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11 Superfoods For Your Heart

11 Superfoods For Your Heart

To prevent heart attacks, avoid unhealthy food, and eat foods rich in nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats.

While deaths due to heart disease have dropped in recent years, it’s still the No. 1 killer of Americans. The good news is that we now know a ton about how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which includes both strokes and heart attacks.

It’s clear that healthy eating and living (like exercising more!) can make a huge difference.

While deaths due to heart disease have dropped in recent years, it’s still the . The good news is that we now know a ton about how to prevent cardiovascular disease, which includes both  and .

It’s clear that healthy eating and living (like !) can make a huge difference.

Read on to see what you should be including in your diet to keep your ticker happy for decades to come.

1) Oatmeal

Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol. “It acts as a sponge in the digestive tract and soaks up the cholesterol so it is eliminated from the body and not absorbed into the bloodstream,” says Lauren Graf, a registered dietician, and co-director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Graf recommends avoiding instant oatmeal, which often contains sugar, and heading instead for old-fashioned or even quick-cooking oats. Other whole grains such as bread, pasta, and grits are also good for the heart as long as they still contain the entire grain.

2) Blueberries

Not just blueberries, but strawberries and other berries as well. According to a 2013 study of women aged 25 through 42 who ate more than three servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32% lower risk of heart attack compared with those who ate less. The authors of the study attributed the benefit to compounds known as anthocyanins, flavonoids (which are antioxidants) that may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. Anthocyanins give plants their red and blue colors.

3) Citrus fruits

Women who consume high amounts of the flavonoids found in oranges and grapefruits have a 19% lower risk of ischemic stroke(caused by a clot) than women who don’t get as much of these compounds, a 2012 study found. Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, which has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Beware of citrus juices that contain added sugar. And be aware that grapefruit products may interfere with the action of the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.

4) Tomatoes

Tomato consumption in the U.S. has been rising and that’s a good thing. Like potatoes, tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium. Plus, they’re a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help get rid of “bad” cholesterol, keep blood vessels open, and lower heart attack risk. And because they’re low in calories and low in sugar, they don’t detract from an already-healthy diet. “They’re excellent for the body in a number of ways,” says Graf.

5) Legumes

Because they come from plants, legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas are an excellent source of protein without a lot of unhealthy fat. One study found that people who ate legumes at least four times a week had a 22% lower risk of heart disease compared with those who consumed them less than once a week. And legumes may help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. Lowering blood sugar levels is key in helping people avoid diabetes complications, one of which is heart disease.

6) Nuts

This includes almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, and macadamia nuts, all of which contain good-for-your-heart fiber. They also contain vitamin E, which helps lower bad cholesterol. And some, like walnuts, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. “Some people in the past have avoided nuts because they’re higher in fat, but most of the studies show that people who consume nuts daily are leaner than people who don’t,” says Graf. And leaner people are at a lower risk for heart problems. Look for varieties that don’t have a lot of added salt.

7) Green tea

Long a favorite in Asia, green tea has grown more popular in the West and may bring with it significant health benefits. A 2013 study found that people who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 20% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke compared with people who “seldom” imbibed the beverage. The findings echo a previous study that found lower rates of death, including death from heart disease, among avid drinkers of green tea. Antioxidants known as catechins may be responsible for the effect.

8) Broccoli, spinach, and kale

When it comes to your health, you really can’t go wrong with vegetables. But green vegetables may give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fiber and contain tons of vitamins and minerals. Kale also has some omega-3 fatty acids. “Green vegetables are super health-promoting foods,” says Graf.

9) Organic Coffee

Another widely consumed beverage—coffee—may also promote heart health. One study found a 10 to 15% lower risk of dying from heart disease or other causes in men and women who drank six or more cups of coffee a day. Other research has found that even two cups a day could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 30%. It’s not clear where the benefit comes from and the news isn’t necessarily a reason to pick up the habit. “If you’re already drinking coffee and enjoying it, continue,” says Graf. “If not, there’s no reason to start.”

10) Flax seeds

Flax seeds as well as the ultra-chic (among the health conscious) chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, says Graf. That’s one reason they’re good for your heart. Another reason is its high fiber content. Plus, there are a million ways to enjoy them. Try them ground up with other heart-healthy foods, such as dried blueberries, cranberries, or oatmeal or even blended with soy milk and fruit to create a smoothie.

11) Pomegranate

Pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries. One study of heart disease patients found that a daily dose of pomegranate juice over three months showed improvements in blood flow to the heart. Ultimately, though, it’s important to have variety in your diet. If you don’t like pomegranates or can’t afford them, reach for apples, which also contain plenty of health-promoting compounds, says Graf.

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Fertility Over 40 – How to Increase Your Chance of Conceiving

Struggling to conceive? If you’re over 40 and worried you might have left it too late, you will be pleased to hear in 2015 the fertility rate for women aged 40 and over rose above the rate for women aged under 20 for the first time in nearly 70 years.

According to experts at the Office of National Statistics, people have been increasingly delaying childbearing until later life, resulting in rising fertility rates among older women. They cite a number of factors, but the increasing importance of a career and the rising costs of childcare means that more and more women are choosing to delay their pregnancy until later in life.

However, as the body ages, getting pregnant can be more problematic than for people in their teens and twenties. Many women considering pregnancy in their 40s will look to IVF (in vitro fertilization) and indeed the number of procedures in the UK is rising.

But there are lifestyle choices that every woman needs to consider, should she want to improve her fertility and likelihood of having a healthy baby:

1. Get sexual

Have sex at least every other day during your fertile window. Understanding your own menstrual cycle is one of the most important things you can do, studies show you’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation. Ovulation usually happens about 14 days after the first day of your last period.

2. Eat healthy food

Being overweight can seriously affect your chances of conceiving. Women whose BMI is more than 30 can have problems conceiving, so, maintaining a healthy weight, and consuming lots of fruit and vegetables and cutting out the processed foods should assist both your chances of conceiving and the potential health of the fetus. This also leads on to the third important factor, vitamins.

3. Give yourself a pre-natal vitamin boost

Vitamin D and Folic acid are both recommended by the NHS to encourage the healthy development of the foetus and in particular its neural pathways. If you are a vegetarian or vegan you may also want to consider checking iron and vitamin B12 levels as it can sometimes be difficult to get enough through your diet.

4. Be mindful of changes in your body

The thyroid regulates our metabolism, and an undiagnosed thyroid disorder can affect your chances of conceiving. Some of the symptoms of a dysfunctional thyroid include weight and mood changes, sensitivity to cold/hot, skin dryness, palpitation, and fatigue. So if you have noticed any of these changes, it is worth considering a visit to the GP to get a blood test.

5. Lose the booze

Lots of us understand that it’s vital to cut out alcohol when pregnant – however, it is less well known that alcohol can really impede your ability to conceive. Recent research from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has found that drinking three glasses of wine a week can have a detrimental effect on pregnancy success for both men and women.

6. Ditch the smoking

Cutting smoking from your daily habits may seem like a no brainer, but recent studies have shone further light upon the damage tobacco causes to birth rates in general. For those women looking to conceive later in life, it’s worth noting that those who smoke will reach menopause on average two years earlier than non-smokers.

7. Avoid high-impact exercise

While moderate exercise is useful in reducing fat – strenuous or excessive exercise can cause real problems with your menstrual cycle – a US study of ballet dancers found that the strenuous physical exercise was the cause of the deterioration of their menstrual cycle. This may be an extreme example, but as part of a concerted effort to conceive every woman needs to be aware of these deciding factors on their bodies.

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Fertility Over 40 – How to Increase Your Chance of Conceiving
5 Yoga Poses to Reduce Hypertension

5 Yoga Poses to Reduce Hypertension

Chances are at least one person in your life—a family member, someone you work with, or a good friend—has high blood pressure and takes one or more pills a day to bring it under control. Why so likely? Because high blood pressure—what doctors call hypertension—affects one in three adults in the United States.

The following sequence is designed to prepare you to work toward the practice of inversions safely and without raising your blood pressure. At no time should you feel agitated or uncomfortable in any of these poses. If you feel flushed, hot, or dizzy while practicing, come out of the pose and rest in balasana (child’s pose) until you feel normal again.

End your practice with at least five minutes of savasana, using a blanket, if necessary, to support the back of your neck so it stays long and your face can completely relax toward your chest.

(Downward-Facing Dog Pose) with Support

Begin on your hands and knees and place two or three blankets (folded lengthwise) underneath your chest. Press the weight evenly through the hands as you straighten your arms and lift up through the inner edges of the arms. Release your shoulder blades away from your neck toward your hips, straighten the legs, and lift your pelvis up into adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog pose). Separate your feet wider than hip-width apart.

Pranayama for High Blood Pressure

Lift the pelvis away from the wrists and, keeping the legs firm, press the fronts of the thighs away from the torso toward the backs of the legs and lengthen your calves down toward your heels. Extend the inner arms from the wrists toward the shoulders as you move the shoulder blades away from the neck toward the pelvis.

Let the back of your neck release down so that your head (somewhere between the top of your forehead and the crown of the head) can rest on the support. If your head doesn’t comfortably reach your support, add another blanket. You shouldn’t have to bend the elbows in order to reach the blankets. If your neck feels compressed or your head jams into the blankets, lower your support.

When you can balance the dynamic action in the limbs and torso with the rest and relaxation in the head and neck, you’ll be able to hold the pose for a few minutes without feeling strain. When you come down, separate and bend your knees, sit on your heels, and release your head to the floor in balasana.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose) with Head Support

Separate the feet as wide apart as the narrow side of a yoga mat. Align the outer heels and little toes on the edges of the mat, and place a block at its tallest height between your feet and in line with your big toes. Depending on your proportions and the flexibility of your hamstrings, you may need more or less support. Stack a couple of blocks, if necessary, or put the blocks or a folded blanket on the seat of a chair to rest your head.

Pranayama for High Blood Pressure

Bend forward, straighten your legs, and place the crown of your head on your support. Hold the ankles and spread the elbows apart from each other. Move your shoulder blades away from your neck, but let the back of your head descend toward the floor. Even though your head is resting on your support, keep the majority of your weight in your feet, balancing the weight evenly between the front, back, inside, and outside edges of the feet. Lift your thighs firmly and press the thigh bones toward the backs of the legs without disturbing your head. The back of the neck should feel long and the chest broad. Breathe normally and stay in the pose for as long as you like, up to three minutes. Place your hands on your hips, inhale, and come up.

Pashchimottanasana (Posterior Stretch Pose)

Sit on two folded blankets and extend your legs straight in front of you in dandasana(seated staff pose), feet hip-width apart. Place a bolster lengthwise on top of your legs, with a folded blanket on the bolster closer to your feet. Lift the sides of your torso up. If you find that you’re slumping backward, sit on more support. Extend forward and hold the outside edges of your feet with your hands. Lengthen your abdomen over the bolster and rest your forehead on the blanket.

Pranayama for High Blood Pressure

If you can’t reach your feet, hold a belt around the feet; if your head doesn’t reach the blanket, rest it on a chair instead, padded with at least one blanket. Straighten your legs and press the thigh bones toward the floor as much as you can without allowing your heels to lift. Relax the forehead and spread your elbows as you release the shoulders apart and away from your neck.

Extend through the backs of the heels and move your back ribs toward your front ribs down onto the bolster. Keep the back of the neck long and soft and relax your facial features. Hold for two minutes and then return to dandasana.

Halasana (Plow Pose)

Experiment with this pose using blankets, a bolster, and a chair for support. If you feel any discomfort, simply come out of the pose and rest in shavasana. Stack three folded blankets at the end of your mat. The smooth, folded edges of the blankets should be in line with the edge of your mat. Open another blanket on the floor in front of your mat for the back of your head, place a bolster on the mat behind your blankets for your pelvis to rest on, and position a chair on the floor in front of your mat and folded blankets. Lie down with your shoulders, upper back, and base of your neck on the stacked blankets, your head on the blanket on the floor, and your pelvis resting on the bolster.

Reach your arms overhead and hold the feet of the chair. Push the chair away from you until your arms are straight. Bring your arms back by your sides and place your palms on the bolster. Rotate your upper arms outward and open the chest. Pressing your hands into the bolster, bend your knees toward your chest, lift your pelvis off the bolster, and take your feet overhead, toes onto the seat of the chair. Separate your feet as wide apart as the seat of the chair, toes curled under.

Pranayama for High Blood Pressure

Clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms, and roll onto the outer front edges of your shoulders. Press your wrists into the bolster and lift the sides of your chest away from the floor. Relax your throat and allow the back of the neck to softly lengthen.

Pressing your toes down, lift the fronts of your thighs away from your head and straighten your legs. Release the clasp of your hands and rest the backs of your hands on the floor besides your head, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your legs active but your head and neck passive, and your throat and face completely relaxed. To come down, bend your knees and slowly roll your upper, middle, and then lower back to the floor, keeping your head down. Rest on your back for a minute before rolling to your side to sit up.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Sit on the front end of a bolster and belt the tops of your thighs together. With your knees bent and your feet on the floor, lie back onto the bolster. Using your feet to push against the floor, slide off the bolster just until your shoulders reach the floor and are at the same level as your head. Then extend your legs straight, backs of the heels on the floor.

Pranayama for High Blood Pressure

Roll the outer edges of the shoulders underneath you and broaden your chest as you lengthen your arms alongside the bolster. Turn the upper arms out and the palms toward the ceiling. If your lower back aches or feels compressed, elevate your feet on a support and lengthen the sacrum and buttocks toward your heels.

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5 All Natural Flu Remedies That Can Get You Well Fast

When faced with potential exposure to the flu, it’s a good idea to begin strengthening your immune system so that it’s healthy and robust during the winter months. This will reduce the virus’s ability to take root in your body. Eating nutrient dense foods, getting meaningful rest, and keeping your hands clean this time of year will help immensely as well.

As mentioned above, the main symptoms of the flu include:

• Aches and pains in the muscles and joints
• Dry throat and cough
• Fatigue and weakness
• Fever
• Insomnia
• Nausea and vomiting (in some cases)
• Sneezing and runny nose
• A sore throat
• Swollen glands in the neck and throat

The root causes of the flu include:

• Overwork
• Poor diet
• Run down immunity due to another illness
• Stress

If you experience any of the above, you are more susceptible to catching the flu so keep these in mind during the winter months and take care of yourself!

1. Eating Light

You will often a very low appetite for the first 2-4 days after catching the flu. During this time, your body is focusing on healing and not on digesting. Listen to your body and allow it to fast as feels comfortable. When you do feel like eating, keep it light and easy on your digestive system like chicken soup, veggie soup, congee, etc. with plenty of fresh ginger, onion, and garlic if you’re able.

Eating citrus is also a great way to get in some natural Vitamin C which will stimulate white blood cell production and offer good hydration.

Once the acute stage has passed, you may move onto adding steamed veggies and whole grains to your diet. These are still light enough for your body to focus on healing but will offer a bit more sustenance.

2. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Especially in the first few days, your body will need the extra fluids to help flush your body. I recommend drinking spring water, green tea, herbal teas, broth, and fresh juice (avoid buying sugar laden processed juices).

Staying hydrated will help keep your respiratory tract from drying out and will also assist your body in detoxing during healing.

3. Take Flu Fighting Herbs

  • Echinacea – Echinacea stimulates the body to produce and strengthen white blood cells to help fight off the flu. This is what makes it a potent antiviral, especially in combination with goldenseal when there is mucus present. If you don’t have mucus, just use Echinacea. For adults, take 2-4ml of Echinacea tincture a day.
  • Elderberry – One of the best herbs for flu is the noble elderberry. This tiny and unassuming berry is effective against 8 strains of the flu virus and has the ability to cut the duration of the flu by half. This is because elderberry prevents the flu virus from replicating allowing you to get well in as little as 2-3 days instead of six. If you currently have the flu, take 4TB of elderberry syrup daily for adults and 1TB daily for children (this is the children’s version). You can use elderberry as a tasty preventative as well by taking 1TB of elderberry syrup a day for adults and 1 tsp for children. Hands down, this is an excellent natural remedy for the flu virus and I use it as a flu preventative every year.
  • Fresh Ginger – Making a strong tea with fresh ginger is an excellent natural remedy for reducing chills, sore throat, and body aches. I have an amazing recipe that makes a really potent ginger tea that’s comforting and spicy. Whenever my husband is sick, he always asks for this tea. Ginger is warming in nature and has anti-inflammatory properties that will help ease aches and pains. If you have a fever, it will help you sweat it out. If you have nausea or other tummy troubles, ginger will soothe the stomach and intestinal tract. This is why drinking Ginger Ale is a well-known remedy for flu! Drink the fresh hot tea as often as you like during bouts of flu. If you don’t care for ginger, try chamomile tea instead!
  • Peppermint Tea – When you feel queasy or have general digestive upset during the flu, peppermint tea can help calm cramping and nausea. It’s also a comforting tea to drink when you have a fever or a sore throat. You can gargle peppermint tea the ease a sore throat and loosen germs!

4. Essential Oils – Using these powerful plant essences will help alleviate flu symptoms and encourage faster healing.

A few essential oils to use for flu include:

• Eucalyptus Radiata – opens the lungs and sinuses and cuts through mucus. Also helps with body aches.
• Lavender – instills relaxation and improves rest and sleep.
• Peppermint – soothes fever and stomach upset.
• Tea Tree – kills germs when diffused or used to in homemade cleansers to wipe surfaces.

5. Supplements

Taking a few supplements can be beneficial when supporting your body during the flu. Here are a few of my top picks!

  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C has the ability to stimulate the production of white blood cells which is always a good thing while you’re sick! I recommend taking 1,000-2,000mg of Vitamin C 3-4 times a day for adults. If diarrhea occurs, lower the dose.
  • Vitamin D – Research has confirmed that catching a cold or the flu is often a direct result of Vitamin D deficiency. Having good levels of Vitamin D significantly strengthens your immune system against colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections. It is also an excellent antimicrobial agent. Of course, the best source of Vitamin D is from the sun, but when that isn’t doable, I recommend taking 1,000-2,000 IU daily during flu season. You can up the amount to 5,000 IU during the flu to optimize immunity for adults.
  • Zinc – Having zinc lozenges while sick can help reduce the severity of symptoms and cut the duration of colds and flu.

If you have any questions please give us a call today at (770) 266-0933

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5 All Natural Flu Remedies That Can Get You Well Fast
Natural Weight Loss Methods

Natural Weight Loss Methods

If you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t need a pill, an expensive treatment or risky surgery to slim down faster. There are natural ways to speed up the weight loss process. Many of these holistic weight loss techniques are free and easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Use one or more of these natural weight loss methods to relax, get more active, eat a healthier diet, and sleep better at night so that you slim down faster and lose weight with less stress.

Herbal Supplements for Weight Loss

herbal supplements for weight loss
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You’ve seen them online and in stores. Many herbal supplements for weight loss claim that they can burn fat and blast away the pounds. Find out what science says about the most popular herbs, pills and potions before you spend any money (or risk your health!).

How to Use Acupuncture for Weight Loss

acupuncture for weight loss

The traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture is used by many to lose weight. Find out what it can and cannot do for your weight loss program from a licensed acupuncture practitioner.  Then decide if it’s right for you.

How to Meditate to Lose Weight

Meditation is helpful for the sensitive

Meditation is becoming a more popular practice to help people relax and enjoy better health. But can it help you lose weight? Find out how to use a  mindful meditation to curb emotional eating and improve your foods habits to slim down faster and keep the pounds off.

How to Practice Yoga for Weight Loss

yoga for weight loss
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Yoga classes can be a great addition to your workout plan. But can it help you slim down? I talked to one fitness expert who has a few words of advice and a few words of caution about using yoga for weight loss.

Tai Chi to Lose Weight

tai chi to lose weight
Mike Powell/Getty Images

There are certain types of exercise that are especially good for overweight exercisers. Tai Chi is one of them. Find out how to find the best class for you as well as a list of other exercise methods that are good for larger bodies.

How to Use Massage for Weight Loss

massage for weight loss

Need a reason to schedule a massage? Believe it or not, the practice of therapeutic massage can actually boost your weight loss program. Find out why it works and how you should incorporate the practice of massage into your comprehensive weight loss program.

Mind-Body Relaxation for Weight Loss

woman meditating
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New research has evaluated different types of mind-body relaxation and found that these holistic methods may offer unique benefits for people who are trying to slim down. Find out what science says about using natural methods so you can use them too.

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Why go natural? The benefits of using organic skincare products

Would you believe, oils in their purest form are healing for every skin woe — dehydration, irritation, sensitivity, aging, even OILY! What we feed our skin matters. Parabens, phthalates, bisphenol A, nitrosamines, cyclosiloxanes, glycol ethers… a.k.a. chemicals are known carcinogens and are not suitable for the skin, not to mention overall good health. Synthetics are widely used in the cosmetics industry because they are the cheapest to manufacture and to that end, are lowest on the quality spectrum. We can hardly pronounce the above ingredients, so why would we ever in good conscience slather them onto our precious skin? Thankfully there are delicious alternatives.
Organic Skincare Products are Better for you – Nature intended us to have radiant, healthy skin. There are people bothered by more skin irritations than ever before and on the shelf are hundreds of potions with ingredient lists crowding the box promising to keep us looking young. But, nature knows how, simply, without the perils of toxins and cheap, high-tech chemicals. Plants have oils for each skin issue people use chemicals to heal. If our skin is akin to a sponge and our largest organ, taking care of it means staying away from potentially harmful chemically laden ingredients. The skin absorbs whatever it comes into contact with so by using naturally based products you’ll avoid putting harmful ingredients ON and IN your body.
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Why go natural? The benefits of using organic skincare products
Should You Be Evaluated for Infertility?

Should You Be Evaluated for Infertility?

Learn who should be evaluated, what to expect at your first appointment, and which tests you and your partner can expect to undergo. And suggested tips for making the process easier.

More than 7.3 million Americans are infertile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you and your partner have had difficulties getting pregnant for a specific length of time, and/or you meet other criteria, your doctor may recommend that you be evaluated for infertility. Here, we give you general guidelines for who should be evaluated, and we tell you what to expect at your initial infertility consultation. We’ll also offer detailed information on how infertility testing differs for men and women.

More than 7.3 million Americans are infertile. In many cases, an ob-gyn or family physician will recommend that a couple seek an infertility evaluation if:

  • They’ve been having regular, unprotected intercourse for one year (or six months if the female partner is over 35) and they’re still not pregnant.
  • The woman has had irregular or painful periods, a history of abdominal or pelvic surgery or miscarriage, or exposure to DES (diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic hormone taken by women prior to 1971).
  • The man has a history of low sperm count, poor motility (the sperm doesn’t swim or move quickly), or abnormal morphology (the shape of his sperm cells are irregular).

If you or your partner fall into one of these categories, or if you’ve been recommended for further testing, here’s what you can expect.

What to Expect at Your Evaluation

About 40 percent of infertile couples have more than one cause of infertility, or the cause of infertility cannot be explained. (The remaining 60 percent is due to a problem in one partner.) A complete evaluation may require several visits, by both partners, to one or more infertility specialists. Before beginning any testing, a fertility doctor will schedule an initial appointment to obtain a complete medical history from both you and your partner.

The appointment can take about an hour, during which time the doctor will ask questions about previous surgeries, chronic illnesses, and hospitalizations, and will inquire about any previous testing or treatment you’ve had for fertility-related disorders. (Bring medical records with you to the appointment, or have them sent ahead.) The doctor will also ask you about your lifestyle and stress, whether you use tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or any medications; you may also be asked if you’ve been exposed to certain toxins at home or in the workplace.

In addition, you and your partner will be asked to provide a detailed account of your reproductive history, which might include information about previous pregnancies, miscarriages, elective abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You’ll be asked about your current sexual practices, such as the frequency and timing of intercourse.

Many couples, understandably, find these questions intrusive and embarrassing. But it’s vital that you be completely honest with your doctor so you can get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible.

Infertility Testing for Men

Because the cause of infertility can result from a female factor, a malefactor, or both, it’s important that both partners undergo some basic testing. Thirty percent of infertility is due to a male problem, such as structural abnormalities, sperm production disorders, ejaculatory disturbances, and immunologic issues. The male evaluation could involve:

  • A thorough physical exam, including an examination of the external genitals and rectal area to identify any structural abnormalities.
  • Blood tests to rule out certain diseases and STDs, and to determine the level of testosterone and other hormones in the blood.
  • Urine tests to rule out problems such as diabetes and kidney infection.
  • A semen analysis to check for sperm count, motility, and morphology, as well as other factors.
  • A small biopsy of the testicles, in case a semen analysis shows that no sperm is present.

If the doctor suspects that a man has a varicocele (a varicose vein in the testicle), he may perform a Doppler ultrasound or venography (an X-ray of the testicular veins) to evaluate blood flow and locate the problem. Varicoceles are a common structural problem in men and account for at least 40 percent of all male infertility

Infertility Testing for Women

The female workup can often be complicated and invasive, and many of the tests require that a woman is at a certain phase of her menstrual cycle. As a result, a woman’s infertility evaluation can take three to four cycles to complete. Here are some of the tests it may include:

  • A full physical, including a pelvic exam, screening for STDs (such as chlamydia), blood tests, and urine tests.
  • An ovulation evaluation, which involves one to two months of charting with an ovulation-detection kit (the test uses daily urine samples to predict ovulation).
  • A series of blood tests at varying points in the menstrual cycle to evaluate hormones.
  • Pelvic ultrasounds to monitor follicle growth and the release of healthy eggs.
  • Pelvic ultrasounds, to monitor follicle growth and the release of healthy eggs
  • A hysterosalpingogram (an X-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes after they’ve been injected with dye) to show the shape of the uterus and determine whether the tubes are open.
  • An endometrial biopsy (an evaluation of the uterine lining) to investigate hormonal imbalances that can cause irregular cycles, repeated miscarriages, or irregular uterine bleeding.

In some cases, a doctor will perform a laparoscopy to either confirm or rule out the presence of endometriosis, a disorder in which the endometrial tissue is found outside of the uterine cavity. During this procedure, which is done in an outpatient clinic under general anesthesia, a long, thin tube called a laparoscope is inserted into the abdominal cavity. The laparoscope is used to look at the internal pelvic area and outside the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the ovaries for the presence of endometriosis.

The postcoital test (PCT) is also sometimes done to test the quality of a woman’s cervical mucus and to see how well a man’s sperm interacts with it. At the time of ovulation, a couple is instructed to have intercourse a specified number of hours before coming into the office. The doctor will then collect a swab of the woman’s mucus, assess its quality and viscosity, and examine it for the presence of active sperm. The test allows a doctor to see how well a man’s sperm can penetrate and survive in the woman’s mucus.

How to Make the Process Easier

An infertility evaluation can often be time-consuming, emotionally draining, and expensive. Basic testing can cost up to $2,000; more advanced tests–involving a laparoscopy, for instance–can climb to more than $5,000. (Check with your insurance company to see which tests are covered.)

You’ll want to get the most out of your evaluation so you can make informed decisions about your future. Here are some tips to help you through the process:

  • Get test results. Once you’ve begun the evaluation, get the results of each test as it is completed. If test results are abnormal, ask your doctor for a full and clear explanation. Also, ask whether you can schedule periodic consultations to discuss your case and review your options.
  • Ask questions. At each step of the evaluation, make sure you understand which tests are needed–and why. If your doctor is unresponsive, evasive, or unavailable to answer your questions, consider changing practices.
  • Communicate with your partner. Talk about your fear, anger, anxiety, and frustrations as you go along. These reactions are completely normal. If you’re having trouble dealing with your emotions, you and your spouse may want to consult a therapist or counselor (together or separately), or attend an infertility support group in your area.
  • Manage stress in a positive way. Fertility issues can wreak havoc on every aspect of your life, including your relationships. To minimize the stress, find ways to nurture yourself and your relationship with your partner on a regular basis. Go out to dinner and a movie, head out of town for a romantic weekend together, or pamper yourself at a local spa.
  • Remember your goals. When all the tests and doctor visits become overwhelming, remember why you’re putting yourselves through all of this: to have a baby together. Remember, too, that many couples weather the strain of infertility testing and treatment–no matter what the outcome–and form a stronger, closer relationship.

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10 tips that simplify holistic living

Diet fads, new workout regimens, exotic health supplements — every day, people are inundated with headlines about health trends. Out of the clutter and confusion a new, arguably more sensible, health movement is gaining traction: holistic living.

Taking a holistic health approach means looking at your overall wellness from a big picture perspective. That means you take thoughtful steps to better your mental and physical health while doing things that bring you joy.

1. Savor each bite. 
 Take time to delight in the eating experience. Doing so helps you feel more satisfied with smaller portions of your favorite foods. Slow down to notice flavors, textures, and changes as you chew each morsel.

2. Embrace mindful snacking.
Focusing the mind is nearly impossible when hunger strikes. Almonds are the perfect portable snack to stave off hunger. Forget bland snacking by trying a new flavor of almonds to energize your taste buds.

3. Shift your intentions around food. 
 Instead of focusing on dieting and will power, focus your energy on creating a nourishing, nutrient-dense plate of whole foods, and find bliss in your intention to care for yourself.

4. Try new nutrient-dense ingredients. 
 From almond butter to almond milk, almond flour to whole almonds, there are many ways to incorporate almonds into your daily snacks and meals to ensure you’re consuming adequate amounts of key nutrients.

5. Snack for heart health.
 Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.

6. Eat with gratitude. 
 Gratitude practices can bring happiness. The same can be said for creating joyful eating experiences. Shared meals with loved ones can be uplifting and provide a positive boost to any day.

7. Create convenience foods. 
Resist unhealthy vending machine temptations by preparing wholesome convenience foods. For example, just one serving of almonds contains 6 grams of protein. Keep servings in your car, gym bag, purse or office so you have a crave-worthy, crunchy snack on hand at all times.

8. Grow something.
Growing your own food is healthy and rewarding. Indoor container gardens are easy to maintain all year. Plus, the presence of plants in the home can improve air quality while reducing stress and anxiety.

9. Preplan breakfast. 
 Ensure you have time for this essential meal by preparing breakfast foods ahead of time. Make smoothie packets and store them in the freezer, or blend up a smoothie the night before. Add a scoop of almond butter to create a more satisfying meal.

10. Embrace Meatless Monday
Become part of the “Meatless Monday” movement and incorporate plant-based proteins, like almonds into your meals. Plant-based proteins often contain good, unsaturated fats that offer many health benefits.

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10 tips that simplify holistic living
7 Causes of Bloating

7 Causes of Bloating

Abdominal bloating is one of the most common complaints individuals who suffer from gastrointestinal issues. It can be due to a number of different reasons, and, by asking the right questions and doing advanced functional medicine testing, we can determine the cause and find the solution.

When air or gas fills your digestive tract to the point of feeling uncomfortably full, tight, or swollen, below are the seven most likely sources:


    Hydrochloric acid is produced by the parietal cells in the stomach and is responsible for breaking down food, mainly protein. Symptoms of low stomach acidity can include belching, bloating, burning, and flatulence. Bloating that occurs due to low stomach acid usually occurs shortly after eating as well and can be accompanied by a sense of over-fullness.

  2. SIBO

    Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is a condition where bacteria have inhabited and overgrown in the small intestine. Bloating and diarrhea are common symptoms that usually occur shortly after eating but can persist throughout the day. People with this condition often wake up in the morning bloated. Poor intestinal motility can predispose a person to SIBO, as well as recent diarrheal illnesses and low stomach acidity. People who take antacids like proton pump inhibitors (Protonix, Prilosec, Prevacid) and H2 blockers (Zantac, Pepcid, Tagamet) are more prone to SIBO due to low stomach acidity.


    Food intolerances occur when your body is lacking an enzyme that specifically breaks down certain foods. The undigested food then goes through the digestive tract where it gets fermented by bacteria, leading to gas and bloating. The most common food intolerance is to lactose, found in dairy products. Other common intolerances are to histamine and fructose.


    Food sensitivities, like food intolerances, occur due to maldigestion that often results in excess gas and bloating. Bloating can present a few hours to a few days after eating the problematic food. In food sensitivities, there is also an immune response to the food that causes the villi in the intestine — the little finger-like projections that absorb food — to become blunted over time, which leads to poor absorption. The most common food sensitivities I see are to gluten, dairy, and soy.


    Your pancreas is an important organ that produces digestive enzymes, including proteases, lipase, amylase, and elastase. When the pancreas stops functioning appropriately, these enzymes decrease, and food does not get digested appropriately. Food mixed with stomach acid (chime) exiting from the stomach triggers pancreatic enzyme release, so low stomach acidity can also affect the production of these enzymes.

    Severe pancreatic compromise occurs in conditions like diabetes mellitus and cystic fibrosis. Less severe imbalances can be due to small intestinal problems like SIBO, celiac sprue, and other food sensitivities. I’ve also seen this occur in cases of severe emotional stress. In my patients, I order a stool test that directly measures pancreatic elastase.


    Candida overgrowth in the intestines is a common problem I see and is often precipitated by a high sugar, simple carbohydrate diet and often follows one or more rounds of antibiotics. The yeast in the digestive tract ferment the sugars and cause excess gas and bloating. Most people with candida overgrowth feel gas frequently, a few hours after eating, but also feel it worsen when they eat simple carbohydrates like muffins, cookies, donuts, and pasta.


    When we eat quickly, we can wreak major havoc on our digestive system. It’s not just the lack of chewing and “inhaling” of food and air that leads to the increased intestinal gas and bloating, but also that most people on the go are not just eating — they are driving, standing, emailing, or multitasking in numerous other ways. This perpetuates the sympathetic fight-or-flight state, instead of the parasympathetic rest-and-digest state. It’s in the parasympathetic state that digestive enzymes, including stomach acid and pancreatic elastase, are produced as they should be. In fact, your digestive enzymes start secreting when you see and smell your food. So, the best ways to address bloating are to enjoy preparing your food, sit down, and chew well.

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10 Reasons You Need Reflexology!

How the ancient therapy Reflexology can change your life.

1. Relaxation – Reflexology is a deeply relaxing therapy and some people like to have the treatment purely for its relaxation benefits.

2. Improve general wellbeing – Reflexology is a holistic therapy and so works to balance the whole of the body and help it work as effectively as possible, which in turn can help prevent dis-ease.

3. Stress relief – Reflexology can help you feel more balanced and allow you to let go and relax for an hour, which can only have a positive impact in terms of reducing your stress levels.

4. Reduce tension – it is amazing how much tension we carry in our body, even in the feet! Reflexology is an excellent way of relieving tension in the whole body.

5. Improve circulation – Reflexology helps to improve circulation throughout the body, and especially in the feet and legs.

6. Detox the body – Reflexology helps the body to gently detoxify, which is why it is important to drink lots of water after a treatment in order to flush the toxins out of your system.

7. Strengthen the immune system – Reflexology boosts the immune system by kick-starting the body’s own self-healing techniques in order for it to be as balanced as possible.

8. Improve sleep – the very fact that a Reflexology treatment is so relaxing means that you will probably find you sleep better. Most individuals report having an amazing night’s sleep after a Reflexology treatment.

9. Calm the mind – even though Reflexology is a physical therapy, it can also work on a mental/ emotional level. By allowing yourself an hour-long Reflexology treatment to relax and unwind, your mind is also able to calm and slow down.

10. Increase energy – many people report feeling generally sluggish which can be a sign your body isn’t working as efficiently as it could. The balancing effect of Reflexology means that you can feel re-energized and re-vitalised.

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10 Reasons You Need Reflexology!