Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Job Posting - Human Resources Associate

Human Resources Associate

Maternity Care Coalition (MCC), a dynamic nonprofit, works to improve maternal and child health and well-being through the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, providers and communities. 

MCC is seeking an HR Associate to support the HR Director in the day-to-day administration of human resources functions.  The HR Associate ensures that all HR policies, procedures and programs are implemented across the various site locations. Responsibilities include:

Staffing - Coordinates the recruiting requisition process, tracking and of reporting current job openings.
Posts job openings on the commercial job boards, those available as appropriate at area colleges, universities and professional organizations as well as the MCC intranet. Represents MCC at career and job fairs sponsored through area colleges, universities and professional groups.

Benefits - Supports the HR Director with the annual open enrollment preparation and process timeline.
Audits the monthly benefits invoices to ensure an accurate employee census for billing purposes.
Prepares the medical questionnaire forms for additional life insurance or short term disability.

HRIS/Payroll  - Assists with the preparation of the biweekly payroll.  Creates reports as needed to analyze turnover, workplace injuries, compensation, performance management and other data to support the HR initiatives of the organization.

Unemployment insurance - Ensures the timely completion of all requests for information from the State Unemployment offices.  Prepares COBRA notices for life insurance for separating employees.

Leaves of absences - Prepares the necessary paperwork for both FMLA and general leaves of absences.  Meets with employees to review the required paperwork and answer questions regarding the leave process and requirements.

Staff Appreciation - Research, plan and secure venues for the annual employee appreciation day.  Determines the roster of eligible employees for anniversary recognition during Staff meetings.  Works with the vendor to obtain the anniversary recognition gifts as necessary.

A Bachelors' degree in Human Resources Management or related field is required as well 1 – 3 years' relevant human resources experience.  Must demonstrate effective communication skills with people from diverse backgrounds. Possess strong verbal, written and listening communication skills. Ability to easily follow verbal and written directions.  Requires proficiency in all Microsoft Suite Applications as well as knowledge of ADP HRIS/Payroll applications.  Excellent organizational, problem solving, writing and negotiating skill are required.

Email your cover letter, resume, (3) professional references and a writing sample to Paul Antony, HR Director, at

For more information, visit our website:

Epsom Salts will Reduce Inflammation, Energize Plants and More

Epsom salt may seem like an unlikely go-to home remedy, however, the more I learn about it, the more I want to keep it around—in my kitchen, bathroom and even my garden shed.

My first experience with Epsom salt was as a kid was when I sprained my ankle. My mom made me soak my foot in a warm bucket of water with the salt mixed in. She said it would reduce the swelling and help with mobility. Sure enough, it made my sore ankle feel much better, and I continued the ritual twice a day until my ankle was fully healed.

I now know why this healing mixture was so effective. Epsom salt is actually not salt at all, but rather a mineral compound that is made from magnesium and sulfate. Both of these compounds are readily absorbed by the skin, which means they are accessible to the over 300 enzymes that are regulated by magnesium. This helps alleviate hardening of the arteries and improves muscle and nerve function.
In addition to working overtime to reduce inflammation, here are 4 other ways I have found to put Epsom salt to work for me:
Plant Fertilizer
I am an avid gardener, so any natural way I can make my harvest more plentiful is exciting to me. Recently, I found that Epsom salt makes a wonderful fertilizer, not only for grass but also for potted plants and veggies. I simply sprinkle a little salt around the base of each plant once a week and water, and my plants look amazing. To make your grass greener, mix one cup of salt for every gallon of water and use a sprayer to cover your lawn. Repeat this once every two weeks throughout the growing season.

Dry Lip Conditioner
Living out west, my lips take a beating. To keep them looking and feeling their best, try a homemade Epsom salt lip exfoliator. Mix equal amounts of organic coconut oil and Epsom salts together. Spread over your lips and rub gently in a circular motion. Rinse with water and apply a thin layer of coconut oil when finished. Not only will this help to remove dry skin, but it will also protect your lips from damage caused by sun and wind.

Sunburned Skin
After a recent trip to sunny Florida, I found that Epsom salt came in very handy to soothe sore, sunburned skin. Simply mix 1 cup of salt in warm bath water and soak for about 15 minutes. Not only does the salt help reduce inflammation, but it also gently exfoliates skin and reduces peeling.

Poison Ivy
It is undoubtable that someone in my family has an up-close and personal encounter every year with poison ivy. Epsom salt is a great way to reduce the swelling and itch of this irritating condition and is also wonderful for mosquito bites and bee stings. Mix 2 tablespoons of salt with 1 cup of warm water. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and hold on the affected area to remove pain, burning and itching.
Not only is Epsom salt a great alternative to a number of chemical-based products, but it is also inexpensive—that makes it extra great to me. Now, go out and get some and let us know what you use it for!
-Susan Patterson

The Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Diabetes

There are numerous studies on the potential health problems associated with vitamin D deficiency. It has been linked with rickets, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in the elderly, and possibly cancer.
Now, new research has linked vitamin D deficiency to the potential development of diabetes, as well.

Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes
A study that was published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reveals that there is a link between low levels of vitamin D and diabetes, which has no connection with body weight.

A “Scientific Statement on the Non-Skeletal Effects of Vitamin D” was released by the Endocrine Society, which explained the findings of scientific studies linking vitamin D deficiency with obesity. It further explained how these same individuals had a higher likelihood of also developing pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, compared to people with normal levels of vitamin D.

Obesity was not a consistent factor
The latest study was conducted on 118 participants at the University Hospital Virgen de la Victoria in Malaga, and 30 participants at the Hospital Universitari Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain. Researchers analyzed vitamin D biomarkers of the participants and classified them by factors such as body-mass index (BMI) and whether they had been diagnosed with prediabetes, diabetes, or glycemic disorders.

Measurements were taken of the participant’s blood levels of vitamin D, as well as the receptor gene expression of vitamin D in adipose tissue.

The findings revealed that participants that were obese but did not suffer from glucose metabolism disorders had much higher vitamin D levels than subjects that were diabetic. Participants with lean body weights who had been diagnosed as diabetic, or having a similar glucose metabolic disorder, usually had significantly lower vitamin D levels.

Researchers concluded that the direct link was between vitamin D levels and glucose levels, rather than any body-mass index factors such as obesity.

According to one author of the study, Manuel Macias-Gonzalez, Ph.D. of Complejo Hospitalario de Malaga and the University of Malaga:
“Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity. The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity.”

Could vitamin D help regulate blood sugar?
diabetiesResearchers from different studies have come to believe there may be a link between vitamin D and the body’s ability to manage blood sugar. They are also interested in a possible link between vitamin D and the regulation of calcium, which also plays a role in blood sugar management.

Some scientific research has shown that young people with higher levels of vitamin D had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their later years, as compared with those who had low levels of vitamin D.

However, there have also been some conflicting studies that did not show successful prevention of diabetes development from supplementation of vitamin D in subjects. Clearly, further studies are needed to work out all the definitive connections between vitamin D and its possible role in the prevention of glucose metabolic disorders.

For now, while we await further research, remember to enjoy safe and responsible time in the sun as often as you can – your body needs those healing rays!
-The Alternative Daily

Delaware County Family Center - Summer Activities for Children and Youth

Information session about summer activities for children and youth in Delaware County.

The session takes place on Thursday April 30th from 5:30-7 pm at St. Bernard Hall, 2nd floor on the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital campus on Lansdowne Ave. Please see the flyer for more detail, and pass it on to a friend.

Delaware County Family Center - Parenting Program

FREE Parenting program for mothers in Delaware County includes Childcare, Homework Help and FREE Dinner.

For 6 Tuesdays beginning Tuesday, May 5th through Tuesday, June 9th at the St. Bernard Hall, 2nd Floor on the campus of the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital on Lansdowne Ave. 

Sessions are from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm (dinner is served promptly at 5:30 pm). 

There will be discussions on Stress Management, Decision-Making, Financial Issues, Single Parenting, and Positive Discipline. 

3 Key Nutrients for Better Brainpower

Protecting your brain from age-related damage can be as simple as snacking.

Blueberries, pecans, and Brussels sprouts are just a few foods that can boost brain health.

When it comes to what we eat, we usually worry more about our waistlines than our wisdom. But a diet that contains a wide assortment of healthy foods and nutrients doesn’t just benefit your body; it may protect your brain from cognitive decline as you age.
In order to defend against a variety of age-related conditions that can impair your memory and the general functioning of your brain, a good first step is to concentrate on incorporating three nutrients into your diet: omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, and vitamin E.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Brain Volume

For your memory to function smoothly, your brain cells need to be able to communicate quickly and easily with one another. As people age, nerve cells shrink, nutrient-rich blood supplies to the brain decline, and inflammation often complicates the situation. The brain then produces smaller quantities of key messenger chemicals called neurotransmitters. At some point, communication between cells becomes less smooth and your memory skills suffer.
Omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been found to promote the efficient electrical signaling between nerve cells, reduce inflammation, and even appear to improve mental concentration and fight memory loss.
In a 2014 study published in Neurology, researchers found that postmenopausal women who had higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in their blood also had larger brain volumes, which was the equivalent of preserving the brain for an additional one to two years. Smaller brain volume has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease as well as the effects of normal aging.
Related: How to Stay Sharp As You Age
Because the body cannot manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, it needs to absorb them from food sources. Fish are one of the best sources of omega-3s, but try to avoid fish that are high in mercury and other heavy metals, such as swordfish and bluefish. Not a fan of seafood? There are many other non-fish foods that contain this brain protector.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids:
  • Oily cold-water fish: herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon, halibut, and trout
  • Leafy greens: Brussels sprouts, spinach, arugula, mint, kale, and watercress
  • Oils: flaxseed oil, chia seed oil, cod liver oil, and krill oil
  • Eggs
  • Walnuts

Antioxidants and Brain Health

As your brain ages, it is more difficult for important nerve cells to protect themselves against highly reactive, rogue compounds called free radicals. Every cell in your body manufactures thousands of these unstable oxygen molecules every day, and you are also exposed to them in the world around you through tobacco smoke, pollution, and even ultraviolet radiation. Left unchecked, free radicals damage cells (a process called oxidative stress), which contributes to age-related degenerative diseases, including mental decline.
Fortunately, the body has a natural defense system to protect itself against oxidative stress: antioxidants. These substances, which help shield the body from the destruction of free radicals, include well-known nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and selenium. Although researchers go back and forth on exactly how beneficial eating antioxidants can be for the body and brain, there are two antioxidants that appear particularly promising when it comes to brain health: flavonoids and vitamin E.

2. Flavonoids for Better Memory

When someone tells you to eat more colorful foods, these special antioxidants are probably the reason why. Almost all fruits, vegetables, and herbs contain flavonoids, which have been found to have many health benefits, including reducing inflammation, heart disease risk, and eczema symptoms. Studies suggest flavonoids are good for the aging brain, doing everything from increasing the number of connections between neurons to disrupting the development of amyloid plaques that clog the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.
In 2012, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that older women who ate large amounts of berries – which are high in flavonoids – delayed their memory decline by more than two years compared to women who had low flavonoid consumption. Getting more flavonoids in your diet is pretty simple: The more colorful the produce, the higher the level of flavonoids. But you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that some of your favorite drinks are full of flavonoid goodness, too.
Foods high in flavonoids:
  • Berries: blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries
  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, and watercress
  • Other colorful produce: butternut squash, avocados, plums, and red grapes
  • Coffee
  • Dark chocolate
  • Red wine

3. Vitamin E for Brain Protection

Vitamin E is well known as a free-radical fighter that prevents cell damage. While more evidence is needed, several studies have found that vitamin E delays the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2014 study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Stroke, researchers found that one type of vitamin E, tocotrienol (found naturally in palm oil), may protect the brain from developing white matter lesions, which have been linked to increased stroke risk, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
The benefits of taking a vitamin E supplement remains a point of contention among researchers, but there’s little doubt that the foods containing this antioxidant are good for you.
Foods high in vitamin E:
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, peanut butter, peanuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds
  • Oils: wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil
  • Leafy greens: spinach, dandelion greens, swiss chard, and turnip greens

The Bottom Line on Brain Food

While no one has found a way to return aging brains to their youthful ability just yet, it is possible to strengthen your brain's ability to protect important neurons from degeneration or death. This is best accomplished when you make smart lifestyle choices. It's a good idea to avoid excess alcohol and nicotine use, and you can best help your brain stay sharp by following a healthful diet that's low in fat and cholesterol and loaded with fruits, vegetables, oils, and fish.

Soothe Your Mind With Music

Every society throughout history has embraced music of one kind or another. Why do we love music, and what does it do for us? Well, for one thing, research has shown that music influences our mind in interesting ways.

In a study conducted by the University of Helsinki in Finland, researchers studied the effects of listening to classical music on the human brain. A group of participants, involving some individuals with musical experience and others without, listened to the full 20 minutes of W.A. Mozart’s violin concerto Nr. 3, G-major, K.216.

What they found was that listening to the music caused both neuronal and physiological changes in the participants. The music enhanced gene expression in the secretion and transport of dopamine, synaptic neurotransmission, as well as memory and learning processes.
The researchers also found that listening to the music also down-regulated genes mediating neurodegeneration, while up-regulating genes that are involved in learning songs and singing in songbirds. This link with songbirds suggested a similar connection of sound perception across species.

“The up-regulation of several genes that are known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds suggest a shared evolutionary background of sound perception between vocalizing birds and humans,” said lead study author Dr. Irma Jarvela, associate professor at the University of Helsinki.

One of the up-regulated genes that received the biggest impact from listening to the music was synuclein-alpha (SNCA). SNCA is found in the linkage region of the brain with the greatest involvement in musical aptitude, and is known to be a risk gene for Parkinson’s disease.
Considering that the exposure to the music down-regulated genes that are linked with neurodegeneration suggests that music has a neuroprotective role. However, these effects appeared to be isolated to participants with a background in musical experience.

“The effect was only detectable in musically experienced participants, suggesting the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects,” the researchers explained.

The Mozart Effect
The study from Finland is only one of many that has evaluated how classical music might impact the human brain. Nearly everyone has heard of the “Mozart Effect,” which was widely promoted following a study from the 1990s. The study was discussed in the journal Nature, and it sparked the idea that listening to the music of Mozart and other classical composers could make you smarter.
In particular, it was urged that parents should play classical music for their young infants to start them off on a journey to higher intelligence. However, upon review it was found that the study had been misconstrued. The original research had been conducted on adults, not children. Also, it involved a temporary cognitive improvement regarding spatial tasks that only lasted for approximately fifteen minutes.

A 2006 study conducted in Britain, which involved 8,000 children, showed that popular music of the time had an even stronger effect on cognitive improvement, determined by tests involving paper shapes. These findings would suggest that personal preference may also come into play in the effectiveness of musical exposure.
Boost your IQ by playing music yourself
musicThe biggest demonstrated improvement on intelligence from music has been shown to result in studies where participants played the music themselves. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that children who had music lessons while growing up developed faster brain responses to speech in their later years. This finding was true even when they had not played their instruments in quite some time.

Researchers involved in this study found that the longer a person spent playing instruments in their childhood, the faster their brains responded to the sound of speech.

“What happens when we get older is that neural responses slow down, especially in response to very fast and complicated sounds like consonants,” explained researcher Dr. Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University. “After a year of training, the kids who have been in the music training are better able to synchronize to the beat and to remember the beat.”

Need more proof? Research by Jessica Grahn, a cognitive scientist at the Western University of London, Ontario, revealed that a year of piano lessons and regular, consistent practice can result in a three-point increase in IQ.

So, whether you’ve been playing for years or are a pure beginner, taking up an instrument, or tapping into the melody of your own voice, could do your brain a lot of good!
-The Alternative Daily

Men Can Avoid Early Death by Making Simple Lifestyle Changes

More and more, men in this country are taking good care of themselves and placing value on their health. However, there is still a stereotype that exists which dictates that it isn’t “manly” to pay attention to ones diet, or visit the doctor for pain and other symptoms.

However, if men wish for an optimal quality of life and health, this attitude has to change. On average in the US, men die five years earlier than women. For this and many more reasons, its time for the male gender to focus on health and illness prevention.

The following are some of the most common health threats facing men today.
Heart disease Heart disease is still the leading killer of men (and women, but that’s another article). There are many factors that contribute to this illness, but unhealthy lifestyle habits such as poor diet, excess alcohol, smoking and too much sedentary time all contribute.
The rates of diabetes – especially type 2 diabetes – in our country are skyrocketing, and this illness often goes hand in hand with obesity. Many health experts suspect that a major player behind the spread of this illness is sugar. Along with the sugar many add to their coffee and tea, nearly all processed foods contain some amount of sugar.

Exercise is another important factor in diabetes. Some research has found that 30 minutes of exercise per day decreased men’s risk of developing diabetes by over 50 percent.

Prostate cancer
AnamnesisProstate cancer affects nearly 200,000 men in the United States each year. Fortunately, this is one cancer that is often caught early, and is successfully treated. Screening for prostate cancer is one reason it is highly important for men, especially older men, to visit the doctor.
If this cancer is caught early, your chances of surviving are much higher.

Lung cancer
Lung cancer is the cancer responsible for killing more men than any other cancer. While risk factors for this cancer vary, one big one is smoking. If you’re still smoking and you value your future health at all, it’s time to quit.

The takeaway from this is that while some illnesses are unavoidable, you can give yourself the best fighting chance to prevent them – and combat them should they occur – if you keep your body in tip-top shape. This means a nutritious diet of real, whole foods, regular exercise, stress relief, plenty of sleep and maintaining these healthy habits long term.

Also, it is worth it to say that symptoms are not to be ignored – they are indicators to learn from. If you are experiencing signs of less-than-perfect health, it’s important to see a doctor to shed light on the situation as soon as possible.
-The Alternative Daily

Learn more about diabetes with Natural Solutions

Natural Solutions Weekly Health Tip
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Learn more about diabetes with Natural Solutions
There are two forms of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. With type 1, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps the body's cells absorb glucose and use it as fuel. Type 1 is related to genetics; generally develops early in life; and, unfortunately, cannot be prevented. Type 2, on the other hand, is the result of lifestyle, not genetics, and involves the cells becoming resistant to insulin, thereby allowing unused glucose to accumulate in the bloodstream. While necessary for proper cell function, glucose left circulating in your body can wreak havoc on your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys.
Main Image
Fighting Type 2 Diabetes Without Drugs
One of the worst and most obvious mistakes being made in conventional medicine today is the aggressive treatment of type 2 diabetes with oral drugs. Why? In recent years, study after study validates what I've seen in my 40 years of medical practice—oral medications for type 2 diabetes actually do more harm than good. While raising insulin levels and lowering blood sugar, they can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and, in some cases, increase the risk of heart attack and death. Why cause even more health problems with the use of medication?
Are Environmental Toxins Fueling Type 2 Diabetes?
Many of us first encountered diabetes in grade school when one of our classmates had the disease. We listened in shock as they described their daily regimen: glucose monitoring, multiple insulin injections, a rigid diet. Those are the hallmarks of type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, cells don't know it's time to take in glucose from the blood stream and the extra glucose becomes toxic to the eyes, kidneys, and most of the critical organs. Although not a cure, insulin injections help replace the signals usually produced by the pancreas, allowing cells to take in glucose. Today, however, we are becoming increasingly concerned with type 2 diabetes. In most type 2 patients, it's the insulin receptors within cells throughout the body that are the problem. For reasons not entirely understood, cells become resistant to insulin. This causes excess glucose to build up in the blood stream, which can be as bad as having no insulin at all; again, extra circulating glucose fuels inflammation, damaging organs and tissues.
One of every two of you have a deadly disease that's making you fat, sick, and will eventually kill you—and 90 percent of you don't even know you have it. What's worse is that your doctors are not trained to find it, and most don't even look for it. This problem will cost us $3.5 trillion over the next ten years. It is bankrupting our economy. In 30 years, 100 percent of our federal budget will be needed to pay for Medicare and Medicaid, leaving nothing for education, defense, agriculture, roads, or even social security. So what is this deadly disease? It's diabesity—the number one cause of obesity, heart disease, cancer, dementia and, of course, type 2 diabetes.
Crab Salad with Avocado, Apple and Green Beans
This dish is perfect for an early summer get together with family and friends. Yummy! Click here to find out how.

Where Does Your Mind Go When You Exercise?

Take a moment and think about where your mind is while you’re working out. Are you focused on your moves or are you thinking about what needs to be done right after your workout? Maybe there are too many distractions around you…your phone or computer staring out at you, longing for attention.

You work out to relieve stress, but how can that be done if, in your mind, you’ve finished your workout before it’s begun? Why even work out? You’re doing yourself more harm than good.
Once in a while, it’s ok to put your headphones on and zone out. It’s a good time to clear your head. But, if you would like to get the most effective workout possible, you need to be mindful of what’s going on with your body.
To be mindful while you’re exercising, mean to be in the moment. To be in the moment means you need to feel each movement of your body, to focus on what muscles are being worked out. When you focus on this, you actually get a better workout and better results from your workout.

This happens because you put thought into each movement. You make sure your form is correct, and your breathing lines up with the movements. Also, you get greater satisfaction in knowing that you’re getting the best results from your workout.

So, how can you accomplish a mindful workout when the world around you is so full of distractions that pull your mind away from the ‘now?’

The first thing you need to do is figure out what you’re looking for, and set a goal. Not a future goal, but one for the workout you’re intending to do right now. What is it you would like to focus on? Your arms, legs, maybe you’re looking for something that will burn calories? Whatever it is, set your mind on that.
If you feel as though your mind is wandering during the workout, remember why you’re doing it.
  • Energy
  • Strength
  • Heart health
exerciseYour workout is time for you, taking care of you. Slow down and focus on what you’re doing. If your workout is 20 minutes, then savor in that 20 minutes. Work out what what you set your mind to work out.

Remember to breathe. Breathing as you exercise improves your workout and relieves stress. It gives you the strength to get through it, supplying your brain and lungs with the needed oxygen to keep things moving smoothly. If you hold your breath while you’re doing your strength workout or your aerobic routine, you will pass out! Relax and breathe.

One thing you’ve got to know: While you’re exercising, it may be a struggle, and you may at times want to curse out your instructor. However, you WILL be happy at the end.
You will have a sense of accomplishment knowing that you made the most of your workout and with time, you will feel and see the difference in your body and how you feel.

Be mindful while you exercising: it will make a huge difference. See for yourself!
-The Alternative Daily

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Margo Davidson Events - Save the Dates

4 Nuts That Cut Your Heart Disease Risk

4 Nuts That Cut Your Heart Disease Risk

Recently, I set up an experiment in a grocery store. I placed four nut mixes on a shelf. Each was labeled differently. One promoted men’s health. Another was labeled as a heart-healthy mix, while a third was just a wholesome nut mix. Finally, the fourth one made no claims at all regarding health; it was just labeled as a deluxe combination of nuts.
I consider myself an amateur when it comes to nuts, I asked passing customers which one was best and why. The responses were as variable as the people.
One man said, “You are a man and one is for men’s health, so you should choose that one.” I asked why it might help me as a man, and he said because it was a great source of fiber. (Looking back, I’m not sure it’s ever a good idea to rely on a guy in a grocery store to recommend that you take more fiber.)
Another shopper recommended the heart-healthy mix. When I asked why, she said because it has more walnuts and pistachios and they are good for the heart.
My experiment seemed to fizzle when an authoritative elderly man joined the discussion. He said we were all wrong and that only raw nuts were healthy. He was not amused when I asked if he thought it was okay if I met my daily nut needs by eating a candy bar.

A Heart-Healthy Passion for Nuts

I learned a few things about nuts and people. First, some people are very passionate about their nuts. Also, people seem to feel peanuts are the least healthy nuts and perceive them as degrading a mixed-nut selection. What I thought was good news is that most people recognized that the nuts were often salted and felt healthy mixes should have less salt or no salt.
The bottom line, based on the research evidence, is that all nuts are a very healthy choice. Many new clinical studies highlight heart-related benefits of nuts. For example, adding 30 grams (gm)  per day of nuts a little over an ounce) to a Mediterranean diet lowers risk of heart disease by 30 percent
Based on the research, here’s a breakdown of the links betweeen nuts and heart disease, and what makes nuts heart healthy. I hope this will help you make tough choices, such as which nut mix to purchase.

Almonds Help Lower Cholesterol and Body Fat

Adding almonds to your diet lowers your LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, which is involved in creating plaques in your coronary arteries that can cause heart attacks. Almonds lower LDL in a dose-dependent manner. This means that by increasing the amount of almonds you eat, you can further lower your LDL. Clinical diet studies show almonds can also reduce your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Even if you have diabetes, adding almonds to your diet can improve your sensitivity to insulin.
Almonds can also increase your likelihood of losing weight. In one study, adding 84 gm, or about 3 ounces (oz) of almonds  a day to a planned diet improved weight loss and resulted in a 14 percent decrease in waist circumference. A study published in 2015 looked at cholesterol and body fat in people who ate 1.5 oz of almonds a day versus a healthy muffin with similar calories. In only six weeks, people who consumed almonds had lower LDL cholesterol by an average of 5 mg/dL. They also had less belly fat and leg fat.
There are also several studies showing eating almonds lowers body inflammation.
If you are looking to shrink your waist and improve your cholesterol, start by adding some almonds to your diet.

Pistachios Help Lower Blood Pressure Under Stress

Adding pistachios to your diet also has potential heart benefits. Previously, I discussed how our body and heart responds adversely to stress and how we respond to it with increased blood pressure. A study of people who ate approximately 1.5 0z of pistachios a day and were then exposed to mental stress found they had lower blood pressure rises than those who did not eat pistachios. In people with diabetes, eating pistachios lowers total and LDL cholesterol and can reduce the risk of diabetes-related disease in the arteries. In a four-week trial published in 2014 of patients who had diabetes, a diet rich in pistachios (about 6 to 10 gm/day) improved heart rate response to stress, 24-hour blood pressure measurements, and heart function and output. Total cholesterol also decreased for those who ate pistachios.
If you are looking to lower your blood pressure, improve your response to stress, and lower your cholesterol, consider adding pistachios to your diet.

Walnuts Help Keep Arteries Clear

Most nuts contain a high concentration of healthy fat. Walnuts are composed of 47 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids, thought of as “good fats.” But while most nuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts are the only ones with a significant amount of a certain type called alpha-linoleic acid. Alpha-linoleic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and has actually been shown to help reduce plaque buildup in coronary arteries. Eating walnuts has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and the function of the small arteries and vessels within our bodies. Recently, a study looking people who consumed 43 gm of walnuts every day found the nuts reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. However this study showed something even more important, in my view. Consumption of walnuts reduced the level of apolipoprotein B, which is a strong genetic risk factor for coronary artery disease.
If you are at high risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) or already have it, consider adding walnuts to your diet.

The Truth About Peanuts

In my grocery store experiment, peanuts took a beating. However, many studies show eating peanuts, including peanut butter, can reduce heart risk. In the Nurse’s Health Study, those women who consumed peanuts and peanut butter lowered their risk of heart disease by 34 percent. The greatest benefit was in those who ate peanuts multiple times a week. In a study of 6,309 women with diabetes, eating one serving of peanuts (28 gm [1 oz] for nuts and 16 gm [1 tablespoon] for peanut butter) five times a week or more lowered risk of heart disease by 44 percent.
Eating peanuts and peanut butter has also been shown to lower risk of diabetes in both lean and overweight women. Finally, like many other nuts, peanuts as an alternative food source for your protein needs can lower your cholesterol, particularly when added to other healthy diet choices.
If you are like the people in my study, perhaps you are asking: Are peanuts better than the others I have mentioned?
A recent study looked at this question, specifically diets rich in peanuts versus tree nuts. This study shed some light on the potential greater benefit of tree nuts compared to peanuts. In 803 adults, abdominal obesity, blood pressure, and cholesterol where all better controlled in those who had a high intake of tree nuts. However, if you ate a lot of tree nuts, it didn’t seem to matter how many peanuts you ate. Like the other trials mentioned in this section, this one showed that eating peanuts was better than not eating nuts, peanuts or other nuts, in regard to better blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The most striking difference in the study was that high consumption of tree nuts did not increase risk of abdominal obesity, whereas high consumption of peanuts alone did.

Can You Eat too Many Nuts?

The answer is yes, absolutely. The best approach to eating nuts is moderation.
Nuts are very good sources of energy, and if you eat too much you can gain weight and offset the heart benefits. I like to recommend adding nuts to an already heart-healthy diet or as an alternative healthy snack. If you change your snacks alone to unsalted nuts you will be surprised how effective that choice is in helping with weight loss and cholesterol management.
One thing to keep in mind is that some people can experience dangerous allergic reactions to nuts. If you have a potential allergy or a family history of nut allergies, don’t consider using nuts until you talk with your doctor.
Finally, there are data regarding contamination of some nuts with mycotoxins.  Consider reading about these toxins as I don’t have enough room to cover them here. The one that has the most data behind it is cases of contamination of peanuts with aflatoxin.

An Apology to Pecan, Hazelnut, and Macadamia Fans

I want to apologize for the nuts left off this list. It was not intentional. Pecans, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts have also shown some benefits in reducing heart disease factors, but they don’t have the data of the nuts listed above.
I hope this information will help you with your next nut purchase or your next spirited debate with a passionate nut person.
T. Jared Bunch, MD is a native of Logan Utah and directs heart rhythm research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. You can follow @TJaredBunch on Twitter.

Lycopene and Kidney Cancer: Another Reason for Older Women to Eat Tomatoes

What makes those beautiful, bright pink and red fruits, such as watermelons and papayas – not to mention tomatoes – red? It’s lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that has been receiving quite a bit of attention lately for its connection to the prevention of atherosclerosis, heart disease and certain cancers.
Now, to add to the list of reasons to eat more of this yummy produce, researchers at Wayne State University Division of Research have linked eating more lycopene-containing foods to a lowered risk of renal cell carcinoma, a cancer of the kidney, in postmenopausal women.
Kidney cancer is the eighth-most common cancer in women. One particularly scary fact about this cancer is that by the time it is spotted, it has often progressed to an advanced stage. This makes prevention especially key when it comes to this illness.
To arrive at their results concerning lycopene and renal cell carcinoma, Wayne State researchers, led by Dr. Cathryn Bock, analyzed the health information of just over 96,000 women, collected between 1993 and 1998. The women in the study were followed until the summer of 2013, and the presence of several antioxidants, lycopene included, in their diets was assessed. Results of the analysis showed that the women who ate the most foods rich in lycopene had a 39 percent lower risk of developing kidney cancer than the women who ate the least amount of foods containing lycopene. The other antioxidants and nutrients tested in the study did not display a significant effect on kidney cancer risk.
tomatoesBut wait… it’s not just women who may want to amp up their intake of tomatoes. A 2014 study performed by the University of Bristol found that men who eat over ten servings of tomatoes per week have an 18 percent lower risk of prostate cancer. Perhaps we could all use a little more lycopene.
As far as eating to prevent a specific illness, Dr. Bock had the following to say: “Kidney cancer is a relatively rare cancer, and so focusing only on reducing risk of this disease would be short-sighted. Rather, a diet focused on one’s own personal risk factors, such as family history, would be more beneficial.”
With diet, it’s all about the whole picture. Lycopene alone is no magic pill. However, as part of a varied diet of whole, nutritious foods prepared with love, it may just help our bodies stay healthy.
Along with the obvious tomato and watermelon sources, lycopene can also be found in pink grapefruits, papayas, apricots and guavas.
-The Alternative Daily

5 Foods to Avoid at the Salad Bar

5 Foods to Avoid at the Salad Bar

By now, most of us know to stay away from creamy salad dressings, but some less obvious salad sabateurs might surprise you.

You're at the salad bar, you have a beautiful bed of greens on your plate, and you want to keep it healthy. Here's what to do.

Avoid adding these five foods to your salad:

1. Croutons. They may be small, but they're typically filled with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The majority of croutons found in restaurants are also made of refined grains, which means all of the vitamins and protein have been stripped from them. Adding croutons also means adding calories, so opt for a slice of whole wheat bread or a whole wheat roll instead.
2. Sun-dried tomatoes. What you’re really adding to your salad is a ton of sodium. A half-cup can set you back almost 500 milligrams of sodium. Opt for fresh tomatoes instead.
3. Candied nuts. They’re often scattered on top of a salad with beets or blue cheese. And they taste so good — because they're drenched in simple sugars! Candied nuts are also filled with fat, sodium, artificial colors, and flavors. So stick to unsalted, plain nuts like walnuts or almonds that contain healthy fats and will keep you full longer.
4. Tortilla strips or wonton noodles. Sure, they add great crunch to your salad, but they also add extra calories, sodium, and trans fats (they're often fried in oil). Instead, go for peppers or carrots for a tasty crunch without all those calories and fat.
5. Shredded cheese. A sprinkle of cheese won’t hurt you, but many people throw on at least a half-cup, which can add up to a substantial number of calories. One cup of cheddar cheese has more calories and fat than a large serving of fries from McDonald’s! If you're choosing cheese, pick a low-fat cheese and limit the portion size to the size of your thumb.

Friday, April 10, 2015

12 Common Kitchen Remedies that Relieve Sinusitis, Earaches, Hiccups and More

Commercial medicines never seem to be quite what they are cracked up to be. Between the out-of-pocket cost and possible side effects, it is always better to use a natural remedy when one is available. Here are 12 natural remedies you can find in your kitchen cupboard:

1. Fight Morning Sickness with Lemon
Pregnancy poses a tricky time for treating problems like nausea and morning sickness. Over the counter medications are often not safe to use during pregnancy, and you can be left feeling like you have no options. The good news is there is a natural, safe remedy. The sweet, fresh citrus smell of lemons can provide natural relief from morning sickness.
For your convenience, you can keep lemon peels in a ziplock bag that can be carried anywhere in a purse or pocket. Also, drinking lemon water first thing in the morning may avert the nausea as well.
2. Use Onion Juice to Treat Earaches
Many earaches are the result of infections that sprouted after fluid was trapped in the ear canal. A great home remedy to try is onion juice. Onions have natural antiseptic properties that can stop the infection before it gets out of hand. Place an onion in a small pan of water and boil it until the onion is soft. After it has cooled, squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Then you can use a medicine dropper to apply 4–5 drops of slightly warm juice into the ear.
3. Soothe the Pain of Cooking Burns with Tea bags
One of the most common injuries that will occur in the kitchen is burns. You can put your discarded tea bags to good use as a burn treatment option. In case of a burn, place a cool, wet tea bag on burned skin for speedy pain relief.
The tannins in the tea have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and astringent properties. The tea can create a protective barrier over injured tissue to help it heal.
4. Stop a Cough with Chocolate
Cocoa contains a chemical called theobromine that naturally suppresses the nerve responsible for triggering the cough reflex. By eating two ounces of dark chocolate, you can consume as much theobromine as many commercial cough medicines.
5. Cayenne Pepper for Acute Sinusitis
Cayenne pepper contains a component called capsaicin that can work in the body as a painkiller. It is also an effective nasal decongestant. It can be taken with honey (one teaspoon of each combined for a quick elixir) up to three times a day; or you can mix one teaspoon of the pepper powder with a cup of hot water for a mucus busting drink.
6. Ease Eczema with Olive Oil
For people who suffer from eczema and dry skin, olive oil presents a great natural remedy. Olive oil is naturally packed full of vitamin A and vitamin E, which makes it a very effective moisturizing agent. After a hot shower, lightly pat your skin with a towel until it is still slightly damp and gently apply olive oil for an all-over moisturizer.
7. Stop the Hiccups with Sugar
You can stop annoying hiccups before they take hold by eating some sugar. Measure out a teaspoon of sugar and make sure to swallow it in one whole gulp.
Research has linked sugar with a stimulating effect on the vagus nerve ending in the tongue related to hiccup spasms. By stimulating the vagus nerve, it is distracted away from the hiccup reflex and usually leads to the cessation of hiccups.
8. Fight Fungus with Listerine
Toenail fungus is unsightly and sometimes painful, but a little Listerine could clear that up for you. Listerine has disinfecting and antiseptic properties. By soaking your feet in Listerine for up to 15 minutes twice a day, you could finally say goodbye to toenail fungus. It has also been known to aid in the healing of blisters.
However, it should be noted that cases have been reported of people’s feet turning green after frequent and long periods of soaking in Listerine. Although it is only a cosmetic condition and is not related to any internal or external harm. Rest assured, it does disappear over time.
9. Treat Acne with Tomatoes
Power packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and other antioxidants, tomatoes can be great for your skin. Thanks to their antioxidant properties, tomatoes can fight acne at the cellular level. hey also have a high level of acidity, which is drying to the skin.
To fight acne, try mashing a tomato into a pulp texture and spreading it like a mask on your face and neck. Allow it to set on the skin for an hour before you rinse with warm water and gently pat dry.
Breakfast table on kitchen interior background10. Soothe Stings with White Vinegar
Wasp stings can be absolutely nasty; however, because the wasp venom contains powerful alkalines, it can be neutralized by an acid, such as the type found in white vinegar. By treating the sting with a few drops of white vinegar, you can neutralize the venom and help prevent some of the irritation and tenderness from developing. You can either soak a small cotton pad and apply it to the skin or simply drizzle the vinegar directly over the sting.
11. Beat Heartburn with Baking Soda
The discomfort of heartburn can feel like a fire in your chest. Quench the burn with a few spoonfuls of baking soda in water. Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid and helps to prevent esophageal damage from backed-up stomach acids.
This remedy is not recommended for people with sodium issues or pregnant women.
12. Relax Leg Cramps with Apple Cider Vinegar
If you suffer from nighttime leg cramping, you may find a little relief in your cupboard. Next time you are suffering, try drinking a glass of water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey.
Apple cider vinegar contains high levels of potassium, which is known to relieve muscle cramping. There are also many nutrients in apple cider vinegar that help regulate and stabilize fluid balances in the body, which can help prevent problems from dehydration as well.
-The Alternative Daily

Do You Have Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

Everyone gets a little forgetful from time to time. Particularly when you are under a lot of stress, and once you enter middle age, forgetfulness tends to rear its inconvenient head from time to time.
But what if it was more than simply forgetting? How would you know when it might be something more?

Alzheimer’s is a serious degenerative brain disease that usually has a slow onset, but worsens greatly over time. While there is no single test available to diagnose Alzheimer’s, there are a number of symptoms that could indicate you should consult a specialist for an evaluation.
Keep in mind that anyone can experience a couple of these to various degrees, but there is no harm in discussing them with a doctor if you experience them, as early diagnosis is very important.

1. Loss of memory in everyday life
A very common early sign of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, particularly about newly learned information. When your memory loss begins to affect your daily life, this could be a serious red flag. If you are forgetting important information that you have known all your life, and find yourself asking the same question over and over, then it is not typical age-related forgetfulness.
Another flag with this is needing help from others for daily living tasks that you used to be able to do alone.
2. Difficulty problem solving
Losing the ability to put together a plan of action and follow it out could be a sign of something troubling. Also finding yourself unable to manage numbers, such as balancing a checkbook or paying monthly bills, are red flags. If you find yourself unable to concentrate on complex situations for lengthy periods of time, you may be suffering more than a temporary setback.
This should not be confused with making occasional small errors with your checkbook, which is a normal age-related occurrence.
3. Forgetting where you are or how you got there
Alzheimer’s can cause people to forget months of the year, how much time has passed by, and important dates. It can cause confusion as to how things lead from one stage to another if it is not occurring at that moment. People with Alzheimer’s sometimes forget where they are or how they came to be there.
4. Difficulty reading or confusion with visual images
This should not be confused with the development of cataracts, which is considered normal in older age individuals. With Alzheimer’s, people can find themselves confused and not understanding the visual images in front of them.
They can have difficulty reading and following the flow of the information being presented to them. They may find they have difficulty in accurately judging distance or other spatial relationships.
5. Problems with words or conversations
Alzheimer’s makes it difficult for people to follow topics of conversation. They may repeat things they have already said, or be suddenly unable to finish their complete thought. Vocabulary becomes difficult, words are forgotten, or things may be referred to incorrectly.
6. Misplacing items
mindKeep in mind that everyone misplaces things from time to time, but retracing your steps usually leads you to the object. However, Alzheimer’s causes people to put items in strange or unusual places. Later, they won’t remember where or why it was put there. Often, individuals affected with this condition begin to accuse others of stealing.
7. Withdrawal from others
When someone has Alzheimer’s, they may withdraw from the things they used to do, particularly social activities. They may stop participating in work projects, hobbies, and sports. They may have trouble keeping up with things that they used to, or they may avoid social interaction because of changes they have noticed.
8. Personality changes
Alzheimer’s can cause people to become suspicious, confused, angry, fearful, and depressed. They may find themselves easily upset by others and changes in their routine. They may lash out with little provocation, and at other times, they may be almost lost, confused, and mild mannered.
If you find you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t panic. However, do schedule a visit with your doctor, just to make sure everything is alright, and to catch any issues early if they exist.
-The Alternative Daily