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What Should Your Poop Look Like?

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What Should Your Poop Look Like?
Photo Credit: Getty

Dr. Joseph MercolaGuest Writer

The size, shape and color of your stool give valuable clues as to the state of your health. It’s so important, in fact, that in 1997 Stephen Lewis and Ken Heaton with the U.K.’s Bristol Royal Infirmary teaching hospital developed what’s now known as the Bristol stool chart.

The chart, formally known as the Bristol stool form scale, was developed after the team conducted a study showing the chart’s usefulness for monitoring changes in intestinal function.1

If you’re in the habit of fast flushing, i.e., you poop and flush without looking at the contents, you should make a point to look at your stool and observe what it may be telling you. The Bristol stool chart is an easy reference point to help you determine if your stool is in the ideal range or not — and what that may mean for your health.

Bristol Stool Chart: Types 3 and 4 Are Ideal

The Bristol stool chart is widely used as a tool to help patients identify their type of stool when seeing their doctor. The seven-point scale ranges from constipation (Type 1) to diarrhoea (Type 7), with a variety of consistencies in between. Type 1 is an indication that a person is very constipated, while Type 2 is associated with slight constipation.

Types 3 and 4 are normal and ideal, while Type 5 is a sign that you may be lacking fibre. Types 6 and 7, diarrhoea, signal inflammation. While it’s normal for your stool to fluctuate from day to day, particularly if you have changes in your diet, you should be aiming for Types 3 and 4 most of the time.

“An ideal stool looks like a torpedo — it should be large, soft, fluffy and easy to pass,” according to Dr. Amy E. Foxx-Orenstein, former president of the American College of Gastroenterology.2 Other descriptions for ideal stool include looking like a sausage or snake.

What Determines the State of Your Stool?

The consistency of your stool is largely determined by its water content. If food travels rapidly through your intestinal tract, it will absorb a limited amount of water, leading to loose or liquid stools. A slower transit time allows for more extensive water absorption from the stool in the colon, which leads to harder more formed stools upon their exit.3

At one end of the spectrum, loose stools, or diarrhoea, are usually the result of infection in the gastrointestinal tract, and occur when food and fluids move rapidly through your digestive tract. Although the time food takes to digest varies from person to person, it normally takes between six and eight hours from the time you eat food until it reaches your small intestines.

From there it travels to the large intestines and is finally eliminated. The average transit time is between 33 and 47 hours, depending upon your age and sex and the type of food eaten.4 If a pathogen enters your system, diarrhoea is your body’s way of helping to clear it.5

The most common cause of acute diarrhoea in the U.S. may be attributed to several different types of bacteria: salmonella, Campylobacter, shigella or E. coli.6 In other cases diarrhoea may be called “functional” as a clear trigger cannot be identified.

Functional diarrhoea may be caused by irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, for instance. Other causes of diarrhoea include drugs, endocrine disease, cancer, lactose intolerance, malabsorptive disease such as celiac disease, or a reaction to fructose or gluten. At the other end of the spectrum is constipation, signalled by hard, dry, lumpy stool.

Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, not drinking enough water and a low-fibre diet are just some of the factors that can lead to constipation, a condition that affects up to 16% of Americans chronically.7

Stool Consistency May Be Associated With Pain

The Bristol stool chart may be useful for assessing more than just the state of your gastrointestinal tract and stool consistency, as research suggests the latter may be associated with a person’s perception of pain.

The researchers suggested that because the gut microbiome influences health via the gut-brain axis, pathogenic bacteria in the gut could lead to both pain and altered stool consistency. Indeed, they found that stool form was associated with pain perception and anxiety status.

Especially, abnormally liquid stool was more related to pain sensitization and anxiety status than hard stool,” the researchers noted. “These findings indicate that the microbiota dysbiosis might be involved in pain sensitization and psychologically low states. Thus, our results suggest that assessing stool form in patients with chronic pain is important.”8

In short, if your stool falls outside of the normal spectrum on a regular basis, especially toward Types 5, 6 or 7, it’s a sign that your gut is likely imbalanced, a condition that could affect your overall physical and mental health.

For example, in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which often causes loose stools, the nerves in the gut are far more active than in healthy people, which has led researchers to speculate that the pain IBS patients suffer is the result of a hypersensitive nervous system and may explain why IBS is frequently brought on by stress or emotional trauma.9

What Is Poop, Exactly, and How Often Should You Go?

Poop, also known as stool, feces and excrement, is made up mostly of water (about 75%). The remaining 25% is made up of a combination of dead bacteria, indigestible food matter, cholesterol, fats, protein and inorganic substances such as calcium phosphate. Debris from the mucous membrane of your intestinal tract, bile pigments (bilirubin) and dead white blood cells also collect in your stool.10

On average, adults pass about 3 to 8 ounces of feces daily, typically broken up one to three times a day.11 That being said, there’s a wide variation in what’s considered normal bowel-movement frequency. Specifically, three bowel movements per day to three per week may be normal for you, and the frequency may change from day to day or week to week. This is because many factors influence your bowel habits, including:

DietTravel
MedicationsHormonal fluctuations
Sleep patternsExercise

In a study of 268 adults between the ages of 18 and 70, researchers confirmed that a wide variance in bowel habits is normal. Ninety-eight percent of the participants had a bowel movement frequency ranging from three times weekly to three times daily, and both ends of the spectrum were considered normal.12

Further, while straining to make a bowel movement or feeling an urgency to go can be signs of a medical issue, they may also fall in line with what’s normal. “Some degree of urgency, straining and incomplete evacuation should be considered normal,” the researchers noted. During the weeklong study, urgency was reported by 36% of participants, straining by 47% and incomplete defecation by 46%.

Signs of Healthy Stool

The size and shape of your stool are only two indications of whether your stool is healthy and normal. Other important factors to take note of include the following, which can signal whether your stool is healthy or not:

Healthy StoolUnhealthy Stool
Medium to light brownStool that is hard to pass, painful or requires straining
Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of piecesHard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off
About 1 to 2 inches in diameter and up to 18 inches longNarrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely make a call to your physician
S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestineBlack, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice. If you have black, tarry stools, it’s best to be evaluated by your health care provider
Quiet and gentle dive into the water; it should fall into the bowl with the slightest “whoosh” sound — not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a showerWhite, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician. Antacids may also produce white stool.
Natural smell, not repulsive (I’m not saying it will smell good)Yellow stools may indicate giardia infection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome. If you see this, call your doctor.
Uniform texturePresence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss or other changes in bowel habits)
Sinks slowlyFloaters or splashers
Increased mucus in stool — This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain
Very bad odor — If your stool has an extraordinarily bad odor, it should not be ignored. I am referring to an odor above and beyond the normally objectionable stool odor. Stinky stool can be associated with a number of health problems, such as a malabsorptive disorder, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and chronic pancreatitis.
What to Do if Your Poop’s Not Ideal

If your stool tends to be either too hard or too watery, pay attention to your diet. If you’re constipated, be sure you’re drinking enough water, as dehydration is a common cause. Also important, whether your stools are hard or loose, is to increase your fibre intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flaxseed (shoot for about 25 to 50 grams of fibre per 1,000 calories consumed daily).

Boosting the health of your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles and kefir (if you tolerate dairy), is also important, although you can add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you’re not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone.

Removing all sources of gluten from your diet (the most common sources are wheat, barley, rye, spelt and other grains) can also help you optimize your bowel habits, and be sure to focus your diet on whole foods rich in organic vegetables, while avoiding sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods.

Exercise can also help keep your gastrointestinal tract in good working order. It’s also important to relieve stress daily with tools like the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Last, but certainly not least, you may want to change the position you’re using to poop, namely giving squatting a try.

When you sit on a typical toilet, your puborectalis muscle, which is involved in bowel control, cannot fully relax. This is why you may need to push or even strain in order to have a bowel movement. While squatting, the puborectalis muscle relaxes fully, making elimination easier, which is why many experts believe squatting is the perfect position to poop.

Squatting, along with the lifestyle changes mentioned above, can go a long way toward getting your stool into the ideal Types 3 and 4 ranges, but if problems persist, schedule a visit with your holistic health care provider to rule out a medical problem.

Article Sources
Recommended Articles by Dr. Joseph Mercola
About the Author

Born and raised in the inner city of Chicago, IL, Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Mercola served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years, and in 2012 was granted fellowship status by the American College of Nutrition (ACN).

While in practice in the late 80s, Dr. Mercola realized the drugs he was prescribing to chronically ill patients were not working. By the early 90s, he began exploring the world of natural medicine, and soon changed the way he practiced medicine.

In 1997 Dr. Mercola founded Mercola.com, which is now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the internet. His passion is to transform the traditional medical paradigm in the United States. “The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans… You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.”

Visit Mercola.com for more information, or read Dr. Mercola’s full bio and resumé here.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System

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8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System
Photo Credit: Pexels

Dr. Edward F. GroupGuest Writer

If you’re looking for an immune system boost, the right vitamins and minerals can help. Although diet gets little attention in conventional media when it comes to supporting the immune system, it is one of the most powerful methods for keeping colds and other illnesses at bay. Nutrition isn’t the only means of immune system support but it is one of the oldest and most reliable natural approaches.

The 8 Best Foods for Your Immune System

The majority of your immune cells reside in your intestines, so doesn’t it make sense to consume healthy foods for keeping your immune system top notch? Here are 8 foods you can eat right now to boost your immune system.

1. Bell Peppers

Reach for all the bell peppers you want because they can actually have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. In addition, bell peppers are a great source of beta-carotene, which not only helps maintain healthy skin and eyes but studies suggest they could also provide an immune system boost. [1] [2]

2. Citrus

Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C. Believed to increase the production of white blood cells, C is essential for fighting off infections. Since your body doesn’t produce or store this vitamin, load up on citrus to help keep your immune system up and running. Supplementation with the vitamin may be helpful, but it’s always best to receive the vitamin from its natural source.

3. Ginger

Ginger is thought to work much like vitamin C in that it can even stop a cold before it starts. That said, it’s also a great food to reach for after you’re sick. Ginger can have a little heat due to the gingerol, a cousin of sorts to capsaicin—the stuff that makes chilli peppers hot. It’s the “kick” of the gingerol that can even act as a strong soothing agent. [3]

4. Turmeric

You can find this spice in many curries; it’s bright yellow in color, and a little bitter in taste, but it can definitely be pretty amazing for your health. While it’s already been used for its soothing capabilities for arthritis (among other things), a recent study suggests high concentrations of curcumin—what gives turmeric its color—could also reduce fever. [4] [5]

5. Spinach

With vitamin C, beta-carotene, and plenty of antioxidants, spinach is a perfect vegetable for your immune system. If you want to get the most out of it though, cook it as little as possible or even keep it raw. But don’t stop at spinach; a study suggests that other leafy green vegetables are good choices as well. [6]

6. Broccoli

Like spinach, broccoli is another great vegetable choice packed with antioxidants and vitamins. With vitamins A, C, and E, broccoli could easily be one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. Just like with spinach, cook it as little as possible to retain its nutrients.

7. Yogurt

If you like yogurt, make sure you’re getting the full health benefit by eating the kind with live cultures. Recent research suggests these cultures may strengthen your immune system. [7] Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, which can also help boost the immune system. [8]

8. Almonds

When your immune system needs a boost, vitamin E sometimes loses the spotlight to vitamin C, but both are crucial for a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means fat is needed in order for it to be absorbed properly. You can get almost all of your daily allowance of this vitamin by reaching for a half-cup of almonds. How easy is that?

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References
  1. Hughes, D. A. Effects of carotenoids on human immune function. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 58 (3).
  2. Chew, B. P. & Park, J. S. Carotenoid Action on the Immune Response. The Journal of Nutrition. 134 (1).
  3. Grzanna, R. et al. Ginger—An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. 8 (2).
  4. Jagetia G. C, & Aggarwal B. B. “Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin.Journal of Clinical Immunology. 27 (1).
  5. Sultana, G. N. et al. Analgesic principle from Curcuma amada. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 163.
  6. Li, Y. et al. Exogenous Stimuli Maintain Intraepithelial Lymphocytes via Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation. Cell. 147 (3).
  7. Meydani, S. N. & Ha W. Immunologic effects of yogurt. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 71 (4).
  8. Aranow, C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Vitamin D and the Immune System.
Recommended Articles by Dr. Edward Group
About the Author

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 with the goal of providing the highest quality natural health information and products. He is world-renowned for his research on the root cause of disease. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center earned recognition as one of the largest natural and organic health resources in the world. Dr. Group is a veteran of the United States Army and has attended both Harvard and MIT business schools. He is a best-selling author and a frequent guest on radio and television programs, documentary films, and in major publications.

Dr. Group centres his philosophy around the understanding that the root cause of disease stems from the accumulation of toxins in the body and is exacerbated by daily exposure to a toxic living environment. He believes it is his personal mission to teach and promote philosophies that produce good health, a clean environment, and positive thinking. This, he believes, can restore happiness and love to the world.

For more, please visit Global Healing Center.

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Here’s What You Should Know About Pumpkins

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Here’s What You Should Know About Pumpkins
Photo Credit: Pexels

Dr. MercolaGuest Writer

From the time you were a small child, you may have been conditioned to expect new and exciting things as autumn arrives. Every fall, children go back to school, see their friends and begin to anticipate the holiday season. One of the fruits closely associated with fall is pumpkin.

From pumpkin pie to pumpkin spice lattes or jack-o-lanterns it’s likely you associate fall with some type of pumpkin. Kathryn Lively, professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, spoke with a reporter from The Huffington Post about the expectations children have and how this conditions a response pattern that often travels into adulthood.1

Fall is a structural landmark, in the way significant dates help create structure in the perception of the passage of time.2 For example, just as January 1 is a landmark associated with developing personal growth and development goals, fall may be a time when your anticipation begins to grow, and you’re motivated to learn new skills or change behaviours.

Licensed psychologist and professor at Chapman University Amy Jane Griffiths, Ph.D., says, “We all crave the comfort and security that comes with traditions and predictability.”3 Many of us have traditions and events associated with fall weather, while others may dread the leaves changing or signs that winter is coming.

What Color Are Your Pumpkins?

Many have an interest in the science behind your anticipation of fall weather, fall foods and the hope of curling up with a blanket and a good movie. But it may still be difficult to explain the vast number of people who buy pumpkins each fall. In the U.S., Illinois is the No. 1 producer of this round orange squash, growing twice as many each year than in the other five top producing states.4

While you might think of it as a vegetable, the pumpkin is a fruit that’s known as much for its place in the kitchen as on your front porch. Mary Liz Wright, a University of Illinois Extension specialist, does not advise using your typical jack-o-lantern pumpkin in your fall recipes.5

This is because there are two distinct species of pumpkin. The first has been bred for size, structure and color to enhance your fall decor. The second is bred for consistency, flavour and texture of the meat. Pumpkins that are bred for flavour are tan or buckskin color on the outside with bright orange flesh on the inside.

They’re also more reminiscent of butternut squash in shape, rather than the more rounded outline of decorative pumpkins. Nathan Johanning, also a University of Illinois Extension specialist, spoke about the 2020 fall crop and the agritourism trade pumpkins support, sharing that one farm in Illinois had 5,000 tourists pass through in one weekend.

If you’re planning on saving the flesh from your pumpkins, Wright advises you cook and freeze it, since it is not advisable to can pumpkin or even pressure can it. The center of the dense flesh may not get hot enough to prevent botulism growth, which you can avoid by cooking it first and then freezing it.

Nutritious and Delicious Pumpkins

There are many health benefits to eating pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, as you’ll see in this short video. Although you can buy them year-round at the store, consider adding pumpkins to your garden since nearly every part of the plant can be eaten. You’ll be assured of a toxin-free fruit from which you can harvest the seeds as well as carve and cook your pumpkins in the fall.

Dried pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are high in healthy fats and rich in omega-3 fats, zinc, calcium, iron and an array of phytochemicals.6 After being dried and shelled, the seeds have just 180 calories in one-fourth cup and are also packed with manganese, phosphorus, copper and magnesium.7

People have used pumpkin seed extract and oil in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that may respond to the nutrients found in pumpkin seeds. Because most of the studies have involved extracts or oils from pumpkin seeds, it’s not possible to extrapolate the information to eating the pumpkin seeds themselves.8

The meat of the pumpkin contains only 49 calories in 1 cup of cooked mashed flesh. It is rich in riboflavin and vitamins A, C and E.9 The rich orange color indicates the high level of beta-carotenes and antioxidants that your body uses to neutralize free radicals.

The high levels of vitamin A and C have a positive impact on your immune system, and it is a major source of lutein and zeaxanthin linked to healthy eyesight.10 The high levels of potassium, vitamin C and fibre are all associated with cardiovascular benefits.

For instance, one literature analysis found an inverse association between potassium and the risk of stroke.11 Another study demonstrated people with higher levels of potassium intake had lower risk of high blood pressure.12 The levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C all contribute to healthy skin, collagen production13 and protection against the damage of ultraviolet rays.14

Pumpkin Seeds May Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Stones

In addition to the health benefits listed above, pumpkin seeds have a special superpower: They protect your kidneys by reducing the risk of calcium-oxalate crystal formation, better known as kidney stones. There are four types of kidney stones that can form, including calcium, struvite, uric acid and cystine stones.15 Of these, calcium oxalate is the most common.

Nearly 80% of calcium stones that form are calcium oxalate. By manipulating urine chemistry through dietary intake, you can help prevent calcium stone formation. The highest urine chemistry risk factors for calcium oxalate crystals are hypercalciuria and hyperoxaluria.16

Dietary risk factors that increase your potential for calcium oxalate stones include chronic dehydration and a diet that is rich in protein, oxalates, sodium and sugar.17 People with certain digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can also have a higher risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Oxalate can be found in these foods:18,19

BeansBeetsBeer
ChocolateCoffeeCranberries
PeanutsRhubarbSoda
Sweet potatoesTea (black)Dark green vegetables, such as spinach

One study evaluated the ability of pumpkin seed supplementation to change the chemistry of the participants’ urine and reduce the risk of calcium oxalate crystal formation.20 Researchers engaged 20 boys from the Ubol Province in Thailand where there is a high incidence of kidney stones.21

During the experiment the boy’s urine was measured before any intervention as a control period. During two periods of the intervention they received an oxalate supplement and a pumpkin seed or orthophosphate supplement. The participants’ urine chemistry was tested before and after each intervention.

The results of the study showed that while the boys were receiving the pumpkin seed supplement, the urine chemistry had the lowest potential risk for calcium oxalate crystal formation. The researchers found the high levels of phosphorus in the pumpkin seed may be a “potential agent in lowering the risk of bladder-stone disease.”22

Pumpkin Spice Blend Elicits an Emotional Response

The scents associated with pumpkin pie are not strictly from pumpkin but, rather, a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, which are the traditional spices used in the pie. This combination of scents can trigger a strong emotional response in your brain, which causes you to recall experiences associated with the smell.23

The emotional response that doors generate have an impact on your decision to like or dislike something. Your sense of smell and memory are closely linked since scents travel from the limbic system through the amygdala and hippocampus, which are regions of the brain related to emotion and memory.24

The scent of pumpkin spices is popular during the fall months, especially in homemade products and the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Catherine Franssen, Ph.D., director of psychology at Longwood University, is a fan of the flavour and understands why this particular combination of spices elicits an emotional response. She commented to CNN:25

“Since these are popular spice combinations, it’s very likely we would have encountered some or all of them combined in a favourite baked good in a comforting situation, like a family gathering, early in life. It’s not just the pumpkin spice combo but that we’ve already wired a subset of those spices as ‘good’ very early in life.”

Starbucks seemed to stumble onto their popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003 when it was first released.26 Each fall the Pumpkin Spice Latte drink makes a return to stores, along with other “pumpkin-flavoured” drinks — which may or may not actually have pumpkin in them — and baked goods. This year it’s the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew.27

In a press release, Peter Dukes, product manager who led the development of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, commented, “Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be. It’s taken on a life of its own.”28

However, as enticing as the scent may be, the product is loaded with sugar and packs a whopping 52 grams of carbohydrates into a 16-ounce mug.29 Instead, consider making the healthy and tasty alternative at home demonstrated in the video below.

Neuroscience, Sugar Addiction and Marketing

The emotional response generated by scent is something marketers take advantage of. Pleasant scents affect your mood, which is a way of engaging your hand-to-wallet response.

In experiments comparing odourless placebo sprays against fragrances, researchers found while you will have a response to the placebo when you anticipate the fragrance, the actual scent has a dramatic effect on improving your mood.30

Although your preference is highly personalized, a general assumption is made that most people will find pumpkin spice in the fall and cinnamon during Christmas associated with good memories. As the scent of pumpkin spice triggers a happy memory, it can also trigger a desire to buy a cup. Franssen comments on the neuroscience involved in scent and advertising:31

“When an door or flavour — and 80% of flavour is actually smell — is combined with sucrose or sugar consumption in a hungry person, the person learns at a subconscious, physiological level to associate that flavour with all the wonderful parts of food digestion.

[For that reason] the pumpkin spice latte is actually, scientifically, kind of addictive. Not quite the same neural mechanisms as drugs of abuse, but certainly the more you consume, the more you reinforce the behavior and want to consume more.”

The popular trend of promoting all things pumpkin in the fall even generated a hoax in 2014 when a Facebook meme reported Charmin toilet tissue would soon be released in a new pumpkin spice scent. Not soon after Charmin Company tweeted: “While we love it, we can promise you this. You will not be seeing #PumpkinSpice Charmin anytime soon. #StopTheMadness”32

References
  1. Huffington Post, October 11th, 2016
  2. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2013;104(2)
  3. Bustle, September 14, 2020
  4. USDA: Pumpkins October 26, 2020
  5. The Southern Illinoisan November 8, 2020
  6. Nutrition Data, Seeds, Pumpkin and Squash Seed Kernels
  7. World’s Healthiest Foods, Pumpkin Seeds
  8. World’s Healthiest Foods, Pumpkin Seeds
  9. Nutrition Data, Pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
  10. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi, 2011;45(1):64
  11. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2016;5(10)
  12. International Journal of Cardiology, 2017;230:127
  13. Nutrients, 2017;9(8)
  14. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012;96(5)
  15. Mayo Clinic, Kidney Stones
  16. CMAJ, 2006;174(10)
  17. National Kidney Foundation, Calcium Oxalate Stones, Who is at risk
  18. Michigan Medicine, Foods High in Oxalate
  19. National Kidney Foundation, Six Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones
  20. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1987;45(1)
  21. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1967;20(12)
  22. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1987;45(1)
  23. Social Issues Research Centre, The Smell Report
  24. The Harvard Gazette, February 27, 2020
  25. CNN, September 14, 2017 Para 6
  26. AdWeek, Give Me My Pumpkin Spice Latte
  27. Starbucks
  28. Starbucks Newsroom, September 5, 2017
  29. Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Latte
  30. Social Issues Research Centre, The Smell Report
  31.  CNN, September 14, 2017 Section: Actually Scientifically Kind of Addictive
  32. Twitter

Originally published at mercola.com and reproduced here with permission.

Recommended Articles by Dr. Joseph Mercola
About the Author

Born and raised in the inner city of Chicago, IL, Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Mercola served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years, and in 2012 was granted fellowship status by the American College of Nutrition (ACN).

While in practice in the late 80s, Dr. Mercola realized the drugs he was prescribing to chronically ill patients were not working. By the early 90s, he began exploring the world of natural medicine, and soon changed the way he practiced medicine.

In 1997 Dr. Mercola founded Mercola.com, which is now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the internet. His passion is to transform the traditional medical paradigm in the United States. “The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans… You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.”

Visit Mercola.com for more information, or read Dr. Mercola’s full bio and resumé here.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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The Powerful Effect Of Heart-Centered Healing On The Human Body – 7 Simple Actions You Can Take

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The Powerful Effect Of Heart-Centered Healing On The Human Body – 7 Simple Actions You Can Take
Photo Credit: Pexels

Michael Forrester, Guest Writer

Every cause of disease first begins with an imbalance in the body’s energy systems, specifically, the interaction between how the heart communicates with the brain and the body. Fix that and there is no disease, ever. The heart can produce an electrical field 100 times greater than the brain and a magnetic field 5000 times greater. Which one are you using to heal?

Emotions are vibrations which influence consistently our reality. We not only think and work our way through a day, meeting, assignment, but also feel and believe our way through it. The outcome depends on both.

Simply put, the number one cause of health is your energetic and emotional state. How you connect emotionally to your overall wellness and wellbeing is more important than any supplement, food, exercise or health treatment. There is only one cause of disease and that has to do with the energy and frequency imbalances that exist within your body. Rectify that, and disease cannot exist… it would be impossible.

All the emotions are varieties of two: fear and love: Fear/stress is contagious and causes contraction: inhibits creativity, brain activity, inhibits the immune system, selective perception and over extensive periods of time leads to breakdown. Love (positive beliefs and emotions) has high impact and causes expansion: creativity, physical and mental endurance, more productivity in shorter time because we take decisions quicker because we are receptive and highly perceptive. This question of Math, HeartMath, as per the contribution in this field of the HeartMath Institute: when one has accurate information, takes better decisions.

The quality of the field one creates with his heart influences his experience and reality.

The research behind the evolution of HeartMath came from the idea that the body’s emotional response to events do not always occur from “top-down” processing (i.e., the brain sends signals to the heart and other organs, and the body responds accordingly). Rather, it has now proven that often times our emotional state triggers our heart to send out its own signals to the brain and other organs, and the body then responds accordingly. For instance, while two-way communication between the cognitive and emotional systems is hard-wired into the brain, the actual number of neural connections going from the emotional centres to the cognitive centres is greater than the number going the other way. Have you ever: Made a “rash” decision? Done something dangerous on impulse? Taken a risk because you believed in it? This research helps explain the influence emotions have on our ability to think and act.

In fact, researchers at HeartMath have determined that the physiology and nerve centres of the heart are so complex and active, that they constitute a “brain” all on their own, termed a “mini-brain.” We now know that the heart contains cells that produce and release norepinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by the brain and ganglia outside the heart. Even more remarkable is the discovery that the heart produces oxytocin – the “love hormone – in concentrations that are as high as those in the brain.

7 Simple actions to create positive feelings:
  1. Think about the colleagues who helped you today. Thank them in your heart. Think about your current assignments. Know that they will work out well and work from this space
  2. What is it that you would like to have professionally? A new project? With whom? Think about it in detail, be specific and imagine you are already working on it
  3. Entertain the feeling of celebration that arises in your heart. From this space take the appropriate actions to make it happen
  4. Find ways to help your colleagues, or make them feel that you care. Do one (in)visible act of kindness per day or more if you want to
  5. Before starting your work day give thanks and envision it the way you want it to be
  6. When finishing your work day give thanks and clear it of negative emotions (which come out of fear that we know now is illusion). Do not take them at home or preserve for the next day
  7. Smile

The time of crisis is literally here: there is the fast pace of our world, the assault of too much to do with too little time and resources. Being in the present moment is just a concept for most of us and has little translation to daily life practice. Fear is wide spread and is polluting us on a very cellular level: hypertension, autoimmune diseases, cancer, infertility, chronic back problems, anxiety, and depression; the list could continue forever. The difference is how we interpret crisis because we can be at complete peace in the midst of chaos.

Can we live the life we want? Can we be authentic in our speech? Can we identify and release our underlying limiting beliefs so that we begin a new commitment towards genuine compassion, abundance, love and connection. Your commitment will show in your body and intentions.

Some Further Reading, If You’re Curious…
Article Sources

This article originally appeared on preventdisease.com, reproduced with permission.

Recommended Articles by Michael Forrester
About the Author

Michael Forrester is a spiritual counsellor and is a practising motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States.

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How To Create A Healthy Non-Toxic Bedroom

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How To Create A Healthy Non-Toxic Bedroom
Photo Credit: Pexels

Elisha McFarlandGuest Writer

Many of us understand the importance of consuming organic foods and making detoxification a regular part of our health routine. Creating a healthy home environment is also part of the detoxification/clean living process. After learning about the health hazards of dryer sheets and toxic cleaning products, you may have already eliminated these products from your home. But what about your bedroom? After all we do spend one third of our lives sleeping, yet often times this is the room that is neglected.

Creating a clean (non-toxic) bedroom can be a financial challenge, so starting small is the easiest solution. Every change you can make will have a positive impact on your health. How you begin is a personal decision based on your budget and health issues. Some people begin with replacing their mattress, others an air cleaner or bedding.

Creating A Healthy Bedroom
1. Replace Your Bedding with Organic Materials

Replace or remove all artificial fabrics from your bedding. Start with pillows and pillow cases, gradually working your way through the sheets, mattress and bed frame (if it’s made from artificial products such as particle board or MDF, see suggestion #5 below). Many people make the mistake of assuming that cotton is a safer choice than synthetics, but the fact is that cotton uses 25% of the world’s insecticides and over 14% of its pesticides.  As you can afford it, replace your bedding with organic materials.

2. Replace or Remove Artificial Clothes in Your Closet

The reality is that synthetic materials such as acrylic, nylon, and polyester are made from thermoplastics. These fabrics out gas plastic molecules whenever they are heated. [1] If you wear wrinkle free clothes you’re breathing in plastic and formaldehyde. Remember that you also absorb these chemicals directly through your skin.

The base for most synthetic fabrics is a liquid made from coal, oil, or natural gas. [3] The liquid is forced through the fine holes of a nozzle, called a spinneret. As the liquid emerges from the holes, it is cooled so that it solidifies to form tiny threads. These threads are woven together to make fabric.  To make these clothes more durable Perfluorochemicals (PFCs), including Teflon is added to fabric to offer wrinkle and stain resistant qualities.  Look for clothing made of natural or organic materials. To learn more about synthetic clothes click here.

3. Remove Faux-Fabric Furniture

If you have any furniture in your bedroom, such as a chair that is artificial leather, it shouldn’t be in your bedroom or any room in your house for that matter. You may be surprised to learn that Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is often used in synthetic leather. PVC is widely regarded as the most dangerous of all plastics. It is made more flexible with the use of toxic plasticizers—typically phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors. Throw pillows and seating cushions that are stain and water resistant have been sprayed with chemicals that are toxic. If the fabric is a cotton/polyester blend it was most likely treated with formaldehyde, and softened with ammonia. [2] Replace these when you can with organic or natural material.

4. Remove Particle Board and MDF

If you have any furniture that is made of particle board, MDF or melamine, it shouldn’t be in your house, especially your bedroom. MDF is made with shredded wood that has been softened and powdered. The powder is combined with resins and other bonding agents and compacted into solid boards. The chemical that causes the most concern is formaldehyde, which can aggravate asthma and other lung conditions, irritate mucous membranes, and cause contact dermatitis. [5]

Like MDF, particle board contains formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that has been directly linked to nasopharyngeal carcinoma (throat cancer) in people. The chemical can also cause headaches, allergies, nausea and a burning sensation in the throat.

According to TLC, How Stuff Works, within two months, particle board decreases its toxicity by about 25%. By the end of the first year, particle board is only half as potent as it was new. It levels off from there and can take up to ten years to run completely out gas. [5]

Look for solid wood furniture at furniture stores, flea markets and yard sales. Glass and metal end tables and desks generally work well as they don’t outgas and are easily wiped down.

5. Remove Accent / Throw Rugs

Wood or tile floors are easiest to clean and better options for allergy/asthma and MCS sufferers. While small accent or area rugs may look nice in your bedroom, they hold onto dirt, dust mites and other allergens. If you can, omit rugs and carpet. Almost all polyester is manufactured with antimony, a carcinogen that is toxic to the heart, lungs, liver, and skin. [4] Many carpets are also made of olefin (polypropylene). Nylon, which is petroleum based synthetic fibre invented in the 1930’s by Dupont and is common in rugs.

6. Use ‘No VOC’ Paint

If you decide to paint a room use No VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. VOCs are unstable, carbon-containing compounds that easily vaporize into the air. When they enter the air, they react with other elements to produce ozone, which causes air pollution and a host of health issues including breathing problems, headache, burning, watery eyes and nausea. [6]

7. Shoe Free Zone

Consider making your home a shoe free zone. Have indoor and outdoor shoes to avoid tracking in pollen, dirt and chemicals from outdoors in. You can also purchase a shoe or boot tray to keep by your door. When you come in from outdoors simply place your shoes in the tray to minimize dirt, pollen, dust and chemicals from being tracked into your house.

8. Minimize Electrical Devices

If you have a computer, TV or other electronic devices in your bedroom, you may consider moving them into another room. Electronic devices emit radiation that can disturb a peaceful night of sleep by disrupting sleep patterns. Switch out your digital alarm clock to a battery operated alarm clock.

9. Replace or Cover Your Mattress

This is the most difficult step as it is cost prohibitive for many people. The reality is that conventional mattresses are sprayed with flame retardant and stain resistant chemicals. Many mattresses are made of foam that can outgas for years. There are many sources for organic mattresses at local stores and online. Wherever you shop be aware of green washing. If you can’t afford to replace your mattress, you may consider wrapping it in a foil barrier cloth available at www.afs-foil.com. They also sell a foil tape to seal the edges. I found the tape to have a strong smell, although it does evaporate in 3-4 days.  If you are chemically sensitive, have someone else do this for you.

10. Buy an Air Cleaner

If you can afford a whole house air cleaner, they are a wonderful investment. Do your research; there are a lot to choose from. For many people a portable air cleaner that can be moved from room to room is a wonderful option. Look for one with HEPA filtration, and be sure that whatever you buy does not produce ozone. Some air cleaning companies will even custom blend their charcoal filters for specific need such as allergy/asthma, smoke, MCS etc.

Recommended Air Cleaner, If You’re Interested…
11. Remove Chemically Treated Drapes or Shades

Drapes and shades hide dust, pollen, and other allergens. If you can remove drapes and shades and replace them with organic fabric drapes and shades. If the cost is prohibitive, consider bartering with a friend who can sew curtains or drapes for you. Wood blinds may also be an option for some individuals. If you are building a new home or remodelling you may consider blinds that are in between the glass, no out gassing, and no weekly cleaning!

References
  1. Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd
  2. Gretel H. Schueller,”From Hippie to Hip,” Audubon Magazine, http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/audubonliving/audubonliving0911.html
  3. William McDonough, Michael Braungart, “Transforming the Textile Industry: Victor Innovatex, Eco-Intelligent Polyester and the Next Industrial Revolution,” green@work, May-June 2002.
  4. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-health-risks-of-mdf.htm
  5. http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/particle-board-safety.htm
  6. http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/construction/materials/low-voc-paint.htm
Recommended Articles by Elisha
About the Author

Elisha McFarland N.D., D. A. Hom., CWR., M.H. is the founder of My Health Maven. Elisha turned her debilitating illness from mercury poisoning into a dedicated passion to helping others. The My Health Maven website covers a wide range of topics including non-toxic living, health tests at home, the healing power of foods, home remedies, food ingredients, dental health and environmental illness. Her goal is to share her experience and knowledge, to help others live life more abundantly.

Elisha’s articles are widely published throughout alternative media such as The Organic Consumer’s Association and Food Matters TV. She is also a contributor to GreenMedInfo, Natural Health 365, Natural News, The Hearty Soul and Eat Local Grown.

You can connect with Elisha at:

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