Category Archives: medicine

Could more fiber improve your diabetes?

fruits, vegetables, fiber, healthEat your veggies, they say. Whether you are trying to lose weight, improve your blood pressure, or just simply trying to live well, you may be told to eat more fiber in your diet. Fiber is not only good for managing weight or keeping your heart healthy though. A recent study has found that more fiber in your diet may actually help improve the health of those with type 2 diabetes.

What is fiber?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in certain foods that is not digested in the body.  Therefore, when consumed, it provides many health benefits such as:

  • making you feel fuller longer
  • slowing down digestion so more nutrients can be absorbed from the foods you eat
  • bulking your stool, in turn helping improve digestive health
  • helping to lower cholesterol levels in the blood

In addition, fiber intake can help control blood glucose levels. A healthy, balanced diet should include such fiber-rich foods as:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • high-fiber cereals made with bran or whole grains
  • whole grains such as oats, quinoa, or corn
  • high-fiber pastas such as bean, lentil-based, or whole wheat
  • brown or wild rice
  • nuts, nut butters, and seeds such as flax seed, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people who consumed 50 grams of fiber each day were able to control their blood glucose levels much better than those who ate far less.  However, since most Americans only consume on average 15 to 18 grams of fiber each day, this task would be impossible. Therefore, most adults should consume between 20 and 35 grams of fiber each day for optimal health. If you consume between 2 cups of both fruits and vegetables each day, you can easily hit this daily goal.

Fiber and diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the type of diabetes that develops when the pancreas makes too little insulin or the body cannot use insulin very well. In turn, people with type 2 diabetes have trouble controlling their blood glucose levels since insulin is a hormone in charge of using glucose for energy in the body.

Within the digestive system, certain bacteria are in charge of breaking down carbohydrates  in the body. These broken down carbohydrates produce short chain fatty acids that help reduce inflammation in the gut and control appetite. Recent study findings show that a shortage of these amino acids may increase risk of type 2 diabetes.

A recent study based in China looked at the effect of a high fiber diet on those with type 2 diabetes. One group of adults with type 2 diabetes were given standard dietary recommendations and patient education. The other group was given a high fiber diet. After 12 weeks, the group of patients on the high fiber diet had had greater reduction in their HgA1C, or three month average of blood glucose levels. In addition, their fasting blood glucose levels and weight dropped more than those not on the high fiber diet.

Other ways to help control your diabetes

In addition to consuming more fiber, there are several other ways you can help control your diabetes.

  • Know your numbers such as blood glucose levels, HgA1C, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels. Keeping track of these numbers will help you see where you stand in terms of heart health and controlling your diabetes. This way, if your numbers are reaching unhealthy levels, then you can take action before complications arise.
  • Stay active for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity most days of the week. Moderate activity includes walking, water aerobics, light dancing, and gardening, to name a few. A step counter or fitness tracking device can be helpful to keep track of your movements each day and keep you accountable.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Also, when you are increasing your fiber intake, it is important to drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.  Water is an important nutrient to help flush waste out of the body and keep the body functioning effectively.
  • Meet with your healthcare provider on a regular basis to help control and treat your diabetes and keep track of any risk factors. In addition, your healthcare provider can provide support if you have any questions or concerns in regards to your overall health.
  • Take supplements as needed such as vitamins for any deficiencies you may have as well as supplements such as Glucarex by Vita Sciences. Glucarex contains ingredients such as alpha lipoic acid and cinnamon that have been shown to support healthy blood glucose levels.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


Joslin Diabetes Center (accessed on March 12, 2018) “How Does Fiber Affect Blood Glucose Levels?” 

National Center for Health Statistics (March 2017) “NCHS Nutrition Data.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (January 2016) “4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life.”

Rutgers University (March 8, 2018) “Fiber-fermenting bacteria improve health of type 2 diabetes patients.”

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    Could an earlier diabetes diagnosis lower your heart disease risk?

    heart disease, heart health, heart, cardiovascularHeart disease is the number one cause of death for both mean and women in the United States. Therefore, it is no surprise that researchers are looking endlessly for ways to reduce risk of this condition. A recent study has found that for those with diabetes, the earlier diagnosis, the lower the heart disease risk later on in life.

    Heart disease risk factors

    Heart disease involves conditions such as coronary heart disease (CHD), which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Those with the following risk factors have a higher chance of developing heart disease:

    • high blood pressure
    • high cholesterol
    • smoking
    • overweight and obesity
    • being inactive
    • excessive alcohol intake
    • diabetes

    Diabetes and heart disease risk 

    A 2017 report from the New England Journal of Medicine states that around 208,000 people under the age of 20 years old has a diabetes diagnosis. Furthermore, a recent study in Diabetologia looked at the age of diabetes diagnosis and risk of chronic disease conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

    The study looked at data on over 700,000 people from Australia with a diabetes diagnosis between 1997 and 2011. The average age of diagnosis was 59 years old. However, researchers state that the earlier the diagnosis, the higher the risk of all-cause mortality. In particular, being a diagnosis 10 years earlier tha average showed a 20-30 percent increase in all-cause mortality, with a 60-percent higher risk of developing heart disease.

    Researchers suggest living with the disease longer increases complication risk. In turn, people with diabetes have a greater chance of diabetes-related health issues. Therefore, it is important to educate those with diabetes on healthy lifestyle practices. Teaching those with diabetes how to control their condition will help lower risk of complications. In addition, it is important to help prevent new cases of diabetes in younger adults.

    How to reduce your risk of heart disease 

    From this study it is clear that the following steps should be followed to reduce your risk of developing not just heart disease, but diabetes as well.

    • Eat a heart healthy diet full of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Also, be sure to limit your intake of fatty meats and stick to lean proteins. Examples of lean proteins include skinless chicken and turkey, lean beef, fish and other seafood, eggs, and low-fat dairy products. If you are vegetarian, some heart healthy plant-based proteins include nuts, nut butters, seeds, legumes, and soy-based products.
    • Quit smoking or don’t start since smoking constricts blood vessels and increases risk of high blood pressure.
    • Stay active at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. No boot camp exercise is required. However, just be sure to engage in moderate  exercise such as walking, swimming, light aerobics, gardening, dancing, or biking.
    • Manage your weight by engaging in healthy eating and exercising as well as getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated with at least half of your body weight in ounces of water or unsweetened beverages each day.
    •  Visit your doctor and track your numbers on a regular basis. See your doctor at least once a year if you have no heart disease or diabetes diagnosis. However, if you have a family history of either condition or have a diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease, then you should visit more often. It is important to know your numbers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels. If you have diabetes or are at risk, then you will want to keep track of your A1C, which is a number that tells the 3-month average of your blood glucose level health. An A1C of less than 7-percent is healthy for those with diabetes, while an A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 indicates prediabetes, and an A1C below 5.7% is healthy.
    • Take a heart healthy supplement such as Alestra by Vita SciencesAlestra contains niacin and plant sterols which provide advanced cholesterol support. Please contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement and do not use this supplement as a replacement to your prescribed medications.

    written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (November 28, 2017) “Heart Disease Facts.”

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (February 2017) “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke.”

    Sandoiu, A. (February 26, 2018) “Earlier diabetes diagnosis linked to heart disease, stroke.”

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    Could Having a Pet Improve Your Anxiety?

    dog, cat, pet, mental health, anxiety, depression, ptsd, bipolar, healthThere’s nothing better than coming home after a long and stressful day of work or school, and having a happy wagging tail waiting at the door for you.  Owning a pet involves a lot of work and cost. However, studies show that a pet may be worth the time and money for the good of your health. A recent study review has shown that having a pet can decrease anxiety and provide overall benefits to anyone suffering from mental health issues.

    About Mental Health and Anxiety

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a “state of well being” in which a person can lead a productive life while being able to deal with the normal daily stresses of life.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that mental illnesses are not just the result of one event. However, such a state of being  involves multiple factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle.

    Examples of mental health conditions include:

    • Anxiety Disorders
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Depression
    • Eating Disorders
    • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Schizoaffective Disorder
    • Schizophrenia

    According to the American Psychiatric Association, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders. In particular, about 30-percent of adults deal with such a disorder at some point in their life.  Anxiety disorders are not just everyday stress or worry. On the contrary, those with such disorders worry or fear that may be seen as “abnormal” in certain situations. This fear or worry can result in disruption of their daily life.

    For example, it may be “normal” to worry about taking a test. However, someone with anxiety disorder may have a similar level of worry and stress when having to talk with someone at the store.  On the other hand, a person with the disorder may lose sleep because they worry that if they leave the house tomorrow that something bad may happen to them. These are just some examples of how anxiety disorder can manifest. However, this condition can come in many forms such as:

    • generalized anxiety disorder
    • panic disorder
    • phobias, or fears, such as agoraphobia (fear of public places)
    • social anxiety disorder
    • separation anxiety disorder

    Pets and Mental Health Benefits

    An analysis of 17 studies reported in BMC Psychiatry found that having a pet may help those with mental health disorders. Results of this study review found that pets had the following positive impacts on mental health:

    • One study interviewed some people who had depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.  Subjects reported feeling more secure and stable with a pet in their lives.
    • Another study reported that those with a pet had lower levels of anxiety and a lower average body mass index.
    • Pets can provide unconditional love as well as support without judgment. In turn, this can help those with mental health issues cope if they are not getting such support from their family and friends.
    • Pets forced their owners to stay connected with the outside world and be more active.  Besides helping those with mental health issues to connect with others, the act of going outside is also very helpful to overall health.  For one thing, getting outside can help people get sunlight that helps make sure they get enough vitamin D, which can affect mental health. Also, mental health may benefit from the act of exercise.

    Researchers suggest that mental health care plans should include asking patients with mental health issues to get a pet. However, more studies need to be done to figure out how pets could play in the lives of patients and in treatment plans.

    Other ways to help improve your mental health

    Besides having a pet, there are some other things you can do to help your mental health.

    • Be mindful by living in the present moment. Talk with a counselor if you have troubles in your past that are stopping you from living in the moment. Also, take a yoga class, learn relaxing breathing techniques, or get a wellness app to help you find ways to stay calm each day and night.
    • Eat balanced meals since sometimes low levels of certain vitamins or nutrients can make you feel more tired or nervous. Eat plenty of fiber-rich fruits and veggies to help keep your gut healthy. Also, make sure to eat enough protein each day such as meats, beans, low fat dairy products, nuts, and seeds. Low protein intake can cause you to feel tired. This is because protein-rich foods contain dopamine and tyrosine which keep you alert. Finally, make sure to eat some carbohydrate foods such as whole grains and cereals. This is because such foods increase “feel-good” serotonin in the body.
    • Volunteer or help out a friend or loved one since such acts can help you feel better about yourself. Also, such acts can help you connect with others and perhaps help you to see how much you have to be grateful for.
    • Get plenty of sleep since lack of sleep can greatly impact your mood. Set a bed time each night, avoid caffeine in the latter half of the day, and limit screen time at night to help you get more sleep. 
    • Visit your doctor to make sure your vitals are healthy and to get help for any symptoms that may be bothering you or affecting your daily life.
    • Take a supplement such as Sereneo by Vita Sciences. Sereneo contains ingredients such as magnesium, chamomile, and valerian that promotes a boost in serotonin and supports stress and anxiety relief.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    American Psychiatric Association (January 2017) “What are anxiety disorders?”

    Greenblatt, M.D., J.M. (November 14, 2011) “Psychological Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency.”  

    Medical News Today (February 19, 2018) “It’s official: Pets benefit our mental health.”

    National Alliance on Mental Illness (accessed February 20, 2018) ” Mental Health Conditions.”

    Psychology Today (October 27, 2015) “9 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Today.”  

    Weir, K. (December 2011) “The exercise effect.”

    World Health Organization (August 2014) “Mental health: a state of well-being.”

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    Could Vitamin D3 Help Repair Blood Vessels?

    vitamin d, fish, fish oil, dairy, milk, orange juice, heart healthVitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is a very important nutrient for overall health. Best known for its work in helping strengthen bones and teeth, vitamin D is starting to get more attention for other benefits it could provide.  A recent study reports that cells damaged by heart attack or stroke may be repaired by vitamin D3.

    What is vitamin D?

    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that you can not find in many foods. However, vitamin D is important for many functions such as bone health.  It is called the ‘sunshine vitamin” by some because it can be absorbed into the body through sunlight exposure. Because of this, those who live in cloudy climates or do not leave the house often may be low in vitamin D.  You can find Vitamin D in such foods as fortified milk, yogurt, or orange juice, as well as fatty fish such as salmon or trout.  Cod liver oil is also a good source of vitamin D.

    Most adults should get at least 600 International Units (IU) of vitamin D each day. Vitamin D is not a standard lab you will get at your annual visit. Therefore, you may have to ask for the vitamin D lab.  You will be prescribed a vitamin D supplement if labs find you to be low.  Research shows that vitamin D3 is absorbed better than vitamin D2, so it is the preferred choice for a supplement. You can find Vitamin D3 in a variety of forms such as:

    Maxasorb comes in 1000 IU and 2000 IU formulas and can be conveniently rubbed on the skin like a lotion.

    Endothelial cells and vitamin D3

    An innovative study tracked single endothelial cells, or blood vessel cells, to see the impact of vitamin D3 on their health status.  Heart health events such as heart attack or stroke as well as conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure can damage such cells.  The study showed that vitamin D3 helped such cells repair themselves from such damage. Also, the study found that the vitamin lowers oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system by stimulating nitric oxide (NO) levels.  This turn of events increases blood flow and protects the blood vessels from damage. Recent findings also show that a deficiency of vitamin may increase risk of a heart attack and may reveal a link to depression. Therefore, taking a vitamin D3 supplement may greatly benefit many aspects of health.

    Other ways to improve your heart health

    Although vitamin D is important, there are many other ways you can improve your heart health.

    • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables since such foods are rich in fiber. A fiber-filled diet is good for digestive health, keeps you fuller longer, and in turn can help you maintain a healthy weight. A fiber rich diet can also help you control blood glucose levels and keep cholesterol at healthy levels.
    • Stay active often at least 15 to 30 minutes a day most days of the week. No need to be in a boot camp exercise program.  Engage in simple exercises such as walking, water aerobics, gardening, dancing, to name a few to help keep your heart healthy.
    • Drink more water and less alcohol to not only help manage your weight, but also to stay hydrated and keep your liver healthy as well.
    • Don’t smoke or quit smoking since this unhealthy behavior can constrict blood vessels and in turn increase blood pressure levels.
    • Maintain a healthy weight by performing all of the healthy lifestyle behaviors mentioned above since less body weight places less pressure on your heart, and in turn can help lower your risk of heart disease and related conditions.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    DiSalvo, D. (January 31, 2018) “Study Examines Vitamin D3’s Potential Effects On Blood Vessels.”

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (accessed February 5, 2018) ” These five habits can save your heart- here’s how.” 

    National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements (February 11, 2016) “Vitamin D”

    Tripkovic, Laura et al. (June 2012) “Comparison of Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3Supplementation in Raising Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 95.6 (2012): 1357–1364. PMC. Web. 5 Feb. 2018.


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    Could Vitamin D Help IBS Symptoms?

    constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, stomachache, irritable bowel syndrome, healthDo you get stabbing abdominal cramps after eating a fatty meal?  Does dairy or gluten cause uncomfortable gas and bloating?  Are doctors unsure of the origin of your chronic constipation or diarrhea? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have what is called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Although changes in the diet may be helpful in many cases of IBS, research shows that vitamin D may also help those with this condition.

    What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the large intestine.  If someone is suffering from the following symptoms, then they may have IBS.

    • abdominal pain, cramping, or bloating
    • less pain after bowel movement
    • excess gas
    • diarrhea or constipation, or a little of both
    • mucus in the stool

    A diagnosis of IBS is usually given after testing has found that such symptoms are not related to another condition. Other conditions where such symptoms may be present include:

    • inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
    • celiac disease
    • malabsorption
    • colon cancer

    What is Vitamin D?

    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is well-known for its link to bone health.  D rich foods include:

    • vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice, and yogurt
    • fatty fish like tuna and salmon.
    • cod liver oil

    However, sunlight exposure can also provide vitamin D. Those who live in cloudy climates may have trouble doing this though. Therefore, vitamin D-rich foods and supplements may be needed for some to meet their vitamin D needs.  Research suggests that just 5 to 30 minutes of sunlight twice a week can help a person meet their vitamin D needs.

    Ostoeporosis is a common condition linked to vitamin D deficiency. However preliminary evidence has also linked low vitamin D to diabetes, hypertension, and glucose intolerance.  Recent recommendations suggest that most adults should consume at least 600IU a day. Although, those with a low vitamin D level may require up to 4000 IU/day to help them normalize their levels.

    It is important to ask your doctor for a vitamin D test at your annual visit. This is because vitamin D is not a typical test that healthcare providers include in your common annual visit lab panel. If you fail to get a vitamin D level test, then you may never know if symptoms such as weakness or bone pain could be helped with vitamin D treatment.

    Vitamin D and IBS Research

    A study in the European Journal of Clinical Medicine has found a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and IBS. An analysis of four observational studies and three randomized controlled trials found a link between vitamin D deficiency in IBS patients. Furthermore, high dose vitamin D supplements were found to help ease IBS symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.

    Even though evidence is limited, researchers suggest that anyone with IBS symptoms should get tested for vitamin D.  If you have low vitamin D, you may be prescribed a Vitamin D supplement, or asked to purchase an over-the-counter softgel or liquid supplement. You can also purchase vitamin D in an absorbable cream like Maxasorb by Vita Sciences. Maxasorb comes in 1000IU or 2000IU and provides a convenient way to take your vitamin D daily.

    Other Ways to Help Your IBS

    In addition to keeping an eye on your vitamin D levels, there are other ways to help control your IBS symptoms.

    • Increase fiber intake by adding in more whole grains like oats and quinoa, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fiber can help bulk stool and make it easier to pass.
    • Drink plenty of water each day to help flush waste out of your body, along with water’s other very important functions.  It is especially important to increase water intake as you increase fiber intake. If you increase fiber intake without drinking enough water, this could worsen constipation symptoms in some people. An easy rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, you should drink 100 ounces, or about 12 cups of fluid each day. This fluid could include:
      • water or low-calorie flavored water
      • unsweetened tea, hot tea, or herbal tea
      • broth or boullion
      • decaf coffee
      • other low-calorie, low sugar drinks that do not contain caffeine or alcohol
    • Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise can help promote healthy bowel movements in those who have constipation.  Any movement counts, so get outside and take a walk, dance in your living room to a workout tape or to the radio, or go to the gym and join a group class. Whatever movement is fun to you, is movement that you will stick with for the long run.
    • Get plenty of sleep. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each day for good health. Sleep helps your body regulate fluids, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, as well as digestion. Therefore, not enough sleep could be affecting your gut health.
    • Start on a probiotic since the gut may be lacking the good bacteria it needs for healthy digestion. Ask your healthcare provider for specific brands of probiotics they may recommend. You can also check out Vita Sciences for gut health aids such as Biovia 30.
    • Eliminate certain foods from your diet. These foods may vary from person to person, depending on your specific allergies or intolerances. However, some common food triggers of IBS include:
      • FODMAPs, or fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols found in certain fruits, vegetables, grains, or dairy products
      • gluten-containing foods such as breads, pastas, and baked goods
      • gassy foods such as alcohol, carbonated beverages, or certain vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    Mayo Clinic (November 18. 2017) “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”

    Medline Plus (accessed January 29, 2018) “Digestive Diseases.”

    National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements (February 11, 2016) “Vitamin D- Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” 

    Williams CE, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;doi:10.1038/s41430-017-0064-z.

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    Could Women’s Hearts be More Sensitive to Stress?

    heart, mind, health, stress

    Stress of the mind can hurt your heart.

    Your heart is racing. Your palms are sweaty. Sometimes you may feel dizzy, disoriented, or nauseous. These are all potential symptoms when you are faced with a stressful situation. However, one of the most dangerous symptoms of stress is constriction of blood vessels. A recent study has found that women may be more at risk for heart-related health problems in response to stress.

    What is stress?

    Stress is a normal reaction to the demands of life that can affect both the body and mind. A little bit can be healthy to remind you to be more alert or more motivated. However, too much can contribute to a variety of health conditions such as:

    • ulcers
    • digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome
    • asthma
    • headaches
    • back pain

    In addition to such conditions, stress can also increase blood pressure, which can in turn increase risk of heart disease. This is due to the body’s response to a perceived threat. The body goes into “fight-or-flight” mode in which the body constricts blood vessels to provide more blood flow to the major organs. Also, digestion slows to keep the body focused on providing blood to the brain and the heart.  However, if anxiety or chronic exposure to the perceived threat(s) occurs, then this response can negatively impact health.

    Women, Stress, and the Heart

    A recent study in the journal Arteriosclerosis looked at 678 people with coronary artery disease, or plaques in the major arteries that affects blood flow. Each person was asked to engage in public speaking, a commonly known fear of many, to see if it triggered myocardial ischemia, or a reduction of blood flow in the heart.

    About 15-percent of study subjects triggered myocardial ischemia. Men and women were affected by this condition at a similar rate, but the cause was different.  In men, blood flow was mostly affected by high blood pressure and increased heart rate. On the other hand, in women it was caused by a constriction of blood vessels, also known as microvascular dysfunction. The difference between the two reactions is that in men, the perceived fear increased workload on the heart. However, in women, the dysfunction of vessels impaired blood flow.  It is not known whether this increased incidence of myocardial ischemia can increase risk of heart disease, but such studies are being planned.

    Healthy Ways to Deal With Stress

    You can help decrease stress, and in turn, lower risk of heart disease in a variety of ways.  The following list includes way you can lower stress on both your body and mind.

    • Limit coffee and caffeine since such constrict blood vessels, thus impacting blood flow. Two to three cups a day is suggested for adequate health benefit.
    • Quit or don’t smoke since smoking can also constrict blood vessels, and in turn blood flow, this increasing heart disease risk.
    • Live a balanced life. It is important to make sure that as hard as you work in your job and in exercising, you should also rest your body just as readily. A good balance of rest and activity is around 30 minutes a day of moderate activity such as walking combined with about 7 hours of sleep each night.  Being both active and resting well each night are important for the regulation of body fluids, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in the body, among other things.
    • Be mindful in everything you do. When you are more mindful and aware of the choices you make each day, it can eliminate a lot of stress on the body.  The following are a list of small things you can do each day to be more mindful and in turn reduce stress on your body inside and out.
      • Plan and prep meals and snacks ahead of time.
      • Make healthy choices at meal and snack time such as less processed food and more fresh foods.
      • Portion out food choices to prevent excess intake.
      • Set a designated bedtime to help your body get more rest.
      • Make a to-do list to keep track of your weekly tasks and delegate any tasks that you can to others.
      • When you get stressed, give yourself a time-out with relaxation breathing to help you better face the situation at hand.
      • Make time for yourself in your schedule by setting aside 15 minutes a day to meditate, read, or do something your enjoy to give your body and mind a break.
    • Take supplements to help with sleep and managing stress. There are many herbal supplements on the market that claim to help with sleep and stress. However, it is important to do your research. Perhaps the supplement most well-known for its sleep-inducing properties is melatonin. It is actually a hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland that affects the sleep/wake cycle and produces drowsiness. Those that may be deficient in this hormone may experience trouble sleeping or insomnia. However, it is important to remember that since it is a hormone, it may not be suitable for everyone, so be sure to check with your doctor first before starting a melatonin regimen.

    Another supplement to try is Sereneo by Vita Sciences. Sereneo contains a combination of magnesium, chamomile, and valerian to help promote a feeling of calm by working to help reduce stress and anxiety. Valerian and chamomile have been found to be safe, natural herbal remedies to help induce sleep, while magnesium has been found to help promote reduced anxiety and irritability. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know before starting any new supplement regimen to be sure it does not interact with any of your currently prescribed medications.

    -written  by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    American Heart Association (June 2014) “Fight Stress with Healthy Habits”

    American Heart Association (June 2014) “Stress and Heart Health”

    Berkeley Wellness (October 1, 2013) “Can Supplements Help You Sleep?”

    Centers for Disease Control (March 2, 2017) “How Much Sleep Do I Need?”

    Deans, M.D., E. (June 12, 2011) “Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill.” Psychology Today.

    Harvard Medical School: Division of Sleep Medicine (December 18, 2007) “The Characteristics of Sleep”

    Mayo Clinic (March 31, 2017) “Stress Management”

    Medline Plus (December 21, 2017) “Are Women’s Hearts More Vulnerable to Stress?”

    Rodale Wellness (August 25, 2017) “4 Sleep Supplements That Actually Work”


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    Could a Cup of Tea a Day Lower Your Glaucoma Risk?

    tea, antioxidant, healthOn a cold winter’s day there is nothing better than a hot cup of tea to warm you up.  Depending upon the type of tea you consume, this warm beverage could provide you with a variety of different antioxidants to help benefit your health. In fact, a recent study has shown that a cup of hot tea every day may help reduce glaucoma risk.

    What is Glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is the name for a variety of different eye conditions that involve damage to the optic nerve. Usually caused by an extreme amount of pressure in the eye, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The most common form of this condition may not present any symptoms until it is too late. Therefore, it is very important to get regular eye check-ups to reduce your risk of eye health issues.

    About Tea

    Tea is a low-calorie beverage that can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  These benefits stem from the presence of the polyphenols epicatechin and catechin in tea. In particular, drinking green tea was shown to help lower LDL cholesterol, higher HDL cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels.

    Tea and Glaucoma Risk

    A recent study looked at the results of a eye exam and nutrition survey of 1700 participants.  Those people that drank tea every day had about a 75-percent less chance of having glaucoma than those who did not.  It is not certain what about tea drinkers makes them at lower risk. However,  this lower risk was only seen in those that drank hot, caffeinated tea.  Consuming decaf tea, cold tea, or either decaf or caffeinated coffee did not show any benefit. It is thought that lower glaucoma risk may be due to the lifestyle factors in those that drank hot tea six times or more per week. More studies will need to be done to identify the direct link.

    Other Ways to Lower Glaucoma Risk

    Besides drinking hot tea, there are several other ways to lower your glaucoma risk.  The researchers suggest that prevention through regular eye exams is key, along with the following lifestyle behaviors.

    • Get your heart health under control. By getting your blood pressure and diabetes under control, you can help decrease your risk of glaucoma.
    • Use treatments as prescribed. Prescribed eye drops or other glaucoma medications can help reduce the risk of complications associated with the condition. In turn, treating such symptoms can prevent or delay the onset of vision problems associated with this condition.
    • Exercise regularly. Walking or engaging in some sort of moderate exercise each day could help reduce the eye pressure related to glaucoma.  Moderate exercise may include swimming, biking, aerobics, dancing, or anything that quickens your breathing without getting you out of breath.
    • Wear eye protection. Be sure to wear sunglasses or goggles in the sunlight or when  using any power tools or engaging in any high-speed racket sports. This is because when you reduce your risk of eye injuries, you also help reduce glaucoma risk.
    • Take eye-healthy supplements.  Ocutain by Vita Sciences contains a combination of eye-healthy compounds such as lutein and beta carotene, which promote healthy vision. Such supplements, along with a heart healthy diet may help lower your risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    Cochran, N. (January 12, 2017) “The Health Benefits of Tea”

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (August 2014) “Tea: A Cup of Good Health?”

    Mayo Clinic (September 15, 2015) “Glaucoma”

    Mayo Clinic (May 19, 2017) “Exercise intensity: How to measure it”

    Medline Plus (December 15, 2017) “Could a Hot Cup of Tea Preserve Your Vision?”



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    Could Antioxidant Treatment Reduce Arthritis Pain?

    pain, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritisAre you looking for a more natural way to deal with your rheumatoid arthritis pain? Some prescription medicines  may make you feel foggy, cause stomach ulcers, or  cause weight gain.  However, recent studies have shown that more natural antioxidants may help reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain without so many side effects.

    What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder affecting the joints and other body tissues. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system wrongly attacks the body. Therefore, damage can be caused in the skin, eyes, lung, heart, and blood vessels.  Also, damage to the joint lining causes deformity in the joints, such as in the hands. Because of this damage, daily tasks and simple movement can become more difficult and painful.

    RA tends to affect smaller joints first such as those in the fingers and toes. Some symptoms of the condition include:

    • Tender, swollen joints
    • Joint stiffness
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Weight loss

    Larger joints such as those in hips and knees may be affected as the disease progresses. However, nearly 40-percent of those affected by the condition have non-joint symptoms. The eyes, salivary glands, blood vessels, and nerve tissues are just some of the other body tissues that can be affected by RA.

    Current RA Treatments

    The most common treatment to arthritis pain are NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs reduce pain and inflammation. Lower strength forms of NSAIDs can be purchased over-the-counter. However, long-term use of such medicines can cause symptoms such as:

    • ringing in your ears
    • stomach pain and ulcers
    • heartburn
    • heart problems
    • liver and kidney damage

    Other treatments for RA include steroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS). Long term use of steroid though can thin bones and cause weight gain.  DMARDS such as methotrexate can slow progress of the disease. A newer class of DMARDs called biologic agents, which include Humira and Xeljanz, work to reduce inflammation. However, these medicines may have side effects such as liver damage and increased risk of infections.

    Antioxidants and RA Pain

    Mediterranean diet, olive oil, health fats, olives, tomatoes, vegetables, heart healthA journal article in the Frontiers in Nutrition suggested that fiber-rich and antioxidant-rich foods may decrease inflammation in those with RA. Furthermore, it was suggested to get such benefits from some of the following foods and drinks.

    • dried plums
    • pomegranates
    • whole grains
    • turmeric
    • olive oil
    • green tea
    • blueberries

    Other recent research has confirmed that antioxidant treatment may be helpful to those with RA. For example, a 2003 study talked about how the antioxidant defense system is weakened in RA patients. Therefore, researchers suggested therapy including standard drugs along with antioxidants to help reduce tissue damage in such patients.

    In addition to these studies, more recent research has also shown potential for antioxidant treatment of RA. For example, a 2008 study found that antioxidant therapy combined with lower doses of standard drugs may help reduce tissue damage. Due to these lower doses of prescribed drugs, such treatments may help reduce harmful side effects.

    Other Ways to Reduce Inflammation

    • Stop smoking since this activity can constrict blood vessels and cause inflammation in the body and its tissues.
    • Limit alcohol consumption: If you do decide to have an alcoholic drink, choose phytonutrient-rich red wine that contains polyphenols such as resveratrol. Also, be sure to limit consumption to no more than 1 standard drink a day for women or 2 standard drinks a day for men. For example, a standard drink of wine is equal to 5 ounces.
    •  Take probiotics through fermented food such as yogurt or through a supplement such as Biovia 30 by Vita SciencesBiovia 30 contains 30 million strains of diverse good bacteria that helps to strengthen your immune system. Probiotics can help restore good bacteria in your gut.  When your body has more good bacteria, it makes it easier to fight off bad bacteria that may be damaging your immune system.  Therefore, a stronger immune system can help fight off inflammation in the body.

    Furthermore, recent research shows a link between deficits in the intestinal microbiome and autoimmune disease. Although more studies need to be done, it is suggested that treatment of gut microbiota may be the key to improving effective treatments for such conditions as RA.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    Horta-Baas, G., Romero-Figueroa, M. del S., Montiel-Jarquín, A. J., Pizano-Zárate, M. L., García-Mena, J., & Ramírez-Durán, N. (2017). Intestinal Dysbiosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Link between Gut Microbiota and the Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Immunology Research2017, 4835189.

    Jaswal, S., et al. (December 2003) “Antioxidant Status in Rheumatoid Arthritis and role of Antioxidant Therapy.” Clinica Chimica Acta, 338(1-2): 123-129.

    Mayo Clinic (August 9, 2017) “Rheumatoid Arthritis.” 

    Medline Plus (November 8, 2017) “These Foods May Help Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain.” 

    Van Vugt, R. M., Rijken, P. J., Rietveld, A. G., van Vugt, A. C., & Dijkmans, B. A. C. (2008). Antioxidant intervention in rheumatoid arthritis: results of an open pilot study. Clinical Rheumatology27(6), 771–775.

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    Could Probiotics Improve Health Outcomes After Injury?

    probiotic, fermented food, yogurt, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, gut health, digestion

    Fermented foods can provide natural sources of good bacteria.

    From hearing your stomach grumble when it’s hungry to the gurgling sounds of indigestion, the gut reminds us everyday of its important presence in our health. Gut bacteria are vital to keeping balance in the body. Also, gut bacteria make sure that any food consumed is being used for energy.  However, recent research has shown that gut bacteria may also be crucial for positive health outcomes after injury.

    What is gut bacteria?

    Gut bacteria is part of a community of microorganisms such as fungi and viruses that live in the gut microbiome. Also, gut bacteria get along well with the cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and are not known for causing disease. Functions of gut bacteria include:

    • breaking down nutrients to be used for energy
    • protecting the body from toxic invaders
    • breaking down and eliminating drugs from the body

    Imbalances of gut bacteria in the body can lead to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Also, gut bacteria live in harmony with the immune system and work together to keep the body safe from “bad” bacteria. However, an imbalance in “good” versus “bad” bacteria in the gut could have an impact on immune system function.

    Gut bacteria and Injury

    A study of 12 critically injured adults in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open looked at the status of gut bacteria health over time. Stool samples were taken 24 hours and 72 hours after admission to the hospital.  After 72 hours, three types of bacteria had been depleted in the injured group, while two types of bacteria had risen.  More studies need to be done to explore this finding more. However, the researchers suggest that gut bacteria structure could affect patient outcomes after traumatic injury.  Furthermore, probiotics may be one future treatment to help improve patient outcomes in these cases.

    What are probiotics?

    Probiotics, which means “for life,” are live microorganisms meant to have positive health benefits.  You may see on store shelves many probiotic medicines containing bacteria from the groups Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  However, since each strain of bacteria benefits a different function in the gut, the more types of strains in a probiotic, the potentially greater health impact. Probiotics may be helpful in preventing diarrhea caused by infections and antibiotics as well as in treatment of those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Basic functions of probiotics may include:

    • maintaining a diverse community of microorganisms
    • maintain a protective barrier for the gut to keep out pathogens
    • recover balance after infection, antibiotic treatment, or other disturbances
    • Stop growth of and fight off unwanted microorganisms
    • Nourish and strengthen the immune system

    Biovia30 by VitaSciences provides 30 million colony forming units per dose of diverse strains to help restore balance in the gut and promote immune system strength. Furthermore,  Biovia30 contains various strains of Bacillus, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium to help you build up “good” bacteria stores and keep “bad” bacteria out.

    Other ways to protect the gut

    • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other fiber-rich foods to help promote diversity of gut bacteria.
    • Stop smoking or don’t start since smoking can negatively affect gut bacteria and the immune system. Not only does smoking constrict blood vessels, but it also causes inflammation in the body which can cause cell damage.
    • Find healthy ways to manage stress such as yoga, meditation, or exercise since stress can alter gut bacteria populations. Stress is one of the contributing factors of IBS.
    • Lower saturated fat intake to help lower numbers of inflammatory microbes in the gut.
    • Consume phytonutrients such as polyphenols and tannins found in colorful berries, beans, nuts, seeds, and teas. These compounds can nourish microbes in the digestive tract.

    Probiotics shown great promise for helping to treat various health conditions. However, potential benefits of probiotics must be confirmed by further research. Please contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.


    Conlon, M. A., & Bird, A. R. (2015). The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health. Nutrients, 7(1), 17–44.

    Jandhyala, S. M., Talukdar, R., Subramanyam, C., Vuyyuru, H., Sasikala, M., & Reddy, D. N. (2015). Role of the normal gut microbiota. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 21(29), 8787–8803.

    Medline Plus (October 26, 2017) “Gut Bacteria May Change Rapidly After Severe Injury.”

    National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (October 2016) “Probiotics: In Depth”

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    Can you treat a migraine without pain medicine?

    migraine, headache, medicine, painIf you have ever had a migraine headache, you know the pain is so intense that a trip to the hospital may be in store.  In this case, the ER staff may use an opioid  pain medicine as a first resort. However, a recent study has shown that this commonly used drug, also known for its addictive qualities, may not be the best choice for migraine relief.

    What is a migraine?

    A migraine headache involves a throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, usually along with other symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light are some of the most common symptoms of such headaches. Pain can occur for hours, or even days, and warning symptoms such as  constipation, mood changes, neck stiffness, increased thirst, or frequent yawning may precede a migraine.  In rare cases, right before a migraine you may get aura symptoms such as flashes of light or blind spots.  In the 24 hours after, you may have symptoms such as confusion, moodiness, dizziness, and weakness.

    Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine may be used for treatment of most migraines. More severe cases may require medications such as Triptan or Ergot, which help constrict blood vessels and block pain pathways.  However, opioids are used if a person cannot tolerate such medicines.

    Migraine Relief Research

    A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at 127 patients who had at least trips to the New York emergency department for migraine headaches.  Half of the patients received the opioid hydromorphone and the other half received an IV of the dopamine-releasing drug prochlorperazine.

    After 48 hours of treatment, sixty-percent of people from the prochlorperazine group versus thirty-percent of the hydromorphone group felt relief.  In addition, the prochlorperazine group was 30-percent less likely to ask for more pain medicine after treatment than the opioid group (6-percent versus 36-percent).  This study suggests that anti-dopaminergic drugs may provide more relief to migraine headache sufferers than opioids. However, you should be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment for you.

    Natural Ways to Relieve Migraine Pain

    • Learn to cope (LTC) : This treatment gradually exposes patients to headache triggers to help them become desensitized to such triggers.
    • Practice consistent overall wellness: Be sure to get a good night’s sleep of at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night and eat healthy, balanced meals every day. Also, be sure to find healthy ways to manage stress such as doing yoga, engaging in relaxation breathing, or taking a walk daily.
    • Stay active: Regular exercise can help not only manage stress, but can also prevent migraines.  Exercise reduces such headaches by reducing tension in the body. Furthermore, staying active can help reduce body weight.  Since obesity is thought to be a risk factor for migraine headaches, weight loss could reduce such risk.
    • Other medicinal treatments: Cardiovascular or anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and Botox may be prescribed to help prevent migraine headaches. However, for the more natural route, reach for Migravent by Vita Sciences.  Migravent contains natural ingredients such as PA-free butterbur, CoQ10, magnesium,  and riboflavin. This formula has been found to help prevent migraines and support reduced frequency of such headaches and related symptoms.

    Disclaimer: Please be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN


    Mayo Clinic (April 26, 2017) “Migraine”

    Medline Plus (October 18, 2017) “Skip Opioid Treatment for Migraine in the ER”

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