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 supports 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 -

Having Trouble Breathing?

Ah Spring, the season of changing weather and seemingly unavoidable congestion that comes along with it. Here are a few reasons why you might typically struggle this time of year and suggestions on how to manage and prevent your symptoms.

 

1)    Seasonal Allergies/Hay Fever/Allergic Rhinitis
This is an allergic reaction in the nasal passages and airways to normally harmless environmental triggers. It is an abnormal exaggerated inflammatory immune response characterized by a release of chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream to defend against common allergens, including pollens, mold, pet dander, dust mites. This chemical release in turn, causes symptoms such as itchy, runny nose, headache, watery eyes, swelling, sneezing, scratchy throat, post nasal drip, sinus pressure, etc.

 

2)    Sinusitis
This is an infection or inflammation of sinuses. Sinuses function to clean, heat and humidify air so it reaches the lungs in optimal condition.  They are covered by a layer of mucus and tiny hairs (cilia) that sweep mucous filled with contaminants into the throat to be swallowed and dealt with in the stomach by HCL (acid). Inflammation causes sinus openings to close up and traps mucous in cavity, providing optimal environment for bacterial infection. Symptoms include nasal discharge/congestion, post nasal drip, headache, sneezing, cough, sore throat, facial pain, nasal polyps, trouble breathing/smelling, and fever.

 

3)    Extrinsic (Allergic) Asthma
This is characterized by inflammation of the lungs along with tightening/spasms of the bronchi, and overproduction of mucous in the airways due to a hypersensitive immune response to harmless airborne allergens.  This is considered an inflammatory allergic condition that triggers the release of chemicals, like histamine. Symptoms are observed in the lungs and include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, etc.

 

Recommendations:

DIET:
•    Focus on consuming plenty of fresh fruits and green foods as diets high in antioxidants have been shown to improve asthma and provide important defense against harmful agents in the body that increase allergic reactions.
•    Drink plenty of water and ensure adequate fibre to ensure toxin elimination.
•    Avoid processed, refined, artificial ingredients.
•    Eliminate any food sensitivities that may be contributing to an allergy.
•    Reduce mucous forming foods (bananas, dairy, and oranges).
•    Gradually introduce local bee pollen & raw honey into the diet to help inoculate against seasonal allergies/hay fever.

 

SUPPLEMENTS:
•    Anti-Histamines: Vitamin C & Quercetin, Magnesium
•    Anti-Inflammatories: Curcumin, Omega 3 Fatty Acids (high EPA) and Proteolytic Enzymes (Bromelain, Papain, Serrapeptase)
•    Immune Support: Probiotics, Plant Sterols, Medicinal Mushrooms (i.e. cordyceps, chaga, lion’s mane, maitake, reishi), Astragalus, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, Vitamin D3
•    Natural Antimicrobials: Horseradish, Garlic, Echinacea, Ionic Silver, Citrus Extracts, Oregano
•    Helpful Herbs:
o    Anticatarrhals/Decongestants (reduce swelling & thins mucous in nose and throat to help remove excess from body) - Elderflower, Nettle, Goldenseal, Plantain, Wild Cherry
o    Antispasmodics (relax and dilate airways) – thyme, plantain, eucalyptus, chamomile, astragalus, rosemary, lobelia, mullein, hyssop, horehound
o    Demulcents (soothe irritation or inflammation in mucous membranes) – marshmallow, mullein, fenugreek, slippery elm, licorice, horehound, wild cherry
o    Expectorants (loosen or induce removal of excess mucous from respiratory tract/lungs) -   elecampane, lobelia, eucalyptus, thyme, hyssop, horehound, cowslip
o    Anti-asthmatics– Rosemary, Juniper, Wild Cherry*Core Mucus Buster: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) acts to break down and thin out mucous, helping the respiratory tract to clear mucous, reducing coughing and improving oxygen saturation in the blood.

 

OTHER SUGGESTIONS:
•    Lifestyle - Cleanse. Improve Digestion (consider enzymes). Manage Stress/Sleep. Consider Facial Acupuncture. Avoid Toxins. Quit Smoking.
•    Reduce Exposure to Allergens- Shower after being outside. Install an air purifier in the rooms you spend the most time in. Consider investing into a vacuum cleaner with a specialize filter designed to catch and trap very fine particles. When dusting, use a damp cloth to trap and hold the dust instead of stirring it back up into the air. Close windows between 5am-10am, as these are peak pollen times. Look for specialized bedsheets and pillow covers designed to seal away allergens that may have accumulated. Use natural household cleaners free of chemical irritants that can trigger allergies and migraines.
•    Consider Nasal Irrigation/Neti Pot- This consists of passing slightly saline water through one nostril and allowing it to drain through the other while breathing through the mouth, the salt helps to draw out mucous and rinse out allergens from the nasal passages, aiding to discharge built-up mucous and offer symptom relief.

 

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

It’s All in How You “C” It!

Vitamin C, also known as “ascorbic acid”, is an essential water soluble vitamin that humans cannot produce on their own. While 80-90% of Vitamin C is absorbed through the small intestines, most of it is excreted within 4 hours of ingestion, as it cannot be stored.

Although the discovery of the vitamin hadn’t occurred yet, Vitamin C foods were used as treatment when the British navy used them to prevent scurvy among sailors. Since then, we have discovered the multiple benefits and uses of this important vitamin!

Uses & Benefits

Cell Protection– Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which acts to neutralize free radicals that damage cells and play a role in the development of chronic diseases and premature aging. Vitamin C also elevates cellular levels of the antioxidant glutathione, regenerates and protects Vitamin E and prevents the oxidation of certain B vitamins. Supplementation has also been shown to reduce exercise-induced oxidative damage as well as bone breakdown from free radicals.

Stress Nutrient - The highest concentration of Vitamin C is found in the adrenals and under stress, our body’s demand goes up significantly as it is necessary for the production of stress response hormones. Also, Vitamin C is important for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in regulating mood.

Immune Booster – Vitamin C increases white blood cell (lymphocyte) production, antibody protection and has antiviral activity. It is often used to prevent and reduce the length of colds as well as speed up wound healing!

Allergy Relief - Vitamin C helps alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies due to its natural anti-histamine effects.

Heart Health – Vitamin C has been shown to help control cholesterol and plaque levels, decrease oxidation of cholesterol and help maintain strength and elasticity of blood vessels. Vitamin C also enhances nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels thus lowering high blood pressure and lowering heart risk.  

Collagen Builder– Vitamin C is a necessary building block to collagen, which is a protein that makes up the primary framework of bones, skin, eyes and blood vessels. Without collagen synthesis, tissues are weakened. It is crucial to skin rejuvenation and also helps maintains integrity of gums and teeth.

Other Benefits – Vitamin C has the ability to transform iron into a state that is better absorbed in the intestine. It is also used to detox heavy metals and plays a role in improving glucose levels as well as supporting metabolic rate.

What Depletes Vitamin C or Interferes with Absorption?

Factors include: high sugar intake, UV radiation, stress, heavy metals, certain pharmaceuticals and tobacco. Did you know that smokers have 25% less vitamin C in their blood than non-smokers?

Plus, Vitamin C is very prone to damage by heat, cooking, processing, oxygen, and storage over time. For example, a fresh, vitamin C-rich vegetable like broccoli—if allowed to sit at room temperature for 6 days—can lose almost 80% of its vitamin C!

How Much Do We Need?

This depends on stress, polluted environment, smoking and illness. Certain experts recommend 1000-1200mg/day for maintenance, however, dosage can be increased during cold and flu season and for those who smoke or struggle with stress or chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis, etc.  Note that taking too much Vitamin C may result in loose stools.

Best Sources

Look for Vitamin-C rich foods such as papaya, lime, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, lemon, brussel sprouts, pineapple, orange, kiwi, cantaloupe, kale, cabbage, grapefruit & parsley.

When considering a Vitamin C supplement, consider a product that contains mineral ascorbates and bioflavonoids whose natural metabolites provide quicker absorption and longer retention than any other form of Vitamin C.

By combining Vitamin C with mineral ascorbates, they buffer the acidity of regular ascorbic acid, reduce gastrointestinal discomfort and are gentler on tooth enamel.

Bioflavonoids (i.e. rutin, quercetin, and hesperidin) are plant-based nutrients that act as antioxidants, reduce the oxidation of Vitamin C and increase Vitamin C bioavailability. They also support blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide production which acts as a vasodilator. Quercetin acts as a natural anti-histamine, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Rutin also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities as well as works to strengthen capillaries. Hesperidin is often used for treatment of varicose veins and hemorrhoids as it reduces capillary permeability and works as an anti-inflammatory agent.

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

Liven Up Your Liver!

The liver weighs about 4 pounds and is the body’s largest and hardest working internal organ. A healthy liver fulfills over 500 functions, holds about thirteen percent of the body’s blood supply at any given moment, and filters over a litre of blood each minute! In addition, it contributes to production of over 13,000 different chemicals and maintains over 2000 internal enzyme systems.

 

Main Functions

  • Digestion/Bile Secretion: the liver manufactures approximately 1 litre of bile per day, which is stored in the gallbladder and released as needed. It emulsifies fats for digestion, absorbs fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) carries away toxic substances & excess cholesterol for removal. Bile also promotes intestinal peristalsis for regular bowel movements!
  • Processing/Manufacturing: the liver processes almost everything we eat, breathe or absorb. It is needed to synthesize nutrients (enzymes, hormones, lipoproteins, blood proteins, clotting and immune factors). It also produces up to 80% of the body’s cholesterol! In addition, the liver is responsible for regulating thyroid by converting T4 to active T3, as well as for breaking down sex hormones, deciding if they will convert to another form or clearing the excess.
  • Storage: liver cells store many important substances until they are needed, such as vitamins and minerals (i.e. iron). Excess food is also converted into fat in the liver and is then transported to fatty tissues in the body for storage. In addition, surplus blood sugars are converted into glycogen in the liver and then stored as well. When blood sugar levels drop, the liver converts the stored glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream for energy.
  • Filtering/Detoxification: the liver detoxifies alcohol, heavy metals, drugs, chemicals, toxic by-products and poisons as well as transforms fat soluble toxins into a water soluble state so they can be removed. A healthy liver will ensure toxic substances are safely eliminated via urine, bile, and stool. Phase I liver detoxification works to breakdown toxins into non-toxic substances. Phase II liver detoxification involves ‘conjugation’; where toxic substances are ‘bound’ to others substances in the body to be safely removed through the kidneys, bladder or via the bile.

 

What Burdens The Liver?

Some factors that negatively affect liver health include obesity, lack of exercise, insulin resistance/blood sugar imbalances, heart problems, chronic stress/insomnia, estrogen imbalance, poor diet (high in sugar/fructose, refined/processed foods, wrong fats, alcohol and low in fibre, water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) as well as toxic overload (internal -> from candida overgrowth, poor digestion -leaky gut, poor gut flora, food sensitivities, low enzymes/HCL, constipation or external -> from chemicals and hormone mimickers in food, personal care & cleaning products, tobacco and environment). Note that the health of the liver is very much dependent on the health of the gut!

 

What Can Go Wrong?

Sluggish Liver is described by an impairment in the ability to detoxify or remove toxins.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is characterized by progressive stages of fat buildup, inflammation, scarring and hardening, tissue damage, limited blood flow and eventually complete failure.

Gallstones occur due to an imbalanced composition of bile, when production/circulation/quality is impaired. Bile is composed of fats (cholesterol, lecithin, and fatty acids), bile pigment (bilirubin), bile salts/acids, water, and minerals. Approximately, 80-85% are made of cholesterol and 15-20% of calcium/bilirubin (pigment stones).

When the liver is congested, it not only creates inflammation and cell damage, but toxins end up overflowing into the bloodstream and re-circulating, eventually being stored in fatty tissues. A burdened liver leads to various signs and symptoms such as headaches, skin problems, body odor, food sensitivities, poor digestion, excess weight retention, cholesterol buildup, constipation, hormonal imbalances (PMS/thyroid), fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, etc.

 

Suggestions

Eliminate Triggers

  • Avoid Toxins - from smoking, body care and cleaning chemicals, food, etc.
  • Improve Digestion - consider digestive ENZYMES (with bile salts and HCL if necessary) and gut repair nutrients. Avoid food sensitivities. Take a daily PROBIOTIC to restore bacterial balance, protect intestinal lining, control overgrowth, regulate bowels, reduce toxicity and lessen burden on liver.
  • Ensure Regular Bowel Movements - ask about natural constipation strategies!
  • Treat Candida - if necessary

Ensure Good Nutrition

  • Choose Whole, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, High-Fibre, Low Glycemic, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients.
  • Drink plenty of water (and lemon) to liquefy and stimulate production of bile.
  • Consume saturated fats from animal products in moderation, and focus on healthy OMEGA fats (i.e. fish oils) to help reduce inflammation and improve liver function.
  • Consume plenty of fresh, colorful, local and/or organic produce (and juices).
  • Limit sugars, trans fats, alcohol, refined/processed foods and excess caffeine.
  • Consider additional FIBRE (esp. in soluble form) to properly absorb and help eliminate toxins and excess cholesterol – aim for 35g/day!
  • Take a daily MULTIVITAMIN to ensure adequate nutrition and fat-soluble vitamins!

Consider Liver Support Ingredients

  • Hepatoprotective (protect liver cells): milk thistle (silymarin), turmeric (curcumin)
  • Cholagogues (stimulate bile flow in the liver): dandelion, artichoke, picrohiza
  • Antioxidants (fight free radical damage): selenium, alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin C, NAC, green tea, resveratrol
  • Also, consider lipotropic factors choline/inositol for fat metabolism, as well as supportive amino acids such as, l-taurine, l-glutathione and l-methionine and in the case of gallstones, look for “chanca piedra” and peppermint to help with breakdown.

Choose a LIVER CLEANSE that enhances both Phase I & II detoxification, supports liver functions (hormone processing, blood sugar regulation) and stimulates bile production.

Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Maintain healthy weight, balance blood sugars, manage stress/sleep, exercise regularly.

Ask a health care advisor which products are right for your specific needs and lifestyle!

This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.

Acupuncture Treatment for Pain & Inflammation

By: Dr. Kelly Brown, N.D & Acupuncturist

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been around for centuries, originating in China as far back as 100 BC.   It has become one of the most widely used and accepted alternative therapies in the western world. Acupuncture treatments are one of the main components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Modern society is now incorporating acupuncture into many treatment regimes alongside other practices such as physiotherapy, fertility treatments, mental health therapy, among others. Acupuncture has been shown to help treat many inflammatory conditions, such as digestive problems, arthritis, headaches and both chronic and acute pain.

How is Acupuncture Performed? Does it Hurt?

Acupuncture is the insertion of thin needles into various areas throughout the body. In order to decrease the sensation of the needles as they enter the skin, they are as fine as human hair and very sharp. Acupuncture is essentially painless, equivalent to the sensation of a mosquito bite. Once the needles are inserted they often can’t be felt, although, some report feelings of tingling or warmth.

Acupuncture is extremely relaxing and said to be rather enjoyable. This treatment works in part by stimulating blood to flow throughout the body. After a session, patients usually feel extremely calm and peaceful, similar to how one would feel after a massage.

How does Acupuncture Decrease Pain & Inflammation?

Many medical journals have found that acupuncture can block certain substances released from nerve endings, which cause redness and heat, characteristics of inflammation. Acupuncture has also been proven to block a complex relationship of what are called neuropeptides, such as Substance P, which have been shown to cause pain.

Examples of Inflammatory Conditions

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself. This causes inflammation and extreme pain in the joints. However, it can also cause problems in other areas of the body such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and skin. Acupuncture can help decrease pain significantly and play a positive role in the remission of arthritis.

Digestive Disorders

Many gut issues are cause by inflammation of the tissue. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), for example, is a digestive disorder with symptoms such as intermittent diarrhea and constipation, malabsorption of nutrients, cramping and more.

Crohn’s disease is much more serious when compared to IBS, and also involves inflammation of the gut tissue. This can cause severe diarrhea, fever, weight loss, and severe malnutrition. Medication is often needed to put Crohn’s into remission.

With the help of acupuncture, the inflammation affecting the gut can often be treated or put into remission. It is also recommended to seek additional advice on diet and supplement suggestions to support the process.

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and migraines are very common and the pain can be debilitating. Acupuncture treatment can significantly decrease pain during a headache and migraine. It also decreases the frequency of headaches and migraines and often plays a role in preventing them from occurring in the first place!

Chronic and Acute Pain

Acute injuries can be treated with acupuncture to decrease the pain and inflammation as well as help speed up the healing process.

Chronic pain, such as from Fibromyalgia or an old injury, can also benefit greatly from acupuncture treatments. By decreasing inflammation, acupuncture helps control pain as it is one of its causes. Also, acupuncture can help with increasing blood flow to help heal old injuries and decrease pain from certain disorders.

Menstrual Pain

Pain during menstruation is caused by various factors including hormone imbalances, cramping, and inflammation. Acupuncture can decrease the inflammation portion that may be causing pain during this time as well as help regulate hormones that are out of balance, which may cause a range of other symptoms as well!

When considering acupuncture, it is important to check that the practitioner is thoroughly trained. This will ensure that they have a large understanding of anatomy and as well as knowledge of how and where to insert the needles safely.

For more information please contact Dr. Kelly Brown, N.D. at Good n’ Natural (204 326-9565) to book an appointment. Dr. Kelly is a licensed naturopathic doctor with years of training. Naturopathic doctors who are trained in Canada have a thorough understanding of acupuncture.

This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.

The Key to Kombucha

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is an ancient fermented tonic made from sweetened black tea. Once cultured, this beverage contains a host of beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and acids from its mother culture, referred to as a SCOBY. It is a delicious drink, loaded with probiotics, enzymes and vitamins!

The Key to Kombucha: The SCOBY

The process of making kombucha all begins with a SCOBY. The SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is one of five ingredients involved in the process of brewing kombucha tea. Within it, bacteria and yeast strains live together in a harmonious, mutually supportive and co-dependant relationship. Due to its appearance and slimy texture, it is often called a “mushroom”.

Various SCOBY’s contain different strains of bacteria and yeast, but they all act in a similar way. The SCOBY multiplies itself in the process of creating kombucha and both mother and baby cultures can be reused multiple times. Even after the main culture is removed, the kombucha drink remains full of living yeast and bacteria, which continue to ferment slowly on their own. Therefore, idle kombucha will eventually form a new baby culture!

How Is It Made?

The process of making kombucha is rather simple and requires an active SCOBY, bottled spring water, organic cane sugar, plain real black tea, distilled white vinegar (for first few batches) or starter tea, as well as certain accessory materials such as a glass jar, coffee filter/weave cloth, rubber band, thermometer, measuring cups and spoons. Note that white cane sugar is the best food for a kombucha culture. While honey can also be used, it may yield inconsistent results.

As mentioned, the SCOBY itself is made up of a symbiotic culture, where bacteria and yeasts co-exist in harmony. The SCOBY is a living thing and needs food and a proper environment to thrive. Its food source is cooled, sweetened black tea and when placed within in, it consumes the sugars and produces acids, forms a “baby SCOBY”, and ferments the tea, producing kombucha. This can take roughly a week in warmer temperatures and up to a month in a cooler environment. It is recommended to taste the kombucha at various stages (once a week or so) until desired acidity level is reached. Once it is completed, kombucha can be flavored and bottled. Retain the SCOBY and some liquid from the bottom to use as starter tea for the next batch!

The by-products of the kombucha brewing process include organic acids (i.e. gluconic acid, acetic acid - which give the drink its tang), a variety of multiplied bacteria and yeasts, carbon dioxide (hence why kombucha is a carbonated beverage), a trace of alcohol, and B vitamins. Although kombucha starts as sweet tea, through the brewing process it becomes more tart. The longer it brews, the less sugar and more organic acids it has (giving it a more “vinegar” taste). Due to the nature of kombucha, it is not possible to state an exact culture composition. Note that as black tea is used as the original source, there is some caffeine in the final brew, though many consider it to be a very low amount.

How Do I Get a SCOBY?

-          Purchase a SCOBY in a dehydrated state and activate it at home.

-          Get a ready-made SCOBY with ½ cup of starter tea from a friend who is willing to share!

-          Grow a SCOBY from a bottle of raw, unflavored kombucha.

OR…if you are short on time and want to experience the health benefits of this amazing drink, purchase a bottle of ready-made, deliciously flavored kombucha from your local health store!

How Can I Use Kombucha?

  • Drink it by itself or use it in beverage mixes.
  • Add chia seeds to kombucha and create a “jello” type snack!
  • Use instead of vinegar in dressings, condiment, marinades.
  • Blend with fruit to make smoothies or popsicles.
  • Soak grains overnight in kombucha and water to help break them down for further cooking or baking.
  • Combine with water and pour over rinsed hair!
  • Note that it is possible to chop up the SCOBY and eat is as candy, jerky or blended in smoothies!

Recipe: Base Kombucha Salad Dressing Recipe (Adapted from Cultures for Health Website)

  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup Kombucha
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Add any combination of the following: Dijon mustard, dried or fresh herbs & spices, raw honey, etc.

Whisk ingredients together and taste!

This column is sponsored by Good ‘n’ Natural in Steinbach

Beautiful Skin – From the Inside, Out & the Outside, In!

Whether your main concerns are skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne), scars & blemishes, dryness & oiliness, aging (wrinkles, spots & sagging) or sun damage; there are common practical ways to support the skin, from both in & out!

 

Oxidative Stress: The Aging Culprit
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! They are caused by factors such as toxic buildup, poor diet (processed/fried foods), as well as stress/insomnia, 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! These can be found in both food and supplement forms. Great ingredients include organic, colorful produce (i.e. berries, greens), herbs and spices, green tea and cacao!

 

Other Underlying Factors That Impair Skin Health

-          Nutrient Deficiencies: from poor diet or malabsorption (i.e. Protein, Fibre, Iron & B12, Essential Fatty Acids, Skin Nutrients – Vitamins A/E/C, Zinc, Selenium)

-          Congested Liver: an overloaded liver (from external toxins, constipation, candida/parasites, etc.) cannot keep up with detoxification, resulting in skin eruptions as toxins spill over into the bloodstream and the body tries to eliminate through the skin.

-          Poor Gut Health: poor digestion, inadequate gut flora and food sensitivities lead to inflammation that manifests itself in the skin. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body.

-          Hormonal Imbalances: both estrogen/testosterone fluctuations and underactive thyroid are connected to skin issues.

-          Topical Factors: things such as dirt, dust, oils and chemicals clog pores and irritate skin!

 

Key Natural Ingredients to Look For In Skin Care Products

  • Hyaluronic Acid: “the moisture magnet” – can hold 1000x its own weight in water! It works to strengthen, soften, plump, smooth and reduce/prevent signs of aging.
  • Vitamin A: “the skin vitamin” - speeds up cell renewal, improves skin tone and texture, reduces the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles and increases collagen!
  • Vitamin E: a natural moisturizer, antioxidant and healer that protects skin’s fatty acids.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid: “the universal antioxidant” - protects skin cells, helps fight future damage and repair past damage, while boosting effectiveness of other antioxidants!
  • Vitamin C: encourages collagen and elastin production, while regenerating Vitamin E.
  • Glycolic Acid: derived from sugar cane - encourages mild exfoliation, helping to lift away aging cells (increases cell turnover by sloughing dead skin cells) and helps lighten pigmentation, stimulate collagen production and fight bacteria that causes acne!
  • Astaxanthin: red microalgae from Hawaii - has 500x the antioxidant power of Vitamin E!
  • Pycnogenol: a bark extract from the French maritime pine tree - has 20x the antioxidant power of Vitamin C! Protects skin from UV damage, addresses and soothes irritated rosacea-prone skin, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Argan Oil: rich in Vitamin E and fatty acids, has antioxidant and anti-aging benefits.
  • Jojoba Oil: rich in fatty acids, is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic.
  • Activated Charcoal: eliminates and draws out toxins from skin down to the pores.
  • Bentonite Clay: absorb excess oils and impurities, relieving skin congestion.
  • Green Tea: a potent antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory and helps slow signs of aging.
  • Chamomile: has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, plus helps soothe irritation.
  • Lavender: has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, plus helps calm swelling.
  • Aloe Leaf Juice: revives the skin with hydration, and has antibacterial, healing, conditioning benefits.
  • Tea Tree: a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal ingredient.
  • Salicylic Acid: exfoliates dead skin cells, penetrates and de-clogs pores, reduces redness and irritation.
  • Willow Bark: works as an astringent (tightens and closes pores), and has anti-inflammatory, soothing and conditioning properties.
  • DMAE: helps reduce facial sag, increasing firmness and strength, as well as reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Supplements to Consider

  • Collagen & Elastin – collagen is the main structural protein found in skin/connective tissues and forms a matrix with elastin to lock in moisture and make skin smooth, elastic and firm. Building blocks include Silica, Biotin, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Sulfur.
  • Essential Omega Fatty Acids (EPA & GLA)– part of all cell membranes and necessary for nourishing skin, retaining moisture/hydrating, fighting inflammation, managing oil production, preventing/improving signs of aging, stimulating production of new cells, treating skin conditions, regulating hormones and protecting from damage/sunburn.
  • Probiotics – improve digestive health and gut flora balance to protect from inflammation, support the immune system and counteract harmful bacteria.
  • Multivitamin (with Vitamin D) – ensure you are getting core nutrients your skin needs.

 

Other Suggestions:

Balance blood sugar (ensure adequate protein and fibre), manage stress & sleep, avoid toxins (from food/environment/smoking/body care & cleaning products), use sun protection, consider a liver cleanse (& ensure regular bowel movements), balance hormones if necessary, fight infection/overgrowth if necessary, improve digestion (consider enzymes and avoid sensitivities), drink plenty of water and improve diet (focus on Whole, Raw, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients and avoid sugar, refined/processed foods, alcohol and excess caffeine)!

 

This article is sponsored by Good ‘n’ Natural in Steinbach

When It Comes to Curcumin, Absorption Matters!

Article by: Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, N.D

Curcumin is the yellow pigment found in turmeric (Curcuma longa). Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and is a principal spice used in Indian cuisine. In India, turmeric root has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, and modern science confirms that turmeric’s main constituent curcumin exerts many health benefits.

Health research around curcumin’s benefits is growing and continually shows that it is highly pleiotropic, meaning it exerts multiple actions. First and foremost, curcumin is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory agent. This explains why individuals supplement with curcumin for relief from arthritis and other painful conditions. Curcumin is also an excellent antioxidant, fighting the free radicals that play a role in heart and cognitive health.

One of the body’s primary responses to any challenge is inflammation. If inflammation is out of control, it affects the structure and function of individual cells in the body. Since inflammation is at the core of many health concerns, curcumin holds great promise in many health applications.

Many of curcumin’s other beneficial effects are attributed to its ability to act as an antioxidant and help support balance in certain cellular functions. Double-blind clinical studies on curcumin demonstrate benefits for liver health, periodontal health, muscle and joint health, vascular health, heart health, and global quality of life scores.

Curcumin can be obtained through diet by cooking with turmeric; however the body cannot fully utilize it in this form. Therefore, simply adding turmeric to your food does not offer much therapeutic benefit. The reason is that curcumin is relatively insoluble in water and is rapidly transformed and excreted from the body. Scientific investigations and health care practitioners use special forms of curcumin to achieve consistent clinical results. Fortunately professional grade curcumin products are available in health food stores.

When it comes to shopping for curcumin products, there are some specific things to be aware of. Curcumin products vary widely in their absorbability. Professional grade curcumin products, which are widely used in clinical trials, use a form of curcumin that has been altered to enhance absorption. Such enhancements may include grinding and reducing the curcumin particle size, and binding the particles with complimentary substances that help with absorption. This leads to optimal absorption, therapeutic blood levels, and consistent results.

Shopping for the right type of curcumin does not have to be difficult. It is important to read labels to make sure you are buying a superior product. If you are unsure, knowledgeable staff at your health food store can help you pick a product with the best therapeutic benefits.

 This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach

 

Expert Suggestions for Heart Health!

With over 20 years of experience in the holistic health and wellness field Nelson Narciso, DNM, is a holistic nutritionist, herbalist, Reiki practitioner and member of the Examining Board of Natural Medicine Practitioners and the Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine. Nelson is a well-respected writer, consultant & educator on Natural Health Product’s as well as a frequent radio & television guest. Here are his key tips on how to “keep your ticker ticking”!

 

EAT MORE FRUITS & VEGGIES!

“Researchers have shown that for every 1 serving of a day increase of fruits or vegetables there’s a subsequent 4 percent drop in coronary heart disease. Combine the two together and increase servings by more than one a day and one can expect even more dramatic results. Researchers at Oxford University published a study showing that consuming at least 8 portions of fruits and vegetables a day had a 22 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. Remember to vary your fruit choices and choose fruits and vegetables that reflect a rainbow of colours. These colourful foods are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals all of which are heart friendly.”

 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPES OF FATS!

“We now have evidence that healthy fats in fact support a healthy heart. Of particular importance are the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. These include fish, flax, chia, hemp, walnuts and dark leafy greens. Fish are an especially important source because they not only have the omega-3 fats alpha linolenic acid but they also possess the all-important EPA and DHA fats needed for optimal health in general and heart health in specific. Polar opposite to healthy fats are trans fats. These have been shown to dramatically raise the risk of heart disease. Avoid foods that say trans or hydrogenated fats and don’t just read the “nutrition facts table” but also read the ingredient list.”

 

MINIMIZE SUGAR!

“Sugar intake has been shown to increase several markers of heart disease. This may be in part due to the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which have been increasingly implicated in heart health especially for diabetics. Especially noteworthy is the fact that high fructose corn syrup is especially problematic in that it seems to have greater impact than does glucose.”

 

EXERCISE REGULARLY!

“Exercise was shown to lower levels of a blood marker known as C-reactive protein that have been linked to an elevated risk of heart disease. Exercise benefits the heart in numerous ways: strengthens heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, lowers bad LDL and raises good HDL cholesterol and helps with weight management.”

 

MANAGE STRESS!

“Chronic stress may in fact predict the occurrence of heart disease. It’s not entirely clear what mechanism or mechanisms are involved in this association but nonetheless it is worth noting. Therefore it is prudent to manage stress and engage in stress reducing activities like yoga and Tai Chi. In fact both have been shown in research to benefit the heart.”

 

SUPPORT WITH SUPPLEMENTATION!

  • Multivitamins
    • Men and women that use a multi have fewer heart attacks than those that don’t.
    • Antioxidants (i.e. vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene)
      • Prevention of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries. Protects vascular endothelium – cells that line interior surface of blood vessels.
    • Fish oil
      • Lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel elasticity
      • Look for a blend of cold water, wild caught fish harvested using sustainable methods, processed through molecular distillation to remove unwanted contaminants and IFOS approved to verify purity and potency!
    • Vitamin D
      • Low levels were associated with increased risk of “heart failure, sudden cardiac death, stroke, overall cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular death.”
    • Vegetables and Fruits
      • Average daily intakes are well below recommended levels making supplementation with greens and berry powders worth considering. These products are also rich in antioxidants.
    • Whey Protein
      • May lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and elevate glutathione levels all of which are important to heart health!
    • Phytosterols
      • Lower LDL cholesterol, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine.
    • Ashwagandha
      • Reduces C-reactive protein levels.
    • Taurine
      • Has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and prevent cardiac arrhythmia.
    • Magnesium
      • Deficiency has been linked to vascular damage, atherosclerosis and hypertension. Magnesium has been shown to help prevent cardiac arrhythmia and lower blood pressure.
    • Folate & B12
      • These vitamins have been shown to lower homocysteine levels, which is an amino acid that, when elevated, is a predictor of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
    • Astaxanthin
      • Protects against cardiovascular oxidative stress and inflammation, lowers C-reactive protein and triglycerides and raises HDL cholesterol.

In closing, Nelson mentions that “heart disease can be readily prevented through strategic dietary, lifestyle and supplement choices”. Following a program that incorporates all three should dramatically lower the risk of developing heart disease and/or help reverse it!

-This Article is Sponsored by Good N Natural -

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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