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 Key to Kombucha

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is an ancient fermented tonic made from sweetened black tea. Once cultured, this beverage contains a host of beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and acids from its mother culture, referred to as a SCOBY. It is a delicious drink, loaded with probiotics, enzymes and vitamins!

The Key to Kombucha: The SCOBY

The process of making kombucha all begins with a SCOBY. The SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is one of five ingredients involved in the process of brewing kombucha tea. Within it, bacteria and yeast strains live together in a harmonious, mutually supportive and co-dependant relationship. Due to its appearance and slimy texture, it is often called a “mushroom”.

Various SCOBY’s contain different strains of bacteria and yeast, but they all act in a similar way. The SCOBY multiplies itself in the process of creating kombucha and both mother and baby cultures can be reused multiple times. Even after the main culture is removed, the kombucha drink remains full of living yeast and bacteria, which continue to ferment slowly on their own. Therefore, idle kombucha will eventually form a new baby culture!

How Is It Made?

The process of making kombucha is rather simple and requires an active SCOBY, bottled spring water, organic cane sugar, plain real black tea, distilled white vinegar (for first few batches) or starter tea, as well as certain accessory materials such as a glass jar, coffee filter/weave cloth, rubber band, thermometer, measuring cups and spoons. Note that white cane sugar is the best food for a kombucha culture. While honey can also be used, it may yield inconsistent results.

As mentioned, the SCOBY itself is made up of a symbiotic culture, where bacteria and yeasts co-exist in harmony. The SCOBY is a living thing and needs food and a proper environment to thrive. Its food source is cooled, sweetened black tea and when placed within in, it consumes the sugars and produces acids, forms a “baby SCOBY”, and ferments the tea, producing kombucha. This can take roughly a week in warmer temperatures and up to a month in a cooler environment. It is recommended to taste the kombucha at various stages (once a week or so) until desired acidity level is reached. Once it is completed, kombucha can be flavored and bottled. Retain the SCOBY and some liquid from the bottom to use as starter tea for the next batch!

The by-products of the kombucha brewing process include organic acids (i.e. gluconic acid, acetic acid - which give the drink its tang), a variety of multiplied bacteria and yeasts, carbon dioxide (hence why kombucha is a carbonated beverage), a trace of alcohol, and B vitamins. Although kombucha starts as sweet tea, through the brewing process it becomes more tart. The longer it brews, the less sugar and more organic acids it has (giving it a more “vinegar” taste). Due to the nature of kombucha, it is not possible to state an exact culture composition. Note that as black tea is used as the original source, there is some caffeine in the final brew, though many consider it to be a very low amount.

How Do I Get a SCOBY?

-          Purchase a SCOBY in a dehydrated state and activate it at home.

-          Get a ready-made SCOBY with ½ cup of starter tea from a friend who is willing to share!

-          Grow a SCOBY from a bottle of raw, unflavored kombucha.

OR…if you are short on time and want to experience the health benefits of this amazing drink, purchase a bottle of ready-made, deliciously flavored kombucha from your local health store!

How Can I Use Kombucha?

  • Drink it by itself or use it in beverage mixes.
  • Add chia seeds to kombucha and create a “jello” type snack!
  • Use instead of vinegar in dressings, condiment, marinades.
  • Blend with fruit to make smoothies or popsicles.
  • Soak grains overnight in kombucha and water to help break them down for further cooking or baking.
  • Combine with water and pour over rinsed hair!
  • Note that it is possible to chop up the SCOBY and eat is as candy, jerky or blended in smoothies!

Recipe: Base Kombucha Salad Dressing Recipe (Adapted from Cultures for Health Website)

  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup Kombucha
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Add any combination of the following: Dijon mustard, dried or fresh herbs & spices, raw honey, etc.

Whisk ingredients together and taste!

This column is sponsored by Good ‘n’ Natural in Steinbach

Beautiful Skin – From the Inside, Out & the Outside, In!

Whether your main concerns are skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne), scars & blemishes, dryness & oiliness, aging (wrinkles, spots & sagging) or sun damage; there are common practical ways to support the skin, from both in & out!

 

Oxidative Stress: The Aging Culprit
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! They are caused by factors such as toxic buildup, poor diet (processed/fried foods), as well as stress/insomnia, 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! These can be found in both food and supplement forms. Great ingredients include organic, colorful produce (i.e. berries, greens), herbs and spices, green tea and cacao!

 

Other Underlying Factors That Impair Skin Health

-          Nutrient Deficiencies: from poor diet or malabsorption (i.e. Protein, Fibre, Iron & B12, Essential Fatty Acids, Skin Nutrients – Vitamins A/E/C, Zinc, Selenium)

-          Congested Liver: an overloaded liver (from external toxins, constipation, candida/parasites, etc.) cannot keep up with detoxification, resulting in skin eruptions as toxins spill over into the bloodstream and the body tries to eliminate through the skin.

-          Poor Gut Health: poor digestion, inadequate gut flora and food sensitivities lead to inflammation that manifests itself in the skin. Like the inside of the digestive tract, the skin is covered in microbes. Skin reaction may reflect what is going on inside the body.

-          Hormonal Imbalances: both estrogen/testosterone fluctuations and underactive thyroid are connected to skin issues.

-          Topical Factors: things such as dirt, dust, oils and chemicals clog pores and irritate skin!

 

Key Natural Ingredients to Look For In Skin Care Products

  • Hyaluronic Acid: “the moisture magnet” – can hold 1000x its own weight in water! It works to strengthen, soften, plump, smooth and reduce/prevent signs of aging.
  • Vitamin A: “the skin vitamin” - speeds up cell renewal, improves skin tone and texture, reduces the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles and increases collagen!
  • Vitamin E: a natural moisturizer, antioxidant and healer that protects skin’s fatty acids.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid: “the universal antioxidant” - protects skin cells, helps fight future damage and repair past damage, while boosting effectiveness of other antioxidants!
  • Vitamin C: encourages collagen and elastin production, while regenerating Vitamin E.
  • Glycolic Acid: derived from sugar cane - encourages mild exfoliation, helping to lift away aging cells (increases cell turnover by sloughing dead skin cells) and helps lighten pigmentation, stimulate collagen production and fight bacteria that causes acne!
  • Astaxanthin: red microalgae from Hawaii - has 500x the antioxidant power of Vitamin E!
  • Pycnogenol: a bark extract from the French maritime pine tree - has 20x the antioxidant power of Vitamin C! Protects skin from UV damage, addresses and soothes irritated rosacea-prone skin, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Argan Oil: rich in Vitamin E and fatty acids, has antioxidant and anti-aging benefits.
  • Jojoba Oil: rich in fatty acids, is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic.
  • Activated Charcoal: eliminates and draws out toxins from skin down to the pores.
  • Bentonite Clay: absorb excess oils and impurities, relieving skin congestion.
  • Green Tea: a potent antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory and helps slow signs of aging.
  • Chamomile: has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, plus helps soothe irritation.
  • Lavender: has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, plus helps calm swelling.
  • Aloe Leaf Juice: revives the skin with hydration, and has antibacterial, healing, conditioning benefits.
  • Tea Tree: a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal ingredient.
  • Salicylic Acid: exfoliates dead skin cells, penetrates and de-clogs pores, reduces redness and irritation.
  • Willow Bark: works as an astringent (tightens and closes pores), and has anti-inflammatory, soothing and conditioning properties.
  • DMAE: helps reduce facial sag, increasing firmness and strength, as well as reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Supplements to Consider

  • Collagen & Elastin – collagen is the main structural protein found in skin/connective tissues and forms a matrix with elastin to lock in moisture and make skin smooth, elastic and firm. Building blocks include Silica, Biotin, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Sulfur.
  • Essential Omega Fatty Acids (EPA & GLA)– part of all cell membranes and necessary for nourishing skin, retaining moisture/hydrating, fighting inflammation, managing oil production, preventing/improving signs of aging, stimulating production of new cells, treating skin conditions, regulating hormones and protecting from damage/sunburn.
  • Probiotics – improve digestive health and gut flora balance to protect from inflammation, support the immune system and counteract harmful bacteria.
  • Multivitamin (with Vitamin D) – ensure you are getting core nutrients your skin needs.

 

Other Suggestions:

Balance blood sugar (ensure adequate protein and fibre), manage stress & sleep, avoid toxins (from food/environment/smoking/body care & cleaning products), use sun protection, consider a liver cleanse (& ensure regular bowel movements), balance hormones if necessary, fight infection/overgrowth if necessary, improve digestion (consider enzymes and avoid sensitivities), drink plenty of water and improve diet (focus on Whole, Raw, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients and avoid sugar, refined/processed foods, alcohol and excess caffeine)!

 

This article is sponsored by Good ‘n’ Natural in Steinbach

When It Comes to Curcumin, Absorption Matters!

Article by: Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, N.D

Curcumin is the yellow pigment found in turmeric (Curcuma longa). Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and is a principal spice used in Indian cuisine. In India, turmeric root has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, and modern science confirms that turmeric’s main constituent curcumin exerts many health benefits.

Health research around curcumin’s benefits is growing and continually shows that it is highly pleiotropic, meaning it exerts multiple actions. First and foremost, curcumin is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory agent. This explains why individuals supplement with curcumin for relief from arthritis and other painful conditions. Curcumin is also an excellent antioxidant, fighting the free radicals that play a role in heart and cognitive health.

One of the body’s primary responses to any challenge is inflammation. If inflammation is out of control, it affects the structure and function of individual cells in the body. Since inflammation is at the core of many health concerns, curcumin holds great promise in many health applications.

Many of curcumin’s other beneficial effects are attributed to its ability to act as an antioxidant and help support balance in certain cellular functions. Double-blind clinical studies on curcumin demonstrate benefits for liver health, periodontal health, muscle and joint health, vascular health, heart health, and global quality of life scores.

Curcumin can be obtained through diet by cooking with turmeric; however the body cannot fully utilize it in this form. Therefore, simply adding turmeric to your food does not offer much therapeutic benefit. The reason is that curcumin is relatively insoluble in water and is rapidly transformed and excreted from the body. Scientific investigations and health care practitioners use special forms of curcumin to achieve consistent clinical results. Fortunately professional grade curcumin products are available in health food stores.

When it comes to shopping for curcumin products, there are some specific things to be aware of. Curcumin products vary widely in their absorbability. Professional grade curcumin products, which are widely used in clinical trials, use a form of curcumin that has been altered to enhance absorption. Such enhancements may include grinding and reducing the curcumin particle size, and binding the particles with complimentary substances that help with absorption. This leads to optimal absorption, therapeutic blood levels, and consistent results.

Shopping for the right type of curcumin does not have to be difficult. It is important to read labels to make sure you are buying a superior product. If you are unsure, knowledgeable staff at your health food store can help you pick a product with the best therapeutic benefits.

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

 

Expert Suggestions for Heart Health!

With over 20 years of experience in the holistic health and wellness field Nelson Narciso, DNM, is a holistic nutritionist, herbalist, Reiki practitioner and member of the Examining Board of Natural Medicine Practitioners and the Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine. Nelson is a well-respected writer, consultant & educator on Natural Health Product’s as well as a frequent radio & television guest. Here are his key tips on how to “keep your ticker ticking”!

 

EAT MORE FRUITS & VEGGIES!

“Researchers have shown that for every 1 serving of a day increase of fruits or vegetables there’s a subsequent 4 percent drop in coronary heart disease. Combine the two together and increase servings by more than one a day and one can expect even more dramatic results. Researchers at Oxford University published a study showing that consuming at least 8 portions of fruits and vegetables a day had a 22 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. Remember to vary your fruit choices and choose fruits and vegetables that reflect a rainbow of colours. These colourful foods are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals all of which are heart friendly.”

 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPES OF FATS!

“We now have evidence that healthy fats in fact support a healthy heart. Of particular importance are the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. These include fish, flax, chia, hemp, walnuts and dark leafy greens. Fish are an especially important source because they not only have the omega-3 fats alpha linolenic acid but they also possess the all-important EPA and DHA fats needed for optimal health in general and heart health in specific. Polar opposite to healthy fats are trans fats. These have been shown to dramatically raise the risk of heart disease. Avoid foods that say trans or hydrogenated fats and don’t just read the “nutrition facts table” but also read the ingredient list.”

 

MINIMIZE SUGAR!

“Sugar intake has been shown to increase several markers of heart disease. This may be in part due to the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which have been increasingly implicated in heart health especially for diabetics. Especially noteworthy is the fact that high fructose corn syrup is especially problematic in that it seems to have greater impact than does glucose.”

 

EXERCISE REGULARLY!

“Exercise was shown to lower levels of a blood marker known as C-reactive protein that have been linked to an elevated risk of heart disease. Exercise benefits the heart in numerous ways: strengthens heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, lowers bad LDL and raises good HDL cholesterol and helps with weight management.”

 

MANAGE STRESS!

“Chronic stress may in fact predict the occurrence of heart disease. It’s not entirely clear what mechanism or mechanisms are involved in this association but nonetheless it is worth noting. Therefore it is prudent to manage stress and engage in stress reducing activities like yoga and Tai Chi. In fact both have been shown in research to benefit the heart.”

 

SUPPORT WITH SUPPLEMENTATION!

  • Multivitamins
    • Men and women that use a multi have fewer heart attacks than those that don’t.
    • Antioxidants (i.e. vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene)
      • Prevention of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries. Protects vascular endothelium – cells that line interior surface of blood vessels.
    • Fish oil
      • Lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel elasticity
      • Look for a blend of cold water, wild caught fish harvested using sustainable methods, processed through molecular distillation to remove unwanted contaminants and IFOS approved to verify purity and potency!
    • Vitamin D
      • Low levels were associated with increased risk of “heart failure, sudden cardiac death, stroke, overall cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular death.”
    • Vegetables and Fruits
      • Average daily intakes are well below recommended levels making supplementation with greens and berry powders worth considering. These products are also rich in antioxidants.
    • Whey Protein
      • May lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and elevate glutathione levels all of which are important to heart health!
    • Phytosterols
      • Lower LDL cholesterol, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine.
    • Ashwagandha
      • Reduces C-reactive protein levels.
    • Taurine
      • Has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and prevent cardiac arrhythmia.
    • Magnesium
      • Deficiency has been linked to vascular damage, atherosclerosis and hypertension. Magnesium has been shown to help prevent cardiac arrhythmia and lower blood pressure.
    • Folate & B12
      • These vitamins have been shown to lower homocysteine levels, which is an amino acid that, when elevated, is a predictor of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
    • Astaxanthin
      • Protects against cardiovascular oxidative stress and inflammation, lowers C-reactive protein and triglycerides and raises HDL cholesterol.

In closing, Nelson mentions that “heart disease can be readily prevented through strategic dietary, lifestyle and supplement choices”. Following a program that incorporates all three should dramatically lower the risk of developing heart disease and/or help reverse it!

-This Article is Sponsored by Good N Natural -

8 Reasons Why…You Have Low Energy!

1) Improper Food Selection, Dehydration & Overacidity

Poor nutrition and dehydration can lead to decreased energy levels and physical performance. Healthy Ingredients in adequate portions and Plenty of Water can help maintain muscle, increase energy and support metabolism! Focus on eating primarily: Whole, Raw, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients. Also, consider Basic Supplementation to ensure you are getting enough nutrients to function properly and giving the body what it needs (i.e. Multivitamin/mineral + Vitamin D). Note that both B-Vitamins & Magnesium play critical roles in energy production! Also, over acidity in the body is the result of an acid-forming diet and mineral imbalances which depletes oxygen in the body. Consider Alkalizing Minerals (i.e. magnesium, calcium, potassium) in supplemental form and foods such as lemons, green foods/drinks/powders, etc.

2) Blood Sugar Imbalance

Refined foods and sugars spike blood sugar levels quickly, ultimately leading to a rebound crash response. Since the body cells use glucose as their main source of fuel/energy, inconsistent supply leads to energy crashes. In order to stabilize blood sugar levels and attain a steady release of prolonged energy, balanced meals/snacks should be eaten regularly (don’t skip meals – especially breakfast) that contain adequate Protein & Fibre as well as high quality fats! Note that low energy levels and fatigue are symptoms of protein deficiency. If you have trouble getting adequate amounts from your diet, consider supplemental powders. Be sure to stay away from refined foods and sugars and focus on whole, natural ingredients. Also, consider natural Blood Sugar Management Ingredients such as chromium, chirositol, berberine, etc.

3) Depression & Low Neurotransmitters

Depression is often characterized by low energy levels, excessive sleep and fatigue. This may be by a biochemical change in the brain. Low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are linked to low mood and motivation. Ensure adequate Mood Supporting Nutrients such as Amino Acids (i.e. Tyrosine, Tryptophan - building blocks for neurotransmitters), Essential Fatty Acids (i.e. High EPA Fish Oils – improve neurotransmitter reception) & Supporting Co-Factors (i.e. Magnesium, B-Vitamins, Zinc, Vitamin C & D - involved in all processes/conversions). Consider a 5-HTP supplement, which acts as a direct precursor to serotonin to increase levels. Note that the brain and gut are on a two-way street of constant communication/influence and that gut bacteria imbalance can cause symptoms of depression!

4) Underactive Thyroid

The thyroid governs our metabolic rate and when weak has difficulty sustaining energy output. Therefore, major symptoms of an underactive thyroid are low energy, tired head and muscle weakness. A TSH value greater than 2.0 can cause symptoms of low thyroid. Consider a Thyroid Support Formula with ingredients such as iodine, tyrosine and selenium.

5) Iron Deficiency

Iron is needed for hemoglobin production, a type of protein in red blood cells used for transporting oxygen to cells throughout the body! Therefore, iron deficiency is characterized by exhaustion and weakness. Also, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid work together to help make red blood cells and support iron function in the body. Note that low stomach acid, coffee/black tea consumption and phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of iron but Vitamin C can help increase it! If blood tests indicate low stores, consider incorporating Iron-Rich Foods and Supplements!

6) Stressed Lifestyle, Insomnia & Overworked Adrenals

Cortisol is a hormone whose levels normally fluctuate throughout the day in a circadian rhythm. Levels are naturally high in the morning to give us energy but fall in the evening. However, high amounts of chronic stress, lack of sleep and caffeine intake cause the adrenals to increase cortisol production and interrupt this natural cycle. This can lead to exhaustion as eventually overworked adrenal glands become completely fatigued, losing the ability to make even normal amounts of cortisol and meet demands. The stress response also depletes nutrients and affects sleep patterns. Consider Stress Management Techniques, Natural Sleep Aids as well as adaptogenic ingredients (ashwaghanda, rhodiola, schizandra, and ginseng) in an Adrenal Support Formula to support your body in dealing with stress and to help regulate cortisol.

7) Poor Digestion & 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, and tissue damage (i.e. leaky gut) which results in an inflammatory overactive immune response. These inflammatory compounds are directly associated with fatigue. In order to gain proper gut balance we should Improve Digestion/Gut Health (enzymes, HCL, L-glutamine & probiotics), as well as Avoid Triggers (poor diet, stress, chemicals, medications, common food allergens – i.e. dairy/gluten). Also, consider Natural Anti-Inflammatories in foods and supplemental form, such as essential omega fatty acids (i.e. high EPA fish oils) and curcumin.

8) Toxic Overload & Infection/Overgrowth (Candida, Parasites)

Fatigue can be caused by the buildup of toxins in the system which damage & disrupt cell function. These can be from either internal factors (poor digestion, constipation or infection/overgrowth – i.e. candida, parasites) as well as external factors (chemicals, heavy metals, medications, smoking, hormone mimickers, and artificial ingredients). Consider a Liver/Colon Cleanse and be sure to Prevent Constipation (fibre, magnesium, herbs). Also, Minimize Toxins in food, environment, body care and cleaning products, and Treat Overgrowth/Infection if necessary (with natural antimicrobials, probiotics and proper diet).

*Natural Energy Boosters: Maca, Yerba Mate, Bee Pollen, Moringa, Matcha, Aerobic Oxygen, Spirulina/Chlorella, Prairie Grasses (Oat, Barley, Wheat, Alfalfa), Peppermint & Citrus Essential Oils as well as Regular, Moderate Exercise!

Ask a health care professional or product advisor for more information on these natural treatment options & ingredients to help counteract low energy!

 

-This Article is Sponsored by Good n' Natural-

The Art of Sourdough Bread

According to local baker, Holly Sobering, “Sourdough bread takes time…long and slow fermentation is the key to delicious healthy bread... it is an art.” So what exactly is sourdough and how is it different?

The Sourdough Starter Process

Sourdough is made by the ancient method of fermentation using naturally-occurring bacteria and wild yeast. In traditional recipes, all that is required is a sourdough starter (flour + water), salt and flour! The original sourdough starter mixture develops a harmonious symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria through a 3-7 day cycle of feeding, stirring, discarding and waiting. Within this process both acid and alcohol fermentation occur as both yeast and bacteria have a preferred carbohydrate fuel from the grains. Essentially, the yeast produce ethanol and carbon dioxide and from bacterial action, acids are produced. The bacteria in sourdough provide the yeast with the acidity necessary to thrive. The dough rises as a result of the bubbles of carbon dioxide becoming trapped. This produces a delicious bread full of holes with a firm, springy crust. Sourdough bread has a mildly sour taste not present in most breads made with regular baker's yeast.

What’s The Difference?

The big difference between sourdough bread and regular supermarket bread you buy or bake today is the source of the yeast.

As of the 20th century reliable, specialized, ready-made baking yeast is now available for large commercial bakeries. The yeast used is very fast-acting and easy to produce commercially which has sped up production and lowered costs. However, it doesn’t adapt well and is intolerant of acidic environments. Other adjustments that have taken place in modern times are the incorporation of additives, extra yeast, extra gluten, fat for softness, emulsifiers to produce bigger, softer loaves, etc.

Traditional sourdough contains a complex blend of bacteria and yeast. These yeasts thrive naturally on the surface of grains, fruits, vegetables, and even in the air and soil. The exact strains of yeast and bacteria will vary depending on the origins of the starter.

What Makes Sourdough Better?

Improved Digestion & Nutrition - The fermentation process used in sourdough causes many of the simple sugars present in the grain to be eaten up in the process. Essentially, it is predigested for us. The process also makes the bread higher in nutrients, especially B vitamins, and easier on blood sugar levels.

Sourdough breads require a longer rising/soaking time. This allows for the breakdown of the proteins (gluten in wheat) into amino acids, making it easier to digest.

Finally, the bacteria present in the sourdough help activate the enzyme, phytase, which breaks down phytic acid, an anti-nutrient found in all grains and seeds which can bind with minerals and take them out of your body!

Holly mentions that “people are discovering that by switching to sourdough bread from supermarket bread they are experiencing positive health changes and no longer have bloating.”

Natural Preservative – The acid produced in the sourdough process is good for yeast but inhospitable to other organisms and therefore acts as a natural preservative, inhibiting the growth of molds.

SustainableOnce established, a sourdough starter is easy to care for, can last indefinitely, and can be used to make a variety of baked goods such as pancakes, cookies, pizza crust, muffins, etc. All that is required is a single homemade starter as opposed to a yeast packet!

Holly adds, “Perhaps the best quality of sourdough bread is flavor! The crust provides a caramelized flavor that triggers your palette and the springy aromatic bread inside will be the most delicious bread you will ever try. Each loaf will reward you with chewiness, flavor and a satisfying depth that cannot be compared to Wonder Bread. Whether you eat your bread toasted or even stale-which doesn’t happen quickly-this bread will have you hooked!”

Look for locally-produced bread, made with organic, low temperature impact milled, whole grain flour made from Canadian grains for a highly nutritious product.

This column is sponsored by Good ‘n’ Natural in Steinbach.

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10 Ways to Keep a Happy Heart!

 

February is Heart Health month! According to The Heart & Stroke Foundation “Heart disease affects 1.3 million Canadians…and 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease & stroke is preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours.” Let’s talk about common risk factors and natural heart health tips!

Common Problems & Potential Risk Factors

A. High Cholesterol/Atherosclerosis (Hardening, Thickening and Narrowing of Arteries)

o Blood Sugar Imbalances & Insulin Resistance, Toxin Exposure & Overloaded Liver, Infections, Stress, Over Acidity, Poor Gut Health & Silent Inflammation, Increased Blood Pressure, Physical Inactivity, Obesity, Estrogen Imbalances, Poor Diet.

B. High Blood Pressure/Hypertension (Increased Pressure on Artery Wall)

o Increased Blood Flow – Due to Chronic Stress, Caffeine Intake o Arterial Stiffness/Resistance - Due to Age (naturally lose flexibility) or Atherosclerosis o Fluid Retention (increases blood volume & pressure) – Due to Poor Kidney Function, High Dietary Sodium Intake or Low Potassium/Magnesium.

A Note on Cholesterol

Dietary Cholesterol is not all bad! This is a common misconception. 80-90% of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver and does not come from your meals. Your liver is able to adjust how much is produced based on your dietary intake. It is dangerous free radicals, toxins, excess blood sugar, cortisol (stress hormone), homocysteine, fatty protein and infectious microbes that damage arterial lining, which leads to harmful inflammation and arterial plaque build-up. Cholesterol then must be carried through the body to reach its destination and LDL & HDL are its carriers. HDL’s job is to bring cholesterol away from the body and to the liver in order to be metabolized and eliminated. LDL brings cholesterol to sites in the body that need it for repair, protection or synthesis of vital compounds. It can also transport twice as much cholesterol as HDL. In this regard, cholesterol is actually used to try to keep the body healthy! Cholesterol accumulates only in an attempt to heal vessels. We need adequate cholesterol to build cell membranes, hormones, convert vitamin D3 and make bile acid.

10 Suggestions for Heart Health!

1. Manage Blood Sugar – Excess blood sugar damages blood vessels, increases blood fats, increases inflammation and lowers good cholesterol. Ensure adequate fibre & protein as well as ingredients such as chromium, chirositol and berberine. Soluble Fibre acts as a sponge, absorbing excess cholesterol and removing it from the body!

2. Cooking Methods - avoid frying foods with unstable oils. This produces dangerous free radicals. Choose coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee for high temperature cooking.

3. Manage Stress– excess cortisol from stress raises blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol. Consider cognitive techniques, relaxation and natural supplementation (i.e. adaptogenic formulas). Remember, laughter dilates blood vessels!

4. Manage Thyroid (if necessary) – hypothyroidism can worsen heart disease and affects cholesterol elimination. Look for ingredients like tyrosine, iodine and selenium.

5. Avoid Toxic Ingredients – such as drugs, tobacco, alcohol, additives, heavy metals, pollution, chemicals, and synthetic hormones.

6. Regular Exercise – maintain a healthy weight and take part in consistent, moderate exercise.

7. Balance Hormones (if necessary)-proper estrogen levels can have a protective effect. Consider ingredients such as Indole 3 Carbinol, DIM and Calcium D-glucarate.

8. Support The Gut – consider gut repair nutrients (L-glutamine) and digestive enzymes. Probiotics play a role in cholesterol re-absorption and inflammation management.

9. Dietary Recommendations– Emphasize anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, high fibre, mineral-packed, omega-rich ingredients!

• Avoid artificial, instant, refined/”white”, processed ingredients (i.e. flour, sugar, etc.) and be aware of common sensitivities (i.e. gluten & dairy). • Replace coffee with tea and avoid alcohol. • Moderate salt intake and choose sea salt over regular table salt! • Consume saturated fats (from animal products) in moderation and choose organic, grass-fed sources. • Eliminate rancid or trans-fats and choose olive, avocado and camelina oils! • Aim for an omega 6 to 3 ratio as close to 1:1 as possible (as least 4:1 is recommended).

Top Heart Superfoods Include: Flax, chia, pumpkin seeds, olives, walnuts, almonds, quinoa, pomegranate, berries, apples, spinach, beans, lentils, avocadoes, hemp, coconut, salmon, garlic, oats, prunes, beets, grass-fed beef, buckwheat, oats, dark chocolate (in moderation).

Did You Know? Beets provide nitrates for nitric oxide production which dilates vessels and helps to lower blood pressure. Omega 3 fats (High EPA) help to reduce serum triglycerides, blood pressure, free radicals and cholesterol, plus they act as anti-inflammatories! Omega 9 fats are shown to lower LDL & raise HDL cholesterol!

10. Supplement Suggestions – consider natural support to lower blood pressure, control cholesterol as well as fight inflammation, protect arteries and repair damaged tissue.

Sytrinol lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, plus acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Coenzyme Q10 (active form Ubiquinol) works to lower blood pressure, maintains a healthy cholesterol ratio as well as an antioxidant. Note that statin drugs deplete CoQ10! Magnesium works to lower LDL & increase HDL cholesterol as well as lowers blood pressure, improves vascular function and regulates fluid balance. Vitamin B3/Niacin (as nicotinic acid) improves cholesterol ratio and lowers triglycerides. Collagen, Vitamin C, Proline & Lysine increases flexibility in the arteries, helps to repair connective tissues, regulates cholesterol metabolism, and improve circulation. Garlic & Hawthorn have both been shown to improve blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Berberine lowers blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol & blood pressure.

Did You Know? Vitamin C has been referred to as “nature’s perfect statin” and is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting off free radicals that cause arterial damage! As humans, we cannot produce Vitamin C within our bodies so we must rely on dietary intake to get adequate amounts.

This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach. -30-

Shea Butter: Skin’s Best Friend!

What Is It?

Shea Butter is a fatty extract from the shea nuts which is found in the shea fruit produced by the shea (karate) tree. Shea trees grow naturally in the dry Savannah region of West Africa, and the area of Northern Uganda, and Southern Sudan. A tree produces its first fruit when it’s about 20 years old, and reaches its full production at about 45 years old. The tree can produce fruit for up to 200 years before reaching maturity! Shea fruit has a very sweet taste and is edible. After eating the fruit, a shea nut in a shell is obtained.
Did you Know? Shea is known as the “women’s gold” in West Africa, because it’s processing provides economic opportunities for women and girls, while helping to protect the environment!

How Is It Made?

The first step in making shea butter is to crack the shell by hand in order to release the shea nut. The second step is to wash the nuts, and leave them to dry in order to remove the moisture. The third step is to pound the nuts, and crush them into small pieces. The forth step is to roast the small pieces, and transform them into a paste with a dark chocolate color. The fifth step is to add water to the paste, and whip it, so it will mix well. The sixth step is purifying the paste by washing it over and over with distilled water. The seventh step is to heat the purified paste over fire, so the fats rise to the top, and the oil settles at the bottom. The final step is to skim off the fat and let the oil settle at the bottom. The oil becomes hard and is then used as Shea butter.

Benefits

Shea butter is rich in fatty acids such as Oleic (Monounsaturated - Omega 9), Stearic (Saturated) & Linoleic (Polyunsaturated - Omega 6). Therefore, it is also a great source of fat- soluble vitamins! Vitamin A has exceptional skin healing qualities, while Vitamin E works as a powerful antioxidant to fight free radical damage. It also contains the anti-inflammatory substance, Cinnamic Acid! One of the interesting things about Shea butter is that its chemical composition may vary depending on where it comes from.

When applied topically, shea butter has restorative properties. It is quickly absorbed by the skin and penetrates deeply. It works as a humectant, retaining and preserving moisture. It also acts as an emollient, providing softness and smoothness. Therefore, it is an extremely moisturizing, soothing and hydrating ingredient and works great for those with dry skin conditions!

It also helps with circulation in order to promote tissue cell regeneration and acts as a collagen production booster! It has been said to have anti-aging properties by helping to reduce wrinkles and stretch marks. It has also been shown to aid in numerous skin conditions such as blemishes, sunburn, diaper rash, cellulite, muscle fatigue, dermatitis, etc. Shea butter’s conditioning properties also work great on the scalp and hair to help moisturize and alleviate dandruff.

Uses

Shea butter is a key ingredient in natural beauty products and is typically used in cosmetics, moisturizers, salves, lotions, soaps, lip balms, shaving creams, hair conditioners, etc. Shea butter melts at body temperature and will become solid again when cool. To use, warm it up in your hands, then massage into skin or hair.

Shea butter is also edible and can be used in food as well. It can be found in certain grocery items as a cocoa butter substitute.

What To Look For

You can find shea butter at your local health food store. Look for organic, handmade, raw shea butter that is free from chemicals and artificial ingredients.

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

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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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