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Heal Your Gut to Reduce Inflammation

Greek philosopher Hippocrates stated over 2,000 years ago that “all disease begins in the gut”—and it appears that he may have been right. We’ve written before about how your gut bacteria can affect your weight, lifespan, and even your attitude.
Now, new research has revealed that gut health may also affect the inflammation and joint pain associated with arthritis.
Arthritis and its various forms has always been a fairly mysterious condition. An autoimmune disease, it can strike at any age, and wreak havoc on bones, joints, cartilage, and even organs in some cases. Now, thanks to several recent studies which have found a link between arthritis and gut microbes, we may be beginning to understand the origin of this painful disease, which for many can be literally crippling.
Two recent studies out of New York University have demonstrated a clear link between arthritis and gut health. The first, published in 2013, showed that rheumatoid arthritis patients were far more likely to have a strain of bacteria called Prevotella copri in their intestines than those that did not have the disease.

The second was a 2014 study by the same author, and found that patients with psoriatic arthritis—another kind of autoimmune joint disease—had significantly fewer strains of beneficial gut bacteria than those not affected.
While this research on the connection between gut health and arthritis is certainly ground-breaking, it’s not the only condition that’s receiving attention from researchers who are studying the way that the microbiome—the collection of bacteria in our gut—affects our health.
Microbiome researchers are beginning to study all autoimmune-related conditions, as they suspect that the rise in these conditions in recent years is at least partly due to changes in the bacteria we’re exposed to through our hyper-sanitized environment, diet changes, and of course, antibiotic use.
NYU microbiologist Martin Blaser puts it this way: “Our microbiome has changed significantly over the past century, and especially over the past 50 years… We’re losing microbes with each generation; they are going extinct. These changes have consequences.”
Microbiome research has already linked gut health to asthma, arthritis, acne, allergies, autism, IBS, obesity, ADD, depression, anxiety, Hashimoto’s, lupus and certain cancers, among other conditions. The best thing we can do in light of this increasing evidence, even if we are not currently suffering from any of these conditions, is to maintain the health of our gut, or nurture and heal it if necessary.
To support a healthy gut environment:
  • Avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary
  • Add probiotic foods to your regular diet, such as sauerkraut, kefir, Greek yogurt, kimchi, and some types of pickles
  • Avoid sugar, which certain harmful bacteria thrive on
  • Stay away from antibacterial soaps and cleaning products whenever possible
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, which have been shown to affect the microbiome negatively
-The Alternative Daily

Eating Healthy Snacks During International Travel

Foreign travel doesn't mean your healthy eating habits have to take a hiatus. Some advance planning and sensible choices can make all the difference.

Like many people who follow a healthy diet, you probably don’t want your international travel plans to mean that you’ll have to resort to standard junk food or unsafe food choices. Some common sense and a little research and preparation ahead of time can help keep your diet varied and you safe and well while you’re abroad.

Finding Healthy Snacks and Meals
If you’re concerned about choosing healthy snacks and foods while traveling, following these tips can help:

·         Look for foods you eat at home. Stick to simple, fresh, and natural foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Fresh fruits are still a great alternative to caloric junk food for healthy noshing; you just need to choose wisely and prepare them correctly. It’s a good idea, for instance, to wash all produce thoroughly in bottled water and, for added protection, remove any peel or skin.

·         Cook your own food. If you're nervous about the way your food will be prepared, for either sanitary or dietary reasons, cooking it yourself is an easy way to take control of what you're eating, even during international travel. By buying fresh products at a grocery store, you will have control over how your food is prepared and will know that it's both safe and healthy to eat. Some hotel rooms, inns, or hostels may have a kitchen area where you can prepare your own food. If this is something you're interested in, inquire about the cooking accommodations before you book your reservation.
David Lytle, editorial director for, also suggests considering options beyond hotels — a rental apartment, where you can cook healthy snacks and meals in the kitchen might be a good fit for you and your fellow travelers, and in some cases it can even save you money. 

·         Do some research in advance. If you are a health-conscious eater and want to stay away from junk food or high-fat foods, do a little research before your trip and ask for local recommendations. That's how Pamela Melton, vice president and director of operations at Marketing Resources Inc. in Elmhurst, Ill., manages to maintain a healthy diet during the international junkets her job often requires.

"I always ask the hotel staff to recommend restaurants that have healthy options and that may offer menus in English," Melton says. "I also tend to stick with what I know and order chicken or beef." Melton says she usually looks up words she needs to know to communicate her dietary needs before she leaves and writes them down or brings along a dictionary for reference. When it comes to eating healthy, she says, "It is pretty easy to learn the words for these foods in any language."
On the Menu: Food Safety

While you do need to be concerned about food safety during international travel, a little common sense can help you steer clear of unsanitary foods. "For eating healthy in countries where the water quality may be questionable, I stick to produce that has a thick skin," says Melton. "Oranges and bananas are good examples. Cooked vegetables are usually safe, but I use caution when buying or ordering raw produce.”

Eating healthy and safe foods during international travel is absolutely possible, Lytle confirms. "For any sort of travel, it is just a matter of doing some preparation," he says. "Often where people make a mistake is eating fresh produce in a country when it hasn't been properly washed first. You have to be aware of the country's rules and health regulations."

Here are a few key food safety suggestions to follow:

·         Make sure food is thoroughly cooked. Avoid anything that looks like it hasn't been cooked all the way through or isn't served steaming hot.

·         Use only bottled water. If you're going to a location that may have water quality issues, opt for bottled water and beverages and skip the ice, which is usually made from tap water. Also, remember to use bottled water when brushing your teeth.

·         Eat at reputable restaurants. Resist the tempting fare offered by vendors or at kiosks on the street — street vendors may not be as conscious about sanitation as restaurants are. For restaurants that cater successfully to foreign travelers, ask your hotel for recommendations or research them before your trip.

·         Practice seafood safety. If you aren't sure about local sanitation regulations, steer clear of raw or undercooked seafood during international travel.

·         Think twice about dairy. Don’t eat or drink any unpasteurized dairy products. You should also be cautious about pasteurized milk as foreign processing methods can differ from those in the United States.

·         Stick to fruits with peels. Don't eat fruits that are already peeled, and for further protection, make sure to remove the peel yourself.

While there aren't any international signs and symbols that make food labels easy to understand across the world, finding the foods you want is possible with a little research and a translation dictionary on hand. If you stick to reputable restaurants and large grocery stores, you should be able to find fresh and familiar foods as well as a variety of healthy snacks to help you maintain your regular good eating habits while you’re traveling abroad.

Jewish Family & Children Services - Needs Your Prom Gown

Jewish Family & Children Services is requesting donations of prom gowns and accessories to teens enrolled in the Elect Program (program with the SDP serving pregnant and parenting teens).  

If you or someone you know has a gently used evening prom gown, dress, and/or accessories to donate, please deliver during business hours M-F; 9am - 4:45pm.

JFCS Progress Plaza Office
1501 North Broad Street,
Suite 14
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Questions? Contact: Melissa Blackson, 267-256-2053
The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 14, 2014

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Fight the Flu with Natural Solutions...
Flu season isn't over yet. In fact it is in full swing, but that doesn't mean you can't take precaution to protect yourself, loved ones and even strangers from catching the bug. The mayo clinic suggests washing your hands. (Thorough and frequent hand-washing is the best way to prevent many common infections. Scrub your hands vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren't readily available.) Contain your coughs and sneezes. (Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.) And also to avoid crowds. (Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate — in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection.) But let's not forgot other ways to help fight off the flu. Read more with Natural Solutions.
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Here it is again, the cold and flu season when we all head indoors to share our sneezes and viruses. It's time to get serious about preventing illness, and that means caring for our personal air filter: the nose. Viruses are the worst seasonal offenders, and colds are the most common virus we pass around. But the influenza virus is so much worse than a cold. Most folks do not really understand the difference between these two illnesses, yet the difference can be deadly.
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Here it is again, the cold and flu season when we all head indoors to share our sneezes and viruses. It's time to get serious about preventing illness, and that means caring for our personal air filter: the nose. Viruses are the worst seasonal offenders, and colds are the most common virus we pass around. But the influenza virus is so much worse than a cold. Most folks do not really understand the difference between these two illnesses, yet the difference can be deadly. Influenza, commonly called "the flu," is caused by the influenza virus. This is a specific respiratory virus quite different than the cold virus. The entire respiratory tract —including the nose, throat, and lungs—becomes infected. The illness is severe and can be life-threatening; children, the elderly, and those who have underlying medical conditions are at greatest risk for complications.
Immunity Superstars: The 10 Best Foods to Fight Off Colds and Flu
Diet is a crucial piece of the immunity puzzle. "Eating the right foods helps your immune system function optimally and makes you more resistant to infection," says Jennifer Johnson, ND, clinical professor at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Here are the 10 powerhouse foods that will help you stay strong and sniffle-free all winter.
Garlic Grilled Asparagus
Garlic is something that can help to fight off the flu, so why not mix it with asparagus and the grill? It's amazing! Click here for more information.

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