A Breakthrough in Multivitamins

Choosing a multivitamin from the vast assortment of products available on the market can be incredibly overwhelming and tougher than ever. Currently, multivitamin supplements can be divided into two main categories: synthetically-made which contain USP isolates and whole-food based. The disheartening truth is that the majority of multivitamin formulations marketed as whole-food products are in fact USP isolates either disguised by added food powders or fermented with plant-based ingredients. USP isolates are considered natural yet; most are processed from and with chemicals and often times come from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or other undesirable synthetic materials. True whole-food based multivitamins are made from certified organic, non-GMO plants such as fruits, herbs and botanicals. Knowing what to look for in a multivitamin can simplify the process significantly and help sort through the gimmicks.

Until recently, the technology to extract and concentrate standardized amounts of vitamins and minerals directly from plants did not exist. Simply put, there was no consistency between batches of extracted nutrients. The number of vitamins and minerals in plant foods can vary greatly based on many different factors such as climate, season, growing and harvesting processes and much more. This made it difficult to have exact amounts of each nutrient in every tablet. For this reason, most multivitamin formulas on the market are made with or start with USP isolates which are easily standardized and quantified.

In the last decade, scientists have been able to develop novel extraction techniques for nutrients such as vitamins and minerals which allows for proper standardization. These processes and unique techniques for obtaining concentrated nutrients directly from whole food are now protected by four international patents. The reason for different patents is because the process differs slightly based on the water solubility of each individual nutrient. The extraction utilizes only water and doesn’t require fermentation or added USP isolates.  For example, B vitamins found in whole food B-complex formulations are extracted from a mixture of different plants such as guava leaf and fruit, holy basil leaves and lemons.  Most B vitamins and their co-factors are water soluble, however; some require a slightly acidic environment to be extracted because they do not readily dissolve in water. The lemons in the case of the B-complex provide a lower pH which helps to extract the fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients which otherwise would be lost in the process.

This patented fresh extraction of nutrients is similar to making a very concentrated cup of tea. The process starts with fresh, organic botanicals added to filtered water and lots of time to allow for the proper extraction of the vitamins, minerals and their co-factors. The difference, however, is that it takes places on a much larger scale. Over 10,000 liters of liquid containing water and organic plants are reduced to between 100 and 200 liters of concentrated organic botanical extract. This concentrated organic fruit and herb liquid extraction are spray-dried resulting in a whole-food powder containing standardized amounts of vitamins and minerals together with all of their co-factors. The various organic, whole-food powders are then utilized in individualized formulations such as multivitamins for different genders, ages and life stages.

Having whole-food nutrients in a multivitamin is wonderful as long as the tablet is also made from whole-foods. For this reason, it is always vital to check the non-medicinal ingredients of supplements. Often tablets are manufactured from synthetic materials and other unnecessary chemicals and additives. Common ingredients used in conventional tabletting include but are not limited to magnesium stearate, stearic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, silicon dioxide, talc, titanium dioxide and shellac. These are all chemicals to watch for and avoid consuming. Although some of these chemicals may sound natural, they do not provide any health benefits. What’s worse, they can contribute to adverse health reactions as well as increase the total body’s chemical burden which in today’s world can be relatively high. The reason for their use is because inexpensive binders, fillers and flow agents are needed to manufacture the tablet, as well as to ensure that the tabletting machinery works properly. Fortunately, clean tabletting is absolutely possible and tableted supplements do not have to contain synthetic, non-food ingredients or chemicals. Instead, look for non-medicinal ingredients such as organic tapioca, organic brown rice extract and organic sunflower lecithin among other food-derived ingredients. These whole-food based binders, fillers and flow agents perform the same jobs as their synthetic counterparts however, they do so without the negative health effects.

Lastly, whole-food multivitamins should be dually certified USDA Organic/Canada Organic and non-GMO Project Verified. Synthetic multivitamins using USP isolates usually cannot have this certification because they are derived from synthetic chemicals as opposed to food. Dual certification allows for traceability and ensures high quality of each ingredient, from the seed all the way to the final product.

The Pins and Needles of Acupuncture

What is acupuncture?

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

The western world is now incorporating acupuncture into many treatment regimes.  It is used alongside physiotherapy, fertility treatments, mental health therapy and many more.

How is acupuncture performed?  Is it going to hurt?

Acupuncture is the insertion of thin needles all over the body.  The needles are as fine as human hair and are very sharp.  This decreases the sensation of the needles entering the skin.  It is essentially painless or equivalent to the sensation of a mosquito bite.  Once the needles are inserted they often can’t be felt at all.  Other sensations the needles produce is tingling or warmth.

Acupuncture is extremely relaxing as it releases the body’s natural pain management chemicals. These are called opoid peptides, that cause an analgesic effect; a decrease in pain. The increase of blood flow to the area also assists in healing injuries and conditions. It increases blood flow around the body which is part of how the treatment works.  After a session, patients usually feel extremely relaxed and peaceful.  Similar to the sensation after a massage.

Conditions and Disorders Treated

Pain Management- Under this category, many conditions are treated!  They range from headaches-migraines, fibromyalgia, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, sore muscles, chronic long-term injuries, to acute injuries. Needles are often inserted around the area of pain or injury in this case.  The needles relax any muscles that are tense or in a constant state of hypertonicity. This tense muscle often causes a lot of the pain after an injury.  Muscles flex or tense up in order to try and protect the body but this can cause pain or cause nerve impingement.

Stress, anxiety, fatigue and insomnia- acupuncture works very well for stress, mild anxiety, fatigue and insomnia. Acupuncture has been shown to release a chemical in the brain called Serotonin. This is considered your happy hormone. When serotonin is released it naturally decreases stress and anxiety, or reactions to stressful situations. After an acupuncture session, most people have a very restful sleep, which continues on the more treatments that are received.  This is partially due to balancing out cortisol levels, which is your stress hormone.  Cortisol is released during stress, which can cause insomnia.  It also tends to rapidly decrease during or after stress which causes fatigue. Taking time to care for yourself by receiving acupuncture can contribute to balancing out cortisol.

Cosmetic Acupuncture/Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture- In facial acupuncture tiny needles are inserted all over the face and along fine lines.  The needles increase blood flow to the face and therefore cause a more youthful look.  Blood flow increases the fullness of the face and cheeks.

The needles can also help relax some of the muscles that cause facial wrinkles, such as the furrow in-between the eyebrows. It’s important to only expect minimal youthful results and not to imagine a disappearance of deep wrinkles or sagging.

Hormone regulations and fertility- Acupuncture has been shown to regulate hormones and therefore also help with fertility.  It is useful in regulating long cycles, irregular cycles or absent menstruation. Acupuncture with the help of supplements can shrink or make fibroids completely disappear.  It can help with pain due to painful periods from endometriosis. Many fertility clinics will send their IVF patients for acupuncture.  One or a few treatments can also be used to safely induce labour!

Acupuncture is a relatively safe procedure.  It has low to minor adverse effects; the most common adverse effect is getting a small bruise from the needle location. 

It is important to check that when getting acupuncture the practitioner is thoroughly trained in acupuncture.  This will ensure that they have a large understanding of anatomy and how and where to insert the needles safely.

Dr Kelly Brown is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who has 5 years of training in acupuncture. She practices at Good n’ Natural Health Food Store. Call 204 326-9565 to book an appointment.

Happy Organic Week

This week is Organic Week! For many organic farmers and health food enthusiasts, this week is a time to celebrate and to spread awareness about the importance of choosing organic for our health and the environment. For most consumers, buying organic is expensive, and therefore no value is seen purchasing an organically grown potato over a conventional one. So, as we celebrate Organic Week, we must remember why organic farming practices are so crucial and what that means for us.

Organic products must meet extremely strict national standards and is the most heavily regulated and scrutinized food system in Canada. Organic farming practices prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, synthetic growth regulators, irradiation, animal cloning, and anything that is genetically engineered. It also prohibits the use of synthetic substances in organic food production including artificial preservatives. Organic farms are also inspected regularly to ensure they are managing their land and life around water systems carefully.

Organic farming is more focused on the sustainability of the land than food production. Building healthy soil microbiology with sustainable practices will leave the area healthy and strong for future generations. Organic producers also preserve genetic diversity among plants and animals by saving seeds and growing heirloom varieties, and raising rare varieties of livestock. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature, building healthy ecosystems and have higher biodiversity of species. The loss of a large variety of species is one of the most pressing environmental concerns today. Organic agricultural methods reduce pollution and wasted energy. Fertilizers used on conventional farms often are fossil-fuel-based fertilizers that require much more energy to produce than to cultivate and harvest crops or even to transport them. Organic practices can use as little as half the power of other farming methods according to Canadian studies.

Organic farming is better for your health and the health of the farmer. Herbicides and insecticides have been found to be carcinogenic (a substance capable of causing cancer), hormone replicators, and harmful to the development of children. The residue of these herbicides and insecticides has been found on and in conventionally grown foods. Consuming organic meat and produce will significantly reduce your exposure to these chemical residues. For the farmer and their family, choosing to be organic dramatically reduces their exposure to these chemicals and their detrimental effects. It will benefit them financially as well. On average, organic farming families earn more from their farm than the typical conventional Canadian farm does, according to the Census of Agriculture. They also employ more people per farm.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been a hot topic these days and if you are looking to avoid GMOs, look for the Canada Organic symbol. A GMO is any organism whose genetic material has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. This means that DNA is taken from one species and added to the DNA of an entirely different species to enhance a crop to have specific qualities. Genetic engineering is completely different from cross-pollinating as cross-pollination can happen naturally, and the long-term effects of genetic engineering on our food to our health are unknown. The good news is that GMOs are not allowed in organic farming practices. Also, Organic is the only government overseen non-GMO certification.

Organics are something to celebrate! Whether it be for their environmental impact, health benefits or just because they taste so much better (better soil produces a healthier, more flavourful crop), try adding organically grown food to your grocery list. Check out local farmers markets to meet the farmers who grow your organic produce and raise your organic meats. Also, don’t forget your local health food store where you will find organic food all year round. Organic is the way nature intended it for a healthier planet and healthier people. Happy Organic Week Everyone!

Healthy Herbs to Support Women’s Hormone Health

All women know that there are times in our lives that we experience hormonal imbalances or deficiencies. There is help out there for us!

There are products out there that can help women with hormone issues at any stage and any age. Safe natural remedies can make life more comfortable at key times in life, whether it is menopause, peri-menopause, painful periods, adrenal exhaustion, bladder infections, low iron, or borderline thyroid issues.

There are great herbs that you should consider, and there are many great and safe supplements that you can take on a daily basis. Many women, will notice a difference within the first month.

To support the Adrenal Glands, you can find natural formulas containing Rhodiola, Suma, Siberian Ginseng, Schisandra, and Ashwagandha. Health care practitioners recommend these supplements to help improve mental and physical performance after periods of exhaustion and to temporarily promote relaxation. These herbs improve mental and physical

performance after periods of mental and/or physical exertion, relieve general debility, aids during convalescence, and support healthy cortisol levels and adrenal function.

To support hormone levels during menopause or peri-menopause, which each and every woman will experience in our lives; you can look for formulas containing Dong quai, Chasteberry, Black Cohosh, Gamma-oryzanol, and Hesperidin. These are good for the reduction of hot flashes, night sweats, and the other symptoms of menopause, as well as improving irritability and nervousness. No one likes hot flashes; they disturb our precious hours of sleep. So, as well as cutting back on caffeine and alcohol during the key time in life, taking these supplements can help alleviate discomfort greatly.

Another situation women will often experience at some point in our lives is urinary tract infections, which are uncomfortable and often painful as well. Cranberry supplements are great natural remedies providing high doses of concentrated cranberry extract in each capsule to help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Health care practitioners recommend cranberry extract to support urinary tract health and help reduce the likelihood of UTIs. In a high concentration, 1 g of concentrate is equivalent to 36 g of whole cranberries.

To maintain healthy Estrogen levels throughout life, consider supplements that are completely natural formulas containing Calcium D-Glucarate, Indole-3-Carbinol, Green Tea extract, Turmeric extract, Rosemary extract, Lycopene, Sulforaphane, and Milk Thistle Seed extract. These are optimal to help promote healthy estrogen metabolism and maintain healthy hormone balance regardless of the time of the month. Also, many products out there are so full of chemicals that they affect our estrogen levels, resulting in estrogen dominance and throwing all our systems out of whack. Natural remedies help to alleviate estrogen dominance.

Did you know that many people are actually on the cusp of having low thyroid without actually being diagnosed with low or underactive thyroid? Look for a balanced nutritional and herbal

formula containing L-Tyrosine, Ashwagandha, Guggul, Pantothenic Acid, Copper, Manganese, Iodine, and Selenium. Health care practitioners recommend taking a supplement to support thyroid health. These supplements can also help the body to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They also nourish and support thyroid health, support conversion of T4 to more active T3, and offer nutrients to support overall good health.

Finally, for overall women’s hormones support, you can get supplements that support bladder health. Look for a supplement that provides supportive therapy for bladder irritation. You can find non-GMO, gluten-free formulas that contain a water-soluble pumpkin seed extract that is easy for the body to absorb. Pumpkin seeds have a long history of therapeutic use for incontinence and are nature’s aid for healthy urinary control in overactive bladders. Pumpkin seeds help control urinary incontinence, help control an overactive bladder, and provides supportive therapy for bladder irritation and night-time urinary frequency.

Any of these herbal remedies can be found in single dose capsules that are sold at select natural health pharmacies or health food stores. You can take one or more of these safe supplements to help to balance your hormones and optimize your health, as well as helping yourself further by avoiding certain foods or drinks or chemicals and additives in your soaps, hair products, or packaged foods. Our hormones are for life, so we need to care for them gently in order to feel our very best!

To your good health!

A Stronger Start For A Better School Year

Back to school is just around the corner. Time to get ready for school, homework, extracurricular activities, sporting events, and the list goes on! Making sure your child is prepared for the school year nutritionally often gets forgotten, but it can make the most significant difference to how your child succeeds in the year to come.

Whether your child is a good or picky eater, three foundational supplements help support all of your growing child’s needs. Multivitamins, fish oil, and a probiotic. Now, you may be wondering, “Why would my child need all of these supplements? They eat well enough.” Are they eating garden-fresh fruits and veggies daily, not grocery store produce that travels the world losing nutrients before ending up in your home, but real fresh garden goods? Is your child eating wild fish once or twice a week to get their recommended omega-3 fats? Are they eating foods like sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha daily for a healthy gut? If you cannot check off one or more of these boxes for your child, it is time to consider supplements to help your child meet their nutritional needs.  

Our food today contains far fewer nutrients than it had just over 50 years ago due to our modern farming practices and the travel time it takes for our food to go from farm to plate. A good quality multivitamin will help cover some of the vitamin and mineral gaps that your child may be missing in their food. Proper vitamin and mineral intake can make a difference in their nervous system development and function, strengthen their immune system and support their bone growth. Supplementing with extra vitamin C and D during the winter months will also help their bodies fight against colds and cases of the flu that forever lurk around areas where children are present. Many great tasting chewable, gummy, powder and liquid forms of multivitamins are available on the market that can make even the pickiest eater enjoy taking their vitamins! Read labels to watch out for added ingredients such as artificial colours and flavours.

Fish oils contain the essential fatty acid omega-3 in the forms known as Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These forms of omega-3 fatty acids are rare in plant forms and are readily absorbed in animal forms. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly essential for brain and nervous system development, especially the DHA fatty acid. At Oxford University, researchers studied the correlation between omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in blood samples of children ages 7-9, and the child’s reading ability, memory and behaviour. The children with below average test results for reading and memory, and struggled with behavioural issues, had the lowest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood samples. The children with the highest test results on reading and memory, and also had the lowest behavioural issues, were the kids with above average omega-3 concentration in their blood samples. Omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role academically and socially during a child’s growth and developing years. To take a fish oil supplement these days does not taste as bad as one may think. There are many great tasting flavours available that can be consumed on their own or hidden in a fruit smoothie.

Probiotics are more than something one takes for better bowel regularity and indigestion. Beyond improving digestive health, probiotics and good bacteria in the gut help increase the absorption of nutrients, synthesize B vitamins and vitamin K, fight against harmful bacteria and pathogens, and help your body produce the happy hormone serotonin! Approximately 90% of serotonin is synthesized in the intestines which is why the gut is now called the second brain. The intestines are also part of the first line of defence for the immune system as healthy bacteria work to fight against harmful bacteria and viruses that enter the body. More healthy bacteria means there is less room for harmful bacteria to enter the body to grow and flourish. Chewable tablets are available for children to take their probiotic daily or powders can be used to mix the probiotics into juice, milk, smoothies, applesauce or yogurt for picky eaters, so they do not even know they are taking a supplement!

There are other supplements to consider depending on your child’s specific needs. When you have covered all the foundations and there still seems to be something off like nervousness and anxiety or your child is suffering from growing pains, there are other nutrients to consider. Magnesium is a mineral that is becoming more and more deficient in our soil, but it is essential for over 300 functions in the body. Some of magnesium’s roles include nervous system support and has been helpful in cases of anxiety. It also has natural muscle relaxing qualities and can be useful for sleep, especially in cases of growing pains which can often occur due to a lack of magnesium.

Nothing will replace a healthy, balanced diet, but to give your child a better, healthier school year, add these nutritional foundations to your child’s routine. You may notice differences in focus and attention or even better grades when these supplements are taken regularly. You may also have fewer colds and cases of the flu cycling through your home this year. Whatever your reason is to introduce these supplements to your child, they will become stronger to face the year ahead.

Do You Need A Head Start?

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are omega-3 and omega-6 nutrients crucial to brain growth and development. Lack of EFAs has been associated with mental and physical learning disorders like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia and dyspraxia. The most important structural omega-3 fatty acid in the brain is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the most important structural omega-6 fatty acid in the brain is arachidonic acid (AA). A large proportion of the human brain is composed of DHA and AA. Each of these is important building blocks of your brain, nervous system and eye, with DHA being the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid, another important omega-3 fatty acid) and AA help in the transmission of messages between nerves.

Studies on infants show the supply of DHA and AA in early life is critical for good brain and visual development. Research with children has shown that:

  • Children with ADHD had lower than normal levels of DHA, AA, and EPA.
  • Those with the lowest levels of AA and DHA had the highest incidence and severity of oppositional behaviour, hyperactivity, cognitive problems, restlessness, and inattention.
  • Children with ADHD may not be able to adequately convert dietary EFAs to their long chain DHA and AA forms.

EFA supplements based on decades of extensive scientific research to ensure the right balance of DHA, EPA, GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid, an important omega-6 fatty acid) and AA have been studied in numerous human clinical trials. These clinical trials have shown that long-chain EFAs:

  • Improve behavioural, emotional and cognitive symptoms in children with learning difficulties and ADHD-related symptoms.
  • Enhance problem solving abilities in infants.
  • Are important in development of childhood intelligence.
  • Generate a measurable increase in mental development in infants.
  • Protect and enhance visual acuity and retinal function in dyslexics
  • Improve manual dexterity, balance and co-ordination in children with dyspraxia

Generally, if lack of these fatty acids was the issue, kids start to show improvements in behaviour and schoolwork within the first 2 months. Most of the studies in this area lasted 3-6 months. Supplementing with specific science based formulas based on proven amounts of specific fatty acids like DHA, EPA, GLA and AA is a good choice because these nutrients are not always readily available in foods. Omega-3 in particular is often lacking in the diet, especially if cold-water fish is not often on the menu. Some people also have difficulty digesting and converting food sourced EFAs into the important long chain forms like EPA, DHA, and GLA mentioned earlier. You can find formulations that include these specific fatty acids in both capsule and liquid forms, giving some flexibility on how you’d like your kids to take it. With summer ending and school returning soon, key fatty acids like these can help children re-focus for the school year ahead and concentrate and retain their lessons better than ever.

Partners in Grime

Before commercial cleaners were introduced in the 1940’s, cleaning was done with soap, water and a lot of elbow grease. Today, Canadian households use approximately 54 kilotons of general purpose cleaners per year, resulting in the contamination of our fresh water, soil and air resources – all the while potentially presenting an assault on human health in measurable and unmeasurable terms. Although cleaning products may be necessary for reasons of hygiene, consumers should take steps to reduce their use of cleaners and choose products that are environmentally responsible and leave a small ecological footprint.

The following is a compilation of environmentally responsible cleaning ingredients that can be used in many “recipes” - or in other words, in combination with each other to make enough cleaning solutions that can take the place of over 150 different types of un-natural cleaners. They are easy to make, work well, do not abuse the environment and use limited resources in their production. Probably the most important ingredient that these recipes require is elbow grease! – which helps keep us in shape. All of these recipes follow the 3 E’s of Environmental Sustainability. They are Effective, Economical & Environmental Responsible. They cost the same as or less than conventional harsh detergent products and they do not contain phosphates, enzymes, dyes or E.D.T.A.

The six basic cleaning ingredients for these recipe/combinations are:

  1. Soap Flakes or Powder (sodium palmitate, cocoate or tallowate) are molecules which attract dirt and grease on one end and are water soluble on the other end. Soap flakes are manufactured by a process called saponification. The term saponification is the name given to the chemical reaction that occurs when a vegetable oil or animal fat is mixed with the strong alkali, sodium hydroxide, and heated. The products of the hydrolysis reaction are soap and glycerol. Once the soap solidifies it is ground into flakes. Some Recipes: Scouring Cleaner; Laundry soap; Aluminum Pan Cleaner.

 

  1. Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) is produced when carbon dioxide reacts with water and then is neutralized to its sodium salt. It is perfect for deodorizing, softening water and scouring. Some Recipes: Shower Pucks, Car Washing Solution; Vinyl Upholstery Cleaner.

 

  1. Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is related to baking soda. It cuts through grease, softens water and disinfects. It can also be used in swimming pools to increase the pH level. Washing Soda is derived from solution mining of natural, trona mineral deposits. Solution mining offers a process by which sodium products can most efficiently be extracted from ore deposits. The trona ore is dissolved in a water solution creating a brine. The brine is processed to recover sodium carbonate (washing soda) and other sodium products. Some Recipes: Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Automatic Dishwasher Powder; Ant Bait.

 

  1. Borax (borax pentahydrate) is composed primarily of sodium and boron and is a naturally occurring mineral. It can be used for disinfecting, cleaning and deodorizing. Borax is hydrated sodium borate, a mineral ore of interlocked chains of boron, hydrogen, oxygen, water and sodium. Borax is created from refining recovered ore from dried playa lake beds. A playa lake is one that fills with rainwater then dries out leaving various salts. The deposits are refined by boiling the ore in water and adding carbonated soda which causes the borax to dissolve and impurities to settle out. The water borax mixture is poured off and cooled, allowing borax crystals to form. Some Recipes: Toilet Bowl Cleaner; Automatic Dishwasher Powder; Ant Bait.

 

  1. Vinegar is a dilute acetic acid that results from the fermentation of ethyl (human consumable) alcohol. Its acidic quality enables it to cut through grease. Vinegar Concentrate can be 5 times the strength of regular vinegar (acetic acid). Concentrated Vinegar Cleaner is as powerful and versatile as a natural cleaner can get. It’s a heavy-duty limescale remover and environmentally-friendly bleaching agent. For use on counter-tops, appliances (including stainless steel), glassware, and many hard surfaces. Avoid use on copper and aluminum. Some Recipes: All Purpose Cleaner; Ceramic Tile / Grout Cleaner; Calcium Deposit Remover (kettles, teapots, dishwashers)

 

  1. Ammonia is a gas which is condensed into a liquid and diluted with water for household use. It can be used for cleaning and disinfecting. But be careful; ammonia can irritate the skin and eyes and it can inflame the respiratory tract if deeply inhaled. It is also toxic if mixed with other cleaning products such as bleach or tub cleaners.

 

These six ingredients are listed by Pollution Probe as six of the safer cleaning substances currently available for household use. Visit our store to learn how to make the exact recipes and ratios of ingredients to make your greener, cleaning solutions. The protection of the planet is a shared responsibility. Please do your part by adopting a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

-This article is sponsored by Good n’ Natural Health Food Store-

A NEW APPROACH TO EMOTIONAL HEALTH

Stress is a normal part of life, however, long-term stress can contribute to changes in the body that over time, can cause serious health problems and can negatively impact mental and emotional wellbeing. Nevertheless, a holistic approach that includes dietary as well as lifestyle changes can help address stress and its effect on the body, while helping to promote overall healthier mental and emotional states.

Most people are familiar with probiotics – microorganisms that have beneficial health properties –  and their use in helping digestive disorders. New scientific research is now suggesting that probiotics also have an extensive application in mental disorders specifically those relating to long-term stress. The human microbiome is the collection of over 100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells, which reside primarily in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The bacterial diversity found within our gut is responsible for a broad list of functions including aiding digestion, regulating metabolism, defending against infections, producing vitamins and influencing health outside of the gut. The gut microbiota is fairly stable during our lifetime unless disturbed by factors such as medications, poor diets especially those high in processed foods, chemicals and, chronic high stress.

An imbalanced microbiome, also known as dysbiosis, has been linked to different types of conditions including intestinal permeability, chronic infections, arthritis, autoimmunity and eczema. Numerous scientific studies have now also connected mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and alterations in cognition with changes in the gut microbiome. These studies are further supported by research exposing the co-occurrence of GI disorders with depression and anxiety. In other words, a dysbiotic gut flora can be considered as a contributing, and even causative, factor in certain mood disorders.

At first, scientists didn’t quite know how to explain this link between dysbiosis and psychiatric disorders. However, in recent years, research has revealed a communication network found between the GI tract and the central nervous system. This network, called the “gut-brain axis”, is bidirectional, meaning that the brain communicates with our gut and in turn our GI system sends signals to the brain. Gut bacteria produce various chemical signals including neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA and dopamine. These are the same compounds, manufactured by our brain, responsible for our happiness, emotional stability and motivation. The gut bacteria are also able to influence nerve inflammation and modulate stress hormones.

Certain probiotic strains have specialized functions, some of which can help with stress and mental conditions. The oral intake of Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 was shown to have positive effects on anxiety, depression and stress in human volunteers. More specifically, they not only have anxiolytic-like effects and alleviated psychological distress but helped to reduce cortisol – the main stress hormone in the body which is associated with depression and anxiety when elevated.

Recent research has also found a link between a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and mental disorders. BDNF helps maintain the function and growth of neurons as well as connections between nerves. It plays a vital role in learning, memory and higher thinking. Low levels of BDNF have been correlated with depression and anxiety. This relationship may be due to BDNF’s role in supporting serotonin production which may have a calming effect on the nervous system. BDNF levels can be increased by exercise, intermittent fasting as well as specific probiotic strains including L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. brevis, B. lactis and B. longum.

When trying to address mood conditions, it is best to use a combination of approaches since different factors can contribute to most disease processes.  Herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of mood disorders. Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha, has been used extensively in Ayurveda, the classical Indian system of medicine, for promoting physical and mental wellbeing. This very revered herb is adaptogenic, protecting the body against chronic stress, has anti-aging qualities and mood stabilizing abilities. The bioactive compounds known as glycowithanolides found in ashwagandha have anxiolytic and antidepressant properties partly due to their GABA-like effects. In other studies, ashwagandha was shown to decrease cortisol levels, improve resistance towards stress and improve quality of life. It also has a cognition promoting effect, shown to benefit elderly suffering from memory decline as well as neurodegenerative diseases.

Lastly, antioxidants can greatly help to combat the negative biochemical changes which occur as a result of stress. Although the body has its natural antioxidant defenses, these may become overwhelmed with long-term stress. Increasing dietary antioxidants can protect the nervous system against stress-induced effects. Emerging research suggests that compounds in blueberries known as flavonoids not only may slow the decline in mental faculties but can improve memory and cognitive function. Wild Alaskan blueberry extracts such as AuroaBlue® Alaskan Blueberry Complex possesses up to 10 times more antioxidant activity as compared to regular blueberries due to the harsher growing environments which promote a higher concentration and variety of antioxidants. Blueberries may in fact prove to be the most powerful brain-preserving foods in the world.

Although more studies are needed to fully understand the mechanisms involved in mental health, current research is unravelling some of the workings behind the effects of long-term stress in psychiatric diseases. The use of specific probiotic strains together with botanicals such as ashwagandha and wild blueberries are proving to be an integral part of supporting mental and emotional wellbeing.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are today’s hot topic when it comes to digestive health. While many have heard about them, there is still confusion that arises as to what they are and how they work. What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? Where do prebiotics come from?  Why should I take prebiotics? These are often the questions asked when people are contemplating adding prebiotics to their regime or are wanting something to support their intestinal flora. While the term “prebiotic” may seem confusing, having them in your diet is much easier than you may think.

While probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can be used as a supplement to alter intestinal flora temporarily, prebiotics are used to feed the healthy gut flora and help them flourish. Think of prebiotics as the food for probiotics. For healthy gut bacteria to thrive, they need to be fed well to reproduce and colonize the intestinal tract. When more good bacteria are colonizing the gut, harmful bacteria and pathogens will not have room to flourish and will be removed from the intestine. While probiotics are essential during times of antibiotic use, travel, stress, or to help strengthen the immune system, prebiotics should regularly be consumed to feed good bacteria continuously.

So where do these gut heroes come from? Prebiotic nutrients are fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin and short-chain fatty acids. Basically, they are found insoluble fibres and some dairy products. Soluble fibre is indigestible by humans, but the bacteria in our gut thrive on it. Making sure to eat your vegetables is very important for good gut health but try including veggies like sweet potato, asparagus, onions, garlic and leeks for their specific fibre content. Using roots like chicory, dandelion and burdock are also great for the gut while Jerusalem artichoke is rich in inulin. Seeds that become gelatinous in water are also great for the intestines as the action of thickening in water shows they are rich in soluble fibre. These seeds include chia, flax and psyllium seed husks. As the good intestinal flora feeds on prebiotics, they produce various metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids. The body uses the short-chain fatty acids as energy, one, in particular, being butyrate which is the primary energy source for colon cells. Butyrate is also a prebiotic and is found in dairy sources especially abundant in butter.

So why is it important to feed the gut flora? It is estimated that the human body contains ten times more microbial bacteria than human cells. This bacteria not only affects the digestion of foods, but our immune system, neurotransmitters, hormones, energy levels and the list goes on. Having a good relationship with these little guys and feeding them well means having a healthier body. Did you know that most of our body’s serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the gut? Or that we have a complex bundle of nerves similar to our central nervous system called the enteric nervous system in our gut and the information processed in the intestines comes from the good bacteria that live in it? Feeding the good bacteria with prebiotics will help them flourish while consuming a diet rich in refined sugar, grains and alcohol will feed harmful bacteria in the body that can lead to poor digestion, weakened immune system, bad moods and low energy.

How does one make sure they have enough prebiotics daily? Make sure to include fibre rich foods in your diet aiming for 25-40 grams of fibre daily. The average Canadian is getting less than 15 grams per day! If adding fibre to your diet is challenging, try supplementing using psyllium husks or a fibre blend that you can mix with water or juice. There are some great soluble fibre supplements on the market that do not taste like anything at all! Alternatively, try new breakfast options like chia pudding or overnight oats with chia and flax seeds. On the go? Make a smoothie for breakfast and add chia seeds or ground flax. Add a bit of psyllium fibre or even pureed sweet potato to your muffins or loaves. Just remember to drink plenty of water when consuming more fibre as fibre needs water to help it move along through the digestive tract and clean out the colon. Consuming prebiotics daily can be much easier than you think!



Summer Time Munch Time

Summer is here in full swing, and we are all running to the park or beach whenever we get the chance. While taking a bag of chips along or grabbing an ice cream cone while you are out to cool off may sound appealing, packing healthy snacks will help you have a better day in the sun. Step aside deep fried chips and concession stand foods that leave you feeling sluggish and bloated by the end of the day. With a little planning and preparation, you can have refreshing and energizing snacks and meals that will keep you satisfied all day long.

Whether you are hitting the trails or peckish at the beach, homemade trail mix can keep your hunger at bay. Raw nuts and seeds contain lots of fibre and protein helping you feel full while adding ingredients like goji berries and cacao nibs increase antioxidant content. Goji berries are rich in beta-carotene and very good for the skin while cacao nibs add a chocolatey taste without melting in the heat. Homemade granola bars or energy bites make great snacks while on the go and can be made with simple ingredients, good for your wallet and waistline.

Ditch the chips and sour cream dips for crunch satisfying whole grain crackers and hummus. Crackers will deliver the crunch satisfaction you are looking for without the bad oils and the chickpea-based dip, hummus, can withstand the heat of the sun much better while providing fibre and protein. Hummus is also a great spread for sandwiches making it a healthy alternative to mayonnaise and does better in the heat. Crunchy water dense veggies like cucumber and celery make great dippers to help keep you hydrated as well.

Make a meal out of your picnic salad by adding whole grains, beans and seeds. Quinoa, barley, farro or brown rice can be added to or be the base of many types of salads making them much more substantial. Topping salads with seeds add protein and a nutty flavour while beans like chickpeas can be roasted and used as a replacement for croutons in a salad. Using an oil-based salad dressing can withstand being outdoors better than a creamy dressing and will feel lighter on the stomach when you are out in the heat of the day.

Have kids to think about? Replace the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich with other nut or seed butter options such as almond, cashew, hazelnut and sunflower. Jam and jelly can be swapped with sliced banana or mashed berries to reduce the sugar load. Bring homemade treats like muffins and cookies made with whole grains and hidden pureed veggies. Get creative with your kids by having them make fruit necklaces out of berries and grapes using yarn needles and elastic cords so they can munch on fruit during the day. And most likely they will enjoy veggies and hummus too!

Staying hydrated is vital for a day in the sun, but that means more than just drinking water. Fruits high in water content are great snacks and help deliver water to your cells much better with their mineral content than drinking water alone. Watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and apples are great hydrating fruits and will help keep you cool. Adding fruit and even herbs like mint to your water can make a refreshing and flavourful drink to help you stay away from dehydrating sugar-filled sodas. Packing nature’s electrolyte-rich drink, coconut water, is an excellent option for a day in the heat or for any summer activity. Better hydration throughout the day will help you keep cool, reducing cravings when you hear the bells of the ice cream cart coming your way.

With a little planning and prep, summer eating can be just as healthy on the go as it is at home. If your goal is to maintain a beach body or to just feel good after a day out in the beautiful weather summer has to offer, planning your food ahead always helps. Instead of looking forward to summertime ice cream cones and freezes, look forward to summer’s sweet and beautiful bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that only come once a year. Local strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes, Canadian peaches, nectarines and cherries. Stay healthy with the foods nature intended for us and make the most out of this summer!

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.

Steinbachonline.com is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

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