually takes you quite a while to fall asleep, I would suggest starting with the 20-minute mode. Simply tap its surface once for the 8-minute mode and twice for the 20-minute mode. Touch the surface and hold for a couple of seconds and it will turn off.

Once you select the appropriate mode, you will notice a blue circular light reflecting on the ceiling above you. You must inhale and take a breath as the circle expands and exhale when the circle retracts. Just synchronize your breath with the blue light, it is really that simple.

Dodow is designed to help you fall asleep 2.5 x faster by slowing down your breathing rate from 11 to 6 breaths per minute. When a person falls asleep, everything slows down significantly, their metabolism, heart rate and breathing rate, this is normal. Unfortunately, many of us have a hard time slowing our breathing rate down, thus not allowing our bodies to enter rest mode.

According to Dodow’s website, focusing on the blue hallow also takes your attention away from thoughts that stimulate your waking state, thus reducing brain activity and helping you fall asleep smoother and faster. Once the 8- or 20-minute cycle is complete, Dodow will automatically shut itself off.

The cost

The cost of the new Dodow is only $59, which is a relatively small investment for your health. Things such as therapy, yoga, meditation may also work to reduce stress and help induce sleep. Many of these methods, however, take time and cost much more. Sleeping pills are another option, but often come with bad side effects and the possibility of dependency.

Melatonin

How about a natural melatonin supplement to help you fall asleep? While it’s true that Melatonin is a natural hormone found in our  body , there is not much evidence that it will help you fall asleep much faster or improve your quality of sleep. Some find it works for them but I would never want to mess with hormone therapy and my body’s natural production of melatonin. Furthermore, most doctors will suggest this as a short term solution only.

Melatonin is available in many different forms including pills and gummies and advertised as a sleep aid. Melatonin is also available in natural or synthetic form from many different brands. Be aware however, that this hormone supplement, natural or not, may come with side affects as well. According to WebMD, these side effects can include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Anxiety
  • Crankiness
  • A “heavy head” feeling
  • Short-lived depression

My Dodow experience

When I first received this device in the mail, I was so exited to use it! I have the older version and I’ve been using it for over a year now. At first, I found it a little awkward and difficult to breath in sync with the blue hallow projected onto my ceiling. The machine forces you to concentrate on your breathing and not much else. In the beginning, I sometimes felt like the blue light was increasing my breathing instead of slowing it down.

I suppose when you are not used to being so aware of your breathing, it can be a bit challenging at first. Still, the first time around, I managed to fall asleep a little faster than I normally would have without the device by a few minutes. Not the great results I was hoping for though. However, I was intrigued enough to give it another try, and the following night, I fell asleep about 15 minutes earlier than normal! For me this is huge.

After the second week I adjusted the mode from 20-minutes to 8-minutes, I felt I was ready. After the first 6 weeks, I began to fall asleep before the 8-minutes were up. Some nights it still takes me longer to fall asleep than other nights, but never as long as it used to. I also began to wake up less during the night. I never achieved these types of results before without medication.

Now, I only use Dodow when I feel I really need it, usually about once or twice per week. Although the results were not immediate for me, and I’m not sure if I’m falling asleep 2.5x faster than before, as claimed by the marketers, it does work! Everyone is different however, but I believe that anyone who can stick with the Dodow for at least 7-14 days will benefit from improved sleep. Overall, I am more than happy with it, especially at this price, and I am currently in the process of ordering myself the newer version.

Dodow Cons:

  • May not work as fast as a sleeping pill
  • May not help with pain (including fibromyalgia pain) related insomnia.
  • May take a few days to adapt to the device
  • carrying case is sold separately
  • I had trouble opening the battery door and ended up breaking it early on (I think others had this same issue as well), but the device was still usable.

Dodow Pros:

  • Natural, no need to take pills
  • One time, low cost
  • Portable
  • Easy to use with easy to understand instructions
  • Will help most individuals fall asleep faster
  • May improve overall sleep quality
  • Machine will not disturb your partner because it is silent
  • Can be used for children as young as 6
  • Can ease troubled thoughts, stress, restlessness, and even chronic insomnia
  • batteries included
  • Refundable if not satisfied
  • Makes a great gift

I will never be without my Dodow

Overall, I recommend this device hands down as a safe and effective alternative to medication for anyone who has trouble sleeping, as well as stress or chronic insomnia. Click here If you are interested in picking up a Dodow for yourself or a loved one for under $60! Amazon offers a great price and fast reliable shipping. Click here for more information on improving your sleep, including information about the effect that lack of sleep has on fibromyalgia and other natural ways to fall asleep faster.

Thank you for taking the time to read my honest review on the Dodow sleep system. Do you suffer from insomnia? What have you tried? Leave us some comments below. Talk to you soon!

What Zinc Can Do For Fibromyalgia and Your Overall Health.

I am almost certain that most of you have heard of zinc, but how much do you really know about this trace element?  Read on to learn what zinc can do for fibromyalgia and your overall health. Discover why nutrition experts are taking this during the pandemic. And finally, find out whether you need more and how you can get it in your diet!

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a mineral known as an “essential trace element” because a small amount of zinc is necessary for our overall health. Did you know that second only to iron, zinc is the most abundant trace mineral in your body? It is responsible for many functions in the human body and since we cannot store excess zinc, it must be consumed regularly as part of the diet.

Not only is zinc required for protein and DNA synthesis and wound healing, it is vital to the immune system and may even shorten the duration of colds that are caused by the rhinovirus and coronavirus. Remember, there are many different coronaviruses and up to six that can affect humans. This does not necessarily mean that zinc will be effective against COVID-19, but it still gives us hope.

Have There Been Studies on Zinc?

Yes! A review by the Cochrane Library published in 2013 identified 18 randomized controlled trials, which collectively enrolled 1781 participants of all age groups, comparing zinc with a placebo. They discovered that zinc in the form of lozenges or syrup reduced the average duration of the common cold in healthy people and it was less likely to persist beyond 7 days of treatment when taken within 24 hours of symptom onset.

A laboratory study in 2010 also showed that zinc inhibited the activity and replication of SARS-CoV, another type of coronavirus. Although more research is needed before we can determine for certain the effect zinc will have on COVID-19, we do know that zinc is an essential mineral that our bodies cannot produce on its own.

How Much Zinc Do We Need and How Can I Get It?

A lack of zinc can make a person more susceptible to disease and illness and can cause short stature, growth impediments or stunted growth in children, reduced ability to taste food, prolonged wound healing, increased susceptibility to infection, diarrhea, impotence, hair loss, eye and skin lesions and loss of appetite. Adequate zinc levels are especially important for women who are pregnant and lactating, in fact they may require extra zinc.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc in the United States is currently 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men. This element is found naturally in many different foods, including red meat, pork, poultry, fish, oysters, tofu, nuts, seeds, lentils, yogurt, oatmeal, and mushrooms. Zink can also be taken as a dietary supplement.

Although a zinc supplements may not be necessary for everyone for long term, it may be something to consider for a short time, if you develop cold or flu like symptoms. The bioavailability (the amount that your body can absorb and effectively utilize) of zinc is low, but may increase when taken with vitamin C, the two seem to work well together. Be sure to discuss this supplement, along with an appropriate dosage with you doctor first.

When looking for a zinc supplement, try to find one that is manufactured in Canada or the US, in an FDA approved facility. Look for supplements that are free from genetically modified ingredients (GMO’s) artificial chemicals and excess sugar. zinc supplements should also have an enteric coating to prevent the supplement from getting destroyed by stomach acids.

Is Zinc Beneficial for fibromyalgia?

Zinc has been shown to reduce inflammation and fibromyalgia is known as an inflammation disorder. Results of one study point to serum magnesium and zinc levels as playing an important role in the pathophysiology of fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia also tend to have lower levels of zinc in their body and that zinc deficiency can reduce pain tolerance, making fibromyalgia more painful for these individuals. Numerous studies suggest that increasing zinc consumption can lessen the pain experienced by fibromyalgia suffers and possibly even treat the disorder.

Final Thoughts

Zinc can have a powerful and positive impact on everything from wound healing and the common cold to fibromyalgia and fertility issues. One thing is for certain, it is one of those minerals we simply cannot live without, if you suspect you may have a deficiency, ask your doctor if a supplement is right for you. If you have anything questions or comments about this post, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Thanks for visiting and take care!

Can smoking make fibromyalgia worse? How I Quit for Good!

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I know many smokers are of the belief that cigarettes provides some benefit such as pain relief or perhaps relief from depression, stress, or anxiety. They may feel that the cigarette relaxes them or puts them in a better mood and may find its effects enjoyable. I know because I was one of these people, I used to smoke and I’ve heard many other smokers say the same thing. Being an ex-smoker, my curiosity was of course peaked and I wanted to know the answers to the following questions: does smoking have any up-side, does it have any impact on fibromyalgia, are smokers more at risk because of COVID-19 and does it make fibromyalgia worse? Read on to find out.

What is in That Cigarette?

Cigarettes typically contain tobacco, a psychoactive compound to which glue and chemicals and fillers are added. The product is then sprayed with nicotine. According to Wikipedia, nicotine is a stimulant and potent parasympathomimetic alkaloid that is naturally produced in the nightshade family of plants.  Nicotine is what makes cigarettes so addictive. Although tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine make up the main components of a cigarette, they are not the only chemicals responsible for the deleterious effects associated with smoking and second hand smoke. At least 60 different chemicals found in smoke have been identified as carcinogens as well as 30 identified metals, some of which are radioactive.

There are over four thousand chemicals in one cigarette, as mentioned, many of them carcinogens. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking not only causes cancer but can damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones. Smoking cigarettes also kills about one in five Americans, or 440,000 people a year. That is more than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined. It is also estimated that seventy percent of the 46 million Americans who smoke want to quit. Are you one of them? Perhaps you know someone who smokes and wants to butt-out for good, if so keep reading to find out how I did it.

Pain and the ‘Feel-Good’ Chemicals

Smoking does have an effect on biochemical pathways in the central nervous system and fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by central nervous system dysfunction, therefore different theories abound as to this connection and researchers are still working on a definite conclusion.

Smoking stimulates nicotinic receptors in the brain and inhibits a chemical known as leptin. According to verywellhealth.com, together, this can work to deregulate the way the brain and endocrine system responds to pain. The deregulation of the balance between leptin and another chemical known as neuropeptide Y could be an important mechanism for pain in fibromyalgia.

The fact is nicotine will cause the body to release “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine which is why it is so addictive. Unfortunately, this sensation is only temporary and may actually worsen your pain over time. According to the Cleveland Clinic, tobacco smoke also impairs the delivery of oxygen rich blood to bones and tissue. Decreasing blood and nutrient flow can cause degeneration, particularly in the disks and spine, resulting in lower back pain and sometimes osteoporosis. As a result, smokers are approximately 3 times more likely to suffer from back pain as well as increased pain and sensitivity in general.

What is the Research Telling Us?

A 2015 study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that those who had fibromyalgia and smoked reported higher pain levels than the fibromyalgia patients who did not smoke. A 2009 study in the Mayo Clinic also concluded that tobacco use in people with fibromyalgia was linked to greater pain intensity, higher scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, more sick days from work and fewer good days overall. A 2002 study discovered a significantly positive relationship between smoking and pain, patient global severity, functional disability, and numbness.

According to an another study by Ryan D’Souza, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic, 668 patients with fibromyalgia were surveyed in order to examine the correlation between tobacco smoking and cognitive function. Researchers found that approximately 14 percent of the patients self-identified as smokers. In unadjusted analysis, smoking was identified as a significant risk factor for lower total cognitive functional scores and lower MASQ subscale scores in language, attention, verbal memory and visual-spatial memory.

Smoking and COVID-19

I am not here to make life more unbearable for you; it can be difficult to get through a pandemic, so it is understandable that for some, the idea of going through such a trial without a cigarette can be incredibly stressful. As a former smoker, I get it. It is times like these that make us seem to want to smoke more, but if there was ever an ideal time to quit, this would be it. The World Health Organization recommends people quit smoking as it makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. Immunosuppressed people are at higher risk if they get COVID-19, and cigarettes are an immunosuppressant.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford reports that there may be several reasons to account for the higher death rates that have been taking place in Italy, one of them being smoking. 24 percent smoke in Italy, compared to an estimated 14 percent of adults in the U.S. When it to comes to germs, cigarettes may also make smokers more vulnerable because they are bringing their hands to their mouths and face more often. Furthermore, on the topic of transmitting germs, be sure not to smoke someone else’s cigarette.

According to the CDC, smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs. Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. According to the Lung Association, lung health professionals are also warning about the dangers of pipes. The use of cold water in the water pipes can facilitate the survival of bacteria and/or viruses. On their website, it states that

“While information regarding susceptibility of those who smoke to contracting COVID-19 is still forthcoming, we do know that those who smoke are two to four times more likely to contract bacterial and/or viral infections. Among Chinese patients who contracted COVID-19 and have a history of smoking, the odds of disease progression or death were found to be 14 times higher. While we do not know yet what affect vaping may have, it has dangers in general and we strongly urge those who smoke, vape or use water pipes to quit.”

Conclusion

This post is not long enough to go into too much detail, nor did I list every study I found, I have however, been able to locate a significant amount of information supporting the theory that smoking can in fact make fibromyalgia worse. Fibromyalgia is an inflammation disorder and tobacco causes widespread inflammation and can eventually worsen pain intensity, increase fatigue, and even negatively affect one’s memory. Any of the perceived stress reduction and relaxation ‘benefits’ associated with the endorphins that are released while smoking are not worth the myriad health concerns cigarettes cause. Furthermore, other activities such as regular exercise will release these same ‘feel good’ chemicals in the body and are far healthier than smoking. It is also important to consider quitting because of the dangers of COVID-19 but also because of your overall health and the people who love you.

How can I Quit?

If you are ready to quit, but you are not sure that you can do it alone, there is help available. Nicotine is highly addictive and although it is possible to quit ‘cold turkey,’ it can be extremely difficult for some. The good news is that there are many options out there. After speaking with your doctor, he or she may prescribe a prescription drug to help you quit smoking. There are some drugs, such as an anti-depressant that has an ‘off label’ use as a smoking cessation drug  as well as drugs that were specifically developed for smoking cessation. Every drug comes with side effects, of course but most doctors agree that in the majority of cases, the risk of continuing to smoke outweighs the side effects from medication.

There are many over the counter products out there on the market today that are designed to help you quit that contain nicotine, called Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) they gradually lower the amount of nicotine your body inhales, absorbs or consumes until you stop completely. Your essentially weening yourself off of nicotine slowly. Some examples of NRT products include nicotine lozenges, Nicorette spray, inhalers and Gum and nicotine patches such as NicoDerm CQ. These and other similar products have helped many people quit but be aware however, that the patches have been know to cause side effects including nausea and there is always the possibility, however slim, of becoming addicted to Nicorette gum or other nicotine containing products.

There are also products on the market that may help you quit smoking without the use of nicotine such as herbal, tobacco free cigarettes or inhalers like the QuitGo Nicotine Free oxygen Inhaler or the Harmless Cigarette. I have not personally tried these products, but I’ve heard some great feedback. The website for Harmless Cigarette states that it is “a therapeutic habit replacement which replicates similar features of a real cigarette combined with scent and aroma that helps satisfy cravings and overcome the urge to smoke naturally without the harmful effects of tobacco, vaping and/or using nicotine products.”

You may also want to try Allen Carr’s book Easy way to stop smoking, which has been recently  updated and includes information on how to quit vaping. Allen Carr’s Easyway has helped 30 million people in over 50 countries to be free from smoking, vaping, drinking, drugs, as well as other addictions. Allen Carr’s inexpensive, safe, non-willpower method is what helped me quit smoking over 10 years ago, and I’ve never looked back since. I had tried many things over the years but this was the only method that worked for me and I highly recommend it. I know that if I can do it, so can you!

If you live in Canada, you may call the Smoker’s Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 for assistance or you can visit their website at smokershelpline.ca. If you reside in the US, visit smokefree.gov.  Remember, there is no better time to quit than the present! I hope you have enjoyed this post and have found it informative. Stay healthy and safe, especially when you venture out. As always, let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below. Let me know if you want to quit smoking for good and if you have, what has worked for you. Thank you for stopping by and take care.

Low Impact Exercises for Fibromyalgia – What Machines I Recommend

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With ‘lock down’ still in place, I understand that we can’t all go to the gym right now and it may be difficult to workout. Exercise, however, is still important for your overall health and so are low impact exercises for fibromyalgia. It can have a positive effect on stress levels, anxiety, depression, sleep quality, mood and your overall well-being. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America “exercise is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness and can reduce stress.”

Studies show that exercise is amazingly effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate. When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind.

What exercise can do for you

Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins (chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers) and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

A 2017 review in the Cochrane library concluded that aerobic exercise can improve quality of life, physical function, stiffness, pain intensity, and may improve muscle function. Studies show that regular moderate exercise boosts your immune system and may even lessen your chances of getting a cold. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that women who walked for a half-hour every day for 1 year had half the number of colds as those who did not exercise.

I understand that, with COVID-19, it may be a lot more difficult to exercise now and impossible to get to a gym when in lock down, but it is also more important than ever to take care of your body, and regular exercise is one of the best ways to accomplish that. Don’t worry, you do not need to be an athlete or run a marathon to benefit from exercise, all you need is about 20 to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Just be sure that you have clearance from your doctor prior to exercise if you have a history of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension or you are over 65 years of age.

Deep Breathing

There are also some wonderful health benefits to stretching, meditation and deep breathing. For reducing stress and to help you relax, the American Institute of Stress recommends breathing as a “super stress buster” that works for everyone even children, the key is focused breathing. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. The relaxation response is a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused. AIS suggests abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes each day to reduce anxiety and stress.

What is aerobic exercise?

Aerobic exercise means “with oxygen” and is physical exercise that can be any type of low to high intensity cardiovascular conditioning also known as “cardio.” During cardiovascular conditioning, your breathing and heart rate increase for a sustained period. Personally I enjoy light aerobic workouts that incorporate a little resistance. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 to 7 days per week. Examples of aerobic exercise include:

• Walking

• Swimming

• Running and jogging

• Aerobic dance

• Cross country Skiing

• Cycling

Can it help with my fibromyalgia?

Yes, exercise is not only helpful for those who have fibromyalgia, it is recommended. Stretching also improves tight fascia, while exercising stimulates blood flow to the tissues and releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers. It will also increase energy and promote better sleep. So, the answer is yes! it can help reduce fibromyalgia pain if done correctly. Our muscles are living tissue and if they are not used or stretched, they will eventually become short and stiff.

It is important to perform a proper warm up before exercises with some light stretching, and a cool down afterwards to slowly return your heart rate to normal. Be sure to keep hydrated during your workout but not to the point that you are at risk of hyponatremia, a condition characterized by dangerously low sodium concentration in the blood from overly hydrating.

Ideally, you should drink as much water as you lose, you can use your best judgment on this. If you are perspiring more, drink more water. You can also weigh yourself prior to exercise then afterwards to see whether you weigh the same amount. The average adult needs 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. It’s also important that you drink quality filtered water when possible and avoid sugary sports drinks. If you feel you need the extra electrolytes, ask your doctor about a supplement.

Great low impact, low cost exercise machines

When it comes to exercise, it is sometimes hard to find good beneficial workouts, especially aerobic workouts that are low impact and will not hurt the joints. Its important to enjoy your workout while reducing the risk of pain and injury while you work out. Again, ask your doctor to clear you for resistance training and aerobic exercise before you begin. Many people have been asking me lately if there are great workout machines they can try during ‘lock down’. So, I have put together a list of some of the best low impact workout machines that you can do without having to leave your home or spend a fortune.

The sunny Health & Fitness’s Twister Stepper with Handle Bar. This simple stepping machine will work deep muscles without putting extreme pressure on your bones and joints. The twist action will help tone your whole body, especially your thighs and buttocks. This adjustable stepper comes with attached handle bars to help keep you balanced. The LCD computer keeps track of elapsed time, calories burned, and number of steps and not only moves up and down but incorporates side to side action as well. It is $69 and has many great reviews on Amazon.com. I have had mine for a long time and believe the quality and workout you get with this machine is well worth the price!

The sunny Health & Fitness Upright Row-N-Rider Rowing Machine. This machine is great for Strengthening not only your lower body but shoulders, arms and back! By activating groups of muscles together this machine will enable you to burn more calories. This machines has 3 adjustable resistance bands, intensify your workout by adding or subtracting bands and each band adds approx. 22 pounds of resistance. There is an adjustable squat depth and versatile handlebars and many more great features. At only $79, it’s no wonder it is a number one best-seller right now on Amazon.com. Everyone I know who has this machine can’t believe the workout they get at this price range.

 

The sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Bike Exercise Bike. This machine has a high 350lb weight capacity and allows you to achieve a full body workout to burn more calories while easily getting your heart rate up. The movable handle bars transform this recumbent bike into the ultimate low impact home fitness machine. The handle bars move back and forth while you pedal, thus, involving the arms, back, and shoulders. This amazing low impact workout bike has many great features, including a digital monitor which measures speed, time, distance, calories, and total distance. Yes, this ‘Amazon’s Choice‘ bike is the real deal. And I’ve seen this type of bike at the gym cost much more. You will be amazed at what this machine can do and at only $300, it costs much less than most gym memberships. The best part, you can use it whenever you want in the privacy of your own home!

Whatever works best for you

As a certified health coach and personal fitness trainer, the above are my top picks for affordable, low impact exercise machines for fibromyalgia. Click here to discover my 3 favorite fibromyalgia workout programs and why I recommend them. The truth is, you really don’t need a gym and you don’t need to spent thousands of dollars for good quality machines that will deliver results. Ultimately you must choose the workout or machine that you are most comfortable with and that best meets your personal needs. Finding something fun and that you will enjoy, will have you looking forward to your workouts everyday even though you may be stuck indoors a lot more!

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the article, don’t forget to leave us some comments below, and take care.

How to Avoid COVID-19 – How to Stay Healthy!

As COVID-19 continues it’s spread around the globe, most health officials are advising the public to stay at home whenever possible and practice social distancing when they must leave their home in order to help ‘flatten the curve’. Some cities and even entire counties are on complete lock down. But will this be enough to avoid getting sick? Read on to learn how to avoid COVID-19, as well as how to naturally strengthen your immune system, and lessen your overall fibromyalgia symptoms in order to help fight off anything that comes your way. Stay as healthy as possible!

What is “Flattening the curve.”

When the spread of a virus slows and the number of people in need of treatment is reduced and fewer individuals become hospitalized at any given time, it’s known as “flattening the curve.” The “curve” researchers are talking about refers to the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over a certain period. “Flattening” refers to lowering the number of new cases so that hospitals aren’t as overwhelmed and less stress is placed on the health care system.

There’s No Place Like Home

While you may think that staying home is an obvious precautionary measure, many people don’t realize just how important it can really be, not just for your own health but for the health of everyone, especially those who are more susceptible or immunocompromised, such as those with underlying health conditions and the elderly. We must also protect our essential workers such as doctors, nurses, grocery store employees and postal workers. You can’t acquire or spread the virus if you stay home, it’s as simple as that.

If you must leave your house because of an emergency, to go to work or to purchase food, practice social distancing. Ottawa Public Health is now recommending that all residents of the city of Ottawa Ontario practice physical (social) distancing. Physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. They say that this will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Wash your hands often

Again, while this may seem obvious, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. Germs can be spread by merely touching another person and you can also catch germs when you touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then touch your face. COVID-19 is thought to last hours on many surfaces, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

When washing your hands, it is important to use a quality disinfecting soap if possible and work up a good lather. Scrub your hands and in between your fingers for a minimum of 20 seconds before rinsing with warm water. A great way to know its been a full 20 seconds is to sing the happy birthday song twice or the ABC’S once through in your head, or out loud… why not! This is actually a great way to get your kids to do it right.

Once you’re done washing, do not turn off the tap right away as this will only transfer the germs that are on the tap onto your newly cleansed hands; after all, our hands are dirty when we first turn on the tap. Wet skin is also more likely to transfer germs then dry skin. Instead, thoroughly dry your hands first; if using paper towel, you can use some paper towel as a barrier to turn off the tap when you’re done. If a sink isn’t available, hand sanitizer is the next best thing, just make sure in contains at least 60% alcohol.

Wear a protective mask

While it may not be the most fashionable looking accessory, a proper face mask can sometimes make the difference between getting sick and staying healthy when you leave your home. Researchers have concluded that the virus could remain airborne up to 3 hours post aerosolization. This is one of the reasons why maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 meters from other people is so important, especially when indoors.

Coughing, however, can spread tiny droplets as far as six meters, and sneezing as much as eight meters. These droplets stay suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes. If you’re experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms and think you may have COVID-19, avoid direct contact with other people, call ahead and get tested. Be sure to cough and sneeze into your sleeve, never your hands. Click here for a list of symptoms to watch out for and treatment information.

Boosting Your Immune System

You should not wait until COVID-19 strikes to start incorporating products or habits into your life that can help strengthen your immune system. In fact, it’s better to start as soon as possible, so that your body is more prepared. This is especially important if you are over 65 years of age, have a pre-existing respiratory or heart condition or are a diabetic. This is also a good idea for those that experience the common systems associated with fibromyalgia such as extreme fatigue, inflammation and chronic pain. For tips on how to reduce pain naturally, click here.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful water-soluble vitamin that is packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect our body against the damage caused by free radicals and has been shown to offer protection against immune system deficiencies among many other things. Because our bodies can’t produce vitamin C, it’s essential we obtain enough through our diets. Excellent food sources include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, tomatoes, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries and kiwi.

Zinc

Did you know that second to iron, zinc is the most abundant trace mineral in your body? And not only has research shown zinc to be a natural  immune system booster but it may also shorten the duration of colds that are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus. Although supplements are normally not recommended for long term, it may be something to consider for a short time, if you develop cold or flu like symptoms. The bioavailability of zinc increases when it is taken with vitamin C. Be sure to discuss this supplement with you doctor first.

Elderberry

You may have seen many teas, lozenges and syrups made from the elderberry plant on the market. The truth is, knowledge about Elderberry’s ability to fight upper respiratory infections and boost immunity has been around for hundreds of years. Elderberry works by delivering the body antioxidants and boosting it’s natural immune response. Elderberry syrup has also been shown to lessen the severity and duration of the common flu. It may be worth taking an elderberry supplement, with your Doctor’s okay of course.

Eat healthy

Eating a healthy well-balanced diet can have an enormous impact on your immune system. Sugar causes an inflammatory response in the body and is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and weight gain. Avoid excess sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates and trans fat. Be sure to include fruits, vegetables, good sources of protein and healthy fats into your meals. This may seem difficult, especially when it’s not so easy to get to the store these days, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

One way to ensure you can eat healthy and have your groceries last longer is to purchase canned goods or frozen food. Canned salmon, for example is high in omega 3 as well as a great source of vitamin D, is usually wild caught, often come in PBA free cans, cost much less than buying fresh and can be stored in the cupboard for months. Frozen veggies are a good alternative to buying fresh. Many of the vitamins are retained when vegetables are frozen and can be stored in the freezer for 8 to 10 months if its kept at a constant temperature.

Get your sleep

One of the best ways to boost your immune system is to be sure to get enough rest. A lack of sleep can have a huge impact on your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus and if you do become ill, a lack of sleep can affect your speed of recovery. Adults should aim for eight hours of quality sleep a night and children should get at least ten or more hours a night. For more information on this, including ways to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, click here.

Reducing Stress

This can be a particularly stressful time for many individuals around the world, from worrying about ourselves and our loved one’s getting ill to potential job losses and general uncertainty about the future. Also add the fact that we are pretty much obligated to isolate ourselves from the world and it’s no wonder many of us are feeling negative emotional effects. Unfortunately, stress can take a toll on your immune system and overall health. Here are some things that may help with your stress level and make the next few days, weeks or months a little more bearable.

Meditation and Exercise

Not only can meditation be calming and relaxing, it can help control or reduce stress, alleviate anxiety and improve your overall sense of well being. It’s best to try meditation in a comfortable place when your house is quiet. Listening to music you enjoy can also put you in a great mood and refocus your attention on the performance rather than what you may be worrying about. Aromatherapy is also a great way to induce relaxation as is deep breathing exercises, stretching and yoga. These thing also have the added potential benefit of helping you fall asleep.

Vitamin D and UVB

Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to help individuals deal with their stress levels by helping to manage depression, and because of it’s association with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. On the other hand, stress can also have a negative impact on vitamin D levels. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and an increased susceptibility to infection.

You should still go outside for exercise, sunlight and fresh air. UVB produces vitamin D in the skin, and right now, at least most of us are probably spending more of our time indoors. This is often a problem in the winter because the further up north you live, the less UVB reaches you. This lack of UVB can lead to feelings of sadness, depression or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in some individuals. In certain cases, light therapy may be worth trying. Click here to learn more about SAD and what you can do about it.

Stay in touch and try new things

Just because we are spending more time at home doesn’t mean we can’t or should not communicate with our friends and loved ones. Call your family and friends regularly. Conversing with those you are close to when you are both going through a similar situation may increase your bond, strengthen your friendship, lift your mood and leave you feeling less isolated.

If you have more free time on your hands, this may be a good opportunity to finish that book you never had time for before, take an online course, order an adult colouring book or learn a new language. If you have kids, try a family board game or a movie night to pass the time. These things can not only offer a much needed distraction, keeping your mind off worrisome  things like viruses but will give you and your family something fun to do while you are stuck indoors, thus potentially lowering your stress level.

Remember… This Will End

While it may be difficult to believe right now. This will end. COVID-19 will be defeated. We will be able to do the things we used to enjoy like dining in restaurants, going to movie theaters and cheering at sporting events. In the meantime though, stay home and stay safe. I hope you enjoyed this article on how to avoid COVID-19 and keeping yourself as healthy as possible.

If you have any other suggestions on how to avoid illness or ways to naturally boost the immune system, or if you would like to see more information about the effect COVID-19 has on fibromyalgia, please let us know in the comments section below. Thank you for stopping by and take care.

Does Dr Ho’s Circulation Promoter Work? Here is What I Found Out.

I’m sure you have at least heard the name Dr. Ho, but are you familiar with his Circulation Promoter. This is one product I just couldn’t wait to try, luckily my father-in-law owns one, so I asked a bunch of question and tried it out for myself. I did some research in order to determine whether or not this device could help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, and if it’s worth the price. Well… does Dr, Ho’s Circulation Promoter work? This is what I found out.

First, who is Dr. Ho?

Dr. Michael Ho studied pre-med at the university of Calgary then went on to study at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College to become a chiropractor. He also has knowledge about nutrition, exercise and acupuncture. But Dr. Ho’s main focus has always been treating those who suffered with chronic pain, including those with fibromyalgia related pain, in an effort to help them lead a pain free life.

Within 5 to 10 years of his practice, word was already spreading about the effectiveness of Dr. Ho’s therapies and people started coming from around the world to visit his clinic. Dr. Ho then began to produce products to help eliminate pain that people could use in their own home rather than having to go to the clinic.

Dr. Ho believes in treating pain by first identifying its root cause. His goal was to create products that worked faster and that were more effective than anything else currently on the market or what he had access to in his practice. Dr. Ho has said that the body is an incredible machine and that under the right conditions, can restore itself to health without invasive interventions or harmful chemicals.

What is this device and how does it work?

In order to fully understand if and how this device can help, I had to first learn what it was, including a bit about the technology behind it. The Circulation Promoter is a circular device on which you place booth feet. It uses TENS therapy, Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Pulse Massage to stimulate nerves and massage muscles.

Do your feet often become cold, cramped, achy or swollen? If so, this can be due to poor circulation. By stimulating the feet and lower limbs, the Circulation Promoter helps prevent the buildup of fluid and increases blood flow. The Circulation Promoter can help increase circulation in the entire body as well, which can help alleviate the following symptoms:

– Joint pain

– Back pain

– Head aches & migraines

– Nerve pain and numbness

– Neck pain

– Shoulder pain

– Trouble sleeping

Who is this device for?

Anyone afflicted with pain can benefit from the use of this machine. Those whom I believe would be best suited for Dr. Ho’s Circulation Promoter are people who suffer from:

– Fibromyalgia

– Lower limb pain

– Poor circulation

– Diabetics

– Sciatica

– Nerve damage

– Foot pain

How can it help with fibromyalgia?

Dr. Ho has stated that fibromyalgia is not a disease, but rather a dysfunction of the muscles, the soft tissue and of the nerves. He goes on to say that if you can relax the nerves and improve blood circulation, you may relieve the pain and live a much better life.

One of the biggest problems with fibromyalgia sufferers is a lack of exercise; most people with fibromyalgia find it hard and sometimes very painful to exercise. Dr. Ho recommends light exercise or even a bit of daily stretching. This should be accompanied with a diet high in green leafy vegetables and fruits and avoiding foods that cause inflammation.

He also recommends TENS therapy to relax sore stiff muscles, improve circulation of blood and relieve pain. This device is best used before bed to obtain a better sleep. By improving the quality and duration of your sleep, you are also allowing your body to naturally restore itself. It may also be helpful to try other natural therapies, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage therapy.

How much does the unit cost?

Dr. Ho offers 3 different packages (Basic, Deluxe and Ultimate) at 3 different price points. You can choose the one that best meets your individual needs and budget. The Basic Package is the first package ( the as seen on TV package) and costs $199.96, It offers:

• Circulation Promoter

• 4 Regular Body Pads

• 2 Large Body Pads

• Circulation Promoting Foot Massage Pads

• Travel Bag

• Instructional DVD

The Deluxe Package. The second package sells for $249.96 and comes with:

• Everything in the Basic Package +

• 16 Additional Regular Body Pads

• 4 Additional Large Body Pads

The Ultimate Package. The third package boasts the most bang for your buck and is priced at $329.96. Here is a breakdown of what you will receive:

• Everything in Deluxe Package +

• DR-HO’S Pain Therapy Back Relief Belt (adjustable from 25 to 52″)

• DR-HO’S Therapy & Support Band

• DR-HO’S Pain Relief Spray

All prices are in Canadian dollars. All Dr. Ho products are backed by a 90-day money back guarantee, if for whatever reason you’re not 100% satisfied with the Circulation Promoter, you can return it for your money back, less shipping and handling.

How I felt after using this product.

The Circulation Promoter helped my sore feet and knees.

You can definitely feel it work! Personally, I noticed a difference right away, I know that everyone is different, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results. My 83-year-old father-in-law, who is a diabetic, has been using it for quite a number of months now and says It works for him as well. I believe the more you use the device, the better you will feel.

I love the feeling afterward; I can feel it throughout my whole body, but especially in my tired feet and sore knees. I’ve suffered several knee injuries in the past and this seems to help; in fact, I’m going to be purchasing my own very soon. I also appreciate the fact that it is portable and not much set up is required; you simply put your feet on the device and turn it on. The price is also really reasonable compared to the cost of many other inferior products on the market.

Last thoughts.

I honestly like what Dr. Ho stands for and appreciate products that are a safer and more effective alternatives to drugs. I would definitely recommend Dr. Ho’s Circulation Promoter to anyone looking to lessen or even eliminate pain, help with circulation and improve the overall quality of their life.

For more information on the Circulation Promoter or other Dr. Ho products, you can visit the website by clicking here. Thank you for taking the time to look over this review article, I hope you have found it helpful. Please leave us some comments below. Take care!

Does Massage Help Fibromyalgia? – Read This First!

The history of massage therapy dates back thousands of years and most are aware of the claims that a massage can ease muscle pain, tension, reduce stress, improve range of motion and can even help with depression and anxiety. But does it really work? which type of massage is best for you and does massage therapy help deal with symptoms of fibromyalgia? These are some questions I will attempt to answer in this short article on massage therapy for fibromyalgia. First, what exactly is massage therapy?

What is Massage Therapy?

Using their hands, a Registered Massage Therapist (RTM) manipulates the soft tissues of the body including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints using varying degrees of movement and pressure. A Registered Massage Therapist is someone who has received formal hands on training in giving massages.

According to the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario, massage therapy can be used as a treatment for both acute and chronic conditions. RMTs work with a wide variety of patients in the treatment of illness, injury rehabilitation and disability.

In Canada, provincial healthcare plans such as OHIP, AHCIP and MSI provide coverage for medically necessary services only. As a result, most registered massage therapy is not covered by public healthcare, unless it is administered in a hospital and required for the recovery of a patient. Without personal coverage, the cost of a massage can range between $50-$150.

What Are Some Benefits of Massage Therapy?

Message therapy can offer relief or help manage many conditions including:

• Tension headaches

• Sciatica

• Whiplash

• Varicose Veins

• Over used muscles

• Muscle injuries

• Gout

• Diabetes

• Insomnia

• Anxiety

• Stress

• Fatigue

• Depression

Different Types of Messages

There are several types of massage that focus on different parts of the body. Not every type of massage, however, is right for everyone. Here are five of the most common types of massages, see whether they interest you.

Swedish Massage

This type of massage is great for those who are new to massage therapy. People who experience a great deal of pain and tenderness from fibromyalgia or from other sources may prefer a gentler massage such as this one. A Swedish massage is very relaxing and is ideal for those looking to release tension, de-stress and improve sleep.

Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage is designed to relieve pain and tension from the deepest layers of your muscles, hence the name. For this reason, it uses more pressure than a Swedish massage and is a good option for those that are seeking relief from chronic muscle tightness, pain or injury. This may not be a suitable massage if you are sensitive to pressure as many with fibromyalgia are.

Reflexology

Not too crazy about the idea of being even partially naked and having your entire body rubbed down by a stranger, but still want to enjoy the relaxation benefits of a massage? Then reflexology may be for you. Reflexology methods use gentle to firm pressure on different pressure points on the hands, feet and ears.

Thai massage

This is definitely a more active form of massage which include various movements, stretching and a firm pressure. Thai is designed to reduce pain and stress as well as increase circulation and energy levels. This also makes it great for diabetics or those wanting to increase flexibility. You can also be fully clothed with this type of massage.

Shiatsu massage

This is a Japanese type of massage that uses a light to moderate pulsing pressure and is best for people who want to feel relaxed, relieve pain and experience an overall feeling of calmness. Shiatsu may be especially beneficial for those who suffer from headaches, depression, sleep problems, stress and anxiety.

Before Your Massage

First, It is always a good idea to use the rest room; remember, you will be lying on that table for up to 1.5 hours so you will want to be comfortable. The massage therapists may also ask if you would like relaxing music, hot stones or aromatherapy with the use of essential oils to accompany your massage. These additions can add to the relaxation and overall enjoyment of the experience and may be worth trying. Click here for more information on the benefits of aromatherapy on fibromyalgia.

Be sure to inform your therapist about your fibromyalgia and any other health concerns prior to your massage. While massage therapy is safe and can even be very helpful for those with fibromyalgia, you should always listen to your body and if you find the pressure too hard, let the therapist know immediately. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Massage therapy may be helpful for some fibromyalgia symptoms if it’s continued for long enough, at least 5 weeks.

After Your Massage

Most massages last 60-90 minutes. Once you are finished, it is important to consume an adequate amount of water. Massages help the body rid itself of toxins, thus water is now needed to properly flush them out of your system and re-hydrate. You may feel a bit tired, sleepy or groggy following a message; this is normal especially after a more relaxing type of massage, such as a Swedish massage.

Most people tend to take their massage when they can be in relaxation mode the rest of the day. Try to avoid beverages that are known to dehydrate the body after a massage, such as coffee and alcohol. The caffeine in coffee can also interfere with the sleep benefits of the message. Be sure to get plenty of rest; your body will still need to recover, especially after a more intense deep tissue massage, and it does this best while you are asleep.

Go for It!

Every type of massage is different, but so is every therapist. If you have had a massage in the past and didn’t care for it, there is a good chance that the cause may be attributed to that particular therapist, and not massage therapy per se. So experiment with different massage therapists as well as different types of massages until you find what works best for you. As always, talk to your doctor prior to your massage therapy session.

Thank you for your interest in this article. I hope you go for it and give massage therapy a try. Please let us know if or how massage therapy has helped you in the comments section below. Questions are always welcome too. Take care!

M. Murray

Why Artificial Sweeteners Are Bad For You!

We all crave something sweet occasionally, but most of us try to avoid eating sugary foods for the obvious health benefits. An increase in sugar consumption has been linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and weight gain. But are artificial sweeteners a good alternative?

After all, they are low in calories and are often touted as being a safer option for diabetics. I, like a lot of concerned consumers purchased it myself, in an attempt to eat healthier. Since then, I’ve learned that they are far from healthy especially for those with diabetes and fibromyalgia. Read on to find out why artificial sweeteners are bad for you.

What is Aspartame?

Aspartame is likely the most popular chemical sweetener. You may recognize aspartame marketed under the trade names Equal and NutraSweet. It is an artificial low-calorie, non-saccharide sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Aspartame is available in most grocery stores and restaurants. Despite its widespread use, the artificial sweetener aspartame is currently one of the most controversial food additives on the market.

Is it safe?

Aspartame’s ingredient list include aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methyl alcohol which is poisonous to the body. When methyl alcohol breaks down at high temperatures it turns into formaldehyde and DKP (diketopiprazine). then formic acid. These highly toxic chemicals adversely affect the nervous system. This is the reason an aspartame containing beverage should never exceed a temperature of 86 degrees.

Unfortunately, we simply don’t know enough about the long-term effects of aspartame to say for sure exactly how much harm it can potentially cause. In a review conducted on nonnutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and stevioside, no evidence was found that these low-calorie sweeteners, were effective for weight management and in fact may contribute to it.

Several studies from 2016 and 2017 reviews, found a link in participants between increased body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference and a regular intake of nonnutritive sweeteners. It also suggested that individuals who consumed sweeteners such as aspartame, on a regular basis, were at a greater risk for developing metabolic disorders, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

In another study, healthy adults consumed a study-prepared high-aspartame diet for 8 days and a low-aspartame diet for 8 days, with a 2-week washout between the diets. When consuming the high-aspartame diet, participants had more irritable mood, exhibited more depression, and performed worse on spatial orientation tests. The higher aspartame intake level tested in the study, were still well below the maximum acceptable daily intake level.

Reported side-effects of aspartame consumption.

Since aspartame was approved in 1983 for human consumption, the FDA has received many complaints of adverse reactions, more than any other food additive. Some of these reports include:

headache

seizure

migraines

irritable moods

anxiety

depression

insomnia

dizziness

seizures

cancer

lupus

slurred speech

problems with memory

loss of sensation

shooting pains down the legs

loss of equilibrium

vertigo

anxiety attacks

chronic fatigue

vision loss

eye floaters

renal detachment

heart palpitations

seizures

miscarriage

infertility

There have also been numerous news reports that suggest a link between aspartame and the following:

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Alzheimer’s disease

multiple sclerosis

fibromyalgia

congenital disabilities

increase incidence of brain tumors

Although many believe there is insufficient scientific evidence to confirm the claims of aspartame’s involvement in any of the above, there is also a lack of evidence to suggest it can’t be responsible either. Many studies do conclude however that aspartame consumption should be approached with caution due to the possible effects on neurobehavioral health.

How can it affect fibromyalgia?

According to Dr. Ginevra Liptan MD, author of The Fibro Manual, Artificial sweeteners and MSG (which are classified as excitotoxins) should be avoided at all costs! She writes that in addition to aspartame, almost all artificial sweeteners, including sucralose Splenda and saccharin Sweet’N Low, can increase fibromyalgia pain. If you are looking for a calorie free, non-sugar substitute, she suggests a natural sweetener such as stevia, which is marketed as Truvia. Read the book review here.

Unusual musculoskeletal adverse effect of aspartame were reported in two patients. One of the patients was a 50-year-old woman that had been suffering from widespread pain and fatigue for over 10 years. This led to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. While on vacation in a foreign country, she had forgotten to take her aspartame with her, and did not suffer from any pain.

All her symptoms, however, reappeared a few days after she had returned home when she reintroduced aspartame back into her daily diet. Aspartame was then excluded from her diet, and the result was a complete regression of the fibromyalgia symptoms. This begs the question… could aspartame worsen or even cause fibromyalgia pain?

Why is it legal?

Because of obvious conflicts of interest, the legality of aspartame has been a source of much controversy over the last few decades, and rightly so. Donald Rumsfeld bounced back and forth from positions in the government and pharmaceutical industry. Rumsfeld was the chairman and CEO of G.D. Searle when he was hired to facilitate the FDA approval for aspartame. Because of his success with aspartame, he was awarded a generous $12 million bonus.

The FDA, however, had opposed the approval of aspartame for sixteen years before that because studies showed it caused brain tumors and lesions in animals. It was also approved for use in soft drinks in 1983 even though the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) protested it strongly, claiming aspartame to be “inherently, markedly and uniquely unstable.” This statement makes sense when you consider how toxic the substance becomes once it’s broken down by the body.

My own scary experience with aspartame.

My story takes place bout 15 years ago, this was before I was married, had children, became a certified health coach or worked as a health care provider. At the time, I worked in a cubicle with no windows for 10 hours a day in a job that I despised and the only thing that seemed to keep me going was copious amounts of coffee every day.

Soon the large amounts of sugar I used to add to my coffees began to show on the scale and I began to wonder whether aspartame would be a better solution. That’s when my boyfriend at the time and I decided to go on a real ‘health kick’ and substitute sugar for aspartame. We also started downing aspartame sweetened soft drinks like crazy, because why not? we assumed it was healthy.

Before long, I started experiencing strange and unexplainable heart palpitations. For someone in their early 20’s who has had no known health issues, this was odd, to say the least. I passed it off as just work-related stress, but the symptoms only got worse. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that my boyfriend confided in me that he had been experiencing random panic attacks at work for no apparent reason.

Then one of my boyfriend’s colleagues asked him one day if he was consuming aspartame, because she had had a similar experience with it. Finally, we decided to do a little research and looked up possible side effects for aspartame and low and behold! All our symptoms were on that list! I was shocked, we both were. Needless to say, we ditched the aspartame after that.

Sure, I could have passed it off as a coincidence, but I truly don’t believe that it was. About a week or so after we quit aspartame, our symptoms completely vanished. I haven’t had aspartame since, and my symptoms have not returned. I realize that some may be more susceptible than others and I was consuming quite a bit of the stuff, yet my consumption was still considerably lower then the daily limit of 50 mg/kg set by the FDA.

There are better alternatives.

Stevia Leaf

Fortunately, there are better alternatives out there, so you don’t have to give up the sweets entirely. Stevia is a great option, is all natural and comes from the stevia leaf. Other great options include monk fruit extract and erythritol. These sweeteners will not raise blood sugar like aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can which makes them safe for diabetics as well.

Although I will be covering these natural sweeteners more in depth in another article, I will include a short list of the brands that I purchase and use on a regular basis, should you want to check them out for yourself. You can even bake with these sweeteners which have the added benefit of not leaving an awful chemical after taste.

Halefresh Erythritol

Truvia

Swerve Sweetener

Monk Fruit Extract

Xlear Xylitol Sweetener 

What are your thoughts?

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on why artificial sweeteners are bad for you. I hope it has helped you in some way. Please let us know your thoughts on artificial sweeteners, including aspartame. Do you believe they are bad? Or, are you of the opinion that they are harmless? Either way, we would like to know your thoughts on this topic. Thanks again!

Does Turmeric Help Inflammation? Can It Help With Fibromyalgia?

I’m sure you’ve heard about the many amazing health benefits of eating turmeric including the fact that it can help with inflammation. But what is it? Does it have other benefits and uses? Is it really that safe and how much should we consume?

I wanted to find out more and I hope you’re here because you do too. I know most of you want to ask “does turmeric help inflammation? And yes, I will answer that, but First, lets start with a seemingly obvious, yet very important question:

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its unique yellow color. The medicinal compounds in turmeric are called curcuminoids, curcumin being the main active ingredient. Turmeric has been used extensively as a spice in traditional South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking and in Ayurveda (Indian system of Medicine) for centuries.

Does it help with inflammation and fibromyalgia?

Yes! Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is known to be a very strong antioxidant as well. Many doctors and scientists are now of the opinion that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a large role in almost every Western disease. This includes heart disease, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, cancer.

But wait, fibromyalgia is not considered a disease! Although fibromyalgia is categorized as a chronic disorder and not a disease, it is best understood and treated as a central inflammatory syndrome. And although more research needs to be done on turmeric for fibromyalgia, it may help a great deal since curcumin works like a pain reliever for the body.

Should I take a supplement, and how much?

The curcumin content in turmeric is only around 3-4% by weight, which is why many people chose a supplement instead which contain much higher amounts. Most experts say that If you want to experience the full anti-inflammatory effects you need to get 500 to 1,000 milligrams of curcuminoids per day. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined 1.4 mg per pound (0–3 mg/kg) of body weight is an acceptable daily intake for most.

Although still healthy and definitely flavorful, you will not be receiving 500 to 1,000 mgs of curcumin daily, simply by adding a little turmeric into your recipes. And while a supplement may seem like a great solution, the bioavailability of curcumin is poor, meaning it is not effectively absorbed by the bloodstream.

To increase curcumins effectiveness, piperine, which comes from natural black pepper is often added to many of the more superior curcumin containing supplements, such as Fibrolief Formula and will raise the body’s absorption of curcumin by 2,000%. Another great way to boost curcumin’s effectiveness is to consume it with a fatty meal since curcumin is fat soluble.

What else can it do?

An antioxidant

Along with its natural ability to fight chronic inflammation, curcumin is also a potent antioxidant that has been proven to protect the body from free radicals and help the body increase its antioxidant enzymes. Premature aging along with many diseases can be related to this type of oxidative damage.

Heart healthy

Curcumin has also been shown to be heart healthy. In fact studies that have been conducted in rats showed that curcumin had the ability to prevent heart failure. The study suggests curcumin may prevent the development of atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside your artery’s and is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease and the most common form of dementia. Not only is there evidence that curcumin can treat AD but possibly prevent it all together. Curcumin is often used in Ayurveda for its pain relieving and anti-inflammatory qualities.

According to an article on NCBI, one of the important pathogenesis in Alzheimer’s disease is the chronic inflammation of nerve cells. Several studies have demonstrated the associated inflammatory changes such as microgliosis, astrocytosis and the presence of pro-inflammatory substances that accompany the deposition of amyloid-β peptide. Is it any wonder why AD is far less prevalent in places such as India where it is consumed often?

Cancer Prevention

Studies have shown that curcumin may contribute to the death of cancerous cells and metastasis (the spread of cancer) In a Healthline article, I recently read about a 30-day study in which 44 men with lesions in the colon that sometimes turn cancerous were given 4 grams of curcumin per day. The curcumin reduced the number of lesions by 40%

Many other benefits

In addition to all the above, curcumin can also improve overall brain function, increase memory, lower risk of brain diseases, aid in the treatment of arthritis, osteoarthritis, age related diseases, help prevention and treat depression, hay fever, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, liver problems, heart burn and can help with stress.

Are there people who should not use it?

If you are pregnant or nursing, it is okay to season your food with turmeric, however it is not advisable to take a curcumin supplement in concentrated doses. Keep in mind, all herbal supplements should be used with caution. Notify your health care provider of any supplements you’re taking, including turmeric and curcumin.

Give it a try

I love cooking with turmeric and eating authentic Indian cuisine which is a great way to get more of this wonderful spice into your diet. If you are in the market for a supplement, just be sure to chose one that is made in an FDA approved facility, preferably organic, and uses high quality curcumin.

Also, look for a brand that contains piperine, otherwise you will not get the full benefit of the supplement, if any at all. Fibrolief Formula, a high-quality supplement, is specifically designed for those with fibromyalgia. It contains piperine and meets all the other criteria mentioned above. Click here to see the full review.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you found this article informative, helpful and are considering giving turmeric and curcumin a try! Please feel free to leave us a question or comment in the section below, we’d love to hear from you.