Cleaning Up Your Cosmetics

Every day our bodies come into contact with skin care products. The average daily routine will include body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face cleanser, toner, moisturizer, lotions and deodorant. Maybe even spot treatments for acne, makeup with multiple products, mousse and hairspray are also part of your routine. You may also use hand sanitizers and hand lotions when you are out and about. With this many different applications, the average woman uses 16 different products per day with 1 out of 100 men using just as many. We often read the claims on the bottles that tell us what the product will do for our hair or skin; however, we may not take the time to read the ingredients that our bodies are absorbing. Our skin contains many tiny pores and capillaries that absorb the products that we apply to our skin, making their way into the bloodstream. Many of the products used daily may contain carcinogens (a substance with the potential to cause cancer) or endocrine (hormone) disruptors such as xenoestrogens that mimic estrogen in the body.

The United States has no cosmetic regulation system in place, however, in Canada we do. Products sold in Canada should be tested and analyzed for consumer safety, and labels or the products themselves may have to be modified to be sold in Canada. There is a “Hotlist” of prohibited ingredients as well as a restricted ingredient list. While this sounds good, there are still many products that are overlooked and do not undergo the inspection that the government says they require. Also, restricted ingredients such as formaldehyde are still used in oral products as a preservative as well as in nail polishes and is a known carcinogen. There are also many ingredients that do not make either list such as parabens and phthalates that are often used as a preservative or in fragrances. Parabens and phthalates are known endocrine disruptors. Phthalates also are behind many scent allergies, dermatitis and respiratory distress. In Canada, the scent or flavour of a product must be labelled as parfum or fragrance without the need of listing the ingredients making up that fragrance. By hiding as parfum or fragrance, phthalates are making their way into our body care products. It is essential to look for paraben and phthalate free products to avoid these harmful chemicals.

Many toxic ingredients may be found by government regulations to be safe in small quantities, however, is the constant application or use of a “relatively safe” ingredients is often overlooked. Remember, many of us are using an average of 16 products per day, sometimes with multiple applications. That small quantity in each product containing a "relatively safe" ingredient may have doubled, tripled or quadrupled in one day, never mind frequent repetitive exposure.

So how do we avoid these harmful products? Read ingredients! Do your homework by looking into your skincare company to find out what their values are and what type of ingredients they are using. Because of Canada cosmetic regulations, all companies have to list scents as parfum or fragrance; however, that scent in many natural products is made up of essential oils or plant extracts. Also, many companies use the scientific name for vitamins or botanicals on their labels so the rule “if you cannot pronounce it, do not use it” does not apply with skin care. Many natural product labels will clarify what they are using, but some may only have that information on their website so doing your homework is crucial. The Environmental Working Group is a not for profit organization that has created an excellent database called Skin Deep to help navigate which products contain harmful toxins and which ones are completely safe for regular use. You can plug in a specific product or ingredient into their search engine, and it will pop up with a safety rating that includes studies and data on its uses and safety.

Reducing chemical exposure through what you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your mouth. If you are conscientious about the food you eat, you should also take a look at what you put on your skin. If this is the first time you have thought about your skin care products, take a look through what you use and plug it into EWG’s Skin Deep database and see how clean it really is. You are in charge of your health and every little change you make in your food or cosmetic choices can greatly reduce your toxic chemical exposure and lead to better health.

Resources:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredient-hotlist-prohibited-restricted-ingredients/hotlist.html#t2p

www.ewg.org/skindeep

https://www.basdbodycare.ca/pages/nothing-to-hide

https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/C.R.C.,_c._869/index.html

 

 

Proper Digestion for a Healthy Holiday

During the holidays do you worry about how comfortable your clothes are going to fit after you eat rather than how fashionable they are? Whether it’s from overeating, eating foods you aren’t used to, talking when you eat, drinking carbonated beverages or not producing enough digestive enzymes, there are steps you can take to alleviate indigestion.

Chew Your Food Well

A lot of people have poor digestion simply because they don’t chew their food enough. How many of us are so starved or distracted by the TV that we just gulp down our food without chewing? We should be chewing our food until it’s a mushy paste. Slow down and savour your food, your gut will thank you for it.

Eat Good Food

Get into the practice of eating clean, wholesome and preferably organic food; it will go a long way to improve digestion. Processed and refined foods lack many of the essential nutrients our body needs to manufacture digestive enzymes. They may also contain chemicals and ingredients that our body has a hard time breaking down.

Drink Clean Water

Since the body consists mostly of water, you should be ensuring that you are drinking enough pure, clean water every day. This does not mean coffee or pop, it means water. To determine how much water you should be drinking in a day, take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2. This is the number of ounces of water you need per day. Water is vital for keeping the digestive process in good working order and is naturally detoxifying. Limit the amount of water or other fluids you drink with your meals, as this can inhibit digestion.

Portion Control

Our bodies were not designed to digest the enormous amounts of food we are consuming in this day and age and certainly around the holidays. Portion control is key; just because it’s on your plate doesn’t mean that you have to eat it all in one sitting. Consider the amount of food you are putting on your plate and remember that small, more frequent meals are easier on your digestive tract.

Avoid Overeating

When it comes to hunger, there is a hormone called cholecystokinin that helps regulate satiety. Fibre increases production and prolonged activity of this hormone so eating a meal consisting of fibre rich veggies and some protein will ensure you don't over-indulge. Fibre also keeps you feeling fuller longer with no calories so it’s good for the waistline too!

Choose Your Actions Wisely

If you are going to a function at night, don’t starve yourself all day to overindulge later. Choose indulgences wisely, pick two or three things you love and savour them. And for goodness sake, don’t stand next to the buffet table!

Take Digestive Enzymes

Gas, bloating, belching, heartburn and constipation are all symptoms of indigestion. Digestive enzymes help to break apart the bonds that hold nutrients together so your body can absorb them. Taking digestive enzymes with each meal can help ensure your body has the tools it needs to break down food properly. There are many to suit each individual’s needs. For those who have a sensitive gut that irritates easily, you should look out for enzymes that contain soothing herbs like marshmallow to ease your woes. For those with heartburn caused by low stomach acid, a formula with betaine HCL should be chosen. If you are one to have gas, bloating, stomach upset and belching on a regular basis regardless of food type, then an extra strength enzyme blend is right for you.

A healthy, efficient digestive system is imperative for optimal health. Taking a few small precautions can help you to Eat, Drink AND be Healthy this holiday season!

 

 

Don’t Let Christmas Stress you Out!

Twinkling lights, sparkling on fresh snow. The music of carolers in the air. Christmas is right around the corner. For many, it a season of joy, long anticipated for each year. For others, it is a season of stress and anxiety to get the right present and make it to every gathering. Whether you love this season, you are just trying to get through the holidays, or are somewhere in the middle, preparing yourself as you get ready for the season with stress reducing supplements and practices can make this season more bearable and much more enjoyable.

Prepare your mind and body for the crazy malls with adaptogenic herbs and vitamins that support your body’s stress response. Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Ginseng are herbs that regulate stress hormones to help your body cope and deal with stressors. Ashwagandha reduces anxiety and reduces the depletion of vitamin C which supports the body during stress. This herb also alleviates mental fatigue that leads to a crash after a long day. Rhodiola helps to promote a sense of calm as well and can be very beneficial when in the middle of a hectic mall.  The herb Ginseng not only supports stress response but also provides energy that will help you face the crowds. Another herbal that proves its worth for the holiday season is Lemon Balm. This herb increases free gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that calms the mind. You can find these herbals individually or together in a formula for the best stress and anxiety reducing results. The B vitamins are also crucial for our stress hormone secreting adrenal glands, and they help to calm the nervous system. The body will use up available B vitamins very quickly when stressed therefore more are needed during these times to avoid fatigue. These vitamins also provide energy by being coenzymes in metabolic processes that allow our food to become energy.  

Eating well is not only good for the everyday work routine but also shopping trips. No one likes to shop on an empty stomach and being hungry during a long day of shopping can make choosing gifts much more difficult. Be sure to start your shopping trip with a meal that satiates you. Foods high in fibre, healthy fats and protein will keep you fuller longer and help you avoid feeling “hangry.” Bring snacks along on your trip that are also high in protein, healthy fats and fibre to keep your blood sugars balanced and avoid grabbing a sweet bite on the go that will only lead to an energy crash later. Stable blood sugars equal calm mood. Stable mood equals a more relaxed shopping experience.  

Along with packing healthy snacks for your trip, bring along essential oils like lavender and chamomile to help you feel calm. Studies have shown the inhalation of lavender helped to reduce anxiety when test groups were watching an anxiety-provoking film, going to the dentist or before undergoing a coronary artery bypass surgery. Chamomile has been shown to decrease irritability, overthinking and worry. Studies have also shown chamomile to be very useful for easing anxiety symptoms. Need an energy boost? Breathing in bergamot essential oil has proved to be effective for energizing and refreshing the mind. Take an aromatherapy break and breathe in deeply to feel calmed or energized for the rest of your shopping excursion.

Planning and preparation to pick out the right gift for each loved one will save much aimless wandering and stress. Instead of running to the store hoping something will jump out at you for the next person on your list, plan ahead of time. Come up with a list of ideas for that certain someone and look for those. It can also be helpful to have some generic gifts on hand like a travel mug and hot chocolate or a good board game for those last minute get-togethers or forgot about dinners that have gift-giving games. Planning ahead of time will save you time so you can spend more of it with your loved ones.

Christmas should not wear us out. It is a season to feel joyful and thankful for all those we hold dear. Shop with a friend or family member to make it fun. Shop for someone who can not get out of their house to pick out gifts for their loved ones. Shop for gifts to give away to people in need. Gift giving is not done to feed into our consumer culture. We give gifts during this season because of the greatest gift that was given to us. Share the love and joy of this season! Merry Christmas!

Resources:

Veeva.ca

Dr. Axe

How to Avoid Lectins with Proper Food Preparation

Lectins. You may have heard of them, and you may have not. Most people only hear about them when they are suddenly told to avoid them by a healthcare practitioner because they may cause inflammation or make an inflammatory condition worse. Many avoid them due to gastrointestinal distress, as they have been known to cause those symptoms. However, what are lectins? Why are they in our food? Are they as damaging as many people believe? More and more information is surfacing about lectins, and this will change the way you look at your food.

When someone is told to go on a lectin free diet, they are often encouraged to avoid the nightshade fruit and vegetable family, soybeans, kidney beans, peanuts and many grains. However, the list should not end there because virtually all plant foods contain lectins. Lectins are proteins that bind carbohydrates and are present in all organisms. Animals have them, humans have them and, of course, plants have them too. In animals and humans, they facilitate cell to cell contact. In plants, they are thought to protect them from pathogens and insects, but their entire function is not clear. There are many different types of lectins with many different functions, which also means that each one will behave differently in the body when consumed. Not all lectins cause inflammation, and not all lectins cause gastrointestinal distress. Many have this potential, but it is greatly reduced when the food is properly prepared. The lectins found in red kidney beans, for example, can be so harmful when undercooked that they can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal damage. However, soaking the beans for many hours and then cooking them thoroughly, renders the lectins completely harmless. Unfortunately, the reputation of the red kidney bean has made many afraid of the damage of lectins.

As seen in the above example, proper food preparation is essential to deactivate lectins. Soaking, sprouting, fermenting and cooking are different methods that help to disable and reduce lectins, as well as other antinutrient content in foods like phytic and oxalic acids, that make absorbing plant nutrients difficult for the body. Food preparation is also one of the beautiful things that set us apart as humans. We take time to prepare, cook and thoroughly enjoy food. However, in our modern world, this is rarely happening. We are always on the go and food is quickly consumed to keep us going. We may not know the practices being used to make the food we regularly eat and this is where antinutrients like lectins, oxalic and phytic acids can become damaging. Were the grains in your cereal sprouted before becoming flour? Was your bread fermented before it was baked to make it easier to digest? There are cereals and bread on the market that are taking these extra steps to make them more digestible. Reading labels and doing research on different brands helps you get to know the food you are putting in your mouth daily. Were your canned beans soaked before they were cooked and canned? Soaking and cooking your own beans may take some extra steps but it is the easiest food prep to do. Make a large batch and freeze them for later use. Were the nuts and seeds in your trail mix soaked before they were roasted to reduce their lectin content as well as phytic and oxalic acid content? Set nuts or seeds in water to soak during the day then dry them out in the oven overnight at the lowest temperature. This makes the nuts and seeds deliciously crunchy and maintains their nutrients while significantly reducing the compounds that make them hard to digest, unlike the typical roasting process.

While proper food preparation reduces many lectins in foods, there are still some conditions that benefit from avoiding the primary lectin culprits. Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, IBD, colon cancer, and bacterial infections are conditions in which one should avoid high lectin foods. These conditions take lectin proteins and convert them into substances that can cause further damage. If you are not dealing with a specific health condition, the nutrients available in all whole foods outweighs their lectin content. For example, the lycopene content of a tomato is found in the skin and seeds, so are their lectins. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps to protect and nourish the skin and is extremely beneficial for prostate issues. Lectin-containing foods are also the highest fibre foods. As avoiding foods that contain lectins is virtually impossible, the key here is to reduce your lectin intake by preparing beans and grains properly and to also include more cooked and fermented vegetables in the diet over raw ones.  Too many lectins in the diet from poor food preparation or too many raw vegetables can lead to bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, gas, discomfort and joint pain. If you have been experiencing these feelings, you may want to start looking at the way you have been preparing your food and adjust your diet. If you do not have the time to prepare the foods yourself, then research brands and bakeries to get different prepared goods from, or this may be a case where you need to avoid the high lectin grains and beans altogether.

Each body is different and will react differently to certain foods than others. Some people can eat a completely raw diet and thrive while others have digestion issues with just a few raw vegetables a day. Learn from your body’s signals because our bodies are trying to tell us how it feels on certain foods all the time. Eat for your health and not just for your taste buds to feel better, move better and live better! We have only one body in this life. Let’s take the time to feed it right.

Resources:

https://draxe.com/lectins/

https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/eat-to-live-blog/147/the-real-story-on-lectins

http://drchristianson.com/

The Forces of Aging Well

Being a man is full of rewards. It’s also full of challenges. We believe the best investment any man can make is to invest in his own well-being. As the body ages, the nutritional and supplement needs change as well.

 

Warning bells should be going off for men, when feeling “worn out” becomes a normal state of being.

Tiredness and stress are often signs of prioritizing our many responsibilities above health. Men are at higher risk of developing the top 10 causes of death, which include: heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and many cancers.

Fatigue and stress can also lead to poor food choices and skipping exercise, which then leads to using caffeine and other substances as stimulants and calming aids. These can perpetuate poor health. Low levels of testosterone, obesity and many prescription medications can also negatively influence male vitality. The good news is that many of these hazards can be addressed with preventative lifestyle choices and daily habits.

 

Lifestyle Habits

 

  1. Drink 1 Liter of filtered alkaline water for every 50lbs of body weight. Optimal hydration flushes toxins and improves all functions of the body. An alkaline host is a primary defence against disease. To further promote an alkaline state, add supplements or foods that are alkaline forming, like the juice of half a lemon, fermented green foods, or organic spirulina and organic chlorella.
  1. Make a daily commitment to moving your body. Exercise improves our cardiovascular health and aids in stress management. Exercise also helps the body release a substance called luteinizing hormone, which increases free testosterone production. 45 minutes of exercise can increase free testosterone by up to 39.6%
  1. Eat Organic! Choose nutrient-dense SuperFoods. Stock up with organic fruits and vegetables and organic protein sources. Fermented superfoods are easily digested and absorbed. They add nutrition, antioxidants, enzymes and micronutrients to support well-being.
  1. Listen to your body. If your body is telling you it is tired, stop and listen. Are your shoulders tight? Do you have sore achy joints or muscles? Are you always fighting something? Reset your boundaries, make better food choices and rest your body.
  1. Hormonal balance is key to male vitality. The hormone system is complicated and is influenced by age, diet, exercise, supplements and environmental factors. The object of hormone balance is to increase free testosterone.

 

Hormonal balance and free testosterone

 

Testosterone is a male sex hormone made in the testes and the adrenal glands. Most testosterone in your blood is bound to albumin or sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and is unavailable to the body. Unbound testosterone is bio-available (free) testosterone. The amount of free testosterone is directly related to masculinity, male energy, strength and performance. Free testosterone can be increased by influencing production factors or by preventing free testosterone from turning into bound testosterone sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). We can positively affect the production of free testosterone by increasing the sterols and by decreasing hormones circulating in the blood, that inhibit the production of free testosterone.

Andropause is the slow but steady reduction in testosterone and other hormones that occur with ageing. The main symptoms are: loss of libido and potency, loss of muscle mass, depression, nervousness, insomnia, fatigue, inability to concentrate, erectile dysfunction, the frequency of urination, loss of memory and sweating. Reduced amounts of free testosterone can also be a result of diet, exercise and elevated hormones including cortisol, estrogen and cholesterol. These hormones are connected via the endocrine system and when elevated, have a negative reciprocal effect on free testosterone.

Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that is elevated under stress. Elevated cortisol disrupts the testicular testosterone production process and upsets the delicate balance of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and prolactin. Stimulating the production of the luteinizing hormone helps our body create free testosterone.

 

Nutrients to support the production of free testosterone include:

Zinc, Magnesium and B6

Highly absorbable forms of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 aid in the production of testosterone, the maintenance of lean muscle tissue, improves sleep and alleviates symptoms of stress.

 

Male Hormone Support Herbal Extracts

Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Holy Basil and Siberian Ginseng are adaptogenic herbs which are clinically shown to manage cortisol levels. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and along with 3,3 Dindollyl Methane (DIM) has been shown to reduce estrogen levels. This results in stimulating luteinizing hormone to produce testosterone.

Tribulus, Fenugreek and Tongkat-Ali increase luteinizing hormone by providing plant sterols. These sterols are converted through hormonal pathways to produce more total testosterone and increase levels of free testosterone.

Saw Palmetto and Stinging Nettle block the interaction between free testosterone and bound testosterone (SHBG and albumin-bound testosterone). These herbs also prevent the interaction that changes testosterone to DHT. DHT is found in higher concentrations in those suffering from benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH), and in cases of male pattern baldness.

 

To Keto or Not to Keto

The Ketogenic diet has been getting a lot of attention lately. Whether you have heard about it online through social media or have seen it featured in a health magazine, this high fat low carbohydrate diet has taken off. However, what exactly does this diet entail? Does not eating fat make you fat? Is going “Keto” for everyone? Searching for these answers on the internet can lead to confusion and more questions. Knowing if the Ketogenic Diet is right for you may take some professional guidance.

So what is the Ketogenic diet? The Ketogenic Diet, also referred to as the Keto Diet, focuses on foods high in fat and low in carbohydrates to promote a process called ketosis. Ketosis is a process where the liver is converting fatty acids from food into ketones for energy instead of using carbohydrates for energy (the bodies default energy source). This diet is also typically lower in protein as well so that the body can become wholly adapted to burning fat. As one progresses in the diet, more carbohydrates, as well as proteins, can be added to suit individual needs. The benefits of the Keto Diet include weight loss, improved body composition, clear skin, reduced inflammation, mental clarity, reduced craving and anti-ageing effects. It also promotes mitochondrial biogenesis which increases the mitochondria in cells. More mitochondria in the cells mean more energy!

The Keto Diet sounds perfect, right? Get the body, skin and energy you want by eating fat? Well, that is not just it. When it comes to doing the Keto Diet, one does not just exchange bread and pasta for cheese, bacon and butter. While these foods are allowed and okay to eat in moderation, it is essential to focus on food quality and a diet primarily consisting of plant-based fats. Too much animal fats in the diet can lead to inflammation and not balancing the diet properly for your own body’s needs can lead to unwanted side effects. Sleep problems, anxiousness, digestive issues, increased acne and a rash, are known to occur if the diet is not balanced correctly or modifications are not made to suit the individual’s needs. It is also common for one to experience symptoms similar to the flu called the “keto flu” when the body is transitioning from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. These flu-like symptoms can be lessened or disappear altogether when proper adjustments are made to the diet like ensuring plenty of electrolytes. Many people on the Keto Diet try to avoid as many carbohydrates as possible, including vegetables, which are sources of electrolytes and fibre. Supplementation may be required to make sure electrolyte and fibre needs are met. Fatty acid ratios can also be imbalanced during this diet, and a fish oil supplement is necessary. If there are not enough omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation can occur.

You may still be wondering, how can eating more fat make one lose weight when we have been told for years to avoid fat? The simple truth is that eating fat does not make you fat. While it is essential to be eating good fats (fish, avocados, coconut, grass-fed beef and butter for example), they are not the culprit. Carbohydrates and sugars are behind the fat we store on our bodies. When we eat more carbs than we can burn, the rest are stored to body fat, and in the Standard North American diet, that is common.

There is a lot of planning and preparation to do this diet properly, and it may not be for everyone. The Keto Diet is meant to be a therapeutic, healing diet, but done incorrectly it can have unwanted effects. It is important to seek the guidance of an experienced coach to provide meal plans, recipes, supplement suggestions, and one-on-one coaching to make the Keto Diet simple and easy for those ready to make the transition. Not looking to start the Keto Diet but want some nutrition guidance? Seeking nutritional counselling for other types of diets and dietary restrictions can help anyone who needs direction on how to begin their new health journey.

The Keto Diet does work and has made an amazing impact on many lives. However, that does not mean it is right for everyone. Each person is unique and has their own needs to feel their best, live fully, and have the energy to face each day. This wellness journey can begin by connecting with a Nutritional Coach to help you figure this whole “food” thing out. Stop letting social media and magazines tell you how you should eat and live. It is your time to discover a personalized plan that is unique and tailored to fit the one and only you!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/30027365/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1867088/

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Keto-Flu-Symptoms-44884458

 

Fruits & Veggies Can Fight Father Time

“The Father of Medicine” Hippocrates stated “Let food be thy medicine”. Modern research has learned that fruits and vegetables hold many of the most powerful and health-influencing nutrients - strong enough to fight cancer, and promote overall everyday well-being to potentially prevent early death. When juices have been chosen based on their measures of nutrients, then taste, not the other way around, we can gain the full benefit of these powerful foods provided by nature.

Research has found that 5–10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily can reduce the risk of some cancers, heart attack, stroke, and early death. This is the only food group able to make this claim, truly showing the importance to emphasize consumption in our daily diet. Juices can provide a convenient, yet healthy means to help reach the necessary daily servings. According to researchers at Imperial College London, a meta-analysis of all available research around the world that included up to 2 million people, which took several factors into account, such as a person’s weight, smoking habits, physical activity and overall diet, estimated that approximately 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide may be prevented every year if people eat 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Eating up to 800g of produce a day also decreased the risk of heart disease by 24 per cent; stroke by 33 per cent; cardiovascular disease by 28 per cent; cancer by 13 per cent; and premature death by 31 per cent.

 

Fruitful (and Veggie) Benefits

The Heart Health Research Review concluded that daily consumption of purple grape juice as part of a balanced diet promotes cardiovascular health. It is also known, along with its other “purple-ish cousin” blueberry, to support brain health and mental function. Cranberry is well documented for its ability to support urinary tract health. More recently, research has shown it helpful to manage cholesterol and subsequently heart health. Pomegranate has been another champion in the fight against heart disease, plus it can support prostate function. Another antioxidant-rich fruit, cherry, can reduce inflammation to fight joint pain and gout. Tart cherry is also naturally rich in melatonin, a well-researched sleep aid nutrient. Other fruits such as pear and pineapple can support digestive function. Beet juice is rich in iron and can help manage blood pressure. Carrots are well known for their ability to support eye health and night vision, plus promote healthy skin, and stronger bones and teeth.

 

Quality First

Only the best organic fruit used from just the right region, and harvested at the right time can make a world of difference in the final colour, nutrient value, mouth feel, and taste of a juice. Choosing organic can add to quality, but certain crops are harder to ensure organic supply all year-round due to many uncontrollable factors. An organic fruit is not genetically modified and has been grown in an environment devoid of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. This means that the plant has to try harder to survive. In this struggle to survive, plants produce more antioxidants. Antioxidants are the good things in fruits that help prevent disease. Scientific studies have shown that organically grown fruits have up to 50% more antioxidants than conventionally grown produce. Thus, choose organic for optimal healthy benefits from your fruits.

 

Pesticide Testing – Exceeding Standards

Even though use of synthetic pesticides is not allowed on organic crops, “drift” from neighbouring conventional crops can infiltrate organic crops. To prevent choosing “tainted” crops, a juice company must rely on the advanced detection capabilities from leading testing facilities. These facilities test for a wider range of pesticides, and to greater detection limits. Testing standards can exceed the typical standards and can be up to 50 times more sensitive! One such example of these testing standards is the highly respected BNN Orientation Value/IFOAM Pesticide Guidelines, which test for over 595 pesticides that are approved for use in conventional agriculture - an astounding amount!

 

Choose NOT from Concentrate Juice

To concentrate a juice, the juice is processed to remove a significant portion of the water, taking with it some of the important and essential water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants. NOT from concentrate juice is generally fresher, has more nutritional value, and is less processed. Some juices are unclarified and unfiltered. This means you get all the nutrition found in the pulp and flesh of the fruit. So, when you find sediment in the bottom of your glass juice container, shake it well then pour to get the full health benefits in every glass.

 

So, here’s to lowering your risk factors by raising a glass of juice to your better health!

Autumn Fresh Eats!

Crisp air, pumpkin carving and scarecrows. Corn mazes, bonfires and bobbing for apples. Autumn brings its own fun and games, as does each season, not just pumpkin spice lattes that are now available at coffee shops. While this fall has felt more like winter than those of the past, there are still many things to enjoy about the season, one of which is its bountiful harvest. Nature does an amazing thing by providing the right foods to support our bodies in each season. While spring is a time for fresh starts and spring cleaning, nature provides leafy greens during this season to help cleanse our bodies as well. During the hot summer months when we like to be outdoors more than indoors, again, nature is providing fruits like cucumbers and melons to keep us hydrated. In the same way, autumn’s harvest contains many nourishing foods that often need to be cooked which helps to keep us warm during these cooler months and offer many immune boosting nutrients.

In our modern world, we can go into any grocery store and have food from any season. Strawberries and blueberries are always available, and romaine lettuce is continuously a household staple and peppers are still eaten in the winter, because somewhere in the world these foods are in season. While there’s nothing wrong in partaking in these modern conveniences, we do lose sight of what types of fruits and vegetables nature is trying to provide for us in our backyard. There is a reason why squashes, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes are abundant now and why cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are in season. With colder weather, these foods can help protect us from the common cold or flu.

The seasonal favourite, pumpkin, is more often enjoyed as a pie or sweet treat but it is so much more than that. This fruit is full of fibre that supports intestinal health by feeding good bacteria which is part of our immune systems first line of defence and all that fibre will help us to feel satiated, reducing cravings. Pumpkins are also high in beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body that will support our tissue health and immune system. They also contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin which promotes eye and tissue health. Squashes are also high in fibre and beta-carotene but also provide vitamin C for the immune system and the bone supporting minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium. Sweet potatoes and yams are also a classic in this season and contain lots of beta-carotene, as well as some B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium and iron. Beyond the warm orange colour that this season is famous for, many other veggies make a strong appearance. The Brassica vegetables broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are in season and are rich in phytonutrients. Phytonutrient means “plant nutrient” and impacts the way the food looks, tastes and smells. They outnumber macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in plants 10,000 to 1 and make a significant impact on our health. The Brassica vegetables are high in sulphur-containing phytonutrients that work to cleanse the blood, lymph and body. This season also supplies plenty of onion and garlic, but beyond their classic taste that can be used in almost any dish, they can be used to treat the common cold. Packed with sulphur containing phytonutrients that give onion and garlic their classic eye-watering smell, these two vegetables help to cleanse the body of viruses.  Garlic contains antibiotic and antiparasitic properties and is suitable for virtually any type of viral infection. Garlic does not provide many nutrients but, its sulphur containing phytonutrients is where it shines. While garlic is the more potent one out of the two, onions have antiseptic effects and provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Also, that strange white root vegetable that looks like a carrot imposter, the parsnip, along with its cousins the rutabaga and turnip, are very high in potassium, an important electrolyte, and contain reasonable amounts of vitamin C. Try these vegetables in a roasted root vegetable medley to add a peppery kick.

Antioxidant-rich fruits are not only found in the tropics or other exotic places. Autumn brings about its superfood fruits like cranberries and grapes. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C as well as prebiotic fibres that are good for our gut health. The skin of grapes contains the antioxidant resveratrol which has antiaging properties and supports heart health. Grapes also contain vitamin C, potassium and the phytonutrient quercetin that has antihistamine properties. Apples and pears also make their appearance this season, and both provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals as well as quercetin. Apples are particularly special because they contain the soluble fibre pectin, that helps to feed good bacteria in the intestines and aids in cleansing the body.

There are plenty of foods in autumn to fall for and not only do they taste amazing, but they will also help protect you during cold and flu season. Try making a pumpkin smoothie for breakfast or roasted root vegetables for dinner. Eat an apple a day and sip on hot butternut squash soup. Enjoy the fruits and vegetables of the season, and they will help protect your body so you can go out and enjoy the season.

Be a Flu Fighter

The 2017/18 flu season was a nasty one in Canada. And while cases can vary in severity from a couple of days on the couch to hospitalization (or worse) for high-risk groups such as young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, the flu certainly isn’t a good time for anyone.
Then there’s the other, less-severe, culprit who puts the “cold” in cold and flu season. The common cold is a different beast than the flu, but still comes with a host of unpleasant symptoms that include headache, watery eyes, a runny/stuffy nose, a sore throat and a cough.

We all have a lot on our plates this time of year. And we’re not just talking turkey and cranberry sauce. This festive season can be hectic, and it’s all the more challenging when you’re feeling under the weather. The familiar symptoms of head and body aches, sinus and chest congestion, coughing and sneezing are all indications that a cold or flu virus has significantly multiplied and your body is working to expel it and destroy affected cells. Over-the-counter drugs are effective at suppressing only some of the symptoms, and often have negative side effects. A better option is to choose natural health products that stimulate the immune system to kill the virus before full-blown symptoms develop.


So, what do you do when you’ve got the sniffles or a headache and crawling back into bed really isn’t an option? Here are three handy suggestions for coping with colds during the holidays:

3 Handy Suggestions to Cope with Colds During the Holidays

Drink up. It’s important to stay hydrated when you aren’t feeling well (or any time). But that doesn’t mean you should make a beeline for the spiked eggnog, as excess alcohol will dehydrate you, which can in turn worsen cold symptoms such as congestion. Stick to water, juice, or soothing teas and broths.

Rest up. With so many things to check off your holiday to-do list, hiding under the covers until you feel better might not be possible. But that’s no excuse to run yourself ragged. Learn to pick your battles. To delegate. Try to get to bed at a reasonable time, and take advantage of little moments to relax and replenish whenever you can. You’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life a million times; it’s okay to nod off while you’re watching it this year.

Stock up. Don’t wait until you’re an exhausted, infectious mess to drag yourself out for supplies. Be prepared. Have tissues, soup, vitamin C, a functioning humidifier, painkillers and a few of your favourite comfort foods on standby just in case you need them. If you choose to get the flu shot, do it now. Nobody wants to be sick during the holiday season, but if you do get the gift of a holiday cold, it doesn’t have to ruin the festivities. Be prepared, be kind to your body, and give yourself a break (and maybe an extra piece of fudge). Oh, and wash your hands, we’ll get through this!

Another tip is to CLEAR CONGESTION

If pathogens make it beyond the nasal passages (and many do), help the body clear the lungs and bronchial passageways by using an expectorant like honey thyme tea. Coughing and sneezing is your body’s way of forcefully expelling the invaders (just try not to expel them onto the people you love).

As your body begins fighting bacteria and viruses, excess mucus forms. This shows that white blood cells are stepping up into action! First, the mucus will be runny and clear. As the illness progresses, mucus can turn yellow and then green (infection). White blood cells cause this change in color as they flood into an area, fight the invaders, die, and pile-up in the process. Assist your body in clearing out the carnage by using a Neti Pot.

Neti Pot: ½ tsp sea salt to 1 cup boiled water. Let the boiled water cool to luke warm and then flush your sinuses 1-2x daily. Follow the instructions and pour the warm salt water into your nose and out through your mouth.


You can also expectorate phlegm by using steam. Pour boiling water into a bowl, and add 1 drop of tea-tree, peppermint, pine, rosemary, or eucalyptus oil. Hang your head over the bowl, cover with a towel, and breathe deeply. Have tissues on hand and expect to expectorate!

Healthy Immunity for the Whole Family

Our immune systems are complex but for most of us, our lifestyles largely determine how robust our immune systems are throughout the year.  Stress, poor sleep, lack of nutrition and compromised digestive function are the main influences on healthy immunity. As an herbalist of 13 years, I can attest to that fact that the Benjamin Franklin’s adage is true; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Cold and flu season is upon us so if you haven’t already begun supporting your immune system with herbs, vitamins and minerals, it is time to start. Selenium, Zinc and Vitamin C are simple and safe for the whole family. There are many herbs for strengthening our immune systems but some of the most common ones, like oregano and echinacea, are often misused. It is important to understand the difference between surface immune stimulating herbs and deep immune stimulating herbs.

Astragalus and Reishi are time tested herbs for building and replenishing immunity. These are deep immune stimulating herbs.  That means that they can be used for longer periods of time and are restorative rather than stimulating.  These herbs are great for prevention of illnesses and for bolstering recovery from illness because, as the name suggests, they build the immune system on a deep and lasting level. Astragalus is a great option for building immunity in children and can be used throughout the school year.  The most effective way to use herbs like Astragalus and Reishi for long stretches of time (i.e. more than 2-3 weeks) is to take them Monday through Friday and take weekends off. This ensures lasting efficacy because herbs can lose their effectiveness on the body when taken regularly for too long.

Echinacea and Oregano Oil are surface immune stimulating herbs.  This means that they temporarily boost immune function.  These are best used for short duration at the onset of symptoms or when infection or illness is present.  They are also handy if you are near someone who is suffering from a cold or flu, like a colleague or family member.  These herbs should not be used for long periods of time because they are too stimulating and can exhaust the immune system or lose efficacy if taken frequently for too long.  Oregano Oil is powerful and is very effective at killing microbes. The trouble is it kills the good ones too, so it should be taken with intention and for short periods of time.  

Elderberry is one of the most valuable herbs for our immune systems.  The deep purple berries are not only native to Canada, they have an incredible amount of naturally occurring Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is vital for several functions of the immune system. One of the most impressive qualities of elderberry is that it has potent anti-viral properties and has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the duration of influenza by an average of 4 days*.

Elderberry syrup is great for children.  It tastes great so it’s easy to administer.  It is best when paired with elderflower extract, which helps relieve swollen sinuses, aches, coughing and hoarseness.  The combination is perfect because it addresses the symptoms and the cause of illness simultaneously.

They key to a strong immune system is having a healthy gut flora. Regularly taking a good quality probiotic and eating fermented foods is the best way to improve and maintain gut health.  Miso, tempeh, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and kimchi are all great options.

Spicy herbs like turmeric, onions, ginger and garlic are powerful foods for boosting immunity. One of my favourite seasonal hacks is to mash organic ginger and garlic (food processor works best) and mix it up with some local honey. I put it in a jar and keep it in the fridge.  If I feel a cold coming on, I take a spoonful or two and add it to hot water or broth. You can throw in a lemon slice and some cayenne pepper for some extra kick. It will warm you up and give your immune system a nice boost. This little mixture also makes a great gift for any herbal enthusiasts in your life!

About Good n’ Natural

Good n Natural

Good n’ Natural started as a small-family owned business in 1994. Our team has grown and diversified to include Certified Natural Product Advisers, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and a part-time Naturopathic Doctor. Our mission is to educate, inspire, and empower our customers to pursue a healthy lifestyle in order to achieve their wellness goals and in turn build a stronger community.

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