Do you often find yourself feeling tired all the time? There’s no doubt that the demands of modern life can wreck havoc with your body and bring on fatigue, but if you notice that not even a good night’s rest seems to help, there may be more going on with your body. It might be possible that a tiny little gland in your neck is to blame.

About the Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland located at the front of your neck near the base, just below the “Adam’s apple.” Often overlooked and taken for granted, this gland is responsible for practically every aspect of your body’s metabolism. This gland helps to regulate body temperature, heart rate and also influences how your body uses energy from fats and carbohydrates. It even regulates the production of proteins and is crucial in maintaining calcium balance in the body. The thyroid produces T3 and T4 hormones that help with these metabolic processes and interact with other hormones in the body to maintain health. When the thyroid functions improperly it can contribute to a number of problems. Hyperthyroidism occurs when this gland is over active and hypothyroidism occurs when it’s underactive.

About Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs went the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It is also known as low thyroid. This disorder is quite common in the United States, occurring in about 4.6 percent of the population over the age of twelve. Generally it strikes more women than men, and is often diagnosed around middle age.

One of the classic telltale signs of hypothyroidism is ongoing fatigue. So, despite all your efforts to get adequate rest and maintain a healthy lifestyle, if you’re still feeling tired all the time, get your thyroid checked. A simple blood test can tell if you’re hypothyroid.

Other hypothyroid symptoms include the following:

Often feeling cold (cold intolerance)

Slowed heart rate

Low blood pressure

Constipation

Dry skin

Thinning hair

Puffy eyes and/or face

Hoarse or raspy voice

Swelling or goiter in the neck

Muscle weakness, aches and pains

Painful or stiff joints

Irregular or heavier menstrual periods

Brain fog or memory issues

Depression

Hypothyroidism Treatment

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can result in a number of problems. The body generally slows down in all ways and hypothyroid symptoms become exceedingly more severe. Advanced hypothyroidism or myxedema is rare, but can lead to coma and death.

In most cases treatment is relatively easy, requiring a simple prescription for daily oral thyroid hormone (levothyroxine). Medication generally must be taken for the rest of one’s life and dosages may change over time.

In addition to medication, many hypothyroid patients carefully watch their diets and make sure they get adequate amounts of Iron, Vitamin D and B complex vitamins. So if you’re plagued by constant fatigue that won’t go away, it could be low thyroid. Do yourself a favor and get that tiny little gland checked. It could make all the difference.

By now you’ve probably heard about the prevalence of GMO foods in the United States. Just as a reminder, the term GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. Basically scientists taking DNA from one species and inserting it into another create GMOs. Unlike cross breeding or hybridization that occurs naturally, GMOs are manipulated and the resultant organisms would never have occurred in nature. That alone should give you cause for concern. Curious about GMOs? Here’s what you need to know.

GMOs are practically everywhere.

Walk up and down the aisle of your typical supermarket and a large portion of foods likely contain GMOs. Unfortunately you may not know for sure. Why? Because in the U.S., genetically modified organisms are not labeled. In contrast most of Europe, Russia, China and approximately 60 other countries in the world require GMO labeling when it comes to food. Practically all the major crops in this country are either genetically engineered to contain pesticides or are heavily doused with weed killers and chemicals like Monsanto’s Roundup. That means about 85 percent (if not more) of all canola, corn, cotton, soy and sugar beets have been tinkered with in some way.

What does this mean for you? Chances are that the foods you’re eating (especially processed foods) are laden with ingredients that have been genetically altered. Since they aren’t labeled, the only way to avoid them is by buying organic foods, which must be labeled and certified as such. You can also choose foods that say non-GMO or non-GM. But other than that, assume that it’s GMO and it’s everywhere.

GMOs are big business.

It’s not so much the local farmer or consumer that benefits from GMOs, rather it’s the major biotech and chemical corporations. The big three—Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta control a major portion of the seed market. Their seeds are proprietary and patented, meaning farmers can’t save seeds from their yields for next season. These companies are also responsible for the chemicals and pesticides used in conjunction with the seeds. So year after year, farmers must continually buy seeds and pesticides, ensuring a steady stream of annual profits for these corporations. These companies’ products are also the main ones used in big agribusiness, including feed for livestock. GMOs have not been sufficiently studied long term.

Although there have been short-term studies regarding GMOs, there have been few major independent long-term scientific peer reviewed studies to speak of. You as a consumer should be concerned with the potential long-term health risks of GMO foods. A recent Australian study showed stomach inflammation and damage to pigs fed a diet of GMO corn and soy, while a French study found that GMOs were linked to cancerous tumors in rats.

Ironically, many of the studies performed for U.S. government approval of GMO seeds and crops were conducted by the very companies that stand to profit. When it comes to GMOs, make sure you are in the know.

Remember that old expression, “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite?” For many of us it was nothing more than a cute saying. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. There has been an epidemic of bed bugs across the United States with more and more cities being affected every day. Worried about these blood sucking little critters? Whether you’ve been infested or are trying to avoid them, there are ways to protect yourself from these troublesome insects.

About Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that live by sucking on the blood of humans and warm-blooded animals. They are quite small, only a few millimeters in length and not much bigger than an apple seed. It’s often hard to spot these critters, as they like to hide and only come out at night to feed. There are some telltale signs however. If you notice brown flakes, splotches or tiny blood stains on your sheets or mattress you likely have an infestation.

Common hiding areas for bed bugs obviously include mattresses, box springs, headboards and bed frames, but they can also be found in sofas, curtains, carpet edges and any other soft, warm and dark place.

As for those pesky bites, they will appear as small raised, red rash like bumps on arms, hands, neck and face. Most people experience mild itching and discomfort, but some can have rare and severe allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock.

Protecting Yourself

If you’ve already been infested with bed bugs, the only real option is to have a professional exterminator remove them. Sprays, bug bombs and other treatments rarely work. You can however, help things along by vacuuming bedding and spraying rubbing alcohol on affected areas. It should slow down the infestation until the exterminator can take over.

To avoid an infestation or prevent one from returning, there are several things you can do. First, understand where you are most likely to pick up bed bugs. Hotels, hospitals, schools, dorms, movie theaters, mass transit trains, planes, cruise ships and multi dwelling units are all possibilities. Cleanliness of a place is not a factor. Any area with a high turnover rate of people is a potential bed bug zone. While you may not be able to avoid these areas, do be aware.

Next, when coming into contact with a bed bug zone, inspect your bags, luggage and clothing for bed bugs. Try to do so in the garage or other isolated area away from carpets, bedding and furniture.

Keep your bedding and bed area clean. Vacuum mattresses and carpets regularly and wash bedding in hot water and dry on high heat.

Consider buying bed bug encasements for your mattress, box spring and pillows.

Avoid buying used bedding, couches or clothing.

Always research hotels when traveling and inspect the room and bed when you arrive.

Keep luggage on luggage racks and away from the bed. Wrap in a plastic bad for extra protection.

Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years and aren’t leaving anytime soon. Be forewarned, forearmed and protect yourself.

Ladies when you think about iron, do you assume pumping it means pumping some at the gym? While that’s important for good health, it’s also important to be aware of the iron in your body too. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 80 percent of the world’s population is iron-deficient. Women especially are susceptible to this condition.

The Importance of Iron

Adequate levels of this mineral are essential for a number of bodily functions. Iron is a major component in the production of hemoglobin, which is responsible for oxygen transport in red blood cells. Less oxygen traveling through the blood means less getting to your brain and body’s cells. Symptoms of low iron can include feeling tired and run down, shortness of breath and difficulty concentrating. You might also experience splitting nails or “spoon-like” nails that curl upwards. In addition you might also suffer from hair loss, restless legs, cold hands and cold feet. If iron deficiency is left untreated it can turn into anemia where the number of red blood cells decrease as well as hemoglobin levels. In this case you may be pale, bruise easily, feel very weak and even faint.

How Much Iron Is Enough?

Most women need about 18 milligrams of iron per day. This is for adult menstruating women generally between the ages of 19 and 50. Pregnant women need more iron; approximately 27 milligrams daily and lactating women need around 9 to 10 milligrams. As a woman reaches menopause her iron needs decrease to about 8 milligrams per day.

When it comes to iron, more is not always better. Iron is fat-soluble and can build up in tissues and organs where it is stored. It can then develop into iron overload and become toxic to the body. If you are concerned about your iron levels, the best thing to do is get a simple blood test which can tell you your hemoglobin and iron storage levels.

Ways to Boost Iron Levels

If you’re one of the many women suffering from low iron, there are easy ways to boost your levels.

Many people turn to supplements first, but in the case of iron, only do so with the aid of professional medical advice in order to avoid iron overload and severe organ damage. If you are very low, your doctor will suggest a 325 mg supplement taken one or two times a day for several weeks. You are much safer boosting iron levels through diet. The following foods are rich in iron:

Beef

Bison or Buffalo

Black Beans

Clams

Lentils

Liver and organ meats

Oysters

Pumpkin Seeds

Spinach

Sunflower Seeds

Tofu

When eating iron rich foods it’s also a good idea to consume them with Vitamin C or a glass of orange juice. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb the iron more efficiently. With proper iron levels you’ll be healthy, fit and full of energy. Iron is practically worth its weight in gold!

Yoga has become sort of a fitness craze in recent years mainly because it is super good for your body, mind, and spirit all at the same time. Do you realize that many illnesses and grouchy moods are caused by stress overload? Everyone seems to be busy running from here to there in a big hurry and the stress wears them down after a while.

Yoga is an exercise routine that works your muscles and helps you to relax at the same time. Yoga consists of breathing exercises, various stretches, and workouts that flex your muscles more than you imagined they would. If you watch a yoga workout, you might be inclined to think the routine might look a bit boring or wonder how in the world it could help you get fit and lose weight. Trust me when I say that a true yoga workout is much more difficult than you anticipate. The poses that you hold as you stretch work your muscles for sure and the entire routine really does burn quite a bit of calories.

What is wonderful about yoga is that it can be done in the comfort of your own home, out in a community class, at the beach, or anywhere you prefer. You can even watch DVDs or YouTube videos that will teach you how to do yoga.

Various types of yoga

Hatha yoga is a common form of yoga and involves consistent breathing exercises and slow-moving poses. As you perform a stretch and hold it, you focus on your inhale and exhale while relaxing at the same time. You will quickly learn that yoga emphasizes controlled breathing, relaxation, and strengthening and stretching the muscles. It really is the whole package when it comes to stress-reduction and exercise.

Pranayama yoga is a form of yoga that essentially involves breathing exercises that help you to learn how to control your breath. “Prana” means life force and “yama” means control. Many yoga enthusiasts use pranayama yoga in combination with other forms of yoga. There are four stages of this type of yoga that take you from a beginner state to a more enlightened state. As you go about your days engaging in pranayama yoga, your deep and controlled breathing will give you more clarity, exercise your lungs, and help you to feel less stressed and more energetic.

If you have not given yoga a try, take 30 minutes of time and either attend a yoga class or watch a DVD or YouTube video on the topic. Many yoga enthusiasts report that by regularly performing yoga, they feel fit, healthier, happier, and more in tune with their inner being. There are all sorts of yoga workouts you can try to see what kind you like best. If you do not want to try it alone, grab a friend and begin your yoga journey together. Most people that had reservations up front end up boasting about the health benefits from yoga once they have given it a chance. Why not give it a try this week?