Getting Tired Too Fast? The Key is Building Endurance

Posted on May 5, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Exercise, Health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

drgregportrait1test2.pngBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Endurance, also known as stamina, comes in several flavors. We have general stamina – the ability to perform ever so well the necessities and luxuries of our daily lives, without undo fatigue or effort. (Life should NOT feel like an uphill-both-ways struggle! No, not even when we are ‘older’!) More specifically, we have cardiovascular stamina in which our heart, lungs and blood vessels work in coordinated harmony to let us safely exert ourselves in accordance with the needs of the situation we find ourselves in. We also have local muscular endurance, in which specific muscles happily find themselves able to repeat a needed motion again and again and again. We also have an ‘isometric’ stamina which enables us to remain in a position for as long as is needed.

When you read about aging as related to endurance, you read conflicting statements, e.g. “I get tired faster now that I’m older;” vs. “Endurance is the old man’s game.” What are we to make of this apparent contradiction?  Several things act to explain this. First, we have to look quite honestly about how the person of high stamina has lived his or her life compared to the person of low stamina. Is their weight still good? Has their diet been healthy? Has their stress level increased or decreased? Have they exercised diligently and appropriately? Genetics always, always play a role, but no matter what genetic cards we have been dealt, the answer to good aging is always the same: play the hand as best you can, wisely and diligently maximize your genetic strengths and arrange your lifestyle to counteract your weaknesses.

In an athletic sense it often comes to pacing. For example, young people run faster than older people and their ability to recover after exertion is often quicker as well. So, if an older person tries to do repeat sprints with little recovery, he or she might be very disappointed if they try to compete with a younger person. However, some older athletes become very good at getting into a pace and keeping that pace up for a very long time. The legendary Tarahumara people of the Copper Canyon area of Mexico are renowned for the endurance running of their older members, with distances reported to be 100 miles or more, and sometimes kicking a round wooden ball. Of course, they have a lifetime of training and cultural expectations that such apparent feats of stamina are definitely in the realm of possibility.

Many factors can contribute to increasing your stamina.  Basic cardio, high repetition weight training, hydration, and even deep breathing which boosts oxygen intake can all help.  But there is no substitute for having a good proper diet.  It’s better for everything including stamina.  Include protein, healthy fats, low glycemic index foods including vegetables (think veggies that don’t convert to sugar readily) and reduce carbohydrates unless you are doing strenuous activity for at least 30 minutes.  If you feed the “machine” right, it will help you reap the benefits of better strength, vitality and health overall.

 

 

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Arm Yourself Against Viruses & Bacteria

Posted on November 7, 2014. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Chiropractic, detox, Healing, Health, Immune System | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Improves-immune-system

By Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

 

It seems these days that people use disinfectant sprays and hand sanitizers like they’re going out of style – all for the protection against germs, bacteria, and viruses.  The awareness is definitely there, but there are other things that can also be done to protect our health.  One of those is building a strong immune system so that when those nasty “invaders” come knocking at our door, we’ve got fierce, invincible “soldiers” that can fight them off!

Taking herbs are a great way to build the body’s defenses.  Some are great to help prevent sickness as well as help your body heal faster if it does catch a bug.  Good ones to try include:

Garlic – Known to help prevent colds & strengthen resistance to illness.  Also renowned use as an antibacterial and antifungal.  Russian soldiers were known to have used crushed garlic to treat wounds with in order to prevent infection and promote healing.

Ginseng – Can help prevent colds and reduce their severity.  Helps strengthen the immune system by stimulating production of virus fighting cells in the body.

Echinacea – Commonly used cure-all against cold and influenza.  Used to prevent & shorten duration of colds as well as reducing symptoms caused by them.  A popular natural anti-biotic.

As colder weather and holidays quickly approach, people tend to get sick more often because they’re in a more closed environment.  This is especially true in office buildings.  More often than not, the ventilation system is just blowing “bugs” that are there from one room to another.  This is a good reason to try a natural approach such as acupuncture or chiropractic.

Acupuncture is an amazing system of medicine because it restores balance to the body. When the body is out of balance, it cannot respond to pathogens, pain, stress, or injury properly. In balance, the body can effectively respond to said insults and heal much more quickly.  Having a balanced system is key to maintain and improving health, and acupuncture is an effective and safe method to do so.

Chiropractic care is well known for pain relief (neck, back, etc…) but it can also help with illnesses!  Our bodies have nerves everywhere and if they are out of “whack” or alignment, their functionality is reduced.  For example, if the nerves on the sides of the spine to the intestines aren’t in the right placement, improper nerve pressure can cause the intestines to work at a sub-optimal level.  One of the effects could be creating a slower transit time to move bacteria out of the system.  The nerves in our body are the command and control.  When something turns on, something else should turn off.  If they’re out of sequence, problems start to happen…

Watching what you eat makes a big difference in the health of your immune system.  Sugar and alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your defenses.  And don’t forget to drink lots of water to help flush out those nasty “bugs” from your body.

 

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Why You Should Cleanse & Detox

Posted on June 6, 2014. Filed under: Allergies, cleanse, Depression, detox, Healing, Health, Pain, Uncategorized, Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Sad-woman-get-abdomen-pain-aft-35464244By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Cleansing & detoxing seem to be all the rage these days.  There are 2, 5, 7, 10, or even 21 day cleansing programs available that promise to clean out all those harmful toxins that are currently ravaging your body and wreaking havoc on your immune system.  But if you think about it, our body is seemingly bombarded on a daily basis from toxins we get from water, household cleaners, air pollution, chemicals, food additives and the list goes on and on.  Some of these things become neurotoxins in our systems and impair proper nerve function, cause tremors, lack of sleep, inability to focus, unexplained weight gain, etc… Or they can become hormone disruptors, interfering with testosterone or estrogen.  What these neurotoxins & hormone disruptors do is block or disrupt normal metabolism.  They build up within your system and the effect can be cumulative.

What happens if you’re toxic?

The two organs most affected are usually the kidneys and the liver.  The liver is the metabolic powerplant, but a lot of these toxins get stored in the fat as well.  When you go on a diet to lose weight and detox yourself, some of these toxins can still be released into your system and be metabolized or even remetabolized in the body.  If they get into the liver, metabolic pathways may not function optimally.

These symptoms can be very broad and vague with headaches, muscle pain, body odors, or fatigue. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down exactly the issue, but you know you just don’t feel right.  In my own practice, I’ve seen many people vigorously & diligently clean up their diet, use a detox regimen along with drinking lots of water, allowed a little bit of time (patience being a key ingredient in this process), go through almost miraculous changes.  They feel a whole lot better and many have been able to minimize the medications they’re on and in some cases even come off of them.

 

How do I benefit from doing this?

 

Detoxification  is a lot about supporting organ function while minimizing exposure.  When you support the kidneys and liver and give them a rest from exposure to toxins or even regular food,  the theory is that your body will work to get rid of the garbage in your system and allow itself to recover and heal.  The real benefit is that while going through your “cleansing & detox” process, the herbs, clean “green” type drinks, and ample supply of water you drink help create the bridge over to living a better lifestyle afterwards.  Cravings for caffeine, sugar, and salty foods become greatly reduced, energy increases, and even your attitude towards exercise and staying healthy becomes predominately positive!

Be sure to do your “due diligence” in research when you start a cleanse/detox.  There is no magic drink or pill.  You’ve got to combine the program with the right type of nutrition for optimal success.

 

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Our Environment and Health

Posted on March 28, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Depression, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

~by Dr. Greg Steiner

What surrounds us affects how we feel, and how we feel affects our health.  When push comes to shove; environmental health is a subset of stress management. Environmental health, in its most common usage, concerns itself with toxicities which ‘poison’ the body, and ergonomics, which is the study of how  our bodies do what they do at work when sitting at desks, operating machines, or making the motions required of work.

One of the first things any doctor or nurse learns is the basics of how the body regulates itself towards health.  The fancy word for this is homeostasis. One example is how our bodies regulate our temperature to 98.6 degrees no matter what happens to it. However, it’s more accurate to say that our bodies attempt to regulate our temperature to 98.6 depending on whether its infected, its hormones are working as a team, its properly hydrated, and whether its dressed appropriate to the environment outside.

Eastern medicine and naturopathic Western medicine both put a great emphasis on how the person interacts with their environment. Western medicine does emphasize this to some degree, all depending on the exact discipline and the practitioner himself.  But Western medicine can also look at a person like an experimental variable, more like a statistical or laboratory problem than a living, changing, ‘inexact’ being constantly influenced by an ever-changing environment.

Both approaches have their uses and abuses – for promoting good, general health the naturalistic way is hard to beat- good food, rest, exercise, ‘natural’ remedies if needed,  which are usually easy on the body and have few side effects. The downside is that sometimes, whatever is wrong with a person is just too much for that person’s own repair system to fix without substantial help.  In this situation, naturalistic remedies may just not be strong enough. For the most part, good health practices help healing overall, even when a stronger intervention is required.

Modern medicine can and does provide those stronger remedies, but at times the weakness is that some doctors see the patient as a ‘lab rat’ in a laboratory setting, as though the patient were a specimen living in a fully predictable and fully controlled environment, or perhaps as an engineering problem needing correction. In orthopedic surgery this approach is largely true – if a knee is worn out,  it needs to be replaced, but the story doesn’t end there. Even with a new knee, the ‘person’ needs to recover, strengthen, feel good internally, and do everything possible to help their overall body heal itself.

The real key though, is how a person feels about their environment. However, in this context we’re not speaking of everyday ‘feeling’, but a deep interpretation and gut-level love-hate, like-dislike of their physical and social environment.  I speak of that  place deep inside where we know the unvarnished truth about ourselves and what we really like, fear, hate, and love. This ‘place’ is a combination of thought, interpretation of events, self-judgment, and habitual feelings whether good and bad.

The point is this – it’s in that place, largely dependent on our overall environment and our reactions to it that creates the hormones that create health, or destroy it.

Eastern medicine continues to put a strong emphasis on the person-environment interaction; if that dynamic is out of balance, it acts to restore it with acupuncture, herbs, and good health practices.

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5 Gifts to Give Yourself

Posted on November 30, 2012. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Exercise, Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

5 Gifts to Give Yourself

Aging may be inevitable, but your later years can be vibrant and healthy if attention is given to supporting your physical, mental and emotional well-being.  These gifts to yourself are just a few of the ways that you can bring balance into your life.  You don’t need to try doing all of them at once.  Focus on one or two of them at a time.

Give Yourself the Gift of Practicing Gratitude
Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress according to Dr. Robert A. Emmons, an author of several books on the subject of the psychology of gratitude.  Dr. Emmons says that the disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions.  Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life, but they have a healthy attitude
towards them. Choose friends who are joyous people.  See these people frequently and you will find your spirits rise.  The older you get, the more important it is to make it a priority to spend time with people who give you joy.  If you have people in your life who are constantly unhappy, limit the amount of time you spend with them.  Try it, and you may find that your outlook changes as well.
Give Yourself the Gift of Exercise
People who exercise more are less likely to be stressed and more likely to be satisfied with life, according to Danish researchers.  Compared with sedentary people, joggers are 70 percent less likely to have high stress levels and life dissatisfaction.  Remember the saying, ” if you don’t use it you’ll lose it”?   Exercise keeps our bodies and minds in good shape . Couch potatoes who start moderate exercise (the equivalent of 15 to 30 minutes a day) experience the greatest happiness lift.  If jogging is not the best exercise for you, go for a long walk or try a traditional exercise like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are non-impact exercises that focus on repetitive movements with attention to breathing. Tai Chi and Qi Gong use gentle movements and low physical impact, which are ideal for aging bodies. The benefits of these exercises include a slower heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and drops in adrenaline and cortisol levels . Making these exercises a regular practice can lead to better health and vitality.  The Mayo Clinic reported results from two studies on these ancient practices that concluded they can also alleviate chronic pain.
Give Yourself the Gift of Good Sleep Regularly
Your body repairs itself best at night so allow plenty of time for it to do so.  Good sleep patterns follow nature. Morning is bright and the most Yang time of day, indicating activity.  Night is the dark period, a time to slow down and enter the Yin phase of the day.  Poor sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and obesity.  Research has shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart health.  Acupuncture has been proven successful in treating a wide array of sleep problems by focusing on the root of any disharmony in the body.  It gives those who take advantage of it a better night’s sleep and an overall improvement in physical and mental health.
Give Yourself the Gift of Reduced Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but if left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains or an irregular heartbeat. Humans were designed to handle short periods of intensely high stress followed by periods of relaxation.  We were not designed to live with a constant low level stress that keeps us feeling overwhelmed. If you feel you have been under too many pressures for too long, stress reduction acupuncture can help you enjoy a more peaceful life. Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health.   In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.
Give Yourself the Gift of Action
Address Health Concerns Quickly: Don’t Wait!  Many diseases can be cured easily if they are caught early, but people often put off seeking treatment.  Don’t ignore important signals that something is wrong with your body. We all get warnings about our health and well-being, but these warnings are like traffic lights.  They tell us what we ought to do, but they cannot make us do it.

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The Mystery of Weight

Posted on June 11, 2012. Filed under: Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

By Dr. Gregory Steiner~

As another hot summer descends upon us, the calls for weight loss become even louder; many frustrated women and men continue to seek the Holy Grail of losing unwanted weight and keeping it off. If only it were that easy….

Probably the most frustrated of all are the sincerely dedicated people who exercise, watch their diet, and sigh every time they look at the unmoving, heartless scale!

Over my 21 years of clinical practice I have noted there are actually three common weights people speak of and desire, not just one.

First, is what could be called a best ‘athletic’ weight, in which a person is at his or her strongest (e.g. a weight lifter), or has the best endurance (e.g. a runner). This weight is achieved by a combination of consistent exercise and diet specific to the sport they are engaging in.

Second is the best cosmetic weight which is the most common desire. Most patients will tell me they want a healthy weight – which they do – but on further examination what they really, truly want is to achieve their ideal ‘visual’ weight, which us usually – but not always – quite thin.

Then there is the third weight, which is where a person actually feels and functions the best in daily life; they feel very energetic, they have few aches and pains, and they rarely get sick. Often this weight is a bit heavier than their ideal weight, and occasionally it is less. Interestingly enough it is usually not the best athletic weight, because a sport-specific weight demands that a body be tip-top to the demands of that sport, not for daily living. For example, I have known more than one weight lifter who could lift 600 lbs., yet who could barely walk up stairs without losing breath or downstairs without pain.

It’s a lucky person (genetically that is) where all three are the same.

“Ideal’ weight then, is particular to what you want and is determined by bone structure and hormones, and then by your activity level and what you eat. Where people run into frustration is when they want a weight -either too big or small – for what their skeletal frame will support, or when they have hormonal issues that hinder fat loss and muscle gain. For example, I often see a larger framed female who wants to be model-thin, or a small framed lanky man who wants to have Mr. Universe muscles. Their desires are real, and they spend no small amount of time and emotional energy fretting about not getting their dream body; it’s no wonder cosmetic surgery is such big business in the Metroplex.

Hormonal imbalances are frequently talked about, as the prevalence of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone excess and deficiencies become more known to the general public. Debates rage over the causes of hormonal irregularities and the resulting obesity, diabetes, premature puberty and low testosterone, but the ‘natural health community’ usually points to the use of hormones in food, plastics that leach into the system, and the persistent stress of modern  American culture as likely culprits that either cause or exacerbate the situation.

Living in such an environment makes it challenging to defend against such hormonal ‘imbalancers’, but the natural medicine approach includes herbs to defend against the toxicities, acupuncture to balance the body’s energetics, chiropractic to do the same to the nervous system, and following a solid nutritional program day after day, meal after meal. Correction and re-balancing is the first step, but real nutrition and defense against the ‘bad stuff’ is the key to long lasting results and keeping the weight you want.

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Chronic Fatigue – Causes and Corrections

Posted on October 11, 2011. Filed under: Fatigue, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

By Dr. Gregory Steiner~

Tired woman yawningEvery single week a new patient enters my clinic, and we’re not talking about ordinary “pain the neck” patients. These patients are suffering in a particularly difficult way, with a combination of extreme loss of energy and pain in multiple areas of their bodies.

The foremost symptom is never-ending, unrelenting fatigue. The second symptom is unending pain and stiffness, day-after-miserable-day. The fatigue and pain often appear together, but a person may suffer from one or the other. However, in my professional life I’ve never met a chronically tired person who didn’t hurt all the time, and I’ve never met a person who hurt all the time who wasn’t tired.

On the subject of energy, have you noticed that when you are energetic, there is no task that can’t be done, no problem that can’t be solved, and that pain – whatever the level – is tolerable. Have you also noticed that when you are not energetic that everything is difficult – – that slipping on your shoes becomes a major ordeal? These two syndromes are often confused, often ignored, and most unfortunately denied.

I’ll always, always remember the mountain of a man who became my patient in N. Ireland while living there a few years ago. He was a traditional man – strong, a good provider, a devoted husband and father, and he knew what is to gain and achieve through hard work. I’ll always remember the day he came to my clinic – dead tired and barely able to stay awake more than a few hours a day. He was unable to work, and had lost much of his self-esteem.

Up to that point in my career I was uncertain whether chronic fatigue (formerly called “Yuppie Flu” even existed. Some doctors thought it was a very bad reaction to viral infection; others thought it was depression under another name, and many didn’t believe it existed at all; after working with him I finally understood that chronic fatigue certainly does exist, and that in its harsher forms it can be debilitating.

The symptoms of chronic fatigue are physical, mental and emotional. A “typical” patient will tell me that usually everything feels heavy and sluggish to move. They often feel very stiff all over. Mental symptoms are quite interesting – patients tell me that that they their thinking is equally sluggish, and that they feel themselves in a state in-between sleep and wakefulness – not really awake, but not really asleep. Sleep quality is typically poor and these patients can hardly remember the last night of restful sleep they had. I’ve also had many say that they are unusually vivid dreamers, and that the dreaming seems to tire them out in an unusual way.

The condition can have dramatic effects on a person’s lifestyle. Some people are unable to work, and others underperform. People with mild but significant cases have enough energy to work, but usually come home, flop on the couch and have little energy for family or recreation.

In my experience there is no one cause for chronic fatigue, but there are several that appear with frequency. Post-viral syndromes do exist, but blood sugar handling issues involving poor carbohydrate metabolism are perhaps the most common cause or complicating factor. Some people have thyroid issues, and others are suffering form multiple allergies. Occasionally someone – usually a heavy person – suffers from sleep apnea. In Oriental medicine we look to the energetic function of the liver, spleen and kidney, as these organs and pathways are seen to be particularly influential in overall body energetics.

The real complicating factor is that several of these can occur together, and over time can lead to depression which makes correction harder yet again. Still, chronic fatigue is treatable and it is possible to regain lost energy. The corrections involve accurately figuring out where the pieces of the puzzle fit, and incorporating such nutritional intervention, acupuncture points, herbs, or medications as needed.

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Healing Quickly From Surgery

Posted on October 6, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , |

 By Dr. Gregory Steiner~

First, many heart-felt thanks to all my patients, friends and neighbors who wished me well, helped me out and (of course!) made fun of me while I was crutch-bound following the cartilage transplant on my knee. Sorry – I’m walking again…..all by myself! Now see if you can catch me….

The surgery was extensive, involving a large, “full zipper” scar nearly a foot long; bone was cut and screwed back into place; several other procedures were packaged in as well to this 5-hour long “How I Spent My Christmas Vacation” episode. Rehab has started now that the bone has healed enough, though there is still a gap to fill in.

On to the point of the article – getting back to normality as quickly and surely as possible.

In my clinic, my job as an acupuncturist and chiropractor usually is to try and save patients from surgeries, though at times if I come across a condition that is severe, surprising or non-responsive, it’s equally my job to get those patients to a good surgeon; good medicine is all about teamwork.

Other times a patient will come in after having had a surgery to see how to speed recovery, or to recover to a higher level if he or she feels that improvement has stalled out. There is good news though no-one really looks forward to having surgery.

The three biggest fears usually revolve around pain, medication effects, and the temporary disability following many surgeries. The good news is that there are natural ways to reduce pain, (which lessens the need for as many medications) and to speed the repair process which in turn reduces temporary disability.

I’ll just tell the story as though I were the “case history;” I’ve often used myself as a guinea pig over my career to gain an empathetic understanding of my patients, and also to expand knowledge, and this time was no exception.

Starting a month and a half before surgery, I began a very specific exercise program to work the muscles around the knee, including methods to improve balance. The logic was simple: the stronger the muscles before the surgery, the less they will weaken during the non-weight bearing weeks of recovery. Same with balance – I had it on good authority (patient experience) that if someone doesn’t walk for an extended time, it’s almost as though the body “forgets” how, and each step is very unsteady wobbly – even if the muscles are getting stronger.

Next, I did extra acupuncture on points which assist musculoskeletal repair.  Third, I began to take a regimen of enzymes to reduce inflammation; Chinese herbs which speed trauma repair; and I also upgraded my basic diet to assist in healing as well.  Finally, I did engage in mental/psychological visualizations to make sure I entered the surgery with a good and positive healing attitude.

Surgery day

I came out of the long surgery and used the available morphine for a few hours only, then downgraded the pain meds to hydocodone which made the pain tolerable, and only at a nuisance level. At the end of the third day my leg just stopped hurting altogether except when moving……or one of the kids would bump it!

Usually people remain off work for 2-6 weeks with this surgery, but I was able to go back to the clinic the following week and work out of a wheelchair….which many patients found amusing in a black-humor sort of way! I went back to the gym after 6 days, but of course only to do moderate exercise at upper body machines.

Crutches followed for several weeks, and while the pain was not bad, the cartilage and bone needed time to knit.  Being off crutches has felt like freedom, and the strength continues to build very rapidly. Proper physical therapy (which is absolutely indispensable after surgery) has begun as well – again we had to wait until basic tissue healing had taken place.

Over the weeks since surgery the nutritional regimen has continued, though with modifications. Certain of the Chinese herbs needed changed to reflect the healing process, as did the enzymes. Upper body exercise continues at a much more vigorous level (the anesthesia did take some days to totally wear off); walking improves daily; and it’s time to start thinking about the other leg…..no- not quite yet!

The summary is this: if it’s your time for surgery, if you “pre-hab,” rehab and effectively control your nutrition your pain will almost certainly be less and your recovery faster – or very much faster. Speed isn’t the only thing though – it’s setting the stage for the highest level of recovery that’s the most important factor when you undergo a surgical procedure that will change your body forever.

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