Cant Focus

Fuzzy Thinking? Brain Fog? Here’s How To Cope

Brain Fog, or fuzzy thinking is not always just down to a ‘bad day’ or getting older, but can also be due to underlying health conditions or a problematic lifestyle. As the pandemic continues to rage and much of our daily lives have been upended by its repercussions, trouble concentrating, re-calling simple words, or following a train of thought may be exacerbated or exposed. Some, who are recovering from COVID-19, have found that they are dealing with brain fog. Others who have had chronic illnesses exacerbated by the stress of the pandemic and the loss of livelihoods have also found that brain fog is particularly problematic. In other cases, the everyday stress of the pandemic can cause sleep problems and chronic stress which has also been thought to cause fuzzy thinking.

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What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a symptom of other problems or health conditions, and can often be identified with symptoms such as memory problems, lack of mental clarity, lack of focus and poor concentration levels.

According to Huffington Post:

‘“Brain fog isn’t a diagnosis, disease or a disorder,” explains Dr Brennan, who has written the soon-to-be-published book, Beating Brain Fog. It occurs when the brain cannot function properly. This can happen as a result of many factors, such as: hormonal imbalance, a side-effect of medication, illness, infection, inflammation, an auto-immune response, chronic pain, nutritional deficiency, inadequate or poor quality sleep, poorly managed chronic stress and even lack of exercise. “These factors can interfere with brain functioning in a variety of ways,” she says.’

Harvard Health cited the top three causes of brain fogginess to be: Medication side effects, Low B12, Excessive anxiety or depression, underactive thyroid gland and obstructive sleep apnea. Of course there can be other causes that trigger brain fogginess, so consult your doctor in the first instance if you are concerned that there are other factors at play. If brain fogginess, trouble with concentration, memory and so forth is affecting your daily life, it is important that you speak to your doctor.

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How Can I Improve It?
If you do suffer from fuzzy thinking and brain fog, and after you have consulted your doctor, there are ways in which you can help alleviate the problem. The most referenced solutions are: sleep, exercise and diet.

Seven to eight hours of sleep per night, is the ideal but it can very from person to person, if you are getting too little sleep however, this can affect your cognitive abilities. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day (for an adequate amount of time) will help you get into an effective sleep schedule. Regular will also help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule as well as having a positive effect on your brain, by boosting blood flow to the brain. Harvard Health recommends that you ‘try to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, such as brisk walking.’ Finally, improving your diet can also help to alleviate brain fog. Constructing and following a healthy balanced diet that is full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and so forth and moderating your junk food intake, may boost your energy levels overall, improving more areas of your life than just the brain fog. Dr. Shreya Raj, a neuropsychiatrist with the Center for Brain/Mind Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, stated to Harvard Health, ‘”Not eating healthfully makes you more sluggish, even in thinking. Studies have shown the Mediterranean diet may improve cognitive function.” This diet is rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, legumes, fish, wholegrains, whilst moderating poultry, eggs, dairy. Red meat intake is sparing.

Other sources have also suggested that managing your mental health, particularly stress levels could also help in this area. There are many different ways to properly manage mental health conditions, it is important, again, that in the first instance you consult a therapist or doctor who can advise and refer you to treatments based on your particular struggles. Improvement can be found in a variety of places and differ from person to person, some find mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, breathing exercises, Yoga, Tai Chi helps, others find that keeping a routine can help keep stress, anxiety and depression at bay, physical changes such as regular exercise and a healthy diet can help, others prefer talk therapies or cognitive behavioural therapies to get to the root of the problem.

Brain fog can be debilitating, frustrating and confusing, but you are not alone in feeling that way, many are struggling with a brain fuzziness due to a variety of circumstances. Consult your doctor, look to rearrange your lifestyle, establish a routine that puts sleeping, healthy diet, exercise and mental health at the forefront.

New York Stock Exchange

NYSE Delists Three Chinese Firms in Confusing Reversal

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has said that it will indeed delist three Chinese telecommunication companies after changing their stance on the matter twice previously. The decision comes just a day after US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the NYSE chief that he disagreed with the earlier decision to reverse the removal of the three firms.

The latest about-turn marks the third time in less than a week that the NYSE’s Big Board has made a decision on the matter. The move will come into effect on January 11 unless altered again and the flip-flopping highlights confusion in the economic world over which firms were included in the executive order issued by President Trump late last year that barred US persons from investing in publicly traded companies that Washington deems to be tied to the Chinese military.

As the Trump administration reaches its final days, tensions are escalating within Washington on China policy and the latest fiasco involving the NYSE will not calm things.

“There is a unique situation where there is an outgoing administration that is disengaged and (there are) orders sitting out there, so something has to be done, but no one wants to take on responsibility,” said Leland Miller, the CEO of the U.S.-based consultancy China Beige Book. “I think in future that anyone getting these orders will say: ‘Tell us exactly what you want us to do,’ and force administrations to be more focused.”

The NYSE originally announced plans last Thursday to delist China Mobile Ltd, China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. due to their breaching of new rules. Monday saw exchange officials perform a U-turn after consultation with regulators in connection with the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control which led them to decide to keep them listed. An announcement Wednesday then marked the return to the original plan of delisting the firms.

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After the initial U-turn, the NYSE and the Treasury came under fire from critics who claimed that they were being dovish on China. For a while Mnuchin has been regarded by many as seeking to thwart attempts from ‘hardliners’ in the Trump administration to crack down on Chinese companies operating on the exchange.

“The confusion in markets reflects the internal turf battles within the administration over this issue,” said Michael Hirson of the Eurasia Group consultancy.

“The executive order was pushed through by China hardliners without input from Treasury, which had fought such a move as disruptive to markets and the US financial sector,” Hirson said.

The confusion has caused investors to sell positions in the securities, the prices of which fell on the initial announcement, rose again when they were relisted and then tumbled on Wednesday after the delisting was confirmed.

However, the final decision has satisfied Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who had previously speculated that the NYSE’s initial reversal was due to the Treasury.

“After an intense pressure campaign from those of us who believe we should prioritize the interests of American workers and mom and pop investors above Beijing and Wall Street, I am pleased that the NYSE decided to reverse their earlier announcement,” he said in a statement.

“If it is true that someone at (Treasury) advised (NYSE) to reverse the decision to delist these Chinese companies, it was a outrageous effort to undermine (President Trump’s) Executive Order,” Rubio tweeted before the second change of mind was announced.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing this week that they believed a number of political forces in the United States were deciding to persist with an unreasonable suppression of US-listed foreign firms, which she said highlighted the arbitrary nature of its policies.

“We hope the U.S. respects the legal system and the market,” she said.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the decision was the “right call”.

“Chinese firms that reject fundamental transparency requirements and have ties to the Chinese military shouldn’t benefit from American investment,” Sasse said.

US stocks rose this week with the S&P 500 and the Dow reaching record highs as potential investors got behind financial and industrial stocks in numbers as they bet on a Democratic sweep in Georgia paving the way for more fiscal stimulus and infrastructure spending.

Financials were able to hit a 1-year high, while materials, industrial and energy sectors jumped between 2.5% and 3.4%. Rate-sensitive bank shares jumped about 5%, tracking a surge in the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield.

“The market is saying we can deal and live with this political decision,” said John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer Asset Management in New York.

“It is saying if you have the potential to lose the tax reform package … the offset to that might be more stimulus to the economy which in effect could be positive for the markets.”

Electric Car

Buying An Electric Car

Electric cars have been on the market for some time, and manufacturers are improving their technology. Some countries such as the UK, plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from a certain point to better combat climate change (in the UK’s case 2030) and with more and more people becoming more eco-conscious, the sale of electric cars is rapidly increasing. They are becoming more widely available and more affordable. EV’s can be efficient, cheaper to run, requite less maintenance, perform superbly and are better for the environment.

According to the International Energy Agency, ‘sales of electric cars topped 2.1 million globally in 2019, surpassing 2018 – already a record year – to boost the stock to 7.2 million electric cars.1 Electric cars, which accounted for 2.6% of global car sales and about 1% of global car stock in 2019, registered a 40% year-on-year increase.’ Reports have also shown that despite the coronavirus pandemic, the sales of electric vehicles have continued to grow in various countries despite the overall decline in new car registrations. Norway recently became the first country in the world where electric car sales overtook petrol and diesel sales, claiming a 54.3% market share of all new cars sold in 2020 – which is a global record according to The Guardian. The Conversation also reported that: ‘in Germany, EV sales from January to June increased from 47,584 in 2019 to 93,848 in 2020, supported by particularly strong PHEV growth.’ If you are thinking of buying an electric car, here are some considerations as you shop around:

If you use your car mainly for short journeys, errands and commutes an electric car may suit your needs perfectly. Many EV’s offer over 200 miles range on one charge, but some models offer less. Akin to petrol or diesel, there are factors that will affect your range – such as speed, driving habits, the weather, the cars climate control and so forth.

For longer journeys you may need to consider whether an electric car would tailor to your needs. If not, perhaps a hybrid may better suit you until electric cars are better evolved. Those with shorter commutes would still need to look into and learn where their local charging points are and consider if it is feasible to fit this into their schedule. With more and more places installing charging ports in parking bays and accommodating electric vehicles this is becoming easier and if your commute is particularly short, you may only need to charge at home and/or at work.

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Longer journeys may need more planning, mapping out charging stops along the way and considering how far you can go before charging. According to Wired: ‘some systems, as in a Tesla, tell you exactly how many minutes to charge for at each station, and how much range you’ll have left when you arrive at your destination. They also show how many chargers are offered, and how many are currently available or occupied. Today’s longest range cars are still all Teslas, with the flagship Long Range version of the Model S giving you a claimed 405 miles using the WLTP test cycle. This equates to around 350 miles in the real world, but as with all EVs this can reduce in cold weather and also depends on traffic, elevation change and driving style.’

You will also need to consider the charging network available to you. Charging at home is a convenient perk of electric car ownership, but these come with considerations. According to USA News:
‘You can charge your EV using a standard 110-volt wall outlet (Level 1 charging), but it’s going to take some time. Level 1 charging adds about 4 miles of range per hour. If you don’t use many miles of range each day, this may work for you. However, if you deplete a full 250 miles of range, it will take several days to recharge this way. Most EV owners hire an electrician to install a 240-volt outlet in their garage. This allows for Level 2 charging, which can add 25 miles of range per charging hour. Make sure to find out how much it will cost to add 240-volt service at your home.’

You will also have to consider how much it will cost to charge your car. Electricity costs will likely vary depending on where you love and what supplier you use. USA news reported that the average price of electricity in the USA is 13.28 cents per kilowatt-hour, and whilst charging at home is generally cheaper than charging in public and generally cheaper than gas. It is still worth consideration.

Once you have done the research into your model and seeing if it fits into your lifestyle, you may find that an electric vehicle is better than expected. According to The Scotsman many people are happy with their choice of opting for an electric vehicle, ‘Ninety per cent of drivers questioned by the charge point mapping service said they wouldn’t return to a petrol or diesel vehicle for their next car… The majority (73 per cent) of respondents were first-time EV drivers and 52 per cent had bought their car in the last year.’

Film Reel

When California Is Really Vancouver

America is world famous for the movies and television shows that they produce and distribute around the world. However should we believe everything that we see?

Many films are set in cities and states around the country such as California or Texas however many are actually filmed in Canada.

Films such as 2005’s Brokeback Mountain– set in Wyoming but filmed on location in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains – or 2004’s Mean Girls – Chicago based but filmed in Toronto – are just two of the many that have had us questioning just where they were filmed.

Meghan Markle’s Suits follows the story of New York lawyers Harvey Specter and Mike Ross but was in fact filmed in Toronto. It is believed this is one of the reasons why Meghan and her husband, the UK’s Prince Harry, relocated to Canada when they first stepped back from royal duties last year.

Netflix’s surprise hit Virgin River is the latest television show trying to convince us that the main character Mel has run away to the quiet town in California when in fact it is being filmed around Vancouver, using locations including Port Coquitlam, Brackendale and Burnaby for their outdoor scenes.

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And it is easy to see why. Vancouver is a home to many stunning outdoor spaces including the ever popular Stanley Park which has 400-hectares of natural West Coast rainforest. The mountains, trails and beaches are the perfect way to spend a day hiking or if you prefer a lazy day head to one of the park’s restaurants such as the Stanley Park Pavilion, a ‘rustic heritage building’ that has space for 200 diners outside and 50 inside.

If you fancy the idea of looking at nature from a different perspective take a trip to the world famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. The 450-foot bridge stands at 230 feet above the Capilano River and offers breathtaking views from every angle.

Once completed why not make your way to the seven suspension bridges of Treetops Adventure? Built in 2004 the bridges were designed so they would not affect the growth of the trees they are in and each viewing platform is attached via a ‘tree collar system’ that does not have any bolts or nails damaging the Douglas-firs, an innovative first.

A visit to the Cliffwalk, a walkway that takes you along the side of the granite cliffs 700 feet in the air, is guaranteed to leave you feeling exhilarated. Although the walkways can be narrow at times – some areas are purely open grated walkways – the views are definitely worth it. Not only can you see panoramic views of the rainforest but also the canyon beneath you.

Although most of the visitors to the area head for the thrilling experiences up above there are also plenty of walks you can do on the ground, allowing you to see the ponds, evergreens and majestic rainforest from the ground up.

Travel an hour north of Vancouver and you will reach the stunning setting of Brackendale. Used for the majority of the outdoor scenes of Virgin River, Brackendale is home to the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in North America. But this is not why people continue to head here for their vacations.

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Just one look at the Squamish River with the Coast Mountains in the background is enough to make you want to up and leave your life behind and spend your day fishing by the river and your evening in The Watershed Grill – said to be the location of Jack’s Bar in the show.

The Coast Mountains run for just under 1,000 miles from the Fraser River Lowlands near Vancouver up to Yukon in the North. Although they look quite peaceful on the television they actually face the Pacific Ocean and have several glaciers, mostly near Mt Waddington, which is the highest point of the range.

Just outside of Vancouver is the final location, Burnaby. Often discounted as a suburb of ‘the main attraction’ of Vancouver, Burnaby is actually a city in its own right and has views, outdoor activities and parks – including Central Park which has walking trails, picnic areas, lawn bowling and tennis courts in the 90-hectares – and The Burnaby Central Railway that has a classic steam train that will take you on a tour of Confederation Park. Currently the track is just under two miles long however this is continuing to be extended.

A trip to the mountains would not be complete without some skiing and Grouse Mountain is open throughout the year – current restrictions permitting. With 26 runs and four chairlifts for both skiing and snowboarding you will never need to wait long before you can head down the slopes. There are some breathtaking views of Greater Vancouver as you head up the lift so make sure you relax and enjoy the trip.

Currently Canada has a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering the country and all travelers over the age of five has to have proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Many locations are also operating at limited capacity or reduced hours so it is important that you check the websites before you venture out.


Disappointing Start To The New Year For Music Fans As The Grammy Awards Are Postponed Until March 2021

As we head into 2021, many have held onto the promise of a brighter year, which would see us return to at least some form of normality. In 2020 the Coronavirus took away so much from so many, from health and lifestyle through to business and industries. This was certainly the same for the music industry.

Although they might not have been able to showcase their music to the large crowds they might have become accustomed to, a perhaps bittersweet outcome for music performers is that they have still had the ability to create music. Throughout the dark times of the pandemic this has proved a positive influence across the world and has been a way to lead and inspire people, something that has carried many people throughout 2020.

In 2020 many of the annual music industry awards were unable to take place in the format of the heightened glitz and glamour we love, such as The MTV Europe Music Awards and the Billboard Awards. Luckily, Coronavirus has not completely cancelled these long awaited events and although we might have experienced delays, the shows that were brought to life in safe, socially distanced conditions without a live audience still continued to entertain and delight people across the world virtually.

Many performers and fans had hoped 2021 would bring the music showcases we all loved back to the main stage and one such show looked forward to by many was the Grammy Awards. This is one of the biggest award ceremonies of the music industry that was set to take place on the 31st January 2021. Unfortunately, in a recently released statement, the event organizers The Recording Academy have made the tough decision to postpone the event.

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Both those involved in the show as well as the fans are disappointed that the awards have been delayed, but understandably Covid-19 still remains a prominent threat and the health and safety of people amidst the spread of the virus has to come first. The first week of January has seen the number of Coronavirus cases rising in the city of Los Angeles and the state of California, where the ceremony is due to be held.

The new date which has been set by the event organizers has been announced as the 14th March 2021. The event is usually hosted within the Staples Centre located in central Los Angeles. The statement posted on the Grammy Awards website by organizers The Recording Academy, in conjunction with the CBS, can be read as follows:

“After thoughtful conversations with health experts, our host and artists scheduled to appear, we are rescheduling the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards to be broadcast Sunday, 14 March, 2021. The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.”

Adding: “We want to thank all of the talented artists, the staff, our vendors and especially this year’s nominees for their understanding, patience and willingness to work with us as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

Following on from the uncertainties of 2020, it had already been planned to produce the awards as a virtual ceremony which has proven successful for other awards across the industry over the past year. But following on from their statement, the main organizers The Recording Academy believe it is ‘the right thing to do” to postpone the awards with the State of California facing surge in Covid-19 cases and the unsettling reports that ambulance staff covering the Los Angeles County have been issued with the instructions ‘not to transport patients with extremely low chances of survival’.

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As it stands, fans will wait in high anticipation for the event which saw global artists such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift primed for success at what would have been the 63rd Annual Ceremony.
The delay has provided producers with more time to perfect the virtual ceremony, showcasing what will hopefully be a fit and well audience by this time. At present, it has not been confirmed whether the announced host comedian Trevor Noah will still be able to fulfil this appointment.

It is without a doubt that this year’s awards show has had its fair share of speculation and controversy already. The award nominees were originally announced back in November 2020 ahead of the 2021 airing and this certainly built the excitement. An array of musicians were nominated, from iconic stars through to new breakthrough artists. However controversy ensued when The Weeknd, one of the most recognized and played artists throughout the year, was not nominated for a single award.

The controversy continues with the announcement of the new date as this is due to overlap with the 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards, which has reportedly prompted the Actors Union to express how they were ‘extremely disappointed’ by this, having set their date 6 months prior.

As the world continues in its efforts to beat the Coronavirus pandemic, the music industry brings light to so many and we hope to be able to celebrate their successes with them in a safe world as soon as it is deemed appropriate to do so.

Mixture of Nuts

Adding Superfoods Into Your Diet

Whether your new years resolution was to be healthier, or trying to keep your immune system well equipped, or simply looking to improve your wellbeing via a healthier diet, superfoods are great additions to your meals. Packed with various vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants and often of great service not only to our gut, to our cognitive health, the physical functioning of our bodies, mental wellbeing and so forth.

A superfood is not a food group in itself, rather the name given to a particular food that are thought to be nutritionally dense, containing a number of health benefits, such as vitamins, healthy fats and so forth that make them good for one’s overall health. However, no single food can cover all your nutritional and health needs, so it is important that you incorporate your chosen superfoods into a balanced healthy diet across all the food groups. Superfoods can be incorporated for a boost of nutritional benefits.

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The superfood list is extensive, and not all of them will suit your tastes or dietary requirements. Here are some of the most popular:

Berries are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and so forth. Antioxidants have been linked to the reduced risk of Heart disease, cancer and inflammatory conditions. Berries they may also help treat immune system problems and digestive issues, according to Healthline.

Blueberries are often a favourite of the superfood list, as they are rich in vitamins (such as vitamin C and potassium), fibre and phytochemicals – not to mention their sweet and satisfying flavor. However, other berries, such as strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and blackberries have also been noted for their superfood properties.

Berries can be easily incorporated into your daily diet, either as a snack by themselves, as a dessert, added into your breakfast cereal, as an ingredient in a healthy smoothie, eaten with yogurt and so forth.

Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
‘Eat your greens’ was not just an annoying nag from your parents but an important health lesson. Harvard Health writes: ‘dark, leafy greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as several phytochemicals (chemicals made by plants that have a positive effect on your health). They also add fiber into the diet.’ They have the potential to reduce your risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes as well as putting some important nutrients into your body, such as folate, zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. Each type of dark leafy green, of course will harbour different levels of nutrients, so if you are looking for a particular vitamin boost, look into the properties of your vegetables first – however it is still very beneficial to include a variety for ultimate benefit.

Adding spinach to your salad or a curry, occasionally swapping out your dinner’s vegetable choice for collard greens, kale, broccoli, cabbage and so forth. Kale is often a popular superfood and can be incorporated into smoothie recipes. Many of these greens, including broccoli can be sautéed, added into pasta sauces, stir fries and soups for a great and easy boost of nutrients. If you or your children are not keen on some of these vegetables, there are plenty of recipes that do a great job in masking the taste!

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Nuts, Seeds, Legumes
Nuts, seeds and legumes can act as a great stand-alone healthy snack or can be easily added into a variety of dishes with ease. Nuts are rich in plant protein (making them a great alternative for vegetarians), healthy fats, fibre, minerals and so forth. They are high in calories, so a little normally goes a long way, but the moderated incorporation of them into a diet can also improve health and protect against disease.

Almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, peanuts brazil nuts and macadamia nuts are all great choices, with different properties and nutrient levels, so a variety of nuts is best, although you can again look into their individual benefits. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds are also beneficial. Legumes include kidney, black, red and garbanzo beans, soybeans and peas.

You can incorporate these into cereals, smoothies, stir fries, nut butters, salads, yogurts, oatmeal or as a simple snack. Legumes can be added to salads, soups, casseroles, curries, chilies and so forth.

And More
There are plenty of different superfoods such as avocados, kefir, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric, ginger, sweet potato, seaweed and so on. Fish is a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids – salmon often singled out as a favourite and yogurt a good source of protein, calcium and live cultures called probiotics. Consider adopting some of your chosen superfoods into your balanced diet.

Vegan Bowl

Raw Vegan Diet: What Is It and Should You Try it?

The raw vegan diet is again rising in popularity as people seek to enjoy the health benefits of combining the principles of raw foodism and veganism. Some people follow the diet for ethical or environmental reasons, but most combine these two eating ideals for the purported health benefits, including weight loss, improved heart health and a lower risk of diabetes. However, the diet may also pose some health risks, especially without good planning. Here, we look at what a raw vegan diet is, what you can eat on it and whether it is the way forward.

Like veganism, a raw vegan diet excludes all food of animal origin. It then adds the concept of raw foodism on top of that, which means eating food either completely raw or cooked at a temperature of below 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains and legumes and tends to exclude all processed foods.

“Make it a joyful journey! Get over labels, set an intention for yourself, and look at it every day,” raw vegan pioneer Karyn Calabrese said. If you slip up, practice kindness to yourself, and remind yourself it’s just part of your evolution. We’re here to evolve. Enjoy your evolution; don’t make yourself miserable during the process.

The diet’s heavy focus on fruit and vegetables is linked with improved heart health, including a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. The increased consumption of nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains will likely improve blood cholesterol levels and further decrease the risk of heart problems.

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Observational studies have reported that those on a plant-based diet may have up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure and up to a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. Furthermore, a number of randomized controlled studies have shown that vegan diets are especially good for reducing ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

More studies are required on the specific effects of a raw vegan diet but its high content of plant foods rich in nutrients will likely yield similar results to the diets conducted in these studies.

“I’d suggest using your high-speed blender lots! Make green smoothie bowls for breakfast (which only take about 10 minutes and taste like ice cream) and blend up sauces for dinner. This will save you so much time on your meals, and provide your food with incredible flavor, so you actually start craving healthy, plant-based meals!” food blogger Marina Yanay-Triner wrote.

“I would also recommend snacking on fruit a lot. Have fruit available all around your house; it has become my decoration! What your eyes see, your taste buds will crave! Fruits are the ultimate fast food, so eat up, and enjoy nature’s candy!”

“In addition, raw diets exclude whole grains and beans, which I believe to be extremely good for you, based on the literature I have read. I love this combination of raw and cooked because making smoothies and eating fruits all day is easy, energizing, and satisfying. Then ending the day with a hearty, cooked meal that includes whole grains and beans, is wonderful!”

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A raw vegan diet has been shown to be very effective at weight loss and then keeping that weight off. Studies have linked the diet to lower amounts of body fat and one in particular, which followed people on various diets for over 3.5 years losing between 22-26 pounds, found participants with the highest percentage of raw foods in their diet also had the lowest body mass indexes.

“Appropriately cooking, and not overcooking, food allows for the retention of most vital nutrients,” Stanford nutritional expert Christopher Gardner, PhD said, suggesting that a mixture of a raw food diet and light cooking could be the best way to go. “Light cooking adds enormous palatability and tastiness to very healthy foods that ideally should be a dietary priority. In my mind, the resulting increased consumption of these foods more than makes up for any nutrient losses caused by heat.”

Without proper preparation and maybe even a meal plan, the raw vegan diet can potentially cause health issues. The lack of protein sources could result in not consuming enough, which could result in subtle signs of malnutrition, including changes to the skin color. This can be avoided by eating enough seeds, nuts and legumes and is made easier by tracking food consumption on an app.

The raw vegan diet is at the very least a useful tool for losing weight in a healthy manner. If done correctly, it could provide stunning health benefits and leave the dieter feeling fresh and light on their feet. However, a lack of available food sources may result in a lack of nutrition in some areas, as well as causing boredom for some. For many, the best answer would be to use a raw vegan diet as a short-term tool, or combine it with low amounts of cooking to enjoy a really healthy, well-balanced, sustainable diet.

Outdoor Furniture

How To Care For Your Outdoor Furniture So That It Lasts For Multiple Seasons 

One of the more positive things that has come out of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic is the utilization of our outdoor spaces. Many people have been spending their time in lockdown updating their yard spaces to make it more accessible and aesthetically pleasing for socially distanced outdoor gatherings with friends and family. 

However, for many this is the first time they’ve invested in actual outdoor furniture and accessories, and while most pieces are well equipped to survive the elements of the world, homeowners should know the proper ways to care for their outdoor spaces and the furniture within them so that they can last for years to come. 

As a general rule, one should be prepared to pay some regular attention to their furniture and products at least once a year, typically at the start of whatever season you like to bring your outdoor furniture out. For those who live in climates where the weather is relatively warm all year, like California, you may want to consider putting in some extra TLC to your furniture twice a year. 

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Adam Taylor is the owner of The Wood Doctor, a furniture restoration company, and has been working in the industry for more than four decades. According to Taylor the “most attention people pay to their outdoor furniture is the day they buy it,” but he’s determined to change that. 

For timber and wood pieces specifically, Taylor claims that those are the easiest to maintain, and owners really just need to focus on keeping them clean. “Clean it off, removing any dust with a brush, or fine grade steel wool for more ingrained dirt. Once clean, I recommend using one of Sikkens oil-based products, which enhances and preserves the natural beauty of the timber.”

Taylor explained that “an oil-based product expands and contracts with the weather, feeding and protecting the wood without covering it. Other products that introduce a film that covers the wood. This means water gets in where there are gaps, gets trapped and causes the wood to rot from the inside out.” Ideally he believes new furniture should be given four coats of oil, applied about 16 hours apart for the most optimal protection for the year. 

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For fabric products it’s smart to have some sort of storage space that can fit all the fabric-covered items in your collection. While outdoor fabrics are equipped to handle the full brunt of the earth’s elements every day, overtime that prolonged exposure to the weather will break down the fabric and shorten the lifespan of it. 

Sweep down your fabric items with a hard-bristle brush to remove dust and other debris. Throwing outdoor fabrics in the wash on the cold setting with a color-fast detergent can help take care of bigger messes or stains, but Taylor recommends hosing off any fabric that gets stained immediately if you can. 

For wicker or cane furniture, one should make sure they use a UV-safe resin once a year to strengthen the tightness of the woven pattern. Thick bristle brushes and some basic soap and water can help dust off these surfaces in the beginning of every season as well. 

Finally, for those with wrought iron furniture the biggest order of maintenance is rust prevention and removal. Surface rust can be easily removed with a wire brush or steel wool, and then the surface can be painted over with a rust guard to help prevent further rusting. If you just bought a new set of wrought iron furniture, you should paint over it with a layer of rust guard as well. 


Billionaires Add $1 Trillion To Their Net Worth As Millions Of Their Workers Struggle For Survival 

Throughout the timeline of the pandemic alone, billionaires in the US have collectively increased their net worth by more than $1 trillion. Many of these billionaire’s US workers, on the other hand, have been struggling to deal with unsafe working conditions that leave them susceptible to potential infection, and without hazard pay or any increase in compensation for working in a pandemic, many have been struggling for survival. 

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and founder, added more than $70 billion to his new worth during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing his total net worth up to $185 billion. Workers at Amazon and Amazon-owned grocery chain Whole Foods have spent a majority of the pandemic protesting against the unsafe working conditions they’re being forced to work in, and the endless pressures from management to keep up with the overwhelming demand. 

Several workers who have participated or led protests at Amazon over working conditions specifically have alleged that they were fired as a result of their efforts to receive basic level safety. Profits and stockholder shares for the company have increased by billions of dollars throughout 2020, however, Amazon only provided a small fraction of those extra earnings in hazard pay and bonuses for workers on the frontline actually risking their lives everyday to further fill Bezos’ pockets. 

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In fact, Amazon ended all hazard pay back in June 2020, and instead has provided workers with sporadic one-time bonuses. On average workers have seen about a 99 cent increase in their paycheck during the pandemic, for comparison, Bezos earns about $11.7 million every single hour. 

“It’s infuriating that we live in fear every day because of minimal efforts to protect us, while executives take in tons of money while sitting safely at home.”

An anonymous employee working for Amazon recently spoke with the media about the conditions, and chose to keep their identity a secret out of fear that they would be left unemployed and with no source of income. “What they considered hazard pay was just for show. We couldn’t see a difference unless we were willing to work almost 60 hours a week. Several of us had no choice because we’re the breadwinners of our family.”

Jessica Oneto was a Whole Foods employee in California who quit in October 2020 partially due to the working conditions management was forcing upon its employees throughout the pandemic. 

“They gave us hazard pay for maybe a couple months. It was only $2 and they literally took it away as the pandemic got worse. One of the biggest companies couldn’t afford to keep it up?”

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Elon Musk, owner of Tesla Motors, earned an additional $140 billion throughout the pandemic, making him the wealthiest person in the world with a total net worth of $195 billion. Workers for Tesla have been subject to multiple factory Covid outbreaks, and unsafe conditions brought on by Musk himself, who defied local shutdown orders by reopening his plants and resuming factory production. 

Musk even went as far as to threaten his employees if they didn’t also defy the state lockdown orders by sending out an email that implied they would lose unemployment benefits if they didn’t show up to work and risk infection. At least two workers were fired for not showing up due to the fact that they were immunocompromised and worried about getting sick. 

“While people in cubicles stay home to work, we can’t do that and we don’t get any hazard pay/ Nothing has changed. Musk can afford to do so much more and he doesn’t. I find it sickening to see how much Elon Musk’s wealth has grown while we take all the risks. All we get is a ‘thank you so much’ email,” said a Tesla employee at the Fremont plant who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. 

Another Fremont employee cited ongoing mistreatment toward Black workers at Tesla specifically: “Musk has not once addressed this issue in his workplace or supported Black Lives Matter. No hazard pay or bonus. They gave all regular workers their regular raise, but being that I’m maxed out at my position I didn’t get anything.”

As the old saying goes the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and this global health crisis has truly exemplified that. The only positive that workers have seen come out of these obscene billionaire wealth increases is how much more it’s being discussed now. The power of social media has created a large conversation over how America specifically runs, and why it allows this handful of white men to hoard so much wealth while millions of Americans are on the brink of complete homelessness.

New President

Biden Victory Certified After Attacks on US Capitol

Congress has certified Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, just hours after Donald Trump supporters stormed the building in hopes of delaying or stopping the electoral college vote count. Four died as Trump supporters stormed government buildings in Washington DC after the president urged them to march on the Capitol in an attempt to overturn his defeat.

After police finally removed the mob that had been encouraged by President Trump, lawmakers were able to resume their session and certify the result of the election, paving the way for Biden to be sworn in as president on January 20. In response, Trump finally mustered a pledge of an orderly transition of power.

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20,” the president said in a statement following the conclusion of the counting of electoral college votes.

The chaotic scenes on Wednesday came after months of rhetoric from Trump and some of his Republican allies, who claimed that the result of the November 3 election was reached fraudulently and that Trump was the true winner. Trump’s refusal to accept defeat and his subsequent calling of arms to his fans to march on the Capitol is unprecedented in modern US history.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer released a statement following the Capitol attack, suggesting that Trump should be removed from office after his actions.

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“What happened at the US Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said in a statement.

“The quickest and most effective way – it can be done today – to remove this president from office would be for the vice-president to immediately invoke the 25th amendment. If the vice-president and the cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”

Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger also called for invoking the 25th amendment in the aftermath of Wednesday’s chaos, and some progressive lawmakers, including congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said Trump should be impeached for the second time.

“Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness,” president-elect Joe Biden said during a public address condemning the violent attacks.

“This is not the dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now. I call this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward. You’ve heard me say before in different contexts, the words of a President matter, no matter how good or bad that President is. At their best, the words of a President can inspire. At their worst, they can insight,” Biden continued.

“The world’s watching. Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long, the beacon of light and hope for democracy has come to such a dark moment. Through war and strife, America’s endured much and we will endure here and we will prevail again, and we’ll prevail now.

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“The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect the Rule of Law, just plain, simple decency, the renewal of a politics.”

Trump has come under further criticism for the way he reacted to the violence and his attitude towards the terrorists who stormed the Capitol. Instead of condemning them or their acts of terror, Trump instead praised the offenders and even professed his love for them, a reaction that many have guessed would be different if they were not Trump supporters.

Trump has now been banned indefinitely from Facebook and Instagram, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced.

“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now.
We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time,” the president said in a video posted online during the Capitol attacks.

“There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace.

“So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home at peace.”