Choosing the best samples for a DNA test

DNA testing can be carried out with many different samples. Even the smallest traces of genetic material can provide enough DNA to extract a genetic profile of the person to which the sample belonged.

Which sample do I choose?

dna-sample

In the vast majority of cases, the choice of samples you can actually use will be limited to one or perhaps two. Often people think that DNA can be extracted from any source but the truth is that often this is unlikely or if possible, would be far too costly for a normal direct-to-consumer DNA test. Forensic films often show experts successfully extracting DNA from the lip mark of a glass or from a single cigarette end and whilst this is possible, it requires much more thorough and advanced forensic DNA testing laboratory.

So which sample do you chose? If everyone involved in the test is actually aware of the test and willing to be tested the answer is simple: all test participants can collect their own samples of genetic material by using oral swabs. All one needs to do is rub the swab inside the mouth, under the tongue and inner cheek for about ten seconds and then allow it to dry. This sample is ideal because it always offer a high probability of successful DNA extraction.

If collecting samples with orals swabs is not possible you will need to discuss other samples which might be viable for a DNA test; perhaps nail clippings, used Kleenexes or plucked hairs. The probability of successful DNA extraction will vary depending on the type of sample you use. A used Kleenex offers a 95% success rate whilst a cigarette end offers a 65% success rate. Whilst DNA can also be extracted from a licked envelope the chances of a successful extraction of a DNA profile is of only 25% with this sample.

How do I collect and store the sample?

Different samples might require a different method of sample collection and storage. Oral swabs are the easiest because they can just be placed in a paper envelope and sent for testing. The vast majority of DNA samples should be placed in a paper envelope. Nails clippings or hairs are ideally collected with a pair of tweezers. The most problematic sample to collect, store and post is blood. Medical blood draws are a bit of a hassle to collect; postage of such as sample is also problematic- not only does it need to be packaged in such a way that the sample collection tube does not leak or break, but the sample itself will need special labels and an official certificate declaring that it is free of pathogens.

Postage and storage is not such an issue with other samples – you can in fact test a DNA sample that is several weeks old so as long as it has not been exposed to extreme temperature or chemical solutions that may have altered the DNA.

10 tips that will make everybody sleep better

sleep sheepIt’s estimated that an average 80 year old man sleeps 25 years, just under one third of his life. There is no satisfying answer to why the human organism needs to disconnect from reality during sleep, but one thing’s for sure: it’s one of the most important stages of our lives, often neglected, and responsable directly for your quality of life. Many people still don’t understand and appreciate the benefits of sleeping and ignore the hazards of losing sleep. If you want to find out more about it, read this. Here are some tips that if respected, will make you sleep better, rejuvenate and feel better every single day.

Do the same sleep ritual every time.

There is still much left to understand about the human brain, but scientists pointed out that it prefers working after the same general scheme. Any significant change in the scenario turns into a minor brain alarm that sends out stress signals throughout the body, possibly leading to insomnia. Do the same thing on weekends too.

Go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time

Of course, the odds are life will put out obstacles in your way and it won’t allow you to stick to your program on some days. The point is not to lose your balance and keep going with your waking hour. Also, when you go to bed, don’t try to force yourself to sleep.

Make the right conditions in the bedroom.

Each of us have our own preferences when it comes to our room. If your a very tidy person having a cluttered room may be keeping you from going to sleep, despite the fact that you may not even realize this. But for most people, having your room clean is not a must. The colour of your walls does have a big impact on you. While having a bright orange will help your creativity, it won’t be so good when trying to sleep, so you really should use some soothing colours such as a light blue or sage green. Your bedroom should be anything but hot, and it should also be quiet and dark. Your bed and pillow should be very comfortable and large enough for you. Also, according to some recent studies, if you do errands on the bed (such as writing or studying), your brain associates it with something else than rest, and you may have problems going to sleep. The room has to be ventilated properly.

Don’t ignore the morning routine.

I’ve written a whole lot about this topic here, you really should check it out.

Don’t eat or drink large amounts before sleeping.

If you have a light dinner, it can be up to 2-3 hours before going to bed. However, if you eat more at dinner (which is not a good thing in itself) it should be 4 hours earlier. You should also be careful what you eat, don’t make it something that will upset your stomach.

Give up unhealthy habits.

Drinking coffee or soda or alcoholic beverages. The drinks are all stimulants (even alcohol) and they require quite a while to get out of your system; and about smoking… I’m not even gonna go into that. Quit smoking!! It’s really not that hard.

Exercise.

Exercising does wonders for you in a whole number of ways, and let’s be honest, it’s not that hard to do. Whether you go to your local gym, go out for a jog or a swim, a few hours a week is a small price to pay when it comes down to your health. It also makes your sleep more restful but you have to be careful not to exercise for three hours (some say six hours) before going to bed, otherwise it could mess with your body.

Short naps are good, long ones are not.

We did a more detailed post about napping here, so check out the details there, but keep in mind that if you sleep a lot during the day, you’ll find it harder and harder to sleep early at night.

Use pills only as a last resort.

Unfortunately, it’s getting easier and easier to get some sleeping pills, and many people abuse that. If you find it hard to sleep, you first need to think positive, and don’t get the ‘I have insomnia’ idea in your head, because it will be hard to take out from there. If you can’t sleep for more than half an hour, you become pretty stressed about not being able to sleep so it’s better if you do something relaxing, read or listen to some calm music. Think positive thoughts; you’ve worked for a whole day and still have energy and can’t go to sleep, I’ll just compensate tomorrow and stick to a schedule.

Let go of your stress and worries.

I have my own ritual: almost everytime I go to sleep, I ponder of the day that has passed, with the good and the bad, thinking what I could have done differently, understand how I can do better, but I don’t let it affect me. After I do that, it’s much easier to go to sleep, having found peace with myself and letting go of all the stress. Find your inner balance and let go of your thoughts after that.

I can’t stress the issue of proper sleep enough, but hopefully by now, you’re beginning to understand just what a big mistake neglecting it is and the major consequences it can have. Just following these small steps can have a huge benefic impact on you, and they require a minimum of effort, if any at all.

Photo credits: 1,2, 3, 4

8 ways to show that you love yourself

We all want to be happy and we all are ready to do just about anything to reach this goal. We study, we work, we travel, we try to make a change. However, most of us forget the most important thing: it’s not all about having a lot of money or going to the most luxurious resorts, it’s about loving yourself. So, when was the last time you thought about that?

First of all, take care of your body. Diseases can bring quite a lot of suffering no to mention the psychological impact they have on you! Take care of yourself and of your aspect too; when you look good, you feel good!

Eat healthily! Diets are recommended when you have a health problem; if you don’t have one, don’t push your body to the limits just to look like one of the supermodels you’ve seen on TV. You don’t have to fit the patterns of a kind of beauty you almost never see on the street! Learn to appreciate who you are as it’s impossible not to have qualities worth to appreciate. Of course, try not to choose the opposite and eat all the fast food you can get! Eat more vegetable, less sweets and burgers and try to avoid alcohol. Anyway, allow yourself small treats from time to time. Learn to create a balance.

Exercise! Physical activity should not be as scary as it seems to most people. In fact it can prove to be one of the most pleasant activities. You can choose to go to a gym to work out or, if your schedule does not allow it, you can find some time in the weekends to go for a run in the park while listening to your favourite music, take a long walk or play some basketball with your friends. Team sports allow you to socialize, have a lot of fun and even meet some new people. So when there are so many advantages it would be a shame to let it slip!

Take care of your health! Nowadays, our health is jeopardized by many factors so seeing a GP from time to time becomes a must. Have your heart, lungs and blood pressure checked, ask for some advice, learn about what you can do to improve your lifestyle. You don’t have to be afraid about a deadly disease being discovered every time you enter a hospital, it’s just a safety measure.

The way you behave can also tell a lot of things about how much you care about yourself. So make a few changes to change your general state of mind and to feel good everyday!

Have a good opinion about yourself You should never feel that the others are so much better than you at practically everything you try to do. Everyone has his or her own weak points, but these are the ones to define us. So don’t be afraid to show who you are even if it doesn’t work perfectly every time. Learn something from every mistake and do not give up. And the most important thing, never allow anyone to look down on you. Money, a special social status or a good job do not make you a better person! The world we live in makes us be more and more competitive and forces people to break any boundary. However, this should not make you feel inferior to anyone or unable to succeed. Give yourself another chance!

Find more time for your hobbies! A hobby is something you practically lose yourself into and defines your personality. No matter what it is, from collecting stamps to bungee-jumping, you should try and find more time for your hobby. If you feel like you don’t have something to give you so much satisfaction maybe it’s time to find that thing that can change your day from a boring one to the best day ever! How about dancing? It can prove to be a great substitute for working out and it’s fun to do. Moreover, everyone will be impressed at a party by your moves. Have you read a good book recently? Maybe it’s high time you should rediscover your passion for reading!

Don’t push yourself too far! Many sleepless nights at work, a whole “mountain” of reports on your desk, you haven’t gone out for quite some time…does that describe you? Think about your real purpose for doing all these. Does that make you happy or you just feel that you look like a zombie every morning? Think about your priorities and take a break if you need one and remember that life is not just about work.

Spend some time alone! No one asks you to suddenly become antisocial, it’s just a necessity even for the most sociable people. Life tends to become faster and faster and when so many things happen in just one day you definitely need some time to think them over. Find even a few minutes everyday to enjoy the silence of your home and to find strategies for the future or just to remember some good moments. This will help you be more relaxed and to find solutions faster.

And in the end, allow yourself something you’ve wanted for a long time. Whether it is your birthday, Christmas or any special occasion, buy something you’ve wanted for a long time and which makes you really happy even if it doesn’t have too much of a practical value. Of course, you should not put a mortgage on your apartment to buy a 50000 $ watch, just allow yourself something to bring you joy!

In the end it’s not so hard to have a better life and to rediscover yourself. Change your habits, take care of your body and your spirit too and don’t forget to smile when you look in the mirror!

Allow me!-giving first aid

“Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.”

~The  Beatles~

News broadcasts are filled with information about people who collapse on the street and nobody helps them, which puts their life in jeopardy. It’s easy to blame everything on others’ indifference, but in reality many don’t actually know how to handle a difficult situation. This is why first aid rules should be common knowledge as they may easily save one’s life or improve that person’s condition. Most of them are quite logical, so they’re easy to keep in mind also replacing some wrong information about giving first aid.
Burns- The most important step in helping someone who was affected by fire, hot fluids or an explosion is to remove the source which caused the wound or in other cases, the wounded. Burns are known to cause excruciating pain and can easily lead to complications, so this is why it’s important to talk to the victim, telling him or her about what you are going to do next in order to reach that person’s cooperation. Once the wounded is in a safe spot, try to remove any clothing that’s not stuck to skin including watches, jewelry and any other accessories that might complicate the situation. Then, if possible, try to pour cold water ( 8-23 degrees C, 45-75 degrees F) on the affected area until the pain does not come back again. Try not to let the water affect any other areas and don’t continue the process until the person you try to help is cold as this may worsen his or her situation dramatically. This measure is effective in the first 15-20 minutes, so it’s important to know when the accident occurred. No matter what you do, don’t touch the blisters as this can easily lead to an infection. Do not put potatoes, butter, eggs or salt on the burn! When calling the ambulance provide information about what caused the wound, when the accident happened, the measures you have already taken and about how much the victim was affected. Specialized help will be absolutely necessary in these cases. Continue reading

Learn the vitamin ABC!

Give me the food, I said give me the food
Give me no fruit if you love me
Give me the food, I said give me the food
Give me no fruit if you love me
~Miss Platnum~

Everyone knows a little something about vitamins. Vitamin A is good for your eyes and can be found in carrots. Vitamin C is good when you have a cold and you can get plenty of it from lemons and oranges, right? Or is there more about them? Then, there are other vitamins which are not as well-known as the “stars”, but whose utility might bring anyone many benefits and a great disposition. So why not know them better? There’s nothing to lose!
Vitamin A (retinol) This vitamin is good for your sight as it helps your eyes adapt to different kinds of light. However, it also stimulates growth, skeleton’s development, helps your body, especially the skin fight infections and thanks to this vitamin the liver functions better. It also improves your sleep. Although vitamin A can be found in carrots, peaches, flour, dried plumes, spinach and tomatoes in another form which is called carotene, most of the retinol comes from products of animal origin.
Anyone lacking this vitamin should worry, as this can lead to blindness, growth problems, infections, lung diseases, headaches, insomnia and anxiety. You should get about 0,6-0,7 mg everyday and no more than 1,5 mg. Continue reading

The DO’s and DON’Ts of summer alimentation

First of all, this goes out mostly to people who live in places with 4 seasons, but also to those who live in very a warm climate. The Russian summer, for example, is very different from the Australian summer. These may seem as no brainers (I have to admit, most of them seem so to me), but I decided to write this after I noticed that really many people don’t really know what’s good for them when “things get hot”. The fast food culture has spread its long dark wings and whether we want to admit a lot, not that many of us eat healthy.

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Summer is the favorite season of most; whether this love is caused by great weather, vacation or mini skirts, one thing’s for sure: nobody wants to have a summer spoiled. A lousy summer alimentation is a top candidate at ruining your summer and also your health. Here are just a few things you should look for and look out in this wonderful season.

The DOs

Natural liquids

The first thing which summer requires from you is drinking more liquids than you would do in the rest of the year. This is caused by the heat which causes dehydration. Having enough fluids means you can work at full capacity and find pleasure in almost everything you do. In general, you should drink at least 2-3 l of liquids, but not everything works so you should really be careful what you drink. Here’s where this liquid could come from:

  • Natural juices;
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    summer is the natural time for many fruits (cherries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, oranges, bananas, etc), and this juice not only is great for hydration, but it’s also very healthy, containing numerous vitamins your body needs to feel good. It’s the healthiest thing you can drink and the biggest step you can make towards a better summer and a better health.
  • Fruits;

    if you can’t or won’t make juices, there’s still something you can do, just as good: eat fruits. They also contain the same liquids and vitamins and just as the juices are, they’re really tasty. What you should do is resist the temptation of eating them really cold. It may seem good, but what you’re really doing is applying big termic variations to your body, which is not helping you at all.
  • Tea;
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    it’s a miracle maker since the dawn of manking. Every civilisation used it, and for good reason. Mint and green tea could be helpful as they have a soothing action, but any tea is good. Also, especially in extreme heat, people used to drink warm black tea, because it prevented sweating, thus the body remained hydrated for a longer period of time.
  • Water; tap water is great when you don’t have any of the above, but it’s recommended that you have a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Just be careful where you put it (especially in the car) as it could get really hot.
  • Light food

    Now more than ever is the right time to think about what you eat; you have quite a lot of alternatives and it’s time to give up the barbeques and stakes, and instead go for salads and other lighter food, especially because your appetite is mostly lower in the summer. Here’s what you could eat:

  • Vegetable salads;
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    if you’re thinking they’re not tasty, now more than ever is the time to change your mind. Tomatoes, salad, cucumbers, potatoes, everything is at its best now; and you don’t have to use just veggies, actually it’s great to add something else. Some olive oil (no pun intented), pepper, cheese (any kind), they all do wonders both for the taste and the nutritional qualities.
  • Cakes;
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    especially fruit cakes are a must in this time of the year. We all want something sweet once in a while, and this is the best way to suit our needs. Also, learning how to do this will almost definitely be a skill that will help you further along
  • The DONT’s

    Now that we took a look at the good things, let’s browse the “enemies”, which can really ruin what could be a fantastic summer, and could have a big impact on your health and mood too.

  • Alcohol; perhaps the biggest enemy of summer, alcohol can have a series of detrimental effects on you; and since summer is all about partying, alcohol is often in the center of attention, and people tend to forget the dark side of the coin. First of all, it was made by a process of boiling (or something similar), which makes it penetrant and makes it “dry out” your inside, without you even feeling it. Also, we tend to be less resistant to its effects in the summer, especially because dehydration.
  • Cigarettes; quitting smoking is not really as hard as you’d imagine. Every moment is a good time to start quitting (because it’s recommended that the quitting process is not done at once, but in steps), but summer could give you the mental boost your need. Ever felt that you just can’t get enough air because of all the heat?? Cigarettes amplify all that, because one of their first effects is to reduce lung efficiency and your ability to make effort and resist in harsh conditions.
  • Stakes and other “heavy” foods (fast food included); do I really need to say anything else here ?? Eating pork, sausages, stakes, and any other such food is virtually a mood killer, making you feel tired and sweaty. They’re really bad for your health too, as I’m sure you already know.


  • Credits for this great pic

    So after we draw the line, it’s obvious that what we’re supposed to be eating and what we are eating are definitely not the same thing; as a matter a fact in most cases they’re not even in the same league. What you need to understand is that you have to keep a balance, meaning that even if you can’t eat all healthy all the time you really should at least avoid succumbing to unhealthy foods, as it the one you are doing harm to is yourself. So without further ado, go and have the best summer you can possibly have, you’ve probably earned it.

    The blue pill or the red pill? – how to handle hospital life

    Now will you ever rest your head?
    You end up feeling mostly dead,
    Pretending you’re the last one,
    Hiding with your eyes shut tightly,
    all the way to the hospital.
    ~The used~

    I’ve recently found myself in the very unpleasant situation of spending quite some time in a hospital bed. As most of you must know, this can prove to be one of the must difficult moments in your life as there are a lot of things that can literally drive you insane. So this is why after getting here you must make a choice; we’re going to picture it metaphorically. Let’s say you can do 1 in 2 things: either take the blue pill, relax (as much as possible) and try to handle things as well as you can, being positive about it or take the red pill and just make everyone’s life, including yours, harder. So learn to take the blue pill!

    1. Optimism

  • The red pill- having a serious condition can prove to be challenging and difficult not to mention extremely unpleasant. It’s very easy to become nervous and to get angry from virtually everything or even worse, to become depressed. So you can end up spending your time reproaching things to everyone including yourself or just counting the minutes until you can finally go home. Falling into a total apathy or becoming a shrew will help nobody so try not to fall into this trap no matter how easy it is.
  • The blue pill- Remember that you are there to receive treatment and to recover so in the end it’s for your own sake. Keep in touch with friends and family and remember that they may feel even worse than you by knowing your situation. Keep them positive too by smiling, being active and telling funny stories about all the odd things you came across in the hospital: it does miracles! Always keep in mind the fact that soon you will be healthy again and try to fill your time so that you will not find yourself looking at your watch continuously. Keep your mind positive by reading, talking to the people around you or having short walks if possible.
  • 2. Interacting with people

  • The red pill- suddenly finding yourself in the same room with other people and losing much of your intimacy can prove to be rather tricky especially as many can prove to have very unpleasant habits and reactions. You can end up easily having fights over nothing or you can just as well become isolated from them. Your neighbor eats all night long, some other one has a poor hygiene, one of the patients has noisy children who come visit way too often…As your patience is put to the test you will do nothing but to increase the gravity of your situation as everything will seem unbearable to you. You can keep the others awake so that you can read as a revenge, but that will do no good for anyone.
  • The blue pill– none of us is perfect and you may just as well annoy the others with your behavior. So learn to accept them and that might easily make the situation better. Usually people are very talkative in the hospitals mostly because they tend to be bored. Starting a conversation can be very easy. Talk about your family, work, whatever makes you feel good talking about. Sharing is also something that makes hospital life pleasant, however don’t stare at your neighbor’s cookies and don’t try to convince a patient to eat something if he or she is on a diet- your good intentions might not turn out very well in this case. Respect the others and their condition and you will receive the same treatment. Giving a hand can also be great for your state of mind!
  • 3. The doctors and the nurses

  • The red pill- as you don’t seem to recover as fast as you would want to, you start making suggestions and giving all kinds of indications. Complaining all the time and asking for special attention won’t work as you are not the only patient in the hospital. By making them stressed you will only make more problems and even if they are professionals they can easily become a little subjective when it comes to you. They are humans after all! Asking questions is very good but exaggerating and putting their knowledge to the test won’t work. Also if you are not satisfied it’s very easy to start gossiping and talking behind the doctors’ back. But words can travel fast…
  • The blue pill- be polite, interested in your treatment and always ready to give a hand. A “Thank you!” from time to time is something that should become a personal rule to follow. Don’t lie about your condition and follow the rules, there is a point for them! Whenever something is not clear ask- not everyone has thorough medical knowledge and it’s not a shame to want to know more.
  • Either way, you should relax, as relaxing helps the body fight the disease and try to not make a tragedy out of it, as it helps you more than everyone else; when you are finally back home remember to take the blue pill from time to time- a good state of mind, politeness and better social skills can do nothing but to help you!

    Insomnia? just a bad dream!

    I’m wide awake in my kitchen
    It’s dark and I’m lonely
    Oh, if I could only get some sleep
    Creeky noises make my skin creep
    I need to get some sleep
    I can’t get no sleep….
    ~Faithless~

    Tired of staring at the ceiling for endless hours night after night? Frustrated because others can sleep without any problem? You’re definitely not alone as more and more people suffer from sleep disorders. Insomnia is caused most of the times by unhealthy habits which affect people’s ability to sleep. So this is why a few changes in your schedule should be enough to sleep again and to be more healthy and productive.
    – Create a sleep schedule in order to wake up at about the same hour everyday. Waking up one day at 6 AM and the second day at 12 AM will do nothing but to affect you in a negative way. If your work schedule is flexible choose an hour to wake up and this will also allow you to do other things around the house or just to spend more time doing something pleasant.
    Don’t stay in bed more than you used to before having insomnia! This way your body will not be tired and it will be more and more difficult to fall asleep. Choose an activity which is not too challenging instead such as walking, or going out with your friends. Continue reading

    Smoke free! 10 ways of giving up smoking for good!

    Nightmares made of hash dreams, the devil in my shoes
    What have I done wrong?
    Yeah nothing can go right with me it must be that i’ve been smoking too
    Long
    ~Placebo~

    What makes you start smoking again? Anger? Stress? Boredom? Tiredness? The first two are universally known to make people return to this bad habit. Each of these make you want to kill for a smoke, but cigarettes do nothing but to increase stress and to affect your health and even social relations. Learn to handle these situations and not to turn to cigarettes!
    1. Take care of yourself! By depriving your body of smoking, assure that it won’t suffer because of this. Try to have a balanced diet and choose healthy, nutritious food. Ask a specialist about what you should eat and about what you should avoid. Fresh fruits and vegetables should help you the most! Give good quality “fuel” to your body and drink more water to be hidrated. Avoid drinks which have too many chemicals as you need to purify your organism. Take vitamins as nicotine has emptied your body of nutrients, in order to recover faster. Still, ask your doctor for a recommendation!
    2. Give up caffeine! Drinking coffee in a time like this might make you nervous even angry so try reducing the quantity of coffee you drink every day. Even a simple coke can have unsuspected effects so you may even give up on it totally for a while. These two habits are usually associated so you may gain a lot more by forgetting about both of them!
    3. Take a warm bath! It’s an excellent way to relax and to get rid of stress. Add just a little salt and it will be perfect! Relax and think about something pleasant. A little time spent like this everyday may bring even more benefits to both your body and mind.
    4. Have a massage! If you can’t go to a specialist or you don’t have the time for that ask a friend or your partner to help you with that. You will also have time for a little chat and you will forget about how much you need a cigarette. Keep this habit in the future too as it’s pleasant and useful. Remember: even 15 minutes can do miracles! Continue reading

    Use colours to change your life!

    albastru.jpg

    “Yellow is the colour of my true love’s hair
    In the mornin’ when we rise,
    In the mornin’ when we rise,
    That’s the time, that’s the time,
    I love the best.
    Blue’s the colour of the sky
    In the mornin’ when we rise,
    In the mornin’ when we rise.
    in the mornin’ when we rise”
    ~Donovan~

    Even since the Middle Age sorcerers and healers would use colours to treat all kinds of
    deseases. Nowadays, modern doctors admit the fact that colours have a strong impact on
    human mind, and by this a strong impact on one’s health or mood.
    Some colours stimulate the body’s biological activity while others slow it down. By knowing what each colour really does it is simple to change your life in a simple and also pleasant way.
    So what colour should you choose?

    RED This colour is associated vith energy and power, thus having a stimulating effect. It
    can cure your sadness and it can fight the negative emotions. Red can stimulate the internalorgans and the muscle activity especially the feet. This colour increases blood pressure andactivates your breathing, giving a sensation of heat.
    So bring red to your life! Try to wear something red: a shirt, a scarf, anything. It is also useful to have a bright-coloured cup too. Continue reading