Many of us grew up hearing that margarine was healthier than butter, avocado was "fattening," and that vegetable oil, as long as you didn't use a lot of it to cook your boneless, skinless chicken breast to serve with your (low-fat!) white pasta, was a healthy option. For dessert, you had a wide variety of fat-free cookies and reduced-fat ice creams to choose from.
Many of you reading this right now might also be rolling your eyes at the memory of all the unhealthy food we or our parents filled those shopping carts with. The nutrition world right now sometimes reminds me a little of the Woody Allen movie Sleeper, in which the protagonist, who's been cryogenically preserved, wakes up 200 years later, everything—including what foods are considered healthy—has changed.
I get asked a lot by my clients about vegetable oil: What: is the deal? Is it healthy? Unhealthy? What's even in it?
If you've ever stood in the grocery store feeling totally overwhelmed as you tried to choose between the various bottles of cooking oils, you're not alone. To help simplify your life, here's what you need to know about vegetable oil.
So what is vegetable oil, anyway?
Despite its name, vegetable oil doesn't actually contain a lot of vegetables. Typically, vegetable oil is a blend of different oils extracted from sources such as corn, peanut, rapeseed, safflower, soybeans, and sunflower seeds, among others. Have you ever looked at an ingredients label and seen something like, "sunflower or palm kernel oil" and been like, "How do you not know—isn't this a nutrition facts label?" That's an example of vegetable oil.
Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor, and, like other oils, it has about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. It tends to be inexpensive and used as a generic all-purpose oil.
Is vegetable oil healthy?
With all the wonderful options in the oil aisle, I typically counsel my clients to leave this one on the shelf. My No. 1 concern with vegetable oils is how difficult it is to truly know what's in there. For people with severe allergies to one or more of the potential ingredients, this can be a major risk.
While messaging around dietary fats used to look primarily at total grams of fat and how many of them were saturated, today, health care professionals generally look more closely at the amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and trans fats. Other important factors are the amount and ratio of two polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. It's not that these differences were completely unknown, but there was less of an emphasis on the nuances.
Then there is the fact that vegetable oil is highly processed refined oil generally made from extracting the oil via chemical solvents or an oil mill.
They also are typically high in omega-6 fatty acids. Again, though, without knowing the ratio of ingredients, you can't really know what the ratio is between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat, how much omega-3 fatty acids compared to omega-6 fatty acids. However, since most of the potential ingredients are high in polyunsaturated linolenic acid, you can tell you're getting a lot of omega-6, even if you're not exactly clear just how much.
Omega-3s are considered anti-inflammatory, whereas omega-6s, have been shown to have an inflammatory effect when we consume too much, setting the stage for tissue damage and disease. Aside from fueling inflammation, they've also been shown to inhibit the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3s. Unfortunately, the standard American diet tends to be high in omega-6 and deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the conditions associated with a high intake of omega-6 and low intake of omega-3 include obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, among others.
Because vegetable oil is used in so much of the processed food that makes up a large part of the standard American diet, it's a large contributor of omega-6 fatty acid intake. In addition to not using vegetable oil in home cooking, reducing your intake of processed foods can make a positive impact in regards to your intake of omega-6 versus omega-3 fatty acid ratio.
What are good alternatives to vegetable oil?
Switching from vegetable oil to a healthier oil for cooking at home is a great first step in the right direction. Two oils I love and frequently recommend are olive oil and avocado oil. Both are very high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and are versatile choices. Flavorful extra-virgin olive oil is a delicious option for use in salad dressings, sautéing, and roasting at temperatures below its smoke point of about 325 to 375 degrees F. Avocado oil has a neutral flavor and a higher smoke point of about 500 degrees F. Coconut oil and ghee are two others to try if you're looking for a rich flavor or for a fat that is solid at room temperature.
Increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acid food sources is another beneficial step you can take. Choosing animal-based sources like fatty fish (try wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel), grass-fed beef, and eggs or plant-based sources like flax, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Whichever oil you choose, make sure you take care of it appropriately. Typically, you want to purchase an oil in a dark bottle and to store it in a cool, dark place to help prevent the oil from going rancid.
The bottom line?
Nourishing sources of fat are important in the diet, and choosing a healthy cooking oil is a step you can take to promote health. Vegetable oil is not as wholesome as it sounds, with a hard-to-pin-down list of ingredients that can be risky for allergy sufferers and high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation. Choosing a healthier oil like olive oil or avocado oil and increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help you nurture your health through food.
Source: Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC
Mushrooms are all the rage right now and for a good reason. They’re known to strengthen our immune system, support detoxification, and reduce our risk of mild cognitive impairment (the stage before dementia). So naturally, we're finding ways to put them in everything.
This salad recipe, published in Vegetables Illustrated by America's Test Kitchen, uses features cremini mushrooms, which are high in selenium ideal for supporting healthy thyroid functioning, and potassium known to promote more restful sleep.
This light and flavorful salad also includes another fan favorite: celery. Celery is known to improve digestion, calm the nervous system, and make your skin glow. You'll reduce waste by using the ribs and the leaves and will be left with a delicious and nutritious salad!
Shaved Mushroom And Celery Salad
Sasha Gill is a vegan food blogger, a medical student at Oxford University, and the author of the new cookbook East Meets Vegan. Growing up in Singapore, Sasha Gill was surrounded by what she calls "a melting pot of cultures," which she says influenced a rich and diverse cuisine. After leaving for boarding school when she was 16, she decided to become a vegan but was not ready to leave behind her favorite traditional dishes from India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, China, and Japan. Over the past few years, she's found innovative ways to recreate classic dishes using plant-based ingredients while maintaining their integrity.
Gill still wanted to eat Japanese classics like tonkotsu ramen broth, which traditionally is made from pork marrow or pork bone and can take more than 12 hours to cook. She set out to develop a recipe that held its bold staple flavors and took less time to make. Her vegan ramen recipe includes ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, high in B vitamins, known to support healthy brain and adrenal functioning, as well as ginger, associated with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits.
Customize your ramen to your liking with toppings like scallions, nori, sesame seeds, and edamame. The options are endless, and with some extra time on your hands, you can get creative!
Shiitake "Tonkotsu" RamenServes 2
The United States still struggles to feed people healthy food, according to a new analysis by Reinvestment Fund, a non-profit organization.
The analysis of limited supermarket areas, or LSAs, shows that in most states, access to healthy food improved, even in states with significant population growth such as Florida and Arizona. The number of people who lived in LSAs is down 3.1 million from 2010 — that's a decrease of 6.8 percent in 2010 to 5.6 percent in 2016. But progress hasn't been consistent across the country.
Even though grocery stores aren't the only places to get fresh food — other retailers include drug stores, corner stores, and clubs like Costco and Sam's Club — health experts note that food prices at grocery stores are lower than at smaller stores. Large clubs typically require membership fees that may be a barrier for some families. And, when there are fewer grocery stores in a given area, food prices are typically higher.
Additionally, the analysis found that LSAs — often called food deserts — are disproportionately found in areas where people have low incomes, live in poverty or are people of color. For example, even though food access improved overall in Rhode Island — the number of people living in LSAs dropped 38 percent between 2010 and 2016 — 91 percent of Rhode Island's remaining LSA population is low-income residents.
The Reinvestment Fund analysis identifies LSAs by looking at criteria such as income, car ownership rates, and the distance to existing grocery stores, making adjustments for differences in rural and urban areas. Still, in LSAs, residents travel almost twice as far to get to grocery stores as residents in places with good access to healthy food, even when there is similar population density and car ownership.
Retailers typically place stores in areas where there's enough demand to sustain operations, such as a denser population with a higher income. Low-income or rural areas don't offer those characteristics to attract retailers without other incentives. In urban areas, retailers face barriers such as real estate costs, limited parking space for customers and even traffic issues, where it may be hard for large trucks to enter to make regular deliveries.
The LSA analysis by the Reinvestment Fund helps direct government assistance, through the government's Healthy Food Financing Initiative, to communities to help bring grocery stores and healthy food retailers to underserved communities. Some communities address food access through grassroots efforts such as mobile grocery stores, community gardens and farmers markets. And in the past eight to 10 years, drug stores such as Walgreens have made efforts to stock limited grocery items including milk, eggs and fruit, calling these efforts a "food oasis" to combat limited access in food deserts.
Access to healthy food is key for good health and quality of life. People who live in areas with poor access to healthy food are 55 percent less likely to have a good-quality diet that includes culturally appropriate food, according to a 2009 study from National Research Council on the Public Health Effects of Food Deserts. On the other hand, in communities with good access to healthy food, there is a reduced incidence of diabetes. Food access also impacts other health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and even some types of cancer.
Source -How stuff works
As others are doing in Seattle and Philadelphia, the small city of Davenport is addressing local food insecurity with a regenerative, seven-layer garden, known as a “food forest."
The Quad City Food Forest uses permaculture techniques to create a layered “guild” system — i.e., a group of plants that help each flourish. The layers include “root, mushroom and shallow-rooted foods at the base of the garden, followed by vining varieties, ground covers and herbs,” according to the Quad-City Times. Next, there’s a flowering- and fruiting-shrub layer, then a low-tree layer and finally a full fruit- and nut-tree layer.
According to the paper, the food is available to the community for free.
“Volunteers take food home on a weekly basis, and anything that is left over, we will take to several local shelters and food pantries,” food forest president Conza Borders recently told the paper.
As Next City has covered, closed-loop agriculture is increasingly being used by cities to address hunger, food deserts and even mental health. The food forest model is particularly effective for low-income families because many community gardens require money for membership dues, seeds and tools. Food forests are designed to regenerate, with volunteers sharing seed-saving methods and planting native perennials that boost harvests year after year. They also tend to have an open-door policy.
“Anyone can come at any time of day and take whatever they want,” Michael Muehlbauer, the agricultural engineer and orchardist behind the Fair Amount Food Forest, told Next City earlier this year.
In Philadelphia, agriculturists want to borrow an idea from Seattle and use public land to create food forests. Their proposal wouldn’t just address food insecurity, but create a “different model for the civic commons,” Muehlbauer told Next City.
“Humanity used to have more of these spaces, for collectively growing food for each other and sharing it, and this is just trying to bring that back a little bit,” he said.
Drinking enough water can support skin, muscle, and joint health. Water helps the body's cells absorb nutrients and fight infections. Drinking a few glasses of warm or hot water each day might offer even more benefits.Although there is little scientific research on the benefits of drinking hot water, alternative health advocates argue that hot water is an easy way to improve health. In this article, we look at the evidence.
While drinking water of any temperature can support overall wellbeing, drinking hot water is thought to provide a range of additional health benefits.
People have consumed hot drinks for thousands of years. Folk medical literature is filled with stories of how hot water can improve health, but researchers have only just begun to look into the benefits of drinking hot water.
This article looks at eight of the potential benefits and the theories behind them.
1. Healthier digestion
Hot water is said to be an easy way to improve health.
When a person does not drink enough water, the small intestine absorbs most of the water consumed through food and drinking. This causes dehydration and can make it more difficult to have a bowel movement.
Chronic dehydration can cause corresponding chronic constipation. This constipation can make bowel movements painful and may cause other problems, including hemorrhoids and bloating.
Drinking hot water helps to break down food faster than drinking cold or warm water. It reduces the risk of constipation by supporting regular bowel movements.
2. Body detoxification
Natural health advocates argue that hot water might help the body detoxify. When water is hot enough to raise a person's body temperature, it can cause sweating. Sweating expels toxins and can help clean the pores.
3. Improved circulation
Hot water is a vasodilator, meaning it expands the blood vessels, improving circulation. This can help muscles relax and reduce pain.
Although no studies have directly linked hot water to sustained improvements in circulation, even brief improvements in circulation can support better blood flow to muscles and organs.
4. Weight loss
Research has long supported the idea that drinking more water can help a person lose weight. This may partially be because drinking water increases feelings of fullness. Water also helps the body absorb nutrients, and it flushes out waste.
A study published in 2003 found that switching from drinking cold water to hot water could increase weight loss. Researchers found that drinking 500 ml of water before a meal increased metabolism by 30 percent.
Raising water temperature to 98.6 degrees accounted for 40 percent of the increase in metabolism. This metabolic step-up lasted for 30-40 minutes, following water consumption.
5. Reduced pain
Hot water improves circulation and may also improve blood flow, particularly to injured muscles. No research has directly linked hot water consumption to pain relief.
However, people routinely use heat packs and hot water bottles to reduce pain. Consuming hot water may offer some internal pain relief, but it is important to note that heat can also exacerbate swelling.
6. Fighting colds and improving sinus health
Heat applied to the sinuses can alleviate pressure caused by colds and nasal allergies. Steam also helps unclog the sinuses.
Drinking hot water may help mucous move more quickly. This means that drinking hot water may encourage coughing and nose-blowing to be more productive.
7. Encouraging consumption of coffee and tea
Hot water mixed with tea or coffee may offer some additional health benefits.
When mixed with coffee or tea, hot water may offer additional health benefits. Coffee and caffeinated teas can dehydrate the body, especially at high doses, but they also offer some health benefits in moderation.
Research published in 2017 linked coffee consumption to a longer life. Other research has found a link between moderate coffee consumption and a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, some liver disease, and heart health problems.
Tea may reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease. Some studies have linked tea to a reduced risk of cancer, but the results vary.
8. Reduced stress
A soothing cup of hot water may help people manage stress and anxiety. An older study found that consumption of hot liquids, such as tea and coffee, could lower stress and reduce feelings of anxiety.
The study argues that some of the effects are due to caffeine, but that the warmth also played a role in the improved mood of participants.
Drinking hot water from a covered cup may reduce the risk of being burned from a spillage.The primary risk of drinking hot water is one of being burned. Water that feels pleasantly warm on the tip of a finger may still burn the tongue or throat. A person should avoid consuming water that is near boiling temperature, and they should always test a small sip before taking a gulp.
Drinking hot water in a covered, insulated cup can reduce the risk of spilling the water and getting burned.
Drinking caffeinated coffee or tea may cause a person to become overcaffeinated or jittery.
A person can prevent this by limiting the cups of coffee or tea they consume, or replacing caffeinated drinks with plain hot water.
The right temperature
Hot beverages, such as coffee or tea, are often served at near-boiling temperatures. It is not necessary for a person to risk a burn to gain the benefits of hot water. People who dislike hot water should consider drinking water at or slightly above body temperature.
A 2008 study reported an optimal drinking temperature of 136 °F (57.8°C) for coffee. This temperature reduced the risk of burns, but still offered the pleasant sensations of a hot drink.
Drinking hot water will not cure any diseases but, as long as the water is not scalding, the risks are minimal. So people who already enjoy hot water or who want to try a simple method for improving their health should feel assured that they are benefitting from it.
As more people adopt this health strategy, more research may become available.
Source: Medical News Today
At the start of every year, the US News and World Report assembles a panel of experts to rate the best diets, based on scientific evidence, nutrition recommendations and good old common sense.
The lists of best overall and best weight loss diets is exhaustively thorough and well worth reading. But even if you don't sign up to a particular eating plan, there's nevertheless plenty to learn from factors shared by the top five weight-loss diets:
1. Weight Watchers diet: Follow this classic diet and you'll be limited to a certain number of "points" you can eat every day. High nutrient foods generally have less points, while low-nutrient foods have more.
2. Volumetrics diet: Pioneered by Penn State University nutrition professor Barbara Rolls, this diet favours foods that less energy dense — that is, those lower in calories.
3. Jenny Craig diet: Another classic diet that limits calories by putting members on tight meal plans, then gradually teaching them how to make smarter and more nutritious food choices.
4. Vegan diet: Sayonara, foods that come from animals — regardless of whether or not the animal survives.
5. Flexitarian diet: A less extreme version of veganism and vegetarianism, flexitarianism (aka semi- or weekday vegetarianism, reducetarianism or lessetarianism) is rooted in plant-based foods with allowances for animal products.
They're varied and balanced, not punishingly restrictive
Any weight-loss diet has to be a little restrictive: to lose weight, the number of calories you burn as energy has to be higher than the calories you eat, which means eating less food.
But not drastically less food, because an eating plan that cuts calories too much isn't sustainable. You need to eat enough food to keep off hunger, and take a flexible approach that factors in occasional splurges and restaurant visits.
Weight Watchers is focused on sensible portions of sometimes foods, while Volumetrics encourages smart swaps rather than cutting favourite treats: for example, homemade pancakes made with whole-wheat flour, raspberry sauce and fresh fruit.
Even Jenny Craig, which restricts newcomers to prepackaged meals and snacks, makes allowances for small portions of desserts to manage cravings. All top five diets permit alcohol in moderation.
The takeaway: don't stop eating your favourite foods. Instead, try to eat them less often, in smaller portions, or made from more nutritious ingredients.
They're focused on the long term
Fad diets usually promise fast weight loss, and there's a reason those promises sound too good to be true.
Rather than guaranteeing you'll drop 10kg in a week, the top rated weight-loss diets are focused on slow-and-steady progress: they typically suggest you'll lose up to 1kg per week, a rate considered safe by most health experts.
They focus on whole foods, not cutting out entire food groups
Obviously veganism and (to a lesser degree) flexitarianism are exceptions, but in general the top weight-loss diets don't forbid entire food groups.
Instead of cutting things out, the diets mostly embrace whole foods — that is, those that have been minimally processed, with a particular focus on vegetables and fruit, as well as whole grains, non-fat dairy, and lean meat. (And the diets don't rely on exotic or expensive superfoods — their ingredients are things you can source at a regular supermarket.)
That focus on whole foods and the nutrients they deliver mean that, for the most part, the diets conform to government diet recommendations. The exception is veganism, which can meet nutrition targets but demands a little extra planning to do so. (Click here for some advice on how to do that.)
They demand a bit of hard work
Starting one of the best weight loss diets doesn't mean you'll lose weight. They're not miracle cures, and while they all share a simple premise — reduce calories, fat and portion sizes — that can be difficult to put into practice.
Weight Watchers adherents must count points. Volumetrics requires "lengthy meal preparation" and mental gymnastics to understand its energy density concepts. Vegans might find it tough find a decent meal when they eat out with friends.
Ultimately, the best diet is whichever one you find easy to follow, delivers you results, and you can stick to over the long term.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it was found that people who to travel for work more often than usual, are more likely to suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression. Apart from this, they are also more likely to smoke and may also have trouble in sleeping. As per the findings of the study, the number of nights away from home for business travel was directly linked with poor behavioural and mental health. However, few changes in the daily diet can play a significant role in boosting your mental health and could also reduce anxiety to a great extent.
Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants which have numerous benefits to provide. Berries including raspberries, strawberries and even blackberries are all a good source of vitamin C which can help in combating stress to a great extent.
Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Cashews are an excellent source of zinc and having a handful of them every day can be quite helpful.
Dark chocolate is a great source of healthy antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids which are particularly known to lower the blood pressure, ultimately making you feel calmer.
Stress and anxiety can make you feel lethargic and can impact the immune system to a great extent. Garlic is one food which is packed with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body.
While it does contain caffeine, green tea also has amino acids which act as a brain booster. Having green tea in moderation can enhance the mental performance to a great extent.
People swear by the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet for plenty of reasons—they say it can help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help you lose weight. But now one Reddit user says the ketogenic diet helped fight his depression, too.
Under the title “Depression is gone,” Redditor willilikeit writes, “Six months on keto. Have lost 40 pounds. But the best result is how I feel. I've gone from waking up with dread and fighting suicidal thoughts off and on most days, to feeling energetic, positive, and only a rare, passing, suicidal thought. It is night and day! Omg. Thank you for all of your posts and support!"
Several other people said in the comments that they experienced similar results with ketogenic diets. “So true, I sleep less, wake up ready for the day instead of dreading it. I have energy and want to actually do things now. So glad you feel it too!” Sea_Hag wrote. “I’m right there with you,” writes EffectedCat. “I don’t constantly think of how much I suck or constantly ask what I’m going to screw up today. …Anger and sudden emotional outbursts have dramatically decreased and everyone around me can notice the difference in my mood. This diet has changed my life.”
DOES THE KETO DIET REALLY FIGHT DEPRESSION?
It actually might, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D. “Your diet can absolutely have an effect on your mood,” she says. “Many studies have shown a clear link between diet and a person's state of mind.” The keto diet in particular may cause certain bodily processes that can help fight depression, she says.
I Tried It: Keto Diet
Here’s how it works: For some reason, when you're on a ketogenic diet, your body produces more GABA, a major neurotransmitter that helps the brain function properly, says Wider. When GABA levels are low, you’re more at risk for anxiety and depression. When they’re high, it may help stave off depression, she explains.
But, as plenty of Reddit users are quick to point out, just because the keto diet may help to fight depression, that doesn't mean that it's an end-all, be-all cure or is more effective than medication or therapy for treating depression.
Plus, weight loss may also help relieve symptoms of depression, especially if one of the reasons a person is depressed is linked to being overweight. After all, no matter the eating plan that you follow, being at a healthy weight is consistently linked to better sleep and cheerier moods.
Still, if you suffer from depression or anxiety, it’s really best to talk to your doctor to find the best plan for you when it comes to both your depression and your diet.
A new study finds that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day is tied to a lower risk of heart disease and death compared to drinking no coffee at all. Coffee consumption is also associated with a lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia.
On the downside, however, drinking coffee may be linked to a very small increased risk of fracture in women and may be associated with some harms if consumed during pregnancy.
For the study, a research team led by Dr. Robin Poole, Specialist Registrar in Public Health at the University of Southampton in the UK, with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh, conducted an umbrella review of 201 observational studies as well as 17 studies that had collected data from clinical trials across all countries and all settings.
The findings show that coffee consumption was consistently associated with a lower risk of death from all causes and from heart disease, with the greatest reduction in relative risk of death at three cups a day, compared with non-coffee drinkers.
Coffee was also tied to a lower risk of several cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin and liver cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout. The greatest benefit was seen for liver conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver.
Finally, the researchers also found beneficial associations between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Drinking more than three cups a day was not associated with harm, but the beneficial effect was less pronounced.
The included studies used mainly observational data, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but the findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee consumption.
Many of the included studies may have adjusted for factors that may be associated with both the health outcome and with coffee drinking, such as smoking. This was not comprehensive and varied from study to study. The authors can therefore not rule out the effect of such factors on the apparent harmful or beneficial associations.
The authors conclude that coffee drinking “seems safe within usual patterns of consumption, except during pregnancy and in women at increased risk of fracture.” And they call for robust randomized controlled trials “to understand whether the key observed associations are causal.”
In a linked editorial, Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says that until it can be proven that coffee intake is generally safe, doctors should not recommend drinking coffee to prevent disease — and people should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.
Furthermore, coffee is often consumed with products rich in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, “and these may independently contribute to adverse health outcomes,” Guallar said.
However, even with these warnings, “moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population,” he said.
The research is published in the journal The BMJ.
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