Unleash Your Child’s Potential!

According to the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, 3.2% of Canadian children have a learning disability – that’s the equivalent of one child in every school bus full of children! There exists various forms of learning disorders and behavioral problems such as ADD/ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity), dyslexia (difficulty learning to read and write) and dyspraxia (trouble with coordination), which have various degrees of severity and overlap. Here are some key risk factors and suggestions for learning disability support.

Critical Omegas

Deficiencies or imbalances of certain essential fatty acids may contribute to a range of development disorders. This is of concern because the body cannot produce them on its own and it appears that the majority of children are not getting enough in their diets!

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are highly concentrated in the brain, and are important for neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to re-organize itself by forming new connection throughout life). EFA’s are a component of every cell wall in the body and are made up of various metabolites. Omega 3 provides EPA & DHA while Omega 6 provides GLA, which is used in the body to make AA. The most important structural omega fatty acids in the brain are DHA (as much as 60%) and AA.  EPA and GLA have anti-inflammatory properties and support proper brain cell activity. Studies on infants show the supply of essential fatty acids in early life is critical for good brain and visual development.

EFA supplementation has been shown to:

  • Improve behavioral, emotional and cognitive symptoms.
  • Reduce anxiety, hyperactivity, restlessness, impulsivity, aggression, irritability, inattention and oppositional defiant behavior.
  • Improve balance, coordination, motor skills in dyspraxia and reading ability in dyslexia.  

Research has shown that children with learning disorders may not be able to adequately convert dietary EFA’s into their beneficial metabolite forms. Consider supplemental sources that directly provide concentrated amounts of EPA/DHA & GLA such as Omega 3 fish oils and Omega 6 evening primrose or borage oils. Also, avoid dietary trans fats, which take up space on cells; reducing oxygen and nutrient supply, creating toxic build-up and preventing proper signalling!

Gut-Brain Connection

Impaired digestion, poor gut bacteria, candida overgrowth and stress are main culprits of leaky gut. This is by far the most common gastro-intestinal disorder among those with learning disorders. Leaky gut allows the passage of undigested food proteins, microbes and toxins into the blood stream, which can provoke an inflammatory immune response and cause food sensitivities and allergies. This can contribute to mental, emotional and learning problems. In addition to avoiding food sensitivities (i.e. wheat and dairy) and additives (MSG, preservatives, and artificial colors), consider the following:

  • L-Glutamine Powder: Helps repair digestive tract lining and reduce inflammation.
  • Probiotics: Protects intestinal lining, improves immune and digestive function.
  • Fibre: Supports healthy bacteria levels and bowel elimination, reducing toxicity.
  • Vitamin D3: Helps heal leaky gut, decrease inflammation and support immunity.
  • Enzymes: Break down food to improve digestion and reduce risk of sensitivities.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Iron deficiency can cause a wide range of behavioral abnormalities and is a contributing factor to ADHD in certain children. In addition, children with suboptimal levels of magnesium and zinc may demonstrate improvements when given supplementation. Lastly, B-vitamins are essential for energy production and vital for brain performance as the brain consumes roughly 20% of the body’s energy. Look to correct deficiencies and consider a multivitamin/mineral!

Brain Cell Defenders

Free radicals are highly reactive, unstable atoms that destroy cells. They come from toxins in our food, environment and products (i.e. heavy metals, pesticides). Increased exposure has been linked to reduced concentration, attention, poor learning and behavioral problems. They also come from electromagnetic frequencies, which are invisible, physical energy produced by electrically charged objects (i.e. cell phones). Children’s brains can absorb twice as much cell radiation as an adult’s and using a cell for 2 minutes can disrupt a child’s brain function for up to 1 hour after exposure ends!

In addition to avoiding these triggers, consider antioxidant nutrients to help protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals (oxidation). These include Vitamins C & E!

Protein Power

The brain depends on a constant supply of glucose to meet its energy needs. However, a diet high in refined ingredients causes rapid fluctuations in blood sugars, resulting in mental symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. In order to manage levels throughout the day, never skip meals (especially breakfast) and choose complete, balanced meals that contain plenty of protein, fibre and healthy fats. Also, protein provides the amino acids needed to make neurotransmitters, the brain’s messengers. Did You Know? Inadequate protein early in life can lead to a permanent reduction in brain size!

BONUS: Mental Calmness

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves that helps reduce stress, calm the nerves, improve mood and help with learning performance, memory and concentration in school age children.

Another option to consider are homeopathic remedies to help calm irritability, nervous tension and anxiety.  These formulas are incredibly safe for all ages.

In addition to the above suggestions, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, manage stress and maintain healthy thyroid levels!

 

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

The Bees Knees!

Did you know that we rely on bees for nearly 1/3 of our entire food supply? Bees work to pollinate many important crops to provide us with nutrient-dense foods. They play a vital role in our environment, but also provide us with beneficial “bee products” such as honey, royal jelly, bee pollen and propolis; which have been used for years to increase stamina, fight infection and support health and vitality!

 

Honey – is most often used as a natural sweetener. Natural, unpasteurized/raw honey supplies a range of antioxidants (including flavonoids, phenolic acids, vitamin C, vitamin E compounds). The effects of these compounds can provide significant health benefits, however, the balance of nutrients in honey varies with its origin and the plants from which it was made. Honey is also a reliable source of trace nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids (including tryptophan). In fact, raw honey is said to be so rich in enzymes that it’s the only food on the planet that never goes bad! Honey has been acknowledged for its value in soothing irritated throat membranes as it has the ability to form a soothing coating. Note: Consume honey raw as much as possible because the heating process destroys the enzymes and nutrients that make it a superfood!

Manuka honey, specifically, has special properties that do not exist in other honeys. Manuka grows wild and naturally in New Zealand. This honey has superior anti-inflammatory, antibacterial/fungal/viral, antioxidant-rich benefits and is full of beneficial enzymes. It is used both internally and externally for digestive and oral health, skin conditions and wound healing!

 

Royal Jelly – is a milky substance secreted from the glands of worker bees and fed to all larvae in the colony and the queen bee, who lives almost exclusively off royal jelly as her source of nourishment. This enables her to outlive her worker bees 30-40 fold! She is incredibly productive, laying up to 2000 eggs per day throughout her life. Royal jelly is said to be the richest source of vitamin B5, which is known as the “anti-stress” vitamin. It is composed of protein, fatty acids, amino acids and is a source of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, used to help promote memory and mental sharpness. This substance also has anti-inflammatory properties! Claimed to have a bitter taste, it is best enjoyed in combination with raw honey as a spread.  

 

Bee Pollen –is a collection of little yellow granules that bees gather from flowering plants that serves as a powerful source of amino acids, enzymes, plenty of vitamins (i.e. B’s) and minerals as well as fatty acids! It contains 25% protein and has more protein per gram than any animal product. It is considered an incredibly nourishing, easily digested and low calorie food (90 calories per ounce/2 tbsps.) Bee pollen has a positive effect on a number of body systems including the nervous, immune, and respiratory systems. It is also rich in rutin, a phytonutrient that helps support the resistance of capillary walls as well as help control hypertension by regulating blood flow and soothing the nervous system. Athletes often use it to increase energy, endurance and muscle recovery, while others take it to ward off colds and some simply use it as a superior source of protein! Another benefit of pollen is its ability to help protect against the adverse effects of radiation. Interestingly, it has been known to be highly effective at combating seasonal allergies, by helping fight like with like! It can be taken in capsule or food form on salad, in yogurt, or in a smoothie.

 

Bee Propolis – is a “glue-like” substance that bees collect from the resin of trees and plants to hold the hive together. Bees use it as a natural antibiotic to protect, re-inforce and sterilize their hive, sealing it from invaders and defending them against disease, as a decontaminant. Propolis contains most vitamins, minerals (such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and potassium) and roughly 500x more flavonoids than oranges! It also holds a variety of healing benefits. It provides powerful but gentle protection against superbugs, increased pollution, environmental degradation and compromised health. Propolis has well-documented antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic activity and in some parts of the world, it has been regarded as the “nature’s antibiotic”. Interestingly, it has no known toxic side effects and does not destroy good bacteria with the bad. Propolis is great to use as a preventative and works to protect and boost the immune system. People have reported that propolis strengthens immunity and helps reduce cold symptoms as well as speed healing of skin irritations. The compounds in bee propolis also offer anti-inflammatory action to help with conditions such as arthritis, allergies and asthma. This ingredient can be found in tablet, capsule, powder or extract. Propolis is said to have a stronger taste than honey, but still retains its natural “sweetness”. It can also be used topically as an antibiotic.

 

In recent years there has been a drastic increase in the disappearance of honey bee colonies in North America (approximately 25-30% of colonies dying yearly). This phenomenon has been called Colony Collapse Disorder. There is a similar phenomenon occurring with bumble bees.

According to the Canadian Honey Council, “Honey bees are important pollinators of agricultural food crops and vital to our food supply. In Canada it is estimated that the value of honey bees to agriculture is $1.3 billion. All pollinators including honey bees in particular have suffered serious losses that are unsustainable. We need your help to save our pollinators.”

The Canadian Bee Research Fund is a charity that is a joint project of the Canadian Honey Council and the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists that provides funding for bee research in Canada.

 

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

Be Good To Your Gut!

It is incredibly important to quickly and efficiently digest whatever you eat for optimal gut health! Here’s a few reasons why we should avoid burdening our systems.

  • More than 70% of the immune system is located in the gut!
  • Over the course of a lifetime, the digestive system will process approximately 23,000 pounds of solid food.
  • Our bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10:1, most of which reside in the gut.

 

Dysbiosis is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. The brain and the gut are on a two-way street of constant communication. New research shows that gut bacteria communicates with and influences brain function. The gut brain produces a wide range of hormones and neurotransmitters of the same classes as those found in the head brain.

 

What Happens When Food Is Not Properly Broken Down (Remains Undigested)?

  1. Nutrients cannot be properly absorbed & utilized.
  2. Bad bacteria feeds on undigested food (i.e. putrefaction), releasing by-products (toxins, free radicals and gases). Leading to:
  3. Embarrassing & uncomfortable symptoms (i.e. gas, bloating)
  4. Depletion of friendly bacteria (probiotics) & risk of infection/overgrowth (i.e. candida)
  5. Damage to digestive lining (i.e. “leaky gut”)

 

What is “Leaky Gut”?

The mucous layer that lines the digestive tract shields the bloodstream from unwanted toxins, pathogens and undigested food. “Leaky gut syndrome” is a condition that develops when this lining becomes porous, allowing food particles & toxins through; potentially causing food sensitivities, liver toxicity, and an inflammatory immune reaction throughout the body. This mucous lining is made up mostly of the amino sugar N-Acteyl-Glucosamine (C-NAG), which the body makes from the amino acid, L-glutamine. These are important gut repair nutrients!

 

A Bit About Enzymes…

  • What Are They? Protein molecules (plus a co-factor vitamin or mineral) used to trigger & regulate biochemical reactions in the body.
  • 3 Types:
    • Food – naturally contained in raw, whole foods.
    • Digestive – occur naturally in the mouth, stomach, intestines & pancreas. Used to break down food into small, digestible components the body can use.
    • Metabolic – naturally produced in cells for growth/repair/maintenance/detoxification
  • Causes of Deficiency:
  • Raw foods may contain less enzymes as they should, due to environmental factors.
    • Body’s ability to produce enzymes is decreased by stress, caffeine, alcohol, illness, pregnancy, pancreatitis, gallbladder removal, pH imbalance, toxicity, aging and poor nutrition (lack of vitamins/minerals/electrolytes).
    • Food enzymes are destroyed/inhibited by processing, high heat, refining, canning, irradiation, added chemicals, phytic acid (natural inhibitor), exposure to air & light.
  • More information:
    • Besides moisture, enzymes require three things to activate: proper temperature, pH (acid -> protein or alkaline -> starches), and a specific material to break down/digest!

     

What is Stomach Acid (HCl) necessary for?

-mineral (iron, copper, zinc, calcium) and protein assimilation

-protection against pathogens and candida

-helping decrease enzyme workload in intestines

-necessary to trigger peristalsis and release of bile and bicarbonate in intestines for proper digestion and elimination.

 

Symptoms of low stomach acid include: low energy, nutrient deficiencies, weak immunity, heartburn, leaky gut/inflammation, constipation, gas/bloating, liver toxicity, high cholesterol.

 

Potential Causes of Underactive Stomach

-B Vitamin/Zinc Deficiencies, Large Meals, Poor Diet (refined/processed foods)

-Stress, Smoking, Caffeine, Antacid Overuse

-Underactive Thyroid, Aging (HCL production naturally decreases)

-Poor Eating Habits (i.e. not chewing, drinking during meals, rushed meals)

 

Did you know? 90% of Heartburn (Acid Reflux) Is Caused by Low Stomach Acid, Not High!

Try The Acid Self-Test: Take 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach. No Pain/Sensation = LOW Stomach Acid!

 

Tips to Improve Digestion!

o Food Selection: whole, unprocessed, fresh, organic, soaked, sprouted, fermented, non-allergenic foods.

o Food Combining: eat fruit alone & avoid high protein + high starch foods together.

o Eating Habits: chew food well (30-40 chews per bite), eat slowly in a relaxed and mindful (rest and digest) state, do not drink while eating, avoid carbonated beverages.

o Lifestyle: exercise regularly, manage stress, consider a detox.

o Supplements: digestive enzymes (+ Betaine HCl if necessary), bitter ingredients, probiotics. Other helpful soothing ingredients include: ginger, peppermint, chamomile, fennel, anise, caraway, slippery elm, marshmallow, licorice, etc.

 

For many people, taking supplemental digestive enzymes is an ideal way to make sure their food is broken down properly, and that they are absorbing all the nutrients! Look for plant enzyme formulas that address every type of food group including; proteins (protease), fats (lipase), carbohydrates (amylase), dairy (lactase), etc. There are also some enzymes that the human body cannot produce but when taken, can be very helpful. For example, cellulase breaks down plant fibre, invertase breaks down refined sugars, and phytase breaks down phytates (which can block absorption of important minerals).

 

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

Why So Sour?

While it sounds catchy, many people don’t start their day ready to “rise and shine”! Instead, many experience symptoms such as: fatigue, low mood, bad breath, indigestion, constipation, joint pain and stiffness, bloating, water retention, and a desperate need for coffee! Holistic Pharmacist, Rosemarie Pierce, notes that these are all symptoms of a potential pH imbalance. She states that “recent studies have shown that maintaining a balanced internal pH can improve immune health, reduce inflammation, prevent degenerative disease and promote bone health.” She adds that optimal pH is necessary to properly detoxify and rejuvenate cells, as well as effectively increase energy levels, balance hormones, improve body composition and even boost exercise performance!

 

 

What is pH?

pH is a measure of the relative state of a fluid’s acidity/alkalinity. This is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 (7 being neutral). The lower the pH, the more acidic the fluid. The higher the pH, the more alkaline the fluid. Body pH is the key indicator of balance within the internal body fluids including: blood, urine, saliva, inter and intra-cellular fluids. These are required to be slightly alkaline to function efficiently. If pH shifts out of normal range, symptoms will occur.

 

 

How to Test your pH (Using pH paper)

Assess the pH of your first morning urine. Ideally, it will be between 6.6 (slightly acidic) and 7.4 (slightly alkaline). Anything consistently below a reading of 6.4 is of concern and likely indicates a chronic acid condition (i.e. acidosis).

 

Symptoms of Acidic pH

Lack of energy, recurring infections, weak immune system, mood swings, headaches/migraines, mouth ulcers, poor digestion and constipation, brittle hair & nails, dry skin, joint pain, muscle cramps, osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, weight gain, inflammation, high blood pressure, infertility, kidney stones, etc.

 

What Produces Acidity?

While all bodily metabolic processes produce acid, lifestyle factors that contribute to over-acidity include: chronic stress, a low mineral and low fiber diet, poor digestion/absorption, over-exercise, inadequate sleep, alcohol/drugs/caffeine, diet high in acid-forming foods, toxic exposure, etc.

 

Over Acidity Can Indicate:

  • Improper levels of:

-alkaline minerals/electrolytes (Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium)

-buffering agents (Citric, Acetic and Malic acid)

  • Higher levels of free radicals and cell damage
  • Lower levels of available oxygen to cells (up to 20x less)
  • Toxic overload of acidic waste in cells/tissues and impaired detoxification

The body’s pH is a key indicator of our mineral reserves. If the diet does not supply enough alkaline minerals to buffer the acid load, the body seeks to balance itself and responds by leaching minerals from our muscles, bones, nerves and vital organs, potentially leading to osteoporosis, cavities, dry skin, brittle hair and fingernails, etc.

Remember: A Highly Mineralized Body Is More Disease Resistant!

 

 

10 Steps to Becoming More Alkaline

 

  1. Focus on making alkaline-forming foods the majority of your diet, up to 80-90% if possible. Once optimal pH is attained, it can be maintained with less. Balance is key.
  2. Limit acid-forming foods such as: animal products, refined/processed/fried ingredients, added & artificial sugars/sweeteners, caffeinated beverages, high-sodium foods, alcohol, soft drinks and tap water.
  3. Focus on choosing fresh, organic, local, raw, unprocessed, whole, unrefined, mineral-rich, plant-based foods!
  4. Consume fresh, juiced or powdered chlorophyll-rich green foods daily (i.e. prairie grasses, sea/cruciferous/leafy vegetables).
  5. Supplement with alkalizing minerals (electrolytes) in citrate form.
  6. Drink at least 2L of good quality, alkalized water per day, between meals.
  7. Avoid toxins in food, environment and products as much as possible.
  8. Manage stress and sleep with natural herbs, deep breathing and gentle exercise.
  9. Support digestive health for proper absorption of nutrients and alkalinizing minerals. Consider enzymes with HCl, probiotics and gut repair nutrients if necessary.
  10. Upon rising and 15-30 minutes prior to meals, drink the juice of half of an organic lemon in alkaline water.

 

Did You Know? Lemons are acidic when eaten, yet have a net alkalizing effect in the body!

 

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

Don’t Miss A “Beet”!

According to Holistic Pharmacist, Rosemarie Pierce, “currently, 50% of Canadian adults eat less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The key to maximum antioxidant intake is to eat 10 or more servings of organic fruits and vegetables daily.”

 

Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by unstable, highly reactive molecules known as free radicals (also known as “oxidative damage”). Free radicals are natural by-products of ongoing biochemical reactions in the body, but they also come from our environment (chemicals, tobacco) and diets (fried foods, alcohol), etc. Antioxidants are deemed “free radical scavengers”, in which they help stabilize reactive free radicals and put a halt to their “domino effect” destruction. In this way they help protect cell integrity, slow down aging, enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, restore energy, fight allergies and prevent disease. Antioxidants are naturally found in foods, especially colorful produce. As we know, fruits and vegetables come in different colors, and each color is a result of certain nutrients. Generally, the darker the color, the greater the health benefit.

 

Rosemarie gives 10 reasons to add more organic fruits & vegetables to your diet.

  1. Restores daily antioxidant levels
  2. Supports heart and brain function
  3. Promotes healthy gut microbes
  4. Energizes and boosts stamina
  5. Detoxifies blood & liver
  6. Protects cellular health
  7. Reduces inflammation
  8. Prevents fat oxidation
  9. Promotes eye health
  10. Slows aging

 

Among the colors that provide full-spectrum antioxidant power, is red. The nutrients in red foods can help benefit daily detoxification, promote digestion, fight inflammation, enhance energy, slow down aging and support healthy skin/hair/nails. Adequate consumption of these ingredients are especially important for children who are “picky eaters”, the elderly with low appetites, athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance, people exposed to poor air quality, those struggling with inflammatory diseases, individuals seeking to support their heart or anyone interested in healthy aging, improved cognitive function and general disease prevention. Top red food examples include pomegranate, raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, goji berries and beetroot. Each of these has an impressive nutritional value and should be consumed regularly for good health. However, beet root specifically, has some interesting health benefits.

 

Beet root naturally contains iron, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, manganese, fibre and a range of health-promoting phytonutrients, such as betalains, which have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. In addition, beets are also considered a top source of dietary nitrates, providing the body with nitric oxide.

 

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a gas that acts as a signaling/messenger molecule. It causes vasodilation which leads to relaxed blood vessels, normalized blood pressure and improved delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues. It also works to reduce platelet stickiness and prevent LDL oxidation, as well as act as a neurotransmitter (messenger) between cells, provides energy production and increases blood flow to the brain helping with learning and memory. In addition, it reduces intestinal inflammation, maintains integrity of gastric lining, and reduces muscle energy use in exercise.

 

NO can be produced in 2 ways:

1) From the amino acid arginine – found in protein-rich foods. Examples include meat, nuts & seeds.

2) From dietary nitrate-containing foods through the NO3-NO2-NO pathway. Nitrate (NO3) from the diet is broken down by the saliva into nitrite (NO2), which then turns into nitric oxide (NO) in the body. Top sources of dietary nitrate include beets and leafy greens.

 

The potential health benefits of consuming beet root range from heart to brain to immune health and more. These include: lower blood pressure, improved heart health, stamina boost, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving action, eye and nerve support, dementia prevention, gut lining/ulcer repair, detoxification support, reduced intestinal infections, etc.

 

Beets can be prepared and enjoyed a number of ways. Enjoy them baked into desserts, juiced, grated into veggie patties, pickled, roasted as chips or pureed into soup or dip. To boost nutrition even more, combine beets with other red superfoods blended into a smoothie or as part of a delicious summer salad!

 

Are you getting enough reds in your diet? Consider a concentrated superfood blend as a convenient pick up when your diet falls short in meeting nutritional needs!

 

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

Why Go CocoNUTS?

In many parts of the world, the coconut tree is called the "tree of life". Interestingly, among those locations, their populations have been said to be among the healthiest! Let’s find out more about why coconuts are so beneficial, but first, a quick “fat breakdown” summary.

 

Ketones vs Glucose

Carbohydrates, when digested, are turned into glucose for energy. When the body’s energy requirements have been satisfied, and there is still glucose left over, the body restructures the glucose into fat molecules for storage. In order for the body to use the glucose as energy, insulin is required.

Ketones are what the body produces when it’s using fat for energy instead of glucose. However, no insulin is required for the cells to accept the ketones. This makes ketones necessary for people whose cells have become insulin resistant (i.e. Diabetes) or whose brain cells are no longer able to accept glucose for energy (i.e. Alzheimer’s). In addition, ketones cannot be reconverted to fatty acids for storage. Once created, they are either used or expelled, not stored.

 

MCT’s for MVP!

MCT’s are medium-chain triglycerides. They are a special form of saturated fatty acids that have many health benefits. MCTs get their name from their medium-length tails – anywhere from 6 to 12 carbons long. There are 4 kinds of MCTs: C6 (Caproic), C8 (Caprylic), C10 (Capric), and C12 (Lauric), although there has been recent debate about whether or not Lauric acid functions as a “true MCT” in the body. Some MCTs turn into energy more efficiently than others and various versions of “MCT” oils are created based on their concentration of certain kinds of fatty acids.

MCT’s are a bit different from long chain triglycerides (LCT’s) because the body metabolizes MCTs differently than LCTs. Unlike LCTs, MCTs get sent directly to the liver where they are quickly converted into energy units, known as ketones, to fuel the brain and body instead of being broken down, re-packaged and circulated in the bloodstream to be deposited into fat cells.

So, Why Go Coconuts? Coconut oil is an excellent source of MCTs!

 

Coconut Oil Benefits

  1. Immune Support. Medium chain fatty acids (i.e. lauric & caprylic acids) in coconut oil possess antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and help support immunity.
  2. Weight Control. MCT’s are used by the body to produce energy rather than being stored as fat. Due to the fact that they are so well absorbed and used an energy source, their burning actually increases metabolic rate.
  3. Energy Source. Ketones are used as an efficient, clean, fast source of fuel. They are a potent energy source that has nothing to do with sugar or protein.
  4. Heart Health. Research has found that coconut oil intake was positively associated with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol levels.
  5. Brain Boost. Ketones can pass the blood brain barrier and provide energy to dying brain cells (such as in those suffering from certain neurodegenerative diseases).

 

Other Coconut Forms:

Dried/Desiccated Flesh (flakes/shredded) – Best used in no-bake desserts like energy bites and date bars. Coconut “chips” are flakes that are coated in sweetener/spices and lightly toasted.

Milk – Coconut meat is shredded and cold-pressed to create coconut milk. This is a great lactose-free alternatives for those who struggle with digesting dairy. Try using these in curries or smoothies.

Water - This is the clear liquid inside a green young coconut. Coconut water is a rich natural source of electrolytes that boost energy and replenish the body. It is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant, making it helpful for a number of health conditions.

Sugar - It isn’t from the coconut itself, but drawn from the sap of the coconut palm tree buds. It’s similar in taste and colour to brown sugar with a caramel-like flavour. Also called coconut palm sugar, it has a glycemic index of 35, which it is lower than most other sweeteners.

Aminos – A fermented product made with nutrient-dense coconut 'sap' that offers naturally occurring amino acids. This sap is abundant in minerals (esp. potassium) and vitamins. Coconut aminos can be used in place of soy sauce seasoning in salads, marinades, stir-fries, sauces, etc.

Flour - It is high in dietary fibre and tastes great in pancakes, brownies or cookies! When baking with coconut flour, note that it is extremely absorbent and that the dry: liquid ratio of your batter will need to be adjusted for success.

Butter/Manna – Made from the “whole” flesh and includes the oil, fibre, protein, vitamin and minerals of the coconut meat. Try using it as a spread, or in raw treats and smoothies.

Oil – This portion is extracted from the meat of the coconut. Due to its saturated fat content, coconut oil is among the safest options for cooking over medium heat. Try it for sautéing, baking, stir-frying, as a spread, stirred into coffee, oatmeal, and smoothies or even used topically as a moisturizing, protective, anti-microbial ingredient (i.e. shaving gel, mouthwash, mild natural sunscreen, etc.).

 

Note that just like any other beneficial fat, coconut oil should be consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy and balanced diet.

 

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

TOP 10 SUPERFOODS!

The term “superfood” is generally defined as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. More specifically, having naturally high levels of fibre, healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients (plant chemicals). The following 10 superfoods are recommended by nutritionist, Joy McCarthy, for optimal health.

  1. Berries

Berries are extremely high in flavonoids, which give them their rich color. These plant chemicals are anti-inflammatory and provide heart healthy and anti-aging support. Their antioxidant content protects the brain and helps to improve vision. They are also a great source of Vitamin C & B’s, both of which are useful for many functions, including adrenal health. Berries are high in fiber, allowing them to be digested slower, preventing blood sugar spikes that cause crashes and cravings. Enjoy them on top of porridge, yogurt, or in smoothies, muffins and pancakes! Examples include blackberries, mulberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and goji berries.

  1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are nutrient powerhouses that contain calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous and folic acid. They are an excellent plant source of good fats providing omega 3, ALA, which helps to lower inflammation and support brain, heart and skin health! Chia seeds are also high in fiber and are considered a complete source of protein, both of which work together to help promote a sensation of fullness while keeping insulin in check. They are particularly high in tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to serotonin (for mood support) and melatonin (for sleep support). Try them in overnight oatmeal, as an egg substitute, sprinkled in cereal, yogurt or to thicken sauces, jam and smoothies.

  1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains immune supporting medium chain fatty acids and has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Medium chain fatty acids are easily digested and sent to the liver to be used as energy rather than being stored as fats. Coconut oil can help promote weight loss by increasing metabolic rate! It has also been shown to cause an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol. Coconut oil can also be used externally as a natural moisturizer for hair, skin and nails. Try it in smoothies, as a spread, in coffee or used to cook meat, eggs and vegetables.

  1. Ginger

Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is most often used for gastrointestinal discomfort to prevent gas and bloating, as well as nausea. Ginger also boosts the immune system and supports natural detoxification. In addition, it acts as a natural antibiotic to kill pathogenic bacteria! Incorporate ginger into juice, tea or smoothies for added flavor and benefits.

  1. Hemp Seeds/Hearts

Hemp seeds are considered a complete source of vegetarian protein and provide the amino acids necessary for building “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. They supply essential fatty acids and are a unique food source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that helps to balance hormones and lower inflammation. They contain antioxidants, fiber, zinc, iron, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium, vitamin D & E, enzymes! Hemp can also come in oil form, as a protein powder, or butter. Try sprinkling hemp hearts on salad, cereal, side dishes or smoothies.

  1. Kale

Kale is high in fiber which helps with bowel regularity and cholesterol control. It contains vitamins A and C for beautiful skin and hair, as well as vitamin K and calcium for bone building. The glucosinolates and chlorophyll in kale are important for detoxification. Kale’s phytonutrients possess powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be enjoyed in a salad, sautéed in an omelet, tossed into a smoothie or baked into crunchy kale chips!

  1. Quinoa

Quinoa is considered a complete protein and contains significant amounts of the amino acid lysine, which is less frequently found in grains and an excellent remedy for cold sore treatment. As it is naturally gluten-free and easy to digest, it is a deemed a “hypoallergenic food”. It is a good source of magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, B vitamins and vitamin E. Quinoa is also rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich phytonutrients. Dry quinoa should be rinsed and then cooked like rice. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, in both sweet and savory dishes.

  1. Cacao

Raw cacao is a true superfood. Note that although cocoa is from the same plant as cacao, it is processed with heat and offers less health benefits. Cacao is one if the richest sources of antioxidants in nature, even more so than red wine or green tea! It is high in magnesium, and also contains calcium, zinc, iron and potassium. In addition, it provides unique plant chemicals that promote a natural mood and energy boost. Enjoy cacao powder in a smoothie, hot drink, and homemade pudding or use cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips.

  1. Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is a complete source of protein, containing 60-70% protein by weight! It provides energizing B vitamins, trace minerals, powerful antioxidants and has been used to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Spirulina also contains chlorophyll, which nourishes the red blood cells. It is also a potent detoxifier and works to bind toxins and speed up their release from the bloodstream. Spirulina has been promoted as a fat-fighter and effective anti-inflammatory. Try spirulina in powder form and blend into yogurt or smoothies.

  1. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas” and provide protein, omega 3 fats, antioxidants and vitamins. They are well known for their zinc content, which helps promote healthy, beautiful skin! Pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of vitamin E forms, some of which are not easily found in foods. They are also rich in magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure among numerous other health benefits. These are great on top of whole grains, salad or in trail mix. Note that squash seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are also highly nutritious.

As a rule, look for organic, fresh and local ingredients whenever possible for optimal nutrition.

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

Look at Those Legs!

Cellulite and varicose veins are two of the biggest culprits in why women are afraid to wear shorts in the summertime. These problems can lead to self-esteem issues and generally indicate that something is going wrong internally.

 

Cellulite is lumpy, “orange-peel” looking skin that is a common concern, mainly in women. Statistics show that approximately 90% of women older than twenty (whether they are thin, normal-weight or overweight) have cellulite. This is predominantly a female problem due to the fact that their fat layer is organized differently than men’s. This condition causes dimpling in the skin, and is generally found around the thighs and buttocks. Cellulite develops in steps but starts with damage to the lymphatic system, the drainage system in your fat cells. This can be due to excessive or inactivity, poor diet (esp. low protein) and digestion, toxic accumulation and overloaded liver, stress, hormone imbalances, aging, yo-yo weight loss/gain, etc. Note that estrogen imbalance is thought to be a core culprit that causes cellulite to build up around the fat cells and restrict lymphatic drainage and blood flow. A poorly functioning lymphatic system means more fat deposits and more cellulite. Since fat, toxins, and other waste products are transported via lymph fluid, this system needs to be functioning well. With excessive toxins in the body, this transport system slows down and backs up the system. When the lymphatic system becomes sluggish, it triggers even more fat deposits under the skin. Essentially, “cellulite is an external reflection of an internal dysfunction” (Dr. Sara Celik, N.D).

 

Varicose veins are lumpy, bulging blue veins in the legs. Women get them four times as often as men. Veins have little valves on the inner walls of the vessel to prevent blood from flowing backwards, towards the arteries. These valves can become dysfunctional due to damage to the vein walls. When this occurs, it prevents proper circulation and blood pools in the veins. This extra fluid causes the veins to stretch and bulge. When the veins get sluggish, the legs can feel tight, heavy, restless, and there can be aches, cramps and swelling. Veins are fragile and pressure can be caused by obesity, smoking, pregnancy, and occupational environment (too much standing, sitting or heavy lifting). Other potential factors are constipation, heart or liver disease, Vitamin C deficiency, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and of course, genetics.

 

Here are 10 tips for lovely legs this summer!

 

  1. Stay Hydrated!
  2. Whole Body Detox! (i.e. liver/colon/lymphatic system) – Ask about cleansing supplements and incorporate natural methods such as baths, saunas, dry skin brushing, massage, etc.
  3. De-Stress! Try stress management techniques and ensure good quality sleep.
  4. Alkalize! Processed and refined foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, dairy, and coffee can create or aggravate the problem. Look for mineral-rich, alkalizing ingredients.
  5. Get Moving! Take part in regular moderate exercising and attain a healthy weight.
  6. Avoid Triggers! Quit smoking, prevent constipation, improve digestion, balance blood sugar levels, and minimize toxins in food/environment/products.
  7. Eat Well! Ensure adequate protein and fibre intake, be aware of food allergies, and consider a multivitamin, omega and probiotic supplement (“Prevention Pack Trio”).
  8. Balance Estrogens! Consider a natural hormone support formula.
  9. More Tips:
    • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting. When sitting try to flex leg muscles, wiggle toes and do not cross legs.
    • Raise legs above heart for 20 minutes daily.
    • Wear loose clothing.
    • Do not scratch itchy veins.
    • Consider hydrotherapy.
    • Topical Ingredients– apply witch hazel, aloe vera or castor oil.
  10. Supplement Suggestions
  • Gotu Kola – enhances integrity of connective tissue and increases blood flow.
  • Vitamin C + Bioflavonoids – improves integrity of capillaries and veins, protects collagen from damage in veins, and is a potent antioxidant. Aids circulation and maintains strength of blood vessels!
  • Vitamin E- improves circulation and aids in preventing heavy feelings in legs.
  • Cayenne - expands blood vessels, reducing stress on capillaries.
  • COQ10- improves tissue oxygenation and increases circulation.
    • Pycnogenol – protect tissue from damage, stimulates blood circulation, and strengthens connective tissue.
    • L-Carnitine – promotes circulation in the legs, aids the breakdown of waste products and improves the fluidity of the blood, thus reducing deposits.
    • Diosmin - used as a vein tonic and vein-protective agent. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is derived by extracting hesperidin from citrus rinds, followed by the conversion of hesperidin to diosmin.
    • Horse Chestnut Extract - aescin, the active ingredient in horse chestnut, tones the walls of the veins, improving the flow of blood back to the heart.
    • Butcher's Broom - acts on lymphatic drainage, the constriction of blood vessels and microcirculation. When used in combination with the other ingredients, it also improves the strength of veins and reduces permeability.
    • Hesperidin - the main flavonoid in lemons and oranges. Hesperidin reduces the permeability of the capillaries and is an anti-inflammatory agent.
    • Silica – an essential element required for the normal growth, development and integrity of connective tissue.
    • Bromelain – anti-inflammatory, prevents hard lumpy skin around bulging varicose veins.

     

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

Why Whey is the Way!

Protein is a key nutrient that is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, which are the “building blocks” for the body; including the immune cells, enzymes, hormones, brain cells, as well as muscles and tissue. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein cannot be stored by the body and is therefore required daily. Symptoms of inadequate protein intake may appear as a loss of lean muscle tissue, unwanted weight gain, bone loss, poor skin quality, fatigue, confusion, compromised immunity, among others.

 

So Why Consider Whey?

Whey protein has the highest “biological value” of any protein. This is a measurement of how well a protein retains nitrogen or how usable it is to the body. High quality whey protein also contains many biologically active subfractions that are valuable for health due to their immune-supporting, antimicrobial, and antioxidant functions. For example:

  • Alpha-lactalbumin: the key to protein manufacturing in the body. It balances mood by enhancing tryptophan and supports proper immune function. It also helps the body deal with excess stress as it reduces the stress-hormone cortisol; helping to control cravings, energy crashes, insomnia and preventing resistant fat cells. It is highly anabolic, counteracting the breakdown of muscle tissue and slowing biological aging.
  • Beta-lactoglobulin: has the ability to increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, and spare glycogen during exercise.
  • Glycomacropeptides: stimulates hormones responsible for enzyme release in the pancreas and for the contraction of the gallbladder and bowels. Also helps in appetite control, as it effectively stimulates a hormone (cholecystokinin) that can control our hunger responses and reduce appetite. GMPs may also boost our immune system.
  • Lactoferrin: an antioxidant, powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial, shown to inhibit the growth of E.coli, salmonella and candida in the gut. It also regulates iron absorption and bioavailability.
  • Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s): these include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Energy levels, protein turnover, and recovery all depend upon the presence of adequate BCAAs. These amino acids allow the body to burn fat instead of muscle. Compared to other proteins, whey contains the highest concentration of BCAA’s that serve as important fuel sources for skeletal muscle during periods of stress, including exercise.

 

Health Benefits

  • Weight Control – The body requires more energy to digest protein than other foods, in turn burning more calories. Protein also helps stabilize blood sugar and control insulin by slowing absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Studies show that individuals who combine protein-rich diets with exercise have increased satiety, lose body fat more quickly, build and maintain more lean muscle, burn more calories, while improving their metabolism and blood sugar levels!
  • Stronger Immunity - Whey provides the amino acid cysteine to help the body produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant that supports the immune system by raising levels of antibodies and enzymes, in addition to producing detoxifying effects. In addition, certain subfractions of whey act as prebiotics, to promote beneficial probiotic bacteria growth. Whey protein also contains lactoferrin, an antimicrobial nutrient.
  • Healing & Repair – This process requires plenty of protein and the amino acid building blocks that help us grow new skin. Whey protein helps replace body cells for faster recuperation and helps build, repair and maintain muscle, skin, and bones.
  • Heart Health - New research shows whey protein may help reduce blood pressure in those with borderline hypertension by increasing the dilation of blood vessels and improving blood flow. Also, certain bioactive components in whey protein may help balance cholesterol. Both are factors associated with increased risk of heart disease.
  • Stress & Sleep Support: Whey protein has also been shown to help effectively reduce stress and lower cortisol, enhance mood-boosting chemicals (i.e. serotonin) and aid in sleep quality.

 

How Much?

Protein requirements vary from person to person; depending on age, weight, sex, activity level, and general health. Lean muscle mass is an accurate way to determine protein needs, but you can also use your activity level to help estimate optimal protein intake.

 

Who Should Use a Protein Supplement?

While everyone needs adequate daily protein intake, certain populations are more at risk of deficiency and could benefit from extra supplementation. Those who have busier lifestyles may not have time to prepare or consume enough protein, may often feel fatigued and hungry, turning to stimulants and comfort food to compensate. Diabetics are also often at risk of low protein. Seniors naturally lose muscle elasticity and tone with age and struggle with impaired immune systems. Youth who are growing and/or “picky-eaters” may not be attaining enough protein from the diet. Lastly, active people have higher protein needs than sedentary people so it is essential to replenish properly after exercise.

 

What to Look For?

Look for whey protein powder sourced from grass-fed cattle, raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Choose a brand that uses low temperature, chemical-free processing to ensure the protein is undenatured and retains key subfractions. Also, ensure the product has no artificial sweeteners or GMO ingredients.

 

 

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

Taming Your Thyroid

According to Lorna Vanderhaeghe, Canada’s leading women’s natural health expert, “Twenty-three percent of the population is currently taking medication for low thyroid function. An additional 30 percent of women have low thyroid function that has not been diagnosed.”

 

The thyroid is a gland that lies below the larynx in the neck and wraps around the trachea. It regulates metabolism of all cells and controls heart rate, body temperature, growth, energy production, fat burning, oxygen use, and protein production. It produces/secretes 2 main hormones - T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), using iodine and tyrosine. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is secreted by the pituitary gland and triggers the thyroid to release T4 & T3. T4 is secreted in higher amounts than T3, but T3 is more active. T3 is formed from T4 when the body is functioning properly (80% converted in the liver, 20% directly produced from the thyroid). Thyroid also secretes calcitonin to balance blood calcium levels. It inhibits bone breakdown and accelerates the absorption of calcium.

 

Symptoms of underactive thyroid include: fatigue, weakness, dry skin, hair loss, muscle cramps, mood changes, brain fog, puffy eyes, insomnia, night sweats, infertility, decreased libido, menstrual problems, cold intolerance, fluid retention, low bone mass, and goiter.

 

Some Effects of Underactive (Hypo) Thyroid

  • Slows down digestive system (causing constipation and malabsorption)
  • Impairs liver function (linked to high cholesterol, estrogen dominance)
  • Stresses adrenals & decreases insulin sensitivity (causing weight gain)
  • Weakens immune system and increases risk of infection/overgrowth (i.e. candida)

* Adrenals, pancreas, liver and thyroid are all closely connected to so it is important to support all systems!

 

What Causes Underactive (Hypo) Thyroid?

Lorna adds that “95% of all cases of hypothyroidism are not due to a problem with pituitary.” Often, the main problems are decreased production of OR poor conversion of T4 & T3 due to:

-Nutrient Deficiencies/Malabsorption (i.e. Tyrosine, Iodine, Selenium, Protein, Iron)

- Poor Digestion, Food Sensitivities, Leaky Gut

-Inflammation, Auto-Immune Reaction

-Infection/Overgrowth (i.e. Candida, Parasites)

- Estrogen Dominance, Obesity

-Blood Sugar Imbalances/Insulin Resistance

-Adrenal Stress/High Cortisol Levels

-Free Radical Damage/Radiation

- Overburdened Liver, Over toxicity

* Toxicity can occur from hormone disruptors (xenoestrogens), tobacco, pesticides, mercury, fluoride, chlorine, and cleaning/body care chemicals!

According to Lorna, 30% of people older than 35 may have mild hypothyroidism. While their clinical tests may show a normal range, many have symptoms of low thyroid function. She suggests the at-home “Barnes Basal Body Temperature Test” to help evaluate thyroid function.

 

At Home Thyroid Test

Barnes Basal Body Temperature Test Instructions: Take body temperature with a thermometer, tightly under the armpit, first thing in the morning before rising for 10 minutes lying still. Do this at the same time for up to 7 days and record temperatures. Women who are menstruating should do this on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th day of their period. Men and postmenopausal women can perform the test at any time. If consistently below 97.6F, lower level of thyroid activity are indicated.

 

Suggestions for Low Thyroid

  • Eliminate Triggers –food sensitivities, chemicals, heavy metals, xenoestrogens, tobacco
  • Consider a Prevention Pack - Multivitamin, Probiotics, and Essential Omega Fatty Acids
  • Proper Nutrition - avoid refined/processed foods, correct deficiencies

*It is possible for goitrogenic foods (i.e. cruciferous veggies) to inhibit the body’s iodine metabolism under certain circumstances. However, it has been shown that the impact they might have on iodine is extremely minimal when eaten in moderation. Also, keep in mind that steaming reduces the enzymes responsible for the goitrogenic effect by two thirds!

  • Lifestyle Factors – take part in regular exercise, manage blood sugar levels, and consider stress management techniques and supplementation.
  • Other Considerations – support proper digestion, consider a liver cleanse and target candida if necessary.

 

Who Can Supplement & How?

Lorna cautions that “severe hypothyroidism requires the use of supplemental thyroid hormone - available only by prescription. 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. These include: L-Tyrosine, Guggal Extract, Iodine, Selenium, Ashwaghanda, Myrrh and Vitamin D.

 

*Iodine food sources include sea salt, sea vegetables (i.e. kelp, nori, dulse), eggs, raw nuts, beef, seafood, etc. Note that the American Thyroid Association States “Ingestion of greater than 1,100 mcg of iodine per day (Tolerable Upper Limits for iodine) is not recommended and may cause thyroid dysfunction.”

 

Ask a natural health professional about natural thyroid support. Note that overactive (hyper) thyroid must be carefully treated by a medical professional and that hyperthyroidism can lead to hypothyroidism.

 

 

-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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