Saturday, 19 May 2018

Alcatraz Hotel of Germany – A prison turned hotel

If you ever visit the town of Kaiserslautern in Germany, don’t forget to checkout the Alcatraz Hotel. Once a prison, this hotel lets guests get that jailhouse feeling by spending a night behind bars for about 50 Euros. The hotel rooms are actual cells of the prison complete with iron doors, iron grilled windows, metal beds and in-cell toilets. There are also collective showers on each floor. To make the experience complete guests are given pinstriped pajamas to wear for the night!
















Betel Nut Beauties

The term Betel nut beauty (also betel nut gir) refers to a common sight along roadsides in Taiwan: a young woman selling betel nuts and cigarettes from a brightly lit glass enclosure while wearing revealing clothing. Though betel nuts are chewed in many regions of the Asia-Pacific, the betel nut beauty phenomenon is distinctly Taiwanese.
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The original betel nut beauties were the "Shuangdong Girls" who, in the 1960s, brought glamour to the opening of the Shuangdong Betel Nut Stand in Guoxing Township, Nantou County (Huang Wan-tran, Taipei Times, 2007 March). The success of the marketing strategy led competitors to follow suit, and by the end of the century betel nut beauties and their neon-topped kiosks were a trademark feature of Taiwan's cities and countryside. The kiosks appear in urban, suburban and rural settings alike. They are most characteristically encountered along major highways where truck drivers--famously enthusiastic consumers of betel nuts--can easily find them.

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Friday, 18 May 2018

12 Natural Remedies for Sleep Apnea

Getting a good night’s sleep — which for most people will mean around seven to eight hours in a night — is an important part of being alert and effective in both your professional and personal lives. Standing in the way of that good night’s sleep can be a range of obstacles, from distractions like smartphones and tablet computers, to caffeine found in beverages like coffee, tea, and soda.
But not all obstacles to getting a sufficient amount of sleep are so simple. Sleep apnea, a condition that involves the constricting of an individual’s airways during sleep, can be far more difficult to solve. This chronic condition that typically results in disrupted sleep over a prolonged period can leave a person feeling perpetually tired and may be dangerous to their overall health. In response, many doctors will recommend using machines or even surgery to help overcome sleep apnea. But are there any home remedies that can offer some relief from sleep apnea?

1. Throat Work

Sleep apnea patients face continued struggles with sleep primarily because the airways linking the mouth with the lungs become constricted, making it very difficult for oxygen to easily flow through. The result can be a very rough night’s sleep, with the afflicted individual waking up regularly and constantly struggling to settle into a deep sleep.
But patients can make some progress in fighting sleep apnea by working on breathing strategies that strengthen the throat and allow them to take deeper breaths more consistently. One way to do this is to blow up balloons using deep — and not shallow — breaths. By consistently using this exercise, you may be able to improve air flow into the lungs and reduce the overall impact of sleep apnea.

2. Honey

If you’ve ever had a serious throat infection — either as a result of the flu, a head cold, or some other condition — there’s a good chance you’ve used a lozenge or liquid medicine that contains honey. But have you ever wondered why we use honey in this way?
It’s simple: honey contains properties that can help reduce swelling and inflammation, which is why it’s so often used in cases where the throat has become red and irritated. In essence, honey acts as a lubricant capable of helping air through through the throat and into the lungs. Just a tablespoon of honey before heading to bed can make a difference in the amount of sleep a sleep apnea patient can get.

3. Cinnamon

Another simple home remedy for sleep apnea, and sleep problems in general, is cinnamon, which most people have somewhere in their spice cabinet. Although it’s mainly used to bring extra flavor to popular dishes like oatmeal, toast, and tea, cinnamon can actually do a lot to help people get a better sleep.
How so? Cinnamon boasts sedative properties that can help an individual wind down after a long and stressful day. It may also help to relax the airways, improving breathing. So, consider adding a tablespoon of cinnamon to a glass of water before heading to bed.

4. Garlic

Garlic makes an incredible addition to a wide variety of savory dishes, from pasta sauce to casserole and meat marinades. But it’s also rather effective at helping fight inflammation and, in doing so, may offer some relief to individuals struggling with sleep apnea.
How so? By reducing inflammation in the tonsils and airways, garlic can help broaden the throat and passages linking the mouth and lungs. This could allow more air to flow through, giving a sleep apnea patient a better chance of resting easily at night. You can add more garlic to your diet or simply consume a couple cloves of garlic with water. Just be sure to brush your teeth afterwards, or your breath may scare off friends and family members.

5. Lavender

Lavender is often used to create sweet-smelling aromas in and around the home; this is done by breaking down the lavender flower and adding its essence to a simple solution, like water, though many chemical-based scents mimic the lavender aroma as well.
But lavender’s uses go far between creating a nice smell for the home or office. It can also be used to limit the restriction of muscles in the throat, allowing air to flow freely into the lungs, providing a sleep apnea patient with a better chance at getting a full night’s rest. To give this a try, add lavender to boiling water, place a towel over your head, and breathe in the steam.

6. Chamomile

Chamomile has been used for centuries to help people get to sleep. Typically added to tea and consumed before bed — but also available in pill form — it offers a more natural way to drift off to sleep after being wound up by a stressful day at work.
But how does it do that? Chamomile contains special chemical properties that help to relax muscles and nerves, thereby assisting in the sedation process. In doing so, it may be able to help relax the muscles which, when restricted, cause a sleep apnea patient to regularly wake up during the night.

7. Epsom salts

Epsom salts have been used for generations to help with a variety of minor or moderate health conditions, from improving the look and feel of the skin to relaxing sore muscles. Typically epsom salts are added to a bath, with an individual spending at least twenty minutes letting the salts soak into the skin and muscles.
In helping relax weary muscles, epsom salts may also be able to help with sleep apnea. That’s because the relaxation of key muscles in the chest could improve airflow between the mouth and lungs, allowing a sleep apnea patient to breathe more deeply than otherwise.

8. Peppermint

Many restaurants — both expensive and cheap, fine dining and casual fare — offer customers a peppermint candy following their meal. And while that candy is often delicious, there’s actually more to having a peppermint following a meal than just cleansing the palate and freshening the breath: it can also help with digestion.
How so? Peppermint contains properties that help fight inflammation, which can reduce the impact of indigestion, like heartburn. Beyond that, such anti-inflammatory properties can also help relax the muscles in the mouth and throat when peppermint is added to water and used to gargle. Do so before bed and you may find it easier to breathe at night.

9. Almonds

Some foods are high in nutrients that can effectively assist in relaxation and getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Almonds, for example, contain substantial quantities of magnesium, a mineral that’s been linked with relaxed muscles and better sleep.
That said, almonds can be relatively difficult to digest, so it may not be wise to eat them right before bed. Instead, try downing a handful of almonds around dinner time or shortly thereafter, as they could provide some assistance in helping you wind down and get to sleep.

10. Warm Milk

For centuries people have used warm milk to help bring on sleep in a fairly natural way. This is because warm milk contains tryptophan, an agent that’s also found in turkey meat and a major reason so many of us finding ourselves drifting off to sleep after a big meal at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter.
That said, not everyone will benefit from drinking warm milk before bed. Anyone who is lactose intolerant should avoid this tactic, as it’s more likely to cause indigestion and general discomfort than help them drift off to sleep. Additionally, there’s some debate about whether warm milk contains sufficient tryptophan to cause sleep, so don’t expect it to act like some kind of wonder drug for those with sleep apnea or other sleep-oriented condition.

11. Avoid Alcohol

Many people who struggle to get to sleep — or stay asleep throughout the night, like sleep apnea patients — turn to alcoholic beverages like wine, beer or spirits to help them relax and drift off after a long day. And anyone who has tried this will probably tell you that alcohol can help with relaxation and may allow them to get to sleep more easily.
But there’s a catch: people who drink alcohol before bed are more likely to wake up in the night, for a variety of reasons (having to urinate being one). That means it might help you sleep from, say, 11pm to 2am, but may leave you tossing and turning for the remainder of the night. And that won’t help anyone get the sleep they need to function effectively during the day.

12. Exercise

Being physically active can play a huge role in helping an individual get to sleep and remain asleep throughout the night, for two basic reasons: first, exercise can release endorphins in the brain that help to provide a calming effect, making it particularly effective for individuals whose mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression, make getting to sleep difficult. Second, it can simply make one tired, improving the chances of getting a full night’s rest.
Additionally, regularly exercising can help an individual lose weight and get closer to their fitness goals. In doing so, they may reduce pressure on the chest, helping improve airflow to the lungs, a crucial game-changer for anyone experiencing sleep apnea or a related health condition.

12 Foods That Can Cause Blood Sugar Levels to Spike

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can present an individual with a number of significant health challenges that require substantial lifestyle changes. Of those changes, the most important and immediate may involve adjustments to one’s diet, and specifically keeping tabs on foods and beverages that have a demonstrable impact on blood sugar levels. After all, it’s failing to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels that can lead to serious health problems for diabetics, including damage to major organs, from the liver and kidneys to the heart and even eyes.
The first step to finding the right diet for your situation requires learning more about the foods you eat. For diabetics, it’s crucial they become aware of the foods and drinks that can pose problems for their blood sugar levels. Now, let’s take a look at some foods you may not even realize can put your health in danger.

1. Bagels

The first and most obvious food group to watch out for following a diabetes diagnosis: breads and cereals. It’s a tough group to leave behind, as many of us treasure foods like breakfast cereal and fresh bread with butter. The good news is that you don’t have to abandon these foods altogether; the bad news is that you do need to monitor your consumption of them.
In this group, bagels might pose the greatest threat. Often dense and filling, they can provide the same amount of carbohydrates as many slices of bread or a few bowls of breakfast cereal. While you may not have to ditch bagels altogether, it may be wise to consider seriously limiting their consumption or making adjustments, such as eating only half a bagel at a time.

2. Dried Fruit

One of the more misunderstood types of food out there is trail mix, which often includes a curious but delicious combination of nuts, dried fruits (like apples, apricots, cranberries, raisins, and pineapple), and, in some cases, candy. While diabetics would be wise to ditch the trail mix with bits of chocolate or candy in it, dried fruit may pose just as much of a problem.
That’s because dried fruit is often sweetened with additional sugar, which can throw your blood sugar levels into overdrive. But even if sugar hasn’t been added, dried fruit presents a problem because the natural sugars inside can be substantial. Additionally, because dried fruit has had all of its water removed, it can take much longer for you to feel full — meaning you’re way more likely to over-indulge.

3. Fruit Juice

Following a diabetes diagnosis, many individuals make the wise decision to limit their consumption of sugary soda, like cola, root beer, and cream soda. But fruit juice can pose just as much of a problem as soda, even if it’s made from fresh fruit.
That’s because fruit juice contains a lot of sugar, even if it’s just natural sugar. Consider that making your own juice from actual fruit can require going through many individual pieces of fruit — something anyone with a home juicer will know. Of course, if you’re buying fruit juice in the store, there’s a good chance it’s had sugar added to it, something that’s usually the case when the juice is made from concentrate. If you love fruit juice, don’t worry — you won’t need to ditch it, though you should definitely consider cutting back.

4. Sports Drinks

A lot of people think sports drinks are a healthy choice simply because they contain the word “sport” in the name. Others might feel that, because they’re usually less sweet than fruit juice or soda, they’re a healthy selection. But that’s rarely the case; in fact, unless you’re a very active individual competing at a high level, you probably don’t need to consume sports drinks at all.
In most cases, sports drinks contain a substantial amount of sugar, which can seriously affect your blood sugar levels. For diabetics, that’s a huge problem, particularly if they’re not actually using these drinks for playing competitive sports. If you’re just looking for something to get you through a tough workout, look for low-sugar sports drinks or consider sticking with old-fashioned water.

5. Alcoholic Drinks

Few people look forward to a Friday or Saturday night because it will mean consuming lots of soda or fruit juice. But many social butterflies and partiers do consume a huge amount of alcohol to celebrate the weekend or a special event, like New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, or just the start of a summer vacation.
For anyone keen on watching their blood sugar levels, such as diabetics, that’s a huge issue. Why? Because many alcoholic beverages are loaded with sugar or carbohydrates and drinking just one or two of them can cause blood sugar levels to spike. And because many partiers enjoy far more than one or two, the potential for disaster is significant. If you do expect to over-indulge in alcohol, try mixing your own drinks using low-sugar options like vodka, gin, water, and club soda.

6. Coffee

On its own, coffee doesn’t pose a huge problem for people, like diabetics, who may be watching their blood sugar levels. But relatively few people drink their coffee “black,” meaning they don’t add anything to it. Rather, many coffee fans like to spice things up by adding milk, cream, sugar, or specialty syrups that add a kick of vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut.
Obviously, that’s a serious problem, particularly if you’re not making the coffee yourself. Many of the biggest coffee chains in the world do a serious business selling coffee-like beverages that are simply loaded down with sugar and can cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Ideally, you should ask for black coffee and add your own sugar, being mindful of those blood sugar levels, afterwards.

7. Tea

Many of us like to think tea is a healthy beverage, and in some cases it can provide some notable health benefits. Chamomile tea can help you relax and go to sleep; green tea may help boost metabolism; ginger tea can settle an upset stomach; cranberry tea could help prevent urinary tract infections. And black tea, such as English breakfast or orange pekoe, can give us a nice little boost of energy through caffeine.
But tea can be quite unhealthy if it’s loaded down with sugar, cream, or heavy milk. And that’s often how many people drink it, especially from popular tea or coffee shops that offer their own speciality flavors. As with coffee, the best idea is to get your tea plain while adding sugar yourself — if need be.

8. Rice

Rice often accompanies some very healthy dishes, like a home-made soup or stir fry. It’s simply delicious when paired with fresh vegetables, from broccoli to asparagus, bell peppers, celery, carrots — the list goes on.
But it’s important to remember that white rice can present significant health problems for those people watching their blood sugar levels, as it can cause those levels to spike very fast. Like white bread, white rice is a simple carbohydrate that’s processed quickly in the body. For something that won’t have such a dramatic impact on blood sugar levels, try brown rice, which is also high in fiber.

9. Red meat

Many diabetics know to monitor their consumption of carbohydrates and simple sugars, but they may not be as aware of the threat posed to them by red meat, which can also cause blood sugar levels to rise. Research has shown that red meat, and especially processed meats like bacon and deli meats, can cause blood sugar levels to rise. Additionally, there’s some concern that simply eating too much protein can cause levels to creep up to a point where they may pose problems for diabetics.
The good news for passionate carnivores is that, when consumed in relative moderation, red meat shouldn’t pose a major concern. But it’s important to know that these foods do have their issues, especially for individuals with diabetes.

10. Milk

For generations we’ve been told that drinking milk is an essential part of healthy growth. Why? Because milk contains protein and calcium, which can help in the development and maintenance of healthy muscles and bones, respectively.
But milk also contains sugar and some types of milk, like chocolate milk, contain a lot of sugar. In fact, most types of milk contain lactose, a form of sugar that’s relatively easy to digest. The good news is that milk doesn’t pose as much of a threat as soda, fruit juice, or sugary alcoholic beverages; the bad news is that you shouldn’t feel safe to drink as much as you like.

11. Yogurt

Yogurt has been experiencing a major resurgence in popularity in recent years. This is largely because of the sensation surrounding probiotics, which can be found in many types of yogurt and which can help enhance the digestive process and increase “regularity.” For individuals with digestive problems, such as excess gas or constipation, yogurt containing probiotics can be hugely helpful.
But it’s important to remember that most types of yogurt contain their fair share of added sugars, with only plain yogurt (not to be confused with vanilla yogurt) relatively low in added sugars. Keep this in mind if you’re monitoring your blood sugar levels.

12. Bananas

We like to think that anything found in the produce section is healthy and, for the most part, that’s true. But there are some fruits that contain high levels of natural sugar and that could pose serious problems for those carefully monitoring their blood sugar levels, like diabetics.
Bananas are among the sweetest and therefore more dangerous types of fruit. Like grapes, mangoes, and cherries, eating them can cause blood sugar levels to spike very rapidly. That said, bananas do represent an excellent source of potassium, so you shouldn’t feel like you need to avoid them altogether. As always, moderation is key.

7 Foods That Can Make Your Allergies Worse

Can your diet amp up your allergies?  

It's already a pollen storm out there, and the last thing you want to do is make your allergies worse. But if you eat or drink the wrong things, you can inadvertently add to your misery, says Tania Elliott, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. These are some common offenders you may want to take off your plate when your seasonal allergies are in full-swing.


Wine is high in histamines, one of the chemicals the body pumps out when you have allergies. "During allergy season, your body produces chemicals that trigger an allergic response, the most predominant one being histamine, and it's largely responsible for itching, redness, swelling, and congestion," explains Dr. Elliott. "Eating histamine-containing foods in high quantities can increase the levels of histamine circulating in your body, and contribute to a symptom flare." Wine also packs other substances that can make you stuffed up and miserable. LTP, a protein in the skin of grapes, can trigger congestion, notes Dr. Elliott, as can byproducts of bacteria, yeast, and sulfites in some wines.  
Aged cheese 
If you've ever felt stuffed up or had a runny nose after eating aged cheeses like parmesan, gouda, and manchego, it's not your imagination. Blame histamines in the cheese, not dairy, says Dr. Elliott: "There is no evidence to suggest that dairy makes your phlegm or mucous thicker."

Fresh fruits 

You take a bite out of a fresh peach, an apple, or a handful of cherries, and suddenly your mouth is itchy. What gives? Is it a food allergy? Chances are you have oral allergy syndrome. It's a reaction to a protein, generally on the skin of the fruit, that resembles pollen. "Imagine chewing on the leaf of a tree you are allergic to—you'd get localized allergy symptoms of itchy mouth," says Dr. Elliott. That's what happens from fruit when you have OAS.
Luckily, cooking the food breaks down the protein, allowing you to eat it without a reaction. "That's how you can distinguish oral allergy syndrome from a true food allergy," Dr. Elliott adds. "Many people say, 'I get an itchy mouth from eating peaches, but canned peaches or peach pie is just fine.'" If that's the case, you don't have a true food allergy—and you don't have to worry about a severe, anaphylactic reaction. However, Dr. Elliott recommends seeing an allergist for confirmation.  

Cocktails of any kind 

Drinking any alcohol can cause stuffiness, though this isn't an allergy. "Alcohol causes dilation of the blood vessels, which can contribute to flushed skin and congestion," Dr. Elliott says. When you're having an allergy flare up, however, the last thing you need is something that adds to that itchy-stuffy feeling. Incidentally, drinking booze can also make an allergic reaction to food more severe—just reason #879 to drink in moderation.

Spicy foods 

Ever noticed that your nose gets runny after you get the four-alarm chili? "Spicy foods can help clear out the sinuses and the nasal passages and thin out mucus, which is a good thing," says Dr. Elliott. But if your symptoms are dramatic and annoying, there may be another issue: "There is a syndrome called gustatory rhinitis, in which people actually develop allergic irritation from spicy foods and end up with sneezing or a runny nose when exposed to spicy foods," Dr. Elliott explains. Your best bet is swearing off the hot stuff.  

Herbal tea 

You know what's in that fragrant blend? Plants and flowers that can make you sneeze. "Many people confuse the terms 'all natural' and 'allergy-free,'" points out Dr. Elliott. "Herbal teas are made from plants. Trees and grasses (that cause hay fever) are plants too. So, if you are having an herbal tea, it is possible that the tea leaves can cross-react with plant pollen." Chamomile and thyme, for example, cross-react with mugwort pollen, which is the prominent weed pollen produced in the summertime. Echinacea can also trigger a reaction. If your cup of tea brings on symptoms, switch to a different variety.

Red meat 

Alpha-gal allergy is a severe, sudden allergy to red meat that is believed to be transmitted by ticks and other insects. Experts believe that ticks can pick up a sugar molecule called alpha-gal from its prey, and then transfer it to its next victim. If that's you, your body can react to alpha-gal and you end up with an allergy to red meat. While the typical food allergy reaction happens within minutes to a few hours, alpha-gal reactions occur several hours or even half a day later, says Dr. Elliott. This allergy is on the rise. It's been reported not only in the United States but in Europe and Australia. One study by researchers at the University of Tennesee Health College of Medicine found that alpha-gal may be to blame for a large percentage of previously unexplained anaphylactic reactions. If you notice any symptoms like hives, nausea, or difficulty breathing after eating meat (beef, pork, lamb), make sure to see an allergist and carry an epinephrine device.

Photo realistic pencil sketches of celebrities

This guy has got some amazing talent.
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