TOP 10 SUPERFOODS!

The term “superfood” is generally defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. More specifically, having naturally high levels of fibre, healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients (plant chemicals). The following 10 superfoods are recommended by nutritionist, Joy McCarthy, for optimal health.

  1. Berries

Berries are extremely high in flavonoids, which give them their rich color. These plant chemicals are anti-inflammatory and provide heart healthy and anti-aging support. Their antioxidant content protects the brain and helps to improve vision. They are also a great source of Vitamin C & B’s, both of which are useful for many functions, including adrenal health. Berries are high in fiber, allowing them to be digested slower, preventing blood sugar spikes that cause crashes and cravings. Enjoy them on top of porridge, yogurt, or in smoothies, muffins and pancakes! Examples include blackberries, mulberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and goji berries.

  1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are nutrient powerhouses that contain calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous and folic acid. They are an excellent plant source of good fats providing omega 3, ALA, which helps to lower inflammation and support brain, heart and skin health! Chia seeds are also high in fiber and are considered a complete source of protein, both of which work together to help promote a sensation of fullness while keeping insulin in check. They are particularly high in tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to serotonin (for mood support) and melatonin (for sleep support). Try them in overnight oatmeal, as an egg substitute, sprinkled in cereal, yogurt or to thicken sauces, jam and smoothies.

  1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains immune supporting medium chain fatty acids and has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Medium chain fatty acids are easily digested and sent to the liver to be used as energy rather than being stored as fats. Coconut oil can help promote weight loss by increasing metabolic rate! It has also been shown to cause an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol. Coconut oil can also be used externally as a natural moisturizer for hair, skin and nails. Try it in smoothies, as a spread, in coffee or used to cook meat, eggs and vegetables.

  1. Ginger

Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is most often used for gastrointestinal discomfort to prevent gas and bloating, as well as nausea. Ginger also boosts the immune system and supports natural detoxification. In addition, it acts as a natural antibiotic to kill pathogenic bacteria! Incorporate ginger into juice, tea or smoothies for added flavor and benefits.

  1. Hemp Seeds/Hearts

Hemp seeds are considered a complete source of vegetarian protein and provide the amino acids necessary for building “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. They supply essential fatty acids and are a unique food source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that helps to balance hormones and lower inflammation. They contain antioxidants, fiber, zinc, iron, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium, vitamin D & E, enzymes! Hemp can also come in oil form, as a protein powder, or butter. Try sprinkling hemp hearts on salad, cereal, side dishes or smoothies.

  1. Kale

Kale is high in fiber which helps with bowel regularity and cholesterol control. It contains vitamins A and C for beautiful skin and hair, as well as vitamin K and calcium for bone building. The glucosinolates and chlorophyll in kale are important for detoxification. Kale’s phytonutrients possess powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be enjoyed in a salad, sautéed in an omelet, tossed into a smoothie or baked into crunchy kale chips!

  1. Quinoa

Quinoa is considered a complete protein and contains significant amounts of the amino acid lysine, which is less frequently found in grains and an excellent remedy for cold sore treatment. As it is naturally gluten-free and easy to digest, it is a deemed a “hypoallergenic food”. It is a good source of magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, B vitamins and vitamin E. Quinoa is also rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich phytonutrients. Dry quinoa should be rinsed and then cooked like rice. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, in both sweet and savory dishes.

  1. Cacao

Raw cacao is a true superfood. Note that although cocoa is from the same plant as cacao, it is processed with heat and offers less health benefits. Cacao is one if the richest sources of antioxidants in nature, even more so than red wine or green tea! It is high in magnesium, and also contains calcium, zinc, iron and potassium. In addition, it provides unique plant chemicals that promote a natural mood and energy boost. Enjoy cacao powder in a smoothie, hot drink, and homemade pudding or use cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips.

  1. Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is a complete source of protein, containing 60-70% protein by weight! It provides energizing B vitamins, trace minerals, powerful antioxidants and has been used to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Spirulina also contains chlorophyll, which nourishes the red blood cells. It is also a potent detoxifier and works to bind toxins and speed up their release from the bloodstream. Spirulina has been promoted as a fat-fighter and effective anti-inflammatory. Try spirulina in powder form and blend into yogurt or smoothies.

  1. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas” and provide protein, omega 3 fats, antioxidants and vitamins. They are well known for their zinc content, which helps promote healthy, beautiful skin! Pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of vitamin E forms, some of which are not easily found in foods. They are also rich in magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure among numerous other health benefits. These are great on top of whole grains, salad or in trail mix. Note that squash seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are also highly nutritious.

As a rule, look for organic, fresh and local ingredients whenever possible for optimal nutrition.

-This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-

Look at Those Legs!

Cellulite and varicose veins are two of the biggest culprits in why women are afraid to wear shorts in the summertime. These problems can lead to self-esteem issues and generally indicate that something is going wrong internally.

 

Cellulite is lumpy, “orange-peel” looking skin that is a common concern, mainly in women. Statistics show that approximately 90% of women older than twenty (whether they are thin, normal-weight or overweight) have cellulite. This is predominantly a female problem due to the fact that their fat layer is organized differently than men’s. This condition causes dimpling in the skin, and is generally found around the thighs and buttocks. Cellulite develops in steps but starts with damage to the lymphatic system, the drainage system in your fat cells. This can be due to excessive or inactivity, poor diet (esp. low protein) and digestion, toxic accumulation and overloaded liver, stress, hormone imbalances, aging, yo-yo weight loss/gain, etc. Note that estrogen imbalance is thought to be a core culprit that causes cellulite to build up around the fat cells and restrict lymphatic drainage and blood flow. A poorly functioning lymphatic system means more fat deposits and more cellulite. Since fat, toxins, and other waste products are transported via lymph fluid, this system needs to be functioning well. With excessive toxins in the body, this transport system slows down and backs up the system. When the lymphatic system becomes sluggish, it triggers even more fat deposits under the skin. Essentially, “cellulite is an external reflection of an internal dysfunction” (Dr. Sara Celik, N.D).

 

Varicose veins are lumpy, bulging blue veins in the legs. Women get them four times as often as men. Veins have little valves on the inner walls of the vessel to prevent blood from flowing backwards, towards the arteries. These valves can become dysfunctional due to damage to the vein walls. When this occurs, it prevents proper circulation and blood pools in the veins. This extra fluid causes the veins to stretch and bulge. When the veins get sluggish, the legs can feel tight, heavy, restless, and there can be aches, cramps and swelling. Veins are fragile and pressure can be caused by obesity, smoking, pregnancy, and occupational environment (too much standing, sitting or heavy lifting). Other potential factors are constipation, heart or liver disease, Vitamin C deficiency, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and of course, genetics.

 

Here are 10 tips for lovely legs this summer!

 

  1. Stay Hydrated!
  2. Whole Body Detox! (i.e. liver/colon/lymphatic system) – Ask about cleansing supplements and incorporate natural methods such as baths, saunas, dry skin brushing, massage, etc.
  3. De-Stress! Try stress management techniques and ensure good quality sleep.
  4. Alkalize! Processed and refined foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, dairy, and coffee can create or aggravate the problem. Look for mineral-rich, alkalizing ingredients.
  5. Get Moving! Take part in regular moderate exercising and attain a healthy weight.
  6. Avoid Triggers! Quit smoking, prevent constipation, improve digestion, balance blood sugar levels, and minimize toxins in food/environment/products.
  7. Eat Well! Ensure adequate protein and fibre intake, be aware of food allergies, and consider a multivitamin, omega and probiotic supplement (“Prevention Pack Trio”).
  8. Balance Estrogens! Consider a natural hormone support formula.
  9. More Tips:
    • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting. When sitting try to flex leg muscles, wiggle toes and do not cross legs.
    • Raise legs above heart for 20 minutes daily.
    • Wear loose clothing.
    • Do not scratch itchy veins.
    • Consider hydrotherapy.
    • Topical Ingredients– apply witch hazel, aloe vera or castor oil.
  10. Supplement Suggestions
  • Gotu Kola – enhances integrity of connective tissue and increases blood flow.
  • Vitamin C + Bioflavonoids – improves integrity of capillaries and veins, protects collagen from damage in veins, and is a potent antioxidant. Aids circulation and maintains strength of blood vessels!
  • Vitamin E- improves circulation and aids in preventing heavy feelings in legs.
  • Cayenne - expands blood vessels, reducing stress on capillaries.
  • COQ10- improves tissue oxygenation and increases circulation.
    • Pycnogenol – protect tissue from damage, stimulates blood circulation, and strengthens connective tissue.
    • L-Carnitine – promotes circulation in the legs, aids the breakdown of waste products and improves the fluidity of the blood, thus reducing deposits.
    • Diosmin - used as a vein tonic and vein-protective agent. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is derived by extracting hesperidin from citrus rinds, followed by the conversion of hesperidin to diosmin.
    • Horse Chestnut Extract - aescin, the active ingredient in horse chestnut, tones the walls of the veins, improving the flow of blood back to the heart.
    • Butcher's Broom - acts on lymphatic drainage, the constriction of blood vessels and microcirculation. When used in combination with the other ingredients, it also improves the strength of veins and reduces permeability.
    • Hesperidin - the main flavonoid in lemons and oranges. Hesperidin reduces the permeability of the capillaries and is an anti-inflammatory agent.
    • Silica – an essential element required for the normal growth, development and integrity of connective tissue.
    • Bromelain – anti-inflammatory, prevents hard lumpy skin around bulging varicose veins.

     

-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -

Why Whey is the Way!

Protein is a key nutrient that is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, which are the “building blocks” for the body; including the immune cells, enzymes, hormones, brain cells, as well as muscles and tissue. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein cannot be stored by the body and is therefore required daily. Symptoms of inadequate protein intake may appear as a loss of lean muscle tissue, unwanted weight gain, bone loss, poor skin quality, fatigue, confusion, compromised immunity, among others.

 

So Why Consider Whey?

Whey protein has the highest “biological value” of any protein. This is a measurement of how well a protein retains nitrogen or how usable it is to the body. High quality whey protein also contains many biologically active subfractions that are valuable for health due to their immune-supporting, antimicrobial, and antioxidant functions. For example:

  • Alpha-lactalbumin: the key to protein manufacturing in the body. It balances mood by enhancing tryptophan and supports proper immune function. It also helps the body deal with excess stress as it reduces the stress-hormone cortisol; helping to control cravings, energy crashes, insomnia and preventing resistant fat cells. It is highly anabolic, counteracting the breakdown of muscle tissue and slowing biological aging.
  • Beta-lactoglobulin: has the ability to increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, and spare glycogen during exercise.
  • Glycomacropeptides: stimulates hormones responsible for enzyme release in the pancreas and for the contraction of the gallbladder and bowels. Also helps in appetite control, as it effectively stimulates a hormone (cholecystokinin) that can control our hunger responses and reduce appetite. GMPs may also boost our immune system.
  • Lactoferrin: an antioxidant, powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial, shown to inhibit the growth of E.coli, salmonella and candida in the gut. It also regulates iron absorption and bioavailability.
  • Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s): these include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Energy levels, protein turnover, and recovery all depend upon the presence of adequate BCAAs. These amino acids allow the body to burn fat instead of muscle. Compared to other proteins, whey contains the highest concentration of BCAA’s that serve as important fuel sources for skeletal muscle during periods of stress, including exercise.

 

Health Benefits

  • Weight Control – The body requires more energy to digest protein than other foods, in turn burning more calories. Protein also helps stabilize blood sugar and control insulin by slowing absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Studies show that individuals who combine protein-rich diets with exercise have increased satiety, lose body fat more quickly, build and maintain more lean muscle, burn more calories, while improving their metabolism and blood sugar levels!
  • Stronger Immunity - Whey provides the amino acid cysteine to help the body produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant that supports the immune system by raising levels of antibodies and enzymes, in addition to producing detoxifying effects. In addition, certain subfractions of whey act as prebiotics, to promote beneficial probiotic bacteria growth. Whey protein also contains lactoferrin, an antimicrobial nutrient.
  • Healing & Repair – This process requires plenty of protein and the amino acid building blocks that help us grow new skin. Whey protein helps replace body cells for faster recuperation and helps build, repair and maintain muscle, skin, and bones.
  • Heart Health - New research shows whey protein may help reduce blood pressure in those with borderline hypertension by increasing the dilation of blood vessels and improving blood flow. Also, certain bioactive components in whey protein may help balance cholesterol. Both are factors associated with increased risk of heart disease.
  • Stress & Sleep Support: Whey protein has also been shown to help effectively reduce stress and lower cortisol, enhance mood-boosting chemicals (i.e. serotonin) and aid in sleep quality.

 

How Much?

Protein requirements vary from person to person; depending on age, weight, sex, activity level, and general health. Lean muscle mass is an accurate way to determine protein needs, but you can also use your activity level to help estimate optimal protein intake.

 

Who Should Use a Protein Supplement?

While everyone needs adequate daily protein intake, certain populations are more at risk of deficiency and could benefit from extra supplementation. Those who have busier lifestyles may not have time to prepare or consume enough protein, may often feel fatigued and hungry, turning to stimulants and comfort food to compensate. Diabetics are also often at risk of low protein. Seniors naturally lose muscle elasticity and tone with age and struggle with impaired immune systems. Youth who are growing and/or “picky-eaters” may not be attaining enough protein from the diet. Lastly, active people have higher protein needs than sedentary people so it is essential to replenish properly after exercise.

 

What to Look For?

Look for whey protein powder sourced from grass-fed cattle, raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Choose a brand that uses low temperature, chemical-free processing to ensure the protein is undenatured and retains key subfractions. Also, ensure the product has no artificial sweeteners or GMO ingredients.

 

 

-This column in sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-

Taming Your Thyroid

According to Lorna Vanderhaeghe, Canada’s leading women’s natural health expert, “Twenty-three percent of the population is currently taking medication for low thyroid function. An additional 30 percent of women have low thyroid function that has not been diagnosed.”

 

The thyroid is a gland that lies below the larynx in the neck and wraps around the trachea. It regulates metabolism of all cells and controls heart rate, body temperature, growth, energy production, fat burning, oxygen use, and protein production. It produces/secretes 2 main hormones - T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), using iodine and tyrosine. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is secreted by the pituitary gland and triggers the thyroid to release T4 & T3. T4 is secreted in higher amounts than T3, but T3 is more active. T3 is formed from T4 when the body is functioning properly (80% converted in the liver, 20% directly produced from the thyroid). Thyroid also secretes calcitonin to balance blood calcium levels. It inhibits bone breakdown and accelerates the absorption of calcium.

 

Symptoms of underactive thyroid include: fatigue, weakness, dry skin, hair loss, muscle cramps, mood changes, brain fog, puffy eyes, insomnia, night sweats, infertility, decreased libido, menstrual problems, cold intolerance, fluid retention, low bone mass, and goiter.

 

Some Effects of Underactive (Hypo) Thyroid

  • Slows down digestive system (causing constipation and malabsorption)
  • Impairs liver function (linked to high cholesterol, estrogen dominance)
  • Stresses adrenals & decreases insulin sensitivity (causing weight gain)
  • Weakens immune system and increases risk of infection/overgrowth (i.e. candida)

* Adrenals, pancreas, liver and thyroid are all closely connected to so it is important to support all systems!

 

What Causes Underactive (Hypo) Thyroid?

Lorna adds that “95% of all cases of hypothyroidism are not due to a problem with pituitary.” Often, the main problems are decreased production of OR poor conversion of T4 & T3 due to:

-Nutrient Deficiencies/Malabsorption (i.e. Tyrosine, Iodine, Selenium, Protein, Iron)

- Poor Digestion, Food Sensitivities, Leaky Gut

-Inflammation, Auto-Immune Reaction

-Infection/Overgrowth (i.e. Candida, Parasites)

- Estrogen Dominance, Obesity

-Blood Sugar Imbalances/Insulin Resistance

-Adrenal Stress/High Cortisol Levels

-Free Radical Damage/Radiation

- Overburdened Liver, Over toxicity

* Toxicity can occur from hormone disruptors (xenoestrogens), tobacco, pesticides, mercury, fluoride, chlorine, and cleaning/body care chemicals!

According to Lorna, 30% of people older than 35 may have mild hypothyroidism. While their clinical tests may show a normal range, many have symptoms of low thyroid function. She suggests the at-home “Barnes Basal Body Temperature Test” to help evaluate thyroid function.

 

At Home Thyroid Test

Barnes Basal Body Temperature Test Instructions: Take body temperature with a thermometer, tightly under the armpit, first thing in the morning before rising for 10 minutes lying still. Do this at the same time for up to 7 days and record temperatures. Women who are menstruating should do this on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th day of their period. Men and postmenopausal women can perform the test at any time. If consistently below 97.6F, lower level of thyroid activity are indicated.

 

Suggestions for Low Thyroid

  • Eliminate Triggers –food sensitivities, chemicals, heavy metals, xenoestrogens, tobacco
  • Consider a Prevention Pack - Multivitamin, Probiotics, and Essential Omega Fatty Acids
  • Proper Nutrition - avoid refined/processed foods, correct deficiencies

*It is possible for goitrogenic foods (i.e. cruciferous veggies) to inhibit the body’s iodine metabolism under certain circumstances. However, it has been shown that the impact they might have on iodine is extremely minimal when eaten in moderation. Also, keep in mind that steaming reduces the enzymes responsible for the goitrogenic effect by two thirds!

  • Lifestyle Factors – take part in regular exercise, manage blood sugar levels, and consider stress management techniques and supplementation.
  • Other Considerations – support proper digestion, consider a liver cleanse and target candida if necessary.

 

Who Can Supplement & How?

Lorna cautions that “severe hypothyroidism requires the use of supplemental thyroid hormone - available only by prescription. Mild or sub clinical hypothyroidism may respond to nutritional and herbal support.” She notes that, those with low thyroid symptoms or a TSH number over 2.0 can consider natural thyroid support ingredients that help increase the production or conversion of T4 to T3. These include: L-Tyrosine, Guggal Extract, Iodine, Selenium, Ashwaghanda, Myrrh and Vitamin D.

 

*Iodine food sources include sea salt, sea vegetables (i.e. kelp, nori, dulse), eggs, raw nuts, beef, seafood, etc. Note that the American Thyroid Association States “Ingestion of greater than 1,100 mcg of iodine per day (Tolerable Upper Limits for iodine) is not recommended and may cause thyroid dysfunction.”

 

Ask a natural health professional about natural thyroid support. Note that overactive (hyper) thyroid must be carefully treated by a medical professional and that hyperthyroidism can lead to hypothyroidism.

 

 

-This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach –

6 Reasons Why… Your Hair, Skin & Nails are Suffering!

Irritated or aging skin? Thinning or dry hair? Brittle or unhealthy nails? While using topical products is a valid method of treatment, it also helps to consider that more often than not, external symptoms are a manifestation of some internal dysfunction or imbalance, whether it is too much of something or not enough of another. Consider the following potential underlying causes that are triggering your beauty blunders!

 

1. Nutrient Deficiencies (Protein, Iron, Omega Fats)

PROTEIN - The amino acids in protein are building blocks for thick, shiny hair and strong nails. Deficiency symptoms include dry, shedding hair and weak nails. As a general rule, aim to consume at least half of your body weight (lbs) in grams of protein per day! Specifically, collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues. When levels fall; hair thins, skin sags & wrinkles and nails become brittle. Elastin fibers form a matrix with collagen in hyaluronic acid. Together these ingredients function to lock in moisture and make skin, hair and nails smooth, elastic and firm. With age, menopause and damage from toxins, our natural renewal rate of these nutrients slows down. Important collagen building blocks include Silica and Biotin, as well as Sulfur, Zinc and Vitamin C.

IRON - Symptoms of deficiency include brittle, peeling fingernails and hair loss. Hair follicles contain ferritin and when stores decline, it affects their ability to grow, and instead non-pigmented fine hairs develop. Vitamin B12 is also important for red blood cell production, metabolism and cell reproduction, thus helping to reduce skin dryness, unhealthy nails and hair loss. Note that low stomach acid, coffee/black tea consumption and phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of iron but Vitamin C intake can help increase it!

OMEGA FATS - Essential fatty acids are part of all cell membranes and are necessary for nourishing skin, hair and nails while retaining moisture/hydration, fighting inflammation, managing oil production, preventing and improving signs of aging (wrinkles, drying and thinning), stimulating production of healthy cells, treating skin conditions and protecting from damage/sunburn. Look for Omega 3’s (EPA & DHA) in ingredients such as fish oils and the Omega 6 fatty acid, GLA, from evening primrose and/or borage oils.

Consume healthy ingredients in adequate portions, consider a quality multivitamin and drink plenty of water to provide the nutrients needed for healthy hair, skin and nails. Focus on eating primarily: Whole, Raw, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients.

 

2. Sluggish Liver

A congested liver is often bogged down by toxins (internal from constipation, poor digestion, candida/parasites or external from chemicals, heavy metals, medications & hormone mimickers in food/environment/body care/cleaning products) and cannot keep up with detoxification at a fast enough rate. When the liver performs inadequately, the body releases toxins through the skin, resulting in eruptions and conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis.

 

3. Stressed Lifestyle

High amounts of stress as well as lack of sleep lead to increased production of cortisol, our “chronic stress” hormone, and add stress on our adrenal glands. This not only accelerates the aging process but can also lead to symptoms such as hair loss and weakened skin.

 

4. Hormone Imbalances (Estrogen, Thyroid)

ESTROGEN - Hormonal imbalances, such as estrogen and testosterone levels can be the result of an overloaded liver, overexposure to hormone mimickers (xenoestrogens) or as a result of PMS, puberty and perimenopause. Imbalanced sex hormone levels are linked to various symptoms such as hair thinning/loss and unnatural growth as well as dry, wrinkled skin and acne outbreaks.

THYROID - The thyroid gland plays a major role in metabolism, growth and development. Symptoms of low thyroid include hair loss as well as dry, coarse and cracking skin. A TSH value greater than 2.0 can cause symptoms of low thyroid.

 

5. Oxidative Stress

Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal electrons from stable molecules, causing a chain reaction of cell damage. This is one of the main causes of premature aging! Free radicals are the result of factors such as toxic buildup, poor diet (processed/fried foods), stress/insomnia, inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, etc. Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects. Antioxidants are used to neutralize free radicals and end this harmful chain reaction, protecting cells from damage!

 

6. Poor Gut Health & Inflammation

Digestion is impaired from poor eating habits, low enzymes/stomach acid, food sensitivities, stress, etc. This leads to imbalanced gut bacteria (dysbiosis), risk of overgrowth/infection, poor nutrient absorption, and tissue damage (i.e. leaky gut) which can result in an inflammatory overactive immune response. For example, alopecia (or “spot baldness”) is the result of the immune system seeing hair as foreign and targeting it by mistake. In addition, inflammation in the gut can lead to inflammation in the skin and can manifest itself as a number of skin conditions.

 

Other Considerations: Balance blood sugar levels & manage proper circulation, use natural personal care products, quit smoking, and use appropriate sun protection!

 

Ask a health care professional or product advisor for more information on natural support for any of the above concerns!

 

-This column in sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -

An Apple A Day?

It is said that many years ago, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine used apple cider vinegar as a cleansing and healing agent. It turns out that it is not only valuable for our internal health but also used as an external natural beauty aid. Not to mention, it serves as a tasty ingredient!

 

How Is It Made?

Apple cider vinegar is made by crushing fresh apples and squeezing out the liquid. Yeast is added to the liquid to start the first fermentation process, and the natural sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, bacteria converts the alcohol into acetic acid, the main compound in vinegar that gives it its strong, sour taste.

 

What Is “Mother”?

Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains “mother”, which are strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product it’s murky, cobweb-like appearance. The “mother” is formed from naturally occurring pectin and apple residues. Apple cider vinegar is also a source of key minerals and antioxidants.

 

Why Are People Using It?

While not all popular claims of apple cider vinegar benefits have been fully researched, here are some of the many reasons why it has been traditionally used and recommended over time.

 

  • INTERNAL:
    • Detoxes The Body
    • Treats Acid Reflux and Heartburn
    • Supports Digestion
    • Kills Candida (Yeast) and Boosts Probiotics
    • Supports Healthy Immune System
    • Alkalizes the Body/pH Balancer
    • Supports Weight Loss, Appetite and Metabolism
    • Improves Insulin Sensitivity & Improves Blood Sugar Response
    • Lowers Blood Cholesterol, Pressure & Triglycerides
    • Fights Seasonal Allergies, Congestion
    • Cold and Sore/Dry Throat Remedy

     

  • EXTERNAL:
    • Natural Hair Shine Conditioner
    • Natural Teeth Whitener
    • An All-Natural Household Cleaner/Disinfectant
    • Effective Skin Cleanser/Toner
    • Used as a Natural Preservative
    • Keeps Skin Looking Youthful & Vibrant
    • Soothes a Sunburn & Irritated Skin
    • Heals Poison Ivy
    • Repels Fleas on your Pets
    • Kills Fungus on Toes and Skin
    • Eases Varicose Veins
    • Natural Deodorant 
    • Wart Treatment
    • Relieves Joint Pain

     

How to Use It?
Most people like to dilute ACV in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL). Often, other ingredients such as raw honey or cinnamon, are added for extra health benefits.

Another way to incorporate ACV into your diet is by cooking with it and using it in place of white vinegar or even wine in your favorite recipes such as in marinades, sauces, dressings, condiments, dips or vinaigrettes. It can be used on salads, veggies or even popcorn!

 

What to Look for?

Look for certified organic apple cider vinegar that contains “mother” and is unfiltered and unpasteurized.

 

Recipe Ideas:

 

Vinaigrette Dressing/Dip/Marinade

½ cup Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

1/3 cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1/2- 1 tsp. Liquid Aminos

1-2 tsps. Raw Honey

Shake well before using.

 

Skin Facial

Wash skin in warm water (no soap). Apply a wrung-out, hot water-soaked cloth to face 3-5 minutes, then remove. Then soak cloth in warm Apple Cider Vinegar water (1 Tbsp. ACV per cup of water) and apply to face again. Next, cover the soaked cloth with a towel wrung out in hot water. Then lie down for 10 minutes with feet elevated up. This is meant to increase blood circulation to revitalize the face for cell rejuvenation.

 

-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural -

Curious About Collagen?

What is Collagen?

  • It is the single most abundant and key structural protein in the human body (making up ¼ of total protein).
  • The “glue” that holds the body together
  • Building block for all our body's major systems.
  • It is found in cartilage, ligaments, skin, bones, tendons, muscle, teeth, intestines, nails, eyes, blood vessels and hair.
  • There are 28 types of collagen in the body, but 80-90 percent in the body consists of types I, II, and III.
  • As we age collagen production declines. (Roughly 1% lost per year starting in our early 20s). Women in menopause are especially susceptible (up to 30% lost in 5 years).

 

Types of Collagen:

Collagen Type 1&3 and Type 2 each have different amino acid profiles and are produced by different cells in the body.

  • Types 1&3 is produced by fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) and osteoblasts (bone cells). They make up the majority of body’s total collagen supply and are the main collagen constituents in the skin, hair, nails, ligaments, dentin (teeth), tendons, intestines, uterus, blood vessels, bones and muscles. Type 1 is the most abundant form in the body and Type 3 is the second most abundant form, often found alongside Type 1. Type 3 collagen yields gelatin when boiled or hydrolysed!
  • Type 2 is produced by chondrocytes (cartilage cells). It provides essential nutrients for joint support. Needed to maintain and rebuild cartilage tissue (helps with swelling, mobility and cushioning). Collagen Type 2 makes up 50% of all protein in cartilage!

 

Benefits of Collagen:

  • Supports muscle mass and healthy body composition
  • Reduces appearance of cellulite
  • Support skin elasticity, firmness and sun protection
  • Improves wound healing
  • Protects joints (compliments fish oils, glucosamine, chondroitin, NEM, MSM, Boswellia, curcumin and hyaluronic acid well!)
  • Supports bones
  • Supports gut
  • Improves sleep quality

 

 

The Methionine/Glycine Imbalance

According to holistic nutritionist Nelson Narciso, collagen intake helps combat methionine/glycine imbalance in the diet. Traditional diets used to consume more collagen as they would eat the “whole” animal (organ meats, skin, tendon, gristle/cartilage, bone, gelatinous cuts). He states that the common protein foods we consume today (i.e. muscle meats, eggs) are rich in the amino acid methionine and low in glycine. Excess methionine intake increases homocysteine levels, which is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, etc. Additional glycine intake will help even out the imbalance created when consuming high levels of methionine from the diet. Nelson states that collagen is probably the best source of glycine. He adds that in addition to not consuming enough glycine, many people are also consuming things that deplete glycine such as the food preservative, sodium benzoate.

 

What Happens When We Have Insufficient Collagen?

Skin sags, bones lose density, muscles ache, joints and ligaments become weaker and less elastic. Cartilage becomes thinner and weaker at the joints it is supposed to cushion. Hair loses its thickness and wave and breaks easily. Organs may sag toward the floor, and sphincters weaken. The heart enlarges, arteries become less elastic, and less resistant to plaque formation.

 

Suggested Supplements:

  • Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplement – Collagen protein provides the essential amino acids necessary for connective tissue formation. The process of hydrolysis breaks down collagen into small fragments to enhance absorption in order to provide optimum bioavailability (so your body can best use it!) Look for a source from pasture-raised animals that are free from both antibiotics and added hormones.
  • Building Blocks for Collagen Production: Silica, Biotin, Sulfur, Vitamin C & Zinc
  • Antioxidants – support & protect damaged fibres, inhibit enzymes that break down collagen.

Bonus: Collagen lacks the amino acid tryptophan. Look for a product that adds this ingredient in order to make it a complete collagen!

 

-This column in sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -

Mental Health Awareness Week - What’s On Your Mind?

STRESS vs. ANXIETY vs. DEPRESSION

Stress happens to everyone in varying degrees and is caused by everyday living and stressors. It can result in dozens of symptoms. The ability to manage stress will vary depending on the individual. Those who live with above normal stressors that affect energy, motivation, mood, and health and are already applying lifestyle changes (such as exercise, nutrition, mindfulness), but could still use help managing their stress response may want to consider natural stress support.

Anxiety affects roughly 18% of the population and is caused by stress, fear or apprehension (real or perceived). It results in extreme and often debilitating symptoms and is difficult to manage without treatment. It is characterized by excessive, irrational fears of everyday situations, panic attacks, persistent and unrelenting worry that is difficult to control and interferes with cognitive, physical and behavioral functioning.

Depression is described as persistent sadness that interferes with daily life and normal functioning. Characteristics include depressed mood, irritability, diminished interest and pleasure, significant changes in weight/appetite, insomnia or excessive sleep, fatigue & low energy, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or excessive guilt, diminished ability to think, concentrate or make decisions, recurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.

 

5 KEY SUGGESTIONS

1. Eliminate Triggers

    • Avoid toxins in environment, personal products, cleaning supplies and food
    • Control underlying issues if necessary – such as inflammation, candida overgrowth, constipation, hormone imbalances (thyroid/estrogen), etc.
    • Minimize sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed/refined foods and sensitivities
    • Consider a liver cleanse and drink plenty of water!

2. Improve Gut Health

The brain and the gut are on a two-way street of constant communication. Gut bacteria communicate with and influence brain function. The gut brain produces a wide range of hormones and neurotransmitters of the same classes as those found in the head brain. Gut brain problems such as bacteria imbalance can cause mental health symptoms. Digestive health is of utmost importance. Consider the following suggestions:

  • PROBIOTICSreplenish good bacteria and support gut/brain connection
  • Fibre – ensure proper elimination, blood sugar balance and toxin removal
  • Digestive Enzymes– needed to break down and absorb nutrients

3. Correct Nutrient Deficiencies

  • MULTIVITAMIN made up of highly absorbable vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids and anti-oxidants to help support/balance brain chemistry. Key nutrients include Magnesium, Vitamins D, C and B complex.
  • OMEGA Fatty Acids (i.e. Fish Oils) are required by brain cells to transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods, and emotions.
  • Choose to consume whole, raw, nutrient-dense, naturally-grown, organic, single-ingredient foods as much as possible.

4.Supplement Suggestions

Mood Support

  • 5 HTP – Direct building block to serotonin (our “happy hormone”) and helps improve mood, cravings, insomnia.
  • John’s Wort (Hypericum) – traditionally used for the treatment of nervous disorders such as restlessness, anxiety, and depressive moods.

Calming Nutrients

  • GABA – reduces acute stress and nervousness, quickly restores mental calmness, promotes clarity, physical relaxation and improves cognitive functions and cravings.
  • L-Theanine – reduces stress, tension and PMS symptoms, improves sleep quality, promotes relaxation, heightens mental acuity and reduces side effects of caffeine. Top of Form
  • L-Tyrosine – alleviates both the mental and physical effects of stress, helps balance mood and maintain focus, normalizes heart rate and blood pressure under conditions of stress.
  • Kava Kava - promotes relaxation, helps calm nervousness and anxiety, supports mental focus, restful sleep and minimizes negative effects of stress.
  • Passionflower – known as a “calming” herb for anxiety or nervousness and insomnia.
  • Lemon Balm – helps decompress by reducing anxiety-like reactivity under stressful situations and increases availability of GABA in the brain.

Stress Management

Your ability to adapt to long term stressors depends on optimal function of the adrenal glands and cortisol regulation. ADAPTOGENS are herbs that assist the body in adapting to stress by supporting the adrenal glands and enhancing resistance to stress. Example include Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashwaghanda, Holy Basil, etc.

 

5. Lifestyle Factors

    • Exercise Regularly & Balance Blood Sugar Levels
    • Consider Light Therapy/Increase Sun Exposure
    • Try Acupuncture!
    • Emotional Support Group/Counselling
    • Stress Management Techniques (laughing, journaling, stretching, simplicity, aromatherapy, etc.)

Be sure to consult a Health Care Practitioner in addition to considering natural supplementation when assessing mental health concerns.

This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -

All About Arthritis!

The word “arthritis” literally means inflammation of the joints. Joints in the body occur where bones meet. Bone ends are covered by cartilage and are encased in a fluid-filled synovial membrane used to lubricate the joint. Common symptoms are generally pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced function/mobility. However, the root causes are not always the same. There are distinctive differences between Osteo Arthritis (OA: wear & tear/degenerative joint disease) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA: auto-immune/inflammatory disease). Let’s explore.

 

WHO?

OA: Affects both men and women. Process can begin after the age of 40 and symptoms are often present by age of 65.

RA: More common in women and can affect anyone, at any age.

 

WHEN & HOW?

OA: Gradual onset & increase in severity. Characterized by deterioration of and decreased ability to turn over (replace) cartilage tissue. This can be due to altered enzyme activity, building block deficiency and repetitive use/damage. This results in painful friction of exposed joints rubbing together, leading to inflammation of joint lining. After much cartilage is worn away, bone spurs may develop in joint spaces.

RA: Rapid onset. Characterized by an auto-immune response that leads to a self-attack on synovial membrane, which in turn leads to its inflammation, thickening, cartilage destruction and scar tissue formation.

 

NUMBER & TYPES OF JOINTS AFFECTED?

OA: 1-2 joints, Asymmetrical (Not even on both sides – usually one side acts up first). Affects the weight-bearing joints (i.e. knees & hips).

RA: Multiple joints, Symmetrical (Affects both sides of the body the same way). Affects the synovial joints (i.e. hands & feet) but can progress to larger joints.

 

NON-JOINT INVOLVEMENT?

OA: Absent.

RA: Commonly affects other tissues throughout the body. Other symptoms include fever, depression, fatigue, etc.

 

TYPES & CAUSES?

OA: 2 Types - Primary & Secondary.

Primary – Potential causes include age, obesity, high impact sports, excessive use/exercise, free radical damage, poor nutrition, dehydration.

Secondary - Results from a pre-disposing factor/condition such as joint or ligament damage/abnormality, infection, previous inflammation, loss of blood supply.

RA: Single Type.

Auto-immune response (when your body breaks itself down/attacks its own tissues). Potential underlying causes include poor digestion/diet (nutrition deficiencies, imbalance of gut bacteria, leaky gut, and food sensitivities), stress, chronic inflammation, heredity/genetics, imbalanced immune system, smoking/toxins and infections or overgrowth (i.e. candida).

Did You Know? 56% of patients with inflammatory arthritis have an imbalance of gut bacteria!

 

SUGGESTIONS?

Symptom Relief:

Natural Anti-inflammatories - CURCUMIN, Boswellia/Frankincense, MSM, Bromelain, OMEGA FATS (i.e. EPA from Fish Oils and GLA from Borage/Evening Primrose)

Natural Pain Relief - White Willow, SERRAPEPTASE

Tissue Protection:

Look for ANTIOXIDANTS (Quercetin, Zinc, Pycnogenol, Selenium, Vitamin E, Grape Seed Extract)

Repair Nutrients:

  • Glucosamine/NAG – an amino sugar synthesized in the body that is found in high concentrations in our joints. It stimulates the production of key building blocks that form the cartilage needed for repair, protects existing cartilage and connective tissue of joints and increases cushioning to improve mobility and function.
  • Chondroitin Sulfate – a natural substance found in cartilage that attracts water/nutrient-rich fluid into cartilage, inhibits enzymes that enhance destruction, stimulates production of key cartilage components, and works well with glucosamine to rebuild damage.
  • Hyaluronic Acid - a compound present in every tissue of the body, with the highest concentrations occurring in connective tissues, such as cartilage. It is an important component of joint fluid, and serves as a lubricant while helping resist compression.
  • COLLAGEN- key structural protein that provides aminos to support connective tissue formation! (Collagen Building Blocks: Vitamin C, Zinc, Biotin, Silica, Sulphur)
  • Natural Eggshell Membraneprovides a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid & collagen and calcium
  • SAMe -maintains cartilage health and contributes to the production of joint-supporting compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin.

Topical Ingredients:

Capsaicin, MSM, Arnica, Celadrin, Menthol, Peppermint, Eucalyptus.

Diet Tips:

Avoid nightshades as they may aggravate pain & inflammation. Drink plenty of water. Eat mineral-rich and green foods to detox & alkalize. Eat more sulfur-containing foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, etc.

Lifestyle Suggestions:

Attain a healthy weight, manage stress and blood sugars, do light, non-weight bearing exercises (i.e. swimming). Consider wearing CIRCULATION CLOTHING!

Improve Gut Health:

Ensure daily PROBIOTICS and consider supplemental L-Glutamine, Enzymes/HCL, Fibre & VITAMIN D3.

Modulate Immunity:

Consider ingredients such as Plant Sterols, Medicinal Mushrooms or Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Fight Infection (if necessary):

Oregano, Silver, Garlic, Grapefruit Seed Extract

 

-This column in sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-

Serrapeptase: The “Miracle Enzyme”

Serratia peptidase, also known as serrapeptase, is a natural enzyme produced from bacteria that is originally found in the intestines of the silkworm. Silkworms use the enzyme to break down and dissolve their cocoons. In the same way, this proteolytic enzyme works like a “pac-man” to seek out and break down or “digest” dead or damaged tissue made of protein in the body, without harming living tissues. It has been shown to reduce pain, mucous build-up, and symptoms of inflammation, including those from post-surgery swelling, arthritis, injury, sinusitis or disease. Some sources have suggested it may help remove heavy metals from the body and in turn potentially help support the immune system and hormone imbalances.

According to Naturopathic Doctor, Jonathan Beatty, serrapeptase works differently than digestive enzymes. While it will help digest proteins from the diet, it is meant to be taken between meals to be used to break down inflammatory proteins that drive inflammation in the body. He states that, “if inflammation is part of the disease, serrapeptase is functional.” He also notes that in commercial supplement products, the enzyme is produced in a way that no silk worm are actually used in the process. Here are some of its main uses:

Heart Health – Plaque formation involves deposits of fats, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) on the inner lining of the arteries. Plaque accumulation results in blockage of blood flow through an artery, potentially resulting in higher risk of heart problems. The cocoon that the silkworm escapes from is made from a fibre (fibrin), which is very similar to the “plaque” that builds up in the human vascular system. It has now been shown that serrapeptase dissolves protein by-products of blood coagulation called fibrin (aka: plaque buildup) in the arteries.

Pain and Inflammation – Inflammation is a natural immune response to irritation used to protect the body. However, it becomes of concern once it becomes chronic. The inflammatory response can cause pain, swelling and mucous build-up, to name a few. Serrapeptase is said to have anti-inflammatory and anti-edemic properties (preventing swelling and fluid retention). It is thought to reduce inflammation by thinning fluids formed, helping them to drain and speeding up tissue repair and recovery time. In addition to reducing inflammation, it also effectively relieves chronic pain by blocking the release of the body’s natural pain chemicals from inflamed/injured tissues. This way it halts pain pathways and restores the body’s inflammatory response to reduce swelling and improve circulation.

Sinusitis: This condition involves excess mucous production and build-up that can cause uncomfortable congestion. Serrapeptase works as a “mucolytic enzyme” and has been used to help with break down and reducing the thickness of the mucous, which is protein based, thus improving elimination and easing pressure.

Others: Due to the fact that serrapeptase has the ability to dissolve unwanted non-living tissue and help with pain relief, it has been suggested for issues such as scar tissue, cysts, clots, carpal tunnel, etc.

It should be noted that Health Canada has granted serrapeptase a Natural Product Number (or NPN—look for it on the bottle) which means it has been assessed and found it to be “safe, effective and of high quality.” Dr. Beatty explains that serrapeptase is rated by serratia units and is measured by enzyme activity or potency. He suggests that it is ideally taken on an empty stomach and in enteric form for maximum absorption.

-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -

The views expressed in Community Blogs are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by SteinbachOnline.com

Blog Coordinator

Pamela Thiessen completed an Advanced Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Manitoba before she discovered the power of nutrition and natural health. This new found passion led her to seek employment at Good N Natural. Fascinated by the incredible benefits of healthy eating, she was inspired to enroll into the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition Program, where she attained a diploma in holistic nutrition. She also holds her Canadian Natural Product Advisor certification. This accumulation of knowledge and her desire to promote health and educate individuals has led her into the marketing and consumer education role at the store. Her goal is to help others improve their quality of life and experience the joy that comes along with healthy living, in hopes of improving the community as a whole.

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