Unmasking Bias: Overcoming Subjectivity in Neurological Diagnoses

Handsome medical doctor

By Sai Mattapalli and Rohan Kalahasty, Founders and CEOs — Vytal

The medical field is full of technological innovation, with plenty of exciting new technologies that could improve patient care. One of the most exciting innovations in the medical industry is gaze tracking. This technology is based on the concept that the eyes are a window into the mind, meaning they can provide a comprehensive and — most importantly — quantitative evaluation of the patient’s brain health. This data can then be used to create an exciting new approach to neurological diagnoses and brain health.

Part of what allows gaze tracking to stand out compared to other tools is its ability to be calibrated to the patient’s specific needs and environment. Many tests used to be generalized, which works when identifying outward, common symptoms, but fails to recognize the nuance of brain injuries. Because of the unique nature of each individual’s brain anatomy, it stands to reason that brain injuries and neurological disease will affect each person differently.

Gaze tracking and concussion care

One of the reasons why AI-powered gaze tracking is such an exciting tool is that it can provide a powerful alternative to traditional concussion tests. Not only are concussion tests time-consuming, but they are also highly subjective and inconsistently applied. This is particularly the case if athletes underreport their symptoms or the medical personnel administering the test are insufficiently trained. 

On the other hand, advanced screening tools that integrate gaze tracking can detect concussions much more quickly, efficiently, and reliably. This facilitates immediate action, significantly reducing the potential for an undetected concussion to escalate into something more serious. Untreated concussions can cause undesirable effects like headache, confusion, and nausea, or even cause one to become more susceptible to future traumatic brain injuries.

Gaze tracking to test for neurological disease

However, it’s not just the diagnosis of concussion that this exciting technology could help with — it has also shown the potential to be used to screen for the early signs of neurological disease. With gaze tracking, patients’ conditions can be identified and diagnosed early, ensuring they receive timely treatment, and ultimately preventing the onset of large-scale permanent damage. 

One of the main benefits of this approach to testing for neurological disease is that it is quick and entirely non-invasive. This is a stark contrast to the traditional methods of testing for these diseases, such as CT scans, MRIs, electrodiagnostic tests, or spinal taps — which can be uncomfortable for the patient and often take days or weeks to deliver actionable results.

In contrast, gaze biometrics can give results to patients and their medical providers almost immediately. The readouts given by these tests are quantitative and interpretable, giving medical professionals actionable data to work on. Additionally, this technique allows the condition to be identified at earlier stages of the disease. The characteristic symptoms generally used to diagnose neurological disease often appear too late — after the damage has already been done — while gaze biometrics can show signs of disease in its earliest stages.

Gaze biometrics have also proven useful for longitudinal tracking beyond the initial diagnosis. Medical personnel can use gaze tracking to monitor cognitive decline, evaluate treatment responses, develop personalized medicine, or help maintain patients’ mental health. These capabilities could allow the technology to become an integral part of the treatment of patients experiencing cognitive decline.

Technological advances in the medical industry, such as gaze tracking, are paving the way for a future where patients can receive better, more personalized, and quicker care for brain injuries or neurological disease. With these new developments, care providers will hopefully be able to treat these conditions before they cause any long-term effects for their patients.

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I got Invisalign in my 50s, and here’s my honest review


I had braces when I was in third, fourth and fifth grade. After that, I had a retainer for less than a year, but I kept losing it and breaking it, so my parents refused to get me another.

They and I had no idea that not wearing a retainer meant my teeth would shift and return to their original state. I also did not know that having four molars extracted to make room for my teeth to move before I got braces would cause dental problems for the rest of my life. Mainly, because the molars that moved to fill the void were not designed to take the crushing force of biting, all of them eventually cracked, and I ended up with root canals and caps and later two had to be replaced with implants. There’s been a big learning curve regarding my dental wellness, and now in my fifth decade, I finally grasp the whole picture regarding a great smile. 

Frankly, I had not thought about my teeth and their positioning since I had braces as an adolescent. The impetus for me to examine my teeth was a comment by a rejected suiter I met on a dating app, who, in an amazing show of immaturity, said that I should look into dental work because I looked like a chipmunk. It was an incredibly hurtful insult, and from that moment on, I became self-conscious of my two front teeth, which, during some time of my journey into adulthood, had taken a slightly protruding stance, and had become misaligned. 

When I studied my teeth intently, I realized all of my teeth were a little off to the left, and the two front teeth had started to overlap the incisors on either side. I asked my dentist about Invisalign. Ironically, as a blogger, I have been approached by Invisalign a couple of times, and they had offered to provide me with free braces if I would write about the experience. I had declined, not thinking, I really needed them, and because when clear aligners first appeared on the market, they were an anomaly, and I simply thought they were “weird.” 

It’s figured it was just as well that I had to pay $4,500 of my own money, none of it reimbursed by dental insurance, to get Invisalign. Because I can give an honest review now, without feeling obligated to give an overly positive assessment of what it’s like to wear these things for nine months, which is a pretty short amount of time compared to many Invisalign treatment plans. 

For starters, the electronic scanning of my teeth to effectively measure for Invisalign was fairly painless and easy. The technician rubbed a wand around my teeth from every angle to re-create them in a 3-D software program. Those images were shipped off to Invisalign, where an orthodontist consulted with my dentist to develop a treatment plan for the most ideal alignment of my teeth. In my case, it would be 19 retainers, each worn for two weeks, so a total of nine months. 

My case was an experiment for my dentist and Invisalign, because in order to get the best results, we temporarily removed three implants, otherwise, the teeth would’ve had to conform to those implants versus later, having the implants remade to conform to my new smile. This meant I would be without three teeth for nine months. It was a commitment and a big sacrifice.

By the way, the third implant resulted from a bike accident that left me with a cracked tooth that could not be saved. For the unindoctrinated, an implant is a fake tooth with a metal post that is screwed into your jawbone. It sounds bad because it is bad. That procedure alone involved a minimum of four visits to the dentist, including the extraction of the tooth and a bone graph, placement of the implant screw, then placement of the crown, with each step requiring three months in between while the gum healed between steps. Not to mention, implants are very expensive. Each one costs approximately $6,000.

So once I accepted that I would be semi-toothless for nine months, the process began. I got my first trays, and the doctor added buttons, or attachments, which are small protuberances on several of the teeth to anchor the Invisalign and promote movement in the desired direction.

These attachments were a huge inconvenience. I had to go back three times because they kept falling off. I would be chewing food and come upon a hard pebble, which was the broken attachment. After insisting the dentist himself put them on versus his technicians, who had failed three times, the attachments finally took, but I questioned my doctor because he seemed to score my tooth first to rough it up so the attachment would adhere. He said this would not damage my tooth, but I still worry about what’s going to be underneath when the attachments are off. 

When I got my Invisalign trays, they came in a nice black drawstring bag with some sample crystals to soak the retainers in to keep them clear because after a week or so where they often start to get yellow. It also came with a little clam-style container, like a makeup compact, to keep the retainers in when you take them out for meals. I ended up buying a couple more of these on Amazon because I found I needed one in my purse, one on my kitchen counter, and one in my bathroom.

I learned that with Invisalign you brush your teeth a lot. I mean a lot a lot. You have to brush them after every meal, and then you have to brush the retainers to keep them fresh. I usually brushed the retainers in my mouth to clean the exteriors, and then took them out to get the insides clean. Sometimes I would brush my teeth about 10 times a day if I took the retainers out to snack, have a drink other than water, etc.

That was inconvenient, as was the tricky part about removing the retainers in public. I often excused myself to the ladies room, because sometimes I had to wrestle with the retainers to get them out, hooking my fingernail under the side of them and yanking down, sometimes quite forcefully, to get them out of my mouth. It was not a pretty sight. Plus, sometimes, there would be strings of saliva on them when I took them out. it was definitely something I didn’t want others to witness. I learned it was best to immediately excuse myself to the restroom upon arriving at a restaurant to cause the least disruption of a normal social situation.

The main problem for me was that I began to chew on the retainers habitually. It was a 22/7 unconscious activity that I tried hard to stop, but it only got worse the longer I wore the Invisalign. I say 22, not 24 hours a day, because you are required to wear the retainers 22 hours a day, except two hours for eating, brushing, etc.

It was like constantly having chewing gum in my mouth. This caused constant production of saliva, which caused constant swallowing, which caused constant stomach upset. Even without chewing, I found myself frequently sucking and drawing the extra saliva from around the retainers and swallowing. My whole life I have not been able to chew gum for more than 20 minutes or so because I got an upset stomach. So essentially having the same effect of chewing gum for 22 hours a day.

To counteract the constant growling in my stomach, I snacked frequently. In a few months, I had gained more than 10 pounds! I had heard that some people lose weight with Invisalign, probably because it becomes so inconvenient to take them out, and have to brush your teeth and the retainers that you skip snacks, but in my case, I had to snack a little all day to stave off an upset stomach.

I thought about carrying around a spit container like someone who chews chaw — or like the wrestler I knew in high school who used to spit in a cup all day to dehydrate himself in order to lose a half pound and make weight for matches — instead of swallowing. Still, I figured that would not only be gross, but I’d end up with a disgusting habit that I wouldn’t be able to break. 

The churning stomach was probably the worst part of having Invisalign, though there are many negatives. Other issues are the pain when you put on your new retainers for the first couple of days. I often got a bad headache from the pressure and had to take Advil for the pain. Then there was the inadvertent whistling, while trying to talk, because of the way, the retainers changed speech patterns.

While the feeling went away after a couple of months, there is always the feeling of something in your mouth. At first, I felt like a boxer with a mouthguard. I felt like everybody could tell I was wearing them. I could see in the mirror that my face looked different, because I couldn’t close my mouth properly while wearing them. Friends told me they could barely notice, but I was very self-conscious of this.

All these negatives might sound like I didn’t think Invisalign was worth it, but even though I am only 75% through my treatment, already, I’m excited to see the changes. Of course, I’d like it to all have been faster, but my dentist told me, “that’s how you lose teeth.“ The movement must be done slowly over time so that the teeth do not loosen and fall out. 

I think the temptation to rush through the process is why my dentist only would give me three trays at a time. I had to come into the office in person at these intervals for a quick exam and pick up the next three sets of retainers.

The Invisalign app has a gallery where you can take pictures of your teeth and compare them through the different phases. The photo gallery is pretty wonky, you can’t zoom in on the photos or edit them, so you might be just as well take photos with your regular smartphone camera app, but at least they are in one place using the Invisalign app. The best part of the app is the CliniCheck 3D animated treatment plan, which shows a step-by-step video of before, and after Invisalign, I found myself hitting the stop-start button and looking at my results over and over again. I could zoom in, and look at a 3-D model of my teeth from every angle. Whenever I felt inconvenienced by having plastic trays in my mouth all day and all night, I would look at the video and try to remember to keep my eyes on the prize. Of course, there was a disclaimer on the app that the video was a simulation, and my results may vary.

The second hardest part of having Invisalign is just the wait. It’s obvious my teeth have become more aligned, but I want the change to be faster, and I want the whole process to be over quicker. I think that’s just human nature, that we want instant gratification. So having to be patient has been challenging for me. I have one other concern, which is, I won’t be completely satisfied with the results. My dentist already informed me that sometimes the teeth don’t move exactly how we anticipate. So the results may not look like the perfect set of choppers in the animated treatment plan.

Despite the hassle, I would do it again.  My biggest regret is that I did not accept the offer by Invisalign years ago, because in reality, my review would be just the same had they paid for my treatment, my teeth would be straight by now, and I would still have $4,500 in my pocket.

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Five Easy Ways to Free Your Mind and Body of Stress


Life hacks to rest your mind and revive your soul

Do I live to work, or work to live? That is the question I always ask myself, as I rinse and repeat every day.  As a multi-tasking mom, I go to work, come home, make dinner, clean dishes, and then try to spend a little quality time with my son before we go to sleep.  Then, I get up the next morning to do it all over again.

Of course, daily life is not as simple as washing your hair. Every day brings new stressors and responsibilities. Our technologically advanced society invented devices that were supposed to make life easier through automation, but technology only made life more complicated and added a new level of anxiety. Addiction to our cell phones gives us little time to rest and forget about work or the pressures of the outside world. Information overload from the Internet makes us feel inadequate that we can’t possibly know enough. Which begs the question, enough for what?

I don’t have to look at my Fitbit to know when my body is overworked and under-rested.  If I listen to my body, it tells me what I need to do. If I ignore the warnings, my condition gets worse. My mind doesn’t work right. I can’t think of names of people or words for things, like “groceries,” i.e., “Help me unload the … bags of food from the store.”

This is my proverbial wake-up alarm. When momentary amnesia strikes, it’s time to take action; or rather … it’s time for inaction. 

As a full-time working single mom, it’s easier said than done when it comes to rest and relaxation. Here are a few de-stress hacks I have found that put me back on track and get my brain back to thinking sharp again.

Eat clean – Sugar may seem like a quick pick-me-up, but after the instant sugar rush, the brain fog and anxiety worsens. Try having a donut and then try to concentrate on a technical task, and you will see your focus depreciate within minutes. Snacks like cherry tomatoes, snap peas, carrot and celery sticks, and apple slices may not seem as satisfying as a chocolate cake, but as my formerly bulimic friend used to say to me, “Nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.”

Get a massage – In the movie “Midnight in Paris” Rachel McAdams’s spoiled character got lots of laughs when she bemoaned that after a day at the spa she was, “exhausted from the massage.” Funny, but it’s true.  A massage can relax your mind and body like nothing else, and nothing is better after a massage than a nap. Make your massage experience totally destressing with Soothe, which is an in-home massage therapy service, like the Uber of massage, where you can order up a massage in the comfort of your own home, and you don’t have to worry about dozing off driving home.

Meditate – My favorite spiritual teacher, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, said of meditation, that it is “the almost unfathomable power to enter the gap between our thoughts, where we can commune silently with God and bring to life the same creativity that we see in the world of nature — of which we’re an integral component.” While mediation can be elusive with the distractions of life, find even five or 10 minutes a day to practice this calming and centering inactivity, which can rejuvenate not just the body and mind but the spirit.

Unplug – Our phones are the devil. Sometimes anyway. Our addiction to them can be pernicious. A friend told me how he had to put an “i,” as in “i”Phone in front of nouns to get his son to look up from his tablet and look out the car window, i.e., “Hey, look at the iOcean, and those iPalm trees.” Adults are not immune either. I have a cartoon on my fridge of a woman calling to her spouse, “I’ll come to bed as soon as I finish reading the Internet.” I’ve been there.  When you feel like you are behind on work and need to check email and Slack, or see what you’ve missed on Facebook, the irony is that when you start staring at your phone to try to catch up and relieve your FOMO, your anxiety goes up, not down, and the blue light stimulates your brain so you can’t sleep. To truly tune out and turn off, power down and pay attention to real life. Try a twist on Throwback Thursdays, when no screens are allowed, and watch your stress level decrease, and your quality family time expanding.

Go Outdoors – The constant hum of machines around us has become so much a part of our environment that when the power goes out, the silence is almost eerie. We don’t even notice that the noise and vibration of technology and glare of artificial light all around us indoors is creating an atmosphere of constant activity, friction and stress. Get outside and breathe in natural air, no matter the weather. Take a short walk in nature at least once a week if you can. Sit on a park bench and watch the birds. Stand barefoot in the grass and get grounded. Connecting with nature is one of the surest ways to chase away stress, as you experience the feeling of belonging to something much greater than our man-made world.

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Mom of preemie twins transformed by near-death experience shares her journey to help others

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When her high-risk pregnancy endangered her life and her babies’ lives, she used the experience to teach other moms how to better communicate with doctors

Crystal Duffy went into her high-risk pregnancy like many other mothers, trusting in her doctors and expecting the best outcome. As many expectant mothers learn, things don’t always go as planned. In Duffy’s case, at 21 weeks, she had a “gut” feeling something was wrong. She talked to her doctor and underwent tests that showed that her twin daughters shared a single placenta. Duffy never knew that the crucial information about one or two placentas could mean the difference between life or death, for her babies and herself.

Duffy, who was age 29 at the time, was experiencing an uncommon but serious complication of pregnancy called placental abruption, which occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery. If untreated, the condition could result in the babies not getting enough oxygen or nutrients, which could cause premature birth or stillbirth. For the mother, the risk is hemorrhaging and bleeding to death during delivery.

Duffy and her doctors collaborated and determined that she should undergo an in vitro surgery to correct the problem, and they decided she should deliver her babies early, at 30 weeks. Duffy’s delivery went as well as could be expected, though she spent two months on extended bed-reset and her premature infants spent 38 days in NICU. The traumatic experience of finding out about her life-threatening pregnancy complication and then having to make crucial decisions to save her life and the lives of her children proved a transformative experience for Duffy and her family.

To help other mothers and families facing similar situations, Duffy wrote a book, Twin to Twin: From High-Risk Pregnancy to Happy Family. Duffy’s twin daughters are now four years old, and they are healthy and happy sisters to her oldest daughter, who is six, and Duffy feels her emotionally, physically and spiritually transformative experience has given her the strength, knowledge and inspiration to help others through their journey of a high-risk pregnancy.

Duffy’s book gives practical advise to mothers regarding how to communicate with their doctors and form a partnership with them. She also advises mothers to learn everything then can about their pregnancy and possible complications, so that they are prepared if something does go wrong. Duffy urges mothers to speak up, ask questions, and to trust their inner feelings about their pregnancy, since they know their bodies better than anyone else. Through the book, Duffy aims to equip mothers to handle all aspects of their pre- and post-natal self-care, from dealing with anxiety to finding creative outlets and otherwise staying mentally healthy while home caring for a newborn.

Taking a challenging episode of her life and making it into a positive is part of Duffy’s message to other mothers. She has become an advocate for mothers experiencing high-risk pregnancy, and she now dedicates herself to educating other mothers, by serving as a patient advocate on advisory boards at hospitals and through TV appearances and involvement in raising awareness for campaigns such as of Preemie awareness month in November and Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) Awareness Month in December. She is also a leader in a movement #ChangeTheConversation, which encourages doctors and mothers-to-be to communicate more effectively, to improve pregnancy and delivery outcomes.

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Kids that can’t keep still build better brains

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Research shows physical activity fuels kids brains

A new study found that kids who get extra physical activity tend to pay more attention in school and perform better in subjects like reading and math. It’s important that parents find fun physical activities that kids will want to put down the controller and get off the couch to participate in, especially during the colder months when kids are developing cabin fever from staying indoors all day.

Kilian Saekel, CEO of A-Champs, an interactive gaming system that encourages kids to move and play, offers the following ideas on physical activities that kids can do in the comfort of their living room to fuel their brains:

  • Throw a dance party– Kids love dancing and they tend not to think of it as a physical activity, but it does raise your heart rate a significant amount if you throw yourself into it! Crank up some music and let kids create their own dance routines, have dance-off contests, or put on classics like the Macarena and the Electric Slide for choreographed fun.
  • Living room obstacle course– Set up an obstacle course in your living room with stations such as crawling under a sheet or through a tunnel, hopscotch using hula hoops, carrying a ping pong ball on a spoon from one side of the room to the other and rolling up towels to use as a balance beam. You can also have kids use their imagination to create their own stations.
  • Creative twist on reading– Read a book aloud together with your child and when they want to pass the reading duties along to another person they have to do an exercise move such as a jumping jack, sit up or push up.
  • Set the stage– Have kids make up a play or reenact an existing story that involves them acting out different motions such as swimming across an ocean, climbing up a tree or running a marathon. Parents can also shout out different actions that the children have to incorporate into their stories.
  • Put on a video– Introduce kids to new forms of exercise by putting on instructional videos for yoga poses or Zumba and Tae Bo moves. Introduce at least one new pose or move every week and have kids do reps of each one every day.
  • Stick to what kids love – Kids love technology and there are various apps and games that aim to get kids off the couch and participating in physical activities. NFL Play 60 and ROXs are both great options to expose kids to tech without sitting in front of a television.




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Eat & DrinkHealthLifestyle

Bubbly kombucha rises up


Makers of America’s latest craze in probiotic drinks mix up new flavors to satisfy edgy tastes

Last month New York Times readers called out the newspaper over its coverage of bubble tea, which was becoming “mainstream,” commented a writer, seemingly unaware that the drink has been popular in America for nearly a decade. The same could be said for Kombucha.

For many this probiotic fermented tea is an exciting new elixir, offering the promise of untold health benefits, and requiring an acquired taste. While kombucha may just be getting its 20 minutes in the US, the lightly effervescent, yeast- and good-bacteria-laden drink is thought to have first been imbibed in 220 BCE, and for centuries it has been a favored therapeutic beverage in Manchuria, Russia and eastern Europe.

While some may be late to the tea party, kombucha companies have stayed on top of the trend, with new inventive flavors bursting onto the scene to suit every adventurous taste.  KeVita has brewed up some of the most creative batches of kombucha on the market, with its newest flavors including blueberry basil and roots beer.

“We know that fans of KeVita, and kombucha drinkers in general, tend to be culinary adventurers,” said Andrew Thomas, director of marketing at KeVita. “We are thrilled to delight these consumers with unique flavor pairings that reflect some of the most interesting elements of today’s food culture.”

 Other blends in the KeVita’s portfolio of two dozen flavors include Ginger, Pineapple Peach, Tart Cherry, Dragonfruit Lemongrass, Citrus and Raspberry Lemon.

One would be hard pressed to try all of the latest cold-pressed, fermented and otherwise imaginatively processed new-fangled drinks, but the only way to get to the bottom of them all is to drink up!

Personal trainer and nutrition specialist Daniel Carrilho samples the latest kombusha offerings from KeVita.

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Eat & Drink

Stranger things, that are good for you


Odd foods that can turn traditional staples upside down

While you are binge watching Netflix’s most esoteric series, Stranger Things, try snacking from the upside down. There is a whole world of strange – or at least unusual – foods, that you might not have ever heard of, that are good for you and just might turn everything right side up in your universe.

Go Bananas

If wheat chafes your hide, separate yourself from grain flour with Edward & Sons Organic Green Banana Flour.  This gluten-free alternative to wheat flour bakes up beautifully in cakes and pastries, and it can substitute for grain flour in gravy and other recipes. It can also boost a smoothie or shake for those who want to bulk up their nutritional profile. Available from

Almonds make a meal

By now almond butter is practically passé, as peanut allergy sufferers and anyone else just tired of peanut butter discovered it as an alternative to America’s most overused spread. Barney Bakery just upped the ante with Natural Almond Meal, a gluten-free, slightly sweet and nutty pantry staple that can coat your chicken tenders or give a crunch to your dessert crumble. Find local grocery stores that carry Barney products at

Tea up

If traditional, boring old tea is not your cup of tea, try Primal Essence Super Teas. These flavorful tea sprays are made from whole-plant extracts and come in flavors such as Ginger Zing or Classic Chai. Squirted into hot or cold water, they transform your drink into a luscious healthy beverage bursting with herb flavors and spices. Available at

Jackfruit be nimble

If meat slows you down and chugs through your system, Native Forest Organic Young Jackfruit may help you be nimble again. This meat-free alternative to soy, plucked from the orchards of Sri Lanka, is a great gluten-free base option for sauces and seasonings and a hearty filler for vegan tacos, sloppy joes and other recipies that call for shredded meat. Available at

It’s the season

Don’t just sprinkle on any salt. Season your food with sea salt from the still pure waters of New Zealand, with New Zealand Pacific Sea Salt. Add a little more flavor with Mesquite BBQ variety or Chipotle BBQ, or try something with a little more texture, such as BioGro Certified Flaky Salt.  Available at

Who’s your honey

A spoonful of honey makes the medicine go down, especially if the medicine is the honey.  Manuka Honey, made by bees that collect nectar from the flowers of the New Zealand Manuka tree, is the only honey found worldwide that exhibits non-peroxide activity. This cool-pressed, 100 percent raw honey is a powerful digestive aid, assisting with allergies and immune defense, and it is a potent anti-bacterial agent when used topically for minor wounds and burns. Available at

Up your cup with a coconut

Okay, so coconut as a cooking oil was somewhat debunked as a miracle elixir, but it’s still fabulous for skin and hair care, and it also makes a wondrous sweetener.  Munkijo Organic Coconut Nectar is Naturally low-glycemic, gluten-free, vegan, Kosher and non-GMO, and an ideal alternative to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. It’s a and a perfect complement to pancakes, waffles, cereal, teas, coffee and ice cream, and it can be used as a 1:1 substitute for liquid sweeteners in baking. Available at

Mystery meat you love to eat

Giving up animal products in your diet does not mean giving up tasty foods like steak and drumsticks. Vegetarian Plus redefines the vegan diet with delectable, low-sodium frozen entrees like meatless Kung Pao Chicken, Citrus Spareribs and Black Pepper Steak. With textures and flavors that are surprising authentic, this vegetarian food is not only healthy but better than good enough to eat.

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Working out with your mate leads to better body and mind connection


From Soul Mate to #SWOLEMATE: Benefits of Working out with your Sweetheart

by Denise Locsin

Looking for a way to bond with your sweetheart? Turn your soul mate into your Swolemate! Studies show that couples that workout together enjoy a deeper connection, are more physically attracted to each other, and have improved confidence. The benefits of regular exercise goes well beyond weight loss and a fit body. The greater benefit is a boost in your love life as you experience a richer, more emotional bond with your honey.

I learned this first-hand the year I was married to (my now swolemate) Danny Locsin. Danny and I we weren’t always swolemates. Our exercise routines differed greatly both in style of workout and intensity…but we noticed that when we worked out at the same time and in the same vicinity, our relationship was better. On the flip side, when life got too busy and we didn’t make time for even an evening walk together, our relationship felt fragmented and we were more irritable with each other.

To understand these effects, let’s think physiology. Our bodies have energy, and when you exercise, that energy escalates. If you and your swolemate are both exercising, the high vibrational energy from both of you meet in the middle and naturally become in sync. Your brainwaves, heartbeat and energy become cohesive over time, as long as you both feel safe.

One of the most exciting benefits of exercising with your sweetheart is that they begin to see you with a new lens of attractiveness. When you exercise, the physiological effects mimic the same effects of romantic attraction: sweaty palms, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and a flood of feel good hormones to the brain.

Here is the secret: the chemical benefits of exercise lasts well beyond the workout. The magic of exercise doesn’t happen during the workout it happens after and has an accumulated effect over time.

How do you get that benefit? Start simple and do something enjoyable like evening walks, 20 minutes together in your home gym, take a dance class, or do a home fitness video together. Most importantly remember to accept each other’s fitness level and ability. Each person must feel safe without judgment or criticism. Your goal is showing up and doing your best. Focus on the benefits of connection and energy and you just may see a wonderful benefit of weight loss and a fit body.

Today, Danny and I have been swolemates for 28 years and counting. We are both fitness trainers and we teach couples as well as families how to enjoy a richer bond with each other through exercise.

Husband and wife team Danny and Denise Locsin are fitness experts that specialize in relationship and family exercise. They are the creators of the Yokebar, which has been described as the ultimate family exercise program. As a busy mother of four, Denise wanted something that was high intensity, but also safe and easy to set up. Finding a system that could adapt to a variety of fitness needs and ability levels was challenging. The requirements became even broader when Danny injured himself and was forced to give up his usual exercise routine.
After much scientific research and testing, Yokebar was born. Today, Danny and Denise train people in the Yoke Training System and also are the founders of Hi5 Produce, a leading corporate produce delivery service located in the Silicon Valley.
For More Information Visit:

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I’d rather be spinning, said no cyclist ever


Cycle right for stress-free riding

Whether for recreation or a mode of transportation, bicycling is an excellent way to get exercise and get where you want to go. Cycle safely by following riding rules for the trail, the street or anywhere your two-wheeler takes you.

Be a helmet head

A helmet is a no-brainer, and it’s the cheapest form of head-injury insurance you can get, yet many riders forgo a helmet thinking unless they are performing extreme BMX tricks that they don’t need it. No matter if you are on a short ride around the block or a rocky single-track, cover your head.

Check it out

Check your equipment before every ride. Make sure tires are inflated properly, and test out your brakes, handlebar, and shifting to make sure it’s in good working order before you ride. Make sure your bicycle is in good mechanical condition with a regular checkup and tune-up by a certified mechanic.

Best buddies

Always bring your phone and ID, and ride with a buddy. If you break down or are injured, your riding companion could be a lifesaver. Coordinate with your partner before you set off as to your riding plan, and make sure your companion knows what hand signals you will use for turning, slowing and stopping. Also, tell others when you are going for a ride, where you plan on going, and when you plan to return.

Hydrate your ride

Bring along plenty of water. Most bicycles have cages to keep a water bottle or predrilled outlets to mount them. If you don’t want the extra weight or the obstacle of a water ball bottle mounted on the bike itself, or if you want to be competitive and streamline your ride without water breaks, Camelback and many other brands make backpack style hydration systems so you can sip while you ride.

Get lit

When driving at dusk or dawn or in traffic, use a bike light. The safest lighting systems are those that are always on, like car running lights, with front- and rear-facing daytime lights which have been proven to decrease the likelihood of a collision up to 33%.

Bontrager Flare R bike light is one of the best for daylight visibility, as demonstrated in this video:


Dress up

Wear contrasting clothing and gear. Accessorizing in tennis-ball-bright fluorescent and reflective gear and apparel has been shown to decrease a rider’s risk of incident by as much as 53% during the day and makes you 72% more noticeable at night.

Proper biking attire is not just for fashion. Wear appropriate clothing for cycling that is snug to the body to prevent it catching on saddles, handlebars or other bike parts. Fear not, you do not have to look like leg-warmer-wearing extra from Glow. Many cycling apparel brands make functional but decent looking hoodies, sweatshirts, jerseys and other performance wear that you might even wear out after your ride. Never tie clothing around your waist, wrap clothing around handlebars, or otherwise attach items to yourself or your bike where they can come lose and catch in moving parts.

If you are riding with clipless pedals, make sure your shoes are properly fitting and cleats and clips are free of mud and are in good working condition. Practice snapping in and snapping out of them before each ride to make sure you are able to clip out in a hurry if needed.

Map it

Know where you are headed. There are many mobile GPS tools like Avenzamaps can help you map and mark your way so that you don’t get lost on the road, woods or mountains. Make sure you are riding for your skill level.  Rails to Trails Conservancy has ratings and reviews on many trails to guide you in choosing your riding terrain.

Road rules

 Stay on designated trails. Wherever there is a marked bike route, use it. But be aware of vehicles around you at all times, even if you are in a bike lane, as motorists don’t always yield right of way. Obey traffic signs and follow the rules of the road the same as if you would behind the wheel. Ride in the same direction as traffic, on the right side of the road. If there is no bike lane, ride on the shoulder, but ride slightly in the lane rather than the edge of the road, which will cause cars to cautiously pass you, and you will have room to maneuver or bailout if needed.

If you are at an intersection with a traffic light but your bicycle will not trigger the sensor for the light to change, the best option is use the crosswalk as a pedestrian.

Listen up

If you want to listen to music while you ride, wear wireless headphones that can’t get tangled on handlebars and use an earbud with an open design that allows ambient noise so that you can hear your surroundings.

Even if you’re on a biking path, you must still follow the rules of the road. Use an audible signal when you are passing, and only pass on the left. On single-track mountain biking trails, the uphill rider has the right of way. Ride single file and give hand signals when turning, slowing and stopping.

Follow your heart

Nobody wants to be so concerned about safety that bike riding loses its fun. If you have the correct gear, in working order, and you know where you are going and the rules of the road, you will be relaxed on your ride, so plan ahead, so that you can get rolling with ease.

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Get on a (foam) roll


How to use a foam roller to relieve muscle stress and soreness


Dr. Michelle Beamer, PT, DPT, Cert MDT, ASTYM, Rapid Rehabilitation guides me through my roller routine.


When we hear the term DIY, we usually think of home improvement, but in an age when insurance coverage is uncertain and responsibility for one’s own health care is more important than ever, it is empowering to know there are many things we can do at home to take care of ourselves.  Recently I discovered a physical therapy tool that I now use daily to maintain the progress I made in therapy sessions.

Everyone likes a massage, and now you can do it for yourself with a number of tools designed for self-massage. The most common of these are foam rollers, which can be used for a variety of applications that can release muscle tension, stretch tense areas and rub out sore spots.

Manipulating your body on a foam roller gives you a sense of control over what muscles need the most work and how much pressure to apply.

A company named OPTP makes a wide variety of these rollers. They have rollers of different density and firmness, different textures, sizes, links, and even an assortment of colors and patterns. For just about every musculoskeletal ailment, they make a roller for that.

My roller of choice Pro-Roller soft style, which runs $22.50 to $36. Since I am a bit of a light weight when it comes to “no-pain, no-gain,” I prefer a softer consistency roller which I find more comfortable, particularly on my neck and back where I have chronic soreness and stiffness.


Rollers come in a variety of firmnesses, textures, sizes and shapes.


The soft compression of this roller works well on tight and rigid areas and is ideal for lying supine. In this position I use the roll like a weight bench, using light dumbbells to do chest flies; or I edge up to the top of the roll to do neck extensions.

For these exercises I lie with the roll in the middle of my back, cushioning my spine. This is also a great position to do core exercises where I lift one arm off of the floor and raise the opposite leg, holding that pose while balancing to keep the roll in place.

A terrific feature of foam rollers is that they are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, easy to store —  hidden away under a bed or desk, and you can conveniently use a roller several times a day without a lot of set up, to get in a little relief or relaxation when needed, even at work, if you have the space and privacy where you can lie down on a floor.


Rollers can be used to perform core exercises for balance and strengthening.

For those people who like to have someone walk on their back to crack it, rollers let you achieve this same effect using your own weight against the roller, and if that is not enough pressure you can apply force as you roll. When I first began rolling, my back would crack frequently; then, as I rolled more often, the cracking diminished, as my alignment improved.

There are plenty of online videos and articles about roller exercises, though I would advise getting a baseline program from a professional physical therapist who can tell you if there’s any contraindications with your particular condition. My physical therapist provided me with an illustrated printout of base exercises which I have built upon, and already within six weeks I have seen measurable improvements of 30 and 40 percent in my flexibility and range-of-motion in my problem areas. Clearly, I am on a roll.






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