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Archive for September 26, 2013

16 Lesser-Known Nutrients with Big Powers

16 Lesser-Known Nutrients with Big Powers

 

Many of us are well aware of macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein  and fat, as well as micronutrients, such as the vitamins and minerals that are  listed on FDA-regulated food labels. But too few of us are familiar with  phytochemicals — plant-based micronutrients that offer many health benefits and  may help ward off chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart  disease and stroke.

It’s a time-tested truth: Plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables,  legumes, whole grains, nuts  and seeds, are good for you. But researchers recently have discovered that plant  molecules connect with human cells in striking ways. In other words, we’ve known  they were good for you — just not this good.

“I don’t think there’s been this much excitement since vitamins and minerals  were discovered more than 100 years ago,” says Beverly Clevidence, PhD, the  research leader at the USDA-funded Food Components and Health Laboratory in  Beltsville, Md.

The discoveries — partly because of the work of the Human Genome Project — are revolutionizing the way we think about food.

In the past 20 years, for example, researchers have discovered that carrots, kale  and peanuts are not just plant tissues embedded with vitamins and minerals that  are easily encapsulated in multivitamins. Rather, these plant tissues are made  up of tens of thousands of phytochemicals (“phyto” is from the Greek phuton, meaning plant).

You’ve probably heard of a few phytochemicals without even knowing what they  are. For example, lycopene is a powerful phytonutrient found in tomatoes that  helps fight heart  disease and a variety of cancers. And the phenols found in  strawberries protect against cancer and autoimmune diseases, and help reverse  nerve-cell aging. But there are tens of thousands of other phytochemicals about  which most of us know nothing. Experts in the nutrition field are buzzing about  these chemicals with tongue-twisting names like glucoraphanin, zeaxanthin and  saponin.

Why Food Is Your Best Source

Eating a diet steeped in fruits, veggies, legumes and other plant-based foods  is the best way to ensure you’re getting all the phytonutrients your body needs.  While there are a growing number of phytonutrient supplements available, many  experts warn consumers away from that option.

The big cautionary tale here is beta-carotene. In 1995, it was considered the  ultimate panacea. “There was so much good research on beta-carotene,” says David  Williams, PhD, a researcher at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State  University in Corvallis. “We were charting nice correlations between  beta-carotene in the blood and lower cancer risk. Basically everybody just  assumed that beta-carotene was chemo-protective.”

But to the shock of many in the scientific community, two major clinical  trials in 1996 indicated that beta-carotene supplements were not only useless  against cancer, but actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.

“That was one of the first big disappointments, and it made people rethink  the idea of going after individual phytochemicals,” says Williams.

Mark Farnham, PhD, a plant geneticist who specializes in phytonutrient  research at a USDA facility in Charleston, S.C., concurs that current scientific  consensus is now leaning toward emphasizing whole foods, rather than  supplements, because plant chemicals seem to interact with one another in  powerful ways. “There seems to be a synergistic effect between the chemicals in  food,” he explains, noting also that this synergy is very hard to study because  plant-based whole foods contain so many different bioactive compounds that it  would be almost impossible to separate and study the potential health benefits  of individual phytochemicals.

Plus, each chemical seems to have its own quirks. The carote-noids in collard  greens, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, for example, are best absorbed if they are  chopped, puréed or cooked, and eaten with a little fat, such as olive  oil. But the glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables are most  effective when eaten in their raw state and thoroughly chewed, so the plant cell  walls release more of the cancer-fighting chemical. “There’s really no useful  rule, because they’re all unique,” says Clevidence.

So eat as many fruits, veggies and other plant-based foods as you can, and be  sure to choose foods from all around the color wheel — from ripe red tomatoes to  princely eggplant to vivid oranges.

“If on a daily basis you incorporate at least seven different colors, you are  much more likely to get a wide variety of these nutrients that are healing, that  prevent degenerative disease, and that will go to work on every tissue, cell and  organ of the body,” says nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, coauthor of The Fat Flush Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2002).

And don’t be afraid to go exotic with your color choices. Unusually hued  foods add intrigue to your plate, and researchers at Washington State University  have found that those foods can yield health benefits as well. Their 2006 study  showed that wildly colored spuds contained more phytonutrients than  white-fleshed potatoes.

If you need more motivation to eat your veggies, start a vegetable plot, and  then chow down on the fruits of your labor. A 1991 study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education found that vegetable gardeners ate  significantly more eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, summer squashes, tomatoes,  and herbs than did nongardeners.

It’s also a smart idea to avoid pesticide- and herbicide-drenched produce by  going organic. Last year, Bland completed a survey of some 50 organics-related  research reports and found that the vast majority of organic produce supported  higher levels of phytonutrients.

If vegetables don’t usually appeal to you, consider taking just one  vegetable-centered cooking class. It might make all the difference, according to  a 2005 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. After  all, what sounds better: Brussels sprouts, or roasted Brussels sprouts with pine nuts  and marjoram?

Ultimately, if your strategy for good health has been limited to popping  vitamins, consider what you’re missing: a smorgasbord of beneficial  phytonutrients found in wonderful, whole, plant-based foods. Besides, real food  has been through the most extensive laboratory experiment ever conducted — natural selection. There’s nothing that’s been proven to nourish our bodies  quite so well.

By Alyssa Ford, a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

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Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

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4 Countries With the Right Approach to Dementia Care

4 Countries With the Right Approach to Dementia Care

 

By the year 2050, 277 million aging adults are expected to be dependent on  others for personal care. Of those 277 million, approximately half will be  struggling with symptoms of dementia, according to the newly released World  Alzheimer’s Report 2013. (Discover the common signs  of dementia.)

“All governments should make dementia a priority,” according to the authors  of the report, which calls upon policymakers across the globe to “transform  their system of priorities” and infuse dementia research and support efforts  with a tenfold increase in funding.

These statements echo the pleas made over the years by countless individuals  and advocacy groups; a universal cry to address the threat of the “silver  tsunami” that looms ever larger in the world’s rear view mirror.

The report itself highlights many current caregiving issues that advocates  warn will only become more concerning as time goes on. Why are family  caregivers so undervalued? What factors force people to place their loved  one in a long-term care facility? How can we preserve the quality of life of  individuals with dementia and their caregivers?

Progress is being made to address each of these problems, with different  countries adopting different strategies to find a solution to the dementia  care crisis.

The United States joins eleven other countries (Norway, Australia,  Netherlands, Scotland, Denmark, Finland, England, Wales, France, Republic of  Korea and Northern Ireland) in releasing a formal plan to address Alzheimer’s  and other dementias in their respective domains.

Improving support (both financial and emotional) for those affected by  dementia, enhancing the quality of care provided by long-term care facilities  and reducing the overall costs associated with dementia top the lists of  priorities in these plans.

Similar aims, different approaches

The global community appears to agree on the overall goals of dementia care,  but a surprising number of differences in execution occur, depending on  geography and cultural practices.

“Different places are going to have different variations in care,” says Cathy  Greenblatt, PhD, author of Love, Loss and Laughter: Seeing Alzheimer’s  Differently. “But the same things that are important in Florida are important in  Bangalore.”

After watching her grandparents (both of whom had dementia) receive little  more than maintenance care in a local facility, Greenblatt acquired a dim view  of dementia care. “The people working with my grandparents had bought in to the  idea that they were ‘gone.’ I grew up with no evidence that any kind of care  could make a meaningful difference.”

After retiring from her professorial post at Rutgers University,  Greenblatt—inspired by her childhood experiences with her grandparents and a  budding passion for photography—crisscrossed the globe in search of examples of  high quality dementia care.

Despite the cultural disparities and ideological differences of the regions  Greenblatt visited there was one central theme that united them all. No matter  which country she found herself in—India, Japan, France, or the Dominican  Republic—Greenblatt discovered that the best dementia care practices were the  ones that focused on celebrating the ongoing humanity of the person with the  disease. “The things that make a difference are the things that are  universal—treating people with dignity, being in the moment,” she says.

Here are just a few examples of the ways different countries are infusing  dignity into dementia care:

India: Money is always a significant factor when caring for  someone with dementia, no matter what side of the Equator they live on. Having  fewer finances often amplifies the burden of dementia on a person and their  family. But low-income elders in Cochin, India receive special treatment, thanks  to a group of professional staff and volunteers from the Alzheimer’s and Related  Disorders Society of India (ARDSI). While traveling around India, Greenblatt  visited the home of a woman with advanced dementia whose bed consisted of little  more than a wooden frame with a piece of cardboard over it. Still the woman was  able to receive a treatment plan and regular in-home visits from ARDSI  caregivers and social workers.

France: Greenblatt describes the remarkable transformation  of a dementia-stricken Frenchman named Marcel. In a special Snoezelen room at  the Villa Helios in Nice, France, Marcel, whose condition was causing him to act  angry and violent, was changed into a gentler, more caring soul. Snoezelen rooms  are used to calm those with cognitive disorders, such as autism  and dementia. They contain an array of different sensory stimuli, including  water beds, soothing scents, soft lighting, and even big water tubes with  bubbles piped into them.

The Netherlands: Just beyond the outskirts of Amsterdam lies  Hogewey, a quaint village occupied by just over a hundred people. The town has a  theatre, a grocery store, a beauty salon, restaurants and cafes. What makes  Hogewey different from the traditional European hamlet is the fact that nearly  half of its inhabitants have moderate or severe dementia. The remaining “residents” are in fact specially-trained caregivers who pose as beauticians and  restaurant staff, all the while making sure those with cognitive impairment  remain safe and calm.  The so-called “dementia village” is actually an innovative care facility  designed to make those suffering from memory loss feel as though they are living  regular lives and remain engaged with their environment. Residents’ rooms are  decorated based on their hobbies and interests, food preparation and service are  tailored towards individual preferences and there are always staff members  available to provide hands-on care for those who need it. Other caregivers  surreptitiously keep an eye on the residents as they go out shopping or to the  salon, always ready to step in and make sure no one endangers themselves. The  village’s single exit is manned by a staffer who tells any approaching resident  that the door is either broken or barred and offers an alternative path. This  prevents residents from wandering away and becoming lost—an especially common  concern for those with profound dementia.

The United Kingdom: The Pan-London Dementia Action Alliance  recently announced a formal push to make London the world’s first  dementia-friendly capital city. Unlike Hogewey—a self-contained village created  specifically for those with dementia—London aims to integrate the  cognitively-impaired into its pre-existing metropolis more effectively. This  will involve the coordination of countless smaller initiatives, such as making  landmarks more accessible and instructing fire fighters, policemen and bus  drivers how to identify and communicate with the dementia-stricken.

Across the world, person-centered dementia care is rapidly replacing the  outdated paradigms that relegated the cognitively impaired to wheelchairs in  locked wards.

Greenblatt is cheered by these shifting tides because that means fewer and  fewer people with dementia will be treated like her grandparents were. “It’s a  tragic disease and you have no control over the cards you’re dealt. But you do  have control over how you play the hand. There are ways to make the situation  livable for everyone involved.”

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com  Editor

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!   I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~  www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

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9 Food Pairings that Fight Disease

 

Over the last few decades, there has been a mountain of research on  the healing powers of individual compounds in  foods, such as lycopene,  vitamin D and essential fatty acids. Yet, scientists  are now realizing  that while an antioxidant like sulforaphane in broccoli can  be a potent  cancer fighter on its own, combining it with another compound such  as  selenium found in chicken, fish and Brazil nuts,  will give you even more  impressive disease-fighting results.

“Food synergy ties into the prevention of so many of our chronic  illnesses,  including heart  disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes,” says  California-based  dietitian Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, author of Food  Synergy: Unleash Hundreds of Powerful  Healing Food Combinations to  Fight Disease and Live Well (Rodale,  2008).

You don’t have to eat in a fancy restaurant presided over by a  professional  nutritionist to enjoy the benefits of food synergy, either.  While researchers  haven’t even begun to untangle all the science behind  the synergy, these “power  couples” can easily come together in your own  kitchen — and prove that, when it  comes to our diets, one plus one can  easily equal three.

Tea & Lemon

Green  tea is at the top of the functional-drink heap, promoting  wellness  through antioxidants called catechins, which can aid in  reducing the  risk of both heart  disease and cancer. But if we want a  bigger health boost from our  tea, we should be adding a splash of  citrus, says Mario Ferruzzi, PhD,  associate professor of food science at  Purdue University.

“In test tube and animal studies, we discovered that ascorbic acid,  such as  that in citrus including lemon, orange and lime juice, helps  stabilize  catechins in the gut and increase absorption into the  bloodstream,” he says.  Looking for a warm-weather alternative? Brew up a  batch of iced tea and add  slices of lemon.

Other research suggests that pairing green  tea with capsaicin (the  compound that gives chili peppers their pow)  can increase satiety and  potentially aid in weight loss. The tag team of green  tea and lycopene,  present in watermelon,  tomatoes and pink grapefruit, works  synergistically to help men dodge prostate  cancer.

Bananas &  Yogurt

Yogurt and other fermented foods, such as kefir, tempeh and  sauerkraut, are  teeming with beneficial live bacteria called probiotics that keep our immune and  digestive systems strong. But, like all living  creatures, they need something  to munch on to thrive. Enter inulin.

Found in bananas, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), onion,  endive, garlic, leeks, wheat germ and artichokes, inulin is a  nondigestible  carbohydrate that acts as a food source for intestinal  bacteria. “It behaves as  a prebiotic to enhance probiotic growth,” says  Georgianna Donadio, PhD, program  director for the National Institute of  Whole Health in Massachusetts. In  addition to boosting the friendly  critter count in your gut, inulin increases  the intestinal absorption of  bone-strengthening calcium.

Calcium & Sun

If calcium could speak to vitamin D, it would say, “You complete me.”  That’s because the sunshine vitamin increases the amount of calcium  that gets  absorbed in the intestines, says Magee. Ergo, you can down all  the calcium-rich  foods you want, such as tofu, yogurt, sesame seeds,  broccoli and cheese, but  without a steady supply of calcium’s wingman,  your bones won’t reap the  rewards.

European scientists recently reported that adequate daily consumption  of  both calcium and vitamin D was linked to a 20 percent drop in the  rates of hip  fracture in individuals 47 or older. Harvard scientists  found that subjects  with the highest calcium intake and blood vitamin-D  levels had reduced insulin  secretion, which may offer protection from  type 2 diabetes. And another Harvard  study determined that premenopausal  women with the highest intakes of both  vitamin D and calcium had a 30  percent lower risk of  developing breast cancer.

Your best bet for getting enough vitamin D is to spend a minimum of  10  minutes a day in the sunshine (with a decent amount of skin exposed),  but you  can also benefit from good food sources, like cod liver oil,  salmon and  sardines. The latest recommendations from respected experts  like Andrew Weil,  MD — 2,000 IU of daily vitamin D — suggest that you  may also need a daily  vitamin-D supplement.

 

Salads & Avocado (or Nuts)

Find naked salads unbearably boring? Then, by all means, top them  with  vinaigrette or a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.  Similar studies  from Ohio State University and Iowa State University showed  that adding  healthy fats like nuts, extra-virgin olive oil or avocado to your salad  bowl  can increase the amount of beneficial antioxidants — such as lutein  in leafy  greens, lycopene in tomatoes and red peppers, and  beta-carotene in carrots— your body absorbs.

Fat slows down the digestion process, which gives the plant  compounds in the same meal a better chance of being absorbed,” says  Magee. Fat  also helps fat-soluble antioxidants, such a vitamin E,  dissolve in the  intestine so they can be passed into the bloodstream  more efficiently. After  absorption, says Magee, these antioxidants may  help vanquish some of the free  radicals in our bodies, which can damage  DNA and trigger diseases and hasten  aging.

In fact, a 2008 Journal of Nutrition study reported that those who  ate more  alpha- and beta-carotenes — compounds in fruits and  vegetables  that help bring out their stunning yellow, orange or red hues — had   roughly a 20 percent lower risk of dying from heart  disease over a  15-year period than those who took in less.

 

Beans & Raw Peppers (Iron +  Vitamin C)

Long before food synergy became part of our lexicon, scientists knew  that  iron and vitamin C form a unique relationship. Iron  comes in two  guises: heme iron, the type found in animal products such as beef,  fish  and poultry, and a form called non-heme, found in plant foods like  beans,  whole grains and spinach.

On its own, the body absorbs up to 33 percent less non-heme iron than  heme  iron, says Donadio, “but you can increase its absorption two- to  threefold by  consuming it with the vitamin C in whole fruits and  vegetables.”

So how does vitamin C pull off this nifty trick? Donadio says it  likely  participates in the production of an enzyme responsible for  changing non-heme  iron to a more easily absorbed form called ferrous  iron, so you get more  mileage, for example, out of the iron in your bean  salad. Iron is necessary for  producing hemoglobin, which transports  oxygen to muscles and the brain. Low  levels can lead to fatigue,  weakness and poor concentration. Vegans and  vegetarians should take  particular heed of this food pairing to help keep iron stores replete.   Premenopausal women are also particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency  due to  losses through menstruation.

 

Burgers & Bananas (Salty Foods +  Potassium)

By all accounts,  the American diet is tantamount to a salt lick.  According to Centers for  Disease Control data, the average person in the  United States consumes an  elephantine 3,436 milligrams of sodium daily,  double the amount most people  should ingest. For some, this is a recipe  for cardiovascular woes because of a  salt-induced rise in blood  pressure, which raises stroke and heart-attack risk.  But potassium,  which encourages the kidneys to  excrete sodium, can counter the harmful  effects of sodium overload. So, when  noshing on salty dishes or  sodium-packed canned soups, frozen meals and  fast-food fare, make sure  to load up on potassium-plump fruits, vegetables and  legumes at the same  time.

 

Brown Rice & Tofu (Carbs +  Protein)

If you emerge  from the gym with a rapacious appetite, make sure to  quell it with a healthy  dose of both protein and carbohydrates. “Carbohydrates and protein together after a workout work jointly to  speed up  muscle recovery by enhancing the blood insulin response,” says  Molly Kimball, a  sports dietitian at the Elmwood Fitness Center in New  Orleans. “Higher insulin  levels will supply muscles with a faster and  larger dose of repair nutrients  such as glucose and amino acids.”

The outcome of this perfect pairing is less muscle soreness and  better  fitness results. Postworkout, Kimball recommends carbohydrate and  protein  combinations such as a turkey sandwich, yogurt and fruit; brown  rice and  grilled chicken or tofu; and pasta with meat sauce.

 

Wine & Fish

Merlot and  salmon may indeed be a perfect pairing. A 2008 study  published in the American  Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that  European men and women who consumed  as little as 4 ounces of wine a day  had higher blood levels of the omega-3 fats found in fish such as trout,   salmon and sardines. The same results were not found for beer or  spirits.

Scientists believe that heart-chummy polyphenol antioxidants in wine  such as  resveratrol might be responsible for the improved absorption of  omega-3 fats,  which have been shown to protect against myriad maladies,  including depression,  diabetes, mental decline and stroke.

Prefer chardonnay over merlot? According to a 2008 Journal of  Agricultural  and Food Chemistry study, white wine contains its own  distinct polyphenol  compounds that give it the same heart-protective  qualities as red. You can  enjoy wine with your fish or even use it to  marinate your catch  of the day.

Both on food labels, and in nutritional reporting, the tendency has  been to  trumpet one nutrient at a time. But food scientists have  uncovered thousands of  bioactive phytochemicals in fruits, vegetables  and whole grains, says Magee, “and now they are discovering that these  often work better in pairs or  groups.”

What we’re learning, she says, is that extracting and isolating  nutrients  doesn’t work very well: “The power is in the packaging, and  pills with single  nutrients just can’t match the healing power of whole  foods.”

The lessons of food synergy, it seems, are the same commonsense  lessons  we’ve been hearing for a long time now: For good health, eat a  variety of whole  foods — and eat them together.

 

Herbs & Olive Oil + Meat

Good news for grilled-meat lovers: Scientists at Kansas State  University  discovered that adding rosemary and other herbs to meat  cooked at  high temperatures reduces the formation of suspected  carcinogenic compounds  called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) by as much as  70 percent. Antioxidants in  extra-virgin olive oil have also been found  to help fend off cancer-promoting  HCAs. Similarly, marinating meat such  as steak and chicken in an  antioxidant-rich spice or wine blend has been  shown to be a very effective  method of reducing HCAs.

 

 

Not-So-Good  Pairings:

Alas, some couples were never meant to be. Here are  three common food  pairings that fail to bring out the best in either party.

Milk and Tea

A recent study in the European Heart Journal suggests you  shouldn’t follow  the lead of the Brits and spike your tea with milk. The  scientists discovered  that adding moo juice to black tea blunted its   cardiovascular benefits. Casein protein in milk may bind up antioxidants  in  tea, rendering them less available for absorption.

Milk and Chocolate

A few studies have also found that milk can reduce absorption  of flavonoids  in cocoa. These flavonoid antioxidants are believed to be  behind the numerous  health perks, such as reduced blood pressure,  attributed to dark chocolate. So choose dark chocolate  over milk  chocolate when possible.

Coffee and Oatmeal

“Tannins present in coffee, tea and wine are known to interfere  with iron absorption, particularly the iron found in plant-based foods  like  oatmeal, beans and leafy greens,” says Jarod Hanson, ND. The upshot  is this: If  you’re prone to iron deficiency, you might want to avoid  the cup of joe with  your morning oats.

Matthew Kadey MSc, RD, is a Canada-based dietitian and food and nutrition writer. His favorite food pairing is dark chocolate and almond butter. (Leesa recommends all your choices be organic!)  

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!   I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~  www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn ~ www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~  www.tinyurl.com/googleplusHealthyHighway

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

 

 

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