Tag Archives: health

Some Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee

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Health Benefits

On his nutrition-focused website, Nutritionfacts.org, physician and New York Times bestselling author, Michael Greger, cites growing evidence that supports the many health benefits of coffee consumption. For instance, an analysis performed earlier this year, of the best studies published to date, indicates that coffee consumption may lead to a modest reduction in overall cancer incidences.

Coffee is loaded with all kinds of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that can contribute toward improving one’s overall health. It also contains caffeine, which can impart energy and improve one’s mood.

When people consume coffee, the caffeine blocks the adenosine, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. When this happens, other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine increase, and enhances the brain’s firing of neurons. This can lead to marked improvements in memory, energy levels, mood and general cognitive function.

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Weight Loss

Coffee can also be useful for weight loss. A number of recent studies suggest that caffeine can help burn fat in the body. The beverage has also been shown to boost the body’s metabolic rate. Coffee has also been shown to increase the body’s adrenaline levels by releasing the fatty acids found in fat tissues. This can lead to improvements in physical performance.

Nutrients

Many people are unaware of the fact that coffee contains many beneficial nutrients. A single cup of the beverage contains 2% of the recommended daily allowance of Magnesium and Niacin and 3% of the daily recommended dosage of Manganese and Potassium. It also contains Pantothenic Acid, which is used to metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins in the body. Coffee also contains as much as 11% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin.

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Type II. Diabetes

Recent observational studies suggest that people who consume coffee regularly have less chances of contracting type II. diabetes. Currently, approximately 300 million people are afflicted with this serious disease worldwide.

Overall, coffee is a healthful beverage for the general population. However, like any other food or beverage, the consumption of coffee has some caveats for certain individuals. People with insomnia, heartburn, anxiety, high blood pressure and specific heart-related rhythm irregularities should consult with their physicians to determine the safest levels to drink. Certain compounds found in coffee have been shown, in some cases, to increase cholesterol levels. However, Dr. Greger cites evidence suggesting that these compounds can be effectively removed when the coffee is filtered through paper filters. Therefore, drip coffee is the preferred brewing method over French press, boiled or espresso. Coffee should be limited to two cups per day for women who are pregnant.

Do I Stick it in the Fridge?

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Some foods need to be refrigerated.  Others don’t.  This is a list of  foods that do not need to be chilled.

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1. Bananas – Storing bananas in the refrigerator can actually disrupt their ripening process.  Once refrigerated, a banana may never be able to resume the ripening process even if returned to room temperature.

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2. Yams and Sweet Potatoes – When exposed to cold temperatures, starches found in potatoes will turn to sugar, disrupting their flavor and texture. If you prefer tasteless potatoes that cause weight gain, however, please refrigerate.

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3. Tomatoes – Have you ever tasted a really amazing tomato right out of the fridge?  Nope, Me neither.  Tomatoes LOSE their flavor and become mushy when refrigerated.

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4. Apples -Apples  lose their texture and flavor when refrigerated.  If you want a cold apple, just stick it in the fridge about 20 minutes before you plan to eat it.  Otherwise, store them at room temperature.

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5. Onions – If you love soggy onions while also causing the rest of your food to taste and smell like onions, then you’ll definitely want to refrigerate your onions immediately.  Otherwise, try storing them in a paper bag (within a cool, dark cabinet) for maximum shelf-life.  And by the way, did you know that storing onions with potatoes will cause the potatoes to ripen too quickly and to spoil sooner?  The onions give off a gas that causes this, so be sure to separate them for storage, m’k?

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6.  Avocados – Much like the banana, refrigeration shuts down an avocado’s ripening enzymes.  If you want guacamole next month, this may be OK, but if you’re like me, you probably want guacamole today.

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7. Coffee – Contrary to popular belief, coffee is best stored at room temperature to allow the natural oils within the coffee beans to activate its pungent aromatic scent. Refrigeration can actually cause coffee to absorb odors from other foods in your fridge.

Speaking of coffee…I haven’t had mine yet this morning, so off I go.  Have a happy day everyone!

How Not to Die

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I am very excited to announce the long-awaited book by my nutrition guru, Dr. Michael Greger.  Folks, this is a revolutionary breakthrough in medical research that will blow your minds!  Pick up a copy by visiting NutritionFacts.org.   This is the book that will change your life forever.  Would make a great holiday gift as well!

IT’s OFFICIAL: Processed Red Meats Cause Cancer

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This article appeared on NPR this morning.   It is an empirical finding by the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has deemed that processed meats — such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs — cause cancer.

In addition, the WHO says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are “probably carcinogenic” to people.

A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer, and concluded that eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Their evidence review is explained in an article published in The Lancet.

The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. This does not mean that they are equally dangerous, says the International Agency for Research on Cancer — the agency within the WHO that sets the classifications. And it’s important to note that even things such as aloe vera are on the list of possible carcinogens.

In a Q & A released by the IARC, the agency says that “eating meat has known health benefits,” but it also points out that the cancer risk increases with the amount of meat consumed. As we’ve reported, studies show that the heaviest meat eaters tend to have the highest risk.

The IARC says high-temperature cooking methods (such as cooking meat in direct contact with a flame) produce more carcinogenic compounds. However, the group says there were not enough data “to reach a conclusion about whether the way meat is cooked affects the risk of cancer.”

Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society says the society recommends “consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat,” she told us in a written statement.

The recommendation, Gapstur tells The Salt, is based on research. For instance, a systematic literature review on colorectal cancer published in 2011 by the World Cancer Research Fund found a statistically significant, 16 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer associated with each 100 grams of red and processed meat consumed. As the ACS points out, this is an amount of meat roughly equivalent in size to a deck of cards.

The Lancet paper points out that red meat also contains “high biological-value proteins and important micronutrients such as B vitamins, iron and zinc.” And the North American Meat Institute says lots of research points to the benefits of red meat consumption.

“Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health,” writes Barry Carpenter, president of the North American Meat Institute, in a statement on the new WHO classification.

Carpenter says it’s important to put this new classification in context. “IARC’s panel was given the basic task of looking at hazards that meat could pose at some level, under circumstance, but was not asked to consider any off-setting benefits, like the nutrition that meat delivers or the implications of drastically reducing or removing meat from the diet altogether,” the statement concludes.

Are you Depressed?

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In my opinion,  psychiatrists should first test their patients for nutritional deficiencies before writing prescriptions for Zoloftor for  antipsychotics, like Zyprexa.  Conscientious doctors send patients to get lab work done prior to prescribing drugs or increasing dosages.  There are times when people do need antidepressants.   However,  other times  spinach would go far to eliminate the symptoms of depression.   Think Popeye.

If you haven’t ever tested your nutrition levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary-care physician. Supplements can be expensive, but you can make it back  by not having to see your psychiatrist as often. You should talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re on prescription drugs.

 

Vitamin D

According to my doctor, Vitamin D deficiency is a major epidemic that doctors and public health officials are just beginning to realize. This deficiency has been linked to depression, dementia, and autism. Most of our levels drop off during the fall and winter months, since sunlight is the richest source.   My doctor believes that we should be getting from 5,000 to 10,000 IU  a day.  However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends most healthy adults get only about 600 IUs daily.  Hence, the widespread deficiency and increases in depression.

Magnesium

I am forever extolling the virtues of Magnesium, because this, like Vitamin D, is deficient in most American adults, according to my doctor, and the symptoms are not pretty.  They can, in fact, set off a chain reaction of unpleasant symptoms. Our lifestyles decrease our levels of Magnesium.  Some of the things that contribute are excess alcohol, salt, coffee, sugar, phosphoric acid (in soda), chronic stress, antibiotics, and diuretics (water pills). Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the stress antidote, the “most powerful relaxation mineral that exists,” according to Hyman. It is found in seaweed, greens, and beans. The NIH recommends a daily intake of about 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women.  Magnesium Citrate can also act as a laxative, so buy your Magnesium accordingly….and time it well.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I was surprised when my results showed an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency because I eat plenty of salmon and take fish oil supplements every day. That shows you just how much fish — salmon, tuna, halibut — or flaxseeds and walnuts we need to consume to be at an optimal level. These essential minerals reduce inflammation and play a critical role in brain function, especially memory and mood. The body can’t make them, so you need to either eat them or take supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are just one of the supplements I take every day for depression

Vitamin B Complex

B vitamins like vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 can provide some incredible health benefits, including reduced stroke risk and healthy skin and nails. On the other hand, a vitamin B deficiency may impact your mental health. More than a quarter of severely depressed older women were deficient in B-12, according to one 2009 study.

The best sources of vitamin B-6 are poultry, seafood, bananas, and leafy green vegetables. For vitamin B-6, the NIH recommends a daily intake of 1.7 mg for adult men, and 1.5 mg for adult women. Vitamin B-12 is found in animal foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk) and shellfish, such as clams, mussels, and crab. Most adults should need to consume 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12 daily, according to the NIH.

Folate

People with a low folate level have only a 7 percent response to treatment with antidepressants. Those with high folate levels have a response of 44 percent, according to Hyman. That is why many psychiatrists are now prescribing a folate called Deplin to treat depression and improve the effectiveness of an antidepressant. I tried it and it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference; however, I have several friends who have had very positive responses to Deplin. You need not try the prescription form of Deplin. You could just start taking a folate supplement and see if you get any results. Your daily recommended folate intake depends on your gender, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and age. However, most adults need at least 400 mcg daily. You can also get your daily folate requirements by consuming foods high in folate, including dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, and citrus fruits and juices.

 Amino Acids

Amino acids — the building blocks of protein — help your brain properly function. A deficiency in amino acids may cause you to feel sluggish, foggy, unfocused, and depressed. Good sources of amino acids include beef, eggs, fish, beans, seeds, and nuts.

 Iron

Iron deficiency is pretty common in women. About 20 percent of women, and 50 percent of pregnant women, are in the club. Only three percent of men are iron deficient. The most common form of anemia — an insufficient number of red blood cells — is caused by iron deficiency. Its symptoms are similar to depression: fatigue, irritability, brain fog. Most adults should consume 8 to 18 mg of iron daily, depending on age, gender, and diet, according to the NIH. Good sources of iron include red meat, fish, and poultry. If you really want to get more red blood cells, eat liver. Yuck.

 Zinc

This one is SO important!  Zinc is used by more enzymes (and we have over 300) than any other mineral. It is crucial to many of our systems. It activates our digestive enzymes so that we can break down our food, and works to prevent food allergies (which, in turn, averts depression in some people, since some of our mood disruptions are triggered by food allergies). It also helps our DNA to repair and produce proteins. Finally, zinc helps control inflammation and boosts our immune system. The NIH recommends a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc for adult men and 8 mg for adult women.

 Selenium

Like iodine, selenium is important for good thyroid function. It assists the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone, T3. It also helps one of our important antioxidants (glutathione peroxidase) keep polyunsaturated acids in our cell membranes from getting oxidized (rancid). Most adults need about 55 mcg of selenium daily. The best food source of selenium is Brazil nuts, which contains about 544 mcg of selenium per ounce.

Iodine

Iodine deficiency can be a big problem because iodine is critical for the thyroid to work as it should, and the thyroid affects more than you think: your energy, metabolism, body temperature, growth, immune function, and brain performance (concentration, memory, and more). When it’s not functioning properly, you can feel very depressed, among other things. You can get iodine by using an iodine-enriched salt, or by eating dried seaweed, shrimp, or cod. I take a kelp supplement every morning because I have hypothyroidism. The daily recommend amount of iodine for most adults is about 150 mcg.

It’s a Crazy World! Loco Weed Vs. Chinese Fortune Cookies

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This morning, my friend, Diane, complained that she was unable to get decent Chinese food delivered to her house in Puyallup, Washington, but that she had the option, if she so desired,  to have marijuana and related products delivered without problem.    I checked out the link that she posted and this appears to be true.  A website called THCfinder.com lists Puyallup as a delivery location for the new legalized marijuana products such as an $8 pack of Boggle Gum or other hybrid and specially cultivated marijuana products.

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The state became one of the first to legalize pot for recreational use two years ago, but there remain many challenges ahead.  Washington is currently setting up a licensing system for pot growers and sellers and the Fed is busy setting a new limit on the amount of pot that can be found in the bloodstream for safe driving.  Medical marijuana is also still in the picture.

Things are really changing.  Now, it is  legal to light up in both Denver and Seattle, and marijuana is approved for medicinal use in some 20 states.  There’s one thing the Obama administration is most concerned when it comes to legalized recreational marijuana.  That is  making sure that kids are not part of this grand pot experiment.  In Washington, the rules have been written to restrict marketing and advertising. And there’s a hefty tax levied on legal pot.

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Yup. everything is changing.  Many view this as a bad thing…but is it really?  Is it even as bad as alcohol?  Guess we’ll see.   Colorado is already reporting a lower crime rate and profits from legal marijuana crops going toward school improvements.    However, Washington has run into problems.  A legal and political haze is making it all but impossible for entrepreneurs, activists, regulators, and smokers to know when legal pot will actually be a reality in Washington — which puts the high-stakes marijuana legalization experiment at risk of failure not just in the state, but in the rest of country.

Some of the bizarre complications currently plaguing Washington are inherent in any conflict between state and federal government. Marijuana remains a Schedule I prohibited substance under federal law, although US Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department will allow Washington and Colorado — Amendment 64 there also legalized recreational pot as of January 1 — to proceed unhindered. Some complications arise due to cumbersome provisions in the Washington law itself.  And others from the way the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has interpreted its authority to create a new recreational marijuana system.

Even when Washington’s aspiring weed moguls finally do get their licenses, they’ll have only begun the permit process. Each license holder must also secure business permits from local authorities who are often openly hostile to legal pot. Most growing operations will need construction permits to build their irrigation, electrical, and waste-disposal systems. Premises must be found. Leases must be signed. Finances must be secured to pay for all this, and not from traditional lenders — banks remain skittish about funding an industry that remains illegal under federal law, even after the Justice and Treasury departments announced in February that financial institutions may work with licensed pot businesses. Lastly, marijuana has to actually grow. It takes at least a couple of months to produce a crop.

Over the next decade, we will probably see more states legalize marijuana.  Oklahoma is in line and there is talk of legalization down the road in Texas and in other states.  Only time will tell if this will be a good thing.  One thing that even opponents of legalization should consider, however.  Even if you are opposed to smoking marijuana yourselves, legalizing it will make things safer all around.  It will cut down on drug-related crimes by eliminating street dealers.  Regulation of bud will keep the quality high and the dangerous chemicals out.  It will generate revenue for schools, roads and health care and it will cause it to be much less likely to fall into the hands of children.

The jury is out on this one.  We’ll see how it goes.  There was a tremendous bruhaha about the legalization of alcohol, back in the day. Now it is legal everywhere.  I have a feeling the same will be true of pot.

Summer Cold Have You Down?

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AHHHH-CHOOOOO!!!

Are colds really worse in summer?  Seems like it.  My handsome husband woke all droopy-eyed with a cold  this morning, poor thing, and he looks terrible, but I’ve been taking good care of him.  My cure-all potato soup is on the stove and hot ginger tea is in the pot.  I put clean sheets on the bed and have him all tucked in.  No work for John at all today.

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Summer colds are caused by different viruses than winter colds and tend to last longer than the winter variety.  In fact, colds in summertime can last for weeks, at times seemingly going away and then suddenly storming back with a vengeance, infectious disease experts say. A winter cold, by contrast, is typically gone in a few days.  Why is this?

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Some of the things people commonly do in the summer can prolong the illness, like being physically active and going in and out of air-conditioned buildings.  Do this for awhile and before you know it, you have “clothespin nose”!

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Summer colds, which can hit between June and October, occur only about 25% as often as the winter variety. But summer colds can have more severe, flu-like symptoms, in addition to sneezing and coughing. Many people also mistake a summer cold for allergies, because it just doesn’t seem to leave.

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My cousin is still trying to shake off a cold she developed in early May. It began with the sniffles, so she didn’t pay much attention to it at first.   She continued to exercise  and play tennis.   However, she soon developed a fever—uncommon for her, —and a cough and she became overly exhausted.    She initially thought she had pneumonia, the symptoms were so bad. By the time she went to see Ed, a doc friend of ours, she had already begun taking a cocktail of Mucinex, cough syrup, Tylenol and Sudafed.   (I’m a homeopathic kinda gal myself, but my cousin is not.) Ed prescribed a different cough syrup, but that  didn’t work, so he  eventually put her on antibiotics.

My friend ended up taking a week off from her high-demand, executive job and ended up missing two weeks of tennis practice, which is unfortunate, since she had planned to play in a tournament.  Her husband, William, who caught the cold the third week of her illness, is also still ill.

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When I catch a cold, I find that it helps to  ramp up my exercise routine to sweat out the cold, but I have recently learned that this practice might actually prolong the illness, which says a lot.  I haven’t been sick in a year, but last year and the year before, I was sick for months!  Moderate exercise tends to protect the body from illness, but a sudden and strenuous workout can decrease the body’s immunity.

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And moving between the hot summer outdoors and cold air-conditioned inside environments can make people more vulnerable to sickness in summer. The sudden chilling lowers the defenses in the nose and throat by causing constriction of the blood vessels. If a virus is already  at work in the body,  this reduces our immunity.

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A summer cold’s symptoms can be a bit surprising. Along with the sniffles, sufferers may also get a fever, diarrhea and an achy-breaky body. Symptoms can also vary depending on people’s ages.

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Because summer colds stick around longer than many people expect, they are often mistaken for allergies.  Some ways to tell the difference: If you are “droopy-eyed”…meaning your eyelids are puffy and eyes bloodshot, it is  probably allergies instead of a cold. Mucus color also is different—green for allergies, clear for summer cold. If  your nose and eyes and ears feel itchy or tickly, that really points to allergies, and not to a summer cold.

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I am giving John some NOW brand zinc while he is sick.  However, in my research, I have learned that taking zinc, which is often advised for warding off winter colds, may not work for the summer variety. The literature on zinc is mixed, but the proposed mechanism is that it might interfere with how the virus attaches inside the body.   Since the summer virus attaches differently, it might not work as well.  Time will tell.

Enteroviruses and rhinoviruses are around all year. According to further research, it is not yet clear why summer colds tend to be caused by one virus and not the other.  Possibly, the summer-cold virus may be more physically delicate than the winter cold virus…but who knows?

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Winter colds may occur more frequently than summer colds because colder weather and lack of sunlight decreases the body’s immunity.  However,  both types of virus thrive where large numbers of people gather, such as schools, public transportation, sports games and airlines flights.  Anywhere there’s crowding, you can pick up a cold.

Anthropomorphism – Your Dog is Not Human! Please Love it Enough to Treat it Like a Dog!

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Here’s the deal.  We all snuggle with and speak kindly to our beloved dogs, right?  We love them, play with them, keep them by our sides.   However, you and I realize that our dogs are dogs.  People that chronically treat their dogs as if they (the dogs) are human beings are defeating their own purpose.

They clearly think  that treating their dogs as if the dogs were human beings shows that they love their pets more than we love ours…but in reality, the opposite is true.  It really just shows their stupidity.  These people are using their dogs to  gratify their own egos.  Their treatment of the dogs has nothing, at all, to do with what is best for the animal and has everything to do with bringing attention to themselves.

People have different motives for  their anthropomorphism. For example, one may lack social skills with other people.  Dogs may motivate lonely individuals to seek out needed connections from nonhuman items. Anthropomorphism helps them to simplify and make more sense of complications in their lives. They substitute the dog where another human being could possibly fit in.

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Dogs have specific characteristics that are exclusive to dogs.  Therefore, feeding them people food, projecting human motives and emotions onto them,  and treating them as if they are humans can cause great harm to them.   In extreme cases, it can also mean the death of the dog.    Dogs simply do not think like humans.  THEY ARE DIFFERENT ANIMALS!   Why not respect the dog for being a dog, and treat the animal according to how it should be naturally treated?  THAT is REAL love.

How would you like it if some other species decided to treat YOU as though you were one of them, instead of a human being?

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When people take their dogs to concerts where loud music is playing, they do not do this for the dog’s enjoyment.  They do it to bring attention to themselves.  Loud noises can cause trauma in a dog.  It is very bad for them.   This is a serious issue for dogs. Taking a dog into a smoky, crowded club is bad for it.   Standing up close to speakers while a rock and roll band plays is bad for dogs….In fact, the veterinary clinic at Mississippi State did a study on the affects of loud noises and dogs’ hearing.  Dogs that were exposed repeatedly to loud noises suffered serious hearing loss.  I love my dog enough not to do this!  She might bring a lot of attention TO ME,  if I take her to a club or concert, because she is really cute…. but doing this would not be for her own good, so I prefer to leave her in the quiet safety of home when I go to these places.

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Why people believe that feeding their dogs human food is good for them is just another of the egocentric projections that is bad for them.  Dogs are not people!  Chocolate, Macadamia nuts, avocados…these foods may sound delicious to you, but they’re actually quite dangerous for dogs.  A good brand of specially-formulated food for dogs is ALL your dog needs!   If you feed it a high quality, lamb and rice food for ten years, it’s not going to go ‘I’m bored of this’, because dogs don’t understand there’s other choices out there. Humans get bored with with the same things in their diet because they know they can have chicken, or carrots, or cake- they have the concept to know this.  Dogs don’t- unless they’re introduced to that variety. As far as they’re aware, you, the provider, have put down this food and they should eat it.  There is absolutely no need to feed your dog anything other than his or her dog food.  Doing so is about YOU, the HUMAN dog OWNER….NOT for the good of the DOG!  Love your pet enough to treat it like a dog!

At times, people will swing into their favorite fast food place and grab a hamburger patty or some chicken, thinking that this won’t hurt their dogs.  However, fast food places are notorious for using inferior quality, factory farmed meat that is pumped full of hormones and worse.  This meat is not good for humans and it is not good for dogs!

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Feeding your dogs from fast food restaurants promotes cruelty to animals and fills your dog with harmful chemicals.

 

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Chocolate, Caffeine, Coffee

Chocolate, caffeine and coffee  all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When eaten or drunk by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Alcohol

Just say, “NO!”.  Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol are soooo bad for your dog!  They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

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Avocado

I love it.  Do you?  Great.  Don’t give it to your dog, however.  The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

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Macadamia Nuts

Please!  You would feed your dog Macadamia nuts?  Really?  Macadamia nuts and other nuts can cause serious problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

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Grapes & Raisins

Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.

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Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

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Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

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Xylitol

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

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Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.

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Milk

Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

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Salt

Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!

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As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the above-mentioned foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.   And if you want your dog to feel safe and secure and to be happy and healthy, TREAT IT LIKE WHAT IT IS – A DOG!!!

Remedies for an Upset Tummy

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Home Remedies to Fix that Upset Tummy:

When it comes to minor ailments,  I go for natural remedies over pharmaceuticals.  This is typical for someone living in Portland.  A lot of people here lean toward the natural remedies first.   However,   I always consult with my doctor if it is anything meds-worthy.   I am not a physician and do not recommend the following home remedies as medical “cures” for anything.  They are simply things I have tried for an upset stomach that have worked for me.  Try at your own risk., please, or better yet, consult a physician before trying any of them.


Carrot and Mint “Juice”

This concoction may be the ticket.  The carrot provides nourishment and peppermint soothes an upset stomach. To make it, boil four sliced carrots, four cups of water, and one teaspoon of dried peppermint or one peppermint teabag. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook about 15 minutes or until carrots are malleable.  If a teabag is used, remove it before blending the mixture until smooth.  Enjoy! You can also add a pinch of ground ginger to further soothe, or a squeeze of lemon juice for flavor.  Chill well before serving.

Rice Tea

Pok-Pok, an excellent Thai restaurant near our home, serves rice tea when people request water.  They also serve drinking vinegars that are great for an upset stomach.  To settle the tum-tum  or stop diarrhea, make a rice “tea.” Boil 1/2 cup of rice in six cups of water for about 15 minutes. Strain out the rice, then flavor the water with a dash of honey or sugar and drink warm.

Burnt Toast ….Yes, really.

Toast is good for an upset stomach, right? …but burnt toast is even better!   The  char absorbs toxins that are making you feel crummy.   Add a smear of jelly if you’d like.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This is an oldie, but goodie, that my grandmother and mother always used.  A mixture of one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, one cup warm water, and one tablespoon honey will ease indigestion and may alleviate cramping and gas in your upset stomach. It can also lessen discomfort caused by heartburn.

The CRAP Diet …uh, huh.  I said, “CRAP”!  🙂

If you’re feeling constipated, try the CRAP diet: It stands for “cherries, raisins, apricots, and prunes.” These are all fiber-friendly foods that should get the ‘ol system moving and ease that upset stomach.

Yogurt

You probably don’t crave anything dairy when you have a stomach ache.  However, the probiotic qualities of yogurtmake it a good remedy, as it eases digestive discomfort and boosts the  immune system. Be  make sure to choose non-fat plain yogurt without the  sugar or flavors that some yogurt companies add.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway seeds contain a lot of  vitamins and minerals, all of  which inhibit the growth of the types of  bacteria that cause  gas, indigestion or bloating.   Chomp down a handful of these delicious seeds after eating, or when you feel gassy.   Miraculous!

Fennel

I’m a fresh fennel freak anyway, but especially when I have an upset stomach.  Whether it’s indigestion or gas and bloating, fennel to the rescue!  Sip fennel tea, chew on some fennel seeds or crunch on some fresh, raw fennel.   Fennel supports digestion, reduces gas, helps with cramping, and lessens nausea from an upset stomach.

Today is an excellent day for juicing!

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20140108-155949.jpg‘Twas a rainy day  in Portland today.  I thought that since it was raining and the middle of the week, not many people would be out grocery shopping.  I was wrong!  Seemed like everyone was there today…the whole city!   But with produce this beautiful, who can complain?

 

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I bought a lot of fruits and vegetables, and some ginger, which I put into all my juices, and I came home, fired up the Breville juicer and went to town!

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I must say, this was a nice diversion from writing about home repairs in Bethesda, MD. or working on my statistics homework, or writing that paper that is due soon about personality theory.  I love the whirring sound the juicer makes and I love the deep, rich, green color of the juice as it comes out of the spout!  This WAS an excellent day for juicing!

René Best guitarist

20140108-160036.jpgAnd this juice was DELICIOUS!!

 

Knock it Off with the Diet Soda, Already!

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I have never understood the concept of drinking diet soda.  Sure, it can save a lot of calories that one might find in a sugary soft drink, but still.  Why not just splash a little juice in the bottom of a glass and top it off with some sparkling water?  Tastes much better and it doesn’t fill your body with nasty Aspartame, Sucralose or Saccharin.  Who needs that kind of chemical cocktail cursing through his or her body?

Actually, I prefer a squeeze of lemon in a glass of stilled water.  That is my preferred drink, but once in awhile, I’ll splash some organic cranberry juice into the bottom of a glass and top it with lime sparkling water.  Light…refreshing and delicious!

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The nastiness that is artificial sweetener causes the  taste buds to become insensitive to things that are naturally sweet, so if you’re used to drinking diet soda, the first time you make your own with juice and sparkling water, you probably won’t like it.   The *really* nasty thing about these artificial sweeteners is that they can trigger insulin the same way that real sugar does, which sends the body into fat storage mode, so they really don’t help anyone lose weight.  This, according to Brooke Alpert, RD, author of “The Sugar Detox.”

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University of Texas researchers conducted a longitudinal study over a period of 10 years that supported evidence that drinking one diet soda per day can lead to being substantially  fatter than those  that opt  not to drink them.  That’s right, folks, the diet soda drinkers  had a 70% increase in their midsections!    Not only that, but a University of Minnesota study found that drinking only one diet soda per day showed a 36% increase of the risks associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome!

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Why would anyone want to put anything into his or her body that has no nutritional value, whatsoever?  Why not just drink water?  We actually NEED water for our bodily processes.  Diet soda cannot fulfill those functions.  A lot of people complain that they get headaches when they drink artificially sweetened soft drinks as well.   Why put yourself through that?      Kinda dumb, if you ask me….like smoking cigarettes is dumb.     Death wish?   You only have one body.  Why not honor it by taking care of it?  Oh…and an article in the Journal of General Dentistry published research that compared the teeth of methamphetamine users, cocaine users and habitual diet soda drinkers, and guess what?  They found that all three of these things have the same level of citric acid, which destroys tooth enamel.    Just think about what is going to happen to your teeth if you drink diet soda AND smoke.  ick!   Shudder.  Gross!Image

While diet soda may taste good to those that are hooked on it…(It tastes disgusting to me!) the American Academy of Neurology found that folks who drank over 4 cups or cans of diet soda every day were more likely to be depressed.     Isn’t life hard enough without intentionally making it worse?

Sure, things like smoking or drinking diet soda are personal choices…but they’re really dumb choices, if you think about it.  Use some common sense and things will work out for you a whole lot better.

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Truffle Flavored Tuscan Kale Chips

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Although I highly recommend visiting Italy whenever possible, one  need not go to Tuscany to enjoy the healthful benefits inherent in eating Tuscan kale.  It is in season now, at least here in Portland it is, and I can’t get enough!  Kale is  packed with cholesterol-lowering benefits, especially when it is steamed.  You see,  the fiber-related components in kale do a much better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed.  However, I’m going to talk about baking it today.

Kale chips can be expensive.  The most reasonably-priced ones that I’ve found come from Trader Joe’s.  However, these chips are very delicate and break into crumbles a little too easily.  They are flavorful, with some kind of cheesy, spicy powder all over them, which makes them messy to eat, in addition to being crumbly…but they do taste good.

ImageAs with most foods, I prefer to make my own.  They taste so much better when they are warm, straight out of the oven.    I have experimented with different methods of cooking them and have finally arrived at the one that I think is most successful.  The secret ingredient?  Truffle oil!  Truffle oil is popular with chefs because it not only tastes great, it is also much less expensive than actual truffles, while possessing some of the same flavors and deep, earthy aroma. The emergence and growth of truffle oil has led to an increase in the availability of foods that are flavored with truffles, in an era when the price of truffles has pushed them out of reach for most folks. Real truffle oil (which contains actual truffle, and more truffle than oil instead of the other way around) can go for $90 an ounce.  The stuff that I buy is ridiculously expensive, but….

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I have just discovered a very inexpensive truffle oil at Trader Joe’s that works almost  as well as this fancy brand that I keep on hand.  In fact, I’m planning to switch.  Why pay more when you don’t have to?  The Trader Joe’s stuff is delicious! The flavor is milder and less cloying, but that is good, because the fancy stuff costs so much…and it goes off if I don’t use it up fairly quickly.

Making these chips is ridiculously simple.  All one needs do is tear the kale into 3-4″ pieces and toss them gently with less than 1 TBS. of truffle oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt…The Meadow, one of my favorite gourmet food shops here in Portland has some delicious truffle sea salt that you can order online.  Simply click the link and visit their great website.

  Lay the oiled, lightly salted kale pieces out on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until they are dry and crispy.

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Enjoy your delicious kale chips crisp and warm, straight out of the oven.  That’s when they taste best.

Ridiculously simple to make, and such a healthful snack!

Yum-o!

Considering Food and Booze

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I have always cared about what I have eaten, but not to the extent that I now do….and alcohol has never played a prominent role in my life… other than to spark a mild  interest in studying the cultivation of grapes and the manufacture of wine, ( since I have family in the wine business in the Napa Valley).  I would love to take a sommelier course…which is on my bucket list, but that remains in the distant and faint future.

My husband and I do enjoy going to wineries and learning whatever we can about wine, just for fun, and we have a nice collection of bottles at home.  Most recently, we visited Ceago Vinegarden  in Nice,  a Biodynamic Winery located on the shores of gorgeous Clear Lake.   (I will write about that soon, and share photos…)     Interesting stuff, wine….  I’ve just never been much of a drinker.    I go months and months without so much as a sip of it, and during those times, I do not miss it.  I will occasionally have a designer cocktail, such as the plantain margaritas from the Mexican restaurant that I wrote about awhile back, or will have a nice glass of wine with dinner…but rarely, because I have a completely different attitude about what I put into my body now.

Fresh out of high school, I wanted to be a nutritionist, but once I took all of those associated science classes, I realized what I *really* wanted to do (with regard to food) was cook it….so I did.  I trained and cooked in a number of restaurants over the years, and picked up as much knowledge as I could.  I took a lot of cooking courses, too, all related to vegetarianism, and am told today, that I cook well.

This is my personal philosophy of food and drink:  Before I eat anything, I always ask myself, “Can I afford this?”    Except for the occasional special treat (such as Lauretta Jean’s pie, for example) or that cold brew with my vegetarian Sloppy Joe at Hedge House, down the street, I view food and drink as fuel.  So I view my body the same way I would view my car if I were to plan a trip.  I’m not going to plan a long trip without putting some premium fuel into my Mercedes.  Period.

I am in grad school now, and still working full time…..MORE than full time, actually.  I work very long hours and I need to provide myself with the fuel and exercise that is necessary to keep me going.  Therefore, just as I would fill my car with petrol, I fill my body with things that add energy value to keep me going.  It’s really as simple as that.

If I am going to have a drink of alcohol (and I *never* have more than one…and I have a hard time even drinking THAT), I ask myself, “What am I going to be doing tomorrow?  Do I need energy to complete something….or will it be a day when I can take things easy for awhile?”  If the latter case is true, and usually when we’re on vacation, I might order wine with dinner or the occasional margarita or something….but in most cases, I drink water with lemon.  That makes me feel a lot better than alcohol can.

A lot of people claim that booze makes them feel good.  I’ve never felt that way about it. I have never thought it was fun to get drunk, and I’ve never enjoyed being around others that drank heavily.  I have never viewed one’s drinking to drown one’s sorrows as being a realistic endeavor.  I’ve always felt that drinking CAUSES more sorrows than it drowns…but that’s just my personal view, and I’m not knocking anyone that doesn’t share it, so please don’t take this personally.  I just do what *I* need to do to be more efficient, because if I manage to fall behind, I might not ever catch up!

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Today’s breakfast was steel cut oatmeal with 1/2 cup of quinoa in it.  To that, I added 1/2 cup heated, organic mixed berries.  Dr. Greger (my nutrition guru – Click the link…) says that flash frozen fruits and vegs are nutritionally as good  than fresh ones…so I take advantage of their lower prices when fresh berry season ends.  I enjoy fresh organic produce when I can eat it the same day it is harvested.  The flavors are so delicious and the textures are so delightful….but today, after berry season has passed, I simply heated some frozen berries and let those sweeten my oats.  I added a touch of real cinnamon (most  “cinnamon”sold in the US is not actually cinnamon, but instead, the ground up bark from a tree that is related to the cinnamon tree.  The fake stuff is ok, but it does not have the same nutritional benefits as the real deal.)    Yum-o!  It was goooood!!

So with that….I return to my regularly scheduled work…work…work…!    Have a great day, everyone.  🙂

ObamaCare – Are you a doubting Thomas?

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I am STILL hearing whining about ObamaCare….yet every time I do, it is from someone that is ill-informed about the Affordable Care Act’s benefits.  Here is a comprehensive list of ways in which ObamaCare is helping Americans….and it is just going to get better from here.  Each point is linked to substantiation.

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Benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare):

  1. Prevents denial of coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
  2. Adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ health plans.
  3. Requires new health plans to provide  free preventive care  without cost-sharing such as co-pays or deductibles. HHS issued interim final regulations on preventive services and amendment to the final regulations.
  4. Prohibits rescinding coverage making it illegal.
  5. Prohibits lifetime limits on the dollar value of insurance coverage.
  6. Prohibits annual limits on insurance coverage.
  7. More options to appeal coverage decisions.
  8. Provides $5 billion in immediate federal support to affordable Coverage for the Uninsured with Pre-existing Conditions.
  9. Provides a $10 billion investment in Community Health Centers to expand medical services.
  10. Create immediate access to re-insurance for employer health plans providing coverage for early retirees over age 55 who are not eligible for Medicare.
  11. Implemented a process that requires states to review insurance companies premium increases. The final rule for the insurance rate review program was published in the Federal Register on May 19, 2011 .
  12. Provided grants worth almost $250 million ($46 million and $199 million) to assist States enforce the insurance rate review program.
  13. Provides tax credits or grants to employers with 250 or fewer employees for up to 50% of the investments costs in projects that qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project. About a $1 billion in tax credits and grants have been provided by end of 2010.
  14. Appropriated $5 billion for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 and $2 billion for each of the subsequent five fiscal years to support prevention and public health programs.
  15. Provides a $250 rebate to 750,000 Medicare Beneficiaries who reach the Part D coverage gap in 2010. As of March 22, 2011, 3.8 million beneficiaries had received a $250 check to close the coverage gap, according to an HHS report.
  16. Requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide a 50% discount on brand-name prescriptions and a 7% and 14% generic drug discount (in 2011 and 2012, respectively) filled in the Medicare Part D coverage gap.
  17. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees will get tax credits covering up to 35% of employee premiums effective 2011 and a 50% tax credit effective 2013.
  18. Creates a state option to provide Medicaid coverage to childless adults with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level. By 2014, States are required to provide this coverage.
  19. Provides a 10% Medicare bonus payment for primary care services and to general surgeons practicing in health professional shortage areas.
  20. Requires insurance companies spend at least 80 to 85 percent of the proportion of thepremium dollars on clinical services and issue a rebate if the share of the premium spent is less than the threshold.
  21. Creates a temporary program to provide health coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months.
  22. Imposes a tax of 10% on the amount paid for indoor tanning services.
  23. Expands eligibility for the 340(B) drug discount program to sole-community hospitals, critical access hospitals, certain children’s hospitals, and other entities with a savings estimated to be 20% to 50% on the cost of pharmaceuticals and reaching more eligible patients while providing more comprehensive services.
  24. Eliminates cost-sharing for Medicare-covered preventive services that are recommended (rated A or B) by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.As of October 6, 2011, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that 20.5 million people had participated in the free Annual Wellness Visit.
  25. Provides 3-year grants worth $100 million to states to develop programs for Medicaid enrollees with incentives to participate in comprehensive health lifestyle programs.
  26. Awarded $185 million worth of grants as of August 2011 to states to begin planning for the establishment of American Health Benefit Exchanges and Small Business Health Options Program Exchanges, which facilitate the purchase of insurance by individuals and small employers.
  27. Requires disclosure of the nutritional content of standard menu items at chain restaurants and food sold from vending machines.
  28. Imposes new annual fees on the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector. The sector will be assessed at the following rates$2.8 billion in 2012 through 2013, $3 billion in 2014 through 2016, $4 billion in 2017, $4.1 billion in 2018 and $2.8 billion in 2019 and after

Day #14 – EDIBLE

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Photo a Day – JULY

Day #14 – Edible

© Stacy Alexander, 2013

Walking with the Wise…..Avoiding Toxic Relationships and Being Healthy

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There is a proverb that goes something like this:  ” Become wise by walking with the wise”    Hang out with fools and watch your life shatter into  pieces.  This is what I keep telling a friend who is struggling with life right now.  This friend is in a toxic relationship that has caused  her own career to plummet into the nadir of despair, and that has caused her personal life to be reduced to a pathetic existence.  Absolutely pathetic.  She is living an existence that she never would have envisioned for herself.  Not ever.  I have known this woman for more than 20 years, and she is almost unrecognizable at this point in her life.   Her partner has imposed an emotional noose around her neck, even to the point of dictating her religious beliefs.

These relationships begin in an exciting way….and usually with great sex.  At the time, there seems to be lots of passion. Big highs. But also lows. This drama cycle can easily be mistaken for True Love. A deep connection. Intense intimacy.  It isn’t.  The intensity comes from deception, in most cases.  Someone has a need and will put whatever strings it takes to fill that need, even if it means playing a fake “passionate sex” card temporarily….but as the relationship becomes toxic, so does the sex life.  In many cases, it dwindles down to nothing, or when it occurs, it is just bad.  Of course, in any relationship, there are things that are black and white and there are grey areas.  This is a given.   However, when one person begins to try to control the other, the beginning of a toxic relationship is born.  Everything goes downhill from there.

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People can be health conscious and read labels, eat nutritious foods, make their environments as safe and healthful as possible, but if they are involved in toxic relationships, their health is going to fail as much as it would if they ate junk food every day of their lives.  Creating a toxic internal environment for oneself is tantamount to inviting depression, stress, anxiety and even heart problems into one’s life with open arms.  Being in a toxic relationship invites problems, not only including the events that transpire from day-to-day, but also ones that can end up literally killing that person.

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A long term study that looked at the adverse affects of living in unhappy relationships found a distinct correlation between toxic relationships and heart disease.  The 1985 study followed a group of more than 10,000 participants for an average of 12.2 years. Participants consisted of both men and women and ranged in age from 35 – 55 years old. Researchers controlled for psychosocial factors (depression, anxiety, worry, stress) as well as lifestyle, social demographics (age, marital status, sex, employment status,) and biological factors (high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and cholesterol levels).  Researchers only evaluated the relationships which were identified as being the closest by the participants.

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The overall, study results suggested that participants whose closest personal relationship was negative were at a greater risk of a cardiac event, including a fatal cardiac event, than their counterparts whose close relationships were not negative.   In other words, toxic relationships can be toxic to our heart health.  A good way to tell is this….Look at your life when you first started a relationship.  If you are a doctor, was your practice thriving?  If you are an artist, were you getting lots of shows?  Did you have steady work?  If you are a teacher, were you involved with many colleagues, working on projects, thriving on the job?  NOW look at your life.  Are you failing, not only in your career…but also in your personal life?

I pray for my friend’s heart.  It is a good heart.

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