Monday, April 17, 2017

11 Reasons To Eat Cherries


In the 1600s settlers brought cherry trees to America, and for good reason. Cherries, bright red, juicy and delicious, are so much more than just a sweet treat. It turns out, they’re packed full of beneficial nutrients and may even prevent certain diseases. Here’s why you should include cherries in your diet — every day!

1. Fights damaging free radicals

The dark red color of cherries comes from their high concentration of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. Both sweet and tart cherries supply these beneficial antioxidants, although tart cherries contain more. Antioxidants help prevent cellular damage — the road to cancer, aging and many diseases. That means by eating antioxidant-rich foods like cherries you can replace free radicals in the body before they damage cells. In fact, even the antioxidants found in cherry juice and dried cherries, sweetened and unsweetened, are similar to fresh cherries. While frozen and canned cherries are somewhat lower in antioxidants, they’re still significant, suggests the American Institute for Cancer Research.

2. Helps relieve osteoarthritis

Cherries For Arthritis Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, occurs when the cartilage between the bones and the joint wears down. Without the protective cushion of cartilage, bones rub together. The pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis can be debilitating, with many reaching for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for relief. Unfortunately, for those who need pain relief often, NSAIDS can wreak havoc on the body. Side effects can include gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure and kidney problems. That’s a high price to pay, particularly if you can find similar pain relief in drinking cherry juice.
A study on osteoarthritis assessed the value of tart cherry juice in treating pain and other features of knee osteoarthritis. Researchers evaluated 58 non-diabetic patients with osteoarthritis who drank two eight-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice daily for six weeks. Tart cherry juice provided symptom relief for patients with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis.

3. Promotes heart health

Cherries might actually be better than drugs for cardiovascular benefits, according to animal studies from the University of Michigan. Apparently, tart cherries can reduce the risk of stroke. Drugs called PPAR agonists, which help regulate fat and glucose, were considered promising for patients with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that link to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But, studies have shown that long-term use of PPAR drugs can also increase the risk of stroke. Research now suggests that tart cherries provide similar cardiovascular benefits as the prescribed medications. In addition, tart cherries also reduce the risk of stroke, even when taken with other drugs.

4. Reduces muscle pain

Cherries For Muscle Pain
Drinking tart cherry juice may have a significant impact on reducing muscle damage and pain during strenuous exercise. Endurance athletes often use NSAIDs during competition to prevent or reduce pain. But we now know how dangerous NSAIDS can be for some people.
So, the Oregon Health & Science University’s department of medicine studied the effects of tart cherries on athletes for pain management. Marathon runners drank tart cherry juice or a placebo drink twice daily for seven days before their race. While both groups experienced pain, those who drank the cherry juice had significantly less post-run muscle pain.  

5. Reduces cancer-causing carcinogens

Substances in tart cherries can reduce the formation of carcinogens that develop from the charring of meat, like hamburgers. But carcinogens in any form has the potential to cause cancer. Carcinogen exposure can come through inhalation, ingestion or absorption. Carcinogens affect DNA, causing dangerous changes at the cellular level. These changes can lead to abnormal cell growth with the potential to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
Interestingly, researchers at Michigan State University decided to add tart cherries to ground beef patties. Adding cherries to hamburger meat not only retards spoilage but also reduces the formation of suspected cancer-causing compounds. These compounds are known as HAAs (heterocyclic aromatic amines). Researchers found that burgers containing 15 percent fat and 11.5 percent tart cherries had “significantly” fewer HAAs when pan fried. Meanwhile, cherry burgers have become increasingly popular on school lunch menus in 16 states throughout the U.S.

6. Helps you sleep better

Cherries For Better Sleep
If trying to drift off to sleep seems like a nightmare, then cherries could be the answer. Tart cherry juice contains high levels of phytochemicals, including melatonin. Researchers at Northumbria University in the UK collected 20 volunteers for a sleep study. Some consumed tart cherry juice concentrate, while others consumed a placebo, for seven days. The study found that those who consumed cherry juice showed total melatonin content significantly elevated.
Melatonin is a hormone created by the pineal gland. It helps control sleep and wake cycles. Drinking cherry juice leads to significantly more time spent in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency. The study suggests that tart cherry juice can improve sleeping patterns and help people improve disruptive sleep patterns.

7. Improves eyesight

Most people know that carrots are good for the eyes thanks to beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A, which is an important nutrient for eye health. But did you know that cherries also contain beta-carotene? While there’s less beta-carotene in cherries than carrots, there’s 19 times more beta-carotene in cherries than blueberries. That’s pretty remarkable, and a sound argument why a varied whole food diet is so important for overall health.

8. Protects against gout

Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, is triggered by a crystallization of uric acid within the joints, causes excruciating pain and swelling. A study published in a journal of the American College of Rheumatology followed participants with gout for one year. Researchers documented 1,247 gout attacks from males, averaging 54 years of age. Ninety-two percent experienced gout at the joint at the base of the big toe. Thirty-five percent ate fresh cherries and two percent drank a cherry extract. Additionally, five percent consumed both fresh cherry fruit and cherry extract. The study found that those who consumed cherries reduced gout attacks by 35 percent. In fact, when combined with a uric-acid reducing drug, gout attacks reduced by a whopping 75 percent.

9. Promotes weight loss

Cherries For Weight Loss
Cherries may reduce triglycerides, fat mass and abdominal fat, suggests a study published in the Journal of Medical Food. Apparently, rats fed a high-fat diet mixed with tart cherry powder gained less weight than rats who didn’t receive cherries. In addition, the animals showed less inflammation, which has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. By consuming tart cherry juice, you reduce inflammation and lipids in the blood (which otherwise lead to heart conditions and weight gain).

10. Reduces inflammation

Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases, including obesity, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, thyroid issues and cancer. And cherries are one of the top anti-inflammatory foods. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition assessed 10 healthy women ages 22 to 40. After fasting overnight, the women ate two servings of sweet cherries. Blood and urine samples were taken before and after the cherries were consumed. The study found that cherries decreased inflammation, inhibited inflammatory pathways and lowered plasma urate.

11. High in potassium

Potassium plays a key role in providing minerals for bodily organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain and muscular tissues. Also known as an electrolyte, potassium helps to maintain a healthy balance of fluids in the body. Deficiency, while not uncommon, is often misdiagnosed. Symptoms may include muscle weakness, fatigue, constipation and faintness. But just one cup of cherries can fulfill nine percent of your recommended daily requirement of potassium. Potassium reduces your risk of stroke, improves hypertension and high blood pressure, reduces muscle cramping and improves muscle strength.
Cherries offer so many health benefits. In addition to the many reasons above, cherries are a high-fiber food and an excellent source of vitamin C. Sweet cherries also have a lower glycemic index of 22, and one cup contains only 87 calories. So the next time you’re hankering for a snack, grab a bowl of cherries!
— Katherine Marko

Epsom Salts will Reduce Inflammation, Energize Plants and More

epsom salt

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.
epsom saltSunburned 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

Do This With Your Toes For Better Sleep

Stick your toes out to sleep better
When I think of toes and sleep, all I can focus on is the fact that they need to be covered by my blanket. I can’t sleep otherwise — or could I?
Perhaps it’s all built up in my head.  After years of covering my “little piggies,” I think that it’s become a habit that’s comforting. But am I sabotaging a good night’s rest? Are you quick to hide your feet under the covers as well? If so, you may want to support their midnight escape.

The connection between temperature and sleepi

Being an avid outdoorswoman, I have been on a lot of camping trips. For some, I’ve had to hike several miles and canoe several more just to reach my site. If there’s one thing that I learned growing up, when you’re camping, you always bring extra socks and a warm hat. Why, you ask? Well, these are said to be two areas where your body rapidly loses heat. Scientists have since debunked the idea that you lose the most body heat through your head. But they have also verified that even a small amount lost through your face, hands or feet affects your core temperature. Meaning, our feet and toes can help us regulate the temperature of our internal body.
For those who struggle to fall asleep, and stay asleep for that matter, they’re often given tips about their environment — more specifically, room temperature. This is based on how your body changes temperature as you sleep and its effect on sleep quality.
Our bodies are highly efficient when it comes to internal temperature regulation, based on thermoregulation. This process helps us achieve homeostasis — or internal balance. When aiming to maintain an optimal internal temperature, our heart plays a major role, but so do our feet.

If you’re too warm, you can’t sleep properly

If you're too warm it can impact your sleep quality
Since your feet (and hands) are at your body’s extremities, they can release excessive heat. With the large surface area of feet, specialized blood vessels and lack of hair, they essentially alter the amount of blood flow. If you are too hot, these specialized blood vessels open up, allowing your feet to release heat, cooling down your body. Similarly, when your body temperature is normal, these blood vessels close.
Basically, if our body’s remain too warm, our brain does not effectively make the “switch” from being awake to being asleep. This results in crummy sleep and morning-after side effects. For those who do not achieve a good night’s rest as often as you’d like, you can relate to the range of mood-altering, cognitive effects you experience the next day. No, thank you!

Stick your toes outside of the blanket

Have you ever woken up and one leg has escaped the blanket? Were you tossing and turning, or were your trapped feet trying to escape the covers?
Of course, your feet do not have a “mind of their own.” But maybe they helped your brain out, ensuring that your body maintained an optimal temperature. As discussed, this connection comes down to the critical connection between temperature and sleep — more specifically, cool temperatures and optimal sleep.
As we fall into a deep slumber, our bodies often produce a fair amount of heat. Add your pajamas and comforter into the mix, and your body quickly becomes a little too hot for its own liking. Unconsciously, your feet then sneak outside the covers, allowing for heat to escape, increasing relaxation. Makes sense, right?
This is especially true when your room is warmer, particularly during the summer months. Based on a 24-hour period, during your normal circadian rhythm, sleep occurs when your core temperature drops by two to three degrees. This is why sleep experts often recommend a warm bath before bed, resulting in a slight temperature drop as you get out of the tub.

Optimal temperature is important for normal sleep

What’s really interesting is how modern sleep environments may affect sleep quality. In comparison to groups living in more natural environments, we do not experience the same daily cycle of temperature change. This was examined in a ground-breaking study, showcasing the importance of optimal temperatures for normal sleep.
This study, published in Current Biology, found that all humans appear to express core human sleep patterns. While studying groups of people from the Hadza of Tanzania, the San of Namibia, and the Tsimane of Bolivia, researchers found that although we share similar sleeping patterns, insomnia was rare among these groups.
In comparison, approximately 20 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia, so what’s going on here? Some believe that stress is what keeps so many of us up, which isn’t a far stretch. But researchers also believe that sleep temperature plays a vital role. More importantly, falling environmental temperature is integral to sleep.
Our modern lifestyles allow us to set the thermostat, maintaining a constant temperature. Even if that temperature is set below normal daytime levels, as recommended, a declining ambient temperature may be needed to achieve more consistent sleep-wake cycles. As the researchers stated, we may be disrupting ancient patterns, in relation to both light and temperature.

It’s not just our bodies that need to stay cool

A cooling pillow mat can help you sleep better
In order to achieve restorative sleep, our core temperature needs to be optimally controlled. And our brains also need to remain fairly cool. Those who suffer from insomnia, for instance, often experience increased metabolism in the brain’s frontal cortex.
Within one study, as reported by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, researchers found that a cooling cap helped those with insomnia. This study focused on the benefits of a process known as “cerebral hypothermia” and its effect on sleep quality. Researchers found that when wearing a cooling cap, subjects with insomnia slept nearly as well as healthy individuals without insomnia.
If you do struggle to fall asleep, you can source cooling pillow mats that help some individuals fall asleep. You can also try valerian root. It’s a popular alternative sleep remedy. If you lay awake worrying, start to practice effective stress management techniques during the day, including meditation.
The takeaway: Please do not underestimate the importance of quality sleep. From memory consolidation to tissue repair, this period is critical for our health. If you often awake in a sweat, start sleeping with your feet outside the covers — see if it helps! Remember, optimal sleep equals optimal health. After all, as the great Dalai Lama once said, “Sleep is the best meditation.”
— Krista Hillis

This Lemon, Ginger And Honey Cold And Flu Remedy Works

Natural flu remedy

I enjoy finding and using more natural remedies for different ailments. I am a pretty healthy person, but there are those times during cold and flu season that I can come down with a cold. We never know what we’re going to come in contact with when it comes to germs. That’s why I keep this recipe in the refrigerator so I can use it at the first signs of a cold or the flu.
This mix is easy to use when I’m feeling under the weather. I can get it out of the refrigerator, heat some water and add two to three tablespoons of the mix to my mug. It starts working right away when I start sipping it. I get quick relief from coughing due to the honey. It also soothes my sore throat and is a great cough suppressant. The lemon helps reduce inflammation. Ginger is great for settling upset stomachs, nausea and vomiting.

Cold and Flu Remedy Ingredients

Lemon, ginger and honey cold and flu remedy Feature Photo
  • 3 lemons washed well and sliced thin
  • 6 inches of ginger peeled and sliced thin
  • Raw honey


  • 12 oz mason jar with a lid


1. Gather the ingredients and the mason jar.
Lemon, ginger and honey cold and flu remedy Photo 2
2. Wash the lemons and peel the ginger. Slice them very thin.
Lemon, ginger and honey cold anad flu remedy Photo 3
3. Layer the lemon and ginger alternately in the jar.
Lemon, ginger and honey cold and flu remedy Photo 4
4. Pour honey into the jar and allow it to settle over the lemon and ginger. Continue filling until the jar is filled to the top.
Lemon, ginger and honey cold and flu remedy PHoto 5
5. Seal the jar tightly and store in the refrigerator. The mix will start to turn into a thin jelly.
When needed, put two to three tablespoons of the mix in a mug with hot water. Make sure to get a few pieces of the lemon and the ginger as well. Allow it to steep for at least three to four minutes before taking a sip.
— Leilani Hampton

Salt Water Up Your Nose

I suspect that most of you have a regular personal hygiene routine. I’m guessing that you probably shower, brush your teeth, wash your face, brush your hair, and shave some part of your body on a regular basis. For all of the cleaning and grooming that we do, one of the dirtiest and most contaminated areas of our bodies often goes totally overlooked: the mucous membranes inside your nose.
The nasal passages act like an air filter, catching microscopic debris before it gets deep down into the lungs. That debris includes all sorts of airborne substances like dust, mold, pollen, and microorganisms like viruses and bacteria. The nasal passages and sinuses cavities do have a fairly effective self-cleaning system, whereby debris gets trapped in mucus which dries out, clumps up, and eventually falls out… or gets picked out. It’s ok to admit it… we all do it.
Before we go on, a quick fun fact: When speaking with patients about their bodies, it often helps to use medical or scientific words to help decrease awkwardness that people sometimes feel. However, other than “dried nasal mucus,” there is no fancy medical term for “booger.”
So, other than nose picking, and using a tissue when we have allergies or a cold, most of us never think to clean our nasal passages — but we should. It’s a very simple thing to run a bit of salt water through your nasal passages, and I’d suggest that this should become a regular part of your routine, right along with brushing your teeth and washing your face.
In many countries, using a “neti pot” to irrigate the nasal passages with salt water is a routine part of daily hygiene. All over the world, neti pots sit on bathroom counters right next to the soap and toothbrushes. In my practice, I frequently recommend nasal irrigation for a number of different upper respiratory problems.
Nasal irrigation tends to work best for the following conditions:
1) Chronic rhinosinusitis: This condition involves inflammation in the nasal passages and the sinuses with mucous discharge that can drip through the nose or back down the throat. We also use the term “chronic nasal congestion” to refer to nasal stuffiness without significant mucous discharge.
2) Viral rhinitis: This is the medical term for a common cold and all the unpleasant symptoms that go along with it.

3) Allergic rhinosinusitis:
This refers to inflammation in the upper respiratory tract that is triggered by allergic exposure to airborne particulates.
The salt water solution floods the nasal cavities with water, and flushes out the particles that have accumulated there. This safe and simple process can give people significant relief. I’ve seen it help congested people breathe easy for the first time in years.
A study testing the effectiveness of nasal irrigation on chronic and recurrent sinusitis was recently published in the journal CMAJ. In this study, researchers put nearly 900 people with chronic or recurrent sinusitis on a treatment plan consisting of either “usual care,” nasal irrigation, steam inhalation, or a combination of steam inhalation and nasal irrigation. Researchers followed up with the patients after three and six months to assess changes to their symptoms.
The data demonstrated that compared to other interventions, nasal irrigation led to improvement in sinus symptoms. It also led sinusitis patients to use less over-the-counter medications, and appeared to decrease doctor visits for sinus related symptoms. Clearly, this ancient practice, still relatively unknown in the Western world, can offer some noteworthy benefits.
Making your own saline nasal irrigation solution at home couldn’t be simpler. Start with a cup of lukewarm water (distilled is preferred), and add ¼ teaspoon of finely ground, non-iodized salt. Many people like to add a punch of baking soda, as well. That’s it.
The solution is typically made on the spot, right in the neti pot itself. You can find an inexpensive one at your local pharmacy. In fact, right next to the neti pots, you’ll also see boxes of pre-packaged salt solutions that make the saline preparation even easier. Once you have your neti pot full of saline, you’re ready to irrigate:
– Stand at the the sink and lean forward, holding the neti pot in one hand.
– Tilt your head to one side and tuck your chin toward your chest.
– Position the spout of the net pot into the nostril and allow the solution to flow up into the nasal passage.
– Keep your mouth open… and stay calm. You can breathe through your mouth even as the saline flows through your nose.
– Continue to pour the solution until you feel it draining from the opposite side.
– Blow your nose gently into the sink to flush out any remaining saline.
– Repeat on the opposite side.
Now, if this sounds horrifying to you, it’s because you probably hate the feeling of getting water up your nose. Many people have had bad experiences with that in pools, lakes, or the ocean as a child. But never fear… irrigating your nasal passages feels nothing like getting water up your nose. Getting water up your nose unexpectedly is very unpleasant. Nasal irrigation is not uncomfortable. You can breathe during the process, and it’s actually very refreshing. It also does a great job of cleaning infectious organisms, mucus, and allergens out of your nose. So, if you have a chronic nasal congestion, allergies, or a cold… get yourself a neti pot and give it a try!
– Dr. Joshua Levitt