Beautiful Legs for Summer

Do you avoid wearing shorts due to the unsightly veins on your legs? Varicose veins are enlarged veins commonly found in the legs. The veins often appear dark purple or blue and twisted and bulging above the skin’s surface. Leg veins have the toughest job. The force of transporting blood from the bottom of the body uphill to the heart and lungs makes the legs a prime location for varicose veins. Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause, as well as taking birth control pills or HRT also increase the risk of varicose veins. Too much standing, obesity and constipation can make vein problems worse.

Thankfully nature provides us with several herbal extracts including diosmin, horse chestnut, Butcher’s broom and hesperidin, that can improve the look of your veins, treat swollen legs and ankles, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency and spider veins.

Citrus Rinds to the Rescue

Diosmin, made from extracting hesperidin from citrus rinds and then converting it, is used to treat chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), hemorrhoids, lymphedema, and varicose veins. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and free radical scavenging agent. Diosmin has been used for more than 3 decades as a vein tonic and vein-protective agent and to improve wound healing. It is now being researched for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome, colitis, and diabetes.

Hesperidin is the main flavonoid in lemons and oranges. In combination with diosmin, hesperidin is a common treatment used in Europe for the treatment of venous insufficiency and hemorrhoids. Hesperidin reduces the permeability of the capillaries and is an anti-inflammatory agent. In combination with diosmin, hesperidin has significantly improved acute internal hemorrhoids of pregnancy in a clinical trial.

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is characterized by pain, leg heaviness, a sensation of swelling and cramps, and is often seen in those with varicose veins. A multicenter international trial involving 5,052 people with CVI evaluated diosmin. Patients were treated with 450 mg of diosmin and 50 mg of hesperidin daily for six months. Continuous clinical improvement was found throughout the study, as well as improvements in the participants’ quality of life scores. Diosmin has also been found effective in treating severe stages of CVI, including venous ulceration and delayed healing.

Horse Chestnut Extract

Horse chestnut extract is used for the treatment of symptoms of venous insufficiency including pain and heaviness in the legs, night-time cramps in the calves, and itchy, swollen legs; along with phlebitis and varicose veins. It is also effective for hemorrhoids, skin inflammation and premenstrual syndrome. Aescin, the active ingredient in horse chestnut, tones the and strengthens the walls of veins, improving the flow of blood back to the heart. It appears to work by halting the release of enzymes that damage capillary walls as well as reducing inflammation that irritates capillaries.

Horse chestnut extract also relieves swelling. Several controlled studies have shown that horse chestnut improves circulation while reducing varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency and was found to be as effective as wearing compression stockings.

Butcher’s Broom

Butcher’s Broom has been shown in several clinical trials to reduce varicose veins and hemorrhoids, and to treat the itching and burning of hemorrhoids. It is also used to help treat lower leg discomfort, including cramps, pain, itching and swelling caused by pooling of blood in the veins.

A review of pharmacological studies indicated that butcher’s broom extract exerts activity on the three levels of circulation involved in CVI. It acts on lymphatic drainage, the constriction of blood vessels and microcirculation. When used in combination with the other herbs like Horse chestnut extract, it also improves the strength of veins and reduces permeability. Butcher’s broom has been found to reduce blood pooling in the lower leg and also the size of the ankle and lower leg. Butcher’s broom also reduces enlarged veins.  A German study over 12 weeks, involving 166 female patients with chronic venous insufficiency found significant improvement in swelling, circulation and pain.  Another study involving 124 patients, over an 8 week period, found that leg heaviness, edema, cramps and pain associated with venous insufficiency were reduced by 2 weeks and for the majority of participants symptoms were eliminated by the end of the study. 

No longer will you have to wear those constricting support hose and hide your legs under clothing. You can have beautiful legs in as little as ninety days.

Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe is a women’s natural health expert and author of 13 books including Beautiful Skin Begins Within.

3 Reasons Why Health Experts are Recommending to Supplement with Collagen

Nutritionists and health experts have an arsenal of foods and supplements they recommend every individual consume. This set is what lays the bricks for a foundation of good health. What’s in this set? For starters, a diet rich in nutrition – an abundance of fruits, fibre-rich vegetables, whole proteins, and healthy fats (like avocadoes and plant oils) to promote brain health.

Then follows the typical (but still useful) advice to avoid processed foods and unhealthy habits. Next comes promoting a balance in lifestyle by pursuing activities outside of work to keep your mind and body happy – things like working out, meditation, and reading.

And finally, we’re left with a list of recommended supplements to fill in the gaps between your current diet and ideal nutrition targets. This includes an array of vitamins and mineral supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, and iron. But the one supplement that health experts are recommending now more than ever? Collagen. Nutritionists recommend collagen to reduce joint pain and degeneration, improve elasticity of the skin, strengthen hair and nails, and heal certain digestive issues – things we would all like a little help with.

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:

1.    Collagen for Joint Pain

A joint is the point at which certain parts of the skeletal structure meet. For example, the thigh bone and shin bone meet to create the knee joint. The elbow joint is created through the connection of the upper arm bone and forearm bones. There are somewhere between 200 and 400 joints in the body – each of which is held together by ligaments, a type of connective tissue that connects the bones. What are these ligaments made of? Proteins, with the most abundant protein being none other than collagen!

As we age, collagen production decreases and our bones become fragile. A collagen supplement is an excellent way to help your body synthesize more collagen to help reduce joint discomfort and improve mobility.

Joint pain is also common among high-performance athletes. In fact, the number one complaint runners, cyclists, and swimmers have is knee pain and arthritis symptoms.  In a 24-week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain, the following was found: “athletes consuming collagen hydrolysate can reduce parameters (such as pain) that have a negative impact on athletic performance”.

2.    Collagen for Skin Health, Hair, & Nails

Healthy skin – it’s firm, plump and wrinkle-free. As we age, however, all these qualities deteriorate as collagen production slows down. The skin sags, lines and dark spots appear around the crevices of your face, and the healthy glow you once had dulls down. Women in particular notice a decline in collagen following menopause.

There is a whole beauty industry dedicated to anti-aging products (like creams, serums, and masks) – but what they’re forgetting is that it’s what you ingest into your body that plays the most critical role.

Collagen is resorbable – this means it can be used by the body again when consumed orally.  This allows your body to maintain it’s ability to create new skin cells and replace and restore dead skin cells.

In a recent 2015 study conducted on the effect of collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkles, this was validated. It was found that “a combination of hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid, together with other ingredients, when consumed orally for 9 weeks can significantly reduce the depth of wrinkles, whereas there was no significant reduction with placebo. In fact, there was 8% reduction in wrinkle depth in the group taking the test product, which was found to be significant.”

Furthermore, the study also demonstrated “significant benefit of the test product on skin hydration of individuals consuming it on a daily basis. The water content of the dermis increased by 14% at week 6 from the baseline value. These same principles apply to hair and nails because collagen is also the primary building block for both!

3.    Collagen for Digestive Issues

A poor diet is the root cause of most health problems – most notably the ones in your gut. What can you do to help ease digestive troubles? Your go-to is probably probiotics. They help populate your gut with friendly bacteria while also easing constipation and/or loose stools so that a healthy medium is restored.

Collagen is a wonderful complement to probiotics. It contains a wide variety of amino acids that support the production of bile and stomach acid while also promoting liver detoxification. This is especially useful for those dealing with digestive disorders like leaky gut and GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Pointers for Purchase

  • When you set out to buy a collagen supplement, there’s one key word that absolutely should be on your radar – tryptophan. In short, collagen does not contain all the essential amino acids, unless you add tryptophan. It’s the missing link that completes collagen’s amino acid profile, helping to improve its protein quality.
  • The next point – always keep an eye out for Vitamin C.  Your body can’t use a collagen supplement unless there is a healthy dose of Vitamin C added to it.
  • Make sure the collagen is sourced from pasture-raised, grass fed cattle. This helps ensure the formula is free from both antibiotics and added hormones.

Can Our Food Be Our Medicine?

You have probably heard the famous quote by Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” It is a quote meant to inspire us to eat healthier, but how many of us actually live with this mindset and believe that what we eat can be our medicine? Most of the time, when we choose what we should eat, we choose based on pleasing our taste buds or just quickly filling our stomachs so we can keep moving. It seems rare these days to find someone who will put together a meal where they will actually be thinking of all the nutrients their body needs to function to its best ability, never mind prevent disease.

That said, what if we did start thinking of food this way? Food would not only be our fuel to keep us going, but also serve us in the prevention of disease. We might then look at a carrot as a source of beta carotene that becomes vitamin A in the body which is extremely important for skin and tissue healing as well as helping strengthen our immune system. We might see tomatoes as skin protectors for their lycopene content and kale as a blood builder for its iron and folic acid content. Onions and garlic would be used regularly for their liver supporting and cleansing sulphur-containing amino acids, and fermented vegetables would be on the side of every meal for their digestion supporting probiotics and enzymes. Salmon might even become a staple in households for its eye protecting antioxidants and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Would knowing these things make you look at your food differently?

Even if you eat this way you could still be missing many vital nutrients. That’s right! Our food has changed in its nutrient content so much over the past 50 years that it would take eating 8 oranges to be equal to one orange that your grandfather ate. Researchers from the American College of Nutrition collected data from the USDA archives that showed vitamin and mineral levels of fruits and vegetables from 1950 and 1999. What did they find? “Reliable declines”, as they put it, in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and riboflavin as well as magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B6 and E. Other nutrient data analyses published in the British Journal and from Kushi Institute also found declines in these vitamins and minerals as well as vitamins A and C and potassium averaging a nutrient decline of 25%. What does this mean for us? We have lost, on average, 25% of the amount of nutrients in our fruits and vegetables in only 50 years! One of the most noticeable losses is in magnesium which is deficient in most North American people. It is important for bone structure and more than 300 cellular reactions in the body. A low intake of magnesium, or poor absorption of it, is associated with the development of many different diseases including osteoporosis, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, cardiomyopathy, diabetes and stroke. One of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency is restless leg syndrome. Supplemental magnesium is then used to help treat these ailments because it’s deficiency from the beginning has contributed to their development. This is one small example where nutrients are medicine.

So what happened to our valuable vitamins and minerals and where did they go? Our convenient modern world happened to them. Farming practices focus on producing more at much faster rates while using fertilizers. The fertilizers typically used only contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which are geared more toward rapid growth while leaving out many important nutrients mentioned above. The practice of monocrop farming pulls nutrients out of the soil because it is done without practicing crop rotation to replace those nutrients.  This depletes the soil. Also, the use of large equipment compacts the soil so it cannot irrigate properly nor allow nutrients to breakdown. Our food is then picked before it is ripe, shipped across the world to end up in our local grocery store where it can be days or weeks old before we even buy it. The longer the food sits, the more it loses its nutrients. It does not end there because when we take it home and cook it, we then lose more of those delicate vitamins and enzymes through the heating process.

So, the question remains, can our food be our medicine?  When we choose our food conscientiously, and with a little help from high quality supplements and superfoods, it can be. By choosing organic, local and seasonal foods, we will ensure higher nutrient density in our fruits and vegetables. Organic food does not just mean the packaging has a fancy label that allows them to charge higher prices. It means the farmer has to go through a lengthy certification process where they have to abide by strict practices. One of those obligations is to practice better soil sustainability. Rich, healthy, sustainable soil means the fruits and vegetables grown in it will have more nutrients. More studies are also coming out showing the difference in the nutrient density of organic versus conventional crops. Choosing local and seasonal also means your food does not have to travel as far to get to your plate which will help it maintain its nutrients. One way of ensuring you intake the foundational nutrients that are lacking in some of today’s foods is looking for a high quality supplement. This means you do not have to eat those 8 oranges every day. Including superfoods is a great whole food way to get in extra nutrients daily. Foods like goji berries are high in immune boosting vitamins A and C, while cacao powder (raw cocoa) is rich in magnesium and iron, and the blue-green algae spirulina is high in protein, iron and B12. Superfoods are also rich in phytonutrients which multivitamin and mineral supplements often do not contain because researchers are still uncovering many different types of phytonutrients and their benefits. These phytonutrients are also found in our everyday fruits and vegetables which make eating whole foods very important. Eating a whole food diet and including proper supplementation ensures your body is receiving the nutrients it needs. One cannot replace the other, but rather they work hand in hand.

Our food today may be very different from the food that Hippocrates made his quote about years ago, but the important nutrients found in whole foods still remain our medicine today. We may have to take them in different forms than thousands of years ago but the truth remains the same. Providing our bodies with the right amount of nutrients helps us to prevent and treat disease today and in the days to come.

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

Navigating the "Pain & Inflammation" Aisle

Healthy joints are a key factor in comfort, physical mobility, and maintaining a quality active lifestyle. Unfortunately, many people experience pain, inflammation and stiffness associated with joint damage. There are many natural supplement options to choose from when it comes the “pain & inflammation” aisle at your local health food store. Here is a summary of the main ingredients used in popular joint formulas and how they work in the body.

Glucosamine -> Glucosamine sulfate is a natural joint support found in the fluid around joints. When ingested, it stimulates the formation of cartilage, reduces joint pain, protects against the deterioration of existing cartilage and connective tissue and increases cushioning to improve mobility and function. This makes glucosamine sulfate very useful to help slow the progression of joint degeneration. In addition, it helps reduce pain and inflammation, increases range of motion and promotes proper lubrication of joints.

Chondroitin -> Chondroitin sulfate attracts water, including nutrient-rich fluid into cartilage, helping to prevent cartilage from becoming dehydrated and brittle. This reduces the risk of cartilage tearing under strain and also helps prevent pain and further joint degeneration. Also, chondroitin sulfate supplies the building blocks of connective tissue in the joints. And, lastly, it inhibits the formation of enzymes that break down joint tissue. Note that up to four weeks are needed for glucosamine and chondroitin to begin taking effect and the longer they are used, the more pronounced the benefits may be. 

Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM) –> MSM may improve a person’s mobility by slowing the breakdown of cartilage, reducing inflammation and stimulating the formation of new joint and connective tissues. Can help improve the comfort and mobility of people with osteoarthritis. The analgesic properties of MSM have long been recognized. MSM and glucosamine are sulfur compounds that occur naturally in the body.

Collagen -> Collagen is the single most abundant and key structural protein in the human body. Types 1&3 make up the majority of body’s total collagen supply and are the main collagen constituents in the ligaments, tendons, bones and muscles. Type 2 provides essential nutrients for joint support.  It is needed to maintain and rebuild cartilage tissue. Note that the amino acids lysine and proline, along with vitamin C are directly responsible for producing collagen. Also, silicon (silicic acid) is a trace mineral required by the body to make collagen. It appears to be required for proper integrity of the ligaments, tendons, and bone.

Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM) -> NEM provides a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and calcium – nutrients that are essential for healthy joints. Therefore, it significantly relieves joint pain, stiffness, inflammation and improves range of motion. NEM also supports the production of type II collagen, a main component of cartilage and key factor in the protection and repair of cartilage. In addition, it improves production of the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints.

Hyaluronic Acid -> Hyaluronic acid is a protective substance found in the fluid that surrounds the joints. It forms a thick gel that lubricates and protects joints. Therefore, it is essential for joint mobility. It acts as a shock absorber, reducing friction and lessens pain, facilitating movement and providing nourishment to the joints.

Celadrin -> Celadrin is a unique matrix of cetylated fatty acids (CFAs) that have undergone a proprietary process. It is an effective all-natural anti-inflammatory compound that has been clinically proven to relieve both osteoarthritis pain and inflammation. Celadrin also lubricates joints, improving movement, and prevents further soft tissue and joint damage. The fatty acids in Celadrin hold moisture in place in the joints and prevent tissues from becoming dehydrated and brittle as a result of regular wear and tear.

Turmeric/Curcumin -> Curcumin is the key component of turmeric root, and has been show to act as the “master off-switch of inflammation”. It has the ability to block more than 30 different inflammation pathways! It also offers potent antioxidant protection against free radicals. It is useful for relieving the pain in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and bursitis. Note that the enzyme, bromelain (from pineapple), also possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties and helps improve the absorption of turmeric.

Serrapeptase -> Serrapeptase is a natural enzyme produced from bacteria that is originally found in the intestines of the silkworm. 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. In addition, it is thought to reduce inflammation by thinning fluids formed, helping them to drain and speeding up tissue repair and recovery time.  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.  

Boswellia -> Boswellia decreases the activity of enzymes that destroy joint cartilage. It also helps mediate normal inflammatory processes.

Ginger -> Ginger has mild anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat pain associated with inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis.

SAMe -> SAMe maintains cartilage health and contributes to the production of joint-supporting compounds (i.e. glucosamine and chondroitin). It has been used as support for arthritic pain.

Antioxidants -> Antioxidants provide protection for the health of connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Examples include pycnogenol, manganese, resveratrol, Vitamin C, etc.

Green Foods & Mineral Blends -> Supports gentle detoxification and alkalinity, creating a healing environment to help improve effectiveness of other joint supportive supplements.

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

Healthy Hair & Skin from Within!

“With age comes wisdom.” Oscar Wilde, the wisdom to know that healthy skin comes from the inside. We can use every cream, serum and filler to help our skin maintain its healthy glow, but nothing works as well as good nutrition and optimal hydration. The nutrients we consume along with the health of our gut are instrumental in the way we look on the outside. Aging, poor lifestyle habits, environmental UV rays, dehydration and toxins are common stressors that can aggravate the skin and lead to skin aging. We can slow the aging process and even reverse some of the effects of time if we can support the production and maintenance of our connective tissue.

A diet rich in collagen protein, vitamins and minerals allows the body to maintain connective tissue. In other words, maintain healthy joints and create beautiful hair, skin and nails. Supplements that can support healthy youthful skin include bone broth, silica, vitamins, minerals and MSM.

Bone broth is a nutrition superfood rich in collagen protein, minerals, glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. These nutrients promote the integrity of connective tissue and reduce inflammation. In fact, many of these nutrients are used in anti-aging serums and facial creams. Understandably, consuming the nutrients is more effective than applying topically. The skin is one of the great benefactors of adding bone broth to your diet. Nutrients that support healthy connective tissue slows the signs of aging including wrinkles, fine lines, puffiness and saggy skin. A lack of connective tissue is the main cause of cellulite and loss of skin tone. People who consume a diet rich in collagen, hyaluronic acid and minerals report a significant reduction in the appearance of cellulite and aging.

Bone broth also supports the health of the gut by reducing inflammation and maintaining the tone of the gut walls. This means better absorption of consumed nutrients.

By the time we are 21 our collagen starts to break down and diminishes 1% per year, thereafter. Within 10 years we begin to see the signs of breakdown with fine lines, sagginess and cellulite. Double-blind research conducted over an 8-week period with women between the age of 35-55 years who consumed one serving of bone broth per day showed significant improvements in skin elasticity and moisture within the first 4 weeks of the study.

A serving of bone broth protein can be added to almost any smoothie and can be used in most recipes. The bone broth protein source is different from many powdered protein supplements which will denature during cooking. Collagen based proteins like bone broth are an ideal protein for many people and especially those over the age of 40 who may be less interested in lean muscle maintenance and more interested in slowing the breakdown of the connective tissue in joints, tendons and skin.

Another connective tissue power house is silica. Silica is derived from the aqueous extract of the herb, spring horsetail (Equisetum arvense) which is specially processed to provide a readily assimilated and abundant source of trace minerals. Silica strengthens and beautifies hair, skin, nails by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles through the nutrient maintenance of collagen in connective tissue.

Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin that is also important for maintaining healthy hair and minimizing hair loss. Biotin helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins and can help give volume and encourage strong healthy hair. It can help carry oxygen to cells in the scalp and follicles to promote healthy hair.

A good vitamin, supplement or liquid solution high in B vitamins and minerals can help support the hydration and smoothness of skin and promote healthy hair as well. Optimal vitamin and mineral intake will reduce the signs of fine lines and enhance the body’s ability to deal with environmental and dietary stressors. Some multi vitamins are formulated specifically for the nourishment of hair, skin and nails and include micronutrients that support all connective tissue.

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a rich source of sulfur. Sulfur is a key component of collagen that supports the skin’s structural framework. MSM acts to inhibit the breakdown of dermal collagen and elastin that can lead to wrinkle formation and fragile skin. MSM aids in improving skin strength and elasticity by maintaining disulfide bonds that keep collagen strands strong to preserve the pliancy of connective tissue promoting firmer skin. MSM helps regulate the skin barrier to make cells more permeable and improve the absorption of nutrients and helps keep skin hydrated.

For many people, looking good is part of feeling good. Healthy radiant skin is a sign of vibrant good health and is often at the top of the wish list for people who want to look their best. Make your skin look amazing, again! Supplement your healthy diet with nutrients that protect and nourish your skin.

Soaking vs. Sprouting vs. Souring

Nuts, seeds, grains, and beans are nutritional powerhouses. However, certain natural agents (i.e. anti-nutrients) meant to protect these plants can wreak havoc on our digestive system. Many ancient cultures have found ways to prepare ingredients that make them easier to digest and more nutritious. These methods include soaking, sprouting and souring. Essentially, what this does is convince the seeds that it’s time to begin their growth process (i.e. germination).

What are “anti-nutrients”?

Anti-nutrients are naturally occurring compounds that are found in plants. They interfere with our ability to digest vitamins and minerals because the human digestive system is not designed to break down these components. When consumed, they reduce our absorption and may cause nutrient deficiencies and gut-related problems. They can also contribute to allergic reactions and mental illness. These compounds naturally exist in plants because they actually have a protective role as they help plants to survive by warding off pests and insects. They also keep a seed from sprouting until it’s ripe enough and ready to mature. Examples of anti-nutrients include phytate, tannins, gluten, lectins, saponins, oxalic acid, etc.

SOAKING

Soaking is beneficial on its own but it is also a precursor to other processes. It is characterized as the process of placing seeds, grains, nuts or legumes in double its amount in water for a period of time at room temperature (many also choose to add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to help soften the ingredient). Soaking is usually only performed for 8 to 24 hours. When a grain is hydrated, it causes an enzymatic action. Seeds soaked in warm water are fooled into thinking conditions are ripe for growth and anti-nutrients are disabled. After the ingredient has been soaked it can be drained, rinsed, and then cooked, dehydrated or sprouted! Soaked nuts and seeds can be consumed raw and even made into milk or butter alternatives. Soaking and sprouting is very easy. The method is exactly the same for nuts, seeds, grains, and beans—only the time required for full germination changes.

SPROUTING

Sprouting is essentially the process of seed germination or development. It leads to a complete biological transformation of the seed. This process involves soaking seeds, nuts, legumes or grains for several hours, then repeatedly rinsing them twice a day, and draining them at an angle, until they begin to develop a “tail”. At least 48 hours of sprouting time seems to be best, but this will depend on the food as sprout times vary. The amount of change depends on water pH, length of soaking, and length of sprouting. Note that the majority of nuts do not sprout but can be successfully soaked. Almonds however, can sprout if they are truly raw and not pasteurized or irradiated.

Health Benefits of Sprouting

  • Increased Nutrition -> Sprouting increases the amount and bio-availability of some vitamins (i.e. C & B vitamins), minerals (iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc), phytochemicals (chlorophyll, carotene), essential fatty acids, fiber and amino acids (lysine and tryptophan). In addition, it is said that sprouting ingredients helps them become a more alkaline forming food!
  • Safer -> Sprouted grains may be less allergenic to those with grain protein sensitivities as it helps reduce food allergens (i.e. gluten). In addition, sprouting inactivates aflatoxins, which are potent carcinogens.
  • Enhanced Digestibility -> The process of sprouting neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and decreases anti-nutrients. Sprouting also increases and activates enzyme content, helping the digestive process. These enzymes make nutrients more digestible, reducing gas production, while allowing the body to focus on producing other enzymes.

Other Benefits of Sprouting

  • They are simple to grow and require minimal space.
  • You can harvest your food within about a week of starting the process.
  • It is safe, so long as you choose organic seeds and follow sanitary procedures.
  • They are inexpensive to make.

After an ingredient is sprouted, it can be dehydrated and ground into flour (as in Ezekiel breads) or prepared as part of a meal. Try sprouts on top of soups, salads or in sandwiches, tacos or pitas. You could also make crunchy granola with buckwheat sprouts, hummus with sprouted chickpeas or no-bake energy bites with soaked almonds!

SOURING

Ingredients can also benefit by being soured, which is the process of fermentation.  Sourdough, is probably the best example of grain fermentation. It is made by using naturally-occurring bacteria and wild yeast. In order to make sourdough, one can allow wild organisms to inoculate a grain and water mixture naturally, or they can choose to use a starter culture. 

Much like soaking and sprouting, souring has a range of health benefits. This is a more complete way to pre-digest the grain and neutralize anti-nutrients. The process of fermentation also creates probiotics, helpful enzymes, minerals and vitamins.

So whether you are struggling with digestive difficulties, looking to increase the nutritional content of your meals or simply enjoy trying new things in the kitchen… consider incorporating some of these traditional preparation methods into your routine for optimal health benefits!

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


How to Cope With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, more than 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders every year. Those of you who are affected know how devastating this can be on your personal and professional life. However, because few people speak openly about their digestive symptoms, the magnitude of the problem is underestimated. [1]

Canada has one of the highest rates of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the world with 5 million Canadians currently suffering from it and 120,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.[2] These are significant statistics but there is hope. April is recognized as National IBS Awareness Month so the focus of this article will be on Irritable Bowel Syndrome strategies to deal with it.

The symptoms of IBS include cramping, spasms, altered bowel function and irritation of the intestinal tract. In some people it is mild, while others have chronic symptoms that can be disabling. People with IBS may also have upper abdominal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, bloating and abdominal pain.

IBS is a ‘functional disorder’ which means that there is no physical evidence of disease such as ulcers or inflammation. It is also a diagnosis of exclusion, so if a practitioner cannot determine a cause for symptoms (i.e. Crohn's disease or colitis) a diagnosis of IBS is likely to be made. However, other conditions should be ruled out before a diagnosis of IBS is made. These include: parasites, candida, infectious diarrhea, and lactose intolerance.

The symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person and may include:

  • Abdominal pain or spasms
  • Diarrhea and / or constipation
  • Bowel urgency
  • Incontinence
  • Abdominal pain relieved by defecation
  • Mucus in stool
  • Bloating
  • The sensation of the bowel not emptying completely
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Heartburn

IBS can be managed by diet and lifestyle changes along with natural supplementation.

Here are some steps you can take to cope with IBS:

Rule out possible underlying causes and treat them if they exist (i.e. candida, parasites, lactose intolerance and infectious diarrhea).

Diet

  • Determine “trigger” foods and avoid them (fats, dairy, wheat, insoluble fibre and red meat tend to be big triggers). Following an elimination diet to determine trigger foods is done by removing the suspected foods and reintroducing them one at a time. If symptoms occur when you eat it you can conclude that the food is a trigger and avoid it.
  • Make soluble fibre foods the largest part of your meals and snacks and always eat them first. Soluble fibre foods include: oatmeal, rice and rice cereals, pasta and noodles, barley, quinoa, soy (organic), veggies such as potatoes, yams/sweet potatoes, beets, squash, pumpkins, avocados and fruits like bananas, mangoes, papaya and applesauce. Experiment with recipes for variety.
  • Be careful about the intake of insoluble fibre (such as bran and fibre in raw fruits and vegetables). High fibre foods should not be eaten alone or on an empty stomach as they can trigger IBS symptoms. The best option is to peel, skin, chop, mash, cook and puree fruits and vegetables to blend into smoothies, soups, sauces or stews. Make sure you also finely chop nuts, fresh herbs, and dried fruits.
  • Eat 5-6 smaller meals per day, rather than 2-3 large meals. This is easier on the digestive system.
  • Chew your food slowly and thoroughly into small digestible pieces.
  • Drink plenty of purified water but limit the amount of water or other fluids you drink with your meals, as this can inhibit digestion. Be careful with ice-cold liquids as they can make your stomach muscles contract, triggering an attack.
  • Avoid eating foods you are unsure of. If you want to test something, try it in very small amounts to determine whether you will have a reaction.

Supplement

  • One of the most important things that you can do is replenish the good bacteria in your intestinal tract with probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Several studies comparing the effects of probiotics versus placebo have indicated improving IBS symptoms and reducing the risk of persistent IBS symptoms with probiotics.[3] You don’t get enough from yogurt so supplementing is best. Look for a probiotic supplement with the following characteristics:
  1. High Culture Count
  2. Multiple Strains
  3. Delayed Release
  4. Potency at Time of Expiration
  • Take digestive enzymes with your meals to help break down your food so there is little left over to cause gas and bloating.
  • To ease the symptoms of cramping and spasms, use anti-spasmodic herbs such as ginger root, goldenseal and turmeric. You can use ginger and turmeric in cooking or you can find specific IBS herbal combinations at your local health food store.
  • Peppermint tea is antispasmodic and relaxing so drinking it can be very helpful in the reduction of spasms.
  • Repair and rebuild the intestinal tract with amino acids such as L-Glutamine & N-Acetyl D-Glucosamine. There are products you can get at your local health food store that are specifically designed to help heal and repair the intestinal tract.

Deal with stress

Stress and stomachs are inextricably linked. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily life to keep your stress manageable.

  • Participate in stress reduction and relaxation therapies such as meditation and deep breathing.
  • Incorporate regular exercise such as walking or yoga.
  • Minimize stressful life situations as much as possible.
  • Get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Seek out counseling and support.
  • Hypnotherapy has been proven to be successful as well. Sessions in which descriptions of what happens to the intestines when we're uptight are given along with methods of coping. A British clinical hypnotherapist, Michael Mahoney, has developed an IBS-specific self-hypnosis method called the "IBS Audio Program 100", (http://www.ibsaudioprogram.com/ ) that can be practiced by IBS patients in their own time, at home.

By following the preventative steps above, and using a combination of anti-spasmodic herbs during acute flair ups, IBS symptoms can be brought under control, thereby regaining the quality of life for IBS sufferers.

A healthy gut can impact your life; from helping to lower stress to improving energy, sleep and memory and even impacting your happiness.

[1] Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. (2012). Digestive Disorder Statistics. Available: http://www.cdhf.ca/digestive-disorders/statistics.shtml. Last accessed 01 April 2013.

2 ibid

3 Ringel Y., Ringel-Kulka T.. (2011). The Rationale and Clinical Effectiveness of Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.. Available: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21992954. Last accessed 01 April 2013.

 

 

 

 

Helper's High

Volunteers are very special people. They are the ones that sacrifice their time and resources to make  things happen in the community that would not be able to exist without them. They do not get paid, rarely  recognized, and allow others to benefit from their hard work. They are the ones who see the value in  giving over receiving and are often the catalyst for positive change in the world. I believe, if everyone had  the heart of a volunteer, giving a little back to the world around us every day would make our world a  much better place. We might even have a much happier society whereby just trying something new  through volunteering could develop new people skills, technical skills and overall life skills depending on  what the task is. Do you think volunteering and giving can really make that much of a difference?  The charitable organization 365 Give was started when a young mom wanted to teach her three year old  son to give back to the world every day so that he would grow up to be a healthy, happy, and  compassionate adult. Together each day they explored new ways to give back to their community. Soon  this practice of giving back to the community became a habit for her son eventually leading him to ask his  mom to share what they were doing with friends and family. The mom then blogged about their  experience and their audience grew beyond what they could have imagined. Soon they were hearing  stories from all over the world of those who were encouraged by this mother and son duo and the good  they were doing. Teachers began implementing the practice of giving in their classrooms by baking for  local firefighters. Some Businessmen even started buying lunches for the homeless individuals they  would encounter on their way to work. Their giving became contagious leading more and more into this  practice. But what helps motivate these people to give?
 
An amazing thing happens when we give. This is often referred to as the “Helper’s High”. The “Helper’s  High” is a term given to the process that occurs in the body when our endorphins are activated whereby a  euphoric rush is produced. Oxytocin levels increase in the body which can create a sense of love, trust,  optimism and a deep connection to the thing that is being done. Serotonin levels also increase in the body  which can lead to the feeling of happiness and a sense of calm while also encouraging healing in the  body. While all these “feel good” hormones are increasing the stress hormone cortisol decreases by more  than 20%. We really can be happier, healthier people by just giving back a little everyday and in whatever  creative way you see fit for yourself. 
 
I was fortunate to come from a home and family that valued giving and took the time to volunteer at the  local soup kitchen where I grew up. My mom started bringing me there when I was eight years old to peel  potatoes for the evening meal that was served to its patrons, and it felt like the potato peeling never ended.  We would then help serve the meals in the little Main Street soup kitchen that did not have enough space  to seat all the hungry people waiting outside for hours to come in and receive a hot meal. I was very  young when I realized there are a lot of people who would not get to eat a meal like this if it were not for  loving, caring people to reach out and meet their needs. From then on my family and I would volunteer at  the soup kitchen regularly. I would get my mom to take me back as much as possible until I was old  enough to go on my own. Through my experience volunteering I was able to build a community with the people I volunteered with regularly. I learned kitchen skills, people skills and built confidence interacting  with many different age groups from many different walks of life. 
 
As you might have already suspected, volunteering is very important to me and is very close to my heart,  so it is incredibly fulfilling getting the opportunity to be a part of a business that shares the same values as  mine. Good n’ Natural has made it their goal over the past year to get involved with South East Helping  Hands, donating food and staff time two days each month. There, we help with various tasks sorting and  distributing food to those in need here in Steinbach. As a team we have been able to see the hardships  people face in our community that we didn't know existed, but help be a part of the solution to the  problems happening in our own backyard. We have been able to interact with moms who are trying their  best to get food on their tables for their children and give them the best life possible with their limited  resources. We have met dads who come pick up food over their break from work so that they can provide  for their families. We have met people helping their shut-in neighbours collect groceries when they are  unable to go out and do so for themselves. Through their stories we have been able to see that life can  take a turn when you least expect it and we as a community need to be there for one another to get  through the hard times and help each other get back on our feet. We are a business in the community, but  we are working together with South East Helping Hands to empower the community and be the difference  we want to see. 
 
As I am writing this piece on volunteering and what that looks like for Good N’ Natural as well as myself,  a group of teenage boys walked past my house carrying garbage bags collecting trash in my  neighbourhood. Their simple act warms my heart and puts a smile on my face because they have decided  to take the time to make their community a better place. And as 365 Give challenges people to make  giving a habit, we at Good n’ Natural are challenging you as an individual or business to find ways to  volunteer or give back to your community. Not only is giving a good thing for our community, it will  benefit your health mentally and physically as well. It may be a week after National Volunteer Week but  the heart of a volunteer is always beating and looking for more opportunities to give. To all the hard  working givers and volunteers in our community who make so many things possible by impacting lives  everyday with their generosity, Good n’ Natural would like to say thank-you and encourage you to  continue being the unsung heroes that you are.  

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

All About Hormones: Part 5 – Natural Suggestions

As mentioned in previous articles, the key players of the endocrine system don’t work alone. When everything is working well, you should feel great as hormones are secreted in response to how much the body needs at any given time. However, a single hormone that is “off” can produce a series of “unideal” events. Toxic exposure, suboptimal nutrition, poor lifestyle habits (such as stress, lack of exercise) can create an imbalance and lead to unpleasant symptoms.

General Recommendations:

  • Minimize toxins in food, environments, body care and cleaning products (i.e. tobacco, xenoestrogens, heavy metals, chemicals).
  • Manage stress. Try relaxation and deep breathing techniques. Consider counselling and acupuncture.
  • Ensure good quality sleep.
  • Take part in regular, moderate exercise and stretching. Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Balance blood sugar levels. Consume quality protein, healthy fats and high-fibre ingredients at each meal. Eat regularly and don’t skip breakfast!
  • Avoid food sensitivities, artificial sweeteners, processed/refined/hydrogenated foods, sugars, alcohol, excess animal products or caffeine.
  • Eat a wholesome diet full of whole, natural, nutrient-rich foods (i.e. fresh produce, fatty fish, raw nuts & seeds, avocado, etc.) and drink plenty of water! Choose organic whenever possible J
  • Support digestion by eating slowly and chewing thoroughly in a relaxed state. Also, consider enzymes, HCL and gut repair nutrients (i.e. L-glutamine) if necessary.
  • Consider a cleansing program 2-3 times a year and ensure to prevent constipation.
  • Get yearly physical checkups and monitor hormone levels.
  • Take your daily “Prevention Pack” which includes a Multivitamin + Vitamin D3, essential Omega Fats (i.e. fish oils) and Probiotics. A multivitamin works as an “insurance policy” to cover any nutrients lacking in the diet while Vitamin D helps promote healthy hormone function (especially in those with diabetes and low thyroid!). Probiotics help normalize the gut bacteria balance in order to support digestion, immunity and mental health while preventing toxicity, inflammation and hormone imbalances. Note that they actually improve production and regulation of key hormones! Healthy fats also help to control inflammation, promote hormonal balance and act as building blocks for certain hormones. GLA from borage or evening primrose oil is especially beneficial for PMS cramps, PCOS, bone density, fertility and wrinkled skin after menopause. Omega 3’s from flax, algae and fish oils help support the heart, skin, joints, mood, brain, eyes, etc.
  • Target other health conditions and concerns, such as candida overgrowth if necessary.
  • Consider supplemental antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support in addition to a healthy diet.
  • Adequate protein is essential for building certain hormones, maintaining muscle mass, controlling appetite and blood sugar levels in addition to supporting the immune system. As a general rule, it is suggested that the average person consume roughly half of their ideal body weight (lbs.) in grams of protein per day.
  • Fibre helps to bind excess toxins, cholesterol and estrogen in order to remove it from the body. It also slows down absorption of sugars in the blood stream to help support balanced glucose levels and supports weight control and bowel regularity.

Condition Specific Supplements:

  • Adrenal Support -> Take Adaptogens. These are ingredients that assist the body in adapting to and coping with stress by supporting the adrenal glands. They have a normalizing effect, helping the body maintain a constant internal state and support immunity, fight fatigue, improve mental ability, increase resistance to and counteract the negative physical and emotional effects of stress. Examples include Ginseng, Suma, Rhodiola, Ashwaghanda, Schizandra, Holy Basil, Medicinal Mushrooms (i.e. Reishi, Cordyceps). In addition, note that Vitamins B, C and Magnesium are depleted by the stress response and essential for healthy adrenal function. For additional support in stress management, look for calming herbs such as valerian, passionflower, lemon balm, hops, skullcap, kava kava, chamomile and lavender. Also, L-theanine or GABA are great for fast-acting stress relief and mental calmness. 
  • Estrogen Dominance/Andropause -> Certain ingredients are used to maintain a healthy sex hormone ratio, help the body break down harmful estrogens to non-toxic forms, detoxify excess estrogens in the liver and protect against the effects of estrogen dominance. These consist of Indole-3-Carbinol, Calcium D Glucarate, Sulforaphane, Curcumin, DIM, etc. Additional natural recommendations may be made for those suffering from specific issues such as PCOS, menstrual pain, endometriosis, cysts, infertility, etc.
  • Menopause -> In addition to supporting the adrenal glands and promoting healthy estrogen levels, certain ingredients can help target menopausal symptoms. These include black cohosh, vitex/chasteberry, dong quai, sage, siberian rhubarb and elk velvet antler. Consider extra support for healthy bones, libido, mood, sleep and skin health if necessary. Key nutrients during this time are magnesium, B-complex, Vitamin D.
  • Thyroid -> Certain ingredients may help increase the production of thyroid hormones or support the conversion of T4 to T3. These include L-Tyrosine, Guggal Extract, Iodine, Selenium, Ashwaghanda, Myrrh and Vitamin D3. In addition, choose to steam goitrogenic foods such as cruciferous veggies and consume in moderation.
  • Enlarged Prostate -> Certain ingredients will help inhibit inflammation in the prostate, improve symptoms of BPH, increase bladder function and help block the harmful conversion of testosterone to DHT. These include pygeum bark, rye flower pollen, saw palmetto, plant sterols (beta sitosterol), pumpkin seed oil and zinc.
  • Diabetes -> Ingredients that help support insulin function include berberine, bitter melon, chirositol, garlic and cinnamon! Note that diabetics have higher requirements of chromium and vanadium, magnesium, B-vitamins, Zinc, and Vitamin E.

This concludes our “All About Hormones” series. If you have any questions or concerns about your hormone health, consult a health care professional for testing and suggestions. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor about hormone analysis, acupuncture and natural supplement options!

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

All About Hormones: Part 4 – Hormone Conditions

In previous articles, we have discussed key players in hormone health, specific hormones and their functions, as well as hormone connections and interactions. In Part 4, we take a closer look at some of the most common hormonal complaints.

ADRENAL FATIGUE: Stress is not meant to be a bad thing as it serves a basic survival function. Hormone fluctuations are part of a natural stress response and are meant to eventually fall back to normal and recover once the stressor is removed in temporary situations and healthy people. However when stressors and/or the inability to manage them overload our bodies, symptoms and disease can occur. Adrenals respond to stress of any kind, whether psychological, physical, chemical, or environmental. Living in a constant state of chronic stress depletes nutrients and as the body continues to release cortisol, sustained elevated levels can lead to taxed adrenal glands and related health problems such as blood sugar concerns, fat accumulation, compromised immunity, infertility, fatigue, bone and muscle loss, poor memory and heart disease. Eventually, the adrenal glands may wear out completely and no longer be able to produce even normal levels of cortisol. This is known as “adrenal exhaustion”. Remember, your ability to adapt to stressors depends on optimal function of the adrenal glands and cortisol regulation!

ESTROGEN DOMINANCE: This condition is characterized by an imbalance of unopposed estrogen to progesterone ratio. This may be due to either excess estrogen, or low progesterone levels in the body. Potential underlying factors include an overloaded liver, excess fat, stress and insomnia, poor gut health, inactivity, underactive thyroid, blood sugar imbalances or overexposure to xenoestrogens (estrogen mimickers) in food, environment and products. Estrogen dominant-linked conditions include polycystic ovary syndrome/PCOS (also associated with excess insulin and male hormones), breast cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, infertility and PMS (tender breasts, bloating, cravings, migraines, mood swings, and terrible periods).

MENOPAUSE: Menopause is defined as one year without menstrual periods when a women stops ovulating and fertility ends. However, not all women experience menopause symptoms! In natural menopause, ovaries gradually slow down production of estrogen & progesterone and adrenal glands (along with uterus & fat cells) begin to take over with minimal symptoms. Once estrogen has dropped to a certain point/baseline level, the menstrual cycle stops and menopause is reached. However, during perimenopause (10-15 years before menopause while the body prepares itself for the transition), hormones may begin to fluctuate unpredictably and surge, becoming imbalanced and leading to multiple symptoms. Factors that complicate this transition include weak adrenal glands, sluggish liver, poor gut health, nutrient deficiencies or underactive thyroid.

ANDROPAUSE: This is also known as “male menopause” and is characterized by a specific set of symptoms that appear in some men as they age. It is said that on average, men experience a 10% decline in testosterone each decade after the age of 30, unless it is acknowledged and properly addressed. As men age, their estrogen levels rise and their testosterone drops as the conversion of testosterone to estrogen increases (due to the aromatase enzyme in fat cells). These hormonal changes can lead to multiple signs and symptoms such as a decline in muscle mass, lower metabolism, body fat accumulation and “man boobs”, moodiness and anxiety, low energy, memory problems, diminished sex drive and dysfunction, hair loss and increased risk of heart complication and diabetes. High estrogen levels are closely linked to excess belly fat, which is linked to higher activity of an enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme breaks down testosterone into estrogen, in turn, leading to a vicious cycle.

ENLARGED PROSTATE (BPH): Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is gradual prostate enlargement and very common in men over 40. It is caused by an increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a testosterone by-product (by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase), which stimulates an overproduction of prostate cells leading to enlargement. Due to pressure on the urethra, affected men often have difficulty emptying the bladder, leading to infections. Other symptoms include frequent need to urinate at night and painful urination. Due to the fact that the prostate gland impacts both urinary and sexual function, erectile dysfunction can also be a sign of enlarged prostate. Interestingly, DHT production is also associated with male pattern baldness! Underlying risk factors include hormonal changes due to age, nutritional deficiencies, toxic overload, chronic stress and exposure to xeno estrogen/estrogen mimickers in food, environment and products (i.e. plastics, pesticides).

HYPOTHYROIDISM: Underactive thyroid is due to a decreased production of thyroid hormones or poor conversion of thyroid hormones (T4 to T3). This leads to a slowed metabolism, weak immunity, impaired liver function, constipation, brain fog, etc. Common underlying factors include nutrient deficiencies (especially tyrosine, iodine, selenium), poor gut health, chronic inflammation, candida overgrowth, estrogen dominance, blood sugar imbalances, stress, an overburdened liver or environmental toxicity! According to women’s health expert, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, “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.

DIABETES: Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body does not produce enough insulin, or does not properly use insulin. In Type II diabetes, there is enough insulin produced, but the body does not allow the insulin to bring glucose into cells. When blood sugar/glucose levels rise and stay high, the pancreas produces excess insulin to move it into cells. When excess insulin is present over a long period, cells start to become accustomed to having so much of it around. Our pancreas must increase production to maintain a normal blood sugar level and eventually enlarges and becomes impaired. This decrease in insulin sensitivity is called “insulin resistance”. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels can cause damage to brain, nerves, eyes, kidneys, gut and blood vessels, among others. Common causes and triggers include obesity, poor diet (high refined foods/sugars and low in fibre), caffeine/alcohol intake, dehydration, physical inactivity, chronic inflammation, poor gut health, stress/insomnia, nutrient deficiencies (i.e. B vitamins/chromium), irregular eating habits, overloaded liver and toxin exposure. Did you know that insulin resistance is the main feature of Alzheimer’s disease? It is known as Type 3 Diabetes!

LEPTIN RESISTANCE: Those with excess fat cells produce a great deal of leptin (appetite suppressant). Unfortunately, in the case of leptin resistance, the brain is not able to understand these signals and may actually think it’s hungry as the leptin “message” is not getting through. People will naturally tend to eat more as a result, gaining more weight and creating a vicious cycle. This is similar to how insulin resistance works and both problems commonly occur in obese individuals.

In Part 5, we will look into natural suggestions to support hormonal balance and optimal health!

  • This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach –

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About Good n’ Natural

Good n Natural

Good n’ Natural started as a small-family owned business in 1994. Our team has grown and diversified to include Certified Natural Product Advisers, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and a part-time Naturopathic Doctor. Our mission is to educate, inspire, and empower our customers to pursue a healthy lifestyle in order to achieve their wellness goals and in turn build a stronger community.

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