Thursday, April 30, 2015

Best and Worst nut snacks


Best snack packaging for nuts

Choose 100- to 200-calorie packs

Because nuts are so high in calories (and so tasty, to boot!), it's important to practice portion control when eating them as a snack. We love Blue Diamond Almonds 100-calorie snack packs, available in six flavors, including Cinnamon Brown Sugar and Dark Chocolate. Want more variety? Pick up Planters Nutrition Wholesome Nut Mix on-the-go packs, each containing a 200-calorie mix of cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts.


Worst snack packaging for nuts

Avoid anything in a tub

We're all for buying in bulk to save money and packaging, but it's important not to snack straight from the box (or in this case, the giant tub) when a craving hits. Beer Nuts' "original" formula—peanuts coated with a sweet and salty glaze—aren't a bad choice themselves (170 calories, 14 grams fat, and 2 grams sugar per ounce), but if you're munching on them at a party or during a "long day of game watching," as the company's website suggests, you'll likely be eating more than the recommended serving size. Not to mention, the Party Mix variety also includes M&Ms and sugary yogurt-covered raisins, for an extra calorie boost. A better bet is Beer Nuts' Original Teaser Peanut Sized bags, each containing just half an ounce of nuts.


Best nuts for chocolate lovers

Go for cocoa-dusted almonds

Rather than hiding your nuts under a thick layer of sugary chocolate candy—think Jordan almonds or peanut M&Ms—keep it simple with Emerald's Cocoa Roast Almonds. These nuts are lightly dusted with cocoa powder and sweetened with Sucralose, and have 150 calories, 13 grams fat, and 1 gram of sugar per ounce.

We'd give you a "worst" nuts for chocolate lovers, but the possibilities are practically endless. Just think of it this way, says Caplan: Anything that's more chocolate than nut really should be considered candy—not as a way to get your daily quota of healthy fats.


Best nuts for your sweet tooth

Try all-natural glazed nuts

Want something sweet and satisfying but without the extra calories and high-fructose corn syrup? Look no further than Sahale Snacks glazed nuts, in flavors like Almonds with Cranberries, Honey, and Sea Salt (160 calories, 11 grams fat, 5 grams protein per ounce) or Cashews with Pomegranate and Vanilla (150 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams protein per ounce). They're sweetened with organic cane juice and tapioca syrup, and each contains only 6 grams of sugar per ounce. Just be careful not to eat the whole bag!


Worst nuts for your sweet tooth

Check labels for sugar content

Just because something has nuts in it doesn't make it good for you, says Caplan: "Don't justify eating a Snickers because it's got peanuts in it." Anything coated with or tucked inside layers of sugar, toffee, chocolate, or ice cream isn't going to give you much nutritional benefit, and the calories can quickly add up, she says.

It's not just candy, though: Beware of seemingly healthful varieties, like Planters Sweet 'N Crunchy Peanuts. Although they still have just 140 calories and 8 grams fat per ounce, the second and third ingredients after peanuts are sugar and butter. In fact, one ounce contains 13 grams of sugar (in just a 28-gram serving size). Considering peanuts only have about 2 grams of sugar naturally, that's 11 grams of added sugar in just one handful, out of a recommended 25 for the whole day!


Best nuts for a salt craving

Look for 'lightly salted'

If you don't have high blood pressure or haven't been warned away from salt by your doctor for other reasons, a handful or two of salted nuts a day won't hurt you, says Caplan, who has a private nutrition practice in Vienna, Va.

Nuts are, of course, available unsalted. But to satisfy a salty craving without going overboard, look for in-between varieties like Planters Lightly Salted peanuts, almonds, and cashews (45-55 mg sodium), or Wonderful Pistachios Lightly Salted (80 mg). Check ingredient labels, too: Some brands, like Back to Nature Salted Almonds (75 mg sodium), contain less salt than others. 


Worst nuts for a salt craving

Steer clear of BBQ or boiled nuts

If you're watching your sodium intake, watch out for hot and spicy or barbecue flavors too. Kar's Nuts Blazin' Hot Peanuts, for example, contain 370 mg of sodium per ounce (along with 160 calories and 14 grams fat)—a whopping 15% of your daily recommended value, in just one handful!

Beware boiled peanuts, as well: This Southern treat is made by soaking fresh, raw peanuts, in their shells, in a salty brine. Sodium amounts will vary based on the exact preparation, but Margaret Holmes Peanut Patch boiled peanuts, for example, contain 390 mg per ounce.


Best trail mix

Raw nuts, seeds, and dried fruit

Trail mix is available in countless varieties and from countless brands. "Look for trail mix with raw nuts," suggests Caplan. "Or if the nuts are roasted, look for the words 'dry roasted' rather than 'oil roasted.'"

Nuts pair great with fruit, seeds, and perhaps even a little dark chocolate, Caplan adds; just pay attention to the calorie count and serving size. We love Eden Foods' "All Mixed Up" blend (160 calories, 12 grams fat, 8 grams protein per ounce) of organic almonds, pumpkin seeds, and dried tart cherries. If you're more of a granola guy or gal, treat yourself to a quarter cup of Bear Naked's Banana Nut mix (140 calories, 7 grams fat, 3 grams protein) with almonds and walnuts.


Worst trail mix

Save high-calorie mixes for the trail

High-calorie trail mix is fine when you've got a long hike ahead of you, but too often we eat these store-bought blends while sitting at our desks or driving in our cars. Don't make that mistake with Planter's Energy Go-Packs, a 1.5-ounce mix of nuts, semisweet chocolate, oil roasted soynuts, and sesame seeds: With 250 calories and 20 grams of fat a pop, they fall slightly above our healthy snacking guidelines.

Also check labels for sky-high sugar contents: Some trail mixes—especially those with raisins, dried cranberries, and/or candy-covered chocolate pieces—can contain up to 18 grams of sugar per serving. 


Best nut butter

Keep ingredients simple

When choosing a nut butter, look for spreads with the fewest ingredients possible: Just nuts (and salt, if you want). Arrowhead Mills Organic Peanut Butter, for example, contains 100% dry-roasted peanuts, and has 190 calories, 17 grams fat, and 8 grams protein per 2 tbsp serving. (We also like their creamy cashew and almond butters, which do contain some natural canola oil.) Keep natural peanut butter in the fridge, advises Caplan, to keep it from going rancid and to prevent oily separation.


Worst nut butter

Skip added oils and sugars

Major brands have eliminated trans fats from their nut butters, but most still contain hydrogenated oils (high in saturated fat) to increase spreadability and prevent separation. Some "natural" product lines swap hydrogenated oils for palm oil, also high in saturated fat. Skippy Natural with Honey, for example, contains 200 calories, 16 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated), and 5 grams sugar per 2-tablespoon serving.

Nutella's creamy chocolate-hazelnut combo is terrific for an occasional treat—but it's hardly part of a "balanced breakfast," as its commercials say. Two tablespoons contain just 200 calories, yes, but 21 grams of sugar. In fact, sugar and palm oil are the product's first ingredients, even before hazelnuts. 


Best way to eat nuts

Pair them with a healthy carb

Now you know all about which nuts are good for what—but to get the most health benefits, it's also important to pay attention to how you eat them. "Nuts are a great thing to eat when you're having a carbohydrate like fruit or juice, because it helps slow down digestion and the breakdown of sugar," says Caplan.

A few winning nut-and-carb combos: Sprinkle them on salads, add them to low- or nonfat yogurt, or spread nut butter on slices of apple or pear. On the go? Pick up a 150-calorie pack of Earthbound Farms Dippin' Doubles Apples & Peanut Butter (11 grams fat, 5 grams protein).


Best nuts overall

A mixed bag!

So which is the healthiest nut overall? A 2004 review in the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide tackled this tough question. Luckily, they concluded, we don't have to pick just one. Mixed nuts, ideally raw and unsalted, provide the best variety of nutrients and antioxidants. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health


Should you go nuts?

by Amanda MacMillan
Nuts are nature's way of showing us that good things come in small packages. These bite-size nutritional powerhouses are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Here's a look at the pros and cons of different nuts, as well as the best and worst products on supermarket shelves today. Of course, you can get too much of these good things: Nuts are high in fat and calories, so while a handful can hold you over until dinner, a few more handfuls can ruin your appetite altogether. And although nuts are a healthy choice by themselves, they'll quickly become detrimental to any diet when paired with sugary or salty toppings or mixes. 


Best nuts for your diet

Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios

All nuts are about equal in terms of calories per ounce, and in moderation, are all healthy additions to any diet. "Their mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite," says Judy Caplan, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce are almonds (23 nuts; 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat); cashews (16 to 18 nuts; 5 grams protein, 13 grams fat); and pistachios (49 nuts; 6 grams protein, 13 grams fat). Avoid nuts packaged or roasted in oil; instead, eat them raw or dry roasted, says Caplan. (Roasted nuts may have been heated in hydrogenated or omega-6 unhealthy fats, she adds, or to high temperatures that can destroy their nutrients.)

Worst nuts for your diet

Macadamia Nuts, Pecans

Ounce for ounce, macadamia nuts (10 to 12 nuts; 2 grams protein, 21 grams fat) and pecans (18 to 20 halves; 3 grams protein, 20 grams fat) have the most calories—200 each—along with the lowest amounts of protein and the highest amounts of fats.

However, they're still good nuts: The difference between these and the lowest calorie nuts is only 40 calories an ounce. As long as you're practicing proper portion control and not downing handfuls at a time, says Caplan, any kind of raw, plain nut will give you a good dose of healthy fats and nutrients


Best nuts for your heart


While all nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, walnuts (14 halves contain 185 calories, 18 grams fat, 4 grams protein) have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Research has suggested that ALA may help heart arrhythmias, and a 2006 Spanish study suggested that walnuts were as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal. The authors of this study, funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, recommended eating around eight walnuts a day to achieve similar benefits.


Best nuts for your brain


Technically legumes but generally referred to as nuts, peanuts are high in folate—a mineral essential for brain development that may protect against cognitive decline. (It also makes peanuts a great choice for vegetarians, who can come up short on folate, and pregnant women, who need folate to protect their unborn babies from birth defects, says Caplan.) Like most other nuts, peanuts are also full of brain-boosting healthy fats and vitamin E, as well. One ounce of peanuts (about 28 unshelled nuts) contains about 170 calories, 7 grams protein, and 14 grams fat. 


Best nuts for men

Brazil Nuts, Pecans

Creamy Brazil nuts are packed with selenium, a mineral that may protect against prostate cancer and other diseases. Just one nut contains more than a day's worth, so eat these sparingly: Recent research has hinted that too much selenium may be linked to type 2 diabetes risk. One ounce of Brazil nuts (6 nuts) contains about 190 calories, 19 grams fat, and 4 grams protein.

Pecans are also good for men's health: They're loaded with beta-sitosterol, a plant steroid that may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate. One ounce of pecans (18 to 20 halves) contains about 200 calories, 21 grams fat, and 3 grams protein.


Best nuts for disease prevention


Relatively low in calories, almonds have more calcium than any other nut, making them a great food for overall health. Plus, they are rich in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight dangerous inflammation and possibly health conditions such as lung cancer and age-related cognitive decline.

Because they're so versatile, almonds are often a favorite among nut eaters: You can buy them raw, toasted, slivered, or coated with a variety of fun flavors, from Wasabi & Soy Sauce to Lime 'n Chili.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Home Remedies for an Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth is a common term used to describe an infection at the root of a tooth or between a tooth and the gums. It is typically caused by bacteria that enter the tooth through either a dental cavity, chip or crack and spreads all the way down to the root tip. This leads to pain, inflammation and pockets of pus.
In most cases, an abscessed tooth is caused by severe tooth decay or gum disease (gingivitis). In addition, poor dental hygiene and a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates and sticky food increase your risk of developing this problem.
A throbbing and sharp toothache is a common symptom of an abscessed tooth. Other signs and symptoms include pain when chewing food, increased sensitivity to hot or cold food and drink, change in taste senses, bad breath, swelling in your cheek, red and sore gums, difficulty opening your mouth, difficulty swallowing food, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw, fever, and general discomfort.

If left untreated, the infection may spread to the bone that supports the tooth and may result in severe life-threatening complications. Even if the abscess ruptures and there is a significant reduction in pain, you will still need dental treatment.

At times, as a result of infection, the pulp in the root of the tooth dies, thus decreasing the pain. This, however, does not mean that the infection has healed as it will still continue to spread and destroy the tissue.

If you notice signs of an abscessed tooth, consult a dentist as soon as possible because it will not get better on its own. As an adjunct treatment, you can also try some natural home remedies to help fight the infection and alleviate symptoms.
home remedies for an abscessed tooth
Here are the top 10 home remedies for an abscessed tooth.

1. Garlic

Garlic has anti-inflammatory and natural antibiotic properties that make it highly effective for treating an abscessed tooth. It helps relieve pain and prevent the spread of the infection.
  • Put a fresh garlic clove in your mouth and crush it with your teeth. Chew it until the pain subsides. Spit it out and rinse your mouth with warm water. To reduce the residual odor, you can add a few drops of clove oil to the warm water.
  • Another option is to mix ½ teaspoon of garlic powder with a pinch of table salt and apply it directly on the affected tooth. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse your mouth with mouthwash.
  • You can also rub garlic oil on the affected tooth.
Repeat any of these remedies 3 or 4 times a day for a few weeks.

2. Oil Pulling

Oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic practice, can also be used to treat an abscessed tooth or painful gums. This age-old practice helps reduce the amount of bacteria present in the mouth. It helps draw toxins from the mouth and, in fact, the entire body, which promotes both oral and overall health.
  1. Put 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil in your mouth.
  2. Swish the oil inside your mouth for at least 15 minutes. Do not swallow it.
  3. After 15 minutes, spit it out and rinse your mouth with warm water.
  4. Repeat the process twice daily for about a month for positive results.
Note: Do this on an empty stomach.

3. Clove

Clove is one of the best remedies for any kind of dental issue, including an abscessed tooth. It has antiseptic, analgesic and antibacterial properties that help alleviate toothache, inflammation and soreness in the gums.
  • Dip a cotton swab in clove oil and hold it on the painful area for a few minutes.
  • Another option is to place a whole clove between your infected tooth and your cheek. Chew it from time to time to release its juice. Allow the juice to remain in your mouth for at least 30 minutes. Then rinse your mouth with warm water.

4. Black Tea Bag

A black tea bag is another good home remedy for an abscessed tooth. It has tannins that help reduce pain and inflammation. In addition, it contains antioxidants that help fight infection and promote good oral health.
  1. Soak a black tea bag in warm water for a few minutes.
  2. Remove it from the water, wring it out and put the tea bag on the affected tooth.
  3. Leave it there for few hours or overnight.
  4. Rinse your mouth with a warm salt-water solution.
  5. Repeat once daily for a couple of weeks.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has disinfectant and antibacterial properties that help kill the bacteria that cause an abscessed tooth. It also helps reduce inflammation and pain. Moreover, it helps get rid of yellow teeth. For oral health, use food grade, 3-percent hydrogen peroxide solution only.
  • Mix 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Use this solution to rinse your mouth and spit it out completely. Follow this remedy 3 times a week.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area for a couple of minutes and then rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. Follow this remedy a few times a week.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another very effective home remedy for an abscessed tooth. It has anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties that help reduce pain and inflammation while disinfecting the affected area.
  • Swish 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in your mouth for a few minutes. Spit it out completely, being sure not to swallow it. Rinse your mouth with warm water. Repeat this process a few times a day.
  • Another option is to mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it twice daily.

7. Salt Water

Salt has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can help reduce inflammation, ease pain, draw out any infection and prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
  1. Add 1 teaspoon of salt or refined salt to a glass of lukewarm water. Mix it until the salt dissolves completely.
  2. Rinse your mouth with this solution.
  3. Do this 2 or 3 times a day to clear the infection and reduce discomfort and pain.

8. Turmeric


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As turmeric is rich in antibiotic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce pain and inflammation caused by an abscessed tooth. It also promotes oral health.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little water to make a paste. After brushing your teeth, apply the paste directly on the affected area. Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
  • You can also mix 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of lukewarm water. Use it to rinse your mouth a few times daily.
  • Another option is to mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 teaspoon of olive or mustard oil. Apply this mixture on the affected area. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing your mouth with warm water.
Repeat any of these remedies a couple of times daily.

9. Oregano Oil

oregano oil
Oregano oil contains antibacterial and antioxidant properties, making it a good remedy for an abscessed tooth. It also boosts immunity and helps the body fight tooth infections and speed up the healing process.
  • Apply a few drops of oregano oil directly on the affected tooth and gums and leave it for at least 15 minutes.
  • Prepare a mouthwash by mixing 3 to 5 drops of oregano oil in ¼ cup of warm water. Swish this solution in your mouth for about 10 minutes, then spit it out completely.
Repeat either of these remedies 3 or 4 times a day.

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10. Peppermint

peppermint oil
Peppermint works like a miracle when it comes to pain due to an abscessed tooth. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation as well as prevent the spread of infection.
  • Rub a few drops of peppermint oil on the affected area using your fingertips for a couple of minutes.
  • Also, extract fresh peppermint juice from the leaves and apply it on the affected tooth.
Follow either of these remedies a few times daily.

Additional Tips
  • Apply a cold compress on your cheek near the aching tooth for a few minutes to get pain relief.
  • Drink ½ glass of wheatgrass juice daily on an empty stomach to get relief from abscessed tooth discomforts.
  • Brush and floss your teeth twice daily.
  • Always use toothpaste containing fluoride to reduce the risk of developing an abscessed tooth.
  • Use an antimicrobial mouthwash to rinse your mouth properly to prevent infection.
  • Change your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months to ensure proper cleaning of the teeth.
  • Stop using tobacco and quit smoking.
  • Avoid chewing too much gum.
  • Limit consumption of sugary items and rinse your mouth properly after eating sugary items.
  • When suffering from an tooth pain or infection, avoid caffeine.
  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Home Remedies for Cervical Spondylosis

Apart from age, other risk factors for cervical spondylosis include occupations that may cause more stress on your neck, certain neck injuries, incorrect posture while sitting or walking, smoking, being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle and genetic factors.

Cervical spondylosis does not cause noticeable symptoms for most people. However, some may experience neck pain, mild and chronic pain around the shoulder blades, stiffness in the neck, muscle weakness, headaches, pain along the arms and in the fingers, and a tingling sensation on the shoulders and arms. At times, one may also have symptoms like loss of balance.

Most people above age 65 suffer from some degree of cervical spondylosis. Fortunately, with the help of certain medications, simple lifestyle changes and some simple home remedies, you can control the symptoms and lead a pain-free life. Follow the remedies daily until you recover completely.
home remedies for cervical spondylosis
Here are the top 10 home remedies for cervical spondylosis.


1. Regular Exercise

One of the major causes of cervical spondylosis is lack of regular exercise. Therefore, you can reduce pain and stiffness around your neck and shoulders by incorporating regular physical exercise into your lifestyle.
  • Rotate your head in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions, and nod the neck side to side from one shoulder to the other. Do this for 10 minutes 2 or 3 times daily. This will help the pain in your neck from getting severe.
  • You can even rotate your arms in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions, and fold and unfold your fists at regular intervals to control pain.
  • Also, do low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming or brisk walking for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week.
  • You can also enjoy cycling on a regular basis. However, make sure to keep your back straight while cycling.
Note: If the pain becomes severe while doing any kind of exercise, stop doing it and consult your doctor.


2. Hot and Cold Compresses

Another easy way to deal with neck pain due to cervical spondylosis is alternating hot and cold compresses on the affected area. Hot compresses will improve blood circulation and relax sore muscles. Cold compresses will reduce swelling and inflammation.
  1. To make the hot compress, wrap a hot water bag in a thin towel.
  2. To make the cold compress, wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel.
  3. Place the hot compress on the affected area for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove it and apply the cold compress for 1 minute.
  5. Repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Follow this simple remedy a few times daily until you get relief.
Note: Do not apply hot compresses if the affected area is red and irritated. Avoid cold compresses if you have circulatory problems.


3. Epsom Salt Bath

Taking an Epsom salt bath on a regular basis is another good remedy to ease symptoms related to cervical spondylosis. The magnesium in Epsom salt regulates the pH levels in the body, in turn reducing stiffness, inflammation and pain in the neck and shoulders.
  • Mix a little water in 1 to 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to make a thick paste. Apply it on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes to get soothing comfort. Do this every other day.
  • Alternatively, add 2 cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath. Soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy this relaxing bath 2 or 3 times a week.
Note: Those who have kidney problems, heart problems or diabetes must not use this remedy.


4. Garlic

Garlic gives good results when it comes to cervical spondylosis symptoms. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties help treat pain, swelling and inflammation in the neck and surrounding areas.
  • Eat a couple of raw garlic buds on an empty stomach each morning with water. You can also take garlic capsules but only after consulting your doctor.
  • Another option is to heat 2 to 3 crushed garlic cloves in a pan with some vegetable oil. Allow it to cool, then use it to massage the painful area for 5 to 10 minutes. Follow this with a warm bath. Do this 2 times daily.
Continue either of these remedies daily until you recover completely.


5. Turmeric

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is another popular remedy for cervical spondylosis. In addition, turmeric increases blood circulation, which helps reduce muscle stiffness and pain.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk. Heat it on low heat for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool, then add a little honey. Drink it 2 times daily.
  • Alternatively, take turmeric capsules 3 times daily. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.


6. Sesame Seeds

One popular Ayurvedic remedy to deal with cervical spondylosis is sesame seeds. They are rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, phosphorus and vitamins K and D, which are good for your bones and overall health. Sesame oil is also effective in reducing neck pain.
  • Apply some warm sesame oil on the affected area and massage for 10 minutes. Then apply a hot compress on the area. Do this 3 or 4 times daily.
  • You can also mix a few drops of lavender oil in warm sesame oil and use it to massage the neck area.
  • Other options are to chew 1 tablespoon of roasted white sesame seeds once daily in the morning, or mix 1 teaspoon of roasted and ground sesame seeds in a glass of warm milk and drink it 2 times daily. Also, include sesame seeds in your cooking.


7. Ginger

Ginger is another widely used home remedy to treat cervical spondylosis. This herb is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and improves blood circulation. Thus, it helps reduce pain and inflammation in the neck and surrounding areas.
  • Drink ginger tea 3 times a day. To make the tea, boil 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced ginger in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and drink it.
  • Alternatively, make a powdered preparation using equal amounts of dried ginger root, celery seeds and cumin seeds. Add rock salt to improve the taste. Eat 1 teaspoon of this powder with water before going to bed.
  • You can also massage the affected area with ginger oil a few times daily.


8. Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar

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Being rich in anti-inflammatory and alkalizing properties, apple cider vinegar is also a good remedy for cervical spondylosis. It can effectively soothe pain and inflammation in the neck area.
  • Place a paper towel soaked in apple cider vinegar over the affected area. Leave it on for a few hours. Do this 2 times daily.
  • Another option is to add 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to lukewarm bath water. Soak in it for 10 to 15 minutes, once daily.
  • You can also add 1 tablespoon of raw and organic apple cider vinegar and a little honey to a glass of water and drink it once daily.


9. Cayenne Pepper

cayenne pepper
Another effective home remedy for cervical spondylosis is cayenne pepper. It contains capsaicin, which has analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain and inflammation in the neck.
  • Mix together 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder and 2 tablespoons of lukewarm olive oil. Apply it on the affected area. Cover it with a bandage and leave it on for a few hours or overnight. Do this daily.
  • Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to a glass of warm water. Drink it 2 or3 times daily.


10. Indian Lilac


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Indian lilac, also known as neem, has anti-inflammatory as well as pain-suppressing properties that can alleviate pain, inflammation and swelling in the neck due to cervical spondylosis.
  • Add a little water to 1 tablespoon of neem powder to make a thick paste. Heat the paste on a double boiler for a few minutes. Apply this hot paste (it must be bearable) on the affected areas. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. Repeat a few times daily.
  • Another option is to boil some neem leaves and flowers in 1 cup of water. Strain, allow it to cool and drink it twice daily.
  • You can also massage the affected area with neem oil 2 times a day.

Additional Tips
  • Eating a little Chebulic myrobalan (haritaki) after lunch and dinner will also provide quick relief from pain and stiffness.
  • Avoid physical exertion. Do not do anything that can worsen the problem, such as heavy lifting.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep on one firm pillow to reduce strain on your neck; do not use several pillows. Sleep on a firm mattress, on your back or on your side with knees bent at right angles to the torso.
  • Maintain correct posture when standing and sitting.
  • Eat plenty of salad made with raw vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, radishes and lettuce.
  • Avoid fatty, spicy and fried foods, sour curd, sweets, sugar and coffee.
  • Give up smoking and tobacco in any other form.
  • Eat foods high in protein, vitamin C, calcium and phosphorous.
  • Wear a soft neck brace or collar for short durations to get temporary relief. Do not wear it for long periods.
  • Expose the affected area to early morning sunrays for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
If your symptoms worsen, or you experience sudden numbness, weakness or loss of bladder or bowel control then consult your doctor.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

9 Health Benefits of Cucumbers

By Dr. Mercola
Cucumbers belong to the same plant family as squash, pumpkin, and watermelon (the Cucurbitaceae family). Like watermelon, cucumbers are made up of mostly (95 percent) water, which means eating them on a hot summer day can help you stay hydrated.
However, there's reason to eat cucumbers all year long. With vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread among those eating a typical American diet.
Plus, cucumbers contain unique polyphenols and other compounds that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases and much, much more.


9 Reasons to Eat Cucumbers

1. Protect Your Brain
Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonol called fisetin that appears to play an important role in brain health. In addition to improving your memory and protecting your nerve cells from age-related decline,1 fisetin has been found to prevent progressive memory and learning impairments in mice with Alzheimer's disease.2
2. Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Cucumbers contain polyphenols called lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), which may help to lower your risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.3 They also contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which also have anti-cancer properties. According to the George Mateljan Foundation:4
"Scientists have already determined that several different signaling pathways (for example, the JAK-STAT and MAPK pathways) required for cancer cell development and survival can be blocked by activity of cucurbitacins."
3. Fight Inflammation
Cucumbers may help to "cool" the inflammatory response in your body, and animal studies suggest that cucumber extract helps reduce unwanted inflammation, in part by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes (including cyclo-oxygenase 2, or COX-2).5
4. Antioxidant Properties
Cucumbers contain numerous antioxidants, including the well-known vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol,6 which provide additional benefits.
For instance, quercetin is an antioxidant that many believe prevents histamine release—making quercetin-rich foods "natural antihistamines." Kaempferol, meanwhile, may help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.
5. Freshen Your Breath
Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. According to the principles of Ayurveda, eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath.7
6. Manage Stress
Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and buffer some of the damaging effects of stress.
7. Support Your Digestive Health
Cucumbers are rich in two of the most basic elements needed for healthy digestion: water and fiber. If you struggle with acid reflux, you should know that drinking water can help suppress acute symptoms of acid reflux by temporarily raising stomach pH; it's possible that water-rich cucumbers may have a similar effect.
Cucumber skins contain insoluble fiber, which helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.
8. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Cucumbers are very low in calories, yet they make a filling snack (one cup of sliced cucumber contains just 16 calories).8 The soluble fiber in cucumbers dissolves into a gel-like texture in your gut, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber-rich foods may help with weight control.
9. Support Heart Health
Cucumbers contain potassium, which is associated with lower blood pressure levels. A proper balance of potassium both inside and outside your cells is crucial for your body to function properly.
As an electrolyte, potassium is a positive charged ion that must maintain a certain concentration (about 30 times higher inside than outside your cells) in order to carry out its functions, which includes interacting with sodium to help control nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and heart function.


Cucumbers Make a Great Base for Vegetable Juice

There are many ways to enjoy cucumbers, such as fermented or raw in vinegar-based salads. If you're looking for something different, cucumbers make an ideal base for your vegetable juice due to their mild flavor and high water content. In fact, a simple juice of cucumber and celery is ideal for those new to juicing.
From there you can work your way up to red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, and escarole, along with parsley and cilantro. Juicing is actually an ideal way to consume cucumbers.
When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without having to be broken down. When your body has an abundance of the nutrients it needs, and your pH is optimally balanced, you will feel energized and your immune system will get a boost.


Organic Cucumbers Are Worth It

If you're wondering whether you should choose organic cucumbers over conventionally grown varieties, I'd suggest organic. Cucumbers were ranked the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk due to their pesticide content, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Further, cucumbers are often waxed after harvest to withstand the long journey to market unscarred and to protect against the many hands that touch it. While the wax is supposed to be food-grade and safe, there are different types used:9
  • Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree)
  • Beeswax
  • Shellac (from the lac beetle)
  • Petroleum-based waxes
The natural waxes are far preferable to the petroleum-based waxes, which may contain solvent residues or wood rosins. Produce coated with wax is not labeled as such, but organic produce will not contain petroleum-based wax coatings (although it may contain carnauba wax or insect shellac).
The other potential issue is that wax seals in pesticide residues and debris, making them even more difficult to remove with just water. To reach the contaminants buried beneath the surface of your vegetables and fruits, you need a cleanser that also removes the wax, which is what my fruit and vegetable wash does. You could also peel the cucumber, but that is one of the most nutrient-dense parts of the cucumber (the other is the seeds), so it's better to consume it if you can.


What Else Are Cucumbers Good For?

Flavonoids and tannins in cucumbers have been found to have both free-radical scavenging and pain-relieving effects, while it has a number of traditional folk uses as well. As written in the Journal of Young Pharmacists:10 "Traditionally, this plant is used for headaches; the seeds are cooling and diuretic, the fruit juice of this plant is used as a nutritive and as a demulcent in anti-acne lotions."
As the fourth-most widely cultivated "vegetable" in the world (cucumbers are technically a fruit), cucumbers are widely available, but seek to get them from a local farmer's market if you can. Even better, cucumbers are very easy to grow, even if you only have access to a patio. They thrive in containers (provide they have somewhere to climb on) and produce ample produce from a small number of plants, so you could try your hand at growing them yourself.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Greenhouse 4/24/15

 4/19/15 - Transplanted the kale plants
 4/24/15 - Tomato trimming time! One of several of my tomato plants
  4/24/15 - Tomato trimming time! One of several of my tomato plants
  4/24/15 - Tomato trimming time! One of several of my tomato plants
   4/24/15 - Looks brutal but necessary for my strong healthy tomato plants ^_^
   4/19/15 - Tomatoes before their hair cut
   4/24/15 - Tomatoes after their hair cut
   4/24/15 - Greenhouse update

Friday, April 24, 2015

Home Remedies to Boost Immunity

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism to handle invaders. It is our body’s second line of defense, after physical barriers like the skin and the mucous membranes.
The immune system is located throughout the body and includes the thymus gland, the spleen, bone marrow and a vast network of lymph nodes. It comprises many cells, proteins, tissues and organs.

The main function of the immune system is to prevent and fight infections, germs and cancer. It works 24/7 to keep our body healthy and ward off problems.

home remedies to boost immunity
Here are the top 10 home remedies to boost immunity.


1. Garlic

Garlic is a natural immune booster. A 2009 study published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis found that garlic enhances immune functions and has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities.
Its active ingredient allicin helps fight infection and bacteria. In addition, garlic has vitamins C and B6 along with the minerals selenium and manganese that help boost the immune system.
  • Eat 2 to 3 raw cloves of garlic on an empty stomach daily.
  • Also, add crushed garlic to your dishes. Avoid cooking garlic too much as it can destroy its active compounds.
  • You can also take garlic supplements, but only under a doctor’s supervision.


2. Turmeric

Turmeric has antioxidants that are important for your health as well as immune system. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and help your immune system function properly.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, helps improve the ‘orderliness’ of cell membranes, which makes the cells more resistant to infection.
  • Drink a glass of turmeric milk daily. To make the milk, boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of milk. Add a little honey and drink it.
  • Also, include turmeric in your cooking.
  • You can also take turmeric supplements, after consulting a doctor.


3. Probiotic Yogurt

Eating probiotic yogurt every day is one of the best home remedies for low immunity. Probiotic yogurt contains billions of friendly gut organisms (probiotics) that help strengthen your immune system.
It aids the development of white blood cells and antibodies, which in turn reduces the incidence and duration of infections.
  • Eat 2 cups of probiotic yogurt with live cultures daily.
  • You can also drink a smoothie made with yogurt and immune-boosting fruits like apples bananas, blueberries, and strawberries.


4. Lemon

Lemon contains vitamin C, which plays an important role in boosting your immunity. Vitamin C helps the white blood cells function properly so that they can respond quickly to infections. Lemon also aids in removing toxins from the body as well as helping maintaining your body weight.
  1. Squeeze the juice from ½ lemon into a glass of purified, lukewarm water.
  2. Add a little honey.
  3. Drink it on an empty stomach each morning.
  4. Wait 30 minutes, then enjoy your breakfast.


5. Green Tea

Regularly drinking green tea is another simple home remedy to boost immunity. According to a 2011 study by Oregon State University, several beneficial compounds in green tea help increase “regulatory T cells” in the body that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease.
The antioxidants in green tea protect the body from free-radical damage, which is essential to keep the immune system running normally.
  1. Steep a green tea bag in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the tea bag, add honey and drink it.
  3. Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily.


6. Ginger

According to Ayurveda, ginger is a good remedy to boost immunity. The warming effect of ginger on the body helps break down toxins accumulated in the body. This reduces the risk of infection. Ginger also improves blood circulation.
  • Drink ginger tea twice daily to boost immunity. To make the tea, boil 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced ginger in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and lemon juice and drink it.
  • You can also include dry or fresh ginger in your cooking, or take ginger tablets after consulting your doctor.


7. Astragalus

Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine that helps boost immunity. The immune-building and adaptogenic effects of astragalus help heighten the efficiency of virtually every component of the immune system.
  • Add a handful of dried astragalus root slices to 1 quart of water. Boil it for 30 minutes, then strain it. Drink the tea daily.
  • You can also take this herb in supplement form. Always consult your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.
Note: If you have an immune disorder, talk to your doctor before taking this herb.

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8. Indian Ginseng (Ashwagandha)

According to Ayurveda, ashwagandha helps in the modulation of immune system reactivity and increases the red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet counts.
It has antioxidants that help in scavenging and neutralizing free radicals. This in turn helps boost immunity. Ashwagandha is available in powdered, dried or fresh root form in the market.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of ashwagandha powder to a cup of water and boil it for 5 minutes. Strain, add honey and drink this tea once daily.
  • Alternatively, you can take 1 tablespoon of ashwagandha root powder, along with a glass of hot milk, before going to sleep.
Note: Pregnant women should not consume ashwagandha. Plus, this herb may interfere with medicines used to treat high blood pressure because it decreases blood pressure. People with autoimmune diseases should consult their doctor before taking this herb as it may cause the immune system to become more active.


9. Vitamin D

According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, vitamin D plays a key role in modulating the innate and adaptive immune responses.

A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as increased susceptibility to infection. Hence, to boost your immunity, try to maintain the adequate amount of vitamin D in your body.

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  • As sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D in the body, expose your body to early morning sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
  • Also, include foods high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, organ meats, cheese, egg yolks, some mushrooms and foods fortified with vitamin D.
  • You can also take vitamin D supplements after consulting a doctor.

10. Exercise

Regular exercise – 30 minutes at least 5 days a week – can help boost your immunity. Exercise helps increase white blood cells, improve blood circulation, fight obesity and flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. All these factors reduce your chance of getting sick frequently. Any form of exercise is better than a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Walk, run or jog for 20 to 30 minutes daily.
  • Enjoy bicycling and swimming a few times a week.
  • Go to the gym every other day.
  • Play golf, badminton, football or basketball regularly.
Note: Although exercise is good for you, be careful not to overdo it. In addition, when you are sick, avoid high-intensity workouts that can delay recovery.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

5 Yoga Poses That Build Total-Body Strength

Yoga is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when we think about strength training. While hitting the weights is an effective way to bulk up, total-body strength involves more than six-pack abs. Yoga uses both isometric and eccentric contractions to simultaneously strengthen a muscle as it stretches, creating functional strength that assists us in everyday activities like bending over, lifting, walking, sitting down and standing up. Yoga relies on your own body as the "weight" and targets smaller stabilizing muscles that are often overlooked in traditional weight training. The next time you reach for your gym bag, think about bringing your yoga mat with you.