Mind Blowing Mushrooms

Take a moment to think about mushrooms. What comes to mind? Do you enjoy eating them sautéed in butter on your barbequed steak? Are they the food you avoid on the veggie platter because they are fungi? Or are they the annoying species popping up on your perfectly manicured lawn? Whether you like mushrooms or not, once you finish reading this article, the way you look at mushrooms will never be the same.

There is more than meets the eye to our little white-capped friends. Literally much more. Beneath the surface of what we recognize as a mushroom is a vast branched bacterial colony network called mycelium. The mycelium spread underground connecting plants to one another sending messages to either help or hinder other plant growth. Trees send nutrients through the mycelium to seedlings to help them grow. Without the mycelium, many seedlings would not be able to grow in densely forested areas because they would be growing in the shade of larger trees. The mycelium also protects plants from pests and pathogens because they transfer out chemical signals from plant to plant to set up their chemical defences when there is an invader nearby. Mycelium also transfers chemical signals from plants to eliminate the competition of plant growth in a crowded area or to prevent foreign species from growing and flourishing in their habitat. It is no wonder that mycelium is referred to as “nature’s internet.”  Beyond sending messages, the mycelium also break down dead plants and decompose wastes making them essential for rich soil production and protection of the environment.

Mycelium produces the fruiting bodies we know as mushrooms. While you may be picturing the classic button mushroom or a commonly known portabella mushroom, there are even more varieties that contain many nutrients and antioxidants that are incredibly beneficial to the human body as well. These mushrooms are known as medicinal mushrooms for their health-promoting and immune boosting effects. Many medicinal mushrooms you will find growing on trees because the nutrients they contain are actually sourced from the trees they grow on. While all medicinal mushrooms are great for the immune system because of their antioxidant content and beta glucans (immune system stimulators), there are specific benefits to specific types.

The reishi mushroom is known as the queen of mushrooms. Reishi can help cleanse the liver, reduce bad cholesterol and balance blood sugars, and can even act as an antihistamine. The reishi mushroom is also an adaptogen, helping one adapt to stress, promoting grounding and relaxation. It is used to help improve sleep quality and can make an excellent evening drink.  

Since there is a queen of mushrooms, there also must be a king, and that is the Chaga mushroom. Chaga is found on birch trees and grows abundantly in Canada and other northern countries. Chaga is mineral and antioxidant-rich containing the antioxidant superoxide dismutase which works on disarming some of the worst free radicals, superoxide radicals. Superoxide radicals instigate the breakdown of synovial fluid (the lubricant) found in our joints which can lead to friction and inflammation. The Chaga mushroom also contains melanin which supports eyes, hair, skin and nails, and the antivirals betulin and betulinic acid that help the immune system.

If there are relaxation mushrooms, there must also be energizing mushrooms. Cordyceps are the energizing type. They do so by increasing the lungs maximum oxygen intake, circulation and cellular energy production, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Cordyceps have been used by many Olympic athletes to improve their athletic performance and stamina. In the same way, cordyceps are used as an aphrodisiac. They are also great adaptogens.

One of the most fascinating of the medicinal mushrooms is Lion’s Mane. Lion’s Mane is a natural nootropic which means it can increase cognitive function, memory, motivation and creativity. It has been extensively studied for its ability to regenerate Nerve Growth Factors which are molecules that stimulate the differentiation and re-myelination of neurons. Lion’s Mane is so useful because it contains compounds that allow its nutrients to cross the blood-brain barrier and has been used in treatment for those with Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s.

The mushrooms listed above are only a few examples of the many different types of medicinal mushrooms available. Researchers are still exploring the benefits and uses of mushrooms for humans and the environment. Currently, they are being used to clean up diesel spills, and more research is being done on certain types that like to eat plastics that help speed up the rate of plastic decomposition. The world indeed depends on them.

Now that you have finished reading, will you ever be able to think of mushrooms the same way again?

Here Comes The Sun!

When the weather gets nice, we all get excited to go outside and enjoy the sun. The outdoors becomes an extension of our living space, a place to nap, play, walk, and bike or even enjoy a picnic. Sun or cloud, UV exposure is a risk and as you spend more time outside this summer, it is important to remember the long-term risks of excess sun exposure. 

Skin cancer is the leading cause of all cancers and it usually occurs in sun exposed areas. It is seen highest in people who work outdoors or love to sun tan! There are many different types of skin cancers, the three most common are, Basel cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and Melanoma. Basel Cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma are the least likely to metastasize (spread to other areas of the body).

Melanoma is the deadliest cancer if it has spread, so early detection is key. Melanoma occurs in pigmented areas of the body, such as moles. It is important to keep a close eye on your moles to detect any changes. A good tip is to take photographs monthly to compare, this is helpful in difficult to see areas such as your back. Screening during your yearly physical with your MD or ND is also important to detect any abnormal looking areas. A biopsy of the mole is what is used for diagnosis.

It is important to keep in mind the risk factors for melanoma during the summer months. The main risk factor is sun exposure while others include fair skin, family history, and atypical moles (moles that do not look “normal”). 30% of melanoma is from pigmented moles. When keeping an eye on your moles it is important to look for key changes. If the size of your mole is changing, that is something to be concerned about. Watch to see if the shape has changed, if its borders are becoming irregular or indistinct. Colour change is something else to look out for. Sometimes a dark brown mole will look patchy, or a very dark mole can show up suddenly. Sometimes colour around the mole can change with red, white of blue colouration showing up around the mole. Bleeding is usually a sign that the melanoma has progressed quite far and is deep. Irritation can also show up as inflammation, which is often red and causes swelling.

So how does one prevent melanoma and other skin cancers? Wear sunscreen when going outside and regularly re-apply. Choosing natural sunscreens are better for you and the environment. The active ingredients found in natural sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are not absorbed by the skin, working as a protective barrier and are reef safe. Other conventional sunscreens can contain hormone disrupting SPF ingredients, the worst of which is oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is highly toxic and absorbs through the skin in significant amounts according to the Environmental Working Group. Carefully read ingredients before choosing your summer sunscreen. Avoid excess sun exposure by sitting in the shade and always bring a beach umbrella when you are not sure if you will find a shady spot. Shorts and tank tops may keep you cool on hot days but, expose a lot of skin. Better clothing options for the summer are loose fitting long pants, shirts, skirts and dresses in light colours made from materials like cotton or linen. They will keep you cool and covered helping to reduce your cancer risk. Always take a hat with you to keep your face out of the sun. This will not only help prevent cancer but also prevent premature aging from sun damage.

Do not be afraid to take in the summer for all it is worth because we know in Manitoba it is far too short but, that does not mean we cannot make smart sun decisions when we do. Stop aiding sunburns this year but, instead, prevent them. Your skin will thank you for it! Take care of your skin and you will have a better summer this year and in the years to come.

MCT Oil for Complete and Optimum Health

Pure MCT Oil is made by isolating the MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) from the LCT’s (long chain triglycerides), and can be used to support areas such as weight management, energy levels during workouts, and age-related cognitive decline.

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides which are derived from coconut oil. MCT oil is the best kind of fuel for us at the cellular level because of the fact that it encourages fat-burning and also because it increases mental clarity. 

Because of its properties, MCT Oil can help with weight loss. It’s quickly metabolized – it doesn’t get stored as fat but is burned quickly and turned into energy.  

In one study published in the Journal of Obesity and Research in 2013, scientists at McGill University in Montreal carried out a randomized control trial to compare the effects of medium-chain triglycerides (such as caprylic acid and lauric acid) and long-chain triglycerides (such as olive oil) on body fat storage, energy expenditure, appetite control, and other aspects of weight loss in overweight men.

Researchers put these men on different diets for 28 days. They switched the diets after a short time so that they could see differences in the same subjects. One group ate a coconut oil-rich diet, high in medium-chain triglycerides. The other group ate a diet rich in long-chain triglycerides.

Those who ate coconut oil lost more body fat, which they attributed to a greater increase in energy expenditure and fat burning. Coconut oil actually sped up their metabolism, curbing their appetite, and allowing them to lose more belly fat, as compared with the men who were on the olive oil-rich diet.

MCTs are also a unique form of saturated fat with very potent antioxidant and anti-microbial properties that support your immune system. They also provide anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and even anti-viral benefits.

According to studies, MCTs help you burn about 460 extra calories a day for men and about 190 extra calories a day for women.  MCTs also beneficially impact your hormones, including appetite-controlling hormones, helping you feel fuller for longer.

MCTs also help cognitively: they make excellent brain and cellular fuel.

Dr. Mark Hyman writes about MCT’s being his favourite oil for many reasons. He says: “You might be hesitant to use coconut oil or MCT oil because it is high in saturated fat, which has been demonized for decades. Yet there is world of difference between quality saturated fat in coconut or MCT oils, as compared with what you might find in a fast food cheeseburger.”

As he points out, “fat is one of your body’s main building blocks, yet for decades it was unfairly maligned. Instead, we followed a low-fat diet according to U.S. dietary guidelines, which became a high-sugar, high-refined-carb diet contributing to an epidemic of insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other serious health problems.”

Instead of bad fats or more carbohydrates, what we need to do is consume omega 3 fats and MCTs like coconut oil, which are actually good for you and can actually help you lose weight, enjoy optimal health, and increase brain power and immunity as well.

To receive the best results from using MCT Oil, incorporate them into a low carbohydrate diet. Start by taking 1 teaspoon daily, with food, and build slowly to avoid stomach upset. Or try these great ideas!

Mix MCT Oil with your morning coffee, add it to your morning smoothies, make a great and fresh-tasting salad dressing with it, or take it by the spoonful for a blast of daily energy. MCT Oil is not to be heated for cooking, though you can use it in a marinade for any meats or veggies, and especially on fish!

MCT Is great in your morning smoothies to get your day off and running in the best way possible! Try this recipe on for size!

 Orange You Bananas Smoothie (Serves 2 | Ready in 5 minutes)

 Ingredients:

1/2 avocado

1 orange, peel removed

1 banana

1/2 cup strawberries, halved

1/2 lemon, peel removed

2 Tbsp. hemp hearts

1 Tbsp. MCT Oil

1/2 cup ice

ADD all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. POUR evenly in two glasses. CHEERS, and enjoy!

Do Your Dairy Free

There is nothing like the creamy delicious taste of dairy. That first bite of cold, sweet, and smooth ice cream on a hot summer day or even that creamy comfort of a cheesy pasta. Unfortunately, for many of us, these foods will bring painful consequences that make them hard to enjoy. Nearly half the world’s population is lactose intolerant (the inability to digest milk’s sugar, lactose) which can cause uncomfortable gas, bloating, abdominal pain and even diarrhea. Some people are allergic to the proteins found in milk which can manifest as abdominal discomfort, skin rashes, eczema or even chronic ear infections and many other problems, never mind those who can have an anaphylactic reaction to dairy. Some have even noticed improvement in respiratory ailments such as asthma or chronic sinusitis when they cut out dairy products as excessive dairy consumption has been associated with increased mucus production.

With more food sensitivities on the rise the food industry has had to cater to specific dietary restrictions such as dairy-free products. When one would go to a grocery store only a mere 15 years ago to shop for themselves or their children who had dietary restrictions, it was hard to find options to replace the dairy rich foods we all know and love. Temptations would arise and those who should not consume dairy consumed it and to their own detriment. The use of supplemental lactase enzymes can help those with lactose intolerance, but for those who could not have dairy for other reasons still suffered. And for parents with children who have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy, it can be very hard for them to help their children understand why they cannot eat the same things their friends do. Luckily, there are a lot of creative people in this world to come up with options that satisfy the desire for the creamy comfort food we so enjoy.

The days we are living in now are the best for finding tasty dairy free options. More and more products are becoming available on the market to go dairy free and there are lots of recipes available at our fingertips on the internet. Even more ice cream parlors and restaurants are catering to the dairy-free population. Coconut milk and coconut cream have become more popular and are great replacements for cream or milk in soups and sauces to add a creamy taste and texture and they even work well as a coffee creamer. They are also used in many ice cream alternatives that will leave you feeling satisfied, not missing regular ice cream at all! But what about cheese? Many nuts and seeds are now being used to make cheese replacements in flavours such as brie, cheddar, and blue cheese. Some are even made to be like a cream cheese spread. If lactose intolerance is your issue, there are many hard-dairy cheeses to look out for that are lactose free. Nutritional yeast is a wonderful product rich in B vitamins especially B12 and lends a sharp cheesy taste to food making a delicious popcorn topping or can be used to make cheesy tasting dips that can even fool your cheese-loving friends. Let’s not forget the old stand-by, soy, that can take on flavours while being used to replace everything from milk and cheese to yogurt and ice cream.

When most people discover they have to go dairy free for various reasons, their first concern is often “where will I get my calcium?”. Dark leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts (especially almonds) and seeds, and many peas and beans are very good sources of calcium. Supplementation is also always an option when the diet is low in calcium. Consuming a whole food diet and reducing or eliminating all processed foods will also help the bones retain more of their calcium. A diet rich in processed foods and soda will contain high amounts of phosphorus which can pull calcium from the bones and have it excreted through urine. Retaining the calcium in our bones that we already have is just as important as making sure we get enough from our diets.

If going dairy free is right for you and your personal needs, the transition is so much easier now than it has ever been. The world is your oyster and opportunities to try new things are much more abundant than ever before. No more missing out on taste and flavour for you or your kids. No more worrying if you are meeting nutritional needs without dairy. Take care of your body’s specific needs whether that means avoiding dairy or something else entirely because it will only lead to a better and healthier life for many years to come.

Do Your Dairy Free

There is nothing like the creamy delicious taste of dairy. That first bite of cold, sweet, and smooth ice cream on a hot summer day or even that creamy comfort of a cheesy pasta. Unfortunately, for many of us, these foods will bring painful consequences that make them hard to enjoy. Nearly half the world’s population is lactose intolerant (the inability to digest milk’s sugar, lactose) which can cause uncomfortable gas, bloating, abdominal pain and even diarrhea. Some people are allergic to the proteins found in milk which can manifest as abdominal discomfort, skin rashes, eczema or even chronic ear infections and many other problems, never mind those who can have an anaphylactic reaction to dairy. Some have even noticed improvement in respiratory ailments such as asthma or chronic sinusitis when they cut out dairy products as excessive dairy consumption has been associated with increased mucus production.

With more food sensitivities on the rise the food industry has had to cater to specific dietary restrictions such as dairy-free products. When one would go to a grocery store only a mere 15 years ago to shop for themselves or their children who had dietary restrictions, it was hard to find options to replace the dairy rich foods we all know and love. Temptations would arise and those who should not consume dairy consumed it and to their own detriment. The use of supplemental lactase enzymes can help those with lactose intolerance, but for those who could not have dairy for other reasons still suffered. And for parents with children who have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy, it can be very hard for them to help their children understand why they cannot eat the same things their friends do. Luckily, there are a lot of creative people in this world to come up with options that satisfy the desire for the creamy comfort food we so enjoy.

The days we are living in now are the best for finding tasty dairy free options. More and more products are becoming available on the market to go dairy free and there are lots of recipes available at our fingertips on the internet. Even more ice cream parlors and restaurants are catering to the dairy-free population. Coconut milk and coconut cream have become more popular and are great replacements for cream or milk in soups and sauces to add a creamy taste and texture and they even work well as a coffee creamer. They are also used in many ice cream alternatives that will leave you feeling satisfied, not missing regular ice cream at all! But what about cheese? Many nuts and seeds are now being used to make cheese replacements in flavours such as brie, cheddar, and blue cheese. Some are even made to be like a cream cheese spread. If lactose intolerance is your issue, there are many hard-dairy cheeses to look out for that are lactose free. Nutritional yeast is a wonderful product rich in B vitamins especially B12 and lends a sharp cheesy taste to food making a delicious popcorn topping or can be used to make cheesy tasting dips that can even fool your cheese-loving friends. Let’s not forget the old stand-by, soy, that can take on flavours while being used to replace everything from milk and cheese to yogurt and ice cream.

When most people discover they have to go dairy free for various reasons, their first concern is often “where will I get my calcium?”. Dark leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts (especially almonds) and seeds, and many peas and beans are very good sources of calcium. Supplementation is also always an option when the diet is low in calcium. Consuming a whole food diet and reducing or eliminating all processed foods will also help the bones retain more of their calcium. A diet rich in processed foods and soda will contain high amounts of phosphorus which can pull calcium from the bones and have it excreted through urine. Retaining the calcium in our bones that we already have is just as important as making sure we get enough from our diets.

If going dairy free is right for you and your personal needs, the transition is so much easier now than it has ever been. The world is your oyster and opportunities to try new things are much more abundant than ever before. No more missing out on taste and flavour for you or your kids. No more worrying if you are meeting nutritional needs without dairy. Take care of your body’s specific needs whether that means avoiding dairy or something else entirely because it will only lead to a better and healthier life for many years to come.

Professional Pain Relief

While the prescription pain industry explodes, more and more people are turning to side-effect free natural alternatives to handle their joint pain issues. Over the counter (OCT) and prescription pain medications may deal with joint pain temporarily but more and more Canadians are realizing it does not target the root cause. To deal with the root cause effectively we need natural drug-free alternatives and this is why people are turning to nature for ways to quench the fire of inflammation naturally.

Inflammation is the underlying cause of most diseases and joint pain is no different. To effectively target inflammation use a combination of botanicals and vitamins well documented for their ability to provide relief to joint pain sufferers.

Glucosamine Hydrochloride

A key component of joints is glucosamine which helps to promote collagen synthesis by stimulating the activity of chondrocytes. The chondrocytes are the cartilage forming cells of the body found in the joint capsule. Collagen is a key component of the cartilage that acts as the buffer between the bones of a joint so that they are not grinding upon one another producing friction and pain. Glucosamine is also required for the synthesis of mucopolysaccharides, which are found in the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, synovial fluid (the lubricant between the joints), mucous membranes, eyes, blood vessels and heart valves.

MSM

MSM is a naturally occurring sulphur-containing compound. The ‘S’ in MSM is Sulfur and it is crucial for the running of the Sulfation Pathways of Detoxification in the Liver. It is also backed by numerous clinical studies which demonstrate the ability of this compound to dramatically reduce pain and inflammation. As a result, these studies also show that those supplementing with MSM see an increase in physical mobility and general wellness and wellbeing.

Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides

Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides have been found to provide relief in those suffering from osteoarthritis. In particular, Peptan™, a patented collagen, has been clinically proven to boost osteoblast activity which are the bone building cells of the body. Many people don’t realize this but 90% of your bone matrix is made up of collagen synthesized from these osteoblasts and when collagen stores are low in the body bone and joints suffer. In one study, those individuals with the most severe pain found the greatest relief by supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen from Peptan™ and they were able to reduce their need for pain medications. In addition, oral supplementation with Peptan™ hydrolyzed collagen stimulates the chondrocytes within the joint capsule which is essential for establishing strong cartilage. Cartilage acts as the buffer between bones reducing friction, inflammation and its attendant pain and so getting the chondrocytes to work is the key to building up the worn-down cartilage. The result is increased mobility and a better quality of life.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is not just for the prevention of colds and flus, it plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis. Your body cannot make collagen without it! Supplementation with vitamin C has been shown to reduce the breakdown of cartilage in those with osteoarthritis. It also has an analgesic effect.

BCM-95 (Curcumin)

If you have pain you need to know about curcumin and its benefits. Curcuminoids are the alkaloids derived from turmeric which have anti-inflammatory benefit and provide massive pain relief. BCM-95™ in particular is a highly bioavailable form of curcumin which has been proven to reduce pain and inflammation in the body faster and better than Curcumin-95 extract. In fact, it is clinically proven to be 7x more bioavailable in the body compared to regular curcumin. Curcumin in general is known to be helpful for treating a number of different health concerns including: cancer, Alzheimer’s, liver disease, gastrointestinal complains, respiratory conditions and even mood disorders. However, curcumin is most commonly known and used for joint pain and inflammation. Studies have found that in some cases curcumin is as effective for relieving pain and inflammation as Ibuprofen.

Ginger

Not just a culinary spice, ginger, like turmeric, has anti-inflammatory benefits. It is also analgesic, anti-nausea, anti-ulcer and shows strong antioxidant activity. It can significantly decrease joint pain and inflammation when taken on a daily regular basis over a 3-month period consistently. A University of Miami study suggested that it could one day be a substitute for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s).

Devil’s Claw

This herb reduced the need for pain medications in multiple clinical studies of arthritic patients as well as those suffering from back pain. Some studies have also found this herb to have anti-inflammatory action.

Bromelain

Bromelain is a commonly known as a digestive enzyme. It is derived from pineapple and have additional benefits beyond improving digestion. The enzymes in Bromelain have displayed anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties due to eh the inhibitory effect it has on pro-inflammatory pathways.

Vitamin B6

Studies have found that individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis generally have lower Vitamin B6 levels compared to the general population. Low levels of B6 are correlated with higher levels of pro-inflammatory molecules, which leads to greater inflammation in the body.

Vitamin D3

Adequate intake of Vitamin D3 is crucial for a healthy immune system and low levels have been associated with a number of autoimmune diseases as well as cancer. Higher in takes of Vitamin D3 are associated with a reduced risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)., There is also evidence that those who have already developed the disease and suffer from RA may benefit by increasing their daily intake.

Hyaluronic Acid

HA is a natural component of all connective tissues including the skin. This compound is used both orally and by injection for the treatment of osteoarthritis and joint pain. Hyaluronic acid is a component of joint fluid, cartilage and skin tissue. It is present as a coat around each cell (chondrocyte). Hyaluronic acid has an amazing ability to absorb water and it contributes to the cushioning effect of cartilage as well as the lubrication of joints. HA has been proven to benefit all joints, however key studies have shown that it is particularly good for knee pain and improving knee mobility.

Boswellia

This herb is commonly known as Frankincense and is used as an anti-inflammatory agent for various conditions like: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, ulcerative colitis, asthma, sore throats and allergic rhinitis. Studies have found improvement in both pain and functionality scores after supplementation with Boswellia. Significant improvements were seen within just seven days of initiating supplementation.

It is important to realize that short term inflammation is perfectly normal and is a part of a healthy immune response. It is chronic, long-term inflammation that, if left uncontrolled, leads to illness, and disease. With natural health products we can often achieve the same results as allopathic western medicine without the side-effects because they target the root cause and not just control the symptom of pain. However, we need to keep in mind that natural supplements do take time to work. It takes many years for issues like arthritis to develop and so patience needs to be exercised when engaged in a healing process that involves natural supplements. Natural supplements are not Band-Aid solutions like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen. The ingredients discussed above are working to repair joint tissue and reverse chronic inflammatory processes. The aim is to treat the cause of the problem and ultimately to reduce pain and improve function over the long-term for a better quality of life.

Beautiful Legs for Summer

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

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

Citrus Rinds to the Rescue

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

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

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

Horse Chestnut Extract

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

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

Butcher’s Broom

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

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

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

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

3 Reasons Why Health Experts are Recommending to Supplement with Collagen

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

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

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

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

1.    Collagen for Joint Pain

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

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

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

2.    Collagen for Skin Health, Hair, & Nails

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

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

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

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

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

3.    Collagen for Digestive Issues

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

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

Pointers for Purchase

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

Can Our Food Be Our Medicine?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Navigating the "Pain & Inflammation" Aisle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serrapeptase -> Serrapeptase is a natural enzyme produced from bacteria that is originally found in the intestines of the silkworm. This proteolytic enzyme works like a “pac-man” to seek out and break down or “digest” dead or damaged tissue made of protein in the body, without harming living tissues. In addition, it is thought to reduce inflammation by thinning fluids formed, helping them to drain and speeding up tissue repair and recovery time.  It also effectively relieves chronic pain by blocking the release of the body’s natural pain chemicals from inflamed/injured tissues. This way it halts pain pathways and restores the body’s inflammatory response to reduce swelling and improve circulation.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Good n’ Natural

Good n Natural

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

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