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Do You Have an Ethical Will?

As we go through life, we acquire wisdom and life lessons that can benefit others. One way to pass along your stories and experiences is through an ethical will. Unlike an ordinary will or last testament, an ethical will has less to do with material possessions and more to do with nonmaterial gifts and spiritual well-being. It's a love letter of sorts for your family, friends and community.

Writing an ethical will benefit you as well. It can:

  • Help you to make sense of your life and the aging process.
  • Provide a way to share your hopes, dreams and values with loved ones.
  • Help you take stock of your life experience and distill from it the values and wisdom that you have gained.

Regardless of your age, you should consider creating an ethical will. You can choose to share your insights while you are alive, or leave your thoughts for loved ones to share after you are gone. It is often an ongoing process - put the document aside, read it over as the years pass, and revise it from time to time as you see fit.  Certainly, while an ethical will can be a wonderful gift to leave to your family at the end of your life, its main importance is what it can give you in the midst of life.

Learn more about legacy writing and ethical wills with Rachael Freed's Tips & Tools Annuals. Her Monthly Legacy Reflection and Writing Assignments Annuals are interactive magazines that compile her legacy reflection and assignments into writing tips and assignments. See them here!


5 Reasons to Eat Sage

Sage is a well-known culinary herb that imparts depth and complexity to sauces and stuffings. But it also has medicinal benefits as well. From sore throats to asthma, find out more about the conditions sage may help to relieve.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an herb known for both its culinary and medicinal uses. A good source of vitamin K, sage has known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and has been used to help relieve:

1.    Sore throats (try drinking sage tea).

2.    Respiratory problems, including bronchitis, congestion and sinusitis, when used in a steam inhaler.

3.    Excessive perspiration - herbalists commonly recommend sage for menopausal women troubled with night sweats.

4.    Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis.

5.    Cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

So why not add sage to your next meal? It provides a subtle, savory flavor that works as a seasoning in sauces, stuffings and marinades. It is available fresh or dried, but fresh is the better choice when it comes to cooking for the most appealing flavor – it is also a fairly hearty herb and can be grown indoors during colder months.

Try the Miso Pate recipe, which uses sage!



Is Tilapia Unhealthy?

Dr. Weil recommends fish as part of his Anti-Inflammatory Diet, but farm-raised tilapia isn’t one of his top choices. Find out why – and what fish is a healthier option.

Farm-raised tilapia is one of the most commonly consumed fish in America, yet it has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fats compared to its content of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6's are essential, but the American diet typically includes far too much of this kind of fat. An overabundance of dietary omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, and inflammation is a key contributor to many chronic health conditions. 

In addition, farmed fish (tilapia or not) are raised in crowded conditions that are unnatural - and to help prevent infection they are given antibiotics. This means the fish are likely to contain residues of antibiotics and other synthetic compounds used to control diseases that occur when fish are crowded in pens. They may also have lower levels of protein - as much as 20 percent less - compared to wild fish, and higher concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals such as PCBs and dioxin. They represent environmental negatives as well – they are resource- and energy-intensive (it takes several pounds of feed fish to produce one pound of farmed fish) and do not protect dwindling wild stock.

Tilapia is not necessarily unhealthy, but I recommend reaching for the best fish of all - wild-caught Alaskan salmon. It has an impressive omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio and is a species associated with fewer concerns about environmental toxins. While it is more expensive than tilapia, it is a worthy investment in your health that can reap dividends for the future. If you prefer white fish, look for wild-caught halibut or black cod as a healthy alternative.


Got Gas? Eat These!

An upset, gassy stomach is not fun – but some foods can help quell the digestive chaos. Find out which foods to choose when you feel gassy.

If you are feeling bloated or gassy, some foods can help calm your stomach. Try these three:

1. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). The seeds, leaves, and roots of the fennel plant are readily available in many forms including plain seeds, sugar-coated seeds, extract, oil, and capsules. All offer a natural way to help relieve gas. When shopping, note that fresh fennel seeds should have a strong aroma, and other forms should have a freshness date. Simply chew and swallow one-half to one teaspoon of fennel seeds after eating, whenever distended from gas, or as recommended by product label. Children can take half the adult dose.

2. Baked potatoes. They are easy to digest, making them a good choice for an upset stomach when you are still hungry. Plus these universally loved vegetables are loaded with vitamins C and B-6, potassium and fiber.

3. Eggs. The protein in eggs can help to soothe a gassy stomach. Choose organic, free-range eggs, and poach or hard-boil them for the most benefit.


Meal Planning: Healthy Breakfasts

Planning meals can be a challenge, but a little guidance can make it less daunting. Use these suggestions for some healthy meals this week, and add the foods you’ll find here to your grocery list!

When planning your grocery list for this week’s meals, don’t forget the first meal of the day! It's easy to eat right in the morning: the ideal breakfast should provide one quarter to one third of your day's protein, a fair amount of fiber (as found in low-glycemic carbohydrates) and some healthy fat. Here are some quick, healthful ideas on food to buy:

  1. Canned, wild Alaskan salmon. The traditional Japanese breakfast features broiled fish, steamed rice, pickled vegetables and green tea. Using canned, wild Alaskan salmon along with leftover rice and vegetables makes this a quick meal.
  2. Granola and yogurt. Choose granola or make one that's low in sugar or other sweeteners, and opt for full-fat plain Greek yogurt, fruit and walnuts.
  3. Eggs. Keep some hardboiled eggs (choose free-range, omega-3 fortified eggs) on hand to eat with sprouted grain toast. Include a piece of fruit like an orange or grapefruit and a container of plain, unsweetened yogurt.
  4. Dark, leafy greens. Spinach, kale and other dark, leafy greens are a nutritious addition to any breakfast – use with your eggs to create a vegetable scramble.
  5. Berries. Choose organic blueberries or raspberries for their fiber and antioxidants – add to your yogurt or top steel-cut oatmeal with a handful.
  6. Coffee or green tea. Coffee is a good source of antioxidants, and research has linked coffee to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes as well as improved mental health as you age. I suggest finding an organic or fair trade version. If coffee causes side effects such as anxiety, tremors or irritation of the digestive system, drink green tea - it is a very healthy alternative.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s Daily Tip, for information on what not to eat for breakfast!



Potato Extract for Weight Loss

Consuming polyphenols, a class of antioxidants found in potato extract, may hold promise as a strategy to avoid obesity. This news comes from researchers at Canada's McGill University, who studied the effects these compounds obtained from a variety of potato that is particularly rich in polyphenols. The investigators tested the extract in mice that had been fed a diet high in fat and refined carbohydrates. To begin, they put the mice on a 10-week long diet designed to fatten them up. The animals that started out weighing an average of 25 grams gained about 16 grams on the diet, but a second group of mice on the same diet with potato extract added gained only seven grams. The research team was so surprised at the results that they repeated the study to confirm the outcome. Don't think you can get similar results by upping your intake of potatoes, however. You would need to eat 30 potatoes a day (every day) to get the amount of polyphenols given the mice in the McGill study. The extract needs to be tested in humans to see if it is safe and has similar effects, and researchers will have to determine the optimal dose for men and women. If those studies pan out, the team anticipates making the extract available in supplement form or as an ingredient for cooking.


Hair Growth Hope

Here's some good news for men (and for women) worried about hair loss. Researchers in Japan have zeroed in on a substance that may turn out to be an effective treatment to address thinning hair, although so far, it has worked only in mice and has not yet been tested on humans. The substance is propolis, which honeybees use to seal small gaps in their hives. Humans have used propolis and honey from ancient times as treatments for tumors, inflammation and wounds, and these natural substances contain compounds that fight fungal and bacterial infections. More recent research has found that propolis stimulates the activity of cells involved in hair growth. A team from Japan's Hokkaido University tested the substance on mice that had been shaved or waxed and found that the animals treated with propolis had faster fur regrowth than animals that were shaved/waxed and not treated. The scientists also reported that after propolis was applied to shaved mice, the skin cells involved in hair growth increased in number. They also noted that in some cases hair loss is due to abnormal inflammation and that propolis contains anti-inflammatory compounds and might be useful for treating some inflammatory conditions associated with balding. More study is needed to determine whether propolis can help humans regrow hair.

My take: For centuries people have used propolis on wounds and as a remedy for ailments ranging from acne to cancer, osteoporosis, itching, and tuberculosis. Today, it is used in the manufacture of chewing gum, cosmetics, creams, lozenges and ointments. I consider it safe and useful as a home remedy and recommend it as a topical treatment for uncomplicated wounds and, when used as a gargle or in spray form, as a remedy for sores and irritations in the mouth. Tincture of propolis can also be used to treat canker sores and sore throats. You can find it in various forms in health food stores or source it raw from beekeepers. We'll have to wait for clinical trials to see if propolis can actually promote hair growth in humans.


Yogurt Consumption Might Help Diabetes

Eating yogurt regularly may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health followed nearly 200,000 adults ages 25 to 75 for up to 30 years, checking in on them regularly through food questionnaires. After adjusting for age, smoking, body mass index and other risk factors, the team concluded that consuming 12 ounces of yogurt daily - three times the usual four-ounce serving - was linked to an 18 percent reduction in the risk for Type 2 diabetes. The study also found that consumption of other dairy products didn't seem to make a difference to the risk of diabetes. Lead author Mu Chen told the New York Times that yogurt's positive effect might be due to the probiotic bacteria it contains, although that remains to be studied. Frank Hu, the study's senior author, was quoted in news reports as saying that the benefits may stem from yogurt's high protein content, which can increase satiety and reduce feelings of hunger, or it could be that regular yogurt consumption is simply a marker for a healthy lifestyle.

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