Understanding “Organic” Part 1 -> Common Concern: Is the “Organic” claim actually regulated?

A 2015 survey on organic food showed that 69% buy it, 20% understand it, 72% think it’s just about marketing and 53% don’t trust it.  Perhaps you have heard comments stating that “organic” is simply a buzz word used to overcharge people. Maybe you are among those that believe anyone can slap this claim on their product without differentiating themselves in any way. Regardless, it’s clear that this term is misunderstood and that more information is needed on what it means and how it is enforced in order for it to be properly appreciated.

 

What Does “Organic” Mean?

According to the Canadian Health Food Association, the term “Organic” refers to the way products are grown and processed. More specifically, this food is produced in a holistic way, using harmonious, environmentally and animal-friendly farming methods. Certification assures consumers that every step from farm to table has protected and maintained the product’s integrity.

Organic is about more than just nutrition and safety, as these principles are based on ecology, health, fairness and care! By choosing organic, we help support pro-active sustainable farming practices that focus on conserving soil health and water. Organic farmers also use renewable resources to grow their crops and avoid synthetic chemicals.  

When in doubt, we can look at how things are done in nature as it holds the answer and many will agree that organic standards coincide with nature’s processes!

 

What Are Organic Standards? 

Organic certification “places strict limits and prohibitions on the use of toxic and persistent pesticides; synthetic fertilizers; the routine use of drugs, antibiotics or synthetic hormones; animal cloning; Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs); sewage sludge (bio solids); and irradiation. Organic standards also forbid the use of artificial food colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and many other processing aids and ingredients commonly found in processed foods (CHFA).”

 

Is Organic Certification Enforced?

In Canada, this system is overseen by government organic standards and regulations, and applies to both domestic and imported products. Canada’s organic standards are among the most widely recognized in the world and is the most heavily scrutinized and regulated food system in Canada.

DID YOU KNOW? In order to obtain certification, a farm must be managed using organic practices for 3 years prior to harvest of the first certified organic crop!

 

Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA)’s “10 Great Reasons to Go Organic”!

  1. Organic products meet strict national standards

Assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures and rules.

  1. Cut back on chemicals!

Choosing certified organic significantly reduces your exposure to toxic chemical residues. Organic farming practices focus on ppreventative and proactive pest management techniques.

  1. Organic farms take water seriously

Organic farmers are required to manage the land and life around water systems very carefully.

  1. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature

A survey found that 59% of Canadians believe organic farming is better for a healthy environment. It builds healthy ecosystems and has higher biodiversity, which promotes sustainability and balance.

  1. Organic methods reduce pollution and wasted energy

Practices can use as little as half the energy of other farming methods! They rely on renewable resources, recycle materials as much as possible and strive to protect the environment.

  1. Organic practices protect the health of farmers and animals

Choosing organic reduces the exposure for families and the farmers who grow their food. Organic standards also ensure that attentive care is given to livestock (health, housing, feed and behavior) in order to meet their needs and promote wellbeing.

  1. Organic farmers build healthy soil

Focused on using sustainable practices such as crop rotation, that build healthy soil and prevent erosion/degradation.

  1. Organic farming is good for rural Canada

3,700 organic farms in Canada. 11,167 Canadian employees. Contribution of over $3.5 billion to our economy.

  1. Organic producers strive to preserve genetic diversity

Many organic farmers collect and preserve seeds and grow heirloom varieties and rare breeds of livestock.

  1. The only non-GMO standard overseen by the Canadian government

Organic standards forbid the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in seeds, animal feed, and ingredients.

 

To be sure you are getting a certified product, look for the Canada Organic logo, which can only appear on foods that are 95% or more “organic”. Note that many smaller growers can’t afford to get organic certification, which is why it’s advised to talk to local growers and ask them about their farming practices.

Now that we have discussed the issue of validity when it comes to all things “organic”, visit our column in the upcoming weeks as we tap into common concerns regarding nutritional value and budget.

 

-This Column in Sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-

KEEP CALM & LOVE YOUR ADRENALS

Stress has been described as “what a person feels when life's demands exceeds the individuals ability to meet or adapt to those demands”. It is our body’s reaction to a challenge and whether we recognize it or not, all living creatures are subject to stressors from both internal or external factors, and we all respond to them according to our individual mental, emotional, physical and spiritual states & abilities. 

What Are Adrenals?

Adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys and release hormones into the blood stream in response to stress in order to guide our bodies reaction. Adrenaline is secreted in response to short term triggers and cortisol is part of our long term stress response, hence why it is known as our “chronic stress hormone”. The adrenals also secrete both male & female sex hormones and become prime producers in women when ovaries retire during menopause, playing an important role in the ease of this transition. In addition, they secrete aldosterone, which regulates sodium/potassium levels in the body.

The Stress Response

Stress is not meant to be a bad thing as it serves a basic survival function. Hormone fluctuations are part of a natural stress response and are meant to eventually fall back to normal and recover once the stressor is removed in temporary situations and healthy people. However when stressors and/or the inability to manage them overload our bodies, symptoms and disease can occur. Living in a constant state of chronic stress depletes nutrients and as the body continues to release cortisol, sustained elevated levels can lead to taxed adrenal glands and health problems.

Your ability to adapt to stressors depends on optimal function of the adrenal glands and cortisol regulation!

Stages Leading To Exhaustion

  • Alarm Reaction/”Fight or Flight” -> adrenaline and cortisol are high as an immediate reaction to a stressor. Vitamin C, B’s & Magnesium are depleted, blood sugar/glucose and pressure is elevated, metabolism speeds up, muscles contract, and digestion & immunity are paralyzed.
  • Resistance Phase -> adrenaline drops and cortisol remains high. Symptoms of taxed adrenals begin to appear.
  • Exhaustion Phase/”Burnout” -> both adrenaline and cortisol are low as adrenals crash and lose their ability to secrete hormones.

What Stresses The Adrenals?

Adrenals respond to stress of any kind, whether psychological, physical, chemical, or environmental. Excess caffeine, poor diet (high sugar/refined/processed/fried), blood sugar fluctuations, alcohol or drug intake, food sensitivities, chronic inflammation, smoking, internal or external toxins, lack of sleep, dehydration, temperature extremes and trauma can all cause a stress response! Note that alcohol, nicotine and caffeine may mask symptoms of underactive adrenals.

Symptoms of Taxed Adrenals

Our adrenal glands show specific symptoms when they’re starting to slow down. Do you find yourself struggling with any of the following?

Fatigue & energy crashes, depression & anxiety, cold hands or feet, brain fog & poor memory, dizziness, low back pain, poor sleep (constantly waking up at 3 a.m.), hair loss, sweet or salt cravings, mood swings & irritability, headaches, low libido, menstrual irregularities, weight gain & resistant fat, frequent infections, digestive issues, water retention, dry skin, etc.

What Are The Effects of Adrenal Stress?

Adrenal fatigue can be responsible for blood sugar issues and insulin resistance, compromised immune function, infertility, chronic fatigue and insomnia, bone loss/osteoporosis, slow metabolism, muscle breakdown, hormonal imbalances (estrogen dominance, worsened menopause, low thyroid), arthritis, asthma, allergies, sluggish liver, high triglyceride levels, arterial damage and risk of heart, digestive, skin and inflammatory conditions.

What Are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are ingredients that assist the body in adapting to and coping with stress by supporting the adrenal glands.  They have a normalizing effect, helping the body maintain a constant internal state and support immunity, fight fatigue, improve mental ability, increase resistance to and counteract the negative physical and emotional effects of stress. Examples include Ginseng, Suma, Rhodiola, Ashwaghanda, Schizandra, Astragalus, Bacopa, Licorice, Holy Basil, Mushrooms.

Additional Suggestions

  • Avoid Triggers & Stressors!
  • Key Supplements
    • Prevention Pack: Multivitamin, Probiotics, Essential Fatty Acids (i.e. fish oils)
    • Important Nutrients - B-Complex (esp. B5), Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc & Vitamin C
    • Calming Supplements: Consider specific herbs (Valerian, Passionflower, Lemon Balm, Hops, Skullcap, Kava Kava, Chamomile, Lavender) that quiet the nerves, promote restful sleep, increase focus and calm anxious states.
    • Extra Tip: For fast-acting stress relief, try calming L-Theanine or GABA!
  • Nutrition Guidelines: Eat a wholesome diet full of nutrient-rich foods (i.e. produce, sea salt, fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, etc.), ensure adequate protein and drink plenty of water!
  • Lifestyle Factors: Regular moderate exercise & stretching, manage blood sugar, stress management, relaxation/breathing techniques, consider counselling & acupuncture.

 

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

Stop Smoking & Stay Healthy!

In 2008, the Canadian Lung Association stated, “Tobacco kills about 45,000 Canadians a year. That’s more than the total number of deaths from car accidents, suicide, murder, fires, AIDS and accidental poisonings combined”. It has been shown that smoking increases your chance of heart disease, lung disease and many different types of cancer. It also damages your eyes, oral health, immune system and can lead to osteoporosis.  Even though the dangers of smoking are well documented, many people are still caught in the habit. Why? It is a powerful addiction.

Cigarettes are mostly made from the tobacco plant, which contains highly addictive nicotine. Once a cigarette is lit, it contains over 4000 chemicals which mix together to form tar. This is why smoking, at any level, is dangerous for the health of all those exposed. The trouble is that cigarettes are not only physically addictive, they are also psychologically addictive, as associations are made between smoking and daily activities. 

While the act of quitting is incredibly difficult, the health benefits are substantial.  The Canadian Lung Association reports that within one year of quitting smoking your risk of dying from a heart attack drops by half. Naturopathic Doctor, Sara Celik gives a few additional facts. “Within 72 hours, your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed via urine. Within 21 days, you may notice a stronger immune system, elevated energy levels, and a calm, relaxed body.”

 

TIPS TO STOP SMOKING!

  1. LIST IT – Write down the reasons you want to quit smoking on a card and place it where you normally keep your cigarettes. Review the list during times of temptation, then wait and re-read until the urge has passed.
  2. MAKE A STATEMENT - Set a specific day to quit, tell at least 10 friends that you are going to quit smoking for accountability, and then DO IT!
  3. CLEAN HOUSE - Throw away all cigarettes, butts, matches, and ash trays.
  4. USE SUBSTITUTES - Instead of smoking, chew on raw vegetables and fruit to avoid weight gain, not candy! If your fingers seem empty, play with a pencil.
  5. BABY STEPS – Don’t focus on the next week, month or year. Take the process one day at a time. Try to replace overwhelming negative thoughts such as “I can’t do it, it’s too hard” with positive, optimistic messages.
  6. EAT WELL – Clean up your diet and drink plenty of fresh fruit & vegetable juice during the first three days after you quit, to help flush nicotine out of your system.
  7. VISUALIZE – Imagine yourself as a non-smoker without the side effects of nicotine and the satisfaction that comes from being in control of your life.
  8. FIND FRIENDS – You are not alone! Realize that 40 million Americans have quit. If they can do it, so can you! Join a support group. It appears that doing so can increase success rates.
  9. STRESS LESS- When you need to relax, try stretch management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises rather than reaching for a cigarette.
  10. BE PREPARED – Journal your triggers, feelings and accomplishments. Avoid situations that you associate with smoking (i.e. drinking alcohol) and set up a plan to be prepared when faced with temptation.
  11. GOLD STARS - Each day, reward yourself in a positive way by celebrating your accomplishments! Buy yourself something with the money you’ve saved or plan a special reward as a celebration for quitting.
  12. ADDITIONAL HELP – Consider a 30-day supplement program to help expel mucus, repair the respiratory system, reduce cravings and help curb the effects of nicotine addiction in the brain. Celik explains that Naturopathic Doctors support the use of specific herbs, vitamins and amino acids to help make quitting easier!

Lung Support: Your lungs bring fresh oxygen into your body and remove carbon dioxide and other waste gases that your body doesn’t need. Optimal lung function is vital for your body to receive the oxygen it needs to power your bodies every process. If the respiratory tract is not in good health, it can become sluggish and result in congestion and/or poor functioning. Look for herbs to help expel mucous from the respiratory system, as well as soothe inflamed tissue and bronchial passages. Examples include mullein, thyme and fenugreek. In addition, consider antioxidants (such as N-acetyl-L-Cysteine, Vitamin C) that help to protect the respiratory system, allowing it to repair and rebuild faster.

Craving Reduction: Look for ingredients such as green tea extract, GABA and L-Tyrosine which work to help curb the effects of nicotine addiction in the brain.

Stress Management: Look for ingredients that help promote restfulness and relaxation as smokers often report anxiety and insomnia as problems associated with attempts in quitting. Examples include hops, skullcap, lemon balm and 5-HTP.

 

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

 

 

Why Green is Good!

When it comes to choosing healthy ingredients, we generally know that “green is good”. But why? The answer lies in “chlorophyll”, the dominant green pigment found in plants. Although plants can have many different pigments, a vibrant green color indicates that they contain substantial amounts of chlorophyll.

 

More on Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is often referred to as “plant blood” because it is to plants what hemoglobin is to the human body. While these have similar structures, the difference is that hemoglobin is a protein complex surrounding iron, while at the center of the chlorophyll molecule is an atom of magnesium. Chlorophyll is crucial for photosynthesis, allowing plants to take sunlight and converting it into usable energy. In addition to being a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory, aids digestion and is thought to enhance the absorption and utilization of vitamins and minerals. Known as “nature’s deodorant”, chlorophyll has been helpful in treating bad breath and body odour as it is thought to assist in detoxifying the liver, blood and colon. It also has commonly been used for oral hygiene and as a treatment for athlete’s foot. While most plant foods contain at least small amounts of chlorophyll, green vegetables are an especially concentrated source of this nutrient.

Top chlorophyll-containing foods include asparagus, leafy greens, green bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, green beans, green peas, leeks, green olives, parsley and green sea vegetables. However, not all chlorophyll-containing foods are vegetables, these also exist in the nuts and seeds group (i.e. pistachio nuts) and in fruits (i.e. green grapes or kiwi).

Two specific ingredients that have been receiving more attention include algae cousins, chlorella and spirulina. These are vegan protein sources that are together, known as “aqua greens”. They are said to help detoxify, alkalize, protect and energize the body.

 

Chlorella contains the highest concentration of chlorophyll of any plant on earth. Along with chlorophyll, chlorella contains concentrated levels of protein (with all the essential amino acids) and essential fats, along with complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals and antioxidants. Researchers are finding that chlorella intake has a positive effect on blood cholesterol, blood sugar and appetite control. In addition, studies also show that chlorella has the power to remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. Chlorella contains an indigestible cell wall that serves as a fibre and as a natural prebiotic that promotes probiotic activity in the intestinal tract. Spirulina is called an “ancient green superfood” that grows naturally in a few alkaline lakes around the world. This type of algae contains an impressive 60-70% protein content by weight, providing all the essential amino acids! It gets its green colour from chlorophyll and its blue hues from naturally-occurring phycocyanin pigment.

 

Spirulina also serves as a natural source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium), along with B-vitamins, essential fats, (especially omega 6 GLA), complex carbohydrates, fibre and a wide range of antioxidants, such as important carotenoids (i.e. zeaxanthin, beta carotene, lutein) which help support disease prevention. Researchers have found that spirulina intake reduces blood cholesterol and inflammation and that regular supplementation also removes accumulated toxins in the body, creating a gentle and safe daily cleansing effect. Other potential health benefits of spirulina consumption include boosting immune function, counteracting viruses, protecting the liver, controlling appetite, fighting fat and supporting the adrenal glands. Spirulina has some of the most concentrated nutrients you can find per ounce than almost any other food on the planet. For example, by comparable weight spirulina has been said to have 3900% more beta carotene than carrots, 300% more calcium than cow’s milk and 2300% more iron than spinach!

 

In addition to plenty of wholesome green foods, consider incorporating “aqua greens” supplement powders into your diet, in order to experience the alkalizing, detoxifying, energizing and protective effects of chlorophyll.

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

Have You Heard of Humic Acid?

Humic substances are the major breakdown products of organic matter found throughout nature (i.e. soils, waters, sediments, shells). This occurs as a result humification, the decomposing action of millions of beneficial microbes on dead plant and animal materials. Humic substances can be divided into 3 main components; humic acid, fulvic acid and humin. Essentially, humic acid is a powder mined from the earth, produced by biodegradation of dead organic plant matter, such as kelp. Fulvic acid is an important component of humic acid. It usually contains over 60 minerals and trace elements that are nutritionally essential for cell health and balance.

These are considered to be the most chemically active compounds in soil and contain many nutritional phytochemicals. However, it is said that due to modern use of agriculture chemicals, soil erosion and mineral depletion, there has been a decrease in microbial activity in the world’s soil deposits.

Some have considered humic acid the 3rd nutritional element, in addition to vitamins and minerals, to obtain optimal health.

 

Health Benefits

STRESS -> Humic acid helps regulate the effects of stress on the body.

DETOX -> Humic acid helps to bind to/chelate and selectively eliminate toxic heavy metals from the body by working like a magnet to attract them. It is effective in transforming metals and minerals into readily absorbable forms and can bind with pollutants. In addition, when humic acid binds to beneficial or nutrient metals (i.e. iron, zinc), it helps increase absorption rates. Therefore, humic acid helps eliminate harmful heavy metals while also aiding in the body’s absorption of nutritional metals!

INFLAMMATION -> Humic acid helps control inflammation in the body. Excessive inflammation is at the root of arthritis, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, mental decline, osteoporosis, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, intestinal disorders, etc.

IMMUNITY -> Humic substances are one of nature’s most powerful viral inhibitors and work to block viruses from latching onto and entering cells, cutting off their ability to infect healthy cells while at the same time, altering the immune system to attack the virus. In addition, humic acid is believed to be one of nature’s most powerful immune modulators, increasing low immunity and balancing high immunity!

CELL HEALTH -> Humic acid increases the permeability of cell walls, allowing them to more easily respirate, hydrate, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste. Fulvic acid is a powerful organic electrolyte, used to help cells achieve a vital electrochemical balance.

ALKALIZING -> Humic acid has a pH of 8.5 and is extremely alkalizing.

ENERGY -> Humic substances stimulate mitochondrial energy production at a cellular level.

ANTIOXIDANT -> Fulvic acid reacts with unstable electrons to render free radicals harmless, changing them into new useable compounds or eliminating them as waste.

 

Other Complementary Ingredients

Choline helps to make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter needed for brain and memory function. It also keeps the liver healthy by helping to move fats from the liver to cells in the body. In addition, it helps create phosphatidylcholine (PC), which is important for making fatty substances used to form cell membranes. Therefore, choline is a crucial ingredient in both brain and liver support.

Vitamin C supports immune function, works as an anti-viral and antioxidant as well as assists in heavy metal detoxification.

Look for a combination of these ingredients to balance immunity, control inflammation and support detoxification!

 

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

The Power of Maca

Maca is full of immune boosting, energy-producing nutrients and has the ability to promote balanced hormonal function. In her book, “The Power of Maca: Peruvian Superfood”, Lorrie Ingram RHN/RNCP, gives a detailed description of this ingredient and a thorough explanation of its various uses. Here is a brief summary of her writings.

 

What is Maca?

Maca is a superfood and belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family. It is also known as Peruvian ginseng. It is grown in harsh weather conditions on mountain tops in Peru bi-annually. The process is very important for the proper growth of the vegetable and is carried out with great care and precision. Maca has a very long history of being an outstanding food source, known to provide strength, as well as increase libido and stamina within individuals.

This small vegetable contains a very impressive nutrient content. Maca is made up of amino acids, minerals, sterols, vitamins, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates and 20 fatty acids. This incredible list of nutrients is what makes maca one of the most powerful medicinal foods on earth! Essentially, maca is a superfood that is loaded with rich nutrients which are bioavailable to the body and work synergistically, to provide a whole food that gives balance to the human body in many incredible ways.

Maca’s sharp taste is produced by glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are an organic compound that contains sulfur, nitrogen, glucose and an amino acid. Glucosinolates are similar to an antioxidant, containing wonderful healing properties. Foods that contain glucosinolates are often recommended by natural health practitioners to increase an individual’s immune system and boost energy. In addition, they activate detoxification enzymes and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body.

 

Maca Benefits

The vital nutrients in bioavailable forms found in maca assist the body in its on-going process of regeneration. Its actions focus mainly on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, and so it assists the body in balancing hormones. Maca is also a powerful adaptogen. Adaptogens are substances that helps to increase the body's natural resistance to environmental stresses. Here is a list of specific Maca benefits for both men and women!

  • Increases energy, stamina and endurance. Improves athletic performance. Used as a safe steroid alternative to help build muscle mass.
  • Increases aphrodisiac activity, increases sexual stimulation and enhances libido.
  • Improves male potency, assists with erectile dysfunction, increases testosterone levels & increases sperm count, mobility and formation in men.
  • Adjuvant to hormone replacement therapy (HTR), corrects menstrual irregularity/PMS Issues, enhances fertility, helps fight menopause symptoms & reduces hot flashes in women.
  • Helps to overcome depression and chronic fatigue. Balances hormones and may improve sleep patterns.
  • Improves immune system: found to produce a “general sense of well-being”.
  • Increases DHEA in most males and females. Maca decreases stress, anxiety and helps support treatment.
  • Helps fight acne and related skin problems resulted from hormonal imbalances.
  • Better concentration, clear thinking and state of mind.
  • Potent anti-aging properties, antioxidant free radicals scavenger and provides cellular protection.
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis, significant rebuilding and bone density improvement.

 

Choosing Maca as a Nutritional Supplement

In Peru where Maca is grown, it is consumed as a food. The people of Peru use maca in soups, stews, boiled and roasted. It is used either fresh or ground, consumed daily in beverages such as milk and water, and can be prepared hot or cold. Unfortunately, due to the unique growing conditions required to cultivate Maca, it is not possible to grow Maca here in Canada. Here we consume maca in the forms of liquid, powder and capsule. The powder form is great for individuals who want to add it to their foods, such as hot or cold cereal, smoothies, yogurt, muffins, scones and soups.

While the way in which you consume Maca is optional, the most important aspect of adding it to your health regime is consistency in taking adequate amounts for the health condition you are trying to rebalance. As a general suggestion, 3000 to 5000 mg of Maca per day is a standard dose.

Lorrie concludes that overall, maca is safe to consume, without known side effects. However, if you are unsure, it is recommended you contact a health care practitioner that is familiar with its healing benefits!

 

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

Unleash Your Child’s Potential!

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

Critical Omegas

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

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

EFA supplementation has been shown to:

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

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

Gut-Brain Connection

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

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

Nutrient Deficiencies

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

Brain Cell Defenders

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

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

Protein Power

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

BONUS: Mental Calmness

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

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

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

 

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

The Bees Knees!

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Be Good To Your Gut!

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

What is “Leaky Gut”?

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

 

A Bit About Enzymes…

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

     

What is Stomach Acid (HCl) necessary for?

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

-protection against pathogens and candida

-helping decrease enzyme workload in intestines

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

 

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

 

Potential Causes of Underactive Stomach

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

-Stress, Smoking, Caffeine, Antacid Overuse

-Underactive Thyroid, Aging (HCL production naturally decreases)

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

 

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

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

 

Tips to Improve Digestion!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Why So Sour?

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

 

 

What is pH?

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

 

 

How to Test your pH (Using pH paper)

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

 

Symptoms of Acidic pH

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

 

What Produces Acidity?

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

 

Over Acidity Can Indicate:

  • Improper levels of:

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

-buffering agents (Citric, Acetic and Malic acid)

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

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

Remember: A Highly Mineralized Body Is More Disease Resistant!

 

 

10 Steps to Becoming More Alkaline

 

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

 

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

 

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

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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