Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wonders of Coconut Oil...

What's This?

by Nick Garcia, HN.

Coconut oil is one of the only foods you could legitimately call a “superfood.” Coconut oil is also of the most controversial foods on the market right now.

There are 3 types of people you meet when you mention coconut oil:

1.) The person who will NEVER touch it because it contains saturated fat and they have been lied to believe that this fat causes heart disease (they are wrong)

2.) The person who sees the benefits, but is scared to eat because it’s too high in calories and they have been led to believe that all calories are created equal (they are wrong)

3.) The person who literally uses it for EVERYTHING (they are right)
In this article I will prove to you why you should eat at least 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil every day to lose weight, boost your health, and feel amazing.

Reason to Eat Coconut Oil # 1: Coconut Oil Will Help You Lose Weight

Even though 1 Tbsp. of Coconut oil contains 120 calories, these 120 calories don’t act the same in the body as say, 120 calories of canola oil.
The different types of foods we eat can have a huge effect on our hormones and metabolic health.

Coconut oil is more thermogenic, compared to other foods and fats. This means eating it tends to increase energy expenditure. In other words, eat more coconut oil to burn more calories.
In order to lose weight 2 things need to happen:

First, you need to be in a calorie deficit, which doesn’t necessarily mean you need to eat fewer calories and exercise more. It means you need to eat foods that boost your metabolism, not suppress it, so you can nourish your body AND set the stage to free the trapped fat to be burned by your muscles.

The second thing that needs to happen to effortlessly lose weight is hormonal balance. This means maintaining healthy organs, specifically your liver and thyroid.

Coconut oil not only helps your body burn MORE calories than it takes in (assuming you’re eating high quality foods), but it protects your liver, so your thyroid can function at a higher level.
Eat coconut oil….lose weight.

Reason to Eat Coconut Oil # 2: PRO-Health, because it’s ANTI-Everything

You’ve probably read about anti-inflammatory foods and how they help reduce free radical production in the body, which keeps your cells healthy by preventing or slowing oxidative stress/damage.

Well coconut oil, not only tops the list of anti-inflammatory foods, but check out its other healing superpowers:
  • Anti-bacterial—stops bacteria that cause gum disease, throat infections, urinary tract infections and ulcers in their tracks.
  • Anti-carcinogenic—keeps dangerous cancer cells from spreading while boosting immunity.
  • Anti-fungal—destroys infection-promoting fungus and yeast.
  • Anti-inflammatory—suppresses inflammation and repairs tissue.
  • Anti-microbial—inactivates harmful microbes and fights infection.
  • Anti-oxidant—protects from free radical damage.
  • Anti-retroviral/parasitic/protozoa/viral, rids the body of lice, tapeworms and other parasites, kills protozoan infection in the gut, kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis and more.
Imagine how your health, immunity, and ability to burn fat would increase if you chose to eat just TWO tablespoons of this superfood?

Reason to Eat Coconut Oil # 3: Stabilizes Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels

It may sound strange that coconut oil, a fat, can help control blood sugar and insulin levels, since coconut oil has no direct impact on blood sugar levels.
But the indirect effect is where the magic happens.

Doctors and nutritionists typically recommend that diabetics follow a diet low in fat, low in refined sugar and high in other carbohydrates.

They must have skipped or glanced over the fact that coconut oil helps glucose enter your cell, slowing and reducing insulin levels in the blood.

Or the part about how it’s important to eat balanced meals that contain all food types, and it’s especially important to choose high quality fats like coconut oil.

The healthy fat in coconut oil plays an essential role in regulating blood sugar: it slows the digestive process to ensure a steady, even stream of energy from your food by lowering the overall glycemic index of your meal. When you include coconut oil in a meal with carbohydrates, the carbs are broken down into glucose more slowly, so blood sugar levels remain steady even after you eat.

Coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs), unlike modern vegetable oils like soybean, corn, and canola oils which are made of long-chain fatty acids, mostly PUFAs)

Here’s the KEY takeaway: Oils that consist mainly of long-chain fatty acids may actually decrease cells’ ability to absorb blood sugar, which could cause or exacerbate insulin resistance and diabetes.
Healthy cells use glucose, unhealthy cells don’t.

Reason to Eat Coconut Oil # 4: Coconut Oil Lowers Your Risk of Heart Disease

Populations who eat coconut oil are some of the healthiest on the planet, and it’s no surprise that they have the have the strongest hearts.

A study on Polynesians who consume over 60% of their total calories from coconut were shown to be in superb health with no evidence of heart disease. (Read study here)

Another population, in Papea New Guinea who thrive on coconut oil and other coconut foods show no signs of stroke or heart attacks. (Read study here)

Yet, the US has seen a significant rise in heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol, and more….for the past 60 years. Ironically, around the time saturated fat was named Enemy #1.

Unlike polyunsaturated fatty acid oils, coconut oil does not oxidize when exposed to oxygen, light, or heat, so it doesn’t cause arterial damage as shown by the role of oxidative stress on your arteries (here)
If you have a history of heart disease in your family, switching to coconut oil will have an immediate positive impact on your health and well-being.

Reason to Eat Coconut Oil # 5: Coconut Oil Boosts Thyroid Function

If you head to the Mayoclinic or Webmd  you’ll find NOTHING positive about coconut oil, especially when it comes to its ability to boost thyroid levels and metabolic rate.
But, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been questioning WHY:
  • Why 34% of adults are affected with Metabolic syndrome (source)
  • Why over 20 million of Americans have some form of thyroid disease (source)
  • Why our consumption of polyunsaturated oils has increased since the early 1900s
u_s_pufa_consumption,_1909-2005  This is What Happens to Belly Fat and Blood Sugar When You Eat 2 TBSP of Coconut Oil u s pufa consumption 1909 2005
There are many published studies on the relationship between coconut oil, metabolism and thyroid. Research shows that coconut oil contains unique fatty acids that stimulate metabolism, supply the body with tremendous energy, and promote weight loss.

Most people are unaware that hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease and this is one of the main reasons why conventional pharmaceutical treatments are ineffective. Taking replacement thyroid hormones without addressing the underlying immune imbalance is like trying to change the type of oil in your engine with the hope that your transmission will stop failing…useless.

In order to truly address thyroid problems you need to reduce INFLAMMATION, because inflammation decreases the conversion of T4 to T3. T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone. The body has to convert it to the active T3 form before it can be used.

Coconut oil reduces inflammation and supports a healthy liver ensuring an efficient T4 to T3 conversion.

Reason to Eat Coconut Oil # 6: Coconut Oil Kills Candida Fungus

In a new study, published in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal Sphere, researchers found that coconut oil can fight a bloodstream infection caused by the Candida albicans fungus, according to The Medical Daily.
Symptoms of candida overgrowth are:
  • Skin and nail fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus
  • Feeling tired and worn down, or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD, and brain fog
  • Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  • Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching
  • Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
  • Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
It’s estimated by recent research from Rice University shows that 70 percent of all people are affected by Candida, a systemic fungal infection.
I know, it’s hard to believe you could have a fungus growing throughout your body.
If you have an overgrowth of Candida, it could be the very reason you don’t optimal and you can’t seem to sleep well, lose weight, or reduce your stress.
Coconut oil stops candida in its tracks!

Reason to Eat Coconut Oil # 7: Eating Coconut Oil Daily Will Help You Get a Flat Belly

Given the 6 previous reasons you should eat coconut every day, it’s no surprise that coconut oil can help you burn stubborn belly fat.

Most women don’t achieve the elusive “flat belly” because they just aren’t healthy enough.
That may or may not make any sense to you, but it’s the truth most women don’t want to hear.
They want to know things like:
  • Simply taking 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil every day will MELT fat off of their body.
  • Coconut oil can help burn off visceral fat, the most dangerous fat of all and is highly associated with many Western diseases.
  • Coconut Oil will give them glowing skin, radiant hair, and a clear brain.
If you like hearing things like that, then you’re in luck, because coconut oil CAN and WILL provide you with a flat belly.

A study in 40 women with abdominal obesity, supplementing with coconut oil per day lead to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in a period of 12 weeks (read study here)
I want to be perfectly clear, a flat belly won’t magically appear overnight after your first days, weeks, or maybe even months after starting your daily coconut oil habit.

The things that are most worth it, take time.
It’s a universal truth, when you avoid short cuts and really work for something and really enjoy the process, you will not only receive what you want, but you’ll hold onto it.

Ask yourself the question: “Would I rather have a flat belly in 4 weeks that lasts 1 week OR would I rather have a flat belly that takes 4 months, but lasts forever?”

Your answer will determine your habits.
See you in the coconut oil aisles!
Make sure you read: 

101 Science-Backed, Evidence-Based Uses for Coconut Oil That Will Change Your Life

References/ Weight Management
  • Lipids – 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601. Epub 2009 May 13, Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Assunção ML, Ferreira HS, dos Santos AF, Cabral CR Jr, Florêncio TM. Faculdade de Nutrição, Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Maceió, AL 57072-970, Brazil.
  • Am J Clin Nutr. – 2005 Jan;81(1):7-15. Dietary fats, teas, dairy, and nuts: potential functional foods for weight control? St-Onge MP. Institute of Human Nutrition, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia U, Obesity Research Center, St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY.
References/ Immune Health
  • Pharm Biol. 2010 Feb;48(2):151-7. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Intahphuak S, Khonsung P, Panthong A. McCormick Faculty of Nursing, Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. 
    • Research shows that lauric acid can increase our body’s production of monolaurin, enhancing anti-bacterial protection.

    • Studies also suggest that virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic and properties.
Reference/ Cardiovascular Health
  • Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1146-55. Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB. Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
References/Skin Health
  • Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2010;23(6):290-7. Epub 2010 Jun 3. Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats. Nevin KG, Rajamohan T. Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India.
  • Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15. Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Verallo-Rowell VM, Dillague KM, Syah-Tjundawan BS. Skin and Cancer Foundation, Pasig, Philippines.
  • Dermatitis. 2004 Sept;15(3):109-16. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM. Department of Dermatology, Makati Medical Center, Makati City, Philippines.
Reference/ Hair health
  • J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):175-92. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Rele AS, Mohile RB. Research and Development Department, Nature Care Division, Marico Industries Ltd., Mumbai, India.
References/ Performance Enhancement
  • Nutr Hosp. 2012 Jan-Feb;27(1):103-8. doi: 10.1590/S0212-16112012000100011.  Influence of the dietary intake of medium chain triglycerides on body composition, energy expenditure and satiety: a systematic review.  Rego Costa AC, Rosado EL, Soares-Mota M.  Instituto de Nutrição Josué de Castro, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
  • Eur J Nutr. 2013 Sep;52(6):1579-85. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0463-9. Epub 2012 Nov 20. Combined medium-chain triglyceride and chilli feeding increases diet-induced thermogenesis in normal-weight humans.  Clegg ME, Golsorkhi M, Henry CJ.  Functional Food Centre, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK.
More in depth references here.

This post was written by Nick Garcia, HN. He believes that everyone can achieve a healthy lifestyle and the body of their dreams. That’s why he is dedicated to helping people eat real food, exercise smart, and transform their habits using simple strategies anyone can do.Follow him on Facebook or subscribe to his Youtube channel.

Original article and credits:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

8 ways to boost your home value

8 ways to boost your home value

Consumer Reports 
When Alec and Jennifer Harmes spent $264,900 for their first home in 2011—a 1,500-square-foot ranch fixer-­upper in Austin, Texas—they assumed they would be living there for many years. So the couple, millennials in their early 30s, embarked on a series of home improvements to make it suit their tastes and needs. They refinished the kitchen cabinets, and installed new stainless-steel appliances and LED lighting. New engineered wood floors replaced the mishmash of linoleum tiles and musty, high-maintenance carpeting.
Outside, they removed the asbestos siding and installed durable, no-paint fiber cement. They also used that moment to rewrap the house in rigid insulation, improving its overall energy efficiency. Though the Harmeses saved big by doing most of the work themselves (he works in construction management, she oversaw design), the total investment was close to $65,000. They were even planning to build a separate mother-in-law apartment on the property to help lure family to Austin. But their folks didn’t want to relocate, so they made the tough decision to move back to Florida to be close to them. “If we could have picked up that house and brought it with us, we would have,” Jennifer says.
Lorella Martin of Redfin, an online real estate brokerage, was the Harmeses’ listing agent; she set the asking price at $450,000. The first open house was like a feeding frenzy, attracting many young professionals eager to move into the popular Austin neighborhood, she says. And it wasn’t hard to figure out why. “When a home is move-in ready and buyers know they can be cooking in the kitchen from day one and entertaining in the backyard that very weekend, you know you’ve got a winner,” she says.
The house sold for $472,000.
Granted, some of the roughly $200,000 increase in home value had to do with the Austin market’s 20 percent appreciation in the Harmeses’ 3½ years of stewardship. But it’s also a testament to the couple’s savvy instincts about what today’s buyers are looking for, especially now that millennials, 75 million strong, have become the leading cohort of buyers, purchasing 32 percent of homes in 2014.
So let the following renovation rules, driven by shifts in the current housing market and informed by Consumer Reports’ nationally representative survey of 1,573 millennials, inform your decisions on improving your home and its value.
1: The Kitchen Is Still King
Buyers of all kinds have long focused on the kitchen, but it holds particular sway over the newest wave of first-time homeowners. A “modern/updated kitchen” topped the list of ideal home features in our survey of millennials, registering as most important to more than a third of respondents. If you plan to sell, don’t rip your kitchen down to the studs; a smaller investment can have serious impact. For as little as $5,000, you should be able to add a new suite of appliances, as well as a new countertop and flooring, resulting in a fresh, coordinated look. Applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls or cabinets, and updating the hardware, can also breath new life into the space. (Check our kitchen planning guide for more information.)
Value-Added Buzzwords
Stainless steel. 
Though it has been around for decades, this appliance finish conveys clean, contemporary design, so it will signal “updated” in the mind of the buyer. For the latest spin on stainless, look for new versions of black stainless steel from KitchenAid, LG, and Samsung, each with a softer, less reflective finish but the same cachet as the original.
Quartz countertops. Engineered from stone chips, resins, and pigments, quartz has started to challenge granite and marble as the go-to material in higher-end kitchens. It shrugged off heat, scratches, cuts, and stains in our tests, and it requires none of the upkeep of comparably priced natural stones. Expect to spend $40 to $100 per square foot, installed.
Potential bump in sale price: 3 to 7 percent
2: Make Floor Plans Work Harder
Bigger isn’t necessarily better in today’s market, but strategically increasing the amount of living space is sure to boost home value. An “open floor plan with flexible living space” was second only to an updated kitchen on millennials’ list of most desired features.
Finishing a basement is the most common way to add usable square footage to a home. Most homeowners spend between about $10,000 and roughly $27,000 converting a basement, depending on the size of the space, according to estimates from HomeAdvisor, a website that connects homeowners with prescreened service professionals. Attic conversions are another option. The average attic remodel in 2014 cost $50,000.
Many younger buyers will envision the additional living spaces as a dedicated office, especially if they work from home. And at the other end of the spectrum, “a lot of my boomer clients are daytime caretakers for their grandkids,” says David Pekel, who owns a remodeling company in Wauwatosa, Wis. “They want a playroom that they can close the door to after the kids leave, so they’re not dealing with toys underfoot.”
Value-Added Buzzwords
Flex rooms.
 Also known as double-duty rooms, you’ll see flex rooms advertised as an additional living area that can serve a variety of purposes, from a guest bedroom to a game room to an exercise room to a study room for the kids.
Mother-in-law apartment. These spaces go by many names, including “granny flats,” “casitas,” and the technical sounding “accessory dwelling unit,” or ADU. They can house an additional family member or provide rental income—­allowing baby boomers to afford their house once they retire or helping millennials pay the mortgage. More municipalities, particularly in Western cities, are amending zoning laws to allow for ADUs.
Upstairs laundry rooms. Younger buyers in particular say they want a dedicated laundry room, perhaps off the kitchen or even near second-floor bedrooms. Manufacturers are obliging withwasher/dryer sets with a matching fit and finish that neatly integrate into the living space. We like the Maytag Bravos ­MVWB855DW HE top-loader and Maytag Bravos ­MEDB855DWelectric dryer, $1,050 each.
Potential bump: 4 to 6 percent
3: Don’t Let Your Home Be an Energy Hog
Lowering your home’s energy costs will save you money for as long as you live there and is expected to be a major selling point down the line. Indeed, “energy-­efficient” was second only to “safe community” on the list of attributes that would most influence a purchase decision, according to a 2015 survey by the National Association of Home Builders.
Older homeowners who have felt the sting of escalating energy costs tend to be driving the interest. But there are some early adopters among younger buyers, too, especially in regions of the country with more extreme weather. “My millennial buyers usually ask for two years’ worth of utility payments,” says Joe Rivellino, a real estate professional in the Buffalo, N.Y., area. “They want to know the R-Value on the insulation and whether the windows have low-E coatings,” he says, referring to two important efficiency measures.
And don’t forget about water heating, which accounts for 16 percent of energy costs in the typical home. Spending $1,800 to $2,400 on a new unit is another way to impress efficiency-minded buyers.
Value-Added Buzzwords
High-efficiency windows.
 Energy Star certified windows can lower your home’s energy bills by 7 to 15 percent.
That will be a selling point with buyers, though replacing every window in a home costs anywhere from $8,000 to $24,000, so you probably won’t recoup the entire investment if you plan to sell right away.
LED lights. Some listings emphasize their “green” credentials by mentioning the presence of LED lighting. Choose the Feit Electric 60 Watt Replacement 9.5W LED, a $7 bulb that delivers superb light quality and has a 23-year life expectancy.
Potential bump: 1 to 3 percent
4: Keep It Simple and Stress-Free
Stain-prone stone countertops, grime-­collecting ornate cabinets, and dust-­catching wall-to-wall carpet used to be symbols of luxury, but today’s homebuyers are more likely to equate them with extra work. “We call it stress-free living,” says Miguel Berger, a real estate professional in Albany, N.Y. “The younger generation in particular would much rather spend their time entertaining at home than fussing over it.” It’s safe to assume boomers feel the same.
Beyond a home’s cosmetic finishes, it’s important to keep the major mechanical systems in working order. Many first-time buyers will have used up much of their savings on the down payment, so they want to know that the heating system, plumbing, and electricity have been recently updated. Central air conditioning is also in demand because it eliminates the need to switch window units in and out. ­HomeAdvisor puts the average cost nationwide at just more than $5,000.
Value-Added Buzzwords
Updated systems.
 In addition to including the age of the system, it helps if you can also point to its reliability. For example, Consumer Reports surveys have found American Standard and Trane to be among the least repair-prone manufacturers of gas furnaces.
New roof. This will help assuage fears of water damage, ice dams, squirrel infestation, and other home disasters that can result from an old, shoddy roof. For a typical 2,300-square-foot house, you might be able to put on a new asphalt shingle rooffor as little as $6,000.
Hardwood floors. More carpets are being replaced with long-wearing hardwood flooring with a durable factory finish. Engineered wood flooring, which uses a thin veneer of real wood or bamboo over structural plywood, tends not to wear as well as the solid stuff, though it has the same look and tends to cost less, making it a good choice if you plan to sell soon.
Potential bump: 3 to 5 percent
5: Build a Home for ‘the Ages’
By 2040, there are expected to be almost 80 million seniors accounting for 21 percent of the population. The existing housing stock isn’t equipped to safely accommodate that many older people—too many steep staircases, narrow walker-­unfriendly doorways, and slippery step-in bathtubs and showers. Forward-thinking homeowners are making necessary improvements to their home now—and those changes will benefit people of all ages, not just seniors. According to a 2015 survey by ­HomeAdvisor, 56 percent of homeowners who hired a pro for aging-related projects were younger than 65, and 10 percent were younger than 50.
Value-Added Buzzwords
Walk-in shower. 
“People in the 50-plus age range don’t want to step over the tub to take a shower,” Pekel says. Curbless showers eliminate the threshold between the shower and surrounding bathroom, making them wheelchair accessible, not to mention sleek and streamlined.
Master on main. A floor plan in which the master bedroom is on the first floor reduces the need to climb stairs. “It’s probably the most desired feature among boomers,” says JP Endres, a real estate professional based in Westchester county, north of New York City. Creating a truly functional master-on-main suite usually involves a multiroom renovation, which can cost upward of $35,000.
Comfort-height toilets. These toilets are a few inches taller, which makes getting on and off easier. Most top flushers in our tests are comfort height, including the Glacier Bay N2428E two-piece toilet, which sells at Home Depot for $100.
Potential bump: 1 to 2 percent
6: Paint Is Still a Potent Upgrade
Paint keeps your home looking its best while also defending its surfaces from wear, tear, and the elements. If you’re getting ready to sell, don’t blow thousands having every square inch repainted. Instead, focus on high-traffic areas, including the kitchen and bathrooms. “Your home has to look better on the day of the open house than it’s ever looked before,” says Steve Clark, a real estate professional in Los Angeles. “If the back door is covered in scratch marks from the dog, you have to fix that.” Do the job yourself for about $100 in material costs or pay a professional $1,000 or so, which should cover multiple rooms.
Value-Added Buzzwords
Neutral color scheme.
 Whites and off-whites remain the top-selling interior colors and will appeal to most homebuyers, allowing them to envision the space as their own. Neutrals appeal to all generations of buyers, according to Jule Eller, trend and style director at Lowe’s.
High-quality paints. Home Depot’s Behr Marquee, $43 per gallon, is our top-rated interior paint. For outdoor projects, Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior, $39 per gallon, andClark+Kensington Exterior from Ace Hardware, $35 per gallon, offered the best protection.
Potential bump: 1 to 2 percent
7: Remember the Great Outdoors
Your home’s property is another opportunity to expand its living space. Adding a deck or patio, with room for seating and a built-in or freestanding grill, is a way to create a defined space for outdoor living on a large or small scale.
But remember the rule of low upkeep, especially if your future buyer is likely to be a millennial. “They love outdoor spaces, but whereas prior generations might have gone for the pool, Gen Yers recognize the maintenance costs associated with it,” Berger says. “They’d much rather see an outdoor fire pit surrounded by a simple seating arrangement.” Don’t go for overly lush landscapes, especially in drought-stricken regions with high water costs. (Check our guide to outdoor living.)
Value-Added Buzzwords
Curb appeal.
 Trimming overgrown shrubs and making minor repairs to the façade, including painting the front door, can deliver quick results. Replacing worn-out siding is a major undertaking, costing $12,000 on average, but it can give your home a complete facelift.
Water-smart yard. Replacing a section of turfgrass with native ground covers or pea gravel will reduce the maintenance costs while adding visual interest.
Potential bump: 3 to 5 percent
8: Make Sure Your New Technology Is Smart
High-tech features offer notoriously bad returns on investment because technologies tend to evolve quickly. “One of the biggest losers in recent years is the fully wired audiovisual system,” says Duo Dickinson, an architect based in the New Haven, Conn., area. “They’ve probably lost 80 percent of their value since everything went wireless.”
But certain smart devices add to home value and interest, including programmable thermostats. “I’ll often install a Nest thermostat in a home that doesn’t have one because it creates the impression that this is a high-tech home,” Berger says.
We’re seeing the same benefit with a range of products, such as lights, door locks, and security systems. Those smart features have broad appeal with millennials, “who grew up on smartphones, so they’re used to being able to control things at their fingertips,” Endres says. “And they’ll pay 3 to 5 percent more for a home with the right amenities.”
Value-Added Buzzwords
Programmable thermostat. The Nest is widely recognized, but the Honeywell RTH9590WF, $300, proved easier to use in our tests. Both models can be controlled from a smartphone or computer.
Whole-house generator. Power failures are a reality for more homeowners. Stationary generators can usually power the entire property. A professionally installed unit can range from $7,000 to $15,000, according to Porch, a website connecting consumers with home service pros. The Generac 6241, $3,500, excluding installation, is a top pick.
Potential bump: 3 to 5 percent
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the March 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
More from Consumer Reports:
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How to get a stronger Wi-Fi signal
Best cell phone carriers

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Spike Lee

Spike Lee is a vocal proponent of the Black Lives Matter movement, but believes the black community must “speak out” against black-on-black crime if they wish to see structural changes in policing and community relations.

Echoing comments he made earlier this month on CNN, the director, whose latest film Chi-Raq begins streaming on Amazon December 4, said that the conversation about gun violence in Chicago and the Black Lives Matter movement go “hand in hand.”

“I love what Black Lives Matter is doing, and I was marching in New York City after Ferguson and for Eric Garner,” Lee told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m with that, but I would be less of a person if I’m out there on the streets talking about the cops and private citizens who killed our people and then remain mum about us killing ourselves. For me, that don’t work.”

“It don’t matter what complexion the hand or finger is that’s pulling the trigger that’s killing somebody,” he added. “We’ve got to be vocal on both parts.”

In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Lee said that when it comes to violence,                 “I think morally, you gotta speak out on both sides.”

“I was on the streets of New York, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, so I believe in Black Lives Matter,”    the director said. “I was chanting ‘Don’t shoot,’ I was chanting ‘I can’t breathe.’ But you can’t be silent on the other hand when we’re killing ourselves. It’s not just the cops.”

Lee’s latest film, Chi-Raq — a retelling of the classic Greek comedy Lysistrata — tells the story of the appropriately named Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) as she organizes a “sex strike” with other women in Chicago in order to stop gun violence. On Wednesday night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Lee said that female college students should similarly withhold sex from men to combat campus rape and sexual assault.

In his interview with the Post, Lee fired back at feminist critics who claim that putting the responsibility on women to withhold sex to stop violence is sexist.

“As a feminist, you should want, I think correctly, that you should want for murders to stop,” he told the paper. “As a feminist, you don’t want your daughter, or your son, or any mother to have their children murdered. That’s not part of feminism? I would like to hear the argument from feminists why they should not be asked to do that. In the black community, it’s all hands on deck. It’s all hands on deck. That’s nothing. We get sidetracked into arguments about feminism, or this or that. That’s a distraction.”

Judias, 101 - The Holocaust

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Michael J. Nadel

In Crown Heights, Brooklyn there was a Jew, Yankel, who owned a bakery. He survived the camps. He once said, “You know why it is that I’m alive today? I was a kid, just a teenager at the time. We were on the train, in a boxcar, being taken to Auschwitz. Night came and it was freezing, deathly cold, in that boxcar. The Germans would leave the cars on the side of the tracks overnight, sometimes for days on end without any food, and of course, no blankets to keep us warm,” he said. “Sitting next to me was an older Jew – this beloved elderly Jew - from my hometown I recognized, but I had never seen him like this. He was shivering from head to toe, and looked terrible. So I wrapped my arms around him and began rubbing him, to warm him up. I rubbed his arms, his legs, his face, his neck. I begged him to hang on. All night long; I kept the man warm this way. I was tired, I was freezing cold myself, my fingers were numb, but I didn’t stop rubbing the heat on to this man’s body. Hours and hours went by this way. Finally, night passed, morning came, and the sun began to shine. There was some warmth in the cabin, and then I looked around the car to see some of the other Jews in the car. To my horror, all I could see were frozen bodies, and all I could hear was a deathly silence.
Nobody else in that cabin made it through the night – they died from the frost. Only two people survived: the old man and me… The old man survived because somebody kept him
warm; I survived because I was warming somebody else…”

Let me tell you the secret of Judaism. When you warm other people’s hearts, you remain warm yourself. When you seek to support, encourage and inspire others; then you discover support, encouragement and inspiration in your own life as well. That, my friends, is “Judaism 101”.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Homeopathic drugs modify gene expression in cancer cells

Researchers have discovered that very highly diluted homeopathic drugs can modify gene expression in cervical cancer cells1. Thus, diluted homeopathic drugs could be used in combination with anticancer drugs to treat various cancers.
To probe the effects of homeopathic drugs on gene expressions, the researchers prepared two homeopathic drugs by highly diluting alcohol-based root extracts of two medicinal plants: Hydrastis canadensis and Marsdenia condurango. They then treated cultured cervical cancer cells with the drugs and a placebo drug for two days in a carbon dioxide incubator.
The homeopathic drugs activated a host of genes, triggering apoptosis — a process that kills cancer cells in a controlled way. The drugs induced cell death by altering DNA methylation, an epigenetic process that is known to modify gene expression without changing DNA sequences.
Of all the activated cancer-related genes, a marker gene known as SMAD4 was found to be activated by the homeopathic drugs. This gene triggers a cascade of cellular events that eventually suppress tumour growth.
“Since the homeopathic drugs are very highly diluted, they are non-toxic and could be used as nanomedicines for personalized treatment that depends on the individual genome,” says lead researcher Anisur Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh.


1. Saha, S. K. et al. Ultra-highly diluted plant extracts of Hydrastis canadensis and Marsdenia condurango induce epigenetic modifications and alter gene expression profiles in HeLa cells in vitro.J. Integr. Med13, 400–411 (2015)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Benifits of Garlic

One Piece of Garlic in the Morning on Empty Stomach… See What Happens After That

Have you heard that consuming garlic on an empty stomach is really useful? Someone may think that only grandmothers think this is a good thing and only they can consume it. Nevertheless, this is very beneficial habit that can help you in more than one way. It is efficient when it comes to preventing as well as treating numerous diseases.
Many researches have been done on the topic of garlic consumption benefits. They have all showed that consuming garlic prior to eating or drinking anything will increase it power and this powerful natural antibiotic can start working. Do you know why it has higher efficiency when it is consumed before meal? The bacteria in your body are becoming overexposed to it and its antibiotic influence and cannot defend themselves.

Why is it Good to Eat Garlic on an Empty Stomach
It has been proven many times that garlic is good for relieving the symptoms of hypertension. It is also very useful for regulation of the blood circulation, for preventing many heart diseases and triggering the appropriate function of the liver and the bladder.
Garlic can also be of great help when it comes to certain stomach problems, including diarrhea. According to some, it also can have positive effects on some nerve problems, but only when it is consumed on an empty stomach, before breakfast.
Besides for diarrhea, garlic is also very beneficial for other stomach problems because it triggers appropriate digestion and it regulates the appetite. If you consume garlic, you will deal much easier with stress, and thus the stomach acid is going to be produced in lower amounts, since your body produces it mostly when it is under stress.
Garlic is well known for its advantages all over the world. Almost all people are aware how beneficial it is, and that is one of the reasons why people have started calling it “a healing food” many years ago.
Garlic And Alternative Medicine
Alternative medicine places the garlic at a high pedestal and considers it to be one of the most effective foods for detoxification of the body. Many medical practitioners from this area claim that garlic is so potent that can cleanse the body from worms and parasites, and can prevent many illnesses such as depression, typhus, diabetes, and even some cancer types.
If you happen to be allergic to garlic, never forget two things: never consume it raw, and if there is some skin outbreak, a headache or increased body temperature, stop consuming it immediately.
However, some studies have discovered that eating garlic can have side effects in patients that take pills for treating HIV/AIDS. In case you deal with these conditions, pay special attention and be very, very cautious. The first thing you should do before you start consuming garlic is to make sure that it is safe for you to consume it.
Even though it has strong flavor and aroma, you should consume it anyway and utilize its all health benefits. Instead of raw garlic, you can even use garlic supplements and utilize its benefits in this way.