Healthy Hair & Skin from Within!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soaking vs. Sprouting vs. Souring

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

What are “anti-nutrients”?

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

SOAKING

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

SPROUTING

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

Health Benefits of Sprouting

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

Other Benefits of Sprouting

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

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

SOURING

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

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

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

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


How to Cope With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diet

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

Supplement

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

Deal with stress

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

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

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

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

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

2 ibid

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

 

 

 

 

Helper's High

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

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

All About Hormones: Part 5 – Natural Suggestions

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

General Recommendations:

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

Condition Specific Supplements:

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

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

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

All About Hormones: Part 4 – Hormone Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

HYPOTHYROIDISM: Underactive thyroid is due to a decreased production of thyroid hormones or poor conversion of thyroid hormones (T4 to T3). This leads to a slowed metabolism, weak immunity, impaired liver function, constipation, brain fog, etc. Common underlying factors include nutrient deficiencies (especially tyrosine, iodine, selenium), poor gut health, chronic inflammation, candida overgrowth, estrogen dominance, blood sugar imbalances, stress, an overburdened liver or environmental toxicity! According to women’s health expert, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, “mild or sub clinical hypothyroidism may respond to nutritional and herbal support.” She notes that, those with low thyroid symptoms or a TSH number over 2.0 can consider natural thyroid support ingredients that help increase the production or conversion of T4 to T3.

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

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

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

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

All About Hormones: Part 3 – Hormone Connections

Part 1 and 2 of this series discussed basic hormones and key players in their production. This week in Part 3, we will look at how various hormones and systems are interrelated and can affect each other. Hormones work together closely and when one process is off balance, it can create a domino effect throughout the body. Here are a few reminders before looking at these connections in detail:

  • An overloaded liver due to over toxicity is unable to detoxify and has an impaired ability to convert/process hormones. This can lead to an imbalance in sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Remember that estrogen and progesterone work together to maintain a healthy balance and work to adjust themselves as needed.
  • When adrenals are overtaxed from chronic stress, they secrete excess cortisol as part of a long-term response.
  • An underactive thyroid due to deficiencies or damage is characterized by the inability to properly produce, convert or use hormones.
  • An overworked pancreas as a result of constant high blood sugar levels and physical inactivity has to secrete increased levels of insulin in order to keep pushing excess into cells as they become more and more resistant to this hormone.
  • Weight gain is caused by an accumulation and enlargement of fat cells.

Here are just a few ways in which how an imbalance in one system can wreak havoc on the other.

Thyroid & Adrenals

High cortisol directly inhibits the enzyme that converts the thyroid hormones T4 to T3, causes thyroid receptor insensitivity, slows TSH production and increases the excretion of iodide from the kidney (important for thyroid hormone production). The thyroid uses tyrosine as building block for hormones but it is also needed by the adrenals for the stress response, potentially creating competition and deficiency.

Thyroid & Pancreas

Repetitive insulin surges from the pancreas increase the destruction of the thyroid gland. Also, a malfunctioning thyroid can affect blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance.  

Thyroid & Liver

Impaired detoxification can lead to abnormal thyroid function as a sluggish liver cannot properly convert T4 to T3. Excess estrogen levels also block uptake of thyroid hormones by receptors.

Thyroid & Fat Cells

The thyroid governs our metabolic rate. An underactive thyroid leads to a slow metabolism, low energy and resulting weight gain.

Adrenals & Pancreas

Under conditions of chronic stress, glucose levels remain high, which triggers the release of insulin. Therefore, chronically elevated cortisol may eventually lead to insulin resistance. In addition, spikes in blood sugar levels stress the body, further depleting the adrenals.

Adrenals & Liver

Cortisol and progesterone compete for the same receptor sites. When cortisol goes up due to stress, progesterone is decreased because receptors are full and estrogens increase as a result, leading to an imbalance. High cortisol levels also lead to a drop in testosterone and inhibits proper liver detoxification.

Adrenals & Fat Cells

Excess cortisol boosts abdominal fat storage, fuels a desire for fatty and sugar-laden comfort foods, depletes serotonin (leading to cravings), blocks leptin (appetite suppressant), eats away at muscle and triggers insulin resistance. It also causes fat cells to become larger, more resistant to fat loss and promotes more estrogen production in fat cells.  

Liver & Pancreas

Insulin tells the body to absorb glucose from the blood and turn it into fat where it can be stored for energy. Some blood sugar is stored as glycogen in the liver. When the liver is constantly reaching its capacity to store glycogen, it can lead to a fatty liver that has trouble metabolizing hormones. In addition, elevated insulin levels will reduce glutathione levels inhibiting the liver’s ability to detoxify. Also, insulin resistance will increase the activity of the enzyme aromatase, which can lead to estrogen dominance.

Fat Cells & Liver

When the liver detoxification pathways are disrupted, it contributes to hormonal imbalances, toxin accumulation and fat gain. Poor liver detoxification can lead to a decreased rate of excess estrogen excretion, leading to estrogen dominance and “belly fat”. On the other hand, too much fat in the body can also lead to excess estrogen as fat cells can both manufacture and store estrogen. This creates a vicious cycle. High estrogens promote weight gain, yet fat cells are estrogen factories.

Fat Cells & Pancreas

Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and is pumped out to reduce abnormally high blood sugar (eventually storing it into fat cells when other stores are full). The body then gains fat as a result and over time cells. Fat cells also produce inflammatory compounds which increase insulin resistance.

BONUS: Ovaries

Next to the thyroid, the ovaries contain the greatest concentration of iodine in the female body and they also have hormone receptors for thyroid hormones. An underactive thyroid can create menstrual problems, low sex drive and infertility.

BONUS: Gut

.  Elevated cortisol levels slowly destroy the immune system that lines the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, increases inflammation and prevents the cells from regenerating. As a result, the body has an increased risk of leaky gut and infections from parasites, yeast, viruses, and bacteria which further stresses other organs. Also, if you have gut issues, this may cause problems with mineral absorption, affecting proper function of other bodily systems.  

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

All About Hormones: Part 2 – Specific Hormones

Last week in Part 1 we looked at hormone basic and key players involved in these functions. This week we will dive further into specific hormones and how they work in the body.

SEX HORMONES-> Women and men both produce estrogen and testosterone. In men, the adrenals are the main source of estrogen. In women, hormones are predominantly produced in the adrenals, ovaries and fat cells. Women who have had their ovaries removed, or who have undergone menopause, rely on the adrenal glands for the majority of hormone production.

  1. Estrogens: A group of hormones that play a role in normal sexual and reproductive development. The main estrogens are Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), Estriol (E3). Each has different degree of interaction with estrogen receptors making them either weak or strong. Estradiol is the most potent and estriol has the lowest potency. Both estrone and estriol are made from estradiol.

According to women’s health expert, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, estrogens can stay in their original form, convert to another estrogen, or convert to cancer-preventative or cancer-promoting estrogen metabolites/breakdown products. For example, 2-hydroxyestrone is a breakdown product of estrogens and is thought to be breast cancer protective. However, having high levels of 4-hydroxyestrone and 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone metabolites are said to be cancer-promoting.  Estriol is the safer form that rarely converts to metabolites. Harmful conversions take place when liver health is compromised by drugs and toxins, when we are exposed to high amounts of “xeno estrogens” found in plastics, cosmetics, pesticides, animal products, etc. or when taking high doses of estrogens. Estrogen metabolism is affected by other hormones, as we will see in Part 3.

  1. Progesterone: Progesterone is a precursor hormone that the body uses to make other steroid hormones. It is produced in the “corpus luteum” of the ovaries. Progesterone can be used to make cortisol in the adrenal glands and it can also convert to estrogen through a series of reactions. During pregnancy, progesterone produced by the placenta is essential to maintain a pregnancy to term as it keeps the uterus from contracting until labor begins. These levels naturally decrease at menopause when the ovaries stop producing eggs, although the adrenals continue to produce it in smaller amounts.

Note that estrogen and progesterone work together to create harmony. If estrogen levels are too low, progesterone converts to estrogens to maintain these levels. However, when you have too much estrogen, you need more progesterone to maintain the balance.

  1. Testosterone: Testosterone is an androgen – a masculinizing hormone, although it plays a role in both male and female health. In women, it is produced mainly in the ovaries, but most is converted to estrogen. It is also produced in the testes in men and the adrenal glands in both men and women. It enhances libido, bone density, muscle mass, strength, motivation, memory, fat burning and skin tone. These levels tend to taper off with aging, obesity and stress. Exposure to pesticides and toxins also negatively impact production of testosterone in the testes.

CORTISOL -> Cortisol is known as our “chronic stress” hormone. It is secreted from the adrenal glands in response to long-term stressors. It results in increased blood sugar levels, breathing rate, cardiac output and blood flow (to muscles, lungs, brain) in order to help the body cope with stress. Our ability to adapt to long term stressors depends on the optimal function of the adrenal glands and regulation of cortisol secretion. Therefore, we need cortisol in the right amounts to survive and adapt to stress. It also helps to maintain blood pressure, body temperature and control inflammation. Cortisol has a natural rhythm throughout the day, so the body should produce more in the morning than in the evening, when levels should drop by 90%. As mentioned, those who have stressful lives tend to have elevated evening levels. If adrenals are weak, sleep suffers and poor sleep leads to exhausted adrenals, creating a vicious cycle. Stress and aging can both lead to high cortisol levels, especially during transitional hormone years of perimenopause.

THYROID HORMONES-> Thyroid hormones regulate heart rate, cholesterol levels, body weight, energy, muscle contraction and relaxation, skin and hair texture, bowel function, fertility, menstrual regularity, memory, mood and other processes. Thyroid stimulating hormone, or “TSH”, is secreted by the pituitary gland and prompts the thyroid to produce hormones (T4 & T3). Calcitonin is another thyroid hormone and it is involved in the balance of blood calcium levels.  Thyroid hormones are made up of tyrosine and iodine. T4 is the most abundant thyroid hormone and T3 is the most active thyroid hormone, having up to 10x the activity of T4. T3 is the thyroid hormone that directly influences the metabolism of every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Up to 80% of T4 is converted to T3 in multiple tissues and organs (i.e. liver, gut, muscle, brain and thyroid). Therefore T4 is a precursor to T3. Note that under periods of stress or selenium deficiency, the body may produce increased levels of “reverse T3”, which generally indicates an underactive thyroid.

INSULIN & GLUCAGON -> When sugar from the diet enters the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to process blood sugar (glucose) and carry it into the cells to be used. The more sugar in the bloodstream, the more insulin is released. Once insulin is released, the sugar can be used immediately as a fuel source for the brain or kidneys, stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles for later use as an energy source, or it can be stored as fat once the glycogen sites are full and if it cannot be used right away. Glucagon works directly opposite to insulin in that it raises our blood sugar. When we need fuel, glucagon instructs our body to use stored fat and sugars for energy. However, release is inhibited when high amounts of sugar and insulin are present in the bloodstream.

LEPTIN & GREHLIN -> A proper balance of these hormones is ideal to help lower body weight, body fat percentage, control food intake, blood sugar and insulin levels as well as regulate metabolism. Leptin is secreted by the fat cells and considered the main “satiety hormone” because it helps control appetite. Ghrelin is secreted primarily in the lining of the stomach and is considered the main “hunger hormone” because it increases the desire to eat. However, these signals can be disrupted due to obesity and the ability to eat when we are truly hungry and stop when we are full becomes compromised.

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

All About Hormones: Part 1 – Hormone Basics

According to women’s health expert, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, “hormones are chemical messengers that tell other systems throughout your body what to do, how to do it and when to do it.” Hormones are made out of various nutrients such as cholesterol, amino acids or fats from the diet. There are over 50 known hormones in the body and they are influenced by a wide variety of factors, such as exercise, diet, stress and sleep, digestion and environmental toxins.

Three Main Types:

  • Steroid Hormones -> These are made from cholesterol and manufactured by the liver. Examples include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol. Note that some steroid hormones can also convert to other hormones and back again.
  • Peptide Hormones -> These are made from protein/amino acids. Examples include insulin, LH & FSH, prolactin, dopamine and growth hormone.
  • Amine-Derived Hormones -> These are made from certain amino acids. Examples include melatonin, serotonin, thyroxine, and epinephrine.

Organs, glands and cells in the body secrete hormones into the bloodstream. The main hormone producers in the body are the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid and parathyroid, adrenals, pancreas, ovaries, pineal, thymus and fat cells. Other organs that can produce and secrete hormones include the liver and large intestine, among others.

KEY PLAYERS

Hypothalamus: Takes in signals from the nervous system and sends out hormone messages to the pituitary gland, directing it to either stop or start a hormone process.

Pituitary: Produces specific hormones in response to signals from the hypothalamus and sends out instructions to endocrine glands and organs.  This is known as the “master gland” because its hormones act on the thyroid, testes, ovaries and adrenal glands.

Thyroid/Parathyroid: The thyroid gland sets the rate for your body’s metabolism, which means it regulates nearly every cell in the body. This gland receives messages from the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) from the pituitary. It secretes both T4 and T3 hormones, which travel through the bloodstream. The thyroid also secretes calcitonin, which lowers the amount of calcium and phosphate in the blood as necessary to stop bone breakdown and stimulate movement of calcium into bone. The parathyroid gland secretes parathyroid hormone (PTH), which does the opposite. It stimulates bone cells to break down bone and release stored calcium into the blood. It is also involved in calcium absorption by the intestines and its conservation by the kidneys.

Adrenals: The adrenals secrete both male and female sex hormones and become the prime producers of estrogen and progesterone when the ovaries “retire” (i.e. menopause). They release the stress-response hormones that guide the body’s reaction to a stressor, as well as small amounts of estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and progesterone. Adrenals contain two parts, the adrenal medulla and the adrenal cortex. In response to triggers from the hypothalamus the adrenal medulla secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine as part of the fight or flight response. When a longer-term stress response is required, the adrenal cortex produces the hormones cortisol in response to a signal from the pituitary gland.

Pancreas: Assists in digestion by secreting enzymes. It also secretes the hormones insulin and glucagon directly into the bloodstream. Insulin pushes sugar/glucose into cells to decrease blood glucose levels, while glucagon increases the level of glucose in the blood when it gets too low. The pancreas monitors blood sugar levels and secretes one of the two to make adjustments in order to keep levels table. When blood sugar is constantly high, the pancreas becomes exhausted.

Ovaries: The ovaries secrete the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. When the pituitary gland sends out FSH and LH throughout the menstrual cycle, it is targeted for the ovaries. These are the storage organ for eggs in females. An increase in FSH stimulates the full maturing of one or multiple eggs. LH is the hormone that stimulates the release of the egg from the ovary. Fallopian tubes act as portals for the egg to the uterus.

Pineal Gland: Makes melatonin and secretes it into the bloodstream, which regulates the sleeping and waking cycle.

Thymus: This gland play an important role in immune function. It secretes hormones such as thymosin.

Fat Cells: Also known as adipose tissue, they are located in different places in men and women. Both estrogen and testosterone play a role in fat deposition in the body. Did you know that the size of fat cells can change throughout life, but the number of fat cells is determined by the late teens? This is why appropriate prenatal and teen nutrition are key in adult weight management. The size and number of fat cells affect hormone balance. Fat cells manufacture and store estrogen!

EXTRA CONSIDERATIONS

Liver: The liver is the key organ for clearing excess hormones. The liver also decides if a hormone is going to convert to one hormone or another. In addition, it manufactures cholesterol, the starting material for all steroid hormones. A healthy liver is key to healthy hormone balance.

Gut: The gut is home to trillions of bacteria, some good, some bad and some neutral. The beneficial bacteria in our “microbiome” are called probiotics. Probiotics can metabolize and recycle hormones in the body. They can reduce the levels of cortisol in the body due to a chronic stress and regulate circulating estrogen levels. Certain probiotics can also promote optimal insulin levels, help maintain healthy weight, support healthy sleep and potentially increase testosterone levels in males.

In order to have optimal hormone function and balance, it is important to ensure that various parts of the body are functioning properly as they each play an important role. Tune in to Part 2 next week for more information on specific hormones and what they do for you!

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

Eat The Rainbow!

According to leading scientists, James A. Joseph, Ph.D., “one of the biggest discoveries is that colorful fruits and vegetables contain many disease-fighting compounds known as phytochemicals and that we need the protective benefits of the full spectrum of their bright colors.” 

 

What are Phytonutrients?

Phytonutrients are a range of naturally occurring active chemicals in plants that give them their sensory characteristics such as flavor, odor, color and texture. In fact, the more intense the color, flavor or scent, the more concentrated the phytochemical content. These health-providing plant substances are currently not considered “essential” nutrients, although they have proven to be highly beneficial when consumed.  

Phytonutrients are manufactured by plants in order to provide them with natural protection from the environmental challenges they face. In this way, they defend them against excess UV radiation, dangerous microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites), pollution, toxins or predator pests and insects. When we consume plants rich in phytonutrients, they appear to provide humans with protection as well.

 

What are the Benefits of Phytonutrients?

Phytochemicals have a wide range of benefits due mainly to their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help reduce and/or prevent oxidative damage. This is due to free radicals that occur on a cellular level when the body is exposed to toxins, dietary imbalances, inflammation, stress, etc. Antioxidants help protect joints, blood vessels, eyes and the brain, in addition to helping slow the aging process, both internally and externally.

Phytochemicals are also known for their anti-inflammatory strengths and their ability to boost the body’s natural detoxification systems. Some have also been recognized to exert anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-cardiovascular disease (help support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels), and anti-cancer activity as well as analgesic, anti-allergic, liver protective, estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects! In addition, foods rich in phytochemicals (especially green foods) can help improve the pH balance in the body. A poor diet can lead to a body that is too acidic, which can have a number of damaging effects such osteoporosis, decreased immunity and arthritis, among others.

 

Common Types of Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients are classified by their chemical structure. Here are some common ones you might hear about.

  • Chlorophyll -> Helps to reduce inflammation, eliminate bad breathe, assist detoxification and support the immune system. It also plays a role in improving cholesterol and blood pressure. This is the chemical that gives green foods their color and can be found in ingredients like spirulina, wheat grass and kale.
  • Phytosterols -> These ingredients are common in prostate support, immune modulating and cholesterol lowering supplements. Examples include beta-sitosterol.
  • Carotenoids -> Sourced from foods like tomatoes and carrots. They are powerful antioxidants that are critical in protecting eye health. This group includes lycopene, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin and lutein, as well as alpha and beta-carotene, which are precursors to vitamins A. Lycopene also plays a role in preventing heart disease and promoting hair, skin and nail health.
  • Glucosinolates -> These are found in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy) and have the ability to modulate liver detoxification enzymes. For example, Indole-3-carbinol supports healthy estrogen metabolism and promotes beneficial conversions in the liver, breaking down dangerous estrogens into non-toxic forms. Sulforophane is also a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes that eliminate environmental estrogens.
  • Curcumin -> Found in turmeric spice. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory used for both joint and brain health.
  • Resveratrol -> An antioxidant found in peanuts, berries, grapes and red wine. It has anti-inflammatory effects and can help prevent heart disease.
  • Ellagic Acid -> Found in berries and protects the body from oxidative stress.
  • Ferulic Acid -> Found in the germ and bran of whole grains, in addition to certain vegetables such as spinach, parsley, grapes and rhubarb. It defends and provides antioxidant benefits to skin.
  • Flavonoids (Bioflavonoids) -> They are primarily antioxidants that help protect the liver, heart, joint and brain health. These include anthocyanins which provide the purple-dark blue pigments in blueberries, black currants, red and purple grapes. Other members of the flavonoid category include catechins, hesperidin, rutin, quercetin and kaempferol.

 

Where Do I Get Phytonutrients From? 

We experience the benefits of phytonutrients by eating plants (and plant-based foods) such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, cereal grasses, algae, green tea, cacao, herbs, nuts and seeds, etc. Many of these phytonutrients act synergistically; that is, they help each other and provide more benefit when taken with other phytonutrients than alone.

The official recommendation is 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. However, more may be needed based on the quality of ingredients. According to co-author of “The Color Code”, Dr. Joseph, “eating 9 to 10 servings of vibrantly colored produce each day is optimal for degenerative disease protection. A serving equals either 1/2-cup chopped vegetables or fruits or 1 cup berries or chopped greens.”

It is best to source plants from organic farms to avoid pesticides. Note that microwaving, irradiating, and overheating can also lower nutrient values of food. Plus, poor digestive health, stress and the use of certain drugs further inhibits us from absorbing nutrients. 

 

-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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