Help With Bad Breath

Wow, what did you have to eat Mr. Dragon Breath? The Times Online recently reviewed popular bad breath solutions. Some of them are tried and true, and some are based on little more than word of mouth:

Tried, but not yet proven to be helpful:

  • chewing on parsley
  • chewing special gum
  • eating yogurt
  • chewing fennel seeds
  • chewing magnolia gum

Some research indicates it might help:

  • rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash
  • brushing with baking soda
  • popping peppermint oil
  • scraping your tongue

Proven health habits to keep bad breath at bay:

  • staying hydrated
  • munching on fruit
  • brushing frequently
  • quitting smoking
  • eating breakfast
  • flossing daily
  • seeing dental and medical professionals to rule out underlying problems

Spices For Health

The colder weather is beckoning us back to our kitchens. Break out the spices to bring warmth, robust flavor, and a bounty of health benefits, including higher energy, increased immunity, and other life-enhancing surprises.

Here are some spices that you can start cooking with right away to elevate your longevity and health!

1 Garlic wards off heart disease

Garlic, the spicy favorite in Italian fare, has been shown to improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, consuming half to one clove of garlic daily may reduce cholesterol by nearly ten percent. Your breath might suffer, but your heart will thank you. As an antibacterial, garlic is often used to treat minor infections.

2. Spotlight on cinnamon

Another ancient spice to recently come under scientific investigation is cinnamon. In the United States, cinnamon is usually thought of as the delicious spice in apple pie filling, but in other parts of the world, especially India and Asia, cinnamon has been used as a healing herb for centuries. Research is finally catching up to the wisdom of the East; many clinical studies have linked cinnamon consumption to lowered blood sugar. Both in vitro and human studies show improvement in insulin sensitivity with cinnamon polyphenols, as well as improvement in total and LDL cholesterol. Cinnamon is also thought to detoxify the system and stimulate brain function. Its antiseptic properties give it the ability to fight bladder infection, and if taken in the first 48 hours, a cup of strong cinnamon tea might just nip a bladder infection in the bud. Keep in mind that mixed study results make it difficult to prove these benefits on paper — but it doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a teaspoon into your next bowl of oatmeal.

3. Curry for joint health

Are your aching joints not jumping for joy in these autumn days? Try sprinkling some curry on your veggie omelet. Curry, a staple spice combo in Southeast Asian cuisine, contains turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its distinctive color. The active component in turmeric is called curcumin. If you are a fan of curry, you will be happy to know that this substance is associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-amyloid properties; amyloids are plaque-like proteins that build up in brain tissue, and are responsible for diseases like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis. In one randomized control study 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis received either 800 mg per day ibuprofen or 2 grams per day Curcuma domestica extract. Both groups showed improvement in pain on level walking and climbing stairs.

4. Star Anise aids digestion

As the name suggests, star anise is indeed star-shaped. Though it is not actually related to anise, star anise shares a similar licorice flavor, due to its content of anethole. Used to bring out flavor in slow-cooked meat dishes and long-simmered soups, this spice frequently makes an appearance in Indian cuisine and is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. Star anise has been used in a tea to remedy rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.

Special combinations of spices and herbs can bring you a powerful immune zoom; one that includes star anise in the mix is the 5 Elements of Health, which promotes a strong immune function and balances the energies of your whole body.

5. Cardamom improves energy

Found in curries, rice dishes, herbal teas, and breads, cardamom is the spice that gives chai tea its main flavor. In Asia, cardamom has long been valued medicinally for its ability to increase circulation and improve energy. Considered an aphrodisiac in the Middle East, cardamom may also improve digestion, asthma, bronchitis, halitosis, and even help improve a bad mood.

6. Clove curbs cramping

A delicious addition to cooked fruit, roasts, sweet vegetable dishes, and teas, clove has been used since ancient times in India to improve digestive function. You may chew on some to alleviate toothaches, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

7. Cumin boosts immunity

An excellent addition to meat curries, stews, vegetables, seafood, and sauces, cumin is thought to boost the immune system and also to improve liver function, reduce flatulence, and aid in digestion.

8. Fennel Seed soothes your intestines

Often used to spice up recipes with meat, beans, or legumes, fennel helps digestion in two ways: It stimulates the production of gastric juices and also soothes the nervous system, regulating the action of the muscles that line the intestine.

9. Ginger: Remedies aches and nausea

A perfect compliment to vegetables, marinades, and sweets, ginger is also delicious in tea. Ginger may help relieve nausea, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps, and muscle soreness.

A word of warning: always discuss with your physician before treating conditions with spices to avoid any adverse interactions; for example, because garlic and ginger possess natural blood-thinning properties, individuals about to undergo surgery and those taking blood thinners should take extra precaution.

To maintain peak flavor, use spices within six months — but the spice police won’t come knocking at your door if you keep them longer. They like to hang out in a cool, dark place in your pantry to preserve their oils and prevent loss of pungent flavors.

Snacks Between Meals = Good For you!

Snacking between meals is good for you. It keeps your blood sugar levels on an even keel and prevents you from becoming so hungry that you pig out at mealtime. You can reap amazing health benefits from snacking right. Here, according to numerous studies, are the best snack foods going:

  • A protein rich hard boiled egg has just 80 calories, but it’ll make you feel full for hours.
  • Almonds are another good source of appetite suppressing protein and fiber.
  • Dark chocolate is loaded with anti-oxidants that lower blood pressure and protect your heart and it doesn’t cause blood sugar levels to spike.
  • Popcorn is an excellent source of fiber, which is essential for digestive health. It also fights cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
  • A tablespoon of peanut butter, while high in fat, will take the edge off hunger pangs.

Got Milk? Or Milk It’s NOT just for Breakfast!

Got Milk? Or Milk It’s NOT just for Breakfast!

(Beauty tips from Maryann Curmi)

Cleopatra knew about the beautifying properties of milk: she took baths in it! Skin-softening, moisturizing, and filled with nutrients, milk has been a favorite beauty aid for millennia.

Find out how milk can help you to have smoother, more radiant skin. Simple, delicious recipes and formulas for your greater beauty, right here:

Use organic milk if at all possible.

Oily Skin Cleanser

Apply skim milk to your face and then rinse thoroughly with water.

Normal, Dry, or Mature Skin Cleanser

Use whole milk, applying gently to face and then rinsing thoroughly with water.

Gentle Facial Scrub for Oily Skin

Mix 1 teaspoon powdered skim milk with 1 teaspoon honey. Add a few drops of fresh lemon juice, and gently massage face with this mixture. Rinse thoroughly.

Gentle Facial Scrub for Normal, Dry, or Mature Skin

Mix 1 teaspoon powdered whole milk with 1 teaspoon honey and gently massage face with mixture. Rinse thoroughly with plenty of water.

And for the rest of your body……

Cleopatra’s Milk Bath
try this classic formula!

You could also use 1 cup of instant whole milk, instead of liquid milk.

Milk and Honey Bath

A favorite skin-soother: To a warm bath, add 2 drops lavender oil, 1 tablespoon honey, and 2 tablespoons whole milk powder (or 1 cup liquid whole milk). Soak as long as you like, then shower to remove all traces of milk and honey.

Milk and Honey Shower Gel

Pour a little honey into the palm of your hand and add some whole milk powder, mixing to form a gel. Use as you would any shower gel. (Guaranteed to leave your skin feeling silky soft and smooth.)

Body-Building Pre-Shampoo Hair Pack

Great for fine or lifeless hair, this will add body and luster:
Mix about 1/4 cup dry milk powder with enough water to make a paste, then gently massage the paste into your hair. Cover hair with a hot, damp towel and allow to remain on hair for about 30 minutes, changing the towel when it cools to keep the heat. Rinse and shampoo.


Everybody knows stuffing your face with ice cream, pizza and french fries packs on the pounds. But did you know that simply living in the suburbs makes you fat? It does. Here are 10 surprising things that expand your waistline:

  1. Gulping — Research shows that eating too fast blimps you up. Our bodies aren’t equipped to properly metabolize food when it’s shoveled down. Plus, you’ll tend to eat less if you eat slowly.
  2. Suburban Living — An international study shows suburb-dwellers tend to be fatter than country folks. Experts theorize it’s because rural people walk more.
  3. The Blues — Eating while you’re sad or depressed causes your body to store fat – even if you eat the same amount as you do when you’re happy.
  4. Pain Medications — Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin contribute to weight gain.
  5. Birth Control Pills — They can cause women to retain water, which increases weight.
  6. Non-Fat Eating — Forget the hype. Long-term studies find dieters who drastically restrict fat intake ultimately abandon their food plans and splurge. The reason? The diets are too unsatisfying and become impossible to stick with.
  7. Stress — You may not eat more food when you’re stressed out, but your digestive system tends to shut down when you’re fearful, worried or churning with anger. Instead of being metabolized, the calories get stored away – often on your stomach, thighs and butt.
  8. Get-Togethers — Social gatherings often center around food. You may lose track of how many potato chips or hor d’oeuvres you’ve tucked away.
  9. Smoothies — You may think you’re doing something healthy when you bypass a hamburger for a nutritious fruit smoothie. But when fruit is juiced, calories get concentrated. It’s fine to included fruit in your diet, but it’s better to eat it whole.
  10. Diet Soda — We’ve saved the most surprising one for last. You may think you’re outwitting Mother Nature by substituting artificially sweetened beverage for sugared ones. But research shows that people who consume a lot of saccharine or aspartame become desensitized to how many calories they’re taking in and wind up overeating.

Water Benefits

The ideal amount of water you should drink daily isn’t eight eight-ounce glasses. That’s just a myth. The ideal amount? As much as you need to stay hydrated. No more. No less. The benefits of drinking eight glasses of water a day aren’t backed by solid medical evidence. While it is clear that humans cannot survive for longer than several days without water, very little research has assessed how an average individual’s health is affected by drinking extra fluids. Want more?

  • Water that is sipped slowly is retained by the body, while water that is gulped is excreted.
  • There is no proof that drinking water will help people feel full and curb their appetite so they can more easily lose weight.
  • Headaches are not caused by water deprivation.
  • Staying hydrated is not an elixir for improved skin tone. Bottom line: There is no clear benefit to drinking a lot of water. If you’re thirsty, drink water. If not, don’t worry about it.

How To Get Your Child To Eat Their Veggies

JJ Virgin at says teaching kids to appreciate a variety of in-season veggies is a great way to encourage a healthy lifestyle. As summer heat gives way to fall and back-to-school season, the local farmer’s market fills up with a rainbow of options. Taking your kids to the farmer’s market to help pick out produce gives them hands-on exposure to new foods and lets them feel involved in the process. Virgin says “I encourage people to stick to nonstarchy vegetables as much as possible, so here are five in-season vegetables to try on your kids”:

1) Broccoli
Lots of moms coax their kids into eating broccoli by drowning it in cheese. Sure, they’re getting their vegetables, but they’re also getting plenty of fat and sodium from the cheese. Instead, pair broccoli with garlic. This adds a nice, tangy taste that many kids will love. Some kids will also eat raw broccoli, because it has a nice crunchy texture (younger kids may even get a kick out of eating tiny little “trees”).

2) Cabbage
If your kids like cole slaw, that can be a great way to incorporate cabbage into your meals. However, I recommend using white vinegar and a healthy oil (such as canola) instead of creamy, fatty mayonnaise.

3) Leeks
Leeks are delicious in soup (broth-based, not cream-based), and making soup is a great way to work in other seasonal vegetables as well (such as mushrooms or celery). Plus, you can make a big batch and freeze the leftovers for a quick, healthful dinner when things get hectic.

4) Mushrooms
Mushrooms are another savory soup option; you could also saute them with chicken/tofu, rice and a healthful oil for an easy but delicious dinner. Putting turkey, mushrooms and other veggies into a whole-wheat wrap also makes a quick and tasty lunch.

5) Zucchini
You can sneak shredded zucchini (or carrots) into muffins, meatloaf and burgers. Making zucchini boats is also a fun, kid-friendly option that’s easy on mom, too: Just slice a zucchini lengthwise, scoop out some of the pulp using a teaspoon or melon baller, fill your zucchini “boats” with toppings such as a healthful tomato sauce, whole-wheat rice or other veggies, then bake for about 20 minutes until they’re warmed all the way through.

Eating from the rainbow of vegetables adds color to your plate and helps ensure that you — and your kids — get all the nutrients you need.

Your turn: What are your favorite veggies — and do you have any tricks for getting picky eaters to try them? Email me


Why in the world does your breath smell so bad? There could be a number of causes, and most of them are easily addressed.

_ You have food particles trapped in your mouth—the most common explanation. That small piece of steak lodged between your incisors is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Brush, floss, and gargle after every meal to keep your teeth crumb-free.

_ Bacteria have set up shop on the tiny hairs on your tongue. People often overlook this important part of brushing, and it’s such a simple step. When you’ve completed cleaning the fronts and backs of your teeth, run your toothbrush over your tongue for an all-over minty fresh taste.

_ Your mouth is too dry to clean itself. Think of saliva as the mouth’s Windex. Without a sufficient amount, halitosis will eventually take over. Alcohol, caffeine, or dehydration might be causing your dry mouth, or it could be the side effect of a medication. If your mouth’s less than moist, increase your water intake, and chew on sugarless gum to increase the saliva flow. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as these can exacerbate the problem.

_ Your low-carb diet is to blame. When your body doesn’t have carbohydrates to burn, it stockpiles fat—a process called ketosis. As a result, your body uses more water than usual, which decreases the saliva in your mouth. See above. A simple solution is to consider Jenny Craig, instead, and make yourself a sandwich.

_ You have a medical condition that promotes the growth of oral bacteria. You could have a dental condition, like gum disease, mouth ulcers, or tooth decay, or a medical condition, like a respiratory infection, stomach disorder, or hormonal problem. If you experience any other symptoms, don’t ignore them! Bad breath may be the least of your problems.

_ You’ve been under tremendous stress. Stress often leads to digestive problems; it can also interrupt your usual oral hygiene routine as you deal with the nervous energy. The solution here is likely indirect. Practice deep breathing. Take a walk with your dog. Addressing the underlying problem should help ease the side effects.

_ You’re not really using that nicotine patch you bought. Tar, nicotine, and the like can offset even your best breath-freshening efforts. When you smoke, you decrease the moisture in your mouth, which we’ve previously established is a problem. As long as you have the habit, you’re likely to experience the effects.


The average woman absorbs 4.4 pounds of chemicals every year from makeup! This should pretty much freak you out. According to scientists in Australia, every year, the average woman absorbs about 4.4 pounds of chemicals into her body because of her makeup.

  • On the average day, between face creams, base, lipstick, eye shadow, hair spray and everything else, a woman can apply as many as 175 chemical compounds to their skin and hair.
  • The good news: In theory, all of those chemicals are actually safe. The bad news: That’s not 100% guaranteed.
  • There’s a group of preservatives called parabens that are in about 99% of leave-on cosmetics and 77% of rinse-off ones… and some experts think they’re hormone disruptors.
  • What that means: they can mimic estrogen… and, too much estrogen has been linked to a higher chance of breast cancer. They can also have a negative effect on male reproductive functions… but since men don’t wear makeup, it’s not as much of a problem.

The researchers also found that the average woman inadvertently eats five lipstick tubes a year… which, over the course of her life, is the equivalent of about six pounds of pure lard.

Question: Is this enough to make anyone STOP using make-up or lipstick?


From (Glamour) Dying for Oreos or chips? Your body may be trying to tell you something about your diet, says Keri Glassman, R.D., a New York City nutritionist. Tune in and avoid packing on the pounds when you crave:

  • Salty or greasy food — It could mean you’re slightly dehydrated. “Salt holds water in,” says Glassman. “Your body may be trying to hang onto the fluids it’s got.” Aim for eight glasses of water a day.
  • Candy or chocolate — It could mean you need protein. Without its slow releasing energy, your body will try to get a quick fix to boost blood sugar. Try a cup of yogurt it has 24 percent of your daily protein total.
  • Bread or pasta — It could mean you don’t eat enough. Starches are already partially broken down, so your body knows carbs will give it energy fast. Be sure to eat at least 1,200 calories a day.

Maybe some of this make sense to you, I hope it does. Remember, we never actually LOSE weight, we have to WORK that stuff off. So get movin’! – Justin