Time for a Power Nap?

Ever feel like taking a nap in the middle of the day, but fearing it will do more harm than good? How long should the nap take? Is half an hour too much, or could you nap for even more? Well, all of this depends on what kind of tasks you have to do. A nap is like a reboot for your brain, but you have to know how long you should nap and when is the best time to do so.

Now, if you want a quick boost of alertness, you should nap for 10 to 20 minutes at most. This way, you will only be in the lighter stage of NREM (non rapid eye movement) sleep and this will make it easier for you to resume your tasks when you wake up. The worst possible nap length is 30 minutes, as you end up in a deeper stage of sleep and wake up from it; this will leave you groggy and you will need up to another 30 minutes to be able to work again.

If you are learning for an exam, it’s good to take a 60 minutes nap. It helps you remember facts better, as well as places and faces. You will still feel a bit groggy afterwards. Make a coffee before you nap so it’s ready for you when you wake up. If you wish to avoid grogginess after a nap, a 90 minute nap will do you good. This way, you will get a full cycle of sleep – the lighter and deeper sleep phases. It also improves creativity, procedural and emotional memory. Also don’t forget to time your nap – it’s best to take a nap 6 hours after waking up.

Take a look at this guide. It distills things nicely:

nap guide

So, there you have it – proof that a nap is just as good for you as eating your greens! Go get some Zzzzz’s

The Healthcare Debate

When you say the words “Integrative Health” or “Integrative Nutrition” most people don’t have a clue what you mean. American’s today are used to going to their health care practitioner only when something has already gone wrong. And most are seeking a quick result in pill form or an easy access cure. They want one answer. This philosophy, which has been promulgated by the traditionalist training of the medical community and the boom of the pharmaceutical industry is reason number one the United States is in a health crisis. This health crisis and the current healthcare debate is plastered all over the news. Democrats and Republicans alike are duking it out over what the answer should be. Everywhere you turn there’s talk of insurance, money, Medicare, pharmaceutical companies. Big Healthcare, big dollars, small results.

Please don’t be mistaken, we are indeed in a health crisis. A vast number of families in the United States can’t afford health care, yet we are the unhealthiest First World nation in the world! The United States ranks 29th globally in infant mortality – tied with Poland and Slovakia (we were 12th in 1960). Sixty percent of adult deaths are attributable to chronic disease. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and certain preventable cancers like prostate, colon and often breast and ovarian. Our nation is being crippled by chronic disease. Over 46 million citizens are uninsured or under insured. Health insurance premiums rise four times as fast as our pay rates. More than half the bankruptcies in the United States are from medical bills. 66%, SIXTY-SIX percent of US citizens are overweight or obese. Obesity in children has doubled in the past 30 years and tripled in adolescents! (this information was obtained from a presentation given by Dr. Theresa Kennedy).

The flaw in our system lies in its “curative” nature coupled with the fact that it’s driven by corporate profit and greed. Health in this country is addressed when something goes wrong. People don’t pay attention to what they put in their body or what their body interacts with. We don’t have a health care system; we have a SICK care system. We need to change to a preventative system. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. It’s not merely the absence of disease. And this is one of our fundamental rights as human beings and as citizens of the United States.

I will say that again, it is a fundamental right for us to live in a state of complete physical, mental and social well being!!

There is hope.

Seven months ago, President Barack Obama requested the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to investigate the health crisis. On February 26th the Committee held a hearing. That hearing directly addressed integrative, yes Integrative Care: a Pathway to a Healthier Nation. Esteemed doctors including Dr. Oz, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Andrew Weil testified. Words that each of highlighted were integrative health, and health Coach. Click here to watch the Senate hearing.

I remember watching this video on the Senate’s website days after the hearing was held. I was elated and invigorated knowing that our elected officials were learning about integrative health. I thought back to one of my first days at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition when founder, Joshua Rosenthal said we were on the cusp of something great, that we were creating a health revolution. I believed him, I still do, but I was worried about the rest of the United States. I have seen many people simply roll their eyes when topics like positivity, primary foods, organic produce, environmental toxicity, GMOs and hormones in beef come up. They either don’t care or don’t believe me or are in denial.

Even though the Senate seems at least open to “alternative” ideas such as health coaches, history makes it obvious that change is not going to happen swiftly. The health care debate raging now is the same one that raged through the 1990s when President Bill Clinton was in office. The only difference is the stakes. They’re higher now, Americans are sicker.

I am not posting this blog to seem downtrodden about our Government, its process and the action or inaction it takes. In the words of Mike Adams, the Health Ranger we need a “popular health care revolt; people marching in the streets, setting fire to packets of aspartame.” While I think the Health Ranger may be on to something, lets start a health revolution with our own health first. We are the first step in health reform. You are in charge of your own health. A healthy life starts with the choices you make daily, make them good ones! If you are unsure of how to make positive choices to improve your health, reach out to a health coach to help guide the way for you.

The Importance of Skin Health

good skinLets face it, this winter was a tough one and unfortunately our skin is the one who takes the beating! Our skin dries out from the heat in our homes which causes dehydration. We tend to drink less in the cold weather than we do in the hot summer months which is even more dehydrating. Physical activity also tends to decline in bad weather and so circulation to the skin is compromised. Our skin is the largest organ of our body. We need to keep it as healthy as possible so that they rest of our body is working properly.

Paying close attention to the foods we eat can enhance the vitamins that nourish the skin. A good way to remember what to eat and ways to help nourish your skin is to say your ABC’s!

A is for avocado. They contain the best kind of fats that add emollients to the skin. They also help to block absorption of the “bad” cholesterol and aid in eyesight by their high lutein content. They are also unbelievably delicious!

B is for beets. They are rich in beta-carotene and high in phytonutrients that protect the skin.

C is for vitamin C, the vitamin that enhances the skin cells’ ability to fight free radicals, the primary cause of skin damage.

D is for vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. We all realize that we get less of the beneficial effects of sunlight during the winter months. However, with Springtime here there is no excuse for not getting outside for at least 15 minutes of (unprotected) sunshine each day!

E is for vitamin E. A rich source of antioxidants and rich in emollients for the skin. Eggs, nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E.

G is for green tea. Green tea can reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light (such as the rays of the sun), and thus reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Skipping to O, omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds, walnuts, beans, olive oil and fish such as salmon and Coho contain the most omega fatty acids.

P is for plums. Plentiful plums are packed with antioxidants, which are healthy for the skin.

R is for rub. Rub your skin beautiful! While in a hot shower, take a washcloth with no soap and scrub your entire body until its uniformly rosy. As you scrub each day, your skin will release toxins trapped under it leaving you with soft, smooth skin within a few months! This improves your circulation, helps your digestion and allows your skin to glow.

S is for smile. A happy face is a healthy face. The act of smiling increases production of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. When you smile, people smile back. Spread the wealth!
W is for water. Water, water everywhere! Hydration is key to moisturizing the skin. Water keeps the cells hydrated, while helping cells move nutrients in and toxins out which automatically leaves the skin looking better.

Z is for zzzzz’s. Sleep, rest and refreshment are essential to healthy, radiant skin. This element is one that you cannot buy in a supplement or eat for dinner. Taking time to be conscious of your lifestyle and making the choice to rest and refresh yourself is your gift to yourself.

Eat Your Greens!

Did you know that greens are the most missing food group in the modern American diet? It’s true! Eating greens will help to build your internal rain forest and protect your body from viruses. Here are 10 more reasons to eat greens on a consistent basis:

1. Greens help to purify the blood.

2. Greens help prevent cancers.

3. Greens are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc.

4. They are packed full of micronutrients and phytochemicals.

5. Greens contain vitamins A, C, E and K.

6. They help to strengthen the immune system.

7. Eating plenty of greens will help improve circulation in the body.

8. Greens contain fiber that the body needs to function optimally.

9. They also contain folic acid and chlorophyll.

10. Eating green vegetables helps life the spirit and eliminates depression.

What Are Greens?

eat your greensThere are many types of green vegetables to choose from. Find some that you enjoy eating and eat them often! Dark leafy greens include broccoli, kale, bok choy, napa cabbage, collards, mustard greens, watercress, broccoli rabe, dandelion, arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard & beet greens.

How to Cook Greens

1. Wash greens well to remove any dirt or sand.

2. Remove the stems if they’re thick. Don’t toss them; chop them into bite-sized pieces. You can cook them later or eat them with the greens. (They’ll take a little longer to cook, so start them first.)

3. Boil the greens for 3 to 5 minutes in salted water, or until just tender. (Add the stems a few minutes before the leaves.)

4. Steam the greens for 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Braise greens by heating a little olive oil over medium heat. Add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the greens, along with the water that clings to their leaves from washing. Sauté the greens until they’re slightly wilted, then cover and braise until tender (just a few minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

6. Pair greens with beans such as chick peas (garbanzo beans) or white beans. The beans make for a hearty dish and mellow out the taste of the greens.

7. Spruce up greens with diced tomato and a dash of lemon juice or hot pepper sauce.


Music Is Good For Your Health

I was listening to Michael Franti and Speahead after having a bit of a disappointing late afternoon and I realized that in the span of one song, my mood turned from discouraged to optimistic- down right giddy in fact. The beauty of music is it’s ability to alter your mood (take a look at this post on making sure you keep your ears in tip top condition so that you can continue to enjoy music). It’s something we need to remember to incorporate this into our daily life. When you have identified which music lifts your mood or alters it for the good, you can create your own reality. A single Ipod playlist can change your day.

Colorful musical notesRecent University of studies discovered that listening to music that you find to be joyful or uplifting can actually improve your cardiovascular health. When participants in a study listened to happy (in their opinion) music, their blood vessels dilated by as much as twenty three percent. Meanwhile, when they listened to music that caused them anxiety, their blood vessels constricted as much as nine percent.

Music also directly affects heart rate as well as breathing rate. To slow down, relax, and meditate, listening to music that is calming can help you relieve stress and enter a meditative state. Decreasing stress levels is one of the best things you can do for your health, both physically and mentally, so when you plug into your Ipod, think about your choice in music and how it will affect you.

The next time you’re feeling down, think about what kind of music you feel like listening to. Oftentimes we choose sad music to match our sad or depressed mood. When you catch yourself doing that, remember to choose music that feels joyful to you and listen to that instead. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling better. One thing that happens in your body is that your brain waves shift to match the tempo of the music. A faster tempo will enhance your alertness and lengthen your concentration span.

To make a long blog post short….Music Is Good For Your Health!! So put on something you love, smile and know that it’s doing your body good.

Dark Chocolate = Healthy Chocolate

Recent studies say dark chocolate — not white chocolate or milk chocolate — is good for you! What is it about dark chocolate? Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries) and significantly less sugar. Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body. Dr. Andrew Weil has dark chocolate included in his anti-inflammatory food pyramid!! How exciting is that?!


Taste the Chocolate

Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. To really enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it. Professional chocolate tasters have developed a system for tasting chocolate that include assessing the appearance, smell, feel and taste of each piece.

Go for 70% Dark Chocolate

You should look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits you get from eating the chocolate. Be sure to look for a brand that contains at least 70 percent cocoa.

Skip the Milk

It may taste good but some research shows that milk chocolate, or washing your chocolate down with a glass of milk could prevent the antioxidants being absorbed or used by your body.

But On The Negative Side…
1. Chocolate may trigger headaches in migraine sufferers. Sorry guys.

2. Chocolate is considered dangerous to animals because it contains a stimulant called theobromine, which they can’t digest. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are even more dangerous because they contain higher concentrations of the substance. This applies whether chocolate is in candy bar form, or an ingredient in cake, cookies, puddings or ice cream. If a pet becomes ill after eating chocolate, take it to the vet immediately.

3. Even though it may be healthy, dark chocolate can be very caloric. Savor and enjoy a piece a day, not a bar!

Boost Your Immunity

You can’t open a newspaper without reading the latest statistics of the flu season and the impending H1N1 flu pandemic these days. The media has worked people in to a nervous frenzy. While the threat of sickness is a real one, there are many steps we can take to ensure our good health. A recent published in the British Medical Journal said that the best defense against the flu is good hygiene including washing your hands and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. In addition to good hygiene, it is important to keep your immune system in tip top shape! Follow these quick tips to boost your immunity and stay healthy through the upcoming flu season:

immunity boost1. Eat the rainbow! Stalking up on raw fruits and vegetables will give your body the anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes it needs to run smoothly. They will protect the cells of your body and turn you into a disease fighting machine. Aim towards 9-10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

2. Step out into the sun and get some exercise! It’s great if you head to the gym daily for at least 30 minutes of cardio. Exercise is important for good health. But to boost your immune system while getting your cardio in, head to the great outdoors. Sadly, most Americans spend more than 80% of their day inside. Exercising outside in the fresh air will release endorphins and set your body on a natural high. The chilly weather will stimulate your thyroid gland and the added sunshine is important for Vitamin D levels…..

3. Start taking a multi-vitamin that includes sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. Recent studies have shown there are clear links between Vitamin D deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance, depression, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, parathyroid problems and reduced immune function. Adult women need between 3000 and 5000 i.u’s of D3 daily. For more information on Vitamin D deficiency in women see this article from Womentowomen.com.

4. Kick the sugar addiction. If there is one thing you can do that will boost your immune system it’s the reduction and elimination of refined, white sugar from your diet. On average, Americans eat more than 150 pounds of refined, white sugar each year or about ½ cup each day. Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed to digest that amount of sugar. Too much sugar overworks and exhausts our white blood cells and weakens the immune system. White blood cells need protein to function. Excess sugar in our diet means that protein in the diet will not be digested and assimilated properly leading to reduced white blood cell function! Try reducing your sugar intake by replacing refined sugars with natural sugar alternative including honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Avoid artificial sweeteners as they are more toxic than refined cane sugar.

5. Eat your protein! The proper amount of protein is essential to promote cell production and support the immune system. Eating protein will also prevent loss of lean muscle mass as well as boost your energy. Protein does not have to come from animal products, there are great vegetarian sources of protein that include broccoli, nuts, seeds, tofu and spinach!

6. Get your sleep! Not getting enough sleep at night has been shown to trigger inflammatory response in the cells of the body. Cellular inflammation will aggravate autoimmune disorders, specifically in females. Even modest sleep deprivation can play a role in many immune disorders. Sleep is vitally important to maintain a healthy immune system.

7. Drink water! Staying hydrated is so important for your health! To find out how much water you need and ways to make water drinking enjoyable check out our previous blog entry, Glamorous Hydration.

8. Enjoy a cup of tea! Switch out that cup of coffee for a cup of green tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that will help to strengthen your immune system. Not only will green tea boost your immune system but it lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, a great benefit to your heart health!

9. Add garlic! Garlic is a potent immune system booster. It is an anti-microbial agent that is effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Add fresh garlic to your salads, soups, sauces and sandwiches. To kick your immune system into high gear try this garlic immune booster shot: Juice together 4 cloves of garlic with a good sized chunk of ginger root, add a dash of cayenne and a table spoon of flax oil. It may not taste the best, but it will super charge your immune system!

10. Pamper yourself! Take time out for you. Treat yourself to one thing a week that will make you feel relaxed and loved. This could be as simple as hunkering down in your favorite chair to enjoy an hour of a new book, call a best friend who lives hours away, get a massage, taking a bubble bath or baking cookies. Taking time to nurture yourself and treat yourself to something special will reduce your stress level naturally boosting your immune system.

Following these 10 tips will help keep you happy and healthy throughout the fall and winter season.

Ditch the Sugar

A spoonful of sugar? Americans are swallowing 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, and it’s time to cut way back! Most of that added sugar comes from soft drinks and candy – the equivalent of guzzling two cans of soda and eating a chocolate bar. Remember, if you are consuming excessive amounts of added sugar, you will add calories, which leads to weight gain, or you will displace other essential nutrients. To check for added sugar, look for a variety of ingredients including sugar, corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, molasses or evaporated cane juice on the label. What YOU can do:

Take a good hard look at what you are drinking each day, figure out where the sources of added sugars are and think about how to cut back on that. Plan ways to substitute sugary foods in your diet with things like sweet vegetables, fruits or herbal teas.

sugar1. Put down the can. Soft drinks are the biggest culprit! Soft drinks by far, followed by candy, cakes, cookies and pies. With about 8 teaspoons of added sugar, a regular 12-ounce soft drink will put most over the recommended daily limit. Keep in mind, it DOES NOT make it ok if they are diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners (such as Splenda, Equal, Sweet & Low, etc.) are even more toxic than the refined sugars that are in regular sugary drinks!

2. Drink water. Replacing carbonated soft drinks with water will cut a lot of your sugar intake, and the benefits don’t stop there. Drinking two glasses of water before a meal may encourage the stomach to feel full more quickly, so you don’t eat as much. Lots of the time you may have a sweet craving because your body is dehydrated, so drink up!

3. Drink real fruit juice. Juice can have as many calories as soda, but it has far more to offer in the way of nutrients. This presents a dilemma — you want the vitamins and antioxidants without all the extra sugar. The safest bet: Look for 100% fruit juice. Steer clear of juice drinks that have added sweeteners. Look for the percent of real juice, noted on the nutritional label. You can also slash sugar intake by drinking water with a splash of juice. Feel free to squirt some lemon, lime or orange slices into your water for a healthy, yet flavorful drink!

4. Try coconut water! Sports and energy drinks are sugar bombs like soda. Although they contain electrolytes which are great for hydrating the body, its still smarter to stay hydrated with water rather than sports drinks. A wonderful alternative to sports drink is coconut water. It’s a natural isotonic beverage, with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood. It contains more potassium than most sports or energy drinks and has less sodium. It’s the fluid of life, so to speak!

5. Enjoy a cup of tea. Herbal teas can be not only delicious, but hydrating at the same time. There is a wide variety of flavorful herbal teas that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Right now I’ve been enjoying Yogi Tea’s Mayan Cocoa Spice made with cinnamon bark. It has low caffeine and plenty of rich chocolate flavor! It’s a must try!

Coconut Oil Girl!

Although there is still a lack of scientific research over the health claims of coconut oil, other research suggest that the list of benefits just goes on and on! My experience with it and personal opinion tends to dwell more on the side of the healthy benefits!

coconut oilI personally love using it as a moisturizer each day. It’s so soft and I can really feel it nourishing my dry skin. I keep a bottle of unrefined organic coconut oil in my shower so as soon as I get out and my body is warm, the chunky oil (well, the oil gets thick in the winter and oily in the summer) melts right into my skin. Every once in a while, I do a deep conditioning treatment to my hair using coconut oil. I comb it through my hair with my fingers, let my hair dry naturally and sleep with it in. The next day I shampoo it out. I also use it for an eye makeup remover before bed at night.  Of course I love cooking with it because it can tolerate HIGH heat and always brings a rich, sweet taste to my meals that I can’t resist!

About Coconut Oil

Unrefined, organic coconut oil is a rich, buttery, slightly sweet superfood used for centuries in the tropics. Boasting a high smoke point of 350 degrees, it can replace almost any oil in baking or cooking. Naturally cholesterol free, coconut oil contains healthy medium-chain fatty acids, most notably antibacterial and antiviral lauric acid. Unlike long-chain fatty acids in animal-based saturated fats (which clog arteries and get stored as fat), coconut oil’s good fats get burned for energy and actually lower the risk of heart disease. Sold in jars in the oil or baking section, coconut oil is solid at room temperature; when warmed, it quickly becomes a clear liquid. Great for people with nut allergies, it keeps for years unrefrigerated!

Proponents claim that coconut oil offers the following health benefits:

  • supports thyroid function
  • increases metabolism
  • antiviral and antibacterial properties
  • improved blood pressure
  • improved cholesterol levels
  • weight loss
  • better diabetes control
  • increased bone strength
  • better digestion
  • prevention of cancer
  • prevention of heart disease
  • stress reduction
  • increased immunity

Hair Care: Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shinny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. Coconut oil is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care. Best part is, your skin actually absorbs all of the oil’s health benefits and brings them right into your blood stream, so you don’t even have to eat it to reap it’s rewards!

Immunity: Coconut oil is great for the immune system! It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: Coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis.

Dental Care: Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil is also known to stop tooth decay.

Energy: Finally, coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. It contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.

Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils.

Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.

Digestion: Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and can help prevent various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  I love adding some to my morning shake, baking with it, or sauteing up my dinner with some!
Suggestions in the Kitchen: Instead of butter, stir a tablespoon of coconut oil into hot oatmeal, or spread on toast. Blend it into a smoothie. Or coat your pan with coconut oil when making French toast; it adds a lovely scent without overpowering other flavors.  Substitute coconut oil for sesame or olive oil in your next stir-fry.

Recipe: Sweet Popcorn
Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1/4 cup popcorn kernels to a pan set over high heat; cover. When kernels start to pop, keep covered and shake over heat until popping slows. Pour popcorn into a bowl; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or salt. Enjoy!!!

Look After Your Ears!

the human earThe ears are perhaps the most intricate of the body’s five senses. They are very extraordinary in the way they operate translating the sound signals they pick around us into information in a form that can be easily understood by the brain. What’s even more remarkable is that unlike the eye and tongue that employ a plethora of chemical processes to operate, the ear’s working is entirely mechanical. It picks up sound waves in the form of mechanical vibrations and passes it on inform of coded mechanical signals making it top among the most exceptional of the body’s organs.

The ear has the ability to pick up mechanical waves travelling through any media be it gas, solid or liquid making it be among the most perceptive of all the other senses. Sound waves are fundamentally displaced air particles traveling in a particular manner and depending on the sequence of their displacement, the ear distinguishes one sound from another. It possesses the unique ability to decipher these signals depending on how they hit it.

The ear is also responsible for the body’s balance, making it the body’s biggest multi-tasker. But despite all the remarkable abilities the year possesses, it is remains among the most delicate and sensitive of all organs. It is not sufficiently protected from harmful agents seeking to destroy it. So what are these agents and how can the ear be adequately protected from them?

Ear Damage

Ear damage is often characterized by mechanical damage to one’s ear which may eventually lead to partial or complete loss of their hearing their hearing function. Loud workplace noise is a frequent cause of hearing loss (leading to an ever increading munber of industrial deafness claims). Prolonged exposure to this noise causes the wearing out of the hairs and nerve cells in the ear’s cochlea responsible for sending sound signals to the brain. When theses nerve cells or hairs are damaged or missing, the transfer of electrical signals becomes impaired leading to hearing loss. One becomes particularly insensitive to high pitch tones, and it becomes especially difficult for one to pick out noise against background noises. Continuous use of headphones and prolonged patronage to noisy places such as nightclubs also has a similar effect. Another common cause of deafness is the continued use of firearms without proper protective gear. So how does one protect themselves sufficiently?

Protect Your Ears!

Earmuffs have been fronted and recommended as a very sufficient method of noise cancellation. They fit against the head effectively enclosing the entire external ears prevent noise from getting in. They are also lined with an acoustic form that reduces levels by a staggering 15 to 30 decibels. Canal caps are also a pretty common method of protection against hearing loss. They effectively cap’ off the hearing canal protecting one from dangerous noise levels.

Another effective protection against dangerous sonic waves is the ear plug. When correctly fitted in the ear, this device expands and fills the ear canal completely sealing out noise. When used together with earmuffs, the ear plug can cancel tremendous levels of noise, even that above 100 decibels. These tools have therefore made it possible for one to work even in the noisiest of environments without fear of losing their very revered sense of hearing.