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Omega-3 and Diet

Diet has an enormous impact on heart health. Dr. Esselstyn, a world renowned doctor, is a pioneer of a diet-based approach for cardiac disease treatment and prevention. In his book, “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”, he states “If you eat to save your heart, you eat to save yourself from other diseases of nutritional extravagance: from strokes, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, adult-onset diabetes, and possibly senile mental impairment, as well. You gain protection from a host of other ailments that have been linked to dietary factors, including impotence and cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, rectum, uterus, and ovaries.” Dr Esseylstien preaches a WFPD (Whole Foods Plant Based Diet), that is rich in plant-based omega-3’s as an important part of preventing and reversing heart disease.

The benefits of Omega-3’s for cardiovascular health are well known throughout the medical community and are now recognized amongst the public. Omega-3’s also include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are the marine forms of omega-3s, commonly found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel. These fatty acids can be made from ALA in the body, but the conversion rate isn’t good. Because of this and the fact that EPA and DHA are strongly correlated with cardiovascular disease prevention, getting EPA and DHA through a nutritious diet and supplements is the best bet.

But wait, doesn’t Dr. Esselstyn, a heart health guru, promote a plant based diet? How are we supposed to get omega-3’s if we do not eat fatty fish? Let’s take a closer look at the food chain. Because fish aren’t able to produce EPA and DHA, they get it by eating microalgae. Seaweed and algae also supply EPA and DHA. Thus, algae are the true sources of the omega-3 fats in fish. This means that we can bypass fish and seafood for our omega-3 needs and instead consume algae and seaweed. In fact, eating fatty fish can sometimes not be as beneficial to our bodies as previously supposed due to pollutants in oceans and bodies of water. This means that some of the best sources of omega essential fatty acids are from algae produced in clean, pure ways. For instance, the omega vitamins in JuicePlus supplements are processed in an environment free of contaminants, and is cold pressed, so that none of the nutrients are destroyed from heat. JuicePlus Omega is unique in that it contains omega 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9, whereas in most drug stores and even health food specialty stores, you can only find omega 3, 6 and sometimes 9. In addition to algae, the best plant based sources of omega-3’s are chia seeds, avocados, flax seeds, brussel sprouts, hemp seed, walnuts, and perila oil.

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Omegas are Essential

Today we are talking about the popular nutritional buzzword ‘Omegas’. Omegas fatty acids are essential fats that have numerous health benefits. Essential fats are compounds that for the most part cannot be made naturally in the body, and are essential for maintaining the systems in the body in best working order. They have to be consumed through outside sources like food and supplements. There are several types of omega’s, including omega 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9. The different types of omegas offer different health benefits. The reason why the omegas are designated with numbers has to do with their chemical structure. An important function of omegas is that they help reduce inflammation, and all disease starts with inflammation on a cellular level. If we can prevent or treat inflammation then that means that on a larger scale we can do the same for disease, especially chronic diseases that are preventable like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3’s are the most researched and popular of the omega family. They play an important role in supporting our most vital organs: the brain and the heart. They protect the lining of the brain by nourishing brain cells and maintaining the connections between those cells that the brain uses for information processing and moving limbs. Omega-3s are also vital for our brain cells – and all our cells – to make the energy they need in order to function. This promotes cognitive health in seniors, by alleviating mild memory problems associated with aging, as well as improving focus. Omegas support cardiovascular health by improving blood lipids and supporting cardiac longevity. They clear plaque in the heart vessels, which helps keep them from constricting. This is a main mechanism behind heart disease because when blood is not reaching the heart, then a heart attack occurs. Omega-3’s also promote a healthy pregnancy by supporting normal fetal brain and eye development, as well as a healthy birth weight. In addition, studies have shown that it can help with mental health and emotional vulnerabilities by improving mood and affect.

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National Go to an Art Museum Day

National Go to an Art Museum Day

Today is National Go to an Art Museum Day! Art museums are wonderful places to visit and community resources. Where else would you get access to thousands of pieces of priceless art?! Everyone has different tastes, and art is all about exploration—in fact, that’s why we celebrate Go to an Art Museum Day on November 9th. More than 30,000 museums around the world participate, and each year even has a different theme. So today, go to a museum and discover something new!

Not only are art museums important centers for culture, but there are health benefits of going to art museums! Recent studies have shown that engaging with the visual arts can actually improve stress, memory, and empathy, whether by viewing art or creating it.

The benefits of viewing art are countless. According to a study conducted by the University of Westminster, participants who visited an art gallery on their lunch break reported feeling less stressed afterwards. They had lower concentrations of cortisol, the stress hormone, from just 35 minutes spent roaming the gallery. In a similar vein, science says viewing and creating art also helps alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

There is a link between reduced risk cognitive decline and visiting art museums. The brain is like a muscle in that it needs to be exercised in order to be kept strong and in top working order. Experiencing art and learning about art stimulates the brain. This strengthens existing neural pathways and creates new ones, which is key to fending off cognitive decline. An often overlooked but important component of maintaining a healthy brain while aging is social interactions. This combats the adverse effects of isolation, which many seniors experience. Art museums provide safe, public spaces to interact with others in a meaningful way and feel connected to a community. 

Frequenting art museums can also help you live longer! A recent study in the U.K. revealed that not only do artistic and cultural activities make life more enjoyable, but also prolong our lives – so dance, paint and sing as your heart desires.

The study found that paying regular visits to museums, art galleries, theaters and concerts reduced the risk of early death by 31%, adding to existing evidence that the arts can benefit one’s health. They found that people who participated in such leisurely activities once or twice a year enjoyed a 14% lower risk of premature death than those who have never engaged in art.

Looking at art also causes people to experience joy, akin to the sensation of falling in love. Neurobiologist Semir Zeki scanned 28 volunteers’ brains as they looked at art and noticed an immediate release of dopamine, the chemical related to love and pleasure.

Additionally, visiting the gallery has been found to relieve people of mental exhaustion, the same way the outdoors can. As stated in Jan Packer’s study on the benefits of museum experiences, the four factors that contribute to mental restoration (fascination, being away, compatibility, and extent) are commonly found in both natural environments and museums, making it an ideal work break. Art museums can also be good exercise! The winding galleries and wide display rooms provide ample space to roam around. There are also plenty of benches when you need to rest, and most museums are wheelchair accessible.  

Today, on National Go to an Art Museum Day, we invite you to, of course, go to an art museum! Often during visits people discover new types of art that they connect to, and learn more about not only the art itself, but history, psychology, and themselves.

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Cappuccinos for Cognition!

Yesterday was National Cappuccino Day! A cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee made with a smaller amount of steamed milk and a thick layer of foam. It has a bold taste and the most preferred variety. It originates from Italy, where early variations were consumed starting in the 1600’s. Espresso was popularized by the invention of the espresso machine. In 1901, Luigi Bezzera filed the first patent in Italy. After WWII, the espresso machine’s popularity spread beyond Italy into the rest of Europe. In the 1990’s, Starbucks helped launch the cappuccino into popularity in North America. The word cappuccino comes from the Capuchin friars and is a form of the word cappuccio in Italian, meaning hood or something that covers the head. Interestingly enough, this popular coffee beverage got its name not from the hood on their habits but instead from the color of the hooded robes that the friars wore. 

Not only are cappuccinos delicious, they are healthy for you! It has been proven for years that drinking coffee and espresso has many health benefits. Coffee beans have a high level of antioxidants that play an important role in promoting good health and wellness. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures. All disease and illness starts on a cellular level, so if the cells are kept healthy with antioxidants, then the risk of disease is reduced. 

Studies reveal that a cup of cappuccino up to 180 ml a day can significantly prevent the oxidization of bad cholesterol and prevent heart problems. It also lowers the chances of a stroke by 20 per cent and take it without sugar, to keep blood sugars under control. It also assists in digestion.

One reason why we love cappuccinos at Private Home Care is because coffee promotes healthy aging by preventing or slowing cognitive decline. It is well-researched that coffee helps stimulate the brain by improving focus, memory, mood, energy, and general mental function. But what most of us don’t know is that frequent consumption of coffee can as well prevent cognitive decline related to mental anomalies such as Alzheimer’s disease. Almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women. But the caffeine in two cups of coffee may provide significant protection against developing the condition. In fact, researchers found that women aged 65 and older who drank two to three cups of coffee a day were less likely to develop dementia in general.

There are several theories on how coffee can help prevent or better yet, protect cognitive decline. The caffeine in coffee prevents beta-amyloid plaque build-up. The plaque can contribute to the beginning as well as the progression of Alzheimer’s. Also, researchers theorise that since a regular cup of coffee can keep dietary diabetes away (a dementia risk factor), it can also be said to minimise the danger of developing dementia.

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National Candy Day

November 4th was National Candy Day.

Whether it be chocolate bars, gummies, hard candies, sour sweets or anything in between, satisfy your sweet tooth to your heart’s content for National Candy Day on November 4th. Even those who say that they don’t particularly care for candy do indeed have at least one favorite. If you ask anyone about their favorite candy, you’ll see that light in their eyes as they sweetly reminisce all about the ‘good old days’. 

Can candy be good for your memory? 

Though candy is certainly not a health food, scientists at Harvard have found in some instances that candy can help revive memories! Often people have memories of their favorite sweets from childhood, and eating those same treats in later years can trigger happy memories. This is especially so for peppermint candies, because mint has a strong scent and flavor known to make you alert, which makes an impression on memory.

There is a part of the brain called the hippocampus (one in each hemisphere) that is critical for memory. The hippocampus has strong connections with parts of the brain that are important for emotion and for smell. This may explain why emotional memories can be so vivid or why certain smells trigger a sense of recall in us even before we consciously remember an event.

Emotion and smell no doubt contribute to the power of some food memories, but it is the hippocampus that has a more direct connection digestive system. Many of the hormones that regulate appetite, digestion, and eating also have receptors in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the mechanism responsible for candy-related memories. 

Evolution could be the reason behind why childhood candy bars revoke memories from younger years. Our primate ancestors were fruit seekers and eaters, the sweetness of candy pushes a button in our brains—we have a natural sweet tooth. Upon eating a highly appealing sweet food, the reward centers of our brains are activated. The neurotransmitter dopamine has a key role in the brain biology of reward, but dopamine pathways are also involved in many other brain functions. One of these functions, via the hippocampus, is turning short term memories into long term ones. The brain’s reward mechanisms serve to motivate certain actions and behaviors. This would not work very well if motivation was not reinforced by memory.

Another connection between candy and memories is that for a child, candies and candy bars are often a special treat. This alone could make eating them a memorable experience. In addition, those candies can also be associated with special childhood occasions, such as candy canes at Christmas celebrations, chocolate eggs at Easter, or visiting a favorite aunt who always treated you with your favorite caramel candies. Neuroscience says that emotion and novelty tend to make events more memorable, and those tied in some way with food may make for even more powerful memories. 

Celebrate candy and happy childhood candy-related memories by enjoying sweets on National Candy Day! Private Home Care sends sweet wishes to you and yours!

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National Stress Awareness Day

National Stress Awareness Day

Stress – everybody has it. Jam-packed schedules and many obligations can make modern life stressful. National Stress Awareness Day on the first Wednesday in November aims to identify and reduce the stress factors in your life. Some amount of stress is actually good for us. It helps motivate us to take action and to respond to changes in life. For example, if you have a lot of things to do in one day, that stress can help stimulate you and focus in order to complete those tasks in time. It can also help people learn the best way to overcome and manage stressful situations such as a deadline at work. Stress is also our body’s way of protecting itself from harm. 

However, too much stress can be harmful. Excessive amounts of stress is detrimental to our mental, physical, and emotional health. Stress is known to contribute to chronic conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, migraines, glaucoma, and physical pain, like back and neck pain. Stress can also cause mental health issues and make existing problems worse. On the other hand, mental health problems can also lead to stress. The good news is, there are many things people can do to manage stress, improve mental health, and lead a healthier, fitter life.

The first step to managing stress is to take care of your physical needs. Are you eating enough? Sleeping enough? Exercising regularly? Following a healthy lifestyle does in fact help mitigate stress. Another step, though not quite as easy, is to identify your stressors. This is very important because that way you can try to avoid or lessen stress. For instance, does sitting in traffic stress you out? Try travelling at a time where there is likely to be less traffic, or if you cannot change that, then you can try listening to calming classical music on the radio, or take a bite or two of dark chocolate. Does the thought of doing taxes make your head swim? Outsource it. Life is too short to get stuck and succumb to stress. 

To help further deal, stress relief activities are crucial for well being. Thankfully, there are many enjoyable ways of doing this, and everyone can find one that fits. Develop a routine to help you lessen your tension. Go for a walk, do some deep breathing, get some exercise or a massage, or take a long, relaxing bath. Engaging in hobbies and spending time with love ones are also great stress-busters. Science has proven that mindfulness and being in the moment is key to managing and even preventing stress. This can include things like meditation, yoga, painting, walking, or anything else that requires your focus and is enjoyable.  

For National Stress Awareness Day, Private Home Care encourages everyone to take a step back and assess how they are feeling and the stress in their lives. What can you do to reduce stress? If you cannot change something, how can you change your mindset? Can you see this source of stress or challenge as an opportunity instead? What are your daily habits? How can you better manage stress? When we are aware of something then we can take steps forward to improve our health and quality of life.

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Daylight Savings and Vitamin D

Daylight Savings and Vitamin D

Daylight savings time is upon us! Though it may be slightly inconvenient to have to change clocks in your house, it may be worth it for an extra hour of sleep! Scientists say that adding an extra hour of sleep is very beneficial for your body and mind. Sleep is central to wellbeing and good health, and when we don’t get enough of it, we cannot function at an optimal level. Though we may miss that extra hour of sunlight, we can  use this as an opportunity to go to sleep earlier. Many can attest that when it is darker earlier, they feel sleepy sooner in the evening. And when you go to bed earlier, you wake up early as well. It has been medically proven that going to sleep earlier and waking up early is good for your health. Benjamin Franklin was really on to something hundreds of years ago when he coined the phrase “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Cold weather welcomes the holiday season as well as less sunshine. Getting enough sunlight is very important for your health and well being. Our bodies make Vitamin D when exposed to the sun, which is why it is called the “sunshine vitamin”. Vitamin D absorbs calcium and helps you maintain strong bones. It also contributes to the health of your muscles, nerves, and immune system. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you may be at risk for developing rickets, osteoporosis and other bone disorders, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Over 41 percent of U.S. adults don’t get enough vitamin D. Older adults, people with dark skin, and those who are obese are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is also important for fighting off infections and it plays an important role in your gut microbiome. 

There are many ways to ensure that you receive enough Vitamin D, such as by making sure to get outside at least 20 minutes a day – don’t forget to wear sunscreen no matter the weather! Eating Vitamin D rich foods is also a great way to up your 600 IU of Vitamin D daily intake. Foods like pork, mushrooms, fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, sardines), cheese, and eggs yolks are naturally rich in vitamin D. You can also find many vitamin D-enriched options at the grocery store, such as cereals, soy milk, yogurt, and orange juice. In addition, you can also take Vitamin D supplements that are widely available.   

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National Cinnamon Day

National Cinnamon Day

There is nothing quite like the smell and taste of cinnamon. Sweet, earthy, and spicy, cinnamon is the warm spice that helps usher in the fall and winter seasons. It is a versatile spice that can be used all year long in almost any dish, such as both sweet and savoy. It gives flavor to cinnamon rolls, apple pie, mulled wine, and is delicious in ground beef. Cinnamon is a spice that is made from the inner bark of trees scientifically known as Cinnamomum. It has been used as an ingredient throughout history, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable and was regarded as a gift fit for kings. 

The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon are due to the oily part, which is very high in the compound cinnamaldehyde. Scientists believe that this compound is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism. An astounding and exciting benefit of a daily dose of cinnamon is its impact on type 2 diabetes. It can help manage this condition by reducing blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity. Certain compounds in cinnamon can imitate the effects of insulin and help regulate blood sugar, a function which is crucial for those with diabetes.

Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols. Antioxidants help protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, which are responsible for the aging process and also the formation of some kind of illness and disease. Cinnamon has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamaldehyde is the amazing compound that gives cinnamon its odour and flavour, and it can also ease swelling and prevent blood platelets from clumping together. Its anti-inflammatory qualities don’t stop there; it can also block certain substances associated with abnormal cell growth and thereby lower the risk for diseases such as cancer.

There is a growing body of evidence that cinnamon may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. According to researchers, an extract present in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that may prevent symptoms from developing. Mice who received the extract experienced a decrease in features of Alzheimer’s, such as amyloid plaques, and improvements in their ability to think and reason. If further research confirms its effectiveness, this extract — but not necessarily whole cinnamon — may be useful in developing therapies for Alzheimer’s.

Private Home Care loves sweet cinnamon! It is used in Mary’s irresistible baklava to give it its special flavor. Cinnamon is easy to incorporate into your diet, whether it be in your coffee, a smoothie, or morning oatmeal, you can’t go wrong with cinnamon!

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National Vinegar Day

Yesterday was National Vinegar Day. Vinegar is made by fermenting something past the point of an alcoholic drink until it’s acidic. This is why we have different kinds of vinegars, just as we have different kinds of wines and liqueurs. Many times vinegar is made from grapes (white wine vinegar, red wine, or balsamic vinegar). Popular kinds also include apples (apple cider vinegar), rice (rice wine vinegar), grains (white vinegar), and more. 

No need for a sour face though – vinegar has health benefits. Vinegar is no longer reserved just for salads, and has found its way into the arsenals of medicine cabinets. In recent years, apple cider vinegar has been in the spotlight for it’s useful properties. Many people drink a tablespoon full of vinegar in the morning either with water or, for the brave hearted, straight by itself. Apple cider vinegar has various healthful properties, including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. What’s more, evidence suggests it may offer health benefits, such as aiding weight loss and reducing cholesterol. Vinegar also helps improve the symptoms of diabetes – apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar responses after meals. The science is still being contested on whether vinegar supports weight loss, but several promising human studies show that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness. This can lead you to eat fewer calories and lose weight. For example, according to one study, taking vinegar along with a high carb meal led to increased feelings of fullness, causing participants to eat 200–275 fewer calories throughout the rest of the day.

Apple cider vinegar also promotes antioxidant activity. In research studies, apple cider vinegar induced a protective effect against erythrocyte, kidney, and liver oxidative injury and lowered the serum lipid levels in mice fed a high cholesterol diet. The authors of the study suggested that it may scavenge free radicals, inhibit lipid peroxidation, and increase the levels of antioxidant enzymes and vitamins in cells. As we know, antioxidants are vital to health because they fight inflammation, and inflammation is the ultimate cause of all disease. 

Vinegar helps kill pathogens, including bacteria. People have traditionally used vinegar for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago. Vinegar is also a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria like E. coli from growing in and spoiling food. That is good news for salad lovers – even after rinsing, vinegar helps clean produce to make sure there is no bacteria to avoid any food-borne illness. This is also one of the reasons why vinegar is an excellent choice for cleaning. Toxic chemicals like bleach are not healthy to inhale or touch, and vinegar is a natural alternative that does the job just as well. Mix it with lemon for a powerful and natural bath and shower cleaner, or use it straight to brighten coffee cups. It can also be a lifesaver for getting tough stains out of your favorite fabrics.

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National Diabetes Awareness Month

National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. In the United States, 30 million adults aged 18 years and older are living with diabetes and 84 million with prediabetes. This is even more prevalent in older adults, with one in four people over the age of 65 estimated to have diabetes, and one in two has prediabetes. Persons with prediabetes are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. National Diabetes Awareness Month was established by the International Diabetes Federation in 1991 to call attention to this worldwide epidemic. The date of Nov. 14 was chosen to honor Dr. Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin back in 1921 along with Dr. Charles Best. This month is of course a time when diabetes organizations of all sizes launch awareness efforts, initiatives and campaigns. There are a number of types of diabetes, type 1 and two are the most prominent. Diabetes can be debilitating, and it is the leading cause of blindness, amputations and kidney failure. As a chronic disease, it makes individuals more susceptible to further illness and health conditions. At Private Home Care, we support the fight against diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood sugar that it uses for energy—and insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, everyone can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives. Thankfully, this is a condition that can be managed. By living a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and proper diet, you can live a normal life and do everything you set out to do.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes—and it means that your body doesn’t use insulin properly. This type of diabetes largely results from unhealthy lifestyle choices. The onset of this disease is caused by poor nutrition, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and so forth. There is a high comorbidity rate for chronic diseases such as heart disease. Once established, some people can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin to help manage it. In fact, many times when someone who is obese loses a large amount of weight and maintains a healthy diet, their diabetes is significantly improved or may go away completely. That being said, a key part of managing type 2 diabetes is maintaining a healthy diet. You need to eat something sustainable that helps you feel better and still makes you feel happy and fed. This can be a challenge for some, especially after years of unhealthy dietary choices, but it is important to remember that it is a process. You can work with medical professionals, such as your PCP, endocrinologists, and nutritionist to find helpful tips and diet plans that best suit your lifestyle—and how you can make your nutritional intake work the hardest for you.

Fitness is another central component to managing type 2 diabetes. And the good news, all you have to do is get moving. The key is to find activities you love and do them as often as you can. No matter how fit you are, a little activity every day can help you put yourself in charge of your life.

Ways you can honor National Diabetes Awareness Month:

  • Get a physical. Regular checkups let us know where we stand and what changes we need to make. Ask questions, too!
  • When we make small changes, we are more likely to stick to them. So, add one or two small improvements at a time for a healthy lifestyle, instead of huge sweeping changes.
  • Keep track of your dietary, fitness, and wellness goals. We are more likely to be honest if we write down our daily intake than if we just guess.
  • Get a buddy. It’s more fun when we make changes together than if we go it alone.
  • Learn more about diabetes from leading resources like American Diabetes Association and the CDC. 

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