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Did you know that some air pollutants are 100 times more concentrated in your home than they are outside? You are dependent on quality air to support your respiratory system and your overall health.
Unfortunately, several sociological studies demonstrate the average amount of time a person living in the U.S. spends indoors is close to 92 percent of their day. The data indicates people who are employed spend 2 percent of their time outside and 6 percent in transit between home and work.
This means the quality of the indoor air you breathe is very important to your long-term health. According the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor indoor air quality is one of the top public health risks you face each day.
Poor quality air has been linked to a number of different health effects that may be experienced immediately or several years later. Understanding and controlling the indoor air pollution you are exposed to by making small changes to your living space may help reduce your health risks.
Your Indoor Air Quality May Be 100 Times Worse Than Outside
You may think of outdoor air as being polluted and your indoor air as clean because you don’t detect chemical smells or notice smog in the air at home or in the office. As it turns out, the air in your home may be more dangerous to your health than the air outdoors.
According to the EPA, the levels of indoor air pollution in your home may be between two and five times higher than they are outside. Some of the different pollutants you breathe can even be as much as 100 times more concentrated inside.
Many newer homes and buildings are also built with an eye toward reducing utility costs. This requires the building or home owner to purposefully ventilate the building for air exchange. Although these buildings lower utility costs, they increase your risk of health conditions when not ventilated.
Both the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established that 80 percent of all cancers may be attributed to factors from your environment.
Rather than genetic factors being responsible for the majority of cancers, exposure to carcinogenic chemicals and toxins are among the causative factors.
This was proposed as far back as 1977, when four scientists explained evidence from their data indicating 80 percent of all cancers were triggered by environmental factors. Their studies included data relating to variations in geography, changes to risk over time, migrants, correlations studies and case reports.
What Is in the Air You Breathe?
The source of indoor pollution is a combination of interactions between the building, the occupants, climate, construction, furnishings and contaminated sources. Pollution generated by occupants is related to tobacco smoke and the products you may bring into your home, such as air fresheners and cleaning supplies.
There are a number of different contributors to the rise in poor air quality in your home or office. Although volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is listed as one contributor, there are hundreds of different products you may find in your home that emit VOCs. The variety of contributors to indoor pollution include:
AsbestosBacteria and virusesBuilding and paint products
Carbon monoxideCarpetsCleaning supplies and household chemicals
CockroachesDust mites and dustFormaldehyde
Secondhand smokeVOCsFire retardants
VOCs are a specific and rather dangerous type of pollution emitted from products such as aerosol sprays, cleaning supplies, wood preservatives, hobby supplies and pressed wood products. Some of the more familiar names are benzene, formaldehyde and toluene.
Most of the health studies have focused on exposure to one VOC, so less is known about the effects on your health when these chemicals are found in combination.8Although the toxicity levels for each of the separate VOCs has been determined, there are no real safe levels, and in combination those toxic levels may be lower.
How Indoor Air Pollution Impacts Your Health
Indoor air pollution can result in both short-term and long-term effects on your health. Children are especially vulnerable to chemicals and pollutants, both in their home and their school. Stay watchful for symptoms of air pollution in your children and get involved in your school district to improve the quality of their air.
Short-term symptoms of exposure to indoor air pollution resemble symptoms you experience from an allergy or a cold. They include:
Worsening asthmaItchy watery eyesHeadaches
While these symptoms usually disappear within a couple hours after no longer being exposed to the pollutant, long-term health conditions don’t simply resolve by removing yourself from the polluted environment. These health conditions include:
- Bronchitis, asthma and emphysema
- Accelerated aging of lung tissue and lung cancer
- High blood pressure, heart attack and stroke
- Shortened lifespan
- Decreased cognitive function
Houseplants Improve Your Home Environment
Houseplants are very functional decorations for your home and office that brighten your space, improve your mood and clean your air.
Several studies have found potted plants improve your work and living space by reducing your blood pressure, improving your attention and productivity, lowering your anxiety levels and raising your job satisfaction.
Other research has demonstrated that doing tasks around plants has led to a higher degree of accuracy and better results in the task performed. Memory retention and concentration also improved in this study. The researchers found that exposure to plants improved memory performance by 20 percent.
Research has also demonstrated that indoor plants kept close to an individual’s space at work had a statistically significant effect on how many sick days they took and their level of productivity. These associations may have practical significance when applied to a large number of workers over time.
Plants may also be used for phytoremediation, or the mitigation of pollution in air, soil and water. Scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), University of Georgia and Pennsylvania State University have demonstrated that potted plants in your home can improve your air quality.
Plants remove pollutants by absorbing them through their leaves and roots, in much the same way they clean the outdoor air from the pollution given off by manufacturing plants, cars and heating systems.
Plants You May Use to Decorate and Improve Your Air Quality
Most leafy plants are adept at removing some pollution from your indoor air. However, scientists have also discovered there are several that are better at removing VOCs from your home and workplace. NASA was behind some of the initial research in 1989 to determine specific plants that might be useful to reduce pollution in sealed environments.
Researchers have continued to investigate the abilities of different plants to clean your indoor air of pollution. More recent research has identified these 12 houseplants as those that are most beneficial, and the specific VOCs they are adept at removing. The results from this study are on the agenda of a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Particularly good at absorbing toluene emitted from gasoline, paint, kerosene and lacquers. These plants flourish in medium light, single pot and room temperature. Allow the soil to dry between watering; brown leaves indicate they need more water.
These plants can absorb up to 90 percent of formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke and O-xylene from fuels and P-xylene found in plastics. (This plant is also called the airplane plant.) It is resilient and survives well even if you don’t have a green thumb. The plant is safe for your pets and easy to grow.
In the family of Bromeliads, as is the pineapple, this plant easily purifies the air of 90 percent of benzenes emitted from glues, furniture wax, detergent and paint. These plants are easy to grow indoors and have very few problems with pests. They withstand drought well, but never overwater them.
Caribbean Tree Cactus
These lovely cactus plants can absorb up to 80 percent of the ethylbenzene in the space they are kept. This chemical is emitted from electronic products, construction material, garden care products, toys and furniture.
Most cactus plants will do well in pots with the right amount of food, light and water. Although they withstand the drought well, they do require more water indoors than they do in the ground.
These beautiful variegated leaf plants absorb 90 percent of the acetone from household cleaners and nail polish remover.
These leafy plants require a lot of water and provide humidity for your home.
These plants come in either a solid color or variegated leaf variety. They bloom in the spring and don’t require much light. Keep them close at hand in your office as they absorb electromagnetic radiation from your digital devices and humidify the air.
Easy to grow and care for, they are excellent at absorbing the toxins from cigarette smoke and cleansing the air for people suffering from asthma.
Slightly more difficult to care for, the Ficus cleanses odors from the air and reduces toxic substances from your home and office. There are several varieties of the plant.
Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
These are favorite plants as they are easily grown and look great in hanging pots. They efficiently detoxify formaldehyde but are toxic to cats and dogs.
Also known as the Reed Palm, this plant thrives indoors and readily absorbs formaldehyde outgassing from furniture. If you’ve purchased a new chair or couch you may want to decorate with a couple of these plants.
Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat.
They are delicious, nutritious and provide a number of impressive health benefits.
Here are 11 good reasons to include berries in your diet.
1. Berries Are Loaded With Antioxidants
Berries contain antioxidants, which help keep free radicals under control.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur as a normal byproduct of metabolism. It’s important to have a small amount of free radicals in your body to help defend against bacteria and viruses.
However, free radicals can also damage your cells when present in excessive amounts. Antioxidants can help neutralize these compounds.
Berries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol. In addition to protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce the risk of disease.
One study showed that blueberries, blackberries and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits, next to pomegranates.
In fact, several studies have confirmed that the antioxidants in berries may help reduce oxidative stress.
One study in healthy men found that consuming a single, 10-ounce (300-gram) portion of blueberries helped protect their DNA against free radical damage.
In another study, when healthy people consumed 17 ounces (500 grams) of strawberry pulp every day for 30 days, one pro-oxidant marker decreased by 38%.
Bottom Line: Berries are high in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which may protect cells from free radical damage.
2. Berries May Help Improve Blood Sugar and Insulin Response
Berries may improve your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Test-tube and human studies suggest they may protect cells from high blood sugar levels, help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar and insulin response to high-carb meals.
Importantly, these effects appear to occur in both healthy people and those with insulin resistance.
In one study of healthy women, consuming 5 ounces (150 grams) of puréed strawberries or mixed berries with bread led to a 24–26% reduction in insulin levels, compared to consuming the bread alone.
Moreover, in a six-week study, obese, insulin-resistant people who consumed a blueberry smoothie twice per day experienced greater improvements in insulin sensitivity than the group who consumed smoothies without berries.
Bottom Line: Berries may improve blood sugar and insulin response when consumed with high-carb foods or when included in smoothies.
3. Berries Are High in Fiber
Berries are a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber. Studies have shown that consuming soluble fiber slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract, leading to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness.
This may decrease your calorie intake and make weight management easier.
What’s more, fiber helps reduce the number of calories you absorb from mixed meals. One study found that doubling your fiber intake could help your body absorb up to 130 fewer calories per day.
In addition, the high fiber content of berries means that their digestible or net carb content low. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber from total carbs.
These are the carb and fiber counts per one-cup serving of berries:
- Raspberries: 15 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber.
- Blackberries: 15 grams of carbs, 8 of which are fiber.
- Strawberries: 12 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber.
- Blueberries: 21 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fiber.
Because of their low net carb content, berries are a low-carb friendly food.
Bottom Line: Berries contain fiber, which may help decrease appetite, increase feelings of fullness and reduce the number of calories your body absorbs from mixed meals.
4. Berries Provide Many Nutrients
Berries are low in calories and extremely nutritious. In addition to being high in antioxidants, they also contain several vitamins and minerals.
Berries, especially strawberries, are high in vitamin C. In fact, one cup of strawberries provides a whopping 150% of the RDI for vitamin C.
With the exception of vitamin C, all berries are fairly similar in terms of their vitamin and mineral contents.
Below is the nutrition content of a one-cup (144-gram) serving of blackberries:
- Calories: 62.
- Vitamin C: 50% of the RDI.
- Manganese: 47% of the RDI.
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI.
- Copper: 12% of the RDI.
- Folate: 9% of the RDI.
The calorie count for one cup of berries ranges from 49 for strawberries to 84 for blueberries, making berries some of the lowest-calorie fruits around.
Bottom Line: Berries are rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and manganese, yet low in calories.
5. The Antioxidants in Them Help Fight Inflammation
Berries have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is your body’s way of mounting a defense against infection or injury.
However, modern lifestyles often lead to excessive, sustained inflammation due to increased stress, inadequate physical activity and unhealthy food choices.
This type of chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the development of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, among other diseases.
Inflammation in the body is measured by looking at changes in certain markers, such as IL-6 and CRP. Elevated levels of CRP have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Studies suggest that the antioxidants in berries may help lower these inflammatory markers.
In one study, when overweight people consumed a strawberry beverage with a high-carb, high-fat meal, their IL-6 and CRP levels decreased significantly more than the group who consumed a beverage without strawberries.
Bottom Line: Berries may help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of heart disease and other health problems.
6. Berries May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
Berries are a heart-healthy food.
Black raspberries and strawberries have been shown to help lower cholesterol in obese people and those with metabolic syndrome.
In one study, adults with metabolic syndrome who consumed a beverage made from freeze-dried strawberries daily for eight weeks experienced an 11% drop in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
What’s more, berries may help prevent LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized or damaged, which is believed to be a major risk factor for heart disease.
In a controlled study, when obese people consumed 1.5 ounces (50 grams) of freeze-dried blueberries for eight weeks, their oxidized LDL levels decreased by 28%.
Bottom Line: Berries have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels and help protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized.
7. Berries May Be Good for Your Skin
In addition to their many other health benefits, berries may help reduce skin wrinkling.
This makes sense, given that the antioxidants in berries help control free radicals, one of the leading causes of skin damage that contributes to aging.
Although there isn’t a lot of research at this point, ellagic acid appears to be responsible for some of berries’ skin-related benefits.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that this antioxidant may help protect skin by blocking the production of enzymes that break down collagen in sun-damaged skin.
Collagen is a protein that is part of skin’s structure. It allows skin to stretch and remain firm. When collagen is damaged, skin may sag and develop wrinkles.
In one study, applying ellagic acid to the skin of hairless mice that were exposed to ultraviolet light for eight weeks decreased inflammation and helped protect collagen from damage.
Bottom Line: Berries contain the antioxidant ellagic acid, which may help decrease wrinkling and other signs of skin aging related to sun exposure.
8. Berry Antioxidants May Help Protect Against Cancer
Several antioxidants in berries, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid and resveratrol, may reduce the risk of cancer.
Specifically, animal and human studies suggest that berries may help protect against cancer of the esophagus, mouth, breast and colon.
In one study, 20 patients with colon cancer consumed 2 ounces (60 grams) of freeze-dried raspberries for 1–9 weeks. This treatment was found to improve tumor markers in some patients, although not all.
Another test-tube study found that all types of strawberries had strong, protective effects on liver cancer cells, whether they were high or low in antioxidants.
Bottom Line: Berries have been shown to reduce markers associated with tumor growth in animals and people with several types of cancer.
9. Berries Can Be Enjoyed on Nearly All Types of Diets
Fortunately, berries can be included in many kinds of diets.
Although people on low-carb and ketogenic diets often avoid fruit, they can usually enjoy moderate amounts of berries. For example, a half-cup serving of blackberries or raspberries contains less than 4 grams of digestible carbs.
Liberal amounts of berries can be incorporated into the paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian andvegan diets.
For people who want to lose weight, the low calories in berries make them ideal to include in meals, snacks or desserts.
Organic and wild berries are now widely available in many parts of the world. When they are not in season, frozen berries can be purchased and thawed as needed.
The only people who need to avoid berries are those who require a low-fiber diet for certain digestive disorders, as well as individuals who are allergic to berries. Allergic reactions to strawberries are most common.
Bottom Line: Berries can be enjoyed on most diets because they are low in calories and carbs and widely available in fresh or frozen forms.
10. They May Help Keep Your Arteries Healthy
In addition to lowering cholesterol, berries provide other benefits for heart health. One of these is better function of your arteries.
The cells that line your blood vessels are called endothelial cells. These cells help control blood pressure, keep blood from clotting and perform other important functions.
Excessive inflammation can damage them, inhibiting proper function. The term for this is endothelial dysfunction, and it’s a major risk factor for heart disease.
Berries have been shown to improve endothelial function in studies in healthy adults, individuals with metabolic syndrome and smokers.
In a controlled study of 44 people with metabolic syndrome, those who consumed a daily blueberry smoothie showed significant improvements in endothelial function, compared to those who consumed a smoothie without blueberries.
Even though fresh berries are considered the healthiest, berries in processed form may still provide some heart-healthy benefits. Baked berry products are considered processed, whereas freeze-dried berries are not.
One study found that although baking blueberries reduced their anthocyanin content, total antioxidant concentrations remained the same. Arterial function improved similarly in people who consumed baked or freeze-dried berries.
Bottom Line: Berries have been found to improve arterial function in several studies of healthy people, those with metabolic syndrome and smokers.
11. Berries Are Delicious Alone or in Healthy Recipes
Berries are undeniably delicious.
They make a wonderful snack or dessert, whether you use one type of berry or a mixture of two or more.
Although they are naturally sweet and require no additional sweetener, adding a bit of heavy or whipped cream can transform them into a more elegant dessert.
For breakfast, try berries topped with either plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, along with some chopped nuts.
Another way to include berries in your diet is as part of a salad.
Since before the time of record keeping, essential oils have been used to support the body, mind, and spirit. Many ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Chinese highly prized essential oils, and valued them as sources of healing to include in their traditions of medicine.
These days the many beneficial properties of essential oils are best realized when utilized as an adjunct or supplement to other treatments for inflammation, and those that help heal from or prevent disease. Use essential oils in combination with a diet of healthy, real, natural foods that are chemical-, pesticide-, antibiotic-, and hormone-free.
The Dangers of Inflammation
One of the ways your body responds to stress is by creating inflammation, regardless to whether this is stress from your environment, lifestyle, or diet. The result will be an inflamed or heated area.
For example, catching a cold you are likely to incur a fever, which is a type of inflammation that your body uses to eradicate an invading virus. Of course, this is a beneficial and acute kind of inflammation. However, there is a modern-day epidemic that is destroying the balance of your body – chronic, low-grade inflammation.
You become more susceptible to disease and aging when your body is confronted with constant inflammatory response. Slowly, but surely, environmental and dietary toxins build up in your body, activating your immune system, keeping it on high alert, and hyper-reactive, all in a state of inflammation. Stress, chronic food allergies or sensitivities, and leaky gut are also sources of inflammation.
Healing Touch & Essential Oils
Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties: frankincense, myrrh, peppermint, lavender, turmeric, and clove oils, just to name a few. Combining these oils gives you extra power to fight the dreaded inflammation that is so prevalent in bodies at risk of, or dealing with cancer.
A wonderful way to get the powerful benefits of these or any essential oil is through the healing touch of massage. Using touch in healing is a practice derived from techniques and customs that are as rooted in human history as essential oils. Originally massage was a sacred system of natural healing. Over extensive periods in history, cultural shifts have perverted this ancient art so it’s viewed as merely an indulgence, rather than the beneficial supplement to healing that it is.
Luckily, today, there has been a resurgence in the understanding of this form of holistic therapy. Nowadays it’s well-accepted that massage has the ability to reduce pain, improve lymphatic flow, enhance immune function, increase alertness, and ease depression, among other benefits.
As you probably know, there are many different types of massage. Modern therapists practice various techniques that come from traditions that span back across time and geography. The goal remains the same – assist others to experience a higher quality of life, and improve their emotional and physical well-being.
Research dedicated to proving the benefits of massage therapy continue to grow. All of these benefits can aid in healing from cancer, as well as to help stop it from gaining a foothold in the first place.
Studies show that massage can:
- Help fight depression – In 2010 researchers reviewed the effects massage therapy has on symptoms of depression by carrying out a meta-analysis of 17 studies with a combined 786 participants. Each of the studies demonstrated the positive effects of touch massage on depression, when compared to those in the control groups.
- Reduce stress – Sports Medicine published a review stating the positive effects of touch massage on muscle soreness and recovering after injury or physical exertion.
- Offer pain relief – In 2014, meta-analyses revealed that massage therapy reduced pain, anxiety, and depression in 404 patients with fibromyalgia who received at least five weeks of massage therapy.
- Promote hormone balance – Studies indicate massage can decrease adrenocorticotropin hormone, nitric oxide, and beta-endorphin levels while increasing levels of oxytocin.
- Lessen inflammation – In 2012, a study examined the results of touch massage on young males with damage to their muscles. It was observed that massage mitigated cellular stress, and decreased the expression of cellular stress.
Essential Oils + Massage = Greater Healing
Using essential oils in combination with massage can enhance the benefits, greatly. The proven benefits of massage coupled with the myriad of therapeutic components of essential oils create a powerful combination of restorative therapy, for a wide variety of conditions and health challenges.
While there is an abundance of massage therapists, not all use essential oils in their practice. Ensure you ask before booking a massage session. Do also ensure the oils they use are 100% pure and certified organic.
The Best Essential Oils for Cancer Healing
We’ve written extensively on The Truth About Cancer about the healing benefits of a wide range of essential oils. Here is a brief recap of my top five favorite cancer-fighting oils:
Frankincense is anti-inflammatory, and helps boost immune function. It improves circulation, reduces stress, and is a recognized pain reliever. It has demonstrated the ability to speed regeneration by contracting and toning tissues. In addition, essential oil of frankincense provides neurological support.
Beyond cancer treatment this essential oil has other benefits, including: encouraging skin health, aiding digestion, easing arthritis pain, and balancing hormones.
Lavender is excellent for its ability to calm the nervous system and ease stress and anxiety. It also helps improve the quality and depth of sleep.
Lavender has long been used for pain relief, and in recent years has been studied extensively for its inhibitory effects on cancer tumor growth. Other uses for lavender essential oil include its ability to heals burn and skin irritations, relieve allergy symptoms, and as an anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal.
In cancer support, myrrh essential oil contains anti-inflammatory properties and in research studies is indicated in the inhibition of cancer cell growth. It is reported to support healthy hormone balance, be an effective pain reliever, and is also anti-fungal.
Peppermint essential oil has antioxidant properties and is a potent anti-inflammatory. Peppermint also stimulates cell regeneration, promotes new tissue growth and liquefies mucous, making it ideal for respiratory issues. It is also one of the best essential oils for aching muscles.
If suffering from nausea, try inhaling or diffusing peppermint essential oil. Peppermint is also one of the best oils for stomach upset by helping to reduce gas and improve digestion.
Turmeric oil is very promising in cancer treatment regimes. This is due to components observed to inhibit enzymes that can lead to inflammation, suppress tumors, kill fuel and oxygen sources for cancer cells, stop cancer stem cells from returning, and preventing metastasis.
Turmeric essential oil has been shown to promote apoptosis (cancer cell death), yet has the ability to differentiate between normal and cancerous cells. Turmeric is a renowned anti-inflammatory, with thousands of research studies to date demonstrating its myriad of benefits.
Outside of cancer healing benefits, turmeric essential oil can also offer assistance in: helping wounds to heal, preventing Alzheimer’s, regulating blood sugar, weight loss, and relief from arthritis.
Note of caution: While using essential oils can enhance your life and health in a variety of ways, they are not cure-alls. Those dealing with a serious disease should use these therapeutic supplements as part of a supervised treatment plan.