Let’s start with something positive: When you’re staying at home all the time, you have more time to devote to cooking healthy food for yourself. At least, that’s the hope that many of us started out with 10+ weeks ago. However, there’s a reason why terms like “quarantine 15” and “isolation constipation” are trending on social media.
It turns out that eating healthily and avoiding overindulgence during a pandemic isn’t always easy, even if we have the best intentions. Read on to learn why and what you should do about it.
Emotions And Food Choices
The biggest challenge is that we’re all only human. It’s perfectly normal to be feeling a wide range of emotions right now. These may range from hope to boredom, uncertainty to terror, and even contentment. Sometimes all this is going on within the same hour! All of these are perfectly normal reactions to a very different situation from what most of us are used to.
Many people turn to food when they’re stressed. Whereas others can’t seem to stomach a bite when upset. I have always wished I was one of the latter, but sadly, have always fallen into the former category. Food helps me feel better.
The Role Of Cortisol In Stress Eating
On the surface, it may seem that your motivation to dive into a plate of freshly baked cookies is that they are one of life’s few remaining pleasures. And that is partially true. But there are also innate physiological reasons why we reach for sweets and carbs when we’re stressed. When your body senses that it’s under attack, it releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. And cortisol has been tied to an increase in appetite. Some studies have found that the blood sugar cycle (aka sugar high and crash) created when we turn to carbs and sugar is actually addictive. It is also a difficult roller coaster to get off of. When your blood sugar crashes, it stimulates cravings for carbs and sugar that can be next to impossible to overcome.
On top of that, many people are turning to baking, both to avoid going to the grocery store and to stay busy. This is inducing some unusual shortages at the grocery store (besides toilet paper), including flour and yeast. Scarcity then increases the urge to obtain these things.
And if you’ve recently drooled over a photo of a friend’s perfect loaf of freshly baked bread you know that the visual appeal of social media may also play a role.
In addition, having to limit our trips to the store leads to an abundance of non-perishable foods like flour and pasta in the cupboard, in contrast with a shortage of fresh produce in the fridge.
7 Tips To Avoid The “Quarantine Fifteen”
What’s a socially distancing person supposed to eat in order to stay healthy or even lose weight? The most important thing right now is that you take it easy on yourself. Being overly self-critical escalates the cycle of stress and overeating. Always keep in mind that we’re living through unprecedented developments. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to deal with our current situation.
1 – Practice Mindfulness
There is some fascinating research that has shown that developing a mindfulness practice through yoga or meditation leads to wiser food choices. One particular study found that a meditation practice reduced the desire for animal foods and increased the desire for a plant-based diet in the study participants.
With their positive effects on overall health and emotional well-being, there has never been a better time to take up yoga or meditation. I know I’ve been spending a great deal of time with my yoga mat lately. It definitely helps me feel more relaxed, less stressed, stronger and healthier.
Yoga and meditation can certainly improve your mental health, but one other unanticipated result could be healthier food choices.
2 – Be Aware Of Why You Are Eating
It’s also useful to examine the causes behind any snacking. Do you walk through the kitchen every time you’re bored or lonely? Eat chips during your Netflix binge nights? Watching TV while eating is a perfect way to over-consume unhealthy food.
If your reason for eating is anything other than hunger, then try having a glass or two of water instead.
3 – Be Careful What You Buy
Of course, you can’t eat food that isn’t in your home. Being more mindful of what you put in your cart in the store or order online is also important. If you’re finding it difficult to stay stocked up on fresh produce, investigate produce delivery services in your area or stock up on frozen fruit and veggies instead. They are equally, if not more, nutrient-dense and they are quick and convenient.
4 – Develop Soul-Nurturing Activities
Immersing yourself in activities that give you a sense of satisfaction helps to replace feelings of boredom and want that lead to overeating. Consider some rewarding pastimes such as fixing things in your home that have been on your to-do list, de-cluttering your cupboards or closets, handicrafts like sewing, knitting, or crocheting, teaching your dog a new trick, learning a musical instrument or even building a raised planter to grow a unique mix of salad greens in the smallest of sunny spots. We’ve started our tomato plants, cantaloupe, cucumber, lettuce, and basil indoors under a grow light a few weeks ago. They’re ready to be transplanted into our brand-new raised planter that my partner built.
Checking things off of your to-do list gives your brain a hit of the reward neurotransmitter dopamine. Feed the need for dopamine with self-pride and accomplishment instead of cookies.
5 – Alternative Produce Sources
Local organic farms are a good place to source regular produce box deliveries. If those are not available look into new fruit and vegetable services that many local restaurants are running as a way to stay afloat. If you are creative about getting fresh food from different sources, you can improve your odds of having a healthy choice when you are reaching for a snack.
6 – Plan For Nutrition
Becoming more conscious of your choices when you’re shopping will also help you make better food choices. Look for easy ways to slip in some more nutrient-dense foods, such as:
Buy some leafy greens to add to smoothies
Get some alternatives to pasta such as zoodles (noodles made from zucchini)
Roast some root vegetables and keep them on hand (these tasty veggies have the advantage of a long shelf life)
Try fermentation instead of baking (kimchi and kombucha are much better for your digestion than bread!)
Swap regular flour for almond flour. This cuts the carbs and increases the protein and healthy fat in your baking.
If you’d like to continue baking, that’s great! Just keep in mind that you can find many gluten-free or health-oriented recipes online. You might discover some new favourites. Consider joining our Gluten-free Recipe Swap on June 8 at 7 p.m. You can register here.
Keeping specific healthy meals and snacks in mind as you shop can help you ignore the less nutritious choices.
7 – Focus On The Health Attributes of Your Food
Knowing the physiological needs that your food is meeting is another angle that will help you make healthier choices:
Foods That Nourish Your Digestive Tract
Avoid “isolation constipation” by ensuring that you’re getting enough fibre in your diet. This is a great time to try new recipes with beans, for example. Beans happen to also be cheap and easy to store. Bean flour makes a healthier flour substitute too because of its high fibre content. Here are some good recipes to start with!
Foods That Support A Healthy Immune System
Nutrients such as vitamin A, C, and zinc support a healthy immune system. Good sources of beta carotene to build vitamin A include orange and yellow fruits and veggies as well as dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruit, kiwi, berries, peppers and melons. Foods that are rich in zinc include most seeds and nuts, beef, egg yolks and shellfish.
And of course, while we’re talking about immune supportive vitamins, remember to catch a few rays of sunshine every day to top up your vitamin D. You need skin exposure at the sun’s peak times to get your daily dose, that’s why most of us supplement with this essential vitamin.
Aside from your diet, how are you holding up? Stress eating may be a sign that you need some help with your mental health. It’s important to check in with others to maintain your psychological well-being.
will be different. This year you will turn things around and realize
your health and happiness goals. You’ve got this! How do we know?
Because we’re going to work together on making sure that you know
exactly what to do and how so that you can be your best self in 2020.
Here’s our quick list of simple, proven tips and tactics that will
make it easier to be healthier than ever this year.
important to start off with realistic expectations when you’re
making changes like these. Remember that new habits take a while to
“stick.” One study found that 66 days is the average time to
establish a new habit, while other sources say it
takes 3 weeks. There’s a wide variation so be patient with
yourself. Don’t give up if you have little slips now and then.
You’re only human, after all. Just keep regrouping. Tenacity is
one of the most important success attributes.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Also, be sure to set yourself up for success by creating an environment that minimizes your distractions. For example, if you’re trying to cut back on alcohol, you might find it easier to meet up with friends on walks in a park or at a board game cafe instead of somewhere that exposes you to temptation, like at a pub. That’s an obvious example, but you can take that philosophy further by taking a good look at your routines, your companions, and your home to make sure that you’re supporting your goals. If your normal drive to or from work entails passing by a bakery that you just can’t resist, think about revamping your route. One of the best things that Starbucks ever did for me was to close the location closest to my home!
10 Health Tips For A Healthy, Happy 2020
start having the best year ever? Here’s how.
1. Keep your body hydrated
heard this many times. Despite all the urging to drink more water,
did you know that many of us still walk around in a state of
perpetual dehydration? It’s true. Did you also know that when we’re
feeling tired or hungry, we often don’t realize that what we really
need is just a big glass of water?
How much water should you drink? There’s no universal answer to this question. There’s never been research showing that we have to get 8 glasses per day. But, it doesn’t hurt to use that figure as a benchmark. Another good indicator is the color of your urine: It should be clear and the color of pale straw. Pay close attention to your thirst cues. Often by the time that we are aware that we’re thirsty, we’re already dehydrated. I find it helps people to get in the routine of drinking more water if they start their day with two cups of it first thing when they get up. It seems to prompt their thirst mechanism to cue them to drink more often throughout the day.
2. Take five minutes to meditate
If you find the concept of meditation too intimidating, focus on achieving just five minutes of stillness. Yes, just five minutes of mindful meditation makes a difference in your physical and mental health. Don’t believe me? Check out these studies:
Following 5-minute mindfulness, meditation participants experienced enhanced both mental state attribution and empathic concern
A brief mindfulness exercise, conducted in a routine office visit, produced a significant reduction in state anxiety for early psychosis patients, regardless of symptom burden
Even a 10-15 minute single training session induces sustained home meditation practice (of 5 minutes duration) that helped patients in recovery for opioid addiction and was associated with a lower risk of relapse.
A 3-minute mindfulness exercise, conducted in a routine office visit, produced a significant reduction in state anxiety for early psychosis patients, regardless of symptom burden.
minutes into your routine when you wake up in the morning or before
you go to sleep at night. In the time it takes you to scroll through
your Instagram feed, you could take an important step towards
lowering your blood pressure, your risk of depression, your anxiety,
and much more.
find many meditation apps and videos on the Internet, but here’s a
short primer on how to meditate.
Find a quiet spot where you are free from distractions or interruptions.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes.
Inhale through your nose and all the way into the bottom of your lungs.
Ignore outside noises.
Set your focus internally.
Breathe all the way into your belly, use your diaphragm.
Focus on rhythmically breathing.
Focus your thoughts on inner tranquility. If you have difficulty not thinking about things, try repeating a meaningless word in your mind. An easy way to come up with such a word is to take a random word and spell it backward. Repeat this word over and over in your mind and bring your mind back to it if it starts to wander.
3. Focus on whole foods
Foods. The world is full of complicated diet plans, but this one step
is key. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. For
example, instead of a piece of apple pie, have an apple.
Shop. Think about your average grocery store trip. You want to buy as
much food from the outside edge of the store as possible. This is
where the grocery store places produce (fresh and frozen), meats, and
fish. By shopping the perimeter of the store, you will buy more
whole foods like produce and lean healthy protein, instead of
processed food like crackers, chips, cookies and pop.
Buy Local. One thing that also makes this step a bit easier is to buy local as often as possible. Check out your local farmer’s market or farm store, for example. You’ll be eating produce that hasn’t traveled from who-knows-where, so it will be fresher. Fresh, local produce tastes better because it is picked closer to when it is ripe. Plus, you’re helping to reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment.
feel like stretching at the end of your workout is a waste of time.
After all, you’ve done the important stuff, like improve your
cardio and build strength, right? However, stretching improves your
flexibility and mobility, reduces your risk of injury, and reduces
your stress levels. So take some time at the end of your workouts, or
when you first wake up, to stretch out your muscles. Yoga is one of
the best exercises because it incorporates strength, balance, and
stretching for flexibility.
the first thing you do when your electronic device is experiencing
problems? Unplug it. That’s also good advice for humans. When
you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or just tired, consider putting your
phone away for a while. You might be surprised by the results.
In fact, more and more research is pointing to the negative effects of screen time on our mental health, as well as our physical health. “Tech neck” is just one example. If you find device detox challenging, don’t hesitate to get help. This may be a bit ironic, but there are apps that can help you cut down on screen time. Personally, I have a timer on my Instagram. A pop-up flashes on my screen to tell me when I’ve hit my ten-minute limit.
Eat for gut health
are learning more about the importance of the gut-brain-axis
connection. What does this mean? In simple terms, the bacteria in
your gut influence your moods and vice versa. Did you know that you
make more serotonin in your gut than you do in your brain?
gut microbiome is out of balance, you experience many health
problems, including that annoying “brain fog” feeling. You also
suffer from the effects of a weakened immune system.
Fortunately, the solution is simple and delicious. Eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and natural yogourt like kefir restore the balance of bacteria in your gut. Eating foods high in fiber helps to fuel that bacteria. Prebiotic fiber like inulin cultivates good bacteria, particularly Bifidobacteria that keep your colon healthy. Inulin is found in foods like chicory root and asparagus. You can also take inulin as a supplement. Our naturopathic doctors are the experts on rehabilitating your gut.
Rethink the sweet treats
harmful effects of sugar extend far beyond damaging your teeth and
your waistline. Your skin, heart, moods, teeth, immune system and
hormones are all hurt by this tasty poison.
However, what makes avoiding sugar particularly tricky is that it’s often hidden. You probably know to avoid cake, but sugar is also found in everyday items like salad dressing and spaghetti sauce. So when you’re trying to cut down on sugar, start by reading the labels on all processed foods. Or avoiding processed foods altogether. It’s super simple to make your own clean salad dressing by combining lemon juice, sea salt, and olive oil or balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
The other reason that it is so hard to cut down on sugar is that it is highly addictive. Food is not normally considered to be a substance of abuse. Based on the similarities between the effects of intermittent sugar access and drugs of abuse on behavior and brain chemistry, sugar meets the criteria for a substance of abuse and may be “addictive” for some individuals when consumed in a “binge-like” manner. The effects are similar, although smaller in magnitude, to cocaine or morphine.
So how do you quit sugar? Similarly to how you would break any addiction. Read our tips for quitting alcohol. You can apply those same tips in your efforts to quit sugar or smoking or any other habit you are looking to change.
blood sugar stable to keep sugar cravings at bay. Cravings are very
hard to plow through, save yourself that challenge by having a little
protein and a healthy dose of healthy fats with each of your meals.
Looking for a way to improve your physical health, boost your overall life satisfaction, and reduce your risk of depression? The solution may lie outside of yourself. In other words, if you place more attention on helping others, you could be the one who benefits. Studies show that volunteering benefits mental and physical health, life satisfaction, social well-being, and depression.
Take a walk outside
short walk outside every day improves your:
Vitamin D levels
minutes a day is enough to reap the benefits. Look for excuses to get
outside in place of driving, or start the day with a nice stroll.
Walk to work. Run errands on foot instead of by car. Having a dog
makes a walk every morning a no-brainer for me.
10. Smile and have fun!
Sometimes it feels like the road to health is paved with hard work and sacrifice. However, simply choosing to view a healthy lifestyle with an attitude of gratitude makes it easier to carry out your plans. After all, things like eating well, resting, and getting some exercise add to your life. Focus on the fun aspects: try new recipes, walk with friends, find a volunteer job that lets you explore a long-buried interest. You’ll be happy that you did!
less, exercise more. You’ve probably heard that this is the secret
to weight loss. So, it makes sense that if you want to lose weight
quickly, or if you’ve hit a weight-loss plateau, you need to really
ramp up the exercise, right?
Unfortunately, despite the fact that it makes sense, many people experience frustration with this approach. Why aren’t they successful? Research suggests that weight loss is more complex than a simple “calories in vs calories burned” formula. In fact, our hormones play a bigger role in regulating our metabolism than many people realize. As a result, maintaining a diet that reduces insulin levels and encourages hormonal balance is more effective than hours of exercise.
Why Exercise Can’t Make Up for a Bad Diet
a woman training for a 10-K race. She runs from half an hour to an
hour every day. With all of that exercise, she figures she should be
losing weight and should be able to treat herself every now and then.
However, she’s plagued by some remaining pounds that she just
happening? Let’s take a look at the math. As a 140-pound woman, she
burns about 300 calories in a 30-minute run. That’s fantastic! In
addition to the calorie burn, she experiences better cardiovascular
health, improved mood, a sense of accomplishment and countless other
benefits from her runs.
those 300 calories are a lot easier to consume than they are to burn.
Simply put, she can easily take in an extra 300 calories by eating a
small bagel or sipping on a sweet coffee drink.
fact, studies have shown that exercising often leads to an increase
in food consumption. Some of this effect is due to the impact
that our hormones have on our appetite. Some of it simply is because
we tell ourselves, consciously or subconsciously, that we deserve a
treat after a workout.
The Science Of Diet vs Exercise
Interestingly, one study found that about 30 minutes per day of exercise is more effective for losing body fat than longer periods of working out. One reason for this is that our everyday movement (the things we do on a normal day that are not “formal” exercise) may decrease if we’re tired from a long workout. As well, the hormones that stimulate our appetite increase when our bodies are over-stressed. But, research has also shown that our appetite-increasing hormone (ghrelin) goes down when we exercise. So the trick is to exercise, but not to the point where it is perceived as additional stress by your body.
What does this mean for your weight-loss efforts? All told, scientists conclude that diet is more effective than exercise for weight loss. However, the best approach is still to combine the two. That’s because it is important not to dismiss exercise’s role. Working out improves your metabolism, particularly if you add strength training to your routine. Strength training builds muscle mass. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active. That means that it burns more calories, even while you are sleeping. And, of course, exercise offers countless other benefits. These range from better skin and immune function to improved digestion to deeper sleep. It’s an important part of a healthy, balanced life.
controlled trials comparing diet-plus-exercise vs. diet-only for
weight loss among obese or overweight adults found that
diet-plus-exercise interventions provided significantly greater
weight loss than diet-only interventions.
Another study from 2014 determined that weight loss programs that are based on physical activity alone are less effective than programs that included combined behavioral weight management strategies in both the short and long term.
The Most Effective Formula of Diet vs Exercise For Weight Loss
So, what is the ideal weight loss formula? The best approach is one that reflects your unique health profile. Your age, gender, overall health, and lifestyle all impact your metabolism. That’s why it’s important to work with your naturopathic doctor to develop a strategy that works for you. We want to make sure that there isn’t something else going on that’s sabotaging your ability to reach your weight loss goals.
Can’t You Lose Weight?
kind of impediments to weight loss that our Naturopathic Doctors will
help you seek out include:
Hypothyroidism. This is a common cause of symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, and mental lethargy. Our naturopaths offer more extensive testing for your thyroid than anyone else.
High stress and high cortisol. Stress jacks up your cortisol production to help you handle the stress. However, we all know that cortisol causes your body to deposit fat right around your mid-section. That pesky belly fat won’t budge unless you can moderate the effect that stress has on your body. Our naturopaths check cortisol levels and assess your adrenal glands. We use adaptogenic herbs to moderate cortisol production and help you handle stress more easily.
Weight Loss Plateau –
Tips for Moving the Needle
A few simple changes help you make the most of the “diet” part of the equation so that you experience the weight-loss benefits of both diet and exercise
Intermittent Fasting: What is the Best Way to do it?
Intermittent fasting means integrating scheduled periods of abstaining from food into your life. There are many different approaches you could try. To name a few popular examples, some people eat regular meals five days a week and fast for the other two. Many people follow an “8-16” schedule, in which they have an 8-hour eating window each day. For example, they only eat between 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, then they fast for 16 hours from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. During the fasting window, they consume only water.
Studies show that the effectiveness of these periods of fasting goes beyond the missed calories. In addition, intermittent fasting has a positive effect on your hormones. For example, periods of not eating keep your insulin levels in check. When your food is digested in your gut, the carbs in it are converted to sugar and then used for energy. But, excess sugar that you don’t burn is stored as fat, with the help of insulin. If your insulin levels drop, your fat cells release this stored sugar. In addition, fasting increases your levels of human growth hormone (HGH) which leads to healthier testosterone levels, muscle growth, and fat loss.
time of day should you do Intermittent Fasting?
Some say that it doesn’t matter. I think it does matter. Research suggests that it is beneficial to consume your calories earlier in the day. This gives you time to burn off those calories. Studies also show that you produce less insulin when you take in your calories earlier in the day, rather than later. I recommend that my patients aim to set a fasting window from 5 or 6 p.m. to 9 to 10 a.m. and eat from 9 to 5 or 10 to 6.
Keep a food diary
One strategy that is effective for weight loss is to carefully monitor what you’re eating in a food diary. Making this a habit helps to prevent the tendency many of us have to overcompensate for an exercise session or grab a quick snack without realizing the extra caloric intake.
If you prefer to use technology for this, apps like FitBit and Samsung Health will monitor your caloric intake and activity level to make sure that you aren’t underestimating how much you eat and overestimating how active you are.
Focus on natural, nutrient-dense whole foods.
When you want to get the most nutritional value from the foods you eat, “clean” eating is the best approach. Often when people hit plateaus in their weight-loss efforts, hormone imbalances are to blame. That means that no amount of extra exercise will help break the plateau. Nutrient-dense foods are full of vitamins and minerals that restore hormonal balance. So try cutting out processed foods, refined sugar, and alcohol in favor of whole foods like vegetables and fruit.
Whole foods also supply prebiotic fiber. Research on this type of fiber indicates that it helps to reduce a hormone in your blood called ghrelin. Ghrelin is responsible for increasing your appetite. Prebiotic fiber also reduces an inflammatory marker called CRP or C-Reactive Protein. Reducing CRP means reducing inflammation. Reducing inflammation helps you lose weight by improving energy and exercise tolerance but also by improving insulin sensitivity. Foods that are high in prebiotic fiber include asparagus, burdock, chicory, dandelion root, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, and onions.
As always, a personalized approach will be the most effective. If you have hit a weight-loss plateau, or if you’re wondering how to achieve the right balance between diet and exercise, give our clinic a call at 416-481-0222 or book online here.
Wondering which foods give you the most nutritional bang for your buck and therefore qualify as Superfoods? Pack your diet full of these powerhouse foods for their multitude of health benefits.
Did you know that it may have been a pomegranate – not an apple – that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden? Pomegranate fruit has been revered since ancient times and has featured prominently in history and mythology. The culinary traditions, art, and literature of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India all hold this jewel in high esteem.
Discover the nutrients and health benefits contained in this exotic fruit below!
The Amazing Health Benefits of Eating Pomegranate:
A Healthy Heart
Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols – plant compounds that help reduce the inflammation associated with heart disease. Polyphenols have been shown to reduce the thickness of arterial walls, allowing your blood to move through more easily.
Lower Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that daily intake of pomegranate juice can significantly reduce systolic blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke.
Get Rid of Unhealthy Bacteria
A recent study discovered that pomegranate extracts may be helpful in killing several harmful bacteria strains, including E. coli and Staphylococcus.
When estrogen levels drop, many women lose bone density. Pomegranates can help keep bones strong as they contain phytoestrogen in their seeds.
Polyphenols, strong antioxidants, in pomegranate may slow down the aging process.
Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Supplementation with pomegranate juice in mice with Alzheimer’s disease has shown improved behaviour, ability to learn new tasks more quickly and swim faster than mice given placebo.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Pomegranate juice may slow the build-up of ‘bad’ cholesterol in those who have risk factors associated with heart disease.
Tips for Eating More Pomegranate:
Add them to salads. Sprinkle some pomegranate seeds over your salad to enjoy the tasty health benefits.
Breakfast. Pomegranate seeds can be added to yogurt, hot millet or oatmeal, smoothies or consumed in juice form!
Don’t be afraid to mix savoury with sweet. Initially, it may seem odd to add fruit to savoury dishes but give it a try and see what you think!
Superfood: The Awesome Artichoke
The globe artichoke – the green-purple petalled variety that we usually eat and see in the grocery store – is actually an immature flower of a thistle plant. They are thought to be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. Artichokes are found in ancient Egyptian writings as a symbol of sacrifice and fertility.
Artichokes are deliciously healthy vegetables that have been featured in many cuisines, using both the heart and the leaves. However, often the most daunting aspect of the artichoke is figuring out how to clean and prep them properly. Artichoke hearts can be purchased already prepped in a can, but sometimes the sodium content of canned goods outweighs the potential health benefits. Check out these health benefits below as well as some tips on proper prep and cooking of artichokes!
The Health Benefits of Eating Artichokes
Improve Energy Levels
The high magnesium content in artichokes helps the body generate energy. When the body doesn’t have enough magnesium, the muscles have to work harder to react and they become tired more quickly.
Cancer & Heart Disease Prevention
One cup of cooked artichoke has an antioxidant capacity of 7904! These antioxidants may help prevent cancer and heart disease.
A German study from 2000 shows the possibility that artichokes may help lower cholesterol while balancing blood glucose levels. Certain ingredients in the leaves of artichokes have been found to reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
Improve High Blood Pressure
Artichokes contain high levels of potassium. Potassium helps the body handle excess sodium which in turn helps with hypertension.
Help Fight Disease
Artichokes contain high numbers of polyphenols, disease-fighting compounds. Polyphenols have chemopreventive qualities, which means they can slow down, stop or even reserve the effects of cancer or other diseases.
Relieve Gastrointestinal Problems
Artichokes, especially the leaf extract, has been shown to help relieve gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, constipation, IBS, and diarrhea. They are also a rich source of dietary fiber, which in itself can improve the health and functionality of your digestive system.
Reduce Risk of Birth Defects
Amongst all their other beneficial qualities, artichokes can even help pregnant women reduce the risk of birth defects. The high levels of folate in artichokes can prevent neural tube defects in newborns.
The high magnesium, phosphorous and manganese content in artichokes means they help increase bone health and density, thereby reducing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis.
Better Brain Function
Artichokes possess vasodilator qualities, meaning they allow more oxygen to reach the brain for elevated cognitive function. Furthermore, their phosphorus content improves brain health, as phosphorus deficiencies have been linked to serious declines in cognitive ability.
Significant Nutrients in 1 medium cooked Artichoke:
10.3 g Dietary Fiber (41% DV) 45.6 mg Omega-3 fatty acids 126 mg Omega-6 fatty acids 3.5 g Protein (7% DV) 8.9 mg Vitamin C (15% DV) 17.8 mcg Vitamin K (22% DV) 1.3 mg Niacin (7% DV) 107 mcg Folate (27% DV) 50.4 mg Magnesium (13% DV) 87.6 mg Phosphorus (9% DV) 343 mg Potassium (10% DV) 0.2 mg Copper (8% DV) 0.3 mg Manganese (13% DV)
Tips to Eat More Artichokes
Buy them at the right time. From March to May is the best time to buy fresh artichokes. Good ones will be heavy and firm, with compact, bright green leaves. Make sure there are no signs of dryness.
Keep them fresh! Keep that artichoke you just bought in tip-top shape by slicing a dime width off the artichoke stem and sprinkle the raw vegetable with water. Refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag and use within 5-7 days.
Clean and prep correctly. This is the intimidating part! Rinse and gently scrub the artichoke with water. Cut off the bottom stem about 1/2 an inch from the top. If using the whole vegetable: cut the tips of the leaves to get rid of the thorns. Rub cut portions with lemon to keep it from browning. If using only the heart: Cut off the top and the sides (petals). Cut down from the top until the middle is mostly white. Then scoop out the small purple parts in the center and cut the rest of the green off of the sides on the stem.
Cook them! Steaming whole prepped artichokes for 30-40 minutes is the easiest way to cook them. But techniques like roasting them in the oven for 1-1.5 hours with seasonings can impart a lot of flavour
Although tomatoes are often closely associated with Italian cuisine, they are originally native to the western side of South America. They were introduced to the rest of the world in the 1500s but did not enjoy full popularity at that time. This was due to the fact that tomatoes are actually part of the nightshade family, and were therefore thought to possess poisonous qualities. It is true that the leaves, stems, and green unripe fruit of the tomato plant contain the toxic alkaloids tomatine and solanine, however, the concentrations are usually too small to cause any damage.
Today, we recognize the healthy and beneficial antioxidants that tomatoes contain, namely lycopene. This “miracle” antioxidant has been proven to reduce the risk of numerous diseases and well as boost health. Learn about the nutrients and health benefits of tomatoes and lycopene below.
Nutrients in 100 g of tomatoes:
Only 18 calories! 3.0 mg Omega-3 fatty acids 80.0 mg Omega-6 fatty acids 833 IU Vitamin A (17% DV) 12.7 mg Vitamin C (21% DV) 7.9 mcg Vitamin K (10% DV) 15.0 mcg folate (4% DV) 237 mg Potassium (7% DV) 0.1 mg Manganese (6% DV)
The Surprising Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Lycopene in tomatoes boosts pro-collagen, the building block for collagen that keeps your skin firm and youthful.
Lycopene also helps to prevent sunburn. A study showed that women who ate 55 g of tomato paste each day had a 33% increase in skin protection against UV exposure.
Reduce Stroke Risk
A Finnish study found that men with higher serum levels of lycopene had a 55-59% reduced risk of stroke.
Lower Heart Attack Risk
A tomato-rich Mediterranean diet combined with extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts lowers the risk of major cardiovascular events (including heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular causes) by 30%.
Boost Bone Health
A review article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found a link between tomato consumption and a lower risk of osteoporosis.
Protect Against Cancer
Studies show a reduced risk of cancers affecting the prostate, lung, stomach, mouth, breast, pancreas, cervix, colon, and rectum in participants with higher levels of lycopene in their blood.
Reduced Risk of Parkinson’s disease
Early research has indicated that foods that contain small amounts of dietary nicotine, including tomatoes and peppers, may help prevent Parkinson’s disease. Interestingly, the protective effect appeared to be stronger in those who had little or no prior use of nicotine in the form of tobacco.
New research shows that the healthiest sleepers consume more lycopene, compared to the people who get too little or too much sleep.
Tips to Eat More Tomatoes
Incorporate them! Tomatoes are one of the most versatile foods. From soups, stews, sauces, salads, salsas and more, tomatoes can easily be added to your daily meals.
Try something new. One of the less common ways of eating tomatoes is stuffing them.
Bought tomatoes but they’re just not ripe? Try placing them in a brown paper bag with bananas or apples. The two fruits emit ethylene gas that will facilitate the ripening of tomatoes.
Beetroot, or Beta vulgaris, evolved from the wild seabeet. Seabeets are native to coastlines from India to Britain. They are the ancestor of all cultivated forms of beets.
Today, beets are often a forgotten root and only utilized in certain cuisines. However, they were definitely more appreciated in ancient times. Beetroot is said to have been offered to Apollo in the temple at Delphi, where it was reckoned to be worth its own weight in silver!
Additionally, the medicinal properties of the root were more important than its culinary applications in early times. It was used to treat a variety of ailments including fevers, constipation, wounds and various skin problems.
Discover the Superfood qualities of beetroot and beet greens
Nutrients in 100 grams of cooked beets (2 beets with 2” diameter):
One of the first known uses of beets was by the ancient Romans, who used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of hormones and also benefits your bones.
Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Beets contain betaines, which may function to reduce homocysteine levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Help Fight Cancer
The plant pigment that gives beets it rich crimson-purple colour is called betacyanin. It is a powerful agent thought to suppress the development of some types of cancers.
Improved Immune System and Protection from Oxidative Damage
Beetroot fiber increases levels of antioxidant enzymes in the body (particularly glutathione peroxidase) as well as increasing the number of white blood cells.
The betalains in beets have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation.
Tips for Eating More Beets:
Beet Juice! Beet juice will give you all the health benefits of eating the vegetable but can be conveniently added to smoothies or drank alone without the hassle of roasting them.
Add to salads. Beets do not have an aggressive flavour so they can be easily incorporated into your normal salads. Just grate one over your favourite salad.
Don’t forget the greens! Beet greens are extremely rich in important vitamins and minerals but are often overlooked. They can be used like spinach in a salad or cooked.
Broccoli seems to be one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. Common complaints from broccoli-haters are its strong flavour and aroma. These qualities likely come from its ancestry in the cabbage family. But like other Brassica vegetables – cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale – broccoli is packed with health benefits, granting it a position in the Superfood category.
Its English name, broccoli, is derived from the Italian brocco and the Latin brachium meaning arm, branch or sprout. A fitting name as broccoli usually looks like a mini-tree.
Like the artichoke, broccoli is essentially a large edible flower. The stalks and broccoli florets are both edible in raw form as well as cooked. The stalks can be eaten as is or peeled to remove some of the tough fibrous exterior. Broccoli also has small leaves that are very bitter. These are usually discarded except in the most adventurous kitchens.
Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which is processed in your body to create sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound. Sulforaphane rids your body of H. pylori, a strain of bacteria known to increase the risk of gastric cancer. Also, broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant, and anti-carcinogen that is known to reduce the growth of breast, cervical, and prostate cancer as well as boost healthy liver function.
Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Broccoli is packed with soluble fiber that helps to carry cholesterol out of your body.
Regulate Blood Pressure
Broccoli has high amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium which all help to regulate blood pressure.
Reduce Allergic Reactions and Inflammation
Broccoli is a rich source of kaempferol and Isothiocyanates, which are anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Research has shown that kaempferol has the ability to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on your body. Kaempferol also moderates the effects of progesterone and may help fibroids. Additionally, broccoli has significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, a known anti-inflammatory.
Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, two nutrients that are necessary for healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane may be able to prevent or reverse damage to blood vessel linings caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems.
Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin are all special phytonutrients in broccoli that support the steps of liver detoxification. These include activation, neutralization, and elimination of toxins and contaminants.
Prevent Digestive Issues
Broccoli is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating.
Alkalizes Your Body
Broccoli helps keep your whole body less acidic, leading to numerous other health benefits.
Broccoli contains a high amount of potassium, which helps to maintain a healthy nervous system and optimal brain function.
Tips for Eating More Broccoli
Steam. Lightly steam broccoli until it is bright green and still has some firmness for the best nutrient retention (other than raw!).
4 cups per week. Eating 1/2 cup of broccoli per day or two 2-cup servings per week is sufficient to produce cancer prevention benefits.
Purée. You can purée cooked broccoli with its “sister vegetable,” cauliflower and add some seasonings for an easy, healthy soup.
Vegetables that are not dark green in colour are often mistakenly identified as void of all important nutrients. This is precisely the case when it comes to the wrongfully accused humble cauliflower. This vegetable gets a Superfood label because of its zero fat, low-carbs, and notable fiber, as well as vitamin C content that can rival an orange. Not bad for a vegetable that writer Mark Twain once described as “cabbage with a college education.”
Twain’s connection of cauliflower with cabbage is a clever reference to their common ancestry. They are both parts of the Brassica family – which also includes Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and collard greens. Cauliflower’s ancestry has been traced to the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have originated in ancient Asia Minor.
But how did cauliflower become a rich man’s cabbage? With its introduction in France, it was granted upmarket status on the tables of French monarchs Louis XIV and XV. In fact, Louis XV liked cauliflower and his mistress Madame du Barry so much that numerous cauliflower dishes in French cuisine still bear her name.
Nutrients in 1 cup raw cauliflower:
2.5 g dietary fiber (10% DV) 37.0 mg omega-3 fatty acids 11.0 mg omega-6 fatty acids 46.4 mg vitamin C (77% DV) 16.0 mcg vitamin K (20% DV) 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (11% DV) 57.0 mcg folate (14% DV) 303 mg potassium (9% DV) 0.2 mg manganese (8% DV) Also, 1 cup of raw cauliflower is only 25 calories!
The Remarkable Health Benefits of Eating Cauliflower
Protection from free radical damage
Cauliflower contains carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, and phytonutrients that include kaempferol, ferulic acid, cinnamic acid, and caffeic acid. All of these antioxidants help protect you from free radical damage and reduce the risk for diseases caused by oxidative stress, like cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Cauliflower contains glucosinolates and thiocyanates which increase your liver’s ability to neutralize potentially toxic substances that could lead to cancer. Also, cauliflower’s antioxidant nutrients help boost Phase 1 detoxification, and its sulphur-containing nutrients enhance Phase 2 detox.
There are numerous studies linking cauliflower-containing diets to cancer prevention, especially bladder, breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancers. Cauliflower contains several anti-cancer phytochemicals like sulforaphane and plant sterols such as indole-3-carbinol.
Regular cauliflower consumption may decrease the risk of inflammation-mediated diseases such as arthritis, obesity, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis. Additionally, its vitamin K and omega-3 content help prevent chronic inflammation that leads to conditions like arthritis.
Digestive system support
The fiber in cauliflower cleans out your digestive system and gets rid of unhealthy substances. Also, a substance in cauliflower called glucoraphin appears to have a protective effect on the stomach lining. With glucoraphin, the stomach is not prone to Helicobacter pylori bacteria, thereby reducing the risk of stomach ulcers and cancer.
Protection from cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cauliflower make it protective against cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Inflammation particularly plays a significant role in many cardiovascular problems such as atherosclerosis.
Cauliflower has no fat, is high in vitamin C, low in carbohydrates and has a noteworthy fiber content.
Tips for Getting More Cauliflower in Your Diet
Forget mashed potatoes! Try a healthy cauliflower puree instead.
Raw raw raw. Cauliflower maintains more of its nutrients in its raw form so try dipping in hummus for a light snack.
Try roasting. Roasting cauliflower is so easy – just throw it in the oven – and it doesn’t lose as many nutrients in the cooking process compared to boiling or steaming.
Also called alligator pear, avocados grow on trees native to Mexico and Central America. Although often confused as a vegetable, this fatty fruit is full of nutrients bringing it up to the Superfood category.
Avocados originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The oldest evidence of avocado use dates to about 10,000 BC in a cave in Coxcatlán. It has been suggested that avocados may be an example of an ‘evolutionary anachronism’. That is, a fruit adapted to an ecological relationship with now-extinct large mammals. Most large fleshy fruits rely on seed dispersal by animals for propagation. Therefore there are reasons to believe avocados, with their mildly toxic pit, may have co-evolved with giant animals that lived during the Pleistocene period. These huge mammals would swallow an avocado whole and the large seed would have been dispersed through their stool. Today, there is no native animal that is large enough to effectively disperse avocado seeds in this manner.
Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid and antioxidant that helps protect against eye diseases. It also contains related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol.
Helps the body absorb more nutrients
Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat), so eating avocado that is carotenoid and monounsaturated-fat-rich helps the body absorb more of the carotenoids.
The high levels of insoluble and soluble fiber in avocados help the digestive system run smoothly and slow the breakdown of carbohydrates respectively. Slowing the breakdown of carbs keeps you feeling fuller longer. Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of the brain that makes you feel full.
Stabilize blood sugar
The monounsaturated fat in avocados slows digestion and helps keep blood sugar from spiking after a meal.
Lower risk of heart disease and heart attacks
Avocados contain a significant amount of folate, and high folate intake has been linked with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease.
The oleic acid in avocados also helps reduce cholesterol levels.
The monounsaturated fats in avocado are also beneficial for improving your skin tone. These healthy fats are vital for maintaining good moisture levels in the epidermal layer of the skin. They help reduce skin redness, irritation, and signs of aging such as wrinkles.
Reduce arthritic pain
Avocados contain anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to reduce arthritic pain.
Reduce blood pressure
The combination of avocado’s high potassium content with omega-3 and oleic acid are beneficial toward reducing blood pressure.
Help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
The folate in avocado helps to prevent the formation of brain tangles that are considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Also, the combination of omega-3 fatty acids with natural vitamin E found in avocados has been clinically proven to prevent Alzheimer’s disease from progressing and even reversing it in its earliest stages.
Tips for Eating More Avocados:
Spread it! Try putting mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on bread instead of butter.
Chop it! Chop the avocado and add it to a salad, or use it as a topping or side garnish for soup.
Blend it! Adding avocado to a fruit smoothie can add amazing health benefits and doesn’t compromise flavour.
Kiwifruit was named after the New Zealand Kiwi bird – an unusual flightless bird – because they are both small, brown and furry. But, not all kiwi is fuzzy! The species we generally see in the grocery store is appropriately called Fuzzy Kiwifruit. But, there is also the Golden Kiwi that has smooth bronze skin and has a sweeter taste.
Most of us would associate Kiwis with New Zealand; however, Kiwis have been native to China for centuries. Interestingly, people in North America didn’t even know what kiwifruit was until about 50 years ago. They were first brought over to Canada in 1963. Now we know that kiwis can grow in any temperate climate so most of the world’s kiwis are grown in New Zealand, Italy and Chile.
Nutrients in 1 cup of Kiwi:
5.3 g Dietary Fiber (21% DV) 74.3 mg Omega-3 fatty acids 435 mg Omega-6 fatty acids 164 mg Vitamin C (273% DV) 2.6 mg Vitamin E (13% DV) 71.3 mcg Vitamin K (89% DV) 44.2 mcg Folate (11% DV) 552 mg Potassium (16% DV) 0.2 mg Copper (12% DV)
The Considerable Benefits of Consuming Kiwi
With only about 50 calories per kiwi, this fruit packs in a lot of nutrients in a healthy low-calorie bundle. It is also low in sugar and high in fiber!
Boost Immune System
With such high vitamin C content comes increased iron absorption, wound healing and an immune system boost.
Kiwi contains actinidain, a protein-dissolving enzyme that can help digest a meal.
Helps Control Blood Pressure
The high potassium level in kiwi helps the body keep electrolytes in balance by counteracting the effects of sodium.
Protects Your from DNA Damage
A 2011 study in Nutrition Journal showed that the unique combination of antioxidants in Kiwi fruit helps protect the cell’s DNA from oxidative damage. This process may also help prevent cancer.
Clean Out Toxins
The fiber in Kiwi helps bind and move toxins from your intestinal tract.
Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Eating 2-3 kiwis per day has been shown to reduce the risk of a blood clot by 18% and reduce triglyceride levels by 15%.
Protect Against Macular Degeneration
A 2004 study on over 110,000 individuals showed that eating 3 or more servings of this fruit decreased macular degeneration by 36%. This is thought to be associated with the Kiwi’s high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin – natural chemicals found in the human eye.
Create Alkaline Balance
Kiwi is in the most alkaline category for fruits, meaning it contains a rich supply of minerals to replace the excessively acidic foods most people consume.
Kiwis are a good source of vitamin E, which is known to protect the skin from degeneration.
Tips to Get Enough Kiwi:
Blend kiwi in a smoothie.
Kiwi vinaigrette for your salad! Kiwi + vinegar + oil + bit of honey (optional) + salt & pepper = one great salad dressing.
Pack a Kiwi as a mid-day snack. Also, pack a spoon and eat the fruity flesh right out of its fuzzy exterior.
Most of us think of pumpkins as a decorative accent to our Halloween festivities or a humble Thanksgiving pie. But, pumpkins actually carry an abundance of healthy nutrients. High in fiber and low in calories, pumpkin is full of disease-fighting nutrients including potassium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and vitamin C and E. But the key nutrient that gives pumpkin its Superfood label is the synergistic combination of alpha and beta carotene – it contains one of the richest supplies of bioavailable carotenoids!
Significant nutrients in 1 cup of mashed pumpkin:
2.7 g Dietary Fiber (11% DV) 12231 IU Vitamin A (245% DV) 11.5 mg Vitamin C (19% DV) 1.0 mg Vitamin E (10% DV) 0.2 mcg Riboflavin (11% DV) 564 mg Potassium (16% DV) 0.2 mg Copper (11% DV) 0.2 mg Manganese (11% DV)
Pumpkin seeds are also chock full of nutrients. They are high in protein and are a great source of magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc.
Significant nutrients in 1 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds:
The Pumped Up Benefits of Eating Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds
Improve Eye Health
Pumpkin’s high provitamin A content is great for eye health and immune-boosting.
Prevent coronary heart disease
Its high provitamin A content has also been linked to coronary heart disease prevention.
High levels of phytosterols in pumpkin seeds have been linked with reduced cholesterol levels as well as preventing some types of cancers!
Studies have shown a link between eating pumpkin seeds and lowering your risk of bladder stones, blocking enlargement of the prostate gland, and helping to prevent depression.
Tips for enjoying the health benefits of pumpkin:
Don’t be afraid of the canned stuff! One cup of canned pumpkin has 7 g of fiber and 3 g of protein – more than fresh pumpkin! Also, it contains over 50% DV of vitamin K which may reduce the risk for some types of cancer. You can easily add canned pumpkin to smoothies, baking, and even your morning latte!
Snack on the seeds. Pumpkin flesh may not be so easy to incorporate in your diet regularly, but the seeds are so versatile and make a great snack, topping for salads, or ground up in a vinaigrette or pesto.
Sneak some pumpkin seeds into your smoothie. Adding a tablespoon or two of freshly ground pumpkin seeds to a smoothie adds a healthful boost without changing the flavour much.
Superfood: Adzuki Beans
Revered in Japanese cooking, adzuki beans, also called azuki beans, are russet-coloured beans with a strong, nutty, yet sweet flavour. Adzuki beans are high in protein and dietary fiber but their true Superfood label comes from their high antioxidant rating. They have a higher antioxidant or ORAC value than cranberries or blueberries! These beans are also lower in calories than other beans such as black beans, garbanzos, kidney beans, pinto beans, and white beans.
Adzuki beans contain the following nutrients in 1 cup:
Support the reproductive system with their very high folate content.
May reduce the risk of breast cancer, due to a high level of saponins.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, adzuki beans are called Chi Xiao Dou and are used to cure urinary tract infections by supporting kidney health and reducing edema. They have also been used to purify the blood, remove toxins, and drain “dampness” from the body.
Tips to Eat More Adzuki Beans:
Add them to salads. Putting cooked adzuki beans on top of your salad makes a great healthy and tasty addition.
Veggie burgers anyone? Try incorporating adzuki beans to your recipe for veggie burgers, or experiment with a new one! No reason why you can’t add cooked adzuki beans to regular burgers too!
As a dip for veggies. Make an adzuki bean dip to dunk fresh veggies into, or make your own baked veggie chips.
Get your grain on! Err…or not. Once regarded as a sacred food by the Incas, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is chock full of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Most people think quinoa is some type of cereal grain, but in reality, quinoa isn’t a grain at all. It’s a seed, and it’s also gluten-free!
In just one cup of cooked quinoa, your body will enjoy numerous nutrients including:
5.2 g of dietary fiber (21% DV) 8.1 g of protein (16% DV) 0.2 mg thiamin (13% DV) 0.2 mg riboflavin (12% DV) 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (11% DV) 77.7 mcg folate (19% DV) 2.8 mg iron (15% DV) 118 mg magnesium (30% DV) 281 mg phosphorus (28% DV) 2.0 mg zinc (13% DV) 0.4 mg copper (18% DV) 1.2 mg manganese (58% DV) …as well as smaller amounts of vitamin E, niacin, calcium, potassium, and selenium.
Recognized as a Superfood and a recent food craze, quinoa has earned these titles because of its high protein, low fat and low sodium content! In addition to the aforementioned nutrients, studies have shown that quinoa can help with several health conditions, weight loss, and anti-aging.
The Compelling Health Benefits of Quinoa
High protein grain alternative
A 2009 study a the University of Chile found that 15% of the total content of quinoa is protein, which is more than double the amount found in most grains. The study also found that quinoa has a complete amino acid profile, meaning that each serving contains all the key building blocks for making proteins.
Lower blood sugar
A study performed at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil in 2009 found that quinoa has the ability to lower blood glucose levels in individuals with diabetes.
Reduce blood pressure
The same study as above also discovered that consuming quinoa on a regular basis helps to lower blood pressure levels in those with hypertension.
Natural appetite suppressant
A 2005 study at the University of Milan found that quinoa was effective at controlling appetite and study participants consumed less food throughout the day.
The high fiber content in quinoa can help to reduce total cholesterol and the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
A 2012 study from the University degli Studi di Foggia in Italy investigated the antioxidant properties in quinoa. They concluded that quinoa is an excellent source of free phenols, which destroy free radicals in the bloodstream. The result can be a slower aging process including delaying the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Reduce cancer risk
The same study as above discovered that quinoa’s antioxidant properties help to reduce cancer risk.
Tips to Eat More Quinoa!
Sprinkle a bit of cooked quinoa over your salad. You don’t always have to eat a whole bowl of quinoa to get its benefits. Try sprinkling a bit over your greens at lunch for a protein boost!
Quinoa instead of oatmeal. Trade-in your breakfast oatmeal for quinoa. Quinoa can make a great hot cereal and will keep you feeling full. Top with some fresh fruit for a great start to the day.
Add quinoa to your soup. Add some quinoa to your favourite soup recipes for added texture as well as a health boost.
Quinoa flour. Use quinoa flour in your recipes instead of regular wheat flour.
Blend cooked quinoa into your smoothie. Quinoa can be blended into smoothies and shakes to take advantage of its health benefits (and you won’t even taste it)!
Superfood: Wild Salmon
Revered for its high omega-3 content, wild salmon has been recognized as one of the top Superfoods.
Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been proven in numerous studies to help with various health conditions including:
Mitigate autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Raynaud’s disease
Relieve various mental health problems
Lower risk for coronary heart disease
Reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack
In addition to omega-3s, wild salmon contains many other health-boosting nutrients. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant phytonutrient naturally produced in specific algae. Wild salmon feed on red algae and accumulate astaxanthin in their muscle tissue, which gives them their pink colour. Interesting fact: Astaxanthin is credited for giving salmon the ability to generate the strength needed to swim up rivers and waterfalls.
Eating just half a fillet of wild salmon (154 g) is comparable to taking a multivitamin in some respects! You can get more than your day’s quota of some nutrients:
So you might be wondering what about the regular farm-raised salmon? Farm-raised salmon are fed genetically modified grains and dead animal parts. This is an unnatural diet for this fish. The result is greyish-white salmon deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and astaxanthin. In order to get the pink colour, farmed salmon are fed synthetic astaxanthin that is produced from toxic petrochemical sources. Research produced by the Environmental Working Group in 2003 showed that farmed salmon were contaminated with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl’s (PCB’s). The data indicated that farmed salmon has over 16 times the amount of carcinogenic chemicals than wild salmon.
Tips to eating more wild salmon:
Salmon burgers. Swap out those beef, chicken or turkey burgers for some wild salmon burgers! You can get canned wild salmon that is much cheaper.
Salmon salad nicoise. Leftover salmon from last night’s dinner? Make a healthier rendition of the traditional salad nicoise adding salmon instead of tuna. You could also use smoked salmon.
Shake things up. There’s more than one way to cook that piece of salmon. Try it on the BBQ, cedar plank, baked in parchment or crusted in gluten-free bread crumbs.
Most people see blueberries as a generic fruit. Because it’s not some exotic fruit from Tahiti they don’t realize the numerous health benefits of consuming these little blue-purple-coloured berries. We’re told the darker the fruit the more antioxidants it contains. In the case of blueberries, that’s true as this little fruit is chock-full of phytonutrients. What are phytonutrients? Plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals called phytonutrients. Unlike vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients are not essential to the body but they can help prevent diseases and improve your overall health.
Phytonutrients contained in blueberries:
other phenol-related phytonutrients
Blueberries also contain significant levels of more familiar nutrients:
% Daily value in 1 cup (148 g) of blueberries:
35.7% vitamin K
23.9% vitamin C
Because of their many phytonutrients, blueberries have many health benefits including:
Increase production of the neurotransmitter dopamine
Tips to get more Blueberries in your diet!
Make a quick smoothie with blueberries for breakfast.
Sprinkle fresh blueberries over your salad.
Eat blueberries in your yogurt in the morning or for a snack.
Eat dried blueberries with nuts as a healthy snack. Did you know that you absorb the nutrients from dried blueberries better than from fresh?
Needing more information about how to improve your diet and incorporate more superfoods? Talk to one of our Naturopaths or our Registered Dietitian. Call 416-481-0222 to book or book online here any time.
2 pounds beef short ribs, about 6-7 ribs (preferably grass-fed beef) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped into wedges 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 2 carrots, cut into large pieces 5 springs fresh thyme 2 tablespoons flour 1 1/2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice 1/2 cup dry red wine 1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large dutch oven or stainless steel pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan; season short ribs with salt and pepper. Brown short ribs on all sides until crusted.
Remove short ribs from pan. Pour off oil and remove any loose bits from the pan. Add remaining olive oil and cook onion, carrots, garlic, and thyme for 5 minutes. Add the flour to the pot and stir to coat. Deglaze pan with red wine and pomegranate juice, bring to a boil stirring frequently. Return short ribs to pot, cover, and transfer to oven.
Cook for about 3 hours in the oven, turning a few times, or until the meat is fork-tender. Remove short ribs from the pot with a slotted spoon onto a platter. Strain the pot juices and skim the fat off the top or use a fat separator. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, and cook until reduced to a sauce consistency; about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the short ribs. Top with pomegranate seeds.
Recipe: Spinach and Artichoke Dip (Dairy- and Gluten-free)
NOTE: If you’re going to use canned artichoke hearts, be aware of the sodium content. Be sure to choose a low-sodium option.
2 garlic cloves, minced 1 can white kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed 2 cups fresh artichoke hearts, quartered; OR 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (extra for cooking) 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt and pepper
Heat pan on medium heat. Cook garlic and spinach for only 2 minutes in a bit of olive oil. Remove garlic and spinach and put beans in the pan just to warm them up.
Place the garlic, spinach, beans and everything else into a food processor or blender. Pulse until combined. Do NOT puree – should still be able to see artichoke pieces. Enjoy warm or room temperature.
Serve with fresh vegetables or homemade vegetable chips.
Recipe: Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes
*NOTE: Spinach contains a high amount of iron, but did you know it also contains a high amount of oxalic acid which prevents iron absorption? Eating tomatoes, or other food sources of vitamin C, with your spinach will aid in the absorption of iron.
4 large ripe but firm tomatoes Salt 2 cups vegetable stock 1 cup quinoa 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 6 cups fresh spinach 3 cloves of garlic, minced 1/2 medium onion, diced 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped Pepper, to taste
Bring vegetable stock and quinoa to boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender; 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the top off of each tomato. Spoon out the insides to create a hollow cavity. Sprinkle salt into the hollow cavity of each tomato and rest upside down on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack to extract juice, about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add onion, cook for about 3 minutes. Then add spinach and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted. Add the quinoa to the spinach and add parsley. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Evenly divide the filling among the tomatoes. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until tomatoes are soft and filling is just browned on top, about 15-20 minutes.
Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Kale
Ingredients: 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds 1 head cauliflower, cut in florets 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 bunches kale
Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup olive oil 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 shallots, finely diced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind fennel seeds.
In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, paprika, salt, and fennel seeds. Roast on parchment paper-lined baking sheet in the top third of the oven at 400 degrees F until lightly golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; let cool.
Roughly tear leaves from kale stems; reserve stems for another use. Toss leaves with remaining oil. Spread on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets; roast in the top and bottom thirds of the oven at 400 degrees F, switching and rotating pans halfway through, until wilted and slightly crisp around edges, about 20 minutes. Toss with remaining lemon juice.
Vinaigrette: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, horseradish, and mustard; stir in shallots, salt, and pepper. Add to the cauliflower mixture along with kale; gently toss to combine.
Recipe: Southwest Salad with Avocado and Corn
2 small heads romaine lettuce, chopped in bite-size pieces 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed 2-3 ears of corn 1 large or 2 smaller avocados, chopped 1/2 small red onion, sliced 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin Salt and pepper Organic gluten-free corn tortilla chips (optional)
Steam ears of corn. Let cool and cut off kernels.
Combine lettuce, pinto beans, corn, avocado, red onion and cilantro in a large bowl.
Whisk together oil, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over salad and toss. Serve with corn tortilla chips if desired.
Recipe: Kiwi Sorbet
8 kiwis, peeled 4 Tbsp honey Juice of 1 lemon Peel kiwis and place in a food processor or blender. Pulse until well blended into a thick puree. Add honey and lemon juice. Blend. Pour into a shallow container and freeze. Or use an ice cream maker. Serve when sorbet is frozen. From: http://www.superhealthykids.com/healthy-kids-recipes/kiwi-sorbet.php
Recipe: Pork Chops and Roasted Pumpkin with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette
Ingredients: 2-3 pounds pumpkin, (1 small pumpkin) halved, seeded, cut into 1-inch wedges 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (from pumpkin) 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided Kosher salt Freshly ground pepper 4 1-inch-thick bone-in pork chops ½ small garlic clove, finely grated 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro plus leaves for garnish 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread out pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing once, until just beginning to darken, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop; set aside.
Toss pumpkin wedges with 1 tablespoon oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast pumpkin turning occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 30-40 minutes.
When pumpkin wedges have been in for about 25 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and cook until brown, 5-8 minutes. Turn over and cook until pork is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
Whisk garlic, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, reserved toasted pumpkin seeds, and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl to combine. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper, and more lime juice if desired.
Divide squash and pork among plates; spoon vinaigrette over. Top with cilantro leaves.
Adzuki Bean Pancakes
3 large eggs 1 tablespoon coconut water 2 tablespoons honey 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 1/2 cups almond flour 1/4 teaspoon baking soda Pinch of salt 1/2 cup cooked, mashed adzuki beans Coconut oil
Whisk together eggs, coconut water, and honey in a large bowl.
Add almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Stir in mashed adzuki beans.
Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add a small amount of coconut oil to the pan so pancakes don’t stick.
Use a ladle (or pour all the batter into a container with a spout) to pour enough batter into skillet for 1 pancake.
Once a crisp edge has formed, flip the pancake and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes.
Repeat with the rest of the batter and serve immediately.
Recipe: Chicken & Quinoa Paella
1 onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 2 inch pieces 1 1/2 cups quinoa 1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika Dash cayenne 2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 red bell pepper, chopped 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock 1 cup fresh or frozen peas 1 lemon, zested Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper
In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, half of the paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Rinse quinoa well in a bowl or through a fine strainer. Sauté garlic in a deep non-stick skillet with a little olive oil for a minute. Add quinoa and saffron and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Add rest of paprika, cayenne, tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon zest, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper; cook another 5 minutes. If more broth is needed in quinoa, add more. Cook until quinoa is done, then remove the cover, stir in peas, and cook uncovered until peas are warm and all the stock is absorbed. Spread quinoa onto serving tray. Top with cooked chicken and peppers mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.
Almond & Lemon Crusted Salmon with Caramelized Onions and Basil
Ingredients: 4 (4-6 oz) wild salmon fillets, skin removed 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced Lemon zest from 1 lemon, cut into small fragments 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 cup almond meal 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions 1/4 cup basil leaves 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown and caramelized, 30-45 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and keep warm.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease the bottom of a large baking dish with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Put almond meal and lemon zest together in a wide shallow dish.
Rub remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil on salmon fillets, season with salt and pepper, and press each fillet into the almond meal-lemon zest mixture until coated. Arrange salmon fillets in a baking dish in a single layer and bake until just cooked through and flakey, about 15 mins.
Transfer salmon to plates, top with caramelized onions, garnish with green onions and basil and serve.
Quick and Healthy Blueberry Smoothie
1 cup frozen blueberries 1 ripe banana 1 cup plain yogurt, coconut yogurt or almond yogurt Dash of honey (optional) Ice cubes (optional) Directions:
Combine ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into glasses and enjoy!
Pomegranate Juice & Endothelial function: Long-term consumption of grape and pomegranate juices were found to improve endothelial function in adolescents with metabolic syndrome.
Source: Cardiol Young, 2010; 20(1): 73-7.
Pomegranate & Diabetes: Consumption of either pomegranate juice or extract was found to benefit subjects with type 2 diabetes by improving paraoxonase 1, thereby slowing the development of atherosclerosis.
Source: J Agric Food Chem, 2008; 56(18): 8704-13.
Pomegranate extract & Cell Damage: Pomegranate fruit extract may exert a protective effect against UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage in human skin fibroblasts.
Source: J Agric Food Chem, 2008; 56(18): 8434-41.
Artichoke leaf extract & Cholesterol: Artichoke leaf extract can decrease total cholesterol and LDL while increasing HDL.
Source: Complementary Prescriptions Journal, Vol.27, Issue 3, Feb 2013.
Artichoke leaf extract & Oxidation: Artichoke leaf extract has been found to prevent oxidation of LDL and VLDL, and decrease triglyceride levels.
Source: Complementary Prescriptions Journal, Vol.27, Issue 3, Feb 2013.
Artichoke leaf extract & Biliary obstruction: Supplementation with artichoke leaf extract and milk thistle extract was found to help with bile duct obstructions.
Source: Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, Massachusetts: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Lycopene & Stroke: High serum levels of lycopene, a phytochemical found in red fruits and vegetables, are associated with a lower risk of stroke.
Source: Complementary Prescriptions Journal, Vol.27, Issue 3, Feb 2013.
Lycopene & Bone health: Supplementation with lycopene-rich tomato juice or tomato Lyc-O-Mato lycopene capsules was found to significantly reduce oxidative stress and improve bone health in post-menopausal women.
Source: Osteoporos Int, 2010 June 15; [Epub ahead of print].
Lycopene & Blood Pressure: Lycopene supplementation greater than 12 mg/day were found to significantly reduce systolic blood pressure.
Source: Nutrients, 2013 Sept 18; 5(9): 3696-712.
Lycopene & OSMF: 8 mg of lycopene, an antioxidant, was found to significantly improve signs and symptoms of oral submucous fibrosis.
Source: Indian J Dent Res. 2012 Jul;23(4):524-8.
Beetroot & Blood Pressure: Low dose (100g) beetroot juice supplementation was found to reduce blood pressure.
Source: Br J Nutr, 2012 Mar 14:1-9.
Beetroot & Plasma Nitrite: Consumption of beetroot juice was found to increase mean power output in cyclists and elevate plasma nitrite levels.
Source: Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2011 June; 43(6): 1125-31.
Broccoli & Bladder Cancer: Intake of raw broccoli was found to reduce risk of mortality by 43% in bladder cancer patients.
Source: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2010 Jun 15; [Epub ahead of print].
Broccoli & Cholesterol: This study found that glucoraphanin, found in broccoli, has a marked effect on cholesterol homeostasis in hamsters with dietary-induced hypercholesterolemia.
Source: J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Feb 23;59(4):1095-103.
Isothiocyanates & Cancer: Isothiocyanates in cauliflower were found to restore normal function of gene p53 in blocking cancer cell growth.
Source: J Med Chem. 2011 Jan;54(3): 809-16.
Sulforaphane & Cancer: Sulforaphane, found in cauliflower, was found to induce Phase II liver enzymes, which detoxify and neutralize cancer causing agents.
Source: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001 Sept;10(9):949-54.
Cauliflower & Lung Cancer: Consuming more than 1 serving of cauliflower a day was found to reduce lung cancer risk by 61%.
Source: J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000; 92(22):1812-23.
Cauliflower & Bladder Cancer: One serving of cauliflower a week was found to be associated with a 27% lower risk of bladder cancer.
Source: J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999;91(7):605-13.
Vitamin E & Diet: Vitamin E can be found in leafy greens, almonds, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and avocado.
Source: Alberni Valley News, May 8, 2013.
Omega-3s & Alzheimer’s: Higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slower cognitive decline.
Source: Neurology, 2012 May 2.
Fiber & Coronary Heart Disease: The highest quintile in a study of fiber intake found a 52% reduced risk of mortality from coronary heart disease.
Source: J Nutr, 2010 Jun 23; [Epub ahead of print].
Vitamin C & Asthma: An Italian study found that ingestion of fruit high in vitamin C may reduce wheezing symptoms in children.
Source: Thorax. 2000 April; 55(4): 283–288.
Fruit & Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Eating 3 or more servings of fruit was found to decrease macular degeneration by 36%.
Source: Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122(6):883-892.
Golden Kiwi & Oxidative Damage: Golden kiwifruit consumption was found to strengthen resistance towards endogenous oxidative damage.
Source: Nutr J. 2011; 10: 54.
Vitamin A & Vision Problems: Oral supplementation with vitamin A was found to reduce all-cause mortality and vision problems in children ages 6 months to 5 years.
Source: BMJ, 2011 Aug 25; 343: d5094.
Pumpkin Seeds & Bladder Stones: A study found that pumpkin seed snacks in Thai adolescents led to a reduced risk of bladder stone disease.
Source: J Med Assoc Thai. 1993 Sep;76(9):487-93.
Phytosterols & Cholesterol: Phytosterols (Plant sterols) inhibit the absorption of cholesterol and were found to improve circulating lipid profiles to reduce risk of coronary heart disease.
Source: Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1997 Mar;75(3):217-27.
Adzuki beans & Triglycerides: Supplementation with adzuki bean juice was found to be beneficial in preventing hypertriglyceridemia in Japanese women.
Adzuki beans & Cholesterol: Adzuki bean resistant starch was found to lower serum cholesterol via enhancement of the hepatic LDL-receptor mRNA.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 94 / Issue 06 / December 2005, pp 902-908
Adzuki beans & Lipid Concentrations: Adzuki beans were found to be effective in lowering serum and liver lipid concentration, which may be a result of decreasing liver G6PD activity.
Source: Kawasaki Journal of Medical Welfare, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2002: 49-55.
Protein & Blood Pressure: Increased protein intake was found to reduce blood pressure in overweight adults with hypertension.
Source: Am J Clin Nutr, 2012 Apr; 95(4):966-71.
Protein & Blood Glucose: A high protein diet was found to lower blood glucose postprandially in persons with type 2 diabetes and improve overall glucose control.
Source: Am J Clin Nutr October 2003 vol. 78 no. 4 734-741
Omega-3s & Atrial Fibrillation: Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heart beat.
Source: Circulation, Volume 125, pages 1084-1093, January 2012.
Omega-3s & Lung Cancer: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) supplementation was found to improve quality of life, performance status, and physical activity in stage III non-small cell lung cancer patients.
Source:Eur J Clin Nutr, 2012 Mar; 66(3):399-404.
Omega-3s & Depression: Intake of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA were found to be associated with fewer depressive symptoms.
Source: Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 2012 April 1
Omega-3s & Cognitive Function: Omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) does not increase cognitive function, but was found to increase visual acuity after treatment.
You eat “right” and exercise, but somehow those stubborn extra pounds just keep coming and they won’t leave. Even worse, they have settled in at your midsection. What is happening to your figure?
It is possible to eat healthy and still struggle with your weight
It is easy to blame weight gain on the hormonal shifts that come with age. But, these changes are not necessarily due to andropause or menopause alone. Instead, insulin resistance could be the root of the problem.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by specialized cells in your pancreas known as beta cells.
What Does Insulin Do?
Let’s look at what insulin does in your body. It helps your body to use sugar from your food by transferring it into your cells for them to use for energy. A healthy insulin level rises after a meal, and goes down once your blood sugar returns to normal. This rise in insulin is proportionate to the amount of carbs and sugar in the meal. This natural fluctuation of insulin is what keeps your blood sugar in a healthy balance.
What is Insulin Resistance?
When your body’s cells can’t respond to insulin properly, they become “insulin resistant”. This means that your blood sugar levels rise higher than they should, even when your pancreas is making a lot of insulin.
How Does Insulin Affect Your Weight?
Excessively high blood sugar and insulin have many harmful effects. They cause damage throughout your body. So your body has a back-up plan to protect itself from high blood sugars; it stores the extra energy by converting it to fat, often around your midsection.
This perpetual fat production is why high blood sugar and insulin levels make it hard to lose weight.
More Than Just a Spare Tire – Insulin’s Many Negative Roles
It’s important to note that insulin plays a role in many body functions. So, insulin resistance can affect other facets of your health in addition to giving you a spare tire. In fact, up to 50 percent of people who are insulin resistant go on to develop life-changing, chronic conditions like diabetes. And, insulin resistance has been linked to the development of several types of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
At the hormone level, insulin is an intricate part of many systems in your body. For both men and women, insulin influences the production and performance of your reproductive hormones. For example, high insulin levels can magnify menopausal symptoms. For women who are struggling to manage hot flashes, mood changes, weight or other menopause symptoms, being insulin resistant can make it even harder to regain control of their hormones. For men, insulin lowers testosterone and increases estrogen. Consequently, there can be depression, loss of muscle mass, low libido and many other detrimental effects.
What are the Symptoms of Insulin Resistance?
Despite its widespread effects, insulin resistance can be difficult to diagnose. In fact, many people don’t experience any symptoms until they are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, your best first step should be to talk to your naturopathic doctor or other healthcare provider:
Velvety dark patches of skin in your groin, neck, or armpits (a condition called acanthosis nigricans)
High waist-to-hip ratio (if you’re female, measure your waist and hips, then divide the number you measured for your waist by your hip measurement. If the result is higher than 0.8, your ratio is on the higher end. For men, a result greater than 1.0 is concerning.)
How Can You Test for Insulin Resistance?
There are several blood tests that look at your blood sugar level:
glycated or glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c)
fasting blood sugar
random blood sugar
2-hour post-consumption glucose and
oral glucose tolerance test
Of these, the best way to measure insulin resistance is by doing an oral glucose tolerance test WITH insulin measurements.
This test involves going to a lab after you have been fasting for 12 hours. There, they will collect a fasting blood test for glucose and insulin. Then, they will give you a sugary drink, with a known amount of glucose in it, often 75-100 grams. After that, blood tests for glucose and insulin are collected at 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, 120 minutes and 180 minutes after drinking this drink. After the drink, it is expected that your blood sugar will rise and then return to normal within 2 hours. An abnormal test would show that either your blood sugar did not return to normal within 2 hours, or that you had to make an excessive amount of insulin in order to get it to return to normal. Most times when this test is done, only the glucose measurements are done. However, this only provides half of the information you need to determine insulin resistance. Our naturopathic doctors can order proper insulin resistance testing for you.
7 Risk Factors For Insulin Resistance
Our bodies need carbohydrates in small to moderate amounts depending on our level of physical activity. However, consuming more carbohydrates than your body needs, contributes to insulin resistance.
Risk factors for insulin resistance include:
Being overweight, particularly if you are “apple-shaped” rather than “pear-shaped”
High carb and/or sugar diet
Genetics. Some people who develop insulin resistance don’t have other risk factors. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes, you may have inherited genes that mean you need to be even more careful about preventing insulin resistance.
Inactivity or sedentary lifestyle
Medications, including antidepressants and corticosteroids
The good news is that lifestyle changes can dramatically improve the balance of insulin in your body. They also also have a positive impact on other hormones – particularly the hormones that affect your quality of life at middle age and beyond.
Examine your diet
If you are struggling with balancing insulin and blood sugar, you should aim to eliminate unnecessary carbohydrates from your diet as much as possible. That means no sugar, flour or flour-based products, or sugar sweetened beverages. Try to eliminate or at least limit alcohol as well.
An added bonus of cutting back on sweets and starchy foods is weight loss. Having too much body fat, especially around your middle, contributes to insulin resistance. Of course, this creates a vicious cycle, since as we discussed insulin resistance makes it harder to lose weight. It is important to make healthy, long-term diet changes. One study found that losing just five to seven per cent of your body weight improves insulin resistance.
However, don’t restrict calories too aggressively. You don’t want to stress your body. Stress raises your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. High cortisol levels wreak havoc on your insulin and blood sugar balance. So, focus on getting your energy from whole foods without starving yourself. Our ND’s and Registered Dietitian are great resources for diet and nutrition advice. They can come up with a weight loss meal plan just for you.
Let’s add “insulin resistance” to the long list of reasons not to smoke. This is another step that sounds easier than it often turns out to be. If you smoke, you don’t have have to give it up alone. We’re here to help! We have ways and means to make quitting easier. Talk to one of our ND’s or our Psychotherapist for help.
Certain supplements can help as well. Making sure that you’re taking the right ones, which are a good fit for you, is best discussed with your naturopathic doctor.
Reduce your stress
This is always easier said than done, but it’s important to keep your cortisol levels balanced. We will work together to find a stress-reduction plan that works for you. Talk to one of our ND’s or our Psychotherapist or book a massage to get your stress level down.
Get enough sleep
Studies show that even one night of bad sleep or less than 4 hours of sleep negatively affects your insulin levels the next day. Aim for 8 hours per night, every night.
Get more exercise
Many studies have linked physical activity with improved insulin levels. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed though, even moderate levels of daily activity can help. The key is avoid long periods of being extremely sedentary.
In fact, especially for middle-aged women, workouts that are too intense raises your cortisol levels. This, in turn, raises insulin your levels, which will be counterproductive. So, getting creative with your exercise becomes more important as you get older. In addition to increasing moderate exercise, aim to increase your other daily movements. For example, park a bit further away, do the dishes by hand at the end of the evening, or even just stretch for a few minutes at home. Even little bits of activity can add up.
Best Exercise for People Over 50
Three of the best exercises for people over the age of 50 are:
Long walks outside. Being outside lowers cortisol. Walking is a gentle exercise that almost anyone can safely do. Walking for one to two hours per day helps to burn an additional 200-300 calories per hour.
Restorative yoga. This helps to restore your body, maintains your flexibility, balance and strength.
Weight training. Weight lifting helps to maintain your muscle mass and bone density, helps you burn more calories even while you sleep and maintains a healthy level of growth hormone in your body.
As you can see from the information above, our bodies and our health are very intricate. When something goes amiss in one area, the effects are felt in many other areas. This dynamic is particularly true when it comes to middle-age, insulin and hormones. Even if you don’t have any obvious symptoms of insulin resistance, addressing your insulin levels is one of the best overall wellness and disease prevention measures you can take.
If you are wondering about your insulin levels, how your blood sugar is behaving, your hormones, insulin resistance and what it may be doing to your weight loss efforts, call us at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online any time here.
Let’s chat about your poop, feces, poo, excrement or bowel movements.
Did you just cringe a bit? Let’s face it, poop isn’t anybody’s favourite topic. Nonetheless, our bowel movements hold valuable clues to our overall health. But these signs are often ignored because most of us are a bit uncomfortable talking about them – even to our healthcare providers. Or, our concerns about stool quality are glossed over or brushed off.
Your Appointment With Us is a Judgement-Free Zone
Keep in mind that your naturopathic doctor cares about such things as the quality of your stool. We will not be shocked or uncomfortable if you talk about your poop. In fact, that’s part of our job! We really want to get to the bottom of your health issues (no pun intended). Sometimes that means talking about things that fall under the category of “too much information”. We need to know all of your symptoms, even things that may seem unrelated or unimportant, in order to put your health puzzle together. So, if you have a concern, no matter what it relates to, please don’t hesitate to bring it up.
Your Poop is a Reflection of Your Health
The appearance and smell of your poop is a direct reflection of your gut health. Your gut health has a massive impact on your overall health. As well as helping you absorb all of your nutrients, your digestive system interacts with your nervous system and your detoxification pathways. Changes in your bowel habits can indicate changes in other parts of your body – from excessive nervous system stress, to liver problems, to cancers.
The good news is that we don’t have to go into great detail here describing the various types of bowel movements and what they signify. There’s already a chart that shows various problems and what to look for. It is called the Bristol Stool Chart and you’ll find it here: http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/46082.pdf. It was named after the hospital that developed it in 1997.
The Healthy Poop Chart
The Bristol Stool Chart looks at:
Your ease of passing stool – it should be fairly easy
The smell – sure there will be a smell to it, it is waste after all, but it shouldn’t be particularly foul smelling.
The consistency of your stool – the stool should be solid and uniform in texture without bits of undigested stool in it
The colour – the colour should be a medium or chocolate brown. Green poop can be from something you have eaten or can be because your stool is passing through your gut too quickly for intestinal bacteria to break down bile. This is what creates the normal stool colour.
How often you have a bowel movement – anything from one to three times per day, every day is considered to be normal
How completely you empty your bowels – bowel movements should feel complete.
And any additional red flags – red flags include blood in your stool, mucous in your stool, chronic constipation or diarrhea and chronic undigested food.
What The Bristol Stool Chart Means for You
To summarize the Bristol Stool Chart, you should have a daily bowel movement that is well-formed, medium brown in colour and not too smelly. If you see blood or mucus, or if you feel that anything about your stool doesn’t seem ideal, you should talk to your naturopathic doctor. We can address or rule out any issues that require medical help. The chart can help identify mild constipation, severe constipation, normal stools and inflammation in your gut.
Talk About Embarrassing!
Two of the more common but embarrassing issues related to bowels are fecal incontinence and itchy anus (or anusitis).
Fecal incontinence is where stool leaks from your rectum between bowel movements. You may notice staining of your underwear. It may happen when you pass gas or unpredictably. Incontinence may be associated with a bout of diarrhea, or may be accompanied by constipation or excessive gas. The causes of fecal incontinence include:
Complications of surgery or childbirth
Inflammation in your bowels
Our naturopathic doctors can help identify the cause and help improve your digestion, the tone of your GI tract and remove sources of inflammation.
Itchy Anus, Anusitis or Proctitis
Anusitis is inflammation of the lining of the anal canal. Proctitis is inflammation of the skin of the rectum. Rectal itching (pruritis) is a sign of inflammation or infection. You may also notice bleeding or a burning sensation. Our naturopathic doctors can help identify the cause of the itching. We can help relieve itching, remove infections and identify food sensitivities that cause itching. Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore rectal itching: chronic inflammation can lead to bigger health issues like rectal cancer.
7 Simple Steps to Improve Your Poop
If you’ve ruled out a medical condition, but still feel that things are not moving quite like they should be, here are a few ways to improve your bowel movements.
Pay attention to your diet
Fiber keeps things moving by adding some bulk to your stool. For extra fiber, think seeds, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re not used to a high-fiber diet, increase your fiber intake slowly to avoid upsetting your stomach or creating too much gas. Always make sure to up your water intake alongside extra fiber. In addition, make sure you’re eating enough healthy fats from sources such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. If food is moving through too quickly, causing loose stool or diarrhea, good fats help to slow digestion down a bit. This gives food more time to digest fully.
Pay close attention to how particular foods affect your digestion. If you experience IBS symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, try keeping a diary of what you eat, and the symptoms you experience. We can help you set up an effective tracking system to monitor your diet. Alternatively, our naturopathic doctors can order food sensitivity testing for you to efficiently pinpoint which foods are causing trouble.
Choose medication carefully
Many medications can cause constipation as a side effect. It is important to be aware of this and adjust your diet accordingly to compensate for this effect. Avoid laxative medications as much as possible. Your body quickly becomes dependent on them. Some evidence also links the chronic use of laxatives to colorectal cancer. Talk with your naturopathic doctor about natural solutions for medication-induced constipation if diet alone isn’t enough.
Drink lots of water
Aim for the proverbial eight cups of water per day. It’s particularly important to get enough water if you have recently increased your fiber intake. Not only are our stools 75 percent water, but your bowel muscles need plenty of hydration to work their best. Water in your stool also keeps it softer and easier to pass. I have seen patients where even one or two more glasses of water per day made a difference in regularity.
Increase your body movement
Exercise stimulates your digestion. Studies suggest that digestion is better if you exercise regularly and, if possible, at the same time each day.
In fact, sitting for too long overall can lead to constipation regardless of your physical activity level. This is another reason to stand up and walk around every 30 minutes or so throughout your work day. How you move your body also matters. Did you know that some yoga poses are designed to help with digestion?
Get into a routine and don’t suppress the urge to go
If you feel like you’ve gotta go, don’t ignore that feeling! Fighting the urge to poop can lead to constipation. Setting aside a specific time of the day can help you stay regular. Good digestion requires good parasympathetic nervous system activity. This is the part of your nervous system that helps you rest, digest, relax and sleep. If you’re always stressed out or on the go, your nervous system will be in sympathetic or fight or flight mode. That works against good digestion.
Squat to poop
As well, consider the way you sit on the toilet. Over the course of history, toilets themselves are a pretty recent invention. In nature, we would have squatted to have a bowel movement. Many people find that bringing their feet up onto a stool can help bring them into a squatting position which makes bowel movements easier. Check out the Squatty potty for more info on aids for better positioning.
Don’t hesitate to come into the office and have an open talk if you have any concerns or questions about your bowel movements. Your stool can be a good indicator that your body has something going on that needs attention. It’s always better to bring up a concern than to ignore it or worry about it! Call us at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online to speak to one of our ND’s.
Do you have a white coating on your tongue? Circular skin rashes with a white centre? Bloating? Constipation? Vaginal irritation? You’re always craving sweets? You could be suffering from a yeast overgrowth.
What is Candida Albicans?
Candida albicans is the most common kind of yeast that co-exists with humans. It is normally harmless to people when it is present in small amounts. There are many other strains of yeast that can inhabit your gut. There are almost 200 known Candida species, although few of them are a threat to humans. The most important species are C. albicans, C. dubliniensis, C. tropicalis, C. Parapsilosis, C. glabrata, C. krusei, C. guilliermondii, and C. Lusitaniae. Other medically important species of fungi include Histoplasma capsulatum, Cryptococcus neoformans and Aspergillus fumigatus.
However, as anyone who’s ever baked bread knows, yeast likes to grow. It is a fungus, after all. Candida is considered to be an “opportunistic pathogen”. This means that if it gets the opportunity to cause disease, it can. Under normal conditions in your gut, your healthy gut bacteria keeps intestinal yeast growth in check. This maintains a balance between bacteria and yeast.
The fragile balance between your gut bacteria and yeast
This delicate balance is, however, easily upset. For example, we can lose beneficial bacteria from taking even one round of antibiotics. We can encourage yeast growth by bingeing on sugar and refined carbs. Estrogen dominance, birth control pills and stress all allow yeast to multiply. The result? Yeast overgrowth.
Is gut Candida overgrowth the same as a yeast infection?
Most people are familiar with a couple of the different kinds of local yeast infections.
A Candida yeast infection in your mouth is called oral thrush.
Symptoms of oral thrush include:
white, bumpy patches in your mouth
a white coating on your tongue
if you try to scrape the white coating off your tongue, there are pinpoint bleeding spots
cracks at the corners of your mouth
Vaginal Yeast Infections
The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:
itchiness of the vagina and surrounding area
an unpleasant white, chunky discharge
These reactions are typically immediately noticeable – and very annoying.
In contrast, a gut Candida overgrowth can be much more subtle and difficult to determine. Candida overgrowth’s impact may be more troublesome and even life-threatening. When your good gut bacteria decreases and yeast multiplies, the overall effect on your body can be far-reaching.
How does Candida overgrowth work?
Disease-causing yeasts have properties that allow them to overcome your defenses. These include the ability to stick to the gut wall and invade tissues. Also, certain strains of yeast have developed escape mechanisms, to avoid being eliminated by your immune system.
When Candida grows unchecked, it attaches to and sends roots through the lining of your intestine. This creates “leaky gut” syndrome where the barrier of your intestinal wall is weak. As the name suggests, leaky gut syndrome allows undigested food, bacteria, and toxins to “leak” from your intestine into your system.
When your immune system is faced with undigested food, bacteria and toxins, it sees them as unknown invaders. That causes it to kick into overdrive trying to neutralize these things it doesn’t recognize, things that it perceives as a potential threat. This immune system hyper-activation leads to a number of symptoms ranging from inflammation to autoimmune diseases.
Candida overgrowth is often overlooked or misdiagnosed because the symptoms vary so widely. It is also not something that conventional doctors would ever test you for. If you’re experiencing autoimmune symptoms, having a foggy brain, or dealing with digestive issues, it’s possible that a gut Candida overgrowth could be the underlying problem.
Who is most at risk for Candida overgrowth?
Certain populations are more susceptible to yeast overgrowth. These include premature infants, elderly, pregnant or menopausal women, diabetics, alcoholics, and anyone taking immunsuppressants or antibiotics.
What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?
So how would you know if you have a Candida overgrowth? Here are the signs and symptoms:
Despite your best intentions, you have strong cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. Candida wants to keep eating and multiplying, so a taste of sugar will leave you wanting more!
You feel itchy all over, especially, and certainly embarrassingly, in your anal or vaginal areas.
Fungal infections. You suffer from athlete’s foot, toenail fungus or other unexplained itchy foot rashes.
Irritable bowel syndrome. Your digestion feels out of whack. You experience a lot of gassiness, constipation, diarrhea and bloating.
You experience mood swings and frustration for no obvious reason. Or you frequently feel anxious or depressed, even though you are doing your best to look after your emotional well-being. Did you know that depression is considered by some to be an inflammatory condition of the brain? Candida overgrowth may be the stimulous for that inflammation.
Unexplained joint pain that makes it hard to keep up with your exercise routine. Sadly, that lack of exercise is only worsening your other symptoms. You want to work out and you know that you should, but it’s painful.
Fatigue. If other causes of fatigue like hypothyroidism, iron deficiency and allergies have been ruled out, yeast overgrowth may be the issue. Particularly if there are other symptoms pointing to a yeast problem.
Allergies. Studies show that animals whose guts are colonized with yeast develop allergic reactions.
Diagnostic testing for gut bacteria and yeast
Boxed Candida cleanse “kits” may be popular, but in reality overcoming Candida overgrowth and restoring a healthy balance of yeast and gut bacteria can be very challenging. Our naturopathic doctors can work with you to develop a program that’s tailored specifically for you. We start with a complete analysis, stool testing if necessary and then create a customized treatment plan. Stool analysis determines what exactly is growing in your gut, how much and how best to get rid of what shouldn’t be growing in there.
Once we have an accurate picture of what’s really going on in your system, we can work on a plan to restore health and balance.
Our holistic approach to managing Candida
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Our holistic approach means taking an in-depth look at various aspects of your lifestyle.
Specialized Candida diet
In general, the first step of Candida treatment consists of dietary changes. You knew that was coming, right? Together we can work on a diet plan that works for you to starve out the yeast.
Dietary changes should be realistic and manageable for you over the long term. After all, we want to create a sustainable solution, not a quick fix that may be too difficult to stick with.
Say goodbye to sugary sweets
To get Candida under control, patients have the greatest success by limiting all processed sweets from their diet. We also recommend cutting back on starchy carbohydrates. Low-sugar fruits such as berries are the best options for a sweet treat.
Eliminating all fermented, yeasty or moldy foods and drinks, including alcohol, will help control yeast symptoms. This includes well-known fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha. It also includes the less-obvious ones, like soy sauce or peanuts. If your immune system is sensitized to yeast, it will also react to these food sources of yeast, mold and yeast metabolites.
Add extra fibre
Adding more fibre to your diet and drinking lots of water (2-3 litres per day) improves your intestinal “transit time”. This means that things move through your gut more quickly, so that nothing lingers too long in your system.
Carbs in moderation
It’s important to note that carbohydrates aren’t necessarily completely forbidden on a Candida diet. Although processed flour can contribute to to a Candida overgrowth and slower transit time, whole food carbohydrates such as rye or quinoa can add good fiber and minerals to your system. We can work together to look at your carb consumption and make any necessary adjustments.
The steps above can slow the growth of Candida which may improve some of your symptoms, but as always tackling one side of the issue isn’t enough. You also want to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. An effective way to do this is by consuming more probiotics or “healthy bacteria”. A high quality supplement of the right kind of probiotic for you is usually recommended, as they are able to rapidly populate the gut and restore balance.
Foods that kill Candida
Research has found that many substances aid in the killing off of stubborn overgrowth. Studies have found turmeric to be effective as well as coconut oil, some essential oils and much more. In order to determine the right solution for your body, help from your naturopathic doctor is recommended. We can talk about the best treatment plan to eradicate this overgrowth and eliminate the problems Candida overgrowth can cause in your system.
The effect of stress on Candida
In addition to dietary changes, reducing your stress levels can help. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which over time will increase blood sugar.
Since Candida feeds off sugar, stress can make us more vulnerable to Candida overgrowth. It’s not always easy to lower stress levels – life often gets in the way. However, we can change the way we react to stress through science-backed stress reduction techniques such as meditation and yoga.
Candida overgrowth is one of the more common reasons people seek holistic care. The good news is that we are experts in treating digestive issues.
If you suspect that you may be experiencing an overgrowth of Candida, give us a call at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online any time here.
Together we can make an effective plan to get your health back on track.
Many of us are disappointed to learn that we didn’t leave acne behind after high school. Yes, it is a cruel joke, but it is possible to have pimples and wrinkles at the same time. In fact, 54 percent of women over the age of 25 experience some acne. And the numbers are expected to increase. Some skin care experts call the increase in acne outbreaks in adults “an epidemic.”
Why is there an increase in adult acne?
We tend to associate acne with the angst-ridden teenage years. In actuality, many of the factors that contribute to acne in your teens are still present later in your life too. In particular, stress and hormonal fluctuations wreak havoc on your skin. Many of us do continue to experience that nasty combination of hormonal changes and lifestyle stress.
Stress and acne: a vicious cycle
The relationship between stress and pimples becomes a vicious cycle. When we feel stressed, our adrenal glands respond by producing more of the stress hormone cortisol. They also make small amounts of testosterone. These cause the oil glands in your skin to produce more oil or sebum. This raises your risk of skin infections and pimples. Of course then, when we notice outbreaks appearing, we feel more stressed. Add to that the fact that many of us can’t resist the temptation to pick at pimples. This spreads the bacteria on your skin. Voila! You have the perfect formula for ongoing acne outbreaks.
The emotional and financial burden of adult acne
Finding acne solutions can feel like a quest for the impossible. Consider this: Acne costs Americans an astonishing $15 billion a year in acne-related products and services. Ironically, we are surrounded by skin care product marketing that promises to clear up skin problems. These all claim to provide you with a flawless, youthful glow. But, many of these products actually worsen inflammation.
It all adds up to frustration for you, the consumer. It’s no wonder that 95 percent of people with acne say that the skin condition negatively affects their lives. 63 percent of acne sufferers cite lower self-confidence due to acne as a major issue.
How to treat adult acne
Since hormones are the root cause of acne, the simple truth is that treatment has to start from within. There is no “magic bullet” skin product. It is best to start with a bit of self-examination. For example, try tracking outbreaks to see if they coincide with your menstrual cycle. See if outbreaks occur along with other symptoms, with eating specific foods, or with stressful periods in your life.
Think of ways you can reduce the stressors around you. Yoga and meditation are proven methods to reduce stress. Ayurvedic tradition holds that many yoga poses help with acne.
In addition, don’t forget one of the most essential parts of stress management: getting enough sleep! To prevent rubbing your face in bacteria while you sleep, change your pillow cases regularly.
How Diet Affects Your Skin
Much research remains to be done on the impact of diet on acne. But we know that the quality of the food we eat is reflected in our overall health as well as on our skin. Ultimately, you are the best test subject for which foods affect your complexion. People react differently to various foods. Even healthy foods may trigger a reaction for you. Keep a food diary and review it with your naturopathic doctor or dietitian.
A sensible approach is to eat a healthy, whole-foods diet rich in vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds, unprocessed grains and healthy protein. Opt for antioxidant-rich foods whenever possible like berries, good dark chocolate and spices like cinnamon. Antioxidants reduce inflammation and destroy harmful free radicals.
In addition, research proves that the following nutrients have a positive effect on the health of your skin:
The anti-inflammatory properties of zinc relieves the irritation of acne. Studies show that taking a zinc supplement reduces acne scars. Zinc is also used topically, but it isn’t as effective as taking it orally. From your diet, zinc-rich foods include beef and shellfish, especially oysters, and vegetarian sources like hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
Not only do these healthy fats soothe your skin thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties, but they also help regulate hormones. Omega-3’s are found in nuts, flax, hemp seeds, and many types of fish. The Omega 3s in fish are much easier for your body to use compared to the ones in nuts and seeds. Fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are excellent sources of Omega 3’s. Supplements containing fish oil or vegan Omega 3’s are also an excellent way to benefit from the acne-fighting powers of Omega-3. Even though they are healthy fats, Omega 3’s will sometimes make acne worse. Fats, even healthy ones, can interfere with insulin function. That increases insulin which throws off hormone balance. If you find that adding fats or fish oil makes your skin worse, by all means listen to your body and reduce them.
High fiber foods
Eating food with lots of fiber controls your blood sugar. It does so by slowing down sugar absorption and keeping you feeling full longer. This curbs acne breakouts because healthy blood sugar levels influence hormone production. Aim for plenty of fibrous green veggies with each meal like kale and broccoli!
You may have noticed that your skin loses some luster when you’re dehydrated. It is important to drink plenty of water to keep your skin cells healthy and nourished.
In addition to water, don’t hesitate to pour yourself a cup of green tea. Studies show green tea can decrease oil or sebum production. Plus, this delicious beverage is high in antioxidants! Green tea also has some estrogen balancing properties.
Topical antibiotics for acne
The bacteria that causes acne, Propionibacterium acnes, is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. As a result, focusing on acne treatment that addresses the reason that this bacteria overgrows is more important than ever.
Topical acne treatments that work
A more natural approach to moisturizing and nourishing your skin may be helpful. Many people react to the chemicals, perfumes and preservatives in skin creams. This creates more redness and inflammation. Natural oils such as Rosehips oil helps acne-prone skin. It contains a high concentration of vitamin A, omegas and lycopene. These heal and regenerate your skin. They encourage healthy cell growth and dramatically reduce scarring. Rosehips oil will be kinder to your skin than the very drying benzoyl peroxide.
Talk to your naturopathic doctor for guidance if you are having difficulty finding the right skincare solution. A number of effective natural acne remedies are available. We can help you find a solution that is right for your particular skin type.
Adult Hormonal Acne
Treating adult acne at the root cause helps you deal with this frustrating problem in a more permanent way. The more persistent cases we’ve seen usually come down to a hormonal imbalance. Whether you are in your 20’s or firmly in perimenopause, working with our Naturopaths helps you examine your full hormonal profile. Then we will find the right plan to bring your hormones, and your skin, back in balance.
If you have done what you can and are ready for professional analysis and guidance on skin-friendly treatments, come into the clinic! Together we can thoroughly measure your hormones, and look at your diet, vitamin and mineral levels, coping mechanisms, and other possible contributors. Adult acne can be treated naturally without harsh drugs or chemicals.
If you read about health topics, you’ve probably come across the term “biohacking”. The word sounds intimidating, but the concepts behind biohacking are actually quite simple: The goal is to “hack” your body’s natural processes to optimize your health.
Taken to extremes, biohacking’s “using yourself as a guinea pig” approach can lead to unsupervised self-experimentation. Extreme biohackers pursue activities such as trying to alter their DNA or implanting cybernetic devices into their own bodies. That is not a safe or recommended approach!
How Do You Do Biohacking?
Fortunately, thanks to our “biohacking best practices” research, you don’t have to track every nanosecond of your day or spend a small fortune to reap the rewards. Biohacking your health can be as easy as applying the latest scientific discoveries to your own life. If you follow us on Facebook or follow our blog, we’ll keep you updated and you can adjust as you go. It’s always a good approach to well-being to stay current with the ever-evolving research.
One of the central tenets of biohacking is that the things you put into your body (what you eat, the air you breathe, and supplements you take) shape your body’s output (your energy, productivity and moods). Your mitochondria are at the heart of this process.
What Are Mitochondria?
Mitochondria are the “batteries” that give energy to every cell in your body. These tiny powerhouses are easily influenced by their environment. In other words, they are impacted by everything your body is exposed to. When you improve their environment, you can improve the energy produced by them. The results? Far-reaching improvements in your overall health and energy levels.
What does this process look like in everyday life?
Well, because we’re all different, what works for one person might not work for someone else. As you make changes to your lifestyle, you should carefully monitor your progress as you go. Biohackers draw on the data they create to come up with solutions that make them feel their best. They avoid “one size fits all” formulas.
That means paying close attention to how you feel. The results are definitely worth it. By improving cellular function, biohacking your basic daily activities can have noticeable benefits. And it can be fun. After all, who doesn’t want to use science to feel better every day? Check out some easy ways to biohack your own health. The results might surprise you!
These 12 are key areas that affect how your body works. They are also areas that you can influence. You may currently be influencing them in a negative way, or in other words doing the wrong thing. What “everyone else is doing” may not be right for your particular body. This is why “biohacking” entails a certain amount of trial and error to see what works best with your particular constitution.
Having or not having a particular gene, doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed to a particular fate. Genes can be turned on and off. They can be up or down-regulated depending on what you do.
For example, let’s say your father and grandfather both had diabetes. Maybe you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Obviously, a gene for diabetes is being passed down through your father’s family. However, you decide to eat a clean diet and exercise daily. Lo and behold, you lose weight and reverse your pre-diabetes. In ways like this, we can biohack our genetics. Gene expression can be turned off and on based on signals from your environment and from other cells. Ensuring a healthy environment externally and internally leads to healthier gene expression.
Under the influence of stress, we tend to breathe more rapidly and less deeply. Deep breaths supply oxygen to your entire body, stimulates your vagus nerve and calms your nervous system. We know that a stressed out nervous system isn’t good for our overall health. Undoing the effects of stress can be as simple as conscious breathing. At least twice per day, take 5 deep breaths into your belly. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7, release for the count of 8 each time. See how that makes you feel.
Hacking your attention and memory
Chronic deficiencies in zinc, iron, magnesium, iodine and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are linked to attention problems. Clearly, diet plays a role in maintaining healthy cognitive function. Dark, leafy greens contain zinc, iron and magnesium, shellfish, seaweed and iodized sea salt contain iodine, and fish is the optimal food for PUFAs. Low glycemic index foods also benefit attention.
In addition to foods, lifestyle can also influence attention. Meditation, deep breathing, exercise, self-discipline, and self-regulation all benefit focus, attention and cognitive function.
Hormone balance is the third factor that can influence memory, focus and concentration.
Improve your sleep
By adjusting our night routines, we can improve the quality of our sleep. Biohackers look beyond the standard advice on improving sleep to carefully consider what we surround ourselves with at bedtime. For example, you may have great results by reducing the amount of blue light you’re exposed to at night. Blue light comes from electronic devices. What can be a helpful practice is staying off your devices for 3 hours before bed or switching your devices to “night mode.” Reducing the temperature in your room and minimizing exposure to electromagnetic fields can also lead to world-class sleep.
Keep in mind that our mitochondria want to rest when it’s dark and ramp-up when it’s light. Make it easier for them by creating a sleep environment that’s as dark as possible. If needed, invest in some blackout curtains or a sleep mask. You can also create a sleep-friendly internal environment by avoiding caffeine at least eight hours before you go to sleep.
Enhance your environment
Environmental factors like cold, heat, light, electricity, and air quality influence your body’s functioning. How do you feel when it’s too hot? Too cold? Do you prefer natural light or artificial lighting?
One of the most significant influences on overall well-being can be the quality of the air you breathe. If your home is older or has sustained water damage, mold can grow. Mold spores infiltrate the air you breathe and set off an inflammatory cascade in your body that can have an incredibly detrimental effect on your health. This is a serious enough situation that if there is mold in your home, you should move or do significant repairs to remediate the mold. For detailed information about the extremely harmful impact of mold, read Surviving Mold by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker.
The sounds you hear alter how your body works. When music enters your brain, it releases neurotransmitters called dopamine and oxytocin. These make you feel happy. Listening to music also improves your immune function. The style of music that provides these benefits isn’t that important. It’s more about what kind of music you like and relate to, whether that is jazz, country or hard rock. You may want to alter your music based on what you are doing for optimal function. While you are working or studying, classical may help with dopamine secretion, learning and memory. Pop and rock can be distracting. But, they enhance endurance and physical performance. So be sure to queue them up on your iPod when you are working out. In the evening, while you are relaxing, jazz can soothe your body and help you wind down.
Learning to play music enhances brain abilities like learning and memory.
Light up your life, or not
The timing of light entering your eyes is important and should mimic natural day and night time light patterns. Your body runs on a clock that is regulated by daylight and dark. Functions like sleeping and waking, hormone secretion, cellular function and gene expression are all influenced by the normal rhythm of day and night. Mood and immune function are impaired when this rhythm gets disrupted. As a general rule, when it gets dark outside, keep interior lighting dim and keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Avoid looking at a screen past 8 p.m. And install an app on devices to downgrade blue light and upgrade red and orange tons at sunset. Over the winter, light therapy can help alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Monitor your diet
Adjusting your nutritional intake is an easy way to start biohacking. It’s a simple concept: Any change to your diet that results in noticeable improvements in how you feel is a biohack. It goes like this: eat this, feel great, eat that, feel lousy, eliminate that, feel great.
You also want to keep in mind that what you eat influences your gut bacteria. In turn, it then affects every aspect of your health. By choosing natural, high-fiber foods, you can reduce inflammation. Too much inflammation affects mitochondria. This leads to mitochondrial malfunction, which can impact your entire body.
Biohackers are more concerned with the nutritional quality of their foods, not the calorie count. Many biohackers follow a gluten-free diet with plenty of healthy fats. Some have good results with intermittent fasting. But ultimately, the key is to pay attention to how your diet makes you look and feel and make adjustments based on that.
Focus on natural products
Even if we’re careful about what we eat, our bodies are still exposed to harmful elements as we go through the day. The water we drink, the substances we clean with, and the beauty and grooming products we use can all contain harmful toxins. These toxins impact our cellular health in ways we may not even realize. Consciously seeking out natural beauty products and non-toxic cleaning solutions helps you reduce the impact of toxic ingredients on your body.
Adapt to stress
Some biohackers use complex biofeedback systems to monitor the effect of stress on their bodies. But, controlling stress can be as simple as paying attention to your breathing. (One biohack technique is “block breathing,” which means exhaling while counting to five, then repeating the count on the inhale. Do this several times and note how you feel after.) Classic stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, and “forest bathing” (walking in the wilderness) can all contribute to lower stress levels.
It may seem like a bit of a paradox, but some biohackers recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for improving a body’s ability to handle stress. That’s because HIIT emphasizes taxing a body to its maximum capacity, then allowing it to recover. As a result, we teach our bodies to be more resilient. Talk to a healthcare provider if you haven’t tried HIIT training before.
Hormones control it all
The hormonal balance in your system plays a huge role in pretty much everything. Having a balanced hormonal state is key to maintaining not just good health, but this balance also allows for all of the above-mentioned tips to actually work for you. When our hormones are out of alignment, it affects so many of our daily activities. Trying to even get through the day can be a challenge, let alone trying to take your health to another level. Achieving optimal hormone balance is doable with guidance from our ND’s.
Some people are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, while others aren’t. If you think that EMR affects you, read this post for more information about what you can do about it.
As you can see, biohacking doesn’t have to be complicated. Ultimately, you’re the best scientist when it comes to your own well-being. Why not make a few simple changes to your lifestyle to see how you feel?
If you’d like to look deeper into your current status of health, find out if your hormones are causing issues in your body or learn how you can take your health to the next level, come into the office and let’s talk. We are experts in looking at the individual as a whole and creating a unique plan to get your body functioning its best.
You’re careful about your health. You do your best to eat well, and you pay attention to the ways that your diet affects your energy levels. But something seems off. You’re experiencing annoying symptoms that you can’t explain. Maybe you have food sensitivities? You’re often gassy and bloated, your skin may not be clear and glowing anymore, you may be ready for a nap after a meal and you wish you could remember where you put your keys. Why does your memory feel so foggy?
These issues are frustrating (and often embarrassing). They’re also very common. Many patients come to see us with healthy lifestyles but are baffled by continuing digestive issues, mysterious rashes, and low energy levels. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to take a good look at your diet. Even a “healthy” food can make you sick if your body is sensitive to it. For many, the food mystery becomes both frustrating and overwhelming when trying to understand what foods are nourishing you and which ones may be harming you.
But the good news is that you may not have to look very far to make changes that relieve your symptoms. With a bit of detective work and our help, we can map out a dietary plan that restores your well-being.
What are the Symptoms of Food Sensitivities?
Food sensitivities can be tricky to diagnose. One reason is that there’s no one-size-fits-all list of food sensitivities or description of the way your body may react. Symptoms can vary from person to person and can even be different depending on what else is happening in your body. For example, you might respond differently at different stages of your menstrual cycle.
Another reason why food sensitivities are often a missed diagnosis is that these symptoms can be delayed up to 48 hours after the food that is causing them. So many people don’t make the connection between what they ate and how they feel as much as 2 days later.
Similarly, it’s difficult to measure how many people suffer from food sensitivities because a lot of us don’t seek medical help, figuring that it’s “normal” to feel gassy and tired all of the time. In fact, conventional medical practitioners can be sceptical about food sensitivity symptoms, which can lead to frustration for patients. But it doesn’t have to be this way, not with our doctors.
What is a Food Allergy?
It’s important to recognize the difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. What is commonly called a food allergy is an immune reaction. After eating a certain food, your body’s immune system launches an attack by making an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The next time you consume that food, your body is ready to attack again. But the IgE antibody causes your body to release a chemical called histamine, which triggers the physical symptoms of an allergic reaction. The most severe version of this is called anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic reaction. This extreme food allergy reaction can be lethal. Common foods that provoke an anaphylactic reaction include wheat, soy, peanuts, shellfish, milk and eggs. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include throat swelling, lip swelling, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and hives.
What is a Food Sensitivity?
In contrast, a food sensitivity is often caused by a different antibody, known as IgG antibodies. IgG antibodies provoke a milder immune reaction than IgE and so this is considered a food sensitivity rather than a food allergy. In both cases, your immune system is responding inappropriately to your food. But the reactions differ in intensity. IgG-mediated food sensitivities are not lethal but do affect people’s quality of life with the above-mentioned symptoms.
What If You Eat Your Food Sensitivities?
If we continue to eat the problem foods, we can exacerbate the sensitivities and our symptoms can affect more aspects of our bodies. Because our immune system creates antibodies against the food the lining of the gut can become inflamed and damaged. Eventually, the gut wall can become permeable, so that undigested food material “leaks” into the bloodstream. Not surprisingly, this is called “leaky gut” syndrome.
Why does leaky gut syndrome make us feel so lousy? There is growing evidence that the microorganisms in our guts exist in a complex relationship with our brains – what scientists call the “microbiome-gut-brain axis.” In other words, food sensitivities and the resulting leaky gut can affect our brains. And, as a result, our moods and energy levels. And that’s in addition to the general discomfort we can feel with digestive difficulties. No wonder patients with food sensitivities are often exhausted!
But what is the root cause of food sensitivities?
Research is still developing, but there are a few theories, ranging from changes in farming practices to the increased use of antibiotics, which can affect our gut bacteria and make it more difficult to digest certain foods.
What is a Food Intolerance?
A food intolerance is caused by a lack of the enzymes necessary to digest a substance that the food contains. For example, some people may develop a lactose intolerance if their intestinal mucosa doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase. A lactose tolerance test is used to diagnose lactose intolerance.
Which Foods Can Cause Food Sensitivities?
Somewhat ironically, many foods that can lead to sensitivity symptoms are considered “healthy” foods. In fact, ANY food can trigger an immune response. As a result, it’s easy to keep eating them, hoping they will improve your health and help you feel better. Yes, it’s a bit of a Catch-22! Common food sensitivity culprits include:
Dairy: The proteins casein and whey found in goat, sheep and cow milk, as well as cheeses, ice cream and yogurt are difficult for our gut to break down. The immune system then reacts against what it perceives as “foreign” protein. Your immune system is programmed to be on the lookout for foreign proteins from viruses and bacteria. So other foreign proteins like casein and whey, if not properly digested, can trigger an immune response.
Gluten: Gluten is a protein (or family of proteins) found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, and other grass-related grains. It’s often a hidden ingredient. For example, many spices, sauces and processed foods can contain gluten. Because it is a protein, similar to casein and whey if it’ is not broken down, it can generate an immune response.
Which Foods Can Cause Food Intolerances?
Fructose intolerance: Fructose is a simple sugar found in many fruits. A fructose intolerance, also known as fructose malabsorption, is caused by an inability to absorb this sugar. Unabsorbed fructose leads to fructose fermentation in the gut, causing bloating and gas. Excessive fructose in the gut can also cause diarrhea. High fructose corn syrup is found in processed foods like cereal bars and some juices.
Histamine and other amines: Histamine is found in greater amounts in aged or stored foods such as cheese, ripe fruit, chocolate, and processed meats. These foods are often migraine triggers for people with a histamine intolerance. Normally dietary histamine is broken down in your gut by an enzyme known as DAO. Some people are genetically predisposed to low levels of DAO. Undigested histamine can create inflammatory conditions like headaches, migraines, foggy thinking, and pain.
Lactose intolerance: Lactose is a sugar present in varying amounts in dairy products like milk and cheese. The enzyme lactase is normally located on the lining of your gut, also called the brush border. As we age, it is normal for us to lose the ability to digest lactose. It’s present in highest amounts when we are born and declines after we are weaned. Where cattle are domesticated and used to produce dairy products, the presence of the enzyme can persist, but not in everyone. If you lack the enzyme and can’t digest lactose, you may experience symptoms like bloating, gas and diarrhea from the undigested lactose in your gut.
This is not an extensive list of food allergy or food sensitivity triggers. We’re all different, and there is no universal recipe for food sensitivities. That’s one reason why seeing a naturopathic doctor is a good idea if you suspect your food may be making you sick. In addition, our medical supervision can ensure your approach to food remains healthy and balanced. Research suggests that food sensitivities can be a trigger for disordered eating in some people. After all, if food is causing you pain, but you’re not sure which foods are to blame, it’s easy to associate all food with negative experiences.
How Can You Treat Food Sensitivities?
On the surface, treating a food sensitivity sounds simple: just eliminate the problem foods. But first, you’ll have to do a bit of detective work. Because of possible delayed reaction times, the troublesome food is not always obvious. There are tests that can be done that will give you a comprehensive list of what is creating a reaction and you can eliminate the culprits, allowing your body to heal faster. A blood test for food sensitivities can help pinpoint which foods to eliminate. The test identifies IgG antibodies in your bloodstream to either 96 or 184 foods. Our naturopathic doctors can provide information about this test. Although it may be common to produce these antibodies to foods, it is not normal for your immune system to attack food. After testing, our naturopathic doctors can then provide specifics about what to take out, for how long and which foods you could eat as alternatives. Alternatively, you can choose to keep detailed records of everything you eat. Then, under naturopathic supervision, you can start eliminating foods, then reintroducing selected foods, carefully tracking your symptoms. This is also known as an elimination-challenge diet.
While you’re following an elimination diet like this, our naturopathic doctors can provide ways to support your gut health. And as you work to track down the problem foods, you’ll want to avoid substances that are known to cause gut inflammation, such as alcohol.
Blood test for IgG or IgA antibodies to foods OR Food Elimination-Challenge diet through a naturopathic doctor
No, but do affect quality of life
Bloating, gas, diarrhea
Fructose or Lactose Intolerance Test, ordered by an MD
No, but do affect quality of life
Do you think your foods might be causing your health issues? We have testing and treatment to help you understand which foods are helping you and which ones may be harming you. It may not be the foods you suspect. It can even be perfectly healthy foods like avocado, blueberries, salmon and almonds for example. We’ve seen these foods test positive on food sensitivity testing in our patients. Contact us and we will work together to find the potentially hidden food triggers for your health issues.
While not eating may not sound like a treatment, fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine. It has been well-researched for its ability to help heal and prevent disease. When done under the proper guidance of a naturopathic doctor, intermittent fasting can lead to effective weight loss and many long-term health benefits.
Fasting Versus Starving
So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between intermittent fasting and starvation diets? Well, for starters, starving yourself is dangerous. Our bodies still need fuel to function. Being overly calorie-restricted can cause your metabolism to slow down to conserve fuel. This defeats your weight-loss efforts.
Starvation deprives our body of essential nutrients, so it begins eating itself by burning muscle for fuel. Fasting differs from starvation because it can be practiced for 12, 16, 24, 36 or even 48 hours without the body kicking into starvation mode. Fasting flips the metabolic switch safely and effectively by forcing your body into using one fuel source (ketones) instead of another (glucose).
When we are frequently eating, our bodies are fuelled by glucose, which is a simple sugar. However, through intermittent fasting, that energy source becomes unavailable for long periods of time. As a result, the body begins to break down stored fat into fatty acids that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Fatty acids can be broken down into molecules called ketones. (This may ring a bell if you are familiar with the ketogenic diet.) Ketones can be used to produce energy. After 8 – 12 hours of fasting, our metabolism shifts to replace glucose with ketones as our new source of fuel.
In a world of fad diets and weight loss gimmicks, studies show that intermittent fasting may be better for you than other dieting strategies. This is because ketones put less stress on our cells compared to the by-products of other dieting methods.
Studies also show that intermittent fasting can produce benefits no matter how it’s accomplished!
In one study, participants were allowed to fast for any number of hours a day, and then eat whatever they desired during the remaining hours. In another study, dieters alternated fasting and feasting days. On their non-fasting days, dieters either restricted their diet or ate to their hearts’ content. In both cases, results showed significant weight loss, no matter the approach!
Furthermore, participants in both studies did not lose any significant amount of lean tissue (which includes bone, muscle and organ tissue). This is in contrast to starvation diets which can sometimes cause the loss of both fat and lean muscle tissue, impacting health negatively in the long run. Loss of muscle mass means a slower metabolism. Muscle burns calories even while you are sleeping.
When Should I Fast?
It’s easiest to spend most of your fasting hours asleep, so you’re not thinking about food.
How Should I Fast?
As shown above, studies have shown that the exact structure of a fast isn’t critical. However, here are a few proposed fasting plans:
If you are a beginner faster, you may want to start out with an easier fasting plan, sometimes referred to as a 12:12. What that means is that you may eat within a 12-hour window each day, and then not eat throughout the remaining 12 hours. This is relatively easily done if you eat your last meal around 6 p.m. and then you don’t eat again until breakfast the next morning. It just entails curbing any evening snacking. This plan would produce more modest weight-loss than option #2 below.
If the above option seems too easy, or you are already doing it and want to take it to the next level or you are wanting a greater weight-loss benefit, then you can do a 16:8 fast. That means that you only eat during an 8-hour window each day, the remaining 16 hours of the day are fasting hours. Again, you can set your feeding and fasting hours to whatever you like, but it may be that you’re not that big of a breakfast eater and mornings are hectic, so you may just skip eating until noon. Then noon to 8 p.m. is your feeding window.
What Should I Eat for Intermittent Fasting?
As mentioned, the research seems to suggest that it doesn’t really matter what you eat during your non-fasting hours. However, to prevent falling into bad habits and further enhance weight-loss efforts, we would always recommend eating a healthy, clean, whole foods diet.
Won’t I be Ravenous, Hangry, Tired, Weak, Shaky or Have a Headache?
Surprisingly, people who follow an intermittent fasting regimen, find that they are not starving between meals. In fact, they often report that they feel quite full and satisfied and do not crave food. If you find that you feel weak, shaky, irritable, tired or headachey if you don’t eat, your adrenal glands may need some supporting to allow you to fast without feeling this way. Our ND’s can provide advice about how to keep your adrenal glands healthy.
Did you know that intermittent fasting helps you to live longer too?
It’s true! New research from Harvard shows that intermittent fasting manipulates the mitochondrial networks inside our cells, which may increase lifespan!
Sure, that sounds great! But how does it work?
Simply put, inside our cells we have energy-producing organelles called mitochondria that dynamically change shape in relation to our body’s energy demand. Over time, their ability to produce energy gradually declines, eventually leading to age-related diseases. While fasting is often recommended as a way to promote healthy aging, the connection between metabolism and mitochondria has always been unclear… until now!
The Harvard study shows that low-energy conditions, such as periods of intermittent fasting, can help maintain the flexibility and youthfulness of mitochondrial networks. These youthful networks then communicate with other parts of the body (organelles called peroxisomes) that modulate fat metabolism, which as a result, helps to increase lifespan.
Fasting does not only help you live a longer life.
Fasting improves your overall health too! Further studies suggest that fasting can help:
Boost your immune system
Enhance your physical performance
Expedite weight loss
Protect your cognitive function
Slow the progression of cancerous tumors
Protect against cardiovascular disease
Steps for Effective Fasting
As mentioned, there are numerous different ways to fast that are equally effective. Below are a few fasting tips to help you on your way.
Set a fasting schedule and stick to it. If you’re a beginner, meal skipping is an excellent way to introduce yourself to fasting. If you choose to do a 12 or 16 hour fast, arrange your fasting window during sleeping hours to help the time pass by more easily. Fasting for 24 hours once a week or alternating day fasting are other options to try. Be sure to consult your naturopathic doctor to determine what might work best for you.
Stay hydrated. You might be limiting your intake of food, but you certainly shouldn’t limit your consumption of calorie-free beverages. Be sure to drink plenty of water or switch it up with unsweetened herbal teas.
Relax your body and your mind. During 24-48 hour fasting days, don’t participate in strenuous activities or spend your time obsessing over the food you can’t eat. Go easy on yourself by finding things to keep your body and mind occupied in a productive, gentle way. Take a walk or do light exercise that won’t exhaust you, like yoga. Spend a few hours curled up with a great book. Your next meal will come before you know it!
Make your calories count. Between fasting windows, enjoy nutrient-dense foods that provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Learn how to increase flavors without sacrificing calories by adding garlic, herbs, spices, and different types of vinegar to your dishes.
If you think you are thinking about fasting but have never tried it before, I invite you to please reach out to us so we can discuss which options might be best for you. Please feel free to book an appointment with us by calling 416-481-0222 or emailing Maria@ForcesofNature.ca and we can help you get back on track with better weight management and a healthier, longer, and happier life!
How would you describe “organic food” in three words or less? Good for you? Expensive? Neither of these is a wrong answer.
You may often hear in vague terms about how organic food is good for you and good for the environment. But, if you walk into any grocery store you’ll see how organic food is priced significantly higher than conventional produce. Sometimes nearly double! Why is that? Although we want to do the right thing for our bodies and our planet, are the premium prices really worth it?
Unlike conventional farming, which uses synthetic fertilizers to boost crops with chemicals, organic foods are fertilized by organic matter. The difference is that compost and animal manure slowly nourish the soil. These organic fertilizers release their nutrients gradually over time, provide a wider range of minerals and in their naturally-occurring proportions. This slow and steady approach is much better for the soil, building it up rather than depleting its nutrients. Organic crops are also not sprayed with toxic pesticides and herbicides. Because of the lack of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, an organic crop will yield approximately 20% less produce than its non-organic counterpart.
Is Organic Food Worth It?
So what’s a healthy and eco-conscious consumer to do? Do you buy into the hype without really knowing if organic is better? Is the difference truly worth the extra cost?
According to a new study in Nature Plants, yes, it’s worth it!
Organic agriculture has been proven to be beneficial and sustainable in numerous key areas, including its ability to:
Benefit soil quality and the environment,
Provide economically viable jobs for farmers,
Support social well-being with meaningful interactions between farmers and consumers.
These are all great reasons to make a difference with your dollars by supporting the organic food movement. But chances are that you’re still wondering….
How does organic food actually benefit me?
Organic food has more vitamins and minerals
Without the use of pesticides, organic fruits and vegetables must fend for themselves. They naturally fight off insects by producing more of their own antioxidants. Did you know that organic broccoli produces more vitamin C than conventional broccoli as a natural pesticide? Studies show that organic foods contain 18 – 69% more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. This means that organic eaters consume nearly twice as many cancer-fighting, age-reversing, immune-boosting antioxidants every day!
In addition to those awesome antioxidants, one study also shows that organic foods have higher levels of iron, phosphorus, and magnesium than conventionally raised crops.
Meanwhile, remember those synthetic fertilizers we mentioned earlier? Well, they spur plant growth via high levels of nitrogen. The downside to this is that it causes conventionally grown crops to have higher levels of sugars and starches as opposed to the protective antioxidants found in organic foods.
So, which would you rather be eating – high antioxidants or high starch and sugar?
Organic food is less toxic than conventionally grown crops
It’s something we all assume when we think of “organic,” but it’s good to know that there is scientific proof backing that assumption. A meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed studies conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition found that conventional crops have higher levels of the toxic, heavy metal cadmium as well as more pesticide residues.
Researchers have also found an increased cancer risk in children near California strawberry farms that use pesticides. And in recent news, the large agricultural corporation Monsanto, which manufactures glyphosate herbicides, just lost a lawsuit with a cancer patient – Dewayne Johnson. Mr. Johnson had regularly applied glyphosate weed killer on the school lawns that he maintained. The company now owes him 289 million dollars after internal company documents proved that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate could cause cancer. If the name glyphosate sounds familiar, it’s because there is speculation that people suffering from gluten intolerance, are in fact reacting to the glyphosate sprayed on gluten-containing crops. Stephanie Seneff is a senior research scientist at MIT. The following is an abstract from a paper co-authored by Dr. Seneff:
Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multi-factorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk for thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment in many cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, activating vitamin D3, catabolizing vitamin A, and maintaining bile acid production and sulfate supplies to the gut. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes. Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with Celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues that are associated with Celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. We argue that the practice of “ripening” sugar cane with glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America.
To learn more about which crops you should always buy organic based on pesticide levels, there is a great resource created annually by the Environmental Working Group or EWG. They are a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. The EWG’s “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” ranks the pesticides levels in 47 different fruits and vegetables. Their annual list of the Dirty Dozen contains the 12 most heavily contaminated types of produce. These are fruits and vegetables that you should either abstain from eating or only consume if they are organic. Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth! Speaking of which…
Organic food tastes better!
At some point in your life, you’ve likely compared strawberries from the grocer to those fresh from the garden or picked in the wild. Even without considering that toxic tidbit above, which would you honestly say tasted better? Odds are it was the berry from the garden.
When plants are grown without pesticides, their flavour is naturally improved. The higher antioxidant levels found in organic foods also impacts how we detect flavour through organoleptic qualities such as taste, aroma, and mouth-feel. Plus, organic foods carry the distinct flavours of a region’s soil, which further enhances their natural taste. Organic berries just plain taste sweeter!
When we look at the long-term effect of toxins in our system, we see an increase in autoimmune disease, hormonal imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies that lead to more significant health issues. In Naturopathic Medicine we seek to remove the factors preventing the body from healing itself, in other words, remove the obstacles to cure. In most cases that includes avoiding toxic intake, while also enhancing the body’s own ability to eliminate toxins. The more we know about how pesticides and other chemicals harm us, the more we can stay away from things that are not serving our longevity, our health and the health of our families.
They say you get what you pay for, and that statement holds true with organic foods. Buying organic might cost a bit more, but consider it an investment in improved health, greater flavour, and a more sustainable environment.
Maybe you can’t afford to buy all organic all the time – most people can’t. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be all or nothing. Throw a few organic items into your cart now and then, or better still, make friends with the farmers at your local market. As with anything in life, small actions add up to make a real difference.
So our conclusion is an enthusiastic “yes, organic food is worth it!”
If you have any other questions about nutrition, natural ways to improve your health, how to detoxify from environmental pollutants or anything else, please feel free to contact our Naturopathic Doctors or our Registered Dietitian. We would be happy to help. Just give us a call at 416-481-0222 or email Info@ForcesofNature.ca. We would love to hear from you.
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as: “Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host” By this definition, there are 3 key components to probiotics: 1. They must be alive 2. They have to be dosed in adequate amounts 3. And they must be bacteria of the type that confer a health benefit
Good probiotics are often pricey. They may cost extra but you can be assured that you are getting living and viable probiotics whereas some less expensive products may only contain dead bacteria. A trick to watch out for: probiotic labels that say “x billion viable/live bacteria at time of manufacture.” What the product contained at time of manufacture is completely irrelevant. It’s what they contain when you consume them that matters. What this “guarantee” is really saying is “we’re not sure how much will survive until you take them.” The better manufacturers will usually test their products for at least 6 months beyond the expiry date to ensure that you are still getting living bacteria in the amount claimed on the label when you take it. What the label should say is “guaranteed to contain x billion live or viable bacteria at time of expiry”. See the difference? Knowing that some will die off between manufacture and the time that you take them, the good manufacturers will put extra in when they make it and test it beyond the time of expiry to ensure that even if some did die off, there is still the amount stated on the label when the bottle expires.
Number of Bacteria in Probiotics
The bacteria in probiotics are listed as CFU, which stands for “colony forming units”. It means how many bacteria are in the product that can then reproduce to form a little colony. One or two billion bacteria or CFU’s per serving just doesn’t cut it. When it comes to good bacteria the higher the amount per serving the better. I would typically recommend a product that contains 35-50 billion bacteria per capsule and a wide range of species from the ones listed below. Over 100 trillion bacteria of 500 different species live in a healthy human gut, if you want to have an impact, you need to add more than a drop in the bucket.
Probiotics that Give a Health Benefit
There are a few manufacturers promoting something called “soil based organisms” that are supposed to be what we naturally would have inhabiting our guts if we were eating fresh food plucked from the ground. There has been very little research supporting their use and a few case studies of people who were severely immune compromised and suffered life threatening infections after consuming these products. There is a plethora of research and human experience showing the health benefits of probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium lactis.
What are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?
Here are the benefits of healthy good bacteria in our digestive tract: 1. Diarrhea prevention, especially when taking antibiotics 2. Colorectal cancer prevention 3. Immune system regulation and enhancement 4. Asthma and allergy prevention 5. Prevention of infection in the gut by harmful organisms like Salmonella, Shigella, H pylori, yeast etc 6. Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome 7. They provide the host with vitamins B12 and K 8. They appear to help with insulin resistance in diabetics and in women with gestational diabetes
Certain foods are known to be rich in probiotics. These are fermented foods and many cultures have their own version. Dairy-based foods that contain probiotic bacteria include kefir and yogourt. Non-dairy probiotic foods include fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kim chi, miso and tempeh. Do these food probiotics work? Research has been done on ingestion of bean and soy tempeh to determine their effect on gut bacteria. Soy tempeh stimulates most the growth of Bifidobacterium bacteria, while bean tempeh stimulates that of Escherichia coli. While it is good to eat probiotic-rich foods for daily gut maintenance, when taking an antibiotic, I would always encourage people to take a good quality probiotic supplement. That way we know exactly how many beneficial bacteria they are getting and of what kind. A serving of commercial yogourt may only contain 1 billion bacteria per serving where just one probiotic capsule would contain 50-100 times that much.
How Often to Take Probiotics
Whether to take probiotics and if so, how much and how often is subject to debate. Definitely any time you need to take antibiotics, you should take a good quality probiotic while taking the antibiotics and for at least two weeks afterward to prevent potentially serious side effects of taking antibiotics.
Because of the potential for numerous health benefits of taking probiotics, for most people they should be a regular part of their health maintenance program. Whether that means taking them every day, or taking them for 2-3 months out of every year, may be more to do with individual preference than scientifically proven value. I do encourage people who take probiotics daily, to try to vary the product and strains that they are taking in order to maintain the diversity of gut bacteria that seems to help promote good health.
The above strains of probiotic bacteria are generally considered safe, even for infants. The primary contraindications for probiotic use would be: 1. Someone who is severely immune compromised such as a transplant recipient, someone very elderly or very sick, or a patient undergoing cancer treatment. 2. Using soil-based probiotics in any of the above patients and possibly in the general population as there isn’t sufficient safety and efficacy data.
With about a hundred published studies per year, there is new information being revealed every day about the health benefits of taking probiotic supplements. With almost no downside, and plenty of potential benefits, probiotics are a worthwhile addition to your health regimen.
Oh and by the way, a class action lawsuit was filed and won against Dannon/Danone in January 2008 in which the company stood accused of spending $100 million promoting clinical benefits of Activia and DanActive that its own tests had disproved. To add to that, Bifidus Regularis is a made-up name by Danone for Bifidobacterium animalis. Commercial yogurt is not an adequate means to obtain good bacteria.
Our naturopathic doctors are experts on which probiotics may work best for your particular problem as well as how to heal a whole host of gut issues. Book an appointment now.
The word hypoglycemia literally means low (hypo) sugar (glyc) in the blood (emia). Blood sugar is exactly what it sounds like, how much sugar or glucose is in your blood at a given time. This number is highly variable based on what you have eaten, your stress level, exercise, your caffeine intake and a variety of other factors.
Is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar the same as being diabetic?
No, in fact it is the polar opposite. However, diabetics who are on blood sugar lowering medication can experience hypoglycemia if what they have eaten and the dosage of their medication are a mismatch. Diabetic medication is outside the scope of this article and best discussed with your prescribing physician.
What causes low blood sugar?
Since your blood sugar level is influenced by a number of factors, you may experience low blood sugar for many reasons:
Under stress, your body depends on glucose for fuel to assist in the “fight or flight” response. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline tend to increase blood sugar to get more fuel to your muscles to prepare you for the fight. When your blood sugar shoots up quickly, your body responds by producing insulin to help move the sugar from the blood into the cells to either be burned as fuel or stored as fat. As insulin moves the glucose out of your blood and into your cells, your blood glucose level will drop. If it drops too much, hypoglycemia may result. Stress also often primes us to reach for the wrong foods, those rich in refined flour and sugar. The consumption of those foods is likely to lead to a blood sugar crash some time later.
Foods that induce a spike in blood sugar like sweets and starchy foods, will necessitate the production of insulin. Insulin, as mentioned above, then lowers blood sugar. In some instances, excess insulin is produced and blood sugar drops lower than normal. Avoiding consuming foods that spike insulin, helps maintain a more stable blood sugar.
For most forms of exercise, your body can maintain a stable blood sugar. However, if you participate in extended endurance workouts, like running marathons, there is the potential for your fuel to drop a bit low. The runner’s term for this is to “bonk” or “hit a wall”. Distance runners will often carry gels with them (containing mainly sugar) to prevent or treat a blood sugar crash. In my opinion, as a triathlete, I think a better strategy is to eat a meal containing easily digested protein (like fish), some healthy fat (like avocado) and some low glycemic index carbs (like a bit of sweet potato) 3 hours before a race, and to keep a few nuts and high fibre dried fruit with me rather than consuming sugary gels that are likely to result in a crash some time later.
Consumption of caffeine creates a spike in cortisol, which then increases blood sugar. As with stress and diet, anything that increases blood sugar stimulates production of blood sugar-lowering insulin. This creates the potential for a crash in blood sugar later.
Under-working adrenal glands
Your adrenal glands are your stress glands. They sit just on top of your kidneys. They perform many jobs, one of which is to keep your blood sugar stable. When it begins to drop, the adrenals signal to your liver to release some stored glucose, to bring your blood sugar back up. If adrenals fail to signal your liver, then your blood sugar will drop. For most of the people that I see, under-functioning adrenal glands and diet are the two biggest factors contributing to hypoglycemia.
While these do not increase your blood sugar, research suggests that your body will still produce insulin in response to the sweet taste. If blood sugar does not rise, yet insulin is still produced, blood sugar will drop due to the insulin. For many, the reason for using these is to reduce the amount of insulin being produced to help with weight loss. If insulin is produced anyway, consuming them kind of defeats the purpose.
Estrogen influences how well your body is able to use sugar and insulin. Postmenopause when estrogen is lower, there may be a greater tendency to have blood sugar fluctuations.
Non-sugary alcoholic beverages like wine or straight spirits may cause your blood sugar to crash, where sugary cocktails may do the opposite.
What are the symptoms of low blood sugar?
The symptoms of low blood sugar include:
Feeling weak, shaky, dizzy, light-headed, headachy or irritable when going too long without eating.
Sleep maintenance insomnia. This is where people wake up in the middle of the night, often highly alert or even feeling anxious or stressed and have a hard time going back to sleep.
6 Tips to Prevent Hypoglycemia
Include protein with each meal. Protein is slow release energy that helps to maintain a stable blood sugar.
Avoid high glycemic index carbs, sugar and artificial sweeteners. These spike your blood sugar which can lead to a subsequent crash.
Drink alcohol in moderation. If you are experiencing sleep troubles, you may want to avoid alcohol in the evening.
Support your adrenal glands. Eat lots of leafy greens, get good sleep, reduce your stress levels and take time to relax and have fun every day.
Stress. Other than divesting yourself of the stress, moderate exercise is the best way to reduce your body’s response stress. Find an exercise that you enjoy and use it to burn off stress on a regular basis.
Stay hydrated. While blood sugar doesn’t drop because you are dehydrated, dehydration can feel like hypoglycemia.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of low blood sugar, our Naturopathic Doctors and Registered Dietitian can help with nutrition advice. See Dr. Rachel Vong, ND, Dr. Pamela Frank, ND or Sanaz Baradaran, RD. Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online here.
Despite its name, the small intestine is actually a whopping 20 feet of very important tissue between your stomach and large intestine. The small intestine is divided up into 3 parts. The part closest to your stomach is called the duodenum, next is the jejunum and the last stretch before your large intestine is your ileum. The small intestine has the important job of digesting food and absorbing nutrients to keep us in good health. As if that wasn’t significant enough, it is also a key contributor to a healthy immune system.
The small intestine plays host to specific beneficial microorganisms that help protect our bodies against bad (pathogenic) bacteria and yeast. These good bacteria also do their part to produce vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and folate. They are the keepers of the small intestine, ensuring that it continues to do its thing, muscling waves of food through the gut.
What is SIBO?
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO occurs when there is an increased number of bacteria and/or a change in the type of bacteria present in your small intestine. Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine is considered to be greater than 100 000 bacteria per millilitre of fluid. Most often SIBO is caused by an overgrowth of the wrong types of bacteria that actually belong in the colon (the large intestine). In truth, the small intestine is meant to be fairly clean. Food coming from the top down through the stomach is sterilized by stomach acid. So anything passing into the small intestine from the top shouldn’t contain much in the way of bacteria. Absence of adequate stomach acid may contribute to SIBO as this would allow passage of bacteria into the intestines. Another theory as to how this occurs is that there is a motor complex that propels everything in your intestines one direction – out the far end. This migrating motor complex or MMC can malfunction, allowing a backwash of bacteria from the large intestine to move up into the small intestine.
The bacteria that causes SIBO is like a bad tenant. It invites all its rowdy friends in for a party and damages the cell lining of the small bowel. This can lead to leaky gut, allowing large protein molecules to move through the intestinal barrier and escape into the bloodstream. As you can imagine, this causes a number of problems, including general inflammation, immune reactions that cause food allergies, and autoimmune diseases.
These havoc-causing bad bacteria are also responsible for poor digestion, constipation or diarrhea and malabsorption. Patients with SIBO may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron, vitamin B12, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as having unintended weight loss, and even osteoporosis.
Do I Have SIBO?
SIBO is considered an under-diagnosed condition as many people do not seek medical care for their symptoms or they get wrongly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of SIBO
Signs and symptoms of SIBO include:
· Bloating and abdominal swelling
· Abdominal pain or discomfort
· Gas and belching
· Weakness and fatigue
In the most severe cases, patients experience weight loss and vitamin deficiency-related symptoms.
Who is at risk for SIBO? How Do You Get SIBO?
While the elderly may be the most vulnerable population for developing SIBO as its prevalence rises with age, there are multiple other risk factors that can increase your chances, no matter your age. These include:
· Medication use, especially antibiotics
· Gastric acid suppression or Low Stomach Acid (due to stress, medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) or antacids, and lifestyle factors)
· Celiac disease
· Crohn’s disease
· Prior bowel surgery
· Diabetes Types I & II
· Irritable bowel syndrome
Studies also indicate that moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day for women and two for men) promotes the overgrowth of certain types of bacteria and also impairs vital functions. This results in small bowel injury and decreased muscle contractions impairing the migrating motor complex.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or think you might be at risk, then we encourage you to make an appointment to assess your symptoms and get tested. Specialized testing can be accomplished through a breath test. This breath test measures your hydrogen and methane gas levels produced by bacterial metabolism and can be a very helpful indicator to determine if you are suffering from SIBO.
What Causes SIBO and How Can You Treat It?
Despite multiple courses of antibiotics being a risk factor, specific antibiotics (like Rifaximin) are still most often used to treat SIBO. However, studies show that SIBO returns in nearly half of all patients within a year after treatment.
Successful treatment of SIBO must be handled just like any other health condition – not with a temporary Band-aid solution, but by addressing the underlying cause! Intestinal bacteria can be influenced by numerous factors beyond what we eat and how much. Environmental effects, drugs, alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, mood disorders, hormone imbalances and lifestyle factors such as stress can all be contributing factors to poor gut health. Therefore, the treatment must be unique to the individual and all-encompassing.
Once you have identified the cause, treat SIBO symptoms through a healthy diet, nutritional supplements and positive lifestyle changes that help return the body to balance.
Tips for dealing with SIBO
Eat three meals per day spaced 4-5 hour apart and avoid snacking. We need to give our body time in between meals to fully digest the previous meal.
With guidance from your naturopathic doctor try an elimination diet for two weeks to get your body back on track by reducing inflammation and bacteria overgrowth. If this doesn’t seem to help, you may want to pursue food sensitivity testing through one of our ND’s. The test checks for antibodies in your bloodstream to either 96 or 184 foods. Employee benefits will sometimes cover the cost of this test along with other lab or diagnostic testing.
Enjoy foods that assist digestive health like fresh pineapple which is rich in bromelain and can also help lower inflammation, and bananas which are an excellent source of potassium and manganese that your stomach lining needs for healing. Boiled cabbage water is an excellent source of the amino acid glutamine that helps heal the gut lining. Vitamin A is also essential for a healthy gut. Eating liver and beta carotene-rich foods like leafy greens and orange vegetables like carrots as well as taking cod liver oil help insure adequate vitamin A intake.
Keep your fat intake in check. Research has shown that a high-fat diet, increases the growth of fat digesting bacteria at the expense of other more healthful ones. That is, microbes from the Clostridiaceae and Peptostreptococcaceae families increased while beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacteriacaea and Bacteroidacaea families (which are commonly associated with leanness) went down.
How to Get Rid of SIBO: The Steps for Successful Treatment
Elimination/modification of the underlying causes. This may involve changing your diet to a whole food, low FODMAPs diet, reducing your stress, eating 3 meals per day, reducing or eliminating the need for antibiotics, optimizing digestive juices like stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes.
Induction of remission (antibiotics or natural anti-microbials and elemental diet)
Herbs, Spices, Condiments and Seasonings All spices (except onion & garlic) Garlic-infused oil Ginger (fresh & dried) Mayonnaise, homemade or commercial with honey Mustard - without garlic Pickles/Relish - no sweetener or garlic Tabasco sauce (McIlhenny Co) Wasabi - pure Vinegar: apple cider, distilled/white, red & white wine (NOT balsamic)
Herbs, Spices and Seasonings Asafoetida powder Chicory root (leaves ok) Cocoa/chocolate-unsweetened Gums/Carrageenan/Thickeners Sauces or Marinades with High Fodmap ingredients Soy Sauce/Tamari Spices: Onion & Garlic powder Vinegar: balsamic
Do any of the above symptoms or risk factors sound familiar? Do you think you might be suffering from SIBO? We can help! Please contact us and we’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on and create a plan of action to bring your body back to good health.
One of the common myths about aging is that you just have to accept the symptoms of ageing: weight gain, poor sleep, cognitive decline, hot flashes, wrinkles and thinning hair. Here are my best tips for healthy aging, slowing or reversing these symptoms and staying young at any age:
What you could eat and get away with before you hit 50 and what you can eat and get away with after 50 is going to be different. Why? Your body’s ability to tolerate foods that increase blood sugar and require insulin decreases when estrogen goes down at menopause. What does that mean? You need to decrease your intake of carbs and sugar after 50 to prevent or stop weight gain. I recommend no more than 60-80 grams of carbs per day, preferably from fruit and vegetables and low glycemic index whole grains. Stay active. Your metabolism slows down as you get older, making it that much more important to stay physically active and keep burning those extra calories. If you find that aching joints are slowing you down, seeing a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor or osteopath may help.
Maintaining regular exercise after 50 is important for maintaining bone density. The single best way to get all the nutrients you need to maintain healthy bones and teeth is to consume bone broth with a handful of spinach every day. Bone broth is literally bones of any type that are cooked for 6-8 hours with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The liquid is full of all of the minerals for healthy bones as well as the necessary ingredients to make collagen, another major constituent of bones. Our registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan to optimize bone health.
Hot Flashes/Night Sweats
Hot flashes are a signal of inflammation from your body. The best way to reduce those signals is to identify your triggers and make an effort to limit or avoid them. For many women sugar, stress, caffeine, lack of sleep and dairy products are hot flash triggers. Start by avoiding these and see if it helps and try journaling the frequency of hot flashes, time of day, feelings at the time and foods that are associated with your hot flashes to see what your specific triggers are. If stress is a trigger, seeing a psychotherapist to brainstorm stress-busting strategies may help. Acupuncture has been shown in research to help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.
Staying young by maintaining your brain health is as important if not more important than maintaining physical health. Hormone balance and low levels of inflammation are important to maintaining cognitive function. Your adrenal glands become increasingly important as you age. They help you maintain a certain level of hormonal health by producing hormones like cortisol, DHEAs and testosterone. The latter two are building blocks to build estrogen so that even post-menopause you can still maintain a healthy post-menopause estrogen level. Reducing intake of inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy and gluten can also help keep your brain healthy as well as your gut. Increasing your Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium can keep your brain running smoothly too.
Thinning Hair or Hair Loss
Adrenal gland health helps to maintain a healthy, full head of hair. If you see more hair falling when you are under stress, that may be a sign that your adrenal glands need supporting. These vital organs sit on top of your kidneys and help you deal with stress, help manage your blood sugar and blood pressure, help to balance hormones and reduce inflammation. They need substantial amounts of vitamin C, B5, B6, Magnesium and Zinc to function at their best. Targeting these specific vitamins and minerals often help with hair, but also stress, energy, and hormone balance. Extensive blood work can help identify the specific cause of your hair loss. Our ND’s can assist you with getting the right blood work done and ensuring that your levels are optimal for hair growth.
My two best “staying young” tips for your skin are: avoid sugar and eat bone broth. Sugar increases the need for insulin which promotes inflammation. Inflammation contributes to ageing and redness of your skin. Bone broth contains multiple vitamins, minerals and gelatin, all of which help your body make collagen, the support structure or scaffolding for your skin. Vitamin C, and the amino acids lysine and proline are the other necessary constituents to make healthy collagen. Collagen also helps to keep your joints healthy. You can take collagen supplements, but personally, I prefer the all-around nourishment of bone broth.
Maintaining strict sleep hygiene becomes ultra-important after 50. Good sleep helps us with staying young physically and mentally. Any little thing that wasn’t a problem before 50 can disrupt sleep after 50. For optimal sleep, shut down any screen time by 8 p.m., make sure you are getting enough physical activity but do it early in the day, use blackout curtains in your bedroom, avoid sweets and alcohol in the evening, engage in relaxing activities in the evening, aim to be in bed by 10 p.m. and cut yourself off caffeine after noon. If stress is keeping you awake, talking it over with a psychotherapist may help.
When you sustain an injury you may notice that the area is swollen, painful, red and feels hot to the touch. These are all common signs of inflammation that you may experience on a superficial level. Chronic inflammation can also occur in our bodies and can present itself in other ways. When inflammation triggers sensory nerve endings, it can result in pain. Symptoms such as fatigue, rashes, digestion problems, allergies, asthma, and chest, abdominal and joint pain can also be signs of inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural immune system function. It’s a reaction to infection or injury that triggers a slew of chemical messages to your immune system to prompt healing and repair. It’s a word most of us associate with pain, discomfort and poor health — yet its ultimate purpose is actually to help us get better. Without inflammation, injuries wouldn’t heal and infections could become deadly.
When the body is injured, the swelling and pain of inflammation is a signal to your immune system to send white blood cells so the healing process may begin. Unfortunately, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can trigger numerous other health problems in your body including cancers, depression, asthma and heart disease. In fact, some say inflammation is the “new cholesterol” due to its direct link to heart disease.
In some cases, inflammation occurs when the immune system revolts against us and attacks our own bodies as in autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, IBD, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis among dozens of others. There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases.
Top Tips to Reduce Inflammation
Which Foods Cause Inflammation?
First, let’s take a quick look at inflammatory foods that you want to limit or avoid. You probably already know all the usual suspects.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners – A 2018 study in children found that a 46% decrease in sugar intake, significantly reduced proinflammatory markers and increased the levels of anti-inflammatory markers.
Fried foods – A 2016 study on deep-fried oil consumption, revealed that intake of deep-fried canola oilcould impair metabolism of triglycerides, destroy the gut wall structure and unbalance healthy gut bacteria. All of which could contribute to inflammation.
Grains – Wheat and other cereal grains contain anti-nutrients like gluten that may contribute to inflammation by increasing intestinal permeability and initiating a pro-inflammatory immune response.
Dairy – Proteins in milk and dairy products can trigger an immune reaction that contributes to inflammation. Research on milk containing a protein known as A1 beta-casein significantly increases gastrointestinal transit time, production of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 and the inflammatory marker myeloperoxidase compared with milk containing A2 beta-casein. Cows here in Canada tend to produce more of the A1 beta-casein protein, therefore dairy products here tend to be more pro-inflammatory.
Alcohol – A 2015 study showed that alcohol-induced changes to the gastrointestinal tract microbiome and metabolic function may contribute to the well-established link between alcohol-induced oxidative stress, intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut), and the subsequent development of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), as well as other diseases.
What are Anti-inflammatory Foods?
Wondering what those anti-inflammatory foods are? The good news is they are delicious and come with multiple health benefits.
Raw, Organic Fruits & Veggies
Organic foods are a great place to start when looking to adhere to a more anti-inflammatory diet. Grown in mineral-dense soil, organic foods tend have a higher vitamin and mineral content.
In order to keep those vitamin and mineral levels high, it’s also helpful to eat raw or lightly cooked fruits and veggies. Cooking can deplete minerals, which is why it’s important to take every opportunity you can to get eat fresh and raw so you get to enjoy the full nutritional benefits. For example, Vitamin K is found in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach and is excellent for reducing inflammation.
Add in lots of Alkaline Foods
In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes are also alkaline foods that can help balance your pH and reduce acidity. While being mindful of your body’s pH, you might be wonder about the impact of acidic foods, like tomatoes or citrus, and how they affect inflammation. Surprisingly these foods don’t create acidity in the body. Although they are acidic in nature, that acidity is quickly neutralized by buffers in the small intestine when they exit the stomach. Therefore, they may actually help to restore your pH balance. Even apple cider vinegar is alkaline-forming (however, other vinegars are not).
Fish & Plant Proteins
Believe it or not, most high protein animal foods, like meat, can actually be acid forming. In this case, plant proteins, such as nuts and beans, are great alternatives to reduce acidity and inflammation.
Need your meat? Then eat more fish. Fish oils, as well as other foods rich in healthy fats like omega 3, are proven to have a variety of health benefits, including significant anti-inflammatory effects.
Fish is also a great source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a wide range of inflammatory conditions.
Those susceptible to chronic inflammation may also benefit from supplementing their diets with food sources that contain bioactive molecules. For example, curcumin is a compound found in turmeric root. It is a powerful antioxidant. Curcumin’s ability to reduce brain inflammation has been shown to be beneficial in both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression. Curcumin has been shown to not only prevent memory problems from worsening, but also to improve them.
Complement your curry with a little watercress salad on the side, including pears, dill weed, onion and chives – all sources of the antioxidant known as isorhamnetin.
Add a little red wine and some berries for dessert, which are rich in resveratrol, and you’ve got yourself an anti-inflammatory party. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by certain plants in response to injury or when under attack by bacteria or fungi. This is what makes dark-coloured grapes and berries such excellent health boosters for your body.
And of course, you can’t forget the dark chocolate! The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which are great for your brain and your heart. New research also shows that consuming dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao (minimum 70% with 30% organic cane sugar) has a positive effect on stress levels and inflammation, while also improving your memory, immunity and mood. You read that right – chocolate really is good for you (but make sure its good quality and that you are not over doing it).
How to Reduce Inflammation: Going Beyond Diet
While diet definitely plays a role, stress is also a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Stress can be triggered by lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, or any other number of factors. Getting a good night’s rest and making time to meditate or practice other stress-reducing activities, like yoga or Tai chi, are also very effective ways to promote good health and reduce inflammation. Psychotherapy can help you formulate a plan to reduce stress, improve your lifestyle and your relationships.
All it takes is a few conscious decisions about your diet and lifestyle and you are on your way to a healthier you.
Herbs for Inflammation
Curcumin – Research has shown curcumin to be a molecule that is capable of interacting with numerous targets that are involved in inflammation. Clinical trials indicate that curcumin may have potential as a therapeutic agent in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer.
Boswellia -Boswellia is also known as Frankinsence. It is an important traditional medicine plant that possesses several pharmacological properties. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antitumour effects.
Pedalium murex – This Ayurvedic herb, native to South India, Mexico and parts of Africa, is used as an anti-inflammatory, and helps treat many diseases including asthma, gastric ulcer, heart disease and urinary tract disorders.
Chiropractic and Inflammation
In a 2010 study on the effects of chiropractic on markers of inflammation in sufferers of chronic low back pain, 9 chiropractic lower back manipulations caused the mediators of inflammation to present a normalization response in individuals suffering from chronic low back pain.
Massage Therapy and Inflammation
In a 2018 review article, the most powerful techniques for reducing inflammation after exertion were massage and cold exposure. Massage therapy also proved to be the most effective method for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise and perceived fatigue.
Acupuncture and Inflammation
A 2018 study on rats showed that acupuncture reduced inflammation bydown-regulating the levels of the inflammatory markers IL-1 β, IL-6 and IL-8, and in regulating cerebral SIRT1/NF-κB signaling. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of acupuncture for reducing pain in inflammatory conditions like arthritis and back pain.
Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy and Inflammation
Fibroblasts are the main fascial cells that respond to different types of strain by secreting anti-inflammatory chemicals and growth factors, thus improving wound healing and muscle repair processes. Osteopathic manual practitioners, use myofascial release therapy and other osteopathic manipulative therapies to stimulate fibroblasts to reduce inflammation and improve wound healing, muscle repair and regeneration.
Are you dealing with chronic health issues triggered by inflammation? Do you still have more questions about how you can make greater changes towards a pain-free life? Do you want a customized approach to managing inflammation and preventing disease? Please feel free to contact us and we can find your best solutions together. Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Maria@ForcesofNature.ca
To your best health!
The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic – Chiropractor, Naturopathic Doctors, Acupuncturist/TCM, Psychotherapist, Registered Dietitian, Massage Therapist/RMT, Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopath
Sawani A, Farhangi M, N CA, Maul TM, Parthasarathy S, Smallwood J, Wei JL. Limiting Dietary Sugar Improves Pediatric Sinonasal Symptoms and Reduces Inflammation. J Med Food. 2018 May 31. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.0126. [Epub ahead of print] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29851540
Zhou Z, Wang Y, Jiang Y, Diao Y, Strappe P, Prenzler P, Ayton J, Blanchard C. Deep-fried oil consumption in rats impairs glycerolipid metabolism, gut histology and microbiota structure. Lipids Health Dis. 2016 Apr 28;15:86. doi: 10.1186/s12944-016-0252-1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27121709
Engen PA, Green SJ, Voigt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):223-36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26695747
Schwalfenberg GK. The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health? J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:727630. doi: 10.1155/2012/727630. Epub 2011 Oct 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22013455
Devanesan AA, Zipora T, G Smilin BA, Deviram G, Thilagar S. Phytochemical and pharmacological status of indigenous medicinal plant Pedalium murex L.-A review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jul;103:1456-1463. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.04.177. Epub 2018 May 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29864930
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Beghelli D, Isani G, Roncada P, Andreani G, Bistoni O, Bertocchi M, Lupidi G, Alunno A. Antioxidant and Ex Vivo Immune System Regulatory Properties of Boswellia serrata Extracts. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:7468064. doi: 10.1155/2017/7468064. Epub 2017 Mar 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28386311
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Dupuy O, Douzi W, Theurot D, Bosquet L, Dugué B. An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2018 Apr 26;9:403. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00403. ECollection 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29755363
Rosenkranz MA, Davidson RJ, Maccoon DG, Sheridan JF, Kalin NH, Lutz A. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Jan;27(1):174-84. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.10.013. Epub 2012 Oct 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23092711
If you are trying to lose weight and you believe that means that eating fats and oils is a no-no, you might be in for a surprise. Fat is a vital component of a balanced diet and is necessary for your body to function properly. Inflammation is often involved in preventing weight loss, and the right kinds of fat can help reduce inflammation. Having said that, too much or the WRONG fats can be a problem. With all the information out there on diet, it’s important to understand not just fads, diets, and tips but the actual needs of your body.
Given how many “experts” purport the benefits of their approach and dismiss the science of others, it can be tricky to figure out which foods are best for our own needs. In fact, it can feel like there’s a new discovery about the best way to eat every week making us question if we’re ‘doing it right’!
Lately, it’s the popularity of the Paleo and Keto diets that has turned prevailing knowledge on its head, largely because of the emphasis these protocols place on eating significant quantities of healthy fats.
No matter what diet you follow, newer science is showing us that there are more benefits to eating higher quantities of healthy fats than we previously thought. In fact, research is showing that the body is built to use these as a major source of energy – some evidence even suggests that fat is a better energy source than carbohydrates! It’s a fact that fat is also vital to a wide variety of normal bodily functions.
What are the Different Types of Fats?
What does monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated mean when it comes to fats? These terms refer to the molecular structure of the fat. Fats are made up of long chains of carbon molecules connected to each other by bonds and also bound to hydrogen molecules. These bonds can be either a single bond or a double bond. Saturated fats contain only single bonds. Monounsaturated fats, like oleic acid found in olive oil, contain only one double bond. Polyunsaturated fats, like linoleic acid found in sunflower oil, contain multiple double bonds.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s)
MUFA’s are liquid at room temperature. Because of the double bond that they contain, they can be unstable and prone to oxidation.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)
PUFA’s are also liquid at room temperature and because they contain more than one double bond, can be highly unstable and even more prone to oxidation. Oxidation creates “free radicals” that can cause damage to our bodies. Oxygenated derivatives of linoleic acid, known as Oxlams, have been discovered and found to have potent inflammatory effects. For this reason, it’s preferable to get PUF’A’s and MUFA’s from whole foods, rather than as processed oils.
Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. They are more stable because they do not contain any double bonds and therefore are amongst the safest for cooking purposes. Excessive intake of saturated fats can increase the amount of insulin your body produces, which would not be good. While there is no need to avoid saturated fat altogether, it’s best not to overdo it either.
These are the least healthy form of fat. Trans fats are those that are artificially produced through a process known as hydrogenation. It is the process that turns a liquid oil into a solid, such as converting sunflower oil into margarine. These create inflammation in your body, which is linked to heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
Rancidity refers to when a fat or oil has gone “bad”, meaning it has developed an unpleasant taste or smell. When unsaturated fats become oxidized they generate peroxides. The decomposition of peroxides is what causes the rancid taste or smell. Rancid oils can create harmful free radicals in your body that can damage your cells.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are healthy fats that we have to get from our diet because our body can’t make them. These are also called Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. The signs of an essential fatty acid deficiency include dry, scaly skin, skin rashes, hair loss and low platelet counts. In children and infants, a fatty acid deficiency can cause intellectual disability. The Omega 6 fatty acids include linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, dihomo gamma-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. The Omega 3 fatty acids include α-Linolenic acid, Eicosatetraenoic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Supplementation with essential fatty acids is used at our clinic for skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, allergies, mood disorders and inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
What do “Good” Fats Do?
Help to build a strong cell membrane or outer layer for each of your cells Help to build healthy sheaths surrounding nerves Assist in maintaining normal blood clotting Aid in controlling inflammation Are essential for absorbing certain vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, and minerals like calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc Can promote weight-loss Help encourage blood sugar stability Are a key factor in achieving hormonal balance Play a critical role in brain function, memory, and attention span Have a direct impact on the quality of hair, skin, and nail growth These reasons should be enough for all of us to realize how important it is to include these healthy nutrients in our nutrition plans!
But I thought fats were bad?
For a long time that was a common way of thinking. The reality is that the reason fats have been stigmatized was because our understanding of how they work was still developing and because we’d been eating too much of the wrong ones!
We understand now that not all fat sources are created equal – just like not all vegetables are equal (just compare iceberg lettuce with it’s dark, leafy counterparts, romaine, and spinach). There are different kinds of fats and to make understanding them easier, we like to think of them as being on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are good fats like MUFA’s and PUFA’s (when they are found in whole foods) and on the other end are bad ones like industrial-made trans fats in processed foods. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.
So which fats should you be eating?
Start by choosing mostly fresh monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found naturally in whole foods, followed by a moderate amount of naturally present saturated fats from whole foods. Those of the trans variety should obviously be avoided – which will probably be easier than you think because they’re mostly present in treats and junk foods that you wouldn’t want to rely on anyway!
Recent studies on coconut oil have found it to be useful in the reduction of body fat in the belly as well as helping to reduce Body Mass index (BMI). Just like any other nutrient, consuming a variety of fat sources is key to finding balance in your nutrition. Not only because variety is important in any diet, but because different foods are more than just a kind of fat, they offer different beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibre too!
10 Sources of Healthy Dietary Fats
Fresh Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coconut & Coconut Oil
Full Fat Yogurt
We recommend adding fats to your diet slowly, especially if you’ve been avoiding them until now. Digesting anything well requires that the body has certain underlying requirements met including healthy gut flora and enzyme production. This is true in the case of fats as well. We’ve talked about gut flora at length in previous blog posts, but enzymes (like lipase, the enzyme that helps break down and digest fats) are also a vital part of healthy digestion – and are the subject for another time.
Are you eating right for your mind, hormone production, your metabolism? Get out of the “fat-free” cycle and into a healthier diet that includes good fats. We have tools to analyze your body’s nutrient needs and can help you experience optimal health every day through nutrition that’s ideal for you. Call us at 416-481-0222.
Is Your Body Overloaded with Toxins? What is the Best Detox Solution?
Your body is a miraculous thing. For all its parts and abilities there are corresponding systems designed to monitor what they’re experiencing. Your body can decide whether what it is experiencing is beneficial or detrimental and then make appropriate adjustments to maintain balance.
You may mention your circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or urinary system in conversation when someone asks how you are. Symptoms from these systems give us a sense of how well we are (or are not) at any given time.
What’s Happening When You’re Not Feeling Well?
When you’re unwell, understanding systemic symptoms can help you to determine where to look for the underlying issues. Skin breakouts, hair thinning or falling out, or nail splitting can be signs of poor digestive or liver health. Signs like feeling sluggish, heavy, uncomfortable, or constipated tell us that there’s something less than ideal going on in your body. It becomes important to look at the organs that support our body and keep them functioning optimally, especially when they’re showing us signs that all is not well.
Your organs help your body to maintain overall health, and of course organs like the heart, brain, and lungs are responsible for some of the most vital functions of life. Without them, well – we wouldn’t be here! But, your organs do other important jobs as well, such as neutralizing and eliminating toxins and irritants. The organs that help the most with these functions are the lungs, the skin, the digestive tract, and most importantly: the liver and the kidneys. When you start tracing symptoms to the organs that should help prevent them, you can start to make the connections to underlying organ weakness.
How Does Your Body Cope When Faced with Toxins?
The simple answer? Detoxification. One of the things your body is especially good at is sweeping out any toxic elements and chemicals that can compromise your health. That’s a big part of what your organs are designed to do.
However, not all toxins are equal and of course, there are many factors that can affect how the body responds to them at any given time. Also, toxins don’t come from only one source. In fact, the definition of a ‘toxin’ is surprisingly simple and broad: anything that the body doesn’t find useful or that harms its integrity is toxic to the body. The fact is, we’re combating toxins all the time.
The most common types of toxins we all encounter regularly come from poor diets, poorly digested, fermented food, medications, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, environmental toxins like air and water pollution, smoke, pesticides and herbicides. This toxic burden is an inescapable part of urban life, and we know it can sound pretty depressing!
When subjected to all of these forms of toxins at once – as most of us are – it’s easy to see how our bodies can become inundated with chemicals that need to be removed. It’s also easy to understand why, even though we might be doing everything we can to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep our toxin-fighting organs in prime condition, our bodies sometimes need help in this respect.
How Do I Know if I’m Overloaded with Toxins?
As we said before: the body is constantly detoxifying – day in, day out, all day and all night! Our organs are designed to do just that to keep us healthy but who hasn’t been super stressed out and resorted to a poor diet or more frequent glasses of wine? Who hasn’t experienced an illness that compromised their health to the point where they just don’t seem to fully recover? These are just some instances when toxin overload may contribute to ill health. Sometimes toxins that we experience daily become a combined, overwhelming force while at other times we experience a mix of toxins in particularly high doses. Ongoing situations like this can lead to chronic toxin overexposure and inadequate elimination.
Are you overloaded with toxins? Ask yourself these questions:
Do you have persistent brain-fog, lack of focus, mental clarity, or migraines?
Do you have ongoing fatigue, muscle aches or pains, general lack of motivation or feelings of depression that just won’t go away?
Have you noticed an increase in body odour, foul fecal odour, pungent or bad breath?
Are you experiencing skin reactions or acne in ways you haven’t before?
Have you recently become newly sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or scents?
Have you developed new allergies of any kind?
Are your periods excessively heavy or painful?
These are just some of the common changes that you might notice and they’re some of the ways your body is trying to tell you that it’s overwhelmed with toxins.
Do Detox Diets Work?
A handful of clinical studies have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the body. Better quality studies still need to be done, but from our clinical experience, we’ve seen numerous patients improve by assisting their bodies to remove toxins. Organic pollutants have been implicated in the development of inflammatory conditions, obesity and diabetes.
What is the Best Detox?
Some basics for the healthy ongoing elimination of toxins:
Stay hydrated. Water intake helps your body flush waste out through your kidneys.
Increase your fibre intake. Consuming lots of vegetables and legumes and moderate amounts of fruit help your body to excrete toxins through regular bowel movements.
Lemon water. Drinking a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning helps to get bile moving that carries waste out of your liver.
Eat a healthy, whole foods diet including organic foods as much as possible to reduce your toxic burden.
Advanced liver detox techniques
Healthy liver detoxification requires specific vitamins and minerals to allow for efficient function of phase I and phase II liver detoxification. These include indole-3-carbinol, vitamin B6, B12, magnesium, L-5MHTF and calcium-d-glucarate. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts help supply these nutrients. Our naturopathic doctors can provide expert advice about dosing for these and other natural supplements for doing the best detox cleanse.
Accessory nutrients that are also needed for healthy liver detoxification include alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, Vitamins A, C and E, glutathione, selenium, glycine, taurine and glutamine.
When you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to toxins, it’s the right time to visit our clinic for help. We can help reactivate your body’s natural defence mechanisms so that you can experience optimal health every day. Sometimes, our organs need extra help in their work combatting toxins. We have lots of solutions to help you ensure that toxins are kept at bay and that your organs are happy, healthy, and strong.
What About Those Detox Kits?
A detox kit would not be what we would recommend to support healthy liver detoxification. Mainly these kits contain fibre supplements, laxative herbs and small doses of herbs like milk thistle and dandelion. Fibre supplements and laxative herbs only make you poop more. More frequent bowel movements do not mean more efficient liver function. Milk thistle is useful for regenerating liver cells when your liver has been injured, think of conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis. Rebuilding your liver won’t hurt, and may help, but as a low dose ingredient in these kits, it’s not enough to accomplish much. Dandelion is used to help your liver make more bile and empty that bile out of your gallbladder into your small intestine. This helps to carry waste out of your liver. But, in order for there to be waste to carry out, your liver has to break toxins down, that is where we want to support the liver in phase I and phase II liver detoxification so that you can carry waste out through bile. If you have regular bowel movements, you are making and excreting bile. Bile is part of the process that helps to keep bowels regular.
Lectins – What are they and are they harming your health?
By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND
We’re all familiar with that schoolyard rhyme: “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart….” Have you ever wondered why foods like legumes are so tough to digest, creating a socially unacceptable end result?
Turns out that most of our foods contain certain compounds that, by nature, are difficult on our digestive systems – because they’re not really meant for our digestive systems at all! Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t tolerate them but more and more research is helping us learn the reasons why some foods can be tough to digest, and what the implications are of consuming them. In the case of beans and legumes, amongst other foods, the main culprit we’re learning more about is lectins.
What are Lectins?
Lectins are a kind of protein that’s found in a variety of plant- and animal-based foods. In fact, almost all plant and animal substances contain them in small amounts!
We know proteins are the building blocks of muscles and are critical to our health so the question for most of us is: if lectins are just proteins, how could they be bad for us?
Simply put, lectins bind cells together, and in particular, they bind to sugars. Their ability to lessen the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients puts lectins in a special category known as ‘antinutrients’. Because we can’t digest lectins, they tend to pass through our systems unnoticed which, for most people, means antinutrients like lectins don’t pose much of a problem at all! In fact, in small amounts, lectins can have numerous health benefits. They’ve been shown to have an important role in immune function, cell growth, and might even be helpful in cancer therapy.
However, lectins can wreak havoc for people who consume a diet with lots of high lectin foods and for those who suffer from GI disorders like IBS, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis or those with immune deficiencies. In more severe instances where GI disorders and immune dysfunction are at play, lectins can have quite a serious effect on the gut lining and tight junctions that keep the intestines functioning well. To read more about tight junctions,check out our article about Leaky Gut Syndrome here.
If they’re not meant to be digested, what purpose do lectins serve?
Lectins have a distinct and important purpose in nature – it’s just that the purpose is for the organism’s survival, and not for human consumption! The most important function lectins have in the plant world is to act as a natural insecticide, protecting plants, grains, and legumes from natural predators. And they’re great at it too! When predatory insects come in contact with them, the lectins completely disrupt insect metabolism, preventing invasions and attacks on the plants. As part of a plant’s defense mechanisms, lectins are a natural way to strengthen crops against common pests!
What Symptoms do Lectins Cause?
To update that schoolyard rhyme: the more lectins you consume the more discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and importantly, malabsorption of nutrients you might experience.
If these sound like familiar symptoms, that could be because the 30% of foods that have high levels of lectins are ones we commonly eat such as dairy, nightshades (like tomatoes and peppers), whole grains, seeds, GMO foods, and yes – beans and legumes!
Some experts have suggested that removing all lectins from your diet can help the gut to recover from antinutrient-caused distress and that this could be critical to treating GI and immune disorders. Still, many others have pointed to the various preparation techniques that people have used around the globe to help weaken and eliminate lectin proteins, making these staple foods much easier to enjoy!
We caution against removing whole categories of foods unless truly necessary, especially because foods high in lectins also have other essential benefits such as fibre and minerals, that our bodies need. Instead, we want to provide you with a variety of methods you can use to prepare high lectins foods that are centuries old, and globally trusted to make these foods easier to digest.
How Can You De-activate Lectins for Better Digestion?
These are our favourite four ways of preparing legumes, grains, and seeds so you can keep them in your diet without worrying about the negative effects of lectin protein. Prepare them mindfully, and with the help of a few tried and true techniques to get the most out of them:
Soak Your Legumes and Grains
Beans (canned or dried) in particular benefit from soaking, as do many harder grains and pseudo-grains like oats, rye, barley, wheat, and quinoa. Soaking and rinsing legumes and grains help to shake free starches, acids, and proteins, making minerals more bioavailable as well as making them easier to digest. Put yours in a larger bowl and cover with water by about 2 inches. Allow them to soak for a few hours up to overnight. Drain fully and rinse again until the water runs clear. As an extra tip: we like to add a 1” piece of kombu or dulse seaweed to the water when soaking beans – it further helps to break down lectins and make beans easier to digest!
Sprout Beans and Seeds
For most beans and seeds sprouting deactivates lectins completely. Why? Because you’re no longer eating them in their contained form. Rather, since they’ve begun the initial stages of germination, they’ve evolved from that seed state. The nutrients are even more available when you sprout, and it’s a lot of fun for the family when you have a hand in ‘growing’ your own food. Sprouting them is super simple. Put a layer of your beans and seeds for sprouting in a mason jar. Rinse them with water, pour off the water and let them sit on your counter. Rinse them and drain every day until they sprout. They make a delicious crunchy topping for salads.
This works for almost all legumes except for alfalfa in which, interestingly, lectins increase when sprouted!
Boil or Pressure Cook Legumes or Grains
It seems obvious that if you were going to eat legumes or grains that you would boil or pressure cook them first – but these techniques actually have many benefits and ridding beans of lectins is one of them. Studies show that boiling soybeans, red beans, and many others at 212°F/ 100°C for a minimum of 10 minutes reduces lectins to negligible amounts.
Ferment Beans and Grains
Fermenting foods is the act of allowing good bacteria to grow in the food. The new good bacteria break down and convert would-be harmful proteins including lectins. This is an ancient and common approach across many cultures to consuming foods that are otherwise difficult to digest. In fact, fermented foods are great for you for many reasons because that good bacteria is also known as probiotics – one of the most important factors in overall gut health. Just think of tofu, tempeh, miso, kefir, and natto as great examples of fermented foods that would contain high levels of lectins prior to fermentation and you can see why this technique is so far-reaching!
At Forces of Nature, we want to see you and your family on a path towards your optimal health, and we have the tools to help make that journey clearer and easier. If you’re curious to learn more about how reducing or removing lectins from your diet could be beneficial to you, please call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and Dr. Vong, Dr. Frank or registered dietitian Sanaz Baradaran will be happy to have a detailed consultation with you.