Articles from: April 2016

ALLERGENS BE GONE: Beat Back Irritating and Potentially Harmful Allergens with Essential Oils

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by Ashley Stone

 Allergic disorders have increased during the last 50 years and today affect more than 40 million Americans. An allergic response develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment. People are often told to avoid allergy triggers, but that can be difficult when the seasons are changing, and when our immune systems are fighting environmental toxins and hidden triggers in the foods we consume.

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GMO-Free Germany: Five Dozen Countries Now Ban or Label GMO Crops

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New rules implemented by the European Union now allow individual member states to block farmers from using genetically modified organisms (GMO), even if the variety has been approved on an EU-wide basis. Scotland was the first to opt out and Germany is next, according to German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt.

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Work Out Like a Millennial: They Like Short, Social and Fun Workouts

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Millennials are a big deal. Most businesses view them as trendsetters for good reason: Born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, they make up 25 percent of the population and represent $200 billion in annual buying power. Like the baby boomers before them, they also have the power to profoundly influence other generations, both young and old.

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The Health of Your Gut Affects Your Overall Health – Probiotics Can Help

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What to eat is an important part of any discussion about weight loss, nutrition and health. Add probiotics to the mix, and you’ve started a real conversation. In recent years, people have incorporated probiotics into their diets because empirical evidence supports the argument that probiotics provide many health benefits through diversifying the types of bacteria living in your gut.


Probiotics have been linked to heart health, mental health, the immune system and cognition. To get the full picture, it’s important to understand how probiotics fit into your diet.

Probiotic-Rich Foods

To reap the benefits of a healthy gut, you should consider increasing the amount of probiotic foods you consume on a daily basis. The go-to option tends to be yogurt, but other fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles and kefir also contain probiotics.

Increasing the amount of probiotics in your diet is a great idea due to the many health benefits, but simply adding probiotic foods to your diet won’t ensure that your overall health, or the health of your gut, will improve. When you eat probiotic foods, there’s no way to measure the amount of probiotics your gut receives, so you can’t be sure that you’re consuming a significant amount of probiotics to make a difference in your gut health. You also can’t be certain whether the types of bacteria you’re consuming are beneficial at all.

To insure that you’re consuming a sufficient amount of beneficial bacteria, you’d have to drastically change your diet. In studies that research the benefits of eating yogurt, participants who see improvement in their gut health generally eat yogurt at least two or three times per day. Eating that much yogurt on a daily basis can be hard to maintain—not to mention the fact that you’d probably get tired of eating yogurt. Typically it’s more common for a person to eat yogurt once a day, or less often. That’s why a daily probiotic supplement can make more sense, in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Chocolate and Almonds

The health benefits of eating dark chocolate—a flavanol-rich food— include improved cognition, lower blood pressure and decreased appetite. Scientific research indicates that the flavanols in dark chocolate may also help prevent obesity, Type-2 diabetes and colon cancer (due to antioxidant compounds). These numerous health benefits start in your gut with the process of digestion, aided by the good bacteria living there. There is research that shows a link between dark chocolate consumption and heart health. According to Katherine Harmon Courage, a contributing editor at Scientific American, “Microbes in your gut create anti-inflammatory compounds that have been linked to cardiovascular and other benefits.” The chocolate you eat feeds bacteria in your gut, resulting in a fermentation of the flavanols and the production of anti-inflammatory compounds that are absorbed into the bloodstream.

The good news is you have an excuse to eat chocolate, but not just any kind of chocolate. Make sure it’s dark chocolate. In moderation, dark chocolate is the healthier option because of the lower amounts of added sugar and fats in comparison to milk chocolate. The health benefits you get from eating chocolate are from cocoa, so the higher the cocoa content, the better. However, the differences in the composition of gut bacteria differ from person to person, “We can’t be entirely sure each person’s gut will undertake the same fermentation processes,” says Courage. This is another reason a probiotic supplement to your diet can be a good way to promote the diversity of the bacteria in your gut, which in turn should assist the necessary fermentation process.

Almonds are another treat known for their nutritional value; they are less well-known for the value they provide to the good bacteria in your gut. Almonds act as a pre-biotic, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that fuel the microflora in your gut. In a study, a daily intake of almonds increased levels of beneficial bacteria in participants’ guts in six weeks or less, and the benefits lasted two weeks after participants stopped eating the almonds. An added benefit was the reduction of clostridium perfringens, a spore-forming, gram-positive bacterium that contributes to food poisoning.

“In recent years, people have incorporated probiotics into their diets because empirical evidence supports the argument that probiotics provide many health benefits through diversifying the types of bacteria living in your gut.”

Your Diet, Your Health

It’s fascinating to learn how what we eat affects our bodies, in ways we never imagined. It is now more clear than ever that the key is in your gut. A healthy gut helps your body receive the nutrients it needs and reduces the levels of harmful bacteria in your system. Unfortunately, the American lifestyle tends to include a diet full of saturated fats, sugars and processed foods, which can be harmful to our gut and overall health. A focus on healthy eating and probiotics may be the best answer to reducing their harmful effects, and increasing the benefits of the nutrients we consume.

DDr. Lawrence Hobermanr. Lawrence Hoberman is a San Antonio-based, board-certified gastroenterologist whose medical career has spanned four decades. Dr. Hoberman developed a holistic approach to treating gut-related health problems with his multi-strain EndoMune Advanced Probiotic for adults nearly a decade ago, followed by EndoMune Advanced Junior for Kids. In 2013, EndoMune Advanced Junior became the first probiotic certified by the North American organization Parent Tested, Parent Approved. Learn more about Dr. Hoberman and EndoMune by visiting www.endomune.com.

100 Percenter: Lower Austria Wholly Powered by Renewable Energy

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Lower Austria, the largest of the country’s nine states and home to 1.65 million people, now receives 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources. The country’s total power output is about 70 percent renewable. The Danube River is so powerful that hydroelectric power is a natural choice.

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Botanical Garden Hosts Annual “Brews and Blooms” Fundraising Event on May 21

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The San Antonio Botanical Garden is set to host its annual Brews and Blooms event on May 21, featuring a “beer garden” in the most literal sense. The event is the perfect way to enjoy a late springtime stroll through the garden while sipping on local craft beers.

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Working Worms: They Can Safely Biodegrade Plastic Waste

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Mealworms can safely and effectively biodegrade certain types of plastic waste, according to groundbreaking new research from Stanford University and China’s Beihang University. In two newly released companion studies, researchers reveal that microorganisms living in the mealworm’s gut effectively break down Styrofoam and plastic into biodegraded fragments that look similar to tiny rabbit droppings.

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Nature’s Colors Aid Focus and Accuracy

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Researchers from the University of Melbourne determined that taking a quick break and looking at natural colors can significantly increase attention, focus and job performance. The researchers tested 150 university students who were randomly selected to view one of two city scenes consisting of a building with and without a flowering meadow green roof.

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Tai Chi Eases Effects of Chronic Disease

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A review of research from the University of British Columbia tested the effects of tai chi exercise upon people with four chronic diseases: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, osteoarthritis and cancer. Dr. Yi-Wen Chen and his team analyzed 33 studies of more than 1,500 people who participated in tai chi.

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Hill Country Alliance Seeking 13 Amazing Hill Country Photos for its 2017 Calendar

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Annual Photo Contest Continues Through May 31

Each year the annual Hill Country Calendar created by the Hill Country Alliance features some of the most breathtaking images of the land and the vegetation that we all love and want to preserve for future generations. To have a photo selected for inclusion in the HCA calendar is an honor, and it’s also a huge challenge.

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