Top 13 Uses of Jojoba Oil You Need to Try Out for Yourself

When we hear the term jojoba oil, we all know that it has something to do with beauty. This oil has a golden color and is from the seed of the jojoba plant. The plant is native to southern United States and northwestern Mexico. The pure oil has a bright and golden color. Once it undergoes processing, it becomes clear and transparent. Jojoba oil has quite a long shelf life. You can store it for a long time since it is a relatively stable liquid. It won’t oxidize easily. Also, it won’t turn rancid, like other oils, because it contains no trigylcerides.

This oil is quite popular, so you can easily find it in most health food stores and supermarkets. When shopping for your supply of the good oil, make sure you go for the organic brands. Ensure that what you’re purchasing is 100 percent jojoba oil and that there are no additives that might irritate the skin.

Why Choose Jojoba Oil?

There are a number of reasons why jojoba oil is your best bet in keeping your skin, hair, and other body parts healthy.

First, compared to other oils available, it’s the one that’s structurally and chemically similar to human sebum. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance from the sebaceous glands. It waterproofs and lubricates the hair and skin of mammals. Sebum is largely comprised of wax monoesters, which is the primary component of jojoba oil. The oil acts as a substitute while giving similar or even added benefits compared to sebum.

Second, it contains a high amount of minerals and vitamins B5 and E. And we all know how useful this vitamin is in promoting healthy skin. Also, jojoba oil has antioxidants, which add protection to the skin and hair against harmful free radicals.

Third, this oil is highly antibacterial. Most types of bacteria cannot reproduce and will die if they come in contact with the oil. Now that’s some strong stuff.

And lastly, using this oil is guaranteed very safe. It is non-toxic, non-allergenic, and non-comedogenic. It won’t clog pores or cause any allergic reactions. Also, it is not an irritant and won’t give you that greasy, sticky feeling that most oils do.

Uses of Jojoba Oil

Back then, jojoba oil was used by Native Americans for treating sores and bruises. Today, it has many more uses than that, mostly for beauty.

Treats Acne

It’s a very effective treatment for acne because since it’s very similar to sebum, when applied to the face, it tricks the skin into believing it has produced enough sebum. Thus the production of sebum decreases and balances out, and so does the acne. Eventually, your face will be less oily, but will still be properly moisturized and protected. More importantly, there will be no clogging of pores.

Another way it fights against acne is through its antibacterial properties. It kills the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, which causes further inflammation of acne.

Relieves Psoriasis and Eczema

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes buildup of dead cells on the skin. This causes inflammation and scaling. Eczema is an allergic reaction of the skin to different irritants. These include commonly used dyes and chemicals in soaps. Both conditions show dry and itchy patches that may develop to secondary bacterial and fungal infections.

Jojoba oil is effective in providing relief to both conditions. It relieves the itching and dryness in the skin. Also, it forms a protective layer over the skin, which forms a barrier to external irritants. Skin inflammation also lessens due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Safe Makeup Remover

Instead of using commercial-brand makeup removers that contain chemicals, use jojoba oil. It is a natural way to remove dirt, makeup, and bacteria from your face after a long day. It’s even safe for cleaning around the eye area as it does not cause irritation.

Facial Cleanser

This oil is quite effective in washing away the dirt and grime from your face as well. You just simply apply a few drops on your skin, let it set, and then simply rinse away. This easy process clears away all the impurities that are accumulated on your face and neck.

Controls Oily Skin

Oily skin is from overactive sebaceous glands. This skin type quickly gathers dust from the environment. Because of that, frequent face washing is necessary. Oily skin can also cause other skin problems, like acne, dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis.

Jojoba oil can help with oily skin by modulating sebum production. Regular use of the oil will ensure your skin is properly moisturized, but without the oily feeling.

Nightly Moisturizer

Applying jojoba oil on your face and problem areas of your body (okay, your entire body) will do wonders. It seals in moisture as you sleep and also creates an effective barrier against external elements. It gets fully absorbed in your skin, leaving it feeling soft, smooth, and supple.

It’s important to make sure your skin is properly moisturized. Skin that’s dehydrated is vulnerable to irritants that can cause dermatitis and germs that are constantly on the lookout for entry points into the skin. Keeping your skin hydrated locks in the moisture and protects the skin from the drying effects of environmental factors.

Prevents Razor Burn

Do you still feel iffy and a tiny bit scared when you shave your legs? Well, with jojoba oil, you have nothing to worry about. Its waxy texture makes sure you don’t get any nicks, cuts, or razor burns as you are shaving. Also, since it is completely natural, it contains no harmful chemicals that can clog your pores after shaving. Goodbye, ingrown hair!

Soothes Cuts and Bruises

Since it has antifungal and antibacterial properties, jojoba oil is an excellent remedy for minor cuts and bruises. It calms down redness and also helps the skin heal faster.

Relieves Sunburn

If you notice some redness on your skin after being out under the sun too long, chances are you have sunburn. The redness indicates damage from too much UV exposure. Applying jojoba oil on the affected area will help soothe the uncomfortableness. Its vitamin E and B-complex content help in damage control and skin repair. Through this application, the skin can regenerate and normalize.

Effective Lip Balm

This oil can last longer than many commercial lip balms as it’s not water based and won’t evaporate out. Its long-lasting moisturizing effects helps dry lips feel soft. Also, it provides the lips with a natural and healthy sheen.

Aids in Hair Loss

If you have a problem with hair fallout or thinning, then this oil can help you. Hair loss is caused by the blocking of hair follicles. These then break off. Another reason for hair loss is if the pores are blocked with sebum.

Jojoba oil can dissolve and clear these blockages. The oil also stimulates and promotes new hair growth. It encourages the development of new hair cells and improves the microcirculation in the scalp as well.

Controls Dandruff

Dandruff is the result of scalp cells dying at a higher-than-normal rate. The leading cause of dandruff is a dry scalp. However, there’s no need to worry as jojoba oil can naturally cure this. It contains a good amount of zinc and selenium, which address the problem of having a dry scalp. The oil moisturizes the scalp, making sure the cells are healthy and thriving.

Treats Diaper Rash

If you see that your baby’s sensitive bottom has red and irritated skin, that means he has a diaper rash. Since a baby’s skin is super sensitive, you have to be careful on what product you use to ease this condition.

Luckily, jojoba oil is gentle enough to use on your baby’s skin. It doesn’t leave your baby with an oily and uncomfortable feeling and is easily absorbed by the skin. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties are also effective in fighting off the rash.

Deep biomarkers of human aging: Application of deep neural networks to biomarker development

 

Published here

One of the major impediments in human aging research is the absence of a comprehensive and actionable set of biomarkers that may be targeted and measured to track the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. In this study, we designed a modular ensemble of 21 deep neural networks (DNNs) of varying depth, structure and optimization to predict human chronological age using a basic blood test. To train the DNNs, we used over 60,000 samples from common blood biochemistry and cell count tests from routine health exams performed by a single laboratory and linked to chronological age and sex. The best performing DNN in the ensemble demonstrated 81.5 % epsilon-accuracy r = 0.90 with R2 = 0.80 and MAE = 6.07 years in predicting chronological age within a 10 year frame, while the entire ensemble achieved 83.5% epsilon-accuracy r = 0.91 with R2 = 0.82 and MAE = 5.55 years. The ensemble also identified the 5 most important markers for predicting human chronological age: albumin, glucose, alkaline phosphatase, urea and erythrocytes. To allow for public testing and evaluate real-life performance of the predictor, we developed an online system available at http://www.aging.ai. The ensemble approach may facilitate integration of multi-modal data linked to chronological age and sex that may lead to simple, minimally invasive, and affordable methods of tracking integrated biomarkers of aging in humans and performing cross-species feature importance analysis.

Introduction

Aging is a complex process affecting all biological systems at every level of organization [1,2]. While many anti-aging interventions have demonstrated life-extending or other geroprotective effects in model organisms, practical limitations continue to hamper translation to the clinic [3]. One problem is that the evaluation of aging changes and possible anti-aging remedies requires a comprehensive set of robust biomarkers [4] . Large-scale longitudinal programs like MARK-AGE [5] have been launched to analyze changes in multiple biomarkers during aging and correlation between biological and chronological age. Several “aging clocks” able to predict human chronological age using various biomarkers have already been proposed. Methylation-based markers such as epigenetic aging clocks (Horvath [6] and Hannum [7]) are currently the most accurate, while transcriptomics [8,9] and metabolomics [10] have shown to be less so. Telomere length is commonly used to measure senescence but has lower predictive ability of human chronological age than IgG N-glycans, immunoglobulin G glycosylated at conservative N-glycation sites [11]. Recent studies show that biomarkers of age-related pathologies could be used to evaluate senescence modifications based on the connection between age-related pathologies at the signaling pathway level [12].

However, most of these biomarkers are not representative of the health state of the entire organism or individual systems and are not easily measured or targeted with known interventions. The common blood biochemistry test is one of the simplest tests used by physicians to examine the health state of patients. While being highly variable in nature, some markers from blood biochemistry are sensitive indicators of various conditions, such as inflammation and even alcoholism, and are approved for clinical use [1314].

Machine learning (ML) techniques, such as support vector machines (SVM), are routinely used in biomarker development [15] and rapid increases in labeled data are enabling deep neural networks (DNNs). Methods based on deep architectures have outperformed classical approaches not only in image analysis, but also in solving a wide range of genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics problems [16].

In this study, we apply a deep learning technique for predicting human chronological age that utilizes multiple DNNs stacked into an ensemble and trained on tens of thousands of blood biochemistry samples from patients undergoing routine physical examinations. We then use a custom implementation of the permutation feature importance (PFI) technique [17] to evaluate the relative importance of each blood biochemistry marker to ensemble accuracy. We also analyzed the performance and accuracy of 40 DNN architectures optimized using a variety of optimizers, identified the best DNN, and selected 21 DNNs that cumulatively provided higher accuracy and as an ensemble than the best DNN in the ensemble.

Results

To perform this study, we obtained a dataset of 62,419 anonymized blood biochemistry records, where each record consists of a person’s age, sex, and 46 standardized blood markers through a collaboration with one of the largest laboratory networks in Russia, Invitro Laboratory, Ltd. We aimed to draw data from a reasonably healthy population. While we did not have access to patient records, we selected only blood tests from routine health checks, avoiding obvious sources of unhealthy patients, such as hospitals, and through statistical analysis omitted blood tests with outliers.

The generalized project pipeline is depicted in Figure 1. First, we preprocessed the blood test data set, excluding highly biased markers from reference ranges, normalizing them for training the DNNs, and removing outliers (see Methods for details). The resulting data set was split into training and test sets comprised of 56,177 and 6242 samples, respectively. Then 40 different DNNs were trained on 56,177 blood test samples.

Figure 1. Project pipeline. Laboratory blood biochemistry data sets were normalized and cleaned of outliers and some abnormal markers. For biological age prediction, 21 different DNNs with different parameters were combined in ensemble based on ElasticNet model. For biological sex prediction, single DNN were trained.

Since we treated human age prediction as a regression problem, we used two metrics to estimate the performance of the method: standard coefficient of determination (R2) and ε-prediction (epsilon-prediction) accuracy (see Methods for details). When using epsilon-prediction accuracy, the sample is considered correctly recognized if the predicted age is in the range of [true age -ε; true age +ε], where ε controls the level of certainty in the prediction. So if ε = 0, then it is a simple classification accuracy. In this study, we considered ε = 10. The key advantage of using epsilon-prediction accuracy is that it allows cohort analysis without fixed age ranges (e.g. 10-20, 20-30).

The best single DNN performed with 0.80 of R2 and 82% within the 10 year frame of epsilon-prediction accuracy (Figure 2 A & B). Single DNN outperformed other ML models such as k-Nearest Neighbors, Support Vector Machine, Random Forests, Gradient Boosting Machine, etc (Figure 3 & B).

Figure 2. Analysis of best DNN model in the ensemble and the whole ensemble. (A) Correlation between actual and predicted age values by the best DNN in the ensemble. (B) Biological age epsilon-prediction accuracy plot for the best DNN. (C) Biological age marker Importance, performed using FPI method. (D) Correlation between actual and predicted age values by whole ensemble based on ElasticNet model. (E) Biological age epsilon-prediction accuracy plot for the ensemble. (F) Heat map for Pearson’s correlation coefficients between 40 DNNs. Scale bar colors indicate the sign and magnitude of Pearson’s correlation coefficient between predictions of DNNs.

Figure 3. DNNs outperform baseline ML approaches in terms of R2 statistics. DNN were compared with 7 ML techniques: GBM (Gradient Boosting Machine), RF (Random Forests), DT (Decision Trees), LR (Linear Regression), kNN (k-Nearest Neighbors), ElasticNet, SVM (Support Vector Machines). (A) GBM shows the higher 0,72 R2 among ML models for biological age prediction. (B) All ML models have comparable high R2 for biological sex prediction.

To further increase the coefficient of determination and accuracy of predictions, we combined these single DNNs into an ensemble based on the stacked generalization (Stacking) technique [18]. Stacking is a method that fits some ML models on the predictions of other models, in our case on the predictions of DNNs. Model selection was performed with 10 fold cross-validation and with the random search strategy for finding the best hyperparameters for considered models. The experiments with Stacking models showed (Figure 4 A & B) that the best ML model was ElasticNet.

Figure 4. Comparison of sub-models for stacking ensemble and evaluation of filling strategies. (A) ElasticNet model has the higher epsilon-prediction accuracy among the stacking models. (B) ElasticNet is the best model for stacking from the point of R2 statistics. (C) Median filling strategy has higher epsilon-prediction accuracy than other strategies. Median filling strategy shows 64,5 % epsilon accuracy within 10 years frame. (D) Median filling strategy is better from the point of R2 statistics.

To successfully combine the predictions of DNNs into the Stacking ensemble model, the predictions of DNNs should closely approximate the target variable and differ from one another, or be less correlated. To achieve this, DNNs should be trained with different hyperparameters, varying in the number of layers, counts of neurons in each layer, activation functions, regularization techniques, etc. We investigated 40 DNNs, each unique in terms of hyperparameters. Pearson correlations of these DNNs are presented in a heat map on Figure 2 F, showing a high degree of similarity among many of the networks regarding predictions (r approaching 1) but also some major distinctions.

To determine how many of these trained DNNs were necessary for constructing the Stacking ensemble model, we performed an iterative process of adding each DNN’s predictions vector into the ensemble. Two iterative strategies were employed: adding predictions by decreasing R2 of each network, i.e. adding better networks considering R2 earliest in the ensemble, and increasing the correlation between DNNs, i.e. adding less correlated networks first. The results of this assay are presented in Figure S2. Both strategies showed that no more than 21 DNNs were needed in the ensemble. The ensemble resulting from distinguishing the correlations of DNNs and ordering the addition of DNNs into the ensemble demonstrated R2=0.82 and 83,5% within a 10 year frame of epsilon-prediction accuracy (Figure 2 D & E).

We compared our deep-learned predictor with several published epigenetics and transcriptomics markers of human age. Surprisingly, despite the fact that we used only blood biochemistry data with 41 values for each patient, our biomarker outperformed blood transcriptomics biomarkers presented by Peters et al with R2=0,6 for the best model [8]. Due to the nature of the data, epigenetics markers show a stronger correlation with chronological age, with R2=0,93 for Horvath’s methylation clock and R2=0,89 for the Hannum et methylation clock [6,7].

Marker importance

In order to analyze the importance of blood test markers via neural networks, some wrapper feature (selection) importances approaches are required. We used a modification of the Permutation Feature Importance (PFI) method (see Methods for details). By applying this method, one receives a list sorted by the importance of markers via DNN. This technique has two benefits: 1) it is native and simple to interpret and 2) as other wrapper methods it relies on DNN performance, which in this case is better than other ML models, thus produces more robust and meaningful features. Marker importance analysis by PFI method, the results of which are presented in Figure 2 C, reveals the five important markers: albumin, glucose, alkaline phosphatase, urea, and erythrocytes.

Top features

We also performed so-called top features analysis, which answers how the performance of a single DNN will decrease as the number of markers used in the model decreases. To select the smaller number of markers for training the DNN, the sorted list of all PFI scores is used. The results of this analysis for both R^2and epsilon-prediction accuracy are presented on Figure 5 A & B. For the top 10 features by PFI, the DNN got R2=0.63 and 70% of 10 year frame epsilon-accuracy prediction. In practical terms, the fact that this drop in performance was so small supports the top 10 markers received by PFI as robust and reliable features for predicting age.

Use case

To make this deep network ensemble available to the public, we placed our system online (www.Aging.AI), allowing any patient with blood test data to predict their age and sex. In order to validate our approach, we collected the blood biochemistry reports that were uploaded on the site from 25 January to 15 March 2016.

The total number of collected reports with indicated real age was 1,563 samples. Many users expressed no desire to specify all 41 parameters of the blood test, so we added an option to enter only the 10 most important markers. The average number of missing values provided by the volunteer testers was 18.5 markers per person. There are several strategies for filling skipped values, including zero, mean, mode and median over all values of each marker. Evaluation of these 4 strategies on the aging.ai data showed that median filling strategy has the best performance in terms of both R2 and epsilon-prediction accuracy (Figure 4 C & D).

Figure 5. Top features analysis. (A) Dependence of the epsilon-prediction accuracy from the number of features. (B) Dependence of R2 statistics from the number of features.

Aging.AI provides a proof of concept for a simple and inexpensive blood-based predictor of chronological age, which may be used for speculate on the biological age of the patient. However, it has many limitations. When it comes to developing predictors using deep neural networks, one of the major difficulties is building large data sets. In this study we were constrained by the limited number of features available to us in large numbers of blood test results. Some of the features, for example globulin fractures, are no longer frequently used in diagnostic medicine and are excluded from the newer standard tests. However, these features were present in historical tests available in large numbers and were used for training.

Discussion

Aging is a complex process and occurs at different rates and to different extents in the various organ systems, including respiratory, renal, hepatic, and metabolic [19,20]. The analysis of relative feature importance within the DNNs helped deduce the most important features that may shed light on the contribution of these systems to the aging process, ranked in the following order: metabolic, liver, renal system and respiratory function. The five markers related to these functions were previously associated with aging and used to predict human biological age [21,22]. Another interesting finding was the extraordinarily high importance of albumin, which primarily controls the oncotic pressure of blood. Albumin declines during aging and is associated with sarcopenia [23]. The second marker by relative importance is glucose, which is directly linked to metabolic health. Cardiovascular diseases associated with diabetes mellitus are major causes of death within the general population [24].

Our approach of using an ensemble of DNNs outperformed other ML models in terms of R2and epsilon-prediction accuracy (Figure 3 A & B).

Application of DNNs uncovered complex nonlinear interactions between markers resulting in robust ensemble performance. This ensemble may also be expanded with DNNs trained on different sources and types of biological data allowing for complex multi-modal markers to be created and relative contributions of each input analyzed.

Current and future directions of this work include adding other sources of features including transcriptomic and metabolomics markers from blood, urine, individual organ biopsies and even imaging data as well as testing the system using data from patients with accelerated aging syndromes, multiple diseases and performing gender-specific analysis. Similar tests may be performed by research teams working on rare diseases or working with athletic groups by using http://www.Aging.AI system or contacting the authors to perform a high-throughput analysis. Developing similar systems for model organisms and performing PFI analysis may help perform cross-species analysis and of the relative importance of individual markers and organ systems in predicting chronological and biological age.

Medicinal Marijuana—Its Pros and Cons and Everything in Between

Here’s another controversial topic in the health care world that has plenty of tongues wagging. Everyone has different opinions about it—some are completely against it, some swear by its effectivity in most medical issues, and some are still left in the dark. What am I talking about? Medicinal marijuana, people.

In the United States, the use, possession, cultivation, sale, and transportation of marijuana is illegal under federal law. It is still classified as a class I controlled substance, which makes it illegal to possess.

However, there are several states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. Some states even legalize it for recreational use, like Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and California. Of course, a strict regulation system is in place as well.

What Is Medicinal Marijuana?

So before we proceed, let’s first define what medicinal marijuana is. It refers to the use of the entire marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of different illnesses and other conditions. There are many studies and researches that have been done regarding the plant. Most of them show positive results.

Benefits of Medicinal Marijuana

When talking about medicinal marijuana, many people are always spouting about all its positive benefits. According to researchers, there are two active chemicals in marijuana that have medicinal uses. These are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD impacts the brain without making the person high, and THC provides pain relief (although it has euphoric effects).

So without further ado, here are some benefits of medicinal marijuana.

Kills Cancer Cells

A recent study shows that marijuana extracts can kill specific cancer cells and reduce the size of others. It slows down the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors.

What it does is it turns off the gene Id-1. Cancer cells produce this gene and helps them spread throughout the body.

Treats Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that increases pressure in the eyeball. The result is damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision. According to the National Eye Institute, “Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma.” This means medicinal marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye. The effects of the drug also slows down the progression of the disease, thus preventing blindness.

Aids in Epilepsy

There are many lab studies, reports, and small clinical studies that show that CBD is helpful in controlling epileptic seizures. One famous case is Charlotte Figi. She is an eight-year-old girl with Dravet syndrome, which is a rare and debilitating from of epilepsy. She was given medicinal marijuana, and the results were astounding. It was able to do something that prescribed medication could not: dramatically reduce her seizures.

Decreases Anxiety

In low doses, medicinal marijuana acts as a sedative. Its other effects are reduced anxiety and improved mood. What it does is THC interacts with anandamide, a neurotransmitter. The result is a happy and relaxed feeling. It provides an immediate sense of relief and relaxation.

Treats Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Crohn’s disease causes pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and more. Ulcerative colitis causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. But there’s good news. People who are suffering from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis benefit from medicinal marijuana.

What it does is it helps the gut regulate bacteria and intestinal function. This then leads to a reduction of the symptoms of the diseases and even remission.

Treats Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that may be mild (lasting for a few weeks) or serious (lasting for a lifetime). It’s caused by being infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) through contact with the blood of a person with the infection.

The usual treatment for hepatitis C can be uncomfortable and painful. The negative side effects include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression. And these effects usually last for months.

Fortunately, a 2006 study shows that 86 percent of patients who use medicinal marijuana were able to successfully complete their treatments. This is because the drug helps lessen the side effects. Also, medicinal marijuana improves the treatment’s effectiveness. Around 54 percent of hep C patients had lower viral levels and kept them that way.

Helps with Parkinson’s Disease

When you get to middle age and beyond, the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease increases. Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system, which causes tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow imprecise movement. It affects the way that you move.

However, research from Israel shows that medicinal marijuana shows a significant reduction in pain and tremors and also improves sleep for those with Parkinson’s disease. Also, there is an improvement in the fine motor skills of the patients.

Cons of Medicinal Marijuana

Of course, as with everything in this world, there are two sides to every story. Along with the good, most people don’t always acknowledge the bad. As this is a highly controversial topic, we have to make sure to provide a completely unbiased report. Here are some of the negative side effects when dealing with medicinal marijuana.

Increases the Risk of Psychosis

The use of medicinal marijuana actually increases the risk of both acute psychosis and chronic mental illness, which includes schizophrenia. Marijuana is a powerful psychoactive drug that has serious side effects on the mind and body.

Some of the psychoactive side effects of marijuana include anxiety, panic attacks, hallucination, confusion, and memory loss.

Dr. Stanley Zammit even associates the use of marijuana with the increased risk of psychosis, severe anxiety, depression, and even suicidal tendencies.

Affects Brain Development

The long-term use of medicinal marijuana leads to structural changes in the brain. It triggers bouts of mental illness. There is also a decline in IQ, a drop in neuropsychological functioning. Structural and functional brain changes also emerge from the long-term use of medicinal marijuana. There is also thinning in the cortex, which is the outer gray matter of the brain.

Higher Risk of Heart Attacks

When you take in medicinal marijuana, the heart beats faster. This lasts for at least 20 to 30 minutes afterward. According to a study, the chances of getting a heart attack increases by 300 to 500 percent for about an hour after smoking marijuana. Also, the blood pressure can increase, which adds more to the risk.

Respiratory Complications

Smoking marijuana is more dangerous than ingesting it. Marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons as compared to tobacco smoke. This means smoking medicinal marijuana has a higher potential to cause cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract. Marijuana smoke is inhaled and held in the lungs longer than tobacco smoke. This increases the lungs’ exposure to harmful chemicals and dangerous carcinogens.

Addiction

Of course, despite the restriction of use and federal regulations of medicinal marijuana, there are still those individuals who abuse and take advantage of the system. Many are concerned that there will be people who don’t actually need marijuana prescriptions but will lie to doctors in order to obtain a medicinal marijuana card. Taking in too much medicinal marijuana will most definitely interfere with other aspects of life, and that’s when abuse and addiction sets in.

How Biodynamic Food Is Taking Over America, One Farm at a Time

In this day and age, there are new trends and new ideas popping up in order to live healthier and better lives. Many people are more open-minded and want to explore different ways and means in ensuring that they are eating better, that they are helping the environment, that they think about their overall well-being, etc. One of the new things people are talking about is biodynamic food.

Now I know most of you haven’t heard about this. Biodynamic food? What is that exactly? I know it sounds something genetically engineered, but it’s really not. It’s part of the organic and holistic movement that’s slowly gaining ground all over the country.

The Deal on Biodynamic Food

To explain biodynamic food, we have to first discuss what biodynamic farming or culture is. Basically, it refers to specific crop-growing methods. It is a form of alternative agriculture similar to organic farming. However, it includes various esoteric concepts. It handles soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated functions. It also puts emphasis on the spiritual and mystical perspectives.

This type of farming makes sure to use manures and composts and excludes the use of any type of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. What makes this approach unique is its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system. It also employs varied herbal and mineral additives for compost additives and field sprays. It also makes use of the astrological sowing and planting calendar.

The Biodynamic Association describes it as “a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.”

Countries around the world are slowly turning to this new farming approach. The most noted country is Germany, which accounts for 45 percent of the global total.

Still confused?

In a nutshell, biodynamics focuses on keeping everything generated within the farm to create their own exclusive ecosystem. For example, their own animals for manure, their own medicinal plants for pest control, etc.

History of Biodynamics

Biodynamics is the first modern organic agriculture. This approach was developed in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner, who was an occultist philosopher. He believed that western civilization will eventually bring destruction to itself and the earth. Steiner believed humanity had to develop an unbiased understanding of the spiritual realm and its relationship with the physical world.

He was the first to point out the possible dangers of synthetic fertilizers. His approach to soil, plant, animal, and human health that recognizes the healthy interaction of cosmic and earthly factors. And finally, Steiner believed that a farm is a single self-sustaining organism that thrives through biodiversity. Also important is the incorporation of crops and livestock and the creation of a closed-loop system of fertility.

This practice then spread to the United States in 1938. During that year, the Biodynamic Associationstarted as the oldest sustainable agriculture nonprofit organization in North America.

Some of the first followers of the biodynamic approach were vineyards as they noticed that some of the best wines in the world were coming from biodynamic vineyards in Italy and France.

Eventually, more and more farmers started catching on. Today, we see it as an emerging trend in the natural food industry.

Biodynamic Food and Organic Food: Is There a Difference?

Yes, there is, actually. Though the similarities far outweigh the differences, there are still disparities to take note of.

For one, in organic farming, an entire farm doesn’t need to be organic for it to produce and sell certified organic products. For example, a certain farm could maybe use a small plot of land for exclusively organic farming. However, in biodynamic farming, the entire farm must be involved in the whole biodynamic movement in order to produce biodynamic food.

Biodynamic farming actually goes one step further than organic farming. Its farming methods enliven the soil through human attentiveness and careful observation of nature’s rhythms. This process uses different principles that add vitality to the plants, soil, and livestock. They also use specific concoctions from herbs and minerals. These preparations are then used to enhance the compost applied to the fields. It also intensifies the sunlight absorbed by the plant.

With regard to pest and disease control, biodynamic farmers usually use specially formulated products, which are made from the weeds and pests themselves. They consider weeds and pests as useful indicators of imbalances in the soil, plants, and animals. The aim of biodynamics is to use these indicators in a positive way.

Biodynamic farming also incorporates astrological influences. Steiner was a great believer that the moon affects the growing phases of planting as well as harvesting. In fact, there are stellar calendars that chart the influences of the moon and other planets for farmers to follow.

Another difference to take note of is that organic farming has just one processing standard for all its products. For biodynamic food, it has 16 different processing standards for different types of products. There’s a different one for wine, meat, dairy, produce, etc.

So Why Buy Biodynamic Food?

According to Elizabeth Candelario, managing director at Demeter (the world’s only certifier of biodynamic farms and products), “Food is medicine. The number one place we have to start [in order to live healthier] is our diet. Food products are only as good as the farming that stands behind them.”

Better-Quality Food

Biodynamic food is definitely so much better for you. It undergoes a very high quality of production. They have more flavor, they have more nutrients, and they don’t use harsh chemicals or synthetic fertilizers. Obviously, soil that’s more nutrient-dense produces food that retains its full nutrient content. So you know that whatever it is you’re eating, it’s real and fresh and natural.

Help to Farmers

Another thing to make you go biodynamic is the thought that you will be helping out actual farmers. These are people who are genuinely interested in making sure you get the freshest, healthiest products through the most natural and healthiest ways possible. You will be supporting these farmers who invested much of their time, effort, and yes, money in a way that is beneficial for everyone—from the farmer, to his family, to the farm workers, to you, to your kids, etc.

Save the World

The third reason is that biodynamic farming may be a potential solution to global warming. Yup, scientists are pointing to it as a possible savior for our planet.

Did you know that regular agricultural practices produce high emissions, and that plowing fields release carbon dioxide in the soil and air?

Well, in biodynamic farming, they practice cover farming, which reduces their carbon footprint. What cover farming does is the crops blanket the soil between harvest seasons. These cover crops convert nitrogen gas in the atmosphere into soil nitrogen that plants can use.

Healthy Work Lunches That Taste Great

You have to admit, now that you have an office job, it’s difficult to ensure you are eating healthy work lunches. It’s true that you get enough stress from work. You don’t need additional stress in making sure that you prepare healthy work lunches before leaving your home.

Wait, hold up. Preparing your lunches doesn’t have to be a headache. There are plenty of easy ways to ready yummy lunches that are also beneficial for you.

Benefits of Preparing Healthy Work Lunches

Saves You Money

Did you know that buying a sad-looking sandwich and a drink costs around $10? And take note, that’s on the cheap side. So you spend a bit of money for an unhealthy and not-so-great-tasting sandwich. Nope, not cool.

When you think about it, making your own healthy work lunches can save you a ton of money. First, you have to set a budget for the entire week. Then you can buy the necessary ingredients for your lunches. And take note that you can use the ingredients on different lunches, not just on one meal.

All that money that you save can be used for other essentials in your life. Or you can splurge and use it to treat yourself.

Ensures You Get Right Amount of Nutrients

One of the main reasons for bringing in your own lunch is to be sure that what you eat is healthy for you. There are already other harmful toxins out there. You don’t need to add more via your lunch.

Preparing your own healthy work lunches ensures that the ingredients you use are fresh, and you yourself will know what’s in the meal.

Delicious Meals

Since you’re the one in control, you get to choose what you get for lunch. Feel like some chicken? Go prepare a chicken sandwich. Want some pad thai? Your wish is your command. Bringing your own lunch ensures you are happy and full with what you eat.

Saves Your Leftovers

No food goes to waste as long as you bring your own healthy work lunches. If you had a heavy dinner and have some leftovers, you can go ahead and prepare a totally new meal from them. It’s a win-win situation for both you and your leftovers.

Recipes of Healthy Work Lunches

Can’t decide how to start? Here are a couple of ideas to get you going on the healthy work lunches train! Remember to prepare these lunches the night before. And before leaving for work, all you need to do is place them in a lunchbox of your choice, and you’re good to go! Another great thing about these kinds of lunches is you don’t need to heat any of them. You can enjoy them immediately.

Smoked Turkey and Farro Salad

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/250524/smoked-turkey-farro-salad/

This is a healthy and light summer salad that’ll help you forget about your stressful morning at work.

Ingredients:

1 cup farro

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 avocado, cubed

3 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon pepper, finely ground

6 ounces deli smoked turkey, skin removed and cubed

½ cup smoked cheese, cubed

1 large celery stalk, chopped

¾ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Procedure:

First, place the farro in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches, and then bring to a boil. Next, stir the mixture, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the farro gets to the desired tenderness. Drain and rinse with cold water. Then finally, drain again.

Next, whisk the oil, vinegar, shallots, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the farro, turkey cubes, cheese, bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes. Toss everything until properly mixed. Cover and refrigerate.

In the morning, add in the avocado and do a quick toss. Place in an airtight container.

Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

http://twohealthykitchens.com

Who doesn’t love pasta? And this is a healthy recipe. The shrimp provides lean, low-fat protein. The tomatoes give you helpful antioxidants that fight against free radicals. And note that this meal is less than 500 calories! This will definitely be one of the healthy work lunches that your office mates will be dying to try out.  This recipe yields 4 servings, so you can go ahead and bring lunch to some of your work friends as well.

Ingredients:

1 pound medium shrimps, peeled and deveined

8 ounces uncooked pasta

2 cups plum tomato, chopped

¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 teaspoons olive oil

cooking spray

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

⅓ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

2 tablespoons capers, drained

¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Procedure:

First, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. This should be done over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for around 30 seconds. Next, add the shrimp and sauté for 1 minute. Reduce the heat, then add the basil and also the tomato. Simmer for 3 minutes or until the tomato is tender. Finally, stir in the rest of the ingredients (olives, capers, and black pepper).

In a large bowl, combine the shrimp mixture with the pasta. Mix well. Place each serving in separate containers. Top each serving with feta cheese.

Turkey Club Roll-Ups

This super easy and fast recipe is low on carbs, but doesn’t sacrifice the flavor. Also, you’ll be surprised at the wrap we’re using for this.

Ingredients:

4 slices deli turkey

4 slices turkey bacon, cooked to a crisp

2 teaspoons mayonnaise

2 slices cheddar cheese, halved

½ cup lettuce, chopped

½ tomato, sliced

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

½ avocado, sliced

kosher salt

black pepper, freshly ground

Procedure:

On a clean counter, place two slices of deli turkey. Next, spread a thin layer of mayo on top of each. Place 1 slice of cheddar cheese, half of the chopped lettuce, half of the tomato, half of the red onion, and half of the avocado. Add in 2 slices of bacon. Season with salt and also pepper. Finally, roll up and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients for the second roll-up.

Turkey and Nectarine Sandwiches

Another recipe you can make for you and a friend. The different flavors in this sandwich play off each other, making sure there’s a party in your mouth.

4 thick slices crusty bread of choice

2 tablespoons honey mustard

½ pound thinly sliced roasted turkey breast

1 nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced

3 ounces Brie, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

First, spread honey mustard on two pieces of bread. Next, top each bread with turkey, nectarine slices, and Brie. Season each with salt and pepper. Finally, cover the sandwich with the other pieces of bread. You can cut each diagonally for easier handling.

How Dark Chocolate in Your Diet Can Make You Fit and Fab

Now here’s something that I absolutely love to talk about. Chocolate! And not just any chocolate. It has to be dark chocolate. Trust me, nothing beats that first bite of a dark chocolate bar, especially when it’s a little melted. Aaah, pure bliss.

Many people think that chocolate is bad for you, but here’s something that’ll pop that bubble. Dark chocolate is pretty healthy and boasts of tons of benefits for the body. Something that tastes delicious and keeps you healthy? Now that’s what I’m talking about!

What Is Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate is a bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. It is made using beans harvested from cocoa trees. This chocolate has a higher cocoa butter content and contains less milk than other forms of chocolate. It possesses a rich and intense flavor. It’s dark chocolate if it contains at least 60 percent cocoa.

It contains antioxidants, which are great defenders against harmful free radicals. It also contains the stimulants caffeine and theobromine, as well as the antidepressant phenylethylamine and serotonin. Also, did you know it also contains vitamins and minerals? That’s right, for its vitamins, dark chocolate has pantothenic acid and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and E. For its mineral content, it possesses calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

Dark chocolate is also relatively low in sugar and is thus considered a healthier alternative to other types of chocolate. It also contains soluble dietary fibers and insoluble dietary fibers. In fact, some people even label it as one of the best superfoods to have. This led to a global increase in the demand for dark chocolate.

The recommended serving of dark chocolate per week is around 7 ounces. That means you get to eat an ounce of the good stuff every day. In fact, according to preventive cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, “When looking for a sweet snack, a square of dark chocolate might, in fact, be your healthiest choice.”

Take that, chocolate haters!

Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

Of course, as an advocate for dark chocolate, it is imperative we discuss the benefits it has to offer. So without further ado, here they are.

Protection from Free Radicals

According to ORAC, a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods, dark chocolate has a really high score. As a matter of fact, it has more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavonols than other fruits they tested, which include blueberries as well as acai berries.

Free radicals are unbalanced compounds that bring disease and damage to the body. Antioxidants actually neutralize these free radicals and protect the body from damage these free radicals cause.

Cancer Prevention

Many people consider dark chocolate as a possible cancer-fighting food. How? Its compounds prevent DNA damage, lowers inflammation, and inhibits cell proliferation. It also reduces the activation of molecules that take part in the development and progression of cancer.

In addition, according to the American Cancer Institute, “Given chocolate’s rich supply of flavonoids, researchers have also investigated whether it may play a role in cancer prevention. The studies in cancer prevention are still emerging. A recent review of studies on the cancer protective properties of cocoa concluded that the evidence is limited but suggestive. More rigorous studies should be conducted on chocolates’ cancer protective role, concluded the author, because it provides ‘strong antioxidant effects in combination with a pleasurable eating experience.’”

Heart Health

There are many researches and studies that show the positive effects dark chocolate has on cardiovascular health. According to one recent study, dark chocolate greatly decreases the risk of cardiovascular death. Another study shows it lowers the risk of getting calcified plaque in the arteries. And yet another study shows the intake of this chocolate significantly improves heart circulation in adults.

Flavonols in this chocolate have a very positive effect on the heart by lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart and to the brain. These flavanols also make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot. This then reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.

Energy Booster

Dark chocolate is a natural way to pick you up out of that slump. Its energizing capabilities come from its caffeine content and other stimulants. Also, research shows that this food contains epicatechin, a plant chemical that widens the blood vessels. This ensures more blood is pumped throughout the body, which speeds up the oxygen supply, thus giving the body more energy.

Brain Booster

Another plus in eating dark chocolate is it improves the function of the brain. It improves the flow of blood to the brain, improves cognitive function in older people with mental impairment, and also improves verbal fluency. Also, the cocoa flavanols help people with dementia and stroke. And finally, it boosts focus and memory as well.

Skin Protection

For this benefit, the flavanols once again take center stage. They improve blood flow to the skin, increases skin density and hydration, and also improves overall skin complexion. Flavanols also protect the skin from damage by the sun by absorbing the harmful UV light. This means goodbye to sunspots, wrinkles, blemishes, crow’s feet, and laugh lines.

Better Eyesight

Now this is probably one of the benefits you weren’t expecting. Hard to believe, but it’s true. According to a study in Physiology and Behavior, cocoa flavanols enhance visual performance. That means an improvement in detecting motion and reading low-contrast letters. This is likely due to the increase of blood flow to the retina and the brain. In addition, the copper content in dark chocolate prevents damage to the optic nerve. Its vitamin A content also protects against macular degeneration.

Improves Mood

When you eat dark chocolate, this stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that bring about feelings of pleasure and happiness. And since this food has serotonin, which acts as an antidepressant, it will definitely help turn that frown upside down.

Also, flavanols also keep you feeling calmer and more content. Studies show that people who consume more dark chocolate have more positive mood states. Many people also choose to eat this food to lower their stress levels and feel more relaxed.

Is an Aphrodisiac

When you want to get it on, have some dark chocolate.  It is an effective aphrodisiac. Eating the stuff increases blood flow to sexual organs. This preps them up for proper function and also increases sensation, satisfaction, and desire. It is also known as a super libido food because it’s a great source of phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA induces sensations of euphoria and is also known as the romance chemical.

A Word of Caution

As with anything, you should have too much of dark chocolate. According to the Mayo Clinic, dark chocolate causes many things. Some of these include acne, allergic skin reactions, bloating, colic in infants, constipation, decreased bone density, and tooth decay. Other examples are eczema, excess gas, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, jitteriness, and migraines.

If you are lactose intolerant, make sure to probably read labels and your research before picking out a dark chocolate.

Black Currants Are Making a US Comeback with These Remarkable Benefits

As an American living in the good ol’ US of A, do you know what black currants are? Have you ever heard about these berries?

I can see you shaking your head and looking puzzled. That’s okay. You’re not the only one. Not a lot of Americans are familiar with these berries. According to Marvin Pritts, a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, “A large majority [of Americans] have never eaten one—probably less than 0.1%.”

A lot of people consider black currants as a summer staple. It is native to the temperate areas of northern and central Europe and Northern Asia as well. These berries thrive best in damp and fertile soils.

This particular berry has a sweet earthy taste. It has a bit of acidity and sweetness in it. The aftertaste is described as “fresh and sharply cleansing, with no residual sweetness.”

There are several ways to enjoy this berry. You can eat them raw. But they are usually cooked along with sweet and savoury dishes. They also come in jam form, jelly form, syrup form, and juice form.

Black Currants Banned in the United States

Having zero knowledge of black currants wasn’t always the case. Way back when, plenty of US farmers grew acres upon acres of black currants, along with gooseberries and white currants.

However, many farmers thought that these berries helped spread a fungus that killed pine trees. People back then thought that this would negatively affect the United States timber and logging industry.

That’s why in 1911, US regulations were passed against black currants. These led to the farming ban of the once-popular berries.

For the longest time, black currants were banned in the United States. They were not readily available in the country for more than 100 years. They were also given the label of the forbidden fruit.

In April 2003, several states overturned the ban. Some of them include New York, Connecticut, Oregon, and Vermont.

Sadly, there are still some states in the present time that have not lifted the ban. These include New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, Maine, and Massachusetts. Now, the berries are still quite unpopular in the country, but are enjoying growing popularity in Europe and New Zealand.

Nutritional Value

These berries are known to have a super high concentration of antioxidants. They also have high doses of iron, vitamin C, and the essential B vitamins, such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamin (vitamin B1), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). Along with that are vitamins A and E. There’s also minerals like calcium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. They also have anthocyanins, polyphenolic substances, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), as well as helpful flavonoids.

Benefits of Black Currants

Though these are just slowly gaining momentum in the United States, many other people all over the world are witnesses of the numerous benefits black currants have for our bodies. Here’s a rundown of just a few of those advantages.

Vitamin C Super Powers

Black currants have a very high vitamin C content. In fact, they provide more than 300 percent of the daily recommended value in a 100-gram serving. So what can this particular vitamin do to keep you healthy?

Plenty.

First, vitamin C looks after your body’s tissue health. It helps in making collagen, an important factor in bones, skin, teeth, tendons, ligaments, and cartilages. Collagen is also responsible in keeping the skin elastic and supple.

Next, vitamin C makes sure the body properly absorbs iron from vegetables and cereals. Iron is important to the body since it helps the blood carry oxygen throughout the rest of the body.

Third, vitamin C is very powerful in fighting against the common cold. It reduces the symptoms and makes sure you recover quickly.

Improves Vision

The compounds present in black currants protects the retina from damage that can lead to complete vision loss. GLA and linoleic acid are also effective for treating dry eyes. These berries also help with other eye troubles. Some examples include seeing better in the dark, blood flow to the eyes, visual fatigue, cataracts, and glaucoma.

Helps in Ageing

The high antioxidant count in these berries play a huge part in slowing down the ageing process. They protect your cells from damage and sudden wear and tear, thus slowing down ageing. Other components of black currants called procyanidins and their metabolites inhibit cell death due to oxidative stress. In addition, these berries also help with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

Improves Skin

Black currants are found to be effective with the treatment of certain skin disorders. Most noteworthy are psoriasis and eczema. Black currant seed oil in particular helps slow down the growth and development of psoriasis patches. The oil also soothes dry, itchy, or stinging skin.

Also, collagen production is improved with this fruit. This ensures you get smoother, healthier, and glowing skin.

Boosts Brain Health

Along with the body, the brain also ages. When the brain starts to age, we develop a poorer memory. Luckily, black currants can help with that. Compounds in the fruit improve cognitive performance, create new nerve cells, and have a positive effect on neuroplasticity. This is the brain’s ability to change while learning. There is also a notable improvement in short-term memory, focus, and concentration.

Promotes Good Digestion

Black currants have a good amount of dietary fiber. This helps prevent constipation and regulates bowel movement. These berries also promote healthy bacteria in the gut. This then maintains the healthy functioning of the digestive system. This leads to healthy weight management as well as disease prevention.

Aids in a Healthy Urinary Tract

Too much bacteria in the urinary tract increases your risk for infections, like UTI. Luckily, black currants clean out the bacteria. They also inhibit the growth of bacteria because of their antibacterial properties. The compounds proanthocyanidins are responsible for driving the bad bacteria out of the system.

Combats Cancer

Basically, cancer’s root cause are harmful free radicals that attack the body. The antioxidants in black currants help neutralize these free radicals.

Also, the anthocyanins found in these berries help reduce the growth of cancer cells. They have an anti-tumor effect. These anthocyanins also inhibit tumor cell numbers and increase cancer cell death. These berries are particularly effective against gastric cancer, liver cancer, and esophagus cancer.

Promotes a Healthy Heart

Juice from black currants are very powerful in decreasing plaque buildup. Potassium and GLA in the berries also lower high blood pressure. In addition, the GLA helps cells in the heart resist damage. It also slows down platelet clumping in the blood vessels. Blood clots can injure the blood vessel lining and stop them from working. Also, these clots release harmful chemicals that increase the formation of bad cholesterol, which then stick to blood vessel walls. This will lead to the narrowing of the arteries, which inhibit proper blood flow and lead to an increase in blood pressure.

Helps with Inflammation

These berries have a positive effect on the body’s inflammatory response. The GLA and anthocyanin content reduces joint or muscle pain, stiffness, soreness, and damage. The berries are also helpful in preventing inflammation in the stomach, intestine, and the cardiovascular system.

Provides Better Sleep

The magnesium content in black currants plays a big part in good sleep. It improves the quality, duration, and tranquility of sleep. And also, since these berries regulate the body’s metabolism, this leads to a reduction in sleep disorders and the occurrence of insomnia.

9 Amazing Ways Yogurt Can Improve Your Body Overall

You have to admit, you wouldn’t expect yogurt to be considered as a healthy food. It’s too similar to ice cream. It tastes really great too, either on its own or with fruits, nuts, and other mixes.

Yogurt is actually a fermented dairy product made from traditional cow’s milk. You can use goat’s milk or sheep’s milk as well. The process produces lactic acid. This causes milk proteins to curdle, which then gives it its unique taste.

This food  is considered a probiotic food as well. What are probiotics, you ask? Well, they are good bacteria that is good for your digestive health. Your best bet are natural yogurts, which are plain, unsweetened, and unflavored. The commercial brands contain plenty of added ingredients that are not good for your health.

Many health buffs consume this product on a daily basis, believing that it will prove to be beneficial in the long run. And they’re right.

Nutritional Content of Yogurt

Yogurt has a high content of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. It also has other nutrients, like protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fat. It has vitamins A, B1, B5, B6, C, D and folate and choline. Also, it contains minerals like zinc, selenium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and copper.

Benefits of Yogurt

Indeed, there are plenty of ways this product can help improve our lives. Below are just a few prime examples.

Immunity Booster

A recent study shows that the probiotics in yogurt improves the gut mucosal immune system. They do so by increasing the cytokine-producing cells in the intestine. Introducing probiotics to infants helps to prevent immune-mediated diseases in childhood. They also decrease the number of days of having a fever, antibiotic prescriptions, and trips to the doctor.

In adults, the probiotics enhance resistance to and recovery from infections. This is because the T cells, which battle against infection and illness, are more active. The probiotics, vitamins, and minerals present in yogurt all work together to boost the immune system and prevent certain illnesses.

Brain Booster

The probiotics in yogurt show they boost cognitive function, specifically in areas that process emotion and sensation. There is a significant increase in people’s mental capabilities and mental health.

The antioxidants also protect your brain cells from harmful free radicals that bring much damage. Also, the good bacteria protect the brain by regulating harmful cytokines and lipopolysaccharides. If these two hit high levels, this leads to mood disorders, depression, short-term memory loss, and cognitive disorders.

Also, eating yogurt also reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. If there is a healthy management of gut bacteria, then it positively affects chronic stress.

And bonus, yogurt may be helpful to patients with brain injuries. This food helps improve their cognitive functions. This has positive effects on their neurobehavioral and social functioning and helps the patients adjust to the situation.

Better Skin

The properties of yogurt can leave you with younger-looking skin and less wrinkles. The skin is actually given an additional layer of protection against cutaneous actinic damage.

You can even add yogurt to your daily beauty regimen. Suffering from dry skin? Go ahead and apply yogurt mixed with coconut oil on those problem areas, leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse. Yogurt can even be applied topically on acne to help soothe those spots.

Digestive Health

Consuming yogurt regularly will most definitely improve your digestion and make sure you have regular bowel movement. Yogurt balances the microflora in the gut. This lessens the risk of bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, and constipation.

They are also good to eat for those who are lactose intolerant as they help with the digestion of lactose.

Weight Loss

Studies show that regular yogurt consumption is associated with lower body weight, body fat percentage, and waist circumference. It also decreases the risk of overweight and obesity.

And plus, if you regularly eat yogurt, you might get those flat abs you’ve always dreamed about. According to Michael Zemel, a nutrition professor, “Fat around your waist produces the hormone cortisol, which tells your body to accumulate even more belly flab. When you eat yogurt, the calcium signals your fat cells to pump out less cortisol, making it easier for you to drop pounds, while the amino acids help burn fat.”

Bone Health

The combination of calcium and vitamin D play a part here. They both increase bone density. They make sure that during childhood and adolescence, there is a proper formation of the bones. Lastly, they also preserve bone strength and also prevent osteoporosis, which is the weakening of bones, specifically among the elderly.

Heart Health

Consuming fat-free yogurt will help you get a healthier heart. Its proteins and mineral content help regulate high blood pressure. They also increase the production of HDL “good” cholesterol and reduce the overall incidence of certain heart diseases. In addition, the live probiotics in this dairy product decreases bad cholesterol levels.

Vaginal Health

Ladies, eating yogurt or even inserting it into the vagina (gross, I know) is a popular folk remedy to treat vaginal infections. It is also helpful in fighting off yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections occur when there is overgrowth of a fungus in small amounts in the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis is a common infection in women of childbearing age. It occurs when the good bacteria are overrun by bad bacteria in the vagina.

Diabetes Prevention

According to studies, the intake of probiotic yogurt reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Yogurt promotes good digestion. It also makes sure of the absorption of necessary nutrients throughout the digestive tract. This is vital for healthy blood sugar regulation.

Also, since this food has high-quality carbs and protein, this is an excellent food for slowing down an unhealthy increase in blood sugar. Of course, you have to make sure you eat yogurts without added sugars, such as unflavored Greek varieties.

Last Few Words

Indeed, the consumption of yogurt has plenty of benefits. It is very rich in nutrients that will improve your health when taken regularly. It may fight off certain diseases, and many studies are ongoing to see what else yogurt can do.

But remember, not all kinds of yogurt can provide you with the same benefits. Stick to products that are plain and unsweetened and have probiotics. Yogurt from goat’s milk is your best bet. It is the closest dairy to human breast milk. That means it’s easier to digest. Also, look for yogurts that have been cultured for 24–29 hours. This ensures the highest levels of probiotics and the lowest levels of lactose.

Stay clear of the commercial yogurts that have added sugar. These are also most likely overprocessed and have additional thickeners and preservatives that take away from the food’s nutritional benefits.

Top 9 Benefits of the Monk Fruit That You Should Know About

No, this fruit is not intended for monks only. According to the stories, it is named after the Buddhist monks who were known to first cultivate the fruit nearly 800 hundred years ago. Thus the name monk fruit.

Many Americans, I’m sure, have not heard of the monk fruit. It goes by the scientific name of Siraitia grosvenorii . It also goes by the names of Longevity fruit, Buddha fruit, or luo han guo. It’s a vine from the gourd family that bears a powerful fruit. Monk fruit typically grows in Thailand and some parts of China. For thousands of years, it has been used both as a medicine and as a food additive. Monk fruit was used as a remedy for a number of diseases, and also as an artificial sweetener.

Yes, that’s right. This fruit is sweeter than sugar, with high concentrations of glucose and fructose. However, it is infinitely healthier than sugar. Its sweetness comes from  special antioxidants called mogrosides. These are found in the fleshy part of the fruit. This is the reason why it is widely used as a sweetener.

In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has labeled monk fruit as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). This means anyone can use it, even pregnant women and children. The fruit has no known negative side effects. Most artificial sweeteners have side effects like bloating, gas, or even allergic reactions. Also, monk fruit sweeteners have little to no aftertaste, unlike most other sweeteners.

The monk fruit has a high antioxidant content. They also have absolutely zero calories and zero carbohydrates.

Benefits of Monk Fruit

Aside from being a healthier option to sweeten drinks and food, the monk fruit has plenty of other benefits.

Promotes Longevity

People who regularly eat monk fruit seem to live longer. In areas where the monk fruit is abundant, there is a high number of centenarians per capita. The antioxidants in the fruit play have a positive effect on the breaking down of the body as it ages. As we age, we experience massive stress to our internal environment, an increase in inflammation, the rapid breakdown of tissues, and the degeneration of our bodies. The antioxidants in monk fruit control inflammation and regulate the antioxidant systems in our body.

Boosts the Immune System

Monk fruit has beneficial antimicrobial properties that maintain proper bacterial balance. The antioxidants in the fruit also fight against oxidative stress and harmful free radicals. These are responsible for many diseases, illnesses, and disorders that a body can possibly have. The antioxidants also prevent DNA damage and inhibit harmful molecules that go by the name reactive oxygen species.

Is Anti-Inflammatory

We all know that inflammation causes plenty of different issues in the body. Monk fruit shows that it has anti-inflammatory properties and has a positive effect against diseases and disorders. Using monk fruit as an anti-inflammatory medication is also safer as other types of anti-inflammatory medications come with harmful side effects, like liver damage.

Treats Infections

The monk fruit is a natural antimicrobial agent that fights off infections. It is also effective in slowing down the surge of antibiotic resistance. It inhibits the growth of bacteria, most especially oral bacteria that causes tooth decay and periodontal disease. Aside from that, the fruit is also effective in treating sore throats, candida, oral thrush, streptococcus, and gum disease in the mouth.

Helps with Allergies

The fruit is quite effective in dealing with allergies. Our bodies have mast cells, which mediate histamine response. These cells are also responsible for nasal congestion and the puffy feeling you experience in your face during pollen season. Studies show that monk fruit gives a significant decrease in histamine response to allergens. What it does is they calm down the mast cells.

Helps in Weight Loss

Using monk fruit sweeteners instead of sugar is a great way to watch your weight and lower the risk of obesity. Nowadays, the sugar consumption of many Americans is alarming, and this leads to the fast rise of the obesity epidemic. Since the fruit has zero calories and carbs, then they don’t cause weight gain.

Fights against Diabetes

Since the ancient times, the monk fruit was used as an effective treatment for diabetes. It is a proven antihyperglycemic. This means that it helps bring down blood glucose levels in the body. The fruit also allows better insulin secretion in the body. Monk fruit is very safe for people with diabetes. It doesn’t cause fluctuations of blood sugar levels and is thus considered a preventative method for diabetes.

Promotes Heart Health

Monk fruit has components that prevent cholesterol from oxidizing. This is what happens to cholesterol before it builds up into plaque in the arteries and blood vessels. This lowers the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and atherosclerosis. The fruit also has a positive effect on high cholesterol and increases the production of HDL “good” cholesterol.

Prevents Cancer

There are plenty of studies that show the monk fruit has anti-carcinogenic effects. It has the ability to inhibit skin and breast tumor growth. It also  inhibits the progression of pancreatic cancer cells. The fruit also has a similar effect on colorectal cancer and throat cancer cells. It also provides proteins that have powerful anticancer abilities. The mogrosides in the fruit suppresses leukemia cell growth too.

Monk Fruit Recipes

There are plenty of ways that you can add the monk fruit into your daily diet. Here are a few suggestions that you can try out for yourself. To make it easier for you, most of the recipes use Monk Fruit In The Raw products. These come in easy-to-use packets.

Raw Green Goddess Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup spinach

½ cup baby kale

½ a Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded, and cubed

½ inch slice fresh ginger

¾ cup coconut water, chilled

1 packet Monk Fruit In The Raw

Procedure:

First, place the spinach, kale, ginger, and coconut water in a high-speed blender and combine completely. Next, mix in the packet of monk fruit. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

Best Chewy Brownies

Ingredients:

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag

2 large eggs (at room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup walnuts, chopped

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  2. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes.
  5. Afterward, stir vigorously until the chocolate is melted and the mixture smooth.
  6. Next, whisk in the monk fruit sweetener.
  7. Add in the eggs one at a time, whisking all the while.
  8. Add the vanilla extract.
  9. Mix in the flour with a flexible spatula.
  10. Lastly, add the walnuts and give a quick stir.
  11. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  12. Bake for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.
  13. Set the pan to cool.
  14. Cut to squares, serve, and enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

1½ cups zucchini, finely shredded

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 large egg

½ cup canola oil, chilled

1 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup raisins

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  2. Lightly coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  4. Whisk the egg in another large bowl.
  5. While still whisking, slowly pour in the oil. COntinue mixing until the mixture looks like loose mayonnaise.
  6. Whisk in the monk fruit sweetener.
  7. Add the zucchini and vanilla extract.
  8. Next, add the bowl with the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet mixture. Mix them slowly and with as few strokes as possible.
  9. Fold in the raisins and the walnuts.
  10. Spread the batter into the loaf pan.
  11. Bake for at least 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  12. Set the pan to cool.
  13. Once cooled, wrap the bread in foil and let sit at room temperature for about 24 hours.
  14. Cut into desired slices.

13 Reasons Why Collagen Is Your Best Body Booster

When you hear the word collagen, what comes to mind? Do you immediately think of it as an ingredient in beauty products? Or does your mind draw a blank? I’m pretty sure a lot of you are scratching your heads right now, trying to think up an answer. Don’t worry. Let me go ahead and discuss a little bit more about it and what it’s good for.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is actually a protein. To be specific, it is a hard, insoluble, and fibrous protein. It makes up one-third of the protein found in the human body. This protein contains the amino acids proline, glycine, hydroxyproline, and arginine.

It’s found practically everywhere in the body—in skin, muscles, bones, tendons, blood vessels, and the digestive system. Basically, it’s the “glue” that holds the body together.

There are four main types of collagen. Type I is responsible for the structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth. Type II is in elastic cartilage. This cushions joints. Type III supports muscle structure, organ structure, and artery structure. And the final type, type IV, helps in filtration and is in the layers of the skin.

Ways Collagen Benefits the Body

It’s safe to say that collagen is one of the most important compounds our body needs in order to function properly. Here are the many ways this protein can benefit us.

Improves Skin Conditions

There’s something in this protein that promotes skin collagen regeneration. That means they take care of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, crow’s feet, laugh lines, and other facial imperfections that old age brings. Increasing collagen levels in the body also makes your skin look firmer, smoothens the skin, improves skin elasticity, and keeps skin properly moisturized. It basically makes sure your skin is in tip-top shape. Also, this protein reduces cellulite and stretch marks.

Strengthens Nails

If you have peeling or splitting nails, then a lack of collagen in your system is to blame. Adding this protein into your diet will make nails stronger. Take note that your nails are mainly made of minerals, keratin, and collagen. And every day, the amount of collagen that’s naturally in our bodies decrease. That’s why in order to maintain strong nails, we need to add more collagen into our system.

Supports Healthy Teeth and Gums

Gum disease is an infection of the gums and the bones that support the teeth. The bacteria starts accumulating around the teeth. They then give off acids that start eroding the bony parts of the teeth. Eventually, the connective tissue that holds the teeth in the mouth gets weaker. Then the tooth starts to loosen and will eventually fall out. To ensure healthy gums and teeth and no tooth loss, make sure to increase collagen intake. This will improve the bone density in your jaw, in the papilla around the teeth, and in the alveolar bone. This is the bone responsible for holding in the tooth in its socket.

Provides Healthy Hair

Collagen and hair growth go hand in hand. This is because the protein is a major substance in the composition of hair. Getting more of this protein in your body strengthens the hair and promotes hair growth. Adding this into your diet reverses the signs of hair loss as well. According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, there’s an “essential relationships between extracellular matrix (ECM) and hair follicle regeneration, suggesting that collagen could be a potential therapeutic target for hair loss and other skin-related diseases.”

Helps with Wounds

Another for this protein is in wound healing. What it does is it attracts new skin cells to the wound site. It also promotes healing as well as provides a platform for the growth of new tissue. Collagen dressings are perfect for addressing chronic nonhealing wounds, exuding wounds, partial and full-thickness wounds, granulating or necrotic wounds, second-degree burns, or areas of skin donation and skin grafts.

Reduces Joint Pains

When we start losing natural collagen in our bodies, our tendons and ligaments start moving with less ease. This leads to stiffness, swollen joints, and other issues. Taking in more of this protein will definitely ease the pain and will help the joints move more easily. It even reduces the risk of joint deterioration. A study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences shows that people with osteoarthritis joint pain who were given the type 2 of this protein show significant enhancements in daily activities. Some examples are walking up stairs, ascending or sleeping, and a general improvement in their quality of life.

Soothes Anxiety and Promotes Good Sleep

The glycine in collagen helps in relieving stress as it has anti-anxiety properties. Also, the glycine content improves the quality of sleep you get. It also makes sure to eliminate daytime drowsiness.

Treats Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a medical condition where the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue. This is typically a result of hormonal changes or calcium or vitamin D deficiency. Studies show you can prevent osteoporosis by boosting your collagen intake. It stimulates bone-creating cells. This protein also stimulates the body to create more bone collagen, ensuring strong bones in the long run.

Relieves Arthritis

According to researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, type II supplementation helps patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The supplements decrease swelling in tender joints.

Treats Several Gastrointestinal Issues

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where harmful toxins pass through the digestive tract. If you suffer from this, collagen will help break down proteins and soothe the gut’s lining. It also heals damaged cell walls and infuse them with healing amino acids. Collagen also seals and heals the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract. This protein also treats other gastrointestinal issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Prevents the Hardening of Arteries

The walls if the arteries are mostly made up of collagen. To prevent the hardening of the arteries, which could lead to more serious complications, ensure a healthy dose of said protein is present in your body. They maintain the artery walls and is effective in reversing atherosclerosis.

Aids in Weight Loss

A study shows a 20 percent reduction of food intake due to the ingestion of collagen. This protein also keeps you feeling more satiated longer, thus ensuring no snacks between meals. It also improves the body’s metabolism, which ensures you burn those fats better and faster.

Improves Liver Function

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body and responsible for many functions such as digesting, storing nutrients, blood cleansing, and is part of the immune system. If it experiences some damage, then you have a problem. Fortunately, adding collagen to your diet will help. Again, the glycine content takes center stage here. It is known to reduce liver damage. Also, it aids in detoxification and protects cells and body tissues. It also helps maintain a healthy and well-functioning liver.

Ways to Boost Collagen Production

Unfortunately, as we age, our body’s collagen production slows down as well. Lifestyle factors and environmental toxins also contribute to the breaking down of its production. There are also specific factors that damage it. Sugar and refined carbs is one thing. Other factors are too much sun and smoking.

However, there’s good news. There are plenty of ways to help boost this protein in our bodies. One easy way is to try out some bone broth. Just simmer bones of grass-fed cows on low heat for around 24 hours. You can even add your favorite vegetables for more flavor. Also, there are plenty of supplements available that ensure you are getting the right amount your body needs in order to function properly.