NorthStar Nutritionals Blog

Join the conversation and stay up to date on all your natural health news. Plus, discover solutions to everything from arthritis to blood sugar.

  1. New research finds omega 3s and vitamin D are vital for lupus patients

    Dear Reader,

    The Lupus Foundation of America calls the disease a "cruel mystery."

    But what's really mysterious here is how in the world two natural, safe, and effective treatments for this autoimmune disease keep being left in the dust... while risky meds continue to sell like hotcakes.

    One thing is very clear: If you or someone you love is suffering from lupus, the benefits of making sure your levels of these two nutrients are up to par is no mystery at all.

    Reinventing the wheel

    Two new studies have just confirmed what we've known all along -- that vitamin D and omega-3s can significantly help lupus patients.

    One, from the University of Michigan, found that those with lupus who included plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets slept better and scored lower on what's called a measure of lupus "disease activity."

    The key seems to be concurrently upping those omega-3s while easing up on the omega-6 variety of fatty acids, but I'll get to more on that in a minute.

    In the second study, doctors at Johns Hopkins looked at the data on close to 1,400 lupus patients and found that low levels of vitamin D could actually "predict" kidney failure. Not having enough D circulating in your blood, they concluded, can up the risk of severe kidney disease by nearly 70 percent in those with lupus!

    Since direct sun exposure -- the best source of vitamin D -- aggravates lupus symptoms, low levels are practically a given among those with the disease. Close to 30 percent of the lupus patients in the Johns Hopkins study were found to be deficient in it.

    Dr. Michelle Petri, the study author who just so happens to be the director of the Hopkins Lupus Center, was very clear in her recommendations: "Supplementary vitamin D is very safe" and can help safeguard your kidneys, preventing one of "the most dreaded complications" of the disease.

    Getting sufficient levels of the sunshine vitamin, she added, can also help prevent blood clots, heart disease, and excessive protein in the urine.

    And, as I said, this is far from the first time vitamin D and omega-3s have been found to be breakthrough treatments for lupus patients. In fact, eAlert readers have been hearing about their benefits for a decade or more!

    Just last year, for example, we told you about a study out of Michigan State University that found DHA, a type of omega-3, was able to stop lupus in its tracks. That research was done in mice that were specially bred to be predisposed to the disease.

    One of the researchers said that he had never seen such a "dramatic protective response."

    So, why does it seem as if we're always having to reinvent the wheel where these kinds of valuable treatments are concerned?

    Much of that has to do with responses like this from the Lupus Foundation of America: Dr. Stacy Ardoin, a member of the foundation's medical and scientific advisory council, said that these studies, while "encouraging," really don't prove much of anything.

    She went on to say that she receives plenty of questions about what lupus patients should eat, but "It's an area where we have little evidence."

    Seriously? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!

    Could remarks such as those have anything to do with the fact that GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the horribly risky drug for lupus called Benlysta, is one of the foundation's top sponsors?

    Whatever the reason, it's clear as day that these two nutrients are vital for those with lupus. They're also easy to add to your routine.

    Vitamin D supplements, in fact, are about the least expensive ones out there. You can also up your levels by having more D-rich food such as eggs, wild salmon, mushrooms, and almond milk.

    Wild salmon is a great source of omega-3s as well, along with sardines, walnuts, flax and chia seeds. This essential fatty acid is also widely available in supplement form (just be sure the one you buy contains high amounts of DHA and EPA).

    As for omega-6 fatty acids, the ones those Michigan researchers said you should be consuming less of, they can be best avoided by eliminating "unhealthy" oils (such as corn, sunflower, and safflower) from your diet and replacing them with coconut or extra virgin olive oil.

    To Living Better With Lupus,

    Melissa Young

  2. What is Warm Water Therapy?

    therapy warm waterEverybody loves an indulgence. And everybody loves an easy at home remedy that makes them feel better.

    Now, there’s something that combines the two – warm water therapy.

    In fairness, warm water therapy has been around for thousands of years, but we’re finally understanding how and why it actually works to ease stiffness, pain, and just about every other symptom of musculoskeletal conditions.

    A Good Soak…

    …really can make you feel better. All you have to do to experience the benefits of warm water therapy is to run a bath.

    That’s it. In spite of the fancy name, you can call warm water therapy your evening bath, and it really is the same thing.

    Twenty minutes in the tub can:

    • Loosen joints
    • Release muscles
    • Ease pain
    • And relax your mind so you feel better emotionally, as well as physically

    How It Works

    You’ve probably heard of high impact, low impact, and no impact activities. What those rankings boil down to are how much gravity affects and jars your joints.

    The higher the impact, the harder activity is on your joints. In order to really rest your joints and muscles, you need a no impact environment, one that reduces the effects of gravity.

    And that’s what warm water therapy delivers.

    The buoyancy of the water reduces the impact of gravity on your joints, so there’s less pain. Since water provides full support for your sore muscles, they aren’t having to do any of the work.

    Any movements during warm water therapy are truly NO impact movements.

    This break from gravity helps decrease inflammation and swelling – and the pain and discomfort that come along with inflammation and swelling!

    Plus, the warmth of the water helps improve circulation, which also helps with pain.

    Turning Your Tub Into Warm Water Therapy

    While a nice bath can feel good, a few easy steps can turn it into real warm water therapy.

    First, make sure the temperature isn’t too hot. It’s warm water therapy, after all. Aim for 92* to 100*. That range will give you the maximum benefits of heat without being so hot as to start causing problems.

    Once you’re in the tub, move as much as you can. Depending on the size of your tub, you may be limited, but warm water therapy is ideal for stretching sore muscles and flexing stiff joints.

    If you don’t have enough room to move – or so, but want to increase the benefits of the bath – stretch gently once you’ve gotten out of the tub, as well.

    Practitioners of warm water therapy report this combination of soaking and stretching afterwards combines for greater relief than either alone.

    Finally, try adding bath salts or oils. A bath can be a great carrier for nutrients that your body needs.

    For example, most people don’t get enough magnesium, which is a mineral that promotes bone health (and so much more!). You can use warm water therapy to get magnesium into your system by adding Epsom salts to your tub.

    They’re made of magnesium, and you can absorb through your skin. Limit your Epsom salt baths to once a week.

    If bath salts aren’t your thing, essential oils can boost the efficacy of warm water therapy. Try a few drops of pure eucalyptus oil. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease pain and stiffness.

    Just be sure to start with one or two drops at first. You can always add more if you want, but you can’t take it out if you need.

    Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your soak, though, because the warmth can dehydrate you if you’re not careful.

    Alternatives to the Tub

    What if just getting in and out of your tub is too difficult? Or if you don’t even have a tub? Don’t worry!

    You can still benefit from warm water therapy – you just need a pool!

    Most YMCAs and many senior centers have pools you can use for a nominal fee. Even some hotels allow locals to have pool memberships, so ask around your community.

    Look for water aerobics classes or gentle stretching classes. It’s all easier and less painful when you’re in the water – that’s the whole point of warm water therapy – so even if you’ve had to give up traditional exercise classes, water classes could really help.

    There are even water tai chi classes, called ai chi, that focus on balance and relaxation for less pain and stiffness.

    Can’t find a class? Find a corner of the pool and simply float, bob, or paddle a bit. Just like you were in your tub, you’ll get the same benefits of warm water therapy.

    You can also add basic stretches to your personal pool routine. Be sure to stay in the shallow end and don’t over-exert yourself at first.

    At home or in the pool. Warm water therapy can be a life-changing experience. Go from stiff and sore to flexible and relaxed, thank to your regularly scheduled soak.

  3. 4 Healthy Pie Recipes That Are GOOD For You

    Pie Recipes HealthyWho doesn’t love pie? Especially this time of year, when it seems like holiday tables are sagging under the weight of desserts! If only there were such a thing as a healthy pie… Well, guess what? There is! Not only are there healthy pie recipes, but there are ways to make your favorite pie recipes a little healthier without making many changes at all. Read on for healthy pie tips AND healthy pie recipes. Continue reading →
  4. Eating Cheap: How to Feel Full on a Strict Budget

    cheap eatingWhen you’re on a strict budget, it’s easy to think that you can’t eat well. Because yes, organic foods cost more and fresh foods cost more – generally. But they don’t have to. You can eat healthily, well, and feel full even on a strict budget. It just takes a little planning and creativity. Continue reading →
  5. The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Dementia

    For generations, avoiding dementia – or not – was a roll of the dice. Essentially, you would get older and hope you kept most of your cognitive abilities in the process. But no more. These days, researchers have learned that avoiding dementia is possible, and more importantly, relatively easy. Continue reading →
  6. Your Stuffy Nose Could Mean Something More

    It’s almost winter and that means it’s stuffy nose season. Colds, flu, dust, even allergies can all cause a miserable stuffy nose. But it could be something else, too. Something that’s supposed to help, not make it worse. To understand it, though, it helps to understand how and why your nose gets stuffy in the first place… Continue reading →
  7. My Eyes Are Dry - Now What?

    dry my eyesWhen your eyes are dry every day feels like an annoyance. No, there’s nothing seriously wrong, but there’s certainly nothing right, either. On bad days, life can become an itchy, scratchy irritation one just has to get through. That’s no way to live life! Luckily, just because your eyes are dry doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Let’s take a closer look at dry eyes, and the natural ways you can manage them. Continue reading →
  8. Don't Ignore These 9 High Blood Pressure Warnings

    warnings high blood pressureToo many people are unaware that high blood pressure comes with warnings. They think that high blood pressure is something you can’t identify until you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for the cuff to release. But that is a false and quite frankly dangerous misunderstanding of how high blood pressure works. High blood pressure warnings do exist, and you can identify them. You just have to know what they are. Continue reading →
  9. 8 Rules for Defeating Anxiety That Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You

    anxiety defeatingAlthough defeating anxiety is one of the most important things you can do, it’s also one of the most intimidating. After all, part of anxiety is the feeling that you can’t ever get better. How are you supposed to defeat anxiety when the very fact that you have it makes you feel like you can never defeat it? First, it’s vital that you lose the stigma about having anxiety. Talk to your doctor. Admit you’re struggling with it. There are ways your doctor can help. But your doctor isn’t the only one who can help with defeating anxiety. You have a powerful ally where you might not expect it: yourself. In spite of what the anxiety may have you believing, you really can help manage, control, and defeat it. Continue reading →
  10. Fight a Cold With These 5 Ultra-Nutritious Drink Recipes

    cold fightYou wash your hands regularly, use tissues when you sneeze, and make sure to get plenty of sleep. But with winter upon us, it’s sensible to wonder if you’re doing everything you can to fight a cold and stay healthy. If you’re looking to go the extra mile and supercharge your immune system – and who isn’t this time of year? – try these ultra-nutritious drink recipes, the easy and delicious way to fight a cold. Continue reading →
  11. The Ultimate All-Natural Ear Wax Treatment

    treatment ear waxLet’s be honest – ear wax is not something people talk about. It’s hardly something people think about. But if you’re looking for an ear wax treatment, suddenly you wish more people would talk about it! Because even if you’ve never thought about it a day in your life before now, by the time you need an ear wax treatment, you’ve probably been thinking about it a lot! Continue reading →
  12. Clean Your Lungs Naturally in 12 Easy Steps

    lungs clean yourDetoxing is all the rage these days. You’ll find articles on how to clean your liver, your kidneys, your digestive tract... But did you know you could also clean your lungs? And doing so is important! So many people smoked when they were younger, before society knew just how bad it was for your health. But even if you’ve never smoked a day in your life, you’ve inhaled pollutants, toxins, and chemicals. There’s just no way to avoid them all. Luckily, it’s easier than you may realize to clean your lungs. Simply follow these steps, and you’ll clean your lungs naturally, in just three days! Continue reading →
  13. What Does Your Tongue Say About You and Your Health?

    health tongueYou can’t always tell much about your health just by looking in the mirror – unless you’re looking in the right place: your tongue. That’s right. You may be able to tell what’s going on with your health by paying attention to your tongue! Look for any of these tell-tale signs, because your tongue could be telling you more than you ever imagined. Continue reading →
  14. Shrink Your Stomach Naturally with 10 Quick Techniques

    stomach shrink yourIf you’ve already turned your health around, or if you’re just looking to start, there tends to be one stubborn area that seems hardest to shrink: your stomach. Belly fat has a reputation for being some of the hardest to lose – which is even more frustrating because it’s also some of the most detrimental to your health. However, there are ways to shrink your stomach, even if you’ve already changed up your diet and embraced crunches! Continue reading →
  15. What Does Your Eye Color Say About Your Health?

    You and your doctor use several markers to predict your health, but you may not even be aware of this one – your eye color. As it turns out, eye color can indicate health risks you may be facing. Now, eye color isn’t a diagnostic tool – just because your eyes are a certain color doesn’t guarantee you’ll have any of these conditions – but it may help you understand and take precautions. Continue reading →
  16. How Much Exercise is Enough Exercise?

    exercise enoughEveryone talks about the fact that staying active is vital to maintaining overall health and independence. Nobody talks much about what that means, though. How much exercise is enough? What kind of exercise do they mean? What’s the difference between exercise and activity? The list of questions goes on and on. So we’ve compiled all the information you need in one place. From activity to exercise to avoiding over exercising. You’ve got questions. We’ve got the answers… Continue reading →
  17. Why Am I So Thirsty?

    thirsty soBeing thirsty occasionally is normal. Everyone goes too long without a drink of water. But if it seems you are just so thirsty all of the time, then you may be wondering what’s going on. Let’s look at seven common conditions that might cause you to be thirsty. Then, you can deal with them appropriately, instead of guessing! Continue reading →
  18. Coffee and Headaches – Is the Caffeine Helping or Hurting?

    headaches and coffeeWhenever there are two schools of thought on a topic, it’s hard to know which is true and which is false – as is the case with caffeine and headaches. Some people swear by caffeine’s ability to relieve headache pain. Other people swear that coffee is the cause of their headache pain. So which is it? Will coffee help your headache – or make it worse? The truth is: it depends. Read on, and we’ll look at how caffeine helps your headaches, and why it might cause them, too. Continue reading →
  19. My Doctor Gave Me the Wrong Diagnosis – Now What?

    diagnosis wrongGetting the wrong diagnosis for a medical condition isn’t just an irrational fear. It’s a fact of life for 12 million Americans every year. That’s almost 1 in 20 people who are given the wrong diagnosis. Suddenly, that concern feels far more plausible. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the most common misdiagnoses, and then empower you to get the medical advice you need in the aftermath of a wrong diagnosis. Continue reading →
  20. Why a Lack of Fiber Could Be Killing You

    fiber lack ofThe average adult needs between 25 and 30 grams of fiber per day. Unfortunately, the average American adult only gets about 15 grams of fiber per day – just about half the amount you need! And it turns out this lack of fiber could be killing you. Sound alarmist? That’s because it’s alarming – but it’s also the truth. Getting enough fiber isn’t just about feeling fuller, longer, so you stick to your diet. It’s not even only about the sustained energy that comes from the healthy carbohydrates where most people find their fiber. Getting enough fiber is about fighting off diseases that can actually kill you. Now that we’ve gotten your attention, let’s look at what a lack of fiber is doing to your health… Continue reading →