Grass isn’t just for cows!

When people talk about “green foods”, most people automatically think of spinach or kale. Others might lean more towards the idea of sea vegetables, such as spirulina or chlorella. However, did you know that prairie grasses fall into this superfood category as well? They have a nutrient profile similar to dark leafy vegetables and are also considered alkalizing, nutrient-rich, complete whole foods!

So what is a prairie grass exactly? Holistic pharmacist, Rosemarie Pierce explains that they are the young green plant stages of cereal grasses. Therefore, they are not a grain as the plant has not yet matured. Examples include barley grass, wheat grass, alfalfa and oat grass.

Rosemarie adds that prairie grasses contain important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, amino acids, certain enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants and fibre! These ingredients help to protect cells from free radical damage, neutralize toxins, deodorize bad breathe and gas, correct nutritional deficiencies, support immunity, help repair the digestive tract and provide sustained energy while mineralizing and alkalizing the body.

Therefore, prairie grasses are ideal for anyone with respiratory conditions, cold and flus, anemia, skin disorders, digestive issues or just looking to improve overall health. They work to detoxify, support immunity, improve digestion, alkalize and boost energy and stamina!

Let’s look at some of these ingredients in detail:

 

ENERGIZING: Wheat Grass

This is an exceptional, alkalizing super food that can be used daily to provide key nutrients. Wheat grass contains antioxidants (such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin), fibre, Vitamins C, K, A, E and B vitamins (including folic acid and biotin), as well as minerals like calcium, iron, selenium, manganese, potassium and zinc. It contains 20 amino acids and has roughly 30% protein and 30% fibre. Wheat grass has been said to support bowel health and may help to reduce colitis. Due to its high levels of chlorophyll (green pigment), it is known as a potent detoxifier and powerful energizer. It gently cleanses the liver and blood while supporting metabolism and thyroid function. Wheat grass provides easy nutrition that can be used as an energy boosting substitute for stimulants like coffee.

 

ANTI-AGING: Barley Grass

This is the young, green version of the barley grain. Containing even more nutrients than wheatgrass, it is loaded with 20 amino acids and phytonutrients such as beta-carotene and chlorophyll. Barley grass has antioxidant, anti-aging, energizing, mineralizing, cleansing and anti-cholesterol properties. Since barley grass is associated with an alkaline effect on the body, it can help counter acidic foods and optimize pH balance. It has also been used to reduce pain and inflammation. It is high in vitamins A, C, K, and B-vitamins in addition to zinc, potassium, manganese, calcium and iron. Barley grass has approximately 30% protein and 40% fibre. It also contains the SOD (superoxide dismutase) enzyme, which converts hydrogen peroxide into oxygen, helping to reduce inflammation and prevent the physical signs of aging.

 

BRAIN HEALTH: Oat Grass

Oat grass is used to help cleanse major organs and has up to 30% protein as amino acids. It is rich in chlorophyll and loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B5 and potassium. It also provides fibre, the SOD enzyme and lecithin. Lecithin is an essential fat and good source of choline, which supports the brain, nerve function and liver health. It is a building block of brain cell membranes and a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in both memory and cognitive function. Oat grass is said to help nourish and strengthen the nervous system.

 

LIVER SUPPORT: Alfalfa

Alfalfa is high in various antioxidants, protein, as well as exceptionally rich in chlorophyll. It is a source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, silicon, and other trace minerals as well as a broad range of vitamins. It has deep roots that can extract nutrients from the soil. In fact, all parts of this plant can be used for their health benefits. Alfalfa contains 8 essential amino acids. It is known to be a nutritive tonic due to its rich nutrient content and has been used in cases of malnutrition, stomach problems (i.e. indigestion), constipation and prolonged illness. Alfalfa also contains specific phytonutrients that may support hormone-balancing and has been used by women to reduce menopausal symptoms. Some sources also suggest it may help reduce cholesterol levels. A potent ingredient for liver support, it alkalizes and detoxifies the body in addition to protecting cells with its antioxidant capabilities. Alfalfa also acts as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal.

 

Look for organic, fermented ingredients for enhanced bioavailability. The fermentation process unlocks nutrients held inside plant fibre walls and promotes the production of friendly gut microbes.  Prairie grasses in the form of an instant, ready-to-use powder makes for an easy addition to smoothies, dressings, sauces and home-made snack bars!

 

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

The Power of Plants

In his book, “Healthy at 100”, John Robbins explores the scientifically proven secrets of the world’s healthiest and long-lived populations. He describes the characteristics of various indigenous peoples who are famous for their longevity and health.

These societies contain the world’s healthiest documented elders, longest recorded life expectancies and highest concentrations of centenarians (people above the age of 100). The majority are physically fit, mentally healthy and outgoing. Within these populations rates of heart problems, diabetes, dementia or cancer are extremely low or non-existent. In addition, most have their own teeth and reports of fractures, poor hearing and bad eyesight are rare.

What makes these cultures so different? Robbins points out a few common lifestyle factors:

 

  • Large Amounts of Physical Activity. Exercise is built into everyday life routines. This includes mostly walking through rugged terrain and working hard at daily work.
  • Lack of Emotional Stress. These people live at a relaxed, simple pace that aligns with the rhythms of nature. They also enjoy peaceful quality sleep.
  • Respect for the Aged. People’s status increases with age and they receive more privileges as years pass. Wisdom is admired and the process of aging is cherished.
  • Celebration is Part of Life. Music, singing, laughter and dancing are common. They maintain a positive attitude, sense of humour and gratitude with only few possessions.
  • Community-Minded. These cultures are highly relational and have a strong sense of interdependence. They find joy and purpose in being together and loving each other.
  • Plant-Based Diet. Their focus is primarily on plant-based, natural, whole foods.

 

As each group has developed unique dietary patterns based on their surroundings and what they have to work with, there are some overall common themes that have been discovered.

  • They generally have a very high vegetable intake, usually eaten raw or lightly steamed. These include both leafy greens and root vegetables. They also cultivate herbs.
  • Fruit is enjoyed either fresh or dried and in moderation, as a snack or dessert.
  • They get the majority of their protein intake from unrefined complex carbohydrates such as whole grains (i.e. wheat, millet, buckwheat, barley, quinoa), nuts and seeds, and legumes (beans, lentils and peas), which may be soaked and allowed to sprout.
  • Nuts, avocadoes, coconut, seeds and fish are the primary sources of fat intake, depending on the culture and what is available to them.
  • The emphasis is on foods that are grown locally and consumed in season as much as possible, for peak nutritional value and freshness.
  • These diets contain no refined, processed or artificial ingredients. Ingredients are generally consumed in their original form without modification, additives (i.e. sugar or salt) or substitutions. Their focus is on food from the earth and not boxes or cans.
  • These people generally eat very little (less than 2000 calories per day). They are able to get their daily requirements from less food, as they choose nutrient-dense ingredients. They don’t count calories, but instead make every calorie count! They are also careful not to overeat and generally stop when they are 80% full.
  • Meals are often enjoyed together as a social event, eaten slowly and chewed well.
  • Every diet contains at least some measure of animal food, usually enjoyed occasionally and always coming from healthy animals. Depending on the group observed, this could include wild game, eggs or fish. Others with farmland may consume meat or raw, fermented dairy from pastured cows, goats or sheep.
  • Organic farming is practiced, as no chemicals or synthetic ingredients are used on their land. A great deal of effort and thought is put into its preservation and enhancement. There is an emphasis on resourcefulness and sustainability. Soil health is incredibly important and is therefore highly mineralized.

 

Due to the fact that our lifestyles and circumstances here in North America may not necessarily resemble those of these cultures, it is difficult to directly compare ourselves and ways of life. However, it is interesting to note the prevalence of plant-based foods in these diets as well as the overwhelming reports of good health and longevity. Regardless of dietary style, many agree that increasing the amount of plant based foods in the diet can lead to positive health benefits as these ingredients are rich in minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, among others. Various professionals who advocate plant-based diets will aim for different ratios of plant to animal-based food. In the end, each person needs to find what works best for them and fits their unique needs. However, if increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your diet is of interest, here are a few tips and precautions.

It is of utmost importance to consume high quality sources in order to attain proper nutrition for each calorie. When choosing ingredients, look for organic, whole foods grown in good soil. Also, aim to sprout, soak and ferment plant foods as much as possible in order to increase nutritional status and reduce “anti-nutrients” that may hinder digestion. When consuming animal products, look for free-range, wild, grass-fed and pasture-raised sources.

Ensure that you are receiving adequate protein and amino acids from your food intake. Do this by combining and rotating a variety of whole grains, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, sea vegetables, beans and legumes in adequate portions throughout the day. Depending on the amount of animal products consumed and other digestive factors, potential deficiencies include Vitamin B12, Omega-3, iron, zinc and calcium, as these may be predominantly found in large amounts from animal foods. Regardless of dietary style, consider natural supplementation if you are not getting adequate amounts from food or due to malabsorption.

Some of the best plant ingredients include spirulina, quinoa, black beans, hemp seeds, almonds, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds and avocado. If you are unsure where to start smoothies, salads, soups and powerbowl recipes are easy, versatile and tasty options! For quick and nutrient-packed options, consider grab-and-go plant-based protein powders and bars.

 

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

Making Sense of “Healthy Living”

In this day and age, we are presented with an overwhelming amount of conflicting evidence regarding what types of & how much when it comes to matters of “healthy living”. I don’t know about you, but it has most definitely caused me stress in trying to figure it all out. For example, various medical experts, professionals and athletes have voiced their opinions on optimal dietary patterns, fitness regimes and healthy living tips. Unfortunately, sometimes these opinions conflict in some way, shape or form. So how do we know what is the “right” answer?

In my opinion, there is no “standard” equation or “one size fits all” solution for everyone, and after a long personal journey of extreme ups and downs, I have learned that’s ok! We are all so unique and research is constantly changing and evolving, so all we can do is use our common sense and do the best we can, wherever we are, with whatever resources we have…then let it go. A wise mentor once told me that the stress of trying to figure it all out and be perfect will kill me before making a “less than ideal” healthy living choice every so often will. This has helped me achieve proper perspective.  

Instead of focusing on rigid numbers, rules and targets, I personally try to apply key common sense principles when structuring my own “healthy habits” in order to make them a permanent lifestyle. These can apply to all areas of healthy living (i.e. nutrition, fitness, mental health).

 

  1. BALANCE & ADAPTABILITY (Stay in control while allowing for exceptions)

Balance – Be realistic by avoiding extreme behaviors. Try to use the old “80/20” rule and make optimal choices 80% of the time while learning to relax and enjoy the 20% when you don’t!

Adaptability – Aim to make the best choices possible in special circumstances that require you to exceed your regular range of healthy balance (i.e. vacations).

Nutrition Tip: I know and believe that organic, whole, natural foods are best for me. Therefore, I choose to prioritize these ingredients and invest in my health. However, I still purchase and consume “less healthy” items once in a while for certain events and occasions.

 

  1. VARIETY & ENJOYMENT (Change it up & making it fun)

Variety – Use rotation to ensure you meet all of your needs from a diverse range of sources.

Enjoyment – Find what works for you to increase the chances that behaviors stick long term.  

Nutrition Tip: Get creative and make different varieties of smoothies, salads, soups, stir-fries or power bowls with a range of ingredients in balanced combinations!

 

  1. MODERATION & ADEQUACY (Find a healthy minimum to maximum range)

Moderation – Ensure that you don’t get too much of anything in order to leave room for others.

Adequacy – Guarantee that you get enough of the essentials your body needs to thrive.

Nutrition Tip: Aim for adequate amounts of the essentials and moderate amounts of the extras! However, while moderation is an obvious concept when it comes to less nutritious foods, too much of a good thing can be a problem too!     

 

  1. MINDFULNESS & INDIVIDUALITY (Tune into your body and accept yourself)

Mindfulness – Stop and listen to your body. Be aware of what it is saying, and trust it to guide you! Pay attention to your mood, energy, cognitive ability, discomfort, satiety and cravings, etc.

Individuality –No two people are the same. Accept and embrace your unique needs.

Nutrition Tip: I believe we all operate best on personalized diets and that we may each thrive on various amounts of certain nutrients, meal timing and combinations based on individual factors.

 

  1. QUALITY & SIMPLICITY (Don’t make it complicated! Less is more when you do it right)

Quality –When you choose quality, quantity naturally falls into place.

Simplicity - Keep things simple and learn to be efficient with fewer things.

Nutrition Tip: When in doubt, choose ingredients as close to their original, natural, whole form as possible without additions, subtractions or modifications and prepare them using traditional methods to optimize nutrition and digestibility. It is very possible to make a delicious, easy and nutritious meal out of a few simple, high quality ingredients.

 

  1. CONSISTENCY & PERSISTENCE (Fake it until you make it and never look back)

Consistency – Intentionally repeat behaviours the majority of the time until you have created actual habits that become permanent and natural.

Persistence – Focus on the future with optimism and motivation, not dwelling on the past.

Nutrition Tip: Having a complete, balanced breakfast supports energy levels, mental focus, mood control and weight management. If you tend to skip this meal, start slowly by committing to something light every morning (i.e. protein smoothie) until breakfast becomes a habit.

 

  1. PLANNING & MODIFICATION (Set yourself up for success & adjust as needed)

Planning –Avoid failure and preventing relapse by pre-establishing loose guidelines and schedules.  Be pro-active and prepared in areas of weakness!

Modification –Acknowledge that we all go through seasons and no plan or pattern is set in stone. We must consistently re-evaluate and change our patterns accordingly.

Nutrition Tip: Note that temporary exceptions are sometimes made for those in need of strategies for specific therapeutic purposes or life stages.  For example, those on elimination, Candida or ketogenic protocols may need to cut out certain ingredients that are otherwise healthy for a short while as part of treatment before slowly re-incorporating them into the diet.  

 

  1. PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE, PERSPECTIVE! (It’s all in how you see it)

Perspective –Emphasize what you are adding to your life instead of what you are cutting out!

Studying in the field of holistic nutrition is highly rewarding as it allows one to look at each person’s unique biology, history and lifestyle in deciding which diet and lifestyle patterns work best for them.  If we look at the big picture, what really matters is that there is an overall shift towards a higher quality of life and becoming the best possible version of ourselves.  

 

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

Got the Faspa Farts?

To put it as maturely as possible, gas is what happens when air is released from either the mouth or rectum. This can be uncomfortable and embarrassing when it is excessive or smelly. Bloating occurs when gas fills the abdomen and this area appears distended (a.k.a “a food baby”).


Gas can be made up of different elements and may be produced in different ways. Often it is from people swallowing an excessive amount of air (whether from talking too much while eating, eating too quickly, or drinking carbonated beverages) which can create an odourless rectal gas or gas in the upper stomach which causes belching. Gas can also be caused by poor digestion, which leads to bacterial fermentation. This gas gives off a foul odour, similar to that of rotten eggs.


Suggestions


It is important to chew food well while eating slowly and in a relaxed state. It is also advised to avoid drinking with meals and eliminate carbonated beverages. In addition, consider natural supplementation this holiday season to help relieve the discomfort of gas and bloating after consuming a large meal or certain foods that are harder to digest.


The Essentials
Digestive enzymes help break down foods into substances we can absorb. Consult a natural product advisor to determine which enzyme formula is best suited for you in order to support proper digestion. In addition, probiotics are highly recommend as they play a role in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. They are used to balance out the “bad bacteria” that are the culprits behind the fermentation of undigested food and also help produce enzymes.


Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has been used for general detoxification and intestinal disorders. As a digestive aid, it can bind many unwanted substances in the gastro-intestinal tract such as toxins and gases. Therefore, it can be used for internal problems such as diarrhea, unpleasant smelling and excessive flatulence, waste and toxin removal from the gut, food poisoning management, intestinal infection reduction, yeast die-off symptom relief and neutralizing excess stomach acid for ulcer and reflux problems!

Therefore, those looking for general digestive cleansing and intestinal support, eating out or presented with questionable food, struggling with gas with bloating and cramps, exposed to moldy food or experiencing food/alcohol poisoning, suffering from bad breath or occasional acid reflux can benefit from internal activated charcoal supplementation.

Activated charcoal is most effective when it comes from a high quality source. When derived from pure coconut shells it has superior power. Look for a product that has been manufactured for ultra-purity and excellent pore volume.

 

Carminative Herbs

Carminative herbs have antispasmodic activity that are used to alleviate cramps in the digestive tract and ease flatulence. These are good at soothing the stomach and fighting inflammation, reducing excess gas and bloating, stimulating peristalsis of the digestive tract and fighting yeast and bacteria such as H. Pylori. A few examples include fennel, anise and caraway seed. These aromatic herbs are well known spices that have been used to help with conditions such as gastritis, ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, in addition to helping dissolve mucous in the upper respiratory tract.

Ginger acts as a both a bitter and carminative herb meaning it helps to both stimulate digestion and relieve flatulence. It helps relieve digestive upset including lack of appetite, digestive spasms, indigestion, dyspepsia and gas or flatulent colic. Ginger is also a mild anti-inflammatory, improves the tone of intestinal muscles and may protect the stomach from the damaging effect of alcohol and certain drugs. Ginger is an effective treatment for those struggling with nausea, dizziness and vomiting whether it be from motion sickness or seasickness, throughout pregnancy or following surgery.

 

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

Gift Ideas For The Health Enthusiast

Running out of ideas this holiday season? Try a “themed” gift to fit the personality of the loved one on your list!

 

THE AROMATHERAPY ADDICT -> Create a stunning package with a variety of essential and carrier oils, a diffuser and aromatherapy jewellery. Bonus: If they are creative, you could also include extra ingredients such as citric acid, shea or cocoa butter, bentonite clay, activated charcoal or Epsom salt along with mixing bottles to make their own lotion bars, bath bombs, body scrub or butter, face masks, vapor disks, etc.

 

THE DETERMINED “D.I.Y-ER” -> Prepare dry recipe mixes (i.e. soups, cookies, hot drink mix, granola) in mason jars with recipe containing wet ingredient guidelines and preparation instructions (if you want to be extra generous, you can include jars of the wet ingredients too!) Also, for those who love to make things from scratch, consider starter kits for an indoor herb garden, sprouting, yogurt, kefir, sourdough, kombucha, cheese and cultured vegetables. BONUS: For a bigger gift, consider D.I.Y items such as a bread or yogurt maker, nut milk making machine or grain mill.

 

THE SENSATIONAL SNACKER -> Put together a basket of unique healthy ingredients like roasted chickpeas, kale chips, baobab fruit bites, toasted coconut chips, hemp bites, extra dark chocolate, xylitol-based mints and gum, fruit or nut trays, clean energy bars, organic mandarins, healthy trail mix or granola. BONUS: Go even further and make it a flavor theme such as sweet and salty, coconut crazy, or of course, “chocoholic”!

 

THE STRESSED OUT SALLY -> Include a variety of calming, organic herbal teas (try chamomile) with a nice mug, tea infuser and either some cane sugar or local raw honey as a sweetener. Add in some natural bath salts, heat bag, a Himalayan salt lamp, natural massage oils and/or candles. BONUS: Throw in something warm like a cozy blanket, socks or slippers along with an adult coloring book or Sudoku and crossword puzzles. Better yet, top it off with a gift certificate to a high-end spa for some pampering.

 

THE FOODIE FRIEND -> This person might love a healthy cookbook, apron or gift certificate for a cooking class. Add in some kitchen essentials like a blender, popcorn maker, slow cooker, low-oil fryer, steamer, dehydrator, processor, juicer, fondue set, frozen yogurt maker, rice cooker, spice rack & non-irradiated spices or smaller items such as miniature graters, garlic press, avocado saver, pizza stone, rolling pin, cutting boards, high quality knife, food scale, kitchen scissors, food thermometer, peelers, extra virgin olive oil and vinegar set, etc. Bonus: If they enjoy eating out, try a gift certificate to a healthy local restaurant.

 

THE FITNESS FAN -> Combine workout clothing (socks, pants, sweater, toque, hat, running shoes or special circulation clothing) and/or gear (gym bag, yoga mat, fitness monitor, foam roller, headphones, towel) and/or equipment (boxing gloves, hula hoop, resistance bands, medicine balls, hand weights, jump rope) with a gym membership, exercise videos/games or personal training/fitness class sessions. For the outdoor lover, try rollerblades, a bicycle, or hiking gear. Bonus: If you have a larger price tag to fill, consider a body composition analysis scale or investing in various exercise machines.

 

THE BUSY BODY -> For the person who runs all day long, combine organic fair-trade coffee beans, green (matcha) or black teas with a good quality to-go mug. Add in a bit of dark chocolate to make it sweet or MCT oil for the “bulletproof coffee” fan. For the breakfast skipper, incorporate some protein powder or bars with to-go blender or shaker cup. Bonus: Make their life easier by throwing in an organization journal (calendar, agenda, to-do/to-buy lists, meal planning guide), glass fruit-infuser water bottle, travel bag or stainless steel containers, water bottle, drinking straw, etc.

 

THE GLAMOROUS GAL -> Choose natural cosmetics and beauty products such as masks, lotions, nail polish, perfume, body wash and soaps along with various extras like konjac sponges, eco-friendly beauty tools and makeup bags. Bonus: For the fashionista, add some unique pieces of jewellery or comfortable bamboo clothing.

 

THE TRAVELLING TOURIST -> Create a healthy travel kit for the vacationer in your life with biodegradable sunscreen, water purifying ingredients, all-purpose skin gel, lip balm, antimicrobial throat spray, melatonin and digestive enzymes. Bonus: Complete with larger items such as a travel journal and map, sunglasses, beach towel or camera!

 

When all else fails, any health enthusiast would appreciate a gift certificate to their favorite health food store so they can ask some questions, gather information and choose whatever they would like best!

 

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

Keep Calm and Carry On

Easier said than done, right? Medically defined, anxiety is “an unpleasant emotional state ranging from mild unease to intense fear.”  This fear does not always stem from a clear or realistic cause. Anxiety can be chronic or acute in the form of panic attacks. Anxiety comes in a variety of types and is classified based on symptoms. These include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. Characterized by chronic anxiety, excessive worry, overwhelm, inability to relax and tension without emotional or social cause.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder. Constant recurring, unwanted thoughts and/or behaviors.
  • Panic Disorder. Characterized by feelings of terror/panic that can occur unexpectedly and are accompanied by physical symptoms such as nausea, sweating and racing heart.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Develops after a negative event or chronic negative scenarios. Patients are in a continuous state of “fight or flight”, making them “jumpy”.
  • Social Anxiety. Characterized by excessive fear, heightened anxiety and self-consciousness in social situations. Patients have a phobia of being watched and judged by others.

Potential Causes:

  • GABA Deficiency -> The amino acid glutamine is converted into glutamate (a stimulating chemical), which is then converted into GABA (a relaxing chemical). GABA and glutamate have a complex relationship and are both important in the right amounts, therefore the goal is to achieve a balance between the two. GABA inhibits excitatory impulses in the brain and low levels have been associated with restlessness, anxiety, insomnia and poor mood. Excess glutamate levels are excitatory and can cause intense anxiety. High levels of glutamate are associated with accumulation of fatty toxins in the brain. In addition, glutamate receptors can pull in other excitatory substances such as aspartame or MSG which also result in excess stimulation. Too much calcium in the body can also contribute to imbalances. Magnesium competes with calcium and helps to reduce electrical activity in the brain.
  • Serotonin Deficiency -> The amino acid tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP in the small intestine, which is then converted to serotonin in the brain. This brain chemical is often referred to as our “happy hormone” which influences our emotional state, appetite and cravings, sleep habits and even our pain tolerance. Serotonin enhances GABA’s ability to activate brain receptors and is needed in order for GABA to work properly.
  • Lactic Acid Excess -> When the body lacks oxygen, lactate is the final product in the breakdown of blood sugar. Elevated levels of lactic acid in the blood are also a factor in anxiety.

Common underlying behaviors and factors that can disrupt function, impair conversion or negatively affect production of brain chemicals include:

  • Excessive caffeine and/or alcohol intake. Diet high in refined/processed foods, trans fats, sugars, artificial sweeteners/flavoring/colorings. Food sensitivities (be especially aware of gluten and casein). Nutrient deficiencies (esp. B-vitamins and magnesium).
  • Chronic stress, multitasking or inadequate sleep.
  • Imbalanced blood sugar levels and hormone irregularities (i.e. thyroid or sex hormones).
  • Toxin accumulation (pesticides, herbicides, pollution, heavy metals, chemicals) in food, environment, common cleaning or personal care products. Plus, electromagnetic frequencies from computers, cell phones, microwaves, televisions, Wi-Fi, etc.
  • Candida overgrowth, imbalanced gut bacteria, leaky gut and chronic inflammation.

Supplement Suggestions:

  • Multivitamin-> Consistently taking a high-quality multivitamin/mineral + D3 is essential.
  • B-Complex -> Vital for the synthesis of brain chemicals to support mood, nerves, sleep.
  • Magnesium -> Deficiency has been associated with symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, fear, insomnia, confusion, and memory loss. Use a bisglycinate form!
  • Adaptogens -> Increase resistance to physical or biological stressors, improve mental and physical performance as well as prevent the negative effects of while enhancing the body’s response to stress. Ashwaghanda, Ginseng, Holy Basil help in reducing anxiety.
  • Probiotics -> Our brains and digestive system communicate! Probiotics secrete neurotransmitters that are absorbed into the bloodstream and can influence our central nervous system. Lactobacillus helveticus, rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium longum have shown anxiety-lowering and mood modulating effects.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (High EPA) -> Researchers have linked low levels to depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, and other psychological disorders.
  • Calming Herbs -> Passionflower, Valerian, Chamomile and Kava may help relieve anxiety, nervousness and tension.
  • 5-HTP -> A precursor to serotonin. Serotonin deficiency contributes to weight gain, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and panic attacks as well as cravings and overeating.
  • GABA -> Promotes a shift in brain wave patterns that promote a relaxed, yet alert state while decreasing nervousness, scattered thoughts and hyperactivity. GABA works in a similar, but more powerful way when compared to L-Theanine (about 2.5x stronger).

Other Suggestions:

  • Avoid known triggers. Test and seek to balance hormones if necessary.
  • Manage stress and sleep with lifestyle changes and natural supplementation. Try meditation, deep breathing, massage, or journaling. Seek positive social support.
  • Regular, moderate physical exercise has been known to reduce anxiety.
  • Try aromatherapy blends with Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, Geranium and Lime.
  • Choose whole, natural, organic foods and eat consistent, balanced meals with adequate fibre, protein and healthy fats.
  • Chew well and eat in a relaxed state. Consider digestive enzymes (& HCl) if necessary!

 

Anxiety can be caused by both physical and psychological factors. Therefore, a variety of compatible treatment options and professional health services should be considered.

 

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

Pesky Parasites

What are They?

A parasite is essentially an organism that lives off another organism.  Those that live in the human body feed off of cells, digested food, and supplements.

They steal our nutrients to grow and leave wastes in our body.  These toxic wastes then poison the body and force the organs of elimination to work overtime, stressing the liver, slowing detoxification and weakening immunity. Infected individuals are capable of infecting others, even if symptoms are not present. Pregnant mothers can also pass on parasites to their children in utero. Note that you are not only at risk of being infected with parasites if you travel to tropical climates. Certain parasites can and do occur in Canada.

There are more than 3000 various types of parasites. Common categories include Cestodes (i.e. tapeworms), Nematodes (i.e. roundworms), Protozoa or Trematodes (i.e. flukes). Each differing in size and where they reside in the body.

 

Risk Factors

Parasites are everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes.  No one is immune to infestation. Everyone is exposed to some degree, though not everyone will suffer equally.  However, certain factors increase the risk that parasites will stay in the body and wreak havoc rather than passing through harmlessly. These include weak immune system, poor diet and digestion, nutrient deficiencies, constipation, toxicity and travel habits.  Parasites can enter the body through the mouth, nose and skin. Common sources include:

  • Contaminated produce
  • Barefoot contact with sand or soil
  • Raw or rare meat
  • Pets or Mosquitos
  • Contact with Feces (i.e. diaper changes, animal excrement)
  • Contact with Infected Person
  • Polluted Water (drinking or in swimming water)

 

Symptoms?

It is estimated that 8/10 people have parasites, even though not all may experience symptoms.  Parasites can mimic other disorders and/or produce no noticeable symptoms.  Certain indicators are:

Diarrhea or constipation, IBS, gas/bloating/cramping, fatigue, joint pain, teeth grinding, rectal itching, changes in appetite, skin problems, irritability and nervousness.

Parasites can affect tissue anywhere in the body.  As they can get into the blood and travel to any organ, parasites can cause problems that are not always obviously related to their presence.  Over time, an infection can cause leaky gut associated with malabsorption (especially B12), inflammation, and allergies as well as suppressed immune system.

Remember parasites thrive on diets high in sugar, refined/processed foods and constipation. They feed off of waste that has putrefied in the intestines. Healthy immune and digestive systems can neutralize and eliminate parasites introduced into the body, however, if these are weak, they can flourish.

 

Suggestions?

 

  • Do a Parasite Cleanse

Certain anti-parasitic herbs work by paralyzing the organism directly, allowing the body to remove it through elimination while others work by directly destroying the organism. Look for a formula that contains a blend of anti-parastic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial herbs, as it is likely those who suffer from parasites also have candida/yeast overgrowth and bad bacteria in the gut.

Powerful ingredients to consider are garlic bulb, black walnut, oregano, quassia wood, elecampane, sweet annie, clove bud, goldenseal/berberine and citrus extracts (i.e. grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine). Thyme is also effective, as well as wormwood and caprylic acid.

Note that parasite cleanses should be taken for 15 days on, 5 days off, then another 15 days in order to kill the parasites in all stages of development. It may be necessary to treat all household members as infestations can be persistent and stubborn. Also, parasite cleansing can be done more than once per year if necessary. Lastly, note that it is normal to experience “die-off” symptom reactions as toxins begin to leave the system during a cleanse. If these reactions are severe or persistent, cut back to half the suggested dosage.

 

  • Support Digestive Tract

Drink plenty of water and consider a daily fibre supplement to remove dead parasitic material from the intestines and into the colon for elimination. Note that additional ingredients such as activated charcoal or bentonite clay can help bind toxins from cleansing die-off reactions. Also, a strong probiotic (at least 50 billion active cultures) is critical in order to restore the body’s good bacteria that was destroyed by parasites. A digestive enzyme supplement with HCl ensures proper stomach acidity and optimal digestion in order to create a more sterile environment where parasites cannot thrive. After a parasite program, ingredients such as L-glutamine and N-acetyl glucosamine are beneficial as they help repair the damage caused by parasites in the intestinal tract. In addition, herbs such as marshmallow root help to soothe irritation in the gut.

 

  • Other Tips:
    1. Consider a high quality multivitamin/mineral to help counteract nutrient deficiencies.
    2. Do not drink untreated water/ice.
    3. Avoid consuming raw meats or fish. Use separate cutting boards for produce.
    4. Wash hands often (after handling meat, using the washroom, changing a diaper, gardening or handling animal feces).
    5. Test pets for parasites.
    6. Wash produce before consuming.
    7. Freeze fish, beef and pork for 48 hours before consuming and thoroughly cook.
    8. Wear proper footwear and gloves.
    9. Support immunity by reducing toxic exposure, managing stress, eating well and limited sugars, yeast and caffeine.
    10. Consider a Saccharomyces Boulardii supplement to protect against travelers diarrhea induced by parasites.

     

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


“Health-ify” Your Favorite Comfort Foods!

What are you craving this winter? Here are healthy substitutions for common ingredients!

 

DOUGH? Try making wonderful waffles with:

  • Organic, 100% Whole Grain vs. Refined Flour: A whole grain kernel consists of three parts: the innermost germ, the endosperm and the outer bran. Most of the kernel’s nutrients are locked into the germ (vitamin E, antioxidants and healthy fats) and bran (minerals, B-vitamins and fiber). In the production of “refined” grain products, the germ and bran are removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm.
  • Cane vs. White Sugar: Sugar refining refers to a process in which sugar cane juice is separated into white sugar and molasses, removing important minerals such as iron, calcium, and chromium. The unrefined version is much less processed and retains its original nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

BONUS: Choose organic, free-run/range eggs! These come from healthier hens that are not caged and fed only organic feed that contains no animal by-products.

Top with warm fruit, chopped nuts, grass-fed butter and pure maple syrup.

 

CHEESE? Try making nutritious nachos with:

  • Organic, Unpasteurized, Aged vs. Conventional Cheese: Raw milk cheeses are safe to consume when subjected to an aging process and temperature control. They are a natural source of probiotics and enzymes to help support digestion.
  • Choose Organic, Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Ground Beef: Grass-fed beef will have 2-5x more omega-3 fatty acids, 4x more vitamin E and 10x more vitamin A. They will also contain higher levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a naturally occurring fat in certain animal products, which is shown to help lower cholesterol and reduce body fat.

BONUS: Try using roasted beets, sweet potatoes or cauliflower, peppers or zucchini as a base instead of chips in order to boost antioxidant and fibre content while lowering calories.

Top with avocado slices, salsa, black beans, greek yogurt and loads of veggies!

 

CHOCOLATE? Try making better brownies with:

  • Choose Cacao vs. Cocoa Powder: The raw version of this ingredient is its purest edible form and the least processed. It is extremely high in antioxidants and a great source of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium.
  • Choose Coconut vs. Vegetable Oil: Coconut oil is stable at high temperatures, packed with immune-enhancing fatty acids and a source of MCT’s that serve as a convenient energy source, helping to increase metabolic rate and maintain healthy weight.

BONUS: Try using pureed root vegetables such as beet, sweet potato, banana or pumpkin as a base that is packed with antioxidants and lower in calories and carbohydrates. Plus, these can be a source of natural sugar, so you can limit the amount of sweetener used in the recipe.

Top with a creamy natural peanut butter frosting!

 

SALT? Try making perfect popcorn with:

  • Organic, Grass-Fed vs. Regular Butter: The primary health benefit of grass-fed dairy is that the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio is significantly improved (up to 300% or 3x more). Grass feeding practices have also been shown to increase the content of CLA by over 5x. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has been shown to have beneficial effects in osteoporosis, diabetes and inflammation.
  • Sea vs. Refined Salt: Pure, unrefined sea salt has nothing added, nothing removed and contains all of its naturally-occurring minerals. Theoretically, a natural salt will have about 84 trace minerals! These help the body replace lost electrolytes, balance pH levels, regulate muscle contraction and support the thyroid gland.

BONUS: Popcorn is low in calories and packed with fiber and antioxidants. Choose organic whole grains to ensure that they are grown without preservatives, pesticides and herbicides.

Try boosting flavor with toppings such as nutritional yeast, turmeric, garlic or chili powder!

 

HOT? Try making a healthy hot drink with:

  • Organic, Full-Fat, Grass-Fed vs. Conventional Milk: Choose full-fat dairy products (whole, non-homogenized) as this portion contains beneficial compounds such as CLA, fat-soluble vitamins and the short chain fatty acid, butyric acid.
  • Raw Honey vs. Artificial Syrup: Raw honey has its beneficial enzymes and nutrients still intact and therefore preserves many of its therapeutic qualities. Honey is high in antioxidants and has strong antibacterial properties.

BONUS: Try unsweetened nut milk if you suffer from a dairy intolerance/sensitivity or are simply looking for something lower in calories.  Choose organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee for higher quality beans that help improve the environment, guarantee crops are free of chemicals and ensure farmers are paid fairly.

Mix in ingredients such as matcha, cacao, vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric or pumpkin puree and spice to customize your favorite speciality drink.  Top with full-fat coconut whipped cream!

 

SWEET? Try making fantastic fruit crisp with:

  • Coconut vs. Brown Sugar: This alternative is high in many vitamins and minerals and is considered a “slow release” food that won’t cause blood sugar fluctuations due to its low glycemic index. This makes it a diabetic-friendly sweetener!
  • Naked vs. Conventional Oats: These types of oats lose their hulls in the field and can then be rolled without any industrial heat treatment.  They provide more protein and also have higher levels of fibre and iron. Try a “rolled” oat variety for baking!

BONUS:  Choose organic produce such as apples, berries, pears or peaches that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), toxic pesticides or fertilizers.

 Add dried fruits, sliced nuts, dark chocolate and/or shredded coconut!

 

Happy Cooking!

 

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

Feeling The Burn?

Heartburn is also known as acid indigestion or acid reflux. Essentially, it is an irritation of the esophagus caused by acid that comes up from the stomach. This causes a burning discomfort in the upper chest area. GERD is the medical term used for chronic heartburn.

 

Why Is Stomach Acid Important?

Stomach acid plays a key role in defending us, by sterilizing the food we consume and preventing harmful pathogens from entering and colonizing in our digestive tract. Stomach acid also triggers the release of specific enzymes (i.e. pepsin) that are necessary to break down protein. This prevents undigested proteins from causing the depletion of good gut bacteria, intestinal damage and food sensitivities, in addition to decreasing the enzymatic workload in the intestines. Also, certain vitamins and minerals are dependent on stomach acid for absorption such as, Vitamin B12, calcium, chromium, iron, manganese, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Lastly, stomach acid is necessary to trigger peristalsis and release both bile and alkalizing bicarbonate into the intestines for further digestion and elimination support.

 

Potential Causes of Heartburn

Factors that can contribute to heart burn include poor eating habits (drinking with meals, inadequate chewing, eating while stressed/rushed, overeating, improper food combining), obesity, smoking, eating processed and refined foods, restrictive clothing, certain medications, physical conditions, H. Pylori infection, hiatal hernia, food triggers (carbonated beverages, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, chocolate, citrus, fatty foods, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, raw onions, spicy foods) and both excess OR low stomach acid.

 

What About Low Stomach Acid?

Interestingly, the majority of people who have heartburn actually suffer from low stomach acid and not high. This is because without the hydrochloric acid (HCl), the stomach is no longer sterile and pathogens such as bacteria or parasites can enter and colonize in the digestive tract. Bad bacteria then putrefy food in the stomach, causing the production of volatile gases and fatty acids. This creates pressure in the stomach and allows acids from the stomach to be forced upwards into the esophagus. Specific underlying factors behind low stomach acid include aging, Zinc & B-Vitamin deficiency, Candida overgrowth, consumption of processed and refined foods, chronic stress, antacid overuse, etc.

 

Stomach Acid Test: Am I Low or High?

Test: Take 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (diluted in a small amount of water if desired) on an empty stomach.

  • Results: Immediate Strong Burning Pain = HIGH Stomach Acid
  • Mild Warming Sensation = GOOD/NORMAL Stomach Acid
  • No Pain/Sensation = LOW Stomach Acid –> Note that the more teaspoons needed in order to feel a warming sensation, the lower your HCL level!

*Note: Have a glass of water (250ml) mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking soda on hand in order to neutralize burning if test results are HIGH.

Suggestions

For those with high stomach acid, ingredients such as calcium/magnesium carbonate or activated charcoal help provide relief by temporarily decreasing gastric secretions in the stomach and neutralizing existing acid, acting as a natural proton pump inhibitor.

For those with low stomach acid consider digestive enzymes that contains betaine hydrochloride (HCl), a component of stomach acid that helps destroy bacteria and parasites.

Note that saccharomyces boulardii and mastic gum help to eradicate H. Pylori, which can cause heartburn, nausea, bloating, belching, and even peptic ulcers.

Consider bitter herbs such as gentian root, yellow dock, dandelion root, blessed thistle or wormwood to support digestion. When these are ingested, bile flow is stimulated and saliva, stomach acid and pancreatic enzyme production are increased.

Ingredients such as L-Glutamine, Zinc L-Carnosine & N-Acetyl D-Glucosamine help to rebuild and repair the digestive tract lining while marshmallow, licorice/DGL, aloe, chamomile and slippery elm help soothe irritation and inflammation.

Probiotics and essential fatty acids help support the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Lastly, ginger, anise, fennel and caraway help to reduce gas and relieve flatulence.

 

Tips to Improve Digestion

  • Avoid food sensitivities and common triggers.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well.
  • Drink plenty of water between meals (do not drink while eating)
  • Limit alcohol intake, quit chewing gum and smoking.
  • Practice food combining (enjoy fruit alone, do not eat high protein and high starch foods together).
  • Do not lie down after eating.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and manage stress.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day and don’t eat immediately before bed.  
  • Ensure adequate fiber to help reduce reflux.
  • Exercise regularly and encourage detoxification.
  • Choose whole, fresh, organic, soaked, sprouted, fermented and lightly cooked foods.

 

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

It’s Time to Man Up!

It has been stated that compared to women, more men smoke, drink, make unhealthy or risky health decisions, and are more likely to put off medical check-ups and to delay treatment for conditions. Some of the most common conditions that affect men include Andropause and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia/BPH, which can lead to low libido and sexual dysfunction.

Andropause, also known as “male menopause”, is a name given to a specific set of symptoms that appears 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.  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.

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. 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 xeno estrogen/estrogen mimicker exposure in food, environment and products (i.e. plastics, pesticides).

 

Supplement Suggestions

  • Prostate Support Ingredients:
    • Pygeum Bark -> Inhibits inflammation in prostate, has a diuretic effect.
    • Rye Flower Pollen -> Supports urinary flow, relaxes muscles and reduces prostate size.
    • Saw Palmetto -> Improves BPH symptoms, helps inhibit conversion of testosterone to DHT, reduces rapid cell growth and has anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory activity.
    • Plant Sterols (Beta Sitosterol) -> Relieves urination difficulties, helps block conversion to DHT, reduces BPH symptoms and cholesterol, and modulates the immune system.
    • Pumpkin Seed Oil -> Improves bladder function to relieve BPH symptoms, reduces inflammation, helps inhibit conversion to DHT.
    • Zinc -> Anti-bacterial activity, reduces symptoms, size of prostate and DHT conversion.
    • Lycopene, Turmeric, Selenium -> Offer powerful antioxidant protection.
    • Helpful Herbs: Parsley, Juniper, Uva Ursi, Dandelion, Nettle act as diuretics and Cranberry, D-Mannose protect against urinary tract infections.
  • Hormone Balancing Ingredients:
    • Chrysin – Promotes healthy testosterone levels and lean muscle mass.
    • Indole 3 Carbinol (I3C)/DIM -> Breaks down harmful estrogens into non-toxic forms.
    • Broccoli Extract/Sulforaphane -> Stimulates production of detoxification enzymes that eliminate environmental estrogens.
  • Libido Enhancing Ingredients:
    • Zinc -> Increases sperm count, motility and characteristics (+ copper for long term).
    • L-Arginine -> Dilates vessels to improve blood flow, increases sperm count and quality!
    • Elk Velvet Antler -> Used to energize the body, increase lean muscle mass, support weight loss, stimulate libido, renew mental health, boost mood and reduce stress.
    • Maca –> Supports libido, energy, stamina, hormone balance and resistance to stress.
    • Tribulus –> Used to increase testosterone, sperm counts, sexual desire and potency.
    • Gingko Biloba –> Increases circulation to both brain and genitals.
    • Damiana -> Has aphrodisiac properties, helps to improve blood flow and inhibit stress.
    • Horny Goat Weed –> Acts as an aphrodisiac to increase libido and reduce fatigue.
    • Tongkat Ali -> An aphrodisiac that helps support natural testosterone production.

     

Dietary Suggestions

  • Avoid stimulants, refined/processed foods and sugars, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, alcohol and excess red meat.
  • Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables for hormone balance support and consume more fibre and antioxidant-rich foods such as fresh berries.
  • Incorporate nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil & avocado as healthy dietary fats.
  • Stabilize blood sugar levels with regular, balanced meals.
  • Consume Essential Omega Fats, Probiotics and a Multivitamin + Vitamin D as a prevention pack to support immunity, hormones, inflammation and digestion.

 

Lifestyle Suggestions

  • Manage stress & sleep. Consider mental health support if necessary.
  • Get yearly physical checkups and monitor nutrient levels.
  • Exercise regularly (30 mins./5x per week), including strength training sessions.
  • Minimize toxic exposure, consider cleansing, and drink plenty of water.

 

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

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

Blog Coordinator

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

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