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Antioxidants

Yesterday was National Sangria Day! Sangria is a beverage made with wine and sweetened with fresh fruit and fruit juices. Other ingredients can include herbs, spices, carbonation, and liquor. The combinations are endless, giving sangria a place in the cocktail rotation year-round. Refreshing and light during hot summer months, bright and sparkling during the winter ones, this fruity punch is quite versatile.

Sangria does indeed have health benefits, sometimes even more than regular wine! This is because the added fruit bolsters the nutritional content, as with herbs and spices such as cinnamon and mint. Sangria is traditionally made with red wine. Red wine is made by fermenting dark-colored, whole grapes. It is high in antioxidants, and drinking moderate amounts has been shown to be good for health.

We speak about them all the time, but what exactly are antioxidants? Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. They’re linked to multiple illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Free radicals are constantly being formed in your body. Without antioxidants, free radicals would cause serious harm very quickly.

When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it can lead to a state called oxidative stress. Prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA and other important molecules in your body. Sometimes it even leads to cell death. Damage to your DNA increases your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and some scientists have theorized that it plays a pivotal role in the aging process. Several factors, including lifestyle, stress, and environmental components, are known to promote excessive free radical formation and oxidative stress.

However, it is important to note that free radicals also serve important functions that are essential for health. For example, your immune cells use free radicals to fight infections.

Your body needs to maintain a certain balance between free radicals and antioxidants. When this equilibrium is disrupted, it can lead to oxidative stress. Prolonged oxidative stress leads to an increased risk of negative health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

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More About Baking Cookies!

On top of making cookies relieving stress, eating cookies also helps boost your mood and beat stress! This is because when we eat sweets, the pleasure/reward part of our brain lights up, making us feel happy. Treating yourself to homemade cookies from start to finish is sure to make your day better. Baking cookies with loved ones is also good for you because it is a wonderful way to connect. Humans are social creatures and meant to interact with each other. In fact, research has proven that those who have regular interactions with others, especially if they are meaningful interactions, enjoy better health, quality of life, and even increased longevity. Baking cookies is wonderful because anyone can participate, no matter their age or ability. Those who may not be able to partake in every step of the way, such as young children or those with certain disabilities, can help decorate or put sprinkles on cookies. And anyone can definitely help with eating them! You create special memories by baking cookies with family and making recipes that have been passed down through generations. By making a family cookie recipe, it can be a way to honor someone who is no longer living and keep them close to us. 

Favorite sweets can also help with memory. This is because memory can be closely tied to our senses, and cookie making uses all of our senses – including the smell of the cookies in the oven, seeing them being made, shaping the dough with your hands, hearing the mixer whizzing, and, last but certainly not least, tasting the cookies! For those with age related memory loss, short term memory may not be available, but they can vividly recall making cookies with their mother as a kid, and be able to recite verbatim favorite recipes. 

One of the best parts about making cookies is sharing them with others! Homemade cookies make a great, heartfelt gift that recipients will be appreciative of. Giving to others is not only a gracious and kind act, but studies show that giving can actually boost your physical and mental health. From volunteering at a soup kitchen to committing to raise money for a specific charity – health benefits associated with giving can include:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • Less depression.
  • Lower stress levels.
  • Longer life.
  • Greater happiness and satisfaction.

In addition, giving has a ripple effect. One act of giving inspires others, and it makes the world a better place. For instance, if you make cookies and give it to someone, it will make them happy and they are more likely to ‘pay it forward’. A 2017 report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute noted that people are happier overall when they give to others and that the more they do or give, the happier they tend to be. It’s simply referred to as “the joy of giving.” When you perform acts that make you and others happier, your levels of stress go down. As we know, high levels of stress can have adverse effects on health. Simply put, giving is good for your health! With the holidays around the corner, we are in the ‘giving season’. What better way to celebrate National Bake Cookies Day than to make a batch and give them to a loved one? Private Home Health Care encourages you to embrace cookies and giving today!

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National Bake Cookies Day

Today is National Bake Cookies Day! This day comes just in time for the holiday season. Anyone can agree that there is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked cookies warming up your house, especially in the middle of winter. That is why they even have cookie scented candles! Cookies have been around in some form or another pretty much forever. The earliest documented cookie goes back to seventh-century Persia. Cookies were introduced to America sometime in the 17th century, but the name ‘cookie’ was given much later. The original dutch form ‘koekje,’ meaning ‘small cake’ was altered to ‘cooky’ and eventually ‘cookie.’ Since then, cookies have been eaten all over the world. Even though there are many different types of cookies, one thing can be for sure – baking your own cookies at home is always tastier and more enjoyable than eating store bought cookies. 

Baking cookies is a wonderful activity, from start to finish! There are so many things to love about cookie making at home. Baking cookies is a known stress reliever. How is this so?

Dr. Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a clinical psychologist says some of it’s just allowing yourself to be creative—adding flavor, changing color, forming shapes. Then you’ve got the sensory triggers. “The smell of spices and vanilla are comforting, and [they] often remind us of happy times. Olfactory scents are particularly linked to areas of the brain that involve emotions and memory.” Baking is methodical, and the rhythm of it can lead to a mindful state. Mindfulness is the quality of being aware and engaged, leading to reflection rather than reaction. Many psychologists believe it’s one of the best ways to combat anxiety and depression. When you’re baking, you can’t help but be engaged because if you are not paying attention then you could seriously mess everything up (like accidentally adding salt instead of sugar…no one wants to eat salty cookies!) Being distracted when making cookies by measuring, pouring, mixing, shaping, and decorating is a great way to take your mind off stress. When you bake something, you are creating something, and the final product can make you feel accomplished. It is a great feeling when you work hard to follow the recipe and make beautiful looking cookies, it is something tangible to be proud of. Baking cookies releases serotonin and endorphins, which are two of the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain that give you feelings of happiness. 

Sounds pretty sweet to me! Private Home Health Care invites you to celebrate National Bake Cookies Day by, well, baking cookies! In addition to baking and eating cookies for yourself, you can also participate in a cookie exchange with friends and family. Another great idea is to bake cookies to raise money for charity. No matter what you decide to do, baking cookies is always a great idea! 

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International Tea Day

International Tea Day

Today is International Tea Day! This day celebrates everything tea! Tea is the second most popular drink in the world behind water. People in every country drink tea daily. Where did tea drinking originate? With so many variants and cultures drinking tea, it is hard to pinpoint an exact date as to when the beverage was invented.

It is believed to have originated during the Yunnan region during the Shang dynasty (1,600 BC-1,046 BC) as a medicinal drink. An early record of tea drinking is noted in the third century AD before spreading across the globe. It became a popular beverage in the 17th century in Britain, who went on to introduce its production in India to challenge the Chinese monopoly.

Tea For Your Health:

Which tea is healthiest? Chamomile and Green teas are tied for first place when it comes to health. Both are considered the healthiest tea options however they serve different purposes.

Chamomile tea cuts blood-sugar levels, and the chemicals in the tea block activity of an enzyme associated with the development of diabetic eye and nerve damage.

Green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits, which may include:

improved brain function

fat loss

Healthy metabolism

protecting against cancer

lowering the risk of heart disease

Healthy aging

Decreased risk of chronic diseases

Green tea is rich in polyphenols, which are natural compounds that have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.

Green tea contains a catechin called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.

These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals play a role in aging and many types of diseases.

Tea as medicine:

In many Eastern cultures, tea is used as a traditional medicine. Now tea is catching on in Western medicine as a simple and easy treatment or supplement. Have an upset stomach? Ginger or peppermint tea soothes and improves digestion. Stressed? Try lavender or licorice root tea. Need to sleep? Chamomile tea does just the trick.

To celebrate, simply drink your favorite tea! With endless varieties to choose from, there is a tea out there for everyone. Private Home Health Care wishes you a tea-riffic day!

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National Cupcake Day

Today is National Cupcake Day! Who doesn’t love cupcakes?! They are the perfect sized treat that people of all ages love. The earliest known documentation of the term cupcake shows up in 1828 in Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats. The cookbook was by Eliza Leslie. What is great about cupcakes is that they are the perfect size – a single portion that is not too big and not too small. When eating a healthy diet, there is absolutely room for sweets, but portion size is key. Cupcakes are so much fun to celebrate a special occasion with. What is more, you can pick out many different flavors, instead of just having 1 flavor with a large cake. Cupcakes are adorable, fun, and deserve to be celebrated today on National Cupcake Day!

Cupcakes evoke sweet childhood memories – bringing cupcakes into school on your birthday was a highlight of the year! Studies have shown that eating sweets can actually help with memory, especially when consuming baked goods that were your childhood favorites. Taste and scent are both interconnected and they are strongly linked to long term memory, which remains largely intact despite cognitive decline. Not only eating them but making them with loved ones also evokes special moments in life.

Lately we have explored stress relief. There is the cute saying ‘you can’t spell ‘stressed’ without ‘desserts’! This is certainly true, and desserts can be a great stress reliever – in moderation of course. Stress causes increased cortisol levels in the body, and when you experience chronic stress, your cortisol levels become too high and lead to inflammation. Inflammation is essentially the root cause of illness and disease because it undermines your body’s immune system. In addition, when you eat a dessert with antioxidants such as a double dark chocolate cupcake, it helps combat inflammation as well! Because cupcakes are so customizable, you can make them healthy as well! Swap out white flour for wheat or an alternative such as oat flour, white sugar for coconut sugar or banana, and butter for olive oil or applesauce. You can even add JuicePlus Complete to up the amount of protein and nutrients in your cupcakes. Check out this delicious (healthy!) chocolate cupcake recipe!

So eat cupcakes for your health and join Private Home Health Care with celebrating National Cupcake Day!

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Meditation and the Brain

Study after study has shown what practitioners have known for thousands of years – meditation is good for the body, mind, and soul. The mind-body connection is critical for health, and meditation bridges and enhances both. Stress Meditation is one of the best tools we have to counter the brain’s negativity bias, release accumulated stress, foster positive experiences and intentions, and enjoy the peace of present moment awareness. Years of research has established that practicing meditation regularly had tangible health benefits including:

-Decreased blood pressure and hypertension

-Lowered cholesterol levels

-Reduced production of “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline

-More efficient oxygen use by the body

-Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA

-Improved immune function

-Decreased anxiety, depression, and insomnia

Meditation can help you tap into your brain’s deepest potential to focus, learn, and adapt. While scientists used to believe that beyond a certain age, the brain couldn’t change or grow, we now know that the brain has a quality known as plasticity, enabling it to grow new neurons and transform throughout our lives. Meditation is a powerful tool for awakening new neural connections and even transforming regions of the brain. This means that meditation can help protect against and even reverse cognitive decline. Simply put, meditation is good for the brain and helps promote brain health. Meditation can improve the aging brain and body, which is why at Private Home Health Care we encourage mindfulness and meditation for our clients, their loved ones, within our agency and the community at large.

Meditation helps combat the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and can prevent and delay the onset of this disease. A recent Harvard study found that after only eight weeks of meditation, participants experienced beneficial growth in the brain areas associated with memory, learning, empathy, self-awareness, and stress regulation (the insula, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex). In addition, the meditators reported decreased feelings of anxiety and greater feelings of calm. It is truly one of the greatest tools for brain health and to support the aging brain.

Another wonderful thing about meditation is that it is available to everyone – including the young, elderly, healthy, ill, differently abled, men, women, and from any walk of life. Chances are that you have practiced meditation in your life without knowing it. Have you ever closed your eyes while taking deep breaths, and counting to ten? That is a form of meditation! The beauty and simplicity of meditation is that you don’t need any equipment. All that’s required is a quiet space and a few minutes each day. What is more, there are many different forms of meditation, which means that there is a practice for everyone.

Meditation comes in many forms, including the following:

-Concentration meditation teaches you how to focus your mind. It’s the foundation for other forms of meditation.

-Heart-centered meditation involves quieting the mind and bringing the awareness to the heart, an energy center in the middle of the chest.

-Mindfulness meditation encourages you to focus objectively on negative thoughts as they move through your mind, so you can achieve a state of calm.

-Tai chi and qigong are moving forms of meditation that combine physical exercise with breathing and focus.

-Transcendental Meditation is a well-known technique in which you repeat a mantra—a word, phrase, or sound—to quiet your thoughts and achieve greater awareness.

-Walking meditation turns your focus to both body and mind as you breathe in time with your footsteps.

Like any skill, meditation takes practice. You can start with just one minute a day and build up to twenty, thirty, or even forty minutes. You can even meditate for a minute in the shower. Private Home Health Care encourages you to embrace this simple practice that will bring many benefits to your health, well being, and life.

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Meditation for Health

Let’s talk about meditation.

Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. Once regarded as ‘alternative’, meditation and mindfulness practices have made their way into mainstream medicine and lifestyles. There are many health benefits of meditation, and as knowledge of this becomes widespread, meditation is becoming more popular. You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration.

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction. Modern medicine’s relatively recent research on meditation has revealed that it does indeed confirm this ancient practice is immensely beneficial for health. Meditation positively impacts all facts of health, including physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual sphere of wellness. And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may also help manage symptoms of certain medical conditions. Even when you move onto the next activity in your day, the effects of meditation continue to support well being, notably for the most important organs – the brain and heart. Research has shown that your brain chemistry is altered during meditation and continues to produce positive chemicals even after you finish. Also, your heart rate is less likely to increase well after being slowed down with a meditation session.

One of the major benefits of meditation is stress relief. In our busy modern world, it is unfortunately common to be overly stressed. You can’t see or touch stress, but you can feel its effects on your mind and body. In the short term, stress quickens your heart rate and breathing and increases your blood pressure. When you’re constantly under stress, your adrenal glands overproduce the hormone cortisol. Overexposure to this hormone can affect the function of your brain, immune system, and other organs. Chronic stress can contribute to headaches, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and even premature death.

Though you may not be able to eradicate the roots of stress, you can minimize its effects on your life. Meditation is one of the easiest and most achievable stress-relieving techniques. Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation has consistently been found to improve quality of life for virtually every single person practicing.

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National Roast Chestnuts Day

Tis the season for “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”. Today is National Roast Chestnuts Day. This delightful holiday snack is eaten throughout the world with spices according to the region. When chestnuts are roasted, the natural sweetness of the nut is revealed, delighting our taste buds! With their fleshy interior, Chestnuts are more similar to fruits than true nuts. They have a spiny husk and a dark brown shell, both of which must be removed before eating.

Chestnuts have been a food source for thousands of years. They can be eaten raw, roasted, ground into flour, or mixed into pastries. They grow on trees in the genus Castanea, and many species in this group can live for an impressive 500 years or more. In the US and Europe, chestnuts are most commonly eaten around the holidays as a cozy snack during cold winter months.

In addition, chestnuts boast great health benefits!

While almonds and peanuts pack in the protein, chestnuts predominantly contain complex carbohydrates, which your body digests slowly for a stable energy source. Foods high in fiber and complex carbs also have a less immediate effect on blood sugar, reducing potential spikes. That makes chestnuts a good choice for diabetics. Also, the fiber found in this nut helps improve digestion and promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Chestnuts are rich in vitamin C, which makes them unique among nuts. In fact, half a cup of raw chestnuts gives you 35 to 45 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C. This nutrient helps support a healthy immune system and is also an antioxidant.

Other nutrients found in chestnuts include calcium which helps build strong bones and teeth as well as making sure our blood clots properly, iron which is important for making new red blood cells, and zinc which helps to make new cells, digest the carbs, protein and fast from our food as well as wound healing.

Chestnuts also contain all the B vitamins which are needed to help release energy from food, and vitamin E which helps to look after the health of our eyes and skin and support our immune system.

Chestnuts are a good source of antioxidants, even after cooking. They’re rich in gallic acid and ellagic acid—two antioxidants that increase in concentration when cooked.

Chestnuts support heart health because the fair amount of antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and potassium help reduce your risk of cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease or stroke. Chestnuts are a good source of these nutrients and can help boost your heart health.

Private Home Health Care encourages you to celebrate National Roast Chestnuts Day by taking part and roasting chestnuts over an open fire (or on the stovetop). Their creamy, nutty flavor will satisfy your cravings and keep you feeling full (thanks to the fiber) and cozy.

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Melt Stress with Ice Cream

Melt Stress with Ice Cream

Ice cream – One of the best stress relievers known to mankind, conveniently found in your freezer. Ice cream can help with mood and even prevent disease! Feeling low or sad? Grab a spoon and dig into your favorite flavor of ice cream, because eating ice cream can actually cheer you up! There is a scientific explanation for the same – when you eat ice cream, your body produces a hormone known as serotonin. Serotonin, which is also known as a feel-good hormone makes you feel happy!

The brain responds to the sweet and fatty solution of ice cream when it infuses with your stomach acids. Eating ice cream when you feel depressed, anxious or sad provides amazing benefits.

While ice cream helps calm the nervous system, it provides a stimulus to the thrombotonin. This is a hormone that is responsible for triggering the happiness and excitement in humans. This is also the hormone that helps decrease the feeling of stress and restlessness.

Whether you are happy or sad, eating ice cream will surely make you feel better. And with as many benefits as you can get from eating ice cream, eating too much of it may also cause adverse effects to the body.

Ice cream can protect against disease:

Now we know that ice cream can lift your mood and is a rockstar food for stress relief. But what role does stress play in disease? And how does ice cream help?

Some amounts of stress are good for you, it motivates us to do things such as working extra hours to meet a deadline for work. However, prolonged stress leads to highly increased physiological levels of cortisol. This alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate both the inflammatory and immune response because it decreases tissue sensitivity to cortisol. As the human body heals, inflammation becomes a response to stress. Like stress, inflammation is beneficial, although when stress becomes chronic, it can lead to constant tissue breakdown and impairment of the immune system. When there is constant tissue breakdown, the immune cells cannot do their job. This jeopardizes the immune system that protects against illness and disease. If you have chronic stress, your body makes so much cortisol that the immune cells become less effective, which leaves you susceptible to sickness. This can range from catching the common cold or developing something more serious like cancer or heart disease.

However, the opposite effect happens when you reduce or relieve stress, which lowers cortisol levels. This means that when you eat ice cream and combat stress, your cortisol levels go down and it gives your immune cells a chance to not only repair but to do their job better, which is to keep you healthy! Eat ice cream → less stress → healthier body and a happier you!

Sounds pretty sweet! Private Home Health Care is serious about stress relief. That is why it is one of our missions to provide first class care for your loved ones. We understand that caregiving can be stressful, and we are here to relieve you of that burden. Call us today for a free consultation to learn about our comprehensive services, and while you are at it, eat ice cream!

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Ice Cream For Your Health!

Ice Cream For Your Health!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Today is National Ice Cream Day! Who doesn’t love ice cream?! Everyone enjoys this frosty treat, no matter the season! Though it is not known to be a health food, ice cream actually has health benefits! Private Home Health Care is here to let you know how much ice cream is good for your health!

Source of Vitamins – Ice-cream contains milk and milk solids, which means whenever you eat ice cream, your body obtains the goodness of vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin. Apart from this, the different flavours add extra nutrition quotient to it. For example, dark chocolate ice cream is loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids, which helps in lowering your bad cholesterol and helps improve your heart health.

Provides Energy – Not only does ice cream have nutritional value, but it also is an incredible source of energy. Ice cream is rich with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which are all needed for our bodies to produce energy. Careful on how much energy you want to get from ice cream, after all, it can also help you gain weight. Everything in moderation remember! Ice cream gives you instant energy. This is because it contains ample amounts of sugar in it, which instantly makes you feel pepped up and energised. So, next time you are feeling sluggish and your blood sugar is low, grab that scoop of ice-cream and relish it.

Strengthens bones – Calcium is one of the most important minerals that is required by our bodies to maintain our bone health. However, this mineral is not produced by our bodies, which means we have to consume food that is rich in calcium to meet our body’s requirement of calcium. Ice cream is loaded with calcium and can be included in the diet to meet up for the calcium requirements. The calcium and phosphorus found in ice cream work together to build strong teeth and bones and help prevent osteoporosis.

Lowers risk of breast cancer – Lack of calcium in the body is one of the culprits of breast cancer in women. Therefore, if you wish to keep the deadly ailments like breast cancer at bay, include more calcium-rich food in your diet – ice cream can be one of them. Ample calcium intake can lower or reduce the chances of breast cancer in women. As mentioned above, the calcium found in ice cream helps prevent osteoporosis, which is more likely to occur in women as they age. So ladies, grab a spoon and dig in!

Weight gain – Yes, weight gain can be a health benefit! Medical conditions or other factors can cause unhealthy weight loss or make it hard for those trying to gain weight. The body needs a certain percentage of fat to be healthy and function at an optimal level. If you are trying to gain weight, ice cream is the perfect food to come to the rescue! It is high in fat and sugar, which helps promote weight gain, which means ice cream for breakfast!

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