8 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

And How to Grow Hibiscus for Tea at Home

by Kelly R. Smith

Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
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Hibiscus tea (sometimes called “sour tea”) might not be so well known in the USA but it certainly is in other parts of the world. I’ve been drinking it for a few years now, both for the taste and the health benefits; it’s another item in my toolbox to keep my blood pressure in a reasonable range.. I add it to the grounds of my cold brew coffee maker, sometimes with fresh mint from my garden. Yeah, I know; wild, living on the edge. There are several hundred species of hibiscus plants that vary by the location and climate they are grown in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselles is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea. As a bonus, they are stunning in tropical landscape plantings. But we are here to talk about the health benefits of hibiscus tea.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

  • It lowers blood pressure. This is a big one for me. All blood pressure medications have side effects. For me, I take lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor. It causes coughing and the feeling of being lethargic. Rebekah Edwards says, “A 2013 review by the University of Arizona discovered that hibiscus tea is used in 10 or more countries as a normal hypertension treatment without any reported adverse events or side effects — except in extremely high doses.”1
  • It’s packed with antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are molecules that help fight compounds we call free radicals, which inflict damage to your cells. The National Library of medicine noting their study says, “Hibiscus anthocyanin extract has reducing power that is approximately 2-fold that of the synthetic antioxidant, butylated hydroanisole.”2 Other than hibiscus, many other foods contain them; tart cherries are a good example.


  • It supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides. Dyslipidemia is a type of disorder that is characterized by noticeable changes in plasma lipids or lipoproteins, including two you are probably familiar with: cholesterol and triglycerides. As with blood pressure, hibiscus tea’s ability to reduce high “blood lipids” also extends to those with diabetes. A 2009 study had diabetes patients drink hibiscus tea two times a day for a full month and they found a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a marked decrease in total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • It may help to lower blood fat levels. The National Library of medicine citing a study of sour tea (ST) and black tea (BT) says, “The results of the present study showed that ST has a significant effect on blood lipid profile in patients with diabetes.”3 Many studies have shown that hibiscus tea reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides in people suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. That said, other studies have shown conflicting results. Obviously, more research is needed in the general population.
  • It prevents oxidative stress. Like most healthy teas on the market, hibiscus is chock full of antioxidants that combat free radical damage caused by substandard nutrient diets and frequent exposure to dangerous chemicals. These antioxidants are found primarily in the anthocyanins of the plant, the natural pigments that give this flower its brilliant red color.
  • It may boost liver health. Your liver is essential to your overall health. Some of its jobs include producing proteins, secreting bile, and breaking down fat. One small human research study found that supplementing with hibiscus tea raised the antioxidant load in the bloodstream as well as reducing compounds that contribute to oxidative stress that damages cells.
  • It shows promise in fighting certain cancers. Although this idea is only starting to gain traction, there is already some evidence to support hibiscus tea’s anticancer power. It has been shown that hibiscus extracts cause apoptosis, or cell death, in leukemia cells. Although the exact mechanisms behind this aren’t clear as of yet, this could be a promising step in the ever-going fight against leukemia, which affects about a quarter of the children and adolescents currently struggling with cancer.
  • It reduces obesity and related risks. How? Human and animal studies have found a link between hibiscus tea and an elevated metabolism. Hibiscus extract may even inhibit you from absorbing as much starch and sucrose as you might from a typical meal. One study in particular gave 36 overweight participants either hibiscus extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, body mass index and hip-to-waist ratio


Growing and Preparing Hibiscus for Tea at Home

Test your soil pH in a well-draining area that receives full sun at least six months before planting if possible, and, if needed, amend it using elemental sulfur or dolomitic lime to adjust the pH to between 6.1 and 7.8. The do best in humus-rich soil and full sunlight.

Harvest your flowers after they have bloomed. You want the calyxes (the main body of the flower). They should snap right off. Once you have your harvest, complete the steps to prepare and dry them. This video explains it in detail.

How to process hibiscus flowers for tea

Can you benefit from hibiscus tea? Of course! There’s something for everybody and if you grow your own supply you will save money and be certain it is organic.

Others are Reading

Reference

  1. .Rachael Link, Dr. Axe, Hibiscus Tea: The Antioxidant ‘Therapeutic Agent’ You Should Be Drinking, https://draxe.com/nutrition/hibiscus-tea/
  2. Taofeek O Ajiboye, et al, National Library of medicine, Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21314460/
  3. Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, et al., National Library of medicine, Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19678781/


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

What Happens When You Quit Drinking Alcohol

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
You are now entering the alcohol free zone
You are now entering the alcohol free zone
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This article was updated on 01/09/21.

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Were you one of the ones that woke up on the first morning of the new year and made a New Years resolution to quit drinking alcohol? You’re not alone. It is most likely the one day of the year that the greatest number of people pledge to embrace sobriety. Now you’re wondering what changes you will go through along your new lifestyle path. As with any habit or addiction, it varies from person to person but there are some concepts that are generally accepted.

How Sobriety Changes Your Body

WebMD.com says that if you are used to drinking anything more than one drink per day, “cutting back or quitting may lower your blood pressure, levels of fat called triglycerides, and chances of heart failure. Heavy drinking — at least 15 drinks for men and eight or more for women a week — can take a toll on the organ [liver] and lead to fatty liver, cirrhosis, and other problems. The good news: your liver can repair itself and even regenerate.”1

Whether losing weight was part of your impetus or not, that’s another nice side effect for a variety of reasons. Ditching alcohol means ditching empty calories. Also, since alcohol ramps up your ravenous appetite, you can easier resist impulsive overeating. Liquor also makes you more impulsive, and makes you lose your inhibitions so you are less able to resist the extra fries.



Alcohol and Your Immune System

Any alcohol consumption affects your immune system negatively, and the more you drink, the worse it gets. The US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health Search says, “Clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia. This issue of Alcohol Research: Current Reviews (ARCR) summarizes the evidence that alcohol disrupts immune pathways in complex and seemingly paradoxical ways. These disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impede recovery from tissue injury.”2 And as we now know, many COVID-19 deaths are related to or precipitated by pneumonia.

Alcohol also alters the numbers of microbes in your microbiome and the structure and integrity of your gut are altered with alcohol intake. This is comprised mainly of your prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics.

When you stop consuming alcohol, you start rebuilding your microbiome. There’s no way to know how much time is needed to rebuild your gut, of course, since each person’s microbiome is unique — but eating a diet that is high in fiber (such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains) along with probiotic foods (yogurt and kimchi) can help you on your path to getting your gut healthy again.

Changes to Your Brain

There are known physical consequences resulting from heavy alcohol use. Two examples are liver damage and high blood pressure. Alcohol use at any level, however, also has its down side for your brain. It causes mental fog, anxiety, loneliness, and mood changes. Once you wean yourself off the bottle, your brain can begin the healing process and restore your brain’s natural function.

Your brain’s frontal lobe is responsible for a number of critical functions including reasoning, behavior control, memory, and motor function. The lobe takes a heavy hit when you drink to excess. Renewal Lodge has some good news though. They say, “Rational decision making and impulse control are crucial in fighting addiction, and luckily these powerful functions of the brain will return as you begin to heal.”3

Another thing that indulgence in spirits does is to create a complex imbalance of dopamine in your brain. A release of dopamine happens when you are involved in activities that you find pleasurable, such as eating candy, drinking coffee, or playing sports, and it teaches your brain what actions to repeat, and eventually, to crave. Insidious, yes?

Alcohol use overwhelms your brain with dopamine but it also reduces your brain’s dopamine receptors at the same time. When at first you stop drinking, the absence of dopamine along with diminished receptors may lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness. The good news is that over time your brain will begin to normalize the dopamine levels as well as your brain’s response to it without the presence of alcohol.

An Experiment of One

Doing the research for this article, it all sounded fascinating. The fact that we are all so different means that these effects of going sober should be highly individualized. I decided to throw my hat into the arena as a test subject. I will be reporting on a weekly basis.

A couple of things to mention here; whether they matter or not I do not know but I’ll throw them out there. I am taking Lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor, and a diuretic, to control high blood pressure. Also, I have been doing intermittent fasting for about three months now

  • Week One. The first thing I noticed was having a hard time getting sleepy in the evenings. Even after a couple servings of camomile tea and a melatonin supplement, I didn’t feel ready to go to bed until midnight. Even at that, it took an hour or so to drift off. My dreams were very vivid and indulging in a bit of lucid dreaming way fun. In the mornings I was very groggy. Where’s my espresso?
  • Week Two. I’m still having a hard time getting to that sleepy state in the evenings. The good thing is that when I do lay down, I fall asleep very quickly, not so much “chattering monkey” in my head keeping me awake. I have more energy during the day.
  • Week Three. I’m getting sleepy earlier, going to bed earlier, and falling asleep faster. My Garmin GPS watch also monitors my sleep. I used to always register more “light sleep” than “deep sleep” but now that has reversed. Dreams are still fun. In addition to no alcohol, I’m using my blue-light blocking glasses at the computer consistently (Blue-light messes with your natural melatonin, and so, your sleep cycle).
Garmin GPS watch sleep analysis
Garmin GPS watch sleep analysis
  • Week Four. Sleep is now stabilized and I have more energy during the day. I’ve lost 5 pounds, a bit more than 1 per week! My energy level has been increasing steadily. I’m back to my stretching routine twice a day and I’m averaging 22,000 steps per day. 4 to 7 miles of that is walking my black-mouth cur, Frankie. That’s him in my author bio below. My average resting heart rate is 70. My VO2 Max has gone from 27 ml/kg/min to 28 ml/kg/min. This is the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during exercise. It’s commonly used to test aerobic endurance or cardiovascular fitness. So, an upward trend. That’s a good thing. All this is just more data I’m getting from my Garmin GPS watch. For anyone who likes to track and analyze dieting or fitness progress, an instrument like this is essential to gain an insight on what is working and what areas you need to work on.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens during week five after I quit drinking alcohol. Check back.

You Will Also be Interested In


References

  1. WebMD.com, What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol, https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/ss/slideshow-quit-alcohol-effects
  2. Dipak Sarkar, M. Katherine Jung, H. Joe Wang, Alcohol and the Immune System, The US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health Search, Alcohol and the Immune System, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590612/
  3. Renewal Lodge, 5 Ways Quitting Drinking Affects Your Brain, https://www.renewallodge.com/5-ways-quitting-drinking-affects-your-brain/


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

The Health Benefits of Quinoa

Vegan Protein, Slow-Burning Fuel, Easy Preparation

by Kelly R. Smith

Cooked red quinoa, ready  to serve
Cooked red quinoa, ready to serve
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Runners, cyclists, and other athletes for that matter, need extra protein in their diet plans compared to their sedentary counterparts. Protein is an essential component in repairing the muscles which break down when working out.

To compound this issue, many people have adopted vegan/vegetarian diets, whether for health, religious, or trendy reasons. This makes it problematic to include a full range of nutrients, proteins and other amino acids in their meals on a daily basis. Ample protein is just one of the health benefits of quinoa.

So, Eat Quinoa for Protein

One of the simplest (and tastiest) ways to add essential amino acids (proteins) into your diet is to eat organic quinoa. This supergrain (pronounced keen-wa) is widely recognized as a “super food” by athletes, foodies, nutritionists, and others.

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, or goosefoot) is not in actuality a true cereal grain, but rather a “pseudo-cereal”; it is a food that is cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient profile. But from a botanical point of view, quinoa is closer to beets, chard, and spinach, and in fact the leaves can be eaten as well as the grains.



This is an very easy food to cook, just like rice, in fact. It can be eaten by itself or in a variety of dishes. It has long been traditionally cultivated in the Andes mountains located in South America. Fora long time in the past, production dipped as the invading Spanish Conquistadors forced the indigenous Inca Indians to grow potatoes instead. Horses weren’t the only thing they brought to the New World.

Nutritional Overview of Quinoa

There are several varieties available and they average an impressive 16.2% protein. To make a comparison, rice averages a meager 7.5%. It also contains an impressive amount of Lysine (398mg), folate (19% RDA), thiamine (13%), Manganese (58%) and vitamin B6 (11%).

To make matters even better, it ranks 35 on the glycemic index. Now compare that with basmati white rice at 58. A lower ranking means it is a slower-burning food. This makes it a natural choice to fuel endurance sports such as distance running.

Lysine is Important for Active People

The University of Maryland Medical Center says, “Lysine is important for proper growth, and it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy. It also helps the body absorb and conserve calcium, and it plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissues including skin, tendon, and cartilage.” It can promote wound healing by helping to create collagen.

Additionally, it may:

  • reduce anxiety by blocking stress response receptors.
  • protect against and treat cold sores by blocking arginine.
  • improve calcium absorption and retention.


How to Cook Quinoa

This grain is easy to cook; most varieties only take 10 to 20 minutes to cook. Just combine a 2 to 1 water/quinoa ratio. Check your package to make sure.

  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the quinoa.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Eat it by itself, your recipe, or add it to a salad.

It is also very adaptable to baking. For example, as an ingredient when baking bread. Because of the health benefits of quinoa, it is under consideration as a strong contender for a crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights. It has been designated as a “super crop” by the United Nations because of its potential to feed the hungry masses across the globe.

Further Reading



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

The Benefits and Side Effects of L-Arginine

A Dietary Nutraceutical Supplement for Better Health

by Kelly R. Smith

Nutraceuticals--ways to get your dietary supplements
Nutraceuticals–ways to get your dietary supplements
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What are Dietary nutraceutical forms of consumables? From Dictionary.com, “a bioactive compound occurring as a food component, additive, or product, including vitamins, dietary fiber, herbal extracts, carotenoids, and probiotics: nutraceuticals are said to promote health and well-being, allegedly helping in the prevention and treatment of disease.”1

Well now, that’s a mouthful. The particular supplement we are interested in this article is L-Arginine. It may not be as commonplace as vitamin C or CoQ102 but the list of health benefits is impressive.

What is L-Arginine?

Under normal circumstances your body naturally produces L-arginine. You can also acquire additional L-arginine as part of your regular diet. But at times, your need for L-arginine may exceed your body’s ability to produce and/or consume it naturally. This nutrient deficiency is often the case for older adults or people with some medical conditions. This is when supplements are helpful, either prescribed or purchased over the counter.

In these cases, you might be prescribed artificial (lab-produced) L-arginine in the form of an oral medication, injections, or skin creams. A number of potential health conditions may benefit from a supplemental intake of L-arginine. It is generally considered safe in moderate and recommended doses, however too much L-arginine carries the potential for severe side effects, up to and including death. Therefore, it is key to consider how the supplement can interact with your body and with other medications prior to taking it. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a regimen.



The Benefits of L-Arginine

It offers two primary effects; First, it turns into nitric oxide and secondly it aids the body in building protein. According to Medical News Today, “These effects give L-Arginine an array of potential benefits that range from heart health and chest pain to helping to build muscles, repair wounds, and improve male fertility. Although there are many claims about the benefits of L-Arginine, not all of them are supported by scientific research studies.”3

However, the following benefits and uses of L-Arginine have been researched:

  • Growth hormone reserve test (a test used if a growth hormone deficiency is suspected.)
  • Correcting inborn errors of urea synthesis
  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Treating erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Treating heart disease
  • Easing inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants
  • Controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes

The Side Effects of L-Arginine

  • Gout
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood abnormalities
  • Worsening of existing asthma condition
  • Bloating
  • Airway inflammation
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Allergies

As with any drug or supplement, L-Arginine has its own benefits and side effects. It always pays to be in the know about what to expect. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not, nor does it claim to, monitor the safety or effectiveness of any supplements, so it is important to choose a reputable brand that you know and trust.

More Trending Articles:

Resources

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nutraceutical?s=t
  2. Kelly R. Smith, I Can Fix Up My Home Blog, Should Runners and Others Supplement with CoQ10?, http://www.icanfixupmyhome.com/WPBlog1/2018/12/05/should-runners-and-others-supplement-with-coq10/
  3. Jenna Fletcher, Medical News Today, The benefits and side effects of L-arginine, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318174#_noHeaderPrefixedContent



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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Happiness is Not an Emotion: It’s a Moral Obligation

Another Wise Insight from Dennis Prager

by Kelly R. Smith

Dennis Prager explains why happiness is important
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Happiness is such an important concept that it is written into the U.S. Constitution. Firstthings.com says, “The right to “the pursuit of happiness” affirmed in the Declaration of Independence is taken these days to affirm a right to chase after whatever makes one subjectively happy. Further, the Declaration doesn’t guarantee the right to happiness, the thought usually goes, but only the right to pursue what makes you happy.”1

But of course saying “, taken these days,” implies that this this is subjective. Dictionary.com defines happiness as a noun meaning, “1. the quality or state of being happy, and, 2. good fortune, pleasure, contentment, joy.”2

Dennis Prager takes the importance of happiness and drills down much deeper. The importance of it turns out to be much less than simple self-interest. Let’s have a look at his concept as I see it.



Happiness is Not for You, It’s for Others

Individuals that are unhappy shouldn’t inflict that moodiness on others. Doing so is not a right; in fact it is quite a disservice. Case in point — I once worked as the maintenance supervisor at a certain hotel. The corporate name is not important. My immediate boss was a very uncomfortable fellow to be around. He had temper tantrums and was verbally abusive. I ended up being the buffer zone between not only him and my crew, but also between him and the housekeepers since I speak Spanish and he didn’t. And, he always had something to say about their work even though those women were dramatically underpaid. I eventually quit when he cursed me out in the public lobby. I have hypertension (high blood pressure) and don’t need the grief.

What was his issue? The two common thoughts were that he was on some serious steroids (big-time weight-lifter), or he was off his medications for a condition that smoothed out his mood and attitude. The bottom line? He made everybody miserable just by walking into the room. The take-away is that attitude is contagious. If you can’t be happy, make an effort to seem happy.

As an aside and interesting observation, Prager states that, “in most cases, marriages are between a moody and a non-moody. Most are; here’s the proof. Where I have met a couple of non-moodys married to non-moodys, I have never once met a moody married to a moody. Know why? I’ll tell you why. Because the moody may be moody, but they’re not stupid. They never marry one of their own.”

Acting Happy Can Make You Happy

It may seem like a contradiction but acting happy can make you happy. More importantly, unhappiness, if left unchecked, feeds on itself like a malevolent leech. To avoid this, get out of your state of thinking. Psychologytoday.com says, “How to stop the misery: Instead of putting yourself down for your mistakes and failures, make the conscious decision to grow from them. ‘Oh, now I see what I need to do in the future. I’ll look at this as a challenge rather than as a problem.’ This self-talk will help you develop a ‘growth mindset,’ to use the phrase of researcher Carol Dweck. People who can grow from their setbacks are more likely to succeed and to feel better about themselves.”

Fake News Begs for an Attitude Adjustment

Whether you think fake news has an effect on you or not, it does. This is true whether you are on the right, the liberal left, or somewhere in the center. The media has an agenda and intends to change (or affirm) your views. This polarizes us. Question everything. When you find the truth, adjust your attitude. Not necessarily your opinion; that might be a bridge too far. But, don’t take the attitude to work.

So that’s it. If you are an unhappy person, work on losing the attitude. Show a happy face to the world and your family. You will have fulfilled a great moral obligation and made yourself happier in the process.

More Trending Articles:


Resources

  1. James R. Rogers, Firstthings.com, The Meaning of “the Pursuit of Happiness,” https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/06/the-meaning-of-the-pursuit-of-happiness
  2. Dictionary.com, Happiness, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/happiness?s=t
  3. Meg Selig, Psychologytoday.com, 10 Ways You Are Causing Your Own Unhappiness, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201701/10-ways-you-are-causing-your-own-unhappiness




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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Grow Your Own Orange Tree, Harvest Citrus Fruit

When Life Gives You Oranges, Make Orange Juice!

by Kelly R. Smith

Making fresh orange juice
Making fresh orange juice
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This article was updated on 12/31/20.

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When my daughter Shannon was very young, she had an appetite for oranges that the local grocery store markets as “cuties.” In reality, they are a type of Mandarin orange. Just easy to peel. This caused me to embark on a journey to plant one fruit tree each year. Year one was that Mandarin orange tree, planted in the back yard.

The next year it was a Republic of Texas orange tree (pictured below). In the photo above, you might notice that the rinds darkened a bit from a slight freeze, but the insides remain fine. This tree bears fruit in the summer and by early December it’s ready for picking. No rush though; the fruit will hang there in suspended animation for months.



Choosing Your Fruit Trees

Many people make the mistake of seeing a tree at Walmart, Home Depot, or some other big box store, buying it, planting it, and then wondering why they never get any fruit. Well, it’s because these trees are sold irrespective of customer location. What works in upstate New York does not work here in south Texas. It is all about the growing zone — how freeze-tolerant the tree is. For example, consider the avocado tree. It is a southern tree but some species do well in moderate freezes.

Republic of Texas orange tree
Republic of Texas orange tree

The best bet is to go to a local nursery, after you do your initial research. They have a vested interest in the community and will likely want to keep a customer base. There are other resources to consider. Here, we have Randy Lemon, graduate of Texas A&M, who does a local radio show. I’ve listened to his weekend show for years and I have to admit, I wasn’t totally onboard initially because he poo-pooed organic, but now that his advertisers have began offering organic products, it’s all good. Imagine.

The bottom line here (I know you’ve been waiting for it) is that it is always a good time to put in your own fruit trees. You might be a prepper or not. You might trust organic produce at the grocery store or not. You might just want to save money. Regardless, there is a lot to be said for self-sufficiency. And, if you’ve got the real estate, why not?

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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

A Grammar Rule We Know But Not Taught

The English Language is Both Fickle and Structured

by Kelly R. Smith

Word structure in the English language
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The English language is quirky. The rules are generally spelled out but they don’t always apply. Take that “i before e” thing, for example. The grammar rules we learned in school, elementary or college, are fairly pliable but that does not give us license to flunk a test, did it? Then there’s the word order grammar rule we know and use every day but were not taught in school.

At least that’s true if your first language is English. If your native language is something else and you are learning English, this rule is in your text book and you will be drilled on it. I’m not sure about how they handle the Oxford comma debate. I’m firmly for it but I know many writers who are not. So, what is the mysterious rule this article is concerned with?



It’s All About Revering the Noun

The noun is quite the thing, isn’t it? All the other elements, the adjectives in particular, exist to serve it. Their structure and order are critical or else we risk sounding like goofballs. Mark Forsyth, author of The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase says that adjectives, “absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.”

Native English speakers understand the rule intuitively but not so others. For example, in English I might say, “The big house,” but in Spanish, “La casa grande.” In English I would say, “There are many rooms here.” In Irish Gaelic I would say, “Tá seomraí go leor anseó.” It certainly seems that English is the odd man out here.

Here is an example of a textbook page for English learners from the book English Grammar in Use:

From the book English Grammar in Use

How Does English Rank in Languages Difficult to Learn?

According to Language Next, it doesn’t make list. None are easy or trivial, it’s true, but, as they put it, “The language difficulty depends on multiple factors — Native or related Languages, methodology, convolution, interest, and available resources. Some are difficult languages to acquire, whereas many are relatively straightforward. I’ve only considered major world languages here, which means no less taught languages.”1 Here is their list:

  1. Mandarin Chinese (no surprise there.)
  2. Korean (both North and South, we can assume)
  3. Japanese (I can attest to that; I tried it when I was stationed on Okinawa)
  4. Russian
  5. Arabic
  6. Turkish
  7. Persian (Farsi, Dari, Tajik)

These did not make the list but got honorable mention: Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Mongolian, Polish, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Thai.

Our cognitive abilities don’t come into play when we learn or use a new language but that doesn’t make it any less difficult. The word order grammar rule can be perplexing, but luckily, it’s intuitive for native English speakers.



You Might Also Enjoy:

Resources

  1. Vikash Gupta, Language Next, 7 Most Difficult Languages to Learn in the World, https://www.languagenext.com/blog/difficult-languages/

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome

A Debilitating Disease that Might be Transmitted by a Virus

by Kelly R. Smith

A woman suffering in pain
A woman suffering in pain
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Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS) is believed to be not just one but a collection of diseases that together manifest the primary symptom of persistent, overwhelming, and debilitating fatigue. Of course it is tightly-bound to chronic fatigue syndrome and is also associated with the Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus Syndrome. A newer term is Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Confused yet?

There is an organization known as the National CFIDS Foundation1 has proposed criteria to be used in establishing a positive diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Deficiency Syndrome. The two major criteria must be satisfied and a number of minor criteria. The two majors are:

  1. New onset of persistent or relapsing, debilitating fatigue or easy fatigability in a person who has no previous history of similar symptoms, that does not resolve with bedrest, and that is severe enough to reduce or impair average daily activity below 50% of the patient’s premorbid activity level for a period of at least 6 months.
  2. Other clinical conditions that may produce similar symptoms must be excluded by thorough evaluation, based on history, physical examination, and appropriate laboratory findings. These conditions include malignancy; autoimmune disease; localized infection (such as occult abscess); chronic or subacute bacterial disease (such as endocarditis, Lyme disease, or tuberculosis), fungal disease (such as histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, or cocci-dioidomycosis), and parasitic disease (such as toxoplas-mosis, amebiasis, giardiasis, or helminthic infestation); disease related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; chronic psychiatric disease, either newly diagnosed or by history (such as endogenous depression; hysterical personality disorder; anxiety neurosis; schizophrenia; or chronic use of major tranquilizers, lithium, or antidepressive medications); chronic inflammatory dis-ease (such as sarcoidosis, Wegener granulomatosis, or chronic hepatitis); neuromuscular disease (such as multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis); endocrine disease (such as hypothyroidism, Addison disease, Cushing syndrome, or diabetes mellitus); drug dependency or abuse (such as alcohol, controlled prescription drugs, or illicit drugs); side effects of a chronic medication or other toxic agent (such as a chemical solvent, pesticide, or heavy metal); or other known or defined chronic pulmonary, cardiac, gastrointestinal, hepatic, renal, or hematologic disease.


CFIDS Symptoms a Patient Might Experience

Finding a doctor who is well-versed in this condition and understands the diagnosis protocol can be difficult. How can a prospective patient justify her suspicions that she might be afflicted? According to Solve M.E., simply confirm these symptoms:

  • Post Exertional Malaise (PEM). PEM is a prime indicator of ME/CFS. PEM manifests following mental and/or physical exertion. It is described as steadily worsening symptoms that last 24 hours or even longer. Malaise is defined as a condition of overall bodily weakness and/or discomfort, which often marks the onset of a disease and a vague and/or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.
  • Un-refreshing Sleep. Sleep that is disrupted as well as un-refreshing is another common indication of ME/CFS which is indicated by patients awakening with a tired feeling even following substantial periods of rest, to experience more than usual drowsiness during the daytime, and to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
  • Concentration Problems. Many ME/CFS patients find concentration issues to be the most serious and debilitating indicator, making things like driving a car problematic. They live with difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory. These symptoms have been linked to problems in ways the brain handles information—in particular the processing speed and complex information processing.
  • Pain. In the past, pain was not thought to be a prime indicator of ME/CFS, but muscle pain, joint pain, and headache are now recognized as common in ME/CFS patients.

It’s very likely that these four major symptoms of ME/CFS are interwoven, each one building on the other and undoubtedly exacerbating the overall illness. This is why doctors who are well-versed in ME/CFS focus on treating pain and sleep disturbances with medicine, in an attempt to give some degree of solace to the severity of the overall ME/CFS symptom complex.



History, Causes, and Methods of Coping with CFIDS

No one is positive exactly when Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (or Myalgic encephalomyelitis) first began but it became defined late in the 1970s. This was also about the time when AIDS began its spread. It is not clear precisely what triggers CFIDS. It seems highly likely that it may be caused by a virus, but mysteriously enough, it has yet to be determined how it spreads from individual to individual.

This condition afflicts women in the majority of cases, estimated at 75% to 80% of total cases, so males are in the mix as well. The age range in which it most commonly strikes is 25 to 50. Some of the triggers for CFIDS are thought to be digestive system stress, depression or emotional stress, exposure of the immune system to some toxicity, and an over-work/under-exercise situation. It certainly describes our modern world.

Even though there has been no cure discovered at this point, a point of light is that there are a number of things that are beneficial in the coping process. For example, mild exercise is of great help in most cases. Why? because it allows the blood flow to increase and gives a boost to the the immune system.

The elimination of certain things from your diet may minimize the symptoms. The list includes includes caffeine, alcohol, and highly refined flour and sugar. The last thing to be is a compulsive over-eater.

Another technique to cope with this disease is counseling. Having solid, reliable moral support is a huge asset when one is coping with depression and stress. Using these techniques and working for solutions under a doctor’s care and supervision will keep the patient on the road to good health and reduce the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Resources

  1. GARY P. HOLMES, M.D., et al., National CFIDS Foundation, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Working Case Definition, https://www.ncf-net.org/patents/pdf/Holmes_Definition.pdf
  2. Solve M.E., About the Disease, https://solvecfs.org/about-the-disease/

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Delicious Foods To Eat For Weight Loss

by Kelly R. Smith

Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
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You might think, like many people, that losing fat weight is always about specific food deprivation and sticking to a banned list. Generally, the list consists of foods that you love the most. Strategies like intermittent fasting really do work; I’ve been doing it for a couple of months and have lost over 10 pounds. But frankly, it’s just not for everyone. But what if I told you about some delicious foods that are assumed by some to be on the banned list but shouldn’t be? Well, it’s true.

Make the Switch Back to Whole Milk

Dairy fat bad; 2% good. Right? So everyone says. In a study by the American Journal of Nutrition, they concluded that, “We observed that higher intakes of high-fat dairy products but not of low-fat dairy products were associated with less weight gain,which seemed to be driven by intakes of whole-fat milk and butter.”1 Why is that? Essential fatty acids are removed when the milk is skimmed. This is the component that can help you feel fuller more rapidly and stay full longer with full fat products, which cuts down on habitual, excessive overeating. Also, when individuals reduce the fat in their diets, they tend to replace it with sugary beverages and other refined carbohydrates.

Spreads Made From Nuts

Peanut butter, Nutella (chocolate hazelnut), and other nut-based favorites deliver healthy fats and an impressive amount of protein and fiber, as well. Peanut butter offers a blend of 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons along with 2 grams of fiber. The Harvard Gazette reported regarding a study, “The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate fears that eating a lot of nuts will lead to overweight.”2 The best way to get nuts into your diet other than toast spreads for breakfast is snacking on a couple spoonfuls of nut butters in between meals to control your appetite. That’s good news for me!

Pasta Is Your Friend

Low-carb diets like the Atkins and Ketogenic diets will help you lose weight lightning-fast, but they have their own issues. They are not really “lifestyle” diets; they are restrictive and what about when you eat out? They rely on ketosis, a normal metabolic process that will cause even teetotalers to blow positive on a breathalyzer test. But whole grain pasta takes a long time to digest, leaving you with a steadier source of fuel to support energy levels.

Get Cracking With Eggs

They are high up there in high-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. They are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food when it comes to both snacks and meals, such as a big omelet. They come in at just 70 calories each so there’s no reason not to enjoy the whole egg, yolk and white combined (shell excluded of course). Yes, egg yolks are a significant source of your dietary cholesterol, but recent studies have now proven that dietary cholesterol has less of an effect on blood cholesterol than was once thought. The most recent evidence suggests that eating whole eggs (in moderation) is safe, and some studies even demonstrate that they may assist in your weight loss when they are eaten in lieu of refined carbohydrates.

Chicken on the Dark Side

You should remove the skin but dark meat poultry (leg and thigh) tends to be more tender, juicy, and rich in flavor than its white meat counterparts. This requires not only less butter or oil to cook it up with, but also less of your favorite sauce or creamy condiments that your breast meat requires. To make things even better, it’s a great source of lean protein that will leave you more satisfied at meal time, so you will be less likely to overeat later. Chicken also makes great jerky if you have a food dehydrator.

The Decadence of Dark Chocolate

One or two squares of this rich, satisfying chocolate will reduce your stress levels and help to curb cravings for other sugar-loaded treats as well. High stress levels has been known lead to cortisol hormone spikes. These increase your appetite and emotional eating behaviors. The desirable benefits of dark chocolate (not regular candy bars) are specific to the concentration of cocoa flavonoids. These have been shown in studies to have multiple health benefits, such as improving blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure. The higher the percentage of cacao, the greater the benefits.



References

  1. Susanne Rautiainen, Lu Wang, I-Min Lee, JoAnn E Manson, Julie E Buring, Howard D Sesso, American Journal of Nutrition, Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk ofbecoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women:a prospective cohort study, https://watermark.silverchair.com/ajcn118406.pdf
  2. The Harvard Gazette, Research also shows people who eat nuts weigh less, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/11/eating-nuts-reduces-risk-of-death/

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

8 Prepper Tips for Beginning Survivalists

by Kelly R. Smith

A prepper in a devastated landscape
A prepper in a devastated landscape
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From Dictionary.com, “A prepper is someone who actively prepares (preps) for worst-case scenarios, such as the end of the world, by practicing survivalist techniques, including hoarding food.”1 Some would say preppers are living on the fringe, but perhaps the idea isn’t so crazy. Witness the Anifa and BLB antics during the past year. Witness all the left-leaning municipalities de-funding police. But it gets even more mundane; remember when COVID-19 hit? Forget finding toilet paper on store shelves. I had a substantial stock in our walk-in pantry. And, plenty of Spam and tuna fish. Crazy like a fox.

So let’s look at 8 prepper tips for beginning survivalists. They don’t all have to be done right away or in any particular order. It really is a lifestyle shift and just like a fitness program, it’s practical to approach it incrementally.

  • Keep your physical fitness level up. When SHTF you’re going to have to be prepared to do everything yourself or with limited help. Many tasks will be strenuous. If you’ve got to bug out, your backpack may weigh up to 50lbs or more just stocked with the bare necessities.
  • Formulate a variety of plans. Plan for any of the major scenarios that are likely to occur: these include, but are not limited to natural disaster (hurricane, fire, earthquake), government collapse or martial law, and disease outbreak (think COVID-19). Each of these situations would require a slightly different plan of action, modified to reflect what will be lost/needed if that specific event comes to pass.
  • Involve your household. Don’t make the mistake of expecting that one family member can do the prep work of the entire family unit all by themselves. This would put a major strain on you, but it also leaves your family at a at a loss if something were to happen to you. Everyone in the household should be able to fend for themselves as well as playing their designated role as a team member. This means the burden of survival will be somewhat evenly distributed among everyone. A reasonable starting point is by making sure that everyone is familiar of the family plans in the case of an emergency.
  • Stay out of debt. OK, we live in the real world so some debt is unavoidable. Look how fast the federal government curtailed currency production when the pandemic started. Many would-be preppers jump in with both feet and try to stock up right from the get-go. Spread out your purchases on a prioritized basis. Avoid the temptation. Food? Throw a few long-shelf life items into your basket every time you grocery shop. Actively begin to get out of debt. Dave Ramsey has some good advice. For example, “Break up with your barista. If you don’t know where all your money’s going each month, we’re pretty sure your favorite coffee shop can find it for you. Brewing your own coffee at home is a simple way to save money fast.”2 I started doing this a long time ago. I picked up a coffee grinder and order my espresso coffee beans from Black Rifle Coffee. Head and shoulders above Starbucks in quality. Start putting back some physical cash somewhere in your home on a regular basis. Precious metals make good bartering mediums after a crisis.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded preppers and homesteaders. Cooperation will expand your group of resources, which can mean the difference between survival and failure if you’re all left to your own devices. Your own neighbors are your best bet for pooling resources and bartering. In fact, you can allocate responsibility for particular things to different people. One neighbor might be an avid vegetable gardener, another may be adept at ammo reloading. Which one has the MacGyver gene and a garage shop full of tools?
  • Arm yourself. This point is hard to over-state. When disaster strikes and local first-responders are overwhelmed, nobody cares about your 911 call. As a matter of fact, if you live in a place like Seattle, Minneapolis, or Austin, your elected officials are going to tell the police to stand down and green-light the radical mobs. The mobs will come for your stuff. The three most recommended items are a handgun, a rifle with a scope, and an assortment of knives. A stun gun or two never hurts. And ammo; plenty of ammo.
  • Keep things in perspective. Being prepared is important but don’t get overwhelmed. Start with the essentials and take it from there. Focus on defense, food, water, shelter, and medical supplies.
  • Get a dog if you don’t already have one. Rescue dogs are always a good choice. Shelters are always looking to unload them and chances are good that Fido will already be housebroken. If the bad guys have to choose between attacking a home with a big bark and one with no bark, it’s kind of a no-brainer which way they’ll go.


So, there it is. These 8 prepper tips for beginning survivalists are in no way an exhaustive list but they will certainly give you food for thought. Take your time, educate yourself, and be safe out there.


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References

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/prepper/?itm_source=parsely-api
  2. Dave Ramsey, Ramsey, 25 Ways to Get Out of Debt in 2020, https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/ways-to-get-out-of-debt

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.