Every year there are 136 million pounds of pesticides used on North American gardens and lawns. Surprisingly, homeowners are reported to use about three times the amount of pesticides as farmers. In fact, the majority of wildlife poisoning and water contamination is not from farms or other large organizations — it’s from single-family homes.
Being in my late 20s, it is hard to imagine going through something as frightening and traumatic as a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, I already know two girls my age who developed breast cancer — one is no longer with us. The uncertainty of cancer is unnerving, which has so many of us wonder how to actively prevent the ugly “c-word” from forming. Considering around one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, prevention is more important than ever.
This year alone, more than 266,100 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States. If you are scared that you will one day be included in these stats, know that there are ways to actively reduce your risk.
What causes breast cancer?
Like so many aspects of human health, researchers are still not exactly sure why one woman develops breast cancer while another woman doesn’t. Although those diagnosed will most likely never be able to pinpoint an exact cause, one thing is certain — DNA damage is the culprit.
Once the DNA in a healthy cell becomes damaged, that cell can then mutate. Being a complex disease, there are both non-modifiable risk factors and modifiable risk factors.
- Non-modifiable: These factors are based on your genetics. There are two known genes that help protect us against breast and ovarian cancer, including BRCA1 and BRCA2. When these genes undergo a harmful mutation, damaged DNA does not repair as it should. These mutations can be inherited, increasing a woman’s average risk.
- Modifiable: These are based on environmental and lifestyle factors. For example, your diet, level of physical activity, exposure to chemicals, and the amount of alcohol you drink may all play a role. That is why you should actively address the variables you can change while being mindful of those you cannot.
These six ingredients have been shown to combat breast cancer cells
For centuries, plants and herbs have been used to combat a wide range of ailments, including cancer. Today, we’re aware that certain foods offer anti-tumor and immune-stimulating properties. This has led to a movement where the public is interested in possible herbal remedies over synthetic medicines.
The following six ingredients have been shown to actively protect against cancer, specifically breast cancer.
Ah, my favorite. I am known to eat raw garlic on the regular. This potent bulb has long been used to combat illness based on its complex metabolite profile. One key compound known as ajoene is believed to delay cancer production. There are also a number of compounds that yield antioxidant effects.
The available research has shown that garlic increases the number of suppressor T cells, converting lymphocytes into a form that is toxic to cancerous cells. Not only has garlic been shown to useful against breast cancer, but also colon, bladder, lung, and stomach cancer.
This aromatic plant is known to be an immune stimulant. When I used to get sick, my mom gave me an Echinacea tea — something that I still drink to this day. While studying mice, it has also been found that one of the three Echinacea species (Echinacea purpurea) may act as a potential anti-cancer therapy by increasing the number of natural killer cells.
This vibrant powder is no stranger to the health community. The active ingredient in this herb is curcumin, which is known to yield anticancer activity. Researchers have reported that the propagation of skin, stomach, breast, and lung cancer may be limited by turmeric.
Burdock root has therapeutic uses, offering potent herbal remedies. In the past, it was often used to help treat conditions such as measles and arthritis. However, it is now being explored based on its antitumor properties. When treating a breast tumor, ovary, bladder, and pancreatic cells, burdock may lessen the associated pain and tumor size.
Mainly grown in Japan, China, Russia, and Korea, the root of the ginseng plant is dried and then used for many therapeutic purposes, including cancer treatment. Ginseng has been shown to restart natural killer cells which are impaired during chemotherapy while enhancing the effect of macrophages and antibodies. Ginseng extract and its dried powder are believed to be the most beneficial.
6. Green tea
Offering the body polyphenolic compounds, green tea is high in EGCG. This polyphenol helps protect against DNA damage based on its antioxidant activity. In one review, it was stated that both in vivo (taking place in a living organism) and in vitro (taking place in a test tube or culture dish) studies have shown green tea’s anti-cancer effects.
The key to preventing breast or any other form of cancer is to practice a clean, active lifestyle. Although there are variables that are not within your control, there are ways to potentially intervene. That is why you should always change what you can and better manage what you can’t.
Actively care for your body today, and it will take care of you tomorrow (and beyond).
-The Backyard Vitality Team
Apple cider vinegar is an ancient remedy made from fermented apple juice that has been used for thousands of years to alleviate many conditions and ailments. You’ve probably heard of apple cider vinegar for things like cleaning, soothing a sore throat, and lowering blood sugar, but did you know that it may help relieve an ear infection as well? Read on for our favorite ways to use ACV for ear infections and a few other helpful hints.
Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses developing in the outer or middle ear. Though they are more common in children, adults can experience ear infections as well. Regardless of whether you or your child is suffering from an ear infection, it is vital to take action and help the body eliminate the virus. Here are a few signs you may have an ear infection:
- Inflammation and swelling
- Pain and tenderness
- Hearing changes
Before you put anything in your ear or in your child’s ear, you need to understand precisely what it is and make sure that it’s safe. Apple cider vinegar is a viable at-home natural remedy that, when used properly, could help alleviate pain and loosen blockages. Plus, ACV contains acetic acid, an antibacterial compound that can help kill fungi, bacteria, and viruses inside the ear.
Keep in mind, if you suspect you have a middle ear infection, it is best to see a doctor and avoid self-treatment. Apple cider vinegar should only be used for outer ear infections, also known as swimmers’ ear.
How to use:
- In a small dish, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part rubbing alcohol. Be sure to use ACV with “the mother”
- Use a clean syringe or dropper to place about 5-10 drops in your ear and cover the ear with a clean cloth.
- Lay on your side to allow the drops to sit in the affected ear for about 1 minute and then transfer to the other side with the cloth under your ear so that the drops can come out.
- Repeat as often as needed to alleviate a mild earache or outer ear infection.
This remedy is best for those who are experiencing a repeat infection as they will usually be able to recognize the symptoms and treat it quickly. If it is a first-time infection, it could have progressed too far and may need to be treated with antibiotics.
If you have a sore throat or a cold or flu along with an ear infection, try gargling with a mixture of equal parts ACV and warm water for about 30 seconds. This may help soothe your throat and could indirectly ease ear infection symptoms. Always brush your teeth after rinsing with ACV.
Discontinue any at-home remedies and see a doctor immediately if symptoms do not cease within three days. See a doctor if ear discharge, fever, or loss of balance occurs along with an earache.
Other benefits of ACV
Help you feel full
Drink ACV diluted with water to help staunch your appetite and reduce your cravings for unhealthy foods. This could also be beneficial in aiding weight loss efforts since you won’t be tempted to eat as much.
Deodorize stinky things
Mix ACV and water in a spray bottle and use it on smelly areas in the home to help deodorize and freshen. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for an even better odor-busting power. Try a foot soak with ACV, water, and Epsom salts to rid your feet of odor-causing bacteria.
To avoid burning your face, never use undiluted ACV on your skin. Instead, mix 2 or 3 parts water with one part ACV and apply to the face with a clean cotton pad to help clean pores and even skin tone. Use after cleansing face. This is particularly helpful for oily or combination skin. Follow with a moisturizer.
Use a 1 to 1 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water every few weeks to cleanse hair and gently strip away product buildup. Use on wet hair and continue with normal shampoo and conditioner routine.
Fruit and veggie wash
Rinsing fruits and vegetables with ACV could help remove certain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and E. Coli. It may also be more effective in eliminating harmful pesticides and herbicides compared with plain water.
-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener
You may have heard that poop is good for your garden. If you want to grow big healthy plants and beautiful produce, you need poop! However, all poop is not the same – some types may actually undo all the hard work you’ve put into cultivating your garden. Before you go putting poop on your garden beds, make sure you know the difference between good poop and bad poop.
If you’re male and you haven’t done this already, get to know your testes. All men should know how their testicles feel and report any changes to their physician. If you’re experiencing testicular atrophy (shrinking testicles) you’re probably a little frightened and wondering what the heck is happening. Let’s delve into possible reasons and solutions for shrinking testicles.
Get more sleep
Most understand the importance of a good night’s rest for overall health. But if your testicles are shrinking, it could be due to a lack of sleep. A study from the University of Southern Denmark found a link between the quality of sleep and testicle size. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study that included 953 young Danish men from the general population. Researchers studied sleep schedules, interruptions in sleep, and sleep habits. The men’s testicles were also measured. Researchers also took sperm and assessed for sperm count and viability.
It turns out that sleep-deprived men actually have lower testosterone levels. They also have reduced sperm counts — not to mention, testicle shrinkage. In those men who suffered from insomnia, staying up late, or had inconsistent sleep throughout the night and woke up often, researchers found that sperm counts dropped by 29 percent. Additionally, sperm was more deformed and testicles were smaller.
Cool it on the booze
If you are a lover of beer, wine, or liquor and you’re noticing shrinkage “down under,” listen up! An animal and human study published in ScienceDirect found that chronic alcohol consumption caused changes to Leydig cell shape and function. These cells are located adjacent to the testicular seminiferous tubules (where sperm cells are produced). Alcohol causes the tubules to shrink. Additionally, the processes involving the way alcohol alters testicular energy metabolism and sperm cell mitochondria leads to cell death. Together, these processes eventually lead to testicular shrinkage in both animals and humans.
However, the study was primarily created to see if testicles could “bounce back” to their original size through alcohol abstinence. And the good news is, if you stop drinking, or even reduce your chronic intake of alcohol, your testicles will likely regain their full size.
Aluminum can be found widely throughout our daily lives. In fact, it’s the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust. Aluminum is used to make food and beverage cans, pots and pans, airplanes, siding and roofing, foil, and a variety of consumer products such as:
- Antacids and buffered aspirins
- Astringents and cosmetics
- Flour and baking powder
- Coloring agents and anti-caking agents
Aluminum compounds can also be found in water treatment, pharmaceuticals, utensils, and food additives. So, this makes it difficult to avoid exposure. The problem is, overexposure to aluminum may contribute to a low sperm count and infertility in men, with a side effect of smaller testicles. A study published in the International Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology reviewed the toxic effect of aluminum exposure on the male reproductive system.
Researchers found a link between exposure and adverse effects on sperm motility, viability, and count, histology of testis and epididymis (duct behind the testis) as well as reproductive hormone levels. Exposure may also lead to oxidative stress in the testicles, causing cells to die and the testicles to shrink.
Limit your exposure to aluminum by choosing aluminum-free deodorants, personal care products, antacids, and buffered aspirin. In fact, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry antacids contain 300 to 600 milligrams of aluminum hydroxide (about 104 to 208 milligrams of aluminum) per tablet. And buffered aspirin may contain 10 to 20 milligrams of aluminum per tablet.
Protect your testicles
Just the mention of getting kicked in the gonads can cause a man to wince. That’s because testicles have the most pain receptors concentrated in any one area of a man’s body, with nerves extending to the ears, stomach, and groin. Because the testes are located within the scrotum, which hangs outside of the body, they’re not protected by muscles and bones, says the Cleveland Clinic. That means it’s easier for testes to be struck, hit, kicked, or crushed, which happens most often during contact sports.
In a study by the Department of Radiology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the University of Cambridge, researchers found that trauma to the scrotum is not only a cause of testicular atrophy but may also affect testicular size months or years following an injury. Researchers performed clinical and sonographic examinations in 10 patients who had suffered blunt trauma to the testicles. A significant reduction in the volume of the injured testis was found in five out of 10 cases.
So, while most men don’t experience such trauma daily, athletes should make sure they are well-protected by wearing athletic cups during sports and even skateboarding.
Stop smoking weed
Although studies on weed and its effect on reproductive hormones have been conflicting, some studies suggest that chronic marijuana use may lead to lower testosterone levels and a reduction in testicular size. Apparently, shrinking testicles have been observed in rodents and dogs after being administered cannabis extract. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, THC (the main active compound in marijuana) is apparently to blame. But, the research is relatively outdated.
Nevertheless, although outdated, the study suggests that smoking weed lowers testosterone levels, either directly or through precursor hormones. Or, it causes testicular atrophy in animals. So, if you’ve noticed a difference in testicular size and you’re a chronic smoker, it’s best to try and stop.
Cool it on the soy
The benefits and dangers of soy may be up for debate. But one of the more disturbing claims is that soy “feminizes” men. While soy milk provides many potential health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and protection from prostate cancer, some research suggests it may have negative side effects for men when consumed frequently. In fact, soy is even thought to shrink testicles and lower testosterone levels.
Soybeans are rich in phytoestrogens. The chemical structure of phytoestrogens is very similar to that of the human sex hormone estrogen. This similarity allows phytoestrogens to sometimes mimic or hinder the hormone with estrogen receptors.
A study from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey set out to determine if a commonly used soy protein supplement exhibits biological activity. Researchers studied healthy male volunteers, aged 18 years or older that were in good health. They consumed two scoops of pure soy protein powder daily for 28 days. It turns out soy protein powder actually decreased testosterone levels, thanks to the estrogen. This same estrogen may also cause testicular shrinkage. The good news is, when study participants discontinued the soy protein powder, testosterone levels increased within two weeks.
Stop using steroids
Testicular atrophy, or shrinking balls, are most commonly associated with steroid use. Anabolic steroids are synthetic types of the male sex hormone testosterone. Some common names for anabolic steroids are gear, juice, roids and stackers. A medical professional may prescribe steroids to treat hormonal issues, such as delayed puberty. They can also treat diseases that cause muscle loss, such as cancer and AIDS, suggests the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIH).
The problem begins when some athletes and bodybuilders abuse steroids to boost their performance or improve their physical appearance. With that may come more than you bargained for. According to the NIH, steroid use may also:
- Decrease sperm count
- Contribute to baldness
- Encourage the development of breasts
- Increase your risk for prostate cancer
- And, you guessed it, shrink your testicles
When the brain senses that there are high levels of testosterone in the blood, it assumes the testosterone is coming from the testicle. So, the brain then shuts off the production of FSH, a hormone that stimulates the production of testosterone in the testicle. As a result, the testicles begin to shrink.
When to visit your doctor
More than likely there is a simple reason behind your shrinking testicles. However, if shrinkage is accompanied by pain or diminished libido, visit your doctor. You may also want your doctor to test your testosterone to estrogen levels. Take charge of your health. Shrinking testicles may seem scary and embarrassing. But, being proactive will help prevent any long-term complications.
-The Backyard Vitality Team
It’s summer, your garden is blooming, and you are anxious to host weekend outdoor parties and show off your beautiful patio and yard, but… you live in an area where mosquitoes are like vicious sharks, seemingly waiting in the air to attack. Perhaps you have tried those noisy bug zappers that annoyingly let you know every time they annihilate a flying pest (some of which are not bad pests, either). Between the annoyance and guilt, it may be time to try something more natural to keep the unwanted guests from crashing your party. Here are a few great options.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases like stroke, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are the main causes of disability and death in the United States. However, unbeknownst to most, a large percentage of chronic diseases can actually be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. The key is to keep all organs – such as your liver and colon happy and supported so that they can do their job keeping you healthy.
How to prevent chronic diseases
Most chronic diseases are associated with unhealthy lifestyles and dietary choices. These include poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking tobacco, chronic stress, and a sedentary lifestyle. These are the major contributors to the development and progression of many preventable chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and many types of cancer.
Fortunately, they are within your own hands to change. By being more physically active, following a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, you could reduce your risk of developing many of these chronic conditions and diseases.
Even if you already suffer from arthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or any other chronic condition, eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods and getting regular exercise — whether walking, jogging, or swimming — will help you effectively manage your illness. You’ll also be able to prevent complications and prolong your life at the same time.
Why don’t more patients choose a healthy lifestyle?
Although doctors suggest healthy behavior to help manage or prevent chronic diseases, most patients simply aren’t prepared to start or maintain these healthy changes. Many patients understand the principles behind a healthy lifestyle, but don’t know how to get the help they need. If this is you, consider interventions such as exercise training, nutritional counseling, and stress reduction techniques, like yoga, meditation, tai chi, or spending time in nature.
In addition, consuming raw, organic vegetables can provide numerous health benefits, whether you have a chronic disease or not. However, if you consume more fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet, you are less likely to have chronic diseases. This is because raw, organic veggies and fruits provide essential nutrients for overall health and maintenance of your body.
Getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet doesn’t have to hard, either! This recipe will boost your energy, detoxify your liver and colon, improve your digestive health and enhance your vision.
For this recipe, please use raw, organic ingredients for maximum benefits.
- 4 oranges
- 2 carrots
- 1 beet
- Add the ingredients to a juicer.
- Serve fresh in a tall glass. Enjoy!
Supporting great liver health couldn’t be easier – love your liver and other major organs by feeding them what they crave!!
–Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener
When an envelope of chaos surrounds your life, it is important to know that your garden can be a place of refreshment, renewal, and hope. It can be a safe place where you can be still and become one with the natural world around you. This is a good thing. We often trip on our thoughts, on fear, and on the what if’s. In the garden, you can be still, content, and soak in the beauty that surrounds you. When you become a mindful gardener, you have arrived at a place that allows you to escape the chaos of the world and just be.
If you aren’t already obsessed with avocadoes, you are in the minority. This precious fruit is full of healthy fat, fiber, potassium, and so much more. How could you not love it? But what can you do with that leftover pit once you’ve enjoyed your green treat? Read on to find out.
Now more than ever, growing your own organic, kitchen garden is essential. With stay-at-home orders still in effect, and grocery store shelves still rather barren, there’s no time like the present to embrace gardening and increase your sustainability to help provide fresh, safe products for you can your family. No matter how much or how little space you have, anyone with a patch of sunlight can grow a bountiful kitchen garden. Here’s how.