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Your April Issue of Natural Alternatives Newsletter
April 01, 2024

Natural Holistic and Alternatives for Your Total Health

April 2024

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“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” ~Hippocrates







By GreenMedInfo Research Group
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC

Almonds have long been hailed as a healthy food packed with nutrients like vitamin E, but emerging research now shows they may also help keep skin looking young. Two recent clinical trials found that eating almonds daily led to significant reductions in facial wrinkles and age spots in postmenopausal women over 16-24 weeks. 

The first pilot study, published in 2019, had participants consume around 58 grams or 2 ounces of almonds per day, supplying 20% of their daily calorie needs. After just 16 weeks, photographic analysis showed 9% shallower wrinkles in the almond group compared to controls eating calorie-matched snacks.

The second larger trial, published in 2021, used a similar protocol with about 59 grams or 2.1 ounces of almonds per day. This time, even greater wrinkle improvements of 15-16% were seen at 16 and 24 week follow-ups in the almond group.4 Additionally, a 20% decrease in facial hyperpigmentation occurred.

Unlike controls, almond eaters maintained stable skin sebum production.6 Given excessive sebum drives acne and seborrheic conditions, this shows almonds may normalize oiliness for clear, youthful skin. 


The 15-16% wrinkle reductions seen with daily almond consumption exceed effects typically gained from over-the-counter wrinkle creams. They approach efficacies of some cosmetic procedures like laser skin resurfacing, which run risks of prolonged healing and side effects.8 Given their safety and ease of use, almonds could obviate more invasive anti-aging options.9 If sustained wrinkle improvements persisted for years with ongoing intake, almonds may profoundly impact age-related skin changes.

Rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, the alpha-tocopherol in almonds likely protects cell membranes against wrinkle-causing free radical damage from sunlight and other aging factors. Almond fat and protein contents could also contribute by nourishing skin.

Requiring no pills or topicals, just tasty daily almonds, this research supports incorporating them into diets for healthier, more vibrant skin at any age. The versatile nut makes an easy, portable snack to beautify from the inside out.




By Frans Stien,

The system of Reiki is a set group of Japanese practices that when brought together create a system that supports spiritual growth and healing. These practices work with energy - spiritual energy. As the Japanese name for spiritual energy is Reiki - you can see where the system’s name originated from.

But what energetic system are the principles of a Reiki practice based on? As Reiki is a Japanese practice that was created in the early 1900s we are aware that (as with many martial arts and Ki practices that were formalized in Japan at the same time – karate, judo, aikido) the hara or tanden were considered to be the center of the body’s energetic powerhouse.

The word hara literally means stomach, abdomen or belly in Japanese. Energy is stored in this point of the body from where it expands throughout the whole body.

Usui Mikao's teachings focus on building the energy in the hara. From Hawayo Takata's diary notes it can be seen that she too was taught to practice in this manner. Once the system of Reiki became more westernized in the 1980s the chakra system (an energetic system from India that has been incorporated into the New Age movement) was introduced and replaced this system - the chakra system is now commonly used in the West

In traditional Japanese teachings and exercises today the hara system is still the main focus for building a person's energy. There are, in fact, two other energy centers in the body according to the Japanese energetic system. One is the head and the other is the heart. In The Japanese Art of Reiki we have called these the Three Diamonds. By linking all three areas the practitioner creates unity and balance. Most important, however, is to first develop the lower hara, as this is the body's central axis point.

Re-establishing this connection with the Original Energy through the hara will ensure good health and recovery from illness. There is always access to a reliable source of strength whenever needed.

An inner attitude results from first focusing on the hara. From this central point there is an ability to cope with everyday tasks and sudden emergencies with an ease of understanding. This allows appropriate action to be taken in a balanced and unprejudiced manner.

1. Earth Energy (Hara - approximately 3 inches (8cms) below the naval)

In this center, Original Energy is stored. This is the energy you are born with, the energy that is the essence of your life and gives you your life’s purpose. The Original Energy is not only the energy you receive from your parents when you are conceived but most importantly it is the energetic connection between you and the universal life force. When the singular term hara is mentioned it is the lower hara that is being discussed. This is the symbolic energetic center for Earth Ki.

2. Heavenly Energy

This is the energy connected with your spirit. When you are connected with this center you may see colors or you might have psychic ability. It is important for you not to become unbalanced and keep yourself centered. If you can use this energy in a balanced way, you can see beyond the immediate. This is the symbolic energetic center for Heaven Ki.

3. Heart Energy

The energy in this center is connected with emotions. It is 'human' energy connected with human experience. Through this center you learn your life's process. From childhood through to adulthood and back to being a child. When you are a child you are without experience and as you grow older you become a child with experience. This is the symbolic energetic center for Heart Ki.

The three diamonds of Earth Ki, Heaven Ki and Heart Ki are at the foundation of the system of Reiki. They are also at the crux of many facets of Japanese culture, religion and philosophy.

A diamond is often used as an analogy of the self in Buddhism. Each and every day a practitioner polishes the diamond by performing his or her practice. This is a constant task for humans who, in this earthly realm, attract dirt: becoming muddy and tarnished. A diamond is so sharp that it can cut through almost anything humanity attaches itself to, bringing back the true essence of life as seen in the perfection of a sparkling diamond.

Learn more about Reiki

"The Secret of Health for Both Mind and Body is Not to Mourn For the Past, Worry About the Future, or Anticipate Troubles, But to Live in the Present Moment Wisely and Earnestly."  ~Gautam Buddha


By Jason Washob, mbg Founder and Co-CEO

"You can change your gut microbiome within about a week just by altering your diet," says award-winning microbiome expert, author of Food for Life: The New Science of Eating Well, and co-founder of ZOE, Tim Spector, M.D., There are trillions of bacteria residing in your gut, which are constantly evolving based on your inputs. Feed them what they crave, and the community will thrive—quickly. 

It raises the question: What do your gut microbes need, exactly, in order to flourish? Below, Spector shares his top tips (plus what to avoid for optimal gut health): 

1. 30 Different Plants Per Week 

First, Spector recommends eating a greater variety of plants—at least 30 different plants per week, to be specific. The recommendation comes from a study by The American Gut Project, which found that participants who consumed more than 30 varieties of plants per week had the healthiest gut microbiomes. 

If you have a diverse amount of plants in your diet, that leads to microbial diversity in your gut—and different kinds of gut microbes produce unique beneficial chemicals for your body. "There are over 50,000 identified chemicals in food, and each of those can be a target for a microbe that only lives off that particular chemical," Spector explains. "That's why the greater the range of chemicals you eat, the more you make sure you've got every possible species of good microbes inside you."

Now, eating 30 plants per week may sound like an insurmountable challenge, but try to think outside the box. "That includes not only fruits and vegetables but nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, so it's actually not as hard as you think to get the 30 in," says Spector. (Psst: Coffee is technically a plant too!) 

"Adding just a mixed bag of nuts and seeds to your breakfast cereal or yogurt can give you 10 plants," he adds. "Once you start thinking about plants differently and adding herbs and spices to your meals, it's really not that hard."

2. Especially Colorful Plants

It sounds similar to tip No. 1, but in addition to eating more plants, Spector says to eat a variety of colors too. 

"Plants that are full of color—bright reds, purples, blues, yellows—all have different defense chemicals in them, phytonutrients that we call polyphenols," he shares. "These defense chemicals are useful in plants to keep them alive and are like rocket fuel for our gut microbes." They have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective activities that support everything from longevity to cardiovascular and cognitive function.

You may hear about certain superstar polyphenols—like resveratrol, lycopene, beta-carotene, and so on—but Spector says eating a variety of plant colors will inherently check all those boxes. "It's [about] embracing the diversity, all the colors, trying to eat new things every week, and really getting a greater breadth of food rather than limiting it to one or two superfoods," he notes.

  3. Fermented Foods  

Like many other gut experts, Spector is a fan of fermented foods. "Have fermented foods, several portions, every day," he says. "And go for a variety of fermented foods because then you get the diversity of microbes in them." 

He specifically shouts out the "four K's," kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and 'kraut, as well as miso and yogurt. "Most yogurts are generally healthy, except the ones that are highly processed, have artificial sweeteners, all the fat removed, or fake bits of fruit in them," he explains. He recommends plain, full-fat yogurt if you do choose to go the dairy route. 

4. To Avoid: Ultra-Processed Foods

We'll end on what to avoid: ultra-processed food. "These are the hyper-palatable foods that make us overeat, that are highly refined and don't fill us up," explains Spector. They can also wreak havoc on your gut microbes, he says. Research  even shows that consuming ultra-processed foods is associated with gut microbes linked to inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases. 

To be clear, Spector isn't talking about minimally processed items. It's unrealistic to completely avoid any foods that have been altered in some way—olive oil and honey, for example, are both technically processed. Some packaged options can be part of a healthy diet, but it's the ultra-processed foods laden with artificial colors, flavors, and unhealthy fats that can pose a problem, especially if you consume them more than whole or minimally processed foods. 

The Takeaway 

"The food choices you make every day are the most important things you can do for your health," Spector adds. These four above are just a few you can choose for the sake of your gut microbiome, and it doesn't take much time to reap the benefits. Follow Spector's recs (more of them in the full episode) for at least a week, and you may start to see some gut health improvements. 


Thank you for reading.


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