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Friday, 30 September 2016

ChiLi Rocks

As well as being yummy, chillies boast many amazing health-enhancing benefits. To make the most of these properties, we don’t need to start chomping on raw chillies! Chilli powder and condiments can also work this magic in varying degrees.

Here are reasons why you might want to work some chillies into your diet: 

1. They help with weight loss. 

The heat from chilli peppers comes from the nutrient Capsicum, which can aid weight loss by boosting our metabolism.

2. They get you in a good mood. 

After stimulating the tongue's pain receptors, endorphins are released when you eat chillies. 

3. Your body thinks they're like sex. 

Your heart rate increases and you start to sweat - much like the way your body reacts during sex. 

4. Chillies boost circulation. 

They thin blood and improve cholesterol levels making them great for heart health.

5. They keep you relaxed. 

Chillies have pain-relieving properties, being anti-inflammatory and analgesic. A great relaxant, capsaicin blocks Substance P, a natural chemical involved in the transmission and perception of pain.

6. They're great for diabetics

Studies show chillies reduce the body’s need for insulin to lower blood sugar by a staggering 60%.

7. They fight infection. 

Pepper plants produce anti-fungal and anti-bacterial chemicals.

8. They're nature's own multi-vitamin. 

Chillies are packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, B and C, Iron, Potassium and Manganese. 

9. They're clear up congestion. 

The hotter the curry the runnier the nose! Capsaicin can be applied topically for pain relief in inflammatory conditions without the numbing usually associated with anesthetics. Keep those tissues handy!

10. They fight cancer. 

Cranberry Juice for UTI

There has always been some controversy regarding whether cranberry juice consumption actually reduced the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women or not.  Part of the hesitation was due to lack of sufficient statistical power to provide definitive results from randomized clinical trials in the past.  But now, a new study has compared the effects of consuming cranberry juice with that of a placebo beverage on the incidence of UTIs in healthy women with a recent history of a UTI.

The research design was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial involving 373 women (average age 41) at 18 research centers with a history of recent UTIs.  The women were randomly assigned to consume either a daily glass of cranberry juice or a placebo for 24 weeks.  There was a 98% compliance rate with 86% of the participants who completed the study.

Results of the study showed a 40% reduction of UTIs among women assigned to drinking cranberry juice compared to women assigned to drinking a placebo beverage.

Urinary tract infections are common and can be hard to treat due to rising rates of antibiotic resistance.  Around 60% of all women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime.  Treating a UTI can be costly as they are responsible for around 10.5 million visits to the doctor’s office and emergency room visits in the U.S. and the costs associated with antibiotic therapy, visits to health care providers, lab testing and lost productivity.  It is estimated that 25-35% of women diagnosed with a UTI will have another recurrence within 6 months.

What makes cranberry juice so special in treating and preventing UTIs?  Studies have suggested that cranberry juice interferes with the attachment of bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract due to compounds found in cranberries called proanthocyadins.  Cranberry consumption also appears to produce anti-inflammatory effects by reducing the proposition of asymptomatic bacteria progressing into symptomatic UTIs.  The anti-inflammatory activity has the potential to prevent the development of symptoms and to reduce the severity of a UTI incident as well as preventing it from turning into a chronic infection.

The results of this study do suggest that cranberry juice consumption appears to be a wise choice for women to help prevent UTIs.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Benefits of eating an Apple.

Fall is primetime for apples as they come into all their glory with a range of variable flavors and hues of red to green. The familiar saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” appears to have quite a bit of truth in that statement.  Numerous research has shown many positive advantages to eating one of the most common and favorite fruit in the world.  From its origination in the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan millions of years ago, apples are still enjoyed and are recognized as being an important part of a healthy diet.
Health benefits of apples
1.      Good source of fiber
 A medium sized apple provides 4 grams of fiber – leave the peel on as it contains the majority of fiber along with many antioxidants. The fiber composition includes soluble fiber (pectin) on the inside and insoluble fiber (cellulose) in the peel.  Soluble fiber helps remove cholesterol, and slows down glucose absorption. Insoluble fiber prevents constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticular disease.
 2.      Aids in weight control
 Apples are the perfect easy snack containing about 80 calories, no fat or cholesterol and the fiber content provides satiety preventing overeating.  A Brazilian study in Nutrition showed overweight women who ate apples lost more weight than women who did not eat fruit in their diet.  Eating an apple 15 minutes before a meal will result in a 15% calorie decrease.
 3.      Reduces asthma
 Pregnant women should eat apples as their children are much less likely to develop asthma by age 5 according to a comprehensive review.  Among all the foods studied, apples were the only fruit that had this protective association.
4.      Promotes gut health
Your intestinal tract loves when you eat apples.  The fiber pectin is perfect for increasing good bacteria and apples are packed with it.  Beneficial bacteria revel in feeding on pectin, allowing them to reproduce and flourish helping to keep the intestinal tract working like a charm.
 5.      Improves brain health and may reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
 Drinking apple juice may be one way to boost brain power and reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Research on mice showed when given apple juice each day, they performed better on cognitive tests.  It appeared apple juice was also linked to a lower production of beta-amyloid plaques within the mice.  Past studies in humans have shown drinking apple juice may prevent the decline of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.  Acetylcholine is necessary for transmitting messages to other nerve cells that are crucial for memory and brain health. When acetylcholine is increased in people with Alzheimer’s, mental decline is slowed down. 
6.      Improves cardiovascular health
A research review showed apples contain a rich source of polyphenols and fiber which have a positive effect on reducing inflammation associated with heart disease along with decreasing ischemic heart disease mortality and thrombotic stroke.  A daily consumption of apples can reduce damage from LDL cholesterol and may decrease the risk of dying from a heart attack. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Pine Cone

Pine cones are used in a great variety of arts & crafts, including wreaths, holiday decorations, decorating décor, fire starters, bird feeders, and toys. I love walking into craft stores before Christmas because the cinnamon scented bags of cones drives me wild.

 A vortex of fertile forces dripping with sexuality.
The pine cone is a symbol of sexuality and fertility. The Romans associated the pine cone with Venus, the Goddess of Love. Celts gathered pine cones to use as fertility charms. A woman wanting to conceive would put them under her pillow. Dionysus (Bacchus) held a rod tipped with a pine cone that represented masculine generative forces. I find it ironic that the pine cones we see are symbols of masculine generative forces since it is the feminine version of the tree, called the seed cone. It produces pine seeds when it becomes fertilized. The male cone, called the pollen cone, are found at the ends of the lower branches. Their purpose is to release pollen and once done, they die. Pine pollen is the most potent source of testosterone from plants.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Pink Banana

(Musa velutina) Lovely, small banana plants produce the most stunning, glowing, brilliant pink banana you will ever see. They are edible, but very seedy. Plants have large leaves that grow up to 24" long and add a wonderful tropical effect to your yard or patio. This species is relatively hardy, taking a few degrees of frost fairly well. Ripe fruit will start to split open when ready to eat. Showy and fun to grow! Can be hard to germinate, but is then easy to grow.

Each cycle will take less than a year to complete from young shoot to bunch weighting between 15 and 70 kg, depending on the variety. Let us remind ourselves that bananas, just like pineapples, are parthenocarpic fruits which means that there is the growth of ovaries into fruits without previous fecundation and they therefore lack seeds (aspermous). So it is useless to toss a banana in a flower pot and hope it will become a plant, propagation is always done by propagation. Well, there ARE seeded bananas but those are ornamental species (Musa coccinea or Musa velutina) or wild ones, which would be only enjoyed by monkeys and insects.

Regarding the geographical birthplace of the plant, it is set in a large part of Southeast Asia comprising Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Burma. Botanically speaking the edible bananas (Musa paradisiaca) is an hybrid between Musa acuminata andMusa balbisiana, the triploid (three chromosome chains).

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Drinking too much Water

Corral, it may be tough to imagine drinking too much water. But it is possible, and it creates a condition known as water intoxication.

Don't laugh.

The condition causes headache, nausea, and vomiting. In more severe cases it may produce confusion, double vision, drowsiness, cramps, muscle weakness, and even seizures, brain damage, coma and death.

Quite simply, when you drink too much water, you can dilute the electrolytes in your blood – particularly sodium. And when sodium levels drop, fluids shift from the outside of your cells to the inside, causing them to swell. This condition is called hyponatremia.

When it's your brain cells that are doing the swelling, any number of the harmful symptoms listed above can kick in.

How can you possibly drink so much water your brain swells? It's been known to happen to soldiers, three of whom even died due to hyponatremia and cerebral edema after drinking 2.5 to 5.6 gallons of water in just a few hours.

Ironically, marathon runners – those athletes helping themselves to cups of water offered by well-meaning fans along their race routes – have also been known to quench a cup too far.  At the 2002 Boston Marathon, 13 percent of participants had hyponatremia symptoms, with 0.06 percent showing critical hyponatremia. At another marathon, an over-hydrated competitor developed hydrocephalus and brain stem herniation, resulting in his death.

In addition to soldiers and athletes, water intoxication has been known tooccur in schizophrenics. One study of 27 schizophrenics that had died young showed that five of them died due to water intoxication.

Water intoxication is not just about how much water you drink, but how quickly you have imbibed it. Your kidneys can only void about 27 to 33 ounces of liquid per hour. Out-pace that with your libations and you are courting hyponatremia. A case of water intoxication and prolonged hyponatremia occurred in a healthy, 22-year-old male prisoner after he drank 1.5 gallons of water in 3 hours.

So how much and how fast should you drink? Listen to your thirsts, and remember that your body is also extracting water from the solid foods you ingest. Pregnant women, of course, will need to drink for themselves and some extra for their unborn child.

Is Being the Breadwinner is not Good?

Gendered expectations in marriage are not just bad for women, they are also bad for men, according to a new study by University of Connecticut (UConn) sociologists.

Using data on the same nationally representative group of married men and women over 15 years, the authors examined the relationship between men's and women's relative income contributions and found that, in general, as men took on more financial responsibility in their marriages, their psychological well-being and health declined. Men's psychological well-being and health were at their worst during years when they were their families' sole breadwinner. In these years, they had psychological well-being scores that were 5 percent lower and health scores that were 3.5 percent lower, on average, than in years when their partners contributed equally.

"A lot of what we know about how gender plays out in marriage focuses on the ways in which women are disadvantaged," says Munsch. "For example, women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, and they still perform the lion's share of housework. Our study contributes to a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which gendered expectations are harmful for men too. Men are expected to be breadwinners, yet providing for one's family with little or no help has negative repercussions."

Breadwinning has the opposite effect for women when it comes to psychological well-being. Women's psychological well-being improved as they made greater economic contributions. Conversely, as they contributed less relative to their spouses, their psychological well-being declined. Relative income was unrelated to women's health.

Munsch attributes these psychological well-being differences to cultural expectations for men and women. "Men who make a lot more money than their partners may approach breadwinning with a sense of obligation and worry about maintaining breadwinner status," says Munsch. "Women, on the other hand, may approach breadwinning as an opportunity or choice. Breadwinning women may feel a sense of pride, without worrying what others will say if they can't or don't maintain it."

According to Munsch, her findings are good news given that both husbands and wives usually work. "Our study finds that decoupling breadwinning from masculinity has concrete benefits for both men and women," says Munsch. "Whereas men's psychological well-being and health tend to increase as their wives take on more economic responsibility, women's psychological well-being also improves as they take on more economic responsibility."

The study uses data from the 1997 through 2011 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine the effects of household income dynamics on psychological well-being and health in a nationally representative sample of married people between the ages of 18 and 32. The researchers considered a number of alternative explanations for their findings, including age, education, absolute income, and number of hours worked per week. However, these variables did not account for their findings.

Bad Marriage, Healthier for Men

Men, when your wife tells you that she only nags because she cares, pay attention: science is on her side!

A national study led by a Michigan State University sociologist has found that, for men, an unhappy marriage may actually slow the development of diabetes and promote successful treatment once they do get the disease.

Why? It may be because wives are constantly regulating their husband’s health behaviors, especially if he is in poor health or diabetic. And while this may improve the husband’s health, it also can be seen as annoying and provoke hostility and emotional distress.

“The study challenges the traditional assumption that negative marital quality is always detrimental to health,” said Hui Liu, MSU associate professor of sociology and lead investigator of the federally funded research. “It also encourages family scholars to distinguish different sources and types of marital quality.”

The study was published in the Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences.

Using data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, Liu and colleagues analyzed survey results from 1,228 married respondents over five years. At the onset of the study, the respondents were 57 to 85 years old; 389 had diabetes at the end of the study.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. More than 29 million Americans had diabetes in 2012, or 9.3 percent of the population.

Liu, an expert in population-based health and family science, investigated the role of marital quality in diabetes risk and management and found two major gender differences:

*The most surprising finding was that, for men, an increase in negative marital quality lowered the risk of developing diabetes and increased the chances of managing the disease after its onset. Diabetes requires frequent monitoring that the wives could be prodding the husband to do, boosting his health but also increasing marital strain over time.

*For women, a good marriage was related to a lower risk of being diabetic five years later. Women may be more sensitive than men to the quality of a relationship and thus more likely to experience a health boost from a good-quality relationship, Liu said.

“Since diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in the United States, implementation of public policies and programs designed to promote marital quality should also reduce the risk of diabetes and promote health and longevity, especially for women at older ages,” the study says.