All posts by Natalie Bracco

About Natalie Bracco

Natalie Bracco is a freelance food, lifestyle, and technology writer currently working on heath and beauty subjects. She is currently living in sunny Florida. When she’s not out exploring and blogging the newest trends she’s out writing for established companies like Copy for Bylines. Follow her on Twitter @NatalieBracco.

Planting the Seeds of Intent for Sustainable Smart Cities

City of Tampa in full bloom.

In the late 1990s, Americans dreamed of a fully automated smart house. They smiled at the idea of turning lights on and off with a universal remote or voice command, they chuckled at the thought of a house regulating its own temperature, and their mouths watered at the notion of a house making breakfast.

Now in 2014, having actually built many things that were only dreams at the end of the century, visionaries are broadening their ambitions from smart homes to smart cities.

“What is a ‘smart city’?” you might be wondering. “What can it do now, and what might it be able to do in the future?” Excellent questions. Here are three examples of smart city technology that existtoday, and some thoughts about where they might go.

1. Smart Grids

According to energy.gov, the growth in peak energy usage has exceeded the growth in transmission capability by 25 percent every year since 1982. Given this staggering statistic, is it any wonder that over the past forty years America has endured five enormous blackouts (three of which happened within the last nine years)?

Until recently, utility companies tried to combat this problem by expanding (not improving) the current grid. This is no longer a viable option. However, smart grid technologies are part of the solution.

Currently, the most wide-spread form of smart grid technology is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). AMI replaces the traditional electric meter with a smart meter that gives both the homeowner and the utility information about power usage in real-time.

This information helps homeowners regulate their energy usage and demonstrates the value of energy-saving appliances. In the event of a power outage or other problem, smart meters also help utility companies pinpoint the issue, allowing them to resolve it more quickly while keeping the problem from spreading.

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Get Active: 5 of the Best Cities in the US for Cycling

cyclingAs time goes on, an increasing number of people have started leaving their cars in the garage and grabbing their bikes instead. As populations grow, streets become more crowded. Rising gas prices make driving in a car more expensive. Cabs can cost a fortune, and nobody enjoys riding the bus. That leaves a lot of people looking to their bikes for transportation. But what cities accommodate such a decision? Let’s check out some of the most bike-friendly cities in the USA.

Madison, Wis.

Madison began turning itself into a bike-friendly city around 1972 during an oil crisis. Since then, the cycling situation has consistently improved. The city now has a well laid out network of paths off the street as well as bike lanes all over the city. Madison draws some of the top cycling companies thanks to its bike friendliness such as Planet Bike and Saris. Motorists have gotten used to the cyclists over the decades. The city has also implemented a “Safe Routes to School” program designed to help children safely walk and bike to class.

If you head just outside the city, you can find pastoral and hilly terrain, which is great for riding. Also, if you’re into competition, Madison hosts the Ironman Wisconsin triathlon, which usually draws around 2,500 each year and has one of the most difficult bike courses in the country.

San Francisco, Calif.

This city has recently become one of the biggest biking places in the country. It’s not just cycling enthusiasts; it’s the business men too. Twitter–headquartered in San Francisco–claims that 25 percent of its employees use their bikes to commute. The company even leased a building near one of the main bike-ways to help accommodate them, and probably to encourage others to join.

Recent innovations in 2010 included 20 miles of new bike lanes, 25 bike parking corrals and traffic signals to help give bikers right-of-way. These led to a huge increase in cycling over the past five years; around 71 percent more. But with those increases in cyclers came a rise in bike crash statistics, despite the heightened level of safety offered by these lanes.

Chicago, Ill.

In 2011, Chicago got Washington’s progressive transportation director, Gabe Klein. Together with the new mayor, they set an ambitious agenda to refuel the city’s bike network. The call the plan the Streets of Cycling 2020.

One of the main goals of the plan is to install 100 miles of separate bike lanes in the next four years. So far, they installed a protected bike lane on Kinzie Street, which only took six weeks. Fifty one percent of traffic during rush hour now consists of bike riders. Elevated railways should soon become bike paths, and the bike-share system should soon expand to 5,000 bikes.

Minneapolis, Minn.

The bike culture in Minneapolis thrives thanks to the Stupor Bowl Alley Cat Race, wintertime cycling tours, the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s thousands of volunteer hours, and a general enthusiasm for biking around the city. What started off as a simple cultural phenomenon has now become a community attitude. It’s made the city one of the best places to cycle in the country.

You’ll find the 4.57 mile Cedar Lake Regional Trail as one of the largest biking trails in America. The trail also connects to other biking and walking paths. It’s got two one-way bike lanes and a pedestrian lane running from the Mississippi River through the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field and into the suburbs in the west.

Portland, Ore.

Portland has long-held the title of best biking city in America. It often serves as the only American city on lists of the world’s top places for cyclists. It’s the only big city (with a population of over 600,000) to earn a “Platinum” status from the “League of American Bicyclists” thanks to 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths.

You’ll find a bike-rack or bar just about anywhere you go in the city. In Portland, sometimes it seems as if bikers have more control over the road than cars. When huge groups of bikers roam the streets, cars simply have to back off and wait for them to get through. Motorists have spent so much time around bikers, they’ll often let you into the road when no bike lane exists.

If you’re looking for a place where you can rely on cycling, you can’t go wrong with any of these cities. Find one that sounds like it best suits your riding style and enjoy fully embracing the healthy lifestyle.

After the Diagnosis: Life with Breast Cancer

breast cancer ribbonAnytime someone uses the world “cancer,” stomachs drop and brows furrow. When the word breast cancer is uttered, minds start racing with worries about the worst-case scenario. Leaving the doctor’s office after being diagnosed with breast cancer is one of the hardest parts, as you are literally taking your first steps toward treatment. Breathe — it’s going to be okay.

Get to Know What You’re Dealing With

If you need to break out a recording device to remember everything the doctor said, then do it. Take time out to research all the terms that he or she used. Research the different stages and start finding answers to common questions so you can be better informed. Once you know the basics, you can start asking your doctor the more advanced questions about the cancer and about your treatment.

Start Building Your Support System

Moving forward, you’re going to want a two-tier support system. The first tier should be a significant other or a parent who can hold your hand the entire time and stand next to you during doctor’s visits. The job of this person isn’t easy; they’ll know everything about breast cancer and all of your specific treatments, and they’ll be the second opinion you seek when you make the hard decisions. They’ll also need to be a hand to hold and shoulder to cry on.

The second tier is made up of your friends and family, who will drop by to brighten your day and ask about your well-being. They’ll bring books to read while you recover, gossip to keep you in the loop, and jokes to make you laugh. They’re like breaths of fresh air in a world of medical jargon and stuffy hospitals.

This is actually one of the hardest steps as you start telling those who are close to you about your breast cancer. It starts to feel real, and you have to say it out loud over and over again.

Find Your Voice and Start Asking Questions

Some doctors and hospitals make a patient feel rushed, especially if the cancer seems minor and easy to treat. This might be good news for you, as you’re not a case that the staff is highly worried about, but it can make a patient feel like their not valued or important.

Don’t let the doctor or nurse leave until you have every possible question and concern addressed. You’re already going through a difficult time in your life; you don’t want to be left in the dark in regard to your treatment plan. Ask what test results mean, look at your chart, and have the doctor give explanations of the treatment process.

Treat Yourself

One of the first things you should do after you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer is to treat yourself to cupcakes, that purse you’ve had an eye on, a manicure, or whatever else makes you feel good about yourself. The road ahead won’t be easy, so take a little time to make yourself feel good before you have to face it.

Fighting cancer isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t beat it. Use it to build strength, not weakness.

photo by: TipsTimes

Gentle Giants: 5 Big Names Investing in Your Health & Wellness

Personalized healthcare is quickly becoming an important trend in healthcare. As more and more data about each patient and about genes and the human genome becomes available, technology companies are conducting research to store and analyze this data. They plan to use it to understand illnesses and treat patients on an individual level. Some big businesses understand the importance of personalized healthcare and are investing in ventures to make it happen.

Google and Bill Gates

Image via Flickr

Foundation Medicine is a diagnostics company possibly best known for helping Steve Jobs with his cancer treatments. Foundation sells a test that examines the DNA fueling a patient’s cancer and tries to pinpoint the exact genetic mutations involved so doctors can come up with a personalized treatment plan. Both Google and Bill Gates have heavily invested in Foundation Medicine. Google owns 9 percent of stock, and Bill Gates owns 4. Major technological players are aware of the advantages of this kind of personal medicine research, and their strong investments will help to further the research of companies like Foundation.

IBM

IBM is doing several things to further the development of personalized healthcare. They’ve teamed up with the New York Genome Center to conduct genomic research that will help bring more personalized treatment plans to brain cancer patients, specifically those affected with glioblastoma, a severely malignant form of brain cancer. In tandem with IBM’s Watson, a cognitive computing project that makes it easier for physicians to access and assess patient data and medical records, IBM and NYGC have been working at this cancer research for a decade. The Watson system analyzes genomic differences between cancerous and non-cancerous brain cells, then interprets this data in such a way that physicians can use it to create an individual treatment plan for each glioblastoma patient.

Mark Cuban

Image via Flickr

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently invested $760k in Validic, a company that streamlines personalized health data that comes from multiple sources like healthcare apps. This data helps doctors, healthcare professionals, and other relevant parties access a single stream of patient data. With so much data connected to every patient, the health informatics field is growing as personalized healthcare comes to the forefront of medicine and biotech. Validic is a startup, currently boasting only fifteen employees. But Cuban sees the potential in the small company and values the work they are doing, saying that personalized medicine is the direction in which healthcare is going.

Dell

Computer giant Dell has come up with a high-performance computing system specifically meant to analyze genomes. The Dell Active Infrastructure for HPC Life Sciences is software for scientists. The goal of the project is to quickly and easily work with the genomic coding and analysis that scientists need. Since genomes are a huge amount of data, scientists need a lot of power and storage to complete their work. Dell is working through previous issues that cause delays in research and analysis, and the Active Infrastructure is going to help with cancer research, agriculture, and many things in between.

Sony

Just this past January, Sony has announced they are teaming up with medical company M3 in Tokyo to create a new company that will focus on genomic research as it relates to personalized medicine. The new company, called P5 Inc, will provide genome analysis to research institutions in Japan. Eventually, Sony hopes the company will be able to provide the same services on a more individual basis, relating genomic data with other medical information to create personalized healthcare regimes for specific patients. P5 isn’t the only investment Sony has made in the future of medicine. In 2012, Sony invested $644M in camera company Olympus to further their research regarding medical imaging technology, specifically endoscopes with extremely high resolution.

More and more corporations and wealthy individuals are investing in personalized healthcare, genome research, and the data concerns that go along with it. These investments in new projects and innovative companies show that some big businesses care about the future of the medical field and personalized health. Research and development for personalized healthcare can only grow with the backing of these major players.

5 Simple Ways to Make Your New Home Yours

If you’ve just purchased a home, or moved into a new space, you’re most likely looking around trying to figure out the best ways to make it truly feel like your own. There are many ways that you can put your personal touch on a home. Consider some of the following options to make the house feel like home.

1. More Than Just Paint

home - pillows

Image via Flickr by MissMessie

One thing that many homeowners do when they first buy a house is start envisioning new paint. However, there is more to coloring a home than simply slapping on some paint. Think about the other places in the home that you’ll add color. Throw pillows are a great way to add your personal touch and some of your favorite hues. They don’t have to match the wall colors – just make sure that they match your personality.

Another place that you can add color is with the appliances and furniture pieces you choose. These all make a statement about you within your home. Are you into retro styles? Consider a bright red cooking set for the kitchen. If you’re more subdued, you may want to color the home with more earth tones. Keep in mind that adding color to the house requires more thought and effort than simply painting the walls.

2. Make The Walls Your Canvas

Image via Flickr by Webb Zahn

Some people love to have pictures of the family on the walls. Others enjoy beautifully painted art. Some prefer to hang shelving that has collectibles or delicate items on display. Whatever your preference, make sure to take a look at the wall space you have in the home. Hanging items on the walls helps the space feel more comfortable. On top of this, it puts your personal stamp on the home. Wall hangings can be quickly and easily changed, allowing you to change the look of the home with your mood.

3. Change the Floors

Image via Flickr by Christopher

When you buy a new house, you’re not always going to get everything you want all at once. Instead, you may find the perfect layout, but feel the need to change other things in time. One way you can truly make your house feel like yours is to ensure that the flooring is everything you want it to be. Is the house full of carpet, but you really wanted wood flooring? Pull up the carpet and make the change. Another option is to change carpeting or tile to a newer, better style that fits your preferences.

4. Feel More Secure

Image via Flickr by penelope waits

Safety is something homeowners often gloss over. After all, if you don’t feel secure in your own home, you may never feel truly relaxed. Set up a checklist of everything to be aware of before you begin moving into your new home. Here are some things it should cover:

  • Finances (budget for home inspections and insurance)
  • Electrical (check circuit breakers, switchplates, washer/dryer units for possible electrical hazards)
  • Set up emergency contact numbers
  • If you have little ones, be sure to take the necessary steps in baby-proofing the home
  • Develop and practice an escape plan in case of fires
  • Consider investing in a home security system

5. Incorporate Personal Touches

Image via Flickr by margaretshear

There are little things that you love and that are a part of who you are. Whether you love candles, or you collect baseball cards, these things are personal touches that you can add to the home. When adding little things, you make the house really feel like it is yours. Do you love spring? Add a bouquet of spring flowers to the kitchen table. The little things that you do will make all the difference in the feel of the home. Make yourself feel welcome with a batch of cookies. Though you may not want to bake cookies every day, if you’re feeling out of sorts in the home, this can be a helpful touch.

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, there is always a period of adjustment in a new house. There are many ways to make sure you feel just right in your new digs. With just a few pieces added to the walls and some color splashed about, you’ll start feeling right at home in no time.

How Much Sodium Does a Water Softener Add to Your Diet?

When you think of drinking a glass of water, you probably don’t worry about drinking a bunch of sodium. However, depending on where you live and your local water supply, you could be drinking saltier water than you have to. Many households use water softeners that contain sodium to get rid of hard water. Understanding how water softeners work and your options for softening your water will help you make the best decision for your home.

What Is the Difference Between Hard & Soft Water?

As water moves through pipes to reach your house, it can pick up minerals from the pipes and the ground. Depending on the amount of minerals in the water, chemists classify water as hard or soft. Hard water has lots of magnesium and calcium ions. Soft water has less magnesium and calcium ions but may have sodium or potassium ions instead. These ions in your water can affect everything from the water’s taste to how well your detergent works to build up in your plumbing.

The minerals in hard water can combine with detergent to produce a sticky scum that will end up anywhere you use soap. Hard water can also leave water stains on glasses washed in a dishwasher. Because of these issues, most people use water softeners to remove some of the minerals from hard water and have better-washed clothes and dishes. Soft water may feel more slippery and sometimes has a slightly salty taste.

How Do Water Softeners Work?

Water softeners are systems that contain a resin through which your drinking water passes. As the water moves through the resin, the resin pulls the calcium and magnesium ions out and puts in either sodium or potassium ions instead. These sodium and potassium ions work better with your detergent to help remove dirt and oil, to the point that you can use less soap to get everything just as clean.

Water softeners typically treat your drinking water and not water used in irrigation. You need to backwash the resin in the water softener system to remove any dirt and make sure that the correct balance of sodium or potassium ions is present to remove the magnesium and calcium. Sometimes water softening systems need more salt added to recharge the resin with sodium ions.

How Much Sodium Is Added to the Water?

The amount of sodium added from a water softening system varies based on the manufacturer and specifications of the system. Untreated tap water already has a small amount of sodium in it. If you live in an area with very hard water, you will need to add more sodium to make your water soft. Typically water softening systems add between 10 to 40 milligrams of sodium per eight ounce glass of water. While this may not seem like a lot of sodium, it presents a source of sodium that most people don’t consider when they think of dietary sodium in their daily intake.

Why Should You Avoid Salt-Based Water Softener Systems?

If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you should avoid using salt-based water softener systems. These systems will introduce more sodium into your diet. Even if you are not concerned about the sodium, these systems use extra water during the backwashing phase. Salt-based water softener systems waste water because water is used to flush the system. Salt-based water softener systems are not environmentally friendly due the excess sodium pumped back into the sewer system.

There are options for non-sodium based water softeners to suit your needs. Saltless water softener systems do not use chemicals or salts of any kind. No added salt means that your water is not slippery or salty tasting. Because there is no salt, the salt-free water softener systems do not waste water or add sodium to the sewer system.

When dealing with hard water in your home, you have options to keep your plumbing free of buildup and your dishes and clothes as clean as possible without using excess detergent. Understanding the differences between the various water softening systems can direct you towards the system that will work best for your home. Which system would you prefer for your home?

6 Household Stress Busters to Beat the Stress Monster

stress monster ballFeeling the stress monster coming to get you? In our fast-paced, results-driven world, it’s a common complaint among working adults to experience stress. Consider the following things you should keep around your home to send that pesky monster on its way.

Use a Sunrise Alarm Clock

If the thought of your alarm clock going off in the morning adds stress to bedtime, consider getting a sunrise alarm clock, such as the Philips Wake-up Light. These types of alarm clocks are designed to gradually add light to your room and help your body gradually wake up rather than being jarred awake.

The best part about it is you can decide when the “sun” rises. For 30 minutes before the set time to wake up, the light will gradually get brighter and brighter. It’s especially helpful in the winter, when you might need to wake up before the actual sun rises.

Essential Oil Diffusers

It’s been found the essential oils have many useful properties, and diffusers are a great way to add the lovely scent of essential oils to the air while relieving stress. Common stress-relieving oils include lavender, citrus fruits, and vanilla. There are a few options when it comes to diffusers.

Some use ultrasonic technology to break the mixture apart and diffuse it into the air. Others use the heat from candles to diffuse the oil into the air. By using essential oils, not only will it help relieve stress, but it will also help disperse unpleasant smells in the air without using chemicals.

Comedies

Did you know that the average a child laughs 300 times a day while an adult only laughs 17 times a day? According to a paper published on the National Institutes of Health website, laughter and positive emotions produce improvements in how your immune system functions. Those people who choose to cope with stress by laughing have a greater daily positive attitude and are able to deal with stressful situations easier.

There are a variety of ways to increase the amount of laughter you experience every day. One of the easiest ways is to watch comedies, whether TV shows or movies.

Meditation Apps

With today’s technology, it’s no surprise that there are apps designed to help you relieve stress and anxieties. One of the best ways to relieve stress is with daily meditations. When we feel stressed, the adrenal gland produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol. Prolonged exposure to cortisol results in adverse effects.

According to a study through the Center of the Mind and Brain, meditation helps to decrease the resting levels of cortisol. Meditation apps help you to focus on your meditation and take you through the steps to relax your brain.

In addition to meditation apps, there are other apps that you can have on your phone to help reduce stress. Breathe2Relax takes users through diaphragmatic breathing exercises that are known to help interrupt stress receptors in the body. The Worry Box app is a great way to control stress caused by worrying. In the app, it asks questions about what is worrying you, whether that worry is something within your control, and gives you techniques for dealing with worries.

Exercise Equipment

According to the Mayo Clinic, almost any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever by increasing the amount of endorphins in your brain. When you focus on a specific exercise, whether racquetball, running or yoga, it acts as a form of meditation to help you forget about the day’s stresses. For that reason, having exercise equipment in the home is a great way to beat the stress monster.

There are a lot of options with an exercise ball to work out your entire body such as push-ups and abdominal tucks. If you love aerobic exercises that get you moving, get a Wii or Xbox Kinect and some dance games like Just Dance to work off stress.

Start a Compost Pile

Environmental awareness and lowering your carbon footprint can contribute in making you feel better about your lifestyle and help to alleviate stress. In addition to recycling and switching to eco-efficient lightbulbs, starting a compost pile in your home or apartment is a great way to do your part for the environment. According to energysavings.com, keeping a 50/50 ratio of both brown materials and green materials in your compost heap is the most efficient way to break down the organic waste. Brown materials include everything from yard waste, newspapers, peanut shells and compostable paper products. Green materials include grass clippings, egg shells and fruit and veggie scraps.

With so many ways to relieve stress, there’s really no reason for stress to build up and weigh you down. These are just some items for your home that help you release that stress that you can use whenever you start feeling tense.

5 Signs That You Could be an Alcoholic

pillz n boozeDetermining whether your family member or friend has a drinking problem isn’t an easy task. Not only does it take courage to accept the fact yourself, but it takes bravery to face them and try to convince them of the point. It’s likely they’re going to deny they have a problem, so it’s time to study their habits and find the proof yourself.

Here are five ways to tell that your family member or friend is struggling with a drinking problem.

1. Drinking More Than Just One - Has your loved one invited you out for a beer, only for the dinner date to turn into a binge drinking session? If your family member or friend can’t handle just one or two drinks, chances are they’re dealing with a drinking problem. If you repeatedly witness them drinking their fifth drink while you’re still sipping on your first, it’s time to sit them down and have a serious talk about their drinking.

2. Missing Work Because of Drinking - OK, so you’re not their secretary, but there are ways to check to see if your family member or friend is missing work because of their drinking habits. You either give them surprise phone calls at work if you suspect they were out the night before or simply ask them. Also, they may just tell you out of sheer pity because they trust you so much. No matter the case, take this sign serious and seek help.

3. Causing Trouble at Home - When someone has a drinking problem, it’s most likely taken over their life so much that they stop paying attention to the things that matter the most. If you visit your family member or friend only to notice that their place is a mess, they don’t have food in their fridge, and that the dog hasn’t been taken out in days, you should ask them what’s going on. Putting two and two together isn’t hard, so if you suspect a problem make sure to discuss it.

4. Drinking Because of Problems - If your family member or friend constantly calls you complaining about how bad their day was and follows up by asking you if you’re down to drink, then they could very well be dealing with an alcohol issue. People who always drink to ease stress or compensate for a bad day are dealing with a bigger than that day has presented them. If you suspect this, act immediately.

5. Lying About Drinking - If your family member or friend comes to your house for a movie night smelling of alcohol, ask them if they’ve been drinking. If they respond by saying no, then you know they’re dealing with a problem. Anyone who has to lie about their alcohol consumption probably already knows they have a problem, but now it’s time for you to take it a step further and get them the help they need from a place like 12 Keys Rehab.

Having a drinking problem isn’t the end of the world. After all, millions of Americans drink while millions more are bombarded daily with advertisements and social cues that tempt them to. The important thing is to realize that there’s a problem, accept it, and seek the best help you can get.

5 Nutrient-Packed Foods for Healthy Hair

de5de856512394ea_shutterstock_96575575.previewMany of us assume that buying the best shampoos and conditioners will be enough to keep our hair looking healthy. These products do help to repair existing hair damage but don’t do much to promote new hair growth and cannot replace essential vitamins that we may be missing from our diet. There are certain essential vitamins and minerals that our hair relies upon, and a lack of these is often the source of many hair growth problems. Some simple changes to our diet can really make a big difference to the look of our hair.

Modern lifestyles can also have an impact – a busy lifestyle, lack of sleep, or even pregnancy can seriously make a difference in our hair health. Vitamin supplements have  been proven to help, but if you are looking for the most natural sources of these vitamins then here is a list of 5 food types foods that can help to provide those essential vitamins your hair needs.

Fish

Many sources site that salmon is the number 1 super food for healthy hair. This is because it contains a great combination of essential substances that our hair simply loves. Omega 3 oils help maintain a well hydrated scalp, and many believe this is essential to maintaining healthy hair growth. Oily fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3, and salmon is also rich in Vitamin D which is great for your hair follicles.

If you are someone who doesn’t like eating fish then certain vegetable sources can be a great way to get the omega-3 you need. Rapeseed, flaxseed, soya beans, walnuts, almond and even tofu are all good sources of Omega-3.

Vegetables with Beta-carotene

Beta carotene is present in many vegetables and provides us with a great source of Vitamin A. For many people who suffer from dandruff a simple addition of vitamin A to their diet can help solve the problem. Vitamin A helps to promote sebum oil which is our body’s natural conditioner for our scalp. It can also help with hair growth problems as it is said to assist with oxygenating our scalp. Sweet potatoes are known to be one of the best sources, and other vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and broccoli are also recommended.

Oysters

Oysters are also recommended to help fight scalp problems such as dandruff. A lack of zinc in your diet may even be the cause of hair loss, and oysters have a particularly high zinc content. Zinc helps promote the level of androgens in our body, and for some people a low level of androgens has been directly linked to hair loss. Crab, liver and beef are also good sources of zinc.

Eggs and other biotin rich foods

Our hair is essentially built using protein, a nutrient that has been associated with speeding up hair growth. Protein can be found in many types of foods, but eggs are one of the best sources. Another important mineral in eggs is biotin, and those who have a biotin deficiency may suffer from brittle hair. To prevent this, biotin has been proven to be effective from both foods and supplements if needed. Kidney beans and nuts such as almonds and even peanuts are also good sources of biotin.

Fruit and vegetables with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is great for both our hair and skin. Vitamin C helps keep our blood vessels oxygenated, which in turn keeps our hair follicles healthy. Super fruits such as blueberries have a very high level of Vitamin C, and strawberries and citrus fruits are also good sources. Many vegetables such as green beans, spinach and broccoli are good sources, and the old-fashioned rule of eating colorful vegetables can give you a good indication of a high vitamin C content, as well.

You may have identified that one of these essential sources of vitamins is missing from your diet, and that may well be the cause of a particular problem. If you are concerned and believe you may have a nutrient deficiency then simple tests at your doctors can identify what vitamins and minerals you may be lacking. This Women’s Hair PDF can also help you to diagnose any hair health problems you may have!

7 Telltale Signs You’re A Hardcore Greenie

max-R Outdoor Recycling BinGoing green is a great way to show your love for the environment and to promote a sustainable lifestyle that really helps the planet. It’s also incredibly addictive, so after the first few steps you might find yourself engaged in an increasing number of green activities. You know you’ve become a seriously hardcore greenie if…

You Look for Recycling Bins Instead of Trashcans

Recycling is one of the easiest, most essential ways to go green. It only takes a little effort, it’s great for the environment, and it’s becoming much more widely accepted. If you’re becoming a hardcore green-friendly person, you likely start looking for recycling bins before you ever look for trashcans, because you realize that practically everything is recyclable. Whether you’re out shopping or visiting a friend, you’re loathe to throw away your paper cups, soda cans, or newspapers, and secretly you feel a little appalled when you discover that there aren’t any recycling bins available.

Your Have Reusable Bags Hidden in the Car

You can’t remember the last time someone at a store asked you if you wanted paper bags or plastic ones because your reusable bags are always at hand. You’ve been known to turn around without shopping if you arrive at the store and realize you forgot your fabric bags. To avoid that in the future, you started squirreling reusable bags away in your car.

People who carpool with you (of course you carpool—it’s better for the environment) are likely to find cloth bags in the side pockets of the door, the glove compartment, the trunk, under the seats, and in the hidden cubby console between the front seats. You now use them for everything, from carrying around your gym clothes to carrying your shopping. In fact, you have enough reusable bags that sometimes you lend them to people at the grocery store who insist on using plastic bags.

You Unplug Without Thinking

Many people don’t even realize that their appliances and gadgets still suck up energy even when they’re turned off—but you do. You’ve long suspected that your electricity bills are high and your appliances are wasting energy even if they’re turned off, because they’re still plugged into the wall sockets. Now that you have proof, unplugging is second nature to you.

When you’re a serious greenie, your routine changes. Where once it was enough to simply walk through your home turning off the lights in empty rooms, now you go around unplugging those big energy vampires. You make sure to unplug your computer and all of its components because you know your favorite tech-toy is one of the biggest culprits. You gleefully unplug kitchen appliances, especially the microwave, and you always pull the plug on the TV too.

Of course, if you’re really green, you likely have smart power-strips as well, to save energy even when you’re using your favorite devices.

You Take Marathon Showers

People waste so much water every day! Long baths and showers aren’t special treats saved for stressful days, they are daily occurrences. But you know better. Not only do you turn off the faucet as you brush your teeth so you’re not needlessly wasting water, you’ve turned showering into an Olympic event.

You’ve timed exactly how long it takes you to do everything you need to do in your shower. You don’t waste one single second—or a single drop of water. In addition to installing a low-flow head for your shower and a shower timer, you’ve equipped every faucet with an aerator to conserve energy, water, and heat. You know, as you get all clean and fresh, that you’re doing your part to save water.

You Wanted Solar Energy for Your Birthday

After long dreaming of using solar energy, you finally decided that was all you wanted. You saved up, looked around for the best deals and the most quality work, and decided that solar panel energy was the best choice for you. That’s because you know how efficient solar energy really is. You understand the joy of relying on the sun to give you heat, power, and even hot water. While your panels were your biggest birthday present, you still insisted that anyone who got you a present used recyclable paper, of course.

All Your Gadgets Are Solar-Powered

It wasn’t enough to install solar power on your roof, though. You want everything powered by solar energy because, again, you realize how powerful the sun is. So your kitchen is fully outfitted in appliances powered by solar energy. The fridge uses solar power and all of your other appliances are completely energy-efficient. You’ve got a solar-powered watch and the charger you use for your phone, tablet, and other mobile gadgets is also solar-powered. All your friends are jealous of you when the power goes out because you’re still connected. How cool are you?

You’ve Got the Best Compost Pile on the Block

If you’re a hardcore environmentalist, you’ve been composting since long before it was cool. You’ve discovered a way to compost almost everything. As a result, your grass is lush and all the drought-tolerant plants in your garden thrive. You can easily sustain yourself on the food you grow and you routinely share with your neighbors because you want them to eat healthy too.

Composting is part of your routine. Almost everything that comes out of your home either gets recycled or composted. You try to reuse everything for a good purpose and it works for you. Not only do you know you’re doing your part, but you help to erase your carbon footprint every single day. You even offer to start compost heaps for the neighbors who compliment your lifestyle, your commitment, and your gorgeous greenery.

If you’re a serious greenie who takes the eco-friendly life seriously, then you are unquestionably awesome. You’re kind to the Earth, to your family, and to your neighbors because you know that what you’re doing matters.

 

Image via Flickr by max-R

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