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Codonopsis Pilosula (Dang Shen / Tong Sum) Health Benefits

Codonopsis pilosula / Dang Shen / Tong Sum / poor man’s Ginseng is no stranger to most Chinese since this herb is a common ingredient in everyday recipes of soups and steamed dishes. In China it is better known as Dang Shen, a major tonic for nourishing the vitality.

Dang Shen’s health benefits are similar to that of Ginseng. It is sold at a more affordable price, thus it is also known as the ‘poor man’s Ginseng’.  Dang Shen is commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to correct ‘Qi’ deficiency and improve blood circulation to revitalise the body.

Dang Shen also possesses other health benefits such as:

  • Stimulates appetite
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Stimulates the central nervous system and increases endurance
  • Boosts immunity by increasing white blood cells, activating macrophages and other key components of the immune system
  • Treatment of chronic upper respiratory tract infection
  • Reduces fatigue and increases white blood count in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy

Codonopsis pilosula

However, if Dang Shen is used excessively, it may interfere with blood clotting and is best to be avoided prior to surgery.

This is the Dang Shen + red dates + blue dates tonic that the mil prepared in a crockpot for me today to nourish me back to health after a laproscopic myomectomy surgery that I underwent just 2 days ago:

 

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Foods and Vitamins to Avoid Before Surgery And To Take Post-Surgery

With just eight days before my laproscopic myomectomy surgery, I am keeping myself healthy with clean eating. When the body is clear of junk, it heals faster.  I  have already stopped popping certain vitamins and foods.   My surgeon / gynae has advised me to stop all my supplements a week before the surgery except for Sangobion (iron) as I am anemic.

Certain foods and  supplements should be avoided before surgery. Some foods leave a residue in your digestive tract that may complicate intestinal surgeries or cause diarrhea. In addition to this, having food in your system may cause nausea and vomiting. Various types of vitamins may also cause complications during surgery.

No matter what part of the body is undergoing surgery, the process for healing is the same. Surgically “traumatized tissue” (skin, muscle, bones, cartilage, tendons, etc.) does not just magically heal; rather, the body has to rebuild and repair tissue on the cellular level. This involves energy and nutritional building blocks to support the healing process.

The best pre-operative nutrition will help the immune system fight against infection and prevent and treat excess blood loss. Research has demonstrated that optimal recovery, including the best possible results seen in the shortest time period, is achieved when particular dietary and supplement regimens are followed. Specific nutrients are needed to repair skin, blood vessels, nerves, and even muscles and bones.

What Dietary Supplements Should You Avoid BEFORE Surgery?

Vitamin E and surgery do not mix because Vitamin E is associated with increased bleeding, and this can lead to collection of blood (called a hematoma) that could result in serious complications. Most surgeons will instruct you to avoid preparations with Vitamin E before surgery, however, so it is important to check your dietary supplements/multivitamin carefully. However, after the surgery, your health care professional may indicate that Vitamin E may be appropriate.

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Herbal supplements, in general, are to be avoided prior to surgery because they can cause bleeding or other operative complications. A few commonly taken herbal supplements to avoid are: Ginko Biloba, Garlic, Ginseng, Ginger, Dong Quai, Ephedra, Feverfew, St. John’s Wort and/or Omega 3 fatty acids.

A general rule is to stop taking these potentially unsafe preparations at least two weeks prior. Nonetheless, it is important to discuss all preoperative dietary supplements with a health care professional prior to any surgery or procedure.

A week or two before surgery, there may be foods and drinks to avoid. For example, it is recommended to stop taking any type of vitamins that contain vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B, vitamin K, all herbal supplements and fish oils; including multivitamins. You should also avoid all food with high sugar contents, because they can suppress normal immune function.

Even if you are not known to be allergic to these, you should avoid any potentially allergenic foods, such as:

  • Peanuts
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Milk
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Soy or wheat products

You can, however restart your normal diet after surgery. This is purely a precautionary recommendation.

Don’t eat anything that is high in fiber for at least 24 hours prior to surgery. This includes fruits and vegetables. That is because foods high in fiber take longer for your body to digest, especially apples, raspberries, oranges and pears. Vegetables like broccoli, peas and artichokes also have a lot of fiber content.

It is important that patients tell their doctors about all the medications they are taking, including herbal supplements, before surgery. And doctors should provide patients with a list of supplements to avoid.

Here are some foods and nutrients you should focus on in your post-surgery diet:

Fiber. A common complaint after surgery is constipation. To avoid this uncomfortable post-surgery complication, eat plenty of fiber. Some high-fiber foods include fresh fruit and vegetables. Whole grain breads and oatmeal are other great sources of fiber. To prevent constipation, avoid foods like dried or dehydrated foods, processed foods, cheese and dairy products, red meats and sweets.

The amino acids in protein help with wound healing and tissue regeneration. Protein can also help with strength and energy following surgery. Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, pork and seafood are excellent sources of protein. You can also get protein from eggs, nuts, beans and tofu. Dairy also contains protein, but if you’re struggling with constipation, go for the other sources of protein instead of dairy options. If you have trouble getting enough protein in your diet after surgery, try adding protein powder to drinks or smoothies.

Five Steps to Speed Recovery From Surgery

Carbohydrates. Fatigue is common following any surgical procedure, but eating the right kinds of carbs can help restore your energy levels. Get carbs from high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies, and beans and legumes. These foods will boost energy levels without causing constipation.

Fat. Healthy fats from olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds will improve immune response and aid the body’s absorption of vitamins. Fat will also help increase energy levels after surgery.

Vitamins and Minerals. Perhaps the most important nutrients in your post-surgery diet are vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A (found in orange and dark green veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach) and vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, melons, and sweet bell peppers) help with wound healing. Vitamin D (found in milk, fish, eggs, and fortified cereals) promotes bone health. Vitamin E (found in vegetable oils, nuts, beef liver, milk and eggs) protects the body from free radicals. Vitamin K (found in green leafy veggies, fish, liver and vegetable oils) is necessary for blood clotting.

Zinc (found in meat, seafood, dairy and beans) and iron (found in meat and poultry, beans, apricots, eggs, whole grains and iron-fortified cereals) are also helpful for wound healing and energy following surgery.

In addition to eating foods that are rich in fiber, protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, you must stay hydrated after surgery. Proper hydration isn’t only necessary for healing, but may also be necessary to help your body absorb medications following surgery. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day after surgery to stay hydrated.

The foods you should and shouldn’t eat can vary depending on the type of surgery and any medications you may be on. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your specific post-surgery dietary requirements.

 

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Black Rice Health Benefits

I am not a rice person since young. When I was young,  my family’s only option was regular white rice, which I disliked. I ate very little white rice and most of the time, was coerced to eat. I wasn’t a food lover except for junk food when I was a kid.  This explains why I was as thin as stick before puberty.  However, I have a certain preference for black rice and black glutinous rice. I like the nutty taste, texture and color of black rice and black glutinous rice (black sweet rice). It is chewy and very aromatic compared to white rice.

According to an article in Daily Mail Online UK, Black rice – revered in ancient China but overlooked in the West – could be one of the greatest ‘superfoods’, scientists revealed today.

The cereal is low in sugar but packed with healthy fibre and plant compounds that combat heart disease and cancer, say experts.

Scientists from Louisiana State University analysed samples of bran from black rice grown in the southern U.S.   They found boosted levels of water-soluble anthocyanin antioxidants.

Anthocyanins provide the dark colours of many fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and red peppers. They are what makes black rice ‘black’.

Research suggests that the dark plant antioxidants, which mop up harmful molecules, can help protect arteries and prevent the DNA damage that leads to cancer.

Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.

According to a study in the “Annual Review of Food Science and Technology” in 2010, anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects. In the animal and human studies conducted, anthocyanins were also shown to help prevent heart disease, control obesity and alleviate the symptoms of diabetes.

While whole grain brown rice and red rice also contain beneficial antioxidants, only black rice contains anthocyanin. Additionally, black rice also contains important antioxidant Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune health in addition to other important functions.

Health Benefits of Black Glutinous Rice

 

A one-half cup serving of cooked black rice, or about ¼ cup uncooked, contains approximately (in daily recommended values):

    • 160 calories
    • 1.5 grams of fat
    • 34 grams of carbohydrates
    • 2 grams of fiber
    • 5 grams of protein
    • 4% DV for iron

 

Health Benefits Of Black Rice

Iron Content
According to MyFitnessPal, a 1-cup serving of cooked glutinous black rice has 6 percent of your daily value of iron.  Iron is considered an essential mineral since your body needs it to make blood cells. Used to make a number of proteins — including hemoglobin and myoglobin, which carry oxygen through your bloodstream — iron is stored in your bone marrow, liver, muscles and spleen. Women over the age of 50 and adult men require 8 milligrams of iron per day, while adult women 50 and under need 18 milligrams daily. Pregnant women and breast-feeding women need 27 and 9 milligrams of iron, respectively.

Can Help Detoxify the Body
Studies have demonstrated that consuming black rice can help to detox the body and cleanse the liver of harmful toxic build-up thanks to the rice’s high antioxidant content.

Good Source of Fiber Which  Improves Digestive Health 
Black rice and other whole grain rice varieties- like wild, red, or brown rices- have a similar amount of fiber, with about 2-3 grams per half cup serving. The fiber in black rice helps to prevent constipation, bloating, and other unwanted digestive symptoms. Fiber binds to waste and toxins within the digestive tract, helping to pull them out and to contribute to regular bowel function.

Helps Slow Down Absorption of Sugar in the Blood, Helping to Prevent Diabetes  
Compared to eating processed carbohydrates which are stripped of their fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help to slow down the absorption of sugar in the blood stream, black rice is a much healthier option.

Black rice contains the entire bran of the grain where the fiber is stored, and fiber is able to help glucose (sugar) from the grain to be absorbed by the body over a longer period of time.

Black Rice And Cancer
Today black rice is considered to be an important food in fighting cancer. Studies indicate that the dark plant compounds contained in black rice help to protect the arteries and restrict DNA damage. This helps in preventing various types of cancer. However in order to be most effective, black rice should be part of an overall healthy and balanced diet along with a healthy lifestyle.

 

Interesting History of Forbidden Rice
Black rice is commonly referred to as “forbidden rice” because of its long and interesting history.   In China, black rice has been known for being good for the kidneys, stomach and liver since ancient times.

Thousands of years ago in ancient China, noble Chinese men took possession of every grain of the black forbidden rice, banning its consumption among anyone who was not royalty or very wealthy.

The Chinese emperors so treasured this rice that it was decreed a grain meant to be consumed only by royalty. And this led to the rice being known as the “forbidden rice”.

The crop was only grown in very limited quantities, closely monitored, and reserved for only the highest elite class. The common Chinese people were not allowed to grow or consume this black forbidden rice, which led to its unique name that it still carries with it today.

Black rice was actually only first introduced to the United States in the 1990’s, although it’s been enjoyed in other parts of the world for many more years. Today it is no longer forbidden, but still is grown in relatively small amounts especially compared to other types of widely available rice varieties.

Concerns With Black Rice
Even though black rice does contain more fiber and antioxidants than refined grains or carbohydrate foods, all grains still have the ability to effect blood sugar levels, so keeping an eye on portion sizes of all grains is always a good idea.

It also helps to consume grains like black rice with a source of healthy fat and some protein. This further delays the time it takes the carbohydrate’s sugars to impact blood glucose levels.

Ancient, whole grains like black rice can play a healthy part in someone’s diet, as long as they are mindful of how much they consume and also make sure to get plenty of filling protein and healthy fats from other food sources that are better suppliers of these important macro-nutrients.

 

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“Ngai” / Mugwort Healing Herb

My acupunturist and herbalist recommended a healing herb to me known as ‘ngai’.  ‘Ngai’ is very beneficial for women’s health.  When my late grandma was still around, she would prepare a simple and delish ‘ngai’ omelette soup for my mum and me regularly.  I have not eaten ‘ngai’ for over 30 years. This is a long, long forgotten dish in my memory until my acupunturist urged me to get some. I casually mentioned this herb to my mil and she went hunting it for me. Finally, she got the herb from our regular organic vegetable seller. who plants them in her farm for own consumption and sold some to us.  My mil also managed to plant some in a pot at our little apartment balcony.


‘Ngai’ plant from our balcony.

This week, my mil whipped up the most delicious ‘ngai’ omelette cooked with old ginger strips and sesame seed oil. She cooked a big bowl and I scoffed down the entire bowl all by myself!

‘Ngai’ also has the ability to shrink uterine fibroids and I have heard of and read of several success stories, thus I’m trying to see if it works on my uterine fibroid.


Soupy ginger Ngai omelette that my mil cooked

‘Ngai’ is known as mugwort.  Mugwort is a herb that is known for its medicinal benefits and is also known as artemisia iwayomogi. The herb is typically found in Asia, Northern Europe and North America. It is mostly taken as a tonic, to increase energy levels in the body, to dispel wind from the stomach and to aid fat loss.

Mugwort is also taken by women who experience irregular periods and other issues related to the menstrual cycle.

The oil made from the extract of this herb can also be used to prevent early or untimely menopause. When it is ingested, it can cure a number of digestive disorders and help fight infections by preventing infections in the stomach.

In traditional Chinese medicine, burning mugwort in moxibustion heat therapy is one of the oldest forms of Chinese traditional medicine and is used to stimulate the flow of qi and maintain general health. It especially dispels cold and dampness.

 

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Dried Jujube / Chinese Dates Health Benefits

Since a blood test early this year showed that I have very low blood count, I have been consuming red dates and black dates every day.  To recap, I have a uterine fibroid (submucosal) that causes me heavy menstruation every month. As a result, I am anemic.

My mil would boil a pot of red dates and black dates tonic every other day.  This dates tonic nourishes the blood and is popularly consumed by mothers in confinement and those recuperating from a surgery. On days when there is no dates tonic, I would eat about 4-5 organic red dates (pits removed) and a handful of organic goji berries.

Black jujubes are fresh Chinese dates that have been smoked. This is a “warm” (yang) food that helps nourish yin and reinforce blood; it is more effective in blood reinforcement than fresh jujubes. Eating a few every day is very beneficial for the kidneys (which control the reproductive system) and liver.

In China, where jujube originated, practitioners of traditional medicine have long prized the jujube for its medicinal properties. Once confined largely to China, the fruit now grows in many areas of the world, including southern Europe and the southern United States. Consult your doctor before using dried jujube or any herbal remedy.

Chinese Date

So why are jujubes (Chinese red dates) good for women?  The main biologically active components of jujubes are vitamin C, phenolics, flavonoids, triterpenic acids, and polysaccharides.  It also contains 18 out of the 24 important amino acids which helps in the formation of more than 50,000 proteins of the body.  Jujubes are also rich in carotene, B vitamins, flavonoids, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, cyclic adenosine monophosphate, and other nutrients.

  • Jujubes contain 70 to 80 times more vitamin C than in apples and grapes and 20 times more vitamin C than any citrus fruit.  Vitamin C is the nutrient responsible for creating and maintaining collagen.  This antioxidant strengthens blood vessels and gives skin its elasticity and strength.
  • The powerful antioxidants and organic compounds found in jujube is why this fruit has been labeled as the herbal elixir of life as people claimed it guarantees youthful looking skin.
  • The calcium, phosphorus and iron play an important role in preventing osteoporosis and anemia, both common in women.
  • Jujube is rich in cyclic adenosine monophosphate, one  of essential substances in the body’s energy metabolism. It enhances muscle strength, eliminates fatigue, dilates blood vessels, and prevents and treats of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Polysaccharides in jujubes can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar and increase calcium absorption.  Polysaccharides also supports positive mood, stops the effects of fatigue and acts as an anti-inflammatory by supporting the body’s anti-inflammatory processes.

Anti-Cancer Properties

A team of Iranian researchers at the Vaccine and Serum Research Institute in Mashhad conducted in vitro tests to evaluate the ability of dried jujube extract to inhibit growth or induce cell death in a variety of human tumor cell lines. Scientists used the MTT colorimetric assay to measure the degree to which water extract of dried jujube reduced the proliferation of tumor cells. Although the jujube extract inhibited tumor cell proliferation in all lines, it displayed the greatest effect against Jurkat leukemia cells. In a report in the February 2008 issue of “Cytotechnology,” researchers said their findings confirm dried jujube’s cytotoxic properties against a variety of cancer cell lines and urged further study to identify the mechanisms through which jujube works.

Anti-Inflammatory

Diabetics can benefit from jujube fruit when it is used as a medicinal rub for cuts and sores. Many diabetics suffer from poor circulation and neuropathy, which causes nerve damage, especially in the legs and feet.  A study published by the “Journal of Natural Medicines” and conducted at the I.S.F. College of Pharmacy found that jujube fruit can be a therapeutic anti-inflammatory agent. Using jujube fruit as a medicinal rub for cuts may help heal the wound because of its anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Popular jujubes related Chinese herbal formulas

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that it is sweet and warm in properties. It covers two meridians, including spleen and stomach. Its basic functions are to tonify middle-Jiao and Qi and nourish blood for tranquillization. Main jujube fruit uses and indications are diarrhea due to insufficiency of the spleen, palpitations, insomnia, night sweats, anemia and so on.  Dried jujube also reinforces energy, nourishes the blood, soothes the nerves and neutralizes toxic side effects of some medicine.

Try buying organic jujubes or those without sulfur. Buy them from a trusted seller and ask if sulfur is used.

Before consuming jujubes, consult a medical professional if you are suffering or are at risk of diabetes as the fruit contains fructose which can have a negative effect on blood sugar levels.

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Effects of Lack Of Sleep

Numerous studies have shown the importance of sleep and the effect sleep deprivation can have on our brains. It is well-known that poor sleep patterns can contribute to such brain disorders as Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Lack of sleep can lead to memory loss and the size of the brain would shrink.  A lack of sleep can lead to all kinds of problems. For those of us who are severely sleep deprived, we would have suffered the consequences of it,  ranging from irritability to a weakened immune system, weight gain, diabetes, lack of concentration and coordination, poor memory, heart diseases, just to name a few.
Sleeping Woman

Having a good night’s sleep allows the body time for replenishment, repair and rejuvenation. It nourishes skin cells and gives the body the chance to eliminate toxins.  Not having enough sleep can lead to a build up of toxins which in turn can be a contributory factor in the growth of fibroids.   This explains why the fibroid in my uterus is growing in size as I am severely sleep deprived!

Sleep will also help to alleviate stress and allows the muscles to relax. Stress is a secondary cause of fibroids, so steps should be taken to control stressful situations wherever possible. Another problem with having insufficient sleep is that the hormones in the body will go out of balance and hormonal imbalances are another factor in fibroid growth.

Therefore, lack of sleep can cause at least 3 potential problems as far as fibroids are concerned:-

1. Toxic overload
2. Stress
3. Hormonal imbalances

How much sleep do we need?

Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly – but some need more and some less. What matters is that you find out how much sleep you need and then try to achieve it.

As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to have a nap, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough sleep

Why Is Sleep Important?
1. Sleep boosts immunity

2. Sleep can help you keep your weight in check

3. Sleep boosts mental wellbeing

4. Sleep prevents diabetes

5. Sleep increases sex drive

6. Sleep wards off heart disease

7. Sleep increases fertility

How to catch up on lost sleep

If you don’t get enough sleep, there’s only one way to compensate – getting more hours of shut eye. 

It won’t happen with a single early night. If you’ve had months of restricted sleep, you’ll have built up a significant sleep debt, so expect recovery to take several weeks to months.

Starting on a weekend, try to add on an extra hour or two of sleep a night. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired and sleepy, and allow your body to wake you in the morning naturally (no alarm clocks allowed!).

Expect to sleep for upwards of 10 hours a night at first. After a while, the amount of time you sleep will gradually decrease to a normal level.

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Ginger Health Benefits

Ginger is among the healthiest and most aromatic spices on the planet. But you either like the taste or hate it.  As a child, I never liked ginger.  During confinement after the birth of my three babies, I started to develop a liking to ginger because whether I liked it or not, I had to eat loads of ginger (every meal was cooked with ginger!), drink ginger tonic and even bathe in hot ginger water! Ginger is a very important ingredient used in confinement food. It keeps the body warm and expels gas.

Ginger is actually part of the plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom, which may explain why the health benefits of ginger are so extraordinary.

The Chinese and Indians have used ginger tonics to treat ailments for over 4,700 years, and it was a priceless commodity during the Roman Empire trade around the coming of Christ because of its medicinal properties.

Why is ginger so beneficial for our health?  In one word: Gingerol.

Of the 115 different chemical components found in ginger root, the therapeutic benefits come from gingerols, the oily resin from the root that acts as a highly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. These bioactive ingredients, especially gingerol, have been thoroughly evaluated clinically, and the research backs up why you should use ginger on a regular basis.

It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.

Health benefits of ginger:

Relieve nausea
Drinking a cup of ginger tea before travelling can help prevent the nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness. You can also drink a cuppa at the first sign of nausea to relieve the symptom.

Improve stomach performance
Useful in improving digestion and increasing absorption of food, ginger tea can bloating after eating too much.

Reduce inflammation
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that make it an ideal home remedy for muscle and joint problems. In addition to drinking ginger tea, you can also use it to soak inflamed joints.

Fight respiratory problems
Ginger tea can help relieve congestion associated with the common cold. Try a cup of ginger tea for the respiratory symptoms associated with environmental allergies.

Improve blood circulation
The vitamins, minerals and amino acids in ginger tea can help restore and improve blood circulation that may help decrease the chance of cardiovascular problems. Ginger may prevent fat from depositing in the arteries helping to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Relieve menstrual discomfort
This one is for all women suffering from menstrual cramps. Try soaking a towel in warm ginger tea and apply it to your lower abdomen. It may help relieve the pain and relax the muscles. At the same time, drink a cup of ginger tea with honey.

Below – Pure Bentong ginger powder and organic ginger brown sugar that I have recently started to add to my diet.  I add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder with 1/2 cube of ginger brown sugar to 300 ml of warm water and drink it on most days. If I have painful periods, I drink this concoction twice a day. It provides relief from the cramps that I get.

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Strengthen immunity
Ginger tea can help strengthen your immunity due to the high levels of antioxidants in ginger.

Relieve stress
Ginger tea has calming properties that may help lower your stress and tension. This is thought to be due to a combination of the strong aroma and healing properties.

 

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Benefits of Putting Your Home up for Rent

Are you looking for a way to make some extra money? You might not have enough time to get a second job. Fortunately, there is another way you can make some extra money and it will not require as much time and effort as a second job. You can rent out part of your home to travelers. This has become a very popular practice over the last decade because of the creation of many websites that connect travelers with people who want to rent their homes. Here are a few of the reasons that you might want to consider doing this.

1. You will be able to earn money for not doing much work at all.

The only work that you might have to do for the people renting a room in your home is to do their laundry or make breakfast for them. Obviously, you can charge the people extra for these services. Otherwise, you will be able to go about your daily routine just as you were doing before. This is certainly a great way to make some money on the side without adding a lot of stress to your life.

Rented Single-Family Homes on The Rise

2. You will be able to meet a wide variety of interesting people from around the world.

Travelers from many countries are always looking for privately owned houses for rent. This is because renting a room in a private house is always much cheaper than staying in a regular hotel. People who want to travel on a very small budget will usually seek out the cheapest accommodations they can find. Renting a room in a house can save people a considerable amount of cash while they are traveling. There is a chance that you will meet some people that you will want to stay in contact with after they go back home from their trip.

3. You will be helping people save money while they travel.

Opening up your home to travelers will obviously be putting some money in your own pocket. However, you will also be allowing many people to realize their dream of seeing the world without going broke in the process. This is a good deed that should make you very proud. Many people would not be able to afford to travel without homeowners renting rooms to them for a fraction of what a hotel would charge them.

4. You can expose yourself to new cultures.

You might be a person who is interested in learning more about the different cultures from around the world. Renting out a room in your home to foreign travelers will enable you to do this without the time and expense of going to a different country.

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Sleep Paralysis

I have never heard of the medical term sleep paralysis though I have had episodes of it on and off. Each time it happened, I thought I was possessed by a spirit or some supernatural creature. I have been experiencing sleep paralysis since I was a teenager.

When I was on a holiday in Beijing with my parents circa 1997, we stayed in a hotel where all the rooms had 2 floors.  My parents occupied the ground floor and I took the floor upstairs and slept alone. And it happened. Just before dawn, I felt someone tugging  my legs. I felt paralyzed and could not wake up nor open my eyes though I was aware of the present surroundings. I was overcome with tremendous fear and tried to break free from the ‘spirit / ghost’. That must be the feeling of being in hell I thought. I prayed  fervently and tried to shout but nothing came out of my mouth.   After a long struggle with the ‘evil demons’, I finally won and woke up. Thankfully we only stayed in that hotel for a night before we traveled to Chengde the next day. I was so convinced that the hotel was haunted and an evil spirit had ‘stepped into my body’ like what the Chinese call it.  The feeling I had each time I woke up from being ‘possessed’ was one of extreme lethargy, as if I had fought hard to win the battle against the evil.

I only found out that what I had been going through is a phenomenon called sleep paralysis. I had read about Kate Beckinsale’s sleep paralysis terror recently from the newspapers.

And it probably explains whatever is going on in this very famous Renaissance painting.

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which an individual, either during falling asleep or awakening, briefly experiences an inability to move, speak, or react. It is a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. It is often accompanied by terrifying hallucinations to which one is unable to react due to paralysis, and physical experiences (such as strong current running through the upper body). These hallucinations often involve a person or supernatural creature suffocating or terrifying the individual, accompanied by a feeling of pressure on one’s chest and difficulty breathing. Another common hallucination type involves intruders (human or supernatural) entering one’s room or lurking outside one’s window, accompanied by a feeling of dread.

Symptoms of sleep paralysis

The main symptom of sleep paralysis is being completely aware of your surroundings but temporarily being unable to move or talk.

This usually occurs as you’re waking up, but can happen when falling asleep.

During an episode of sleep paralysis you may:

  • find it difficult to take deep breaths, as if your chest is being crushed or restricted
  • be able to move your eyes – some people can also open their eyes but others find they can’t
  • have a sensation that there’s someone or something in the room with you (hallucination) – many people feel this presence wishes to harm them
  • feel very frightened

The length of an episode can vary from a few seconds to several minutes.

You’ll be able to move and speak as normal afterwards, although you may feel unsettled and anxious about going to sleep again.

Causes of sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis happens when parts of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep occur while you’re awake.

REM is a stage of sleep when the brain is very active and dreams often occur. The body is unable to move, apart from the eyes and muscles used in breathing, possibly to stop you acting out your dreams and hurting yourself.

It’s not clear why REM sleep can sometimes occur while you’re awake, but it has been associated with:

  • not getting enough sleep (sleep deprivation or insomnia)
  • irregular sleeping patterns – for example, because of shift work or jet lag
  • narcolepsy – a long-term condition that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times
  • a family history of sleep paralysis
  • sleeping on your back

In many cases, sleep paralysis is a one-off or very occasional event that occurs in someone who is otherwise healthy.

Treatments for sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis often gets better over time, but improving your sleeping habits and sleeping environment may help.

It can help to:

  • get a good night’s sleep – most adults need six to eight hours of good quality sleep a night
  • go to bed at roughly the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning
  • create a sleeping environment that’s comfortable, quiet, dark and not too hot or cold
  • avoid eating big meals, smoking, or drinking alcohol or caffeine shortly before going to bed
  • get regular exercise (but not within four hours of going to bed)

 

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The Benefits Of Sleeping On Your Left Side

We have been told that the best position to sleep during pregnancy is on your sides. Even better is to sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.

For me, it has now become my habit to sleep on my left since 14 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child.  I do sleep on my back too occasionally but that will cause my back to hurt if I remain in this position for more than 8 hours straight.

Folks, if you suffer from constipation and digestion issues, you can try to change the position you sleep to the left side.  Sleeping on your left may be able to help alleviate the symptoms.

Body Pillow for Sleeping on Side

Health Benefits Of Sleeping On Your Left

1. Boosts Digestion
The way your intestines travel across your stomach, food waste will be processed faster if you sleep on your left side. In that position, food will travel more swiftly from your small intestine to your large intestine, then into the descending colon.  Lying on your left side improves digestion by putting less strain on your liver. This, in turn, stimulates bile flow and increases nutrients absorption.

It is even recommended to take 10-minute rests lying on your left side after eating to help your meal to be better digested and to recover from the dreaded “food coma” quicker.

2. Spine and breathing
Sleeping on your side is the least naturally harmful for the spine. Sleeping on your back puts too much pressure on the upper back and hips, and leaves your lower back in a suspended state that is harmful in the long run. Likewise, sleeping on your stomach strains both your lower back and your neck.  Sleeping on your side is the best at providing optimal air flow to the lungs.

3. Lymph draining

The majority of the lymphatic system is present on the left side of your body and when lymphatic congestion occurs, it is frequently on the left-hand side. So when you sleep on your left side, you’re allowing gravity to take some of the pressure of lymph drainage away from your heart and your spleen, both of which are also located on the left side of your body.

4. Prevents Snoring
You can also try sleeping on your left side to relieve sleep apnea and snoring. This position opens airways by keeping your tongue and throat muscles in a neutral position.

In contrast, sleeping on your back pushes these muscles towards the back of your throat and causes distinct snoring noises and you struggle to breathe.

5. Improves Brain Health
Researchers have also discovered that sleeping on your left side helps your brain filter out waste and can even help prevent certain health conditions, like Alzheimer’s.

6. Improves Blood Circulation
This position improves blood circulation throughout the night. In fact, sleeping on your side takes pressure off your vena cava (largest vein in the body), which is located on the right side of your body and supplies blood to the right side of your heart.

Pregnant women are often advised to sleep on their left side as it significantly improves blood flow to the heart, fetus, uterus, and kidneys.

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