Gift Ideas For The Health Enthusiast

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Keep Calm and Carry On

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

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

Potential Causes:

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

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

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

Supplement Suggestions:

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

Other Suggestions:

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

 

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

 

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

Pesky Parasites

What are They?

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

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

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

 

Risk Factors

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

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

 

Symptoms?

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

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

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

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

 

Suggestions?

 

  • Do a Parasite Cleanse

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

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

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

 

  • Support Digestive Tract

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

 

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

     

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


“Health-ify” Your Favorite Comfort Foods!

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

 

DOUGH? Try making wonderful waffles with:

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

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

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

 

CHEESE? Try making nutritious nachos with:

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

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

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

 

CHOCOLATE? Try making better brownies with:

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

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

Top with a creamy natural peanut butter frosting!

 

SALT? Try making perfect popcorn with:

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

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

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

 

HOT? Try making a healthy hot drink with:

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

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

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

 

SWEET? Try making fantastic fruit crisp with:

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

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

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

 

Happy Cooking!

 

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

Feeling The Burn?

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

 

Why Is Stomach Acid Important?

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

 

Potential Causes of Heartburn

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

 

What About Low Stomach Acid?

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

 

Stomach Acid Test: Am I Low or High?

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

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

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

Suggestions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tips to Improve Digestion

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

 

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

It’s Time to Man Up!

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

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

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is gradual prostate enlargement and very common in men over 40. It is caused by an increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a testosterone by-product by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which stimulates an overproduction of prostate cells leading to enlargement.  Due to pressure on the urethra, affected men often have difficulty emptying the bladder, leading to infections. Other symptoms include frequent need to urinate at night and painful urination. Due to the fact that the prostate gland impacts both urinary and sexual function, erectile dysfunction can also be a sign of enlarged prostate. DHT production is also associated with male pattern baldness!

Underlying risk factors include hormonal changes due to age, nutritional deficiencies, toxic overload, chronic stress and xeno estrogen/estrogen mimicker exposure in food, environment and products (i.e. plastics, pesticides).

 

Supplement Suggestions

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

     

Dietary Suggestions

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

 

Lifestyle Suggestions

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

 

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

Why Has Everyone Gone Kooky For Kale?

Known as the “Queen of Greens”, kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family along with bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, etc. It is known for its ability to thrive during the cooler seasons of the year. In fact, it is said that exposure to cooler temperatures enhances both its flavor and quality. There are three main types of kale. They include flat wide leaf kale, darker kale and tight curly leafed kale. These can be found in various shades of green and purple. Note that “ornamental kales" are also edible, but are used primarily for appearance, rather than taste or texture.

Kale is truly a superstar when it comes to nutrient-density, as it provides an abundance of nutrients for minimal calories. For example, according to “World’s Healthiest Foods”, in 1 cup of cooked kale, there are only 36 calories and 1180% DRI/DV Vitamin K, 98% DRI/DV Vitamin A, 71% DRI/DV Vitamin C, roughly 2.5g of both fiber and protein, along with B-vitamins, calcium, iron and magnesium!

*Note that this source uses the terms DRI & DV to evaluate ingredients. DRI or “Dietary Reference Intake” is set by The National Academy of Sciences and includes 22 distinct age and gender groups. DV or “Daily Value” is set by the FDA and is a “one size fits all” recommendation. Because both sets of standards are important when considering daily nutrient requirements, both were incorporated into the WHfoods rating system.

 

VISION BOOST

Kale offers tremendous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits due to its incredible phytonutrient content. Kale has an unusual concentration of two types of antioxidants in particular, carotenoids (such as lutein and beta-carotene) and flavonoids (such as quercetin and kaempferol). Among these, lutein is perhaps best known for its role in eye health and its ability to protect different parts of the eye from potential damage.

 

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

In addition to its phytonutrients, the omega-3 fatty acids found in kale also have anti-inflammatory benefits. It only takes 100 calories of kale to provide over 350 milligrams of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)! The vitamin A in kale is useful in helping to prevent acne due to its anti-inflammatory effects in addition to its ability to reduce the overproduction of oil in the skin. Vitamin C plays an important role in protecting skin health from damage. Plus, kale is a spectacular source of vitamin K, which plays a role in helping regulate the body's inflammatory process while supporting blood clotting and healthy bone mineral density.

 

HEART HEALTH

Due to the fact that kale is a concentrated source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, it helps protect arteries and lessen risk of heart disease. In addition, the fiber-related nutrients in kale can bind together with bile acids, helping to decrease blood cholesterol levels as the body breaks down cholesterol to replace them. Studies on kale intake show that total blood cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol drop while blood levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol increase with increasing amounts of kale in the diet.

 

DETOXIFICATION

In addition to containing detoxifying and blood cleansing chlorophyll, kale is also a top food source for beneficial glucosinolate phytonutrients. Once digested, these can be converted by the body into helpful compounds known as isothiocyanates (ITCs), which have been shown to help support healthy hormone balance in addition to regulating detoxification activities at a cellular level. In fact, they have been shown to play a favorable role in both phases of detoxification (Phase I and Phase II). In addition, the large amount of sulfur compounds in kale have also been shown to help support Phase II detoxification. The ITCs made from kale's glucosinolates should also help protect stomach lining from bacterial overgrowth of H. Pylori.  

 

How to Enjoy

  • Limit exposure to contaminants by purchasing organically-grown kale as conventional leafy greens are generally heavily sprayed.
  • It has been suggested to massage kale leaves before consumption to break down the cell walls and make nutrients more bioavailable.
  • Kale can be cooked or eaten raw. However, cooking will inactivate “goitrogens” which may be of concern for those with thyroid issues.
  • Try kale in salads or smoothies, juiced, steamed or sautéed as a simple side dish or drizzled with olive oil and sea salt and baked into “kale chips”!
  • Store kale in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, removing as much air as possible for up to 5 days. Do not wash kale before storing because exposure to water encourages spoilage.

 

At a minimum, “World’s Healthiest Foods” recommends 3/4 cup of cruciferous vegetables on a daily basis, equivalent to approximately 5 cups per week. A more optimal intake amount would be to double this recommendation. If meeting these serving sizes seems overwhelming, consider incorporating an easy-to-use organic fermented kale powder into your diet for the nutritional and health benefits of kale along with the digestive benefits of natural fermentation!

 

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

What’s Making Your Head Ache?

Did you know there are over 20 different types of headaches? While tension headaches are said to be the most frequent, migraines are the most debilitating. Here are descriptions of three common types of headaches and potential ways to address each one.

 

  • Tension Headaches – These are associated with muscle rigidity/contraction, start at the back of the neck and shoulders, and then spread forward. The pain is felt as squeezing/pressure, however it does not pulse. It is usually felt as a moderate, dull, steady pain, across forehead or base of skull.   These headaches can last for 2 hours or multiple days and often occur due to stress, bad posture, eye strain, overexertion or magnesium deficiency.

Suggestions: Consider massage, acupuncture or chiropractic. Ask about calming herbs (chamomile, kava kava, valerian, skullcap) and supplement with magnesium, an effective “relaxer” which is also essential for stress support! Many have also reported positive results from applying peppermint or lavender essential oil topically.

 

  • Sinusitis – Frontal headaches can be caused by this condition, which is characterized by a vicious cycle of inflammation and/or infection, excess mucous production, and pressure in the sinuses. Other common triggers include allergies, environmental triggers (pollution, chemicals, cigarette smoke) or an underlying health condition. Symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing and trouble breathing.

Suggestions: Consider natural-anti-inflammatories such as omega oils (high EPA & GLA sources), serrapeptase, bromelain, and curcumin. Quercetin, & Vitamin C act as natural anti-histamines and plant sterols help modulate the immune system for allergic reactions. Ionic Silver, Citrus Extracts, Horseradish, Oregano, Echinacea, and Garlic work to combat infection. Herbs such as mullein, marshmallow, fenugreek, slippery elm, elderflower, goldenseal, thyme work together to help loosen/expel mucous and soothe irritated membranes. Also, N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) is especially helpful as it is known as a “mucous buster”. Consider inhaling eucalyptus essential oil to help clear airways. Many have also successfully used a Neti Pot with sea salt or a xylitol based nose spray to clear sinuses.

 

  • Migraines – These are intense headaches that impact quality of life. They are often chronic, periodic and recurring. Migraines are especially painful, usually one-sided (unilateral) and characterized by pulsating, throbbing pain in and around the eye/temple. These can hit without warning or be preceded by blurred vision/spots, numbness, brain fog and can persist for 2-72 hours. Sufferers may also experience nausea, sensitivity to light/sounds/smells in addition to light headedness, irritability, fatigue and lethargy. Migraines are said to be initiated by an accumulation of triggers over time that affect serotonin metabolism and lead to an instability of blood vessels, resulting in a disturbance of blood circulation to the head and pain. Common triggers include food and environmental allergies, constipation, stress and insomnia, hormonal changes, weather and pressure changes, dental problems, nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, liver problems, dehydration, overexertion and toxicity.  

Suggestions: Vitamin B3, Gingko Biloba and CoQ10 help improve blood flow to the brain. Feverfew and butterbur have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and reduce the frequency and severity of migraines when taken preventatively. White willow and cayenne/capsaicin are useful for migraine pain relief. 5-HTP is effective in helping to control serotonin levels and preventing migraines.  Ginger and Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) have also been reported to be effective in avoiding migraine headaches. In addition, some have tried a “Hot & Cold Treatment” and immerse their feet in a hot bath, while placing a cool cloth or ice pack on the back of the neck to help draw blood away from the head to reduce pressure.

 

General Suggestions for Headaches:

  • Ensure proper gut health and support with probiotics, fibre and enzymes if necessary.
  • Avoid common allergens and potential food triggers such as sugar, artificial sweeteners, nitrites, gluten, yeast, MSG, citrus, lactose and tyramine-containing foods (i.e. chocolate, aged cheeses, red wine).
  • Choose whole, natural and organic ingredients as much as possible.
  • Get regular, moderate exercise and practice deep breathing.
  • Reduce stress and improve sleep.
  • Correct posture and ensure proper lighting.
  • Balance thyroid and estrogen/progesterone hormones if necessary.
  • Drink plenty of water!
  • Avoid excess caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoke.
  • Ensure regular bowel movements to avoid constipation.
  • Use natural cleaning and personal care products.
  • Minimize exposure to chemicals and heavy metals.
  • Eat regular, well balanced meals.

 

This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -

BE ALL THAT YOU CAN “B”!

A group of water-soluble nutrients, the B vitamins help enzymes to react chemically with other substances. They are required daily as they are water soluble and easily depleted by stress, poor diet, certain medications, alcohol and smoking. Each member of this group plays an important role in our health, although they work incredibly well as a team. Here are some of the many key benefits of each B vitamin:

MOOD CONTROL -> Vitamin B1 (Thiamin):
Plays an important role in neurotransmitter synthesis. It is related to a healthy nervous system and has a beneficial effect on mood, mental attitude and sleep. Vitamin B1 is also known to help improve learning capacity, concentration and learning. Diets high in processed foods call for a higher need of vitamin B1.

VISION BOOST -> Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Acts as an antioxidant to support healthy vision and proper eye function, reducing eye light sensitivity and helping to prevent headaches and migraines. Unfortunately, Vitamin B2 is not available in a wide variety of foods nor is it present in large quantities in foods, so a deficiency is common in those who have unbalanced diets.

HEART HEALTH -> Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
In certain forms, Vitamin B3 has been shown to effectively reduce levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, while helping to increase levels of HDL "good" cholesterol. It also acts as a potent vasodilator, expanding blood vessels to increase the flow of blood, improving circulation. As a result, niacin can sometimes cause an uncomfortable, temporary “flush”.

STRESS SUPPORT -> Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Supports the adrenal glands, playing a vital role in the production of adrenal hormones. Helps to increases energy and the ability to cope with and handle stressful situations.

HORMONE CONTROL -> Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Has been called the “woman’s vitamin” because of the range of PMS symptoms that it may help alleviate. Ideal for women of child-bearing age, this vitamin helps manage symptoms such as nausea in pregnancy and may inhibit the formation of kidney stones. Vitamin B6 is involved in more bodily functions than most other single nutrients.

BEAUTY AID -> Vitamin B7 (Biotin):
Promotes strong and healthy hair, skin, nails and bones. Supplemental biotin has been found to increase nail thickness, reducing splitting and brittleness. It also encourages the growth of strong, thick, healthy-looking hair and can help reverse the loss of hair and hair colour that may result from a biotin deficiency. Some dry skin conditions can benefit from biotin supplementation as this nutrient increases the production of fatty acids essential for skin health. A therapeutic amount of biotin exceeds that found in the typical diet.


PREGNANCY ESSENTIAL -> Vitamin B9 (Folate):
Very important in pregnancy! Helps regulate embryonic and fetal nerve cell formation, ensuring the healthy development of the spinal cord and brain in fetuses. Folate before conception and in early pregnancy (first trimester) may prevent the vast majority of neural tube birth defects (such as spina bifida) in unborn children. Low levels are common and can be caused by alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and certain medications.

BRAIN PRESERVATION -> Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin):
Plays a role in the production of myelin, the protective sheath around nerves, as well as the production of a neurotransmitter that helps with memory and learning. It helps slow cognitive decline that comes with aging. Low B12 levels are associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive impairment. Those who tend to have deficient B12 levels may include vegetarians and vegans, seniors, or those with low stomach acid, malabsorption issues and individuals who take antacids or aspirin regularly. Although B12 is the only B vitamin that can be stored in the body it is very safe to take, although it is still a good idea to have B12 levels tested fairly regularly.

Better Together!

Energy– Together the B-vitamins are involved in energy production. They help the body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Optimally balanced levels of B vitamins are a natural way to energize the body. In addition, both vitamin B12 and B9 are required for the formation of red blood cells! Note that high doses of B9 can mask symptoms of B12 deficiency.

Mental Health - B Complex supplements have been used to improve symptoms and quality of life in those with depression, anxiety or low mood.
Homocysteine – Supplementation with Vitamins B6, B12 and B9 has demonstrated positive results in the reduction of dangerous buildup homocysteine levels in the bloodstream. Without adequate levels of these vitamins, homocysteine builds up in the blood rather than being further metabolized and eliminated by the body. Homocysteine, is an amino acid by-product that can harm the cardiovascular and nervous system.

Neuropathy- Vitamins B1, B6 & B12 have been used to help guard against damage caused by diabetes complications.

Supplement Tip: Certain forms of B-vitamins require activation by the liver, which can be problemative for certain people with genetic differences in B vitamin metabolism. Look for a formula that contains the B- vitamins in their biologically active forms, which don’t require conversion by the liver before they can be absorbed and utilized by the body.

 

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

WHAT TO INGEST WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING!

OMEGAS ->

Essential Omega Fatty Acids are especially crucial before, during and after pregnancy. Among these are omega -3 providing DHA & EPA. DHA is the omega-3 fatty acid that is most important for fetal brain and retina development. The brain develops early in life at a rapid pace, reaching essential completion by ages five or six years. A woman’s demand for omega-3 DHA increases significantly during pregnancy and breastfeeding as infants rely on their mothers to supply DHA initially through the placenta and then through breast milk. EPA is the omega-3 fatty acid that helps support healthy mood, skin and control inflammation in the body. The benefits of Omega-3 during pregnancy and breastfeeding for mom include:

  • Greater maternal stores to supply the fetus via the placenta
  • Greater supply and improved nutrition of breastmilk
  • Reduced risk of postpartum depression
  • Healthy skin, hair and nails
  • Stronger immune system
  • Reduces risk of premature delivery and increased birth weight

The benefits of Omega-3 during pregnancy and breastfeeding for children include:

  • Improved vision, motor abilities, concentration, IQ, coordination, attention span
  • Healthier sleep patterns, better social behavior and communication skills
  • Less anxiety, irritability, aggression and hyperactivity
  • Stronger immunity and reduced risk of allergies, asthma and eczema

It is recommended to eat 2 servings per week of low-mercury fish (i.e. wild salmon) or take a high quality fish oil supplement to increase omega fats available to both mom and baby.

PROBIOTICS ->

Many experts agree that passage through the vaginal birth canal at birth is the baby’s first inoculation with beneficial bacteria, making it the foundation of its own bacterial ecosystem. Therefore, the composition of the microbiome is essential to both mom and child’s health. In addition, it has now been established that breast milk has its own microbiome containing, plus it produces its own prebiotics for the bacteria residing in the breast tissue and milk. Supplementing with beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, during pregnancy and breastfeeding can reduce the risk of the child developing eczema, asthma, allergy and digestive distress, in addition to supporting mom’s immune, digestive and mental health. Consider a probiotic supplement (especially if taking antibiotics), consume fermented foods (i.e. kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha), plan for a vaginal birth and choose to breastfeed if possible.

IRON ->

Women need about twice the amount of iron during pregnancy as before because their body uses it to make extra blood for baby. Iron also helps move oxygen from their lungs to the rest of the body. Too little iron is a common cause of fatigue during pregnancy. Consult a health care practitioner to see if additional iron is necessary in a non-constipating supplement form and ensure adequate consumption of iron-rich foods such as beans, spinach and grass-fed beef.    

CALCIUM ->

Calcium is not only essential to build strong bones and teeth in a growing fetus, but will help prevent deficiency during pregnancy, which will cause baby to draw the calcium it needs for development from mom’s bones, which can lead to future health problems such as osteoporosis. Consider an additional calcium supplement if necessary and consume more calcium-rich foods such as kale, almonds or organic dairy.

FOLATE ->

Folate is essential for development of baby’s neural tube (which develops into brain and spinal cord) and helps prevent birth defects that can occur at 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. In fact, supplementation in early pregnancy can reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by as much as 80%, which is why it is often recommended even before conception. In addition to a quality supplement, consume foods such as chickpeas, asparagus and cauliflower.

Other Recommendations:

  • AVOID TOXINS: Avoid nicotine, excess caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, chemicals, and preservatives as much as possible.
  • TAKE YOUR MULTI: Choose a high quality prenatal multivitamin/mineral and consider additional Vitamin D3 to meet the nutrition needs not attained in the diet.
  • EAT WELL: Focus on consuming a variety of simple “whole” foods (unrefined/unprocessed), which should naturally contain the nutrients your body needs and avoid those it can do without. Enjoy food cravings in moderation, but ensure that you are taking in adequate amounts of essential nutrients.
  • BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR: Consume balanced meals throughout the day that provide quality protein, fibre-rich complex carbohydrates and healthful fats.
  • REST & RELAX: Manage stress and ensure adequate sleep. Consider acupuncture.
  • DRINK UP: Your blood volume increases by almost 50% during pregnancy so make sure you are consuming plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • STAY ACTIVE: Engage in regular, moderate exercise that is appropriate for your pregnancy. Consult a professional for guidelines. Stretch and wear supportive shoes!
  • A FEW MORE TIPS:
    • Both ginger and vitamin B6 have been studied as effective treatment options for pregnant women with morning sickness!
    • Red raspberry leaf taken later in pregnancy help strengthen the uterus.
    • Some professionals will recommend omega-6 evening primrose near the end of pregnancy in order to soften the cervix.
    • To improve stretch marks, try topical coconut oil, shea butter or vitamin E cream.
    • Leg cramps may indicate a possible magnesium or potassium deficiency.
    • Be sure to avoid anything that will have a cleansing effect body.

     

Assure that any supplements taken during pregnancy/breastfeeding are approved by a professional, such as a naturopath.

 

-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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