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.

SOURCES USED :

https://www.verywellhealth.com/natural-remedies-for-menopause-that-actually-work-2322658

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause

https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/natural-remedies-for-hot-flashes

https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/menopause-and-perimenopause/herbal-remedies-for-menopause-symptom-relief/

11 Fascinating Reasons People Like Star Anise

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For many of us, as we age, it’s important for us to be more conscious of what we allow into our bodies. Overall health and wellness have proven extremely necessary as we attempt to ward off conditions that can cause severe health scares and limit our time with family. In today’s climate, the pandemic has taught us how precious every moment we are able to spend with loved ones is.

That’s why it’s important to increase our familiarity with herbs and spices that are not just tasteful in our dishes but are also exceptionally good for our health. Star Anise is one of those spices. In this post, we’ll look at what star anise is and share the many health benefits it brings.

What is Star Anise?

Star Anise is a spice that comes from the fruit Illicium Verum, an evergreen shrub from China. It’s named for the star-shaped pods from which the spice seeds are harvested and has a flavor similar to licorice.

Star Anise dates back 3,000 years and makes up the popular “five-spice” powder mix used in China. In addition to enhancing sweet and savory dishes, Star Anise also has a long history in traditional oriental medicine. It also has many health benefits.

Health Benefits of Star Anise

Star Anise has many active compounds that contribute to an extensive list of health benefits. These benefits lead to the following health improvements:

  1. Boosts Appearance of Skin
  2. Improves the Immune System
  3. Supports Respiratory Health
  4. Helps Improve Sleep
  5. Improves Circulation
  6. Fights Fungus
  7. Aids Digestion
  8. Effects Hormones
  9. Minimizes Risk of Cancer
  10. Helps With Diabetes
  11. Promotes Bone Health

Boosts Appearance of Skin

Star Anise has a high level of antioxidants that help promote the elimination of free radicals throughout the body. That helps to minimize the appearance of wrinkles on the skin, boosts skin elasticity, and covers up old scars and blemishes. Your skin will look young and vibrant.

Improves the Immune System

In today’s pandemic, it’s always good to know a product you can take that will improve the immune system. Star Anise is such a product. Star Anise has been used to treat stomach bacterial infections. But it’s mostly known for being effective against a number of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. That makes it a very important product in the pharmaceutical industry.

Supports Respiratory Health

Star Anise helps support respiratory health and may just be the cure for a cough, sore throat, or early signs of flu. It may be able to sort out the inflammation and neutralize the underlying infection before symptoms get worse.

Helps Improve Sleep

It’s been found that Star Anise has sedative properties that help to stimulate the release of certain neurotransmitters that induce relaxation and sleep. That makes the spice a good remedy for anyone who has insomnia or who regularly has trouble sleeping.

Improves Circulation

A teaspoon of Star Anise contains 13% of your daily recommended amount of iron. This will help boost red blood cells production, which increases energy levels by promoting circulation and proper oxygenation of the body’s extremities.

star anise substitute, star anise pods, what is star aniseFights Fungus

Star Anise has powerful anti-fungal properties and is a remedy for Athlete’s foot, ringworm, Candida, and similar strains.

Aids Digestion

Eating Star Anise fruits after meals have proven effective in helping food to properly digest. It also helps relieve bloating and excess flatulence and easing cramping. It also improves the bacterial balance in the gut for high nutrient uptake efficiency.

Effects Hormones

Star Anise has been proven to impact the balancing nature of both women and men. Star Anise can provide an energy boost and increase the sex drive in men and regulate menstrual cycles, control mood swings, and other hormone-driven side effects of menstruation in women.

Minimizes Risk of Cancer

Star Anise has a diverse range of antioxidants that affect oxidative stress in the body. Its immune-supporting properties help to lower the risk of mutagenic effects that lead to cancer cells and the formation of tumors in the body.

Helps With Diabetes

Star Anise has been proven to normalize blood sugar levels. The spice is low on the glycemic index with a good amount of powerful antioxidants that affect blood sugar levels.

Promotes Bone Health

The antioxidants in Star Anise have been known to improve organ and tissue function, including bone function. Star Anise is a good source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin K, which all contribute to strengthening our bones.

How To Use Star Anise

Star Anise can be used in different ways, either as a ground or the whole form. It’s used in other spice mixes, like five-spice powder. That is a popular blend in many cultures. The unique licorice flavor of the spice makes it a welcome addition to both sweet and savory dishes. It’s effective in soups, broths, sauces, and curries. Hot tea is also a popular way the spice can be used. The tea is brewed around the world and is trusted as a quick remedy for several respiratory conditions, including gastrointestinal distress, and hormonal imbalances.

 

 

7 Surprising Ways Mangoes Can Affect Your Health

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Did you know that there are around 300 varieties of mangoes? Mangoes (Mangifera indica) are the world’s most popular tropical fruit, and for a good reason; they are juicy and succulent, with a variety of flavors to choose from. Although mangos are present in nearly every corner of the world, their origin is traced all the way back to India around 5000 years ago. And up until today, India has been the leading producer of the fruit.

The word mango, on the other hand, comes from the Portuguese word manga, which the name Portuguese gave to the fruit when they came in Kerala for the spice trade in the 1400s.

Mangos are consumed in a variety of ways. They can be eaten unripe when they are green on the inside and taste sour. Ripe mangoes can be eaten straight from the tree, blended into a thick, smooth orange juice, or dried and enjoyed as a snack.

Apart from being delicious and relatively inexpensive compared to other fruits, the mango is also extremely nutritious and packed with several health advantages, which is one of the reasons it is regularly ascribed to as the king of fruits. The following are some reasons to increase your mango consumption.

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Rejuvenate The Skin

Vitamin C is especially vital for healthy skin and is used in serums. However, skincare starts with what you eat, and mangoes are high in vitamin C, which can help you attain glowing skin. Vitamin C has a plethora of skin-benefiting properties. It primarily stimulates collagen production. Collagen is essential for enhancing skin elasticity, firming your skin, and slowing the aging process by minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. One mango a day, it seems, will help your skin look much younger.

Increases Immunity

Nothing is more fundamental than the body’s ability to tackle infections. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, assisting the body in fighting bacteria and diseases. Also, research indicates that vitamin C plays a vital role in the rapid healing of wounds and injuries. Moreover, it aids in the rejuvenation of the bones, teeth, and cartilage.

Enhancement Of Intestinal Health

Apart from vitamin C, mangoes are high in fiber, which aids in digestion, combats constipation, and promotes regular bowel movements. According to a pilot study conducted by Texas A&M University in 2018, the natural fiber found in mangoes works far better and has longer-lasting advantages even than fiber supplements. Therefore, rather than wasting money on laxatives, why not stock up more mangoes?

Assists In Weight Loss

Mangoes aid in weight loss, factual or just a myth. While this is true, mangoes are not a miraculous fat burner. Like the majority of fruits, Mangoes are immensely low in calories and still maintain a feeling of fullness for an extended period. Being full with food will assist you to avoid binge eating unhealthy foods that are far too high in calories.

To Boost Eye Health

Do you have the impression that your vision has recently deteriorated? Maybe you’re deficient in vitamin A. The ‘king of fruits is high in vitamin A, which is necessary for good eye health. Vitamin A can aid you in improving your vision in a variety of ways. One, it helps in the management of eye inflammations and infections; two, it boosts the cornea membranes work properly, preventing your eyes from drying out; and, last but not least, it assists in the prevention of vision impairment by delaying myopia progression.

Good For The Heart

As demonstrated above, the polyphenols in mangoes assist in lowering inflammation throughout the body, including the heart. Inflammation can impair the heart’s ability to execute its primary function of pumping blood to the rest of the body. Additionally, they can create irregular cardiac rhythms, which can result in serious heart problems. Also, mangoes aid in the prevention of heart disease associated with obesity through weight loss.

Prevents Cancer

Although there is no elaborate cure for cancer, there are ways that can help lower the chances of acquiring the horrible disease, one of which is a healthy diet. Mangiferin, a type of polyphenol, is abundant in mangoes. Mango polyphenols have been found to be quite promising in current cancer treatment studies. They have been shown to reduce inflammation, protect cells from oxidative stress, and inhibit or kill cancer cells, including leukemia. In addition, mango polyphenols have been shown to have the capacity to lessen oxidative stress,

The most often asked questions regarding mangoes are how much is too much and who should avoid them. Could this luscious fruit have any adverse effects? Yes, like with many foods, mangoes should be consumed in moderation, especially by persons with high blood sugar levels. This is because mangoes contain a high sugar content, which may aggravate diabetes.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-mango

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-mango#1

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275921

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/8-incredible-benefits-of-mangoes-the-king-of-fruits-1833145

 

Shh! Don’t Share This Insider Secret : House Plants Remove Toxins

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In the past year, most of us have spent more time indoors and many of us will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Because of this, it’s more important than ever to improve our healthy indoor air quality.  One of the ways we can do this is with indoor house plants.

Photosynthesis is the key

Plants are essential to human life, and we have a symbiotic relationship with.  As we learned in elementary school, plants sustain themselves through a process called photosynthesis, in which they take in sunlight, water, nutrients and carbon dioxide, and give off water vapor and fresh oxygen, which humans then inhale and we in turn exhale carbon dioxide.  During photosynthesis, plants can also remove toxins from the air we breathe.  This can be imagined as a sort of pumping action, in which contaminated air is pulled down into the soil and around a plant’s roots, where the air is then converted into food for the plant.  The oxygen emitted from the plant has been filtered of certain toxins.

Research results

NASA has been studying this process for some time in the hopes of finding ways to detoxify air in spacecraft during long-duration space missions.  NASA has performed many experiments on this, the first of which was published in 1989, and the results have shown that plants are capable of effectively scrubbing the air of cancer-causing volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene.  In fact, studies have been underway to design plant-based indoor air-quality filters that can be incorporated into heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.  Further studies concluded that microorganisms found in the soil of potted plants can also help with cleaning indoor air.  While separate studies have claimed that although house plants do improve air quality, they do so at a very slow rate, and the conditions must be controlled to a level that is not realistic in the average home, there seems to be sufficient evidence to conclude that plants can help purify our in-home air, and they provide the side benefits of adding some natural beauty to our indoor living spaces and helping to brighten our mood.

Based on the collective findings of this plants-as-air filters research to date, some scientists are advocating that house plants are effective natural purifiers.  In fact, larger plants with larger leaves are more effective in this process of pumping in air, cleansing it, and giving off clean oxygen.  Former NASA scientist turned private air quality consultant Bill Wolverton, who led the 1989 study described above, reports that, “The amount of leaf surface area influences the rate of air purification.”  So, the bigger and leafier the plant, the better it will be at this air cleansing process.

Wolverton says that expensive testing would be required to accurately determine how many and what size plants would be needed to clean a room’s air of its contaminants, but he has recommended at least two “good sized” plants per 100 square feet of space in your home.  His first recommendation is the Golden Pothos because of its popularity and ease to grow it.  Below are descriptions of just a few additional plants you may want to consider if you are thinking about adding them to your home to help improve your indoor air quality.

Air-purifying plants

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Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) – NASA’s studies found this beautiful evergreen to be most efficient at removing airborne toxins.  Considered to be easy to care for, it is popular because of its minimal little water or light requirements (and should be kept from direct sunlight for this reason).  Just place a Peace Lily in a dark corner, water it once per week, and it will purify the air around it.  However, one considerable downside of this plant is that it is mildly toxic to both humans and pets.  If swallowed, medical assistance should be sought immediately.

Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) – Often called the Golden Pothos and native to the Solomon Islands, it can be found all over the world.  Comprised of small heart-shaped leaves growing from evergreen vines, this houseplant is often sold in hanging baskets.  It is best kept near a window, out of direct sunlight, and its soil should contain plenty of moisture.  Very easy to care for, it also looks good in your home, and is one of the more effective at purifying the air of toxins.  However, as with the Peace Lily, the Devil’s Ivy is also toxic when eaten, especially to pets, and side effects often begin with vomiting, so consult your veterinarian immediately if you think your pet may have ingested it.

Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) – Also called the Reed Palm, the Bamboo Palm’s has tall, slender trunks that resemble bamboo, and its deep green, leafy foliage can bring a tropical flair to any interior (or exterior) space.  It’s not picky about conditions and can thrive in part sun or shade and is effective at filtering several cancer-causing toxins.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) – Growing about 1 to 2 feet tall, with its wide, thick leaves that have a beautify, fiery combination of red and green, the Chinese Evergreen is easy to care for and thrives in low to medium sunlight.  It helps to purify the air, but as with the other plants described above, it contains an irritant that can be toxic, especially to pets.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) – Often called the Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, this a perennial evergreen that can absorb a range of toxins including all those described above.  Native to Western Africa, it is now found all over the world and can survive in low light conditions for long lengths of time but does prefer bright sun—just don’t overwater its soil for too long.  Again, this plant can be toxic to pets if ingested.

In summary

Studies have shown the house plants can help purify indoor air of toxins, improving the quality of the air in our homes.  There are many plants that not only help filter nearby air but are also easy to care for and give our homes added natural beauty.

SOURCES USED: 

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20080003913

https://time.com/5105027/indoor-plants-air-quality/

https://www.hgtv.com/design/remodel/interior-remodel/10-best-plants-for-cleaning-indoor-air-pictures

5 Unbelievable Things You Never Knew About Mushroom Coffee

You’ve probably heard of mushroom coffee or seen one of those Instagram photos with a freshly brewed cup of black coffee and several raw mushrooms placed meticulously on a side plate and wondered what the heck coffee has to do with mushrooms. If not, you’re not too late to the party.

Mushroom coffee is not as new as you may believe. In fact, it dates all the way back to World War II in Finland, the world’s highest coffee consumer country, according to data. As per legend, the people of Finland were so fond of coffee that when it became scarce and was rigorously rationed, they needed to find an alternative. During this hunt, they found mushrooms could be converted into a beverage. The Chaga tea, which is prepared from the Chaga fungus, has a flavour almost identical to coffee. Over time, those who disliked the mushroom taste began mixing it with coffee for a more aromatic flavour.

What Is Mushroom Coffee, And How Is It Prepared?

As the name implies, Mushroom coffee is a blend of mushrooms and ground coffee beans that results in a soft dark smooth cup of coffee. However, not in the way, you may assume; mushrooms are not just thrown into a blender and churned into a smoothie. They are first dried and then powdered, and those who have tried it say it tastes just like ordinary coffee, with the added benefit of being healthier.

You see, mushroom coffee is not produced from common culinary mushrooms like shiitake and Portobello, but rather from extracts of medicinal mushrooms like Chaga, Turkey’s tail, Lion’s mane, and Reishi Cordyceps.

How Come Mushrooms?

Mushrooms blended in coffee, isn’t it intriguing? You have to agree that mushrooms and coffee are a strange pairing, yet the two appear to work so well together that it has become a global craze. For the longest time, there has been a conflict between the benefits and downsides of coffee. And while coffee has been found to have a multitude of benefits such as providing an energy boost in the morning, assisting you in focusing and remaining alert, and it has also been proven to aid in fat burning thus weight loss, it does have some drawbacks. It causes insomnia and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms such as lack of focus and anxiety.  However, when coupled with mushrooms, it’s like a perfect union. After all, mushrooms are not only delicious they have a profound medical history, especially in Asian cultures.

To answer why mushrooms and coffee make such an excellent combination, it is because the health benefits of mushrooms help to offset the adverse effects of coffee, making mushrooms an ideal therapeutic beverage.

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The Primary Benefits Of Mushroom Coffee

1. Antibacterial and Antiparasitic

For hundreds of years, they have been used to cure various infections, and their immense medical potential continues to be discovered to this day. This is because medicinal mushrooms possess antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties that aid in detoxifying and infection combating. Recent research has explored the use of mushrooms such as reishi in treating pulmonary disorders and boosting immunity, keeping in mind that China has been employing reishi in conjunction with chemotherapy for cancer treatment for the past three decades.

2. It Has Less Caffeine.

Are you concerned about developing an addiction to coffee and the withdrawal symptoms that may occur if you stop? When brewing mushroom coffee, the ratio of ground coffee beans to mushroom powder is typically 1:1, indicating that a mushroom coffee cup contains 50% less caffeine than regular coffee. While most people are unlikely to be adversely affected by a moderate amount of caffeine, those with underlying health problems who are accustomed to daily coffee consumption may be. However, substituting mushroom coffee for ordinary coffee will reduce your caffeine intake while still benefiting your health.

3. Beneficial To Your Mental Health.

The benefits of mushrooms extend far beyond caffeine reduction. Who would have believed that one of the primary benefits of mushrooms is that they aid with stress management? Mushrooms can operate as adaptogens, assisting your adrenal glands in their function. It helps you in remaining calm in stressful situations and in coping with anxiety.

4. It Is Beneficial For Indigestion And Gut Health.

It is proven that mushrooms include prebiotics and carbohydrates with profiles such as polysaccharides that can aid to improve overall intestinal health while also providing relief from indigestion and minor gastrointestinal issues.

5. Beneficial For Individuals With High Blood Pressure.

Mushrooms are extremely high in potassium, a mineral that aids in relaxing the blood vessels, easing muscle tension and cramps. While mushrooms have long been regarded as a superfood due to their numerous health benefits, most claims have not been substantiated. Nonetheless, unless you have an allergy to mushrooms, you should give mushroom coffee a try; many people swear by it, and who knows, you might wind up liking it more than your regular coffee.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mushroom-coffee#how-its-made

https://www.webmd.com/diet/mushroom-coffee-health-benefits

https://www.fastcompany.com/40515798/heres-what-happened-when-i-drank-mushroom-coffee-for-a-month

 

Think You Know About Clogged Arteries? Think Again

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Similar to the plaque found on our teeth, our arteries are also prone to having plaque, and it builds up over time. However, the plaque in our arteries is quite different in composition, as it is made up of cholesterol, fats, calcium, and other waste products from our cells that end up in our bloodstream.

Atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of artery walls due to the buildup of plaque along these walls, is a natural occurrence among us humans– but what exactly causes plaque to build up?

Coronary and Carotid Plaque Causes

Coronary plaque and carotid plaque refer to plaque that form in the coronary arteries and in the carotid arteries. Coronary arteries are blood vessels wrapped around the heart that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart itself, while carotid arteries are blood vessels found in the neck that supply oxygenated blood to the brain, face, and neck. Too much plaque in either of these areas can have fatal consequences, such as getting a stroke or a heart attack.

Since the buildup of plaque is a natural process, we should take note of the factors that can speed up the accumulation of plaque so that we can avoid them, especially those of coronary and carotid plaque. A few known causes of plaque buildup are as follows:

High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol

High low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is part of what arterial plaque is composed of, which is why it is considered “bad” cholesterol. Eating too many foods with high LDL cholesterol is considered risky when watching out for heart disease.

Smoking and second-hand smoke

When the nicotine found in tobacco smoke is breathed in, it can trigger plaque buildup in the arteries via inflaming them. Not only that, nicotine brought into the body this way also makes it easier for cholesterol to enter arterial walls.

High blood pressure

Now, high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily cause plaque, but it can worsen the condition of arteries already affected by a buildup of plaque. High blood pressure can damage our arteries, making them harden into narrow pathways as a result. This, along with arterial plaque, makes the possibility of a total blockage of arterial pathways closer to reality.

Fat from dairy products, fish, and meat

Fatty products can speed up plaque buildup. This is also due to the fact that the intake of too much of these products can cause high blood pressure over time, and as discussed above, high blood pressure isn’t good for keeping our arteries healthy. Another reason is due to the presence of POPs, which is discussed below.

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Bisphenol A (BPA) and Phthalates

Studies show that BPA, an industrial chemical found in polycarbonate plastics and resins, and phthalates, a group of chemicals that make plastics more durable, are linked to cause carotid atherosclerosis (or carotid plaque buildup). Although studies have only linked the risk in the elderly so far, their findings suggest that such chemicals, if found in significant doses in the body, aid in plaque development.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

POPs are toxic chemicals that take several years to break down and are therefore persistent in the environment, which means that POPs from one side of the world can end up in another part of the world due to being brought from place to place by repeated processes of evaporation and deposition.

POPs tend to be by-products of many industrial processes, but more notably, POPs can be found in organochlorine pesticides. POPs are also lipophilic, which means they accumulate in the fatty tissue of living beings, and often have a “magnified” in effect when in fat or when they move up the food chain. Farmed fish and farm animals tend to be exposed to such POPs, which means consuming their meat or by-products– especially their fat– can incorporate our own bodies with POPs.

Studies have shown that the presence of POPs in the body is associated with cardiovascular diseases and the accumulation of plaque– particularly carotid plaque.

Ways to Avoid or Minimize Plaque Buildup

The creation of plaque deposits in our arteries may be a natural phenomenon, but there are definitely ways to slow it down– especially now that we know the factors that speed up plaque buildup.

Although POPs are practically undetectable by the human eye, we can minimize its effects by knowing the origins of the food that end up on our plates. Organic and fresh foods are our best bet when it comes to eating safe. Avoiding fatty and high-cholesterol foods are also a good step to consider when rethinking our diets. Getting that much-needed exercise to keep our blood healthily pumping through our blood vessels can also help minimize plaque buildup.

The bottom line is, keeping a healthy lifestyle by engaging in regular exercise and following a proper diet is key to keeping plaque deposits away from our arteries.

Sources:

Lind PM, et al, Circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and carotid atherosclerosis in the elderly, Environ Health Persp 120; 1:38-43, 2012

Lind PM, et al, Circulating levels of bisphenol A and phthalates are related to carotid atherosclerosis in the elderly, Atherosclerosis 218; 1:207-13, 2011

Sergeev AV, et al, Residential proximity to environmental sources of persistent organic pollutants and first time hospitalizations for myocardial infarction with co-morbid diabetes: a 12-year population-based study, Internat J Occupat

 

Blueberries Improve Heart Health: Hip or Hype?

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There is a special food that has been scientifically proven to be excellent in promoting heart health: Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium). Vaccinium angustifolium is also called the Lowbush Blueberry and comes from the Heath family (also known as the Ericaceae family). The Heath family contains over 4,000 species of plants, including the blueberry. They usually grow to no more than 1.5 inch in size and are known for their sweet taste. Blueberries have been identified as a superfood that is packed with antioxidants. Blueberries contain: Vitamin K, four grams of fiber, Manganese, 84% water, 0.4 % fat, Vitamin C, iron, and many other nutrients. Particularly concerning heart health, blueberries are rich in polyphenols including anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fiber, which protect the heart. Anthocyanins is a type of flavonoid and an herb utilized in holistic medicinal practice that is responsible for giving the blueberry its color. Flavonoids promote the regulation of healthy cell activity and ward of free radicals that cause oxidative stress on the heart. Anthocyanins possess anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties that prevent cardiovascular disease. The fiber consumed in blueberries reduces blood pressure levels as well as LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Oxidative stress is the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Accumulation of oxidative stress may result not only in extreme inflammation, but also in chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis.

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The intake of polyphenols, by way of consumption of blueberries, protect the heart from coronary heart disease and stroke by decreasing arterial hardness and blood pressure. Blueberries also work to lower LDL oxidation or bad cholesterol.  Bad cholesterol is produced in the body when normal LDL cholesterol is damaged by chemical interactions with free radicals. Studies have shown that consuming 150g or 2/3 cup of blueberries daily reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 12-15%.

Polyphenols also reduce oxidative damage by refining the flexibility of systemic arteries, and simultaneously increasing the production of good lipids and lipoproteins. Polyphenols also removes harmful fat from the bloodstream and prevents the heart from experiencing heart trauma. Such trauma includes: Lipid peroxidation, total plasma antioxidant capacity, dyslipidemia, and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis refers to the toughening of the arteries that results from free radicals attack the blood with inflammatory responses. Lipid peroxidation is best described as a chain reaction of attacks where lipid molecules become so oxidized that they create molecules that will decompose and produce harmful waste in the body.

Blueberries have such a pleasant taste that it should be fairly simple to incorporate them into a daily diet regimen. Raw blueberries can be eaten alone or with yogurt and granola as a snack, or in a smoothie or salad, or even cooked in a healthy crumble or baked in a pastry for dessert.

In essence, the many compounds in blueberries hold many antioxidant properties that work to block the hardening of the arteries, lower LDL bad cholesterol, and promote optimal heart functionality. Blueberries also have a role in the regulation of healthy cell activity and response so to prevent the production of free radicals and waste that create oxidative stress and damage the heart. Blueberries are an essential food that must be incorporated into a heart healthy diet. In order to achieve desired or noticeable results, at least 2/3 cup (up to 1 cup recommended) of blueberries should be consumed on a daily basis.

Helpful Tips

A healthy heart is the main key to overall health of the body. The heart is responsible for pumping hormones and blood to the rest of the body, eliminating waste, preserving healthy blood pressure levels, and producing nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells. A weak heart can lead to fatal health complications, including but not limited to: kidney damage, thickened heart muscle, coronary heart disease, extreme body inflammation, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure.

It goes without saying that healthy lifestyle habits including daily exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and low body mass index, not smoking, and consuming a heart healthy diet are the main ways to ensure the heart is strong enough to perform at its greatest capacity. Common heart healthy foods that are more popular and regularly advised include: avocados, leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach, Omega 3 fatty acid, walnuts, and whole grains.

 

SOURCES USED:

ttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0955286305001518

 

The Surprising Truth About Environmental Toxins and ALS

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain and spinal cord nerve cells. The name stems from the Greek language. “A” translates to no, “Myo” implies muscle, and “Trophic” is nourishment. During lack of muscular nourishment, the muscle begins to atrophy or waste away. Lateral signifies the areas in the people with ALS spinal cord where segments of nerve cells that control the muscles by sending signals are located. The condition causes degeneration, leading to sclerosis (hardening or scarring) of the area. (ALS Association,2021)

The Role of Environmental Toxins in ALS

ALS, ALS symptoms, what is ALS, ALS treatment

scientific study investigated the role of exposure to toxins within the workplace in the development of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in workers. The study examined “109 cases 253 controls who completed a structured interview covering occupations and workplace exposures. (Fang et al.,2009).”

According to the study results, construction workers and metal workers are at a higher risk for ALS, though supervisors showed no increased risk. An association of a 60-90% higher risk for developing ALS correlated to exposure to the following chemicals:

  • Paint Strippers
  • Cutting Lubricant,
  • Cooling Lubricants
  • Lubricating Oils
  • Antifreeze
  • Coolants
  • Mineral or White Spirits
  • Dry Cleaning Agents

This list is alarming, considering that most of these chemicals arrive packaged with little warning of potential risks. Many occupations rely on the regular use of the substances above. The need to support one’s family negates the possibility of objecting to their use or turning to another profession.

Lead as a Risk for ALS

Another study examined the role of lead exposure in the development of ALS. The study confirmed an associated risk between self-reported lead exposure and the development of ALS.

The following information from the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists the occupations at “risk of lead exposure:

  • Artists (materials used may contain lead)
  • Auto repairers (car parts may contain lead)
  • Battery manufacturers (batteries contain lead)
  • Bridge reconstruction workers (old paint may contain lead)
  • Construction workers (materials used may include lead)
  • Firing range instructors and gunsmiths (ammunition contains lead)
  • Glass manufacturers (lead may be used in glass production)
  • Lead manufacturers
  • Lead miners
  • Lead refiners
  • Lead smelters
  • Manufacturers of bullets, ceramics, and electrical components (all contain lead)
  • Painters (old paint and commercial paint may contain lead)
  • Plastic manufacturers (materials made may contain lead)
  • Plumbers and pipefitters (pipes may contain lead)
  • Police officers (ammunition contains lead)
  • Radiator repairers (radiators may contain lead)
  • Recyclers of metal, electronics, and batteries (may contain lead)
  • Rubber product manufacturers (process contains lead)
  • Shipbuilders (materials used may include lead)
  • Solid waste incinerator operators (waste may contain lead)
  • Steel welder (galvanized steel is coated in part with lead)(CDC,2018).”

ALS, ALS symptoms, what is ALS, ALS treatmentAs you can see, the list is exhaustive. Given the significant number of environmental toxins many workers are regularly exposed to, and the confirmed higher risk of ALS given exposure, it is shocking that only two in 100,000 people develop ALS.

If we, as a society, are to reduce the rate of disease caused by environmental toxins, we will need to begin demanding a reduction in toxins within our environment. Environmental toxins harm the biosphere on a grand scale, poisoning water, land, animals, and humans. Sadly, our economic system is supported by professions interdependent on toxic chemicals, and a radical systemic change must occur before a reduction of toxins occurs. The first step is getting society to acknowledge the problem through awareness. It is our hope that this article will serve as an essential step toward that end.

Fang F, et al, Workplace exposures and the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Environ Health Persp, 117:1387-92, 2009

Homer RD, et al., Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis among 1991 Gulf War veterans: evidence for a time-limited outbreak, Neuroepidemiol 31:28-32, 2008

“Jobs That May Have Lead Exposure.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 June 2018, www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/lead/jobs.html.

Kamel f, et al, Lead exposure as a risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Neurodegen Dis, 2:195-201, 2005

“What Is Als? .” The ALS Association, 26 Apr. 2021, www.als.org/understanding-als/what-is-als.

6 Bizarre Orange Peel Facts You Need to Know

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Most people rush to throw their orange peel away after eating a delicious orange. For many, this has been ingrained into their heads since childhood that we simply do not eat the peel! However, orange peels have so many other uses beyond eating them. Orange peels are the outside or “bumpy” part of an orange, along with some of the stringy white stuff that surrounds it. Believe it or not, the orange peel is packed with nutrients and health benefits. In this article, we’ll provide some of the amazing benefits of orange peels and how to use them. Orange peels can actually be a beneficial addition to a healthy diet. You’ll never trash an orange peel again after reading these benefits.

What does an orange peel contain?

Oranges are part of the citrus family and are known for having a high Vitamin C content. However, as far as the peel goes, there are several other nutrients and antioxidants found in orange peels, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B, copper, calcium, and magnesium. Orange peels contain polyphenols that protect against diseases, too, such as lung problems and heart conditions. Orange peels contain a compound known as limonene which may also have anti-cancer effects. Keep reading to learn more about all of the amazing health benefits of orange peels!
Although the peel of an orange is edible for humans without harm, it may not be feasible or recommended for most people. Due to their rough and tough outside texture, it is not generally pleasant to eat as it can cause digestive problems and stomach upset. Orange peels are high in fiber, which can lead to stomach upset as well. Eating too much or very large pieces of orange peels can cause digestive symptoms such as bloating, cramps, or abdominal pain. In addition, many people find them unappealing due to their bitter taste and dry texture.

How do I consume it?

There are other methods to ingesting an orange peel rather than direct consumption. Using a knife or veggie peeler, you can cut thin strips to use in salads or smoothies. Another common orange peel usage method is to make them into sweetened, dried orange peels for a delicious and nutritious snack. Orange zest can be used in many ways, too, including in marinates, oatmeal, yogurt, and much more.

When consuming orange peel, be mindful of quantity as too much orange peel can cause some other unwanted side effects, such as a headache, body weakness, or vision problems. This is only seen in excessive consumption of orange peels.

Orange essential oil can be used for a variety of applications that range from lifting mood and reducing stress to adding a fresh, citrusy aroma to a room.

Benefits of Orange Peels

Other than the ways mentioned above to use orange peels, there are even more benefits and uses of orange peels to incorporate into your life.

orange peel benefits, orange peel tea benefits, health benefits of orange peel, orange peel benefits for skinSkin Care Benefits- A great use of orange peel is to improve your skin! Due to the antioxidants found in orange peels, applying them to your skin can help fight skin conditions that are linked to inflammation and even prevent wrinkles and age spots. Some people have also found orange peels to help with dry skin, acne, and blackheads. For those looking for natural skincare products, an orange peel could be your answer to fresh, glowing skin!

 

orange peel benefits, orange peel tea benefits, health benefits of orange peel, orange peel benefits for skinHeart Health- Since orange peels are high in fiber and have numerous vitamins, peels can help improve your heart health! Orange peels can lower blood pressure and prevent problems such as high cholesterol. Orange peels also contain a common flavonoid known as hesperidin. Hesperidin helps regulate blood pressure and maintain good cholesterol levels.

 

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 Lung Health- In addition to positive benefits for your overall heart health, orange peels can have amazing health benefits for your lung health. The vitamin C within orange peels helps clear chest congestion and cleanse the lungs. Vitamin C also increases immunity and strengthens the immune system to fight off viruses and colds to help improve overall health.

 

 orange peel benefits, orange peel tea benefits, health benefits of orange peel, orange peel benefits for skinHangover Cure-This is one unique use for orange peels! Feeling hungover after a long night out? Try boiling an orange peel for 15 to 20 minutes and create a tea. Drink this tea for a hangover cure!

 

 orange peel benefits, orange peel tea benefits, health benefits of orange peel, orange peel benefits for skinCancer Prevention- Orange peels have the ability to slow the growth of cancer cells, specifically found to help with skin cancer. Regular consumption of orange peels can help you decrease your risks for skin and lung cancer. This is due to specific types of flavonoids that inhibit a protein that has been linked to cancer.

 

 orange peel benefits, orange peel tea benefits, health benefits of orange peel, orange peel benefits for skinAllergies & Inflammation – Struggling with nasty allergies? Orange peels contain active compounds which can help suppress allergic reactions and serve as an anti-inflammatory. A recent study has compared the use of orange peels with a commonly known anti-inflammatory drug, known as Indomethacin. The study concluded that orange peel can be a great natural alternative with positive anti-inflammatory benefits.

Research has shown that orange essential oil may have several benefits. Some examples include antimicrobial activity, pain relief, insecticide activity, weight loss, exercise performance enhancement, anxiety and depression relief.

 

The Unbelievable Things You Never Knew About Cinnamon

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What is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a spice that has been used for thousands of years and yet as popular as ever today. In fact, it is currently ranked as the number 1 spice out of the most common spices used in the world.  Why is cinnamon enjoying such incredible popularity?  This inexpensive spice can be found in every grocery store and it not only provides its characteristic taste of sweetness and warmth when added to recipes, but as many ancient cultures who have used it medicinally have known, cinnamon has many health benefits as well.

 

What’s Good About Cinnamon?

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Cinnamon’s numerous healing and medicinal properties are well established.  Here are just of few the benefits of this ubiquitous spice.

Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants that reduce free radicals, fight oxidative stress, and limit nitric acid build up, all of which can help prevent various brain and heart diseases as well as cancer, and generally help slow the aging process.  Cinnamon is ranked number 7 among all foods for its level of antioxidants.

Cinnamon can boost heart health by reducing high cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, all of which can help avoid strokes and heart disease. Further, its natural anticoagulant properties help it form blood clots that can stop excess bleeding and improve tissue repair and circulation in the body.

Cinnamon’s flavonoids help relieve inflammation, which can ease muscle soreness, swelling, menstrual pain, and allergic reactions. It can also preserve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.  More research is needed, but it may help protect against neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Cinnamon can help stabilize blood sugar due to its anti-diabetic effects, while also improving insulin sensitivity for improved movement of sugar through the blood and into tissues.  Supplementing with cinnamon extract may assist people with Type 2 diabetes.

 Varieties

 Cinnamon is produced from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree and is harvested by extracting its inner bark which dries into rolls that can be ground into cinnamon power.  While most people would likely be surprised to learn that there are hundreds of types of cinnamon, most of the varieties used commercially can be classified as one of two types: Cassia cinnamon, with a flavor that is somewhat deeper and spicier, and Ceylon cinnamon with a bit of a lighter, sweeter, more citrusy taste.  When most people think of “cinnamon,” they are thinking of the more commonly available Cassia variety, while the Ceylon variety is harder to find and more expensive.

Identifying and Buying Types of Cinnamon

Cassia cinnamon is readily available in the spice section of most grocery stores and supermarkets; however, you may need to look for Ceylon cinnamon in health or ethnic food stores, or in those sections of your grocery store.  Cassia cinnamon is generally a red or dark brown in color while Ceylon cinnamon is a tan color.  If the variety of cinnamon you are buying isn’t listed on the label, it is likely the more common Cassia variety.

Too Much of the Spice?

All varieties of cinnamon contain coumarin, a chemical that is present in plants and acts as a natural blood thinner.  However, the concentration of coumarin is higher in Cassia cinnamon than in Ceylon cinnamon, an important distinction because coumarin has the potential to damage the liver if eaten in high enough quantities. This is something to keep in mind if you are if you are taking medications for or have a damaged liver, are about to undergo a dental or surgical procedure, or are at high risk of bleeding.  Therefore, consuming too much Cassia cinnamon per day could be problematic for the liver.  If you consume cinnamon daily for health reasons, you may want to consider exclusively eating Ceylon cinnamon.  So even with cinnamon, there can be “too much of a good thing” as the adage goes, even for people without these health considerations, but the average person does need to be overly concerned with the effects of excess coumarin in their diet.

In summary

Cinnamon is a very popular spice that has been used for thousands of years for its sweet, warm flavor and its health and medicinal properties.  Some of its many benefits are that it is loaded with antioxidants and can boost heart health, relieve inflammation, preserve brain function, and stabilize blood sugar.  The two main varieties of cinnamon are Cassia, the less expensive and more commonly available variety with a deeper, spicier taste, and Ceylon, the more expensive and less common variety with a sweeter, more citrusy flavor.  Coumarin is a natural blood thinner that is present in Cassia cinnamon in higher concentrations.  People who are sensitive to liver issues or bleeding may want to consider switching to Ceylon cinnamon.

SOURCES USED: 

paleofoundation.com/9-important-things-you-need-to-know-about-your-cinnamon/

draxe.com/nutrition/health-benefits-cinnamon/