How the Cardiovascular Machine Works [Infographic]

February 24 2014 | Body System Health | Circulatory System | Heart Healthy/Cholesterol

The cardiocascular system is a fined-tune machine that makes sure everything in the body is getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. It starts with every breath. Take a deep breath, inhale and peruse our newest graphic below: 

Related Content: View 12 Key Nutrients for Heart Health and 15 Warning Signs of Heart Problems.

How the Cardiovascular System Works

As you inhale, air moves down the trachea into the bronchi, bronchioles and finally into the 600 million air sacs -- called alveoli -- in the lungs. 

Oxygen passes from the alveoli into the tiny blood cells called capillaries that cover them.

The oxygen-rich blood from the lungs is transported to the left altrium of the heart. The heart contracts moving blood into the left ventricle. The next contraction pumps the blood into the aorta. 

From the aorta, oxygen-rich blood pumps into the body's arteries, which branch into smaller arterioles, and then to the capillaries, which deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body's cells and pick up carbon dioxide and other cellular waste. 

Capillaries, venules and veins return the oxygen-depleted blood to the heart, where it collects in the right ventricle and then to the lungs. The capillaries transfer carbon dioxide and cellular waste into the alveoli where they exit the body through the bronchioles, bronchi and trachea. 

Fun Facts About The Heart

 

  • The heart beats over 100,000 times every day
  • During an average lifetime, the heart pumps nearly 1.5 million barrels of blood
  • Your heart creates enough energy every day to drive a truck 20 miles
  • It takes less than 60 seconds to pump blood to every cell in the body

 


5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Bitter Foods and Herbs

October 16 2013 | Body System Health | Cleansing/Detox

A couple weeks ago in Vegas during Leader's Conference, I sat in on a discussion with some of the best herbalists in the world. One topic that they brought up was the importance of the taste of bitterness in some foods and herbs. The "bitterness" on our taste buds alone is a nutrient, in a sense. The bitterness sends a chemical reaction throughout out bodies and has numerous health benefits. When you sweeten bitter foods, you often destroy the majority of the health benefit of that particular food.

Many nutritionists, herbalists, and other health experts believe that far too many modern industrialized humans are deficient in bitter substances, which in part contributes to our epic rise in digestive related illnesses, inflammatory conditions, immune challenges, diabetes, and more. Source.

In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, "One study found that only 5% to 8% of the calories we eat are bitter. But the compounds that make foods taste bitter (carotenoids in sweet potatoes and spinach, flavonoids in cranberries and kale, polyphenols in wine) also make them good for us. Consider the initial taste shock of bitter foods such as cranberries, cocoa and kale to be positive, rather than negative. Bitter = healthful.

Here are a few of the health benefits of bitter foods.

1. Helps to absorb nutrients

While bitterness is often perceived as unpleasant, the interaction between bitter constituents in foods and our bitter taste receptors stimulate the production of gastric acid in the stomach. This helps prime the stomach for the food it is about to encounter. “Bitter foods and herbs help to stimulate digestive juices and support food digestion,” says professional dietitian Nicole Dube of Halifax, N.S. “Bitter foods help stimulate our taste receptors on the tongue, which subsequently stimulates enzyme production and bile flow. The better your food is digested, the more nutrients you will absorb from your food. It doesn't matter what you eat, if you can't absorb it, it won't be of much benefit to you.” Dube often recommends eating a dandelion salad for people with digestive problems.

2. Balances taste buds and controls that sweet tooth

The more bitter greens we eat, the more bitter greens we want.

“We all have different sensory levels. It depends on genetics, what you’ve trained your body to like, what your mother ate when you were in utero or what your heritage is,” says Theresa Albert, a Toronto-based registered nutritionist and founder of the website, My Friend in Food. In Ayurvedic tradition, bitter foods are thought to reduce food cravings and aid in weight loss. In TCM, bitter foods are prized for ‘removing heat’ in the body – could that speak to their very modern ‘anti-inflammatory’ benefits? Source.

3. Cleanses the body

Bitter roots and veggies contain fiber to help sweep wastes through the digestive tract. Bitter foods also contain sulfur-based compounds which support the natural detoxification pathways in the liver; helping it to do what it is meant to do – keep your body clean and clear.

“We’re just starting to discover the benefits of greens,” says Albert, who explains that centuries ago, in ancient Chinese and Hindu diets, culinary traditions regularly included bitter foods.

4. Stimulates metabolism

Bitter foods and herbs like green tea have been shown to boost metabolism. Drinking green tea is one of the easiest ways to rev up your metabolism. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea-extract increases the metabolism by 4% over a 24-hour period. Green tea has also been shown to inhibit fat absorption—the movement of glucose into fat cells, [support healthy] glucose levels after eating a meal, prevent insulin spikes which prevents fat storage, and reduce appetite. People that choose sweet foods over bitter foods are also at risk for metabolic syndrome. Source.

5. Fights free radicals and stimulates immune function

Recent studies have shown that bitter foods, including dark chocolate, can help fight free radicals in the body. Of course, Bitter foods are usually nutrient dense Bitter foods pack plenty of nutrition into each bite. For instance, beta-carotene for healthy skin; folate for a healthy nervous system; vitamin K for healthy blood clotting and phyto-chemicals for healthy inflammation response, managing cholesterol, balance hormones, detoxify the blood and metabolizes fats. Many greens are also mineral rich; gentle cooking will help make those minerals more bioavailable to the human body.

List of some bitter foods and herbs

There are a wide variety of bitter foods and herbs. Some of them are best taken as a tea to help your body register the bitter taste to get the digestive juices flowing. Some better foods and herbs include:

"One of the most neglected concepts in Western health and nutritional theory is that of balance. Chinese medicine, on the other hand, heavily emphasizes balance when it comes to diet and strives to maintain that over all else. The human body is wired to maintain balance over all else. Imbalances, especially in diet, always cause over compensation in the opposite direction in order to maintain the yin/yang balance that keeps the body in homeostasis. That is why dietary changes are best implemented slowly, so that the body is not thrown into a state of shock and can adjust accordingly.

"In terms of dietary balance, most Westerners severely neglect the bitter flavor/taste element in favor of more appealing and ‘friendly’ choices like sweet or salty. However, this is inherently problematic as the bitter flavor is an essential component of maintaing balance and health. Bitter foods and herbs have many important functions in the body, specifically in regards to the liver, detoxification and digestion – is it not a coincidence that these areas of health are some of the most problematic for Westerners? In fact, ask any acupuncturist which disorder (read: imbalance) is most commonly seen in their practice and they will happily tell you it is liver qi stagnation, which is treated with bitter herbs and foods, among other things.

It’s understandable that people avoid bitter foods as they can be somewhat unpleasant, however, there are many time tested, delicious ways to integrate bitter foods into common recipes. What’s more is that bitter foods usually make you feel great — especially those that directly affect the liver. A few seconds of a bitter taste is very little to go through in exchange for drastically improves health if you ask me…"

- Truth The Brilliance of Bitter By Marc David | Psychology of Eating


Health Benefits of Turmeric [Infographic]

September 3 2013 | Body System Health

Turmeric and its acive component, Curcumin, has been trending among health circles for its many benefits. What was once a dinner table staple in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asia, is now lining people's natural-health shelves.

And for very good reason. This image captures just a few of the health benefits from Turmeric/Curcumin:



Why Mushrooms Might Be The Ultimate Superfood [Infographic]

February 11 2013 | Body System Health | Circulatory System | Immune Health

For thousands of years, people have been using various types of mushrooms for a range of health benefits. Mushrooms abosorb vitamins, minerals and any nutrient from plants, soil, and wherever they grow. On trees, they often soak up nutrients that have been building for decades, creating powerhouse supplements. Check out our most recent graphic showing some of the benefits of one of nature's true superfoods. Click the image to make it bigger.

You can find mushrooms in the following Nature's Sunshine Supplements: Immune StimulatorCollustrum with Immune Factors and Cordyceps.

Click to Make Image Larger

 

 


The Fungi Your Immune System Has Been Waiting For

  • Did you know humans have more in common with fungi than any other kingdom?  We share the same pathogens, meaning bacteria and viruses. 
  • Chinese medicine has used mushrooms for over 1,000 years.
  • 50 years of research has yielded very positive results, particularly for immune health. 

Why Your Immune System Loves Mushrooms

  • Polysaccharides, enzymes, proteins and antioxidants! 
  • Several prominent polysaccharides, including beta-glucans, actually stimulate, or turn on, your body’s natural defense mechanisms. 

Where do mushrooms get these beneficial compounds? 

  • From the mushroom’s host -- usually a tree or other plant that has absorbed and stored healthful nutrients for decades. 
  • Mushrooms embrace and soak up these special nutrients, transforming into a little medicinal powerhouses.

Health benefits of Mushrooms:

  • Increased longevity
  • Improved blood flow
  • Cholesterol and blood sugar normalization
  • Liver protection
  • Kidney support
  • Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties
  • Respiratory support
  • Decreased platelet aggregation
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Improved skin and hair
  • Increased stamina 

Mushrooms are Packed with These Vitamins and Minerals

  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Folate
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron 
  • Panthothenic Acid
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Selenium
  • Thiamin

It’s best to blend several mushroom species. A good trio includes: 

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi has been called the “Mushroom of Immortality,” and has been used in Asia for thousands of years.  It has ganoderic acid, which is being used to support cellular abnormalities.

Other Benefits: 

  • Anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Regulation of the immune system
  • Normalization of blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels

Shiitake Mushroom

A key component of Shiitake is Lentinan, which has been found to protect the liver and provide relief for a variety of stomach ailments. Lentinan has also been linked to combating illnesses that attack the immune system. 

Other Benefits:

  • May offer anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal effects
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels,
  • Reduces platelet aggregation
  • Supports lower cholesterol levels

Cordyceps Mushroom

Called “Caterpillar Fungus,” Cordyceps is unique in that it grows out of an insect host rather than a plant host. This parasitic mushroom has a long and storied history in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine. Cordyceps is perhaps best known as the supplement that members of the Chinese women’s track and field team used in training before they broke several records in 1993 and 1994. Team members tested negative for using illegal substances, and their coach revealed that the athletes’ diets were supplemented with a Chinese “caterpillar fungus.”

A natural Chinese supplement, cordyceps benefits several body systems, including the circulatory, immune, respiratory and glandular systems. Cordyceps has properties similar to those of ginseng and is traditionally used to help the body build strength and endurance. In traditional Chinese medicine, cordyceps has been used to benefit the glandular system in both women and men. In addition, cordyceps supports the kidneys, aids the upper respiratory tract and may help the body maintain proper blood viscosity.

Other Benefits: 

  • Increases ATP production, improving strength and endurance
  • Offers anti-aging effects
  • Protects the liver and kidneys,
  • Increases blood flow & normalizes cholesterol levels

Warning!

Mushrooms are extremely hearty organisms that thrive in good, and bad, environments. In ideal conditions, they absorb and concentrate healthful compounds. In poor conditions, they absorb and concentrate unhealthy, harmful, and even deadly substances. Be sure your mushrooms come from a reputable, safely grown source. 

Sources: MedicalMushrooms.net, healing-mushrooms.net and Mercola.com.

 


6 Simple New Year's Health Goals Anyone Can Do

December 28 2012 | Body System Health | Exercise | Family Health | General | Nutrition | Weight Management

In the memoir, "What the River Knows," Wayne Fields writes this nursery rhyme:

“The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”

             -- Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990”

Fields' book was a beautiful and poignant memoir; a meditation on families and aging, and a whimsical response to what time, and streams, and those we care about bring into our lives.

In the nursery rhyme, he struck a simple chord for anyone searching for health and well-being. He mentions 6 simple doctors: sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise and diet. Improving on even just one of them would be a noble, and reachable, resolution for the New Year. We examine each one below:

Get More Sunshine

Now, we're not talking about tanning. With the Sun, there can definitely be too much of a good thing. However, that fiery ball of radiation that climbs into the sky every morning can be just as good for your health as it is damaging.

"Being out in the sun boosts our mood, improves sleep, and promotes vitamin D production," says James Spencer, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "There's no controversy about that."

An article in U.S. News says the Sun can help you get better sleep; can make you happier by increasing serotonin (psychiatrists often recommend that depressed people spend 30 minutes of the day in the sun); may give you protection from autoimmune diseases and asthma; and can lesson the symptoms of Alzheimer's. 

Drink More Water and Eat More Water-Based Foods

There might be too many benefits of drinking water to list here. But some of the benefits as cited by MindBodyGreen include: increased energy, promote wieght loss, flushes out toxins, improves skin, aids digestion, supports the immune system, a natural headache remedy, prevents cramps, much cheaper than flavored drinks. A six-year study also suggests that people who drink more than 5 glasses of water per day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack than people who drank less than 2 glasses per day.   

But aside from drinking more water, don't forget putting more water-based foods into your diet. The more fruits and vegetables you consume, the more nutrition you'll get and the better you'll feel.  

Get More Rest

A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week. A short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power, reports the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch also says a good night sleep supports learning and memory; metabolism and healthy weight; safety and better performance in daily tasks; a better mood; cardiovascular health; and a strong immune system. Go here for more information on herbs and natural supplements that support rest and relaxation

Breathe Better and Get More Oxygen

Diaphragmatic breathing

Oxygen is arguably the most important substance for our health. If we run out of it, we'll die in minutes. It's important we get enough oxygen to keep our body and organs functioning correctly.

We breathe more than 20,000 times a day. It is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we die, so it makes sense to become good at breathing. Soldiers master different types of breathing to perform in life or death situations -- whether it's to calm down, to increase endurance or to wake up and have more energy. In Yoga, correct breathing is not just crucial to supply the various organs enough oxygen, but to also to help rid the body of waste and toxins. 

Oxygen is critical to our well-being, and any effort to increase the supply of oxygen to our body -- and especially to the brain -- will pay rich dividends.

Get More Exercise

The benefits of exercise are obvious: stronger muscles and bones, a healthier immune system, better weight, higher metabolism, stress relief, warding off depression, etc. But it also might make you smarter. A recent article in the New York Times claims that the size of the human mind increased over time because of the necessity of exercise for early humans.

"The broad point of this new notion is that if physical activity helped to mold the structure of our brains, then it most likely remains essential to brain health today," says John D. Polk, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-author, with Dr. Raichlen, of the new article. "And there is scientific support for that idea. Recent studies have shown, he says, that 'regular exercise, even walking,' leads to more robust mental abilities, 'beginning in childhood and continuing into old age.'”

There seems to be a direct, and even an evolutionary, correlation between a healthy body and a healthy mind. This gives an even more powerful incentive to be active in 2013. 

Eat More Whole Foods

Diet and exercise are probably the top two resolution goals made every New Year's. But, instead of a diet plan that is doomed to fail, it might be more realistic to focus on eating better.

Eat more natural foods, more vegetables, more nuts, more fruits, more lean protein, more essential fatty acids like fish and avacados, and make sure to get the right herbal and vitamin supplements to fill in the holes.  Don't eat processed foods, refined flours, conventional frozen meals, and cured meats with byproducts. Instead, eat more whole foods that are as close to nature as possible, including high-fat foods grown the way nature intended. If you have difficulty getting enough whole foods, consider shakes like Nature's Harvest, which is full of vegetable protein. 


49 Basic Nutritional Supplements For An All-Around Healthy Body [Infographic]

December 10 2012 | Body System Health | Brain Health | Circulatory System | Digestive Health | General | Heart Healthy/Cholesterol | Immune Health | Infographic | Intestinal System | Men's Health | Nervous System | Nutrition | Respiratory Health

There are a lot of nutritional supplements out there. For some, it can be daunting to know what to take, and what parts of the body they benefit.

This graphic shows some basic nutrients that support the skin, brain, eyes, lungs, intestines, bones, colon, joints, muscles and heart. If you want to dig further into a specific area, and go beyond these basic nutrients, try out our Health Assesment quiz to see what could help you for your specific needs.  

 

Click to see larger image:

 

Want this graphic on your site? Just paste this embed code into your blog:

<a href="http://naturessunshine.com/blog/post/healthy-body-infographic.aspx"><img src="http://www.naturessunshine.com/content/us/misc/blog/healthy-body1.jpg" width="100%" /></a>


Supplements for the Heart:

  • Omega 3 EFAs
  • Soluble Fiber
  • B-Complex Vitamins
  • Reservatrol
  • Calcium and Magnesium
  • Vitamins A, C, and E

Supplements for Muscles:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • B Vitamins
  • Antioxidants

Supplements for Joints:

  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin
  • Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Antioxidants

Supplements for the Colon:

  • Fiber

Supplements for Bones:

  • Calcium and Magnesium
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B12

Supplements for Digestion

  • Fiber
  • Probiotics

Supplements for the Lungs

  • Lycopene
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Resveratrol

Supplements for Eyes

  • Vitamins A, C, and E
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Beta-carotene
  • Selenium

Supplements for the Brain

  • Omega 3 EFAs
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E

Supplements for the Skin

  • Silica
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Vitamins A, C, and E
  • Omega 3 EFAs

 


9 Ways Soda Destroys Your Health [Infographic]

October 15 2012 | Body System Health | Heart Healthy/Cholesterol | Infographic | Nutrition | Weight Management

It can often seem harmless to drink a bottle of Coke.

But the negative affects of soda might be too great to ignore. So how bad is soda for your health?

That question is answered well in this graphic by the Consumer Media Network:

Harmful Soda
Via: Term Life Insurance

Asthma

Consumer Media Network first tackles the problem of Asthma. Sodium benzoate, found in sodas, us used as a preservative in foods. Sodium preservatives add sodium to the diet and reduce the availability of potassium. Some reported reactions include recurring rash, asthma and eczema. Each day, 11 Americans die from Asthma, and the annual cost of asthma to the healthcare system is estimated to be nearly $18 Billion.

Dissolves Tooth Enamel

Sugar and acid, which is prevalent in soft drinks, is a nasty, two-punch combination that dissolves tooth enamel. Many dentist chairs have been filled with soda-drinking mouths.

Heart Disease

Many people associated weight gain and diabetes with soft drinks. But heart disease can be a devastating symptom from drinking too much soda. Most soft drinks (especially in the United States) contain high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that's recently come under considerable scrutiny. High fructose corn syrup has been associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with an elevated risk of both diabetes and heart disease.

Kidney Problems

Colas contain high levels of phosphoric acid, which has been linked to kidney stones and other renal problems.

Reproductive Issues

Soft drink cans are coated with a resin that contains BPA. This is the same cancer causing chemical found in plastic baby bottles, water bottles, and plastic containers that wreaks havoc on the endocrine system, potentially causing premature puberty and reproductive abnormalities.

Sugar Overload

Twenty minutes after drinking a soda, your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar into fat. Forty minutes later, caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises; as a response, your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, preventing drowsiness. Forty-five minutes later, your body ups your dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

Osteoporosis

Soft drinks contain phosphoric acid. A high phosphate diet has been associated with bone breakdown and an increased risk of osteoporosis. When phosphorus is excreted in the urine, it takes calcium with it, depriving the bones and the rest of the body of this important mineral.

Obesity

The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.

Increased Risk of Diabetes

Those who drink more soda have an 80% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Approximately 1 in 10 health care dollars is spent on diabetes.


13 Ways to Be Your Own Nurse First [Infographic]

October 8 2012 | Body System Health | Brain Health | Circulatory System | Digestive Health | Family Health | Heart Healthy/Cholesterol | Infographic | Intestinal System
In less than 10 years, there will be a national shortage of 800,000 nurses,about the population of South Dakota. To address this issue, LicencedPracticalNurse.com came out with this graphic showing practical ways to take preventative measures -- beyond diet and exercise.

The graphic focuses on the brain, shoulders, ears, eyes, heart, lungs, intestines, back, hands, knees, legs, skin, and feet. Enjoy:


23 Facts About the Immune System and 14 Ways to Strengthen it [Slideshow]

September 13 2012 | Body System Health | Immune Health | Respiratory Health

The immune defense system is the most diverse and fascinating of all the body systems. It's extremely complex and intricate. To help support your immune system, it's important to understand first how it works and the natural ways your body fights off disease and foreign invaders.


Krill Oil with Vitamin K2 and Astaxanthin

February 7 2012 | Body System Health | Circulatory System

Krill oil is a source of highly bioavailable omega-3 fatty acids extracted from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) that contains phospholipids, which bind to the omega-3s allowing for better absorption. These phospholipids are an essential component of all cell membranes, keeping toxins out and letting more nutrients and oxygen in. Krill oil also contains natural astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, and NSP Krill Oil adds the cardiovascular benefits of vitamin K2.

Features and Benefits of Krill Oil with Vitamin K2 and Astaxanthin:

  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Helps maintains a healthy heart.
  • Supports healthy brain function.
  • Provides joint and skin support.
  • Is extracted from Antarctic krill.

Learn more about Antarctic Krill.


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