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Wellness

What You Should Know About Probiotics


We’re doing a deep dive into the world of probiotics and what you should know about probiotics so you can start reaping the benefits from these microorganisms today!

Probiotics have the potential to improve your digestive, cardiovascular, immune and mental health as well as your metabolism and skin. It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Fortunately for us, there’s research out there to prove it.

Adding probiotics into your routine can be an amazing way to improve your health and wellness. But before doing so, it’s important to know the who, what, where, when and why.

Should I be taking a probiotic? How do I know if it’s working? Is there ever an indication for not taking probiotics? Here we’ll discuss it all!

What Are Probiotics?

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics defines probiotics as, “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”(1). Now let’s discuss what that means.

For our purposes, the host is you or I – the human taking or consuming the probiotics.

Probiotics work their magic in the colon. In order for them to be effective, they must first make it past the stomach then through the small intestine before reaching the desired location.

We also need to make sure we’re consuming the probiotic in adequate amounts. Every strain must be studied in relation to its dose effectiveness (2).

Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics

When discussing probiotics, it’s important to understand prebiotics and synbiotics as well.

In simple terms, prebiotics essentially feed the microbes in your gut. They are the non-digestible components of food that help desirable microorganisms grow and thrive (3). Some examples of prebiotics include inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), beta-glucan, oligofructose, xylooligosaccharides (XOS) and more. They can be found in fibrous fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, bananas, oats, onions, and apples as well as many others (4).

Synbiotics, like Seed’s Daily Synbiotic, on the other hand, are simply products that contain a combination of probiotics and prebiotics all in one (5).

How To Interpret Probiotic Names

Before we really get down to specifics here, we need to know what exactly we’re referring to when we break down the components of probiotics. There are three parts to every probiotic – first comes the genus, followed by the species and then the strain.

For example, within the probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum SD-LPLDL-UK, Lactobacillus is the genus, plantarum is the species and SD-LPLDL-UK is the strain.

Top Probiotic Benefits

There are quite a few variations of microorganisms that can be considered probiotics, but Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most common bacteria genus’ (6).

Lactobacillus

One of the most well-known species of Lactobacillus is the acidophilus species. This particular species has been associated with optimal immune, vaginal, gut, digestive and immune health (7).

Other strains of Lactobacillus have also been shown to improve atopic dermatitis, pediatric acute infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, IBS, hypercholesterolemia and even obesity (8).

Bifidobacterium

Within the Bifidobacterium genus, a plethora of species have been identified for their potential health benefits as well (9).

Generally speaking, the main function of Bifidobacterium is to digest fiber and complex carbohydrates that we generally cannot digest on our own. Remember that prebiotics we mentioned earlier? That’s exactly what we’re referring to here!

Bifidobacterium has clinically been proven to aid cardiovascular health, digestive health as well as reduce weight gain and chances of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults (10), (11), (12). It has also been shown to improve immune function in infants (13).

This particular genus has been associated with reduced symptoms of IBS and reduced inflammation in those with chronic fatigue syndrome, IBD, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis (14), (15), (16).

Lastly, it has been associated with improved symptoms of psychological distress (17).

Now that we’ve got the basics of probiotics down, let’s switch gears and discuss fermentation.

What Does It Mean To Be Fermented?

The fermentation of food is one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. Fermented foods go through a process called lactofermentation. This is where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch present in the food item, which results in the creation of lactic acid.

The process of lactofermentation preserves the food item and produces various nutrients such as enzymes, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and good bacteria.

Are Fermented Foods Probiotics?

The technical answer to this question is no.

Yes, various fermented food items do contain live microorganisms that have been clinically proven to benefit your microbiota, but they do not necessarily fit the definition of a probiotic (18), (19), (20).

In order for living microorganisms to be considered a probiotic, they need to be clinically proven to confer health benefits when consumed in a certain amount. Often times, food products do not contain the exact strain or amount needed to provide such benefits.

So What’s The Deal With Probiotics?

There are quite a few indications for the use of probiotics—including benefits across digestive, skin, and heart health. Scientists have also been researching the potential of probiotics in preventing and treating disease. When contemplating a probiotic, you need to consider the purpose of the probiotic, the bacteria strains included, the amount is taken, the frequency of supplementation in addition to any contraindications that may be present.

The best way to navigate this process is to work with your Registered Dietitian or doctor. They’ll be able to consider your goals in the context of your health and point you in the right direction. We recommend to many of our clients and recommend Seed’s Daily Synbiotic (probiotics + prebiotics) which have been shown to support several markers for digestive health, cardiovascular health, and dermatological health in 23 strain-specific human clinical studies (published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Scientific Reports (Nature), and JAMA Dermatology, and are all indexed to PubMed, the central database for life science journal literature at the National Institute of Health).

They have a patented algae microsphere delivery system that ensures the most sensitive strains make it through digestion and into the colon. In addition, the probiotic strains they use are unique to Seed and not found in yogurt, fermented foods, or “probiotic’ beverages and are not cultured with and are free from the 12 classes of allergens.

I’ve personally enjoyed using Seed probiotics for about a year and in addition, we’ve used them as part of our routine plans for our clients at Nutrition Stripped Wellness. As you know, we only partner with brands we support and respect and Seed is one of those and I think you’ll enjoy their products as well!

Common Probiotic Myths

Probiotics have never been as popular as they are today. New research is emerging, new probiotic products are popping up daily and more and more consumers are getting on board.

Because of this, there are quite a few probiotic myths circling around — let’s tackle some of the most common ones.

The More, The Better

Often times people assume that in order to get the most out of their probiotics, they need to consume the largest amount possible. This isn’t necessarily the case.

Probiotics don’t need to colonize (take up permanent residence) in your gut to work. Seed probiotic strains are transient microbes, which journey through your colon (where the majority of your microbiome resides), to activate systemic benefits through programmed interactions with your existing bacteria and your body (their host). That’s why continuous, daily intake is important.

Another reason why we love Seed, the Daily Synbiotic consists of clinically-verified dosages of both probiotics (24 strains) and prebiotics, which means that the dosage amount of each strain and the prebiotic compound is confirmed via clinically-validated data. And when you add it all together, your daily dose fills 2 capsules.

Probiotics Are Only Good For Digestion

Based on all of the research we just discussed, this one clearly isn’t true. Probiotics have various health benefits outside of improved digestion.

When nurturing our GI system, we undoubtedly nurture other parts of the body as well. From improved skin to cardiovascular health, probiotics have a wide variety of health benefits.

Connect With Us

I would love to hear about your experience with probiotics! What works for you? What have you tried that didn’t work so well?

I’m sure someone else reading this article would love to hear about your experience as well. As always, you can connect with us on Instagram via @nutritionstrippederica, @nutritionstripped, #nutritionstripped. In addition, check out all the cool things @seed is sharing on their Instagram daily!

This article is in partnership and sponsored by Seed, a brand we stand behind for their quality products and performance and think you’ll enjoy as well. You can read more about how and why we partner with brands we love here. All opinions, review, and information above is fully our own and we follow FTC standards.





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Wellness

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies | Nutrition Stripped


This crispy and delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are gluten-free and super easy to make!

By now we all know it is super important to add fiber to our diet, but it’s also important to enjoy the little things in life. Like these fiber-rich Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies! By using coconut sugar you get a naturally sweet flavor, and almond flour lends a nutty boost of protein.

Cookies for now and later

It’s tough to beat fresh baked cookies, still warm from the oven. Whether you’re cozied up on the couch with a hot cup of tea or standing in the kitchen (my personal favorite), something about the smell of fresh cookies makes everything a little better.

If you’re on team fresh cookie too, just follow our lead. We like to split half the batch, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or our favorite glass storage containers and store in the fridge for a rainy day. This Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie dough can last in the fridge for up to 10 days before baking.



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Wellness

Buffalo Tempeh Nourish Bowl | Nutrition Stripped


Spice up your next meal with this Buffalo Tempeh Nourish Bowl with creamy cooling vegan Cashew Ranch Dressing.

There’s a new nourishing bowl in town that has us seeing red (in a good way)! This Buffalo Tempeh Nourish Bowl combines all our favorite things — perfectly fluffy quinoa, zingy buffalo sauce, and Massaged Kale Salad.

We made this recipe at home three times last week, no kidding! The best thing is it is meal prep friendly. Make everything easier on yourself by cooking a double batch of his recipe and storing it in our favorite Glass Containers for up to one 1 week in the fridge. Just reheat quinoa and tempeh and serve!

Protein

Use whatever protein you enjoy to fit your unique eating habits. Our favorite vegan-friendly option for this recipe is tempeh or the easiest Crispy Tofu, but it works great with chicken or fish too!

For more information about animal proteins, what to look for, and how to shop for animal proteins check out our article Guide to Eating Animal Protein. Also, check out our factory farming article as it relates to animal proteins.

Healthy Hack

We’ve accidentally scorched our fair share of quinoa in our day using the usual “steaming method”. Learn from our mistakes, the next time you make quinoa at home, try this handy method.

  • Rinse your quinoa! Quinoa shells have a thin coating of saponin that can make it taste bitter. Rinse under cold water until water runs clear.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat water until boiling, add a pinch of salt for taste.
  • Add rinsed quinoa, and cook, similar to that of cooking pasta, until tender. Stirring occasionally so the quinoa doesn’t clump together.
  • Strain quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer and return to pan and let rest for about 3 minutes. fluff with a fork and serve.

 



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Wellness

What You Should Know About Breast Cancer


Chances are you know someone who’s dealing with breast cancer and unfortunately, that’s not surprising.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis for women worldwide, accounting for 1/4 of all cancers diagnosed (1). October is breast cancer awareness month so I’d like to take some time to share information that’s easy to understand from how it’s diagnosed, how nutrition and lifestyle play a role, and more.

Lindsay here, one of the nutrition editors at Nutrition Stripped. As a Dietitian, I practiced for years in one of the nation’s top cancer centers. In working with women (and men) with breast cancer I was consistently surprised at the facts and figures surrounding this all too common disease.

An Ounce of Prevention

There are a number of factors that contribute to the development of cancer. Through research, we know many lifestyle factors impact breast cancer including the food we eat, physical activity, stress levels, sleep and even things like cleaning chemicals, personal care products, and food packaging.

While breast cancer is a common health challenge for sure, there is a lot you can do to minimize your risk. One of the first and most important steps is to brush up on the facts about breast cancer, especially how to prevent and early detection.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when damaged cells in the breast start to grow out of control and start to invade other tissues. Most breast cancers occur in the milk ducts of the breast – these are known as ductal cancers.

Lobular cancers are the second most common type of breast cancer and they start in the glands of the breast that make milk. Sometimes, cancer can start in other tissues of the breast but this is less common.

Cancer is known as metastatic if it moves outside of its original location. Breast cancer moves to other tissues through blood or the lymphatic system – most commonly to the bones, lungs, liver, and brain (2).

Defining Breast Cancer Type

Defining breast cancer type helps clinicians understand the best way to approach the disease. It is generally defined using a number of factors. These include:

  • Where cancer originated
  • How fast it’s growing and if it spread outside the breast
  • If it’s responsive to hormones like estrogen or progesterone
  • When the cancer was diagnosed relative to life stage (before or after menopause)
  • Certain genetic features of the cancer

This information is taken into account to determine the specific type and stage of the cancer.

Cancer Staging

The cancer staging system is an official and consistent method of classifying the type and size of cancer and if it has spread to other parts of the body. The stage will also help determine the course of treatment. The stage of the cancer is determined by tests that may include biopsies, scans, X-rays, and physical exams.

There are 4 cancer stages and 1 precancerous stage (3). In general, the higher the stage the worse the prognosis.

  • Stage 0: Abnormal cells identified but cancer not present. This is known as carcinoma in situ.
  • Stage 1: Small cancer (tumor) that has not spread.
  • Stages 2-3: Larger cancers (tumors) that may have spread to nearby lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body.
  • Stage Four: Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, known as metastatic or advanced cancer.

Breast cancer is further classified by how it reacts to the hormones progesterone and estrogen and the cancer cell’s genetic makeup.

Stage 0 Breast Cancer

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) is a condition where the abnormal cells are confined to the milk ducts and have not spread. This is known as stage 0 breast cancer. From 1983-2003 there was a 500% increase in the diagnosis of DCIS, mostly related to the use of mammograms (4). Each year in the US about  50,000 women are diagnosed with DCIS and anywhere from 14-53% of those will turn into true breast cancer.

There is some disagreement within the medical community over the treatment of DCIS due to the fact that it is not officially cancer. In fact, even physicians vary with how they talk about DCIS – some refer to it as cancer while others do not (5).

How Common Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a common health issue in the United States and around the world. It is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer globally, accounting for 25% of all cancers (6). To put this in perspective, think of 8 women you know – statistically speaking one of them will develop the disease in her lifetime (7).

Advancements in prevention, detection, and treatment mean there are also many survivors – in the US alone there are 3.5 million!

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

As with most common health conditions, some risk factors are controllable and others are not. It is important to focus on those that are within your control rather than those that cannot be changed.

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

  1. Being female: Breast cancer largely affects women. However, men can develop breast cancer but, it’s much less common.
  2. A personal or family history of breast cancer: If you have a history of breast cancer or a relative your risk is higher than someone who does not.
  3. How long you’ve had a period: Starting periods at age 12 or earlier (aka early menarche) or ending periods at age 55 or later (aka late menopause) both increase your risk.
  4. Gene mutations: BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most well-known gene mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer. Cancer is not inevitable with these gene mutations but they do increase risk quite a bit. The average risk of developing breast cancer for women is about 12% during their lifetime, for women with the BRCA gene mutations it is around 70% (8).
  5. Radiation exposure: Radiation treatments to the chest area, especially in a child or young adulthood, increases your risk.

Modifiable Risk Factors

Truth be told, many of the women and men I’ve worked with are surprised to learn there are so many risk factors that can be controlled. The choices we make daily, to work out, to eat healthily, to enjoy or skip the nightly glass of wine – all impact our health. There is often so much buzz about weight and appearance in the wellness space, the message of making lifestyle choices to feel good and prevent disease gets lost.

So what factors do we have control over?

  1. Carrying extra body fat: Being overweight or obese increases your risk. Extra fat tissue produces the hormone estrogen, a big factor in developing some types of breast cancer.
  2. Drinking alcohol: Regular consumption of alcohol increases risk. Risk starts to increase with 3 drinks or more per week.
  3. Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is not just good for baby, its good for mom too! Being pregnant and breastfeeding decreases your risk. On the flip side never being pregnant and/or not breastfeeding increases risk. This topic is borderline as sometimes this is within your control and sometimes it is not.
  4. Hormone therapy after menopause: Taking supplemental hormones after menopause increases your risk. An example of this is using estrogen cream or patch to boost low levels of hormones. This is often a difficult decision for women as supplemental hormones can also have a positive impact on other aspects of health and quality of life.
  5. Physical activity and exercise: Regular activity including both moderate and vigorous exercise reduces your risk. It is really important to note that the relationship here is considered a dose-response relationship meaning the more active you are the lower your risk of breast cancer (9).

Detection & Diagnosis

There are many methods of breast cancer diagnosis and detection. Despite advances in technology-based screening, most women find their cancer through self-detection. Survivors report finding their cancer most often through a self-breast exam or by accident (10).

Some other detection methods include:

  • Mammogram: A mammogram is simply an Xray of the breast. The American Cancer Society recommends mammograms for women age 45 and older.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create detailed images of structures within the body. Ultrasound helps to get more information on suspicious tissue that may be cancerous.
  • Office breast exam: A physician or an advanced practice provider such as a Certified Nurse Practitioner or a Physician’s Assistant will complete an office breast exam to check for abnormalities.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI is another method of taking pictures of the breast tissue

A sample of any suspicious tissue (also known as a biopsy) undergoes analysis in a lab. If the cells are cancerous, the lab may also determine the type of cancer, if it is fast or slow-growing and if it is responsive to hormones. This information helps direct the treatment of cancer.

Treatment for Breast Cancer

Standard Therapies

Treatment for breast cancer depends largely on the specific type of cancer and the individual. Ideally, treatment plans take shape with a comprehensive medical care team and the individual with cancer. Traditional treatment may include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Hormone therapy

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Complementary and alternative therapies are also available and have been studied. Therapies where research shows a benefit include (11, 12):

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Acupressure and electroacupuncture
  • Music therapy
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition

In my practice, I’ve found that individuals who work to stay active and connected with their bodies through exercise, yoga, meditation, and eating well, feel better during and after their treatment.

Sticking to somewhat of a routine and making self-care a priority also provides a small bit of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. The routine can be comforting and what’s more, many of these methods help with symptom management and surgical recovery.

Breast Cancer and Lifestyle

The role of lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exercise have been studied extensively relative to breast cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship. What you eat and how much you move your body matters!

Nutrition

The overall pattern of your diet plays a larger role in cancer risk than eating or avoiding any particular food or food group. In general, plant-based diets, rich in whole, minimally processed foods reduce cancer risk. Such diets are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds).

Obesity and excess body fat increase the risk of breast cancer. So eating enough but not too much and balancing eating with activity are both important.

Soy

Soy can be a controversial topic due to its containing compounds that are similar to estrogen. However, research shows that populations who include whole soy foods regularly have lower rates of hormone-sensitive cancers like breast and prostate. For women who have had breast cancer, soy may help reduce the risk of cancer coming back (13).

Flaxseed

Flaxseed has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in both pre and post-menopausal women. Furthermore, for women with cancer, human studies show flaxseed can actually shrink tumors and can enhance hormone therapy drugs commonly prescribed following treatment for breast cancer (14).

Grind flaxseed in a handheld blender or coffee grinder to enjoy all of the benefits. Given the prevalence of breast cancer and the preventive benefits of flax, it makes sense to work to include it regularly in the diet. It can easily be mixed into smoothies, sprinkled on salads or baked into bread.

Adding flax is one of the recommendations I make first in my practice when it comes to cancer prevention. The research on the health benefits of flax, particularly its anti-cancer benefits, is strong. It is versatile, can be added to many dishes, and quite frankly – it is an easy place to start. Often, one positive change can lead to others and it’s much easier to add something than it is to avoid something.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage may aid in the prevention of breast cancer, especially for women who have not gone through menopause. One study found women who at larger amounts of vegetables in this family had lower rates of breast cancer (15)

Exercise

Regular exercise and daily physical activity lower the risk of heart disease, all causes of death and many types of cancer – including breast. After diagnosis, exercise can improve quality of life and prevent recurrence (16).

The best health benefits come with a lifestyle of staying regularly active, not a hard workout here and there. So, it’s important to do something enjoyable so you can maintain consistency. If you’re short on time, try to squeeze in a quick routine you can do at home.

Sleep

Sleep is the time the body repairs itself. Without sleep, the immune and other vital bodily systems don’t work as well. So it’s not surprising that shorter sleep duration increases the risk of breast cancer. According to a recent study, women who slept 6 or fewer hours per night had the largest increase in risk (17).

Hands down this is the area I’ve found most difficult in working with individuals with breast cancer. Typically busy women who are juggling many responsibilities and unfortunately, life doesn’t stop when you get cancer. I’ve found that getting up early and/or staying up late is how all the balls stay in the air.

It can be difficult to make sleep priority, but the evidence is clear – quality sleep is required for good health. My recommendation is to think of inadequate sleep like smoking or driving without your seat belt on. These are behaviors that are harmful to our health and yet lack of sleep doesn’t seem to carry the same weight when it comes to taking care of ourselves.

Stress

Studies have shown mixed results when investigating the relationship between stress and breast cancer (18). However, chronic stress and stress hormones aid in cancer progression in general. Stress hormones impair the activity of the immune system and as a result, it can’t do its job of finding and killing cancer cells as well. Even chemotherapy can be less effective when the stress response is chronically activated (19).

Stress management is vital to good health including the prevention of cancer. Personal stress management practices like nature walks, exercise, and meditation all aid in reducing stress hormones and promoting health.

Time for Action – The Big 5

Now that you’re well versed in how common breast cancer is and the role that early detection and lifestyle factors can play, its time to take action. Here is what you can do today:

  1. Talk to your doctor about appropriate screening for your age and personal medical history. This may include self-exams, office exams, and mammograms.
  2. Eat mostly whole foods, plant-based diet. Incorporate superfoods like ground flax and cruciferous vegetables regularly throughout the week.
  3. Stay active and exercise. Notice how I separated those two out? Thirty minutes at the gym does not undo 8 hours sitting in the office. Make an effort to be both active throughout your day and work in some dedicated heart-pumping exercise.
  4. Stay on top of stress with regular meditation, nature walks, plain old quiet time or whatever gets you zen mode – for me, its puzzles!
  5. Get your zzz’s. Set your phone to remind you when you need to get in bed so you can hit the 8-hour mark of quality sleep. It may help to develop a nighttime routine to get you ready for bed.

What Are You Taking Home?

Breast cancer facts can be surprising. What lifestyle changes are you going to make as a result of your learning? Share it with the NS community in the comments below or on social with #nutritionstripped.



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Wellness

The Subconscious Mind | Nutrition Stripped


Your subconscious mind is a powerful piece of who you are. As such, it impacts your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and tendencies. Understanding the subconscious mind allows you to use it to your advantage and guide you towards accomplishing your goals.

What Is Your Subconscious?

Have you ever wondered how you’re able to remember so many things without consciously thinking about them?

Well, think about how little you knew when you were born. At the bare minimum, you were taught how to walk, eat and talk at a very young age. Chances are at this point you don’t think very much about walking, talking or eating. You just do these things.

Since learning said skills, how many more skills have you learned? How much more knowledge have you gained? And what about your emotional experiences, how many of those have you had?

Your subconscious is responsible for holding, organizing and shuffling through all of this information on a daily basis.

The Conscious, Subconscious and Unconscious Mind

So where did the idea of the subconscious mind come from?

While I can’t say with certainty that Freud was the first person to develop the idea, he was certainly one of the first people to make it well known.

Sigmund Freud was a neurologist who is now known for his various theories and techniques within the realm of psychoanalysis. One of his theories involved a topographical model of the mind in the form of an iceberg. The model includes the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind (1).

The Conscious Mind

At the tip of the iceberg lies the conscious mind. This part of the mind has the ability to direct our focus and also imagine things that are not actually real. Think of this as the director of your mind, the part of your mind calling the shots. Better yet, that constant dialogue taking place in your mind right now (2).

The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind comes next. This is where your memories are stored for quick recall – what your cell phone number is or the name of that new restaurant you liked. It’s also where more complex information is stored, such as your behavior patterns, feelings, and your recent recurring thoughts. Then we have the implicit knowledge, the skills and habits we’ve developed so well that we perform them without even having to think about them (3).

The Unconscious Mind

Lastly, we have the unconscious mind, where everything else is held. Memories that no longer have importance to us or memories that have been repressed due to trauma. Think of this as a library of information in the deepest part of your mind (4).

The Influence of Your Subconscious Mind

For our purposes, I want you to think of your subconscious mind as your lens of perception.

This is where all of your past experiences are held and therefore referred to as you experience new things. Because of this, your past can quite heavily influence your present. Let me explain.

Say you’re a painter and have been previously told over and over again that you’re terrible, have no skills and shouldn’t be a painter. Then one day someone tells you that you are an excellent painter.

Do you think you would be quick to accept the compliment and believe them? Possibly. But you may also be very likely to come up with an excuse for the compliment. Such as, “they’re only complimenting me to be nice, they don’t really mean it” or, “they only think I’m a good painter because they don’t know enough about painting”.

Does this sound familiar?

Our subconscious creates a lens of perception that we view reality through. That lens can be positive, negative or neutral, and it may vary depending upon the particular experiences you have had throughout your life.

If we manipulate that lens to reflect positive messages that reflect our goals and interests, our subconscious mind can help us rather than hinder us as we work to reach our goals.

Become Subconsciously Aware

Our subconscious has the power to either work with us or against us. From our daily conversations to specific goals we’re trying to achieve, our subconscious has a hand in it all.

While this lens is created by our past experiences, we have the power to influence and adjust that lens to our advantage through daily actions.

Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are having a moment right now, and it’s safe to say we’re here for it!

Not only have they been proven to aid those battling depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, but they also have the ability to help mold our subconscious mind to help us reach our goals. Research has shown that the use of positive affirmations can be particularly successful in the context of implementing health-related behavior change (5). Your conscious state is essentially telling your subconscious what to remember, how to shape your lens.

Create affirmations that reflect your goals, ambitions, wants or needs. Keep your affirmations in the present tense. For example, you could say, “I am strong” or “I am successful” rather than “I will be strong” or “I will be successful”. Recite your affirmations in your head, out loud or write them down in a journal.

As you begin to practice positive affirmations you may feel silly, it can sometimes even feel trivial. But as time goes on, your confidence will build and you’ll start to reap the benefits of the affirmations. Stick with it and remember the goal you are working towards!

Visualization

Think back to recent memory, what is it you picture first? I’m willing to bet an image of some sort is popping into your mind as we speak. Additionally, chances are you’re not only visually picturing the memory in your mind, but you’re also remembering how you felt and maybe even what you were thinking.

Visualization is almost like taking positive affirmations a step further. It gives your subconscious some context. Visualization or mental imagery is a proven method for instilling health behavior change (6).

When using visualization, the key is to paint your subconscious a concrete picture; what does it look like, how do you feel, what emotions do you have. The more detail the better! You are picturing yourself in a particular situation you are working towards achieving.

Positive Surroundings

How many times have you heard the phrase, “you are the company you keep”?

We’re heavily influenced by our surroundings. Not only are we influenced by the people around us, but also the information we’re exposed to. Think about it, if you’re constantly hearing the same thing over and over again (whether it’s true or not), don’t you think your subconscious will eventually start to assume the same in one way or another?

Our subconscious is constantly absorbing information from our surroundings, whether intentionally or unintentionally (7). If the information we’re absorbing is positive and uplifting, our subconscious will start to reflect that. Surround yourself with people, places, resources and sources of information that positively reflect your goals and ambitions!

Meditation

From guided meditation to mindful meditation and transcendental meditation, they all allow you to take a step back, be in the now and succumb to relaxation.

Meditation has been heavily researched and subsequently proven successful in reducing stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and even insomnia (8).

In addition to these benefits, there are many people out there who believe we’re closest to acknowledging our subconscious when we’re in a state of meditation. Research has gone on to prove this theory as well, where meditators were more aware of their subconscious cues than those who did not practice meditation (9).

Try adding a form of meditation into your routine to help build your awareness of your subconscious mind!

Bottom Line

Take a minute to think inward; what are your greatest hopes, desires, goals, and ambitions? Do you find that you get in your own way when trying to achieve these aspirations? Do you sabotage your own success? If you do, you certainly aren’t alone.

Our subconscious is influenced by so much that is outside of our control. My hope is that you use this information to take back control, put your subconscious to work and get after those goals!

“Think you can, or think you can’t; either way you’ll be right.” – Henry Ford

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What did you think of the subconscious mind before reading this article? What’s one takeaway you may try and implement into your life? We would love to hear your thoughts on the subject! I’m sure someone else reading the article would as well. As always, you can connect with us outside of the website on Instagram via @nutritionstripped @nutritionstrippederica and #nutritionstripped #nswellnesscoaching.





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Simple Shakshuka | Nutrition Stripped


This savory Simple Shakshuka is the perfect one-pan meal that is quick and easy and everyone will love!

Originating from parts of North Africa and the Middle East, Shakshuka relies heavily on delicious spices and herbs to create deep flavors that pair wonderfully with the acidic tomatoes and sweet peppers.

Spice It Up

Simple Shakshuka really is a blank-canvas meal. The spicy and rich tomato sauce is the perfect base to add hearty leafy greens, chopped nuts, sweet potatoes. There isn’t a wrong answer when it comes to ingredients so follow your heart (and your stomach) and get creative!

We love to serve our Simple Shakshuka with gluten-free bread, our favorite Jalepeño Cornbread, or fluffy quinoa.

Power Of Protein

Use whatever protein you enjoy to fit your unique eating habits.

If consuming animal proteins isn’t for you, such as the eggs used in this recipe, don’t worry! For a vegetarian option of this recipe just substitute the chicken with tofu, chickpeas, or chopped almonds (or all three!) and follow the recipe below.

For more information about animal proteins, what to look for, and how to shop for animal proteins check out our article Guide to Eating Animal Protein. Also, check out our factory farming article as it relates to animal proteins.

Leftovers?

Did someone say batch-cooking? Whether you’re a seasoned batch-cooking vet, or just learning the ropes, this Shakshuka (Eggs in Purgatory) is the perfect recipe to incorporate into your repetoiré. It’s quick and easy to make, packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients, and stores perfectly in our favorite glass containers.



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How To Stay Accountable | Nutrition Stripped


How can I stay accountable? Mastering accountability will help you to stay on top of deadlines, reach your goals and truly value your word.

What Is Accountability?

Think about all of the times you’ve made a decision, a choice or even a promise to yourself.

Maybe you’ve decided to take the stairs up to your office all week or to get to the gym on Monday morning. How many times have you gotten to the point of implementing the new habit or behavior change, and simply thought, “eh, not today”.

It’s that situation where we may lack accountability, not motivation or willpower, but accountability to see that practice through.

Being accountable means sticking to your commitments, having full transparency with yourself (i.e. being honest!), and keeping the promise you made to yourself. It means getting yourself out of bed at 5:45 am or walking up 5 flights of stairs with your work bag and lunch in hand simply because you made that promise to yourself.

Accountability is the act of being held responsible. It’s being answerable for actions or decisions you have made. It’s an essential, valuable trait to have for so many parts of your life. From work environments to relationships and behavior change, accountability has a hand in it all.

Despite its importance, accountability is something that many of us struggle with daily.

Why Is Accountability Important?

When we know exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it, but it still just isn’t working, accountability is the last piece of the puzzle that will get you to the finish line.

Think of accountability as your follow-through, your ability to stick to your word. We can talk all day long about our big plans and intentions, but what is it all worth if we never actually make it happen?

Staying accountable means walking the walk.

How To Stay Accountable

So, now that we know how important staying accountable is, how do we actually do it?

Accountability is twofold. We first and foremost want to stay accountable to ourselves. When no one is around to see you or acknowledge your actions, accountability is the little push that gets you out of bed when you’re cozy and craving that bit of extra sleep.

But sometimes being accountable means staying accountable to others. It’s a combination of the two that has been proven to allow you to stay accountable throughout your life and reach the goals you set for yourself (1).

How To Stay Accountable To Yourself

Let’s start by getting that little voice in your head to start motivating you to stay accountable.

1. Write It All Down

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again — write down your goals! Whether you’re a fan of planners and calendars or would rather a journal, writing down your goals has been proven time and time again to increase your chances of success.

More specifically, recent research has shown that we’re about 40 percent more likely to succeed if our goals are written down (2). Who doesn’t want an extra 40 percent chance of success!

When recording your goals and ambitions for accountability, be specific and be realistic. If this is your first go at maintaining an exercise schedule, starting off by committing to seven days per week of intense exercise probably isn’t the best way to proceed. Start slowly and build your way up!

Additionally, if you’re going to exercise, what kind of exercise are you going to do? Is there a specific class you’ll take? If so, what time does the class start? The more specific you are, the clearer the message is and the easier it is to adhere to.

Tangibly seeing your goals in front of you makes them real and concrete, undoubtedly increase your chances of remaining accountable.

2. Take It Step By Step

Let’s say you’ve always wanted to meal prep your meals but you just never seem to follow-through with your plans. Not only should you write down your goal of meal prepping, but also map out a schedule for when and how it will take place.

Take the time to create a schedule when you’re motivated and have decided to implement the new habit, behavior change or goal. This takes care of all of the heavy liftings ahead of time. That way, when it comes time to actually start the meal prepping, you already know what you have to do and when to start.

Be specific with your schedule; what day will the meal planning take place? Do you need to set a reminder so you don’t get sidetracked and forget? Know yourself and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. The more thought you put into the activity ahead of time, the more accountable you’ll be in the present moment.

3. Be Honest With Yourself

As cliché as it may sound, honesty truly is the best policy.

It’s easy to make excuses and rationalize your choices when you’re simply talking to yourself in your own head. Yet when things don’t go as planned or if you find yourself in a situation where you weren’t able to stay accountable, be honest with yourself.

Use that time to determine what went wrong, why you didn’t stay accountable and what you can do differently next time. We’re human, we all make mistakes. We just want to be sure to learn from them and move forward rather than repeat them and standstill.

4. Seek Out The Knowledge You Require

In order to stay accountable and stick to your decisions, you need to have the proper knowledge. Whatever the subject may be, educate yourself so you know how to properly apply yourself.

Educating yourself may involve doing some research on your own, but oftentimes your best bet is to work with a professional you can trust. Always seek out a credentialed, trustworthy individual within the given field.

For example, if you’re looking for guidance with meal planning or nutrition, always seek out a registered dietitian rather than someone who is unqualified and lacking credentials.

Working with a professional can also give you an extra layer of accountability, which we’ll discuss next.

How To Stay Accountable To Others

Research has shown that in order for us to truly remain accountable, we often need the support of others.

1. Talk About Your Goals

Whether it’s a professional you’re working with, your best friend, significant other or maybe even a workout buddy at the gym – talk to them about your goals! The more we verbalize and discuss our plans, the more responsible we feel for accomplishing them.

The next time you’re making a lifestyle change,  add a new step to your daily routine or sett a new goal for yourself, tell someone else about it. Once again, be as specific as possible! Tell them that you’re going to the gym at 6:00 am on Friday or that you’re trying to budget $50 per week to save up for that special trip.

By both verbalizing and writing down our goals we feel compelled to remain accountable and see it through to the end.

One of the main reasons we offer our monthly membership is to support you and others with accountability! Check it out if you haven’t already.

2. Be Honest With Others

Once you tell someone you’re going to do something, isn’t it difficult to tell them that you didn’t actually follow through with it when they ask? This is one of the reasons why talking about your goals with others is so important for accountability.

We also need to make sure that we’re honest. When things don’t quite go the way you had hoped and a friend asks why you didn’t follow through, always, always tell the truth. Be honest with them. If you were simply feeling unmotivated – say that! The more you acknowledge your weaknesses and weak points, the more likely you are to address them moving forward and prevent the situation from repeating itself.

It can be difficult, but sometimes it takes setting your ego aside to reach a state of complete accountability.

Connect With Us!

I would love to hear about your experiences with accountability. Is there anything I mentioned that you’re already doing? Is there something you’re doing that I didn’t discuss?

The more tips we can compile, the better! I’m sure someone else reading this article would love to hear what works for you. As always, you can connect with us outside of the website on Instagram via @nutritionstrippederica@nutritionstripped, #nutritionstripped, and #nswellnesscoaching.





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Wellness

White Bean Chili Verde | Nutrition Stripped


Add a little color to your meal-prep day with this delicious and easy White Bean Chili Verde!

This White Bean Chili Verde is the perfect balance between function and flavor. The green chiles add wonderful complex flavors and beautiful color, and the beans provide a boost of plant-based protein. Throw in the superfood effects from fresh cilantro and you have a batch-cooking friendly meal that checks all the boxes.

Protein

Chilis, soups, and stews have tons of extra protein potential, depending on your unique diet.

Use whatever protein you enjoy to fit your unique eating habits. Whether you prefer tofu, tempeh, or animal proteins, this chili is the perfect vessel, depending on your preference.

For more information about animal proteins, what to look for, and how to shop for animal proteins check out our article Guide to Eating Animal Protein. Also, check out our factory farming article as it relates to animal proteins.

Did someone say batch-cooking? Whether you’re a seasoned batch-cooking vet, or just learning the ropes, White Bean Chili Verde is the perfect recipe to incorporate into your repetoiré. It’s quick and easy to make, packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients, and stores perfectly in our favorite glass containers.



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Plant-Based Green Bean Casserole | Nutrition Stripped


No matter what time of year, this healthy and easy to make Plant-Based Green Bean Casserole is sure to please any crowd.

Fresh green beans and herbs, and creamy plant-based mushroom soup come together to create the perfect side dish. Pureeing steamed cauliflower creates a creamy and rich texture without the need for dairy.

Cauliflower Power

The love of cauliflower runs deep here at NS. Partially because it’s one of my favorite vegetables to cook with because it’s so versatile and because the health benefits of cauliflower are notable!

Cauliflower has compounds involved in cancer protection that also help with decreasing inflammation, cardiovascular benefits, and digestive health. Sulforaphane found in cauliflower helps protect the digestive lining and prevents bacterial overgrowth such as H. pylori., and detoxification support.

Something for Everyone

Spoiler alert! Here’s a sneak peek of what we’re bringing to our next holiday gathering. Not only are these recipes packed with vitamins and nutrients, but they’re incredibly easy to make!

Did someone say batch-cooking? Whether you’re a seasoned batch-cooking pro, or just learning the ropes, this Plant-Based Green Bean Casserole is the perfect recipe to incorporate into your repetoiré. It’s quick and easy to make, packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients, and stores perfectly in our favorite glass containers.



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10 Habits For Healthy Moms


Learn these 10 habits for healthy moms because taking care of yourself is important too.

Maintaining good health as a mom is essential, after all, we can’t take care of anyone else if we aren’t in good shape ourselves! Being a healthy mom has two parts, minding your own health and looking out for the health of your family as well.

Parents wear many hats — we are the keeper of schedules, the master of bedtime ceremonies, the planner of meals and activities and the head nurse when there’s an injury. But we can’t do any of these jobs well if we’re overwhelmed, exhausted and undernourished.

Make each day a little healthier with these simple strategies for self and family care.

10 Habits For Healthy Moms

1. Take Care Of Yourself

Taking care of yourself first isn’t selfish, it’s self-loving and vital to do before you can take care of anyone else. This philosophy applies to physical, emotional, and mental health. For many moms, the early morning hours of the day before anyone wakes up is the only alone time available.

That first hour of the day is the healthy mom’s “power hour” to set intentions for the day such as the 2Q Daily Practice (click to get it for free) from McKel’s Method. These first moments are so important for staying centered throughout the day and maintaining some control over your time and activities. If you wake up to social media, email inboxes and news headlines you’re thrown into a reactive mode so keep the screens off for this first hour to stay in the driver’s seat and direct the course of the day.

Meditating first thing in the morning is a powerful practice that can help you think clearer and problem solve better for the remainder of the day (1). People who meditate are also less reactive and more rational (2), an important skill for all people but let’s be honest, especially crucial for parents (particularly those with toddlers!).

The first hour of the day is also a great time to exercise. Working out in the morning naturally creates fewer barriers to consistency, often the only thing getting in the way of you and the workout is the snooze button. Morning workouts may also boost productivity and executive function, the type of brain function responsible for activities like remembering phone numbers (3).

2. Make Lists and Journal

When you become a parent your to-do list literally explodes. This is the natural result of being responsible for additional people with needs just like your own. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious about all the things that need to get done can take a toll on both mental and physical health. Keeping an organized list is a great way to get everything out of your head and onto paper.

To avoid crowding your list, write agenda items on your calendar and things that need to be purchased on a running store list. Your daily to-do list should be short and sweet, prioritize the top 3-5 things that need to get done. For everything else, keep a running weekly list to pull those daily priorities.

3. Plan As Much As You Can

The key to using a calendar is to be flexible when scheduling downtime and tasks write things down (or enter if using a digital calendar). For a calendar to work and keep appointments and activities organized it has to be consistently used, otherwise it is a distraction and one more thing to carry around.

Loosely scheduled activities, projects, work time, exercise, etc., will create a place holder for when the thing that needs to get done, is going to get done. Without making time on your calendar, the goal of getting the thing done is really just hope without putting solid action behind it.

It might seem silly to schedule things like healthy family meals or workouts but this also helps to ensure time is made for those important events and priorities. Make sure to honor the mental commitment you’ve made to scheduled events and defend the time you’ve set aside for them.

4. Eat A Meal Together

Planning a week of healthy family meals in advance gives you time to get organized, create thoughtful, nourishing meals and limit wasted time and money spent on takeout or trying to figure out what to eat last minute.

Research also shows that eating together as a family has a number of health benefits including lower rates of obesity, better academic performance, greater self-esteem and resilience, less emotional stress and a greater sense of well-being (4).

5. Automate When Possible

Creating efficiencies can be a great way to carve out more time in your day for spending time with your family or working in some time on self-care. Consider what can be automated: can you automate and streamline grocery shopping, house cleaning, financial planning, schedule organization, etc.?

Any repeated activity that you do more than 4 times a week should and can be automated. There are so many apps and services available that will literally make life run like clockwork. This may require an investment of some time upfront to determine what really works for you and makes life easier but it will be worth it. Time is one of the most valuable assets we have in taking care of our minds and bodies. Automate whatever is reasonable to gain more time throughout the day.

6. Prioritize Sleep

Did you know that getting enough sleep helps the body repair DNA damage (5)? While sleep deprivation impairs cognitive functioning and behavior (6).

You inevitably have tasks that need attention when the kids go to bed and of course, you want some time to unwind yourself but, sleep should be a priority too. Set an alarm (yes, an alarm!) about an hour before you’d like to go to bed to make sure there is enough time to wind down before you hit the sheets.

Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids! Routine tells the brain what’s coming. With sleep, specific routines like powering down electronic devices and dimming the lights can actually enhance melatonin production (7), our body’s sleep hormone. Therefore if you’d like to improve the quality of your sleep and the ease of getting to sleep, a nighttime routine is essential. Basic night time routine ingredients include:

  • Avoiding screens and artificial light 1-2 hours before bed (more if possible)
  • Enjoying a relaxing activity like a bath, walk outside or reading
  • Clearing your mind by making a list of the things you want to address tomorrow
  • Meditating or deep breathing to reduce circulating stress hormones that can interfere with sleep (8)
  • Changing into cool and comfortable bedtime clothes
  • Preparing your room for sleep, turning off lights and adjusting the temperature as needed

If you need a little more support to get you bedtime ready, essential oils or tea are a great way to up your game. Try to diffuse calming essential oils like lavender, ylang-ylang or rose while enjoying a cup of chamomile or sleepy time tea.

Once you’ve got your routine down its time for the hardest part — getting into bed! Give yourself a hard deadline to get into bed to make sure your brain and body get some well-deserved rest.

7. Schedule A Date Night

Being a healthy mom means giving your mind a break from the day to day inner workings of the household. Schedule a date night with your partner, a friend, your family and do something that brings you joy, laughter, and happiness. Research shows that laughter decreases stress and increases feelings of being happy and satisfied. Laughter even has a beneficial impact on things like heart rate, oxygen consumption and muscle relaxation (9).

If you’re short on time, you might consider planning a date night that checks more than just the ‘get out of the house’ box. An active date night is a good choice if you have trouble fitting in exercise. Try something new or keep it simple, whatever your preference there are plenty of great activity options for a night out:

  • Kayaking
  • Taking a walk
  • Paddleboarding
  • Yoga
  • Bike riding

If you have trouble prioritizing self-care, an hour or two of pampering might be a better fit. Remember to plan in advance as most good spas and salons require a week or more of advance notice. Consider what would be most enjoyable for you and your partner.

Whatever you do for date night, getting out of the house can sometimes lead to mom guilt. This is totally normal. Try your best to enjoy the time away and think of it like recharging your battery. How well does your phone work if it’s not charged? It doesn’t work at all, right? Exactly! You’ll be better able to handle the challenges of the next day if you allow yourself some time away, even just for an hour.

8. Incorporate Activity Each Day

It may not be possible to get in a long sweat session every day. Although short bursts of activity may not be as satisfying as a long run or a spin class, science shows that they can be as effective for building muscle and cardiovascular fitness (10).

Short bursts of intense exercise also impact health on a cellular level, increasing the number of mitochondria (11). Mitochondria are the little metabolic engines within each cell that govern essential functions like metabolism.

Aim for a few short bursts of activity throughout the day (any amount of time is good, even 1-2 minutes!) and incorporate regular non-intense movement throughout the day to accumulate around 7000 or more steps (12).

Healthy families need exercise too! If alone time is not possible, work some exercise into family time with a hike, a trip to the trampoline park or literally anything that gets you up and moving.

9. Use Leftovers

This healthy mom hack is good for your body, the planet, and the budget. If you have little ones running around you inevitably have cut up fruits and vegetables that go un-eaten.

Not quite enough to save for the next snack but also too much to waste. Keep a few containers in the freezer to store these perfectly good morsels. I have one for soups, one for smoothies and one for chili and they each accumulate leftovers throughout the week. When its time to make a smoothie or a pot of soup, the container comes in handy to lend ingredients to the mix.

Short on recipe ideas? Here are a few to get you started:

When in doubt you can always search for recipes using the ingredients you have stashed in your freezer containers or add them as an addition to the recipe ingredients. You’d be surprised, increasing the variety of fruit in smoothies or vegetables in soups often enhances the recipe rather than ruining it.

10. Pack Snacks For Stable Blood Sugars

Healthy families are fueled by good nutrient-rich foods. But this doesn’t happen on its own. If you rely on what’s available at fast-food restaurants and sporting events you and your family will be eating a lot of sugar, refined flours and vegetable oils — all inflammatory foods that are low in nutrients.

Being a healthy mom means you come prepared. In fact, I’m pretty sure moms take an oath to pack snacks before they leave the delivery room with their newborn! Packing snacks keeps you in control of what you and your family are eating on the go and prevents getting hangry. Some healthy, portable snacks include:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butter packets with apples or celery
  • Baby carrots and single-serve hummus or guacamole
  • Energy balls
  • Bars made from nuts, seeds, whole grains and dried fruit (like these simple chewy bars)
  • Energy mix

Don’t forget about the beverages! Make sure everyone has a reusable water bottle to bring with them for activities, running errands and appointments. A water bottle with a built-in filter is a good idea if you’re unsure of the quality of water you’ll come in contact with along your family adventures.

Tired of water? Try infused water, unsweetened sparkling seltzer, iced herbal tea or water with a splash of 100% fruit juice. Better yet, make sure your water is filtered.

Healthy Mom, Healthy Family

Taking care of yourself is the only way you can take care of your family. These simple hacks can help move you and your family move toward good health, one habit at a time.

Let’s Hear It

What are your tried and true healthy mom or healthy family hacks? And what are you going to try and tackle first on this list? #nutritionstripped

Lindsay Malone, MS, RDN, LDN



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