October 26, 2010

Walking 6 Miles a Week Keeps Your Brain Healthy

In today's Natural News, there is a great article summarizing the latest studies on walking and its impact on memory function (and aging, and preventing Alzheimer's Disease or dementia).  Great thing to learn from it: walking 6 miles a week is a major health benefit.  That's not that much, is it? 

Of course, they report that 9 is even better than 6, and there's discussion of "brisk" walking - is it "brisk" walking when my dogs are pulling me along at a semi-run, because they've got a scent on the trail?  Sure feels brisk, lemme tell ya. 

How to keep track of that mileage?  I use a fabulous pedometer: the Omron HJ-112.  It's not that costly, but it is pricer than the $5 pedometers at WalMart.  I keep it in my pocket and if it's not accurate enough for NASA, it's accurate enough for me - I think it comes darn close, based on the trail markers. 

How many steps equal 6 miles?  I've always heard that while each person is different, it's a safe estimate that 2000 steps equals one mile of walking.  So, 6 miles?  12,000 steps a week. 

You can do that.  Yes, you can.  No one says it has to be 6 miles at a time, you could do half a mile in the morning, half in the evening every day but Sunday and get this done.  Maybe park farther away from the office? store entrance? 

Or, take a morning and evening constitutional.  Doesn't that sound sophisticated - "I'm taking my morning constitutional" just means more than "I'm off for a walk."  You're almost British, maybe Bostonian.  You might start wanting to wear tweed.

Seriously. Boost up your walking during the day if you're not hitting this target already.  Your brain will thank you for it -- and walking is great, especially in pretty places. 

October 25, 2010

Ginger Tea Recipe - Natural Pain Relief that WORKS

I'm still drinking my homemade Ginger Tea - and it's still proving to be very effective as a pain reliever. Once again this weekend, I skipped it and my foot (tendon injury) woke me up with a sharp pain on Saturday night as I tried to move it against the sheets. Yesterday and today, I'm drinking my Ginger Tea and no pain. Just like I'm taking a pain pill - but I'm not.

For those of you that might like to try my Ginger Tea recipe for yourself, here it is:

Get yourself one big, fat hand of fresh organic Ginger Root.  Fat fingers, because you will want lots of meat left after you take off the bark.  Cut away the bark, and then cube the flesh of the root - maximizing the surface area that will be exposed to the water as it brews.

Boil yourself a big tea kettle of water and then brew (I use a cute tea pot that reminds me of the English countryside) three organic green tea bags together with the cubed fresh ginger.  Let it steep a long time.  Me, I let it go several hours because I want all that ginger to free itself into the liquid. 

Grab a pitcher that has a cover/lid.  Blend your steeped ginger/green tea with cold water in the pitcher, stevia to sweeten it to your taste.  Use all the steeped ginger from the teapot, or if it's too strong for you, then save some in a glass jar in the fridge -  a handy second batch when you're ready. 

I think the green tea helps with the flavor, as does the stevia.  Plus, they both are helpful in their own right (antioxidants, etc.) and that can't hurt when you're healing. 

For those of you interested in learning more about Ginger as a natural alternative to aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, check out these sites:

University of Maryland Medical Center
(where the med school reports that ginger is "commonly" recommended for nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, and chemotherapy, as well as a "digestive aid for mild stomach upset," (whatever that means) and as a help for "inflammatory conditions such as arthritis" along with heart disease or cancer.

Consumer Affairs
The consumer site references studies published in the Journal of Pain (as well as research done by several American universities), where ginger is recognized as a pain reliever in either its raw or heat-treated forms.  It also points to ginger as being a big pain remedy in Chinese medicine, and reports that ginger has both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties similar to non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Dr. Andrew Weil
Dr. Weil, the recognized alternative medicine practitioner who periodically shows up on PBS, also recommends ginger for pain relief.  All for the same sorts of things that the University of Maryland does -- nausea, muscle/arthritis pain, etc. 

October 20, 2010

Vertical Farming: Have You Heard About This Yet?

Over at The Vertical Farm, they've got some very interesting info for you.  For instance, these folk are advising that within the next 40 years, we'll be facing the basic need of feeding around 3,000,000,000 (three billion) mouths. 

We can't do it with the farmland we've got now.  Problem.  Unless we get creative and farm differently.  One solution: vertical farming. 

Which, yes, is something a lot more complicated that the Baker's Rack Vegetable Garden I tried to grow long ago on the apartment balcony -- but at least I got that footprint idea right ....

It sounds pretty darn smart - especially the recycling aspects, and the idea of safe water and safe food.

For more info, watch this:

October 19, 2010

Where's The Note? Facing Foreclosure, You May Want to Check Out this Site ASAP - or NOT

Where's the Note? is a website published by a group of organizations (see their logos at the bottom of the page, you'll have to search for their actual sites -- they don't link to this new web site) that's getting lots of media attention.

Go to Where's the Note and you'll get background information on foreclosure issues (things like the definition of a mortgage note) as well as lots of direction on how to fight your impending foreclosure due to the apparent idiocy involved in fast-tracked foreclosure processes by financial institutions across the country.  Better known at this point as "foreclosuregate," in case you haven't been reading the news lately. 

Of course, there are those that are arguing that even if there's a paperwork mess resulting in a title nightmare, if the borrower could not pay the note, then legally Where's the Note gives them action, but morally nothing's changed.  Folk like Mike Konczai are writing about this twist on the growing news story, and I'm happy to see it. 

Because while there are those (including at least one member of Congress) that have advised homeowners to squat, staying put in their homes until the paperwork mess gets sorted out, I gotta wonder if that's best for the home owner. 

It's far from a peaceful life, squatting.  Waiting for the shoe to drop - and unless you get a windfall, then you're setting there knowing you can't pay what you owe, so eventually that's a bell that is gonna ring.  Squatting is not a guaranteed winning Lotto ticket.

Plus, it keeps you from pulling up stakes and moving forward.  And forward is good.  So you join the millions of Americans negatively impacted by this depression, ahem, recession?  So you move to a rental, a forced downsizing of your life?  Is this really and truly so horrible? 

Maybe not, Dear Reader.

Many folk are scared of the simpler life, only to be very pleasantly surprised.  Because a simpler life is a better one.  Whether you voluntarily pursue it or it's thrust upon you, either way -- it's freeing not to be burdened with so much material stuff.  A new chapter in life may mean a second chance to pursue a dream, move to another location, get rid of that dining room set you hate and never use. 

So, while Where's the Note? sounds awfully friendly, I gotta wonder if it's worth all that angst to avoid the eventual New Chapter in Life.  Second chances are sweet, no matter how you come by them.

October 14, 2010

Top Online Banks - Forget the Brick and Mortar if You Dare

It's not new, really - the idea of online banking.   No drive through tellers, no big brick building with security guards and alarms and cameras high up in the corners.  These online bank alternatives are still protected by the FDIC (I know, I know - for whatever that's really worth these days), and some have been around for several years now. 

Bargaineering has a nice list of the top online banks in their opinion.  Checking, savings, minimum deposit, fees. 

MSN has created a best online bank list as well -- they give lots of details about online banks versus traditional institutions, including features that may make internet-only banks more palatable for you than your mother's store down the street. 

Consumer Search reviews the service of online banking, without distinguishing online-only from brick and mortar.  The results?  Bank of America comes in first, but an online-only bank, ING Direct, comes in second.  They've also compiled a list of their best internet-only banks (after ING comes Ally, if you're interested).

October 13, 2010

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs - Natural Relief for Inflammation

Yesterday, I posted about inflammation - acute vs chronic - and ways to fight it.  Herbs, pills, diet.  Stuff I've learned after hurting my foot and having to deal with a painful hurt tendon.  Owee.

Today, thought I'd list the various herbal and natural anti-inflammatories I learned about during my research, as well as sharing links that proved helpful to me. 

Personally, I'm drinking green tea made with fresh ginger, sweetened with stevia, and I really think it's helping on the pain front.  But ginger is far from the only anti-inflammatory that's all natural (read: not a pill) - here's a partial list:

Avoid the NSAIDs: Find a Natural Anti-Inflammatory (Herb, Food, Spice) That Works for You

Herbs and Spices

Arnica
Basil
Boswellia
Bromelain
Cayenne Pepper (Capsaicin)
Chondroitin
Cinnamon
Devils Claw
Garlic
Ginger
Glucosamine sulfate
Glucosamine - chondroitin sulfate combo
Licorice root
SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine)
St. John's Wort
Tea Tree Oil
Turmeric
White Willow Bark

Foods

Green Tea
Apple Cider Vinegar
Acerola (West Indian) Cherries
Apples
Avocados
Bell Peppers
Black Currants
Blueberries
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Collard Greens
Guavas
Kiwifruit
Kumquats
Leeks
Lemons
Limes
Mulberries
Onions
Oranges
Papaya
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Spinach
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Turnip Greens


For more information, check out:

Natural Holistic Health

All 4 Natural Health

Metabolism Advice

Natural News

October 12, 2010

Natural Anti-Inflammatories: What is Inflammation? Do You Have to Take a Pill for It? (Yes, Fine. I Hurt My Foot.)

Inflammation is your body's reaction to an injury -- it's the protection implemented by your own internal system to thwart whatever is hurting it and thereafter to initiate healing. It can be internal or external. 

Inflammation moves blood to the injury site, and there's usually swelling.  And for acute inflammation, there's pain -- which isn't necessarily bad: pain keeps you from moving the injury, giving the body time to heal the site.  Only problem is that pain, well, hurts. 

Inflammation is needed for any wound (or infection) to heal.  However, when it turns into chronic inflammation then it can become a problem, inviting disease (from hay fever allegies and heart disease to rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's).  Things like diet are a consideration when fighting against chronic inflammation (more below).

Popping Pills for Inflammation

The common practice for inflammation is to pop a pill - take an aspirin, or one of the newer anti-inflammatories, the NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).  You may know them as aspirin (Bayer, etc.), naproxin (Aleve), or ibuprofin (Advil, Motrin, or Tylenol).  NSAIDs are used to treat inflammation, as well as combat pain and lower fever.

There's lots of talk about these pills causing lots of problems on their own, things like a bleeding stomach and ulcers.  So, how to avoid them when you're fighting inflammation?  Can you? 

Natural Anti-Infammatories

Sure. There are several natural alternatives to NSAIDs that are proven anti-inflammatories.  They include (for a much longer list of herbs, spices, and foods that are natural antiinflammatories, go here):

Cayenne Pepper (Capsaicin)

You can find these creams alongside BenGay, IcyHot, and the other tubes of pain relief next to the Ace Bandage display at your local drug store.  These have a small amount of cayenne pepper in them, and it's been proven that rubbing capsaicin into sore muscles and joints can stop pain. 

Ginger

Again, studies have shown that ginger is a very effective anti-inflammatory.  In fact, some have found ginger to be more effective than aspirin (wow).   Make ginger tea, buy an organic hand of fresh ginger, take a finger and peel it, then drop the peeled ginger into a pot of boiling water to steep. 



Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Your entire diet can be targeted toward fighting inflammation.  Dr. Andrew Weil outlines an anti-inflammatory diet on his web site. 

Over at WebMD, Russell Greenfield, MD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses the impact of chronic (or constant) inflammation and how it's known to be a big contributor to certain diseases, including arthritis, as well as some cancers, as well as heart disease and possible Alzheimer's Disease.  An out-of-balance diet, with too few omega-3 fatty acids, and too much omega-6 fatty acids (in other words, the processed food and fast food diet of most Americans) can cause chronic inflamation - and the person will not even know it.  Eww, right? 

Don't Forget RICE!

Additionally, for injuries (acute inflammation) consider the practical aspects of RICE -- you don't injest a thing.  Instead, you Rest (R) the injured arm, leg, foot, whatever; you put Ice on it (I); you wrap or bandage the site, called Compression (C) and you keep the injured limb immobilized and elevated, Elevation(E). 

What Happened?  I Hurt My Foot on the Trail. 

Okay, what brought this on?  Well, fine.  While on the trails with the pups, I injured my foot.  While being all foot-proud about my new bouncey help-you-butt shoes, the official name of which I won't be providing but you know what I'm talking about, right? 

Tendon pulled, not torn.  Gonna take weeks to heal, and at first this hurt like a big dog.  Now, I know all about tendons and the importance of wearing good shoes. 

And I've discovered that I love ginger tea (I add an organic green tea bag to the pot, so I suppose it's really green tea with ginger).  And yes, I think that the ginger has helped.  Quite a bit, actually.

October 8, 2010

Caretaker Services - Ever Thought of Being a House Sitter or Caretaker in Some Faraway Place?

For 28 years, The Caretaker Gazette has provided a nice service (for a small fee, of course): putting together responsible individuals interested in protecting the property of another as either a sitter or caretaker, with those who need help with their real estate or vacation homes.   Other similar sites include Caretaker Jobs and Indeed

Now some of you may have learned of caretakers in a bodice-ripping romance novel or paperback spy thriller, but others may have become acquainted with the idea of staying in someone else's house - or ranch, or beachside home, etc - from actual success stories.  It's an arrangement that can be very beneficial for everyone concerned.

At the Caretaker Gazette, you can scan lists of prospective properties as a potential caretaker or house sitter, or alternatively, review profiles of those interested in being placed in a caretaking role.  Caretaker Jobs offers analogous information.  Indeed expands to include other types of employment, including things like animal caretaking with the National Parks Service, etc. 

Savvy Way to Financial Recovery?

True, this isn't for everyone -- but for some folk, and you may be one of them Dear Reader, it may be a great way to travel economically or to recover from a financial downturn. 

After all, there are positions (consider the "estate manager" ad shown on the home page of the Gazette) where not only do you live rent-free, you get a small monthly stipend.  If you've got a spouse that works, or you can earn addition money somehow while fulfilling your caretaking duties, then this might be a simple, savvy way to recoup some losses. 

Something to think about, right?

October 6, 2010

Toaster Ovens: I Love Them and I Have to Buy a New One Today (darn)

For a couple of years now, I've used my trusty Black & Decker Toaster Oven on a regular basis.  It's been great: saves energy, keeps the kitchen lots cooler than using the oven, and it's easy to use. 

However, just as I was placing a batch of Crescent Rolls in Old Faithful, my handy-dandy toaster oven died.  Yes, I admit it:  I was baking up a batch of the totally bad-for-you bop on the counter tube kind.  The kids love them, and I'm weak.  Fine, fine: I love them too.  We don't eat them all the time!!!! 

So, I went on the hunt via the web, of course, for a replacement.  And today, I'll be replacing my small kitchen appliance with a GE Convection Toaster Oven from Walmart that will cost me less than $50, has literally hundreds of glowing reviews at both the Walmart site as well as Amazon.com, and get this: it has a rotisserie included!

That's right.  I'm gonna be able to have rotisserie chicken, roast, or turkey breast made here at home.  From a product that cost less that fifty bucks!!  Wowser.  Happy Dance.

Now, there's a catch.  It can't be a BIG rotisserie chicken or roast or whatever.  I've got a 5 pound limit.  But that's okay.  That's doable.

So, folks, here I go -- off to Walmart for my new gizmo.  Simple life, simple excitement. 

And guess what I'm making for dinner?