Your Uterus

The uterus’s impact on “womanhood” is perhaps greater than that of any other organ. From your first period to pregnancy and menopause, life constantly reminds you of this most significant part of yourself.

As you already know, your uterus is an incredibly dynamic organ that can expand dramatically to host a full-term pregnancy and then shrink back to just the size of a pear. It’s the heart of new life.

Every month, over the course of your menstrual cycle, the two innermost layers of your uterus go through several changes. In the weeks leading up to your period, as levels of estrogen rise in your blood (thanks to your ovaries), the lining of your uterus (the endometrium) and the layer of uterine muscle (the myometrium) begin to thicken and grow. They are thickest and engorged with blood vessels to nourish and sustain a fetus immediately after ovulation.

If fertilization does not occur, the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your blood decrease, which causes the uterus to shed its lining of blood and tissue through the cervix and vagina during menstruation.

Unfortunately, like all sophisticated equipment, your uterus may malfunction. Among the problems you could face are benign growths, called fibroids, which can cause pain and bleeding; endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue that forms the lining of the uterus grows outside it; bleeding problems; and prolapse, in which the uterus dips down from its normal position causing pain and discomfort. The conventional, most dramatic method for treating serious problems with the uterus is a hysterectomy, surgery to remove the uterus. However, in many cases surgery is entirely avoidable and you can treat problems with your uterus perfectly effectively with the natural approach.

Taking care of your uterus

Like all organs in your body, your uterus needs optimum nutrition and hormone balance to function efficiently and have healthy cells. Even when you don’t have a specific problem to treat, to this end you should follow the hormone-balancing diet and take herbal remedies such as raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) and pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), both of which help your uterus. You can also take herbs and supplements that have beneficial effects on your hormone levels. Agnus castus (vitex agnus castus),milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), as well as the B-vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids are all great for hormonal balance.

Cut down on your caffeine intake and try to steer clear of mucus-producing foods, such as dairy products and red meats, as they contribute to tissue congestion and inhibit your uterus’s ability to cleanse itself. Alcohol also negatively affects the uterus by contributing to inflammatory problems and interfering with your liver’s ability to remove estrogen.

Finally, you should get to know your body and watch for the signals it sends you. It goes almost without saying that your uterus is a fundamental piece of the puzzle when it comes to your menstrual cycle and your fertility. Learn what is “normal” for you and, if you need to, keep a written diary of your cycle, level of bleeding, and so on. If you show any signs of unusual bleeding or experience any unusual menstrual-like pain, let your doctor know about it right away.

Kebabs offer an easy option for all tastes

COOKING FOOD ON a stick over an open flame has been done for centuries. Some claim medieval Turkish soldiers started it by using their swords to grill meat over field fires. Others say it goes back to ancient Greece and developed because of limited cooking fuel. Nowadays meat kebabs are found around the world: yakitori in Japan, satay in Indonesia, sosatie in South Africa. But kebabs don’t need to be limited to meat. Fish and vegetables can be skewered and cooked this way too, satisfying a variety of dietary needs. And since kebabs can be prepared ahead and cooked at the last minute, they’re an ideal choice for entertaining.

Grilling is the preferred method of cooking kebabs. Before you get started, check that you have enough fuel or charcoal, and give the grill a quick brush to clean it.

Decide on your stick. Disposable bamboo skewers are readily available but need to be soaked for at least 30 minutes before using to prevent them from catching fire. Stainless steel skewers are an investment, but they’re reusable and require no soaking. If you go with steel, look for flat or double-pronged skewers, as they stop food from rotating during cooking — a particular challenge for seafood or fruit.

Always cut meat or seafood into samesized chunks—1 to 2 inches—so it cooks evenly. Since vegetables cook at different rates than meat or fish, people sometimes make kebabs with single items (all meat or all vegetables). It’s more colorful and nutritious to combine items; it just takes a little planning.

Prawns, scallops and other seafood are best combined with contrasting pieces of fish (salmon with halibut, for instance) or with quick-cooking or soft items (fruit, strips of green onion, chunks of tinned artichokes). Lamb, beef and chicken pair well with vegetables that won’t overcook quickly but are also delicious cooked or raw. A classic example is chunks of peppers and onions with lamb, beef or chicken. Pressed tofu cooked on a medium high barbecue needs only warming and crusting, but can handle being grilled long enough to cook small mushrooms, thin zucchini rounds and cherry tomatoes. Experimentation and flexibility are the name of the game.

When combining meat and vegetables on kebabs, before skewering the vegetables, either brush them with a little oil or toss them with the marinade. A little liquid keeps them from drying out during cooking.

For appetizer kebabs, use shorter skewers — 6 inches to indicate they’re a starter, and allow two to three skewers per person. Starter kebabs are generally eaten directly from the skewer, so provide napkins. For main-course kebabs, use 10- to 12-inch skewers. Portion sizes depend on appetites. Generally, five chunks of protein result in one 6-ounce skewer; two skewers per person is a very generous serving. Since main-course kebabs are generally eaten at the table, the meat and vegetables
are usually pulled from the skewer and onto the plate with the tines of a fork.

Organic Blue Agave

Chefs are raving about its versatility and distinctive flavor. Health conscious consumers love its low glycemic index. Environmental advocates praise its organic, non-GMO labels and the sustainable farming practices. And gastronomists are simply enjoying the way it tastes, whether on pancakes or swirling in their strawberry margaritas.

SO WHAT IS THIS BLUE AGAVE SWEETENER?

It’s organic liquid nectar made from the blue agave plant grown in Mexico. Pronounced “ah-gah-vay,” the plant grows to 6 feet when its sugar is ripe. It stores its sweetness in the piña, a hard core that resembles a pineapple after the plant’s leaves have been trimmed away. Once the piña has been crushed and milled, the juices are heated and filtered, producing a sweet nectar that is a perfect replacement for conventional sugars and syrups.

Organic blue agave syrup metabolizes slowly, so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar. It’s 25% sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need to use as much and no refrigeration is required. Those are just a few of the reasons this great-tasting product produced by Wholesome Sweeteners, the nation’s leader in Fair Trade Certified™ organic and natural sweeteners, is becoming so popular.

HOW TO USE BLUE AGAVE

Use the syrup for baking, sweetening beverages, pouring on fresh fruit or as a tabletop condiment. In addition, it’s a great way to top off waffles, yogurt or ice cream.

AND IT IS SUSTAINABLE AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE

Organic blue agave supports a more sustainable planet by offering organic, natural, non-GMO products. Conventionally farmed agave is typically distilled into tequila. Producers now have options to farm organically and more sustainably. Growers can sell their organic piñas to Wholesome Sweeteners at a premium price, better supporting both themselves and their local farming communities.

So roll out organic blue agave syrup at your next brunch, or slip it into your next batch of scones.

You Won’t Believe Your Eyes!

Maintaining eye health can be challenging at any age, but it becomes more difficult as we grow older. After the age of 40, eye health may start to decline. By the year 2020, it is projected that more than 40 million Americans may have difficulty maintaining eye health. Clearly, eye care deserves our attention right now to safeguard our future.

Taking care of our eyes is vital to being independent throughout our life. So, we need to protect our eyes as much as possible. One critical way to do that is to guard against damaging ultraviolet rays. This is similar to the way we protect our skin against those same rays when we use sunscreen.

You probably have learned from news reports that lutein supports vision health. It is one of the carotenoids that is found in the human macula and has been studied extensively. However, did you know that another key carotenoid for eye health is zeaxanthin? It too is found in the human macula. Lutein and zeaxanthin may act as
filters for ultraviolet light, and they also fight free radicals.

Both of these ingredients are so important that the National Institutes of Health has a study underway to determine the specific benefits of this combination of ingredients to support eye health.

Lutein and zeaxanthin can only be derived from the foods we eat; our bodies can’t produce them. They are found in a typical diet, and in our bodies, in a ratio of 5:1. The problem is— who eats a typical diet? Supplementation may be the best way to ensure getting the right balance of these ingredients.

A shot of good health

Adults need vaccinations too

THINK IMMUNIZATIONS ARE just for kids? You could be missing out on important protections against illnesses and infections. Rolling up your sleeve for a shot could also save your life: Approximately 50,000 adults die in the United States every year from vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Despite the benefits of vaccinations, adults are under-immunized. There is a lack of awareness about the need for adults to be vaccinated and which vaccines are required.

There are also misconceptions about how immunizations work. Vaccines are made from small amounts of bacteria or viruses that mimic the disease, causing your immune system to build up antibodies to fight the illness if you’re infected. While some vaccinations, such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, offer lifetime protection, others, including the influenza vaccine, need to be repeated. In other words, it’s a mistake to think the vaccines you got in childhood are still protecting you.

The types of vaccines you need depend on a number of considerations, including your immunization history, age and risk factors. In general, there are three categories of vaccines to consider.

Childhood vaccines

Even if you received vaccines for MMR, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, meningococcal disease and pneumococcal disease as a child, it might be time for a booster shot to re-up your protection. There is also a chance that an important childhood immunization such as chicken pox was missed, increasing your risk of contracting a vaccine-preventable illness. If you’ve lost your immunization records and are unsure about whether you were vaccinated as a child, there is no harm in getting revaccinated as an adult.

New vaccines

There is a good chance that new vaccines have been developed and vaccine recommendations have changed since your last round of immunizations. For example, most adults have never received the hepatitis B vaccine because it wasn’t part of the immunization schedule until 1991. The zoster vaccine to protect against shingles has been available for only the last five years. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out which new (or newly recommended) vaccines might be right for you.

Age-appropriate vaccines

Up-to-date immunizations are especially important as you get older because your immune system weakens, making you more susceptible to contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. The zoster vaccine is recommended for all adults over 50; a booster of the MMR vaccine is also suggested for this age group. Adults over the age of 65 also need additional pneumococcal immunization to protect against bacterial pneumonia.

Vaccinations are an important part of preventive healthcare for all adults but are especially important if you’re in a high-risk group. International travelers and healthcare workers are more apt to come in contact with vaccine-preventable diseases, increasing their risk of infection. Those with compromised immune systems, including diabetics and smokers, are in danger of suffering from infection related complications.

No matter what your health history, up-to-date immunizations are essential. There is no reason to risk illness, possible hospitalization and sometimes death when there are effective vaccines available.

Source: CostcoConnection

Using your head — and your brain

WE’RE HEARING MORE about the dangers of concussions when playing football, especially for youths. But what about soccer?

Studies show that concussions occur much more frequently in soccer than previously thought. In fact, one report found that by the time they reached college, half of all soccer players had suffered a concussion—and often several. These findings come on the heels of other research that shows the real dangers of concussion, ranging from headaches and loss of concentration to life-threatening brain swelling.

All this research points to the need for soccer players to protect their heads, says the founder of Full90 Sports, manufacturers of protective gear for athletes.

One of his company’s products is a soft padded headband for soccer players. Most head injuries on the soccer field don’t occur from heading the ball, but from accidental collisions between players or from hitting the ground. The idea behind the headgear is to reduce the peak impact force reaching the brain, which lowers the chance of concussion.

Research shows that the headgear reduces the concussion rate by more than 50 percent. We know Full90 Headguards won’t prevent all concussions, but any reduction in the concussion rate is important.

Protective headgear for soccer players is starting to show up around the world in leagues from youth divisions to the pros. The equipment complies with international soccer rules because it’s not dangerous to other players, as a hard helmet might be. The biggest challenge to making the equipment universal among players might be simple unawareness of the dangers.

Players in other sports, such as hockey, skiing and snowboarding, have realized the importance of protecting their heads, and the soccer players will too. Concussions are happening among youth soccer players much more frequently than parents know, and they’re often not recognized. Soccer players are required to wear shinguards, but I ask, what is more important, your shins or your brain?”