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March 06, 2019

Should everyone take aspirin to prevent heart disease?


Willow tree bark has an active ingredient (a phytonutrient called salicylic acid) that acts as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller. It’s been used since the 1800’s to treat fever and pain.

Today, Aspirin, derived from willow tree bark, is our most commonly-used drug. Aspirin’s salicylic acid also acts as a blood thinner. And it has become even more popular lately, because many rely on this blood-thinning property to prevent heart disease.

In the 1950’s and 60’s evidence was showing aspirin reduced the risk of blood clotting. And by 1970 if was found taking aspirin regularly protects against heart attacks. The official recommendation today is those with a history of heart disease or stroke should take a low dose aspirin daily. However, those without a known history should only follow these recommendations when the heart disease benefits from taking aspirin outweigh the risks of bleeding. Evidently, bleeding can be a severe side-effect linked to regular aspirin use.

If you’ve never had a heart attack or stroke and decide to take low-dose aspirin daily to prevent blood clotting, you may increase your risk of a hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding within the brain) and several other major bleeding complications. Discuss the risks/benefits with your doctor.

However, the best advice for those who have no history of heart attack – but are worried about it – is to start worrying about what you are eating, instead. Willow tree bark isn’t the only plant that has anti-clotting or blood thinning properties – ALL plants have phytonutrients like salicylic acid or other properties that thin the blood.

There is plenty of evidence to show heart disease can be prevented, and, yes, even reversed by eating more plant-based foods; veggies and fruit, root vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – and putting less focus on oils, dairy, and meats. This is supported by credible research, including the famous Framingham Heart Study. The study’s long time director, Bill Castelli, endorses a plant-based diet. Castelli believes if we all ate healthfully, the heart disease epidemic would disappear.

Heart disease is the 2nd leading cause of death among Canadians (cancer takes first place). If taking blood-thinners could indeed reduce our current epidemic levels, this is truly a sad reflection of our current diet. And it’s a strong indication that we need to eat more veggies!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com

 

 

Jasnuary 2019

 

Pass the veggies please . . .

 

Studies have linked diabetes and many other disorders with environmental pollution. And researchers say most of our exposure to these pollutants is from eating contaminated food as a result of bioaccumulation up the food chain. It’s estimated more than 90% of our chemical pollutant intake is through dietary ingestion of animal fats.

In my opinion, this is just more evidence to focus on eating plant foods. As a nutrition coach, I am very uncomfortable with the higher-protein diets (like the Paleo diet and even the Low Carb diets). And no, you don’t have to become a vegetarian either (if you don’t want to): just eat waaaaay more plant foods than animal foods!

Even if we consume chemicals in meats and pesticide-treated plants, a major benefit to eating more plants is the FIBRE, which helps pull toxins out of our bodies. Plus, plants contribute far more antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds (which also help remove pollutants) than meats do.

Incidentally, if you can’t afford organic veggies and fruit, the benefits of eating nonorganic plants FAR exceeds the risks of eating NO vegetables at all. Why?

Because when your body (and particularly your immune system) is strengthened from the hundreds of health-boosting properties in plants, your body will have the strength and ability to deal with pesticides and other pollutants.  

Like water off a duck’s back.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. www.artnews-healthnews.com

 

December, 2018

Demand “healthier” foods from the food industry

If you are truly concerned with the quality of the foods supplied to us, you can send a message to the food industry by being conscious of what you put in your shopping cart.

We are continually being ‘tracked’ regarding our food purchases: online and on-site in stores. Even those “points” cards you use are also helping those in the food industry track your purchases.

Cut back or stop buying the junk and focus more on whole, quality foods. This sends a message to the food industry of what we are ‘demanding’ and that can affect what we are being ‘supplied.’ Keep buying cookies and candy bars and you’ll keep seeing lots and lots of them on the shelves. But stop buying them and those manufacturers will be scratching their heads finding a way to adjust to the public’s healthier demands. Even if they decide to make the candy bar higher in fibre, well, at least that’s a start!

It’s all economics: supply and demand. The organic food industry is a perfect example of this supply and demand cycle. For many years, it’s been an iffy industry, not really regulated. But because there is lots of evidence (shown by our points cards!) that the general public is buying lots of organic products, the supply has increased. It’s much easier to find organic fare today and the prices also seem to be lowering.

In addition, food inspection agencies took notice of our increased demand for organic foods. Now, in Canada, organic foods are finally being regulated. There are now standards set and organic farmers are being regularly inspected to ensure they are indeed supplying us with organic fare.

And all because we began to “demand” it, as reflected by our purchasing choices.

We can each make a difference. One step at a time. So keep buying the healthier foods and cut back (or stop) buying the junk.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.

For more health articles by Eve visit www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing  

 

October 17, 2018

Meditate on this . . .

Meditate in some way daily – even if it’s just ten to 15 minutes.

Meditation is ‘exercise’ for the brain – and it can train you to control your thoughts, especially to be able to stop the constant mind-chatter of senseless worrying. Meditation develops the ability to look inward and change an emotion you may not want to feel: anger, unhappiness, etc.

No, there is nothing wrong with feeling these emotions or being “stressed.” But dwelling for too long on worries and fears is not conducive to good health. Ongoing research continues to show us the many physical and mental benefits of keeping your cognitive cool. Each time you meditate, you strengthen your ability to decide what thoughts you want to occupy your mind with (make it ‘better’ thoughts!).

Do a variety of meditations or stick to the one you like. And incidentally, meditating doesn’t mean you have to wear sandals and beads and stare into a candle flame while chanting. Here are several “meditation” ideas that are my personal favourites:

Visualize a bright white light surrounding you and feel your body functioning perfectly and efficiently.

Relax in a warm tub, close your eyes and list all the things you are grateful for. Even if you are a very negative person you can still find many things to be grateful about: that you are alive, that you have a bathtub to relax in, that you have a roof over your head. Do you own a coffee table? Sure, be grateful for that too. Because while you are in a state of being grateful, there is absolutely no way you can be worried, afraid, angry or depressed.

Meditate as soon as you awake in the morning by thinking of all the positive things that will happen today (traffic to work will be light or you’ll find a $10 bill).

Meditate while you fall asleep at bedtime, reciting all the wonderful things that happened to you during the day (like the traffic being light or the $10 you found).

Make up your own type of meditation. Perhaps just listen to the sounds around you, without analyzing or thinking about them at all. Try to keep your mind blank. It’s actually quite fun to see how long you can do this before your mind wanders. Consider it a challenge, like a game of chess. And the longer you can do it, the better you become at being able to control your thoughts or, at the very least, avoid thinking about your troubles.

Practice makes perfect.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications. http://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing

 

 

September 12, 2018

Pre-workout fuel

 

What’s the ideal pre workout snack? Your snack prior to exercising is ideally what you are eating year-round. If your diet is nutritious and well-balanced, you’ll be well nourished for any physical challenge.

Water is really the only macronutrient you need to be concerned about before, during, and after short duration workouts. Staying hydrated is important. But if you need an energy boost before exercise, or if the length of your activity increases, food may also become a concern.

Generally, a snack before a shorter workout of less than one hour should be about 30 minutes before and should be no more than 100 calories. Choose a small carbohydrate snack that won’t take too long to digest, like a banana, an apple, or an orange. With a short workout, you can leave the protein and healthy fat sources for after the workout, as these are more important for building and repairing the body. Carbohydrates are our preferred source of fuel.

If your workout is a few hours long, snack 40 to 90 minutes prior and eat about 150 to 200 calories. Again, carbohydrates are your preferred food choice, but you can add a bit of protein and/or fat to make the carbs last longer: apple slices with 1/4 cup cottage cheese or yogurt, or have an orange with about ten almonds. 

When you plan to exercise three hours or longer, such as a very long bike ride or long, strenuous hike, you’ll want the same timing as mentioned above (snack 40 to 90 minutes prior) but your carbohydrate choice can be a complex, slower digesting one  and it can include a bit more of a protein/fat combination to help the carbs last even longer during your activity. One suggestion is a pre-baked potato or sweet potato, with a few nuts or a cube of cheese.

Weight trainers and bodybuilders who are lifting heavy weights in their workouts may also require a small amount of protein with their high carb snack, pre workout. And be sure to have protein with your post workout carbs as well.

During very long hikes or bike rides, you can also take along some snacks to nibble on during the activity. Fresh fruit or veggies with a small amount of nuts or cheese provide high-quality carbs for energy, with a little protein, fibre and fat to slow the carb’s digestion, prolonging the energy source. And don’t forget to pack water!


Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications. http://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing
                                                                   

 

 

 

August 15, 2018

Don’t fear ‘anti-nutrients’

Anti-nutrients are properties in certain foods that may bind or block the efficiency or the absorption of important nutrients like calcium.

However, anti-nutrients are not something that should be avoided. They are properties designed by nature to protect the food from becoming extinct. And, for all we know, they may even have a benefit (in small amounts) for humans. We just need to limit our consumption of them or prepare the food (soak it and/or properly cook it) to reduce the anti-nutrient content or potency.

There are many anti-nutrients. The more well-known are lectins and phytates in foods such as legumes or whole grains, or oxalates found in spinach and other vegetables.

Some anti-nutrients, like lectins, may cause digestive problems or more serious health complications if consumed in excess when they are uncooked or improperly cooked. However, cooking (and especially presoaking) can reduce the lectins and phytates in foods. And it’s also sensible to eat them in smaller quantities.

Incidentally, fibre (essential for good health) and antioxidants (disease fighters) can also be considered anti-nutrients because large amounts can interfere with the assimilation of many other nutrients or functions of the body.

Choose from a variety of foods in your diet and be moderate with your consumption of ALL of them. This is the best way to obtain a wide variety of nutrients, yet keep the amount of any one food’s ‘anti-nutrient’ to a safe minimum.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing

 

 

July 04, 2018

First aid for furry family members

Pets can be like family members. However, if these family members need fast medical attention, you can’t call 911.

An ill or injured animal may need to be stabilized before taken to the veterinarian, so learning the basics of first aid may be a good idea. First aid for pets is offered through several programs, including the St. John Ambulance Pet First Aid course (https://www.sja.ca/English/Courses-and-Training/Pages/Course%20Descriptions/Pet-First-Aid.aspx). The course is designed to teach first aid skills and help overcome that helpless feeling when dealing with an injured animal. It also teaches pet owners preventive measures to lower their pet’s risk for illness and injury.

The course is suitable for anyone aged 14 or older. It is suitable for a wide variety of people: dog walkers, dog groomers, pet walkers, SPCA reps, nurses and even firefighters. The focus is primarily on domestic animals – mostly cats and dogs – although much of the information can be applied to rabbits, ferrets or even hamsters. For the St. John Ambulance course, participants are not allowed to bring their own animals, but course instructors may bring their own pet to demonstrate some of the techniques.

The course covers first aid for bleeding and wounds, shock, bone and joint injuries, eye and ear injuries, poisoning, injuries from heat and cold, birthing emergencies and teaches how to restrain and transport an injured animal. Other questions and concerns can briefly be explained if requested, such as administering medications, dealing with seizures or diabetes complications.

Participants also get instruction on airway obstruction, artificial respiration and CPR. The abdominal thrusts (for airway obstruction) are fairly similar to the technique on humans. Artificial respiration and CPR techniques are also similar to the human method, although the kiss of life is given through the nose (not the mouth) of the animal, and CPR compressions are done while the animal lies on its side.

And if that inevitable earthquake strikes, participants also learn about emergency preparedness. They learn how to include supplies for pets in an emergency kit, including any medications. Most people aren’t aware that animals are not allowed in human shelters during an emergency. They need to arrange for their pet’s care ahead of time. This can also be addressed during the course.

St. John Ambulance warns the Pet First Aid Course is not intended to take the place of a veterinarian. The course is designed to offer pet lovers the information and the skills needed to stabilize an injured animal until the vet can take over. 

St. John Ambulance Pet First Aid is a 6.5-hour one-day course, or it can be covered in two evening sessions. Participants receive a certificate.

The courses are offered through several School District Continuing Education programs. For courses offered elsewhere, or to book a course for a private group (dog clubs, etc.), contact your area’s St. John Ambulance office.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications. http://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing

 

May 2018

Pollution and the exerciser

Regular physical activity can lessen the symptoms of allergies and exercise-induced asthma (EIA). However, for those who exercise outdoors in the city, pollution and allergens (like pollen) can restrict lung function and oxygen delivery. But it’s not just those with EIA who suffer. Pollutants and airborne allergens can negatively affect anyone's health and physical performance.

Carbon monoxide exposure from heavy vehicle traffic can raise the carboxy-hemoglobin levels in a nonsmoker to that of a smoker. Vigorous or high-intensity exercise speeds the breathing rate, which increases the pollutants absorbed. Pregnant women, asthmatics, those with heart disease, the elderly and young children are the most susceptible. Children are particularly at risk because of faster metabolic rates, smaller airways, and less-matured immune systems. Children should play indoors when pollution levels are high.
           
Pollutants can affect your physical performance in several ways: Oxygen transport to the working muscles is restricted, causing quicker fatigue and muscle tightness and cramping in some individuals. Headaches, dizziness or nausea can also be a symptom of increased pollutant intake. Coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath may also be experienced. Pollutants and allergens can trigger severe bronchoconstriction in those with asthma or EIA.
           
Weather conditions also play a part in air quality. When warm winds blow into a valley or low land areas, warm air is trapped under cooler air. Vehicle exhaust also becomes trapped, and when it reacts with sunlight, ground-level ozone or smog is created. As hot, dry weather continues, air quality worsens.

GENERAL TIPS FOR OUTDOOR EXERCISERS. Outdoor exercisers in the city, such as cyclists and joggers, can avoid unnecessary exposure to pollutants and allergens like pollen, by exercising early in the morning or in the evening. Irritants are not at peak levels at these times. Check for air pollution and allergen levels online, in the newspaper or television reports. Sensitive individuals should exercise indoors when the levels are high.
           
If you must exercise outdoors during peak pollution times (like midday), try to avoid heavy traffic areas particularly on tree-lined streets. Trees can trap carbon monoxide. Run, walk or cycle in open, windswept areas whenever you can.

TIPS FOR SWIMMERS. Swimmers using indoor pools may be exposed to large amounts of trapped chlorine gas, which can trigger asthma symptoms. The harder and longer you swim, the more chemical you inhale or absorb through the skin. Check that your local pool is well ventilated, or swim in an outdoor pool. Chlorine dissipates in the open air.

SUGGESTIONS FOR ASTHMA SUFFERERS. For those with exercise-induced asthma (EIA), choose an activity in a warm, humid environment. Swimming outdoors is ideal. Highly strenuous activities or exercising in cold weather will provoke EIA. When exercising in the cold, cover the mouth to limit intake of cold air and pollutants. Avoid excessive mouth breathing. Breathing through the nose will warm, filter and humidify air intake. Do at least a 5-10 minute warm-up before your activity and follow the workout with a 10-minute cool down. Talk to a doctor, pharmacist or dietician about medications or nutritional supplements to reduce allergy or asthma symptoms.

CAUTIONS FOR GOLFERS. Most golf courses use large amounts of pesticides (ask them if you are concerned). Health officials recommend washing feet and changing socks after playing. If you wear your everyday footwear (athletic shoes) to golf in, be sure to remove those shoes before entering your home. Avoid contact of your hands to your mouth. Handling the golf ball, or touching sprayed grasses and plants can pass toxins into the mouth. Those highly sensitive to chemicals shouldn't eat or drink while golfing. And a final tip for all golfers – avoid chewing on your golf tee.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications. http://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing
                                                                       

 

April 18, 2018

Practical ideas to design your home gym

Exercising in the privacy and convenience of your own home has many advantages, including an increased chance you’ll stick with your exercise program.

Expect to spend about $500 to $1,500 for a home gym. This estimate includes all the details, like mirrors, a portable music source, stretching mats, and miscellaneous décor. But unless you plan to train for a bodybuilding competition (or want an elaborate sound system!) you can budget even lower than the lower end of the estimate.

Your designated exercise room or area should be at least 10’ x 10’. This will offer enough room for limited equipment, while still providing space for stretching or wide range-of-motion exercises (swinging of arms or side-to-side movements).

Key items in a home gym are resistance bands and hand weights (or dumbbells). These are practical items for either a small or large space. Both are inexpensive, space-saving, and can accommodate a variety of exercises for all your muscles.

Avoid buying big, bulky equipment useful for working only a few body parts. You’ll waste money and valuable space, when cheaper space-saving devices like dumbbells and resistance bands can offer a full-body workout. If your space is small but you want more complex equipment, consider items like fold-up benches, folding wall-mounted weight-stack systems, or even collapsible treadmills and exercise bikes to keep your space open and optional for other uses. If you do decide on a heavy-duty machine, be sure it’s a multi-station or multi-purpose one, able to exercise all the major muscles (chest, back, and legs).

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises can be accommodated with simple, inexpensive, and space-saving items such as a stepping bench or a skipping rope. Or simply do non-stop movements like knee raises or jumping jacks if you’d rather not buy any equipment.

Treadmills and stationary exercise bikes for cardio exercise can be costly and often require lots of space. But of the two options, a treadmill is a sensible investment for runners who regularly train and compete. However, if you aren’t a regular runner, consider this: Exercise bikes require less expense and less room than treadmills, and they can offer a wider variety of uses. Use the bike recumbently (sitting behind it) to put more stress on your hamstrings, as well as putting more stress on your quads (front of thighs) when sitting upright on the seat. Increase the pedal tension and push on the pedals, executing the “reps and sets” weight-training method to simulate a leg press machine. Or you can position the bike to pedal with your hands, giving your upper body a workout – especially when recuperating from a leg injury. (NOTE: Please get help to confirm proper technique if attempting any of these ‘improvised’ ideas!) In addition, since you can run or walk year-round outdoors, having a treadmill could be redundant!

If you aren’t knowledgeable about exercise physiology or exercise equipment, it’s wise to consult with a Certified Fitness Instructor to help plan your gym. A fitness specialist can recommend the equipment you’ll need to reach your goals, and also ensure you use it safely and for maximum results.

Generally, for best fitness results, you should plan to spend about 30 minutes, three to four times a week in your home gym. And with consistent training, you may be able to see those results in as little as one to two weeks.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. Google “Eve Lees Blog,” or visit http://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing
                                                           

 

 

March 01, 2018

Frankenwheat?

Many of our foods today have been altered, through natural evolution and/or by human intervention (by crossbreeding, which is NOT GMO). Wheat was also crossbred. Currently, commercially grown wheat is NOT genetically modified (but of course, that could change).

Crossbreeding can occur naturally and humans can do it as well (and a little faster than Mother Nature can). It involves combining two plants of a similar plant species. Crossbreeding does not genetically alter a plant, because gene splicing is not involved. However, the controversial method of Genetic Modification does require laboratory gene splicing – and this can’t occur naturally.

Practically all our foods today were naturally changed by nature (it’s called evolution) and many were changed by humans. And remember, crossbreeding is NOT GMO!

Our early carrots were purple, red, yellow, and white, until the familiar orange colour was developed by Dutch growers in the 16th and 17th centuries. Oranges didn’t exist until we created them: We crossbred a pommelo (it resembles a grapefruit) with a type of tangerine. Tomatoes and potatoes have changed. So has celery (it used to be a thin, herb-like plant – not the thick-stalked plant of today). The crab apple is the only true apple, but today there are many varieties of apples as well as pears that humans crossbred. And the wheat varieties of long ago (like Einkorn and Emmer wheat) were crossed with the hardier rye grain.

Humans created/altered all these foods listed above (and many others) long before GMO was invented. Should we stop eating these as well as the cross-bread wheat? If you won’t eat wheat because you truly believe it is questionable “Frankenwheat,” then why are you eating Frankencarrots, Frankencelery, Frankenoranges . . . ?

Wheat, like any food, should not be overeaten. But we ARE overeating wheat in the form of flour . . .

It’s not wheat or gluten specifically that should be villainized – rather, the problem is refining wheat into FLOUR. Flour is easily added to many other foods, and therefore we are overeating products that contain flour. We are overdosing on wheat in this way. Therefore, we are overdosing on gluten, which humans can’t properly assimilate in large amounts. Ideally, before we grind our whole grains into flour, we should more often eat the grains whole, cooked on the stove as you would cook rice.

It isn’t whole grain wheat berries or kernels that everyone stops eating when they go gluten free – it’s the flour-containing products like breads and cereals! Because very few people eat whole grain wheat cooked on the stove. Many don’t even know you can do that. And if we all did, there would be no complaints about gut health and gluten because you can’t overeat cooked whole grains: It takes forever to chew them and a very small amount fills you quickly. It’s FLOUR we overeat because it is in everything! We are a bread, cracker, cake, and cookie culture (and these foods are probably destroying your health more than ‘gluten’ is, which is more likely why you feel better when you stop eating ‘gluten’).

Reduce the highly processed, nutrient-depleted foods like flour and refined sugar. Stick to minimally or non-processed foods: They retain their nutrient content and THAT’s what keeps us ‘healthy’!
                                                       -30-

 

Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the health & fitness industry for over 35 years. https://www.artnews-healthnews.com/nutrition-coaching

 

Sources and more information:

https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/gmo-vs-traditional-plant-breeding/7926.html

https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-fruits-and-vegetables-looked-like-before-we-domesticated-them

Bill Nye explains GMO on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z_CqyB1dQo

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/management/traditional-plant-breeding-vs-genetic-engineering-primer

https://aaccipublications.aaccnet.org/doi/pdf/10.1094/CFW-57-4-0177

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/canadian-professor-says-wheat-protein-unchanged-for-100-years-not-cause-of-gluten-intolerance/article24695317/

Instructions and recipes for cooking whole grains:
https://media.wix.com/ugd/d30a77_ffabfdfb484a4ea394c305958908cdd1.pdf

 

 

 

January 10, 2018

Is your diet slowly killing you?

 

Want to improve our health in the New Year?

Improve your diet!

According to Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org, “Eating the Standard American Diet today is like being a smoker back in the 1950s. Most everyone you know eats this way . . . it’s normal.”

We need to rethink that.

According to the Global Burden of Disease study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the number one cause of death in the United States, and the number one cause of disability, is diet. Poor diet has bumped tobacco smoking to number two.

Dr. Greger adds that smoking now only kills about a half million Americans every year, whereas poor diet now kills hundreds of thousands more. Although these are U.S. statistics, this analysis applies to anyone following the current Western Diet of highly processed foods, including Canadians!

What is the simplest way to improve your diet? Choose to eat foods in their most natural form – whole foods changed or tampered with as little as possible. The more processed a food is, the less it provides the fundamental nutrients humans need to survive.

Avoid following popular or fad diets; we don’t know enough about the foods nature provides, or about the human body, to make “rules” about what to eat and what not to eat. Trust nature, not human created diets or foods.

Need more information on improving your diet?

Scroll through the articles in my Blog https://www.artnews-healthnews.com/blog, or visit my website for more articles and free e-books on sensible eating: https://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.
                       
                                                                             

 



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