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When are the sun’s rays the strongest?
If you expose your skin between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest, you are more likely to burn. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing to safeguard your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The sun’s most dangerous burning rays are Ultra Violet B. These are called UVB for short. Think “B for burning.” UVB rays are strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Make every effort to minimize your time outdoors during these hours. And remember, the closer you live to the equator, the stronger the sun’s rays for more hours in the day, since there is more daylight time in these areas. The sun is also stronger at higher altitudes. In addition, snow, sand, and water reflect the sun’s rays and greatly increase their intensity. If you ski or if you go to the beach, do everything you reasonably can to shield and protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
Dr. Bligard says the worst consequence of long-term exposure to the sun is the development of skin cancer. Because the sun damage to the skin develops over years, the older you are, the greater the risk of developing skin cancer. After years of exposure to the sunlight, providers look for three common types of skin cancer (in order of how often they occur): basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
This type of skin cancer almost always occurs on sun-damaged skin and is usually pink, shiny and raised. Because the skin becomes very soft, it may be easily injured and so may appear as a scab that keeps returning in the same spot. Dr. Bligard identifies that basal cell carcinoma is especially common in the beard area of men where they use a razor and take the top off the cancer. Although BCC doesn’t generally spread, it does get bigger and deeper over time and can become a problem if ignored.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
This skin cancer is also caused by exposure to the sun, but can also occur in burn scars (from either heat or radiation treatment) or from chronic ulcers of the skin. In a small number of cases, SCC can spread to the lymph nodes and (rarely) to other organs. Dr. Bligard says these can vary in severity and may require special surgical treatments, such as Mohs Surgery, for removal, if they are large or in difficult-to-treat areas.
Melanoma is the least common of these skin cancers, but it is increasing every year, especially in young women between the ages of 18 and 29 because of the high rate of tanning bed use in this population. Melanoma is very dangerous and can occur any place where there are pigment-producing cells, include the entire skin (it does not have to be in direct sun-exposed areas, but sun exposure increases the risk), moles, birthmarks and the eye. It can spread to lymph nodes and beyond to other organs, including the brain, lungs and liver. Melanoma is much more common in families with a history of abnormal moles or malignant melanoma. Those who have had melanoma have a significant risk of developing other melanomas, so Dr. Bligard recommends regular skin checks.
Dr. Bligard says it is very important that malignant melanoma be diagnosed early, as the thinner the tumor is, the less likely it is to spread. Although there is a lot of research into treatment of melanoma, the best treatment is surgical removal of the tumor and any involved lymph nodes before it has spread.
How does the sun cause skin cancer?
20 June 2019 | Cancer prevention, Cancer research
sobel Bandurek, our Research Interpretation Manager, takes a look at our latest report on skin cancer.
Today we published our skin cancer report, which collates the findings on diet, nutrition, physical activity and the risk of skin cancer. There is strong evidence that being taller increases the risk of melanoma (a type of skin cancer) and that drinking water contaminated with arsenic increases the risk of skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma). But surely radiation from the sun is the most important risk factor for skin cancer?
Purified vs Distilled vs Regular Water: What’s the Difference?
Optimal water intake is essential for your health.
Every cell in your body needs water to function properly, which is why you must continuously hydrate throughout the day.
Most people know how important water intake is, but some are confused over the best type of water to drink.
This article investigates the differences between purified, distilled and regular water to find out which one is the best choice for hydration.
What Is Purified Water?
Purified water is water that has been filtered or processed to remove impurities like chemicals and other contaminants.
It is usually produced using groundwater or tap water.
Through purification, many types of impurities are removed, including (1Trusted Source):
Metals like copper and lead
Several methods are used to purify water commercially and in the home.
In most Western countries, public drinking water is purified to make water safe for human consumption.
However, standards for drinking water around the world vary and are typically based on governmental regulations or international standards.
In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that over 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water (2Trusted Source).
In countries that purify public drinking water, various treatment methods are used to make water safe, including (3Trusted Source):
Coagulation and flocculation: Positively charged chemicals are added to water to bind with negatively charged particles so they can be filtered out. This forms larger particles called floc.
Sedimentation: Due to its larger size, floc settles to the bottom of the water supply, separated from the clean water.
Filtration: The clean water on top of the supply then flows through numerous filtration systems made of sand, charcoal and gravel. This removes contaminants like dust, bacteria, chemicals and viruses.
Disinfection: During this step, chemical disinfectants like chlorine are added to the water to kill any remaining bacteria or viruses that may have survived the first few steps.
It’s important to note that water may be treated differently depending on the area and quality of the local water.
Purified water is water that has been processed to remove contaminants like dirt and chemicals. In many countries, tap water is purified to make it safe for human consumption.
Health Benefits of Purified Water
While tap water is safe to drink in many areas, it may still contain trace contaminants.
For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets legal limits that are considered safe for consumers for over 90 contaminants in drinking water (4).
However, the Safe Water Drinking Act gives individual states the ability to regulate their own drinking water standards, as long as they meet the EPA’s minimum requirements for contaminants (5).
This means that some states have more stringent drinking water regulations than others.
Although measures are taken to ensure that public drinking water is safe for consumption, it can contain trace amounts of contaminants that could negatively impact health.
For instance, the heavy metals lead and copper are extremely toxic to health. They can cause stomach distress and lead to brain damage when ingested over time (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
These heavy metals have been known to leach into drinking water, even in countries where public water sources are closely regulated (8Trusted Source).
By using in-home water filters or drinking purified bottled water, drinking water undergoes another level of purification that can remove metals, chemicals and other contaminants, depending on the type of purification system used.
Water purification systems like charcoal filters remove chlorine, a common chemical added to the public water supply as a disinfectant.
Several studies have linked chlorinated water to an increased risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Another benefit of water purification is that it removes unpleasant tastes associated with chemical treatments, organic matter or metal plumbing, leaving you with fresh, pure-tasting drinking water.
Water purification removes contaminants that may remain in drinking water and improves water quality and taste.
Potential Downfalls of Purified Water
While purified water has many health benefits, it also has some potential drawbacks.
For example, fluoride is a mineral that is added to public drinking water supplies in some countries to improve dental health and reduce dental decay (11Trusted Source).
Although this practice has led to decreased tooth decay in children, especially in at-risk areas, some argue that fluoridated water is not worth the potential health risks associated with its use.
Excessive fluoride levels can be toxic to both brain and nerve cells, and long-term exposure to high levels of fluoride has been linked to learning, memory and cognitive deficits (12Trusted Source).
However, experts argue that the level of fluoride found in drinking water is safe and beneficial in reducing tooth decay, especially in children who are only exposed to fluoride through drinking water (13Trusted Source).
Research on the safety and efficacy of fluoridated water is ongoing, but those who drink purified water should be aware that some purification systems remove fluoride from drinking water.
Some other disadvantages of purified water include:
Upkeep: Water purification systems must be maintained regularly. If not properly maintained, contaminants can build up in old filters and leach into your drinking water.
May not remove some contaminants: Although water purification systems remove many contaminants, certain pesticides and chemicals may remain in purified water depending on the type of purification used.
Cost: Both installing an in-home water purification system and buying purified bottled water can be expensive, with some systems costing hundreds of dollars.
Waste: Buying purified water in plastic bottles leads to a large amount of waste, as does disposing of used filters from in-home purification systems.
Water purification may not remove all contaminants from drinking water, and certain purification systems can be costly and involve upkeep. Certain purification methods remove fluoride, a mineral added to drinking water to improve dental health.
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Distilled Water Is a Type of Purified Water
Distilled water has gone through the process of distillation to remove impurities.
Distillation involves boiling water and collecting the steam, which returns to water upon cooling.
This process is very effective at removing contaminants like bacteria, viruses, protozoa like giardia and chemicals like lead and sulfate (14).
Due to the fact that distilled water is exceptionally pure, it is commonly used in medical facilities and laboratories.
Though drinking distilled water is not as common as drinking other types of purified water, some people choose to drink it because it is free of contaminants.
Benefits of Distilled Water
Water distillation is an effective way to remove contaminants from drinking water.
Levels of pesticides and other chemicals in public water sources like tap water will depend on your geographic location and the agencies that regulate drinking water safety in your country.
Distilled water is essentially free of contaminants like pesticides and bacteria, which could be especially helpful to those with weakened immune systems.
For example, those with HIV/AIDS and certain cancers are at an increased risk of becoming sick from impurities in food and water and may benefit from drinking distilled water (15Trusted Source).
What’s more, like some other purification methods, distilled water effectively removes chlorine from drinking water, which can improve the taste of water while decreasing your exposure to chlorine.
Potential Risks of Distilled Water
While distilled water is the purest type of water, it’s not necessarily healthiest.
The distillation process is very effective at removing potentially harmful contaminants, but it also removes the natural minerals and electrolytes found in water.
Along with unwanted impurities, beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium are also left behind as the steam rises during the distillation process.
In fact, distillation typically removes around 99.9% of all minerals found in tap water (16).
Though water is not typically thought of as a source of minerals, any factor that leads to a decreased intake of essential micronutrients could negatively impact your health.
For example, drinking water that’s low in calcium and magnesium has been associated with an increased risk of fracture, preterm birth and heart disease (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
However, it’s important to note that tap water is not a major source of mineral intake for most people, and drinking distilled water should be relatively safe as long as a well-balanced diet is followed.
Like other methods of purification, distillation removes fluoride from drinking water, which may put those who choose to drink distilled water at an increased risk of cavities.
This makes it important for those who drink distilled water to maintain proper dental hygiene.
Distilled water is a type of purified water that is essentially free from contaminants. The distillation process removes fluoride and natural minerals found in drinking water.
Should You Choose Purified Water Over Regular Water?
In most cases, public drinking water sources like tap water are safe due to the strict contaminant limits set by regulatory agencies.
However, drinking water can become contaminated from natural sources or human activity, affecting water quality (19).
For this reason, it may be a good idea to invest in an in-home water purification system, especially those who are immunocompromised and more susceptible to becoming ill from contaminated water.
In countries where water contamination is an issue, especially in developing countries with lack of proper sanitation, choosing bottled or purified water is always the safest option.
Many types of purification systems are available, including charcoal and UV filters, which remove impurities that may survive the initial, large-scale purification process that most tap water goes through.
That being said, in countries where public drinking water is regulated for quality and safety, drinking tap water is relatively safe.
If you question the quality of your tap water, you can test the water by purchasing a home test kit or contacting a water testing agency in your area.
Though consuming tap water is safe in countries where drinking water is regulated, water purification may be necessary in areas where water contamination is an issue.
How to Purify Your Drinking Water
Most public sources of drinking water are regulated for safety, but some people choose to use home water purifiers to further improve water quality.
Household water treatment units can improve the taste or odor of tap water and remove specific contaminants.
Point-of-use (POU) treatment systems purify only the water that is used for consumption (drinking and cooking). Point-of-entry (PUE) treatment systems typically treat all of the water entering a home (20).
POU systems are less expensive and therefore more commonly used in households.
These filtration systems attach to the faucet or sit under the sink and also come in free-standing water pitchers with built-in filters like the popular Brita water filter.
Some refrigerators also come with built-in water purification systems.
Most in-home water filtration systems use the following purification techniques (21Trusted Source):
Filtration: Filtration systems trap unwanted impurities in the surface or pores of an absorbent medium. Charcoal filters fall into this category.
Reverse osmosis: These systems use a semipermeable membrane that removes impurities.
UV light: UV light filtration systems use ultraviolet light to disinfect water by killing potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.
Depending on the type and model, prices can range from $20 to hundreds of dollars.
No matter what type of filter you choose, be sure to look for brands with certifications from regulatory agencies like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and NSF International.
These agencies certify that home water purification systems meet or exceed national drinking water standards (22).
Home water purification systems must be maintained properly. As a result, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for upkeep, including filter replacement, to ensure that your water is being properly purified.
There are many ways to purify your drinking water, including charcoal filters, UV light filtration systems and reverse osmosis systems.
The Bottom Line
Access to clean drinking water is vital to health.
While most sources of public drinking water are closely regulated and safe to drink, many prefer to drink purified water.
Purified water is relatively safe and may reduce exposure to certain contaminants that can be found in tap water.
Remember that water quality can vary depending on where you live. This should be the determining factor when choosing to drink purified water or tap water.
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A lifetime of drinking California water could raise cancer risk, study finds …
May 1, 2019 – This article is more than 3 months old … Drinking California tap water over the course of a lifetime could increase the risk of cancer, according to a study published on Tuesday … But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do. … 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
But the study found that a majority of the cancer risk was due to the cumulative effect of these legally allowed amounts. “A large majority of the cancer risk, about 85% of it, is due to the combination of contaminants that are present at legal limits,” explained Tasha Stoiber, an Environmental Working Group senior scientist and the lead author of the report.
Drinking-Water Quality: What You Need to Know
Most of us don’t think about the water we drink. We turn on a tap, fill a glass, and drink. But how much water do you really need to drink every day? Is the water you’re drinking safe or would bottled water be safer? What can you do if your tap water suddenly became contaminated? Read on to find out how much you know about the drinking water in your own home.
How Much Water Do You Need?
Your body weight is more than 50% water. Without water, you couldn’t maintain a normal body temperature, lubricate your joints, or get rid of waste through urination, sweat, and bowel movements.
Not getting enough water can lead to dehydration, which can cause muscle weakness and cramping, a lack of coordination, and an increased risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In fact, water is so important that a person couldn’t last more than five days without it.
So how much water do you need? Enough to replace what you lose daily through urination, sweating, even exhaling. And your need for water increases:
You often hear that you need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommend that women drink more than 11 8-ounce glasses (91 ounces) of water daily, and men drink more than 15 glasses of water(125 ounces) per day.
The Crisis Lurking in Californians’ Taps: How 1,000 Water Systems May Be at Risk
The troubled districts, which operate in mostly poor areas on thin budgets, receive little oversight and face a host of problems.
Would You Drink Water Out of a Can? Pepsi Wants to Find Out
Consumers have already adjusted to, or even welcomed, cans for seltzer, craft beer and even wine. Will they feel the same way about still water?
How to make the perfect no-churn ice-cream – recipe
No ice-cream maker, no returning to the freezer tub to churn every half hour. You might not get Mr Whippy, but you’ll get all the flavour and none of the hassle
love ice-cream more than almost anything else in the world – but I’ll be honest, I don’t love making it. All that faffing about with egg custards, the swearing and bashed elbows as you dig around for the dusty ice-cream maker at the back of the shed, if you even own such a thing in the first place – all things considered, it’s a lot easier to pop to the shops and shell out for some professional stuff.
But, however good the selection in your local supermarket, you’ll be hard pushed to find any flavour more interesting than 25 variations on chocolate, which is where no churn ice-cream comes in. Yes, it’s inevitably a slight compromise, because churning whips air into the mixture, giving the finished product a certain lightness, but do it right, and the results can be surprisingly good, and certainly worth the very minimal effort involved. And once you’ve mastered it, a world of flavour is your oyster. (NB: that isn’t a suggestion; I had oyster ice-cream once on the Ile de Ré and it was disgusting).
Eggs are divisive in ice-cream generally; neither kulfi nor Philadelphia-style ice-cream require them, and gelato tends to contain less than the kind of ice-cream traditionally made in this country. They’re not often used in no-churn ice-cream, probably because they suggest a more complex method than most people are looking for here, but Mary Berry, pastry chef Stella Parks and New York Times columnist Melissa Clark all stick them in anyway, albeit in very different forms.
Nigel Slater’s grilled mackerel and smoked mackerel pâté recipes
Fresh mackerel catches the flavour of the sea in summer
he fishmonger is laying out his produce on the ice. The counter is his stage, arranged fresh each morning, just as everyone is going to work in the early light. The catch is his cast, we are his audience, watching the sparkling ice with its ever-changing characters. A blue net of mussels; a tumbling pile of prawns in their shells; a rust-red lobe of smoked cod’s roe, and always a fierce fish head, its razor-sharp teeth barred, there to terrorise the kids.
Sometimes there will be whole squid, their tentacles tangled as if to comfort one another, or a cod sliced into soup-friendly pieces. There is often a crate of fat lemons and a box of spiky fingers of samphire. On a good day, there will be mackerel. The most sustainable are those labelled “line-caught”. Set in a soldierly row, each one taut and firm. Fresh mackerel for the grill, smoked for a pâté. The first shimmering silver and blue, the second in shades of gold, black and amber. Mackerel has always been a favourite fish of mine, long before I learned to pick out hake to cook in a shallow dish with a green sauce or halibut to grill as I might a sirloin of beef, its pearlescent flesh holding a shallow pool of almost melted butter and lemon.
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Nigel Slater’s puffed rice with redcurrants and cucumber recipe
A substantial dish that could serve as a main course as well as a side salad
Peel 200g of cucumber, halve lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut the flesh into small dice and place in a large mixing bowl.
In a dry, shallow pan, toast 1 tsp of cumin seeds and 1½ tsp of coriander seeds until fragrant, then add 1 tsp of garam masala. Tip the spice mix into a mortar and crush to a fine powder.
Remove 100g of redcurrants from their stalks and drop into a bowl. Pull 3 tbsp of parsley leaves from their stalks and mix with the currants. Squeeze in the juice of a lime and add 2 tbsp of olive oil then mix together.
Put 200ml of yogurt into a small bowl. Trim a punnet of cress and add to the yogurt, then chop and stir in 3 spring onions and 20 small mint leaves.
Return the ground spices to the pan, add 1 tbsp of groundnut or vegetable oil, then add 25g of puffed rice. Place over a moderate heat and cook until the rice is lightly toasted and coated in the spices. Toss everything together then serve with the mint yogurt. Stir together as you serve. Serves 2-3.
You need unsweetened puffed rice for this, available from wholefoods shops. You can mix together the cucumber and currants and toss the puffed rice and spices, but leave them to the last minute to mix with the yogurt to avoid soggy salad.
The rice is quite filling and this would make a fine main salad for a summer lunch. Alternatively, serve it as a side salad for grilled chicken or salmon, or as one of series of small salads. I like it especially scattered over the top of a dish of chickpea hummus and to eat with warm flatbread. You can’t beat a lunch of triple carbs.
Email Nigel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@NigelSlater
Happy Days, Restful Nights: Optimistic People Are Better Sleepers, Study Finds
Falling asleep can feel like an impossible task sometimes. While some people fall asleep easier than others, everyone experiences the occasional sleepless night. Well, according to a new long-term study, the key to a better night’s sleep may just be looking on the bright side of life.
Researchers from the University of Illinois say that the more optimistic a person is, the more likely they are to enjoy longer, more restful sleep patterns.
“Results from this study revealed significant associations between optimism and various characteristics of self-reported sleep after adjusting for a wide array of variables, including socio-demographic characteristics, health conditions and depressive symptoms,” explains study leader Rosalba Hernandez in a release.
More than 3,500 people between the ages of 32-51 took part in the study, and each person’s level of optimism was measured using a survey. The surveys asked participants how much they agreed with various positive and negative statements such as, “I’m always optimistic about my future,” or, “I hardly expect things to go my way.”
Participants also self-reported on their sleep patterns and quality twice over the course of five years, and answered questions on any bouts of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, and the average number of hours they slept per night. A smaller subset of participants also wore sleep monitors for two nights that recorded data on time spent sleeping, sleep quality, and restlessness while asleep.
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The study found that for each data point increase in a participant’s optimism score, their chances of reporting very good sleep quality increased by 78%. Additionally, individuals with higher optimism levels were much more likely to report regularly getting enough sleep — anywhere from six to nine hours per night. Positive individuals were also 74% more likely to have no insomnia issues or daytime sleepiness.
Lack of sleep is a real issue in the United States, with an estimated one in three adults failing to regularly get an adequate amount of sleep each night. While simply staying positive may seem like a overly simple solution to sleep problems, the study’s authors say that optimism can be a powerful psychological asset.
“The lack of healthy sleep is a public health concern, as poor sleep quality is associated with multiple health problems, including higher risks of obesity, hypertension and all-cause mortality,” Hernandez says. “Dispositional optimism – the belief that positive things will occur in the future – has emerged as a psychological asset of particular salience for disease-free survival and superior health.”
Hernandez and her team aren’t exactly sure why a positive mindset leads to better sleep, but they hypothesize that positivity likely alleviates the effects of stress on the psyche and promotes a more restful mental state.
The study is published in the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.
Eating mostly plant-based foods and fewer animal-based foods may be linked to better heart health and a lower risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular disease according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
“While you don’t have to give up foods derived from animals completely, our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher, Casey M. Rebholz, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.
Researchers reviewed a database of food intake information from more than 10,000 middle-aged U.S. adults who were monitored from 1987 through 2016 and did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. They then categorized the participants’ eating patterns by the proportion of plant-based foods they ate versus animal-based foods.
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How Dogs Think
Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.
This is excerpted from TIME How Dogs Think: Inside the Canine Mind, now available at retailers and on Amazon.
You speak dog better than you think you do. You may not be fluent; that would require actually being a dog. But if you went to live in a dogs-only world, you’d be pretty good at understanding what they’re saying. You can tell a nervous yip from a menacing growl, a bark that says hello from a bark that says get lost. You can read the body language that says happy, that says sad, that says tired, that says scared, that says Please, please, please play with me right now!
Think that’s not a big deal? Then answer this: What does a happy bird look like? A sad lion? You don’t know, but dog talk you get. And as with your first human language, you didn’t even have to try to learn it. You grew up in a world in which dogs are everywhere and simply came to understand them.
The relationship began—well, nobody knows exactly when it began. The earliest remains of humans and dogs interred together date to 14,000 years ago, but there are some unconfirmed finds that are said to be more than twice as old. The larger point is the meaning of the discoveries: we lived with dogs and then chose to be buried with them. Imagine that.
Why Dogs and Humans Love Each Other More Than Anyone Else
Food & Health
Is coffee good for you or not? BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
About Coffee and health
Just a couple of calories a cup, good old black coffee packs quite a punch. It wakes you up, boosts your metabolic rate and decreases the risk of some diseases.
Not that habitual coffee drinkers need convincing, but evidence of its health benefits stacks up quickly:
It gives you energy and may help you lose weight and sharpen your mental focus, thanks to the magic of caffeine. Studies have shown that caffeine may improve your mood, help your brain work better and improve performance during exercise.
A regular java habit is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, in one study, caffeine was linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants, which may help protect cells from damage.
Higher consumption of coffee — caffeinated and decaf alike — was associated with a lower risk of total mortality, including deaths attributed to heart disease, nervous system diseases and suicide.
More specifically, habitual coffee drinking has been linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease in women.
For health-conscious coffee lovers then, the most important question isn’t, “Is it good for you?” but rather, “How do you take it?”
If you dress your coffee up too much with cream and sugar, you risk negating the health benefits.
“We know that sugar has adverse effects,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition professor at Penn State University. “Even if you add sugar and don’t exceed your calorie needs, you’re still negating some of the benefits because sugar is a negative food ingredient.”
That warning goes double for even fancier coffee drinks. The federal dietary guidelines say three to five cups of coffee per day can be part of a healthy diet, but that only refers to plain black coffee.
“They’re not talking about these large Frappuccinos that have at least 800 calories a beverage,” Kris-Etherton said. “Very quickly, calories can add up, and weight gain will create negative effects on cardiac risk.”
Despite its benefits, caffeine also can be dangerous if consumed in excess.
“We all know how important sleep is,” Kris-Etherton said. “You don’t want to disrupt normal sleep habits and good sleep because you’ve had too much caffeine, so if you want to include coffee in your diet, be sure to think about timing.”
Anyone who’s had one cup too many knows that heart-fluttering feeling that comes next; for some people, those jitters may be a warning sign.
“Some people are slow metabolizers of caffeine,” Kris- Etherton said. “It’s a genetic predisposition. Some people can experience jitters, palpitation, insomnia — sort of like those energy drinks that give you a big boost.”
Caffeine also is addictive, and cutting back too quickly can cause withdrawal symptoms, especially terribly harsh headaches.
It’s worth noting that kids shouldn’t drink coffee, Kris-Etherton said. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, in general, kids avoid caffeine-containing beverages.
Kris-Etherton also cautioned that brewing methods can affect cardiovascular risk. For example, she said, paper filters remove a compound called cafestol that increases LDL cholesterol (the harmful type), so unfiltered coffee could pose a higher health risk.
“Most people drink filtered coffee,” she said. “But you know, French presses are so popular too, and that may not be good for you, especially if you drink a lot of coffee.”
Still, Kris-Etherton said, research shows that the health benefits of coffee — even decaf — seem to outweigh the risks: “Just pay attention to how you’re feeling after consuming coffee. Get in sync with how your body’s feeling.”
Your health and blueberries
Harvard Men’s Health Watch
Blueberries may help lower blood pressure
In the journals
Eating a cup of blueberries every day may help your blood pressure, suggests a new study. The results, published online Feb. 16, 2019, by The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, found that consuming 200 grams of blueberries (about one cup) daily can improve blood vessel function and decrease systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading).
Researchers recruited 40 healthy men and randomly gave them either a drink containing 200 grams of whole wild blueberries or a control drink (which looked and tasted much the same) every day for a month. The team also monitored the men’s blood pressure as well as the flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery in their upper arms. This measures how the artery widens when blood flow increases and is a marker of reduced cardiovascular disease risk.
Afterward, the researchers found that flow-mediated dilation improved by about 2% within two hours of consuming the blueberry drink and the effect was sustained after one month of daily consumption. Also, systolic blood pressure fell by an average of 5 millimeters of mercury. The effect was similar to that from common blood pressure drugs over the same period.
The experts pointed to the blueberries’ high levels of anthocyanins as the possible reason. Anthocyanins are the phytochemicals that give blueberries their dark color. (While all berries contain anthocyanins, blueberries have one of the highest levels.)
The research also showed that anthocyanins improve the function of endothelial cells in the body. These cells line the inner surface of blood vessels and help with blood flow and blood pressure regulation. The researchers added that blueberries may not only help control high blood pressure, but also may prevent people from developing hypertension.
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