Don’t stress, but high blood pressure is bad for your brain, too

(Natural News) High blood pressure (hypertension) is a condition usually associated with older adults. According to an alarming study, however, young adults with elevated blood pressure may have less gray matter in their brain. The study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology. When you’re young, you may be more concerned about obvious signs of…

How to grow lychee

Lychee is an exotic evergreen tree that can reach 40 feet in height.1 It produces red ovoid fruits with white flesh, a single large seed, and a tough, “bumpy,” easily peeled skin. As noted by The Spruce,2 “The fruit has a light, perfume-like flavor. It is usually eaten fresh or frozen and can be made into sauces, jam, puree or preserves.”

The seed is poisonous and should not be eaten. A chemical in the seed causes low blood sugar, which is why outbreaks of severe illness (and even deaths) among malnourished children during harvest time are common in areas like India. Discard seeds safety to make sure they won’t accidentally be eaten by children or pets.

The first mention of lychee is found in Chinese literature dated 1059 A.D. Lychee production took root in Burma in the 1600s and India a century later; the West Indies in 1775, and in French and English greenhouses by the 19th century.3 Today, lychee is grown in subtropical and tropical areas around the world.4

Lychee yields can be fairly large, although most trees will produce bountiful yields only one year out of every three.5 According to the University of Florida’s horticulture department,6 “Reliable bearing and highest production occurs in subtropical and Mediterranean-type climates. Areas with significant altitude may also be productive.”

Propagating lychee from seed

If you’re in plant hardiness zones 10 or 11, you can grow lychee outdoors in your garden. Lychee grown indoors will rarely produce fruit due to the lack of sunlight. The video above demonstrates how to propagate lychee from seed. Here are some basics:7,8

Procedure

  1. Select one or more large seeds and rinse off any remaining pulp.
  2. Fill a pot with sandy soil and dampen with water. Press the seeds, “eye” up, into the sand, just low enough to cover them with a light layer of soil. Make sure the pot has good drainage. Place in a warm, shady location. To speed sprouting, enclose the pot in a clear plastic bag. Sprouting will occur in approximately two weeks.
  3. Once sprouted, remove the bag from the pot and move it to a more brightly lit — but not directly sunlit — area.
  4. Once the seedling has sprouted four leaves, transplant it into its own pot (if you sprouted several together). According to the University of Florida (UF),9 lychee grows best “in acid sands with moderate organic matter content.” SF Gate suggests repotting using African violet potting soil.10 Soil should be kept damp but not soggy.
  5. After about one month’s growth, gradually increase the amount of sunlight the seedling is exposed to.

Outdoor planting guidelines for lychee

Its permanent location should receive full sun for most of the day. If kept potted indoors, place it near a south-facing window. Outdoors, plant it at least 25 to 30 feet from buildings and other trees, as shading will diminish fruit production. Well-cured compost is recommended from the drip-line to within 6 inches of the trunk, and mulch will help retain soil moisture and reduce weed growth.

Trees younger than 4 years will need 0.25 to 0.5 pounds of complete fertilizer every eight weeks. UF recommends using a mixture containing 6% to 8% nitrogen, 2% to 4% phosphorus, 6% to 8% potash, and 3% to 4% magnesium.

If your soil has either acid or neutral pH, consider adding dry applications of manganese, zinc and iron two to four times during growing season, March through November. If your soil has a high pH, use a foliar application of manganese and zinc. Additional specifics can be found in UF’s lychee growing guide.11 Avoid fertilizing during fall and winter.

To bloom, the tree will require at least 100 chill hours (between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit) during the winter. Lychee will bloom in early spring and fruit in late spring/early summer, although most trees will not bloom or produce fruit until they’re about 5 years old.

While well-established lychees are moderately drought-resistant, new lychee trees need to have a regular water supply. Flooding may adversely affect growth and fruit yield, however. Planting them on mounds or elevated beds is recommended if the region is prone to flooding. Once fully established, the tree will typically thrive without supplemental irrigation.

Areas with strong winds may be a challenging location for lychee tree growth as it may cause tattered leaves and stunted growth. It’s best that lychee trees are planted in wind-protected areas or placed where they would be covered by surrounding trees.

Health benefits of lychee

Tea made from lychee peel is said to treat smallpox and diarrhea. In India, parts of the bark, root and lychee flowers are gargled for sore throat. According to the book, “Lychee Disease Management”:12

“The pericarp [skin] of lychee possesses antitussive, analgesic, antipyretic, hemostatic and diuretic properties … The flesh of the lychee helps to overcome tiredness and prevent bronchocele, and its skin is used to treat animal bites. The compounds present in lychee possess different biological activities that include antiviral, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.”

One of this fruit’s most plentiful and unique nutrients is oligonol, which contains a number of valuable antioxidants with the ability to fight flu viruses13 and protect the skin from UV ray damage.14 The fruit is loaded with vitamin C, which also helps protect you against the common cold and other infections, and quenches inflammation.15 Other nutrients include:16

  • B vitamins, including vitamin B6
  • Potassium (which helps help control heart rate and blood pressure and stave off strokes and heart disease17)
  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Folate
  • Copper (which helps produce red blood cells, maintains healthy bones, prevents thyroid problems and anemia18)

For all their benefits, lychee fruits are best consumed in moderation as they also contain fructose (along with glucose and sucrose), which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.19 A 3.5-ounce serving contains an estimated 16.5 grams of sugar.

There have also been reports20 of allergies associated with eating lychee fruit, including anaphylactic reactions. While the seeds are generally considered toxic, scientists have found the seeds have certain anticancer properties.

A study21 published in 2012 found lychee seed extract, rich in polyphenols, “significantly induced apoptotic cell death in a dose-dependent manner and arrested cell cycle in … colorectal carcinoma cells.”

A study22 published in the journal Cancer Letters in 2006 found lychee fruit pericarp (skin) extract inhibited hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer, both in vitro and in vivo, altering proliferation and inducing cell death in this cancer type. For more information, see “10 Amazing health benefits of lychee fruit.”

Picking, storing and eating lychee fruit

The fruit are ripe once they’ve turned from deep green to pink-red or plum (depending on your variety), and the skin gives way a bit but not all the way when squeezed lightly between the fingers. Fresh lychees also exude a distinct lush, sweet fragrance.

To pick it, either twist to break the stem right at the natural abscission zone or, using shears, cut the fruit off, leaving a short stem. Using either a dull knife or even a fingernail, punch through the skin and peel off.

Browning of the skin is an indication of water loss, but in its early stages, this is more cosmetic than anything.23 The flesh inside will still be juicy. Over time, however, the flesh will also begin to dry out. After picking, the skin starts to turn brown within a day or so, so they need to be consumed rather quickly.

Refrigeration will help slow the dehydration process, but excessively cold temperatures will damage the fruit so do not freeze.24 To increase shelf life, you can dehydrate them by leaving the stems on the clusters and simply letting the clusters hang in an air-conditioned room.25 Once dried, the skins will be dark brown and brittle. Stored in a jar or tin at room temperature, flavor and texture will remain unchanged for up to a year.

Fresh or dried, lychees can be chopped into fruit or green salads. Stuffed lychees also make for a delicious dessert.26 For more ideas on food uses, see Julia F. Morton’s “Fruits of warm climates,” which can be found on Purdue University’s website. 27

How to grow dragon fruit

Dragon fruit is an exotic cactus that’s just as impressive for its nutritional benefits as it is for its aesthetic appeal. While this heat-loving plant is native to Mexico and Central and South America, it’s also grown in several Southeast Asian countries and can survive year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 10 and 11.1

In other southern areas of the U.S., including zone 9, dragon fruit can be grown in pots on a patio, but must be protected from cold temperatures.

One of the most impressive aspects of dragon fruit cacti are its large flowers, which can grow to be more than 20 centimeters (nearly 8 inches) wide.2 The blooms open in the evening and last just one night, which is why dragon fruit plants are sometimes referred to as belle of the night and night-blooming cereus.

Viewing the striking flowers is just one treat of growing dragon fruit, as the fruit itself will reward you with delightful flavor and numerous health benefits, making this one plant well worth adding to your garden.

What is dragon fruit?

The fruit of the dragon fruit cactus can be red, pink or yellow in color, with soft spikes on the outside and scale-like leaves, similar to artichokes. Cut open the fruit, and you’ll see white or red flesh peppered with tiny black seeds. The flavor is often described as a mix between kiwi, strawberry and pear, and sometimes it’s even called a strawberry pear.

You can eat it on its own as you would other fruit, or add it to fruit salads, smoothies, drinks and desserts. Just cut the fruit in half and scoop it out with a spoon, or peel off the leathery skin and slice the flesh. The seeds are edible and are eaten with the fruit, similar to a kiwi.

The growing season for this tempting fruit peaks in the summer but the season extends through early autumn. Be aware that ripeness can affect the fruit’s flavor; the riper the fruit, the sweeter it will typically be.

If you’re choosing dragon fruit at your supermarket, it will give slightly if you press the skin when it’s ripe, but it shouldn’t be overly soft nor too firm, similar to an avocado.

Leave it, uncut, on your counter for a few days, then store it in your refrigerator in a sealed container, to protect it from picking up odors from other food.3 You can also find frozen dragon fruit in some grocery store freezer sections.

When picking dragon fruit from your garden, it can take about 30 days to become fully ripe. Dragon fruits are green in color while they grow, but their skin will turn a bright pink or yellow color when it’s ready to be picked.

Health benefits of dragon fruit


Dragon fruit is an antioxidant powerhouse, high in vitamin C and containing antioxidants that could help prevent inflammatory diseases such as gout and arthritis.4 As for as nutrients, it contains a wide range, including:5

Vitamin C

Vitamin A

Vitamin B1

Vitamin E

Potassium

Magnesium

Zinc

Phosphorus

Calcium

While the peel of dragon fruit has higher flavonoid and polyphenol concentrations than the flesh, both have shown promise for antioxidant and even anticancer activities.6 Dragon fruit also contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that gives the fruit its red color and decreases your risk of cancer and heart disease.7

Some research suggests dragon fruit also has an antidiabetic effect, and may have a favorable effect on blood sugar control in prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.8 Dragon fruit juice has even been found to improve insulin resistance in obese mice.9

What’s more, dragon fruit is not only high in fiber but also contains oligosaccharides, which act as prebiotics. Prebiotics help to nourish beneficial bacteria in your gut and the oligosaccharides in dragon fruit may improve gut health by “selectively stimulating” the microbiota in your colon.10

Dragon fruit may have heart benefits as well, as its been shown to decrease aortic stiffness in animal studies, including in diabetic rats.11 Arteries tend to stiffen as people age, leading to an increased heart disease risk, but for people who are obese or have Type 2 diabetes, the process starts sooner and the consequences are often worse.

Adding more whole foods like dragon fruit to your diet is one way to provide your body with nutrients that can ward off many chronic diseases and slow down age-related changes.

Not all dragon fruit plants are self-pollinating

When choosing a dragon fruit variety, be aware that not all of them are self-pollinating. In some plants, the flowers, while in bloom, are pollinated during the night by moths and bats, which allows the plant to bear fruit about six times a year.12 Other dragon fruits require a second plant for pollination or need to be pollinated by hand for best fruit production.

The easiest way to ensure your dragon fruit plant bears fruit is to choose a self-pollinating variety, which requires no human intervention. While it’s possible to grow dragon fruit from seed, it will take a few years before it grows fruit, which is why starting from a cutting is recommended. There are three types of dragon fruit:13

  • Hylocereus megalanthus — This type has white fruit flesh and yellow skin.
  • Hylocereus undatus — This type has white flesh and red skin.
  • Hylocereus costaricensis — This type has both red flesh and red skin. The red flesh is said to have a somewhat more intense flavor than the white-fleshed varieties.

You’ll next need to decide where to plant it. Dragon fruit is a climbing cactus, which means it will need a trellis or other form of support to cling to, and if you live in an area that gets cooler temperatures, you may want to consider planting it in a pot that can be taken inside during cold weather.

Ideal growing conditions for dragon fruit

Dragon fruits like sunny spots with soil that drains easily. Too much water can rot the roots, which is why clay soils are not ideal for these plants; sandy soil is preferred. Once the flowers set fruit, keep soil moisture even, as cycling between dry and wet soils may cause the fruit to split open.14

One way to keep soil well drained is to plant it in a raised mound, about a foot high and composed of soil and compost. You’ll want to add mulch once planted, which will help to protect the plant’s shallow roots, but be sure to keep it away from the base of the plant to avoid fungus growth and rot.15,16

If planting in a container, choose a pot that’s about 5 or 10 gallons in size with drain holes; a mature dragon fruit plant will need a larger, 25 to 30-gallon pot. Use a sandy soil made for cactus plants. As the plant grows, it will produce aerial roots from its branches that will climb, so it will need to be trained, similar to grape vines, although it can also be trained to grow up a wall, trellis or arbor.

You’ll need to prune the plant by removing decaying, overcrowded or dead stems; left to its own devices, dragon fruits can become quite large, reaching up to 20 feet tall.

Pests and diseases (aside from fungal diseases due to overwatering) are not especially problematic for dragon fruit plants, but aphids sometimes feed on young shoots and flower buds.17 Also keep a close eye on fruits, which are sometimes enjoyed by ants.

What temperatures are best for dragon fruit?

Temperature wise, dragon fruits do best between 65 and 85 degrees F (about 18 to 29 degrees C).18 If it’s significantly warmer than this, your dragon fruit may require some shade in order to tolerate the heat, but generally speaking they require six to eight hours of sun daily. Too much shade can interfere with proper fruit growth.

As for freezing temperatures, these will kill a dragon fruit plant (anything below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) should be considered potentially fatal), although they can tolerate brief cold snaps. If you live in a region with temperatures that drop below freezing, be prepared to bring the plant indoors during the winter.

When well cared for, a dragon fruit plant will continue producing fruit for two or three decades,19 so your work will pay off in a bountiful and long-lasting harvest.

Simple dragon fruit smoothie

If you’re new to dragon fruit, don’t be intimidated by its thorny-appearing exterior and sometimes shockingly red flesh. The mild, delicate flavor of dragon fruit, and its relatively easy growing requirements, will make this a favorite plant in your garden.

Dragon fruit pairs well with other tropical fruits such as mango and papaya, as well as with fish dishes, as a tropical salsa or sauce. A simple recipe to try out follows. As with most fruit, eat dragon fruit in moderation to avoid excess fructose consumption.

Tropical Dragon Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen dragon fruit cubes
  • 1/3 cup raw grass fed yogurt
  • 1 banana

Procedure

  1. In a blender, liquefy the ingredients.
  2. Serve in two bowls (or freeze half of the portion for later).
  3. Add toppings of choice and enjoy.

You Are Fighting In The Most Important Battle Of All Time

If you are reading this, it’s most likely the result of a series of events in your life which have drawn your interest and attention to the fact that our world is quite a bit different from what we’ve been told by our school teachers, by the news media, by Hollywood, and by politicians.

At some point, for whatever reason, you’ve come to realize that the consensus narratives in our society about what’s going on are false.

The tools that people are taught to use to inform themselves about their government, their nation and their world are not just full of inaccuracies, but deliberate distortions, ranging from the reasons we’re given for why wars are started, to the way our political systems work, to where real power and authority actually lies, to the way nations and governments actually behave in the world.

This awareness has come with a degree of alienation. Not buying into the same consensus narratives about the world as your friends, loved ones and peers comes with an inability to relate to them on some levels, which can cause you to feel a lack of intimacy in those areas.

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