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Cats have a natural tendency to mark their territory with urine. Unfortunately, as your house is part of your cat’s territory, this can include urine-marking inside your home.

Urine-marking can take two forms: spraying urine on vertical surfaces or urinating on horizontal surfaces. Don’t confuse this with your cat simply urinating outside of their litter box, which can indicate a medical problem and should be checked out by a veterinarian. As long as your cat is regularly using their litter box, you know the issue is urine-marking.

There are various reasons why your cat might be urine-marking inside your house. Luckily, it’s usually an issue that can be solved. When you find out what’s wrong, you can start working towards a solution.

Spay or neuter your cat

The most common reason a cat will urine-mark your house is if they are unneutered or unspayed. The urge to spray is very strong in an intact cat. Both male and female cats can spray, although the behavior is more typical in non-neutered males.

It’s recommended to get your cat neutered or spayed by five months old. If you’ve adopted an older cat, get them fixed as soon as possible. Neutering has been shown to solve 90 percent of all marking issues.

Reduce or eliminate stress

Cats are very sensitive to their environment. In order to deal with the anxiety of a stressful situation, a cat’s instinct is often to mark their territory.

They can be upset by an event such as moving to a new house, a new baby arriving, new renters moving in, another pet bothering them or a conflict outside the house you might not even be aware of.

It’s important to eliminate any obvious stressors if possible. Resist any temptation to scold or punish your cat for spraying. This will only make matters worse.

In general, these are some other ways you can help your cat relax and relieve stress:

  • Play with your kitty at least 10-15 minutes twice a day. Physical activity will help reduce stress, so try to find some toys you can use with your cat that they can chase and interact with. Better yet, rub some catnip on them.
  • Keep your home interesting. Boredom can be an unnecessary source of stress. Give your cat a scratching post or leave out treat balls and new toys for them to discover.
  • Provide safe spaces for your cat. They need to have safe hiding places in your home, and cardboard boxes, cat trees, a clear bookshelf or simply spaces in closets work fine.
  • Stick to a routine. If you need to make any changes to your routine, make sure you allow your cat many stress-reduction opportunities to help them through the transition period.

Diagnose any medical issues

Research shows that up to 30 percent of cats that are urinating in the house may have an underlying medical problem, so start by taking your cat to the veterinarian for a checkup.

A urinary tract infection can be the culprit if your cat suddenly stops using their litter box. Other signs of an infection could be crying when they try to urinate or licking their genitals. Urinary tract infections are more common in male cats.

A feline infection can advance quickly, so get your cat to a vet as soon as you notice something is wrong.

Clean sprayed areas

Be thorough, but don’t use strong-smelling cleaners because they may encourage your cat to step up their marking efforts. You can buy enzymatic cleaners at most pet stores specifically for cleaning up urine marks.

You can make previously sprayed areas inaccessible by putting up barriers or moving items in front of the marked objects.

It can also help to change the significance of those areas to your kitty. Feed and play with your cat in the areas they are inclined to mark.

Encourage positive relationships in multi-cat homes

The likelihood of urine spraying increases in direct proportion to the number of cats in a household. Fostering cooperation and comfort between all the cats in a home will reduce any tendencies to spray.

Try playing with your cats together, paying equal attention to everyone. Encourage them to groom each other by wiping them down with a damp cloth, and promote sleeping and eating together.

Also make sure there are enough resources for everyone, including toys, litter boxes, cat beds and feeding dishes.

Restrict your cat’s view of the outdoors

Seeing other cats or animals outside the house can trigger a territorial response in your cat and increase the urge to urine-mark.

It’s helpful to move your furniture away from windows to reduce any convenient perching locations for your cat to watch the outside. You can also pull the curtains or cover the lower portion of your windows up to cat height.

Purchase a commercial spray that will deter your cat from marking the same territory

Most pet stores carry liquid sprays that will repel your cat with unpleasant smells only they can detect.

Feline pheromone sprays are also available, which will make your cat feel more comfortable in your home and less likely to spray.

You don’t have tolerate spraying in the house. By recognizing the causes, you can find a solution that works for everyone.

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Wild rice is considered the most decadent of all the grains with its distinctive, earthy flavor. Move over brown and white rice—wild rice has an extra nutritional punch that makes it a clear winner.

Good Source of Antioxidants

We need antioxidants to help reduce the risk of several diseases, including cancer. Wild rice is very high in antioxidants according to the research at the University of Minnesota.

An analysis of 11 different samples of wild rice at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, found that it has 30 times more antioxidants than white rice.

Beneficial for the Heart

Long-term consumption of wild rice in studies had cardiovascular benefits due to its lipid-lowering properties.

Although there is little research on wild rice, 45 studies found that those who ate whole grains had less heart disease.

Reduces Plaque in Arteries

It was also found that eating at least 6 servings of whole grains a week reduced the buildup of plaque in arteries in postmenopausal women.

May Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Eating whole grains like wild rice lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20–30 percent according to research. Eating whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes but eating refined grains such as white rice is associated with an increased risk according to 16 studies. 

High in Protein with Less Calories

Wild rice has 40 percent more protein and about 30 percent fewer calories than brown rice. The protein in wild rice contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein which is great for vegetarians and vegans.

Gluten-Free

It is gluten-free like brown rice, millet and quinoa. 

Wild rice growing

Wild rice growing

Nutrition

Being low in calories and high in nutrients makes wild rice a nutrient-dense food.

1 cup of cooked wild rice has 166 calories, 6.5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 13 percent of the DV for manganese, 15 percent of the DV for zinc, 13 percent of the DV for magnesium, 13 percent of the DVs for phosphorus and also small amounts of iron, potassium and selenium. For full nutrition detail go to Wild Rice Nutrition. 

How to Select

It’s best not to buy boxed wild rice mixes which are less fresh and the additives often have traces of gluten. Make sure it is organic. The best wild rice grows in Minnesota and Manitoba. Noaspa Harvest is totally certified and harvested naturally. The wild rice grown in California is mostly commercialized and processed. 

How to Store

It is low in fat, so uncooked wild rice can be kept in a dry, airtight container for years. Once it has been cooked and tightly covered it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and the freezer for up to six months.

Cooking Tips

It is a good nutritious substitute for potatoes, pasta or rice. You can eat it alone or add it to salads, soups, casseroles and even desserts.

Wild rice ready to be cooked

Wild rice ready to be cooked

How to Cook Wild Rice

Ingredients:
1 cup wild rice
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Directions:

  1. Rinse the wild rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse with cold running water to remove unwanted hulls and dust.
  2. Put the rice in the saucepan with 3 cups of water and soak overnight. Or you can skip soaking overnight and just start cooking it.
  3. The next day, add salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer/cook the rice for 50 – 60 minutes, depending on the type of wild rice you have.
  5. Cook until the rice is soft but not mushy and until most of the grains have burst open. Check the rice. It should be chewy with most of the grains burst open. It may need an extra 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep checking the rice and only cook till the grains are tender.
  6. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve, or add it to any number of dishes for a delicious, nutty taste and chewy texture.
Sweet Bell Peppers Stuffed with Wild Rice

Sweet Bell Peppers Stuffed with Wild Rice

Try these delicious Sweet Bell Peppers Stuffed with Wild Rice

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Miss Eating Gluten? Sourdough May Be the Answer

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If you fell off the gluten-free train , you’re not alone. Being gluten-free isn’t as hip as it used to be. Across the US, the gluten-free trend is slowing its pace as people are turning their sensitive palates towards more authentic, traditional foods… like sourdough. Yes, even those who consider themselves to have gluten sensitivities.

No one can deny that bread is a traditional food. The oldest bread discovered was found in Switzerland and dates back to 3500 BCE. For thousands of years humans have been enjoying bread as a dietary staple. Until commercial yeast was invented, all leavened bread was made over the course of many days using wild, natural yeasts—which means it was all sourdough. And it was way healthier.

Sourdough bread is literally just a mixture of flour and water that is left, fed upon and fermented by beneficial natural yeasts in the air. We all know by now that fermented food is extraordinarily healthful. The hours of fermenting that it takes to make sourdough bread actually helps to break down the grains (as well as the gluten within them) and makes them more digestible. It also renders the bread’s nutrients more bioavailable and lowers the phytic acid content (phytic acid actually impedes nutrient absorption). The fermentation also reduces the glycemic index of the bread, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar as much as modern breads. (Hm, it seems like our ancestors were on to something.)

Modern, mass-produced breads tend to eschew tradition and nutrition in favor of convenience and speed, using bleached flours, commercial yeast and added sugar to kickstart the process. This creates a bread high in gluten, high in sugary carbs and low in nutrition. In general, we have lost sight of the tradition and nutrition of bread baking in favor of convenience. And it’s making us sick.

So what does this have to do with those who are gluten intolerant?

If you are mildly gluten intolerant, you may be able to enjoy sourdough without issue. The natural fermentation of the sourdough breaks down the bulk of the gluten proteins, making it easier to digest. There are two types of gluten intolerance: celiac and non-celiac. Research has shown that sourdough is generally well tolerated among those who are non-celiac gluten sensitive (and even among some with celiac, although I don’t recommend trying).

Why can some of us who are gluten sensitive tolerate sourdough? Perhaps gluten is not the real issue. If you generally don’t feel well when you consume gluten-containing foods, it could be anything from an imbalanced microbiome to glyphosate sensitivity to FODMAP sensitivity to unhealthily high levels of gluten (like in modern breads) and beyond. Yet, we are all quick to point the finger at gluten because it’s easy and already considered inflammatory.

But interestingly, the vast majority of people who have deemed themselves gluten-sensitive do not actually meet the clinical criteria of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which means your sensitivity may be misdiagnosed. Gluten itself may not be your demon after all, in which case, sourdough bread might be well tolerated by you.

rye sourdough starter and rye flour

When you’re buying sourdough bread, it is crucial to make sure your sourdough is traditionally made. Some white breads that bear the label ‘sourdough’ may in fact have very little sourdough added to lend flavor. In that case, they are no longer a health food. The healthful part about sourdough is actually the lengthy process that the bread undergoes, not the flavor. In fact, don’t be fooled by the label ‘whole grain’ either. Just because the label says ‘whole grain’ does not make a bread healthy. Most whole grain breads in the supermarket are just as sugary and processed as a bleach-white loaf of Wonder bread. Opt for fresh or frozen sourdough from a good bakery and look for only 3 ingredients: unbleached flour, water, salt. That, along with time, is literally all it takes to make real sourdough bread.

But let’s be clear, sourdough bread is by no means gluten-free, so if you have a serious gluten intolerance, DO NOT EAT IT. Although the gluten levels are very significantly reduced, the fermentation process does not break down all of the gluten proteins entirely. But for those of us who simply feel a little crappy when we eat a slice of store-bought bread and are looking for a more nourishing option, sourdough may be the answer.

Do you have a mild gluten sensitivity? Does sourdough sit well with you? Share your experiences with the community below.

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Is Too Much Salt Damaging Your Brain?

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Like most people nowadays, I spend a lot of time on the internet, and while most of it is spent reading the latest research on health, nutrition and natural medicine, I sometimes come across well-meaning but misinformed articles that have completely misinterpreted the research. And, lately it seems that there are more and more articles telling people not to worry about eating a lot of salt. They insist that there are no health issues from doing so. But, new research (not to mention a lot of older studies) and some basic nutritional facts suggest otherwise.

Consider a study published in Nature Neuroscience that found excessive salt consumption causes more than just the well-documented high blood pressure and heart issues, it also affects healthy blood flow to the brain and causes an increased risk of cognitive impairment, dementia and cerebrovascular diseases, including stroke.​

The researchers found that the cells that form the lining of blood vessels can become impaired from a high salt diet, which can reduce the blood vessels’ ability to transport oxygen-rich blood that is needed by every organ in the body, including the brain. The study found that high amounts of salt in the diet suppressed blood flow to the brain, which leads to cognitive impairment and the risk of cerebrovascular diseases.

The study also found that a high sodium diet impairs the gut-brain axis by increasing the number of white blood cells in the gut which leads to gut inflammation—a factor in many conditions including brain diseases. The gut has been considered the “second brain” by many experts for years so this new discovery may lend further insight into how impaired gut health may affect brain health.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average American eats twice as much sodium than they should be, ingesting a whopping 3400 milligrams daily compared to the recommended limit of 1500 mg daily.

While the damaging effects of this level of sodium intake is serious, the great news is that the researchers also found that the effects of a high salt diet were highly reversible within 12 weeks.

While it is true that our body needs sodium, we certainly don’t need this mineral in the amount most of us are getting in our daily diet. Sodium is a mineral known as an electrolyte which helps in the transmission of electrical signals in our body. Yes, our brain, nervous system, heart and other functions in our body are kept in balance through electrical communications between cells and tissues. In this regard, sodium, along with other electrolytes like potassium, help to ensure the proper transmission of these signals. But, sodium must be kept in balance with potassium. These minerals work in opposition with each other.

In other words, when sodium rises excessively high, potassium drops, and vice versa. Once you understand this fundamental nutritional fact you’ll understand why a high sodium diet can be so detrimental. After all, there are a host of problems linked to low potassium, including: irregular heartbeat, tissue swelling, abnormally tight muscles, and impaired kidney function, to name a few.

If you eat fast food, processed food, prepared foods or even restaurant foods, you are probably getting more sodium than you think, so be sure to read package labels and choose only those with low amounts of sodium. Additionally, here are some ways to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet:

-Salt often hides in extremely high amounts in condiments like ketchup, mustard, relish, salsa, etc. Use these items sparingly and choose low sodium options.

-Avoid poultry that has been injected with a saline solution. Read the fine print on packages and avoid those with terms like “broth,” “saline” or “sodium solution.”

-Cook more of your meals at home where you can minimize the amount of salt you add to recipes.

-Instead of salt, add fresh or dried herbs and spices, lemon juice or vinegar as ways to add flavor to your recipes.

-Avoid spice mixes since they often contain salt.

-Make your own salad dressings with 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar or lemon juice and add herbs like garlic. Shake in a mason jar with a lid or blend and store in a covered container. Homemade dressings are far superior to the salt-laden options in most grocery stores.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, president of ScentsationalWellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.

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This salad has so many wonderful things going for it – it’s a trifecta of superfoods. There’s the kale – so fresh and packed full of vitamins (C,A, and K, especially) and nutrients. I actually think that you can taste the goodness – for me, much of kale’s appeal lies in its distinctive, mineral-like flavor.

First kale harvest by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2014

Then there’s the avocado – buttery, smooth, slightly nutty and full of good stuff including nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Avocado, coconut oil, garlic and kale by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

And the coconut oil! It has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, and it helps to lower cholesterol, aid digestion and increase thyroid function and insulin use. After decades of economically-motivated misinformation spread by the soy and corn industries, we now know that coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats we can eat.

Meyer lemons from Josephine Street by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

The lemon juice and the garlic are pretty darn good for you, too.  But, more importantly, it tastes really good.

Assembly is pretty easy. You wash and dry the kale, remove the ribs, and chop it up, then massage the lemon juice, coconut oil and salt into it. It will look more or less like this. Let it sit while you prep the rest of dinner to give the acid in the lemon juice time to soften the kale up a bit.

Chopped kale for the avocado kale coconut by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

When you’re getting close to being ready to put the meal on the table, peel and slice your avocado. Mash half of it with a fork and mix in the garlic and leave the other half in slices or cubes (or mash all of it, I’ve done it both ways). Toss the whole mess into the kale and stir well to combine then sprinkle with shredded coconut, toasted pepitas and/or toasted sesame seeds for a little nutty crunch.

Serves 4 sides

Lemony Kale Salad With Avocado Coconut Dressing

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Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of fresh kale, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 large or 1 whole small avocado
  • Juice of an organic lemon
  • 3 tsps organic coconut oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  • Few grinds of black pepper
  • Handful of unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • Handful of toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Remove the ribs from the kale and chop it well. Place it in a good sized serving bowl and rub the lemon juice, sea salt and coconut oil thoroughly into the leaves. Leave it to sit for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Peel and pit the avocado and cut it into cubes. Mash half of the avocado cubes with the garlic, black pepper and maple syrup and work it into the chopped kale.
  3. Top with the rest of the cubed avocado, the shredded coconut and the toasted seeds and serve.

6.6.15

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