Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The secret anti-aging properties of bone broth

Bone Broth – a centuries old superfood

Although bone broth is only now getting all the hype like most other superfoods, it’s been consumed for ages in many traditional cultures around the world.

The broth is made by simmering bones that still have connective tissue and skin in water with a dash of vinegar, which is said to help draw out minerals, for several hours. Vegetables and herbs can be added to improve the taste. You can find such bones at the local butcher’s or wherever they sell meat. Make sure to buy from organic grass-fed sources. 

Why is bone broth one of my most powerful clinical tools? First, it's packed with anti-aging nutrients. Here are just some of them:

  • Collagen. This structural protein builds strong skin, protecting against aging and wrinkling. While expensive collagen skin creams work temporarily, dietary collagen is far more potent because it mainlines collagen to your cells. In addition, the gelatin derived from collagen heals your digestive tract, helping to prevent inflammation that leads to aging.
  • Glycine. Your body is bombarded all day long with toxins that age you. Glycine helps your liver get these toxins out of your body, re-energizing and de-aging your cells.
  • Minerals including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Bone broth is a fabulous source of these anti-aging minerals, and its chemical composition makes them highly bioavailable.
  • Glycosaminoglycans, including glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. These nutrients help keep your joints young and flexible.
  • Iodine. Fish bone broth is rich in this nutrient, which protects against a sluggish thyroid — a major cause of weight gain, thinning hair, and energy loss as you age.

Bone broth skin benefits:

1. Delays wrinkles
Ditch the expensive collagen creams and take dietary collagen in the form of bone broth instead for youthful skin! Bone broth is super rich in collagen, which is broken down to form gelatin. Gelatin heals inflammation that leads to aging, reduces skin roughness, improves skin elasticity and keeps skin supple and wrinkle-free.

2. Promotes hair growth
Consuming bone broth will give you a healthier head of hair with lustrous locks and a moisturized scalp but did you know that it also promotes hair growth!

3. For healthy nails & cuticles
The gelatin in bone broth helps promote healthy and moisturized cuticles and nails. It also promotes nail growth and strengthens them. If you have weak, brittle and soft nails, no need to take supplements! Simply include bone broth as well as eggs, fatty fish and nuts like almonds in your diet.

4. Get rid of cellulite
Yes, bone broth will help you get rid of cellulite and attain smooth & flawless skin! Contrary to popular belief, cellulite does not come because of excess fat – even slender people can have cellulite! Cellulite is brought about by lack of enough connective tissue as well as build-up of toxins/clogged up lymphatic system. Bone broth not only increases the skin’s collagen but also helps flush out toxins which all help reduce cellulite.

5. Heals skin inflammation
Inflammatory skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, acne inflammation, rosacea and others can be reduced and naturally healed by drinking bone broth. The amino acids found in bone broth are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, which will soothe the inflammation, make it appear less noticeable as well as speed up healing.

6. Prevents stretch marks
As you already know, bone broth contains a lot of collagen, which is broken down into gelatin in the cooking process. Collagen is what keeps our skin elastic and it helps maintain our skin’s structural integrity. Eating collagen-rich foods like bone broth boost collagen production and prevent and fade away stretch marks.

7. Prevents & lifts sagging skin
The high levels of natural collagen help boost the skin’s collagen and improve the skin’s elasticity thereby keeping it taut and firm.

8. Treats acne
If you’ve tried changing your diet, all the anti-acne creams on the planet, et cetera, et cetera, and you’re still plagued by acne then maybe it’s time to start drinking bone broth. One major cause of acne is poor gut health including constipation, IBS, leaky gut and slow digestion. Clear your gut issues by consuming nutrient-rich and easy to digest bone broth! Gelatin in bone broth heals leaky gut and IBS as well as regulating bowel movements and flushing out toxins that pop out of the body as pus-filled acne.

9. Heals blemishes & scars
Collagen is necessary for healing scars and blemishes. A diet lacking in collagen and protein can delay healing of scars which is why some people have scars that can take years to completely heal. Protein – mostly from animal sources, is necessary for repairing worn out tissue as well as damaged skin cells. Glutamine and argine are two important amino acids found in animal protein that help in collagen formation in the body. Bone broth contains all these nutrients so drink up for a blemish-free face and speedy scar-healing!

10. Healthier looking skin
Do you have dark spots, flaky skin, acne scars, dark marks and an uneven complexion? The nourishing nutrients in bone broth, including hyaluronic acid – found in bone cartilage, coupled with collagen contribute to healthy looking skin by preserving moisture in cells.

11. Stronger teeth
Healthy, white and shiny teeth naturally enhance beauty and make a person look attractive! Keep your teeth strong, healthy and free from cavities by consuming calcium, magnesium and phosphorus-rich bone broth.

Bone broth reverses signs of aging better than any powder, pill or serum. And unlike expensive creams and prescription medications, bone broth costs next to nothing. So give it a try, and see what happens. I drink one cup of bone broth every day. You will see less inflammation, more glow and more toned skin. It repairs, strengthens, rejuvenates and heals. Within days, you'll start to see a difference — and within weeks, you'll start to look years younger.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Scientists discover a protein that can make old blood young again

A protein that can make old blood young has been discovered by scientists, once again sparking hopes of eternal life.

Many have longed for a magic potion to reach triple figures, but until now medical breakthroughs had been scarce. 

However, German researchers now claim that they have pinpointed exactly how blood can be kept young - pointing to an array of health benefits. And they are working towards creating a drug containing levels of a protein that they believe could encourage blood to behave more youthfully.

Study author Dr Hartmut Geiger, of the University of Ulm, said: 'If we can translate this into a treatment, we can make old blood young again.'

In a study of the bone marrow of mice, they found older rodents tended to lack levels of osteopontin, New Scientist reports.

They noticed how quickly blood stem cells without the protein aged when they were injected into mice, according to the study published in EMBO journal.

But they also found that when the older stem cells were mixed in with the protein, they began to behave like their younger counterparts. Specifically, they were able to produce white blood cells quicker - an ability known to worsen with older blood.

Both red and white blood cells are made by stem cells that are created by 'mothers' in the bone marrow. Scientists know that these cells often deplete in old age, and this has previously been linked to the world's leading killer. 

It comes straight from the pages of a gothic horror novel, but the Dracula-esque transfusion of younger blood has long been linked to health benefits.

So-called 'vampire therapy' can repair muscle tissue, as well as the liver and brain after only 24 hours.

The US scientists found, while young blood does appear to benefit health, it does not improve brain cells used for memory and learning.

A Harvard study has previously found an 'anti-aging' protein, GDF-11, which depletes in the blood as mice age.

This could explain the rejuvenation seen in older animals given young blood, although scientists are still searching for more clues. 

However, blood from someone else can be rejected by the body, running the risk of organ failure and casting doubt on whether the mouse experiment would work in people.  

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Could artificial blood soon be on tap?

Artificial blood grown in the lab could one day be available on tap thanks to a new scientific breakthrough. Researchers used early-stage stem cells, known as immortal cells, to grow billions of red blood cells in the lab.

The new technique could one day be used to help patients with rare blood types, the researchers said.

Artificial production traditionally relies upon a type of stem cell that usually manufactures red blood cells in the human body. But researchers from the University of Bristol discovered a new method of producing blood using 'immortal' stem cells.

The researchers created 'immortal' cells by manipulating stem cells in a way that 'traps' them in an early stage of development. When stem cells are in an early stage, they can frequently divide to create an unlimited number of cells.  In contrast, the stem cells traditionally used can only make 50,000 red blood cells before dying off. A typical bag of blood used in hospital contains around a trillion red blood cells.

Dr Jan Frayne, from the University of Bristol, said: 'Previous approaches to producing red blood cells have relied on various sources of stem cells which can only presently produce very limited quantities.

'By taking an alternative approach we have generated the first human immortalised adult erythroid line (Bristol Erythroid Line Adult or BEL-A), and in doing so, have demonstrated a feasible way to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use from in vitro culture.'

'Globally, there is a need for an alternative red cell product. 

'Cultured red blood cells have advantages over donor blood, such as reduced risk of infectious disease transmission.'

But although the researchers have the 'biological tools' need to produce blood on tap, they are yet to develop a cheap and large-scale manufacturing process. NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.5 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England and the ongoing need for life saving blood donations remains.

It could still be many years before manufactured cells could be available on such a large scale, the researchers said.

They added that small-scale production could be developed to support those with rare blood types. 

Professor Dave Anstee, director at the National Institute for Health Research Blood and Transplant Research Unit, said: 'Scientists have been working for years on how to manufacture red blood cells to offer an alternative to donated blood to treat patients.

'The first therapeutic use of a cultured red cell product is likely to be for patients with rare blood groups because suitable conventional red blood cell donations can be difficult to source.

'The patients who stand to potentially benefit most are those with complex and life-limiting conditions like sickle cell disease and thalassemia, which can require multiple transfusions of well-matched blood. 

'The intention is not to replace blood donation but provide specialist treatment for specific patient groups.'

The first trials of manufactured blood transfusion will take place later this year. But these trials will use artificial blood developed in the traditional method rather than the technique used in the current study.

The research was published in Nature Communications. 

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Age-reversing pill that Nasa wants to give to astronauts on Mars will begin human trials within 6 months

Scientists have made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses aging.

The drug could help damaged DNA to miraculously repair and even protect Nasa astronauts on Mars by protecting them from solar radiation.

A team of researchers developed the drug after discovering a key signalling process in DNA repair and cell aging. During trials on mice, the team found that the drug directly repaired DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age.

'The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice after just one week of treatment,' said lead author Professor David Sinclair.

Human trials of the pill will begin within six months.

'This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-aging drug that's perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well,' said Professor Sinclair.

The work has drawn the attention of Nasa, which is considering the challenge of keeping its astronauts healthy during a four-year mission to Mars. Even on short missions, astronauts experience accelerated aging from cosmic radiation, suffering from muscle weakness, memory loss and other symptoms when they return.

On a trip to Mars, the situation would be far worse: Five per cent of the astronauts' cells would die and their chances of cancer would approach 100 per cent.

Professor Sinclair and his colleague Dr Lindsay Wu were winners in NASA's iTech competition in December last year.

'We came in with a solution for a biological problem and it won the competition out of 300 entries,' Dr Wu said.

Cosmic radiation is not only an issue for astronauts. We're all exposed to it aboard aircraft, with a London-Singapore-Melbourne flight roughly equivalent in radiation to a chest x-ray.

In theory, the anti-aging pill could mitigate any effects of DNA damage for frequent flyers.

The other group that could benefit from this work is survivors of childhood cancers.

Dr Wu says 96 per cent of childhood cancer survivors suffer a chronic illness by age 45, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and cancers unrelated to the original cancer.

'All of this adds up to the fact they have accelerated aging, which is devastating,' he said.

'It would be great to do something about that, and we believe we can with this molecule.'

The experiments in mice, from a team at the University of New South Wales, suggest a treatment for these issues is possible through a new drug.

While our cells can naturally repair DNA damage - such as damage caused by the sun - this ability declines with age.

The scientists identified that the call signalling molecule NAD+, which is naturally present in every cell in the body, has a key role in protein interactions that control DNA repair. Treating mice with an NAD+ 'booster' called NMN improved their cells' ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or aging.

For the past four years, Professor Sinclair and Dr Wu have been working on making NMN into a drug substance with their companies MetroBiotech NSW and MetroBiotech International.

The human trials will begin this year at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

US regulators CONFIRM breast implants cause rare form of cancer

Breast implants can cause a rare and hard-to-treat form of cancer, the FDA has confirmed in a landmark update to its guidelines. It comes after the federal agency received reports from 359 women claiming a link between their implants and their diagnosis of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

As of February 1, 2017, nine of those women have died.

The update marks something of a triumph for US medical researchers, six years after the World Health Organization first warned of the potential link.

Last year French regulators became the first to acknowledge the 'clearly established link', ordering manufacturers to prove the safety of their products or face them being banned. 

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is still analyzing the French and American reports, and has yet to acknowledge the 'clearly established link'.

Breast enhancements are the second most-popular form of plastic surgery in the US, with more than 300,000 procedures performed a year. Under scrutiny are implants with a textured surface – the most common type in the US, accounting for 99 percent of all used.

The regulators assured patients the cancer is easily treatable by removing the implants. 

'All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants,' the FDA said in a statement released on Tuesday.
'Most cases of breast implant-associated ALCL are treated by removal of the implant and the capsule surrounding the implant and some cases have been treated by chemotherapy and radiation,' it said.

The agency said the update has come amid a recent surge in circumstantial evidence showing a link. 

'As of February 1, 2017, the FDA has received a total of 359 medical device reports of breast-implant-associated ALCL, including nine deaths,' it said.

'Breast implants approved in the U.S. can be filled with either saline or with silicone gel. They come in different sizes and shapes and have either smooth or textured surfaces (shells).

'There are 231 reports that included information on the implant surface. Of these, 203 were reported to be textured implants and 28 reported to be smooth implants.' 

Some research has suggested bacteria on the outer shell introduced during implantation leads to immune system changes that trigger the cancer. However, this is not proven.

British body the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has not revised its guidance since 2014. A spokesman said: 'We will closely monitor the results of the investigation by the French Regulatory Authority and will take appropriate regulatory or safety action if needed.'

In most cases of BIA-ALCL, women are successfully treated with surgery alone, but chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also be needed.

There has been growing concern among the medical community about BIA-ALCL since 2011, when US health chiefs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the MHRA, and the World Health Organisation issued alerts to doctors and urged them to report cases.

Since then, doctors registered with the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons BAAPS, who represent all cosmetic surgeons working in the NHS, have warned patients of BIA-ALCL.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Latest treatment for acne and eczema? Rubbing good bacteria into your skin

Many people take them to boost gut health, but now probiotics — or ‘friendly’ bacteria — are being put in creams and sprays to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne.

It’s well known that our guts harbour millions of bacteria, but our skin is host to huge numbers, too, which are all thought to contribute to skin health.

‘There are about 100,000 bacteria per square centimetre on the surface of the skin, and these are made up of 200-300 different types of bacteria,’ says Richard Gallo, a professor of dermatology at the University of California San Diego, and a leading researcher in this field. ‘The theory is that when the skin is diseased, there is less diversity of bacteria — as happens with the gut.’

This can lead to an imbalance in the bacteria population, or microbiome.

‘Treating’ the problem with good bacteria reduces the number of harmful bacteria possibly linked to skin complaints. Professor Gallo is currently testing an eczema cream that contains good bacteria taken from a patient’s own skin.

He developed it after discovering people with eczema had lower levels of bacteria that combat Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a type of bacterium known to aggravate eczema. People with healthy skin had higher levels of the protective bacteria, known as S. epidermidis and S. hominis.

In a study reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine last month, he and his team isolated samples of these protective bacteria from the arms of five volunteers with eczema and mixed them into a cream. This cream was then rubbed onto the patients’ skin. Professor Gallo found that adding back these beneficial bacteria via the cream ‘drastically’ reduced the levels of S. aureus. He is now running larger trials.

But Professor Gallo stresses that this doesn’t mean the bacteria is the sole cause of eczema.

‘We think that atopic dermatitis is caused both by genes [that make the skin more prone to flare-ups] and by the balance of bacteria,’ he says.

It may be that the skin of people prone to eczema doesn’t encourage the growth of the beneficial bacteria, so the S. aureus is able to take hold. Such findings are very significant, says Dr Miriam Wittmann, an associate professor of inflammatory skin diseases at the University of Leeds, where the role of topical probiotics in eczema is also being researched.

‘I think the potential for this kind of treatment is not a cure per se, but once you have stabilised the skin, it might help prevent flare-ups,’ she says.

‘That is useful as flare-ups can lead to the need for treatment with antibiotics — yet there is a growing issue of antibiotic resistance, so the less we use them the better. Another option for a severe flare-up is immunosuppressants, but these can have side-effects.

‘Using someone’s own bacteria, on the other hand, is much safer.’

Probiotics are also being investigated as a treatment for acne. A paper in the Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2012 found that applying a solution of 5 per cent lactobacillus (a bacteria often found in yoghurt) to the skin helped combat mild acne.

And U.S. firm AOBiome is carrying out trials of a good bacteria spray to treat mild acne. Sold under the name Mother Dirt, it is already on sale in the U.S., but the company hopes to be able to sell it in Europe later this year.

Dr Carsten Flohr, of the British Association of Dermatologists and consultant dermatologist at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital, says similar probiotic-based treatments work differently depending on the skin complaint.

‘Whereas with eczema we think the bacteria might have a preventative role, with acne, the bacteria play a different role.

‘The inflammation that occurs with acne is partly due to the presence of bacteria and the skin overreacting to that. However, there are other factors — such as hormonal changes in adolescence that increase the amount of oils produced in the skin.’

He points out that these treatments have to be more sophisticated than simply smearing yoghurt on your face.

‘The skin is a very complex environment,’ he says. ‘And the balance of bacteria that live there is very well suited to that environment, which is why it is better to use bacteria that normally exist on the skin rather than introducing different types.

‘The use of bacteria to help with these skin complaints is definitely realistic,’ he adds.

But since a balance of bacteria can help our skin, should we be avoiding frequent washing of our hands and face?

Professor Gallo says not, as studies show ‘standard hygiene doesn’t alter the microbiome’.

‘The microbiome of the skin is so important. We would not have evolved so that when you jumped into a lake you washed it off.’


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Friday, March 17, 2017

13 scientifically-proven tips to improve your sleep

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. 

Here are 13 scientifically-proven tips to improve your sleep.

1. Get your napping right

If napping makes you more tired, you're not doing it right, says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a physiologist specializing in sleep and author of Fast Asleep, Wide Awake: Discover the secrets of restorative sleep and vibrant energy.

'The key is to take controlled naps which can revive you,' she explains. 

'For example, a power nap of five to 20 minutes unloads the brain and could make up for a small sleep debt from the night before, making you feel more recharged'.

Here's what happens: during sleep, your brain produces different kinds of waves which correspond to how deeply you sleep. After 20 minutes, the brain may move into its deeper slow-wave sleep, leaving you groggy when you wake up. 

'If you're only napping for 20 minutes and still feeling tired and unrefreshed afterwards, you may be chronically exhausted,' says Ramlakhan. 

'If you stick with it, napping only for five-20 minutes you could eventually begin to feel better. The key is not to be tempted to sleep for longer or you will disturb your sleep in the evening.'

Set an alarm so you don't oversleep, suggests Ramlakhan. 

'Don't get too comfortable or you won't wake up – an armchair or sofa is great – and take with you some lavender or a cushion you associate with sleep to help trigger your brain to relax.' 

Try and not nap after 3pm though as this is when your body's levels of the sleep hormone melatonin begin to rise. This signals to the brain that it's time to wind down and prepare for evening and napping after this time could interrupt your night's sleep. 

If you feel tired during the day but too 'wired' to nap, Ramlakhan recommends yoga nidra, a guided yogic sleep done for about 25 minutes. 

'Even if you don't actually fall asleep it deeply relaxes the body so you come out of it feeling relaxed but recharged.' There are many different versions that do a similiar thing, download one from iTunes or follow one on You Tube. 

2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time 

A staggering 40 percent of us don't get the recommended six to nine hours sleep a night, research by The Sleep Council has found. 

The long weekend lie-in is a tempting antidote but while it may reduce sleepiness and stress, it won't help your ability to concentrate, research published in The American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology found. 

In fact, sleep deprived subjects in the study showed impaired concentration even after their 'recovery sleep' at the weekend.

'Lie ins and long naps at the weekend disrupt our body clocks which could disrupt our sleep in the long term by making it harder to sleep at night during the week,' says Professor Colin Espie, a sleep specialist at the University of Oxford. 

'The brain's need for sleep is due to 'sleep pressure' which accumulates during the day and becomes greater the longer we're awake,' he explains. 'Sleeping in for long periods confuses this process.'

If you miss some sleep one night, you can catch up the next night with little problem, says Dr Neil Stanley, a medic and independent sleep expert. 

'But after about two nights of not sleeping enough, you're in sleep debt and lie ins at the weekend can't make up for that'. 

If you make no other change to your sleep, he suggests waking up at the same time every day, even at the weekend. 'This trains your body to use the time it has to sleep most efficiently.' 

Professor Espie has a website, a clinically proven course based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help people with sleep issues of any kind establish a set routine and overcome their sleep problems.

3. Tackle the temperature 

Temperature is an aspect of sleep that often gets overlooked,' says James Wilson, a leading sleep expert. 

'But after light, it has the greatest impact on our circadian rhythms (our bodies' wake/sleep cycles), and our bodies are very sensitive to it; it only takes a change in core body temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius for our bodies to start waking up. On a physiological level sleep is simple. 

'To produce melatonin (the sleep hormone) we need a drop in heart rate and a drop in core temperature. If both of these things happen than our body will produce melatonin most efficiently.'

So, what room temperature is optimal for sleeping then? 

'When it comes to room temperature we should be looking for somewhere between 16-20 degrees Celsius (60.8- 68 degrees fahrenheit), as it is that melatonin production is more efficient between 16-20 degrees,' says Wilson. 

'It is preferable for the bedroom to be cooler than the rest of the house to encourage a drop in core temperature'.

If you find it hard to wind down, having a bath or shower can trick the body. Getting really warm then really cold quickly triggers the melatonin production, Wilson asserts. Doing this half an hour before bed gives the best effect.

When it comes to duvets, tog rating is a measurement of heat retention. 'If you have a synthetic or feather/down duvet they are designed to trap moisture in and it is this moisture heating up which makes your environment warm', Wilson explains. 

'If you use materials like Alpaca fleece (this is my top choice) bamboo, wool or silk your body is allowed to breathe and the moisture disappears, which can make you less likely to be hot. 

'In addition to this you can add bamboo bedding rather than cotton or or synthetics as it is more breathable and adds to the impact of the duvet. 

4. Take magnesium tablets 

This mineral is often called nature's tranquilizer because of its calming properties and because it can help the body relax and unwind at the end of the day. 

You can eat it in foods such as kale, spinach, broccoli, nuts and seeds and pulses which are great before bed. 

'Magnesium is necessary for normal energy metabolism,' says nutritionist Robert Hobson. 

But food surveys show that about one in ten women are not getting adequate amounts of magnesium from their diet – it's found green leafy vegetables, wholegrain cereals, eggs and nuts.

'One of the early indicators of low magnesium levels is tiredness and fatigue so increasing you magnesium intake may be useful,' he says. 

If you're tired, try supplementing with magnesium. Taken before bed it can have a relaxing effect on the mind and muscles and help promote sleep, he says. Try taking one Healthspan Magnesium and B Complex an hour before bed.

5. Use magnesium on your skin 

Studies have shown that magnesium taken transdermally, – through skin – can have an even more instant and calming effect on sleep than tablets. 

You can bathe in magnesium, use a foot soak, enriched body oil and/or moisturiser, allowing it to be absorbed transdermally through the skin. 

Sleep expert James Wilson, recommends Better You's Trandermal Magnesium range. I recently tried this for a full week for a 21 days of sleep remedies blog that I am doing for National Sleep Month and the results have been astounding. The sedative effects of using the three products together relaxed me quickly and help me get a more restful, quality sleep. I am hooked. 

Is there science behind it? Research from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge has shown that there is a relationship between our cells' magnesium levels and the body's ability to follow its sleep cycle efficiently. 

'Basically, having the right levels of magnesium in the body means we find it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the right time,' says Wilson.

'Magnesium helps the body relax by ensuring the GABA receptors in our brain and nervous system are working as efficiently as possible,' explains Wilson. 

'GABA receptors help the brain switch off and without it, our minds would continue to race. It's also essential for allowing your muscles to relax, particularly after stress or exercise.'

Using magnesium transdermally – on the skin – instead of taken it internally as supplements offers better absorption to tablets and capsules, says Wilson. 

Applied directly to the skin; magnesium will be absorbed directly into the skin tissue, entering cells immediately replacing magnesium lost through the stresses of modern life, he explains.

6. Try the Indian herbal fix 

Ashwagandha is one of the most widely prescribed herbal Ayurvedic medicines in India recommended to address sleep problems, stress and anxiety. The anti-stress benefits of ashwagandha have been widely researched in a number of published studies.

For example, one study that was carried out on 64 adults who were suffering chronic stress were given capsules of ashwagandha for 60 days, and the other half took a placebo. 

Neither the participants nor the researchers knew which they were taking until after the trial.

After 60 days, those who took the ashwagandha had much lower scores for perceived stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression than the placebo group. 

What's more, their average cortisol level (a stress hormone that is often too high in people who suffer with insomnia) fell by 28 percent per cent but dropped by only eight per cent in the placebo group – a good indication that this remedy can benefit those who struggle to sleep well at night. 

7. Exercise. Period. 

Lots of people think exercising in the evening might keep them awake. In fact, research shows that even vigorous exercise before bedtime doesn't cause problems sleeping for many people and in some cases, it might even be beneficial. 

Indeed, people who exercised for at least 30 minutes 5-6 times a week – regardless of what time of day they exercised – were also the least likely to take sleep medication, found The Sleep Council research. 

'Some studies suggest time spent in the deeper stages of sleep increases after exercise,' says Professor Espie. 

A 2011 study found adults with insomnia who ran on a treadmill three times a week either in the morning or at 6pm saw their insomnia improve including taking less time to fall asleep, waking up less and feeling better in the mornings.

'As long as you wind down, exercising in the evening shouldn't affect your sleep,' says Dr Ramlakhan. 

This could be anything that relaxes you such as a hot Epsom salts bath or a few downloading yoga moves. 

8. Know your sleep type 

Some people like Margaret Thatcher, Gandhi and Winston Churchill may have famously thrived on less sleep but they're a rarity. 

In fact, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered a gene mutation in people that predisposed them to needing about 20 per cent less sleep than the rest of us. But they estimate those 'short-sleepers' only comprise around five per cent of the population. 

'Sleep is like height, it's genetically determined,' says Dr Stanley. So if your mum or dad were short sleepers you may be too. But while the amount of sleep you need can vary from three to nine hours, most people need 7-8.'

'The best gauge is how you feel during the day,' says Dr Ramlakhan. 

'The signs you're not getting enough sleep are cravings for sweets, caffeine and carbohydrates, wanting to go back to sleep as soon as you wake up and thinking about sleep during the day'. 

Conversely, she says if you wake up without an alarm clock at the same time everyday – whether it's for work, at the weekend or on holiday – with only 4-5 hours sleep you could be among the lucky few genuine 'short-sleepers'. Find your your sleep type here 

9. Stop worrying about waking up 

Most people have experienced the fear that they are going to wake up several times resulting in a disturbed nights sleep but in reality it is natural to wake up during the night.

'Sleep studies show that the average human being wakes approximately 10 times during the night. The theory is that this sleep-wake cycle evolved for our survival and safety: we come into a semiconscious state to check that all is well and we are safe and then slide back into sleep,' says Dr Ramlakhan.

It isn't abnormal for someone to wake up at 4 in the morning, asserts James Wilson. 

'This is when our body is at its coolest, it is often when our bladders want to empty and psychologically we worry that we only have a few hours until our proper wake up time and begin to worry.

'As someone who has had insomnia this was and sometimes still is my issue,' says Wilson. 'What I do is if I haven't got back to sleep I get up and try and use the sleep deprivation to get better quality sleep thenext night and I try not to worry about it!'

10. Turn your clock the other way 

Checking the time in the middle of the night can be very disruptive as it can often lead you to work out how many hours you've slept so far and how much sleep you have left before your alarm goes off. Then you start overthinking about tomorrow – it's a vicious cycle.

It's this kind of brain activity that could lead to you to lying awake for ages. This turns on your sympathetic nervous system (the part that deals with problem solving and focus) instead of your parasympathetic nervous system (the one you need on when you're sleeping as it promotes rest).

Turn your alarm clock to face the other way and don't be tempted to check it if you wake up, just lie there feeling cosy and you'll be most likely to fall back to sleep. If you don't try these relaxation tips from James Wilson:

The 'The' Technique

Close your eyes and imagine a bright light at the end of a long tunnel. Focus on the light and as you do breathe in and out slowly in a yogic style. 

Doming your stomach out as you breathe in and pulling your stomach back into your ribs as you breathe out While you do this repeat the word 'The' over and over again. This prevents thoughts popping into your head such as school issues, relationship problems or just worrying about what is happening tomorrow.

One Line from a Song

Take a line from a song, a song with positive memories and repeat it over and over again.

11. Give up on sleep. Seriously 

It seems we're resigned to insomnia, with a third of us getting by on 5-6 hours sleep a night, kept mostly awake by worry and stress. 

Yet one survey found that 38 per cent of us think the answer to insomnia is going to sleep earlier when in fact it could be just the opposite. You need to build up your 'sleep pressure' says Professor Espie, which is simply about being awake and active enough to make yourself tired. 

Experts recommend that people with insomnia go to sleep later, waiting until they are truly sleepy before getting into bed.

Go to sleep an hour later than you normally would to ensure you're more tired than usual and actively 'give up on sleep'. 

Worrying about getting back to sleep, how little you're sleeping or how ruined you will be tomorrow is paradoxically keeping your mind in the kind of stressed, survival mode in which sleep is the last thing it wants to do.

The less you care about sleep, the more likely it is to happen. 

This focusing less on sleep is part of a therapy called 'Paradoxical Intention Therapy' recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in which you forget your preoccupation with sleep and simply go to bed when you are tired, even if that means you only get four hours sleep (eventually your body should get tired earlier and earlier and adjust). 

12. Get some morning light 

'Morning light is the most effective at setting our body clocks,' says Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford and author of The Rhythms Of Life: The Biological Clocks That Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing (Profile £6.99) explains.

Our body clocks are set to the external world as a result of the light/dark cycle because cells on the eye called photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which form part of the optic nerve, pick up light signals and convey that light/dark information to the body's 'master' clock in the brain. 

This sends signals to every cell in the body's organ systems all of which have their own internal 24 hour clocks, to help regulate our systems. 

Most of that process is determined by our exposure to natural light, Prof. Foster explains. 

'If you want to be more focused maximise your exposure to natural morning light as it's also good for elevating alertness and lowering your predisposition towards depression.'

If you can't get outside, have your morning cup of coffee or tea next to a bright window.

13. Use proven herbal help (not benzodiazepines) 

Fact: Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax only take two weeks' continuous use to develop a dependency so avoid them at all costs. 

But don't underestimate the power of high quality herbals. 

The most well researched are valerian, hops and passionflower in combination. One randomised double blind placebo controlled study found valerian and hops together had a far superior effect as a natural sedative to valerian alone. Meanwhile, the evidence for passionflower shows that it can help manage anxiety without morning drowsiness.

'I am a herbalist I recommend products that have a combination of botanicals as I believe that these work better than those formulas that rely on a single botanical,' says Rick Hay, herbalist and nutritionist. 

'Valerian, hops and passionflower are important herbs to use if your nervous system is under pressure and while evidence is mounting about their efficacy in scientific terms, their use traditionally for centuries show their effectiveness.'

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Drinking tea reduces the risk of dementia

There's never been a better reason to switch the kettle on. Drinking a cup of tea each day may substantially lower your risk of dementia, new research suggests.

Consuming the popular beverage reduces the chances of getting the debilitating disease by 50 per cent, scientists found. While those carrying the 'dementia gene' can slash their likelihood of developing toxic clumps in their brain by as much as 86 per cent. 

And it doesn't matter whether you prefer green tea or black - it all has the same effect on the brain.

Full of compounds such as catechins and theaflavins, tea leaves are considered to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

These may help to protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration, according to Dr Feng Lei, of the National University of Singapore. 

He said: 'The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life.

'Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention. 

'Despite high quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory.'

The researchers assessed the tea consumption of 957 adults over the age of 55 over a period of 12 years. Every two years, the participants were assessed on their cognitive function using standardised tools. The researchers also collected information on their lifestyles, medical conditions and physical activities. 

The findings were published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 

This comes after scientists claimed in November that three cups of coffee a day can also reduce the risk of dementia. Moderate caffeine consumption is known to prevent the formation of toxic clumps in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease.

But a new report shows long-term intake helps to fill the body with powerful antioxidants that boost cognitive function.

However, it could also prevent Parkinson's and other neurological disorders, an analysis funded by six of Europe's biggest coffee companies found. 

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Resveratrol can stop brain cells from breaking down as a result of growing older

A compound found in red wine can help to combat the effects of aging, new research suggests.

Resveratrol, which exists in the skin of red grapes and gives the fruit its colour, could stop brain cells from breaking down as we get older, scientists claim.

The naturally-occurring compound shares many of the protective benefits of a low calorie diet and exercise, experiments showed.

But before reaching for the bottle in your fridge, a glass of red wine doesn't contain enough of the compound to boost brain health.

However, the findings could lead to an 'elixir of youth' based solely around the miracle ingredient.  

Professor Gregorio Valdez, of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, believes a 'fountain of youth' pill is getting closer.

He said: 'We all slow down as we get older. Gait, balance issues and impaired motor coordination contribute to health problems, accidents, lack of mobility and a lower quality of life.

'We work on identifying molecular changes that slow down motor deficits that occur with aging. I believe we are getting closer to tapping into mechanisms to slow age induced degeneration of neuronal circuits.'

Resveratrol has previously been shown to help insects live longer, by mimicking the effects of calorie restriction. It is  also credited with a host of other health benefits, from staving off heart disease and preventing bowel cancer.

Found in dark grapes, the compound has also managed to extend the lifespan of baker's yeast by up to 80%.

It belongs to a well known group of plant compounds in fruit, vegetables and olive oil called polyphenols, known to help fight cancer and heart disease. 

Researchers from the university studied two year old mice - the equivalent of around 70 in human terms. They were treated with resveratrol for 12 months for the study, which was published in The Journals of Gerontology. 

The compound was found to protect the rodents' brain synapses from the wear and tear of aging, an early feature of Alzheimer's disease in humans. 

These are essential for voluntary movement because they relay motor commands that flow from neurons in the spinal cord to muscles.   

Professor Valdez said: 'In wine, resveratrol is in such small amounts you could not drink enough of it in your life to have the benefits we found in mice given resveratrol.

'These studies are in mice and I would caution anyone from blasting their bodies with resveratrol in any form.

'The next step is to identify the mechanism that enables resveratrol to protect synapses.

'If we know the mechanism, we can modify resveratrol or look for other molecules that are more effective at protecting the synapses.' 

Metformin, a drug used to fight type 2 diabetes, was also found to have similar effects on muscles, but not the brain.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder

Many beauty products contain collagen but won’t do much for your skin. Collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through your skin. According to Collagen Supplement Research: “It simply stays on top of the skin and so that’s why there hasn’t been a single person who was ever used a collagen cream and seen a substantial difference in their skin because theoretically it’s impossible. Collagen needs to enter the bloodstream for it to effectively restructure your skin. That’s not possible with most creams because the molecules are too big to permeate the skin.”

To effectively get more collagen, you need hydrolyzed collagen powder. It basically gives you small chains of amino acids that are ready to go within your body. It’s easily digested and absorbed within minutes. “Instead of forcing your body to break down amino acids and then re-assemble those amino acids into collagen, hydrolyzed collagen skips that step. These hydrolyzed collagen supplements are typically made from high-grade gelatin (often extracted from cattle hides).” (source)

Scientific Evidence for Hydrolyzed Collagen

In a Japanese study, women took hydrolyzed collagen for 2 months and experienced 91% increase in skin hydration and elasticity. Another study showed dietary supplementation with collagen peptides improved appearance of cellulite.

In a study performed in France, women between ages 35 and 55 took 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen daily for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, these women had experienced 41% less furrowing and fewer wrinkles. Their skin also resulted to be more hydrated and more resilient.

But hydrolyzed collagen is not only good for your skin, it also helps treat bone and joint diseases like osteoarthritis. According to Dr. Axe, “Multiple studies have showed collagen hydrolysate to be safe and to provide improvement in some measures of pain and function in men and women with OA or other arthritic conditions. Since cartilage is made up of collagen, it makes sense that supplementing with this building block could help the strength and framework of the cartilage itself.”

More Benefits of Hydrolyzed Collagen

Hormonal Balance: Lauren Geertsen explains that “of the amino acids in collagen hydrolysate and gelatin, 35% is glycine and 21% is proline and hydroproline. Also important, collagen hydrolysate/gelatin completely lacks the amino acid tryptophan. The high percentage of glycine and proline, as well as the lack of tryptophan, help balance the ingestion of large amounts of tryptophan and cysteine present in muscle meats. The equilibrium of amino acids play a large role in metabolic rate, thyroid function and hormone production.”

Weight Loss: “The purified, high-protein content of Hydrolysed Collagen is known to be an effective, natural appetite suppressant, in which many clinical studies have proven the satiating effect to promote weight loss. Additionally, unlike some weight-loss-promoting products, Hydrolysed Collagen contains no fillers, hormones, acids and is not produced with any forms of harsh processing that may affect the normal functioning of your body. Hydrolysed collagen has also proven to show a decrease in fats, avoiding clogging of the arteries and increased organ support.” (source)

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