6 Reasons Why… Your Hair, Skin & Nails are Suffering!

Irritated or aging skin? Thinning or dry hair? Brittle or unhealthy nails? While using topical products is a valid method of treatment, it also helps to consider that more often than not, external symptoms are a manifestation of some internal dysfunction or imbalance, whether it is too much of something or not enough of another. Consider the following potential underlying causes that are triggering your beauty blunders!

 

1. Nutrient Deficiencies (Protein, Iron, Omega Fats)

PROTEIN - The amino acids in protein are building blocks for thick, shiny hair and strong nails. Deficiency symptoms include dry, shedding hair and weak nails. As a general rule, aim to consume at least half of your body weight (lbs) in grams of protein per day! Specifically, collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues. When levels fall; hair thins, skin sags & wrinkles and nails become brittle. Elastin fibers form a matrix with collagen in hyaluronic acid. Together these ingredients function to lock in moisture and make skin, hair and nails smooth, elastic and firm. With age, menopause and damage from toxins, our natural renewal rate of these nutrients slows down. Important collagen building blocks include Silica and Biotin, as well as Sulfur, Zinc and Vitamin C.

IRON - Symptoms of deficiency include brittle, peeling fingernails and hair loss. Hair follicles contain ferritin and when stores decline, it affects their ability to grow, and instead non-pigmented fine hairs develop. Vitamin B12 is also important for red blood cell production, metabolism and cell reproduction, thus helping to reduce skin dryness, unhealthy nails and hair loss. Note that low stomach acid, coffee/black tea consumption and phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of iron but Vitamin C intake can help increase it!

OMEGA FATS - Essential fatty acids are part of all cell membranes and are necessary for nourishing skin, hair and nails while retaining moisture/hydration, fighting inflammation, managing oil production, preventing and improving signs of aging (wrinkles, drying and thinning), stimulating production of healthy cells, treating skin conditions and protecting from damage/sunburn. Look for Omega 3’s (EPA & DHA) in ingredients such as fish oils and the Omega 6 fatty acid, GLA, from evening primrose and/or borage oils.

Consume healthy ingredients in adequate portions, consider a quality multivitamin and drink plenty of water to provide the nutrients needed for healthy hair, skin and nails. Focus on eating primarily: Whole, Raw, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients.

 

2. Sluggish Liver

A congested liver is often bogged down by toxins (internal from constipation, poor digestion, candida/parasites or external from chemicals, heavy metals, medications & hormone mimickers in food/environment/body care/cleaning products) and cannot keep up with detoxification at a fast enough rate. When the liver performs inadequately, the body releases toxins through the skin, resulting in eruptions and conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis.

 

3. Stressed Lifestyle

High amounts of stress as well as lack of sleep lead to increased production of cortisol, our “chronic stress” hormone, and add stress on our adrenal glands. This not only accelerates the aging process but can also lead to symptoms such as hair loss and weakened skin.

 

4. Hormone Imbalances (Estrogen, Thyroid)

ESTROGEN - Hormonal imbalances, such as estrogen and testosterone levels can be the result of an overloaded liver, overexposure to hormone mimickers (xenoestrogens) or as a result of PMS, puberty and perimenopause. Imbalanced sex hormone levels are linked to various symptoms such as hair thinning/loss and unnatural growth as well as dry, wrinkled skin and acne outbreaks.

THYROID - The thyroid gland plays a major role in metabolism, growth and development. Symptoms of low thyroid include hair loss as well as dry, coarse and cracking skin. A TSH value greater than 2.0 can cause symptoms of low thyroid.

 

5. Oxidative Stress

Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal electrons from stable molecules, causing a chain reaction of cell damage. This is one of the main causes of premature aging! Free radicals are the result of factors such as toxic buildup, poor diet (processed/fried foods), stress/insomnia, inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, etc. Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects. Antioxidants are used to neutralize free radicals and end this harmful chain reaction, protecting cells from damage!

 

6. Poor Gut Health & Inflammation

Digestion is impaired from poor eating habits, low enzymes/stomach acid, food sensitivities, stress, etc. This leads to imbalanced gut bacteria (dysbiosis), risk of overgrowth/infection, poor nutrient absorption, and tissue damage (i.e. leaky gut) which can result in an inflammatory overactive immune response. For example, alopecia (or “spot baldness”) is the result of the immune system seeing hair as foreign and targeting it by mistake. In addition, inflammation in the gut can lead to inflammation in the skin and can manifest itself as a number of skin conditions.

 

Other Considerations: Balance blood sugar levels & manage proper circulation, use natural personal care products, quit smoking, and use appropriate sun protection!

 

Ask a health care professional or product advisor for more information on natural support for any of the above concerns!

 

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

An Apple A Day?

It is said that many years ago, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine used apple cider vinegar as a cleansing and healing agent. It turns out that it is not only valuable for our internal health but also used as an external natural beauty aid. Not to mention, it serves as a tasty ingredient!

 

How Is It Made?

Apple cider vinegar is made by crushing fresh apples and squeezing out the liquid. Yeast is added to the liquid to start the first fermentation process, and the natural sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, bacteria converts the alcohol into acetic acid, the main compound in vinegar that gives it its strong, sour taste.

 

What Is “Mother”?

Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains “mother”, which are strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product it’s murky, cobweb-like appearance. The “mother” is formed from naturally occurring pectin and apple residues. Apple cider vinegar is also a source of key minerals and antioxidants.

 

Why Are People Using It?

While not all popular claims of apple cider vinegar benefits have been fully researched, here are some of the many reasons why it has been traditionally used and recommended over time.

 

  • INTERNAL:
    • Detoxes The Body
    • Treats Acid Reflux and Heartburn
    • Supports Digestion
    • Kills Candida (Yeast) and Boosts Probiotics
    • Supports Healthy Immune System
    • Alkalizes the Body/pH Balancer
    • Supports Weight Loss, Appetite and Metabolism
    • Improves Insulin Sensitivity & Improves Blood Sugar Response
    • Lowers Blood Cholesterol, Pressure & Triglycerides
    • Fights Seasonal Allergies, Congestion
    • Cold and Sore/Dry Throat Remedy

     

  • EXTERNAL:
    • Natural Hair Shine Conditioner
    • Natural Teeth Whitener
    • An All-Natural Household Cleaner/Disinfectant
    • Effective Skin Cleanser/Toner
    • Used as a Natural Preservative
    • Keeps Skin Looking Youthful & Vibrant
    • Soothes a Sunburn & Irritated Skin
    • Heals Poison Ivy
    • Repels Fleas on your Pets
    • Kills Fungus on Toes and Skin
    • Eases Varicose Veins
    • Natural Deodorant 
    • Wart Treatment
    • Relieves Joint Pain

     

How to Use It?
Most people like to dilute ACV in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL). Often, other ingredients such as raw honey or cinnamon, are added for extra health benefits.

Another way to incorporate ACV into your diet is by cooking with it and using it in place of white vinegar or even wine in your favorite recipes such as in marinades, sauces, dressings, condiments, dips or vinaigrettes. It can be used on salads, veggies or even popcorn!

 

What to Look for?

Look for certified organic apple cider vinegar that contains “mother” and is unfiltered and unpasteurized.

 

Recipe Ideas:

 

Vinaigrette Dressing/Dip/Marinade

½ cup Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

1/3 cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1/2- 1 tsp. Liquid Aminos

1-2 tsps. Raw Honey

Shake well before using.

 

Skin Facial

Wash skin in warm water (no soap). Apply a wrung-out, hot water-soaked cloth to face 3-5 minutes, then remove. Then soak cloth in warm Apple Cider Vinegar water (1 Tbsp. ACV per cup of water) and apply to face again. Next, cover the soaked cloth with a towel wrung out in hot water. Then lie down for 10 minutes with feet elevated up. This is meant to increase blood circulation to revitalize the face for cell rejuvenation.

 

-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural -

Curious About Collagen?

What is Collagen?

  • It is the single most abundant and key structural protein in the human body (making up ¼ of total protein).
  • The “glue” that holds the body together
  • Building block for all our body's major systems.
  • It is found in cartilage, ligaments, skin, bones, tendons, muscle, teeth, intestines, nails, eyes, blood vessels and hair.
  • There are 28 types of collagen in the body, but 80-90 percent in the body consists of types I, II, and III.
  • As we age collagen production declines. (Roughly 1% lost per year starting in our early 20s). Women in menopause are especially susceptible (up to 30% lost in 5 years).

 

Types of Collagen:

Collagen Type 1&3 and Type 2 each have different amino acid profiles and are produced by different cells in the body.

  • Types 1&3 is produced by fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) and osteoblasts (bone cells). They make up the majority of body’s total collagen supply and are the main collagen constituents in the skin, hair, nails, ligaments, dentin (teeth), tendons, intestines, uterus, blood vessels, bones and muscles. Type 1 is the most abundant form in the body and Type 3 is the second most abundant form, often found alongside Type 1. Type 3 collagen yields gelatin when boiled or hydrolysed!
  • Type 2 is produced by chondrocytes (cartilage cells). It provides essential nutrients for joint support. Needed to maintain and rebuild cartilage tissue (helps with swelling, mobility and cushioning). Collagen Type 2 makes up 50% of all protein in cartilage!

 

Benefits of Collagen:

  • Supports muscle mass and healthy body composition
  • Reduces appearance of cellulite
  • Support skin elasticity, firmness and sun protection
  • Improves wound healing
  • Protects joints (compliments fish oils, glucosamine, chondroitin, NEM, MSM, Boswellia, curcumin and hyaluronic acid well!)
  • Supports bones
  • Supports gut
  • Improves sleep quality

 

 

The Methionine/Glycine Imbalance

According to holistic nutritionist Nelson Narciso, collagen intake helps combat methionine/glycine imbalance in the diet. Traditional diets used to consume more collagen as they would eat the “whole” animal (organ meats, skin, tendon, gristle/cartilage, bone, gelatinous cuts). He states that the common protein foods we consume today (i.e. muscle meats, eggs) are rich in the amino acid methionine and low in glycine. Excess methionine intake increases homocysteine levels, which is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, etc. Additional glycine intake will help even out the imbalance created when consuming high levels of methionine from the diet. Nelson states that collagen is probably the best source of glycine. He adds that in addition to not consuming enough glycine, many people are also consuming things that deplete glycine such as the food preservative, sodium benzoate.

 

What Happens When We Have Insufficient Collagen?

Skin sags, bones lose density, muscles ache, joints and ligaments become weaker and less elastic. Cartilage becomes thinner and weaker at the joints it is supposed to cushion. Hair loses its thickness and wave and breaks easily. Organs may sag toward the floor, and sphincters weaken. The heart enlarges, arteries become less elastic, and less resistant to plaque formation.

 

Suggested Supplements:

  • Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplement – Collagen protein provides the essential amino acids necessary for connective tissue formation. The process of hydrolysis breaks down collagen into small fragments to enhance absorption in order to provide optimum bioavailability (so your body can best use it!) Look for a source from pasture-raised animals that are free from both antibiotics and added hormones.
  • Building Blocks for Collagen Production: Silica, Biotin, Sulfur, Vitamin C & Zinc
  • Antioxidants – support & protect damaged fibres, inhibit enzymes that break down collagen.

Bonus: Collagen lacks the amino acid tryptophan. Look for a product that adds this ingredient in order to make it a complete collagen!

 

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

Mental Health Awareness Week - What’s On Your Mind?

STRESS vs. ANXIETY vs. DEPRESSION

Stress happens to everyone in varying degrees and is caused by everyday living and stressors. It can result in dozens of symptoms. The ability to manage stress will vary depending on the individual. Those who live with above normal stressors that affect energy, motivation, mood, and health and are already applying lifestyle changes (such as exercise, nutrition, mindfulness), but could still use help managing their stress response may want to consider natural stress support.

Anxiety affects roughly 18% of the population and is caused by stress, fear or apprehension (real or perceived). It results in extreme and often debilitating symptoms and is difficult to manage without treatment. It is characterized by excessive, irrational fears of everyday situations, panic attacks, persistent and unrelenting worry that is difficult to control and interferes with cognitive, physical and behavioral functioning.

Depression is described as persistent sadness that interferes with daily life and normal functioning. Characteristics include depressed mood, irritability, diminished interest and pleasure, significant changes in weight/appetite, insomnia or excessive sleep, fatigue & low energy, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or excessive guilt, diminished ability to think, concentrate or make decisions, recurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.

 

5 KEY SUGGESTIONS

1. Eliminate Triggers

    • Avoid toxins in environment, personal products, cleaning supplies and food
    • Control underlying issues if necessary – such as inflammation, candida overgrowth, constipation, hormone imbalances (thyroid/estrogen), etc.
    • Minimize sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed/refined foods and sensitivities
    • Consider a liver cleanse and drink plenty of water!

2. Improve Gut Health

The brain and the gut are on a two-way street of constant communication. Gut bacteria communicate with and influence brain function. The gut brain produces a wide range of hormones and neurotransmitters of the same classes as those found in the head brain. Gut brain problems such as bacteria imbalance can cause mental health symptoms. Digestive health is of utmost importance. Consider the following suggestions:

  • PROBIOTICSreplenish good bacteria and support gut/brain connection
  • Fibre – ensure proper elimination, blood sugar balance and toxin removal
  • Digestive Enzymes– needed to break down and absorb nutrients

3. Correct Nutrient Deficiencies

  • MULTIVITAMIN made up of highly absorbable vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids and anti-oxidants to help support/balance brain chemistry. Key nutrients include Magnesium, Vitamins D, C and B complex.
  • OMEGA Fatty Acids (i.e. Fish Oils) are required by brain cells to transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods, and emotions.
  • Choose to consume whole, raw, nutrient-dense, naturally-grown, organic, single-ingredient foods as much as possible.

4.Supplement Suggestions

Mood Support

  • 5 HTP – Direct building block to serotonin (our “happy hormone”) and helps improve mood, cravings, insomnia.
  • John’s Wort (Hypericum) – traditionally used for the treatment of nervous disorders such as restlessness, anxiety, and depressive moods.

Calming Nutrients

  • GABA – reduces acute stress and nervousness, quickly restores mental calmness, promotes clarity, physical relaxation and improves cognitive functions and cravings.
  • L-Theanine – reduces stress, tension and PMS symptoms, improves sleep quality, promotes relaxation, heightens mental acuity and reduces side effects of caffeine. Top of Form
  • L-Tyrosine – alleviates both the mental and physical effects of stress, helps balance mood and maintain focus, normalizes heart rate and blood pressure under conditions of stress.
  • Kava Kava - promotes relaxation, helps calm nervousness and anxiety, supports mental focus, restful sleep and minimizes negative effects of stress.
  • Passionflower – known as a “calming” herb for anxiety or nervousness and insomnia.
  • Lemon Balm – helps decompress by reducing anxiety-like reactivity under stressful situations and increases availability of GABA in the brain.

Stress Management

Your ability to adapt to long term stressors depends on optimal function of the adrenal glands and cortisol regulation. ADAPTOGENS are herbs that assist the body in adapting to stress by supporting the adrenal glands and enhancing resistance to stress. Example include Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashwaghanda, Holy Basil, etc.

 

5. Lifestyle Factors

    • Exercise Regularly & Balance Blood Sugar Levels
    • Consider Light Therapy/Increase Sun Exposure
    • Try Acupuncture!
    • Emotional Support Group/Counselling
    • Stress Management Techniques (laughing, journaling, stretching, simplicity, aromatherapy, etc.)

Be sure to consult a Health Care Practitioner in addition to considering natural supplementation when assessing mental health concerns.

This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -

All About Arthritis!

The word “arthritis” literally means inflammation of the joints. Joints in the body occur where bones meet. Bone ends are covered by cartilage and are encased in a fluid-filled synovial membrane used to lubricate the joint. Common symptoms are generally pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced function/mobility. However, the root causes are not always the same. There are distinctive differences between Osteo Arthritis (OA: wear & tear/degenerative joint disease) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA: auto-immune/inflammatory disease). Let’s explore.

 

WHO?

OA: Affects both men and women. Process can begin after the age of 40 and symptoms are often present by age of 65.

RA: More common in women and can affect anyone, at any age.

 

WHEN & HOW?

OA: Gradual onset & increase in severity. Characterized by deterioration of and decreased ability to turn over (replace) cartilage tissue. This can be due to altered enzyme activity, building block deficiency and repetitive use/damage. This results in painful friction of exposed joints rubbing together, leading to inflammation of joint lining. After much cartilage is worn away, bone spurs may develop in joint spaces.

RA: Rapid onset. Characterized by an auto-immune response that leads to a self-attack on synovial membrane, which in turn leads to its inflammation, thickening, cartilage destruction and scar tissue formation.

 

NUMBER & TYPES OF JOINTS AFFECTED?

OA: 1-2 joints, Asymmetrical (Not even on both sides – usually one side acts up first). Affects the weight-bearing joints (i.e. knees & hips).

RA: Multiple joints, Symmetrical (Affects both sides of the body the same way). Affects the synovial joints (i.e. hands & feet) but can progress to larger joints.

 

NON-JOINT INVOLVEMENT?

OA: Absent.

RA: Commonly affects other tissues throughout the body. Other symptoms include fever, depression, fatigue, etc.

 

TYPES & CAUSES?

OA: 2 Types - Primary & Secondary.

Primary – Potential causes include age, obesity, high impact sports, excessive use/exercise, free radical damage, poor nutrition, dehydration.

Secondary - Results from a pre-disposing factor/condition such as joint or ligament damage/abnormality, infection, previous inflammation, loss of blood supply.

RA: Single Type.

Auto-immune response (when your body breaks itself down/attacks its own tissues). Potential underlying causes include poor digestion/diet (nutrition deficiencies, imbalance of gut bacteria, leaky gut, and food sensitivities), stress, chronic inflammation, heredity/genetics, imbalanced immune system, smoking/toxins and infections or overgrowth (i.e. candida).

Did You Know? 56% of patients with inflammatory arthritis have an imbalance of gut bacteria!

 

SUGGESTIONS?

Symptom Relief:

Natural Anti-inflammatories - CURCUMIN, Boswellia/Frankincense, MSM, Bromelain, OMEGA FATS (i.e. EPA from Fish Oils and GLA from Borage/Evening Primrose)

Natural Pain Relief - White Willow, SERRAPEPTASE

Tissue Protection:

Look for ANTIOXIDANTS (Quercetin, Zinc, Pycnogenol, Selenium, Vitamin E, Grape Seed Extract)

Repair Nutrients:

  • Glucosamine/NAG – an amino sugar synthesized in the body that is found in high concentrations in our joints. It stimulates the production of key building blocks that form the cartilage needed for repair, protects existing cartilage and connective tissue of joints and increases cushioning to improve mobility and function.
  • Chondroitin Sulfate – a natural substance found in cartilage that attracts water/nutrient-rich fluid into cartilage, inhibits enzymes that enhance destruction, stimulates production of key cartilage components, and works well with glucosamine to rebuild damage.
  • Hyaluronic Acid - a compound present in every tissue of the body, with the highest concentrations occurring in connective tissues, such as cartilage. It is an important component of joint fluid, and serves as a lubricant while helping resist compression.
  • COLLAGEN- key structural protein that provides aminos to support connective tissue formation! (Collagen Building Blocks: Vitamin C, Zinc, Biotin, Silica, Sulphur)
  • Natural Eggshell Membraneprovides a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid & collagen and calcium
  • SAMe -maintains cartilage health and contributes to the production of joint-supporting compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin.

Topical Ingredients:

Capsaicin, MSM, Arnica, Celadrin, Menthol, Peppermint, Eucalyptus.

Diet Tips:

Avoid nightshades as they may aggravate pain & inflammation. Drink plenty of water. Eat mineral-rich and green foods to detox & alkalize. Eat more sulfur-containing foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, etc.

Lifestyle Suggestions:

Attain a healthy weight, manage stress and blood sugars, do light, non-weight bearing exercises (i.e. swimming). Consider wearing CIRCULATION CLOTHING!

Improve Gut Health:

Ensure daily PROBIOTICS and consider supplemental L-Glutamine, Enzymes/HCL, Fibre & VITAMIN D3.

Modulate Immunity:

Consider ingredients such as Plant Sterols, Medicinal Mushrooms or Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Fight Infection (if necessary):

Oregano, Silver, Garlic, Grapefruit Seed Extract

 

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

Serrapeptase: The “Miracle Enzyme”

Serratia peptidase, also known as serrapeptase, is a natural enzyme produced from bacteria that is originally found in the intestines of the silkworm. Silkworms use the enzyme to break down and dissolve their cocoons. In the same way, this proteolytic enzyme works like a “pac-man” to seek out and break down or “digest” dead or damaged tissue made of protein in the body, without harming living tissues. It has been shown to reduce pain, mucous build-up, and symptoms of inflammation, including those from post-surgery swelling, arthritis, injury, sinusitis or disease. Some sources have suggested it may help remove heavy metals from the body and in turn potentially help support the immune system and hormone imbalances.

According to Naturopathic Doctor, Jonathan Beatty, serrapeptase works differently than digestive enzymes. While it will help digest proteins from the diet, it is meant to be taken between meals to be used to break down inflammatory proteins that drive inflammation in the body. He states that, “if inflammation is part of the disease, serrapeptase is functional.” He also notes that in commercial supplement products, the enzyme is produced in a way that no silk worm are actually used in the process. Here are some of its main uses:

Heart Health – Plaque formation involves deposits of fats, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) on the inner lining of the arteries. Plaque accumulation results in blockage of blood flow through an artery, potentially resulting in higher risk of heart problems. The cocoon that the silkworm escapes from is made from a fibre (fibrin), which is very similar to the “plaque” that builds up in the human vascular system. It has now been shown that serrapeptase dissolves protein by-products of blood coagulation called fibrin (aka: plaque buildup) in the arteries.

Pain and Inflammation – Inflammation is a natural immune response to irritation used to protect the body. However, it becomes of concern once it becomes chronic. The inflammatory response can cause pain, swelling and mucous build-up, to name a few. Serrapeptase is said to have anti-inflammatory and anti-edemic properties (preventing swelling and fluid retention). It is thought to reduce inflammation by thinning fluids formed, helping them to drain and speeding up tissue repair and recovery time. In addition to reducing inflammation, it also effectively relieves chronic pain by blocking the release of the body’s natural pain chemicals from inflamed/injured tissues. This way it halts pain pathways and restores the body’s inflammatory response to reduce swelling and improve circulation.

Sinusitis: This condition involves excess mucous production and build-up that can cause uncomfortable congestion. Serrapeptase works as a “mucolytic enzyme” and has been used to help with break down and reducing the thickness of the mucous, which is protein based, thus improving elimination and easing pressure.

Others: Due to the fact that serrapeptase has the ability to dissolve unwanted non-living tissue and help with pain relief, it has been suggested for issues such as scar tissue, cysts, clots, carpal tunnel, etc.

It should be noted that Health Canada has granted serrapeptase a Natural Product Number (or NPN—look for it on the bottle) which means it has been assessed and found it to be “safe, effective and of high quality.” Dr. Beatty explains that serrapeptase is rated by serratia units and is measured by enzyme activity or potency. He suggests that it is ideally taken on an empty stomach and in enteric form for maximum absorption.

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

Having Trouble Breathing?

Ah Spring, the season of changing weather and seemingly unavoidable congestion that comes along with it. Here are a few reasons why you might typically struggle this time of year and suggestions on how to manage and prevent your symptoms.

 

1)    Seasonal Allergies/Hay Fever/Allergic Rhinitis
This is an allergic reaction in the nasal passages and airways to normally harmless environmental triggers. It is an abnormal exaggerated inflammatory immune response characterized by a release of chemicals, including histamine, into the bloodstream to defend against common allergens, including pollens, mold, pet dander, dust mites. This chemical release in turn, causes symptoms such as itchy, runny nose, headache, watery eyes, swelling, sneezing, scratchy throat, post nasal drip, sinus pressure, etc.

 

2)    Sinusitis
This is an infection or inflammation of sinuses. Sinuses function to clean, heat and humidify air so it reaches the lungs in optimal condition.  They are covered by a layer of mucus and tiny hairs (cilia) that sweep mucous filled with contaminants into the throat to be swallowed and dealt with in the stomach by HCL (acid). Inflammation causes sinus openings to close up and traps mucous in cavity, providing optimal environment for bacterial infection. Symptoms include nasal discharge/congestion, post nasal drip, headache, sneezing, cough, sore throat, facial pain, nasal polyps, trouble breathing/smelling, and fever.

 

3)    Extrinsic (Allergic) Asthma
This is characterized by inflammation of the lungs along with tightening/spasms of the bronchi, and overproduction of mucous in the airways due to a hypersensitive immune response to harmless airborne allergens.  This is considered an inflammatory allergic condition that triggers the release of chemicals, like histamine. Symptoms are observed in the lungs and include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, etc.

 

Recommendations:

DIET:
•    Focus on consuming plenty of fresh fruits and green foods as diets high in antioxidants have been shown to improve asthma and provide important defense against harmful agents in the body that increase allergic reactions.
•    Drink plenty of water and ensure adequate fibre to ensure toxin elimination.
•    Avoid processed, refined, artificial ingredients.
•    Eliminate any food sensitivities that may be contributing to an allergy.
•    Reduce mucous forming foods (bananas, dairy, and oranges).
•    Gradually introduce local bee pollen & raw honey into the diet to help inoculate against seasonal allergies/hay fever.

 

SUPPLEMENTS:
•    Anti-Histamines: Vitamin C & Quercetin, Magnesium
•    Anti-Inflammatories: Curcumin, Omega 3 Fatty Acids (high EPA) and Proteolytic Enzymes (Bromelain, Papain, Serrapeptase)
•    Immune Support: Probiotics, Plant Sterols, Medicinal Mushrooms (i.e. cordyceps, chaga, lion’s mane, maitake, reishi), Astragalus, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, Vitamin D3
•    Natural Antimicrobials: Horseradish, Garlic, Echinacea, Ionic Silver, Citrus Extracts, Oregano
•    Helpful Herbs:
o    Anticatarrhals/Decongestants (reduce swelling & thins mucous in nose and throat to help remove excess from body) - Elderflower, Nettle, Goldenseal, Plantain, Wild Cherry
o    Antispasmodics (relax and dilate airways) – thyme, plantain, eucalyptus, chamomile, astragalus, rosemary, lobelia, mullein, hyssop, horehound
o    Demulcents (soothe irritation or inflammation in mucous membranes) – marshmallow, mullein, fenugreek, slippery elm, licorice, horehound, wild cherry
o    Expectorants (loosen or induce removal of excess mucous from respiratory tract/lungs) -   elecampane, lobelia, eucalyptus, thyme, hyssop, horehound, cowslip
o    Anti-asthmatics– Rosemary, Juniper, Wild Cherry*Core Mucus Buster: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) acts to break down and thin out mucous, helping the respiratory tract to clear mucous, reducing coughing and improving oxygen saturation in the blood.

 

OTHER SUGGESTIONS:
•    Lifestyle - Cleanse. Improve Digestion (consider enzymes). Manage Stress/Sleep. Consider Facial Acupuncture. Avoid Toxins. Quit Smoking.
•    Reduce Exposure to Allergens- Shower after being outside. Install an air purifier in the rooms you spend the most time in. Consider investing into a vacuum cleaner with a specialize filter designed to catch and trap very fine particles. When dusting, use a damp cloth to trap and hold the dust instead of stirring it back up into the air. Close windows between 5am-10am, as these are peak pollen times. Look for specialized bedsheets and pillow covers designed to seal away allergens that may have accumulated. Use natural household cleaners free of chemical irritants that can trigger allergies and migraines.
•    Consider Nasal Irrigation/Neti Pot- This consists of passing slightly saline water through one nostril and allowing it to drain through the other while breathing through the mouth, the salt helps to draw out mucous and rinse out allergens from the nasal passages, aiding to discharge built-up mucous and offer symptom relief.

 

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

It’s All in How You “C” It!

Vitamin C, also known as “ascorbic acid”, is an essential water soluble vitamin that humans cannot produce on their own. While 80-90% of Vitamin C is absorbed through the small intestines, most of it is excreted within 4 hours of ingestion, as it cannot be stored.

Although the discovery of the vitamin hadn’t occurred yet, Vitamin C foods were used as treatment when the British navy used them to prevent scurvy among sailors. Since then, we have discovered the multiple benefits and uses of this important vitamin!

Uses & Benefits

Cell Protection– Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which acts to neutralize free radicals that damage cells and play a role in the development of chronic diseases and premature aging. Vitamin C also elevates cellular levels of the antioxidant glutathione, regenerates and protects Vitamin E and prevents the oxidation of certain B vitamins. Supplementation has also been shown to reduce exercise-induced oxidative damage as well as bone breakdown from free radicals.

Stress Nutrient - The highest concentration of Vitamin C is found in the adrenals and under stress, our body’s demand goes up significantly as it is necessary for the production of stress response hormones. Also, Vitamin C is important for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in regulating mood.

Immune Booster – Vitamin C increases white blood cell (lymphocyte) production, antibody protection and has antiviral activity. It is often used to prevent and reduce the length of colds as well as speed up wound healing!

Allergy Relief - Vitamin C helps alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies due to its natural anti-histamine effects.

Heart Health – Vitamin C has been shown to help control cholesterol and plaque levels, decrease oxidation of cholesterol and help maintain strength and elasticity of blood vessels. Vitamin C also enhances nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels thus lowering high blood pressure and lowering heart risk.  

Collagen Builder– Vitamin C is a necessary building block to collagen, which is a protein that makes up the primary framework of bones, skin, eyes and blood vessels. Without collagen synthesis, tissues are weakened. It is crucial to skin rejuvenation and also helps maintains integrity of gums and teeth.

Other Benefits – Vitamin C has the ability to transform iron into a state that is better absorbed in the intestine. It is also used to detox heavy metals and plays a role in improving glucose levels as well as supporting metabolic rate.

What Depletes Vitamin C or Interferes with Absorption?

Factors include: high sugar intake, UV radiation, stress, heavy metals, certain pharmaceuticals and tobacco. Did you know that smokers have 25% less vitamin C in their blood than non-smokers?

Plus, Vitamin C is very prone to damage by heat, cooking, processing, oxygen, and storage over time. For example, a fresh, vitamin C-rich vegetable like broccoli—if allowed to sit at room temperature for 6 days—can lose almost 80% of its vitamin C!

How Much Do We Need?

This depends on stress, polluted environment, smoking and illness. Certain experts recommend 1000-1200mg/day for maintenance, however, dosage can be increased during cold and flu season and for those who smoke or struggle with stress or chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis, etc.  Note that taking too much Vitamin C may result in loose stools.

Best Sources

Look for Vitamin-C rich foods such as papaya, lime, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, lemon, brussel sprouts, pineapple, orange, kiwi, cantaloupe, kale, cabbage, grapefruit & parsley.

When considering a Vitamin C supplement, consider a product that contains mineral ascorbates and bioflavonoids whose natural metabolites provide quicker absorption and longer retention than any other form of Vitamin C.

By combining Vitamin C with mineral ascorbates, they buffer the acidity of regular ascorbic acid, reduce gastrointestinal discomfort and are gentler on tooth enamel.

Bioflavonoids (i.e. rutin, quercetin, and hesperidin) are plant-based nutrients that act as antioxidants, reduce the oxidation of Vitamin C and increase Vitamin C bioavailability. They also support blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide production which acts as a vasodilator. Quercetin acts as a natural anti-histamine, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Rutin also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities as well as works to strengthen capillaries. Hesperidin is often used for treatment of varicose veins and hemorrhoids as it reduces capillary permeability and works as an anti-inflammatory agent.

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

Liven Up Your Liver!

The liver weighs about 4 pounds and is the body’s largest and hardest working internal organ. A healthy liver fulfills over 500 functions, holds about thirteen percent of the body’s blood supply at any given moment, and filters over a litre of blood each minute! In addition, it contributes to production of over 13,000 different chemicals and maintains over 2000 internal enzyme systems.

 

Main Functions

  • Digestion/Bile Secretion: the liver manufactures approximately 1 litre of bile per day, which is stored in the gallbladder and released as needed. It emulsifies fats for digestion, absorbs fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) carries away toxic substances & excess cholesterol for removal. Bile also promotes intestinal peristalsis for regular bowel movements!
  • Processing/Manufacturing: the liver processes almost everything we eat, breathe or absorb. It is needed to synthesize nutrients (enzymes, hormones, lipoproteins, blood proteins, clotting and immune factors). It also produces up to 80% of the body’s cholesterol! In addition, the liver is responsible for regulating thyroid by converting T4 to active T3, as well as for breaking down sex hormones, deciding if they will convert to another form or clearing the excess.
  • Storage: liver cells store many important substances until they are needed, such as vitamins and minerals (i.e. iron). Excess food is also converted into fat in the liver and is then transported to fatty tissues in the body for storage. In addition, surplus blood sugars are converted into glycogen in the liver and then stored as well. When blood sugar levels drop, the liver converts the stored glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream for energy.
  • Filtering/Detoxification: the liver detoxifies alcohol, heavy metals, drugs, chemicals, toxic by-products and poisons as well as transforms fat soluble toxins into a water soluble state so they can be removed. A healthy liver will ensure toxic substances are safely eliminated via urine, bile, and stool. Phase I liver detoxification works to breakdown toxins into non-toxic substances. Phase II liver detoxification involves ‘conjugation’; where toxic substances are ‘bound’ to others substances in the body to be safely removed through the kidneys, bladder or via the bile.

 

What Burdens The Liver?

Some factors that negatively affect liver health include obesity, lack of exercise, insulin resistance/blood sugar imbalances, heart problems, chronic stress/insomnia, estrogen imbalance, poor diet (high in sugar/fructose, refined/processed foods, wrong fats, alcohol and low in fibre, water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) as well as toxic overload (internal -> from candida overgrowth, poor digestion -leaky gut, poor gut flora, food sensitivities, low enzymes/HCL, constipation or external -> from chemicals and hormone mimickers in food, personal care & cleaning products, tobacco and environment). Note that the health of the liver is very much dependent on the health of the gut!

 

What Can Go Wrong?

Sluggish Liver is described by an impairment in the ability to detoxify or remove toxins.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is characterized by progressive stages of fat buildup, inflammation, scarring and hardening, tissue damage, limited blood flow and eventually complete failure.

Gallstones occur due to an imbalanced composition of bile, when production/circulation/quality is impaired. Bile is composed of fats (cholesterol, lecithin, and fatty acids), bile pigment (bilirubin), bile salts/acids, water, and minerals. Approximately, 80-85% are made of cholesterol and 15-20% of calcium/bilirubin (pigment stones).

When the liver is congested, it not only creates inflammation and cell damage, but toxins end up overflowing into the bloodstream and re-circulating, eventually being stored in fatty tissues. A burdened liver leads to various signs and symptoms such as headaches, skin problems, body odor, food sensitivities, poor digestion, excess weight retention, cholesterol buildup, constipation, hormonal imbalances (PMS/thyroid), fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, etc.

 

Suggestions

Eliminate Triggers

  • Avoid Toxins - from smoking, body care and cleaning chemicals, food, etc.
  • Improve Digestion - consider digestive ENZYMES (with bile salts and HCL if necessary) and gut repair nutrients. Avoid food sensitivities. Take a daily PROBIOTIC to restore bacterial balance, protect intestinal lining, control overgrowth, regulate bowels, reduce toxicity and lessen burden on liver.
  • Ensure Regular Bowel Movements - ask about natural constipation strategies!
  • Treat Candida - if necessary

Ensure Good Nutrition

  • Choose Whole, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, High-Fibre, Low Glycemic, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients.
  • Drink plenty of water (and lemon) to liquefy and stimulate production of bile.
  • Consume saturated fats from animal products in moderation, and focus on healthy OMEGA fats (i.e. fish oils) to help reduce inflammation and improve liver function.
  • Consume plenty of fresh, colorful, local and/or organic produce (and juices).
  • Limit sugars, trans fats, alcohol, refined/processed foods and excess caffeine.
  • Consider additional FIBRE (esp. in soluble form) to properly absorb and help eliminate toxins and excess cholesterol – aim for 35g/day!
  • Take a daily MULTIVITAMIN to ensure adequate nutrition and fat-soluble vitamins!

Consider Liver Support Ingredients

  • Hepatoprotective (protect liver cells): milk thistle (silymarin), turmeric (curcumin)
  • Cholagogues (stimulate bile flow in the liver): dandelion, artichoke, picrohiza
  • Antioxidants (fight free radical damage): selenium, alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin C, NAC, green tea, resveratrol
  • Also, consider lipotropic factors choline/inositol for fat metabolism, as well as supportive amino acids such as, l-taurine, l-glutathione and l-methionine and in the case of gallstones, look for “chanca piedra” and peppermint to help with breakdown.

Choose a LIVER CLEANSE that enhances both Phase I & II detoxification, supports liver functions (hormone processing, blood sugar regulation) and stimulates bile production.

Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Maintain healthy weight, balance blood sugars, manage stress/sleep, exercise regularly.

Ask a health care advisor which products are right for your specific needs and lifestyle!

This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.

Acupuncture Treatment for Pain & Inflammation

By: Dr. Kelly Brown, N.D & Acupuncturist

What is Acupuncture?

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

Modern society is now incorporating acupuncture into many treatment regimes alongside other practices such as physiotherapy, fertility treatments, mental health therapy, among others. Acupuncture has been shown to help treat many inflammatory conditions, such as digestive problems, arthritis, headaches and both chronic and acute pain.

How is Acupuncture Performed? Does it Hurt?

Acupuncture is the insertion of thin needles into various areas throughout the body. In order to decrease the sensation of the needles as they enter the skin, they are as fine as human hair and very sharp. Acupuncture is essentially painless, equivalent to the sensation of a mosquito bite. Once the needles are inserted they often can’t be felt, although, some report feelings of tingling or warmth.

Acupuncture is extremely relaxing and said to be rather enjoyable. This treatment works in part by stimulating blood to flow throughout the body. After a session, patients usually feel extremely calm and peaceful, similar to how one would feel after a massage.

How does Acupuncture Decrease Pain & Inflammation?

Many medical journals have found that acupuncture can block certain substances released from nerve endings, which cause redness and heat, characteristics of inflammation. Acupuncture has also been proven to block a complex relationship of what are called neuropeptides, such as Substance P, which have been shown to cause pain.

Examples of Inflammatory Conditions

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself. This causes inflammation and extreme pain in the joints. However, it can also cause problems in other areas of the body such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and skin. Acupuncture can help decrease pain significantly and play a positive role in the remission of arthritis.

Digestive Disorders

Many gut issues are cause by inflammation of the tissue. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), for example, is a digestive disorder with symptoms such as intermittent diarrhea and constipation, malabsorption of nutrients, cramping and more.

Crohn’s disease is much more serious when compared to IBS, and also involves inflammation of the gut tissue. This can cause severe diarrhea, fever, weight loss, and severe malnutrition. Medication is often needed to put Crohn’s into remission.

With the help of acupuncture, the inflammation affecting the gut can often be treated or put into remission. It is also recommended to seek additional advice on diet and supplement suggestions to support the process.

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and migraines are very common and the pain can be debilitating. Acupuncture treatment can significantly decrease pain during a headache and migraine. It also decreases the frequency of headaches and migraines and often plays a role in preventing them from occurring in the first place!

Chronic and Acute Pain

Acute injuries can be treated with acupuncture to decrease the pain and inflammation as well as help speed up the healing process.

Chronic pain, such as from Fibromyalgia or an old injury, can also benefit greatly from acupuncture treatments. By decreasing inflammation, acupuncture helps control pain as it is one of its causes. Also, acupuncture can help with increasing blood flow to help heal old injuries and decrease pain from certain disorders.

Menstrual Pain

Pain during menstruation is caused by various factors including hormone imbalances, cramping, and inflammation. Acupuncture can decrease the inflammation portion that may be causing pain during this time as well as help regulate hormones that are out of balance, which may cause a range of other symptoms as well!

When considering acupuncture, it is important to check that the practitioner is thoroughly trained. This will ensure that they have a large understanding of anatomy and as well as knowledge of how and where to insert the needles safely.

For more information please contact Dr. Kelly Brown, N.D. at Good n’ Natural (204 326-9565) to book an appointment. Dr. Kelly is a licensed naturopathic doctor with years of training. Naturopathic doctors who are trained in Canada have a thorough understanding of acupuncture.

This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.

The views expressed in Community Blogs are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by SteinbachOnline.com

Blog Coordinator

Pamela Thiessen completed an Advanced Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Manitoba before she discovered the power of nutrition and natural health. This new found passion led her to seek employment at Good N Natural. Fascinated by the incredible benefits of healthy eating, she was inspired to enroll into the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition Program, where she attained a diploma in holistic nutrition. She also holds her Canadian Natural Product Advisor certification. This accumulation of knowledge and her desire to promote health and educate individuals has led her into the marketing and consumer education role at the store. Her goal is to help others improve their quality of life and experience the joy that comes along with healthy living, in hopes of improving the community as a whole.

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