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FDA Issues New Guidelines to Reduce Sodium in Processed Foods

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WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants the food industry to cut back on the salt.

In draft voluntary guidelines issued Wednesday, the agency set both two-year and 10-year goals for lower sodium content in hundreds of processed and prepared foods. The aim is to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke among Americans, according to the FDA.

“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in an FDA statement.

“Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health,” she added.

Americans’ average salt intake is about 3,400 milligrams (mg) a day, which is nearly 50 percent more than what experts recommend. High salt intake increases the risk of high blood pressure (“hypertension”), heart disease and stroke.

The voluntary targets are meant to reduce Americans’ daily salt intake to 3,000 mg in two years and 2,300 mg in the next decade, according to the FDA. The guidelines cover a wide swath of foods, from bread to cold cuts, cereals, and snacks.

Some studies have estimated that lowering salt intake by about 40 percent over the next decade could save 500,000 lives and nearly $100 billion in health care costs in the United States.

“The totality of the scientific evidence supports sodium reduction from current intake levels,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“Experts at the Institute of Medicine have concluded that reducing sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day can significantly help Americans reduce their blood pressure, and ultimately prevent hundreds of thousands of premature illnesses and deaths,” Mayne said.

“Because the majority of sodium in our diets comes from processed and prepared foods, consumers are challenged in lowering their sodium intake themselves,” Mayne added.

The draft guidelines, which are open for public comment ranging from 90 days to 150 days, were welcomed by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.

“The American Heart Association strongly supports the draft voluntary sodium targets released today by the FDA, and we call upon the agency to finalize them as soon as possible,” Brown said in a statement.

“These new targets will spark a vital, healthy change in our food supply, a change consumers say they want. These voluntary targets can have a significant impact on the nation’s health,” she added.

“Lowering sodium levels in the food supply could eliminate about 1.5 million cases of uncontrolled hypertension and save billions of dollars in health care costs over the next decade,” Brown suggested.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlines how to reduce salt in your diet.


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What Is Reiki, and Should You Try It?

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Have you heard of reiki? This “hot wellness trend” is actually an Japanese alternative medicine practice dating back to the early 1920s. With the rise of popularity of practices like acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and natural healing like earthing and forest bathing, we wanted to know more about what reiki is and what makes it so special. So, we asked Christopher Tellez, reiki master at SF Reiki Center. Seems like a fitting expert, no?

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What Is Reiki?

“Reiki, pronounced ‘Ray-Key,’ means universal life energy. This life energy is all around us,” said Christopher. “With a special attunement process from the reiki master to student, the student can channel this life energy though the palms of their hands.”

As noted, “ki” is Japanese for energy — sound familiar? If you’re at all versed in traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture, you’ll notice how similar “ki” is to “qi,” the Chinese word for energy. Just as acupuncture focuses on the qi, both of these alternative medicine practices are designed to aid in the flow of energy. The difference with reiki? No needles.

“Reiki is a gentle, noninvasive, hands-on technique of energy transfer from reiki practitioner to client,” said Christopher. In a reiki treatment, you’ll spend 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the provider) on a massage table or in a chair, fully clothed, and the practitioner (reiki master) will touch different points on your head, face, body, etc., either a light touch or with hands hovering above your body.

How Does It Work?

The concept is that good energy is transferred from the practitioner to the client. Here’s how he explained it: “The energy transfer vitalizes the body’s cells, tissues, organs, and emotional centers. By the end of a reiki treatment (front torso of body, head, and back of body), all body systems are operating in a stronger, more normal fashion. After reiki sessions, clients feel calm and deeply relaxed.”

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But if good energy is transferred from the practitioner to the client . . . what about “bad” energy transferring back to the reiki master? “Practitioners don’t take on their clients’ problems,” he said (that’s fortunate). “Energy flows only from the practitioner to the client. It never flows back into the practitioner to trouble them with the energy patterns of the client.”

“Practitioners feel better after a treatment than before they started,” he said. “Giving a reiki treatment increases the practitioner’s own vitality. Since practitioners are hands-on ‘transmitters,’ some of the energy flow is assimilated by them as they deliver the reiki treatment.”

You should keep in mind that reiki is not a massage — don’t go in expecting some deep tissue work.

Should You Try Reiki?

“Clients seek reiki services for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing for many reasons,” said Christopher. Here are some of the types of cases he treats at SF Reiki Center:

Balance of mental health (fear, anxiety, depression)
Rest and relaxation (stress reduction)
Letting go of grief and loss (changes around jobs, relationships, and loss of loved ones)
Preparing for surgery (pre and post)
Self-care practices for cancer and HIV (side effects of chemotherapy and HIV medications)
Creating big life changes (changing thought, belief patterns, conditions that are no longer working)

According to the International Association of Reiki Professionals, “Reiki is not a cure for a disease or illness.” That said, “It may assist the body in creating an environment to facilitate healing.” You can use reiki as “a complement to traditional medicine,” as it “is practiced in many hospitals and medical care settings.”

While reiki has yet to have the scientific backup like acupuncture (very little research has been done), it has been shown to have zero harmful effects or side effects. If you’ve experienced a life change (or are about to), if you’re trying to manage anxiety, or if you’re trying to give yourself a healthy start to 2017, why not give reiki a shot?

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Fat Loss and BMI Body Mass Index

Other compared to nutritious consuming prepare and action, some general practitioner prescribed slimming capsules are proposed by medical doctors so which you can easily handle obesity. On the Various other hand, your wellness practitioner will certainly perform several examinations prior to he will certainly prescribe a consuming program pill in your case. A lot more Info Regarding Consuming habits RX Regarding the list of aspects that your doctor will certainly ought to contemplate is your BMI or one’s shape The higher portion Index. Fundamentally, if you’ve got diabetes, better blood…

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Yes, Your Office's Open Floor Plan Is Ruining Your Productivity

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If you’ve had trouble concentrating in an open floor-plan office, you’re not alone. Now, at least you’ve got science on your side: A new study suggests that overheard work conversations can decrease productivity—and increase annoyance—of other employees within earshot, more so than random and meaningless background buzz.

Open office plans are becoming increasingly common in workplaces, allowing companies to optimize space and, theoretically, encourage dialogue and collaboration among employees. But they also have their fair share of critics, and complaints about lack of privacy and noisy coworkers abound.

It’s no surprise that noise can be distracting, but researchers from Yamaguchi University in Japan wanted to see how work-related chatter might compare with other, less meaningful hubbub. So they performed a series of experiments to investigate the impact of different types of noises, using a test known as the “odd-ball” paradigm.

During odd-ball tests, people are asked to identify unique events sprinkled throughout a series of repetitive events. “To complete the odd-ball task it is necessary to regulate attention to a stimulus," said Takahiro Tamesue, associate professor of engineering, explained in a press release.

In one experiment, participants watched pictures flashing on a computer monitor while listening to either pink noise (similar to white noise, but with a spectrum closely resembling that of human voices) or actual male and female speech. Over a 10-minute period, they were asked to count the number of times a red square appeared in a mix of otherwise similar objects.

In the second experiment, people were asked to count the instances of an infrequent 2-kilohertz tone amid a series of 1-kilohertz tones. Afterward, they were asked to rate their level of annoyance at each sound, on a scale of one to seven.

During these and other trials, researchers measured participants’ brain waves using electrodes on their scalps. They looked specifically at two responses known as the N100 and P300 components, which peak approximately 100 and 300 milliseconds after a stimulus (in this case, a sound) is presented. These are thought to represent the activation of neurons involved in analyzing and making decisions about incoming sensory information, Tamesue says.

The researchers found that when participants listened to meaningful speech, they experienced large reductions in their N100 and P300 components—indicating that their selective attention to thinking-related tasks was influenced by the noise. Other experiments also showed that meaningful noises, such as music and conversation, led to greater declines in performance on memory and arithmetic tasks.

And yes, you guessed it: Meaningful noises had a stronger effect on levels of annoyance, as well, compared to meaningless ones.

Tamesue's research focuses on improving environments by analyzing the physiological and psychological effects of noise. He presented his new study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal, at a joint meeting of the Acoustical Societies of America and Japan, occurring this week in Hawaii.

The findings suggest that settings used for cognitive tasks, such as workplaces and schools, could benefit from designs that take into account the sound that’s likely to be present, says Tamesue—not just the volume, he adds, but the meaningfulness, as well.

“Surrounding conversations often disturb the business operations conducted in such open offices,” he says. “Because it is difficult to soundproof an open office, a way to mask meaningful speech with some other sound would be of great benefit for achieving a comfortable sound environment.”

As for employees already stuck in a poorly designed office space? You could always don your headphones and crank up the white noise. Or, take a cue from other scientific research: Studies have shown that music without lyrics can enhance mental performance, and that natural sounds like a babbling mountain brook can be relaxing (and not distracting) in stressful workplaces.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Is Virtual Part Of the Hospital Of The Future?

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Hospitals in the future will certainly include telemedicine, where telecommunications technology can help diagnose and treat patients remotely in the comfort of their own homes, according to a panel of medical experts on Wednesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego. 

Dr. Randall Moore, president of Mercy Virtual, explained that his hospital is a $54 million hospital with no hospital beds. The aim is to streamline hospital care so that a patient is admitted only when it is absolutely necessary, reducing costs as well as stress on the patient, who could be treated from the comfort of their home.

He recalled the care of one patient, an 87-year-old woman who had been hospitalized 13 times in just a few years due to cancer and other health issues. In nine months, with Mercy’s virtual care, the patient was hospitalized only once.

“The reduction in cost was dramatic and she had a better quality of life,” Moore said. He explained that the beauty of how Mercy is handling telemedicine is to make virtual care one part of a holistic care plan, as opposed to relying solely on virtual care.

Dr. Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of American Well, a company that provides telemedicine technology to health care companies, said that it doesn’t make sense to provide virtual care without in-person physical care. “It’s how to make care teams fully centric,” he explained.

Telemedicine, which is expected to be worth more than $34 billion globally by the end of 2020, is still very much in its early days, he added. “Right now 2% of health care is done online. In the future, it will be 20% to 30% of care,” Dr. Schoenberg added.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Your Healthy Breasts From A to Z

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We admit it: We have a love-hate relationship with our breasts. We show em off when they're proud and perky, but freak the second they start to sag. We squeeze them into bras that don't fit, complain if they bob when we jog, and obsess over every little imperfection. But the minute we find a lump or feel a twinge of pain, we realize just how much we want them around—no matter their flaws. That's why we created this A-to-Z Guide to help keep your breasts——and you—healthy.

A: Alcohol

The numbers don't lie: Alcohol is to blame for 11% of all breast cancers, according to data from the United Kingdoms Million Women Study. That's because beer, wine, or cocktails—even just one or two drinks a day—hike your risk, and that risk increases with each additional drink. Scientists are still probing the alcohol-cancer connection but, for now, moderation is a must. “If you don't drink, don't start,” says Susan Love, MD, president of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and clinical professor of surgery at UCLA. “If you do, three drinks a week or less is probably OK.”

B: Breast-feeding

Yes, babies are more likely to attend college if they nurse, but what's really surprising: Breast-feeding may save your life. Women's Health Initiative data suggests that moms who breast-feed 12 months or more throughout their lives have less heart disease than women who don't nurse. And a new study shows that women with a family history of breast cancer cut their risks of getting the disease before menopause if they breast-feed their kids.

C: Caffeine

You've heard theres a link between caffeine and breast cancer? The truth: About 200 to 300 milligrams of the stimulant per day—the amount in two to three cups of coffee or (strong) tea, an energy drink or two, or about five diet sodas—probably wont hurt you, says Liz Applegate, PhD, director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis. But to be safe, don't overdo it.

D: Dècolletage

There's a simple reason you see freckles, sun spots, and those dreaded vertical wrinkles on your cleavage—youre not using enough sunscreen on the delicate skin there. Baby your bosom with a high SPF, plus a moisturizer, says Amy Taub, MD, a Chicago-area dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Try Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($13.99). It offers sun protection and spot-reducing soy.

E: Eat right

Loading up on fruits and veggies and cutting back on fatty meat keep your whole body healthy. But which foods specifically help you fight breast cancer? Recent studies suggest you eat more: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and bok choy. They contain potential cancer-fighting compounds called isothiocyanates. Fish like salmon, tuna, and trout. They're rich in omega-3s and are a healthier protein source than meat. Bell peppers and broccoli They're full of flavonoids, a powerful good-for-you antioxidant. Kefir yogurt Its a yummy source of vitamin D and healthy bacteria (probiotics).

F: Fit

If you're like most women, you're wearing a bra that doesn't fit right. Blame the fact that your bust measurements change at least six times in your adult life. To make sure you're getting the right support, talk to a fitter in a department or lingerie store, or do your own sizing. Elisabeth Squires, author of Boobs: A Guide to Your Girls, swears by Size Me Up!, a doctor-designed system that measures the width of each breast to more accurately determine cup size. 

G: Genes

Most women who get breast cancer don't carry the harmful gene mutations known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who do (roughly 1 in 500) tend to get cancer under age 50 and may have multiple cases of breast and ovarian cancer in the family. Who should be gene-tested? If relatives (sisters or other women on your moms or dads side) have had breast or ovarian cancer, its most helpful for one of them to be tested before you. Testing costs about $3,000, and most insurers don't cover it. If a mutation doesn't show up, your risk is still higher because of your family history. But if your relative has the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, your risk could be elevated even more, and you may want to talk with a genetic counselor about your own test.

H: Hormone therapy

If you're on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), its probably for a good reason: The treatment, usually a combo of estrogen and progesterone, can help relieve hot flashes, irritability, and night sweats. But many researchers are now convinced that using combo HRT for five years or more can double your breast cancer risk, which is why women should use the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Fortunately, studies show that within two years of stopping hormones, your breast cancer risk goes back to normal.

I: Inflammatory breast cancer

If you don't know about IBC, you should. The five-year survival rate of this rare but aggressive disease is about half that of regular breast cancer. Symptoms can include redness and painful swelling around the breast; sometimes the skin feels warm and has the texture of an orange. If you have signs, see your doctor right away.

J: Jiggle

Too much jiggling can make you sag: According to one British study, breasts move during exercise up to 8 vertical inches, adding painful pressure on supporting ligaments. Solution: Make sure your sports bra is up to the job. Small-breasted women usually just need a compression, or “uniboob,” bra. If you're large, try encapsulating styles, which surround each breast separately. Champion makes good low-cost running bras, and sportswear companies like Title Nine even offer special rating systems for each bras support level.

K: Know em well

Take a good look in the mirror—is one breast bigger than the other? (That's typical.) Are your nipples inverted? Does anything look or feel different? You need to know your breasts well so you'll notice any changes during your monthly breast self-exam (BSE), which is an important way to catch abnormalities like lumps or swelling.

L: Lumps

The vast majority of breast lumps are benign—and more than 60% of women have fibrocystic, or naturally lumpy, breasts. Still, you should get all lumps and bumps checked, especially if they change. “Women get into trouble when they ignore lumps because they're afraid,” says Joan Bull, MD, director of the Division of Oncology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. The doc may recommend an ultrasound, mammogram, or biopsy to figure out what's up.

M: Mammograms

No one likes having her boobs squeezed flat in what feels like a refrigerator door. But its worth it: Early detection from regular mammograms is estimated to reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by at least 15%, according to a recent research review. Are there any downsides to recommended annual screening mammos? A report in the British Medical Journal suggested they could lead to overdiagnosis—detecting tumors that turn out to be harmless—and unnecessary treatment. But experts insist that the benefits far outweigh the potential costs.

N: Nipples

Smooth or bumpy, inverted or standing at attention on a chilly day, nipples seem to have a mind of their own. Together with the surrounding areola, they even change color during and after pregnancy. Here are some of the most common problems and how to, well, nip em in the bud.

O: Ouch!

About 10% of us have breast pain more than five days a month. Usually the ache (also called mastalgia) goes in cycles, since monthly hormone changes can make breasts extra achy. If the pain is unbearable, try tracking when it hurts most. Then talk to your doctor, and, if you're over 35, consider a mammogram. The doc may recommend pain pills, birth control pills (if you're in your 20s), or possibly evening primrose oil, which might bring relief for some women. Talking to your doc may ease your fears, too, since many women worry that breast pain is always a sign of cancer. It isn't.

P: Plastic surgery

Even in a down economy, boob jobs aren't sagging. But a lesser-known surgery is also on the rise: breast reduction. For top-heavy women, the surgery can bring much-needed relief from back, shoulder, and neck pain. If you want breast surgery—to get bigger or smaller—talk to the doc about scarring, healing time, and final appearance, says John Canady, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Q: Number-one question to ask your doc: “Are my breasts dense?”

Women with dense breasts are five times more likely to develop breast cancer, Dr. Love of UCLA says, although its unclear why. The only way to find out density is after a mammogram—the info is in the results. Bring it up with your doc after the test or have the report mailed to you.

R: Rest 

One more reason to get your sleep: Getting enough zzzs may help protect you from cancer. In a recent study of nearly 24,000 Japanese women, those who slept six hours or less each night were 62% more likely to have breast cancer than the women who slept seven hours. Researchers think that the sleep hormone melatonin seems to regulate the release of estrogen.

S: Soy

Soy contains phytoestrogens, chemicals similar to estrogen. Docs say soy has many benefits, if you get it in natural forms like edamame. But concentrated forms found in supplements may be harmful—especially if youre at high risk for breast cancer, says Applegate, PhD, of UC Davis.

T: Tomosynthesis

Watch for the looming debut of this new digital imaging system, which allows doctors to slice and dice super-clear 3D pictures of the breast, while applying less pressure to your boobs than standard mammos (hooray!). Early research shows the new technique may more accurately spot tumors, especially in very dense breasts.

U: Underwires are dangerous (and other myths)

Relax—, your sexy new number from Victoria's Secret wont give you cancer. Experts say the notion that underwires trap toxins just doesn't hold up. Ditto for antiperspirants, living near power lines, and being hit in the chest. Theres no evidence that any of these things causes breast cancer, Dr. Love of UCLA says.

V: Vaccine

Stimuvax, a vaccine currently in testing, may help women who have inoperable breast cancer live longer. The drug is designed to juice up the immune system so it can kill malignant cells. Its also being eyed for lung, prostate, and colon cancers.

W: Weight

 

Women who gain 55 pounds or more after age 18 have nearly 1 1/2 times the risk of breast cancer compared with those who keep their weight steady. But losing the weight substantially lowers risk as you age.

X: X-Rays

Radiation can cause cancer. That's why doctors say that younger women and girls should avoid unnecessary X-rays (a typical X-ray administers radiation at a higher dose than a mammogram). If your doctor recommends an X-ray for anything, ask how having it will change your treatment plan. If it won't, reconsider.

Y: Yoga

To keep “the girls” from sagging, Health expert Sara Ivanhoe, creator of the Yoga on the Edge DVD, recommends this Plank Sequence: Start with hands and knees on a mat, hands directly under shoulders and knees below hips. Firm your abs to support your lower back; extend right leg backward, curl toes and place them and on the ground; repeat with left leg. (Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.) Hold for 5 full breaths. On an exhale, slowly lower yourself to the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in. Your chest and belly should touch the floor at the same time. On an inhale, push back to lean on your hands and knees; exhale into plank, hold for a full inhale, then exhale and lower again, then up into plank. Repeat 5 times.

Z: Zero!

That's the number of new breast cancer cases we all hope to see in our lifetimes—, and a project launched by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and Avon Foundation for Women may get us there. The Love and Avon Army of Women's mission: Recruit 1 million women to participate in life-saving research. Sign up online at ArmyOfWomen.org.

 

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4 skincare features to look for in your spring beauty products

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Feeling the pressure of spring’s social calendar to look and feel photo-ready? The next time you open your beauty cabinet, check the ingredients list for these four skincare elements for flawless, healthy skin. 

1. Home in on natural ingredients

 

Many skin care products, including cleansers and moisturisers, contain harsh chemicals that could be doing your skin more harm than good. Look for a simple ingredient list containing primarily organic, natural and plant-based extracts. 

“It’s common sense that nature’s whole foods are the best choice for optimal health –and skin care is no different,” says holistic nutritionist and natural skincare expert Samantha Sargent. 

“Some supermarket and chemist brands are made with cheap synthetics and naturally derived irritants that wreck havoc on your skin and internal organs. Read the full ingredient label, get to know the brand owner and manufacturer, and ask questions about the source of ingredients.”  

Ayla Cotterill from the botanical based skin-care brand Eaoron agrees. 

“I think people are becoming more aware of what they’re applying to their skin and are beginning to adopt a more natural approach. It’s really about creating a lifestyle that fights the effects of aging to create naturally beautiful skin,” she says.

 

2. Say yes to hyaluronic acid

Sourcing products that include hyaluronic acid – a natural structural component of the skin – helps to retain moisture and improve its beauty, according to Cotterill.

“As we begin to age, our skin loses moisture, firmness and elasticity,” says Cotterill, 

“The beauty of hyaluronic acid collagen essence is its ability to transport essential nutrients from the blood stream, via the capillaries, while also attracting and holding water to plump the skin. This smooths fine lines and wrinkles, and stimulates cell growth.”

WH&F Pick: try Eaoron’s Hyaluronic Acid Collagen. With its combination of fast-acting botanical and natural ingredients you may start to see results instantly. Apply just before bed or first thing in the morning.  

 

3. Look for anti-ageing properties

Botox and dermal fillers are a temporary fix and in some cases can cause nerve damage if not performed correctly. According to Cotterill, a better option is to select skin care products that prevent fine lines, dullness and wrinkles before they happen. 

“Wrinkles on the face are a natural result of a reduction in collagen, so finding products with ingredients aiming to restore the balance can help reduce their appearance,” says Cotterill.

“For example, peptides encourage the skin to replenish collagen production in the dermal layer, helping to improve its firmness and condition.” 

WH&F Pick: we love this Ultra Anti-Wrinkle Face Serum. Its potent ingredients are specifically designed to help reduce wrinkles and firm your skin for a youthful and radiant glow.

 

4. Skin superfoods

The rise of superfoods has seen us tipping copious goji berries into our smoothies, so why wouldn’t we use the same logic when it comes to our skin-care? 

Cotterill suggests looking for plant-based ingredients that are going to provide sufficient antioxidants for improved skin health, such as bearberry leaf and white mulberry extract.

“We use bearberry leaf extract in our products to brighten and even out skin tone. It’s so effective because it contains a high level of arbutin, which can help clear dark spots and blemishes from the skin,” she says.   

“White mulberry extract comes from the white mulberry tree, which is native to China, but is cultivated in Australia, North America, Europe and Japan. It’s the food of silk worms and is used to treat dry, sensitive and blotchy skin.” 

NEXT: Looking for more way to freshen up your skin? Here are three ingredients for healthy looking skin.

 

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The ‘Love Hormone’ May Help People With Ringing in Their Ears

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THURSDAY, Sept. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News)—People suffering from chronic ringing in the ears—called tinnitus—may find some relief by spraying the hormone oxytocin in their nose, a small initial study by Brazilian researchers suggests.

Oxytocin—dubbed the “love hormone” because it promotes social connections—might also help relieve the annoying and sometimes disturbing noises of tinnitus.

“Oxytocin has actions in the brain and the ear that may help in tinnitus treatment and provide immediate relief,” said lead researcher Dr. Andreia Azevedo. She is with the department of otolaryngology at the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo.

But, at least one hearing specialist was unconvinced that oxytocin would help.

And, even Azevedo said it isn’t clear how oxytocin might work to relieve tinnitus. She speculated that it may have an effect in the ear, probably related to fluid regulation in the inner ear, and a brain effect that may be related to the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

“For some patients, tinnitus disappeared or reached a non-distress level,” Azevedo said. “As usual in tinnitus treatment, in some patients the tinnitus kept low, and for some it raised after drug therapy ended.”

Although oxytocin appeared safe, its long-term effects aren’t known, Azevedo said. “We did not have any side effects, but further larger studies are necessary to establish the role of oxytocin in tinnitus treatment,” she added.

The research team is conducting additional studies to see if increasing doses of oxytocin can improve and lengthen the response.

“We expect that these trials will raise the interest in this drug and result in larger randomized trials,” Azevedo said.

The results of the study were scheduled to be presented Thursday at the meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery in San Diego. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

As many as one in 10 Americans suffers from tinnitus. The disorder is characterized by hearing sounds when there are none. The sounds can be perceived as ringing, buzzing, crickets or hissing. For those who struggle with it daily, the noise is so bothersome that it interferes with thinking, emotions, hearing, sleep and concentration, according to a previously published study. That study was released online July 21 in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

For the new study, the researchers randomly assigned 17 people with tinnitus, average age 63, to puffs of oxytocin or a placebo (distilled water) in each nostril.

The study volunteers were asked to assess their symptoms 30 minutes after treatment, and then again, 24 hours later.

Azevedo’s team found that patients who received oxytocin reported a significant reduction in tinnitus, compared with those who received the placebo.

Dr. Darius Kohan is chief of otology/neurotology at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital in New York City. “It’s good people are doing research on this,” he said, “because there isn’t any one treatment that works very well.”

Kohan remains skeptical, however, about using oxytocin to treat tinnitus, because so many treatments have been tried and have failed.

“Whenever there is a medical condition and there are a thousand different treatments, it means that none of them work, because if there was one that worked we would all be doing it,” he said.

Results of this small trial are not sufficient to draw any conclusions about oxytocin as a treatment, Kohan added.

“There are too many ifs with this. Is it possible that it helps? Yes. Is it possible it’s a placebo effect? Yes,” Kohan said. “You can’t tell from this small study whether or not the treatment is effective over the long term.”

In addition, he said, the hormone can have serious side effects, including abnormal heartbeat, abnormally low blood pressure, high blood pressure, allergic reactions, breathing difficulty, nausea and vomiting.

People suffering from tinnitus shouldn’t start using oxytocin in hopes of curing themselves, Kohan said.

“This is not something you take lightly. You don’t know if it has benefits in the long term, and you can potentially have bad side effects. I would not recommend it,” he said.

More information

For more on tinnitus, visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.

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