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The Many Uses and Benefits of Olive Oil

The Many Uses and Benefits of Olive Oil

When you think of olive oil, what’s the first association that you make with it? That it’s lovely for dipping bread into, or drizzling on a salad?

Most people know that olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs!) which lower cholesterol and have additional benefits like improving blood clotting and regulating insulin, but few really do their research on why it’s so good for us. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is an anti-inflammatory and natural antioxidant that keep cells and blood vessels healthy and strong, and it’s a great source of Vitamin E and beta carotene. Some researchers have claimed that a diet rich in EVOO—such as a Mediterranean diet that’s also rich in vegetables, legumes, and whole grains—can also lower one’s risk of cancer rather significantly.

Olive oil has been shown to improve bone health, cognitive (brain) function, and digestive health: with the latter, EVOO seems to help slow the growth of “bad” bacteria in the gut, while encouraging the growth of beneficial belly flora—much like active-culture yoghurt.

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Apparently the best type of oil you can use is extra-virgin oil from Spain, though it’s best not to heat it up: lower-grade olive oils are better for actual cooking, while EVOO is best for dipping and drizzling, so keep that in mind if you plan to incorporate more olive oil into your life.

With all of these great internal benefits from olive oil, it’s understandable that few would even consider using this amazing oil for anything other than a condiment. In actuality, it has some wonderful uses that go beyond its popularity as a dressing for your favourite greens:

1. Olive oil as skincare

Skin can get dry and scaly in wintertime, so consider using olive oil to moisturise it back to its full glory: the next time you take a bath or shower, massage some olive oil into your skin while it’s still damp, and you’ll notice results almost immediately. For particularly dry feet and hands, slather on the oil just before bed and then put on cotton socks and gloves to keep the oil in place as you sleep. The results you’ll see in the morning will be downright astonishing.

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You can use olive oil as a lip conditioner, to moisturise and soften cuticles around your nails, and can even be dabbed onto babies’ bottoms to help ease diaper rash.

This stuff is also great for your hair: a bit of oil can be rubbed into the scalp an hour before washing to help alleviate dandruff, and can also be applied to the ends of your hair if they’re dry and splitting. Pets can benefit from topical olive oil as well, particularly on rough paw-pads.

2. Oil-pulling therapy

Oil-pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that has been lauded the world over for its therapeutic benefits. Basically, a tablespoon of oil is gargled and swished around the mouth for 15-20 minutes a few times a day, and then spat out.  How does this help your body? Apparently it acts like a detoxifier, drawing all kinds of bacteria, mucus, and toxins out of your body in much the same way that oil in your car’s engine collects all the dirt and debris within it. People have claimed that it can alleviate everything from arthritis and allergies to chronic fatigue and PMS.

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3. Hairball relief

Hopefully this isn’t something you suffer from, but it works wonders for pet cats: adding ½ a teaspoon to your cat’s food every day can help to either prevent or alleviate hairball issues, and will also make their coats softer and more lustrous.

4. It adds moisture to cakes

With its Vitamin E content and dense moisture, olive oil not only makes cakes, cupcakes and muffins rich and moist, it also extends the life of them as it keeps them from drying out too quickly. Olive oil will also add extra nutrients to the cakes, and can be used in lieu of butter to make them lower in calories and more heart-friendly.

5. As wood polish

In addition to all of these amazing benefits, you can also use olive oil to polish wooden furniture and floors, though it seems like a terrible waste to use such a great oil for this sort of thing. If you’re going to go this route, make sure to use a low grade of oil so you don’t break the heats of all the craftspeople who work so hard to press the extra-virgin stuff.

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Featured photo credit:  Olive oil and olives via Shutterstock

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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