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If You Have A Sweet Tooth, Your Immune System Is More Likely To Suffer

If You Have A Sweet Tooth, Your Immune System Is More Likely To Suffer

We all know sugar is bad for us. Health experts who disagree about other aspects of diet, seem to come together on the topic of sugar: just don’t eat it.

You are probably used to hearing that weight gain and tooth decay are two common and unpleasant side effects of an obsession with sugary treats. Yet, sugar has other lesser-known but equally dramatic effects on the body’s overall health. Researchers have found that excess sugar consumption weakens your body’s immune system, greatly impacting your body’s ability to fight infections like the common cold and flu.[1]

When our white blood cells are not functioning at their optimum, we become more vulnerable to getting sick.

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    5 Ways to Reduce Sugar Intake

    1. Substitute stevia instead of sugar.

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      Avoid artificial sweeteners and stick with stevia, which is made from a simple plant extract. Many candies, chocolates, and other sweets are now sweetened with stevia and available in grocery stores. You can also purchase stevia in liquid or powder form to make your own desserts or to sweeten your coffee and tea.

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      2. Smaller portion size.

      Try planning out portion sizes ahead of time. For instance, tell yourself that if you are craving chocolate, you will only eat one or two squares of a chocolate bar. Sometimes allowing yourself to have a small amount of something sweet is more effective than restricting sugar completely. That way, you can still satisfying your craving for sweets without drastically affecting your body’s overall health.

      3. Stick to drinking water or tea.

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        One of the biggest ways people get themselves into sugar trouble is by drinking sugary products like soda and sports drinks. To avoid the temptation of sugary drinks, make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You can also drink tea to add some flavor and variety, just make sure your tea is unsweetened or sweetened with stevia.

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        4. Spread out your intake of sweet foods.

        Consider spreading out your intake of sweets throughout the week. Allow yourself to have that small bowl of ice cream, just make sure to have your sweetened tea, lemonade, or chocolate chip cookie several days down the line. Let yourself enjoy sweet treats one at a time. That way your blood sugar levels will stay more stable and your immune system will have more time to recover.

        5. Always have wholesome, healthy snack foods available.

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          Most of us crave sweets when it’s been a while since our last full meal. Common snack foods are loaded with sugar and when you’re hungry, its hard to limit yourself to just a few bites. Plan ahead and have healthy snacks available for when those snack cravings strike. Stock your fridge and shelves with carrots, hummus, nuts, berries, and other wholesome foods.

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          Remember, as with any new habit, you are bound to make a mistake or two. Don’t beat yourself up. Even moderately limiting your sugar intake will make a positive impact on your health, so focus on reducing your sugar intake one step at a time. Trying out just two or three of the suggestions above will get you on track toward better health and a stronger immune system. With a fully armed immune system, you may just skip your bout of cold or flu this season.

          Featured photo credit: ABC News via abcnews.go.com

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          Lindsay Shaffer

          Freelance Writer, Artist, Photographer

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          Last Updated on June 20, 2019

          Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

          Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

          There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

          More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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          Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

          You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

          During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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          Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

          Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

          The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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          This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

          Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

          The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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          This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

          This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

          Conclusion

          While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

          More About Music Playing

          Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

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