Pink Himalayan Salt Health Benefits

Is This Table and Cooking Condiment Worth the Added Expense?

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ladling out pink Himalayan salt
Ladling out pink Himalayan salt
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Looking at most recipes, there are commonly five kinds of salt you will see–table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Celtic salt, and pink or Himalayan salt. In all honesty, I don’t find much difference in flavor between them. The choice you make boils down to personal taste, price, degree of cultural hipness as you describe your dish to your guests, and other factors.

What Makes Himalayan Salt Different?

The most obvious characteristic is that it is, well, pink! I’m not a big fan of the color pink (there’s my toxic masculinity showing again!) but this condiment wears it tolerably well. The two most important distinctions are its origin and its health benefits.

According to Fooducate, “Himalayan salts is actually not from the Himalayas. It is sourced from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, about 300 miles to the west of the Himalayan Mountain Range. This salt mine is the second largest in the world, and has been a source of salt for over 2000 years. Despite this lengthy history, the “Himalayan” brand gained popularity in the Western world only in the past 15 years.”1



What are the Health Benefits of Pink Salt?

People have made many nutrition claims about Himalayan salt over the years. Some insist salt lamps help purify the air. Some say it can detoxify the body of heavy minerals. Some (optimistic) mountebanks have even suggested it can increase libido.

  • Iodine naturally occurs in Himalayan salt. The chemical element iodine is necessary for the proper functioning of our thyroid gland.2
  • It is about 96% sodium chloride, the same as table salt. This is what makes it conveniently interchangeable with table salt in, say, your favorite whole wheat bread recipe.
  • The remaining 4% are potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as tens of additional trace minerals.
  • It prevents hyponatremia, meaning low sodium levels in the blood. Eating enough sodium through a healthy diet is vital to preventing this dangerous and painful condition.
  • It plays an key role in your small intestine’s ability to absorb chloride, amino acids, glucose, and water.
  • Sodium also assists your stomach in breaking down food which releases nutrients for absorption.

So, despite having trace minerals that other salts might not, do the health benefits really register or is it all just marketing hype? WebMD says, “research has not demonstrated that Himalayan salt has any unique health benefits compared to other dietary salt. The mineral impurities that give it a pink color, often promoted as healthful, are far too low in concentration to be nutritionally beneficial. You would have to eat a lethal amount of sodium to achieve helpful quantities of the other minerals.”3



Additional Reading

Resources

  1. Fooducate, Himalayan Salt – 10 Things to Know, https://www.fooducate.com/community/post/Himalayan-Salt-10-Things-to-Know/57A355B1-7CE7-3C26-48D8-A9A1BBA83175
  2. Steve Fentress, Moment of Science, Why Does Table Salt Contain Iodide?, https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/table-salt-iodide.php
  3. WebMD, Himalayan Salt: Is It Good for You?, https://www.webmd.com/diet/himalayan-salt-good-for-you#1

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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.

Getting Enough Minerals in Your Diet?

Insufficient Nutrition Can Be Robbing Your Optimal Health

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Forms of Nutraceuticals
Forms of Nutraceuticals
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So what exactly are nutraceuticals? According to Dictionary.com, they are, “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

So basically, these include dietary supplements as well as basic foods. Ideally, we would get all necessary minerals and nutrients via the food groups but this is rarely the case due to lifestyle. You may have assumed that since minerals are in so many foods you are in the safe zone. Not so; in many cases strict vegans and even borderline vegetarians may be missing out on important trace minerals and the ones in your multi-vitamin may not be as high-quality as you suppose.

Calcium for Strong Bones, Teeth, and Heart

Calcium is one of the most important and abundant minerals in our bodies. WebMD.com says, “Calcium is a mineral that is an essential part of bones and teeth. The heart, nerves, and blood-clotting systems also need calcium to work. Calcium-rich foods include milk and dairy products, kale and broccoli, as well as the calcium-enriched citrus juices, mineral water, canned fish with bones, and soy products processed with calcium. Calcium is also taken as a supplement.”2 Which foods are calcium-rich? According to Kidshealth.org,3

  • Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, cereals and, crackers
  • Canned salmon, anchovies, and sardines with bones
  • Green leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli

Potassium for Your Nervous System

Potassium keeps your muscles and your nervous system working properly and minimizes the possibility of cramps. Your blood and bodily tissues, including muscles, contain water. Potassium helps ensure that the quantity of water is optimized between cells and body fluids; it performs a balancing act. You can find it in:

  • Legumes, such as beans, split peas, lentils
  • Bananas, tomatoes
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes, with skin intact
  • Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli

Zinc for Your Immune System

We all know the importance of our immune systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, this mineral gives a powerful boost to your immune system. This system fights off common illnesses and infections. It is also involved cellular growth and assists in healing wounds, such as cuts. It is found in:

  • A variety of nuts including cashews, pecans, walnuts, and almonds
  • Legumes, such as peanuts, split peas, and lentils
  • Cuts of meats such as beef, pork, and chicken

The Strength of Iron

Our bodies utilize the mineral iron to transport oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our bodies. This is a critical function because our bodies depend on oxygen to maintain life. Iron also assists in the production of hemoglobin. This is the component in our red blood cells that moves oxygen throughout our bodies. Get your iron in:

  • Eggs
  • By cooking in cast iron cookware
  • Dried fruits like apricots and raisins
  • Whole and enriched grains like quinoa, wheat, and oats
  • Various cuts of meat, particularly red meat like liver or beef

Steps for Good Health

All the minerals listed above originated in the earth and seas and got into the food chain that way. Research shows that the mineral depletion in the soil was about 85% during the years from 1900 to 1940.

Adding specific soil amendments in organic farming programs has made a measure of progress in bringing soil health back from the brink. Unfortunately, chemical techniques are still applied to most crops and meats found in your local grocery store. To maximize your health goals:

  • Take your supplements daily.
  • Purchase organic produce and free range meat whenever possible. Yes, you’ll pay a bit more but mineral and nutrient deficiencies cost even more in the long run.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity puts stress and strain on your body and impacts your overall health. Intermittent fasting for weight loss and maintenance is a great strategy for most people.
  • Consume fresh, local fruits and produce. They generally taste better and as a bonus they support your local economy which impacts you directly.

Getting enough minerals in your diet with healthy foods and supplements is not difficult. It might take a slight alteration in your lifestyle but you’ll be happier in the long run.

References

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nutraceutical?s=t
  2. WebMD.com, Calcium, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-781/calcium
  3. Mary l. Gavin M.D., Kidshealth.org, Minerals, https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/minerals.html

Further Reading and Relevant Recipes


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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.

Intermittent Fasting Mistakes

Any of these Overlooked Dieting Errors Will Sideline Your Weight Loss

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Intermittent fasting before and after
Intermittent fasting before and after
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In order to lose weight or improve health, a lot of people are ditching traditional diet fad methods and turning to intermittent fasting (IF). There are many motivations for doing this but two seem to pop up over and over. First, traditional diets are hard. They are too food-restrictive which leads to just giving up. Second, the “diet foods” are expensive or hard to come by.

Intermittent fasting solves both of these issues. It is very user-friendly; there are a variety of methods to choose from to accommodate preferences and lifestyles. None make you cut out your favorite foods. You don’t have to be constrained to buy programmed prepackaged meals (as seen on TV) or search high-and-low for specialty items. Eat what you like or check out alternate and affordable dietitian-recommended foods. But, weight-loss on any diet can plateau, and IF is no different. Here are some intermittent fasting mistakes to be aware of.



Intermittent Fasting Trip-Ups

  • Triggering Insulin Spikes. When we are on an IF regimen, the whole point is to keep our metabolism train rumbling along without ingesting anything that causes an insulin spike. Unfortunately, these may not be obvious; hey, it’s just a little thing, right? But no. Consider that splash of coffee creamer. Or, consider that pain pills like Advil that have sugar in the coating. Or, how about swallowing a bit of toothpaste whilst staring gloomily at the mirror? All of these things seem inconsequential, but they effectively break-your-fast (ever wondered where the word “breakfast” came from?).
  • Not Drinking Enough Water. Fasting without drinking circumlocutions your intention. Your damaged cells and/or other wastes that hang out in your body cannot be expelled without H2o giving them the old heave-ho. How much water per day day do you need? It depends on who you ask. But, the Mayo Clinic tells us, “About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.”1 If you just find this much water boring, as many people do, just add some Mio liquid water enhancer drops to it. It has 0 sugar, 0 calories, and tastes great!
  • Breaking Your Fast With Incorrect Foods. When coming off your fast, ingesting the proper types of foods is important. Since your stomach shrinks during a fast and your stomach lining is moderately thin, too much food is a bad idea. Further, you will want to break your fast with a clean protein. Think Bone broth, protein supplements, or milk alternatives like almond milk.
  • Choosing the Wrong Intermittent Fasting Plan (Method). Don’t shortchange yourself and set yourself up for failure. There is a reason there are so many plans. Choose one that suits both your goals and your lifestyle. For example, I started with the 16/8 method. Basically this involves skipping breakfast and eating nothing after 8 PM. It just suits my schedule working from my home office.


  • Eating Too Much During Your Eating Window. This is recognized as the most common trap people fall into with IF. If you’ve chosen a particularly restrictive regimen (ah, optimism) that leaves you hungry for hours of the day, you’re most likely to go a little bit overboard the moment the clock says “It’s time to eat.”
  • Or, You’re Not Eating Enough During Your Eating Window. What? Sure enough, not eating enough is also a real cause of gaining weight, and here’s why. As well as setting you up to eat too much of less-than-healthy items during your eating window, not eating enough cannibalizes your existing muscle mass which in turn causes your metabolism to slow down. Who knew?
  • Ignoring the What in Favor of the When. Yes, this diet plan is time oriented rather than food-choice oriented. But that doesn’t mean all junk food is mana. McDonalds is not your ultimate destiny! When you eat, focus on nutrient-dense food choices. If you are like me, cooking at home with the spirit of invention is fun!

So there you have it; these are the intermittent fasting mistakes. Some are obvious, others are slap-your-forehead so not so much. Remember that if addressing these issues isn’t turning you into the fat-burning machine you want to be, you can always try another IF method.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff, Mayo Clinic, Water: How much should you drink every day?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256


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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.

5 Foods Dietitians Recommend

For Successful Weight Loss, Focus on Healthy Eating, not Limitation

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Foods that fight nutrient deficiencies
Foods that fight nutrient deficiencies
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Too many so-called weight loss diets focus on limiting what allow ourselves to eat, which sets us up for either failure at worst or a bad experience at best. Another popular approach is intermittent fasting. This helps by focusing on when we eat rather than what we eat. In this article we will take a look at specific foods that we should eat that most of us enjoy and are very versatile.

  • Basil seeds. These might be a little-known member of the culinary landscape (bet you don’t have any in your pantry), but basil seeds offer double the digestion-regulating fiber as chia seeds. Not only that, basil seeds are nutrient-packed. They contain lots of calcium for bone-building, magnesium, and iron, and plenty of inflammation-fighting antioxidant properties. If you can’t find them locally (the kind packaged for food not planting), I get mine on Amazon.com. Nutrineat.com says, “They help maintain the arteries clean and clear. They do not allow cholesterol to stick on the walls of the arteries. Thus, they help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. As the soaked seeds form a thick mass, they make a filling drink. When taken before meals, it can curb overeating. Thus, it can help maintain weight.”1
  • Barley. If you are into grains, barley is a great choice. Similar to oats, bike oats, barley contains soluble beta-glucan fiber that is fantastic for regulating digestion and supporting a healthy gut microbiota. Nutritiondata.self.com says that a one cup serving contains 193 calories, 44.3g carbohydrates, 6.0g dietary fiber, and a low 0.7g total fat.2
  • Eggplant. This vegetable is not only very affordable and available, it lends itself to dishes such as no-fry eggplant Parmesan, a personal favorite. One cup of raw eggplant has just 20.5 calories and 4.8 grams of carbohydrate, about half of which comes from fiber (2.4 grams). There are about 3 grams of naturally occurring sugars in eggplant. Eggplant is a low-glycemic food coming in at a “1” for a single serving. This makes it a great food before a long workout.
No-fry eggplant Parmesan recipe, breading
No-fry eggplant Parmesan recipe, preparation (recipe listed below)
  • Spaghetti squash. This one is also very affordable and easy to find in most grocery stores. Spaghetti squash is an easy-to-prepare, plant-based, low-carb veggie option. It’s high in vitamins B6 and C and fills you up with high-fiber content. And who couldn’t get a bit more fiber in their diet? One cup (150g) of spaghetti squash comes in at just 42 calories and 10 grams of carbs as compared to 220 calories and 43 grams of carbs in standard pasta. All this makes it a great diet choice. Don’t forget to compost those hulls; your ornamental or vegetable garden will thank you.
  • Black beans. Black beans are a gut health superfood because they’re super high in fiber at only 15g per cup. They offer a fermentable resistant starch that helps foster a healthy gut microbiota. The right combo of fiber, protein, and slow-digesting carbs keep your blood sugar stable yielding longer-lasting energy levels. Black beans also contain a number of critical minerals such as zinc, iron and energizing copper.

Adding these 7 foods dietitians recommend for your diet will result in successful weight loss and a more varied diet.

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References

  1. Nutrineat.com, Basil Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds – A Complete and Detailed Comparison, https://nutrineat.com/basil-seeds-vs-chia-seeds
  2. Nutritiondata.self.com, Barley, pearled, cooked Nutrition Facts & Calories, https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5680/2


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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.

Insomnia – Symptoms, Causes, Myths

Sleep Depredation Adversely Affects Your Body, Brain, Mood, Cognitive Function

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Sleep deprivation -- asleep at the wheel
Sleep deprivation — asleep at the wheel
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What is insomnia? Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder. It makes it hard to drift off to sleep, difficult to stay asleep, or lead you to waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep. It is not uncommon to still feel tired after you wake up. Insomnia can diminish not only your energy level and your mood but also your health, work performance, and your quality of life.

How many people suffer and what is the probable cause? The Mayo Clinic says, “At some point, many adults experience short-term (acute) insomnia, which lasts for days or weeks. It’s usually the result of stress or a traumatic event. But some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia that lasts for a month or more. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other medical conditions or medications.”1 Some cases may be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic isolation.

What causes insomnia?

Symptoms of Insomnia

  • Waking up too early
  • Increased errors or accidents at work and at home
  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up in the night
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
  • Difficulty paying attention consistently, focusing on tasks, or remembering things
  • Ongoing worries and concerns about your sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness (nodding off at your desk, or worse, in your car)
  • Irritability, depression, confusion, or anxiety


Causes of Insomnia

This is not a one-size-fits-all ailment. It may just be happening on its own, other conditions can contribute to it, or be the primary cause. Medical treatment can be elusive as well. Melatonin can help. Treating the underlying cause may resolve your insomnia, but on the other hand, it can last for years. Possible causes include:

  • Travel or work schedule. Circadian rhythms function as an internal clock, managing such things as your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism, and your core body temperature. Disrupting these circadian rhythms can well result in a case of insomnia. Causes include jet lag from traveling across multiple time zones, exposure to too much blue light, working a late or early shift, or often changing shifts.
  • Eating too much too late. Having a light snack before bedtime is just fine, but compulsive overeating may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. You might also experience heartburn, a nauseating backflow of acid and food from your stomach into your esophagus following eating, which can leave you wide awake.
  • And of course, Stress. Concerns about your work, grades at school, health, financial situation, or family circumstances can keep your mind alert during the night, making it difficult to sleep. Stressful life events or trauma like the death or illness of someone close to you, a pending divorce, or a job issues are recognized causes of insomnia.


Myths Regarding Insomnia

Like other medical conditions, there are pervasive myths about this one. WebMD2 has put together a list of the more common ones.

  • A drink will help you sleep. This myth probably persists because drinking alcohol can help you fall asleep. But as it moves through your body it may lead to disturbed, restless sleep, or it may make you wake earlier.
  • Insomnia Is strictly mental. It’s true that psychological issues can cause insomnia. As a matter of fact, stress is the No. 1 reason people report a lack of sleep. But it’s not the only insomnia trigger. Many things can cause insomnia, including poor sleep hygiene, illness, drug side effects, chronic pain, restless legs syndrome, or sleep apnea.
  • Screen time winds you down. You might want to try to wind down by reading on the computer or perusing TV before retiring, but that can actually stimulate you. The blue light and noise of TVs and computers can be overwhelming at a low level and can reduce brain melatonin levels. You want your melatonin levels to increase around bedtime to help you fall asleep. Need just a little noise to help you drift off? Try listening to relaxing music or download a relaxing, sleep app.
  • Sleep aids = risk-free. Yes, today’s sleeping pills are safer and much more effective than the older variety. But all meds have potential downsides, including dependency. Always talk to your primary care doctor before you reach for sleeping pills. Some help relieve insomnia symptoms temporarily but by themselves they can’t banish insomnia permanently. Fixing underlying health problems and fixing your sleep environment is usually the surest approach to insomnia.
  • I’ll just make up for lost sleep. Nope, it’s unlikely that you can really catch up on sleep you’ve mislaid. In fact, sleeping in one or two days per week or during the weekend may upset your natural body clock. The disruption may make it harder to get to sleep the next time. The only sure method to make up on your lost sleep is to get right back into a consistent sleeping schedule.
  • A nap will help offset insomnia. Naps are lovely, aren’t they? They affect everyone differently. For some, a short 10- to 20-minute cat nap siesta can be refreshing and put fuel in the old metaphorical tank. For people with insomnia, however, an afternoon snooze will decrease the brain’s sleep drive.
  • You can teach yourself to need less sleep. Believing this hocus-pocus can end you up with some serious consequences. We are all born with a fixed sleep need. Most adults fall into the 7-8 hour category. While you can learn to get by on less, you can’t teach your body to need less sleep. If you find yourself sleep deprived, it’s much more difficult to pay attention and remember things both important and trivial. Being consistently tired has some serious consequences. These include lowered work performance, a higher risk of mishaps, and of course, poor health.

If you have insomnia (as I occasionally do, by the way), don’t worry; you are not alone. Just knowing and understanding these insomnia symptoms, causes, and myths will go a long way towards understanding your condition and finding a solution that works for you. Me? I do just fine with late night melatonin and using blue light blocking glasses as I labor at my computer screen all day.

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References

  1. The Mayo Clinic, Insomnia, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167
  2. WebMD, Insomnia Myths and Facts, https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-insomnia


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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 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 Alcohol

Lower Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol, Boost Your Immune System

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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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.

Benefits, Side Effects of L-Arginine

A Dietary Nutraceutical Supplement for Better Health

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Nutraceuticals--ways to get your dietary supplements
Nutraceuticals–ways to get your dietary supplements
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This article was edited on 02/22/21.

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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

Dennis Prager explains why happiness is important
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This article was updated on 02/22/21.

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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.