Tag Archives: lifestyle

10 Simple Ways to Exercise Around The House

  1. Deep sweep – Do lunges the length of your house while vacuuming or sweeping. Lunges help define the muscles in your buttocks and legs while strengthening your core.
  2. Double your stair duty – Every time you have to go up or down the stairs, go up and down another time or two good measure. Climbing stairs is good cardiovascular exercise and also helps strengthen the lungs.
  3. Sudsy Fitness – Try some stretches, a yoga pose or leg raises while you do the dishes. You can also try quad stretches, holding your foot behind you while balancing on one leg.
  4. Take the long road – Store things in a place of the house such as the basement or outside in a garage to require you to go up and down stairs or walk more every time you need something.
  5. Bounce n’ fold – Bounce or try hold your core still on an exercise ball while you fold laundry. Fitness balls exercises can help strengthen your core, work your abs and help with balance.
  6. Supper marathon – Lightly jog in place or do intermittent squats while you are making supper. Jogging gets your heart rate up, really working that ticker.
  7. Heavy stroll – Pace the length of your house a 4-5 times holding two 5 pound weights, or go up and down stairs with the weights. Light weight lifting can help you increase muscle mass while reducing fat.
  8. Just dance! Dancing is an amazing workout for your heart, lungs, core and lower body muscles especially. You can’t go wrong turning on your favorite playlist for a boogie. It is also good for your mood – getting those endorphins dancing too.
  9. Mini workouts – Do crunches or jumping jacks during every commercial break while you watch TV. Even working out in small intervals adds up throughout the day.
  10. Use your stairs as a gym! You don’t need to invest in a gym membership to gain a rocking, healthy body – try step exercise reps on the stairs a couple times a day.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember to get at least half an hour of physical activity a day! We hope you visit again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Tackle A Swelly Belly (Bloating Part 2)


In our last post “Abdominal Bloating Part 1 – Causes” we looked at some of the lifestyle and medical causes of bloating, now its time to examine what can be done about those troublesome belly swells. So how can you treat it through lifestyle changes, and when is it time to see the doc?

Make Better Food Choices

In our last post, we listed certain foods that can lead to gas and bloating which are often best to avoid or reduce if you are suffering the condition frequently. Here are some foods that have the opposite effect the body, actually helping to reduce swelling and gas. Some of these include:

  • Ginger – has long been used for its medicinal effects on the gastrointestinal tract, so load up on this spice!
  • Bananas – contain a surplus of potassium, which can help reduce bloating that is due to salt intake.
  • Cucumbercontains helpful bloat-fighting antioxidants and has a high H2O make-up.
  • Yogurt – while most milk products are on the no-no list for many of those with easily irritated stomachs, the probiotics in yogurt can be very beneficial in balancing the gut and aiding digestion.
  • Peppermint tea – peppermint has a calmative effect on the digestive tract (except for those prone to heartburn or GERD – it may make your condition worse).
  • Water – there’s a reason you keep getting hammered over the head with “drink many glasses a day!” of the old H2O, it can really help clear you out and help things run more smoothly.

Other Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Bloating

Some lifestyle changes that can really help cut down on bloating include:

  1. Eating smaller meals will help you not overeat, which is one of the most common causes of bloating and excess gas.
  2. Eat and drink slowly to avoid swallowing air with each bite, which also leads to gas.
  3. Avoid foods that commonly cause bloating.
  4. Take a short fiber hiatus – yes, fiber is good for you but it also increases intestinal gas to help things pass through the system, so ease back a little if you’re experiencing too much bloating, then ease back into eating fiber.
  5. Make a habit of a post-supper walk (after your food has some time to settle) to aid digestion.
  6. See an allergist to rule out any food allergies or sensitivities that may be causing your bloating.
  7. Stop smoking to avoid swallowing excess air on the regular.

When To See The Doc?


If you are experiencing any of the following, you should seek medical attention right away:

  • You are avoiding bloat-foods and taking steps to lesson stomach swelling but still routinely experience distention.
  • Bloating often comes along with persistent, and worsening heartburn.
  • Bloating is accompanied by excessive discomfort and pain.
  • Your bowel movements have changed (you are more constipated or diarrheic) or if you have changes in your stool such as blood present.
  • You feel feverish or your stomach is tender to the touch.

If you have any questions about intestinal bloating or are suffering some of the additional symptoms listed, feel free to sign up to DocChat today for a video consultation with one of our excellent board certified DocChat physicians.

 

Can Coffee Help Asthma?

In short, yes, drinking enough coffee can help ease some of the symptoms of asthma such as wheezing and coughing because it contains caffeine, which acts like a bronchodilator. Specifically, caffeine mimics the effects of an older asthma medication called theophylline, which relieves breathlessness and wheezing by opening the airways.

Don’t Switch Your Meds For Perk

Studies have shown that drinking 2-3 highly caffeinated beverages such as coffee (coffee and tea are among the most caffeinated, followed by certain sodas) may help alleviate some asthma symptoms for even up to hours after initial onset. However, others argue you’d need too much coffee to see a significant benefit. Furthermore, coffee is not as effective as actual asthma medications so people certainly shouldn’t be putting down their puffers in place of a cup of joe. In an emergency where a asthmatic has no access to puffers, 2-3 cups of coffee could potentially help keep the stabilize their condition until emergency care is in place, but this isn’t foolproof. Some medical professionals do suggest a couple cups a day as preventative asthma care. Besides, most current asthmatic puffers work better and for longer than theophylline (with fewer side effects), so while coffee would be an okay substitute in a pinch, the effects may pale in comparison to today’s emergency asthma medications.

Can Coffee Interfere With Lung Function Tests?

Quality clinical trials have been conducted to look into just how closely caffeine mimics the effects of asthma medications, specifically when it comes to lung function tests. Many of these studies have shown that drinking certain amounts of coffee can actually sway a lung function test, making the person perform better than if they would have without the coffee. So the benefits may not be enough to stop an attack mid-wheeze, but there must be some merit to the coffee cure if asthmatics should avoid caffeine before performing a respiratory test!

Coffee Beans And Scents

There is little to no empirical research to back up this next claim, but many homeopathic and some medical professionals have suggested sniffing coffee beans for asthmatics who react very badly to scents. Taking a little baggie full of fresh coffee beans in public and having a little sniff could potentially block some scents from effecting you quite as adversely as without the blockers. Is there any truth to it? It is hard to say, but consider this: coffee beans have long been used to neutralize the nostrils between perfume testings, so why wouldn’t they be effective for blocking scents you may breeze by while shopping? Anything is worth a try even if it helps that tiny little bit.

The Bottom Line

So it seems having a few cups of coffee during a bout of wheezes can have a moderate bronchodilation effect, but it shouldn’t be something you rely on too heavily, and you certainly shouldn’t be replacing any puffers with coffee. However, it is good information to know and could indeed help someone in an emergency who doesn’t have access to medication and a couple cups of black coffee a day may well provide some day-to-day asthma relief. Just to note, a much more effective alternative medication for asthma attacks which many people unfortunately don’t know about is an adrenaline autoinjector. EpiPens may be for allergies, but they can save the life of an asthmatic having a serious attack just as effectively.

Thanks for reading! We hope you visit DocChat again soon!

 

 

 

Dietary Supplements – Under The Microscope


Over half of Americans take some kind of vitamin or mineral supplement daily. While vitamin supplements can be a puzzle piece to a healthy lifestyle especially if someone has a deficiency, they can also cause significant complications when taken in excess, in combination with other supplements or medications, or in the presence of certain conditions. Not only that, but dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA the same as medications, so some of them contain unwanted filler ingredients that aren’t even required to be listed on the bottle.

What Are Dietary Supplements?

Dietary supplements are natural or synthetic reproductions of dietary components such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, or amino acids in pill form. They are intended to supplement micronutrients in your diet. Many supplements have extra “inactive” ingredients and make label claims to help or “cure” certain health conditions.

Potential Health Perks of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential to sustain good health, but you can generally gather the variety and amounts you need from eating a healthy, diverse diet. Unfortunately, too many Americans have poor diets, consuming ‘junk food’ or empty calories in place of vitamin and mineral rich foods like fresh produce. In these cases, supplements may help somewhat with diet-related micronutrient shortfalls, but won’t take the place of consuming them organically through diet.

Who Can Best Benefit From Supplements?

Some people have micronutrient deficiencies such as low iron or low magnesium. In these cases, the person may have trouble metabolizing the deficient vitamin or mineral through diet and may need the right dietary supplement to help replenish the deficit. Others who may benefit by (doctor-guided) consumption of supplements would be pregnant women (some take folic acid, or need extra iron or calcium) or senior citizens who may not get all their required nutrients from diet or may have deficiencies.

Supplements Come With Potential Risks

According to the FDA of the risks of dietary supplements include:

  • Overdosing: taking too much of a vitamin or mineral you don’t need (already have plenty of) can cause toxicity, causing problems with the kidneys or stomach, just to name a couple. It can be quite dangerous in some cases.
  • Drug interactions: many supplements can interact adversely with certain medications to cause illness. For example John’s Wort can interfere with the effectiveness of anti-depressants, blood pressure medication and birth control.
  • Combining unsafe supplements: similarly to interacting with medications, supplements can also interact with other supplements to cause adverse effects.
  • Substituting supplements for actual medications: Supplements are not It is dangerous to stop taking doctor prescribed medications and start self-medicating with supplements. This can lead to illness, progression of your illness or even death. It is important to consult a doctor before making any changes to your medical treatment.

aside from iron, the FDA doesn’t require supplements to harbour warnings about interactions or potential health risks like medications have to. So unless you actually show your doctor the bottle you’ve purchased, you can’t be sure what it contains.

Supplements Aren’t Well Regulated

According to Consumer Reports between 2009-2012 there were reports of 115 deaths and over 2100 hospitalizations linked to the use of dietary supplements. This is largely due to the fact that supplements aren’t as closely regulated as medications are. Supplement producers don’t have as stringent label restrictions and regulations either. Some more dangerous supplements out there actually contain drugs such as Viagra or synthetic steroids, despite the fact they market “herbal” or “dietary” products. This is dangerous because many patients have conditions or are taking medications that may react with these added drug ingredients.

Do Your Research!

  1. Is the supplement safe and effective?
  2. Is it good quality? Does it contain extra, potentially unwanted or problematic ingredients?
  3. Is the dosage appropriate for your circumstances?
  4. Be sure to ask a doctor before starting any supplements as they can interact with medications.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Check out our posts on: Vitamin DVitamin B12 and Magnesium, and keep an eye out for more to come!

10 Stress Busters To Help You Reclaim Your Smile

One of the biggest reasons people are highly stressed is because they don’t look at stress management as an important priority on par with getting enough sleep, eating right, or going to work. In reality, stress management should be among one of the most important things on our list of ‘to do’s because without setting aside time each day to destress, it compounds until you are ready to tear out your hair. Stress also exasperates many health conditions. So here are some activities you should be carving some daily time out for to help bring the cortisol levels down:

  1. Walk it off – exercise has proven itself to be an invaluable stress reduction tool. When you exercise, your body releases mood lifting chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are natural stress-busters. So if you’re feeling particularly stressed, hit the road for a walk or jog.
  2. Breathe away the stress of the day – meditation and deep breathing exercises can be extremely beneficial for lowering anxiety and nixing the physiological effects of stress.
  3. Color the blues away – Yes, this is a real thing. While some contend the trend, many psychologists countrywide are suggesting coloring to some of their patients as a viable stress management technique.
  4. Chat it out – calling up an uplifting buddy for a coffee date when you are feeling the crunch can also help alleviate the stresses of the daily grind. It really does help to get things off your chest. Bottling it all up can lead to your emotions coming out in unwanted ways like flipping at your spouse over something minor just because of your pent up stress.
  5. Progressive muscle relaxation – this is a favorite stress management technique of mine because it can also help with chronic pain. It is all about concentrating on the stress in your limbs and progressively letting it go one muscle at a time. Check out the process here.
  6. Music or art therapy – Creative therapy has made great strides over the years in stress and anxiety management. Creative activities like painting or listening to or playing music can be calming, soothing, inspiring and invigorating.
  7. Giggle up a storm – Similar to positive physical contact and exercise, laughing also triggers the release of happy chemicals in the brain which can boost your mood and help you forget your woes. Getting into a good old fashioned belly laugh may be just what the doc ordered. So turn on your favorite comedy or call your funniest friend and let the chuckles begin.
  8. Grab a cuddle buddy – whether it is your pet, your spouse, your friend or your child, take some time to get some hugs or cuddles. That kind of contact releases feel-good chemical oxytocin which can almost obliterate negative feelings and give your mood a complete 180’.
  1. Take time for something you love – Do you like leisure drives? Or playing guitar? It is likely you don’t get to partake in enjoyable activities as often as you like – so make the time. Each day, set some time aside to do something that totally destresses you.
  2. Therapeutic Writing – Many find journaling or other forms of daily writing to be beneficial for managing stress. This process can help vent your frustrations so you can forget about them and move on with your day. Writing daily positive notes and affirmations can help lift your mood as well.

Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Healthy Ways to Boost Your Energy


7 Naturally Energy-Boosting Foods

You’ll notice a common thread with all the following natural energy boosters: B vitamins, which are water soluble vitamins that convert carbs, fat and protein into energy (or fuel) for the body to use. Here are some foods rich in B Vitamins:

  1. Almonds contain metabolism-boosting magnesium, as well as plenty of  (you guessed it) B vitamins for energy. So get snacking on ¼ a cup of almonds when you feel that afternoon lag starting to come on.
  1. Legumes such as beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses. They have plenty of B vitamins particularly B6, energy-helping iron, folate and fibre. A bean salad or some hummus for lunch will surely perk you up!
  2. Bananas are loaded with potassium, B vitamins and fibre to help your body gain some delicious natural energy.
  1. Asparagus – is high in vitamins of the B variety, which promote healthy energy by turning food into the fuel your body needs. Add asparagus to your plate in the afternoon to get a much-needed burst of natural energy to get you through the work day.
  1. Oranges contain all kinds of vitamins (particularly vitamin C), folate and fibre. Oranges are a great fruit choice for a burst of pure and simple natural energy.
  1. Brown rice boasts quite the vitamin and mineral resume; it is rich in vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese, which also helps produce energy from carbohydrates and protein. Brown rice also contains selenium, a mineral that has been linked to cancer prevention.

Other Lifestyle Tips Up Your Energy

  • Don’t skip breakfast – it really is an important meal. A good breakfast can keep you going strong until the next meal. Catch our article on the importance of this morning meal here.
  • Don’t skip any meals for that matter! Furthermore, eating several smaller healthy meals throughout the day can give you more energy than 3 large ones, especially if you’re working in the above foods!
  • Starchy foods (aka the ‘good’ carbs) such as whole grain toast, healthy cereals or whole grain pastas in healthy doses can replenish your energy levels as well.
  • Hydrating helps keep you alert and energetic, especially during activity. Try some lemon water for an extra energetic zing spring-loaded with vitamins.
  • Exercise regularly – activity invigorates!
  • Quit pulling all-nighters! Aim to get your 7-8 hours of sleep nightly, your body will thank you and you’ll be ready to run circles around life.
  • Avoid foods that contain refined sugar, as it will make you sluggish and slow when the temporary ‘sugar high’ wears off.

That’s it for our natural energy boosting tips, we hope they help! Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Fast Facts About Cholesterol

  • Over 73 million Americans have high LDL cholesterol
  • High cholesterol can manifest itself physically, causing ‘xanthomas’ (discolored fatty growths) on the skin.
  • Not all cholesterol is ‘bad’ for your heart. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the dangerous kind, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is beneficial for your body.
  • Cholesterol climbs with age, especially in women. It can significantly rise with menopause.
  • Even children and teens can have high cholesterol. There is nothing wrong with getting your child checked, especially if there are genetic risk factors present.
  • If you could take a look at cholesterol-clogged arteries, you would see that they are lined with a thick yellow substance that highly resembles butter!
  • Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, eating foods with ‘good’ HDL cholesterol just adds extra.
  • While high levels of LDL cholesterol produce dangerous plaque buildups in the arteries, target levels of HDL cholesterol can actually lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • If you have high cholesterol and are also obese or overweight, losing just 5-10% of your overall weight can potentially make a significant difference in your cholesterol levels.
  • 1 in 500 people are afflicted by a genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia, marked by a defect on the 19th chromosome. FH causes dangerously high LDL cholesterol levels, even in young children with the mutation.
  • Ingesting more soluble fibre (such as that found in oatmeal, legumes and vegetables) can help lower your cholesterol.
  • Having high cholesterol (especially if it goes untreated) can nearly double your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Nearly half of people with high cholesterol are not taking medications as prescribed, which significantly increases their risk of heart disease.
  • Losing weight, taking prescribed medications and taking dietary changes such as limiting meat intake (choose protein rich alternatives like beans instead) and increasing your intake of fatty fish high in omega fatty acids can help control your cholesterol and keep it from climbing any higher.

Thanks for visiting DocChat, if you have any questions or concerns about cholesterol, feel free to sign up today for a video conference with one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians!

20 Summer Exercise Ideas

Warm weather is finally catching up to us! If you’re at a loss for exciting fun-in-the-sun exercise ideas, check out these:

  1. Hit the courts – basketball is an excellent way to burn calories and have fun. If you don’t know how to play, join a local beginners league or get a friend or family member to teach you. Even just practicing free-throws and shooting games alone is a fun way to workout.
  2. Start a ball hockey league – get some neighbours and local friends involved in ball hockey and play a couple evenings a week on a quiet street or local sport court.
  3. Dust off your old bike or roller blades. Biking can burn up to 600 calories an hour!
  4. Take up gardening or landscaping. Learning to tend to your own property can help you enhance your home’s curbside appeal while also helping you burn off calories.
  5. Assist in Some Renos – renovations are extremely hard work, from going up and down a ladder 20 times to walking back and forth between the shed and your home, you’ll be sweating off those calories in no time while learning valuable skills.
  6. Water sports can be a fun way to cool off and tone up in the summer. If you have a friend or family member with a boat, learn to waterski. You can chip in on the skis and make it a weekly endeavour.
  7. Join a local softball league – get some exercise and comradery by playing softball.
  8. Set up a designated Yoga Area in your backyard and do it everyday. This would work for Pilates or Tai Chi as well.
  9. Coordinate your own outdoor exercise class or boot camp with friends.
  10. Learn to kayak to really tone those upper body muscles while you take in serene beauty of a lake or ocean. You can burn over 300 calories an hour
  11. Invest in an “adult jungle Jim” or trampoline in your backyard. You can participate in your own makeshift gymnastics on your own property (just be sure to do so safely, learn the proper techniques first).
  12. Get a step counter (pedometer) and get to steppin’. Gradually increase your daily step count goals to push yourself that extra little bit.
  13. Schedule a weekly adventure with a friend or your family. Find great hiking spots around your community that have beautiful views.
  14. Go snorkeling or learn to scuba dive.
  15. Take up tennis. Tennis is the perfect summer sport. You get to exercise, socialize and breathe in that fresh summer air.
  16. Try an extreme outdoor sport like zip lining (you have to hike between lines) or rock climbing to get some exercise and some thrills.
  17. Get a walking buddy and choose three evenings a week to routinely walk around town.
  18. Swim as frequently as you can in the nearest body of water – salt water is an especially good choice for your immune system and skin.
  19. Join an Ultimate Frisbee league.
  20. Set up a horseshoe court in your backyard and invite friends over to play a few times a week. Burn a few calories while you enjoy a leisurely game with friends.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you enjoyed these exercise ideas!

 

 

 

 

IBS Symptoms, Triggers And Management

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a troublesome condition of the large intestine that causes a variety of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. IBS sufferers have disrupted digestive rhythms, tending to move food through the tract either too slowly or too quickly resulting in chronic constipation or diarrhea. IBS sufferers experience a range of symptom severity, some with only the occasions stomach upset while others live a more restricted life, always having to know where the nearest washroom is. Fortunately, there are things IBS sufferers can do to better manage their condition and minimize discomfort.

Common Symptoms Of IBS

  • Bloating
  • Bouts of diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain or cramps (that are relieved by using the washroom)
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Gas
  • Upper GI tract discomfort (such as heartburn)
  • Frequent urgent need to use washroom
  • Worsening of symptoms with stress
  • Worsening of symptoms with certain foods

Risk Factors of IBS

Some people may have all these risk factors and never develop irritable bowels while others may fit none of the criteria but still develop the condition. However, those that fall into the following categories are at a higher risk of developing IBS:

  • Age: young people are most often affected by IBS.
  • Gender: IBS is much more prevalent among women.
  • Family history: research points to increased risk if a close family member has IBS.
  • Mental health: those with such conditions as anxiety or depression are at a higher risk for IBS as the stomach and brain are highly connected.

Common IBS Triggers

  1. Stress and anxiety
  2. Certain beverages: alcohol, carbonated and caffeinated drinks
  3. Fatty, fried or processed foods
  4. Dairy products
  5. Spicy foods
  6. Wheat and gluten may be IBS triggers for certain people
  7. Medications such as antibiotics or antidepressants may effect the bowels
  8. Not getting enough exercise

Lifestyle IBS Management Tips

Get Moving

To help control your IBS through diet and lifestyle, be sure to start exercising more if you are sedentary. Regular exercise can help ease some of the symptoms of IBS. Yoga, routine walking and swimming can be especially good activities to try if you have IBS as they are not too strenuous.

Stress Management

With most IBS sufferers high stress levels can lead to flare-ups, so it would certainly be in your best interest to keep your cortisol levels in-check. Try to set aside some time each morning (or when you feel stress rising) to do something you find relaxing such as journeling or going for a little drive with relaxing music. Some IBS sufferers experience some success practicing relaxation techniques.

Diet Modification

Try to follow a healthy diet which works in high fibre fruits and veggies while limiting intake of junk food, dairy, take out, greasy or spicy food. Drink more water (especially to replenish your fluids if you tend toward loose bowel movements regularly).

Probiotics or Medication

Some people with IBS find success with probiotics; taking certain kinds daily may help replenish beneficial gut flora that can be out of balance from irregular washroom habits. Talk to your healthcare professional before beginning probiotics to make sure they are right for you. You should also consult your doctor (or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians) if your IBS is still uncontrolled after modifying your diet and lifestyle as you may need to look into other treatment options.

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Spice Up Your Health With These 13 Nutritious Seasonings

  1. Turmeric contains curcumin which has anti-inflammatory and fat-suppressing properties. It is also associated with helping lower the risk of metabolic conditions such as obesity.
  2. Cinnamon boasts healthy helpings of iron, calcium and antioxidants. It has shown promise in helping stabilize blood glucose and blood pressure.
  3. Cardamom works as a gastrointestinal soother and contains a natural antiseptic called cineole.
  4. Sage has proven effective to help with cognitive function. In a particular study, sage helped increase memory in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s patients. It has also been used in traditional medicine throughout history for a variety of reasons.
  5. Ginger is also a natural anti-inflammatory which, as you may know, is known for its gastrointestinal benefits. It has even been used in pill form by popular pharmaceutical companies as a stomach soothing medication. Research has also linked ginger with appetite suppression.
  6. Peppermint helps reduce irritable bowel symptoms by relaxing the stomach muscles to allow easier food passage as well as reducing bloating. When used in steam form, peppermint can also help decongest people with post nasal drip, sinusitis or rhinitis. When combined with hot water, peppermint helps open the airways and drain blocked nasal passages (breathe in 3-4 drops of pure peppermint oil in a cut of boiling water).
  7. Cayenne is often used to help cold and flu symptoms and works as a natural decongestant. Research suggests it may also help stabilize the metabolism, blood pressure and cholesterol.
  8. Oregano has natural antimicrobial properties and has traditionally been used to help such conditions as dandruff, UTIs, lung conditions and menstrual symptoms. It is also a rich source of vitamin K.
  9. Chili flakes contain an anti-inflammatory compound called capsaicin. Chili pepper flakes have quite a powerful analgesic (pain reducing) effect when enough are consumed.
  10. Chives contain allicin which may help control LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels as well as possibly aid in reducing high blood pressure, thus contributing to overall cardiovascular health.
  11. Thyme is a spice powerhouse. It brags natural antiseptic and antifungal characteristics and contains pyridoxine (also known as vitamin B-6) which helps lower stress levels. Thyme is also rich in antioxidants, potassium, iron, folic acid and vitamins A, B, K, E and C. Can a garnish get any healthier than that?
  12. Garlic is another spice superstar. It contains even more allicin than chives, as well as antifungal and antibacterial components. Research proposes that when consumed regularly, garlic may help lower the risk of cardiovascular problems and shows potential anti-carcinogenic properties as well.
  13. Cocoa may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There have been several studies done on the effects of cocoa on the heart, many of which have resulted in positive findings that dark chocolate can help the heart when consumed regularly. The anti-inflammatory compound flavanol may be to thank for cocoa’s heart healthy quality.

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