Does Diet Influence Seasonal Allergies?

AllergiesSeasonal allergies affect the health and quality of life of millions of Americans. In this article, learn the factors that are positively and negatively associated with seasonal allergies and how a healthful diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, can positively affect your body’s allergic reaction to seasonal allergens

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Interview with a Nutritarian: Carrie

I first got to know Carrie and follow her health and weight loss progress through Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center when she joined the first Holiday Challenge back in 2010. Then this past summer I met her in person at Dr. Fuhrman’s Health Getaway on Amelia Island. Carrie’s skin just glowed, and she was the epitome of vibrant health and fitness! One would never have known that just two years prior she was overweight and suffering from multiple ailments. Welcome to Disease Proof, Carrie.

 

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

I remember being a sick child, always getting colds which forced me to stay home from school a lot, and I wasn’t any healthier as an adolescent or young adult. By the time I turned 35, I was a mess: overweight and suffering from chronic migraines, allergies and anxiety, not to mention that I would get sick anytime I went on an airplane.

The last straw for me was when my migraines got so bad that I was taking prescription medication and over-the-counter painkillers every afternoon and living in fear of the pain. I could not keep up with my husband or friends nor could I make plans for my future because I was so debilitated by headaches. When I asked my doctor about my options, his only suggestion was for me to consider taking an anti-seizure medication that had been shown to help people with migraines; he never said anything about improving my diet. Fortunately, I discovered Dr. Fuhrman before I began taking them.

 

How did you find out about Dr. Fuhrman and Eat to Live?

I had already switched to a vegan diet prior to discovering Dr. Fuhrman because I was concerned about animal welfare. I listened to a podcast by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau who mentioned Dr. Fuhrman and his book. I was intrigued by his nutrition-based approach to health issues so I asked a friend to give me the book for my upcoming birthday. Little did I realize that reading Eat to Live would be the turning point in my life. I felt so inspired by the section on recovering from headaches that I joined the Holiday Challenge 2010 that was about to begin.

Those first 6 weeks were tough. Although I thought I was eating a healthy diet because I was vegan, I still had tons of changes to make. I cut out caffeine, quadrupled my intake of greens and other vegetables, ate more fresh fruits, got rid of salt and cut way back on added sugars. My husband joined me and ended up experiencing his own health transformation, losing 40 pounds and getting off of two blood pressure medications.

 

How do you feel now?

 I feel better now than I have in my entire life. All my unhealthy eating for all those years, and perhaps combined with environmental exposures, resulted in my being diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year; a slow growing cancer that I could’ve had for more than ten years. I don’t know if I would’ve pulled through so easily if it wasn’t for my new eating habits. I came though that experience with flying colors, and the cancer was small and completely removed. My doctors could not believe how quickly I recovered from surgery. My migraines, allergies and anxiety are distant memories, but I will never forget how far I'e come, and I am so grateful to Dr. Fuhrman for giving me my life back.

 

Do you have any success tips to share?

Preparation is an absolute. I know that the time I spend on the front end will benefit me on the back end, so I often wake up early to cook beans, prep vegetables or make a salad dressing. I also make sure to freeze leftovers so I don’t get caught without foods during those inevitable busy times when I don’t have time to cook.

My husband wanted me to share his tip for getting rid of the salt shaker and that is to use balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice on meals; it is amazing how the acidity brightens up the flavor of natural foods.

 

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?

My life now revolves around promoting a whole foods, high-nutrient eating style. I am almost finished with a master’s degree in public health nutrition and I write a blog called Carrie on Vegan where I discuss my journey.

While the numbers speak for themselves, they can’t begin to capture the extent of my personal transformation. I feel like I am living my life to the fullest because I have the energy and freedom from pain to do so.

 

 

Before

After

Weight

138

113

Total Cholesterol

224

165

LDL Cholesterol

102

79

Triglycerides

123

47

Migraines

 

gone

Allergies

 

gone

Anxiety

 

gone

 

Thank you for sharing your story with us Carrie, and all the best of continual health to you!

Interview with a Nutritarian: Carolyn

Carolyn was never obese, but she still suffered from middle-age weight gain, sluggishness, and declining health issues. It doesn’t matter whether one has fifteen or one hundred and fifty pounds of unhealthy weight to lose, everyone feels vibrant and well when a lifestyle of eating nutrient-rich foods has been embraced! Welcome to Disease Proof, Carolyn.

 

 

 

What was your life like before discovering nutritarian eating?

I was slender as a teenager, but as I moved into my 40s, I was always about 20 pounds overweight; size 12 at my worst. I felt sluggish, although I exercised often. I ate the Standard American Diet and excelled at making lasagna, bread, cakes, and cookies for my family and friends. I relied on caffeine too much and was drinking 5-6 cups of coffee a day. Plus I drank 2 cups of caffeinated tea with sweetened condensed milk; a habit that I picked up from five years of living in Sri Lanka. I had allergies, frequent headaches, and the beginning twinges of arthritis.

 

How did you find out about Eat to Live?

During Easter dinner in 2007, I asked my sister-in-law how she had so much success staying trim and fit. She told me about Dr. Fuhrman and how she’d make fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies using a Vitamix blender. I purchased Eat to Live and started following the 6-week eating plan, and continued my exercise program at the gym. Within 4 months my total cholesterol dropped from over 200 to 155, and I slimmed down to a size 8. I bought a Vitamix at the Indiana State Fair that summer and started using it every day for smoothies/blended salads, soups, and frozen desserts.

I had difficulty at first giving up coffee, but weaned myself off over time and gave up meat. I stuck to the plan, and by avoiding all sugar over the holiday season in 2009, I dropped to 128 pounds. (I'm 5'4".) After that success, stress increased at work and my weight crept back up to 135 pounds. I was generally eating nutritarian foods, but eating too much. 

I attended Dr. Fuhrman's Health Getaway in San Diego in 2010, and after listening to the lectures, I decided to give up dairy products; especially cheese so that my weight and cholesterol would return to lower levels. However, I wasn’t able to put this resolution into effect until 2011, because it was an extremely stressful time at work. I lost my job in September 2010 due to restructuring and outsourcing, but was lucky to find a new job within a few months. I moved to another state at the end of December 2010.

 

 

How do you feel now?

I no longer have allergies, headaches, or arthritis, and I have a lot of energy to do my daily activities. Plus, my husband and I get up at 5 o’clock every morning to work out at the gym before we go to work. 

I live in the “Midwest Land of Meat”, hot dish casseroles, and bar cookies; but I’ve become almost a vegan, avoid processed foods, caffeinated teas, and all milk products. The sweetened condensed milk that I used to love in black tea now hurts my stomach. In January 2011 my total cholesterol was 210, HDL was 101, and LDL 99. This past month my total cholesterol was 170, HDL 89, and LDL 73. When I started I weighed 145 lbs, and I now weigh 130 lbs and wear a size 6. 

 

What success tips do you have to share with others?

  • My typical daily diet is a blended salad for breakfast; a very large mixed salad with beans, nut based dressing, and fruit for lunch; and cooked greens or cruciferous vegetables, and a nutritarian entrée or bean patty for dinner. 

  • Experiment with cooking and eating different vegetables to acquire new tastes and preferences. Increase vegetable intake by putting a bean patty, stew, or casserole over cooked kale or other green vegetable instead of rice or potatoes. 

  • I prefer to use spices and flavors from other parts of the world (India, Thailand, Vietnam) to keep meals interesting. 

  • I try to locate vegan restaurants and/or health food stores in a city ahead of time on the internet if I have to travel for a conference or vacation. I recently went to San Diego for a week long conference, and I brought along a small bullet-type blender in my checked luggage so I could continue making blended salads for breakfast in our hotel room. I went to the grocery store and bought fruits, vegetables, and soy milk as well as a disposable, foam cooler to keep them fresh, and was reasonably successful.

  • Although my husband and I are isolated from other people who follow Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations, we have found friends who prefer to eat healthy. I maintain my resolution to keep the nutritarian lifestyle by listening to Dr. Fuhrman’s podcasts, follow the discussion threads on the Member Center, and read the blogs on Disease Proof.

     

 

Keep up the great job Carolyn!

Interview with a Nutritarian: Suz

before after image of Suz

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

I was fat, tired, had “brain fog” much of the time, and I felt ashamed of myself. When I first discovered Dr. Fuhrman and the nutritarian eating style, I was 50-years-old, 256 pounds, I had asthma and allergies, and I’d been struggling with my (increasing) weight for a number of years. 

 

How did you feel then?

I felt hopeless – utterly powerless to change my life and my health. I was always tired and was beginning to have some health issues (a shoulder problem and a sciatica issue), that the doctors affirmed were caused or aggravated by my obesity. 

Most of all, the excess weight had a huge impact on my self-image. I was acutely aware of being fat; it impacted my identity professionally and personally. It kept me from trying new things or going new places as I knew that I would be the fattest person wherever I went. I wondered how people could take me seriously professionally (I’m a minister in a church) when I was so obviously out-of-control with my own eating. Of course, the biggest issue was that I didn’t respect myself.

I also felt sad for my kids that their mom was so fat and inactive; and it certainly has contributed to challenges in my marriage, although my husband has never criticized my weight. 

 

Tell us about your Eat to Live journey.

In 2005, I had read John Robbins’ book Diet for a New America and committed to begin vegan for a whole spectrum of reasons he addresses so well: heart issues, cancer, world hunger, animal cruelty, environmental issues, and when I joined Earthsave I saw an ad for the first edition of Eat to Live. I ordered the book, found it compelling, lost 40 pounds, but didn’t learn enough about cooking or adapting to challenges to stick with it so I gained back the weight, plus 5 more pounds. Then last spring I realized that I needed to come to terms with my weight problem again. I wanted to feel as good as I had in 2005 while following Eat to Live so I recommitted on Mother’s Day 2010. I lost 20 pounds by Father’s Day and have continued to lose weight at a slower pace since then. Altogether I’ve lost 53 pounds since last Mother’s Day. 

I’ve had work conferences, family visits, and international travel to deal with during this past year, as well as the usual special occasions. I knew that one of the things I was going to have to learn to do is how to decide when to make an exception and eat off-plan, when to go hungry, and how to get back on-plan after an exception. When I committed to ETL again, I made up my mind that this would be for the rest of my life; but I knew that I couldn’t keep the commitment unless I figured out how to make exceptions (as a choice, not as a failure of will) and how to get back on track. 

Someone else may choose to eat birthday cake (I haven’t had to – I make the Healthy Chocolate Cake), or to make an exception for a dinner date with a spouse (my husband hates eating out), or to make foods for children (mine are grown).  I have to eat out at restaurants regularly; I go to non-nutritarian conferences; I get invited to church members’ homes and want to be gracious; and most recently, I traveled through Scotland and England with my son for two weeks and didn’t want to be obsessing about food. Making the choice to eat off-plan in those situations has cost me weight loss, and has sometimes reignited cravings that I had kicked; but this is a commitment that I’ve made for the rest of my life, and I now know that when I choose to eat off-plan there will be a price to pay. For me, knowing that I have the choice, if I want to, to eat a ‘forbidden’ food, helps me keep the commitment.*

I still have a long way to my goal weight so I’m re-evaluating what I’m eating, and trying to get as close to 100% as possible; plus, I’ve realized that I need to be more consistent with daily exercise. 

 

portrait of SuzHow do you feel now?

I feel great! I feel such a sense of energy and zest. I feel healthy, resilient, happy, and grateful. I’m no longer defensive or embarrassed, and I can meet people and try new things without fearing that I’ll be thought of as simply a fat person. 

Before I started Eat to Live, I was plagued with allergies (ragweed, cats and dogs) and took Zyrtec everyday.  Now, even during ragweed season, I rarely take it.  I used to also have awful gastric reflux/heartburn and carried a large bottle of Tums with me everywhere: work, car, home, etc.  Now, I'm not even sure if there are any in the house, because I don't need them.

 

 

Do you have any success tip(s) to share with others?

 

  • Most important ~ “know yourself”. Some people do better asking a lot of themselves; others do better succeeding with one change at a time, and then building on that success. 

  • Join and be active on the Member Center. Nutritarian eating is very counter-cultural, and having the support of others who are making it work is really helpful. I have now met in- person five people from the Member Center, and some of the other members have been so helpful to me over the past year – not only in nutritarian eating, but in everything from recipes to travel tips to sharing clothes and knitting tips! 

  • Learn new recipes. In my life, I can get away with not much variety – I like the same smoothie most of the time and the same salad most days. But even this week I changed the salad completely, and learning a variety of soup and main dish recipes has been critical to succeeding…especially when my family is around and I cook for them.

  • Be gentle with yourself. I try to treat myself to non-food treats as part of learning how not to be a food addict. For example, I bought a beautiful, African grass basket to take to the market; I get a massage regularly; and I try to buy clothes that make me feel pretty, even though I won’t fit in them very long. If I feel good about myself, I’m better at staying on-plan.

  • Don’t worry about pleasing others. I still struggle with this, because of being a minister and not wanting my own food choices to be seen as judgmental of others, but most of the time, I’m able to do this part.

  • Exercise. Again, I am “in process” on this – but I know it’s important, and I am going to make it work. 

  • To the extent that you can afford it, buy good tools to make cooking fun. I purchased all new pots and pans for free with points from my debit card. I bought a couple of good knives, a VitaMix,  and a small food processor. These tools make cooking much easier.

  • Plan, plan, plan, plan…and don’t forget to plan. When I’m hungry, I don’t always choose as well, so I need to plan ahead so that I will be able to make good choices. If I remember to take along beans, some seeds, dressing, etc., then even a bowl of lettuce can be satisfying.  

  • And when you fail, start right back the next choice (not the next day).

  • Seek help and advice from those who are successful and more experienced. 

  • Keep a food log.

     

 

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you? 

Nutritarian eating has given me my life back, and it’s given me hope, energy, wellness, and joy.  It’s enabled me to leave shame behind – I never even knew I was feeling shame all the time.

 

Congratulations Suz for recommitting to eat for health for the rest of your life!  

 

* Dr. Fuhrman says that planned compromises are permissible on occasion as long as they do not become consistent choices.  Such compromises should involve just one meal, or one dish, not stretches with days or weeks off the program.  The achievable goal is to make repeated excursions into the standard American diet not something you would prefer or tolerate.  Many nutritarians have evolved to find such SAD meals repulsive. Marginal weight loss results and lack of protection against diseases later in life are the result of repeated compromises. 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Laura

yoga portraitI became acquainted with Laura through the member center of DrFuhrman.com. I’m always impressed when young adults take control of their health destinies at a relatively young age, and Laura is one of them. It’s exciting to know that she will save herself a lifetime of unnecessary suffering and costly medical expenses in the days, months and years ahead! Welcome to Disease Proof, Laura.

 

What was your life like before discovering nutritarian eating?

Even though I wasn’t that overweight, I used to be obsessed with food. I felt guilty whenever I ate anything fattening, and most of the time I had stomach aches after eating the standard American diet. I didn’t think there was anything abnormal about it so I didn't try to find a solution. However, fast food always made me sick so I stopped eating it altogether. This helped, but I still didn't feel well most of the time.  

I also had terrible allergic reactions to grass, ragweed, pollen, cats, trees, etc.  If I was invited to a home where there were cats, I'd either decline the invitation or take Benadryl; which always made me groggy, and I still sneezed and sniffed.

 

How did you find out about Dr. Fuhrman?

About four years ago I was unemployed and spent much of the day online reading about nutrition. Eventually I saw a presentation that Dr. Fuhrman gave on a raw food website and I liked his discoveries that were based on scientific research.

 

How do you feel now?

I lost close to fifteen pounds and feel lighter; both mentally and physically. I feel more alive and have a bounce in my step. I used to think that it was normal to feel stuffed and not want to move after eating. Now I like to take my dog for a walk after I eat; plus, I have enough energy to workout, whereas before, I couldn’t make myself exercise.

My former obsession with food is gone and I don’t feel guilty about eating now. I know that certain foods make me feel good and other foods make me feel lethargic, stuffed, and overweight.  I’ve now trained myself to think before eating, “Is this food going to keep me feeling light, able to exercise and move around, or is this food going to drag me down?” Meals have never been more enjoyable.  

I haven't taken Benadryl for a couple of years, and I even live with a cat now! This has been the most remarkable change since I never expected to get rid of allergies.  I still have symptoms if I pet cats and scratch my eyes, but for the most part, I’ve forgotten what is was like to have allergies.  

Plus, I used to have urinary tract infections and now I don’t, and I used to have continual sinus drainage down the back of my throat and now it’s completely gone!

 

Do you have any success tip(s) to share with others?

  • It's been extremely helpful to have a friend who is supportive. I recommend attending a lecture that Dr. Fuhrman gives in-person, and take a friend or relative along. [Dr Fuhrman was speaking in New Jersey and I begged my friend to go with me; I’m so glad she did!]
  • There are lots of healthy recipes that you will like.  You don't have to eat foods that you dislike.  
     

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you? 

 

It has totally changed my life! I’m so thankful to be able to really enjoy eating with no guilt while also giving my body the nutrients it needs to fight off viruses, cancer cells, bacteria, etc. It has also caused me stop obsessing about food and finding the right diet.  There's no longer the temptation to find the latest way to lose weight or feel better.  I’ve discovered what really works to live in great health and that settles it for me.  Nutritarian eating does takes some effort, but it doesn’t take long to see and enjoy the rewards!  

 

Congratulations Laura ~ we are so proud of you for choosing optimal health so early in life!

 

image credit: Reggie Meneses

Dangers associated with food dyes

Synthetic food dyes are used in many processed foods, such as colored breakfast cereals, candy, and “fruit-flavored” beverages and snacks. A total of 15 million pounds of dyes are added to the U.S. food supply each year. Our consumption of food dyes has increased 5-fold since 1955 as our nation has consumed more and more packaged foods.1

Colored cereal

These synthetic dyes have been linked to a wide variety of health concerns including behavioral problems, hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and even cancers. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an organization that advocates for nutrition and food safety, is calling for a ban on these synthetic dyes. Food-based dyes such as beet juice and turmeric are readily available, but are more expensive and often less bright, making synthetic dyes more attractive to food manufacturers.

Food dyes and allergic reactions:

Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 have been reported to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Food dyes and hyperactivity:

Food dyes are of particular concern for children, since many colored foods are marketed to children, and their smaller body size makes them more susceptible to potential toxins. Hyperactivity in children following ingestion of food dyes is well-documented in placebo-controlled studies. Furthermore, a 2004 meta-analysis of 16 studies in children who were already hyperactive showed that their hyperactive behavior increased in response to food colorings.2 In a study published in Lancet in 2007, researchers tested two different mixtures of food dyes vs. placebo in children of two age groups – one mixture increased hyperactivity in 3 year old children, and both mixtures increased hyperactivity in the 8-9 year-olds.3 This study sparked a reaction by the British government. They instructed food manufacturers to eliminate all of these synthetic dyes by the end of 2009. In fact, starting later this month, a warning notice will be required on dyed foods in Europe stating that these foods “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”4  As a result, several international food companies now produce products with food-based dyes or no dyes in the U.K., but continue to include synthetic dyes in their U.S. products.

Food dyes and cancer:

There are eight commonly used synthetic dyes in the U.S., and all have undergone toxicity and tumorigenicity testing in animals. CSPI summarized the results of cancer-related studies in a recent report1:

  • Red 3 was acknowledged by the FDA to be a carcinogen in 1985 and was banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. However Red 3 is still used in ingested drugs and foods.
  • The three most widely used dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6) which account for 90% of dyes in the U.S. are contaminated with low levels of chemical carcinogens, as byproducts of the manufacturing process. Although the FDA places limits on the concentrations of these contaminants in the final dye products, they still may pose risks.
  • Citrus Red 2 added to the diet resulted in bladder tumors.
  • Red 3 resulted in thyroid tumors and caused DNA damage.

In their report, CSPI noted flaws in many of the animal cancer studies on Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Green 3, and Blue 2, including bias – most studies were either commissioned or conducted by dye manufacturers, short duration, and lack of exposure to dyes during fetal development. Additional studies are likely needed to determine whether these dyes are safe.

The simplest and most effective way to avoid the potential harmful effects of synthetic dyes is to avoid processed foods.   Unrefined plant foods contain health promoting phytochemicals, not empty calories and synthetic additives of questionable safety. When buying the occasional packaged food, check the ingredient list to avoid synthetic dyes.


References:

1. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks. http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf

2. Artificial food colouring and hyperactivity symptoms in children. Prescrire Int. 2009 Oct;18(103):215.

Schab DW, Trinh NH. Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind placebo-controlled trials. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004 Dec;25(6):423-34.

3. McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al. Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2007 Nov 3;370(9598):1560-7.

4. CSPI Says Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks. http://cspinet.org/new/201006291.html

Regular Weigh-Ins Keep Teens Slim

As a kid, I used to weigh my toys on our bathroom scale—I was slow—but now, a new study in Journal of Adolescent Health claims adolescents who weigh themselves at least once a week are more likely to exercise or eat less junk food and more fruits and vegetables. Experts surveyed 130 teens that were overweight, but slimmed down over the past two years, finding 43% of kids reported weighing themselves once a week; Reuters explains.

This is good news, especially since nowadays many pediatricians fail to diagnosis weight problems in children. As kids continue to eat horrible diets—just like their parents—they are developing adult health problems, such as kidney stones and even heart disease.

In related news, previous reports show overweight teenagers are more likely to commit suicide and obese kids, ages 2 to 19, are 26% more likely to develop some sort of allergy.

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Obese Kids Get More Allergies

Appearing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, scientists believe a positive association exists between obesity and allergies. Research involving 4,000 children, ages 2 to 19, revealed antibodies for specific allergens, such as indoor, outdoor and food allergens, were higher in overweight or obese children. Data revealed obese kids were 26% more likely to have some kind of allergy and the rate for food allergies was 59% higher among obese children; Reuters investigates.

The CDC now claims 3 million kids have food allergies. According to Dr. Fuhrman breastfeeding is major-preventer of allergies. Antibodies derived from mother’s milk help maximize immune system function. Now, allergies are bad enough, but overweight kids, even as young as 3 years old, can start showing signs of heart disease, for real!

In related news, a study of 3,000 children found kids spending two or more hours watching television per day, were twice as likely to develop asthma as kids watching less.

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Health-Points: Friday 5.1.09

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Breastfeeding Cuts Moms' Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Good news mommies. New findings in the upcoming May issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology claim mothers who breastfed were 10% percent less likely to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke than women who had never breastfed. The study, which involved nearly 140,000 postmenopausal women, also showed women who breastfed for at least one month had less diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; from EurekAlert!

The benefits of breastfeeding are innumerable. Previous reports pin breastfeeding to breast cancer prevention, less likelihood of children becoming obese and reduced risk of allergies. Last year, it was reported 77% of new moms are breastfeeding. Not too shabby.

But some breastfeeding news can be icky. A Swiss restaurant was told no, they can’t serve human breast milk. Although, the story about the Chinese cop who breastfed infants in need during the rescue effort following last year’s deadly earthquake is heartwarming.

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