Tagged in: Health

10 Easy Food Swaps To Keep Your Cholesterol In Check

You want to maintain your cholesterol, but also want to sustain the deliciousness of food? Many people believe that in order to control cholesterol you have to survive on oats, bran, and tofu only. This is absolutely not true. You can maintain your cholesterol without sacrificing taste. Here are some interesting food substitutions which can help you do just that.
 
1. Sprinkle Walnuts, Skip Croutons
 
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A salad with croutons is tasty, but it carries carbohydrates. For a healthier and tastier salad, replace croutons with walnuts. These powerful nuts contain polyunsaturated fat (good fat) that will maintain your cholesterol.
 
2. Sip Water, Not Cocktails
 
One of the delightful moments for foodies is to have mixed drinks with fruits, but they contain carbohydrates that would see your cholesterol levels soar. Switching to just water will not only quench your thirst, it will also keep your blood flowing freely.
 
3. Say Yes To Nuts, No To Cheese And Crackers
 
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We’re all usually encountered with the problem of pre-dinner hunger. In order to fulfill that need, we mostly look for crackers and cheese, but they carry high saturated fats which may shoot up your cholesterol. Instead, have some almonds. They contain low saturated fats and are a good snack for your pre-dinner hunger!
 
4. Vinegar And Lemon Juice Beats Salad Dressing
 
Salads are good for a healthy diet and salad dressing is one of the core ingredients that bring the actual taste to the salad. But if it’s a salad with high-fat dressing, then you’re missing the whole purpose of a salad. Switch to the balsamic vinegar or lemon juice which keeps it healthy without compromising the delicious taste of a salad.
 
5. Ditch The Butter For Margarine Spread
 

Butter is one of the highlights of breakfast, however, it’s also a source of high cholesterol. In order to balance taste and your cholesterol, replace it with margarine, which is a better fat that also provides taste.
 
6. Use Ground Turkey, Not Ground Beef
 
Red meat contains both saturated fat and dietary cholesterol that will shoot up your cholesterol levels. Switch to ground turkey which is healthy as well as tasty.
 
7. Chicken Is OK, Scallops Are Better
 
Chicken is the favorite of many, but it does increase cholesterol levels. If you want to reduce your cholesterol while maintaining the great taste of food, switch to seafood – especially scallops.
 
8. Quinoa Is A Tasty Alternative To Rice
 
Rice is no doubt very tasty in many delicious dishes, but it can increase your cholesterol level. So in order to control your cholesterol, use quinoa, the South American seeds which will bring a tasty and healthy touch to your food.
 
9. Munch On Popcorn, Not Tortilla Chips
 
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Tortilla is known to be delicious as healthy food, but homemade, air-popped popcorn is tastier and even healthier and it will help your cholesterol levels in check. Just watch out for that butter!
 
10. Skip The Fatty Sour Cream, Choose Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
 
Sour cream is a good ingredient to be used for garnishing or as past of a sauce. However, it contains saturated fats which will increase cholesterol levels in your body. Swap it out with no-fat Greek yogurt instead so that you can maintain the taste and texture of your food.

 

 

Healthy Tips To Be Happier At Work

After years of sitting in front of your computer and/or working from home, you may realize the lack of exercise you get and the need to be around real, walking, and talking people. Working from home usually entails just getting out of bed and hopping into the work chair and starting the routine over and over again.
 
When this happens, most of the day is spent sitting! This could end up being bad for your health. So what do you do? The first thing could include some changes to your working style – how about a standing desk for starters? Not only that, a few other changes here or there could positively affect your life moving forward.
 

1. Say Goodbye to Your Chair!
 
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Standing desks are becoming more widely accepted and you can definitely search for different styles online.
 

2. Get the Best Out of Your Commute
 
happy-work-2-walking 

If you don’t work from home, commuting is a great way to get some exercise into your day. This can mean getting off at a further bus stop so you force yourself to walk more – this can be done on the way home as well. But what if you drive? The same notion applies, you just need to find a further parking spot.
 

3. Keep Healthy Snacks at Hand
 
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If you have a kitchen in the office, it’s easy to prepare and store healthy snacks instead of ordering in every meal. If you have a grocery store nearby, pick up items that are easy to take to work and are easily stored, for instance, walnuts and granola bars. When you feel the sudden hunger pangs, just reach for something healthy in your drawer instead of opting for a sweet treat from the nearest vending machine!
 

4. Find Someone at Work to Accompany You to Your Workouts
 
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If you have coworkers who are like-minded, they won’t mind having company when working out. For women, it could mean another person to go to yoga with, or for males, no need to find another person to spot you when you’re on the bench press. The goal is to stay active and remain healthy.
 

5. Drink Lots of Green Tea
 
happy-work-5-green-tea 

If you have a kettle in the office, this is a breeze! If you buy tea from a café, it may cost a lot of money and sipping on lattes all day long may keep you awake all night. The best thing is to keep a mug and a box of green tea at your desk and when you get that craving for caffeine, just dip that tea bag and sip away!
 

6. The Workspace; A Reflection of Your Style
 
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Your possessions and your work environment should reflect you inner style and should continue to be an inspiration for you. That’s even after long hours of work; you’ll look around yourself with a smile rather than hoping to be somewhere else! You should find a lamp that is a reflection of your style in its own way because the lighting is extremely important to make you feel comfortable while working late nights at the office.
 

 

Health Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds You Never Knew

While most people only think of pumpkins for Thanksgiving or Halloween, the seeds of this powerhouse of a fruit offer a unique cocktail of health-enhancing and disease-fighting compounds, minerals, and vitamins. While emerging evidence reveals its miraculous potency in battling heart disease, anxiety, arthritis, bladder dysfunction, and osteoporosis, pumpkin seeds have long been used in many cultures for their medicinal properties for centuries.
 
Some Interesting Trivia
 

    • The earliest known evidence of domestic use of pumpkin seeds dates back to 7000 B.C in Mexico.
    • Pumpkin seeds were first embraced by Native Americans for their miraculous properties before the knowledge of its use was spread to Europe.
    • There is proof of usage of pumpkin seeds in Greek societies.
    • Pumpkin seeds are among the few foods whose nutritive value improves with age. Tests conducted at the Massachusetts Experimental Station reveal that pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months show a marked increase in protein content.
    • Today pumpkin seeds, called pepitas by Mexicans, are a basic ingredient in Mexican dishes.
    • In Russia and Ukraine, pumpkin seeds are a popular snack. If you crave to binge next time, pumpkin seeds are the right option!

 
Nutritional Facts And Health Benefits
 

  1. Bone Protection

 
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, iron, and copper, thus optimizing bone health. By consuming these magical seeds, it helps prevent osteoporosis.
 
pumpkin_seeds_salad 

  1. Battling Heart Disease

 
Rich in phytosterols, pumpkin seeds are very effective in thwarting heart diseases by lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Containing magnesium, pumpkin seeds benefit blood pressure and help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
 

  1. Tryptophan For Restful Sleep

 
Pumpkin seeds contain an amino acid, known as tryptophan, which is a natural sleep inducer. Since carbohydrates increase the bioavailability of tryptophan to the brain, try combining pumpkin seeds with your favorite cereal or a peanut butter sandwich and enjoy a pleasant rest if you have trouble sleeping at night.
 

  1. Improving Bladder Function

 
Among its multitude of health benefits, pumpkin seeds possess the unique ability to improve prostrate health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostrate health, and also because pumpkin seed extract and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostrate.
 

  1. Antimicrobial Benefits

 
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits including anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. They have even shown to eliminate seriously dangerous microbes from the body including parasites like tapeworms. Furthermore, pumpkin seeds may contribute to preventing yeast overgrowth and yeast infections.
 

  1. Easing Arthritis

 
It has powerful antioxidant properties which are supplemental in reducing arthritis induced inflammation.
 
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  1. Acting As Protein bombs

 
Pumpkin seeds are a great alternative to boost your protein intake without resorting to red meat.
 

  1. Chock-full Of Antioxidants

 
Pumpkin seeds are unique in their abundance of vitamin E, phenolic acids, and antioxidant phytonutrients. The diverse mixture of these compounds in pumpkin seeds may provide them with anti-oxidant related properties that are rarely found in food.
 
Ways To Enjoy Pumpkin Seeds
 

  • Add pumpkin seeds to sautéed vegetables, soups, meatloaf, and stew.
  • Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of green salads.
  • Enjoy chopped pumpkin seeds by adding them to your favorite cereal.
  • Bake them in the oven and enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack.

 

Whether you’re growing an 1800 pound whopper, or you’re reaching for your second serving of pumpkin pie, or if you’re enjoying the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits from this miraculous alkaline squash, you’re in for a powerful health punch offering protection against common health problems.

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Hand Sanitizers!

There are many people who religiously use their hand sanitizers and feel almost incomplete without them! They usually associate their frequent use of hand sanitizers to their hygiene-loving lifestyle. Fancy advertisements stress the use of them so much that it has become an addiction for many. It has become a ubiquitous phenomenon! Before this ‘amazing’ product launched, people were satisfied with washing their hands with plain water, but nowadays it has become such a dire need, that even water seems substandard at times! But what is the real truth behind these ‘much-needed’ hand sanitizers?
 
Here we look upon 5 reasons that will make you turn away from hand sanitizers altogether. If you are inquisitive about those clear magic potions, the truth unravels here to make you realize it’s doing more harm than good.
 
1. It Adversely Affects Your Skin
 
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Initially the sanitizers which pioneered the market were all alcohol-based. Alcohol is known to have adverse effects on the skin and prolonged usage of alcohol-based products can damage the skin, upsetting the balance of the pH levels, as well as causing skin irritations. The hands gradually seem to look aged compared to the rest of the body, as they dry up the skin, increasing the risk of blemishes and wrinkles. Moreover they hinder the production of natural oils causing the skin to become flaky and rough.
 
If there really is a need to use alcohol-based sanitizers, then it’s advisable to ensure the dryness is treated after the use with some water-based/ oil-based moisturizers depending on your skin type.
 
2. It Can Lead To The Development Of Superbugs
 
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As sanitizers saturated the market and gained popularity, companies researched and changed the conventional alcohol-based sanitizers. Triclosan is a major constituent of sanitizers. It is known for its antibacterial properties and is also present in most of the consumer products like toothpaste, mouthwash, soaps etc. However, prolonged use of triclosan gives rise to superbugs. These bugs are stubborn diseases that will develop immunity and resistance to antibiotics – such as triclosan.
 
Triclosan is already at the center of a controversial debate for its potential effects on organisms and the environment and is known to cause outbreaks of stubborn and potentially harmful bacteria. Sanitizers therefore provide a breeding environment and fuel the growth of superbugs.
 
Although debatable, some studies have revealed that products with a high-volume ingredient of triclosan may be linked to heart diseases as well as impairment in muscular and skeletal activities. Alteration of hormone regulation has also been observed with the prolonged use of triclosan-based consumer products.
 
The basic fact that triclosan was initially introduced as a pesticide should be an eye-opener to many!
 
3. It Contains Unknown And Possibly Dangerous Chemicals
 
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Considering the damaging effects of triclosan, keep in mind that it’s not the only harmful ingredient present in your favorite sanitizers. Scented sanitizers are on a whole new level altogether! They are loaded with toxic chemicals. Since fragrances are a part of proprietary information, the companies gain advantage of not disclosing their trade secrets and therefore we’re unaware of the chemicals that formulate these fragrances.
 
Phthalates which are a normal constituent of the synthetic fragrances have been proven to be extremely harmful and linked to asthma, issues in male fertility, hormonal disruptions, neurodevelopmental hindrances and many other worst conditions that include breast cancer and obesity as well. If at all, it’s best to avoid scented sanitizers.
 
Another preservatives to watch out for are the family of “Parabens”. Since sanitizers contain a percentage of water, these parabens are required to hinder the growth of microbes. These horrid parabens are skin irritants and are associated with reproductive, immune, as well as nervous system toxicity.
 
4. It Can Increase Your Skin’s Absorption Of BPA
 
4 

If there is anything that affects your endocrine system, then it has a cascading effect on the nervous system as well as other body issues. BisphenolA (BPA) is one such chemical product that affects our endocrine system and has been making headlines in recent years. It’s basically used to harden plastics and there had been a mass movement in order to eliminate this chemical product, and the movement continues to this day.
 
BPA and hand sanitizers are a dangerous toxic mix. Sanitizers are known to catalyze the absorption of BPA in our skin, hence leading to increased levels of BPA in our bodies that link to obesity, infertility and cancer. Though they are not a direct constituent in sanitizer formulas, they do speed up the absorption of BPA. Scenarios include handling cashier receipts, canned foods, automotive parts, airline tickets, eyeglass lenses and many more. As soon as you make use of hand sanitizers, right after or before handling these materials, you in turn catalyze the absorption of BPA as much as 185 times!
 
A thin layer of BPA resides on the skin, even after it has been absorbed. So basically, you use a hand sanitizer and then you eat something, you are consuming a dangerous chemical with every morsel you intake using your bare hands, which are of course loaded with BPA. Having knowledge about those products that contain BPA is useful as it will help you avoid them after making use of a hand sanitizer.
 
5. It Isn’t Even That Effective
 
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After acknowledging all the potentially harmful effects of these sanitizers, if at all, you happen to justify the use of sanitizers that they “at least” helping to kill off germs, then you may be highly mistaken.
 
There are both harmful and useful bacteria on our skin. Sanitizers that contain almost 60% of alcohol are useful in killing the germs, but along with drying up the natural oils on the skin, they also take away the useful bacteria from our skin, which is much needed as a defense against diseases.
 
If conventional soap and water is proven to be adept at washing away the dangerous bacteria, why do we make sanitizers so important in our lives? Unless we have zero access to soap and water, we can make use of non-scented alcohol based sanitizers; otherwise the traditional hand washing method is the tbest.
 
Alternatives
 
By now, let’s hope your addiction to hand sanitizers has been reduced. There are other ways to sanitize your hands as well. Homemade sanitizers are much better than smearing off the shelf products, of which we don’t even know what’s in them. Homemade sanitizers reduce all those industry chemicals, and make use of simple rubbing alcohol, vegetable glycerin, Aloe Vera gel etc. There are many recipes available.
 
Making use of thin gloves in public places like buses, trains, airports etc, you can ensure minimum contact with germs and BPA. Make it a habit to avoid rubbing your face or eating while using gloves though.
 
As a last resort, there are some organic or natural-ingredient hand sanitizers available on the market. As you read this article, you must be well aware of what to watch out for so you can scan through the ingredient list and avoid triclosan. They will probably cost more, but it will be a good investment for reducing your health risks.
 
Whether to continue your use of hand sanitizers or abandon them is your choice. The final verdict is yours. Choose wisely!
 

 

Cancer: Why A Timely Diagnosis Is REALLY Important

The diagnosis of any major illness is a complex process. It starts with symptoms experienced by the victim, followed by a pre-diagnosis processes that include self-help options and visiting a local health practitioner, and finally getting an actual diagnosis. If the matter concerns a normal allergy or a harmless cough, it’s alright to take it easy. However, if the victim is under a threat of a more serious disease, like cancer, the delay in diagnosis itself could be deadly.
 
The Disease
 
cancer-1 

Cancer is a deadly disease that claims the lives of many every year. The cancer mortality rate is unbelievably high in all countries as compared to deaths by other major diseases. There are various types of cancers and it is imperative to get a timely diagnosis in order for doctors to be able to cure the patient. Cancers have stages as well. If a patient is diagnosed as being infected with the initial stages of cancer, there is a possibility to control or cure the disease completely. However, in the later stages, doctors come across a lot more challenges that are difficult to control and sometimes impossible to overcome. Hence, it’s said that the timely diagnosis of cancer is just as important as the actual cure.
 
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why the diagnosis of cancer is usually delayed and how this delay adversely affects the treatment opportunities.
 
Missed Opportunities
 
cancer-2 

It’s a rare practice for people to visit the doctor as soon as they experience any kind of uneasiness or discomfort. This could involve a rise in temperature, dehydration, nausea, internal pain or any malignant growth. Such symptoms are linked to normal illnesses and are ignored. This is where an opportunity goes amiss. However, if the symptoms persist, we understand the possibility of a problem and visit a doctor. The doctor may not be able to diagnose the problem immediately, possibly due to incomplete information provided by the patient or similar symptoms to other general illnesses, and may prescribe drugs. Here is where the second missed opportunity occurs. This causes another delay. You go ahead with the doctor’s advice and take the prescribed medication. After a while you realize that the medication is not working. You also notice that instead of feeling better, your health is continuing to deteriorate. It’s at this time that you notice the symptoms getting stronger or more obvious. This is when you go to the hospital for a more thorough diagnosis. There has now been a significant delay since the first moment you noticed that something was wrong, to the time the test results arrive. This time of delay varies from patient to patient. In some cases the delay may be just a few days or weeks, which is still acceptable. But in some cases, the delay is months or even years and this shortens the possibilities of a successful treatment.
 
Direct Ratio
 
cancer-3 

There is a direct ratio between diagnosing cancer and actually curing it. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the higher the possibility of a complete cure. Diagnosing cancer in its early stages gives time for doctors to eradicate it from your body through surgery, drugs or chemotherapy. Also, cancer in its early stages tends to be docile and reacts positively to drugs. However, with the delayed diagnosis of cancer, the disease has had enough time to grow or spread and it gets harder to control it with drugs or surgery.
 
Timely Diagnosis is Synonymous with Better Psychological Adjustment
 
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Cancer victims experience uncontrollable levels of anxiety and stress. The excessive medications, treatments and therapies tend to have an adverse effect on their psychological adjustment. Timely diagnosis greatly contributes to the reduced levels of medical treatment and therapies, thus reducing the stress and anxiety levels and simultaneously improving the patient’s psychological adjustment.
 
In short, a timely diagnosis of cancer is a matter of life and death. Literally!
 

 

6 Unexpected Reasons To Get Into Gardening

There is no way to deny the benefits we receive from gardening just by the foods we cultivate or the flowers and fauna we get to enjoy in our gardens. If you have a large fruit and vegetable garden, it will over flow your kitchen with marmalades and jams, tomatoes, beans, ginger and garlic, potatoes, onions and whatever else may strike your fancy! Gardening offers other less visible, and yet equally supporting benefits. Why do you think that gardening is now beginning to get included in prisons, nursing homes, as well as community centers for the old, homeless or abused populations along with at-risk youths? It all has to do with the feeling of well being you achieve from a rigorous weeding and pruning session and the benefits it has for your health and mind.
 
Here are a few!
 
1. Stress relief along with a self esteem boost
 
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A study conducted by Dutch scientists asked two harmonious groups to complete one pre-defined stressful task. After the task was completed, one of the groups was instructed to garden for around 40 minutes, while the second group was told to read indoors. Afterwards, tests were conducted and the gardening group reported better moods along with lower cortisol levels when compared to the reading group. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced when a person is under stress and it influences your mood along with a lot of other chronic ailments such as immune function deficiency, tendency to gain more weight, memory depletion, and heart disease.
 
2. Heart health benefits and smaller stroke risk
 
gardening-2 

Regular gardening is just one of the many ways available to achieve a target of 2.5 hours of moderately intense exercise weekly. Along with this, gardening provides you with a reward and motivation to go ahead and do it instead of jogging on a treadmill like a hamster on a wheel! For those who are above 60 years of age, gardening has been known to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks by 30%. How can such old people garden? Here is the answer: they use raised flower beds and patches of land on which they do not have to bend. Along with this, exposure of around 10-15 minutes per day with no sunscreen will help your body produce vitamin D which helps us ward off osteoporosis, heart diseases, as well as cancers.
 
Try fitting in 15-minute stretches of gardening at various sunlight filled hours to ensure that it does not take away from your schedule and you still gain the numerous benefits associated with the activity.
 
3. Hand strength and dexterity
 
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With age, thinning dexterity and strength based in our hands gradually narrows the ranges of activity that are possible for us. Gardening helps keep those important hand muscles vital without any sort of exercises. Research has resulted in the conception of rehabilitative programs that are for stroke patients and include various gardening tasks as it is a productive way of helping them rebuild strength in the hands. However, there are things you need to be aware of. For instance, stressful gardening can lead to repetitive stress injury, tendonitis, or even carpal tunnel syndrome. Practicing hand-healthy gardening is a must by using simple warm ups, body positioning as comfortably and ergonomically as required, along with changing the tasks regularly before straining becomes evident. Alternatively, using your dominant and non-dominant hands will keep the strain off one hand as well as involve your brain in processing while keeping it healthier.
 
4. Increased brain health along with reduced Alzheimer’s risk
 
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A long term study that followed 3,000 people for nearly 16 years tracking each and every mental development, found that people who gardened regardless of anything else in their lives, had a reduced risk of dementia by 36%! Alzheimer’s is known as a highly mysterious disease as the factors that influence its occurrence and development are poorly understood. But this relation could be due to the fact that gardening involves so much of ourselves: our strength, our endurance, our dexterity, our learning, our problem solving skills, and our sensory awareness.
 
5. Immune system regulation
 
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One of the funniest coincidences, the dirt under your nails is helpful to you as it has friendly bacteria! Found commonly in garden dirt and ingested via breathing or on produce, the Mycobacterium vaccae helps fight allergies, asthma, and psoriasis. A majority of these illnesses are due to a weak immune system and hence mycobacterium vaccae helps strengthen the immune system. It also helps relieve symptoms of depression and helps us lead a healthier and happier life.
 
6. Depression along with mental health
 
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A morning routine around fresh green plants and multi-colored flowers is well known for the “lift” it brings to anyone’s day. But is there any medical proof? This can be found in the horticultural therapy field that is going strong and providing positive results for patients suffering from depression and other related mental illnesses. Numerous benefits emerge from a varied combination including physical activity, a healthy awareness of the natural environment, cognitive stimulation, and the satisfaction received from the work. You can build up the therapeutic aspects of your garden by aiming for a grouping of food produced (vegetables as well as fruits), scented, as well as flowering plants to allow all your senses to flourish. By adding a comfortable chair or seat in the garden, you can relax and enjoy your hard work and marvel at nature when you need to take a break.
 
All this hard work can lead to heat stroke and dehydration so ensure you are drinking enough water as well as keeping an eye on the signs of fatigue your body is showing. By having various types of plants like we suggested above, you can enjoy the ‘growing’ view of your garden; one day one plant may blossom and the next another one may bear a fruit. The excitement of what you’ll see today will keep your mind fresh and lively.
 
A famous biologist named Edward O. Wilson termed this phenomena “biophilia.” It’s when we are instinctively drawn towards other living and growing things – to be a part of the web of life.
 

 

11 Easy And Effective Tips To Lower Stress

Everyone faces stress in their life, however, coping with stress is important before it goes out of control.
 
Excessive stress and tension have serious effects on one’s health and numerous research studies demonstrate the significance of alleviating stress. A study by the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 2010 indicates that individuals having work stress suffer from a greater body mass index (BMI) as compared to others.
 
Research done at Tel Aviv University, Israel, in 2006 stated that employees suffering from extreme stress have more chances (1.8 times more) of getting type 2 diabetes. Moreover, research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, in 2006 found that excess stress hormones can lead to various skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis.
 
If you’re worried about stress issues, here are 11 easy and effective techniques to overcome them.
 
1. Perform Yoga
 
1-Lower-Stress 

Yoga has various benefits. It not only maintains the shape of your body and enhances flexibility, but it’s also effective in reducing inflammation and stress.
 
According to “The Science of Yoga and Why it Works”, in some cases, inflammation is effective as it is an immune response while dealing with infections, however, if it reaches overwhelming levels, it leads to severe health issues like depression, heart diseases and asthma.
 
Research conducted in 2010 at Ohio State University stated that people with stress, during an activity such as dipping feet in ice cold water, resulted in lower inflammatory responses in yoga experts as compared to yoga beginners.
 
2. Adequate Sleep
 
2-Lower-Stress 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that getting enough sleep greatly enhances your health, reduces stress, and improves your appearance. Stress and sleeping disorders work like a vicious cycle as a stressed day leads to improper sleep at night, making you tired which increases stress levels.
 
The Clayton Sleep Institute in Saint Louis conducted research in 2010 which indicated that individuals suffering from severe stress have disturbed sleep patterns.
 
 3. Talk Therapy
 
3-Lower-Stress 

Another effective stress reduction technique is psychotherapy or talk therapy, helping to alleviate anxiety and stress. In this technique, psychotherapist and patient talk about issues faced by the patient and devise ways to lessen disturbed or deleterious thoughts.
 
Common talk therapy techniques include group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT); however, all of them rely on converting pessimistic thinking of patients into optimistic thoughts while handling everyday stress.
 
4. Exercise Daily
 
4-Lower-Stress 

In order to alleviate stress, choose one exercise and do it every day as it lessens the quantity of cortisol, which is a hormone from the adrenal gland causing stress, anger, anxiety and fear. If cortisol levels increase too much, then it leads to inflammation and organ damage.
 
While talking to Live Science, Debbie Mandel, writer of Turn on your inner light: fitness for body, mind and soul by Busy Bee Group in 2003, stated that exercise reduces cortisol, making individuals healthy and happy. Additionally, exercise boosts pituitary glands to produce endorphins, the neurotransmitters causing happiness.
 
CDC suggests doing some kind of aerobic movements like speed walking for at 2.5 hours a week or doing activities that strengthen muscles in the body (back, leg, chest, arms, hips, shoulders, abdomen) for 2 to 3 days a week.
 
If you go for a walk of 10 minutes, three times a day for five days a week, that gives you 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly.
 
5. Contemplate
 
5-Lower-Stress 

Meditation has many advantages like comforting pain, relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and avoiding relapses among depression patients.
 
Research at Emory University, Atlanta, in 2008 demonstrated benefits of Zen Meditation in boosting awareness and getting hold of the thought process along with concentrating on breathing. This leads to controlling problems associated with stressed feelings like hyperactivity and attention deficiency disorder. Meditation has all various types and it’s not only about sitting cross-legged. A few of them concentrate on clearing thoughts, whereas, some others motivate the person to think about improving health, and reflect on positive aspects of others and one’s own self. Meditation can be done by lying down or sitting on a chair.
 
6. Don’t Forget to Laugh
 
6-Lower-Stress 

Laughing is an ideal treatment for reducing stress. Research carried out in 2001 at Loma Linda University indicated that participants who watched a funny video showed reduction in stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol. Their endorphins and human growth hormones were raised. They’re the neurotransmitters causing happiness, alleviating depression and strengthening the immune system.
 
Laughing is effective in controlling physical pain as well as in maintaining emotional pain or stress. A study by Oxford University stated that laughing increases our capability to endure pain as it releases endorphins.
 
7. Schedule Stress Time
 
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Research by Penn State University in July demonstrated if the employees take out some time to contemplate on things that worry them, then it would be really effective.
 
If individuals allot a certain time, say 30 minutes a day for stress, it might be useful as they won’t be worrying all day and adjourn stress for a specific time. Furthermore, it is effective in maintaining stressful habits and concentrating on good things happening in their lives.
 
8. Stop Complaining
 
8-Lower-Stress 

Researches demonstrated that whining about your stress even to your closed ones is ineffective in dealing with such issues.
 
Research by Kent University, England showed that individuals who are perfectionists suffer from stress every day and complaining makes their situation only worse. Stress increased after these individuals discussed their condition with friends.
 
According to Brad J. Bushman, social psychologist, researcher of aggression & coping and teacher at Ohio State University, whining about stress is useless for all whether they are perfectionists or not. While talking to My Health News Daily, he said complaining boosts stress instead of alleviating it.
 
In order to deal with stress, try these 3 approaches: humor, acceptance and positive reframing (seeing positive things in all situations).
 
9. Massage Therapy
 
9-Lower-Stress 

Research in 2010 indicated that a massage not only brings comfort and releases tension in your muscles, but also positively influences your hormones. Participants of a study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles, were given a 45-minute massage, leading to reduced vasopressin, a hormone related to aggression and declined cortisol levels.
 
10. Start Writing
 
10-Lower-Stress 

As per the study by National Institute of Health (NIH), keeping a record of stressful feelings can actually reduce them. Writing your emotions during stress makes you realize that you can control and change your condition. It’s effective in devising ways to solve the issues.
 
NIH states that reviewing your writings can highlight most stressful things, which in turn helps to get rid of things that cause stress and how to avoid them in coming times.
 
11. Hug
 

11-Lower-Stress 

Oxytocin, a cuddle hormone is linked with social relationships is effective in decreasing stress. It is released from brain’s hypothalamus, goes to pituitary gland and sends hormones to the blood.
 
Various research on animals suggest that hormones can relieve anxiety and stress. A research done on isolated prairie voles (Midwestern rodents) in 2007 demonstrated symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, but these symptoms faded away after inserting oxytocin.
 
Oxytocin is naturally released during childbirth, sex, and breastfeeding. It’s also produced by ordinary physical contact like hugging. Oxytocin is heightened by playing with your pets as suggested by research published in Hormones and Behavior Journal.

 

 

7 Surprising Benefits Of Drinking Honey Water Daily

The best of all thirst quenchers is water and it’s known to have multiple health benefits. It keeps a good control on calories thus promoting weight loss. It energizes the muscles in our body by preventing fatigue and maintaining the correct balance of fluids. The more water intake you have, the more visibly clear and fresh skin you will see as it prevents dehydration. A good intake of water is the best thing you can do for your kidneys. It will relieve them from a lot of stress and reduce the risk of kidney stones.
 

Water is extremely useful for a healthy gut. It prevents constipation, maintains a healthy colon and prevents gastrointestinal diseases. Overall water is the most important drink of the day. We should all make sure we take adequate amounts of water to maintain a healthy balance of fluids in our body. If just water alone can pull in so many benefits, can you just imagine the benefit if you include honey water in your diet?
 
The benefits become two-fold! Honey is a magic potion! It is packed with so many benefits that taking honey water on a daily basis will definitely improve your well-being.
 
Most of the benefits associated with honey are quite similar to those associated with taking warm water itself. Some of the noticeable changes you will see within a short period of time are mentioned as follows:
 
1. Weight Loss
 
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Weight loss is the number one concern for many people around the world. Some need to lose it for their beauty and some for their health. Honey water on a regular basis drastically melts away the excess fat from your body! Furthermore, the natural sugar in honey helps you ward off the temptation for sweets and controls your cravings.
 
2. Healthy Immune System
 
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Honey is loaded with natural antibacterial elements. It has antiseptic properties that help control acidity and increases intestinal mucus secretion. It’s got antioxidants that fight off the free radicals that damage the skin and it is great for fighting bacterial infections. You can combat bad breath issues with honey water as well.
 
3. Cough and Cold Treatment
 
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Honey has been used to cure coughs since olden times. Taking a glass of warm honey water every day in the morning soothes the throat and provides relief from persistent coughs.
 
4. Allergy Control
 
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If you reside in an area where you are vulnerable to either dust or pollen allergies, taking warm honey water first thing in the morning helps you tackle those environmental allergies and curbs them. Its regular use helps reduce your vulnerability towards these recurring allergies.
 
5. Flatulence Control
 
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Gassy situations can be awkward, uncomfortable, and a recurring nightmare! Regular use of warm honey water ensures that the gases get neutralized in your body. It may not eliminate the problem thoroughly, but drastically reduces such incidences. So whenever you feel bloated, sip on a glass of warm honey water, and your pain will be alleviated in no time!
 
6. You’ll Get Clear Skin
 
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Honey combined with water is a powerful collagen booster as it comprises of a lot of skin restorative properties. Your skin will be clear and rejuvenated with its regular use. Due to the fact that you feel energized and fresh by drinking honey water regularly, it greatly improves the health of your skin.
 
7. Honey Water Improves Health
 
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Does honey water contribute in improving your health? Yes! Regular consumption of warm honey water improves the level of good cholesterol in your body. This reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, it helps maintain proper hydration in your body. It’s also a great detox that helps the body get rid of all the dangerous toxins that build up with time.
 
So many benefits and such a simple concoction! Boost your body with health and start your honey-water regime today!
 

 

Diet Sodas Drive You To Consume More Calories

Are we really the best judges of what we consume? Do we analyze the pros and cons before deciding what we eat and drink? In our attempt to do good to our body, is there a possibility that we may be doing more harm?
 

In an age where fast food is the easiest and most preferred option, many of us try to enjoy the good things about junk foods while still ensuring that we do not consume the large amount of calories stocked up in them. We select products marketed by various companies that guarantee the same. One of these is diet soda. If you thought diet sodas are the perfect alternative to give you the energy boost you need in a fizzy drink that doesn’t make you feel guilty about all the extra calories, think again!
 
Let’s look at some important reasons why we must not be totally ignorant about our unmonitored levels of diet soda consumption. It may say ‘diet’ on the can, but there sure is more than meets the eye!
 
Setting wrong expectations
 
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Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners. Companies use this as their selling point to convince consumers that artificial sweeteners are a better and healthier alternative to natural sweeteners. Unfortunately, this is not true. Artificial sweeteners have the exact same effect on our body as natural sweeteners like sugar. Consuming drinks with artificial sweeteners enhances the levels of insulin present in the blood and this leads the body to store fat, thus increasing body weight.
 
Numbing our sense reactors to natural sweeteners
 
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Over time, consumption of sodas and other drinks that include artificial sweeteners numb our senses to natural sweeteners present in fruits. This is caused due to our senses being heightened by the concentrated sweet flavor used in artificial sweeteners. Once our body gets accustomed to artificial sweeteners, we are unable to enjoy natural and healthy sweet foods. Unknowingly, we drift away from eating healthy foods and fruits. Put down that can of diet soda and settle for a chilled iced tea instead.
 
Weakening of bones
 
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Most sodas contain the harmful chemical compound phosphoric acid. Various studies have proven consumption of foods containing phosphoric acid contribute to the weakening of bones. An occasional soda once in a while won’t do much harm, but if consumed in large quantities or on a regular basis, this could have some adverse effects on your overall health. It doesn’t matter if it’s just soda or diet soda. The compound is present in either of them.
 
Diet sodas contribute to weight gain
 
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Yes, you read that right! Diet sodas are often consumed as an alternative to normal sodas with the idea that avoiding heavy sugar consumption means avoiding that extra weight gain. Diet sodas actually can lead to weight increase. So if you’re working towards losing weight, it’s better to quit drinking sodas all together. You could, instead, settle for natural sweet drinks like fruit juices or fruit pulps. They may lack the fizzy temptation that sodas offer, but they are a safer bet when it comes to living a healthy life.
 
Increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks
 
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One of the main chemicals used in diet sodas is aspartame. Not many know this fact, but the consumption of aspartame can significantly increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other heart related ailments. Scientists are further studying the relation between the consumption of diet sodas and the increase in cardiovascular ailments, as there have been more problems than solutions to date. Scientists believe that there is a stronger connection between people who drink diet sodas and have heart problems than those who do not.
 
Quitting sodas, especially cola drinks, is a perfect decision. Hard to make, but if you’re successful in quitting, you’ve just helped yourself to a healthier and a longer life.
 

 

Tips To Make Matcha Tea Even Better And Tastier

Matcha is the newest health craze out there. Healthy food lovers are using this green tea powder like it’s the healthiest thing around. This little ingredient is so versatile, it’s being added to almost every food/drink you can imagine: smoothies, sparkling tonics, popcorn, you name it and a dash of matcha will make it even tastier. This emerald green powder will turn your healthy snacks into a green, power-packed potion of health and wellness. This hot health food has almost inspired a cult-like following among the health/fitness community. The U.S. has finally woken up to what the Japanese have known for centuries. Matcha is just great for your health!
 

We’re not just saying this, the science backs up the hype. Some 900 studies have shown that matcha is a super-food. Matcha has been linked to cancer prevention to improving skin, hair, and nails. A study shows that it even helps suppress hunger pangs and speeds up metabolism naturally. Another study, conducted earlier this year, pointed out that matcha can also reduce the risk of depression.
 
All of this is brilliant, you say, but you still can’t get past the fact that it tastes like moss that you scraped off a tree? Don’t blame matcha, blame your attitude! The truth is you have been a victim of bad quality matcha, or it may be that you aren’t making it right. Read on and find nine tips that will lead you down the path of buying, brewing, and creating yummy matcha foods. So, get ready for a healthy mean and green boost of power!
 
Find the Right Grade
 
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Yup, there are grades. Make sure you look for hyper-premium or ceremonial grade matcha. Stay away from the culinary grade. The culinary kind tastes awfully bitter. It’s used to color drinks and baked goods, definitely not something you want to drink. High grade powder is finer, has a smoother taste, and dissolves quickly. The newest growth of the plant is used to make these, so it has more antioxidants which is an added health boost.
 
It Should Originate From Japan
 
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Did you know that the majority of matcha available in stores today is culinary grade? Yup, according to Eric Gower, the owner of Breakaway Matcha and knower of all things tea, says that there is a lack of packaging regulations. Some manufacturers simply write ceremonial grade on their labels even if the product is the lower culinary grade. The best way to make sure you get the real thing is to find premium grade matcha from Japan. The Japanese products follow a formal, but unspoken set of regulations.
 
Check the Color before Buying
 
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Matcha plants are grown in the shade. This makes the leaves go into hyper-drive and produce more chlorophyll, and this is what gives matcha that brilliant green color. Emeric Harney, the tea expert at Harney & Sons, recommends buying powder that has a vibrant color, having an almost fluorescent tint. If it looks dull, don’t waste your money.
 
You Won’t Find a Bargain
 
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If you’re trying to find a bargain, stop looking. Great quality matcha is really fine — difficult to produce and takes a lot of time, therefore, it’s rare and expensive. Try to recall Econ 101 supply and demand logic you learned: low supply means high cost. For example, the best grade matcha available from Breakaway will set you back about $150 per 30 grams and another quality supplier, Matcha Love’s ceremonial grade blend retails at $17 per 20 grams.
 
Use Warm Water for Brewing Not Boiling Water
 
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Eric Gower recommends a water temperature of 150-175 degrees if you want the best tasting matcha. The amount of water and powder you use depends on personal preferences. The more matcha you add to the water, the more frothier and thicker the tea will be.
 
Go For Cold-Brew If On a Budget
 
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The combination of ice and matcha is one of the most refreshing things you will ever taste. It’s also light on the budget. When drinking matcha over ice, you can use a slightly lower grade without compromising the taste. The cold actually cuts the bitterness. Henry Crosby, the co-founder of the iced matcha drink Motto, says that ice does not cover the flavor and simply lowers the bitter taste.
 
Matcha Is Not the Same as Green Tea
 
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A lot of people think that matcha is powdered green tea. This is very wrong. Matcha is made by mixing finely ground tea leaves with warm water. Drinking matcha basically means you are eating the tea. You take in more of the antioxidants that help prevent cancer and boost metabolism. Drinking tea prepared by steeping leaves in boiling water does not give you as big of an anti-oxidant boost. If you look at the numbers, a cup of matcha gives you 10 times as much antioxidants as compared to 1 cup of regular green tea.
 
Coffee Jitters? Matcha Might Be the Perfect Option
 
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The powder is a source of calm energy. The electrifying burst of energy when you sip a cup of joe comes from caffeine and l’theanine (an amino acid). The caffeine is what gives you that instant jolt, the l’theanine slowly releases energy and helps improve cognitive performance. Matcha is an excellent source of this amino acid.
 
Savor the Taste and Let It Linger
 
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This is a bit unusual, but matcha is also great for the teeth and gums. In fact, dentists in Japan recommend that it should be used as a mouthwash. It attacks harmful bacteria that cause plaque along the gums and between teeth. A study in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who drink matcha daily showed a decrease in all indicators of periodontal (gum) disease that the researchers checked.
 

 

A Connection Between Citrus Fruits And Melanoma?

A recent observational study published in the Journal of clinical Oncology suggested an association between citric fruit consumption with the development of malignant melanoma.
 
According to the study, people who ate citrus fruit 2-4 times a week had an increase of 10% in the risk of malignant melanoma than people who ate citrus less than twice per week. The senior author Dr. Abrar Qureshi, from Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital, has already stated that this is a one-of-its-kind study and that also observational, therefore it cannot predict the situation of the entire US nor can its results be interpreted as 100% authentic.
 
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Dr. Qureshi worked on the study in collaboration with the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He further stated that “Malignant melanoma is a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer. Though there have been some amazing advances in the treatment of cancer, its prevention by using the rays of the sun and skin cancer screening is recommended.”
 
Although the study concludes a preliminary association between malignant melanoma and citrus fruit, it didn’t specifically state that melanoma is caused by the intake of citrus fruit. The authors have welcomed more studies and research work in this regard.
 
The study included data from two other previously conducted studies. They included 63,000 women in this study from the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,000 men from another study. Both of these studies were conducted from the mid-1980s to 2010.
 

The participants provided information regarding their diet; how frequently they ate grapefruit, oranges, or drank orange juice. This estimated their “overall usage of citrus.” The study did not include other citrus fruits such as lemons and limes. Participants also reported health events such as the diagnosis of melanoma which was then cross checked with their medical records.
 
With a follow-up of 20 years, the study reports 1,840 cases of melanoma. People who ate citrus fruit 2-4 times a week had an increase of 10% in the risk of malignant melanoma than people who ate citrus less than twice per week. Melanoma risk was seen to rise proportionately with an increase in citrus consumption. A 36% risk of malignant melanoma was seen in people who ate citrus more than 1.5 times a day. The study reports grapefruit to have the greatest association with melanoma.
 
Dr. Qureshi explained that citrus fruits contain furocoumarins (photoactive compounds) which make people more sun sensitive and make even usual sun exposure more damaging to skin cells. He didn’t advise reduced consumption of these fruits since they are very important for health; however, he is in favor of more studies on furocoumarins.
 
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According to Marianne Berwick of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, 30 out of 100,000 individuals suffer from coetaneous malignant melanoma yearly in the U.S. It is the fifth most common melanoma in the U.S. and ranks sixth worldwide, he told Reuters Health. Berwick also supports further work up on this preliminary study.
 

 

Socializing Is Good For Your Health. No Joke!

If you ask people about their understanding of the term ‘age well,’ they are most likely to give you varying answers and most of them are going to revolve around physical well-being including eating a healthy diet, daily exercising, and going for annual checkups.
 
What you are likely to never hear is how an engaging social life is going to help you age well.
 
Research has proved that people who have an inclination toward loneliness are likely to have a chance of dying by 30%. This also stands true for people who claim that they prefer to be alone. These people don’t realize, but they are at risk.
 
Socializing is good for humans. It does not matter if you like it or not. There are countless articles written to emphasize the importance of how those who enjoy being by themselves can shorten their life span.
 
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According to a research, people who call themselves introverts also experience happiness when they socialize as compared to when they are alone. The importance of living an actively social life has been effectively dealt with by Dan Buettner in his book The Blue Zones Solution. In his book, he talks about how to live your life in a way that you live up to a hundred years without actually feeling that old. The foremost reason that he gives is of socializing more. Socializing not only improves health, but also keeps a person happier. He attributes loneliness to similar detrimental actions such as smoking.
 

Isolation and loneliness are categorized in the same category as smoking or obesity is. It has also been implied that socializing determines our life span more accurately than our exercising and eating habits. This also leads us to the conclusion that we should be choosy and picky about the people we hang out with.
 
Buettner asserts that it is not only the quantity of social interaction that matters but also the quality. How much happier we are and how much weight we have put on is dependent on the kind of people we hang out with. So it only makes sense when you are advised to find people who can positively influence you. Buettner suggests that people join social clubs or volunteer for social work in order to develop their social skills and cultivate their talent.
 
One study claims that you are likely to experience the same level of happiness from joining a social group and meeting once a month like you will experience when your salary is doubled.
 
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Eric Barker describes the value of an engaging social life by saying that the relationships in your life are worth a lot more than what you earn annually. If you won’t connect with others, you are likely to turn stupid which may eventually kill you in a world full of clever, sly people.
 
The bottom line of the story is that if you want peace of mind and a healthy mind, then you need to leave the comforts of your couch and go out to meet your friends at dinner tonight.
 

 

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