Category Archives: Health

Have You Tried Persimmon Nog?

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Category : Health

 

I have to say – I love persimmons. They are honey sweet when fully ripened and can be used in so many ways. Persimmons typically come into the stores in the fall through to early January. Their taste and texture fit in so well with fall cooking and Christmas snacks.  Here are a few interesting tidbits of information on persimmon:

Some Fun Facts:

  • There are about 2,000 varieties of persimmon.
  • Persimmon fruit originated in Asia (China).
  • Persimmon trees can grow up to 70 feet in height.
  • The fruit actually belongs to the berry family.
  • The Japanese variety (Khaki) is the most widely consumed.
  • The seeds can be boiled or roasted and used in a caffeine-free energy drink.
  • The persimmon tree can live up to 75 years.
  • The persimmon must be fully ripened before it can be eaten to avoid bitterness.

And, Of Course, They Are Very Healthy:

  • Persimmons contain very little fat and a reasonable amount of carbs, so they are good for maintaining a healthy weight.
  • They have anti-hemorrhoid and wound healing properties.
  • Persimmon is a good fruit for diabetics since they are high in fiber and regulate blood sugar.
  • Persimmons are also good for digestive health: they have high fiber and tannins.
  • They contain phytochemicals such as antioxidants and catechins (anti-inflammatory and anti-infective properties).
  • The high content of vitamin C makes persimmons an excellent choice for helping to prevent colds and flu.

My Favorite Seasonal Smoothie

Forget the eggnog! Try the “Persimmon Nog”.  It is seriously good and you won’t miss the guilt trip of drinking too much eggnog. You can make persimmon nog as creamy as you want. If you want to use fresh coconut milk, it will be creamy, but it will also be healthy

There are different ingredients you can put in the smoothie, depending on your taste and penchant for sweet. Some use dates as a sweetener and some use bananas. Some like it spicy with all the warming spices and others just enjoy a little cinnamon. It really is up to you. Here is a recipe that I like to use. feel free to modify.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk (fresh or refrigerated)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2-3 regular size ripe persimmons (peel first)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • (optional) hemp seeds or sunflower seeds

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy smooth.  Sprinkle with some cinnamon and serve. This recipe will make approximately 2 full glasses (2 servings) of Persimmon Nog.

I hope you enjoy this tasty alternative to the traditional eggnog as much as I do.

Cheers to your health!

 

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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Essential Oils Through the Ages

 

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema

Essential oils have always had an integral and important role in natural (holistic) medicine as well as having played a significant religious role.  History shows that they were sought out in early civilizations to heal and fortify the body. The mind, the body and the spirit were quite significant in religious practices as well, and essential oils enhanced all three.  Essential oils were foundational in commercial trade between cultures, which contributed to economic stability and growth as well as to the sharing of knowledge between cultures.

Knowledge of the properties of the oils virtually placed practitioners in a different class: those who knew the mysteries of plants. Practitioners were almost an elite class consulted by political and religious leaders for religious and medicinal purposes.

Essential oils have a colorful and fascinating story to tell across time. Let’s travel into the past together and discover their story.

Photo credit: Leonardo Ramos @leonardoeron

Ancient Egypt (circa 4,500 B.C)

It is fairly safe to say that ancient Egypt with its fertile Nile valley was the birthplace of aromatherapy and related practices. As far back as 4,500 B.C., the Egyptians were creating ointments, perfumes, aromatic oils, and developing cosmetics using plant oils (cosmetology). They exploited the plants found along the Nile River for medicinal purposes and well being. They also made resins, aromatic vinegar, and spices from plants growing along the river.

One interesting practice was the wearing of a solid cone of perfume on the head. The cone would gradually melt and cover the person with fragrance.

Two oils, myrrh, and frankincense were highly prized.  Myrrh was widely used in rejuvenating facial treatments and frankincense was charred and ground into a powder to make the kohl eyeliner for which the Egyptians were famous. Both of these oils/spices have been traded throughout the Middle East and North Africa for over 5,000 years. And, as the Bible states, myrrh and frankincense were two of the three gifts given as gifts by the Magi from the East.

Religious practices and essential oils were intertwined. Egyptians held the belief that essential oils were needed to be “one with the gods” Each deity had a specific fragrance and, at one point, only high priests could use them; fragrances were used for opening the sub-conscious mind and facilitating communication with the spirit world. The practice of mummification, a strictly religious process, used spices and oils of cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, and juniper. Essential oils were used in all aspects of daily life.

Photo credit: Dennys Hess @dennyshess

China (circa 2697-2597 B.C)

Essential oils spread into China during the reign of Huang-Ti and were used primarily for medicinal purposes. Emperor Huang-Ti is famous for having written The Yellow Emporer’s Book of Internal Medicine, which is still referred to today by those practicing essential oil treatments in Eastern medicine.  Shennong’s Herbal ( a study of 365 plants)  is China’s oldest surviving medical text (2,200 B.C.). Today, China is one of the world’s biggest producers of essential oils.

Photo credit: Tim @timvk

India (3,000 years ago)

Essential oils have been the backbone of Ayurvedic medicine (practiced for over 4,000 years) almost from the beginning of their introduction into India. They were used for both religious and therapeutic purposes. Some of the more commonly used oils were: ginger, cinnamon, myrrh, coriander, and sandalwood.

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi @cristina_gottardi

Ancient Greece (circa 400 – 500 B.C.)

Essential oils were adopted into Greek circles (influenced by the Egyptians). Hypocrites, the most famous of Greek physicians, studied over 300 plant oils and documented each one of their uses. He advocated essential oil perfumed baths and massages for well being and wrote: The Key to Good Health Rests on Having a Daily Aromatic Bath and Scented Massage.

Another Greek physician, Galen, also developed a wide knowledge of plants and their uses and wrote extensively on them. He treated Roman gladiators and, reportedly, even emperor Marcus Aurelius. Roman physicians used the writings of both Hypocrites and Galen as a basis for their practice. Romans were fanatical about aromatic baths and scented massages.

Discondis (the father of pharmacy) was a physician in Emporer Nero’s army and wrote De Materia Medica.

The ancient Greeks believed that the air was toxic and needed to be fumigated. They held that the winds and other elements filled the air with disease-bearing germs. So, they would fumigate the air with scents to clean it.

The Roman Empire

The Romans were influenced by the knowledge of both the Greeks and the Egyptians in medicinal practices and integrated them in the various aspects of their society. The bathhouses of the Roman empire were famous throughout the empire and beyond. They would infuse the baths with aromatic oils and use them for massages as well, following the teachings of Hippocrates.

Under the Roman empire, Israelites would use oils such as frankincense, cedarwood, hyssop, and fir to enhance spiritual communion.

Photo credit; Hasan Almasi @hassanalmasi

Persia (circa 980 -1037 A.D)

Ali-Ibn Sana (also known as Avicenna the Arab), was a well-known physician and a prodigy at 12 years of age. He wrote extensively on plants and the properties and uses of their oils. His books document the properties and uses of 800 plants. Ali-Ibn Sana is also the one who discovered the method of distilling essential oils, a method that is still used today. He discovered the chemistry behind non-oil-based perfumes and this allowed him to produce rose water which was highly esteemed as a status symbol in Persia (now Iran).

The Dark Ages

Following the fall of the Roman empire and the subsequent rise of the Catholic church and beginning or religious oppression, bathing was considered to be sinful and was strictly prohibited. The use of aromatics became almost obsolete. The prohibition of bathing contributed to the spreading of the plague (the Black Death).

There was also a lot of thievery during the times of the plague. Interestingly, thieves who robbed plague victims were said to have been perfumers and spice traders who regularly bathed in the oils of cinnamon, cloves, and frankincense and were not infected when touching plague victims.

The Holy Crusaders, coming back from the distant lands in the East, brought with them essential oils and perfumes as well as herbal medicines. These became highly popular in Europe. During the 14th century, when the bubonic plague was in full force, these herbal preparations were used extensively to fight off the disease and prevent it from spreading.

The belief of foul scent causing disease continued into the Middle Ages. People believed foul scents were offensive to God and also that they caused illness. They would wear amulets containing oils, incense, and fragrance around their necks to ward off the “evil air”.  Apothecaries ( alchemists who prepared these mixtures) set up shop and began selling their wares in the 16th century. This time period was a transitional period between serfdom on land owned by lords and the rise of free enterprise.

The Rennaissance

The Rennaissance brought people out of darkness and oppression to an awakening to holistic medicine to heal and nourish the body. Old medicinal practices were revived. A new interest in natural medicine was born. Paracelsus (1493 – 1541), a physician and alchemist of outstanding medicinal success is said to have been highly successful at healing leprosy with natural medicine.

By the 1600’s literature on essential oils was spreading around Europe (particularly England, France, and Germany). By the 1800’s, most pharmaceutical books (pharmacopeia) in these three countries were prescribing essential oils for treatment. In France, during the spread of tuberculosis (the 1800’s), those working in the flower fields (exposed to plant oils), remained, for the most part, free from tuberculosis. This discovery led to the first lab test on the antibacterial properties of essential oils (1887).

World War I

During the first world war, Chemist René-Maurice Gattefosse was treating ground soldiers with essential oils and eventually (in 1928) coined the term “aromatherapie” as being ” the treatment of injury and disease by use of essential oils.”

Photo credit: Annie Spratt @anniespratt

Today

Well! We certainly have come a long, long way from the early beginnings of plant oils. Unlike in ancient Egypt, essential oils are not restricted to a certain class of society. And, thankfully, we don’t have to spend time fumigating the air outside with fragrances like they did in ancient Greece and the Roman empire, though it certainly is a good practice to clean the air inside the home. We can burn incense if we like, but it doesn’t have to be a part of a religious ritual.

Knowledge about essential oils is available to everyone as is knowledge about hygiene, so the Bubonic plague or other such diseases can be effectively taken care of with proper understanding of plant properties and use of plant oils. And thank goodness we don’t have to go around town with amulets around our necks to ward off sickness and evil air. That would not be much fun.

Photo credit: Christin Hume @christinhumephoto

My Takeaway

The story of essential oils is fascinating. I hope you enjoyed it as well. I personally use essential oils and have found them to be helpful in many ways. I encourage you to find out more about these versatile oils.

Have you found this post helpful? Please leave a comment.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 

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Easy Mason Jar Salads

Category : Health

photo credit Mariana Medvedev @nibiteuntilphoto

Mason jars are trendy for everything from salads to smoothies, to puddings and parfaits. Everyone is toting their lunch in a jar these days. And let’s face it, they are attractive. The colors in your mason jar salad are highlighted in their rainbow colors. The staple mason jars which traditionally served for making jams and preserving foods have now become a popular way to carry our lunch and snacks.

These creatively presented salads, smoothies, and snacks are great for picnic lunches, office lunches and anytime a healthy snack is needed. I personally love to carry my smoothies in a jar to work.

What are the Advantages?

  • They are visually attractive which is a plus to whet the appetite.
  • They are eco-friendly
  • They are portable
  • They keep food fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • They taste is better (compared to eating out of a plastic container).
  • They don’t expose us to the harmful effects of BPA.
  • They allow for portion control.
  • They are easy to eat – you can just pour out the salad into a bowl
  • The jars are inexpensive.
  • They can make great gifts (just remember to refrigerate).
  • They are trendy! That feels good!
  • They can be made ahead of time for the week.

How to Pack a Mason Jar Salad

Beginning with a clean, wide-mouth Mason Jar:

  1. Put salad dressing in first at the bottom.
  2. Add crunchy veggies (carrots, celery, cucumber). These can marinate in the dressing
  3. Add legumes ( beans, chickpeas, lentils)
  4. Add grains (rice, pasta, quinoa)
  5. Add proteins (tofu, seitan, meats)
  6. Add leafy greens (lettuce, spinach) and sprouts (alfalfa)
  7. Add toppings (olives, nuts, dried fruit, and croutons)

Following this order will keep your salad crisp and fresh, preventing it from going soggy.

As you can see from the picture of my first attempt to make a Mason salad jar, I did not follow this order. The legumes went in before the crunchy veggies. It tasted fine but maybe it might not have kept for as long. I put in dressing, then chickpeas, then cucumber, then tomatoes, then quinoa and finally romaine lettuce.

But I Don’t Have Time for That

I get it. We’re all busy and who has time to make attractive salads every day? Why not do the prep for the week all at the same time? Why not create a prep salad bar? We can just cut up veggies ahead of time and put them in jars to redistribute in our Mason jar salad. the bonus is that family members can get involved and create their personalized salad from the salad bar. These salads can be made for the week ahead of time since they keep well in the fridge, so we don’t have to make them every day.

Some Recipes to Start

Vegan Mason Jar Taco Salad

1/3 cup of dressing (see below)

  • 1 small avocado + juice from one lime + a small handful of cilantro blended together (I added a bit of water to be able to blend it)

1/2 cup of shredded carrots

1/2 cup of pinto or black beans (I prefer black beans)

1/2 cup of cooked rice

1/2 cup of chopped red peppers

1/2 cup Vegan taco meat

  • 1 cup of raw walnuts + 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes blended together

1/2 crushed taco chips

a handful of romaine lettuce to top

Follow the order of packing above.

Chickpea Mason Jar Salad

2 teaspoons of lemon-mustard vinaigrette

  • juice from one large lemon + 1 teaspoon dijon mustard + 1/2 cup of olive oil + 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1/2  cup of sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup of chopped red onion

1/4 cup of chopped green olives

1/2 cup of fresh baby spinach

Follow the order of packing above.

 

Conclusion

These days, our hectic lives keep us running forwards, backward and sideways. We want to eat healthily but it is hard to find the time to fix up healthy lunches and even harder to get our kids to eat them. Mason jar salads have risen to the occasion. They are attractive (and kids know what is in them), they keep well, they are easy to make and they can be made in advance. They are great for the home dinner table (everyone can build his own from the selection) and for an office lunch.

What I really like about them is that it is an all-in-one meal – no adding extra toppings or pouring messy salad dressing. You can eat them right from the jar or pour them into a bowl. Why not try one? You may get hooked on Mason jar salads!

 

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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What I Learned about Yoga

 

Yoga – I’ll just put it out there, I was not too savvy about what yoga was before writing this piece. My only experience with yoga was a few classes I took a long time ago – I don’t remember much and I didn’t stay around to find out more.

Yoga seems to be the trendy, popular thing to do these days. Everyone is doing it. Yoga studios are popping up like mushrooms. Yoga is being taught, in schools, in hospitals, in the workplace, and in YMCAs. Yes. yoga is trendy and it’s everywhere. Yoga mats and Lululemon type clothes are in all the sports stores. It is very popular, particularly among women, though men do it as well.

So, I wanted to explore it and find out more, especially what all the terminology means and where it comes from. I set out to learn more about this topic – the origins, the philosophy, and the practice. I hope you will enjoy this journey of discovery.

Yoga – A Definition

The best place to start is with a definition.  The word yoga literally means to “yoke‘ or “unite“. It is described as the yoking or uniting of the jiva (our transitory self) with Brahman (the infinite Divine self). In other words, it is connecting the god within us to the universal and impersonal god (according to Hinduism)

Brahman is a Hindu word used to describe what the Hindus call their god. Basically, the belief is that Brahman is everything and everyone, and flows through everything.  It is a universal conscience – a kind of fluid reality.

Specifically, What Is Yoga?

Yoga, is, at its core, a religious worship (according to Hindu yogis), but it is not a religion. It is a ritual that involves the mind, the body, and the spirit in order to connect these with the Divine. There are 4 intertwining aspects:

  • Postures and movements
  • breathing
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation

Traditionally, all four aspects must be an integral part of the ritual; each has a specific purpose.

The movements and postures: These asanas are very specific (each with its own name) and involve specific transitions from one position to another in order to attain a posture representing this name. The names of the postures can be names or movements of animals, constellations, the moon, the sun or anything else.

In Hinduism, there are over 330 million deities (little gods). If you were to take a trip to India, it would not be surprising to see people doing yoga in the streets. There are so many statues of “little gods” and the people assume these postures in front of the “deity” as an offering. Cows and monkeys roam freely since they are some of the deities in Hinduism.

The Breathing: In yoga sessions, participants are instructed to breathe consciously, which is the essence of yoga. The conscious breathing assists you in connecting with the subtle energy within. Through the practice of proper breathing, yoga adepts learn to eventually navigate the different levels of consciousness. Essentially you are letting go of the past and the future and focusing on the moment inside a breath.

Prana and Pranayama: Prana refers to the vital force – the energy that animates the lungs. Pranayama is the mode of breathing involving three phases: inhalation, retention, and exhaling. According to yoga practitioners, breath is also a vibration and has a specific sound which, when emitted enables the flow of energy. One of these we are all familiar with – Om.

The Energy: like in the Martial Arts such as Tai-Chi or Karate, there is a free flow of energy. In the Martial arts, this energy is called Qi. In yoga, it is called Kundalini (potential energy). It flows through channels called Chakras (points of energy in the body). In acupuncture, these are referred to as pressure points or points of stimulation. There are main Chakras through which the Kundalini “serpent” travels from the base of the spine up to the pituitary gland (the 6th chakra) in the frontal lobe in a weaving fashion, opening up each chakra as it moves up. The 7th chakra is the crown (the top of the head), which is the ultimate destination for full awakening.

The Goal of Yoga: The goal of yoga ( according to yogi swamis) is to move toward an expanded state of consciousness or what yogis call: a Kundalini Awakening. The Yoga Sutras (the writings) explain that by moving the energy up through the chakras along the spine (through breathing and meditation chants) and into the pituitary gland, the practitioner can acquire special abilities such as divination, levitation, mind-reading, Astro-projection, and not feel hunger, thirst or the need to breathe.

As the yogis and the Yoga Sutras say, we can not separate the basic belief of Hinduism from yoga, which is reincarnation. This belief is that there is an eternal cycle 0f birth-death-birth when a soul moves from body to body. This process is based on the law of karma.  According to a former yoga instructor, Laurette Wills, (yoga instructor for 22 years), this means that yoga is essentially a preparing of the body for death in anticipation of the next reincarnation.

Professor Subhas Tuwari of Hindu University of America. “Yoga is Hinduism.”

Meditation:  According to swami.com, we can not separate or isolate the physical postures and movements from the rest of yoga. Yoga is meditation, they point outIt is a process. Yoga,  involves the senses, the body, the breath, and the various levels of the mind in order to achieve a higher consciousness.

For this reason, meditation will necessarily involve, in addition to postures and movements, visualization, contemplation, following an object of focus, and mantras (speaking, hearing, feeling). The goal as, one former yoga instructor stated is ” to attain oneness with the universe – enlightenment through the emptying of the mind”.

Relaxation: According to The National Academy of Sports Medicine, the goal or purpose of relaxation is” to improve feelings of peace and calm and lower the pulse, blood pressure, and reduce levels of stress hormones in the body. Through time and training the mind can help the body calm itself and lower the heart rate and reduce stress levels, which promote calming and feelings of relaxation and a sense of wellbeing.”

In yoga, this relaxation phase is called Savasana. It is a crucial phase which brings the body back into alignment – a state of equilibrium and allows the brain to unwind.

So, What’s the Fuss over Stretching Exercises?

Yoga is very popular in all age groups. Yoga adepts say it is fun, relaxing, energizing and great for developing muscular strength and balance.  They say that it is a really great way to exercise. They say that after a yoga session they feel good all over and relaxed.

The Swami and traditional yoga practitioners’ (yogis) perspectives are very different, They state that it impossible to separate the physical aspects (the stretching, postures, and movements) from the rest of the yoga discipline; they are necessarily intertwined. In fact, these traditional practitioners say that Westerners do not fully comprehend the complex metaphysical and spiritual nature of yoga. Yoga must be yoga; the mind, the body and the spiritual united with the Divine.

 So, Is It Healthy?

There are several types of yoga, but the one that seems to be the most popular is Hatha yoga, Hatha yoga is more physical and focuses on the breathing control exercises (pranayama). Some of the benefits promoted about yoga are:

  • Develops an inner awareness
  • Develops breathing control
  • Strengthens the mind and the body
  • Develops mindfulness
  • Balances weight
  • Lowers tension
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Lowers blood sugar

Are there Dangers Associated with Yoga?

Spiritual Dangers

“One often hears and reads about the dangers of Yoga, particularly of the ill-reputed Kundalini Yoga. The deliberately induced psychotic state, which in certain unstable individuals might easily lead to a real psychosis, is a danger that needs to be taken very seriously indeed. These things really are dangerous and ought not to be meddled with in our typically Western way. It is a meddling with Fate, which strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed. These sufferings correspond to the hellish torments of the chönyid state…”   C. G. Jung, Introduction to The Tibetan Book of the Dead * – Carl Jung

Psychological Dangers

There is a strong interest in the correlation between yoga (especially meditation) and psychosis. Some reports have described: (1) appearance of psychotic symptoms for the first time after meditation, (2) precipitation of acute psychotic episodes in those with a history of psychosis, after meditation, and conversely, there have also been reports of psychotherapeutic benefits for psychotics…The overall impression is that for the 6 months duration of follow up studied, chronic schizophrenics respond to activity in the form of physical training. Also, the emphasis on relaxation and awareness of internal sensations which are an essential part of yoga may not be useful for schizophrenics. YOGA AND PSYCHOSIS: RISKS AND THERAPEUTIC POTENTIAL

“We are bombarded with the idea that yoga is not only a healthy exercise for the physical body but the mind as well. Once again, the statistics show otherwise. 76% of cases experienced psychological disorders, 43% had to have psychiatric or medical treatments. Out of the psychological disorders observed 63% experiences tiredness, 52% experiences states of anxiety, 45% experiences depression, 39% experiences nervousness,  39% experienced regression [a childlike dependency], 26% experienced a nervous breakdown, and 20% expressed serious suicidal tendencies. These statistics are based on a study of the TM (Transcendental Meditation) form of yoga and was pursued by the German Government youth department (Ministry of Youth, Family, and Health), which was verified by the nations Supreme Courts after careful review.” Ernest Wood, Seven Schools of Yoga, Theosophy Publishing House, 1976, p.78)

Physiological Dangers

There actually are some concerns regarding the practice of yoga, Injuries do happen. In a study conducted at Sydney University, researchers found that the incidence of pain is more than 10% (which is comparable to most sports). It can also make existing pain worse.

In the interest of giving as much accurate information as possible, it is necessary to say that there is another side to what is promoted. There can be serious consequences (both physical and mental) related to certain yoga practices. Here is a link to a comprehensive site which contains many references to the side effects of yoga. There are too many to summarize, so I invite you to consult it if you so desire.

From Yogadangers.com:

Signs and Symptoms of a Kundalini Awakening:

  • Mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory problems
  • Severe emotional mood swings – anxiety, depression, rage, fear, and dread
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal problems, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Itching, burning, cramping, twitching of skin and  body
  • Electrical rushes and feelings of energy moving throughout  the body
  • Ego problems, grandiose and paranoid states
  • Psychic, trance states and out-of-body experiences
  • Sexual and hormonal difficulties
  • Uncontrollable vocalizations, chanting and body contortions
  • Ringing, rushing, and hissing sounds in ears
  • Paranormal activity – levitations, possession states, and spiritual assault
  • Inability to function effectively enough to work or care for children
  • Symptoms can last for years
  • For more extensive listings see: Signs and symptoms of Kundalini Awakening and Kundalini: Risks and Information

Conclusion

We all want to be in better shape physically and mentally. We all want to have less stress and more peace in our lives. Yoga seems to have been chosen as a means to achieve these goals as and has millions of adepts around the world.  To this end, I wanted to see what yoga was all about and provide information as accurately as possible.

I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Please let me know your thoughts in a comment.

Please click Share if you feel this post can be helpful to someone else.

Have a great day!

 

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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Cannabis – What’s it all About?

Category : Health

Well, there you have it – as of October 17th, 2018, Canada has become the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize cannabis. Canada took center stage and the world had its eyes riveted toward Ottawa’s decision. Most likely the world is looking to see what will happen next. Is this going to be a trend from nation to nation? Will other countries be stepping up to bat? And what does this mean for Canadians and, indeed the world?

Let’s look a little closer into cannabis, what it is, the health and social aspects to see if we can find out what this might mean for the future.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant which grows wild in tropical, temperate and pretty much any climate around the world. The main active ingredient is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is what produces the euphoric high associated with cannabis.  There are 3 forms: marijuana, hashish, and hash oil.

Marijuana: is made from dried flowers and the leaves of the cannabis plant. it is the least potent of the 3 forms,

Hashish: is made from the resin ( a gum) of the cannabis plant. it is then dried, pressed into a block form and smoked.

Hash oil: This is the most potent of the 3 forms. Hash oil is the thick oil derived from the plant. It is also smoked.

What are the Short-term Effects of Using Cannabis? (from Psychology Today)

(1) Impaired memory: While cannabis doesn’t actually seem to destroy existing memory, it can prevent us from creating new memory in our brain.

(2) Reduced anxiety: Many marijuana smokers tend to have higher incidences of anxiety than the rest of the population and they take it to lower their anxiety levels.

(3) Disruption of motor skills: so, taking marijuana could impair our ability to execute functions that require both a high level of concentration and high level of coordination together with fast reactions such as driving a car.

(4) Increased appetite; It seems that cannabis triggers the release of leptin and neuropeptide y, two appetite-stimulating hormones. So, bags of chips and marijuana appear to go hand in hand.

(5) Increased heart rate: Consuming marijuana can possibly increase heart rates per minute by up to 50% and studies have shown that heart attack risk increases by 4.8 times within an hour of consuming cannabis.

(6) Sleep patterns may be disrupted: The evidence is not clear-cut on this one. anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana may help with sleep, while some studies suggest the opposite. One thing studies clearly show is that the rapid-eye-movement stage of sleep decreases. This is the phase during which we do most of our dreaming.

(7) Pain reduction: Historically, marijuana was reportedly used to numb pain during surgery. It seems that the cannabinoid receptors in the brain are activated and make the person less sensitive to pain. This property of marijuana is the main reason why cancer patients turn to marijuana for pain relief during cancer treatment,

More Social and Health Effects

The National Institue on Drug Abuse states that:

(1) There is a decreased level of motivation and an increased level of absenteeism (school and work) associated with marijuana use.

(2) There is an increase in the number of work accidents ( and potential job losses)

(3) Social life is adversely affected because of memory problems, slow reaction times, anxiety and panic attacks.

(4) Perception and judgment difficulties cause low achievement problems in both work and study environments.

According to Drug.com

(1) Aggression, rebellion, and poor relationships are associated with increased and chronic marijuana use.

According to The Social Impact of Drug Abuse (Jean-Paul Smith):

(1) Marijuana use can cause severe anxiety and panic attacks

(2) Marijuana use is associated with psychotic illness such as schizophrenia and also depression.

Some Marijuana Facts

(1) Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States.

(2) The oldest reference to marijuana goes back to 2727 B.C. when it was discovered and then used medicinally in China

(3) Women are more sensitive to the pain killing abilities of marijuana than men, but they are also more likely to develop a dependency.

(4) Hemp plants are the same species as marijuana plants, but they do not produce THC.

(5) The fibers of the marijuana plant are called hemp – they are extremely strong and can be made into cloth fabric and even rope to pull… statues (!).

(6) Like wine connoisseurs, there are marijuana connoisseurs.

(7) Beer and marijuana are closely related and belong to the same family of flowering plants.

(8) The air of the Colosseum in Rome, as well as the cities of Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Turin, and Verona, have wafts of marijuana floating in the air along with nicotine, caffeine, and cocaine.

(9) The marijuana plant is not an eco-friendly plant. For every one pound of “pot”. 4,600  pounds of Co2 is released.

(10) Compared to cigarettes, heavily smoked marijuana does not increase lung cancer. it is actually less addictive than caffeine.

What to Think?

So, concerning marijuana, there is no lack of literature, studies, opinions and anecdotal stories. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has a concern. Many know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone that something happened to because of marijuana. There are stories of how it has helped people (with illness0 and stories of how it has destroyed lives.

One thing seems to be clear. It looks like there is no turning back, at least for Canada and Uraguay. It seems to be set in stone here. Only time will tell the real story of how it has impacted us for better or for worse.

As to the other countries of the world, it would be good to sit back and observe to see if that is the path you wish to take. Is it inevitable? I don’t have an answer to that question. It certainly is Canada’s decision for now.

What is your takeaway on this subject? How do you feel?  I would love to have your feedback. Please leave a comment.

Have a great day!

Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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Discover Amazing Golden Milk

These days, it’s all about the turmeric in health circles. It is making waves in scientific studies and anecdotal experience.  Golden Milk, made with turmeric, is becoming very popular. And the taste is awesome.  It gives a new definition to the “Hot Toddy.” I think it is safe to say that if you haven’t tried Golden Milk yet, you have been missing out.

So what is Golden Milk? It is an ancient beverage, typically consumed warm, from Ayurvedic medicine and is known for its delicious taste and numerous therapeutic, health benefits.  In Ayurvedic tradition, this drink was taken to fight off colds, congestion, sore throats and headaches. Beginning in India, thousands of years ago, the drink has made its way across the world and now the main component, turmeric (curcumin), is being studied for these and other health benefits. Some other benefits attributed to turmeric are:

  • blood purifier
  • antibacterial
  • antiinflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • aids in digestion
  • aids in cancer therapies such as radiation
  • aids in brain function

Ingredients

Golden milk ingredients (livingandstuff.ca)

Here are the main ingredients you will want to have in your Golden Milk:

Coconut oil –  makes it easier (the fats) for our bodies to absorb the curcumin in the turmeric root. Curcumin is the main compound we are looking to absorb.

Coconut oil contains healthy saturated fats that satiate as well as protect our brain against degenerative diseases.

Black pepper – The piperine in black pepper seems to be able to activate the curcumin to make it more bioavailable to our bodies. It makes the curcumin more potent.

Turmeric– either fresh grated or raw ground turmeric powder. I prefer the ground turmeric powder because it is easier to mix and I can keep it for longer. Tumeric is an anti-inflammatory root, similar to ginger root.

Coconut milk- the original recipe used milk, but I think coconut milk tastes better and is healthier

Honey -.Raw honey is best because of the enzymes contained in raw honey. Honey also has antibacterial properties.

Other ingredients– you can also add cinnamon or ginger to add more spice, some might want to add in some ginger as well. Cinimmon has anti-oxidants and helps to regulate blood sugar. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It will also help to take away some of the bitterness of the turmeric root.

Directions

Add all ingredients except the (raw) honey to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently.

Boil for about 10 min. until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Boiling also takes away some of the bitter taste of the turmeric.

After 10 min; remove the saucepan from the burner and cool for 10-15 min.

Add the raw honey and mix thoroughly. The honey will give the mixture a cohesive paste texture as well as add a pleasant taste.

Put the paste into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. It should keep well for a minimum of 2-3 weeks.

Golden paste (livingandstuff.ca)

Some Ways to Use Golden Paste

  • in smoothies
  • as a topping for pumpkin pie
  • in coffee
  • in Golden milk
  • as a broth (omit the raw honey)
  • in a salad dressing
  • in soups (omit the raw honey)

Other Uses

  • as a face mask
  • as a poultice for inflamed skin or sprains
  • as a whitening toothpaste (omit the raw honey and add baking soda and coconut oil)
  • as a skin soother for sunburns and poison ivy breakout (mix with aloe vera gel)

Conclusion:

There is no reason not to try golden milk or paste and add to your daily routine. With such outstanding health benefits and versatility, it merits becoming a staple in every home. From a warming drink in the evening to a tooth whitening paste, there is something for everyone. Why not give it a try?

Has this information been helpful to you? Let me know in a comment.

 

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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Weird and Wonderful Kombucha

Category : Health , Life Tips , Lifestyle

It’s Getting Around Town

Kombucha.  You’ve probably seen it somewhere. Maybe you’ve seen it at the grocery store alongside other drinks and paid no attention to it. Maybe you have wandered into a “Hipster Hangout” at a local vegetarian or vegan “café, Or maybe you have one of those friends who is fanatical about “growing things” in their kitchen and you have seen “something” growing in jars on their kitchen counter. It is likely that you have come into contact with this “on the rise” drink.

The New Health Baby on the Block

Komucha has a bubbly, tangy taste to it. When you first try it, you don’t quite know what to make of it. The bottle ingredients may say that it is a cherry flavour or raspberry flavour, so you may expect a fruity drink. Well, it is that, but it seems to taste more like a fruity beer with maybe a twist of vinegar than a fruit drink.  In fact, you might even believe it is actually beer since the taste is so similar, except the it has that fruity taste as well.  And it is… really.. bubbly.

We may have tried it because of all the “health hype” about it. It is the new thing to try,  Kombochu is the new health baby on the block and we don’t want to in the dark about what it is. So we try it just to say that we have.

So, What Is it?

Basically, Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented for a period of 1-3 weeks.The cloudy “floaty bits” floating around in it are called the scoby -some call it a mushroom.

A Bit of History

So where does it come from?  It seems that everything old is new again – new to us, that is. Kombucha was originally consumed in ancient China – about 2,200 years ago. It was revered for its detoxifying and energizing qualities. But, of course, it didn’t remain an “ancient Chinese secret”, Kombucha travelled on to Russia through trade routes and then eventually found its way into Eastern Europe. Around the time of WWII, Kombucha made its way into Germany and then later France and Northern Africa.

Fascinating Kombucha Facts

(1)  Don’t spill Kombucha on your rubber shoes

The acid in the Kombocha together with the friction from the rubber will eat at your skin. It is better to wash it off straight away.

(2) It’s not a mushroom and It is alive!

The “floaty thing” is often called a mushroom (as in a fungus). It is not a mushroom at all, but is, instead, a biofilm ( a cellulose particle) which is produced by bacteria.

(3) It’s like beer

Depending on how long the kombucha has been left to ferment, the alcohol content can range from between 0.5% and 5%. So it really is like beer and drinking enough of it….well.. you could (maybe) get drunk on it.

(4) It’s Chinese

Kombucha is said to have originated in China (The North Eastern part) around 220 B.C.

(5) It gets things moving

All the probiotics in Kombucha certainly help the metabolism and the digestive process to speed things up. So, the bathroom routine may definitely improve.

(6) It can be turned into clothing -seriously!

The bacteria in Kombucha form a microfilm which can be made into fabric with a leather-like texture. From it, we can make shirts, shoes, coats and more.

(7) It can be addictive

People do develop an addiction to this drink, but not as much as coffee or tea.

 

Some Health Benefits of Kombucha

It seems that the probiotics, the B vitamins and the acidic compounds in Kombucha are responsible for most of the healthful benefits derived from drinking Kombucha.

(1) Kombucha may help with anxiety and other mood disorders

“In conclusion, the emerging concept of a gut microbiota-brain axis suggests that the modulation of the gut microbiota may provide a novel therapeutic target for the treatment and/or prevention of mood and anxiety disorders.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25470391 

(2) Kombucha may boost the immune system

“These data show that probiotics can be used as innovative tools to alleviate intestinal inflammation, normalize gut mucosal dysfunction, and down-regulate hypersensitivity reactions. More recent data show that differences exist in the immunomodulatory effects of candidate probiotic bacteria. Moreover, distinct regulatory effects have been detected in healthy subjects and in patients with inflammatory diseases. These results suggest that specific immunomodulatory properties of probiotic bacteria should be characterized when developing clinical applications for extended target populations.”

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/73/2/444s/4737576

(3) Kombucha may decrease incidence of heart disease

“Probiotics create acids that counter cholesterol production: As probiotic bacteria absorb fiber from the intestines, they generate acids. One of the specific acids, i.e. proprionic acid, reduces production of cholesterol by the liver.

Probiotics break down liver bile acids: Bile acids assist body in digesting fats, and the liver produces these bile acids from cholesterol. The liver recycles bile acids and utilizes them over and over. Probiotics break down bile acids and, therefore, the liver has to make additional bile acids, using up more cholesterol in the progression.”

Probiotics actually eat cholesterol: Probiotic bacteria have been shown to break down cholesterol and use it for nourishment.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023901/

(4) Kombucha may fight yeast infection

“…exhibiting the most important inhibition zone observed against the Candida strains tested (Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, Candida sake, Candida dubliniensis and Candida albicans). In view of their antimicrobial activity demonstrated against a range of pathogenic bacteria and against a number of clinical Candida species, the fermented L. citriodora and F. vulgare may be very healthful.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643812000023

(5) Kombucha may help with type II diabetes

“The findings revealed that kombucha tea administration induced attractive curative effects on diabetic rats, particularly in terms of liver-kidney functions. Kombucha tea can, therefore, be considered as a potential strong candidate for future application as a functional supplement for the treatment and prevention of diabetes.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3403982/

The Downside of Kombucha

(1) Keto acidosis

Overconsumption or daily consumption may lead to acidosis, which is an abnormally high level of acid in the blood (the ph drops below 7.35).  To be fair, one would have to drink a whole lot of kombucha to get acidosis.

The symptoms of acidosis include: confusion, headaches, tiredness, shaking and rapid breathing or shortness of breath. If acidosis is left unattended to, it can lead to serious medical emergency conditions of brain damage, coma and it may even lead to death.

For more information on acidosis read:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001181.htm

(2) Lead poisoning

Lead poisoning is a risk depending on how the kombucha was brewed. If it was brewed in a pot that contains ceramic, clay, lead crystals or paint, the acid in the brew will draw out and absorb the lead in the pot.

There are many symptoms of lead poisoning which may include: headaches, stomach pains, sleep problems, constipation, tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite, numbness in the extremities.

Home brewing needs to be done with careful attention to the pots used and measures taken to test for traces of lead. If strict procedures are followed, then there should not be an issue with lead poisoning.

(3) Mold and pathogen contamination

This risk is higher in the home-brewed  and ‘raw’ (unpasteurized) varieties and usually only if and when certain precautions are not taken. Without going into detail on this subject, it is important to make sure that proper fermentation procedure is followed (length of time, no exposure to direct sunlight or to other objects -cross contamination) and sanitary guidelines are respected.

Kombucha purchased commercially usually does not have mold and pathogen issues because it has been properly tested.

(4) Kombucha can be addictive

Kambucha contains caffeine (it is made from fermented tea, after all). The high quantity of sugar in it also makes you want to drink more and more.  Initially, it makes you feel good and energized, so of course you want to get this feeling over and over.

(5)  High acidity

The acidic level in kombucha should be a warning signal to people with IBS or other digestive issues.

Also, there may be the possibility of wearing away the enamel on your teeth with regular consumption.

So, what’s the takeaway on kombucha?

Kombucha has an interesting history and appears to have several health benefits (for having been around for so long).  Most of the health benefits appear to be centered around the probiotic content of the drink more than anything else. The health studies done specifically on Kombucha are practically (almost) inexistent (for whatever reason).  The lack of studies does not necessarily make it unhealthy (or healthy); it is just that the benefits seem to be largely based on anecdotal evidence together with current understanding of the health benefits of probiotics.

If a person is generally in good health, drinks kombucha in moderation (not becoming obsessed and fanatical about it) and obtains the kombucha from a reputable source (I do not know enough about home brewing to endorse it), then  there should be no problem enjoying this sweet, tangy and bubbly drink.

So, pour yourself a glass of “bubbly” and raise a toast to life. Life is for Living, after all!

Was this post helpful to you?  Leave a comment below to ;et me know your thoughts

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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Perplexing Chocolate Facts

Category : Health , Lifestyle

We Love Our Chocolate, Don’t We?

We love it as a drink, in a chocolate bar, in cake, in ice cream and in numerous other ways. It is a gift we like to give and receive. We celebrate special holidays with chocolate, adding in flavours such as mint, raspberry and many others.  Chocolate is enjoyed around the world, crossing all cultural boundaries. Chocolate makes us feel good, we believe. And chocolate is associated with love and romance (Valentine’s Day).  We sometimes even say that chocolate is “decadent” when our chosen dessert or snack is brimming with chocolate. Yes, indeed, we love our chocolate!

Some Little Known Facts about Chocolate

(1) Chocolate inspired the invention of the microwave

A scientist who was working on WWI radar and weapon projects also happened to be a  chocolate fan and probably always had some on hand. As it turns out, he had some chocolate in his pocket and noticed that the chocolate softened fairly quickly when he was near a device called an magnetron. He thought that maybe the magnetron would make it possible to heat up food quickly – and the microwave was born.

(2) Chocolate actually does make us happy (for a time)

Chocolate contains different chemicals including trytophan, which through a chemical process can, when we eat chocolate, bring us into state of euphoria.

(3) Chocolate was once used as currency

The Aztecs and the Mayans placed an extremely high value on the cocoa bean and considered chocolate to be the “Food of the Gods”. To them it was like “gold.”  They would exchange cocao beans for the goods and services they needed.

(4) Chocolate may protect against tooth decay

Pure cocoa (without the sugar) contains natural chemicals that can fight against the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Maybe one day there will be “cocoa toothpaste” (if it doesn’t exist already).

(5) Too much chocolate can kill you

It’s true; chocolate can kill (for all you “Death by Chocolate” fans). Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which, if taken in very high doses, can cause heart failure, seizures, kidney failure and dehydration. It is highly unlikely that we would consume the amount of chocolate required for this to happen, but dogs, which are much smaller, only require a small amount of chocolate to bring about these symptoms. so.. no chocolate for Fido!!

(6) Chocolate slices created for your sandwiches

There is a company in Japan that specializes in making chocolate slices (similar to cheese slices) for sandwiches and, probably more importantly, to make chocolate flower decorations (by the very skilled, of course).

(7) There may be bugs in your chocolate

A chocolate bar can typically contain about 8 insect parts. The FDA still considers this safe. When the proportion goes beyond 60 insect parts per 100 grams, then it would be considered unsafe to eat. But let’s not worry. Today, you can find many opportunities to eat chocolate covered insects (grasshoppers and maggots), right? So. no worries!

A Bit of History

Chocolate found its beginnings in what is now called Mexico about 4,ooo years ago when the first cocoa plants were found. One of the earliest civilizations in the region -the Olmec- were the pioneers in transforming the cocoa bean into a bitter chocolate drink. Later, this bitter drink was named “xocolat” by the Mayans.

Chocolate was considered by the Mayans and the Aztecs to be the “Food of the Gods” It was used in the sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. It was also given to victims being sacrificed as a way to “cheer them up” and was often tainted with the blood of previous sacrificial victims.

The Spanish Conquistadors were introduced to this bitter drink and brought it back to Europe’s upper class.  Eventually chocolate moved beyond the upper classes and into the general population. In the 19th century innovation led to creating solid chocolate, milk  chocolate (Switzerland: Daniel Peter) and, of course, lots of sugar.

Today we may wonder if the ancient Mayan and Aztec would even recognize the drink they once called :The Food of the Gods.”

 

 

 

So, Is Chocolate Really a Health Food or a Superfood?

Chocolate, especially high percentage dark chocolate, has been hailed, in recent years as one of the superfoods of the 21st century. Many health claims have been attributed to this bitter seed from the rainforests of South and Central America and the African varieties. It seems, from all the studies, that chocolate may:

  • lower blood pressure
  • improve blood circulation
  • protect skin from sun damage
  • improve vision
  • improve brain function
  • fight off disease

These are some of the claims associated with eating chocolate. They all seem plausible and cocoa is natural, isn’t it? And what about the overwhelming number of  studies that substantiate these claims? What are we, the consumers and chocolate lovers, to make of all this?

Is It Good to Eat?

First of all,  even if these study results are all legitimate, who would seriously want to eat chocolate (cocoa) without the sugar – no sugar at all? Not too many of us, I would guess. Even the rainforest animals enjoy nibbling away at the tangy tasting pulp surrounding the seeds but will spit the bitter seeds out on the ground. What do they know that we don’t? Clearly, they are not buying into the health benefits of the cocoa bean pod seeds.  It seems that, cocoa. by itself, is not ideal for consumption and that is why we need to sweeten it up.  We are certainly, today, very far  from the “Food of the Gods” version, aren’t we?

When and why did all this interest in chocolates health properties appear? Chocolate has been with us for a very long time, so when did it become a superfood and how?

Heavy Investing?

It seems that for the past 30 years or so, major chocolate producing companies have been investing heavily into “scientific studies and research grants” that are more favourable to the study of cocoa. The result of all this industry investment is that dark chocolate has sky rocketed into the sphere of “health food stardom.” Yet, despite the massive amounts of money poured into research, the longterm health benefits of cocoa are still questionable.

Vox had this to say about chocolate (cocoa) research studies:

“Here at Vox, we examined 100 Mars-funded health studies, and found they overwhelmingly drew glowing conclusions about cocoa and chocolate — promoting everything from chocolate’s heart health benefits to cocoa’s ability to fight disease. This research — and the media hype it inevitably attracts — has yielded a clear shift in the public perception of the products.”

“Mars and [other chocolate companies] made a conscious decision to invest in science to transform the image of their product from a treat to a health food,” said New York University nutrition researcher Marion Nestle (no relation to the chocolate maker). “You can now sit there with your [chocolate bar] and say I’m getting my flavonoids.”

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/10/18/15995478/chocolate-health-benefits-heart-disease

And the Guardian adds:

Prof Marion Nestle, a nutritional scientist at New York University, uses the word “nutrifluff” to describe “sensational research findings about a single food or nutrient based on one, usually highly preliminary, study”. She points out that most studies on chocolate and health get industry funding, but journalists generally fail to highlight this. “Industry-funded research tends to set up questions that will give them desirable results, and tends to be interpreted in ways that are beneficial to their interests,” she says.

 A Few of the Health Claims of (Dark) Chocolate

(1) Chocolate may improve blood circulation and decrease blood pressure

“More good news for chocolate lovers: A new Harvard study finds that eating a small square of dark chocolate daily can help lower blood pressure for people with hypertension.”

“The study joins the growing research into the heart-healthy benefits of flavonoids, compounds in unsweetened chocolate that cause dilation of the blood vessels. The Harvard study was announced today in Atlanta at the American Heart Association’s science session on cardiovascular disease. “

https://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pressure.html

(2) Chocolate may protect skin from sun damage

“Our study demonstrated that regular consumption of a chocolate rich in flavanols confers significant photoprotection and can thus be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects. Conventional chocolate has no such effect.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19735513

(3) Chocolate improves brain function

“In Dr. Berk’s findings, eating chocolate with 70 percent cacao was shown to increase communication involved in a number of immune responses, such as T-cell activation, cellular immune response and genes involved in neural signaling and sensory perception, associated with the brains ability to adapt and learn new information and skills, according to a press release of the study.”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/26/eating-dark-chocolate-improves-brain-function-new-/

(4) Chocolate may be helpful in improving vision

More than 70 per cent of the people scored significantly higher on the vision tests after eating the dark chocolate bar than they did after the milk bar.

One category that saw the biggest enhancement was contrast sensitivity, which is the ability to distinguish between light and dark values especially in situations of low light, fog or glare. Driving at night is an example of an activity that requires good contrast sensitivity for safety.”

http://goodvisionforlife.com.au/2018/06/27/good-news-research-suggests-that-dark-chocolate-could-improve-your-eyesight/

There Are Some Downsides

(1) Chocolate may weaken bones

“Increased chocolate consumption was associated with lower mean bone density at all the measured sites. When the researchers took into account other factors, such as age, BMI and lifestyle, that could potentially affect this relationship, they found that some of these relationships (e.g. when bone density and strength were measured in the shin) were no longer significant.”

https://www.nhs.uk/news/older-people/chocolate-causes-weak-bones/

(2) Chocolate may have a negative effect on moods

“You can see the problem: the tyramine and PEA in chocolate may slow each other’s metabolism. The consequence is having both of these chemicals hang around too long in the body would be high blood pressure, a fast beating heart, heightened arousal, racing thoughts, anger, anxiety and rage.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/your-brain-food/201011/chocolate-the-good-the-bad-and-the-angry

(3) Chocolate is high in fact and sugar

“Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar.”

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/

So, what are we to conclude?

There is so much confusing information out there. Is chocolate healthy, or is it just a hyped “superfood?” There are certainly more than enough studies to highlight its health benefits, but, as we have seen, the studies are funded for marketing purposes. I don’t think we should stop eating chocolate for all of this, but,, everything in moderation, right? So go ahead, enjoy a bit of chocolate. Life is too short to worry about the details.

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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Fascinating Coffee Facts

Coffee

Who doesn’t enjoy the fresh aroma of a cup of steaming hot coffee?  This time-honoured beverage has graced tables and stimulated conversation around the world for more than 1,000 years. Coffee has stood the test of time and holds its position as the second most traded commodity in the world following petroleum.

A Bit of History

One legend has it that coffee originated in Ethiopia through a goat herder who noticed that his goats were particularly”energized” after eating some berries from a bush. He shared this information with the abbot of a local monastery. The abbot thought it would be a good idea to make a brew from these berries. So he took some berries, roasted them, ground them up and dissolved them in hot water to make what we now know as coffee. Other legends claim a different story and origin. Whatever the case, it seems that coffee did originate in the hot climate of Eastern Africa.

A Wildly Popular Drink

Coffee became a wildly popular drink throughout Eastern Africa and the Middle East. Pilgrims travelling from all over to Mecca sought to drink the beverage, the most popular drink of the time. From the Middle East coffee was introduced to Europe, Indonesia and the Americas largely through Dutch traders.

Fascinating Coffee Facts

(1) Coffee  was banned at least three times in history

The first time it was banned (16th century) in Mecca by Muslim rulers because they believed that the stimulating side effects of drinking coffee were undesirable and unacceptable. Coffee was banned a second time ( 17th century) by Charles the II. Then it was again banned (in the 17th century) by Frederik the Great.

(2) Coffee was the reason for the invention of the Webcam

In 1991 at the university of Cambridge (England), It seems that people were tired of walking across campus only to find that the coffee pot was already empty. The Webcam was invented as a way to stream the coffee machine online so that people could check (online) to see if the coffee pot had coffee in it.

(3) Coffee started a social revolution

Coffee houses began appearing all over the Middle East and East Africa where people would go for entertainment and to catch up on the latest news and gossip. There was usually dancing, gaming (chess games), musical shows, and other entertainment. These coffee houses were the place to be if you wanted to be “in the know.”

(4) Coffee beans are not actually beans.

The coffee “bean” is, in fact, the seed of a berry which grows on a bush. Although the coffee “bean” has worldwide popularity, the fruit does not seem to enjoy the same popular recognition.

(5) Caffe Suspeso is an Italian tradition

In Italy, there is a long held tradition which originated in Naples called Caffe Suspeso (suspended coffee).  According to this tradition, customers “pay-it-forward” by buying an extra cup of coffee to be put on hold for other customers who don’t have the money to buy coffee. When a “down-on-his-luck” customer comes by, he asks if there are any caffe suspesos available.

(6) Coffee used to have the name “Arabian Wine”

The Arabic name for this beverage was literally translated as ” wine of the bean.”  through the different languages and cultures; Turkish (Kahve) , Dutch (Koffee) and Italian (caffe), the beverage came to be known what we now call coffee.

(7) Expensive coffee is made from elephant dung

Some of the most expensive coffee in the world comes from Thailand. Here the elephants are fed coffee beans and then the coffee beans are picked out of the elephant waste matter. It seems that this procedure gives the coffee a smooth, earthy taste.

(8) Coffee Bath

In Japan, for about $30 (US) you can have a coffee bath where you can have coffee poured all over you. The coffee bath is one of several “beverage baths” available. There are also wine baths, chocolate baths, green tea baths and sake baths.

 

The Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee

(1) Caffeine improves brain function and activity

“The study results showed that caffeine promotes neuronal connections, providing possible mechanistic insights into caffeine’s enhancing effects on memory and cognition.”

Professor Kere (researcher) continued: “For example, our research shows that inhibition on neuronal connectivity is downregulated by normal levels of caffeine – similar levels to what you might drink in a day. This might well help uto understand in part why coffee has been suggested to improve memory and protect against memory loss in the elderly.”

https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/2017/09/new-research-help-understand-caffeine-consumption-affects-brain-body/

(2) Caffeine protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases

Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia. A 2007 quantitative review of observational studies demonstrated a new, positive effect of coffee consumption on lowering the risk for AD – approximately by 30% as compared to non-coffee consumers []. A 2010 review of longitudinal epidemiological studies suggested that daily intake of 3–5 cups of coffee in middle age may lower the risk of the disease by 64% as compared to lower amounts of coffee.”

“A meta-analysis of cohort and case-control studies by Hernán et al., including reports published between 1966 and 2002, revealed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and the incidence of PD (Parkinson’s Disease). Coffee drinkers were at a 30% lower risk of the disease as compared to non-drinkers [], which is consistent with the latest meta-analysis from 2014 and the conclusion that the strongest positive effect (28% lower risk) was observed for the daily intake of 3 cups of coffee []. Additionally, that analysis demonstrates a linearly dependent correlation between caffeine dose and risk for disease.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5420628/

(3) Caffeine may reduce the risk of Type II diabetes

“These results suggest that moderate consumption of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee may lower risk of type II diabetes in younger and middle-aged women. Coffee constituents other than caffeine may affect the development of type II diabetes.”

High coffee consumption has been associated with better glucose tolerance and a substantially lower risk of type 2 diabetes in diverse populations in Europe, the U.S., and Japan (13). However, it remains unclear what coffee components may be responsible for the apparent beneficial effect of coffee on glucose metabolism.”

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/2/398

(4) Caffeine protects against liver disease (cirrhosis) and cancer of the liver

“Overall, drinking coffee has been associated with up to a 40% reduced risk of liver cancer compared to those who do not drink coffee34-39.”

“Coffee drinking has also been related to a reduced risk of other liver diseases. A systematic review published in 2014 suggested coffee consumption was associated with beneficial outcomes in patients with chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatocellular cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease7. A 2016 review also concluded that coffee intake of more than 2 cups per day in patients with pre-existing liver disease was associated with a lower incidence of fibrosis and cirrhosis, lower hepatocellular carcinoma rates, and decreased mortality9.”

https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-overview/coffee-consumption-and-liver-function/

(5) Caffeine may lower heart disease risk

“In conclusion, our meta-analysis suggests a non-linear relationship between coffee consumption and CVD risk. Moderate coffee consumption was associated with lower CVD risk, with the lowest CVD risk at 3 to 5 cups/d of coffee consumption, and heavy coffee consumption was not associated with CVD risk. This non-linear association with coffee consumption was observed for both the risk of CHD and stroke.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945962/

The Downside of Coffee

(1) Hydrochloric Acid Secretion

“Intragastric instillation of coffee, decaffeinated coffee and pure caffeine in humans significantly stimulated gastric secretion. After intragastric caffeine, basal serum gastrin concentrations were not changed. However after instillation of coffee and decaffeinated coffee serum gastrin increased significantly. Thus acid secretion was significantly greater after coffee and decaffeinated coffee than after caffeine. Roasted products seem to be responsible for the gastrin-releasing effect of coffee.”

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/21901415_The_influence_of_coffee_and_caffeine_on_gastrin_and_acid_secretion_in_man

(2) Mineral Depletion

Coffee drinking can contribute to moderate or significant loss of calcium, magnesium and iron.

https://www.livestrong.com/article/536960-does-coffee-deplete-nutrients/     

(3) Stress and Tension

Coffee (or caffeine) may contribute to stress and tension:

“The current study has presented results that suggest caffeine consumption may be associated with stress, anxiety, and depression in secondary school children, though the effect on stress disappeared after additional dietary, demographic, and lifestyle variance was controlled for statistically. The effects observed also appeared to differ between males and females. Though caffeine consumption was associated with anxiety in males at the multivariate level, no such observation was made in females. Furthermore, though the effects relating to depression occurred in both sexes, the threshold at which they appeared was lower in males than it was in females.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4668773/ 

So, There You Have It…

Coffee, the ubiquitous beverage, with an interesting social history, still leaves us wondering: is it good for me or is it bad for me?  There are some significant benefits to drinking coffee, but perhaps it would be good to limit the cups to one or two and consume coffee after a meal rather than before. Cheers to you, let’s drink to that!!

 

Has this post been helpful to you?  Let me know in a comment below. I would love to dialogue with you.

 

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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7 Effective Ways to Resolving Conflict

Sometimes We Fight

Typically, we are not very adept at handling conflict, whether in our personal relationships or business related situations. In most cases we simply have never learned how to be effective and many of our attempts to confront have been negative, if not outright damaging. We go in with what we know, replaying what we have seen our parents do. Sometimes we go into defense- attack mode, pulling out all the weapons : blaming, shaming, accusing, sarcasm, – you name it. We go in fighting, trying to defend our reputation and our dignity.

Sometimes We Shrink Back

Other times we shrink back and go into helpless victim mode where we retreat, or  fall into a puddle of tears. We then hope that the other person will see how much he or she has hurt us. And we throw missiles such as ” You always…” or  “You never…”, hoping they will get the point and see our perspective.  Sometimes we go into a passive aggressive mode, trying to make the other person feel guilty. Maybe then they will see the error of their ways.

Sometimes We Avoid It All together 

Our track records of failed attempts at solving issues often result in a lot of hurtful fights, blows to our self esteem and confidence and damaged relationships. So what are we to do?  Conflict keeps showing up. It shows up in our friendships, at work and in our family. We can never say its all done and recuperate.  Conflict seems time consuming and energy draining, so why get involved at all? Many of us would rather just do our very best to avoid conflict all together.

Don’t Rock a Good Boat

We avoid bringing up important issues so as not to ‘rock the boat.”  “Let’s not step on any toes and  let’s just avoid the problems”, we tell ourselves..  We use a number of avoidance strategies such as making ourselves very busy,  or physically avoiding the people we need to talk to. We involve ourselves in outside activities or entertainment, over scheduling if necessary. In the end, we hope that, in time, the problem will just go away.

Except, It Won’t Go Away

Hoping  that conflict will never happen or will simply evaporate, doesn’t make it so.  Conflict shows up when we least expect it and often when we are unprepared. Unresolved conflict will continue to reappear because the underlying issue is still there. The emotions, the misunderstandings, the resentment, the needs and the expectations have not gone away just because we have avoided confronting a person or a situation. Time does not heal unresolved conflict. In fact, with time and added information, perspectives, and opinions, the conflict may become even more complex and delicate.

So Why Don’t We Confront?

Maybe we are afraid that our feelings might be exposed and that our confidence might take a beating. Perhaps what we fear most might actually happen. If we are not careful, the other person will prove, once and for all, that we are wrong and our opinion is not worthy. We might be afraid that, no matter what we say, the other person will  not listen to what we have to say and will simply dismiss it. We may be afraid that we will be overpowered by the other person’s words and left feeling miserable because we are unable to get our point across.

It’s Not Worth the Energy, We Say

At any rate, we may reason, it’s not worth the time and emotional energy to deal with the problem, so we sneak back into our “safety” mode of avoidance. Why should we invest our time and risk our emotions in conflict which will get us nowhere?

Let’s Take Off the Gloves

There is no way around it; confrontation is necessary and healthy. The personal and professional costs of not addressing issues and not going into the” ring” are real. Sometimes, it is downright necessary to get into the ring and fight (in a good way!)

The Health Costs

Avoiding conflict can take a toll on our physical and mental health. Pent up anger, frustration and resentment can result in anxiety, stress, depression as well as physical ailments such as heart problems. When we hold back our emotions for long periods of time, one way or another, they will find an exit. Sometimes this may be in the form of an emotional explosion appearing”out of the blue”.

The Professional Costs

The professional costs are high as well.  The unwillingness to confront issues or behaviours creates a roadblock to the flow of good ideas and opportunities for innovation and growth. Crucial information may not get shared and misunderstandings can cause stagnation in the the workplace. People are misrepresented and their professional credibility may come into question. And, of course, there are financial losses all around as ta result of workplace conflict issues.

The Costs to Our Personal Relationships

Conflict avoidance in personal relationships, particularly close ones such as spouse or parent-child relationships, rob people of opportunities to grow and learn to deal with problems. We can create an atmosphere of fear, lack of trust and emotional distance from those close to us when we choose to gloss over or avoid bringing up important issues to discuss.

So, What Can We Do?

In his book The 7  Habits of  Highly Successful People, Conflict Resolution, author Stephen Covey lists 7 important steps to smooth conflict resolution.

(1) Begin with the End in Mind

Essentially, we need to  be clear what we are hoping to gain from the discussion (even the heated discussion). We should not be looking to change the other person’s opinion or viewpoint. Our goal should be clearly fixed on a beneficial outcome (or solution) for both parties. Having a clear understanding of the larger objective (valuing and preserving the relationship) and finding a workable solution will help us steer clear of what is not important.

(2) Put First Things First

We need to focus on what is important and not allow our emotions and side issues to become distractions or weapons. We need to “keep the main thing the main thing.”   By sticking with the main issue, we keep the issue or conflict simple and relatively easy to resolve. When we go off on all kinds of tangents, these do nothing to help us figure out our differences.

(3) Think Win-Win

There is no winner without a loser and often times in conflict both parties come out losing something.  Winning at any cost really is a losing solution. Effective conflict resolution is really an opportunity to practice our creative  communication skills and manage our emotions effectively. It is better to think of the situation as a team project to come up with a creative and workable solution.in which everyone comes out a winner.

(4) Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood

We should try to understand the whole picture and the point of view of the “opposing” party. Perhaps there is information we do not have. It is better to show interest and curiosity in the other person’s perspective (listen) to learn how they view the situation. When we begin with “seeking to understand”, the chances that the other person will want to listen to our side are greater than if we had just jumped in with our side of the argument.

(5) First Listen

A Cherokee proverb states “Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.”

John Maxwell writes in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, ” You cannot connect with someone if you don’t try to listen to and understand them.”

Listening is the crucial component to meaningful and helpful conversation and the basis of all human connection. People want others to hear what they have to say and  be understood.  So, if we do nothing else, but get this point right, we’re off to a good start in resolving our differences.

(6) Synergize

Opposing viewpoints do not actually have to be in opposition. Maybe there is a way to bring them together. It does not have to be a question of one person persuading, cajoling or in some way bringing the other over to his way of thinking. It is more about finding a effective way to work together with different viewpoints towards a common goal and solution. It can be about using the strengths of two personalities to bring about a creative outcome.

(7) Sharpen the Saw

Effective conflict resolution happens long before conflict occurs. By working on ourselves, learning and growing, we can prepare for how to deal with the inevitable personal or professional conflict that arise. We can make it a habit to learn through books, training programs and people who have been “through the fire” to be better equipped to deal with conflict. Iron sharpens Iron, so the proverb goes. We can learn a lot from others and leverage their experience to give us the tools we need.

Complicated Humans

Human relations are so complex (and we make them complicated). Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could carry signs around  to show people what we are feeling and let them know exactly how they should treat us. Imagine a sign saying “I am a fragile human being so treat me with utmost care. Don’t hurt me and don’t ignore me.” And of course, we would all understand and act accordingly, wouldn’t we? Maybe in a perfect world.

Conclusion:

The best we can do is make the best of what we have. These seven steps from Stephen Covey are an excellent start to a new tool in our life tool box called: Effective Conflict Resolution.  Let’s Listen, learn, care and understand. Then we can work together rather than apart, solving problems and creating solutions.

Has this post been helpful to you?  Let me know in a comment below. I would love to dialogue with you.

Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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