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Can Silence Heal Your Brain? Science Says Yes 

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.” 

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”. 

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think. 

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence. 

 A 2013 study on mice  published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning. 

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons. 

“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.” 

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain. 

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence 

A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information. 

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.” 

When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues. 

When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world. 

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way. 

As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.” 

Silence relieves stress and tension. 

It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones. 

A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says. 

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain. 

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources. 

The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving. 

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills. 

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. 

Summation 

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good. 

What do you think? Will you be practicing silence? Let us know in the comments!

Could a Scientifically Designed Fasting Diet Cure Diabetes? 

On February 15, researchers from the University of Southern California published the results from a randomized clinical trial with regard to diet. The researchers discovered that periodic, five-day fasting diet of their design safely reduced the risk factors for major health issues people face such as: heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other age-related diseases. 

The research conducted placed 71 adults on three cycles of a low-calorie, "fasting-mimicking" diet. The phase II trial, conducted by researchers at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, demonstrated a host of benefits from the regimen. 

The diet reduced cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, signs of inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein levels), as well as fasting glucose and reduced levels of IGF-1, a hormone that affects metabolism. It also shrank waistlines and resulted in weight loss, both in total body fat and trunk fat, but not in muscle mass. 

In effect, the diet reduced the study participants' risks for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other age-related diseases, according to the findings published Feb. 15 in Science Translational Medicine. 

In a separate study, published on February 23 in the journal Cell, states that the diet reboots the body, which could lead to some potentially very exciting new treatments for diabetes. Scientists caution people to not suddenly go on their own fasting diets, as the diet used in the experiment is specifically and scientifically designed.

The fasting diet used in the experiment is similar to a diet where people spend five days on a low calorie, low protein, low carbohydrate but high unsaturated-fat diet. It resembles a vegan diet with nuts and soups, but with around 800 to 1,100 calories a day. The diet mimics periods of feast and famine, where there are 25 days of eating normally and 5 days of a fasting or fasting-mimicking diet. 

In previous experiments, it has been shown that such a diet can also slow down the aging process. 

So far with regard to how a fasting diet could help cure diabetes - the research has only been carried out on animals. That said, in the experiments, the mice on the fasting diet regenerated a special type of cell in the pancreas called a beta cell, which are the cells that detect sugar in the blood and release the hormone insulin if it gets too high. 

When speaking about the results of the experiment, Dr Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California, said: "Our conclusion is that by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back - by starving them and then feeding them again - the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that's no longer functioning."

Furthermore, what's promising about this experiment is that the fasting diet shows promising results for both Type I and Type II diabetes.  Dr. Longo further commented that the findings are so significant because they show that diet can be used to reverse the effects of diabetes, and that it can be used to re-program cells without the need of any genetic modifications. 

Dr Emily Burns, research communications manager at Diabetes UK, said: "This is potentially very exciting news, but we need to see if the results hold true in humans before we'll know more about what it means for people with diabetes. People with type-1 and type-2 diabetes would benefit immensely from treatments that can repair or regenerate insulin-producing cells in the pancreas." 

 Thus, while this is very exciting and promising news, a lot more work still needs to be done in this area.

How can you live to be 100-years-old? These 52 Centenarians Have Some Thoughts 

Award winning photographer, editor and artist Karsten Thormaehlen based in Frankfurt, Germany has captured gorgeous photos all over the globe of architecture, high-end luxury goods, and fashion models. For his most recent collection of published photos, he's chosen to focus on what he thinks is his most beautiful subject yet: centenarians- or people who have lived at least 100 years of life. 

In his book: "Aging Gracefully: Portraits of People over 100," Thormaehlen traveled from New York, to Japan, to Peru, to the Netherlands, and everywhere in between to take portraits of 52 centenarians. Each photograph in the collection is accompanied by insightful and engaging text about each subject that captures their essence, their insight and their wisdom that only comes from living over 100 years on this Earth. 

When asked about this project, Thormaehlen is quoted saying: 

“Since I’ve worked for many years in the beauty industry as an art director for luxury goods and cosmetic brands, I know what it takes to achieve ‘perfect beauty.’ It’s almost impossible! Like reaching ‘absolute zero’ or ‘squaring the circle.’ I’m convinced true beauty comes from self-awareness.”


                                      Tonaki Tsuru from Japan (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)

 

While selfies seem to have taken over the internet in recent years, Thormaehlen says very old people look at photography in a completely different way than most: 

“Being photographed is and has been something special in the past, only performed on special events, and on certain stages of one’s life: baptism, wedding, first child, all generations together, anniversaries etc. Back then, photographing was a complicated issue, it was expensive — and always very sad if the photo, which you saw days or weeks later for the first time, didn’t come out properly. ... They give me, the photographer, the impression that they enjoy the attention, being photographed. It’s fun for them.”


      Secundo Timoteo Arboleda Hurtado from Ecuador (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)

In order to find his subjects, Thormaehlen searched via many avenues: some he discovered through people who had seen his work, some through their grandchildren and some through advertisements or by talking to managers of resident homes. Some he found through online searches.

          Olivia Hooker from White Plains, New York (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)

Dr. Olivia Hooker of White Plains, New York, (pictured above) was one of the first African American women to join the U.S. Army. As a child, the Ku Klux Klan ransacked her home during the 1921 riots in Tulsa. "I still don't know why they bothered to burn up a little girl's doll clothes, but they did," she told the Wall Street Journal. When Thormaehlen photographed Hooker, he noted that the walls in her home are filled with diplomas and greetings from the Clintons, the Bushes and the Obamas.

                   Sigurgeir Jonsson from Iceland (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)

When speaking about the project, Thormaehlen spoke about how the main theme that continued to show up again and again was a shared love of life. Thormaehlen is quoted as saying: "I learned from almost everybody that they love living, 100 percent. They don’t think about dying, but if it happens it won’t be a problem."

                                      Maria Luisa Medina from Ecuador (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)


When visiting one of his subjects at her home in Ecuador, Thormaehlen had to clime a short but steep path to get to her. When Luz met him at the door and saw how hard the photographer was breathing from the climb, she smiled and said, "Hope this answers your question how to become 100!"

                                      Gaspare Mele from Italy (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)

One question Thormaehlen asked all of his subjects was: "What's the secret to your longevity?" 

In response to his question, Gaspare Mele from Italy shared: "Live and work in peace and harmony with yourself and with others. Always try and distinguish good from evil." 

Most days Gaspare can be found sitting at his kitchen table composing poetry on his timeworn typewriter.


Zoila Donatila Aliaga Melendez vda de Roman from Peru (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)

Zoila Donatila Aliaga Melendez vda de Roman from Peru believes that it's her faith that has allowed her to live so long. She gathers with friends at least twice a day to pray. Zoila has lived a full life - she married at 19 years of age and has 8 children, 21 grand children and 23 great-grandchildren. In addition to praying, she love to spend her time playing cards, knitting and reading.

Gerardus Jacobus Johannes Keizen from the Netherlands (Photo: 'Aging Gracefully' by Karsten Thormaehlen/Chronicle Books 2017)
 

When asked what his secret was, Gerardus Jacobus Johannes Keizen, a centenarian from the Netherlands, said: "A routine life of moderation. Go to bed early, don't smoke, don't drink — although you can always make an exception now and then for a whisky. And for gin, too." 

So there you have it - some helpful tools for living a long and vibrant life include: living in harmony with yourself and others, living a life of faith and everything in moderation. 

This book is a beautiful contribution to the world.

To find it, you can follow this link: http://amzn.to/2kMpC3g
 

Ever Dream of Living off the Grid? Check this Cool Video Out. (video) 

Have you ever fantasized about living off the grid? This incredible New Zealander, Warrick Mitchell gets to live deep in one of the world's most remote locations: Fiordland, New Zealand. He lives in the New Zealand's oldest national park is nestled in a vast wilderness that is accessible only by boat or airplane, a four day's walk from the nearest road. Life in isolation can be hard, but surrounded by breathtaking, pristine natural beauty, plentiful wildlife and a small but tight-knit community that is always willing to lend a hand, Mitchell would have it no other way. What do you think? Would you be able to live in such a remote location?

 

Are You Dating a Psychopath? Here's How You Can Tell... 


       In psychology, there is something known as the dark triadic personalities, which includes narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. In another article, we wrote about how you can discern whether or not you're in a relationship with a narcissist. Psychopaths make up about one percent of the general population. The focus of this article will be on traits exhibited by psychopaths and how to spot them. 

        Before exploring the traits exhibited by a psychopath, it's important to define psychopathy and determine how it's different from sociopathy. Many people use the terms sociopath and psychopath interchangeably. This is a topic that is discussed and debated by scholars in the field, and there is still no clear consensus about the difference. For the purpose of this article, we will define psychopaths as different from sociopaths. 

        According to Scott A. Bonn Ph.D., it is believed that psychopaths are a result of genetics ("nature") whereas sociopaths are a product of their environment ("nurture"). Psychopathy stems from a physiological defect that results in the underdevelopment of the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and emotions. Conversely, Sociopathy more likely results from childhood trauma and physical/emotional abuse. Furthermore, sociopaths often seem nervous and easily agitated, and they are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts. They also tend to live on the fringes of society. On the other hand, psychopaths are unable to form emotional attachments and do not feel empathy. Whereas sociopaths are nervous and agitated, psychopaths are generally well educated, hold good jobs and are excessively charming. This is why psychopaths can be so dangerous- because they can charm themselves so easily into your life and before you know it; they've taken over. 

        Together with a team of physicians and psychologists, Robert Hale created the instrument called the "Psychopathy Checklist," which is now used worldwide by clinicians and researchers to distinguish psychopaths from "rule breakers." While it is good to know what these traits are, only a licensed professional can determine if a person is in fact a psychopath.  Below is a list of traits that define psychopaths. Each term will have a brief description with it, and then following the list of traits, we will illustrate how a psychopath could work his/her way into your life, and how to watch out for it.

Emotional/Interpersonal: 

Glib and superficial 

  • Psychopaths are often amusing and great conversationalists, always ready with a clever comeback. They tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They are very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming. 

Egocentric and grandiose 

  • Psychopaths possess a truly astounding egocentricity and sense of entitlement. They see themselves as the center of the universe, and are therefore justified in living according to their own rules. 

Lack of remorse or guilt 

  • No matter how devastating their actions may be on others, psychopaths exhibit a stunning lack of concern. They will calmly state that they have no sense of guilt for their actions, and that there is no reason to be concerned. They are often forthright about this admission, as they feel no remorse or responsibility, and they easily come up with excuses for their actions. 

Lack of empathy 

  • Psychopaths cannot put themselves "in the other's shoes." On an intellectual level they may be able to imagine how others feel, but generally they are indifferent to the pain and suffering of others. 

Deceitful and manipulative 

  • Psychopaths constantly construct lies and stories about themselves. Even if they find themselves trapped in a lie, rather than feel embarrassed and admit the truth, they have constructed such a complex web of lies about themselves that they just create a whole new story and rework all the facts to rationalize the lie they were trapped in. 

Shallow emotions 

  • Psychopaths lack a depth of emotion. Often they appear cold and unresponsive. They can pretend to feel passion, but when observed more closely, they appear to be play-acting.


Social Deviance: 

Impulsive 

  • If asked why they did something, a common response from a psychopath is "I did it because I felt like it." The primary aim of a psychopaths modus operandi is to achieve immediate satisfaction, relief or pleasure. 

Poor behavior controls 

  • Psychopaths react poorly to perceived slights or criticism. They can often respond with sudden violent outbursts that are short lived, and as soon as they are over, the psychopath acts as if nothing happened. 

Need for excitement 

  • They live for excitement. They often create their own rules for life and they can often be seen as people who "live on the edge." 

Lack of responsibility 

  • Psychopaths are unreliable - do not count on them for fulfilling obligations or commitments. 

Early behavior problems 

  • Most psychopaths begin to exhibit serious behavioral problems at an early age. These might include persistent lying, cheating, theft, arson, truancy, substance abuse, vandalism, and/or precocious sexuality. It is important to emphasize that the psychopath's history of such behaviors is more extensive and serious than most. 

Adult antisocial behavior 

  • Because they set their own rules, Psychopaths see the rules and expectations of society as inconvenient and unreasonable impediments to their own behavioral expression.

     Now that you have reviewed the checklist of traits that define psychopaths, we will walk you through how a relationship with a psychopath could unfold and how you can identify it. 

1. They reel you in with idealization, love-bombing, and flattery. 

  • When you first meet a psychopath, they oversaturate you with information that makes it seem like you have a lot in common and are perfect for one another. They mirror all your hopes and dreams, and before you know it, you're excited about them, you trust them and you're hooked. They initiate all the communication, they plaster your Facebook wall with posts, shower you with compliments, share songs and inside jokes. Suddenly you're receiving so much attention it can be thrilling, yet overwhelming. 

2. They prey on your emotions with pity plays and sympathy stories. 

  • They quickly find a way into your heart by telling stories that make you trust and pity them at the same time. They talk about how crazy their last ex was and how they want to get away from the drama. The more time you spend with them though, the more you'll realize that drama exists in many facets of their life. 

3. They involve you in their own versions of "love triangles." 

  • As soon as your relationship gets more serious, suddenly the psychopath begins to invite past lovers, exes and potential mates back into their life. People that had previously been denounced as below you are now back in the picture because the psychopath lives for the attention. Before you know it, you begin to doubt yourself and you feel confused with regard to your relationship. The psychopath appears to be in "high demand" and you don't know how you stack up anymore. 

4. They constantly rewrite reality and exhibit other crazy-making behavior. 

  • If you speak with a psychopath about their manipulative behavior they will deny it. If you question their stories they become critical of your attempts to disprove the reality they've created with "facts." Rather than address and change their behavior, they put the blame on you for how you react to their behavior. Suddenly, you feel like the "crazy" one.

5. They accuse you of feeling emotions that they are intentionally provoking. 

  • As you get drawn further into their web, the psychopath will provoke you by blatantly flirting in front of you with other people. When you call them out on it, you will suddenly be labeled as "jealous." Where you previously thought you were a relaxed an easy-going person, you'll find yourself constantly on edge and labeled as "hysterical" by the person you are now dating. You're whole emotional world is flipped. 

6. You've noticed them pathologically lying and making excuses. 

  • Psychopaths do not take responsibility for anything, and they often cast blame on everything but themselves. If you catch them in a lie, rather than feel embarrassed and admit it, they will come up with another story. Rather than change or improve their behavior, they spend their time rationalizing it and coming up with excuses. 

7. They provoke jealousy and rivalries while maintaining their cover of innocence. 

  • With time, they shift their attention to others. Whereas in the beginning they plied you with compliments, inside jokes and songs, now all that energy is going towards others - especially old flames or potential new partners. If you didn't doubt yourself before, now you're really starting to doubt yourself. 

8. They withhold attention and undermine your self-esteem. 

  • Before you know it, the psychopath appears to be "bored" of you. They "love-bombed" you in the beginning, but now that interest has waned. They treat you with silence. When you try and rekindle the passion that existed in the beginning that they created, they get annoyed with you. You've now become a chore.

9. They exhibit selfishness and a crippling thirst for attention. 

  • Suddenly, you realize how drained of energy you feel. This person consumes your life, and you aren't getting anything back from it. You initially thought you were the person, the only person who could make them happy, but as the relationship developed you see that they thirst for attention from anyone and everyone. You can never fill that void - no one can. 

10. You don't recognize your own feelings. 

  • If you've made it this far in the relationship, you've lost all sense of self. Where you were filled with love and compassion, your emotions are replaced with anxiety, sadness and stress. You don't recognize yourself. You used to think of yourself as easy-going and fun, and now you can barely get out of bed in the morning. At the end of it all, you will fell drained, shocked, and empty. You are a shell of your former self. 

       Because psychopathy is a psychological disorder, it is something that cannot be "cured" or "improved" through deep emotional work. Psychopaths simply do not have the capacity to change. Therefore, if you find yourself romantically entangled with a psychopath, the only course of action is to get out of the relationship as quickly as possible. Relationships with psychopaths leave long-lasting damage - such as feelings of doubt about yourself and that you'll never be good enough or deserving of a healthy relationship. The first step in the process is setting boundaries for yourself and cutting off all contact - phone, email, social media, etc. It might be difficult at first, but it's a necessary step in taking back your agency and reminding yourself of your own value and greatness.



 

Hazardous Chemicals Found in 1/3 of Fast Food Packaging! Is Your Food Affected? 

By now you've probably heard the recommendation to trade out your non-stick cooking pans for cast iron, ceramic or glass ones. Some products that are "stain resistant," "non-stick," or "water proof," might be easier to spot and stay away from than others. What you might not have realized, was just how dangerous some fast food packagings can be. Granted, you might be aware when you're purchasing a fast food burger or burrito that it's bad for your health because of the fat, sugar and salt content, but you might not be thinking of how harmful it can be for your health because of how it's packaged. In a recent report published on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, the authors shared their findings that about one-third of the packaging that researchers tested was found to contain fluorinated chemicals.  These chemicals are favored in food packaging because of their "grease resistant" properties.

A study by the Silent Spring Institute found fluorinated chemicals in one-third of the fast food packaging tested. Previous studies have shown PFASs can migrate from food packaging into the food you eat. 38% of sandwich/burger contact paper contained fluorine.
 

You might be wondering "what are fluorinated chemicals and why are they dangerous?" Highly fluorinated chemicals contain carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonds, which are some of the strongest bonds in nature. That makes them both incredibly resistant to breakdown and very useful in many industrial capacities, including fast food packaging. That said, there are several scientific studies that have shown a link between these chemicals and the onset of: 

  • testicular and kidney cancer 
  • liver malfunction 
  • hormonal changes 
  • thyroid disruption 
  • high cholesterol 
  • obesity 
  • ulcerative colitis 
  • low birth weight and size 

Because the chemical bond between fluorine and carbon is so strong, it can take years to break down once it's in the human body, and it will stay in the body for years.

                                56% of dessert and bread contact paper contained fluorine

Laurel Schaider, a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute and one of the authors of the paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters stated that: "Previous studies have shown that PFASs can migrate from food packaging into the food you eat... These studies have found that the extent of migration depends on the temperature of the food, the type of food and how long the food is in contact with the paper. And it depends on which specific chemical is in the packaging."

                                57% of Tex-Mex contact paper tested contained fluorine

 

The study was conducted by scientists from five institutions. For the study, they collected more than 400 samples of fast food packaging from 27 leading US chains. 

They then split the types of packaging into six categories: food contact paper (sandwich wrappers and pastry bags), food contact paperboard (boxes for fries or pizza), non-contact paper (outer bags), paper cups, other beverage containers (milk and juice containers) and miscellaneous (lids). 

Food contact papers were divided into three subcategories: sandwiches, burgers and fried foods; Tex-Mex; and desserts and breads.

                                20% of the food contact paperboard tested contained fluorine
 

Out of the food packaging tested, food contact paper was the one that fared the worst, with 46% of all samples testing positive for fluorine. Food contact paperboard was next, at 20%, followed by other beverage containers at 16%. Non-contact paper, paper cups and miscellaneous all tested negative for fluorine. 

"For foodservice packaging that requires a barrier coating, 'short chain' fluorochemicals are used today, so it's no surprise that the study would find these chemicals," said Lynn M. Dyer, President of the Foodservice Packaging Institute in the US. "These, like all packaging products, go through rigorous testing to ensure that they meet stringent US Food and Drug Administration regulations, providing the safe delivery of foods and beverages to consumers." 

Dryer added, however, that "some fluorochemical-free products have been introduced since this study was conducted in 2014 and 2015," meaning there are now a greater number of options available for fast food chains to provide oil, grease and/or water resistance.


Based on the information presented in the study, you might be wondering - what can I do to avoid these harmful chemicals getting into my food? Besides the route of cutting out all fast food from your diet, there is not too much a consumer can do. There is no easy way for customers to tell what packagings are fluorinated and which are not. From the findings of the report, you could ask that your fries get served to you in a paper cup instead of the typical packaging, or that certain items not be wrapped in contact paper.

Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself is by pressuring fast food companies to switch their packaging to non-fluorinated products. This information might also encourage you to try to eat more home-cooked meals that you can carry around in your own, chemical free containers.

Good News for Coffee Drinkers! Here's How A Daily Cup O' Joe Can Improve Your Health 

Photo: Rajmani Sinclair
 

Coffee lovers rejoice! There have been several scientific studies published recently that show a beneficial link between drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee and increased health benefits. New research shows that coffee might have a protective effect against inflammation and heart disease as we age, which could, as a result, increase life expectancy for some people. 

The study that published the findings linking the benefits of coffee drinking and reduced inflammation and heart disease was carried out by Stanford University School of Medicine. It was a long-term study held over a period of ten years to look at the immunology of aging. In the study, the researchers looked at blood samples, survey data, medical and family history of over 100 participants in the study. The participants were divided into two groups - one group of 20 to 30-year-olds and the other group of people 60-years-old and up. 

One of the focuses of the study was on gene clusters that related to inflammation and heart disease. Through the course of the study, the researchers discovered that caffeine substantially reduces inflammation effects on cells. As a result of the study, researchers showed a correlation between caffeine intake and longevity. Furthermore, a 2015 Harvard study found that people drinking three to five cups of coffee a day were less likely to die of heart attack or stroke.

Photo: Rajmani Sinclair

Another potential benefit of drinking coffee every day relates to a study done at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. The findings of this study were presented at the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society's Congress in Lisbon, Portugal. The study tracked the coffee drinking habits of over 6,000 women and gave participants cognitive tests over the course of ten years. Through the course of the study, researchers found that participants who drank 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of cognitive impairment (Alzheimer's Disease; Dementia) by 27%. This prompted the Professor Ridrigo Cunha, a presenter at the Congress, is the principal investigator at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology at Portugal’s University of Coimbra to say: “Moderate coffee consumption could play a significant role in reducing cognitive decline." This is because coffee is rich in anti-inflammatory chemicals and antioxidants which protect and boost cognitive functioning.


Do note that drinking decaffeinated coffee does not have the same health benefits as caffeinated coffee, because the process of decaffeination takes out the beneficial antioxidants that lead to the health benefits discussed in this article. Therefore, when drinking coffee, make sure it's caffeinated. One more tip: don't put too much sugar (if any) in your coffee  because that would negate the health benefits of drinking coffee. Don't worry, if you drink the right coffee, you too can enjoy simple, black coffee.

Author: Rajmani Sinclair
 

Life Hacks, Foods, and Habits for A Healthy Heart! 

We know heart disease is not the most pleasant thing to think about, especially because it is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., but there is a silver lining. Heart disease is up to 80% preventable, so why not learn some important information and ways to take action?

Nearly 82 million Americans suffer from some form of a cardiovascular disease. Ischaemic heart disease is the deadliest form, causing over 12% of all deaths worldwide. This condition arises when fat deposits cause the narrowing of arteries, resulting in a reduction of blood supply to the heart. This is usually characterized by chest pains and it puts patients at risk for stroke and heart attack. 

Did you know? 

Every 34 seconds someone in the United States has a heart attack, and every minute someone dies from a heart disease related event? 

Luckily your risk can be seriously lowered with dietary and lifestyle changes. 

Prevention includes quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising. Furthermore, certain foods work to prevent plaque formation and eventual blockage!
 


Preventing Heart Disease: Life Hacks 


Sleep 

Snooze within the “sleep sweet spot”

Too little sleep can place you at a 48% higher risk of developing heart disease, while sleeping too much gives you a 38% higher chance. The perfect sleep balance is found between 7-8 hours. 

 
Snuggle 

Make time for that extra lovin’


Snuggling actually reduces stress because touch induces the release of oxytocin, a natural de-stressor that also works to reduce blood pressure.

 

Laugh 

There is a reason it is called a “Hearty laugh”

Laughing really is the best medicine! It causes blood vessels to dilate by 22%, increasing blood flow and reducing heart pressure. 


Get Moving 

Today is your day!

Exercise Regularly 

At least 30 minutes of exercise a day significantly reduces chances of developing heart disease. 

Maintain Your Ideal Weight 

Obesity increases risks of developing heart disease. 

Step Away from That Remote! 

Those who sit in front of the television for 4 or more hours a day are 80% more likely to die from heart disease. 


Hydrate 

"Pure water is the world's first and foremost medicine." -Slovakian Proverb

Water 

Aim to drink 7-8 cups of water per day. 

Coffee 

Drinking 1-3 cups of coffee a day can lead to a 20% decrease in hospitalizations for abnormal heart rhythms. 

Green Tea 

Green tea contains the antioxidant catechin that stops the body from absorbing cholesterol and also helps to ward off obesity. 
Enjoy 1-2 cups per day for maximum benefits. 


De-stress 

Don't forget to close your eyes and .... breathe!

Yoga 

Yoga is a great way to focus and relax. Not only is it a natural way to reduce stress, yoga has been shown to be an effective non-cardio workout that significantly reduces risk of heart disease 

Mediation 

To kick-start your mediation practice or to take it to the next level, check out the albums recorded by Inner Splendor Media 

Minimize Traffic Time 

Beyond the emotional stress that is usually caused by traffic, the noise can be harmful for your heart's well-being as well. For every 10 decibels of added roadway traffic noise, the risk of heart attack increases by 12%. 


Dogs 

Better known as man's best friend

Dog owners  have reported lower blood pressure numbers, less stress and weight loss benefits! 



Don’t Smoke 

If you smoke, please quit! Smoking is the most significant risk factor in heart disease development. 

Heredity 

It is important to know if you have genetic risk factors for heart disease.  If it is in your family history, a preventative lifestyle is even more imperative. 

Get Screenings Done 

Going in for regular health checks and screening is highly recommended by cardiologists, regardless if you are at a high or a low risk.


DIET
Beyond our lifestyle tips, managing your diet is extremely important in preventing heart disease.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
 

  • Avocado consumption reduces bad cholesterol levels up to 17% and increases your good cholesterol. 
  • Olive oil reduces bad cholesterol and provides the body with healthy fats. 
  • Nuts promote optimal heart health as they contain the healthy fats needed to lower bad cholesterol levels in the body. 
    • Walnuts and almonds are great! Just half a handful a day provides you with adequate nutrition. 

Fish 

  • The healthy fats found in certain fish help to increase good cholesterol, reduce triglyceride levels and decrease inflammation. 
    • Salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring are all great for reaping optimal benefits. Aim to replace red meat with 12 ounces of one of these fish on a weekly basis! 

Whole grain 

  • The soluble fiber in whole grains helps to lower bad cholesterol because it sticks to the cholesterol, removes it and prevents it from building up in the arteries. 
    • Oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat breads and cereals are great whole grain sources. 



VEGETABLES 

  • Asparagus works hard to unclog the arteries by removing clots and decreasing inflammation. 
  • Broccoli prevents calcium from damaging the arteries due to its high vitamin K content. It helps to lower cholesterol and aids in healthy blood pressure regulation. 
  • Spirulina algae is rich in minerals, vitamin, carotenoids, powerful antioxidants and proteins. Regular consumption helps to regulate healthy blood pressure and relax the walls of the arteries. 
  • Spinach is rich in both potassium and folate. It unclogs the arteries and decreases blood pressure. Consumed regularly, fresh spinach can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 11 %.
 


FRUIT

  • Persimmons are rich in both polyphenols and fiber. Fiber helps to prevent cholesterol buildup and polyphenols are a compound that works to reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Furthermore, this fruit is very high in antioxidants, which offers an extra overall protective effect! 
  • Pomegranates are rich in phytochemicals that encourage nitric oxide production, which then prevents artery clogging and regulates blood flow. 
  • Cranberries are excellent for the heart because they contain a rich source of potassium. Drinking pure cranberry juice regularly can result in a 40 % reduction in heart disease risk. 
  • Watermelon is not only refreshing! It also helps to widen blood vessels by stimulating nitric oxide production. This is aided by L-Citrulline, a type of antioxidant. Just a cup of fresh watermelon each day offers these amazing benefits. 
  • Orange Juice in it's pure form is full of antioxidants that work to improve blood vessel function and help prevent high blood pressure. 
  • Berries are more than a great low sugar and low calorie snack! Eating 3 or more servings of berries per week cut the risk of heart attack among women by 32%. Both blueberries and raspberries are a great choice.

SPICES
  • Turmeric contains curcumin that helps eliminate fatty deposits and decreasing inflammation. 
  • Cinnamon offers up to a 26% reduction in bad cholesterol. It also helps to stop plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries.

Heart disease is a serious issue. Luckily taking action today can make a big difference in your and your loved ones' tomorrows!

AUTHOR: Gal Shyli Dayan

 

Sources: 

http://wordlesstech.com/prevent-heart-disease-with-these-healthy-tips/ 

http://www.simplehouseholdtips.com/the-best-artery-cleansing-foods.html 

http://thepaleomama.com/2013/11/how-im-healing-cavities-without-dentistry/ 

http://www.mapsofworld.com/infographics/poll/preventing-heart-disease-are-we-doing-enough-text.html 

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/7-ways-prevent-and-even-reverse-heart-disease-nutrition1 

http://penn-heart-vascular.pennmedicine.org/2013/02/heart-disease-risk-factors-prevention-infographic.html 

http://www.driscolls.com/nutrition-health/health-benefits/heart-health/raspberries-for-heart-health?crlt.pid=camp.hz7ftJybMG91 

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/conditions/heart-disease/yoga-heart-disease/ 

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/fight-heart-disease-with-these-heart-healthy-foods.html 

http://positivemed.com/2012/04/22/heart-disease/

8 Warning Signs That You're Dating A Narcissist 


  Chaucer and Shakespeare were right when they said: “love is blind.” In a research study conducted in 2004 by University College London, researchers discovered that feelings of love suppressed the activity of the areas of the brain that control critical thought.  While it can be so tempting to want to get swept away by “love” or what one perceives to be “love,” it is important to try one’s best to enter into relationships with “eyes wide open.” In the past few years, there have been several studies published by psychologists, particularly Dr. Craig Malkin, clinical psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, regarding narcissism and how to spot it early on in a relationship. 

        In order to understand and be on the lookout for potential narcissists in your life, you must first know the history of the term as well as the appropriate application of the term. The term narcissism derives from the Greek myth where young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected back to him in a pool of water. Broadly, narcissism is defined as extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one's own talents and a craving for admiration. That said, narcissism is a highly complex personality disorder with both covert and overt expressions. 

        Recently, there have been many blog posts and articles about narcissism that make it sound like narcissism is on the rise, especially within the “millennial” generation. In an article published in Psychology Today, the author wrote that there is “a growing consensus among psychologists says no, it isn't. True pathological narcissism has always been rare and remains so: It affects an estimated 1 percent of the population, and that prevalence hasn't changed demonstrably since clinicians started measuring it.” 

        The reason why narcissism appears to be “on the rise” is because of people’s misunderstanding and misuse of the term. The purpose of this article is to help shed light on what traits a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) exhibits and how to spot it. Narcissists can come in a wide variety, ranging from the preeners, to grandiosely altruistic martyrs, to people who are highly introverted and vulnerable. The fact of the matter is that NPD can truly only be diagnosed by a healthcare professional. Nevertheless, here are some overt and covert traits that narcissists tend to have:
 


Overt expressions of narcissism include : 

  • Absence of empathy 
  • Grandiose plans and posturing 
    • "Narcissists feel superior to others," Brummelman says, "but they are not necessarily satisfied with themselves as a person." Narcissists thoughts, behaviors, and statements set them apart from others, and this feeling of distinction soothes them, because they're otherwise struggling with an unstable sense of self. They may set themselves apart in different ways, but ultimately, the point that connects all narcissists is that they feel extremely distinct from others. 
  • Rage at being called out on the slightest imperfections or normal human missteps.
     

Covert Expressions of Narcissism include: 

  • Projected Feelings of Insecurity 
    • Narcissists say and do things, subtle or obvious, that make you feel less smart, less accomplished, less competent. Rather than allowing themselves to feel insignificant, insecure or small, they do things to try and make you feel that way instead. Some examples of this could be: a “friend” who always gives you a back-handed compliment, a boss who questions your methods after his or her own decision derails an important project, or a date who claims not to understand what you’ve said. Have you ever heard the idiom: “Don’t knock your neighbor’s porch light out to make yours shine brighter.” Narcissists love to knock out other’s lights to appear brighter by comparison. 
  • Emotion-phobia 
    • Narcissists cannot stand feeling influenced in any way because it challenges their sense of autonomy and forces them to come to terms with the fact that they can be affected by a person or situation outside of themselves. Therefore, when the subject of feelings come up, especially their own feelings come up, they tend to change the subject matter and shut down any opportunity to discuss feelings. 
  • A Fragmented Family Story 
    • Narcissist people tend to have personal histories of neglect and/or abuse. Such issues lead to insecure attachment styles. Narcissists tend to not be able to talk about their childhood or family in a coherent way. Generally their stories from childhood tend to be confusing and filled with gaps. The most common myth they tend to carry around is the idea that they came from the perfect family. 
  • Idol Worship 
    • A common narcissistic tendency you might be less familiar with is their habit of putting people on pedestals. In doing so, narcissists think “If I find someone perfect to be close to, maybe some of their perfection will rub off on me, and I’ll become perfect by association.” They tend to not understand that no one can be perfect, and beware of when the narcissist discovers that their idol may not be the perfect person as he/she originally thought. Beware of any requests to conform to any images of beauty or perfection coming from your potential mate, as this could be a sign of narcissism. 
  • A High Need for Control 
    • Narcissists cannot stand to be at the mercy of other people’s preferences because it reminds them that they are not completely independent or invulnerable. Rather than express their needs or preferences, narcissists arrange events (and maneuver people) to orchestrate the outcomes they desire. In the extreme case, narcissist's’ actions can manifest as abusive, controlling behaviors. For example, think of the husband who lashes out against his wife if his dinner's not ready as soon as he comes home. In acting out, the husband is angry because he has to acknowledge that he depends on his wife for something, which is a feeling that he’d rather avoid. Narcissist's actions are not always so clear as the husband example, so be wary of any instances where you might feel nervous to talk about a certain topic or voice your opinion about something.


It’s important to take note that none of these signs, in isolation, proves that you’re with a narcissist. That said, if you see that your partner exhibits several of the traits mentioned above, it’s best to sit up and take notice. All of the traits listed in this article are ways of dodging vulnerability, and that’s a narcissist’s favorite tactic. So protect yourself, protect your heart, and if you’re just entering into a relationship with someone who exhibits a combination of the traits mentioned in this article, whether it’s a friendship or romantic relationship, it might be best to reconsider whether that’s really a road you want to go down. 

        Depending on where people fall on the narcissism spectrum, it can be difficult to course correct or improve their personality and habits. That’s why in some cases it is best to walk away from the situation. 

        Luckily, there is hope. Dr. Craig Malkin, clinical psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, has written extensively on this topic and believes that it is possible for narcissists to change their behavior. If you do find that you are already in a committed relationship with a narcissist, here is an article you can read about strategies for dealing with the narcissist you love: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-craig-malkin/7-strategies-for-dealing-_b_5192851.html 

        Through concerted, right effort, it is possible to create a healthy relationship with someone who has been diagnosed with NPD. It won’t be easy, but real change is possible. 

        For further reading on this topic, check out Dr. Malkin’s book: “Rethinking Narcissism”.

Article by Rajmani Sinclair

Listen to the Song that is Guaranteed to Reduce Your Stress by 65% 

Have you found yourself feeling more stressed out or anxious recently? How do you deal with your stress and anxiety? In the current age - it seems like technology can create more new ways to feel stressed or anxious, rather than helping to cure people's stress or make people's lives easier. A more recent phenomenon that has arisen in the past few years is the concept of FOMO - or "Fear of Missing Out." It has become such a mainstream concept that the Oxford English Dictionary added it in 2013 and defined it as: 

“…‘‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you’’. Under this framing of FoMO, nearly three quarters of young adults reported they experienced the phenomenon.”
 

This phenomenon began to take off, especially among younger generations, during the rise of social media like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. In addition to rising numbers of young people feeling FOMO, studies published in 2013 revealed that 57% of women enrolled in American Universities reported feeling overwhelming anxiety. Furthermore, a study performed in the United Kingdom discovered that 1 in 3 young women who participated in the study suffered from anxiety attacks. 

The question then arises - what can be done to relieve the seemingly high amount of stress and anxiety that people experience these days? One solution being explored by researches is the use of music. In fact, neuroscientists have discovered that people can reduce their levels of anxiety by listening to specially crafted music. In a study done by researchers in the United Kingdom, it was discovered that by listening to a particular song, participant's stress levels decreased by 65%, and they also exhibited a 35% reduction in their overall physiological resting rates. 

The song that the researchers used to induce heightened states of relaxation in participants was specially composed through a collaboration between the UK band Marconi Union and a team of music therapists. With the help of the music therapists, Marconi Union identified and used harmonies, rhythms and bass lines in the song that would help to slow down the listeners' heart rates, lower their blood pressure, and in turn, lower stress hormones such as cortisol. 

The song was so successful that TIME Magazine named Marconi Union one of its "Inventors of the Year" in 2011. Since its release, the song "Weightless" has been streamed on Spotify and via Youtube more than twenty million times. 

Want to experience the song for yourself? Let us know if you experience it's relaxing effects. 

Listen here now:


 

January 6, 2016 

Rajmani Sinclair

Phone: (212) 567-7713
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