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Updated: 2 hours 24 min ago

How To Survive A Flash Flood In Your Car

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 13:21

Since flood season is upon us, and it’s “unprecedented” this year, it could be helpful to learn how to gain some knowledge and learn to survive a flash flood.  If you get caught in your car in a flash flood, knowing the proper steps to take could save your life and the lives of anyone else stuck in the vehicle.

Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in the United States. Already this year, record-breaking floods have devastated farmlands across the country destroying crops and land. Some of the floods have even swept vehicles away with people trapped inside. Sometimes it’s easy to see the water raging, but other times it looks calm enough to drive right through. But either way, you should be prepared and know what you should do in order to save your own life if you get caught in a flash flood.

The first thing you will want to note is the difference between a flood “watch” and “warning”:

  • flood watch means a flood is possible in your area.
  • flood warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon—and you should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

Jim Douglas, an instructor with Raven Rescue, toldTODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen that “not even a foot” of water is enough to make a car float. And SUVs and 4x4s are not immune: “Those big tires will make a truck float even easier,” Douglas said. “They are like big buoys. They’ll float even faster.”

The easiest to follow a piece of advice is simple and preventative in nature. Try to avoid anywhere that is flooded. Even if the water appears calm at the time, it can change in an instant!  If things do change quickly, you are not only endangering yourself, but you are putting those who come to rescue you and the others in your vehicle in danger as well.

Another reason to avoid flood waters is that often, the water is contaminated. In the aftermath of Hurrican Harvey, the flood waters actually help flesh-eating bacteria that infected some who had waded through the waters. But it isn’t just dangerous bacteria lingering in the waters. Gasoline, oil, or raw sewage may also be contaminating the flood waters. Additionally, water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and that could be deadly!

*NOTE: Even the mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals and possibly dangerous infectious bacteria. The mud should be avoided as well if at all possible.

If you do get caught in a flash flood, and you can get out of your vehicle before it is swept away, immediately move to higher ground. Be wary of seeking higher ground in flooded buildings, however. Those buildings could have sustained water damage that will make them incredibly unsafe and you won’t be any better off.

Never go back for your vehicle if you’ve abandoned it, as it could be swept away. Do not walk through moving water and keep children away from water. Six inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet. If you have no choice but to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving – like puddles that are standing still. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

If you cannot avoid getting swept up in the water and your car begins to float away, these following steps are critical to your survival:

  • Roll the window down the second the water rises.  It is the only way out of your vehicle. Climb out the window and
  • Get on the roof of the vehicle.
  • Stay low and hang on. Stay stable: A car can flip in 6 feet of water. “At least being on the roof you’ve got a fighting chance,” Douglas said. “If you are inside and that car flips over, you’ve got no chance.”

Knowing just how dangerous flood waters could be is a start toward staying safe. Avoidance is best and extreme caution should be exercised if venturing out knowingly into a flood. But knowing and understanding what to do in the event that the absolute worst happens and a flash flood sweeps away your car, will at least give you a chance at survival.

 

 

10 Best Vegetables for Urban Gardeners

Thu, 04/25/2019 - 06:42

When people envision a thriving vegetable garden, they often picture a pastoral scene, far out in the country behind a picket fence. Rarely does the first image that comes to mind appear as pots on a balcony, a collection of various-sized containers on a patio closely neighbored by other buildings, or a postage-stamp-sized backyard stuffed with plants in every little nook.

However, even in the city, if you have a little bit of outdoor space, you can grow some of your own food. The rewards are many!

Why Should You Grow Food in the City?

One of the greatest aspects of growing your own vegetables is knowing that you are growing food that is pesticide-free and high in nutrition.

That produce at the store isn’t nearly as nutritious (or tasty) as what you grow in your own backyard. Why? Because it’s harvested well before it’s actually ripe so that it can have a long enough shelf-life to reach your grocer’s location. The longer you can keep the vegetable on the vine or growing in the soil, the more nutrient-rich that vegetable will be. Vegetables start losing nutrients as soon as they’re harvested, and quality diminishes as natural sugars are turned into starches.

For the tastiest veggies with the best nutrition, try growing a few of these nutrient-dense foods in your own garden. Many of these superfoods can be grown in containers, so even if you don’t have a lot of garden space, you can still enjoy the thrills that gardening brings.

Never forget the positive effects of gardening on your mood – it’s nearly as important as the bounty you’ll bring in.  A bit of sunshine, green plants, the smell of the soil, and some fresh air on a daily basis is good for the soul, particularly if you spend most of your day roaming a concrete jungle.

Grow These 10 Veggies in Your Urban Garden

Some vegetables will work better in a small urban garden than others. All of the vegetables on this list were selected because they can be grown in containers or sown into the ground, depending on your situation.

1. Broccoli

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 31
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g

How to grow

Plant seeds in mid to late summer to be ready for the fall harvest.  Broccoli thrives in full sun and well‐drained soil.  This variety of broccoli has a tendency to give yields from side shoots past its first harvest and can handle light frost with no problem. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, as well as vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and B‐complex vitamins.

  • Start: For spring harvest, start indoors 4‐6 weeks before the last frost. For fall harvest, start indoors 2-3 months before the first frost. Transplant into your garden when the plants are 3″ tall and the root systems are established.
  • Plant: Sow seeds in ¼” soil. Plants prefer full sun with 15‐18” of space between each plant.
  • Harvest: 60‐90days

Container instructions:  If you are growing your broccoli in containers, be sure that it is at least 18-inch diameter and a minimum of 3 gallons in size. Broccoli requires a container with good drainage. Only put one plant in each container, as they require lots of room to grow.  Use a light soil.

2. Peas

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 118
  • Fat: 0.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Protein: 8 g

How to grow

This is a winter loving plant that is resistant to frost, and one of the easiest vegetables to grow.  Sweet peas are a good source of protein, fiber and provide 8 different vitamins including vitamin A, B6, and K.

  • Start: 3-4 weeks before your last frost date. Peas prefer to be cool and can germinate in temperatures as low as 45 degrees. Seeds can be started indoors or sown directly into the soil.
  • Plant: Prefers to be planted in full sun in 1” deep soil, plant seeds 6” apart.  
  • Harvest: 50 days

Container instructions: Use the largest pot you can find, because peas like to spread out. Add a generous amount of peas to the pot, spread out evenly across the surface, then top it with another couple of inches of soil. If you use fertilizer, don’t use much, as the nitrogen can negatively affect your harvest. Keep the soil moist and locate it in full sun.  Be sure to have a trellis that the peas can climb for the most bountiful harvest.

3. Beans (especially navy beans, great northern beans, kidney beans)

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 245
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 45 g
  • Protein: 15 g

How to grow

Beans should be planted in the early summer.  Staggering your plantings will give continuous yields.  Beans are very high in fiber, and Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

  • Start: Outdoors once all danger of frost has passed
  • Plant: 2‐4 inches apart in full sun
  • Harvest: Beans are ready after 58 days. Pick when the plant is dry. Frequent picking encourages larger harvest.

Container instructions: Depending on the type of beans you are growing, you may require a trellis. Bush beans don’t require trellising or staking, which could make them a better choice for a container.  Choose a container that is at least 8-10 inches deep.  You can plant 9 seeds for every foot of surface space. Beans need plenty of water, particularly when they are in pots.

 4. Brussels sprouts

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 38
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Protein: 3 g

How to grow

Brussels sprouts are slow-growing plants that thrive in cool weather. In fact, Brussels sprouts that mature in hot weather will be bitter and unpleasant. They even continue to grow after a light frost, making them the perfect addition to your fall garden.

  • Start: Indoors at least 4-6 weeks before the last frost.
  • Plant: Transplant seedlings 12-24 inches apart. Brussels sprouts thrive in raised beds with well-fertilized soil. Mulch after a few weeks to help maintain adequate moisture at the roots.
  • Harvest: Harvest sprouts from the bottom once they reach about an inch in diameter.

Container instructions: To grow Brussels sprouts in a container, you need one that is at least 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep. Prepare the soil several days before planting by fertilizing it well, then soaking the soil until the water begins to drain out the bottom.  Plant only one per container. Move them out of the direct sun during the hottest part of the day.

 5. Tomatoes

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup (sliced or chopped)
  • Calories: 32
  • Fat: 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
  • Protein: 1.6 g

How to grow

Tomatoes can be planted in the early spring and then again, midsummer.  Tomatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, C, K, E, Potassium, thiamine, and Niacin.  As well, they supply antioxidants (including lycopene) that are powerful fighters of cancers, including colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumors.

  • Start: Start seeds indoors to give a head start. Transplant when full leaves have set. Harden young plants for 1‐2 weeks before permanently planting.
  • Plant: Plant seeds ¼ “‐1/2” deep. Once transferred to garden, space tomato plants 36” apart for optimum harvest. Tomatoes should be planted in full sun.
  • Harvest: 62‐100 days

Container instructions

Tomatoes require very large containers, at least 18 inches in diameter.  They need to be deep and well-drained to allow the plant to develop a hardy root system.  Keep the soil consistently moist, but not wet. Provide support for the tomato plants in the form of a cage or stakes.  Add diluted liquid fertilizer every two weeks, and keep the plants in full sun.

6. Bell peppers

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 46
  • Fat: 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g
  • Protein: 1.5 g

How to grow

Peppers should be planted after the last frost.  The more peppers that are harvested, the more the plant will produce.

  • Start: Indoors, 4‐6 weeks before the last frost
  • Plant: After all danger of frost has passed, move seedlings outdoors and plant in full sun, 15-20 inches apart.
  • Harvest: Peppers are ripe after 75 days. You can pick them when they’re still green or allow them to ripen to red.

Container instructions: Choose a pot that is at least 16 inches deep, with good drainage.  Water well-fertilized soil and allow it to drain thoroughly before planting.  Plant your pepper seedlings in full sun, turning the pot on a regular basis to keep them growing straight. You may need to stake your plants due to the weight of the peppers.

 7. Beets

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 59
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Protein: 2.2 g

How to grow

Both the leafy green tops and the tuberous root are edible and provide abundant nutrients.  Beets are a high source of fiber, folates, vitamin C, carotenoids, B complex vitamins, and potassium.  Beets are small plants with large dark‐green leaves.

  • Start: Seeds can be started indoors or directly sown as soon as the ground can be worked. For more successful germination, soak seeds overnight in a damp towel before planting.
  • Plant: Early spring or midsummer. Plant beet seeds in 1/2’” deep soil, 1” apart and thin weakest seedlings to the desired spacing.  Keep soil evenly moist to prevent beetroots from getting woody.  For a longer harvest, stagger beet plantings every 2‐3weeks.
  • Harvest: 60 days. If not harvested on time, it continues to grow, develops cracks and becomes unappetizing because it develops an overly fibrous consistency.

Container instructions: Choose a pot that is at least 6 inches deep. Be sure that it has excellent drainage since beets do not do well in soggy soil.  Too much nitrogen in your soil will result in huge, luxuriant leaves at the top, and not much development in the roots. Water only at the base of the plant to help prevent disease and pests.

8.  Salad greens

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 5
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Protein: 0.5 g

How to grow

Lettuce is an ideal urban garden plant. In fact, you don’t even have to have outdoor space to grow it – a warm, sunny windowsill will provide you with all the salad greens you need. Succession planting ensures you’ll have salad greens throughout the season.

  • Start: Sow seeds directly into the soil. Stagger plantings every 2-3 weeks.
  • Plant: Plant seeds at a depth of ½” and 6‐8 inches apart, in full or partial sun, and the cooler temperatures of spring or fall.
  • Harvest: 39-45 days. depending on the specific lettuce

Container instructions:  Choose a pot that is 6-12 inches in diameter with excellent drainage.  Too much water at the roots will cause rot. This being said, lettuce is more than 90% water, so frequent shallow watering is vital. As lettuce grows, cut the outside leaves to enjoy while allowing the inside leaves to continue growing, for a cut-and-come-again harvest.

9. Carrots

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup of slices
  • Calories: 50
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 12 h
  • Protein: 1.1 g

How to grow

Carrots prefer cooler weather and should be grown in the fall, winter and early spring.  They are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Smaller carrots have a sweeter flavor, so harvest early.

  • Start: Outdoors, after danger of frost
  • Plant: In full sun, 3 seeds per inch.  Thin seedlings to 2‐3 inches apart when they are 1‐2inches high – don’t overwater
  • Harvest: Carrots are ready in about 73 days

Container instructions: Since carrots are root vegetables, you will want to choose a container based on depth.  A great and inexpensive way to grow carrots is in the holes in cement blocks. Plant carrots in a lightweight soil medium that drains well. They require very regular watering when planted in containers. Mulch them to maintain moisture and keep down weeds.

10. Dark greens

Nutrition Info

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 33
  • Fat: 0.6 g
  • Carbohydrates 6 g
  • Protein: 2.9 g

How to grow

Greens like Swiss chard, spinach, and kale are easy to grow.  They can be planted 2‐3 weeks before the last frost and individual leaves can be harvested throughout the growing cycle, for a “cut-and-come-again” harvest.

  • Start: Sow seeds directly into the soil at a depth of ½” and 6‐8 inches apart.
  • Plant: Prefer full or partial sun and the cooler temperatures of spring or fall.
  • Harvest: 50‐60 days. depending on the green

Container instructions: Choose a pot that is at least 6 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter. On a hot day, move your pots of greens to the shade.  These greens are sweeter and less bitter when grown in cooler weather.

What are you waiting for?

If it isn’t planting time, it’s planning time! In the off-season, you can often acquire pots, amendments, and seeds. Decide well ahead of time what you intend to plant, and mark important dates on your calendar:

  • First frost
  • Last frost
  • Dates for starting different varieties of seeds
  • Dates for sowing seeds directly into the soil
  • Dates for transplanting seedlings outdoors
  • Approximate harvest dates

Before you know it, your urban oasis will be bursting with wholesome produce and you’ll wonder why you waited so long to start growing your own food.

 

What You Need to Know About Herbal Tinctures and How to Use Them

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:30

The use of plants for healing purposes goes back centuries and forms the origin of much of modern medicine. While natural remedies have always widely been in use, their popularity is increasing as people seek safer, more gentle alternatives to pharmaceutical medications.

If you are looking for an easy way to reap the benefits of medicinal plants, take a look at herbal tinctures.

What are herbal tinctures?

A tincture is a concentrated liquid herbal extract made from herbs that are taken orally.

Tinctures are typically made by soaking herbs in alcohol for several weeks to extract the active components (phytochemicals) of the plants. After a few weeks, the herbal mixture is strained and the herb parts are removed, leaving behind the concentrated liquid. Alcohol is used because it is an excellent food-grade solvent and can extract herbal constituents (such as resins and alkaloids) that are poorly soluble in water. Another benefit of using alcohol as a solvent is that it is an excellent preservative that retains the freshness and potency of medicinal plants and greatly increases the shelf life of the tincture. Don’t worry – you won’t get intoxicated from the alcohol in tinctures.

Fresh or dried leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and berries may be used to make tinctures. They can be made from a single plant or a combination of plants.

How do herbal tinctures work?

Tinctures bypass the need to digest entire herbs in the gut and are easily absorbed by the body. Because they are concentrated, dosages are small and can be diluted in your favorite beverage.

They are commonly made with the same plants as herbal teas, but tinctures are much stronger – a dropper of tincture is more potent than a cup of steeped tea. In fact, you can add Ready Nutrition tinctures to tea if you’d like.

Tinctures have a milder, more subtle effect than pharmaceutical drugs, so it is important to have realistic expectations if you are using them for a chronic condition. Some tinctures DO provide rapid relief of symptoms, but most do not offer a quick fix.

Some experimentation with dosages and frequency might be necessary to figure out what works best for you. Natural medicines like tinctures can be very effective and do have a long history of successful use, so be patient and consistent, and remember to make additional lifestyle changes to support good health and healing as well.

Here’s how to use herbal tinctures.

Tinctures can be taken straight or mixed with hot tea, water, or another beverage you enjoy. When mixed with hot tea, some of the alcohol content is “burned off” (without impacting the effectiveness of the herbs), which some people find more palatable.

Some herbalists recommend taking tinctures on an empty stomach, but that isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. While some natural remedies (like CBD oils) are often taken sublingually (drops are placed under the tongue), herbalists generally don’t recommend taking tinctures that way because the alcohol may cause an unpleasant burning sensation.

Tincture bottles come with a dropper you can use to measure your dosage and drop it into your tea or beverage of choice.

There’s a wide range of health concerns that tinctures can help manage.

Remember that with natural remedies, more isn’t always better. Follow the suggested dosage guidelines on your bottle’s label. If you have questions about which dosage is right for you, seek guidance from a trained professional.

Ready Nutrition is proud to offer the following high-quality organic tinctures.

California Chill: This tincture is made with California Poppy (Eschscholizia Californica), a non-narcotic natural sedative that is non-addictive and not habit forming. Safely relieve nervous tension, occasional anxiety, irritability, racing thoughts, and restless behavior caused by everyday stress.

Lomatium Root Organic Herbal Tincture for Cold & Flu Season: Stimulates the body’s own natural defenses to support healthy immune system response. This tincture can be taken daily during cold and flu season to support immune system function and protect the body during periods of heightened stress.

Woman’s Formula Organic Herbal Tincture: This proprietary blend is made using a combination of plant-derived medicines that gently relieve hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, periodic mood swings, and daytime fatigue.

Black Currant Organic Herbal Tincture for Joint Inflammation & Joint Pain: This formula activates the body’s own natural defenses to reduce inflammation in the body. Relieve inflammation that causes painful, swollen joints and promote greater joint health and joint mobility.

St. John’s Wort Organic Herbal Tincture for Mood Balance & Positive Outlook: This tincture is a neurotransmitter modulator that increases serotonin levels in the brain through a process called natural reuptake inhibition. Boost mood, promote a positive mood balance, improve day-to-day outlook, and increase daytime energy levels.

Corydalis Organic Herbal Tincture for Gentle Temporary Pain Relief: Stimulates immune system function and activates the body’s own natural defenses to reduce inflammation and temporarily relieve pain. Alleviate minor body ache, muscle strain, and tension headache w/ plant-derived medicine.

Valerian Root Organic Herbal Tincture for Total Body Deep Relaxation: This tincture is made using one of the most powerful plant-based sedatives that nature has to offer. Relieve occasional anxiety or panic attack, restless behavior, racing thoughts, nervous stomach, trouble sleeping, headache, and muscle spasms.

Damiana Organic Herbal Tincture Female Aphrodisiac for Sex Drive: Strengthens and tones the female reproductive system, promotes healthy female sex hormone levels, boosts sex drive, and increases sexual appetite.

Saw Palmetto Organic Herbal Tincture: Supports men’s sexual health w/ clinically proven plant-derived medicines. Strengthen and tone the male reproductive system, promote healthy levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, and improve sex drive naturally.

Passion Flower Organic Herbal Tincture: This is a neurotransmitter modulator that acts on GABA-B receptor sites to slow down central nervous system activity, producing sedative effects. Relieve nervousness, nervous tension, occasional anxiety, restless or racing thoughts, hypervigilance, and trouble relaxing during the day.

Prostate Power Organic Herbal Tincture: This tincture is made using a combination of plant-derived medicines that support prostate and urinary tract health. Relieve difficult urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland caused by age-related conditions in healthy men.

Rapid Detoxifier Organic Herbal Tincture for Fast-Acting Hangover Headache & Migraine Relief: helps the body to quickly rid itself of toxins by stimulating the liver and digestive tract. Relieve hangover headache or migraine, dizziness, nausea, stomach irritation, indigestion, or vomiting caused by an excess of toxins in the body.

Stress Relief w/ Arctic Root: is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the body — inside and out — so you are always ready to face everyday stress with your best foot forward. Stimulate immune system function to shorten physical and mental recovery periods, support a healthy neurotransmitter balance to improve mood, and boost cognitive functions like mental sharpness and memory so you get more done in less time.

Be well!

 

 

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or ailment. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the creation or use of herbal tinctures. A person should speak to their doctor before using a tincture or any other herbal supplement, especially if they take medications.

Maximizing Your Food Pantry: 16 Healthy Ways To Use Dried Oats

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 14:00

Oats are a popular pantry staple, and for good reason: They are affordable, easy to store, and versatile. Packed with protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamine, iron, and beta-glucan (which may help regulate blood sugar), oats are a true nutritional powerhouse. They also have been shown to reduce harmful cholesterol levels and may even boost the immune system.

They are commonly used in oatmeal, baked goods, and granola, but did you know oats can be used for everything from homemade non-dairy milk to pizza crusts to soothing itchy skin?

Here’s how to use all those oats sitting in your pantry.

1. Thickener for soups and stews: Stir a tablespoon or two of oats or oat flour into your soup, stew, or chili after it has been cooked and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened. Alternatively, oats can be ground in a blender to make a natural protein powder to add to smoothies.

2. Binder for burgers: This works for regular burgers and veggie burgers. After you have made your burger base, toss in a handful of oats to add a great texture and a bit of binding power to the burgers. The oats help “set” the burgers as they cook, making them more tender and less crumbly.

3. Vegetarian oatmeal Patties: These patties contain oatmeal blended with broccoli, carrots, egg, and garlic, but other vegetables like asparagus and green beans work well in them, too. Get the recipe here: Vegetarian Oatmeal Patties

4, Use as breadcrumbs: Replace regular breadcrumbs with oats in just about any recipe.

5. Oat flour: Blend oats in a food processor until you have flour of your preferred fineness. This is used in place of regular flour in most recipes.

6. Oat milk: This recipe is from The Prepper’s Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons rolled oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ quarts filtered water
  • Optional: sweetened coconut, agave nectar, or sugar for sweetening
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Place the oats, salt, water, and desired sweetener in a pitcher. Stir until mixed.
  2. Allow mixture to soak in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. After the mixture has soaked overnight, pour the contents of the pitcher into the blender and blend.
  4. Pour contents of the blender into a fine mesh sieve that is placed over a large bowl, and strain it thoroughly. Strain again if needed. The leftover strained oats can be cooked and used for oatmeal or used in baking recipes.
  5. Add Vanilla and stir.
  6. Chill and shake before use. Oat milk lasts up to 5 days.

7. Pizza crust: Yes, you can make a pizza crust with oats, believe it or not. Check out this simple recipe: Oatmeal Pizza Crust with 3 Ingredients

8. Fruit Pizza: Speaking of pizza, try this tasty (and healthy) dessert recipe: Healthy Fruit Pizza with Oatmeal Cookie Crust

9. Pie and cheesecake crusts: Oats can be used in place of crushed graham crackers in cheesecake and pie crusts. Mix about 1 cup of oats with 3 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil and press into your pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Or, sprinkle some toasted oats on the bottom of a pie pan and pour the cheesecake batter right on top and bake as directed.

10. Fast oatmeal mixes: Follow these basic instructions and add your choice of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds – Instant Oatmeal Mix. Try adding any of the following to oatmeal – chia, flax, berries, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, dark chocolate, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon.

11. Savory Spanish oatmeal: This unique oatmeal recipe has some kick to it – there’s garlic, roasted red peppers, tomato, paprika, and cayenne in there! Click here for the recipe: Savory Spanish oatmeal

12. Oat Rolls: This recipe is from The Prepper’s Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups water, divided
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 4-6 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring 2 of the cups of water to a boil. Stir in the oats and reduce the heat to a simmer until oats are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool until it reaches 110 degrees F.
  2. Stir in remaining ½ cup of water and the brown sugar, butter, and salt. Stir in the yeast. Let rest for 15 minutes and then stir in flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix until all the flour has been absorbed and the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour, then punch down.
  4. Shape the dough into rolls on a greased baking sheet and cover, allowing to rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place until it begins to rise again.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the rolls have risen, bake them for 15-20 minutes.

13. Protein bars: Many of the protein bars on the market today contain some obscure and downright disgusting ingredients. And, some of the grains used in making bars may be genetically modified. Store bought protein bars are often exorbitantly priced, making the little nutrition they do offer not really worth the high price tag. Try this easy recipe instead: Four Ingredient Protein Bars.

14. Granola: Instead of buying granola mix at the store, try these two recipes: Crunchy Cran-Delight Granola and Homemade Granola.

Bonus: Non-edible things to do with oats

15. Soothe itchy, dry, inflamed skin: Oatmeal has long been used as a home remedy for irritated skin. To use oatmeal in a bath, put a half cup in an old sock. Tie a knot in the top of the sock. While you are filling the tub with warm (not hot) water, hold the sock under the water and squeeze it often.

16. Exfoliate: Make a scrub with oats, warm water, and coconut oil. Use as needed to smooth your skin.

What do You use oats for?

Have you found any unique ways to use oats? Please share your ideas in the comments!

 

Hidden in Plain Sight: How To Make a Tactical Hideaway

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 06:23

Home defense is a concern for many. And who wouldn’t be? 2,000,000 home burglaries are reported each year in the United States. More interesting, is that the average burglary takes 10 minutes and the stolen property amounts to over $2,000 in stolen property.

According to one home security website, “most people don’t hide their valuable items carefully, and burglars know it. Once they break in, burglars head straight for the master bedroom, where they scavenge through dresser drawers and nightstands, look under mattresses, and search closets. Cash, jewelry, and weapons are some of the things a burglar wants most from your home.”

Safety concealment systems are an easy way to remedy this. Not only can you hide firearms in easy-to-access locations in the home, but you can also hide valuables and make it more difficult for burglars to steal your property.

What is a concealment system or a tactical hideaway? Essentially, it is a floating shelf with a secret compartment to conceal hidden items. These are especially helpful from a home security standpoint because valuables and/or self-protection items are hidden in the open and would not attract attention. Some other items that you could hide away are:

  • spare keys
  • valuables
  • jewelry
  • cash
  • passports/documentation

While pre-assembled concealment shelves like this one run anywhere from $100-$400, you can easily make one for a fraction of the cost and add a more decorative look.

What You Will Need For This Project:
  • 4 ft. length of 1″x2″ common board
  • 1/4″ x 1″ hardwood emboss rope
  • 4″ ft. length of 4-1/2″ hardwood emboss crown molding
  • 12″ chop saw
How To Make a Tactical Hideaway

“Unprecedented” Flood Season: How To Know If Your Home Has Water Damage

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 14:56

Across large swaths of the United States, people are deeply entrenched in an unprecedented flood season.  From bomb cyclones to the complete annihilation of farmland and crops across the nations, Americans are experiencing one of the worst flood seasons in history.

According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association), this year is “unprecedented” when it comes to flooding. “The extensive flooding we’ve seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream. This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities,” writes Ed Clark, the director of NOAA’s National Water Center.

This warning comes as farmers suffer the massive loss of land and crops due to the floods. Because of this, we thought it would be beneficial to put together a guide that will help you determine whether or not your home has water damage, and what you can do about it. Water damage is a serious hazard and happens far more often than most people think. It can strike a home at any time, resulting from any number of different problems, leaving the homeowner unsure of where to turn for water extraction and restoration.  Water damage can cause structural damage which can continue to worsen over time if not properly treated.

Property damage resulting from water and leaks is the third most common cause of homeowner loss. Water damage alone caused $9.1 billion in homeowner property losses from 2007 to 2009. The American Insurance Association (AIA) states that “water damage claims have been growing faster than other components of homeowners insurance.” About 14,000 Americans experience damages due to water and leaks every single day.

Many of these accidents could have been prevented, up to 93% according to the AIA, and most water damage occurs because leaks that were slow and gradual turned into a bigger problem seemingly overnight. The quicker you are able to spot water damage and repair it, the less impact it will have on your finances. Time is of the essence when it comes to homes damaged by water. Instead of living in fear, know the signs so you can stay on top of problems water can cause to your home!

Tell-Tale Signs To Look For

There are a few tell-tale signs that will alert you should your home have water damage.  You will want to be on the lookout for:

  • Dark or wet spots on the wall or ceiling – These spots indicate a leak of some kind and it would be beneficial to find the source of the water and prevent further damage to your home
  • Drywall that begins to flake or crack – Again, the drywall will need to be replaced, but you will first need to find where the water doing the damage is coming from
  • Wet spots, drips or puddles around your pipes, sinks, toilets, taps, etc.
  • A damp, musty or moldy smell that suddenly appears; there could also be a sewage smell coming from any plumbing fixtures
  • Hearing water running even when all the fixtures are turned off
  • Suddenly feeling unusual dampness or humidity in the home
  • If you are not on a well and use city water, check your bill every month. An unusually high water bill could be a sign that you have a leak in a pipe somewhere.

If you are unable to find the source of the water after determining you’ve got some damage, immediately call someone for help. Find a business that specializes in water damage and fixing it, and the sooner you can get them to your home, the better!

Water damage can quickly worsen and become a mold problem if not corrected as soon as possible.  That will certainly ratchet up the cost of repairs and could end up making your family sick being inside a home with mold.  Some mold can also be lethal, so it is of the utmost importance that you take the initiative and spot any damage as soon as possible!

 

California Chill: Lower Your Stress, Improve Sleep, Reduce Feelings Of Anxiousness

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 00:11

As humans drift toward a more holistic and natural approach to health and wellness, herbal tinctures grab some of the spotlights. And as stress becomes a bigger concern for so many, Ready Nutrition’s “California Chill” can provide some much-needed calm in our ever stressful lives.

Herbal tinctures have increased in popularity lately due to their effectiveness and natural, homeopathic approach to wellness.  Tinctures are a concentrated liquid form of one or more herbs and made by soaking parts of an herb for several weeks in alcohol or vinegar to draw out concentrated levels of the active medicinal properties of the herb.  Alcohol is often the liquid of choice, though, as it can extract components, such as resins and alkaloids, that are not water-soluble. And Ready Nutrition’s California Chill is made in the same manner.

The herb in California Chill is the California poppy or,  Eschscholzia californica. Well known for its beautiful orange color, the California poppy is native to California and other places on the West Coast where water is readily available. California poppy seeds, which will germinate after the first fall rains, are very easy to grow, as they only need to be sown no more than about a quarter-inch deep in the fall or early spring (in mild, wet winter climates).

Regarded as a highly effective stress reducer, bringing calmness and serenity to its users. The California poppy, which is also the state flower of the Golden State, is used for supporting those who have problems sleeping, such as problems sleeping, aches, nervous agitation, and temporary anxiety. It is also used to promote relaxation and is stress reducing. The main chemical components of the California poppy can cause sleepiness and aid with depression.

The major health properties of this herb are sedative, analgesic, and antispasmodic in action.

The main active ingredients in the California poppy are alkaloids such as chelirubine, sanguinarine, and macarpine. There are other alkaloids present, although they minor by comparison. This herb has a natural and gentle effect on the human body.  And don’t worry – while the California poppy herb contains some alkaloids that act as sedatives, it does not contain any opium and is only distantly related to the opium poppy. Further, California Chill Organic Herbal Tincture is made with a non-narcotic natural sedative that is non-addictive and not habit forming

When it’s made as a tincture, such as Ready Nutrition’s California Chill, the California poppy herb is also widely used for its antimicrobial properties when applied externally to cuts and scrapes and other inflammatory skin ailments.

Herbal tinctures are incredibly easy to use too! Simply take one or two dropper fulls every four to six hours, or take as needed. Drop desired amount into warm water, tea, or your favorite beverage.

The California poppy and Ready Nutrition’s California Chill are fairly safe to use. The plant itself is also considered child safe and based on normal intake levels there are no known side effects from using this herb in either powder form or a tincture. However, the use of the California poppy is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

 

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or ailment. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the creation or use of herbal tinctures. A person should speak to their doctor before using a tincture or any other herbal supplement, especially if they take medications.

 

 

Study Suggests Doctors Prescribe ‘Food as Medicine’

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 05:36

A new study suggests that doctors return to more natural and holistic roots by prescribing healthy foods and an improved diet for some Americans.  Long stuck in a culture where unhealthy diets and chemical-laden foods have become normal, many doctors are now breaking the mold – but it’s good and bad at the same time.

Those doctors who choose to prescribe a healthy diet feel that simply improving the quality of the foods a person eats could save the healthcare industry billions of dollars. Although this is far from a new concept, it is nice to see Western medicine doctors try something new instead of jumping to prescribe the latest and greatest Big Pharma pill loaded with side effects.  These pill prescriptions also come at a time when a patient is already sick while prescribing a healthy diet could prevent major costs down the road.  In an effort to stop a preventable disease before it starts, some researchers and medical professionals are pushing for programs that would let doctors prescribe healthy foods and force insurers to cover those foods. This would inevitably lead to a change in eating habits that could help patients shift to a health-promoting diet from a disease-causing one, the researchers have claimed.

Related article: 19 Foods That Eat the Stress Away

According to Popular Science, these types of healthy eating programs work. Subsidizing fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods under Medicare and Medicaid could prevent millions of cases, as well as the deaths associated from cardiovascular disease, according to a new model. It would prevent hundreds of thousands of diabetes cases, as well, and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs.

“The power of food as medicine is increasingly clear,” said the study’s author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. The idea of treating food (which is the nourishment we all need to survive) as a key element of healthcare is catching on across the healthcare industry, says Rita Nguyen, Medical Director of Healthy Food Initiatives at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. “People are recognizing the common sense of it all,” she says. “We spend so much on healthcare, and our outcomes are abysmal. We don’t invest in prevention.” And many are now saying a switch to healthier eating habits is all that’s needed to improve your chances of well-being.

Of course, it isn’t nearly as fun to eat a kale salad as it is to chow down on a bacon cheeseburger, but those more health conscious people who make better decisions when it comes to what they eat tend to be healthier and spend less money on medical care overall. They also tend to live longer than their junk food addict friends. But there is one caveat.  The prescription is actually paid for by the taxpayer in the form of food subsidies.

The study team found that subsidizing fruits and vegetables would prevent 1.93 million cardiovascular events, like heart attacks, and 350,000 deaths from the conditions. It could also prevent 620,000 deaths, and 120,000 cases of diabetes. The fruits and vegetables program would save taxpayers nearly $40 billion in healthcare costs, and the addition of other healthy foods would save over $100 billion. Doctors admit that there would be a cost burden, but it would be offset by those on taxpayer-funded healthcare programs becoming much healthier.

“It costs money, but most of that is offset by lower healthcare costs,” Mozaffarian says. “When you look at the cost per year of life saved, all of the interventions were extremely cost-effective.” It’s just as cost-effective, he says, as paying for drugs to prevent high blood pressure. “So many of us want health insurance companies to recognize the value of food,” Nguyen says. “It’s not because we’re ‘bleeding heart liberals.’ It’s based on the science. When you give people food, and healthy food, it saves money.”

But without any kind of nutritional education, the program may be doomed.  Just paying for another person’s vegetables does not mean they will eat them. It could be a cost that won’t pay off in the end. According to Popular Science, however, there are studies underway about the efficacy of a program such as this one. A $6 million study in California is providing “medically tailored” meals to patients. Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill included $25 million in funding for produce prescription pilot studies. “These ‘food as medicine’ approaches are gaining real traction,” Mozaffarian says. “If pilot studies are implemented and work, there’s a very real chance you could in the near future go to the doctor, a doctor could write a prescription for food, and an insurance company will pay for part.”

Access to healthcare isn’t the main concern for the researchers who conducted this study and it appears that many doctors now seem to be interested in finally treating the actual problem rather than controlling the symptoms of a disease. This is both good and bad.  It could lead to less choice, which is fundamentally vital to human beings mental state, but it could lower the costs of caring for those who are already using government welfare to buy food and see a doctor.

When your health is your problem and the costs of damaging your body are on you and not your neighbor (in the form of welfare like food stamps, Medicaid, and other forms of welfare) you will take care of yourself.  When it doesn’t matter how unhealthy you are because someone else will foot the bill, the system is already designed to fail.  It doesn’t look like that was taken into consideration when conducting this study, and human nature should have been accounted for. Obviously, there are good and bad things about the outcome of the study.

But does the good outweigh the bad?

 

 

Simple Ways To Beat Technology: Don’t Let Your Smartphone Steal Your Health!

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 06:56

We live in the golden age of technology, whether we want to or not.  And because of the need or desire to have a smartphone and keep it on your person at all times, there are things we can to that will boost our “technology health.”

In 2018, 95% of Americans said they owned a cellphone of some kind while a whopping 77% of Americans said they owned a smartphone.  That’s up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011. Smartphones are used for everything anymore.  They have become our maps and weather sources.  They are a reprieve from our daily lives and a way to stay connected in a world that is both increasingly interconnected and distant at the same time.

But because of this phenomena, our phones can also have an impact on our health and it is rarely for the better. Infectious germs, poor eyesight, eye strain, and muscle strains can all be some of the negative side effects of using a phone for a long period of time.  Often, a complete technology detox is what is needed. But when that won’t due, try these tips for help with common technology health problems

MUSCLE STRAIN

If you find yourself staring at your phone for long periods of time, try to take breaks every 20 or 30 minutes.  This will relieve the neck and shoulder muscles working hard to keep your head bent down. Consider rubbing your own muscles to relieve the tension and stretch out for a few minutes before returning to your phone. Muscle strain can lead to knots and spasms, as well as nerve pain that radiates down the back.  Take caution to keep your head up to provide minimal straining on the neck if you must look at your phone for a long time.  Some people are fine using their phone for hours on end, while others will definitely need to take breaks and soothe their sore muscles.

GERMS

Nasty germs lurk on the surface of smartphones. Most people don’t do anything to clean those infectious organisms off of their screen either! In fact, one study showed that smartphone screens harbor three times more germs than a toilet seat. Yikes! Researchers swabbed different phones to test for aerobic bacteria, yeast an, mold. The findings of the study showed that all areas of the smartphone” harbor at least some quantity of each type of organism.” E. coli was even found on some phones!

More than a third of people (35 %) have never cleaned their smartphones with wipes, a cleaning fluid or a similar product, according to the study done by Insurance2Go, a gadget insurance provider based in Portsmouth, England. Take the time to wipe off your smartphone now!  I know I did as soon as I had written this! With superbugs on the rise, it just makes sense.

EYESIGHT AND EYE STRAIN

Staring at any screen can strain the eyes and lead to poor vision. Scientists and doctors say that blue light is so dangerous because the lens and cornea of the eye cannot block it. Shorter wavelength blue light that is emitted by smartphones, lights, and computer, tablet, and TV screens causes damaging health effects. Exposure to this wavelength of light disrupts circadian rhythms and exposure to blue light after the sun goes down interferes with sleep.  Try wearing blue light glasses if you have to look at your phone (or if you work on a computer for long hours during the day).  I personally picked up some cheap blue light glasses on Amazon because staring at a computer screen for 9+ hours a day was heavily straining my eyes. These ones are inexpensive, yet offer protection from the dangers of the blue light.

Eyesight itself can be damaged too if you look at your smartphone long enough. This is also the fault of the blue light.  It is also one more good reason to protect your eyes with blue light glasses. According to the New York Post, researchers at the University of Toledo, in Ohio, have found that exposure to blue-light promotes the growth of “poisonous molecules” in your eyes, leading to macular degeneration. “It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina,” professor and study co-author Ajith Karunarathne said about the study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

I can’t even begin to describe how many times I’ve seen a person driving while typing away on their phone.  Some are in their own lane, while others are completely oblivious to the world around them as they travel at 55 mph down the highway. Texting while driving distracts you from what’s happening on the road and takes your eyes away from what you should be paying attention to. Texting while driving could actually hurt someone else too! It only takes a few seconds of inattention to lead to an accident. In 2015, nearly 3,500 people were killed and approximately 391,000 people were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers.

Put the phone in your purse and put the purse under your seat or even under the back seat out of your reach. Turn off the sound before getting in your car, or simply shut it off if you are one of those who can be tempted to check your email while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Making the phone difficult to get to will help prevent you from being distracted by it, and if you can’t hear it, you will have less of a desire to reach for it.  If you like to listen to the music on your phone while you drive, make sure your playlist is set up before you put the car in gear, and then turn off all notifications.  Limiting your distractions is just one way to keep yourself focused on the task of arriving safely to your destination.  Your family and friends will thank you!

While it seems like not much can be done to limit the use of smartphones, things can be done to mitigate the negative health effects of their use. Let us know your techniques for not allowing your smartphone and other technology to steal your health!

 

Drink To Your Health: 5 Ways Herbal Tea Benefits and Improves Your Health

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 11:19

I was first introduced to herbal teas while visiting my soon-to-be mother-in-law for the first time. It was a blustery winter day and we were all sitting around a table when she kindly offered me a cup of hot herbal tea. It was perfect – warm, sweet, and my body immediately felt the effects. Since then, my family drinks custom-blended herbal teas to boost our immune system, treat an ailment, or to help to relax and fall asleep. No matter what the season, herbal teas are wonderous – and in this case, Momma does know best!

After years of enjoying immune-boosting teas, I found there were teas for other ailments such as for sleep disorders and joint health. This lead me to further research this subject and drinking herbal teas for health is as old as time and could easily be hailed as the first health drink.

Tea is As Old As Time

Herbal teas date back thousands of years to ancient Egypt and China, where they would drink teas for its health promoting abilities. Egyptians, especially, would mix their tea with medications – to help the medicine go down. In ancient China, tea was discovered by happenstance when some wild leaves flew into a pot of boiling water.

According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew and drank some. Legend says the Emperor described a warm feeling as he drank the intriguing brew as if the liquid was investigating every part of his body.

Now, Eastern wisdom has taught the world of the health-promoting benefits tea have to boost health, assist in body functions, prevent chronic diseases before they become problematic, and are especially proactive in combating ailments such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Other common health benefits from drinking herbal tea include relaxation, anti-aging properties, pain reduction, weight loss, improvement in complexion, and the improvement of body systems (such as the digestive and immune system). It’s no wonder so many are turning to herbal tea infusions as a natural health booster.

Here are the top health benefits and the herbal teas that you should consume to get them.

Drinking Tea Daily is Natural Health Booster
  1. Teas is the ultimate health drink and fights chronic diseases. If you’re looking for an all-around health drink, look no further than herbal tea. Due to the polyphenols present in tea, studies have shown a result in a lower likelihood of cancer. Studies point to the polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins that are present in herbal teas as the reasons for positive health benefits. Polyphenols work to widen the arteries, which can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and prevent blood clots.
  2. Herbal teas naturally clean and protect teeth. Infused herbal teas are a way to promote good dental health as it does not erode tooth enamel. Green tea. especially contains polyphenol antioxidant plant compounds that reduce plaque and help reduce cavities and gum disease. Tea may help reduce bad breath as well. “Japanese researchers have found that tea can decrease tooth loss,” Ardine said. “It changes the pH in your mouth when you drink it and that may be what prevents cavities.” Further, rinses can be made by preparing an herbal infused tea in the usual way, or by simply stirring herb powder into water. Hold the rinse in the mouth for a few seconds or up to several minutes, gargle, and spit out. A holistic mouth wash can be made of green tea, or the following herbs: cloves, cinnamon, peppermint, or echinacea. Brew a strong tea and place it in the refrigerator for up to a week and use as a mouthwash.
  3. Flavorfully hydrates the body. The warm water helps the body absorb the phytonutrients and healing abilities, as well as, providing hydration to the body. Because of the high presence of antioxidants in herbal teas, it works to eliminate free radicals throughout the body and prevent oxidative stress. his is especially good for those who are actively trying to detox their body. In a UK study by the Tea Advisory Board, hydration levels were compared in 21 individuals who drank four mugs of tea to those who drank the same amount of water and found remarkable results. The findings were that “drinking four to six mugs of tea a day is as good for keeping you hydrated as a liter of water.” In a separate article, one doctor notes, ” Drinking tea is actually better for you than drinking water. Water is essentially replacing fluid. Tea replaces fluids and contains antioxidants so it’s got two things going for it.”
  4.  Tea is beneficial for your digestive system because it can absorb gas, improve blood flow to the entire digestive tract and eliminate free radicals that can cause an upset stomach and indigestion. Herbal teas have phenols that can strengthen both stomach muscles and the muscles in your esophagus, which can reduce acid reflux and heartburn symptoms. Teas also enable your digestive tract to more easily absorb nutrients. (reword)
  5. Relax and unwind. There’s a psychology to drinking to tea where people often feel it’s relaxing properties. As one article explains, the combination of warmth, aroma, and health properties boost mental and physical states of the body and there is science to back it up.

Tea has been around for generations and many of us are starting to see the ways it enhances our lives. If there is an improvement you want to make for your health, there is undoubtedly a tea to help. Drinking herbal teas will not only help to improve your health, but it can also be a healthier choice compared to sugar-ridden drinks like soda and coffee runs. Make the choice to commit to a healthier you and start with drinking one cup of herbal tea a day.

Great tasting teas with amazing health benefits

Try our Ready Nutrition Custom Tea Blends and drink to your health!  

 Tummy Tamer Tea

 Throat Soother Tea 

 Immune Booster Tea

Deepest Sleep and Relaxation Tea

 Joint Relief  Tea

 

 

Happiness: What It Is, Why It Is Important, and How to Cultivate More of It

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 05:28

What is happiness?

Ask several people this question (including yourself), and you will likely get a wide variety of answers.

While it plays an important role in our lives, researchers have yet to agree on a definition or framework for happiness because it is hard to define scientifically. In fact, happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, recently told Forbes that there are 15 academic definitions of happiness!

Most of us probably don’t think too much about an actual definition for happiness anyway – we know it when we feel it.

However, in the last few decades, researchers have learned a lot about happiness.

Experts have developed several theories about what happiness is.

Researchers in the positive psychology field (the scientific study of what makes life most worth living) use the term happiness interchangeably with “subjective well-being,” according to Greater Good Magazine. This is measured by simply asking people to report how satisfied they feel with their own lives and how much positive and negative emotion they’re experiencing.

The article What is Happiness and Why is It Important? (+ Definition in Psychology) explains that there are many different theories of happiness, but they generally fall into one of two categories based on how they conceptualize happiness (or well-being):

Hedonic happiness/well-being is happiness conceptualized as experiencing more pleasure and less pain; it is composed of an affective component (high positive affect and low negative affect) and a cognitive component (satisfaction with one’s life).

Eudaimonic happiness/well-being conceptualizes happiness as the result of the pursuit and attainment of life purpose, meaning, challenge, and personal growth; happiness is based on reaching one’s full potential and operating at full functioning (AIPC, 2011). (source)

In the book, The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

Happiness International has developed a theory on happiness that is largely based on scientific discoveries about how the brain works and on current happiness theories. It “identifies 9 universal and overlapping human needs which go by the handy acronym WE PROMISE.” The 9 categories “cover the range of human needs in a very general way and are intentionally overlapping, just as our thoughts and feelings overlap in our mind,” the site explains.

WE PROMISE stands for:

Wellbeing – mind-body connections, aspects of your physical body that affect your mood, and vice versa

Environment – external factors like safety, food availability, freedom, weather, beauty, and your home

Pleasure – temporary experiences such as joy, sex, love, and eating

Relationships – as a social species, relationships are at the foundation of what it means to be human

Outlook – how you approach the world through adventurousness, curiosity, and making plans

Meaning – having a purpose and the wisdom to understand it

Involvement – to be happy you have to be engaged and actively involved

Success – confirmation from yourself and others that what you do has value

Elasticity – how you recover from life’s inevitable negative events (source)

There are a few common myths about happiness.

Have you found yourself saying things like “I’ll be happy if I get this promotion” or “When I’m married, I’ll finally be happy?” If so, you may be falling for some happiness myths, as Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky explains in The Pursuit of Happiness: 3 Myths Everyone Should Stop Believing:

Psychological research has revealed two important findings when it comes to these beliefs: Things that we think will make us happy never make us happy for as long as we think they will. Conversely, negative life events and challenges don’t have as enduring an impact on our happiness as we believe they will, either. (source)

In that article, Dr. Lyubomirsky shares three valuable lessons from her book, The Myths of Happiness.

Here’s a summary of each.

Myth #1: I won’t be happy until I get a promotion or land my “dream” job. The excitement of a new job eventually fades, and often, our expectations about the new position or company might be unrealistic. Instead, try to make the most of the job you have – and keep in mind that that dream job you keep fantasizing about might not be so great after all.

Myth #2: I’m going to lead a sad, lonely life because I’m single. If you aren’t happy on your own, why do you believe you will be happy as part of a couple? Sure, it is nice to have someone to share your life with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy while you are waiting for that special someone. Many people remain single – and happy – for their entire lives, so keep that in mind as well. There are many possible sources of happiness in life – meaningful work, volunteering, and hobbies – to name a few. Going solo doesn’t mean happiness has to elude you.

Myth #3: I can’t be happy when… Dr. Lyubomirsky explains why this belief is flawed: “We all have dreams that we’ve harbored since the early years of our lives, but we often have flawed assumptions about whether we can still be happy despite not achieving those dreams. Psychologists argue that to be truly unburdened by regrets involves freeing ourselves from our “lost possible selves”—the neurosurgeon self, the grandparent self, the small-business owner self.” She recommends keeping a journal or making lists of the pros and cons of what happened, what might have happened, and what didn’t happen. Committing yourself to new pursuits will help you leave the past behind you – and will get you excited about future possibilities.

Experiencing happiness provides many benefits.

Happiness is important because it has some undeniably positive benefits. In an article called What’s So Great About Happiness, Anyway? (The Answer: Plenty!), June Silny outlined 14 answers to that question.

She explained that happy people…

Are more successful: Numerous studies show that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health.

Get sick less often: A study from Carnegie Mellon University found that people who are happy are less likely to catch colds. Depressed, nervous, or angry people are more likely to complain about cold symptoms. The study also found that the happier study participants weren’t infected as often, and experienced fewer symptoms even when they did get sick.

Have more friends: This probably doesn’t surprise you – happy people are more fun to be around. Happy people have more friends because they are stable, giving, and supportive.

Donate more to charity: And, giving money to charity makes you happy, too. Generosity lights up the pleasure and reward regions of the brain. Research shows that it works both ways: giving makes us happier, but happy people also donate more to charity than unhappy people.

Are more helpful: Studies show that happy people are more likely to volunteer, and those who do so tend to become happier. This is yet another indication of the circular relationship between giving and happiness.

Have a positive attitude, which makes life easier: An optimistic outlook makes dealing with pain, sadness, and grief a bit easier. Bad things are a part of life, but you deal with them better when you have a positive outlook. For more on this, please read Stoicism: How This Ancient Philosophy Can Empower You to Improve Your Health and Your Life.

Have a positive influence on others: Just like negative energy, positive energy is contagious. Which would you rather give and receive? If you want someone else to be happy (and in turn, increase your happiness), express your enthusiasm when you greet them.

Enjoy deeper conversations: Negative thinkers engage in gossip. Dr. Matthias Mehl reported in the journal Psychological Science that happier people had twice as many meaningful conversations as unhappy people.

Smile more: Smiling is beneficial to your health. It lowers stress hormones and blood pressure, and may even increase your lifespan. Other studies have found that people who smile frequently are rated higher in generosity, trustworthiness, and extroversion by others.

Exercise more and eat more healthfully: Research shows that when you’re happy, you’re more likely to engage in good habits like exercising more and eating healthfully, which results in greater health and well-being.

Are happy with what they have: The happiest among us know that envying others is a bad use of their time, and if things don’t go their way all the time, that’s okay. When you’re happy, you’re less likely to stress out about wanting more, being jealous of others, or about trying to keep up with the Joneses. Being happy with what you’ve got allows you to concentrate on living your own life to the fullest—to live a life that’s meaningful to you.

Are healthy people: Studies have found that people who are in a more positive state of mind have a good chance of experiencing better health in the future.

Live longer: Happy people have been found to live longer lives than those who are not happy.

Are more productive and creative: Several studies have shown that people are more creative when they’re experiencing positive emotions. Some research suggests a clear link between employee happiness and productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate us, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.

How happy are we, anyway?

Unfortunately, according to the World Happiness Report 2019, negative feelings are rising around the world. The United States is particularly hard-hit with an epidemic of addictions. Technology addiction is one serious issue that is interfering with happiness. Screen time is replacing activities that are key to our happiness, like in-person social contact. Forty-five percent of adolescents are online “almost constantly,” and the average high school senior spends six hours a day texting, on social media, or on the Internet.

The report also shows a widening happiness gap, with some people reporting much higher feelings of well-being and others showing much less within each country.

This year’s report also analyzes how global happiness has changed over time, based on data going back to 2005. One unfortunate trend is prominent: Negative feelings – worry, sadness, and anger – have been increasing around the globe, up by 27 percent from 2010 to 2018. “We are in an era of rising tensions and negative emotions,” wrote economist and report editor Jeffrey D. Sachs. “These findings point to underlying challenges that need to be addressed.”

In the article, World Happiness Report Finds That People Are Feeling Worse, Kira M. Newman says “The report also features commentary and analysis from economists, psychologists, and public policy experts about urgent issues in well-being, and one theme this year is the ‘sad state of happiness in the United States.'”

Research suggests that American adults have been getting less happy since 2000, while adolescents have been experiencing more depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harm since 2010. It’s difficult to say why this is happening, and to tease out symptoms from causes. Some researchers blame rising income inequality; others blame political polarization. (source)

Research suggests that some portion of our happiness is influenced by our genetics, but the amount varies from about 10% up to 50%.

All of this might seem a bit discouraging, but the good news is that you CAN do things that will help you lead a happier life.

11 things you can do to increase your happiness.
  • Discover your strengths – and use them. Research shows that people who identify their strengths and use them in daily life are happier overall. If you aren’t sure what your strengths are, try taking an assessment like this one: Character Strengths Survey
  • Build healthy relationships. Research consistently shows that social connections are key to happiness. Close relationships and support from others also matter a great deal.
  • Practice savoring.  This is the art of maintaining and deepening positive feelings by becoming more aware of them. “Research suggests that our ability to savor impacts how much of a mood boost we get from happy events,” explains Greater Good Magazine. For more on savoring, see 10 Steps to Savoring the Good Things in Life.
  • Be forgiving. Studies show that forgiving people helps us feel better about ourselves, experience more positive emotions, and feel closer to others.
  • Express gratitude. Every morning when you wake up, and every evening before you go to sleep, think of at least one thing you are grateful for. Keeping a gratitude journal can also help you learn to recognize and appreciate all the little (and not so little) things that matter.
  • Be kind to others. In his book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives: “…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.” And, research has revealed that people report greater happiness when they spend money on others than when they spend it on themselves. And, neuroscience research shows that when we do nice things for others, our brains light up in areas associated with pleasure and reward.
  • Get moving. Studies consistently show that physical activity does wonders for mental health and has profound positive impacts on happiness and overall well-being. Even a few minutes a day can help – some is better than none, so do what you can. You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership. Schedule time to walk every day, if you can. For more on how to build a regular walking routine, please see Why You Should Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day, and How to Do It.
  • Spend time outside. “Being connected to nature and feeling happy are, in fact, connected,” reported a 2014 study. Time spent in nature reduces stress and boosts your mood.
  • Get adequate sleep. How can you expect to be happy if you are sleep-deprived? Research has consistently linked lower sleep to less happiness. A study led by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman that involved more than 900 women found that getting just one more hour of sleep each night might have a greater effect on happiness than a $60,000 raise. For a list of things you can do to naturally improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, please see Six (More) Reasons to Get Better Quality Sleep.
  • Be mindful about spending. How you spend money matters a great deal, according to Greater Good Magazine:

Spend money in the right ways by buying social experiences, giving to others, and expressing your identity.

But don’t focus on material wealth: After our basic needs our met, research suggestsmore money doesn’t bring us more happiness—in fact, a study by Kahneman found that Americans’ happiness rose with their income only until they’d made roughly $75,000; after that, their happiness plateaued. And research by Richard Easterlin has found that in the long run, countries don’t become happier as they become wealthier. Perhaps that’s why, in general, people who prioritize material things over other values are much less happy, and comparing ourselves with people who have more is a particular source of unhappiness. It also suggests why more egalitarian countries consistently rank among the happiest in the world. (source)

Stoicism is an eudaimonic philosophy. Eudaimonia is a term that means a life worth living, often translated as “happiness” in the broad sense, or more appropriately, flourishing.

It teaches us to embrace problems, accept them, prepare to challenge them, and take action to overcome them.

Stoicism is a vibrant, action-oriented, paradigm-shifting way of living. It is an ideal philosophy for those seeking the Good Life.

Want to learn more about creating a happier life? Take this free course from Greater Good Magazine: The Science of Happiness

What makes YOU happy?

Do you have any tips or tricks for increasing happiness? Please feel free to share your ideas and thoughts in the comments.

Be well!

 

 

DIY: How To Make Your Own Protein Bars With Only 4 Ingredients

Sat, 04/06/2019 - 07:20

Protein bars have long been a popular source of the macronutrient, especially for athletes and those who tend to be more physically fit.  But the truth is, protein bars are for everyone and will benefit all regardless of the type of lifestyle you are living.  Because of that, we’ve found a wonderful and easy recipe for protein bars that you can make in your own home using only four ingredients!

Control the Quality of Your Healthy Snacks By Making Your Own

Many of the protein bars on the market today contain some obscure and downright disgusting ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup. As well, some of the grains used in making health food bars may be genetically-modified. Not only that, but the store bought protein bars are often exorbitantly priced, making the little nutrition they do offer not really worth the high price tag. But you can get around all of this by making your own protein bars. Your body and your wallet will thank you!

The first thing you’ll want to do if you’ve decided to make your own protein bars is select the best quality protein powder.  Most protein bars will contain a protein powder and nuts which contain essential amino acids. Amino acids are necessary to replenish, especially if you live a more energetic lifestyle. According to Ready Nutrition, there are 8 essential amino acids and these are critical for our upkeep, and they must be obtained from our food.  An amino acid is a simple organic compound containing both a carboxyl (—COOH) and an amino (—NH2) group. A protein powder may or may not (or may partially) provide these amino acids.  Of particular importance are BCAA’s(Branched-Chain Amino Acids), such as L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, and L-Valine.  These guys are very important for tissue repair.

There are many types of protein powders that are not specifically designed to replace the amino acids you need.  EAS manufactures a protein powder that is nonspecific such as this: you’re getting protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, however, there are four that Ready Nutrition can recommend.

Those protein powders are:

The last one listed will be of interest to those who want raw organic vegetable proteins.  It’s expensive, but may the best choice on the list.

You could also consider adding a fifth ingredient to your protein bars, such as nuts and seeds, to really ramp up the nutritional benefits.  If you haven’t experimented much with seeds, consider it!

Chia seeds are one of nature’s most perfect superfoods. Sure, they get stuck in your teeth if eaten dry and can become quite slimy when soaked in liquid, but they have very little to no flavor, so if used in a recipe or as a topping, you’ll hardly notice that you’re eating them. Once you frequently start consuming chia seeds, you will quickly notice benefits such as increased energy and digestive regularity. Being an incredible source of fiber, a single ounce of chia seeds has nearly half of the daily recommended requirement of fiber. They have more iron than spinach, more potassium than bananas, and more antioxidant strength than blueberries

Next, are a personal favorite of mine.  I rarely have a salad without hemp seeds anymore! These nutritious and healing seeds are starting to be a favorite among vegans and health fanatics, and are often added to smoothies, cereals, oatmeal, and on top of salads. Hemp seeds can also be blended with water to make a nice milk substitute, which is a perfect option for people who have nut and soy allergies, although the flavor of hemp milk is less sweet than raw almond milk or cow’s milk.

Quinoa is also an excellent addition to a protein bar. Quinoa (pronounced keen’-wah) is a high-protein grain that the Incas held sacred, calling it the “mother of all grains.”  This ancient grain has had a recent resurgence in popularity because of its excellent nutritional profile, easy preparation, and versatile nutty taste. As Ready Nutrition reported, quinoa is technically a seed rather than a grain, quinoa is made up of 18% protein, supplying 8 grams per cup. It is a complete protein, supplying all necessary amino acids. The superfood is high in fiber, calcium, iron, and phosphorus, as well as a good source of riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin.  It’s generally referred to as a grain because of the way it is prepared and used in the diet.

For even more ideas on seeds that can be added and the nutritional punch, they could give your protein bars, read 7 Super Seeds That Will Change Your Life.

How To Make Your Own Protein Bars

Once you’ve decided on a protein powder that will work for you and you’ve figured out if you are adding seeds or nuts to your bars, it’s time to get started! You’ll need:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1-2 scoops Protein powder
  • 5 tablespoons your favorite nut butter 
  • ½ cup powdered milk or 1/2 cup of water (if you plan on consuming these in the future)
  • Optional: add dark chocolate chips, nuts, or seed, or any of your favorite healthy snacks to play around with the flavor and texture! You can even go the extra step and dehydrate your own berries or fruits to add for an even tastier treat.



Remember, if you are not going to be consuming your protein bars right away, it is best to make them using water, which will not spoil like milk. You could also consider adding honey to these for an extra kick of sweetness if you enjoy your protein bars on them sweeter side. But honey also has some amazing health benefits as well! Honey actually fights against bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus. The latter is the most common bacteria found in the human nasal passages and nose. For the best results, honey should be purchased and consumed as raw as possible, and the darker the better.  Dark honey contains more antioxidants, and it is much more effective at fighting microorganisms and bacteria.

So why not grab some protein powder, and try making your own homemade and healthy protein bars today?

 

 

Lemon Balm: The Natural Benefits, Remedies, And Uses

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 06:41

Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis is a popular herb in the mint family. It is often used in holistic medicines, herbal teas, and grown by those who take a more natural approach to their health and well being.

While just the scent of lemon balm alone is a wonderful aromatic journey for our olfactory sense, the health benefits are the icing on the proverbial cake. Speaking of cake, lemon balm is often used in cooking and herbal tea recipes. The lemon-scented herb can also be found in the form of an extract, salve, tincture, or oil.  Many who use herbal medicines actually grow lemon balm in their yard. It isn’t too difficult to grow indoors either for those who live in cooler climates, like myself!

Lemon balm has several benefits that could aid the body. Although the herb has been used as a natural remedy for quite some time now, there are some fairly recent scientific studies that have looked into its possible health benefits.

Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep Disorders

Lemon balm may be used to help reduce anxiety, according to a small 2014 study published in Nutrients. Additionally, previous studies have suggested that a compound in lemon balm known as rosmarinic acid may have anti-anxiety effects by increasing the availability of GABA (a signaling chemical) in the brain. Because of the presence of rosmarinic acid, lemon balm helps calm the mind, thereby promoting sleep and alleviating some stress. Lemon balm may have an effect on sleep when combined with the herb valerian.

A study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2013 suggests that lemon balm in combination with valerian may help improve sleep quality during menopause. The researchers who conducted the study observed that the lemon balm/valerian supplement appeared to have a beneficial effect in reducing the symptoms of sleep disorders.

Heart Palpitations

For benign heart palpitations, some holistic and natural doctors suggest the use of lemon balm instead of pharmaceutical medications. According to Dr. Tori Hudson, many of the heart palpitations are not only benign but are caused by stress or anxiety or too much caffeine.  In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, lemon balm helped reduce the episodes of heart palpitations. After only 2 weeks of treatment, lemon balm extract at 500 mg twice daily significantly decreased the frequency of episodes of benign heart palpitations and anxiety. While this was a small study of short duration, clinical results within 2 weeks are what Dr. Hudson would be looking for in a patient with heart palpitations, and anxiety.

“I look forward to using lemon balm even more, for heart palpitations that in particular seem to be associated with anxiety disorders.” –Dr. Tori Hudson, website

Cold Sores

Because lemon balm has been shown to possess some antiviral properties, the herbal extract has been found to fight against the herpes simplex virus (HSV), the virus responsible for cold sores in laboratory studies. A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that lemon balm extract inhibited the penetration of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (the virus that causes cold sores) into cells. Lemon balm is typically applied topically in oil, salve, cream, ointment, or lip balm form for cold sore alleviation, as opposed to drinking in a tea or used aromatically, for example.

Side Effects

Just like with most herbal remedies/supplements and pharmaceutical options, there are some side effects that you’ll need to be aware of before you begin using lemon balm as holistic medicine. Those side effects can include headache, nausea, bloating, gas, vomiting, indigestion, dizziness, stomach pain, painful urination, anxiety, agitation, and allergic reactions. Long-term, regular, or high-dose use of lemon balm isn’t recommended as there’s some concern that discontinuing use can trigger rebound anxiety in some people. Lemon balm can also prove to be a powerful sedative, meaning it should be used before bed, as opposed to right before your drive to work. The herb may interact with supplements and medications, such as sedatives, thyroid medication, chemotherapy (like tamoxifen and irinotecan), warfarin, glaucoma medication, and drugs that affect serotonin and GABA. Lemon balm should not be used with alcohol.

Lemon Balm Tea

You can make your own lemon balm tea, however, if you want something tasty and already premade for you, try Ready Nutrition’s Deepest Sleep loose tea blend. For those “do-it-yourselfers” who are already growing lemon balm, try making your own tea blend.

A simple lemon balm tea recipe begins by snipping a few fresh lemon balm leaves. Rinse them well, and pat the leaves dry. Cut or tear the leaves into smaller pieces and put them into a tea infuser. Pour hot water in and infuse the leaves for about five minutes. Consider adding some mint, as the flavors will compliment each other if you’d like. When brewing your lemon balm tea, make sure to keep the teapot or cup covered at all times in order to hold in the steam, which is thought to contain the herb’s therapeutic aromatic oils.

Lemon Balm Salve

If you would like to try to make a lemon balm salve, HerbaZest has an excellent and fairly easy recipe that you can follow by clicking here. All you will need are a few dried lemon balm leaves, a container, beeswax, and some coconut oil or olive oil, depending on the consistency you prefer.

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or ailment.  Seek professional advice if necessary.

 

How Agrihoods Could Change the Way We Think of Urban Developments

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 15:51

How would you like to live in a neighborhood that has a working farm, ample green space, community gardens, edible landscaping, and rows of fruit trees?

Agricultural neighborhoods – called “agrihoods” for short –  are housing developments that are centered around farming. The rising popularity of farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA), buying local, and sustainability have led people to seek out communities that support those interests. Green spaces are a feature of agrihoods.

Agrihoods include gardens that can provide food, employment, education, and socialization for the community.

In the article Growing Agrihoods: The Next Frontier in Urban Revitalization, Julia Travers explains that the definition of agrihood is evolving:

The size, geography, and socioeconomic culture of agrihoods vary; they can be found in rural, suburban, and urban spaces, using diverse locations including housing built around existing farms or built into repurposed unused commercial or industrial spaces. The term “agrihood” itself is still fluid. “It hasn’t been well defined yet,” said Daron Joffe, a veteran farmer who has worked on a number of agrihoods and farm-centric communities in the U.S. “To me, an agrihood is a working farm that’s really connected to the residents, the local community outside the neighborhood, and connected to the larger region and foodshed.”

And while the definition is changing and growing, a report by the Urban Land Institute notes that agrihoods are “master planned or residential communities built with a working farm as a focus.” Rancho Mission Viejo, a housing developer and longtime ranching family in southern California, has even trademarked the term “agrihood” and applied it to their new Esencia development.

An agrihood in Michigan is credited with being the first in the country.

The first sustainable urban agrihood in the US was created by the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative in Detroit’s lower North End. The “alternative neighborhood growth model” established a two-acre farm, fruit tree orchard, and children’s sensory garden, reports Neighborhoods.com:

“Over the last four years, we’ve grown from an urban garden that provides fresh produce for our residents to a diverse, agricultural campus that has helped sustain the neighborhood, attracted new residents and area investment,” Tyson Gersh, president and co-founder of the MUFI, said in a 2016 press release.

Annually, this agrihood provides fresh, free produce to roughly 2,000 households within two square miles, giving the residents a strong connection to the sourcing and handling of their own food.

Agrihoods are increasing in popularity in the US.

There are more than 200 agrihoods in the US so far, and more are in development. The trend “appeals to consumers who want a slice of country life – big gardens, nature, and outdoor recreation – near urban centers”, according to a recent report from the Des Moines Register:

“The problem with suburban neighborhoods is that to get to anything other than more houses, you have to drive,” said Adam Mekies, associate at Design Workshop in Aspen, Colorado, an architectural firm that’s designed several agrihoods.

“Instead of pushing agriculture farther and farther from town, how do you bring it back in?” Mekies said.

Steve Bruere, a partner in Diligent Development, is planning to build an agrihood on 400 acres near Cumming, Iowa. He told the Register his project would include an organic vegetable farm, vineyard, orchard, and residential gardens which would anchor a massive home, condo, apartment, and retail development.

There are challenges associated with building and maintaining agrihoods, but the payoff is enormous.

Agrihoods are not an easy thing to do – they are “not business as usual,” Joffe told the Register. Typically, the developer helps set up the farm, including providing the land, greenhouses, and tractor. The farm needs the startup assistance to be self-sustaining, whether as a nonprofit or a private operation, he explained.

It is important that farming ties the community together, both physically and through programs such as cooking and gardening classes, Joffe added.

Andy Smith, president of Freehold Communities Southeast Division, told Neighborhoods.com that while agrihoods do face obstacles, they provide many benefits that make them worthwhile:

“The biggest challenge is sustainability. Most agrihoods are set up as a membership fee to use the facility and share in the crops.

In addition to health benefits, they [agrihoods] offer the ability to understand the process of farming from seed-to-table. We’ve found that this also serves as a valuable education program for children who can learn to eat what they grow and understand the real source of fruits and vegetables.”

Here are some of the benefits agrihoods provide.

Having access to produce that was grown right in your neighborhood greatly increases your food’s freshness and nutritional quality. Farm-to-table food doesn’t travel thousands of miles, losing freshness along the way.

In low-income areas, agrihoods can make access much easier for residents.

Community gardens have been shown to directly contribute to reductions in chronic disease and depression, especially when residents are involved in gardening.

The number of food hubs – local centers that connect farmers to food-using businesses and
support local food production and distribution – increased 770 percent between 2000 and 2016.

Local foods are often produced using organic methods, which can be better for health and the environment.

Farms bring people together – they create a closer, healthier community.

What do you think about the agrihood concept?

Are there any agrihoods in your area? Would you like to live in a community like this? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Be well!

 

5 Fascinating Facts About CBD You Need to Know

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 06:16

By now, you probably have heard of cannabidiol – more commonly known as CBD – and might be wondering what all the hype is about. The truth is that CBD, a naturally-occurring compound, possesses tremendous therapeutic value and is helping countless people worldwide manage a wide range of health and wellness challenges.

The hype is well-deserved. It’s about time more people became aware of this incredible substance.

Cannabidiol – or “CBD” – is one of over 100 compounds found in cannabis sativa plants (including hemp) that belong to a class of naturally occurring, biologically active chemical constituents called cannabinoids.

Here are five fascinating facts about CBDs

CBD is a unique compound that has truly remarkable properties.

1. We are hard-wired for CBD because we have receptors throughout our bodies that respond to cannabinoids. 

This biochemical communication system is called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). All humans – and many animals – have this system. It is one of the largest homeostatic systems in the body, with elements throughout the brain and in every major organ. Endo refers to endogenous, which means originating within the body. Cannabinoid refers to the group of compounds that activate the ECS.

With our systems being hard-wired for CBD use because we have receptors throughout our bodies that respond to cannabinoids.

The ECS is responsible for the physical and psychological effects of cannabis.

Just how important is the endocannabinoid system? Project CBD tells us:

The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating a broad range of physiological processes that affect our everyday experience – our mood, our energy level, our intestinal fortitude, immune activity, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, how we experience pain, stress, hunger, and more.

What happens if the endocannabinoid system doesn’t function properly? What are the consequences of a chronically deficient or overactive endocannabinoid system?

In a word, disease.

Cutting-edge science has shown that the endocannabinoid system is dysregulated in nearly all pathological conditions.

CBD influences a wide range of receptor systems in the brain and body – not just cannabinoid receptors, but many others. It indirectly influences cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) by signaling through those receptors. CBD appears to direct the body to use more of its own naturally-produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and can increase levels of them by inhibiting the enzymes that break them down.

To learn more about the endocannabinoid system, here’s a detailed infographic you can view or download: Get to Know the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). To take a virtual tour of the ECS, click here: Introducing the Scope and Importance of the ECS.

2. Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency may contribute to or cause many health conditions.

Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency is a condition where an individual has a lower amount of endogenous cannabinoids than needed to promote health and well-being. Scientific research has shown that changes in ECS activity may correlate with a wide range of disease states.

In an interview with Project CBD, Dr. Ethan Russo, a board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, said it is possible that many chronic diseases may be caused by clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. In an interview, he explained what a deficiency of endocannabinoid function might look like:

If you don’t have enough endocannabinoids you have pain where there shouldn’t be pain. You would be sick, meaning nauseated. You would have a lowered seizure threshold. And just a whole litany of other problems. It occurred to me that a number of very common diseases seem to fit a pattern that would be consistent with an endocannabinoid deficiency, specially these are migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. They have some things in common. They’re all hyper-algesic syndromes, meaning that there’s seems to be pain out of proportion to what should be going on, in other words you can look at the tissues they look okay, but there’s biochemically something that’s driving the pain.

Here’s another intriguing excerpt from that interview:

Something I haven’t mentioned is that in its own right cannabidiol is an endocannabinoid modulator, in other words, when given chronically it actually increases the gain of system, which is, at its core, a homeostatic regulator. To explain that: homeostasis is a state of balance. Many diseases interfere with a balance in a given system and if we can bring that balance back to where it should be there’ll be improvement in the overall condition. This is one reason that cannabidiol is such a versatile medicine because so many disorders operate on that kind of level. So, if there’s too much activity in a system homeostasis requires that it be brought back down. If there’s too little, it’s got to come up. And that’s what cannabidiol can do as a promoter of endocannabinoid tone, we call it.

Dr. Russo has been researching medicinal cannabis for a long time, and has published many studies, including these: Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes and Cannabis Therapeutics and the Future of Neurology.

3. CBD has biphasic and triphasic effects.

With CBD, more is not always better, and sometimes “less is more”. CBD dosage can be tricky for this reason. CBD can be effective at a wide range of dosages. That’s why there isn’t a standard dosage for CBD products. What works for you may not work for your sibling or your neighbor, for example. It can take some experimentation with various dosages to find your own “sweet spot.” A popular saying among CBD advocates is “start low, go slow” for this reason.

Cannabis compounds have biphasic properties, which means that low and high doses of CBD can produce opposite effects. Small doses of cannabis tend to stimulate, and large doses can have a more sedating effect. If you are taking CBD to improve sleep, keep in mind that lower doses (15 mg, in one study) can increase wakefulness, and higher doses (160 mg or more) have been linked to more time sleeping.

And, CBD also can be triphasic (or “multiphasic”), as Dr. Dustin Sulak explained in an interview with Project CBD:

Triphasic or multiphasic, because we see that it can go up and down and up and down. Each direction is a phase, right. So if I start sub-therapeutic and someone gets benefit, that’s one phase. If they go up even higher and they lose benefit, that’s another phase. But then often, when they really crank the dose up high, that benefit will return. Sometimes when it returns, it returns with side effects or the benefits may be a little bit different than they were at the low doses. And there’s probably a phase at ultra-low doses, where people can take such a small amount and get benefit down there as well.

4. CBD is a neurotransmitter modulator.

As we mentioned earlier, the endocannabinoid system includes two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. They are normally activated by endocannabinoid neurotransmitters anandamide and 2-AG, but these receptors also respond to CBD.

CBD is also a “neurotransmitter modulator” that inhibits reuptake of Serotonin, Dopamine, and GABA neurotransmitters. This increases neurotransmitter availability within post-synaptic neurons to enhance serotonergic activity, nerve-impulse transmission, and cell-to-cell communication. Neurotransmitter balance plays a key role in the regulation of normal body functions, including mood balance, emotional outlook, sleep/wake cycle, and memory function.

5. CBD is non-intoxicating.

CBD can make you feel more relaxed due to its anti-anxiety properties, but it is not intoxicating.

As we explained in Dispelling the Myths: Baby Boomers Still Aren’t Sure About This New CBD Craze:

Unlike marijuana, hemp does NOT produce a “high”. This is because hemp plants contain very little of a compound called tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC, often referred to as “the high causer”). THC has psychoactive properties – that is what causes the “high” feeling the plant can produce.

THC has powerful medicinal properties too, but most CBD products made from hemp contain barely a trace of the compound – may contain less than 0.3% THC. Some CBD products (typically called isolatesdo not contain any THC at all.

There is a lot of research that supports the benefits of CBD and more studies are being done.

While the medicinal properties of cannabis plants have been long known, research has really been accelerating in recent years due to increasing interest in natural remedies, and laws surrounding the plant becoming more relaxed.

“Extensive preclinical research—much of it sponsored by the U.S. government—indicates that CBD has potent anti-tumoral, antioxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties. CBD directly activates serotonin receptors, causing an anti-anxiety effect, as well,” writes Project CBD.

CBD is safe, non-intoxicating, and non-addictive, and can be used by people of all ages. It is usually well-tolerated, but it can interfere with certain medications. Please consult with your healthcare provider if you are taking prescription drugs and would like to take CBD.

Even your pets can benefit from CBD, but be sure to use a product that is specifically designed for animals, and check with your vet first, especially if your animal companion is taking any medication.

Have you tried CBD yet?

If so, what has your experience been like so far? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Be well!

 

Keeping Control of Cholesterol Naturopathically

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 10:01

The cold weather months bring about sluggishness and not want to venture outside as often as you would during warmer times of the year. This can put a damper on your personal fitness program and to your health.

The problem (perhaps antithetically speaking) is not cholesterol. Believe it or not, cholesterol is very vital to your body. It is important for your hair and skin, and if you’re a man who lifts or exercises, it is vital…a precursor to testosterone, that crucial hormone so short in the “soy boy” population.

Too much of anything is not good, and the reason we’re highlighting cholesterol is that the majority of people (for one reason or another) do not lift or perform strenuous physical exercise. This article also will help those who are elderly, or on a fixed income, or on such a rigorous work schedule that they cannot find the time to exercise at all.

The problems arise with cholesterol when you are not exerting enough physical energy or metabolic activity to effectively eliminate it or convert it from your body. The cholesterol is an LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) that starts out as a “gluey” substance that adheres to the walls of your arteries. With time this substance hardens and forms arterial “plaques” that lead to high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. A stroke is caused by a blood vessel in your brain being blocked, to put it simply. A heart attack is the result of the coronary arteries (the ones that supply the heart itself with blood, and therefore oxygen) being blocked.

There are a few herbs and foods for starters that you can supplement your diet with that will help you with cholesterol. Let’s cover a few of them.

  1. Garlic. Yes, garlic. It actually reduces LDL’s and triglycerides. It also lowers the blood pressure and will help with the peripheral arteries of the legs (reducing leg cramps. Garlic is not expensive and is best consumed raw in the form of the cloves. I’ve written extensively on it, and you can peruse the articles in the archives to go into more detail. You can also buy it in pill or capsule form at your friendly neighborhood big-box store. One precaution is to stop taking it prior to surgery, as it thins the blood and reduces clotting ability.
  2. Cayenne Pepper. Oh yeah, ba-by!  The peppers contain a high amount of Vitamin C, and the capsaicin in it helps prevent blood clotting and the hardening of the arteries. Cayenne pepper also increases heartbeat strength and efficiency.  Those with digestive problems need to limit the amount they ingest. It is best taken with your food, as the food buffers the lining of your stomach. Don’t ever take it by itself.
  3. Black Pepper. Who doesn’t like black pepper? Well, certainly somebody. All the same, it increases blood circulation and helps with blood pressure. Although it doesn’t directly attack cholesterol, it affects the vessels and helps them to prevent cholesterol’s harmful effects. Also, taking it with Turmeric/curcumin potentiates the effects of piperine, an active ingredient of the pepper.
  4. Hawthorn. Comes from a berry. Hawthorn is an adaptogenic herb. Check this out. If you have high blood pressure, hawthorn will lower it. If you have low blood pressure, Hawthorn will raise it. It directly reduces the levels of unhealthy cholesterol in your system. Heart patients or those using heart medications check with your happy doctor prior to taking the hawthorn.
  5. Legumes. Yes, that’s beans!  The consumption of kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and so forth directly reduces cholesterol levels. Just don’t mix them up with bacon or cook them with something that defeats the purpose!
  6. Oatmeal. The good old bowl of oatmeal in the morning will actually help you to lower your cholesterol.

So, we have started out with some basics, and now it is up to you to incorporate those basics into your routine. The best overall thing you can do (besides put down the fork) is to tailor-make a good, solid exercise program coupled with a healthy diet. Your goal is not to eliminate cholesterol from your diet. Your goal is to take in a healthy amount of it and maintain yourself so that the healthy level does not climb to a level that is excessive and harmful.  JJ out!

 

How To Survive the Financial Cost of a Medical Emergency

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 09:43

Medical emergencies often come out of the blue and have the potential to be devastating to not only your mental well-being but your finances. Because of the nature of these unexpected burdens, we’ve put together some steps that can be taken to survive the financial strain of an unforeseen medical emergency.

Studies have shown that medical emergencies are often an enormous burden on so many families.  With 78% of Americans already living paycheck to paycheck, a medical expense that’s large and unexpected could destroy a family’s financial stability.  In fact, about 2/3 of all bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical expenses. Often the cost is much more than families could ever hope to repay in a lifetime.

MEDICAL BILLS ARE LEADING CAUSE OF BANKRUPTCIES

The study we’re referring to was led by Dr. David Himmelstein, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Hunter College and Lecturer at Harvard Medical School. It indicated that about 530,000 families each year are financially ruined by medical bills and sicknesses, according to the website, Study Finds. It’s the first research of its kind to link medical expenses and bankruptcy since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.

In a press release by the Physicians for a National Health Program, Himmelstein said of his findings, “unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one illness away from bankruptcy.” He added, “for middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, copayments, and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. Even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when prolonged illness causes job loss – just when families need it most. Private health insurance is a defective product, akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain,” says Himmelstein.

The research also shows that The Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare has done nothing to alleviate the medical pressure on families. There was very little difference in the proportion of bankruptcy filings related to medical expenses since the ACA passed. In all, 67.5% of debtors said medical costs contributed to their bankruptcy in the first three years from the start of the law, compared to 65.5% prior to its passing.

AVERAGE COST OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

The average price of a medical emergency can cost some as much as one average mortgage payment. Findings from the John Hopkins School of Medicine suggest emergency room (ER) service charges can exceed Medicare rates for the same services sometimes by as much as 13 times the Medicare cost. When an emergency hits, people want the care immediately and hospitals are aware of this, making it much easier to take advantage of people and their insurance company financially. There is little one can do to stop ER departments from attempting to charge exorbitant prices for services. For those who don’t have insurance coverage, the rates can be even higher.

Once it’s all said and done, the timeframe for paying off the medical services used could be pretty long. But there are some “tricks of the trade” so to speak, to help you out. Depending on your scenario, there are multiple options at your disposal. The first and most obvious route to choose is to pay it off all at once.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

If you have the means, pay off the entire balance at once and the hospital will give you a huge discount. This will save you money, often tens of thousands of dollars in the long run! You could also offer a large chunk of money upfront, which will help keep your costs down. But in order to do that, you’ll need to prepare for a medical emergency before it happens by setting up an emergency fund and stashing away some cash. Read the article below for some tips to begin saving:

5 Simple Ways to Grow an Emergency Fund

You could also make sure your debts are minimal, or nonexistent before an emergency hits. This is difficult for so many because Americans, in general, have taken on historic levels of debt. But try paying off your debts then start using the money you were putting toward debt repayment to boost your emergency fund.  Fewer payments going out every month most likely means you’ll have more money immediately at your disposal for your emergency fund. It also means you are more likely to be able to come up with cash to pay off the debt right away. (Remember, this could save you tons of money!) Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing what it’s like to NOT live paycheck to paycheck. Just that added security could help relieve the mental stress of a medical emergency.

If you don’t have enough to pay cash for the services, you could always set up a payment plan.  Keep in mind, the more disposable income you have (fewer debt payments, like car loans and credit cards) the higher monthly payment you can make getting you out from under the medical bills quicker. Because of interest, it is not recommended to make payments unless you have to and you can get payments set up interest-free.

Consider negotiating your payment plan, interest rate, and the overall cost of the medical services on your own. If you make it known that you’re going to have trouble paying back the cost, most hospitals will agree to work with you and your income.

21 Healthy Meat-Free Ways You Can Add Protein To Your Diet

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 06:15

Every living cell in your body uses protein for structural and functional purposes. It is important to get enough in your diet for that reason.

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are building blocks for our bodies. There are 20-plus amino acids, and they help form thousands of different proteins (there are at least 10,000!) in the body. Because we don’t store amino acids, our bodies make them in two different ways: either from scratch or by modifying others. There are nine amino acids that are known as essential amino acids because they must come from food. They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Dietary protein is one of three macronutrients that make up our diets (the other two are carbohydrates and fat). Of those, protein is the most satiating – that, is, it is the most filling.

If we consume excess protein in our diets, our bodies will usually find a way to use it – we don’t store a lot of extra amino acids like we do extra carbohydrates and fat.

Because we either use or excrete extra protein, we need to replenish it through our diets.

How much dietary protein do you need?

Daily protein needs vary among individuals. Body composition, activity level, and overall health are factors that need to be considered when calculating or estimating protein needs.

A VERY general guideline is one gram of protein per pound of body weight for healthy adults. Muscle maintenance (having a good amount of muscle makes losing fat easier) requires adequate protein in your diet.

I don’t mean that you need to become a bodybuilder, so don’t worry. Having a healthy amount of muscle is important for everyone because it makes everyday tasks easier, helps boost your metabolism, reduces your risk of injury, improves your posture, helps prevent (and reduce) chronic back pain, and contributes to overall health and longevity. As we age, we naturally lose some muscle mass (this is called sarcopenia), but the good news is that we can prevent it with adequate protein consumption and regular exercise, especially strength training.

It is important to remember that eating protein in itself will not help you gain muscle, but it may help you keep what you already have.

When you eat too little calories for an extended period of time, your precious muscle is one of the things that your body will start to get rid of! Your body needs enough calories for energy and will break down your muscle tissue and use it for energy if you aren’t eating enough.

This protein calculator will help you calculate your needs.

Is too much protein bad for health?

Common myths about high protein intake persist, despite the fact that there really isn’t any evidence to support them. Protein does not “leach” calcium from your bones and causes osteoporosis, and it does not cause kidney damage (UNLESS you have existing kidney disease – in that case, please ask your physician for guidance).

What is a “complete” protein?

Some proteins found in food are “complete”, meaning that they contain all of the 20-plus amino acids the body needs. Animal-based sources of protein tend to be complete, while plant-based sources tend to lack one or more essential amino acid. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, be sure to eat a wide variety of protein-containing plant foods every day to make sure you get all of the amino acids your body needs.

All protein sources are not created equal.

People tend to think of animal products when considering protein sources. But, some of them come with possible health risks that are worth keeping in mind. Ideally, you will get your protein from a wide variety of foods.

Diets high in red meat have been linked with a higher risk of developing certain diseases, including cancer.

A large body of scientific evidence shows that eating healthy protein sources like beans, nuts, fish, or poultry in place of red meat and processed meat can lower the risk of several diseases and premature death. There are more than 100 published epidemiological studies that show a relationship between eating meat and cancer risk. However, researchers still aren’t sure if meat itself can lead to the development of cancer, or if the problem is related to the fact that meat eaters tend to eat less healthy food overall. The increased disease risk may actually be because people who consume a lot of meat are eating a diet high in calories and saturated fat and low in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In other words, there is an association with red meat and cancer, but causation has not been established. If you eat red meat and want to know how to make it healthier, please see this resource from Examine.com.

Even if you are not interested in cutting red meat from your diet, eating less and adding more plant-based sources of protein is a good idea.

Plant-based eating can save you money.

Buying good quality meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can be quite expensive. Free-range, cage-free, pastured, grass-fed, organic – animal products that are produced with those standards are generally better for health, the environment, and of course, better for the animals, but buying them regularly can really add up and is not affordable for many.

Plant-based sources of protein, on the other hand, tend to be quite affordable. And, many of them have a much longer shelf life than animal sources. Yes, there are many expensive plant-based foods on the market, like fake “meat” products, veggie burgers, and coconut milk dairy substitutions. Thankfully, none of those items are necessary. Instead, focus on adding fresh, minimally processed, nutrient-rich, plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes to your diet. All of these items are affordable for most people.

Raising animals for food may be harming the environment.

Evidence suggests that raising livestock (particularly factory farming) and industrial fishing has ecological impacts. And, food production places an enormous demand upon our natural resources, as agriculture is a major contributor to deforestation, species extinction, and freshwater depletion, and contamination. Eating plants are more environmentally sustainable.

Here’s a big list of plant-based sources of protein.
  1. Wild rice: 7 grams protein per cup (cooked)
  2. Quinoa: 9 gr per cup
  3. Amaranth: 8 gr per cup (cooked)
  4. Buckwheat: 13 gr protein for a 100-gram serving
  5. Beans: about 15 gr per cup, depending on the variety
  6. Lentils: 18 grams per cup
  7. Nuts and nut butter: 5-9 gr protein per ounce, generally.
  8. Seeds: varies, but here are a few high-protein examples – pumpkin seeds (4 gr for 1 ounce), sunflower seeds (7 gr for 1/4 cup), chia (6 gr for 2 tablespoons)
  9. Green peas: 9 gr per cup (cooked)
  10. Hemp – protein powder (about 15 gr per serving), hemp seeds, also called Hemp Hearts (10 grams in 3 tablespoons)
  11. Edamame: 17 grams per cup
  12. Tofu: 9 grams in a 3-ounce serving
  13. Tempeh: 16 grams in 1/2 cup
  14. Textured vegetable protein (TVP): 12 gr in 1/4 cup
  15. Seitan: 25 grams in 3.5-ounce serving (This is wheat gluten, so avoid this if you have Celiac disease or can’t tolerate gluten)
  16. Nutritional yeast:  14 gr per ounce
  17. Spelt and teff: about 10 gr per cup (cooked)
  18. Spirulina: 8 gr in two tablespoons
  19. Sprouted grain breads: varies
  20. Oatmeal: 6 grams per cup (cooked)
  21. Protein-rich fruits and vegetables: broccoli (6 gr per cup), spinach (5 gr per cup), and 4-5 gr protein per cooked cup of asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. Fresh fruits generally have a lower protein content than vegetables. Those containing the most include guava, cherimoyas, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines and bananas, which have about 2–4 grams of protein per cup.
There are a few special concerns to keep in mind about plant-based protein sources.

Lectins

Lectins are a type of carbohydrate-binding protein that sticks to cell membranes in the digestive tract. They are sometimes are referred to as “anti-nutrients,” and are found in most plant and animal foods. However, they’re found in the highest amounts in beans, legumes, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant), dairy products, peanuts, chickpeas, and all grains. Some types of lectins, like ricin, are toxic, but others are not.

Entirely avoiding lectins is difficult and requires following a very restrictive diet.

In What is a Lectin-Free Diet? Healthline explains that people who have food sensitivities or are prone to gastrointestinal problems may feel better on a low (or no) lectin diet:

Eating large amounts of food containing lectin may cause gas or gastric distress in some people. Lectin is not digestible. It binds to cell membranes lining the digestive tract. There, it may disrupt metabolism and cause damage.

***

Some research notes that lectin can disrupt digestion and cause intestinal damage if eaten in large quantities over a prolonged period of time.

You can destroy most lectin in foods by cooking them, as Healthline explains:

It is important to avoid raw, soaked, or undercooked beans, such as kidney beans, which have been found to be toxic to people due to their lectin levels. According to one study reported in the South African Medical Journal, soaking beans is not enough to remove lectin content.

“Fermenting, as well as soaking and sprouting high-lectin foods, can drastically reduce the lectin content, making them safe to eat for most people,” as Dr. Brian Mowll explains in What Are Lectins And Why Should You Care?

Arsenic

Arsenic, a toxic trace element that has been linked to health problems, has been found in all types of rice, but wild rice and brown rice are particularly susceptible to contamination.  Arsenic can accumulate in the bran of rice crops grown in polluted areas. In an article titled Arsenic In Rice: How Concerned Should You Be? Food Revolution Network shared some startling information:

Consumer Reports tested 223 samples of rice products and found significant levels of arsenic in almost all of them, including white, brown, parboiled, jasmine, basmati, and other types of rice.

You can see the full results of the brands they tested and the results here.

Arsenic was found in rice whether it was organic or conventional — and from all regions of the world.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the arsenic in rice:

To some extent, arsenic can be washed off. Arsenic is water soluble.

Published studies indicate that cooking rice in excess water (from six to 10 parts water to one part rice), and draining the excess water, can reduce 40 to 60% of the inorganic arsenic content, depending on the type of rice.

And a 2015 study published in PLOS ONE, found a cooking method that reduced arsenic by 85%. They used a filter coffee maker to pass the hot water through the rice as it cooked. (source)

Rinse rice thoroughly before cooking it, or better yet –  soak it for 48 hours before cooking. Pour off the water and rinse the rice every 8 to 12 hours (like soaking beans). If you want to try using a coffee maker to reduce the arsenic content in your rice, here’s how to do that. Whichever method you choose, be sure to use filtered water – because water is often contaminated with arsenic too.

As you can see, eating a wide variety of foods is important, not only to ensure that you get a lot of nutrients but also to help you avoid toxins associated with high consumption of certain foods.

And, no matter which protein sources you choose, consider growing your own food or buying locally when possible.

Be well!

 

Juicing and Blending: Two Easy Ways To Get Your Health On!

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 08:06

Are you getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables every day?

Chances are, like most people – you could do a little better when it comes to regular intake. A recent study found the greatest health benefits come from eating 10 portions a day.

Researchers from Imperial College London analyzed 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake. The meta-analysis included 2 million people from populations worldwide and assessed up to 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 112,000 cancer cases, and 94,000 deaths. The results were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2017.

Fruit and vegetable intakes were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. These results support public health recommendations to increase fruit and vegetable intake for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature mortality.

Ten servings a day may seem like a lot, but thankfully, there are two easy ways to get them in: juicing and blending. Both methods are also great ways to get kids who are picky eaters (and adults who are picky eaters!) to get more nutrients in every day.

What is juicing?

Juicing is a process where the liquid part of the fruit or vegetable is separated from the pulp or fiber. You get a thin and concentrated liquid product that contains vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients, which are bioactive plant-derived compounds associated with positive health benefits.

You probably have noticed juice products in your local stores. They tend to be quite expensive (a case of Naked Juice is $40 on Amazon). Making your own juice will save you money, and juice made at home will be a lot more fresh than bottled juices that are sold in stores. The fresher the juice, the more nutritious.

To make juice at home, you’ll need a juicer. There are many different kinds on the market at different price points, but here we will discuss two main types: Centrifugal and masticating.

Centrifugal Juicers

As you feed produce through the chute of a centrifugal juicer, it makes direct contact with a blade that shreds it. The juice from the fruits and vegetables is thrown by the centrifugal force of the spinning basket toward the sides of the basket and pushed through it into a container.

Masticating Juicers

This type of juicer uses a single auger (gear) that’s spiral in shape to press and chew (masticate) fruits and vegetables as they’re fed into the tube. Masticating juicers slowly extract juice and collect it in a container, and the pulp is continuously ejected at the end of the gear shaft into a pulp container. While these machines take longer to produce juice, they extract more juice from produce. Some claim this kind of juicing retains more nutrients than centrifugal juicers.

Steam Juicers

Steam juicers allow you to extract the juice from high liquid fruits and vegetables with the power of steam. To use, boil water in the bottom pan and place your fruit in the top colander. As the water boils, steam rises and concentrated juice drips into the center juice kettle. Wash your fruit before placing it in the steamer. Remove stems, leaves, and pits from fruit, and cut larger pieces (apples, pears, peaches, etc) into halves or quarters before steaming. Steam juicers like this one are versatile and can also be used as a vegetable steamer, a roaster, and a colander. While this method takes longer to create juice, it allows you to juice fruits that don’t do well via other methods, and you can make a lot more juice at once.

However, you decide to make your juice, be sure to drink it (or freeze it) immediately. The antioxidants and other phytonutrients start to break down almost immediately once they are exposed to light and air.

Because juicing can be time-consuming and quite messy, if you’d like to drink homemade juice on a regular basis, you could try making bigger batches and freezing it. It might not be quite as nutritious as fresh juice. But, we do know that frozen fruits and vegetables tend to retain nutrients – and in some cases, are even more nutritious than fruits and vegetables that have been sitting in the refrigerator for a few days. Freeze juice in wide-mouth jars

Benefits of juicing

Juicing provides an easy way for you to consume fruits and vegetables you normally would not eat because you don’t like the taste or texture. You can blend bitter vegetables with a little fruit to mask the taste, for example.

And, it is one way to consume a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than you (or your children) might usually eat.

In addition, there is some evidence that certain nutrients, especially those in the carotenoid family, seem to be better absorbed from the juice. Carotenoids are found in carrots, tomatoes, spinach, apricots, melons, peppers, and lots of other brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. This class of nutrients seems to play a big role in preventing cancer.

Berries, cherries, and grapes can’t be juiced in a centrifugal juicer. You’ll need a masticating juicer for those. Or, you can try using a steam juicer instead.

What is blending?

With blending, the whole fruit or vegetable is used – what you put in the blender is what you consume. The volume of the drink, which is often called a smoothie, will be much greater than that of a juice made from the same amount of fruits or vegetables. You can use anything from a standard blender to higher-end products like a Vitamix. I’ve had my Vitamix for about 16 years and it was worth the investment. I use it regularly and it is still going strong.

If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a blender to make juice out of high-water-content fruits and vegetables, but you’ll have to remove the pulp with a strainer (unless you like VERY pulpy juice!). You’ll also need to add some water to make the juice drinkable.

Which is better – juicing or blending?

Both are great ways to get a lot of nutrients into your family’s diet.

But, there are pros and cons to each, which is why doing a bit of both is ideal.

Juice is less filling. Smoothies are more filling and you can add things in that can’t be juiced, like nuts, seeds, oats, and protein powder. Some fruits – like avocados and bananas – can’t be juiced because their water content is too low, so try blending them instead.

You may have heard that juicing removes fiber, so blending is better. And, you may have heard that juicing is better because it makes nutrients easier to absorb.

According to Monica Reinagel, the Nutrition Diva, both of those claims may be true, but it probably doesn’t matter much in the scope of things:

“Blending or juicing foods can make certain nutrients more absorbable. It may decrease the effectiveness of some fibers but increase the effectiveness of others. Honestly, I think this falls into the (rather large) category of things that probably aren’t worth worrying about. If you enjoy smoothies or fresh juice, feel free to include them in the rotation. They can be a good source of nutrition.”

You can get the best of both worlds by making your own juice and then adding it to a smoothie made in a blender.

One benefit of adding your fresh juice to smoothies is that you can add protein powder and healthy fat. Juice itself is not a suitable meal replacement because it lacks those macronutrients.

To do this, make a little juice, and then put it in your blender with whole fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients to make a smoothie. This method will save you money, too – one downside of juicing can be the expense of having to buy so much fresh produce. Of course, growing your own can help you save a lot of money, and you’ll always have fresh produce available.

You can put whole leafy greens in a juicer or a blender – they blend well with fruits and other vegetables and their flavor is masked (a benefit for those who find them unpleasant on their own). Lemon and lime juice can help reduce the bitterness of greens and both are very low in sugar.

Juicing will leave you with a lot of leftover pulp. The good news is that you don’t have to toss it out – you can use the pulp for at least 20 different things.

Which fruits and vegetables can be used?

Some fruits and vegetables are better for juicing, some are better for steam juicing, and some are better for blending. And, some are great for all three methods.

Here are some fruits and vegetables that are great for juicing:

  • apples
  • oranges
  • pears
  • pineapple
  • leafy greens (examples: kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
  • cucumber
  • fennel
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • sweet potato
  • cabbage
  • celery (the flavor can be overpowering, so don’t use too much)
  • kohlrabi

Cherries can be tricky to juice because their pits need to be removed first, and it take a lot of cherries to make juice. Steam juicing or blending works best for cherries. You can buy frozen pitted cherries, which can save you all the time that would be involved in removing the pits by other methods.I buy pitted frozen cherries to use in smoothies.

Peaches, apricots, plums, and nectarines also contain pits (also known as stones or kernels) that need to be removed prior to using in juices and smoothies. Removing seeds from apples prior to juicing is a good idea, too.

Wash all produce before juicing or blending. Remove stems, leaves, pits, and seeds.

Here’s how to add flavor and other nutrients to your juices and smoothies.

Experiment with different fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices to see what you like.

My personal favorite juice is orange, apple and carrot with ginger and my favorite smoothie contain juice made with leafy greens blended with frozen berries, half of a banana, almond butter, chia seeds, ground flax, hemp protein powder, and water in my Vitamix.

You can add herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, mint, parsley,

Try adding some of these to smoothies: nuts, nut butter, Greek yogurt (the plain variety with no sugar or sweetener added), protein powder, chia seeds, flax, oats, dark chocolate.

Of course, options are only limited to your imagination – try adding a wide variety of different fruits, vegetables, and add-ins to your juices and smoothies. You’ll get a wide range of nutrients and won’t get bored.

While juicing and blending are good ways to add nutrients to your diet, it is possible to overdo it.

Whichever method you choose (or if you do a bit of both), be mindful of the ingredients you choose, watch your portion sizes, and watch your frequency of consumption. While a great source of nutrients, some juices and smoothies can end up being filled with calories and sugar as well.

Sugar from fruits and vegetables is generally okay, but you can overdo it – especially if you have Type 2 diabetes. A big glass of fresh juice can cause a sudden sharp rise in your blood sugar, which in turn provokes a big release of insulin from the pancreas, which then causes a quick drop in blood sugar. To prevent this from happening, make sure at least 80 percent of your juice comes from vegetables – green leafy veggies are ideal.

Another possible concern regarding juicing is high vitamin K content, as Everyday Health explains:

The high vitamin K content in a spinach-kale smoothie, for example, can be life-threatening if you take blood-thinning medications, like warfarin. Such anticoagulants often are prescribed after a stroke, deep vein thrombosis or other circulatory conditions.

Kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard, parsley and mustard greens – green juicers’ favorites – contain up to 550 micrograms of vitamin K per cup, which can lower the drugs’ anti-clotting activity.

If you take anticoagulants,limit your leafy green intake to a half-cup a day, unless your healthcare provider gives you the green light to add more. Big changes in vitamin K intake could lead to a blood clot, and a stroke or death.

If you have kidney problems, be careful with fruit and vegetable juices that contain high amounts of potassium.

Everyday Health elaborates:

Adults need 4,700 mg of potassium daily to keep the heart and muscles working. In healthy people, the kidneys generally excrete the excess.

But that doesn’t happen in people with compromised kidneys: Potassium builds in their blood, raising the risk of a heart attack and stroke, according to the National Kidney Foundation. They should limit their intake of potassium to 1,500 -2,000 mg per day.

If you have kidney disease, consult with your healthcare provider for guidance before adding juice to your diet.

Do you juice or make smoothies? What do you put in yours?

Let us know in the comments!

Be well!

 

Homemade Elderberry Extract and 3 Ways To Use It

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 05:04

Elderberries have long been touted for their amazing health benefits. They are widely used in natural medicines and food. Elderberries are the rich, dark purple fruit of the elderberry shrub and have high levels of antioxidants making them perfect to help support the body through some ailments, such as the common cold.

Many of elderberry’s health benefits can be attributed to anthocyanin, the aforementioned antioxidant. As an antioxidant, anthocyanin works by clearing the body of free radicals that damage cells at the DNA level. It also has antiviral properties that may prevent or reduce the severity of certain common infections making it one of the best cold and flu fighters out there. Elderberry also exerts anti-inflammatory effects which help to reduce swelling and can reduce pain by tempering the body’s immune response.

COMMON COLDS

There have actually been studies helping to support elderberry’s efficacy in the natural treatment of the common cold. A 2016 study from Australia reported that among 312 long-haul airline passengers, those who used elderberry extract 10 days before and five days after their flight had 50 percent fewer sick days from the cold than those who did not. Elderberry, however, did not reduce the risk of catching a cold, it only reduced the severity of symptoms and length of time spent ill from the common viral infection.

PAIN RELIEF

It should stand to reason that because elderberry is an anti-inflammatory, it might also be a helpful natural pain reliever. Although there are few and limited studies showing whether or not elderberry’s anthocyanins actually reduce any pain, or provide any relief, the anthocyanins are, in fact, known to reduce inflammation –  a leading cause of chronic disease. Those antioxidants in elderberry do so by inhibiting the production of nitrous oxide by the body’s immune cells. Nitrous oxide serves as a signaling molecule that triggers inflammation in response to injury or disease. By tempering this response, pain and swelling may also be relieved.

CONSTIPATION

Drinking an elderberry tea could help relieve the discomfort of constipation. This laxative effect is attributed to a compound in elderberry known as anthraquinone, which is also found in rhubarb and senna. Anthraquinone inhibits the absorption of water in the intestines which increased intestinal pressure stimulating muscle contractions to help aid in evacuating the bowels. Although there is little medical literature related to elderberry’s laxative properties, Very Well Health says that it is generally accepted that the effects are mild and safe when used to treat occasional, uncomplicated constipation.

SIDE EFFECTS

Because of elderberry’s laxative properties, there are a few side effects. The overconsumption of elderberries may cause diarrhea, stomach ache, and abdominal cramping thanks to these laxative effects. If elderberry is used for medicine, only ripe or dried berries should be used. It is also important to note that certain parts of the elderberry plant (including the leaves, root, bark, and stems) contain a type of poison known as “cyanogenic glycoside.” Even unripe berries contain trace amounts of this poison, which, if chewed, can release cyanide into the body. Elderberry is not recommended for children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers. While no adverse events have been reported in these groups, there is not enough data to confirm that it is safe over the long term. Seek medical attention immediately if you use elderberry and experience any symptoms of poisoning.

Those with autoimmune diseases should also steer clear of elderberry.  Elderberry makes the immune system more active, meaning it can interact with the drugs used to suppress the immune systems of those with an autoimmune disease.

Recipe for Elderberry Extract:
  • 4oz of dried elderberries
  • 1-quart bottle of cheap vodka or brandy
  • 1-quart jar with lid
  1. Each day, shake the jar and during the first week, make sure that the alcohol you’ve chosen still covers the berries. Add more vodka or brandy if necessary.
  2. After 6-8 weeks or longer, remove the berries by straining them through the colander. The extract will remain potent for 1-2 years if kept in a cool dark place.

Note: This is extract, and it will taste like an extract. It needs to be added to other things such as tea, seltzer, or water to make it more palatable. It still has all the wonderful properties, maybe even more so than the syrup recipe, however. Serving 20 drops for adults and 10 drops for kids once a day for prevention and 3 or 4 times per day if one is sick with the flu or cold.

There are a few other ways an elderberry extract can be used as well.

  1. Throat Lozenges (cough drops) – A great recipe can be found here, at Tasty Ever After.
  2. Added to an immune boosting tea for immune boosting properties:

Immune Support Loose Tea Blend for Cold and Flu Season (4oz)

  1. Add to warm or sparkling water for a health tonic.

WebMD suggests that elderberry is possibly safe to take for up to 12 weeks but it isn’t known what the long term side effects could be. As with any medicine, natural or otherwise, it’s better to err on the safe side, especially until you know what your body is capable of handling.  Don’t hesitate to speak to a healthcare provider if you feel the need to do so. Take the time to research and note the possible side effects so that you are well prepared in advance.

*This article is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any medical or health condition.  Please seek help from a medical professional if you have any questions or concerns.

 

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