April 16, 2014

Food Hacks And Facts (21 pics)

How Fast Food Signs Can Make You Overeat

When “fast foods” were first introduced to the world, the idea was simple: quick and cheap foods would allow people to eat a meal on-the-go and move on to complete their work. This, it was believed, would help increase efficiency levels.
The idea proved to be appealing. Today, the consumption of fast food in America has jumped 500% in the last three decades. And with the passage of time, the brain has learned to recognize fast food signs as an indication to hurry up. According to a study done at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, just the sight of a familiar fast food sign can trigger impatience.
During the study, participants were exposed very briefly to a leading fast food chain’s logo. Soon after, they were assigned simple tasks. The results were telling: these participants read a book faster and chose time-saving products such as a two-in-one shampoo. Researchers connected this behavior to the subconscious message given off by the sight of the fast food sign: Hurry up!
Why is this bad for our health? When we order in a hurry, our nutrition can suffer. We might make more rash decisions to consume high-calorie foods.
But it does not stop there. Driving into a fast food restaurant is only the first step toward eating a high-calorie, unhealthy meal. Those items we order can sabotage our health further, suggests another study conducted at the UT Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas.

This study found that foods high in fat–especially those that contain beef, cheese, butter and sugar–inhibit our resistance to insulin and the hunger-suppressing hormone, leptin. As a result, the brain is unable to communicate to you that your stomach is full and that you should stop eating.
No wonder chains started offering a “super size” option. 

10 Common Flowers You Should Eat

When most people think of flowers, eating them isn‘t usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, many of these beautiful plants can be eaten and can add color and texture to a raw salad or even a cooked meal. Some are sweet and yummy by themselves while others need a little extra love to make them enjoyable. So make sure to check before just chomping on the first flower you recognize! Unfortunately, no flower is really safe unless it was grown organically without the use of pesticides or chemicals. In lieu of this, always make sure to use organically grown species. Also, make sure to thoroughly wash your flowers before eating.
It’s also important to remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Sometimes these parts of the flower are not as tasty as the rest. You may want to separate the flower petals from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum.
The flowers, along with the heart-shaped leaves of the wild violet, are edible. Both can be used to add color and complexity to salads. The flower is often used to make jellies and teas and can also be candied and used as a decorative garnish.
Rose Hips
These circular buds have played an essential role in the Native American diet for a long time., Rose Hips contain vitamin C and store well when dried properly. 


This common weed does not get the credit it deserves. The greens of the plant are packed with antioxidants and minerals containing a high level of potassium. Although the plant can be a bit bitter, for those who don’t mind (think arugula), it can be a wonderful addition to any salad.  

Day Lily

This flower has a sweet taste and can be eaten raw. The tubers of the roots can be boiled and eaten like mini potatoes. Just remove the stalks and hairs and, of course, the dirt. The flower buds are a good source of vitamin C and carotene. But be careful — lilies are deadly to cats.  

Squash Blossoms

The orange, yellow blossom found at the top of the squash can be cooked or eaten raw. Be careful, though — the flower perishes fast;  if you want to use them try to pick them right before you cook. 


This flower has been coined the “Poor Man’s Saffron.” Its flavor ranges from tangy to spicy with a bit of a peppery aftertaste. It’s a great complement to rice dishes, soups and pasta. The flower can also be used as a great herbal remedy. 



The flowers can be eaten, but the best way to use hibiscus is to make an infused tea. Just take ten or so flowers and soak them in hot water. Add lime for flavor and enjoy. Drinking it cold is just as delicious as hot, so for a nice summer day, put it on ice!


The base of the flower holds a sweet tasting nectar that can be eaten, and the entire flower makes a great addition to any spring or summer salad.



You guessed it –the beautiful smelling lilac tastes how it smells, but is delicate and not overwhelming. Lilac is best used as a garnish. For something different try mixing it in vanilla frozen yogurt for an interesting treat.


As sweet as they are beautiful, Carnations can be steeped in wine or eaten plain. If you’re the baking type think about creating a beautiful design on top of a cake using these flowers or some of the others mentioned above. 

Top 15 Concerns About Aging

The aging process is often accepted with a combination of humorous resignation—it’s not a fun process, but it definitely beats the alternative, right? The truth of this statement varies from person to person, largely depending on how kind the years have been to an individual’s mental and physical health.
Indeed, “health issues” and “serious illness” top the list of concerns of the over 50-set, according to a recent survey by U.K.-based online social care marketplace firm, cloudBuy. Coming in at a close third was “My mind failing me,” a common fear inspired by the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease.
The survey, which was conducted on a group of more than 1,000 British men and women age 50 and over, led to some other interesting insights:
Men and women have different fears about aging: More women than men dreaded the following; a failing mind (66 percent versus 51 percent), losing their independence (58 percent versus 43 percent) and being lonely (39 percent versus 27 percent).

When do people start to worry about aging? 
Concerns about aging seemed to start in the late 40s or early 50s for most individuals surveyed, but some were plagued by worries even before their 40th birthday.
Worry doesnt always translate to planning: Despite the fact that nearly all of those surveyed (95 percent) said they didn’t want to enter a nursing home, 70 percent admitted to having no strategies in place to help them deal with the challenges of advancing age.
Here’s a list of the top 15 concerns about aging that were uncovered in the survey:
  1. Health issues
  2. Serious illness
  3. My mind failing me
  4. Becoming forgetful
  5. Losing my independence
  6. Losing my sight
  7. Being a burden to others
  8. My body failing me, but my mind being completely fit
  9. Money
  10. Having to go into a nursing/care home
  11. My partner getting seriously ill
  12. Dying
  13. My partner dying before me
  14. Being lonely
  15. Having to move out of my home

The importance of planning for future needs
Experts tout the advantages of planning in advance for old age and retirement, but it is often those individuals who have first-hand experience as family caregivers of an elderly loved one who are most motivated to prepare for their future.
Here are some sentiments expressed by caregivers who say they will take steps to avoid placing undue stress on their younger family members:
“I plan to research facilities and move to one. What my mother has done to me has to stop. And it will stop with me. It’s unfair to ask anyone to take on the elderly.”
“I don’t want my children to go through what I have had to undertake. I’ve already told them there is to be no guilt whatsoever in any decisions they have to make regarding my elderly years. In no way do I ever want to be a burden; it is not my style and I certainly don’t want it to be my legacy. I had children because I longed to be a mother and take care of them. That in NO WAY is the same thing as taking care of an elderly parent, especially a demanding one. I didn’t have children for them to take care of me.”
“I will make my will, POA, and take care of all bills including burial, and hopefully leave a bit of money for each of my nieces and nephews.”
“I have learned that sometimes you have to ignore the negative voices around you that claim you are doomed to a life of pain and/or a loss of independence due to your circumstances. Sometimes, not all the time, the answer is still waiting to be found if we just keep open, keep listening, and refuse to give up on ourselves. Aging may be a part of life, but how we do so is largely up to us.” 

April 15, 2014

Boston Marathon Bombing Survivors Return to Finish Line (6 pics)

10 Ways to Strengthen Seniors’ Immune System

Healthy-living strategies are something to practice throughout our lives. But they become more significant as we age. Harvard Medical School describes how the aging process reduces the immune system response. So the older we get, the more susceptible we become to infections, inflammatory diseases and cancer. In fact, the leading causes of death for people over age 65 across the world are respiratory infections, influenza and pneumonia.
Boosting Seniors’ Immune Systems
The following tips can help keep seniors’ immune systems going strong. They can also help seniors who do catch a cold or other minor illness recover faster and prevent a more serious health issue.
1. Get vaccinated. Flu vaccines have shown to be effective for around one-quarter of older adults. And seniors who get the flu vaccine have significantly lower rates of sickness and death.
2. Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. Older people tend to eat less and have less variety in their diets. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc are essential to good health. So is maintaining a low-sugar, low-fat diet that incorporates whole grains and lean proteins.
3. Exercise. Regular physical activity promotes circulation, heart health, and relaxes the body and mind. Walks, bike rides, yoga classes and other forms of exercise help boost seniors’ immune system performance and ward off infections.
4. Reduce stress. Stress has been linked to a number of illnesses, including stomach problems and heart disease. Whether it’s social stress, isolation or another form, stress can suppress seniors’ immune system, making them more susceptible to viruses.
5. Sleep. A natural immune system booster, sleep helps us respond better to stress and inflammation. It’s also shown to improve our response to the flu vaccine.
6. Wash hands. Washing hands regularly scrubs away germs. And covering sneezes and coughs helps prevent diseases from spreading.
7. Stay positive. A healthy outlook on life boosts endorphins, which make us feel good. Seniors who keep up with activities and hobbies that make them happy or challenge them in an enjoyable way have a better chance of staying positive and healthy.
8. Try some superfoods. Foods like kale, broccoli, avocados, certain mushrooms, berries and others have shown to improve seniors’ immune system performance. Somesuperfoods even boost cognitive function and help fight Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Consider multivitamin or herbal supplements. An option for increasing nutrients and fighting infections, seniors should talk to their doctors first before adding multivitamins or herbs, such as echinacea, ginseng or probiotics, to their regimen.
10. Stay hydrated. Seniors tend to sense thirst less than younger people. But they need at least eight or nine glasses of fluid a day to keep mucous membranes moist, which lowers the chances of flu or colds. Water, coffee, tea and soup all count.
Illness isn’t inevitable for the elderly. Good health habits lend to keeping seniors happy and active so they can enjoy the most out of life.

April 14, 2014

25 Healing Herbs You Can Use Every Day

Nature's medicine
There are times when it might be smarter to use an herbal remedy than a pharmaceutical. For example, sometimes an herb offers a safer alternative. Take chamomile: The flowers have been used for centuries as a gentle calmative for young and old alike. It's non-habit-forming and well tolerated, and a study sponsored by the University of Michigan found that chamomile extract had roughly the same efficacy as many prescription sleeping medications when given to adults withinsomnia . Likewise, peppermint oil has been shown to be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs for relieving irritable bowel syndrome , but without the ofttimes dangerous side effects. And clinical studies have shown that ginger relieves morning sickness, sage can relieve a sore throat, and hibiscus tea gently lowers blood pressure.
I believe it's better to use mild remedies for minor health problems and save the more potent—and risky—prescription medications for more serious conditions. Here then, are my top 25 favorite healing herbs and their uses. All are safe and effective, but be sure to discuss any herbs you are taking with your doctor. Some herbal remedies (such as the antidepressant St. John's wort) can interact with medications.

(Withania somnifera)
Uses: Rejuvenating tonic, anti-inflammatory, reduces anxiety, boosts immune health
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Simmer 1 tsp dried and sliced root in 1 cup water or milk for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 1 or 2 times per day.
Standardized Extract (2–5% withanolides): Take 500 mg 2 or 3 times per day.
Concerns: Can cause milk sedation; potential to stimulate thyroid hormones

Black Cohosh
(Actaea racemosa)
Uses: Relieves menstrual cramps and arthritic pain; commonly used to ease menopausal symptoms
Preparation and doses:
Tincture: Take 1–2 ml 3 times per day.
Standardized extract: Take 20–80 mg 2 times per day.
Concerns: Very rare case reports of liver damage (likely due to misidentified herb); purchase only from reputable supplier

(Calendula officinalis)
Uses: Calendula has long been used to relieve inflammation of the mouth, throat, and stomach; popular as a topical cream or ointment to relieve rashes and irritation and to help heal wounds.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 tsp petals. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain. Use as needed as a mouthwash, gargle, or tea.
Ointment: Apply to skin 2 or 3 times per day as needed.
Concerns: None known

(Nepeta cataria)
Uses: Soothes an upset stomach; reduced anxiety and tension
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 4 or 5 fresh or 1 tsp dried leaves. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if desired. Drink 1 or 2 times per day.
Concerns: None known

(Vitex agnus-castus)
Uses: Premiere herb for relieving PMS symptoms
Preparation and doses:
Capsules: Take 250–500 mg dried fruit once per day.
Tincture: Take 2–3 ml each morning.
Concerns: None known

(Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Uses: Well-established treatment for reducing the risk of bladder infection; could also be beneficial for chronic prostatitis
Preparation and doses:
Juice: Drink ½-¾ cup twice per day.
Capsules: Take 300–500 mg concentrated juice extract 2 times per day.
Concerns: None known

(Echinacea spp.)
Uses: Antiviral and immune-enhancing properties; popular for relieving colds and upper respiratory infections (approved in Europe for these uses)
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Simmer 1 tsp dried and sliced root in 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 1-3 cups per day.
Tincture: Take 5 ml 3-6 times per day at onset of cold symptoms.
Concerns: Rare allergic reactions

(Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis)
Uses: Elderberry flowers have been valued as a remedy for colds and fever for centuries; fruit extracts have been shown to have significant antiviral activity, especially against the flu.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1–2 tsp flowers. Steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten if desired and drink hot 2-3 times per day.
Berry extracts: Use as directed.
Concerns: None known

(Allium sativum)
Uses: Potent antimicrobial; often used to combat colds, ease sinus congestion, and stave off traveler's diarrhea. Studies show that regular use can help gently lower blood pressure.
Preparation and doses:
Eat: Eat 1–2 cloves fresh daily.
Capsules: Take 4–8 mg allicin per day; enteric-coated products may be superior if specifically treating diarrhea.
Concerns: May interact with warfarin

(Zingiber officinale)
Uses: Premiere remedy for easing nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach; fresh teas relieve cold and flu symptoms.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Steep ¼–½ tsp dried ginger or simmer 1 tsp fresh ginger root in 1 cup hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if desired. Drink 1–2 cups per day.
Capsules: Take 250–500 mg 2 times per day.
Concerns: Very safe in small amounts; heartburn and stomach upset can occur with high doses. Pregnant women should not take more than 1,500 mg per day of dried ginger.

(Panax quinquefolius; P. ginseng)
Uses: Helps relieve and prevent mental and physical fatigue; shown to reduce the frequency and severity of colds; possibly beneficial for erectile dysfunction
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Simmer 1 tsp dried and sliced root in 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 1–2 cups per day.
Standardized extract (4–7% ginsenosides): 100–400 mg per day
Concerns: Purchase from a reputable manufacturer, as ginseng has often been adulterated in the past.

(Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Uses: Lowers blood pressure and has mild diuretic activity; traditionally used to ease sore throats and colds
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1–2 tsp dried flowers. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if desired. Drink 2 cups per day.
Capsules: Take 1,000 mg 2 times per day.
Concerns: Talk to your health-care provider if you have high blood pressure.

(Humulus lupulus)
Uses: Excellent sleeping aid; smaller, daytime doses used to ease tension, restlessness, and anxiety; might help reduce hot flashes during menopause
Preparation and doses:
Capsules: Take 200–300 mg 1-3 times per day.
Tincture: Take 2–4 ml before bed.
Concerns: Can cause sedation

Horse Chestnut
(Aesculus hippocastanum)
Uses: Seed extracts shown to be highly effective for treatment of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency (blood pools in lower leg veins after standing or sitting); topical gels can reduce swelling and tenderness due to injury.
Preparation and doses:
Seed extract (containing 100–150 mg aescin/escin): Take 600 mg per day in divided doses.
Concerns: Unprocessed horse chestnut seeds can be toxic; use only appropriately prepared seed extracts.
(Piper methysticum)
Uses: Clinical trials have shown kava to be highly effective for relieving anxiety. Also has significant muscle-relaxing effects.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Simmer 1 tsp dried and sliced root in 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 1–2 cups per day.
Extract of root: Take 100–200 mg 2 or 3 times per day. (Do not exceed 210 mg per day of kavalactones.)
Concerns: Rare cases of liver toxicity; do not use if you have liver disease, frequently drink alcohol, or are taking acetaminophen or prescription medications.

Lemon Balm
(Melissa officinalis)
Uses: Gentle calmative; eases tension, digestive upset, and colic; topical creams used for fever blisters
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 5 or 6 fresh or 1 tsp dried leaves. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if desired. Drink several times per day.
Concerns: None; suitable for all ages

(Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Uses: Excellent anti-inflammatory; soothes mucous membranes; useful for sore throats and coughs; protects and heals gastrointestinal tract
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Simmer 1 tsp dried and sliced root in 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 2 or 3 times per day for up to 7 days.
Capsules: Take up to 3,000 mg per day for 7 days. Do not exceed 500 mg per day if taking for longer than 7 days.
Concerns: Do not use high doses for longer than 1 week as it elevates blood pressure and causes potassium loss. (DGL, a special preparation commonly used for heartburn, is safe for prolonged use.)

(Althaea officinalis)
Uses: Root and leaf are rich in mucilage, a substance that coats the lining of the mouth and throat, as well as the tissue that lines the gastrointestinal tract. Used for sore throat, heartburn, and minor GI inflammation.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup hot water over 1 tsp dried and sliced root or 2 tsp leaf. Steep for 2 hours. Strain and drink as desired.
Concerns: Take other drugs 1 hour prior to or several hours after consuming marshmallow, as it could slow absorption of oral medications.

Milk Thistle
(Silybum marianum)
Uses: Protects the liver from damage caused by environmental toxins, medications, and alcohol. Recent studies suggest it protects the kidneys similarly.
Preparation and doses:
Extract (guaranteed minimum of 70% silymarin): Take 400–700 mg per day in divided doses.
Concerns: None known

(Verbascum thapsus)
Uses: Leaves commonly used to relieve cough, sore throat, and chest congestion; steeped in oil, the flowers relieve earache.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1–2 tsp leaves. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain, sweeten, and drink as desired.
Ear oil: Use as directed.
Concerns: None known

(Urtica dioica)
Uses: Fresh, freeze-dried leaves relieved seasonal allergy symptoms in one human trial. Research supports use of the root for easing symptoms of enlarged prostate. Tea widely recommended for its nutritive value.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 tsp leaves. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain. Sweeten if desired. Drink 1–3 cups per day.
Freeze-dried nettle capsules: Take 300–500 mg 2 times per day.
Nettle root: Take 250–400 mg 2 or 3 times per day.
Concerns: Wear gloves when handling fresh nettles to avoid stinging and irritation (sting is lost with cooking or drying); very safe herb.

(Salvia officinalis)
Uses: Excellent for sore throat, cough, and colds; recognized in Germany as a treatment for excessive sweating; studies show it can help reduce menopausal hot flashes and night sweats.
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tsp leaves. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink, or use as a sore throat gargle.
Capsules: Take 500 mg dried leaf 2 times per day.
Concerns: Do not use therapeutic doses during pregnancy; do not use sage essential oil internally.

Slippery Elm
(Ulmus rubra)
Uses: FDA-approved as a safe, nonprescription remedy for minor throat irritation; also very useful for relieving cough and occasional heartburn.
Preparation and doses:
Lozenges: Take as directed.
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1–2 tsp powdered bark. Steep for 5 minutes. Drink 2 or 3 times per day.
Concerns: Take other drugs 1 hour before or several hours after consuming, as it could slow absorption of oral medications.

St. John's Wort
(Hypericum perforatum)
Uses: More than 40 studies have confirmed its effectiveness for relieving mild to moderate depression; may also relieve PMS symptoms and menopausal hot flashes, especially when combined with black cohosh.
Preparation and doses:
Standardized extract (standardized to 0.3% hypericin and/or 3–5% hyperforin): Take 300–600 mg 3 times per day.
Concerns: Talk to your physician or pharmacist before using if you are taking prescription medications; the chance for herb-drug interaction is high.

(Thymus vulgaris)
Uses: Highly regarded for relieving coughs, colds, and congestion; rich in volatile oils that have significant antimicrobial and antispasmodic activity
Preparation and doses:
Tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried leaves. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten, if desired. Drink ⅓ cup 3 times per day.
Concerns: None known