Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

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    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

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Posts Tagged ‘chronic inflammation’

A Possible Help For Alzheimer’s

Posted by terrepruitt on July 12, 2014

I recently came across some information I thought was interesting.  I had heard it before, in fact I mentioned it in my post Turmeric – Flavor With Benefits, but this time I decided to look into a bit to see what is being said.  One of the compounds found in turmeric is curcumin.  Turmeric is a product of a ground root of the Curcuma longa plant.  It is a relative of ginger.  The curcumin is what gives turmeric it’s yellow color.  So basically it is the stuff in turmeric that stains everything it touches.  While in the middle of typing this I needed to make dinner.  I used some turmeric.  This spice has been used in other cultures as a spice to flavor foods, and a medicinal spice.  It has been used as a dye.  It is a subject of study and research as it is thought to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  There is information that has been published regarding using curcumin as a possible prevention and treatment for Alzheimer’s.  The National Center for Biotechnology Information,  U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website has information regarding a paper disclosing such information.  The UCLA Alzheimer Translation Center website also has information regarding how it might help prevent Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is thought to begin with inflammation.  So, as I have stated often in my post, I believe that chronic inflammation in the body is a disease catalyst.  It is as if the body is so busy fighting the inflammation, other things go wrong.  Chronic inflammation is being viewed as a serious health problem.  So again, as I have stated before, things, foods, that can reduce inflammation can be good to add to our diets.

The NCBI article states that the idea that curcumin might help with Alzheimer’s comes from the fact that it is less common in India where they eat a lot of food with curry with turmeric.  This idea was supported by a study in which macrophages (A type of white blood cell that ingests foreign material) was treated with curcumin.  The white blood cells treated with the curcumin were able to clear the type of plague that is thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s.  The article also indicates that since curcumin can pass through the blood brain barrier it can help at the neurological level.  Also, neurotoxicity caused by cadmium and lead was prevented.  Additionally, curcumin might help lower cholesterol.

The bioavailability of the curcumin is not very high.  So eating enough and getting enough could be an issue . . . especially at this point there might not be enough information to know what amount “enough” is.

Another post on The National Center for Biotechnology Information,  U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website claims that three patients with Alzheimer’s showed significant signs of behavioral and psychological improvement after being treated with turmeric powder capsules.  A change was seen after just 12 weeks, but a large improvement of recognizing family members was seen after a year.

There is always risks with anything if one is to use it as a treatment for a specific condition, so before you go out and purchase curcumin capsules please do some research and seek professional advice.  I do think that my adding it to my food would not be a problem.  I know in my post about turmeric I said I would, but I really dislike that it turns my dishes yellow.  But I really think the possible benefits outweigh that.  I prefer to try to use food, herbs, spices, and movement to provide nutrition and health benefits so that I can keep it healthy and hopefully not need medication.

Do you like curry dishes?  What type of curry dishes do you make?  What do you add turmeric to?  Do you have a trick to keeping it from turning things yellow?

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Fennel Another One Of THOSE Foods

Posted by terrepruitt on November 17, 2012

As you may have read, I recently received fennel in my organic produce box that I have delivered.  I was excited because I have heard of fennel, but never cooked with it.  I think I might not have even realized that I have had some before.  As I am thinking about it, I bet I had it put on my plate at a restaurant and assumed it was onion and didn’t eat it.  It looks like onion to me although it does not have an onion flavor at all.  The information I am seeing is that it is compared to anise.  Fennel is an herb that is used both as a flavor and a vegetable.  The bottom portion, the bulb is eaten as a vegetable.  It is related to carrots, parsley, dill, and coriander as it is a member of the family Apiaceae (formerly the Umbelliferae).  Its fronds remind me of the greenery on carrots, so it doesn’t surprise me that they are related.  Fennel is vegetation of which all of it can be eaten, the bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds (I know I’ve had the seeds).  According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, this plant contains a unique combination of phytonutrients.

There is one, anethole, that has shown in animal studies to help with the reduction of inflammation and help prevent cancer.  Now, I have stated over and over that chronic inflammation is the body is not good.  Inflammation is an immune response in the body so having the body be in battle mode all the time is not a good thing.  The American lifestyle with its high stress and the average Western Diet which is full of food stuffs have been shown to CAUSE inflammation.  Having herbs and vegetables that can be easily added to the diet and might help with a chronic condition sounds good to me.  Anethole has also been found to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties according to Nutrition You Can.

Fennel also has vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.  Vitamin C is the antioxidant that helps fight against free radicals, the things, that in excess, can cause damage in the body.  Potassium is the electrolyte that is essential for the proper functioning of the heart, kidneys, muscles, nerves, and digestive system.  And dietary fiber is necessary to help with digestion and elimination, which when both are properly working systems tend to signify health.Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia at the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Zumba

USDA National Nutrient database states the Nutrient value 1 cup of sliced fennel is as follows:

Energy kcal  27
Protein 1.08 g
Total lipid (fat)  0.17 g
Carbohydrate 6.35 g
Fiber, total dietary  2.7 g

Calcium, Ca mg 43 mg
Iron, Fe  0.64 mg
Magnesium 15 mg
Phosphorus, P 44 mg
Potassium, K 360 mg
Sodium, Na 45 mg

Vitamin C 10.4 mg
Vitamin A 117 AU

I am interested in foods that can help with chronic inflammation, I would like to have more of them in my diet.  At the same time I am interested in reducing the foods in my diet that cause inflammation.  How about you?  Are you interested in foods that might help with chronic inflammation?  Do you think you could add fennel to your diet?

Posted in Food, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why, Yes, It is GOOD Fat

Posted by terrepruitt on November 1, 2012

Don’t you just love avocados?  I know so many people who do.  Some people I know could just eat an avocado plain.  Cut it in half, pull it apart, and use a spoon to scoop out the mushy flesh inside.  Ewwww.  Not my thing.  I am not a fan of avocado at all.  I usually get as far as cutting it in half and scoop out a portion, then it starts to get on my hands and under my nails and I am done.  I end up putting it on a dish with a spoon or a knife — depending on the ripeness — and telling my husband he has to deal with it.  I lean towards the idea that they taste like dirt.  But I can’t actually remember the last time I tasted one.  But the idea of it tasting like dirt is stuck in my head.  People are often amazed that I don’t like avocado because most people LOVE them.  They say, “Oh, but you must like guacamole?”  And I don’t.  But there are many smoothie recipes that have avocado in them.  There is also a recipe that came with my blender for tortilla soup recipe that has a bit of avocado in it.  I do like that, but it has a very small bit of avocado.  I think that if you mix avocado with enough other stuff the taste can be disguised.  After looking up nutrient information on them I am going to try to add it to more recipes.  It seems the fat in avocados is unique and has the potential for many health benefits.

According to WH Foods about 85% of an avocado’s calories is from fat.  But as you probably have heard it is a “good” fat.  The properties in the fat contained in avocados have anti-inflammatory benefits.  And you might have heard that more and more research is proving that chronic inflammation in the body is being linked to many illnesses and diseases.

The information I am seeing is that avocados are thought to help lower blood cholesterol levels.   Also since they contain oleic acid it is believed they might help lowering risks of heart disease. These are some of the things that are meant by avocados contain “good” fat.

World’s Healthiest Foods nutrient information on Avocados:

1.00 cup (146.00 grams) = 233.60 calories

fiber 9.78 g   /  39.1% of the DVDance Exercise, Nia, Nia at the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Zumba
vitamin K 30.66 mcg / 38.3% of the DV
folate 118.26 mcg / 29.6% of the DV
vitamin C 14.60 mg / 24.3% of the DV
vitamin B5 2.03 mg /20.3% of the DV
potassium 708.10 mg / 20.2% of the DV
vitamin B6 0.38 mg  /19.0% of the DV

WebMD states:

“Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.”

According to Wiki, avocados originated in Mexico.  Wiki further states “The avocado is a climacteric fruit (the banana is another), which means it matures on the tree, but ripens off the tree.”  I didn’t know that.  I always thought they were picked too soon, but apparently they ripen off the tree.

So do you like avocados?  How do you eat them?  Do you have any recipes that you put them in?

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Zucchini Has Antioxidants and Vitamins

Posted by terrepruitt on June 23, 2012

I don’t think I really knew that the zucchini is a hybrid of the cucumber.  I do sometimes have trouble telling them apart when they are cut up in a salad, but I never really thought about their relation.  I guess I figured they were related somehow.  Since zucchini and cucumbers are related that makes zucchini a fruit.  Geez louise.  I would be in so much trouble if my life depended upon knowing the difference between what actually is a fruit and what isn’t.  Most of the vegetables I think of as vegetables are actually fruits.  The culinary world and the world of botany doesn’t always match up.  Wiki describes the zucchini in the following appetizing way:  “swollen ovary of the zucchini flower”.  Yeah thanks, I want to eat swollen ovaries. 🙂 I am mostly familiar with the green zucchini, however, it is called a summer squash.  I call yellow zucchini squash, not zucchini.

You might see recipes calling for courgettes . . . that is zucchini.

In regards to nutrition, zucchini are low in calories.  They are a great source of antioxidants.  In about 100 grams of zucchini there is 17 mg of vitamin C.    It seems the best way to get the most antioxidants out of the fruit is to steam them.  I am not sure I’ve tried them that way.  I like to roast them, but the time involved to get them the way I like them usually keeps me from making them that way.  As I mentioned in my Grated Zhuccini is GREAT post I actually like to grate them and mix them into other foods.  I think they go great with linguine and rice.  Not linquine and rice together, but one or the other.  A comment made on that post was asking if they are stringing when they are grated, but they are not, after it is cooked it has the consistency of cheese.  My last mix was turkey . . . . which is yummy too.  I also like them raw, sliced paper-thin, in green salads.

My mom makes them into cheese boats.  That’s a great way to cook them too.  Kind of like the eggplant I did, but she takes a little out from the middle and then puts cheese in them.  I only did that once.  That was really good.

Zucchini has a few of the B vitamins, as you can see below.

Also since the seeds contain Omega 3, zucchini might be one of those anti-inflammatory foods that can help with the inflammation of the body.  So many other foods (sugar, dairy, foods with transfat, refined grains) ADD to chronic inflammation it is always nice to get the foods into our diet that help combat it.  I say “might” because the information I read had said that studies have yet to prove . . . but if the seeds have Omega 3 the might help in the battle.

According to WHFoods, 1 cup (113 grams) of raw zucchini contains:

vitamin C 32%

molybdenum 18%

vitamin B6 12.5%

manganese 10%

vitamin B2 9.4%

Dance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Niapotassium 8.4%

folate 8.1%

fiber 4.9%

magnesium 4.8%

vitamin A 4.5%

phosphorus 4.2%

vitamin K 4.2%

vitamin B1 3.3%

tryptophan3.1%

copper 3%

vitamin B 32.7%

protein 2.7%

omega-3 fats 2.5%

Calories (18) 1%

Since is it summer time here and they call zucchini a summer squash, it’s a good time to post about it.  Especially since I received some in my organic produce box.

How do you prepare zucchini?  Which color do you use?  Which is your favorite?

Posted in Food, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Colors And Odors Are Brought To You By Phytochemicals

Posted by terrepruitt on April 5, 2012

Phytochemical are the reasons that fruits and veggies have color and smell.  There are 1000 known phytochemicals, with an estimate of over 10,000 different ones potentially able to affect diseases.  These chemical compounds are thought to have a big affect on health but are not considered as essential nutrients.

Some phytochemicals are antioxidants or have antioxidant activity and they have shown that they may reduce the risk of cancer.  They have been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects.  And now many doctors and scientists are starting to acknowledge the link between chronic inflammation in the body and disease.  So — to me — anything that can safely help with inflammation in the body is a good food to eat. 

The Linus Pauling Institute at the Oregon State University has a list of phytochemicals.  Under each type listed there is a further breakdown of names of the specific phytochemical, here are just a few highlights

Carotenoids are found in red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits.  As with a lot of nutrients, fat helps with absorption.  So using a little bit of healthy oil can help with availability of the nutrient to the body.
 
Chlorophyll & Chlorophyllin are responsible for the green in veggies.

Curcumin is what gives turmeric its deep yellow color.  Turmeric is considered an anti-inflammatory.

Fiber is a group of different compounds.   Different kinds of dietary fiber include: Lignin, Cellulose, Beta-Glucans, Hemicelluloses, Pectins, Gums, Inulin, and Resistant starch. Research is showing that people with diets high in fiber have less risk of disease.  Fiber helps keeps the body’s digestive system moving things out.

Flavonoids in the case of the phytochemicals are thought to be better helpers in cell-signalling then in antioxidants.  While flavonoids have shown to help with curbing the free radicals, they really seem to shine when it comes to the cell signaling pathways.  They’ve shown themselves to be great at regulating the flow of information in the communication pathways of the cells.  There are different classes of flavanoids, they can be found in red wine, green, white, and black tea, berries, apples, chocolate, citrus fruits, yellow onions, soybeans, legumes, scallions, kale, and broccoli.

Garlic is thought to have antioxidant properties.  Garlic and its Organosulfur Compounds are thought to help fight cardiovascular disease and inflammation in the body.  (And some are now saying that it is inflammation that causes cardiovascular disease.)

Indole-3-Carbinol is found in coniferous vegetables.  These types of veggies are thought to help prevent certain types of cancer.  Some of the veggies that this phytochemical can be found in is cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Isothiocyanates is also found in coniferous veggies.  This one can be found in cabbage, broccoli, and kale.

Lignans (phytoestrogens) are found in plants while Lignan precursors are found in plant-based foods.  Eating a variety of seeds, whole grains, and legume along with broccoli, curly kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, green and red sweet peppers, apricots, strawberries, peaches, pears, and nectaries will net you both.  (according to Livestrong)

Phytosterols can be found in unrefined vegetable oils, whole grains, nuts, and legumes and inhibit the intestinal absorption of cholesterol.

Resveratrol was found to increase the lifespan of some living organisms.  It can be found in grapes, red wine, purple grape juice, peanuts, and some berries.

Soy Isoflavones (phytoestrogens) is one of those things that is good for you, but some evidence says that too much is not.  But they are not clear on that or how much “too much” is. 

As with much of our food supply harvesting and processing diminishes the nutrients available to us.  The amount of phytochemicals actually in our fruits and vegetables after commercial harvesting, processing, and cooking is significantly reduced.  Since the nutrients that we actually get from the food we eat seems less than was intended by nature it is a good thing that most fruits and veggies can be eaten in high quantities without adding much fat or many calories to the diet. 

Additional information from wiki states that phytochemicals have been used as drugs for millennia.  The willow tree leaves were used to reduce fevers and later used as aspirin.

There is much research to be done on phytochemicals.  But it is interesting to know that the color and odor causing compound in our fruit and veggies might also protect us or help us combat disease.  Seems like if we eat a large variety in addition to large quantities of fruits and vegetables daily will be get a good amount of phytochemicals.  One thing I like to think about and try to do is “eat the rainbow”.  Sounds silly, but it really is eating all the COLORS in the rainbow.

Do you eat a variety of fruits and veggies?  Do you eat the colors of the rainbow?

Posted in Food, Fruit, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Omega 3 – The Fat We Should Eat

Posted by terrepruitt on September 1, 2011

I have mentioned Omega 3 before, but I haven’t said a lot about it.  I thought sharing a few things about it would be nice.  Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid required by the body.  “Essential” means that our body must have it but can’t make it so we need to obtain the nutrient from our diet.  Since our cell membranes are made up of fatty acids it makes sense that our body needs fatty acids to function properly.  The key is making sure our bodies have the right kind of fat.  Omega 3 contains three fatty acids, a-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and is considered a polyunsaturated fat.  Polyunsaturated fat, unlike saturated fat, does not harden at room temperature.  Wanting a fat that makes up cell membranes that does not harden is another thing that makes sense, right?  Nutrients and waste have an easier time passing in and out of a cell membrane with a liquid consistency than one that is solid.

Research has been done in regards to Omega 3 on diseases and ailments with varied results.  Studies continue to reveal Omega 3 helps reduce heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation.  We know chronic inflammation is not good because it is linked with or even thought to be the cause of many diseases.   Omega 3 could help with autoimmune diseases of which inflammation is present such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes.   With many diseases there is often multiple issues so it makes sense that if something helps with one thing it might help with another if it is a symptom or a result of a disease.  For instance, many people with diabetes have high cholesterol so, if Omega 3 helps lower the LDL and raise the HDL, that would be of assistance to someone with diabetes.  Science is continuing to discover things about Omega 3 and how each fatty acid has different effects on the body.

Omega 3 is interesting in that one of the three ALA is actually not used by the body until it is converted to the other two.  Some foods contain ALA, some contain EPA, and others contain DHA or a combination of them.  So as always recommended it is good to eat a variety of foods.  Eating a variety of foods containing Omega 3 will help ensure you get what you need.  Some of the food Omega 3 can be found in is cold water fish, flax seed, walnuts, and what some are calling “Omega 3 eggs”.  At present there is not a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Omega 3, but the consensus is that Americans should be eating more.

According to a the World’s Healthiest Foods website:  “the National Institutes of Health recommended that people consume at least 2% of their total daily calories as omega-3 fats.”

You might have heard the claim that Canola Oil is a good source of Omega 3, but then you might have also heard the processing the rapeseed plant goes through and the way the oil is made actually burns off the Omega 3 and becomes transfat.  This is one of those things you might want to research and decide for yourself.  It is your health.

Other foods containing Omega 3: beans, olive oil, hemp seeds, kale, collard greens, spinach, soybeans, cloves, oregano, green beans — yay, not just fish!  I am not a fan of fish although, the Omega 3 in fish is hard to beat, so I probably should start eating it.

Like so many nutrients being discovered as being necessary almost everyday it seems as if the best way to get what the body needs is to eat a variety of foods.  The less we eat of over-processes and packaged foods the better.  Finding a balance is also important.  It just really sounds as if, from all the information I have read, Americans consume less Omega 3 than we should, so — to me — it sounds good to add more to my diet.  What about you?  Are there ways you can add more healthy foods that contain Omega 3 into your diet?

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Celery

Posted by terrepruitt on May 14, 2011

After my Los Gatos Nia Class yesterday I went to the store.  I wanted to get some food to take to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life today.  I grabbed a bunch of celery for a snack.  I think people like celery.  I don’t.  But I didn’t realize how much I didn’t like it until I started cutting it and washing it.  I do not like celery.  As I was dealing with it I kept thinking, “What a useless vegetable.”  Well, I don’t really think that is true.  I mean it has to be good for something besides as a filler in casseroles, salads, and soups.  So . . . . to the cloud.  Ok not really because I don’t even know what that is, but I definitely decided to look it up.  Since I am going to be gone all day today at the walk, I thought I would jot down my celery education as my Saturday blog post.  Yay!

As I think back on so many things (soups, salads, and casseroles) that I didn’t like as a child I realize it is because they had celery in them.  I realize when I cook these things myself, I love them because I don’t put celery in them.  But, as I truly believed, celery is not useless.  The stalk, root, leaves, and seeds can all be used.

Celery (the stalk) is a great source of vitamin K and vitamin C.  A cup can provide you with 2.04 grams fiber.  Do people normally eat a cup of celery when they eat celery?

Celery contains nutrients that have been linked with lowering blood pressure, reducing high cholesterol, and helpful in preventing cancer.  The phthalides are the compounds that help with lowering blood pressure.  The vitamin C helps with the immune system.  I’ve posted before about how chronic inflammation is associated with many diseases, vitamin C help reduce inflammation by helping contain free radicals, so does the coumarins also found in celery.

According to Wiki celery is like peanuts in that people who are allergic to it can have a very bad reaction as people with peanuts do.  As with peanuts people who are allergic to celery can get a reaction from something that has been used to process it.  Stalks, seeds, and roots all have varying degrees of potency.

As I was cutting the celery, just the smell was bothering me.  And it is like an onion, not as strong, but once it gets your hands you can’t wash it off.  I probably washed my hands at least 10 times in the course of my preparation of snacks for the walk and it never came off.  As I was cutting it I kept thinking, “Peppery.”  Not sure why.  Since I was getting so disgusted while dealing with it, I thought, “Is it REALLY that bad?”  So I cut a small piece off to taste it.  I put it in my mouth and bit down.  Yup, it IS that bad.  I spit it out.  I just do not like celery.

I did have celery soup a couple of times and I did like that so I don’t know what that means.  Except that I WILL be trying my hand at making the soup but I will not be adding celery to anything I make.  Any fans out there?  Do you eat it raw?  Do you disguise the taste by filling it with cream cheese?  Or peanut butter?  Do you cook with it?

Thanks, as always, for letting me share.  And thanks, in advance, for sharing back.  🙂

Posted in Food, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Inflammation

Posted by terrepruitt on October 30, 2010

Inflammation is a good thing . . . . normally, when it is acute.  When it happens in response to an injury, or bacteria, or when it is fighting an infection.  When it does its job and helps the body heal it is amazing.  But chronic inflammation is not a good thing.  When the immune system is a little off and there is constant inflammation in the body it is not good.  The body should not be in this state of “fight” for prolong periods.  It should fight the issue and then go back to a normal state, but it does not always do this. 

Constant or chronic inflammation is the cause of conditions such as arthritis, and it is being linked to many illnesses/diseases including; autoimmune diseases, obesity, hay fever, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, wrinkling skin, and even depression . . . to name a few.  It is as if our immune system is working overtime and not allowing our body or body’s system to be in balance. 

Some things thought to contribute to inflammation:  our diet, our habits, and our environment.  Trans fat, saturated fats, omega 6 fat, refined sugar, and simple carbohydrates are things contained in our diets and could be pushing our immune systems into an unhealthy state of being.  Even eating more protein, carbohydrates, and fat than we need is suggested to contribute to inflammation.  Lack of exercise is a contributing factor, along with smoking, and stress.  The toxins in our homes and work places, in all of our lives could be additional factors.  When you add all of that up we are literally assaulted daily.  It is no wonder our bodies can’t fight off all of the diseases and the diseases are on the rise.  It is no wonder that more and more people are being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases–our bodies are fighting themselves.

To me, its something to think about.

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