Why You Need the Breezometer App

Author: Lily Mazzarella

I am a bit of a broken record these days, telling clients, friends, co-workers, students, strangers—anyone who will listen, really—about the importance of understanding air quality, especially during fire season in the west.  

There are a couple of good resources for checking local air quality online, including airnow.gov.  My favorite, however, is BreezoMeter. Do yourself a favor and go download this app on your smartphone immediately!  Keep in mind that neither source is perfect for real time conditions.  These apps are taking huge amounts of data and putting it through algorithms to produce assessments of air quality nearby. I often cross-reference the two, and I know that micro conditions can vary substantially depending upon topography and air currents.  There are often pockets of much better (or much worse) air nearby.  

As I write this, the closest fire burning to Santa Rosa, California is likely over 50 miles away.  Many of us think that if the sky is at all blue and the fires aren’t in the immediate vicinity that we’re in the clear.  Or that if we don’t have asthma or other breathing difficulties, that we’re not affected. Unfortunately, this is not so.  

My local air quality index (AQI) is currently 39 out 100—in the “Low” category.  As you scroll down in the app (in iOS—the app for Android doesn’t have this feature), you’ll see that the dominant pollutant is “PM10,” and it is at an unsafe level for human health.  

Let’s take a moment to understand the different pollutants and what they mean for those of us working, exercising, or just spending time outdoors.  

PM10:  PM stand for “Particulate Matter.”  PM10 means particulate matter 10 microns and smaller.  Microns are a tiny unit of measure—for your reference, the diameter of a human hair is about 70 microns across!  This is coarse dust pollutant that comes of combustion (like wildfires), as well as construction and agriculture.  It also includes pollen, mold and bacterial particulate. This is a form of inhalable pollution that is more easily screened out with a mask, and our body does have some capacity through the action of nasal hairs, mucus, and lung cilia, to remove and protect against PM10.  

PM2.5:  This is particulate matter 2.5 microns and smaller—not visible to the naked eye, except in larger concentrations as haze or smog. Consider this a toxic exposure.  The sources are the same as PM10, but PM2.5 are so small that they slip past our first-line defenses such as skin and cilia, and end up right in the blood stream.  Often PM2.5 particles are comprised of dangerous substances as human-made materials burn.  It is important to remember, however, that even wildfire smoke (as in, just trees and brush) contains many toxic compounds.  For example, forests act as “sinks” for heavy metals as polluted rains fall. When forests burn, the heavy metals are released into smoke, which we then breathe in.  

This type of particulate poses serious long term health risks—especially for those with respiratory and cardiovascular disease but also for children, pregnant people, elderly, those with compromised immune systems, chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), and those with chemical sensitivities.  When PM2.5 is dominant sensitive folks can feel ill and present with fatigue, headache, nausea, confusion, flu-like symptoms, and brain fog. There are studies linking long term exposure to PM 2.5 pollution with the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as premature skin aging. I tend to notice some symptoms when PM 2.5 is in the high teens or low 20’s, even though the app doesn’t consider this an elevation.  

PM10 and PM 2.5 aren’t restricted to fires; they can be elevated near construction and industrial zones, in cities, and along highways.  For outdoor exercisers who run, walk or bike on the roadside, wildfire smoke compounds the exposure. Exerting out of doors increases our uptake of this particulate matter.  

What to do If PM 10 and PM 2.5 are elevated:  Protect yourself by wearing either an N95 mask when you are outdoors, or my favorite soft mask for non-immediate vicinity fires:  https://ellessco.com/myair-mask.  If you work outside, these are a must!  They offer greater comfort and breathability than an N95 (but don’t offer the same degree of protection, as they don’t seal in the same way).  Keep your doors and windows closed, and run a HEPA filter at home.  These days, I open my house for a couple of hours in the evening when the air quality tends to be better to cool it off.  Then I close it back up and run the air purifiers on high until I go to sleep. Don’t exercise outside until the air quality is better. Run you car AC on recirc so that you are not taking air from the outside in.  Remember to get your car air filter changed every couple of months in fire season! You can keep multiple locations in the Breezometer app to see if there are locations near you where the AQI differs—I check the coast to see if I can go hike or walk there on bad air days.  When PM 2.5 is high, only an N95 mask will sufficiently protect you from inhalation.  

SO2:  Sulfur dioxide is a nasty, pro-inflammatory gas that comes from burning sulfur-containing fuels.  It can be elevated in urban wildfire. Even short exposure can aggravate lung diseases such as asthma and COPD.  

CO:  Carbon monoxide comes from the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels, and wildfires.  It can be found in your home, and is a by-product of car engines and power plants. CO displaces oxygen in the blood and exposure can cause dizziness, nausea and headaches.  

NO2:  Nitrogen dioxide is another bronchial-irritant gas that is a product of combustion and wildfires.  It can cause increased risk of respiratory infections, especially in young children.

O3:  Ozone = gases and pollutants + sunlight.  As the BreezoMeter app puts it “ozone is one of the major components of photochemical smog.”  Ozone is damaging to the mucus membranes, throat, and respiratory tract.

When O3, SO2, CO, or NO2 are elevated, wear a mask and limit your time outdoors!  

Don’t despair—protect yourself!

Stay tuned for our next post for commonsense approaches to on-going exposure—because let’s face it, we can’t avoid it all!

Come in and see us for herbal respiratory and nervous system support as these fires continue to burn.  

Tips (and a Recipe!) To Beat Sugar’s Sneaky Game

Paige Doyle
Author: Paige Doyle

We all know about the high sugar content in foods such as ice cream, cookies, candy bars, and donuts. But did you know that sugar is found in a vast array of foods other than just those that are considered “sweet”? You might be surprised to find sugar in these pantry staples: bacon, sausage, ketchup, pasta sauce, peanut butter, almond butter, bread, crackers, nut milks, and coffee creamers. And that’s not all. Sugar goes by many names, 56 different ones to be exact, including barely malt, carob syrup, dextrose, diastase, ethyl maltol, galactose, lactose, maltodextrin, sorbitol, and sucrose. Even when we are trying to be health-conscious consumers, sugar can sneak its way into our diets.

Dopamine: the reason why the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you’ll want
When we consume sugary foods, the dopamine receptors in our brain ignite. Dopamine is responsible for controlling feelings of pleasure and reward. Therefore, when we eat sugar, the dopamine response encourages us to continue eating sweet foods. Insulin is another key player in sugar cravings. This hormone is found in the pancreas and tells the body to either utilize sugar for energy or for storage. When we eat foods high in sugar, our insulin levels spike, causing our blood sugar levels to rise. This gives us energy, but not sustained energy. In about an hour or so, your blood sugar levels will drop, making you feel lethargic and desiring either a nap or sweet treat.

Boost your immune system, mood, and sleep
Believe it or not, mounting evidence suggest sugar’s role in a wide array of undesired health conditions, from mood swings, acne, and poor sleep, to more severe conditions such as type 2 diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Not to mention that eating sugar in excess can contribute to a weakened immune system. As we gear up for back-to-school season, and the abundance of cold and flu illnesses that come with it, limiting sugar consumption can help increase your susceptibility to catching those undesired germs and viruses.

Get rid of sugar cravings naturally
A good rule of thumb is to generally avoid those packaged and highly refined foods found in the middle aisles of the grocery store. These almost always contain added sugar. Instead of reaching for a granola bar or piece of candy the next time you feel hungry, try eating an avocado, nuts, seeds, or “Fat Bombs” (see recipe below). Nourishing your body with healthy fats is a great way to curb sugar cravings. Clean protein sources, such as wild-caught salmon, grass-fed meat, and pasture-raised poultry and eggs, are also going to help you feel full and energized, without the blood sugar swings. Lastly, while carbohydrates may be getting a bad reputation these days, there are plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables that provide the body with sustained energy, while being low on the glycemic index. These include artichokes, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, eggplant, cucumber, sweet potatoes, peppers, radishes…. the list goes on and on! If you give your body the nutrients, fats, and protein it needs, your sugar cravings will start to dwindle.

Register now, for the 21 Day Sugar Detox With Paige Doyle…
Intro to the Sugar Detox program: Why quit sugar, how the program works, and Q & A.
Thursday, September 13th, 6:15-7:45pm
Cost: $10.

3-week long Sugar Detox workshop:
$60 if you register before September 15th. $75 after that.
Wednesday, September 19th, 6:15-7:45pm
Wednesday, September 26th, 6:15-7:45pm
Wednesday, October 3rd, 6:15-7:45pm


Super Simple Fat Bomb Recipe:
Recipe adapted from Mark Sisson’s “The Keto Reset Diet”

  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup organic cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup almond, cashew, or preferred nut/seed butter

Melt the coconut oil. Whisk in the cacao powder and nut butter until smooth. Pour into silicone mini muffin molds (or small paper muffin cups). Refrigerate or freeze for at least 10 minutes to harden. If using muffin molds, pop the the molds out and place in an airtight container. Store in fridge until you’re ready to enjoy one.

Paige Doyle is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and 21-Day Sugar Detox Health Coach. To learn more about Paige, or to schedule a consultation, visit her website at www.ditchmyscale.com

Travel: so good for the soul, and so hard on our bodies.

Author: Lily Mazzarella

Where does travel hit you?  Can’t poop? Trouble sleeping?  Going to a place where you have little or no control over your food?  Anxious about packing, waking up early, getting on a plane—or being with family members?   Get sick every time you go anywhere?

We’ve got you covered!

These are our go-to travel saviors:

Did you know there is an enzyme that helps break down common food allergens, like gluten and casein from dairy?  Or that there is an enzyme to assist in the breakdown of food and beverage-borne histamines—like those found in wine, cheese, and salami?  Or that Activated Charcoal can be used topically for spider bites and internally for alcohol and food overindulgence, or exposure to food and water-borne bugs?  

For more amazing remedies, check out our top travel picks.

HistDAO 60cap:  Do you get a headache, flushing, congestion, or gut upset with histamine-containing food and drink such as wine, aged cheese, leftover foods, cured meats and fermented veggies?  HistDAO contains the DAO enzyme, which our own body produces to break down histamines in the food supply. A huge hit with our histamine-sensitive folks who want to indulge!

Intolerance Complex:  This highly specialized enzyme assists in the digestion of gluten, dairy and other common food allergens.  While it’s not total license to eat foods that don’t work for you, it is wonderful to have something when you know you’re going to enjoy foods that you don’t normally eat.  Also great for sensitive folks who are concerned about exposures in restaurants and dinner parties.

Our 2 top-selling shelf-stable probiotics are on sale!  That’s right, you can support your flora and protect your gut while you travel! The EPS probiotics come in 2 strengths and convenient blister packaging.  Orthobiotic is a high-potency multi-strain probiotic that adds Saccharomyces boulaardii, a beneficial yeast that doesn’t get killed by antibiotics, and aids the body in protecting against Candida and C. diff.  

  • EPS 25-Billion
  • EPS 5-Billion 120
  • EPS 5-Billion 60
  • Ortho Biotic 60

Quiet Digestion (90 Tablets / 270 Tablets):  Staff favorite!  This classic blend of Chinese herbs has traditionally been used for food poisoning, bad water exposure, nausea, diarrhea, stomach rumbling, and belching.  Aromatic herbs aid digestion and protect against gut misery. Can be taken prophylactically or alongside unfamiliar/suspicious foods.

Activated Charcoal:  I don’t go anywhere without charcoal!  Along with Quiet Digestion, charcoal is my go-to for iffy food and water we encounter while traveling or camping.  It’s also a great hangover cure—if you’ve overindulged in alcohol or food, take 2 caps before bed along with tons of water.  And, charcoal caps can be opened and mixed with water for topical use on angry cuts, scrapes and bug bites. I brush my teeth with it if I forget toothpaste!  A bit messy, but works great.

Herbatonin 3mg (available in store only) Finally a 100% plant-based, bio-identical melatonin!  Help your system get on board with new time zone and reset your bio-rhythms when you return home with this clean, easy-to-process melatonin extracted from the palnt Oryza sativa.  Many of our customers report a much better response to Herbatonin than synthetic melatonin.

PharmaGABA-Pro (100 Tablets/ 250Tablets), and Chewable PharmaGABA by Natural Factors:
GABA is our own body’s main quieting neurotransmitter. PharmaGABA is a non-synthetic, bio-identical form of GABA that supports daytime calm, as well as restful sleep.  Great for pre-travel anxiety and sleep disruption, long plane rides, and trouble sleeping in unfamiliar places or new time zones.  It comes in 2 strengths and a chewable form!

Mellow Lax:  Constipation is one of the most common travel complaints we hear about, and can seriously hinder your quality of life.  Mellow Lax contains herbs like Rhubarb and Cascara that have traditionally been used to move the bowels, as well as soothing aromatic herbs like Wild Yam, Angelica and Fennel to help with bowel tension and cramping.  Mellow Lax offers gentle overnight support for easy elimination.

Sleep Now:  Customer favorite!  Fall asleep faster and fall back to sleep more easily with herbs traditionally used to support sleep and relaxation such as California Poppy, Passionflower and Hops.  This rapidly absorbed formula offers fast-acting support and is not habit forming. Can be taken before bed and upon nighttime wakings.

In The Moment:  Top Seller!  Skullcap, Blue Vervain, Lavender and Kava help to take the edge off daily stress and anxiety, and help create a sense of embodied relaxation.  Full of fast-acting nervines (herbs traditionally used to support the nervous system), In the Moment is our top-selling anxiety and stress support blend.  

Defend! Throat Spray:  Get sick every time you travel?  I suggest wearing a soft, comfortable mask if you’re flying (with a drop of immune-clarifying Ravintsara EO on the charcoal mask, for an aromatherapy boost) and using 3-4 sprays of Defend! Throat Spray every couple of hours.  It is formulated with herbs traditionally used to support our defenses against viruses and other pathogens, and topically targets the area where nasty things tend to start brewing.

Ravintsara and Lavender EO:  My travel bag would be incomplete without Simplers Organic Lavender essential oil, which can be used for everything from sunburn to restless agitation to bug bites.  Ravintsara is my go-to for respiratory, lymphatic and immune health—I use a drop or two on my mask or scarf when I fly, and in the shower once I arrive for an aromatherapy steam.  I have found it to be particularly helpful when the air quality in an unfamiliar room is poor, due to ventilation or potential mold. Essential oils can also be diffused in the car for road trips!

Spicer Cork Bags (3 sizes):  Sustainable, locally-made, super-durable, AND really pretty?  These fantastic bags house your toiletries, travel goodies and tinctures for easy access.

Taking The Mystery Out Of Food Re-Introduction

Author: Lily Mazzarella


Observations gleaned through a decade + of guiding clients through anti-inflammatory/elimination diets.

You’ve been working hard at eating clean, doing an anti-inflammatory/elimination diet (like the Summer Inflammation Soother), and you’re feeling pretty damn good.

So it is with trepidation, excitement and relief that you approach the re-introduction of potentially problematic foods left off in this time.

Some guiding principles:

Choose ONE food at a time. Don’t muddy the waters—the most unclear reintroductions occur when “I was at a party and I had wine and this really delicious bread and some cheese and then some chocolate so I’m not sure what is making me feel so terrible.” I typically suggest people start with eggs, since they are an “expander” food: if you don’t have a sensitivity or allergy to them, they can broaden your food options tremendously, and make traveling easier.

Eat that food daily, for 3 days in a row. Sometimes delayed sensitivities take time to emerge, and sometimes repeated exposure is the issue. You don’t necessarily have to eat the food at every meal! Just make sure to have a good serving of that food in its most straightforward state at least once a day. So, for eggs, eat 2-3 eggs per day, scrambled, over easy, hard-boiled—you get the idea.

Keep a diary or food log. This is a critical observation period, and things can get complicated quickly once you’re really in the thick of reintros.

Watch for signs that a food may not be working for your body. In a sense we’re “lucky” if a food causes immediate symptoms: GI upset, bowel changes, headache, congestion or lip/mouth swelling. These reactions are hard to ignore or override. But there are other signs that we less commonly associate with food reactions, or are on a longer arc: brain fog, mood changes (particularly weepy/irritable/self-critical), precipitous energy drops, anxiety, palpitations, disturbed sleep, skin outbreaks, worsened PMS, joint pain, muscle aches/tightness, hot flashes, urinary irritability and reactive weight gain. This last one is a very precise indicator for some people—eating a food can cause weight to fluctuate by 1-5 pounds in as little as a day. This is a sign that a food is causing inflammation in your system.

If a food causes a reaction (or you suspect it does), leave it out, and let your body come back down to baseline. This washout period takes about 3 days. It’s important to ensure the next food has a fair shot. “Will I ever be able to eat that food again?” you ask. And my honest answer is: we don’t know yet. When the gut is given the herbs, nutrients and time to truly heal, many foods can be eventually be re-included in the diet. Other foods remain lifelong sensitivities or allergies—or just poor fits for your body. Some people find, for example, that they just don’t do well with too many grains in the diet over all, or with nightshades. This isn’t a failing on your part! It’s your unique expression—where genetics meet environment.

If a food causes no reaction, leave it in and move on to the next food. That’s right, just hit repeat!

A couple of final thoughts on re-introduction phase:

This is obviously hard (but not impossible) to do while traveling. Set yourself up for success with elimination diets by choosing a time when you are not cruising around airports or on a road trip.

You can do this on your own, but the guidance of a practitioner is tremendously helpful. They can help you interpret what is happening, and help determine next steps or supportive therapies depending upon your results.

If find you are reactive to most things, don’t freak out—this may not be forever! Stay on your healthy anti-inflammatory diet and work on your gut health. You may need to balance the microbiome in your small or large intestine, or give your GI tract nutrients and herbs to aid with intestinal permeability (leaky gut).

Try a food in different forms: dairy for example, presents many different forms that people tolerate variously. You can try plain yogurt, hard cheese, soft cheese, milk….just not ice cream. Other ingredients (including sugar) present confounding factors. If you don’t tolerate cow dairy, you might do okay with some goat or sheep dairy. Some folks can have tomatoes cooked in to a dish, but not eat them straight.

Stress-Adapt Paleo Granola

Author: Lily Mazzarella

Print Recipe
STRESS-ADAPT PALEO GRANOLA
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Optional:
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Optional:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven on “warm” setting.
  2. In a food processor, roughly chop the nuts (you can also use sliced almonds).
  3. Combine shredded coconut, chopped nuts, seeds, Stress-Adapt powder and optional ingredients (if using).
  4. Gently heat the coconut oil, turn off the heat, and whisk in the raw honey and vanilla. While the liquid is warm and runny, pour over nut/seed/coconut combination and whisk/toss thoroughly (this can take a little while!).
  5. Spread out over 1-2 baking sheets and “dry” in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Note: it will smell divine while it's in the oven.
  6. Allow to cool, add optional cacao nibs and dried fruit, if using, and store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place. *Tip: Double the nut/seed portion of this recipe and set aside for use in the Savory Herb Snack Mix
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Sunburns: Our Skin’s Natural Inflammatory Response To Overexposure

Author: Lily Mazzarella

What is a sunburn, really?  

When our skin is overexposed to sun, UV radiation causes damage to our skin cells’ DNA—and therefore, the loss of the cells’ all-important ability to self-repair.  In the short term, our skin responds to overexposure by releasing chemical and cellular mediators of inflammation—what we see and feel as the red, hot, swollen (and sometimes blistering) misery of sunburn.   

In the long run, repeated sun damage means loss of elasticity, changes in texture and pigmentation, and increased risk of skin cancer.  Some dermatologists say that even a “pinkening” of lighter skin tones signals burn—or “minimal erythemal dose”—that is, the least of amount of sun it takes to turn a lighter skin red.  Darker skin, while somewhat better protected from UV radiation by higher levels of melanin in the cells, can also burn and suffer effects of long term sun damage, especially as climate change has intensified our solar UV rays.  

Plants to the rescue

In addition to wearing a clean, mineral-based sunscreen, a diet rich in FLAVONOIDS will help your body be more prepared to handle the sun’s rays.  Amazingly, flavonoids, aka pigments found throughout plant kingdom in flowers, leaves and fruits, help protect plants themselves against mutagenic effects of UV radiation.  Think about it: while plants love sunshine (and make their food from it), even for them there can be too much of a good thing. And, plants can’t get up and move into the shade on a baking summer day!  They need some way to protect themselves from cellular damage, and flavonoids do just that.

When we eat these richly pigmented plants, research shows that they confer these benefits to us—providing something like an internal sunscreen.  Think: green tea, cacao, cherries, kale, grape skins/seeds, and blueberries. And if our skin has been overexposed, these multi-tasking plant compounds help us out by stabilizing collagen and cooling oxidative damage.  Our Summer Inflammation Soother Kit & Guide is full of information and delicious recipes aimed at ramping up flavonoid intake and reducing inflammation. 

Isn’t some sun healthy?  

Yes!!  We’re big fans of the physical and mental benefits of sun exposure.  Moderate sun exposure can actually help improve some skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and staph.  And, it is one of the most reliable ways to get the kind of vitamin D our body can use best, which is critical for endocrine, musculoskeletal and immune health.  

We all have different sun tolerance, and sometimes we find ourselves overexposed…..even with the best of intentions and a proper diet. In those cases, after sun serums like Urb Apothecary’s Sun Worshiper can help skin rejuvenate from oxidative damage, and a batch of turmeric pops can help soothe active redness.   

 

The Cherry Connector

Author: Lily Mazzarella

Print Recipe
THE CHERRY CONNECTOR
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process at high speed until thick and creamy.
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Just The Greens Smoothie

Author: Lily Mazzarella

Print Recipe
JUST THE GREENS SMOOTHIE
Course Smoothie
Servings
Ingredients
Course Smoothie
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Usually this smoothie gets pretty aerated/frothy, so I fill a mason jar to the lid and allow to rest at least 1/2 hour before consuming. I always double this recipe, which gives me 1 jar for tomorrow. I squeeze lime juice over the top of the jar to be consumed next day and store it in the coldest part of the fridge. The lime juice prevents oxidation and keeps it beautifully fresh and green!
Recipe Notes

If you’re using this instead of green soup mid-day, make sure to add a serving of protein powder to it, or consume with some high-quality lean protein!

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Cacoa Mint Smoothie

Author: Lily Mazzarella

Print Recipe
CACAO MINT SMOOTHIE
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients EXCEPT cacao nibs in a blender and process at high speed until thick, creamy and smooth. Add the nibs and spin the blender a few times to disperse them throughout the mint smoothie. If your smoothie isn’t peppermint-y enough for you, you can add 1-3 drops of organic peppermint oil (my trusted brands are Simplers, Floracopeaia, Snow Lotus) and re-blend.
Recipe Notes

If you have reflux, skip this smoothie as both peppermint and chocolate can be triggers. *Note: this smoothie is best when it’s had a chance to sit—the flavors meld beautifully!

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Quinoa-White Bean Veggie Burgers

Author: Lily Mazzarella

Print Recipe
QUINOA-WHITE BEAN VEGGIE BURGERS
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly (I use my hands). Add a little water if you need to moisten the mixture. It should be a workable, thick “dough” that sticks together.
  2. Divide into 6 patties and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (overnight works well, too).
  3. In a heavy sauté pan, heat coconut oil and cook patties in batches, about 12 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
Note:
  1. These can also be brushed with olive or coconut oil and cooked in a 450F oven for about 25-30 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Serve in a lettuce wrap with Ranch-ish Dressing

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