Be Good To Your Gut!

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

What is “Leaky Gut”?

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

 

A Bit About Enzymes…

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

     

What is Stomach Acid (HCl) necessary for?

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

-protection against pathogens and candida

-helping decrease enzyme workload in intestines

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

 

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

 

Potential Causes of Underactive Stomach

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

-Stress, Smoking, Caffeine, Antacid Overuse

-Underactive Thyroid, Aging (HCL production naturally decreases)

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

 

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

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

 

Tips to Improve Digestion!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Why So Sour?

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

 

 

What is pH?

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

 

 

How to Test your pH (Using pH paper)

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

 

Symptoms of Acidic pH

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

 

What Produces Acidity?

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

 

Over Acidity Can Indicate:

  • Improper levels of:

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

-buffering agents (Citric, Acetic and Malic acid)

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

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

Remember: A Highly Mineralized Body Is More Disease Resistant!

 

 

10 Steps to Becoming More Alkaline

 

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

 

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

 

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

Don’t Miss A “Beet”!

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

NO can be produced in 2 ways:

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Why Go CocoNUTS?

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

 

Ketones vs Glucose

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

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

 

MCT’s for MVP!

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

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

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

 

Coconut Oil Benefits

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

 

Other Coconut Forms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

TOP 10 SUPERFOODS!

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

  1. Berries

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

  1. Chia Seeds

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

  1. Coconut Oil

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

  1. Ginger

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

  1. Hemp Seeds/Hearts

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

  1. Kale

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

  1. Quinoa

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

  1. Cacao

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

  1. Spirulina

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

  1. Pumpkin Seeds

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

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

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

Look at Those Legs!

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

 

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

 

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

 

Here are 10 tips for lovely legs this summer!

 

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

     

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

Why Whey is the Way!

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

 

So Why Consider Whey?

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

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

 

Health Benefits

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

 

How Much?

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

 

Who Should Use a Protein Supplement?

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

 

What to Look For?

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

 

 

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

Taming Your Thyroid

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

 

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

 

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

 

Some Effects of Underactive (Hypo) Thyroid

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

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

 

What Causes Underactive (Hypo) Thyroid?

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

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

- Poor Digestion, Food Sensitivities, Leaky Gut

-Inflammation, Auto-Immune Reaction

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

- Estrogen Dominance, Obesity

-Blood Sugar Imbalances/Insulin Resistance

-Adrenal Stress/High Cortisol Levels

-Free Radical Damage/Radiation

- Overburdened Liver, Over toxicity

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

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

 

At Home Thyroid Test

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

 

Suggestions for Low Thyroid

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

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

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

 

Who Can Supplement & How?

Lorna cautions that “severe hypothyroidism requires the use of supplemental thyroid hormone - available only by prescription. Mild or sub clinical hypothyroidism may respond to nutritional and herbal support.” She notes that, those with low thyroid symptoms or a TSH number over 2.0 can consider natural thyroid support ingredients that help increase the production or conversion of T4 to T3. These include: L-Tyrosine, Guggal Extract, Iodine, Selenium, Ashwaghanda, Myrrh and Vitamin D.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

2. Sluggish Liver

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

 

3. Stressed Lifestyle

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

 

4. Hormone Imbalances (Estrogen, Thyroid)

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

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

 

5. Oxidative Stress

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

 

6. Poor Gut Health & Inflammation

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

An Apple A Day?

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

 

How Is It Made?

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

 

What Is “Mother”?

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

 

Why Are People Using It?

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

 

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

     

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

     

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

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

 

What to Look for?

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

 

Recipe Ideas:

 

Vinaigrette Dressing/Dip/Marinade

½ cup Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

1/3 cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1/2- 1 tsp. Liquid Aminos

1-2 tsps. Raw Honey

Shake well before using.

 

Skin Facial

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

 

-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural -

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.

Steinbachonline.com is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Login