fight aging

  1. The ancient cure for stress and anxiety

    Beat stress, anxiety and more naturally

    Ashwagandha. The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

    But it's a name worth learning to pronounce -- because ashwagandha is a time-tested remedy for stress and anxiety. And if centuries of real-world results aren't enough to impress you, just check out the latest cutting-edge science.

    In a gold-standard study, this ancient Indian remedy helped ease stress and anxiety by just about every possible measure.

    For starters, patients who took ashwagandha supplements for 60 days had 28 percent lower levels of cortisol, the so-called "stress hormone."

    In small amounts, cortisol can actually be helpful. But when you're battling chronic stress and anxiety, you end up overwhelmed by it -- and that's one of the reasons stress can leave you just plain worn out.

    But that didn't happen to the patients given the ashwagandha.

    They took no less than three separate psychological tests that measure stress, anxiety, and overall wellbeing. All three work the same way: The higher the score, the more stressed-out you are.

    And their scores fell on all three.

    In two of the tests -- the General Health Questionnaire-28 and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale -- the volunteers who took the extract saw their scores plunge by a whopping 72 percent.

    And in a third test, the Perceived Stress Scale, their scores fell by an average of 44 percent, according to the study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine.

    With numbers like that, stress and anxiety doesn't stand a chance.

    But the benefits didn't end there. The volunteers who took the extract also enjoyed better sleep, increased productivity, more relaxation, and even an increase in elusive mental calmness.

    It's like an all-around get-well supplement, and that's still not all ashwagandha can do for you. It's a powerful adaptogen that can help fight fatigue, reduce inflammation, improve memory, and limit the damaging effects of aging.

    It can even help ease jet lag.

    There are so many benefits that it sounds a little hard to believe -- but in many cases, it all comes down to that stress hormone, cortisol. Many of these conditions and more are related to, or even caused by, the hormonal imbalances that strike when your levels of stress hormones shoot up.

    And in today's high-strung world, many people are practically drowning in cortisol.

    It's ironic, then, that the best answer for the stress of modern life is an ancient remedy that's been part of India's Ayurvedic tradition for centuries.

    If you're interested in taking an ashwagandha supplement yourself, don't just choose the first one you see. Check the label for its level of withanolides, the active ingredient found in the root.

    The extract in the newest study contained 5 percent withanolides. That's a good start -- but you can do better. The ashwagandha extracts I recommend are at least 8 percent withanolides.

    And along with taking this ancient remedy for stress and anxiety, I've got two other highly effective stress-beaters that are even older: time with family, and prayer.

    I know they're simple. I know they're basic. And I know in some quarters they're not exactly fashionable.

    But they work -- and you can often feel the effects of these stress-beaters immediately.

  2. The natural way to help keep blood sugar in check

    Tame your blood sugar with this antioxidant

    Sports fans check scores as if their lives depend on them. Diabetics check blood sugar scores because their lives really do depend on them.

    So naturally, many of them turn to drugs to make sure those levels stay where they need to be.

    But drugs aren't always the answer here, and they're certainly not the only answer -- because there are natural approaches that can help keep blood sugar levels in check so you can reduce or even eliminate your need for those drugs.

    Take resveratrol, for example, the antioxidant famously found in red wine. Studies have found it can help diabetics in a number of ways, and the latest research shows how it can help improve critical hemoglobin A1c levels.

    Researchers recruited 62 patients with type-2 diabetes and gave half of them 250 mg of resveratrol to take each day along with their usual meds. After three months, hemoglobin A1c levels fell from an average of 9.99 to 9.65 in patients who were given the supplement, versus no change among those who just took their drugs.

    The difference might seem small, but it's a very real one -- and one that could get even bigger when combined with other natural approaches for blood sugar control, such as cinnamon and chromium.

    But let me stick to resveratrol for today, because the benefits go way beyond blood sugar levels. It can also tame blood pressure -- in diabetics and nondiabetics alike -- and in the new study, the patients who took it saw their systolic BP (that's the top number) fall from an average of 139.71 down to 127.92.

    That's a difference that brings them from right on the border of hypertension down to a much more manageable number -- and, for the icing on the cake, they also saw improvements in their cholesterol levels.

    Again, that's only the beginning of the benefits. In other studies, researchers have found that resveratrol can help fight everything from heart disease to cancer, and it may even help slow the aging process.

    But just because this stuff is known as the "red wine antioxidant" doesn't mean you'll find it in a wineglass -- because in reality, red wine often contains just 1 mg of resveratrol or less in every glass.

    You'd literally die long before you got close to the 250 mg a day used in the new study, much less the higher levels used in other research.

    Fortunately, you can get your resveratrol with water instead of wine, as supplements are inexpensive and widely available -- and come with no risk of a hangover.

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