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The Amazing Health Benefits of Dancing

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This article is posted with permission from our friends at Greenmedinfo.comFor more news from them, you can sign up for their newsletter here

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The evidence-based health benefits of dancing are numerous and profound. In fact, if dancing were a drug it would be considered unethical not to use it.

If you already love to dance, you know how easy it is to work up a sweat on the dance floor. Far from the monotony of the treadmill, dancing is an exercise that engages not only the body, but also our creativity and sense of fun. Who knows where a dance will take you? When the music starts playing, it can feel almost like a trance: toes start tapping, hips begin to sway, and before you know it, you are creating your own moves that flow from within—no choreographer needed! Dancing can be a deep release that melts away stress and worry, while simultaneously delivering a great workout. Talk about a win-win!

If you aren’t a dancer, or it’s been years since you have, learning about the amazing health benefits of dancing may be just the inspiration you need to get out on the dance floor! This article explores some of the ways that science has substantiated the mind, body, and quality of life benefits you can gain by adding this exuberant activity to your life.

Dance to Stay Young

As we grow older, we experience an increased risk of age-related cognitive decline, evidenced by the onset of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s in elderly populations. It’s no surprise that the elderly experience the most marked improvements from dance therapy. Considered a “psychosocial” intervention, dancing combines a myriad of benefits into one activity: the mood-elevating effects of increased social interaction, along with improvements in brain function and quality of life.

A recent study[1] published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience has demonstrated that while most forms of exercise slow-down age-related decline, dancing has even more profound benefits. Two test groups were created: one group underwent eighteen months of once-weekly endurance and flexibility training, while the other group learned dance routines. Both groups demonstrated increases in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and balance, and most affected by age-related decline. But only the dance group demonstrated noticeable behavior changes like improved balance. Researchers credited the challenging aspects of learning new dances each week to being in a state of continuous learning. Mastering new rhythms, steps, and formations, combined with increased social engagement, provided a boost to brain activity that created additional cognitive benefits for the dance group. Researchers were greatly encouraged by results, calling dancing “a powerful tool to set new challenges for the body and mind, especially in older age.” A new study is being planned to bring the combined power of music and movement to the aid of dementia patients.

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Other important studies on dancing have found additional benefits to cognitive function and quality of life among aging populations. A 2009 study of patients in a dementia care unit showed 67% of patients attending dance sessions with staff members experienced a significant reduction in agitation, one of the primary and most distressing symptoms of dementia. Participants also experienced uplifted mood and increased social bonding, signifying an overall increase in quality of life for these patients. A similar study, conducted in an assisted care home was motivated by the desire to treat depression often witnessed in elderly residents of such facilities. Researchers were seeking treatments that could also potentially improve the lack of desire and motivation that often accompanies depression. This type of layered, psychosocial condition is where therapies involving art can be the most impactful. Researchers noted that dancing sessions allowed residents to express themselves freely and creatively which had measurable impact on self-esteem. Residents also experienced relaxation benefits and emotional upliftment. This study concluded that dancing, along with other art therapies, can significantly improve cognitive functioning as they enhance overall well-being.

Dance to Keep Fit

Dancing for fitness has experienced a cultural boost in the United States thanks to the popularity of TV shows like “Dancing With the Stars,” where viewers watch as their favorite celebrities improve their moves while simultaneously shedding pounds. To witness these cultural icons whom we regard as masters in their respective fields, reduced to clumsy beginners when they attempt to dance is something many of us can relate to. We also get to share in their victories, as hard work and dedication give rise to grace and skill. Not only do many of these celebrities get into the best shape of their lives, they have an amazing time doing it! Their joy and developing confidence is so infectious, America can’t stop watching. The show has become a global phenomenon with audiences and spin-offs in 50 countries.[2] But dancing is not a spectator sport! To experience the benefits, you have to get up, and get down!

While dancing requires a certain level of fitness and athleticism to win competitions, there are no barriers to entry if you want to explore dance movement as a way to improve general health and coordination. In 2014, researchers sought to determine if dance therapy can improve exercise capacity and health-related quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure. As compared to control group, dance therapy imparted significant improvements in both overall fitness and quality of life measurements, leading researchers to suggest inclusion of dance therapy in cardiac rehabilitation programs.

What if you don’t have a dance partner, and hesitate to go dancing on your own? Thanks to its growing popularity, there are more options than ever before to find an instructor-led class that appeals to you. Most gyms now offer classes in a variety of dance styles, such as ballet barre, where participants focus on flexibility and strength-building using the classic tools of the ballet. Hip-hop dance classes offer a more free-form way to move. There are dance classes that can help you connect to culture, such as tribal African dance, folk styles, and belly-dancing. Even the non-specific style of aerobic dance that is conducted in classes all over America offers health advantages over jumping on the treadmill. A 2007 study explored the benefits of aerobic dance as compared to a walk-jog exercise program. After eight weeks of engagement, both the aerobic dance group and the walk-jog groups experienced significant fitness benefits over the control group, leading researchers to conclude that an aerobic dance program is an effective alternative to a walk-jog training regime. As with all exercise programs, the key to obtaining optimal results is compliance. Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy is the best way to ensure that you stick with it! So if you’re bored with your traditional fitness routine, exploring a style of dance that appeals to you can be just the ticket to reinvigorating your commitment to regular exercise.

Dance to Be Happy

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression.[3] With antidepressant medication use up by more than 400% in the United States,[4] now more than ever, we need natural ways of stimulating “feel-good” hormones in the brain. Perhaps nothing can make a deeper impact on feelings of well-being and contentment than genuinely connecting with other human beings, and coming together through song and dance is one of our oldest human traditions. Dancing with someone lights up areas of the brain that stimulate a sense of oneness and connection, something scientists call “self-other merging.”[5] And researchers are taking note of these therapeutic effects as a potential remedy for depression.

A Korean study on adolescents suffering from depression found that young people who engaged in dance movement therapy reported significantly less psychological distress, and demonstrated improved emotional responses. Neurohormone levels were measured before and after 12 weeks of dance therapy, adding further supportive evidence to these findings. Serotonin concentration increased from dancing, and dopamine levels decreased, suggesting that dance therapy may stabilize the sympathetic nervous system. Researchers concluded that dancing may “beneficially modulate” these important brain chemicals, and improve emotional health in sufferers of depression.

Dancing can provide an emotional boost when experiencing other hardships in life, such as a cancer diagnosis. A pilot research study was conducted in 2005 at two cancer treatment centers, exploring the effects of dance movement therapy on breast cancer survivors in their first five-years post-treatment. Outcomes were based on quality of life measurements, shoulder range of motion, and body image scale. As compared to the non-active group, the dance movement group showed significant quality of life improvements  Shoulder range of motion also improved, as did perception of body image. Researchers stated that “The overall effect of dance training was significant” and larger studies are justified to include dancing as part of the continuum of care for cancer survivors.

The powerful healing effects of music and dancing are not exclusive to the hearing-enabled. A 2002 study sought to understand how dance and other forms of “esthetic education” could influence the socialization of deaf persons. Therapeutic dance instructors applied “choreo-therapy” to young, deaf persons for a period of one-to-three years, and a variety of socialization metrics were recorded. Researchers found that the students “participated with pleasure,” and the longer they danced (in terms of years), the better their social skills became. Motivations for their voluntary participation ranged from a desire to improve health (10% cited), to the opportunities for engagement with instructors (20%), to a sheer love of dance (70%). Improvements in social abilities included development of a more mature outlook, better grades in school, and improved conversational abilities. Students relaxed and became less self-conscious, developed better decision-making skills, and experienced more joy. And if you think that dancing is only for the bold, among these deaf adolescents, only 5% felt tired and discouraged by the activities.

If you are bored with your regular fitness routine, dealing with circumstances that have you feeling down, or you just want to amp-up the joy in your life, dancing is an amazing activity, replete with benefits for mind, body, and soul. It’s something you can do with a partner, in a class led by a qualified instructor, or alone in your room with the radio turned up! Whether you’re dancing fast or slow, alone or with someone, the therapeutic benefits of music, movement, and connection, are free and available to everyone. So turn up the music, and dance your way to a long, healthy, and happy life!

For additional research on the health benefits of dancing visit our database on the subject. 

References

[1] https://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-reverse-aging-brain.html

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/worldwide/50th-country-strictly

[3] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

[4] National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With special feature on death and dying. Table 95. Hyattsville, MD. 2011.

[5] Tarr Bronwyn, Launay Jacques, Dunbar Robin I. M. Music and social bonding:“self-other” merging and neurohormonal mechanisms. Frontiers in Psychology. Vol.5.2014. pg.1096. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01096. 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01096. 1664-1078

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

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Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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List Of Products & Brands That Tested Positive For Monsanto’s Glyphosate

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Glyphosate is a carcinogenic chemical that can be found in an alarming number of food products. Traces have even been found in companies that employ the "Organic" label.

  • Reflect On:

    Think about what you buy and consume. By voting with your dollar and opting out of foods that contain this chemical, you are telling Monsanto you don't want it. The power lies in the hands of each and every one of us.

Finally, the corporate giant Monsanto, an organization that has hailed itself as the answer to global food shortages and is “working to help farmers grow food more sustainably” has been outed and is currently facing backlash after a near $300 million lawsuit was settled proving that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the roundup herbicide, causes cancer. The company was found guilty of malice and covering up the fact that their most popular product does indeed cause cancer.

On their website, it still states that “Glyphosate has a 40-year history of safe and effective use. In evaluations spanning those four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been that glyphosate can be used safely.” Seems they are still in denial, despite the lawsuit.

This is great news, however, as this story was too big to be kept from the mainstream. Many are starting to wake up to the fact that Monsanto isn’t as safe of a company as they would like you to believe. Despite years of mounting evidence that glyphosate is carcinogenic, Monsanto has been able to deny the fact, stating that no products contain a high enough level to pose a risk, failing to acknowledge the cumulative effect within the body.

Americans have applied 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. For comparison, that’s equivalent to the weight of water in more than 2,300 Olympic-size swimming pools. It’s also enough to spray nearly half a pound of Roundup on every cultivated acre of land in the world.” ~Newsweek

Which Foods Have Glyphosate?

The issue is, it can be difficult to know exactly which products are genetically modified, and thus are likely to contain Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide or some form of glyphosate. In the past, a safe bet was to be sure to purchase only organic products; however in recent years even certain brands of organic foods have been compromised as glyphosate has been found in some of these as well. Thanks to WakingTimes for providing this list of foods containing glyphosate:

  • Original Cheerios
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Wheaties
  • Trix
  • Annie’s Gluten Free Bunny Cookies Cocoa & Vanilla
  • Kellog’s Corn Flakes
  • Kellog’s Raisin Bran
  • Kashi Organic Promise
  • Kellog’s Special K
  • Kellog’s Frosted Flakes
  • Cheez-It Original
  • Cheez-It Whole Grain
  • Kashi Soft Bake Cookies, Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Triscuit Crackers
  • Oreo Original
  • Oreo Double Stuf Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
  • Oreo Double Stuf Golden Sandwich Cookies
  • Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips (Frito-Lay)
  • Lay’s: Kettle Cooked Original
  • Doritos: Cool Ranch
  • Fritos (Original) (100% Whole Grain)
  • Goldfish crackers original (Pepperidge Farm)
  • Goldfish crackers colors
  • Goldfish crackers Whole Grain
  • Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies
  • Oatmeal Cookies Gluten Free
  • 365 Organic Golden Round Crackers
  • Back to Nature Crispy Cheddar Crackers
  • Breakfast Cereals as Tested by the Environmental Working Group (2018)
    • Granola
      • Nature’s Path Organic Honey Almond granola
      • Back to Nature Classic Granola
      • Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey, Raisins & Almonds
      • Back to Nature Banana Walnut Granola Clusters
      • Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey
      • KIND Vanilla, Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds
    • Instant Oats
      • Giant Instant Oatmeal, Original Flavor
      • Simple Truth Organic Instant Oatmeal, Original
      • Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal
      • Great Value Original Instant Oatmeal
      • Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan
      • Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream
    • Oat Breakfast Cereal
      • Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted cereal
      • Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal
      • Lucky Charms
      • Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls, Original, Cereal
      • Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran oat cereal
    • Snack Bar
      • Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Berry, granola bar
      • KIND Oats & Honey with Toasted Coconut
      • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats ‘n Honey
      • Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bar
      • Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars, Strawberry
    • Whole Oats
      • 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
      • Quaker Steel Cut Oats
      • Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
      • Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
      • Nature’s Path Organic Old Fashioned Organic Oats
      • Whole Foods Bulk Bin conventional rolled oats
      • Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (4 samples tested)
    • Orange Juice Brands as Tested by Moms Across America(2017)
      • Tropicana
      • Minute Maid
      • Stater Bros.
      • Signature Farms
      • Kirkland
    • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Creams
    • Staple Crops as Reported by Friends of the Earth Europe(2013)
      • Soybeans
      • Soybean fodder
      • Cotton seed
      • Maize grain
      • Sorghum
      • Barley straw and fodder Grass hay
      • Lentils
      • Sweetcorn
      • Sugar beet
    • Miscellaneous

 Final Thoughts

The most effective way to avoid glyphosate in your diet is to eat a whole-food plant-based diet, which means limiting your intake of processed foods as much as possible. Look for the “Non-Gmo Verified Project” stamp to ensure your foods do are not genetically modified and thus should not contain glyphosate. The fact of the matter is, the more informed we are in regards to these chemicals, the more power we have over our own health. It’s up to us to take responsibility for our own lives, our bodies and what we are putting inside. Vote with your dollar and avoid GMO’s whenever possible.

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Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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