Viruses Aren’t the Bad Guys and Here’s Why

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In these last 2 years the world’s focus has been on health and not necessarily in a positive light.  Our focus has been on the dangers of viruses, sterilization, wearing masks, isolation and social distancing.  However, I think it’s an important time to talk about the Virome and why it is essential.

What is the Virome?

You might be wondering what a Virome is? Well, just as we have a microbiome made up of trillions of bacteria hanging out within us, so too, do we have viruses.  In fact, the Virome is not only within us but it is also part of our air, water and soil, about 1030 .  , that’s 10 million times more viruses in the air, water, and soil then there are stars in the universe.

What are Viruses?

Viruses are not living organisms, it is a small collection of genetic code, either DNA or RNA, surrounded by a protein coat. They are secreted from bacteria, fungus, plants, and humans.

The History of Viruses

Viruses helped shape our evolution and make us who we are. The placenta’s formation, for example, is reliant upon a retrovirus gene insert that happened in mammals millions of years ago. We would not have emergence of mammals and mammalian birth without the genomic insert of a retrovirus.  We wouldn’t have a stem cells and their function without a viral insert.

Why Do We Need Them?

More then %50 of the genome that makes up humans and other living organisms are made up of viral inserts into our genome.  So, viruses are a part of our make up, they don’t attack us, they don’t take over our genome.  They are available for genomic updates.  Not every virus that comes into our system is going to be taken up by our genome.  Only a small fraction become part our human genome.  So, there is a constant adaptation of the body to the virome and they become essential to our functions.

The body has been in a state of balance with viruses since the beginning of humankind.  In a newborn- 7 days old, there are 108  viruses in every gram of stool.  This is before the child has its own innate immune system.


In an article from the author states that the vast majority of viruses are not pathogenic to humans, and many play integral roles in propping up ecosystems. Others maintain the health of individual organisms – everything from fungi and plants to insects and humans. “We live in a balance, in a perfect equilibrium”, and viruses are a part of that, says Susana Lopez Charretón, a virologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “I think we’d be done without viruses.”

Ecosystems:  viruses keep the delicate balance of life in check in the world’s oceans and other ecosystems.  They regulate bacterial populations. If this delicate balance were disrupted some bacterial populations would disappear while others would proliferate.  When viruses are part of the cycle of balancing life it allows the oxygen-producing plankton to undergo high rates of photosynthesis which sustains life on Earth.

“If we don’t have death, then we have no life, because life is completely dependent on recycling of materials,” says Curtis Suttle, an environmental virologist at the University of British Columbia.

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Protective to humans: Stated in the article Why the World Needs Viruses to Function on…”GB virus C, a common blood-born human virus that is a non-pathogenic distant relative of West Nile virus and dengue fever, is linked to delayed progression to Aids in HIV-positive people. Scientists also found that GB virus C seems to make people infected with Ebola less likely to die.

Likewise, herpes makes mice less susceptible to certain bacterial infections, including the bubonic plague and listeria (a common type of food poisoning). Infecting people with herpesvirus, bubonic plague and listeria to replicate the mouse experiment would be unethical, but the study’s authors suspect that their findings in rodents likely apply to humans”.

These few examples are reminders to us that viruses are not always the bad guy.  In fact, for the most part viruses play and have played an essential role to evolution of humankind and in the delicate balance of earth’s ecosystems.  We mustn’t forget the innate intelligence of nature that has been choreographing this delicate balance of living things for millions of years.,current%20literature%20on%20beneficial%20viruses.

Why Red Light Therapy is the Secret to Better Health

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What is Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a type of treatment that uses low levels of red or near-infrared light to treat skin, muscle and other parts of the body. You may have also heard it been called Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) or low-power laser therapy (LPLT) and photobiomodulation (PBM).

When you are exposed to this light that is not seen but felt as heat, the mitochondria (power generators of your cells) absorb it and makes more energy.  This energy boost energizes cells, creating a ripple effect: as individual cells work better, they improve the functioning of various bodily systems that work together to support healing.

Red light activates stem cells in the bone marrow, which causes the cells to mobilize to the site of the injury. This is important because emerging cells take cues from their neighbors; if new cells take on the characteristics of damaged cells, then they will function as damaged cells. Sending in healthy cells is required to “teach” the emerging cells to adopt the desired characteristics of healthy cells.

The History of Light Therapy

Using light as healing therapy has a long history that dates back to ancient times when they used the sun’s healing rays.  Throughout history we can find examples of light being used in different forms to heal the body and even grow plants in outer space!  So, it should come as no surprise that it’s now used in a wide variety of practices across various sectors of professions.  You can now purchase home devices as well.

Some Uses for Red Light Therapy

  • DementiaIn one small study, people with dementia who got regular near-infrared light therapy on their heads and through their noses for 12 weeks had better memories, slept better, and were angry less often.
  • Dental pain. In another small study, people with temporomandibular dysfunction syndrome had less pain, clicking, and jaw tenderness after red light therapy.
  • Hair Loss. One study found that men and women with androgenetic alopecia (a genetic disorder that causes hair loss) who used an at-home RLT device for 24 weeks grew thicker hair. People in the study who used a fake RLT device didn’t get the same results.
  • Osteoarthritis: One study found red and infrared light therapy cut osteoarthritis-related pain by more than 50%.
  • Tendonitis. A very small study of 7 people suggests RLT lessens inflammation and pain in people with Achilles’ tendinitis.
  • Wrinkles and other signs of skin aging and skin damage. Research shows RLT may smooth your skin and help with wrinkles. RLT also helps with acne scars, burns and signs of UV sun damage.  Red light simulates normal functioning in fibroblasts, the cells responsible for collagen and elastin synthesis. Increasing fibroblast proliferation increases and normalizes collagen and elastin production.
  • Boosting the circulatory system (blood) and the lymphatic system (lymph) supports proper healing. According to a 2017 study by Austrian researchers, red light promotes the proliferationof endothelial cells, which make up capillaries in both the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems.

red light therapy, red light therapy benefits, red light therapy before and after, red light therapy at homeWhat Are the Risks?

Red light therapy is generally considered safe, even though researchers aren’t exactly sure how and why it works. And there are no set rules on how much light to use. Too much light may damage skin tissue, but too little might not work as well.  However, you can find more information on dosing by clicking here

Where Can You Find It?

It’s usually done in a doctor’s office. But some salons, dental offices and other healthcare practitioners have it, too. You can also buy your own red light therapy device. Do you research before choosing the right option for you and always contact a health care professional.,levels%20and%20restored%20memory%20function.,on%20women%20experiencing%20hair%20loss.


5 Ways Alkaline Water Can Boost Your Life

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We’ve all heard the suggestion to drink 8 glasses of water a day because water is good for you.  To put it simply, our body needs water in order to function properly since 60% of our body is water! As studies suggest, staying hydrated can improve your productivity, mood, memory, energy level, and clarity. So what is the big hype about alkaline water?  The idea that alkaline water is medicinal, curative, and able to bring about optimal health seems to be based on the belief that acidic properties in the body and blood are the cause of ill health and disease and need to be neutralized. Therefore, a more alkaline body will lead to better health.

What is Alkaline water?

Alkaline water has a higher PH level then regular drinking water. The pH level is a scale and the lower the PH the more acidic it is. High concentrations of hydrogen ions yield a low pH (acidic substances), whereas low levels of hydrogen ions result in a high pH (basic substances).

The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Anything below 7 (ranging from 0 to 6.9) is acidic, and anything above 7 (ranging from 7.1 to 14) is basic. The blood in your veins is slightly basic (pH = 7.4), whereas soap (pH = 12) and bleach (pH = 13) are highly basic. On the other hand, coffee is slightly acidic (pH = 5) and tomato juice (pH = 4) and lemon juice (pH = 2) are highly acidic.

Alkaline compounds (alkali) are substances, like salts, metals, and minerals, that, when added to water, make it more basic. Water always contains some amount of dissolved solids including minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, but alkaline water tends to have a higher amount of total dissolved solids, which increases its pH level. Regular drinking water is typically neutral with a pH level of 7 and alkaline water is slightly basic with a pH level of about 8 or 9.

Alkaline water contains four major minerals that contribute to its remarkable health benefits:

  1. Calcium: Important for bone health, as well as heart, muscle, and nerve function.
  2. Magnesium: Helps turn food into energy and is necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
  3. Sodium: Regulates blood pressure and volume, and supports nerve/muscle function.
  4. Potassium: A type of electrolyte that is essential for muscle function and promotes healthy digestion.

The claims that Alkaline water is beneficial to one’s health is controversial in that some claims lack proven scientific research.   But those that have been scientifically proven are:

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Improve Bone Health

Some research has been done on the effects of alkaline intake on bones. A study published in the scientific journal Bone found a positive effect on bone resorption with people who consumed alkaline water rich in bicarbonate. Bone resorption is the process where old bone cells are broken down and replaced by new ones. Less bone resorption and more mineral density resulted in better bone strength. The authors of the study concluded that “a bicarbonate- and calcium-rich alkali mineral water decreased bone resorption more than a calcium-rich acidic mineral water.”

Soothe Acid Reflux

A study published in Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology found that drinking alkaline water at pH 8.8 can help soothe acid reflux because the higher pH level kills pepsin, an enzyme involved in breaking down food proteins and a main cause for acid reflux. Acid reflux is when the contents of the stomach, which are acidic, splash back up the food pipe. Acid reflux that keeps happening for a long time can cause damage and a disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Reduce High Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, and Cholesterol

In 2016, scientists in Shanghai found that three to six months after drinking alkaline water, people with high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar (diabetes), and high blood lipids (cholesterol) had lower measures in each of these factors. Researchers found that a high-pH electrolyte water reduced the thickness and stickiness of your blood, in 100 adults after exercising. This may help reduce cardiovascular strain due to dehydration.

Enhance Hydration

A 2017 study published in Biology of Sport found that drinking alkaline water shows a positive effect on hydration status after anaerobic exercise with a significant decrease of specific urine gravity. Intake of alkaline water also shows a positive effect on urine pH during the anaerobic test protocol, and much more efficient lactate utilization after the high-intensity interval exercise. In addition to enhanced hydration, efficient lactate utilization results in increased energy, as lactate serves as an energy source in skeletal muscles.

In contrast, subjects who consumed regular drinking water showed no changes over the same period of time. These results indicate that the habitual consumption of alkaline water may be a valuable nutritional vector influencing both acid-base balance and hydration status, as well as energy levels in active healthy adults.

Increase Longevity

A study published in 2016 looked at the effect of consuming alkaline water on 150 mice over a period of three years. Results suggested that those who drank alkaline water had signs of greater longevity, in other words, they aged less and were more likely to live longer. Histological examination of mice kidneys, intestines, hearts, livers, and brains was performed in order to verify the risk of diseases correlated to drinking alkaline water. No significant damage, but aging changes, emerged; organs of alkaline watered animals resulted to be relatively superimposable to controls, shedding a further light on the benefits of alkaline water consumption in humans. h



Why Vitamins Are the Secret to Better Health

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We have always been told to take vitamins and minerals but why?  And how do we know what we need? How do we know that we are getting quality products?  Theses are all important questions, and we are going to take a look at these questions and try to answer them.

Why do we need vitamins and minerals?

This is the simple part of the puzzle. We need vitamins and minerals for the health functioning of our mind and body.  Every system of our body: skin, bones, muscles, blood, nerves, brain and so many more requires these raw materials because the body can’t produce sufficient amounts on its own.  So, we get these raw materials from our food.

A healthy balanced diet should supply us with the nutrients our body and mind need.  But there are a few things that could prevent us from getting all the nutrients we need.  Let’s look at a few,

Cooking Methods

Cooking can improve the absorption of some foods while other foods lose their nutrients if they are cooked.  But it also depends on how the food is cooked.  For example, the protein in cooked eggs is 180% more digestible than that of raw eggs.  Nutrients reduced from cooking:

  • water-soluble vitamins: vitamin C and the B vitamins — thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12)
  • fat-soluble vitamins: vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • minerals: primarily potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium

Boiling, simmering or poaching reduces water-soluble vitamins C and B.  However, if the water is consumed then the vitamins are retained.   Grilling or broiling causes a loss of B vitamins because the nutrient rich juice drips off the meat. Roasting and baking result in less of a loss of vitamin C but because of the high heat and longer cooking times, vitamin B is reduced by %40.  Sautéing and stir-frying improve the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and some plant compounds, but they decrease the amount of vitamin C in vegetables. Frying makes food taste delicious, and it can provide some benefits when healthy oils are used. It’s best to avoid frying fatty fish and minimize the frying time of other foods. Steaming is one of the best cooking methods for preserving nutrients, including water-soluble vitamins. Here are some cooking tips to maximize nutrient retention cited from

  1. Use as little water as possible when poaching or boiling.
  2. Consume the liquid left in the pan after cooking vegetables.
  3. Add back juices from meat that drip into the pan.
  4. Don’t peel vegetables until after cooking them. Better yet, don’t peel at all to maximize their fiber and nutrient density.
  5. Cook vegetables in smaller amounts of water to reduce the loss of vitamin C and B vitamins.
  6. Try to eat any cooked vegetables within a day or two, as their vitamin C content may continue to decline when the cooked food is exposed to air.
  7. Cut food after — rather than before — cooking, if possible. When food is cooked whole, less of it is exposed to heat and water.
  8. Cook vegetables for only a few minutes whenever possible.
  9. When cooking meat, poultry, and fish, use the shortest cooking time needed for safe consumption.
  10. Don’t use baking soda when cooking vegetables. Although it helps maintain color, vitamin C will be lost in the alkaline environment produced by baking soda.

Can we absorb the nutrients?

There are some conditions or diseases that could cause malabsorption of nutrients.  Here’s what CentreSpringMD had to say “Having a weak gut lining, food allergies, microbiome imbalances such as bacterial overgrowth, damage to the intestines from infection, surgery, pancreatic insufficiency, autoimmune disease–all of these are possible causes that lead to poor nutrient absorption. Pair that with the possibilities of our foods not having optimal nutrient levels due poor soil quality, other environmental factors, and it is not difficult to see how nutrient deficiencies are pervasive in today’s world.

Often people go years with subclinical deficiencies that lead to an array of symptoms. Hair loss, brain fog, chronic fatigue, these are just a few! Prolonged or frequent use of antibiotics can alter the terrain of the gut in a way that leads to nutrient malabsorption.

And of course, our infamous friend named stress is well known to slow digestion and significantly alter the microbiome… thereby negatively impacting digestion and immunity (remember how the gut houses a huge percentage of your immune system?!)”

Growing conditions of our food

According to one article sited “fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.” And according to several studies this decline in nutrients is measurable

What can be done? The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favor of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers. Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.

What to look for when buying vitamins

Now that we’ve taken a look at the reasons why we might need to take supplemental vitamins and minerals, perhaps we should learn a little about shopping for them since the market is vast so how do we know what to buy?

Vitamin and mineral supplements are subject to fairly limited regulation by the FDA. To ensure the safety and accuracy of a product, look for supplements that have been certified by a third-party testing organization

Taking supplements should be done under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner. Depending on the type and level of ingredients, there are risks of side effects, toxicity, and interactions with drugs, foods, and alcohol. Additionally, supplements are not guaranteed to be effective.

You’ll want to look for supplements that adhere to any dietary restrictions you may have. How often you need to take the supplement, as well as its form, such as capsules or chewable gummies, should also be considered.


9 Amazing Affects of Kindness on Health

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2021 is drawing to a close and naturally we reflect back on the year we had and most of us are probably looking back a little further recalling our lives prior to COVID-19.  It’s been a difficult 2 years for humankind and so how do we go forward?  What is it that we all have in common, that we can all do and can affect our global family?  We all have within us the capability to be KIND to one another and to ourselves.  And when we tap into that common thread among us it can spread like wildfire.  I think we can agree that no matter who you are, where you are, what circumstances you’re in, that a little kindness goes a long way. I can recall an experience I had awhile ago when I was grocery shopping, and I was putting my groceries in the trunk of my car in the pouring rain.   I had put my last bag in the trunk and was about to bring the cart to the corral and out of nowhere a woman grabbed my cart and said, “I can bring it back for you, there is no sense in both of us getting soaked”. I can’t describe the enormity of my feelings at that moment.  I was initially surprised, which made me wonder why I would feel surprised by another person’s act of kindness.  And then I felt such gratitude and happiness that it carried me for a few days after.  This woman didn’t know me or the impression it left upon me but that is the beauty of kindness.  It doesn’t require much to do but the affect can be life changing.  Since that encounter, I am always looking for ways to pay it forward.

Did you know kindness is good for your health?

According to several studies kindness can:

  • Cause a production of oxytocin which helps in lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart health
  • Increase self-esteem and optimism
  • Increase happiness
  • Increase longevity
  • Increase serotonin, the chemical that heals wounds, calms and makes you happy
  • Decreases pain by releasing endorphins – natural painkillers
  • Decreases stress because of less cortisol
  • Decreases anxiety and depression
  • Kindness is contagious

kind, kindness, be kind quotes

If kindness to others can have all these amazing effects on your health imagine what it could do when you also are kind to yourself!  Here are 52 ways to be kinder to yourself cited by

  • Embrace your own power and you’ll be better able to empower others.
  • Learn to calm your mind. A calm mind is the best weapon against even the biggest challenges.
  • Have a courageous conversation. Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
  • Create media blackout days. Shut out all the screens and other things that distract or disturb you.
  • Be true to your word. Speak with integrity; say only what you mean and never speak ill of yourself or others. Use the power of your words in service to truth and kindness.
  • Do the right thing, even if no one is watching. Doing the right thing may hurt, but doing the wrong thing causes lasting harm.
  • Spend time with people who do good things. Never stop doing things for others and spend your precious time with others who share that spirit.
  • Embrace the unknown. Fear of the unknown can be truly paralyzing but having the courage and conviction to take a chance can turn fear to your advantage.
  • Be compassionate toward yourself. Be as understanding with yourself as you would be with your best friend. If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.
  • Celebrate your growth. Sometimes we forget to celebrate how far we’ve come. Mental, emotional, and spiritual growth don’t happen automatically. They take work and perseverance, and they’re worth rewarding.
  • Don’t ever settle. Never accept less than you deserve, because once you start to settle, you always will.
  • Stop worrying about what other people think. The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think.
  • Don’t live your life online. Make sure you’re spending time with people face-to-face and living fully in real life.
  • Treat others with respect. Treating others with respect and generosity is associated with high self-esteem.
  • Realize you are worthy and deserving. There’s a big difference between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing you are worthy of happiness.
  • Be kind to others. Set an example. Treat everyone with the same consideration you want for yourself.
  • Express yourself courageously. Speak your truth and live to express, not to impress.
  • Be your own superhero. Remember, superheroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.
  • Shut down negative self-talk. The things you tell yourself every day are either going to lift you up or tear you down. It’s your choice.
  • Hold yourself to a high standard. Never let anyone tell you your standards are too high. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take your work and your responsibilities seriously, but yourself not so much.
  • Do something you’re afraid to do. Learn to overcome fear with will.
  • Take time off. Everyone deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solution searched for. There’s no harm in withdrawing from your cares for a while.
  • Learn to forgive. In any conflict, the first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, and the first to forget is the happiest.
  • Set big goals. Set daily, monthly, and long-term goals built on your dreams. Never be afraid you’re thinking too big–nothing is impossible. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve it.
  • Respect yourself fully. Always treat yourself with the same respect you show others. Remember, the world sees what you put out there–so hold yourself to a high standard.
  • Give to others. Giving is the master key to happiness in life. It’s in giving that we receive the most.
  • Truly listen to people when they are speaking. Stop every other action and thought and focus on what’s being said.
  • Go to bed early. You’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive.
  • Help others. Don’t look for a reason to help people; just do it.
  • Change your thoughts to change your life. If you truly want to be better to yourself, start by listening to your thoughts. Your mind is a powerful thing, and when you fill it with positive thoughts amazing things can happen.
  • Stop trying to fit in. When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect. Concentrate instead on being yourself and standing out.
  • Think of a way to make your life easier, then do it. If something doesn’t add to your life, it doesn’t belong in your life.
  • Stop judging yourself. One of the most important ways we can be kinder to ourselves is to stop judging ourselves. Don’t sum up your whole life in one moment.
  • Make the most of every opportunity. When opportunity knocks, don’t let fear hold you back. Open the door and embrace the opportunity, because it may be the most important one you’ll receive.
  • Learn to let things go. Sometimes the best way to be happy is to learn to let go of things you tried hard to hold on to.
  • Ask for help. Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.
  • Stay focused. Keep yourself on task and you’ll discover more free time.
  • Be fully present. To be present in the moment is one of the greatest acts of kindness you can give yourself.
  • Take time for yourself. There is a virtue in work and there is virtue in taking time off. Enjoy both in balance.
  • Nourish yourself. What if you devoted the coming year to simply caring for yourself? Don’t make excuses, adjustments, or improvements–just do whatever it takes to nurture yourself.
  • Bring music into your life. Music gives wings to the mind and flight to the imagination.
  • Get out and have fun. There’s no valid reason not to enjoy your life every day.
  • Appreciate people in your life. Appreciation can make someone’s day or even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words, even awkwardly, is all that is necessary.
  • Learn to dance freely. Even if it’s only when nobody’s watching, learn to let yourself be loose and enjoy each step.
  • Don’t rest on your laurels. Keep yourself motivated and moving forward.
  • Try to bring meaning to every day. It’s important to remember that we all have meaning within us.
  • Learn to apologize. Apologizing doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right–sometimes it just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.
  • Boldly challenge yourself. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
  • Treat yourself to a personal health day. Take time off and get a massage, eat great food, do nothing, take a walk, work out, whatever you do–treat yourself to whatever makes you happy.
  • Be your own best friend. It’s far better than being your own worst enemy.
  • Reinvent yourself. Life isn’t about finding yourself; life will always be about creating yourself.

The Joy, Comfort, and Heart-Healthy Power of Dark Chocolate

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With Christmas around the corner, we are all looking forward to spending time with friends and family.  We often think of it as a tradition or perhaps a must-do.  But we should be reminding ourselves that connecting at the heart level with loved ones is good for the mind and body and now more then ever, we need to make connections and re-establish old ones. Christmas is also traditionally a time of year for lots of goodies!  And one favorite is CHOCOLATE! But can we still indulge and be healthy? Yes, we can, because dark chocolate does have some health benefits, especially for the heart.

The History of Chocolate

Dark chocolate has been around for over 3,000 years. Around 1900 B.C in Central and South America it was consumed as a drink. Later, it was also made into a drink for the Aztecs and Mayans for ceremonial purposes. The Spanish encountered chocolate in the early 1500s and brought it back to Europe.

Where Does Chocolate Come From?

Chocolate is made from the fruit of cacao trees, which are native to Central and South America. The fruits are called pods and each pod contains around 40 cacao beans. The beans are dried and roasted to create cocoa beans.

Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults.

What are Flavanoids and Flavanols?

Flavonoids are various compounds found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. They’re also in plant products like wine, tea, and chocolate. There are six different types of flavonoids found in food, and each kind is broken down by your body in a different way.

What do Flavanoids do?

Flavonoids are rich in antioxidant activity and can help your body ward off everyday toxins. Including more flavonoids in your diet is a great way to help your body stay healthy and potentially decrease your risk of some chronic health conditions.

Different flavonoids can help the body in different ways. For one, including foods with flavonoids in your diet may be an effective way to help manage high blood pressure. At least five subtypes of flavonoids have a demonstrable effect on lowering high blood pressure, according to a reviewTrusted Source published in 2015.

Also, the flavonoids found in tea, coffee, and soy may help lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. One study published in the Journal of Translational MedicineTrusted Source found that people who consumed higher levels of flavonoids as part of their diet had a lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event. However, more research is needed to prove the cardiovascular benefits of flavonoids.

When we look at cardiovascular health and the connection to dark chocolate there are 2 factors to consider – blood pressure and cholesterol.

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How Does Dark Chocolate Affect Blood pressure?

The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate, or widen, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

2015 studyTrusted Source investigated the effects of chocolate consumption in 60 people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The researchers found that participants who ate 25 grams (g) of dark chocolate daily for 8 weeks had significantly lower blood pressure than those who ate the same quantity of white chocolate.

The findings of a 2017 reviewTrusted Source showed that the beneficial effects of dark chocolate on blood pressure might be more significant in older people and those with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, as opposed to younger, healthy individuals.

How Does Dark Chocolate Affect Cholesterol?

Dark chocolate also contains certain compounds, such as polyphenols and theobromine, that may lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body and increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Doctors often refer to LDL cholesterol as “bad cholesterol” and HDL cholesterol as “good cholesterol.”

2017 study reported that eating dark chocolate for 15 days raised HDL cholesterol levels in people living with HIV. However, dark chocolate consumption did not affect LDL cholesterol levels in the study participants.

Shopping for Dark Chocolate

  • Fair trade sourcing means not only are workers paid fairly but also, they have safe and environmentally friendly working conditions.
  • Dig dark chocolate. Grab a bar with 70% cocoa or higher (more cocoa equals more flavonoids). If dark chocolate tastes too bitter for you, dark milk chocolate is a pretty sweet compromise—it has less sugar and more cocoa than traditional milk chocolate, which may have as little as 10%. If it says “milk chocolate” but has a cocoa percentage of 38% or higher, you’ll know it’s dark milk.
  • Read the ingredients. Chocolate, cocoa, or cacao should appear first in the ingredient list, meaning there’s more of it by weight. If sugar is firs on the list or you see unfamiliar ingredients, steer clear, says Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., R.D.N., an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University and the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim.
  • Know your source. Dutch-processed cocoa tends to have a reduced flavonoid content because of how the chocolate is processed, while one recent study found that cocoa beans from Colombia had the highest flavonoid content, likely because of things like plant variety and geography.,high%20blood%20pressure%20in%20adults.,brought%20it%20back%20to%20Europe.

The Stress-Reducing Power of Adaptogens

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It seems that these days, given the state of our world, people are naturally searching for ways cope with all the stressors surrounding them.  So how can we do this naturally?   Well, we all know that eating well, moving our bodies and sleeping are top priority.  But sometimes we could use a little more help and that’s where Adaptogens come into play. Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that help the body resist stressors of all kinds, whether physical, chemical, or biological. These herbs and roots have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions.

Some adaptogenic herbs are too bitter, so they are made into powdered supplements (and taken as a capsule), smoothies, teas, or herbal drinks or integrated into tinctures (herbal supplements dissolved in alcohol and ingested in a liquid form). A person can still experience a stressful events, but adaptogens are said to improve the way the body responds physically to stress.

Stress is considered a physiological condition, associated with the nervous, endocrine (hormones), and immune systems. Stress can be brought on by an external event, environmental condition, or a chemical or biological agent that triggers the body to release stress hormones which result in physiological changes.

Examples of changes that occur due to the release of stress hormones include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This sudden flood of hormonal changes is called the fight-or-flight response.

The fight-or-flight response in the body include can be brought on by:

  • Environmental factors, such as extremely high or low temperatures
  • Biological factors, such as an illness or injury
  • Chemical agents, such as tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Mental issues (such as focusing on negative events [like the loss of a job or a divorce] or perceived threats)
  • Physical events, such as chronic loss of sleep
  • Day-to-day stressful events, like driving in heavy traffic

When stress is too overwhelming or prolonged, it can contribute to disease and may even reduce life expectancy. This is referred to as maladaptive stress, and it’s what adaptogens are said to help the body overcome.

Examples of Adaptogenic Herbs

There are many different adaptogens, each said to have its own specific action. But keep in mind that there are still only limited clinical research studies supporting the safety and effectiveness of these natural supplements.

Examples of common adaptogens and the action they are said to produce in the body include:

  • Astragalus root: to help reduce stress and aging by protecting the telomeres (structures linked with aging, located at the end of each chromosome)
  • Ashwagandha: to help the body cope with daily stress, and as a general tonic
  • Siberian ginseng: to provide energy and help overcome exhaustion
  • Holy basil: to promote relaxation, relieve stress and anxiety
  • Rhodiola rosea: to lower anxiety, fatigue, and depression
  • Cordycepsa specific type of mushroom which is said to fight stress and help balance hormones
  • Reishia specific type of mushroom which is said to help the body adapt to stress and promote a healthy sleep pattern
  • Maca: to improve mood and increase energy
  • Wild yamto regulate female hormone levels
  • Licorice: to increase energy and endurance and help boost the immune system, stimulate the adrenal glands and promote healthy cortisol levels
  • Bacopa Monnieri: to protect the brain and improve memory and improve other aspects of cognitive function

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Potential Risks and Side Effects of Adaptogenic Herbs

Adaptogenic herbs are nontoxic plants with gentle effects. However, some factors should be taken into consideration before you start consuming them.

  • They may react with other medications.If you’re taking prescribed medication, integrative health experts suggest talking with your doctor or consulting a naturopath or herbalist before adding any adaptogens into your routine. Your adaptogen of choice may react with the effects of your other medications.
  • They aren’t universally applicable.Don’t take an adaptogen just because your best friend took it—adaptogens can react differently from person to person, so research which one(s) could work best for your health. Further, consult your doctor or a knowledgeable health care professional if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or immunocompromised and considering taking adaptogenic herbs.
  • They are better in lower doses.Experts recommend ingesting adaptogenic herbs in small doses each day over the course of six to 12 weeks (unless you’re directed otherwise by your doctor). Taking larger doses in a single sitting may result in adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness or headaches.

How to Add Adaptogens to Your Diet Safely

If you make most of your own meals, you can add adaptogens in their raw forms or as powders to your favorite recipes. You can also find adaptogens in the form of teas, tinctures and supplements.

Whichever route you go, always do your research before buying so you know you’re ingesting a safe product. Learn about each brand, such as where they source their herbs, whether they are GMP (good manufacturing practices) certified and if they use third-party testing. can be a great resource of information for a fee, but you can also call a company directly to ask questions. Natural supplement store staff members might also provide helpful information.

Start slowly and stick to one herb at a time instead of trying several all at once. This way you can determine how each one does or doesn’t affect you before deciding whether to try another one.

Remember, adaptogens aren’t meant to be a quick antidote to anxiety or fatigue. Rather, they help your body build resilience over time.

“Adaptogens are meant to be taken consistently for several weeks at a time,” says Dr. Fossati. “They are also meant to be stopped for a week or so, so you can stop and reacclimate.”

Adaptogen Supplements

Supplement capsules may be one of the easiest ways to integrate adaptogens into your diet. However, the dietary supplement industry is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means the quality of what you find on shelves can vary dramatically. Some may consist of a mix of several herbs, which may not produce an optimal effect.

When researching supplement companies, also be sure to check for any heavy metals in their products, which you definitely don’t want to ingest. Researchers have found certain dietary supplements contaminated with heavy metals like cadmium, lead and arsenic beyond daily intake recommendations, which can accumulate in the human body to a level of toxic exposure.

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Let’s Be Honest: Menopause Sucks

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First off, it is important to establish that menopause is not a disease or a disorder. In fact, menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that is filled with emotional transitions, in addition to physical ones too.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that is experienced differently for each woman. For some, menopause can bring hot flashes, trouble sleeping (from hot flashes), pain during sexual intercourse, bladder control issues, sudden mood changes and irritability and even depression, in more severe instances.  For others, symptoms can be mild and they can be experienced to varying degrees.

Menopause generally occurs in the 12 months after a woman’s final period. In the years leading up to this point, women commonly experience shifts in their menstrual cycles, have hot flashes and other symptoms (as previously mentioned). This period of a woman’s life is called a menopausal transition or perimenopause and usually happens from ages 45 to 55. About seven years of this time (but it can be up to 14) is spent in perimenopause. Its duration depends on a number of lifestyle factors including (but not restricted to) smoking, age it starts, genetics, ethnicity and stress. During perimenopause, a woman’s production of estrogen and progesterone (two hormones made by the ovaries) fluctuates greatly.

What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

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It is important to understand that no menopausal transition is the same. Each woman is unique and experiences it in differing ways. The body starts to burn energy differently too. Fat cells change and women may see more weight fluctuations, usually in gaining weight.

Hot flashes are a common culprit for women experiencing menopause and these can last for years. They are often linked to fluctuating estrogen levels and are a sudden feeling of rushing heat in the body. The face and neck are particularly prone to this, with red blotches on the chest, back, and arms. Heavier perspiration, followed by cold shivering can also occur. Hot flashes can be strong enough to wake someone up. Most hot flashes periods only last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes. They can happen several times an hour or only a few times in a week. As mentioned, everyone is different so their menopausal experience with hot flashes varies greatly.

When symptoms of menopause are experienced, a doctor will further determine if it is occurring by asking questions about a woman’s health and familial history. In some cases a doctor may suggest having a blood test to check for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol (E2) levels to rule out any other causes for the changes experienced.

How to Relieve Menopause Symptoms

Estrogen is used in a variety of places in a woman’s body and as estrogen levels decrease, the likelihood of menopause symptoms occurring increases. Many women experience only mild symptoms and these can be easily treated with minor lifestyle changes. Decreasing caffeine consumption is a common remedy, so is wearing looser and cooler clothing for hot flashes.

Despite all these life-changing factors, there are plenty of natural and non-invasive remedies available to help any woman significantly during menopause. Seeing a doctor to confirm menopause has started is crucial, but there’s not a significant medical treatment or prevention available to totally side step menopause. Instead lifestyle changes and natural remedies are here to see women through this time of their lives.

Because your bones can weaken during menopause (which increases the risk of osteoporosis later) eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D are important to add to or increase in a woman’s diet. The good news is that there are many foods high in calcium, especially dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese. Leafy green vegetables such as kale, chard and spinach contain high levels of calcium also. Tofu, beans and sardines also contain loads of calcium.

Getting more vitamin D is easy to add too. Just get out in the sun! Our skin naturally produces it when exposed to the sun. However, as we get older, our skin produces less of it. If being in the sun is difficult, taking a supplement or increasing food with vitamin D will help. Oily fish, eggs and cod liver oil supplements are just a few ways to achieve this.

Due to the possibility of gaining more weight with the onset of menopause, achieving or maintaining a healthy weight is another natural remedy you can use. Excess weight will also increase the severity of any hot flashes.

There are a number of herbal remedies that may help alleviate menopause symptoms. Keep in mind, those herbal remedies have varying effects on people and a health care practitioner should be consulted.  Here are just some examples of herbal remedies:

Black Cohosh: Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa) This herb has received quite a bit of scientific attention for its possible effects on hot flashes. Black cohosh may act as a hormone imitator, binding to opioid receptors in the brain, and possibly influencing serotonin levels.

Red Clover: (Trifolium pratense), By weakly binding to estrogen receptors in the body, red clover’s phytoestrogens help normalize estrogen action. Its phytoestrogens include lignin’s, coumestans, and isoflavones.

Dong Quai: (Angelica sinensis) Dong quai has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat gynecologic conditions for more than 1,200 years.

Soy: according to some research, is said to beneficial in reducing the severity of hot flashes too. It is said to have a similar physiologic effect to estrogen.

There are a number of ways women can lessen the severity of their menopause symptoms and they should be explored with the help of a healthcare practitioner who specializes in the area of interest you are pursuing.  But most importantly, maintaining a healthy balanced diet, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and of course taking care of your mental and emotional well being are always key to maintaining a healthy, balanced, abundant life.


What Is Frozen Shoulder, Anyway?

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Adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as a frozen shoulder, is a common shoulder complaint that causes a limited range of motion in a person’s shoulder in addition to pain and discomfort.

How it Frozen Shoulder Starts

Over time, frozen shoulder can cause problems with movement such as shoulder tightness, stiffness, or pain. Most people start noticing symptoms when they experience generalized pain in their shoulder and have difficulty performing basic activities and daily tasks. Typically, a frozen shoulder does not start suddenly, rather it is a gradual onset that you might begin to notice over the course of some time. This could be months or even years where it begins to show symptoms. A sudden, acute shoulder injury is usually not related to the  condition.

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

The primary symptom  is marked by limited range of motion. Patients will typically describe pain, discomfort, and tightness, especially when performing daily tasks. Patients may have trouble reaching or grabbing things above them, or issues when getting dressed.

Causes & Risk Factors

A frozen shoulder can be caused by many different potential risk factors or causes. It could be caused by what is considered normal usage and wear and tear. With normal usage, the tissues in your shoulder can become thicker over time, ultimately leading to scar tissue developing in the shoulder region. When tissues thicken, it can cause the shoulder to restrict, which causes the pain and restricted movement that people with a frozen shoulder experience.

There are also other causes that are not considered within normal limits. For example, having certain medical conditions can make you predisposed or at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. These conditions include things like diabetes, hormonal disorders and imbalances, or a weak immune system, all of which put you at an increased risk for inflammation in the body. Another common way that frozen shoulder arises is after prolonged bed rest or long periods of inactivity in a person’s life. For example, if you’ve had recent surgery, injury, or illness, and have not been very active. This inactivity can lead to inflammation, and scar tissue build-up, which in turn can lead to frozen shoulder.

This condition is more commonly seen in women who are middle-aged, although this condition affects any person at any point in their life. It is most commonly seen in people ages 40 through 70. As previously mentioned, people who have been inactive for a large period of time or are recovering from a major surgery or illness are at greater risk for a frozen shoulder. Diabetes puts you at three times more likely chance of developing a frozen shoulder.


If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your shoulder, or difficulty performing certain tasks, we recommend seeking care from a medical provider. A medical professional will perform an exam and ask you questions about what you are experiencing. The physical examination can tell the doctor how much range of motion you have in your shoulder. Typically, doctors will ask you to perform a series of tasks or movements, so they can understand the symptoms you are experiencing.
X-rays or MRIs may be used to help confirm a diagnosis of a frozen shoulder, as well as to rule out other possible differential diagnoses. These x-rays can help a doctor determine if there’s another underlying cause, such as arthritis, that is causing your shoulder pain, or properly diagnose the frozen shoulder.

Treatment of Frozen Shoulder

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There are several different treatment options available to treat a frozen shoulder. Some types of anti-inflammatory medications can be used to manage inflammation and discomfort. Other mild treatment options include things like applying ice to decrease pain. Some other types of frozen shoulder treatments include:

  1. Physical Therapy- Physical Therapy is a common treatment for people with this condition. This is because physical therapy can help stretch out the shoulder and regain some range of motion. Physical therapy could include in-office sessions or an at-home program, or a mixture of both.
  2. Chiropractic Care- Seeking chiropractic care is a great option for treatment. Chiropractic care can be a great option to help reduce pain and improve the range of motion in your shoulder. It also can help speed up your recovery process. One technique used by chiropractors is known as the Niel Asher Technique. This technique involves manipulating the joints and muscles which can stretch it out, reduce your shoulder pain, and help improve the condition overall. There have been several studies that have shown positive results in patients with diagnosed frozen shoulders.
  3. Surgical Options- Surgery is generally reserved when all other treatment options have been unsuccessful. Your doctor should be able to advise if he or she feels you will benefit from surgical interventions.

The Fascinating Science of How Pumpkin Seeds Help Brain Function

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Pumpkin seeds are a fall snack favorite adored by many. But, did you know that pumpkin seeds also have powerful brain health benefits and are integral in healthy brain function? They are rich in many micronutrients that are essential for healthy brain function, including copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Their magnesium content provides a calming effect on the brain — an amazing and all-natural option for stress relief.

Keep reading to learn more about how pumpkin seeds help brain function.

Key Minerals and Nutrients in Pumpkin Seeds

A quarter cup of raw pumpkin seeds contains about 150 calories, 15 grams of healthy fat, a few grams of carbs, and 8-10 grams of plant protein. They are also packed with nutrients.

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Pumpkin seeds, which are also called pepitas, are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. Magnesium is key to helping improve mood and sleep. Manganese plays a key role in collagen production — promoting bone and skin health. Iron and Cooper found in pumpkin seeds are involved with energy production, whereas iron helps transport oxygen to the cells in the body. Zinc is key for immunity, vision, and skin health.

Eating just one serving of raw pumpkin seeds can supply between 14-42% of the daily target for these essential nutrients.

Pumpkin seeds contain the following key brain health minerals:

  • Magnesium: This mineral is essential for a well-functioning nervous system, and it also supports brain development, memory, and learning. Research has shown that low levels of magnesium may increase neurological health issues and conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the risk of stroke, migraines, epilepsy, and anxiety and depression.
  • Zinc: Zinc plays a key role in the regulation of communication between the brain cells that impact brain development, memory, and learning. Zinc deficiency is linked to a number of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and depression.
  • Iron: Iron is another mineral that plays an integral role in the day-to-day functions of the brain and development. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue, headaches, and anxiety. Iron deficiency is a widely known cause of impaired cognitive, language, and motor development.
  • Cooper: Cooper plays a key role in brain function and development and is required for essential enzymes that supply the brain with energy. A proper balance of copper is key because too little or too much can cause brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Menkes, and Wilson’s diseases.

Brain Benefits

Some of the most significant brain benefits that pumpkin seeds pack include:

  • Feelings of calm — The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds can lead to stress and anxiety relief and an overall sense of calm. Over the past 50 years, as magnesium consumption has plummeted, anxiety rates have gone up drastically. A calm and controlled mind increases your decision-making power and brings you a better sense of clarity.
  • Feelings of happiness — Pumpkin seeds can also help produce serotonin — the incredible neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy. According to the NCBI, Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters that influence mental health.

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds

You can buy pumpkin seeds at most grocery stores and health food stores. Or, you can make your own! Simply take the seeds from a pumpkin and bake them at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Here are some simple and delicious ways to incorporate more pumpkin seeds into your diet:

  • Eat them alone as a snack
  • Sprinkle them on top of salads for some crunch
  • Mix them into yogurt and smoothies
  • Blend them in with protein balls
  • Sprinkle them on whatever you want for added flavour, crunch, and a brain boost, from oatmeal to cereal and stir-fries and tacos.

Pumpkin seeds are an extremely versatile and delicious snack that packs a serious brain-boosting punch. Try adding them to your meals or snacking on them to harness the brain-boosting powers and ensure healthy and optimal brain function.