It’s the time of year when chronic stress can build causing unwanted physical and emotional symptoms. Anxiety, flu and general fatigue will flourish just when you have the least amount of time for dealing with them!. Your best defense is to be ready with a plan to prevent illness and help you cope with all the demands on your time.
Here are some tips that help calm the nervous system:
Though ideal, it is not always realistic to get all our nutrients from our food. If you were prescribed high dose vitamin C (5000 mg) by your health practitioner, you would have to eat 75 oranges to get that amount of Vitamin C into your body. That’s a lot of oranges. Supplementation is clearly the simpler route. However, when faced with the plethora of vitamin brands in the market, how is one to choose? Here are some hints, facts and recommendations:
Last week I discussed common vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This week I'd like to focus on
what to do if you have symptoms of deficiency. First of all, get your blood work done to confirm that your symptoms are due to deficiencies and not something else. Ask your doctor for specific vitamins to be tested and explain the need. A naturopath can also request blood work.
Here are some hints to improve your vitamin and mineral profile:
1. Taking a good quality multi-vitamin is like an insurance plan against malnutrition. Most cover
the full spectrum of vitamin and minerals needed for good health. Avoid any brands that have
fillers, chemicals, or preservatives listed in the ingredients, active or non-active ingredients.
2. Eat from the earth. A whole foods diet with a broad range of foods works best.
3. Eat vegetables and fruits especially superfoods like berries, apples, onions and greens that
contain healing antioxidants.
4. Avoid Frankenfoods (manufactured, processed foods) which are full of chemicals and toxins.
5. Eat both prebiotic and probiotic foods for good digestion. Poor digestion and gut health inhibits absorption of vitamins and minerals so work on your gut microbiome.
6. Sugar and alcohol taken with a meal inhibit the absorption of precious nutrients from your meal. Cut down on these saboteurs!
7. Our food today doesn’t necessarily provide all the nutrients our bodies need. Add individual
supplements to your vitamin regime depending on symptoms. A nutritionist can advise you on
which you may need and optimal amounts.
Optimal health depends on a solid foundation of nutrients available for your bodies use. Your body utilizes vitamins and minerals to perform hundreds of functions in your body. They heal wounds,protect your vision, boost your immune system, and help maintain bone health. There is a reason we call them “essential” as most disease can be attributed to a poor diet and most conditions can be helped, or even cured, by proper nutrition.
Study after study reveals that North Americans are not eating enough vegetables and fruits. A new study finds that there are many who do not even eat one serving per day. This is why malnutrition is common in our society even though there is an abundance of food available for most. In my years providing nutritional counselling I have never seen anyone have perfect blood work if minerals and vitamins are tested along with the standard blood work.
The most common deficiencies I see are:
1. Vitamin D – it is believed that at least 40 per cent of Canadians have less than the minimum
requirement for D. Many experts believe this minimum level is way to low for optimal bone,
mental health and disease prevention. Symptoms may take years to display themselves.
2. Iron – deficiency effects 25% of population worldwide. Young children, menstruating and
pregnant women and vegans and vegetarians have increased risk of deficiency unless great care
is taken with diet. Symptoms include fatigue weakened immune system, and impaired brain
3. Vitamin B12 - is necessary for every cell in your body to function especially your brain and
nerves. It is believed that much of dementia among the elderly is actually a B12 deficiency as
absorption decreases with age.
4. Magnesium - defiency is common among 50 per cent of the population and even more
common among the sick, elderly, those that take prescription drugs, and those with digestive
5. Vitamin A – is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and is vital for a healthy immune
6. Iodine – deficiencies are more common due to the use of sea salt versus processed salt which is fortified. 1/3 of people are lacking worldwide. Iodine is essential for thyroid function, brain
and bone development and maintenance.
These deficiencies result in serious symptoms and have long term consequences. Get tested so you know for sure where you stand and eat a whole foods diet high in vegetables and fruits.
Supplementation is also recommended. A good multivitamin is good insurance.
What most people don't know is that they are deficient in nutrients. When I was diagnosed with cancer I discovered that I was deficient in Vitamins D, B12, and Iron. I was also deficient in melatonin, magnesium and zinc. All of these vitamins and minerals are linked to increased cancer risk and present themselves in symptoms that we often ignore.
Here are some of the symptoms you should never ignore:
1. Pale skin or unusual pallor
2. Ridged or spoon-shaped nails
3. Mouth issues - cracked lips, ulcers, fissures, swollen tongue
4. Fatigue and muscle weakness
5. Food cravings
6. Inability to loose weight
7. Lightheadedness, feeling faint, heart palpitations
8. Constipation or diarrhea
9. Skin problems
10. Hair loss
11. Neurological disorders - vision issues, dementia, brain fog
12. Numbness and tingling
13. Menstrual issues
14. Depression and Anxiety
if you have these symptoms ask your doctor for blood work so that you can start a vitamin regime.
Stay tuned for the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Last week I shared a story about a boy who went blind due to his poor diet. Many people wondered how the parents could allow the child to eat so poorly. North American rates of childhood obesity are higher than ever and consequently, rates of illnesses like diabetes, autoimmune, liver and gallbladder disease are on the rise. Many "older people" diseases are now appearing in young children and it is predicted that this generation of children will not live as long as their parents if something is not done. Sadly, this child is not unique.
Observe what the public is buying and consuming and you will see why the majority of people in North America are on at least one prescription medication. Toxins, preservatives, chemicals, and pesticides are being purchased along with tons of sugar and unhealthy fats.
I compiled some statistics and facts about food consumption in Canada:
It is time we just say no to "junk food" or food that is processed, refined or full of chemicals. We need to change the world with our dollars using them to buy real foods that come from the earth. If we do this, we will live longer and better, be more productive and happier people.
Keep following for more tips on eating healthy.
Stress has as much effect on our body and mind as does the food and products we consume. In fact, stress is the bottom line. If you address the gut rot, microbiome, nutritional deficiencies, toxins and lifestyle habits but don’t manage your stress you are missing a big piece of the pie in terms of achieving optimal health.
One thing we know for sure is that when your body is racing so is your mind. In our never stop, going all the time lifestyle the physical, mental and spiritual become imbalanced-out of whack. Relaxation, in the form of being still and aware, bring balance back. Unlike other forms of relaxation, like reading a book or plopping yourself in front of the television, real relaxation works at a deeper level in much the same way meditation works. It allows the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in resulting in certain mental and physiological responses to occur.
Restorative yoga is a practice that can benefit everyone. It is a type of relaxation that focuses on using props to support your body in passive stretches that allow your body to soften and let go. By slowing down your body your brain slows down too.
1. Full and deep stretches that allow your body to soften letting go of tension and tight muscles.
2. Poses that can benefit your entire body due to improved respiratory and blood circulation. Even internal organs are affected. Practices can be geared to healing particular health issues.
3. You becoming aware of habitual tension you may not even know you are carrying. Alignment issues that may be causing you pain are highlighted. Self awareness is a huge benefit of this practice.
4. Relaxing muscles to help with pain management.
5. Poses allow for exploration of the breath.
6. Balancing your nervous system that allows for renewal and rejuvenation.
7. Quieting the mind allowing you to drop into a place of stillness and enjoy being in the present moment.
8. A drop in cortisol levels due to the practice resulting in weight lose.
9. Better sleep results due to parasympathetic engagement.
10. Getting into a deep state of relaxation which is necessary to speed up the healing process after illness or trauma. It is a practice available to you if you are exhausted or feeling weak.
11. Improving your immune system.
12. Self-care, an opportunity to put yourself first and heal emotional injuries.
13. A great bridge from your yoga practice to meditation.
14. Most restorative yoga poses are easy to do. Variations are available and can be done anywhere. Props are used in class but pillows and blankets work for a home practice.
Restorative yoga is a real treat for the body and mind. It is like going on a holiday without the hassle or stress of travelling. A class is great but even 20 minutes at home will lead you to bliss.
At my book launch party, I served a dandelion tea that many guests thought was a regular sweetened iced tea. They were shocked to discover it had no sweetener in it, at all! It was made from dandelion tea, crushed cranberries and lemon, all of which are more on the bitter side but somehow mixed together have a very pleasing taste.
Often called the wonder beverage because it is a century old remedy for many conditions, dandelion tea is a rich source of vitamins A, K and calcium. It is good for bone health, joints, blood pressure, brain function and a healthy metabolism. Dandelions are rich in C, potassium, folic acid and magnesium. Dandelion is best known for its detox function. It is the “go to” remedy for improving liver and kidney function and combats fatty liver disease and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome. It keeps our blood sugar levels regular and our metabolism working by producing insulin. Dandelion is a natural diuretic and assists in the removal of toxins from the body. It is a bitter herb that stimulates digestion and elimination. If you suffer from constipation, try dandelion as it is extremely high in fiber.
The dandelion roots, leaves, stems and flowers are all edible and super rich in nutrients. The sap inside of the stem is highly alkaline. It is a germicide, insecticide, an analgesic and has fungal properties. If you suffer from itching, eczema, psoriasis or other skin irritation, try a little dandelion sap mixed in a carrier oil and apply topically. As the sap is high in antioxidants, it prevents cellular deterioration. Perhaps, this will be the next big anti-aging remedy!
Dandelion is one of those all around amazing superfoods (more nutritious than spinach or kale) that works on so many levels to heal the body and restore the immune systems and yet we think of it as a burdensome weed that needs to be destroyed. It is time to rethink the dandelion and dandelion tea is a great place to start.
Important Note: Do NOT eat dandelions from a yard that has been sprayed with chemicals. Also, the leaves, themselves, should be eaten in moderation as they contain oxalates (as does spinach) which can cause kidney stones. Every part of the plant is edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. The flowers are sweet and crunchy. You can find dandelion in grocery stores, natural health markets and farmers markets. I like Traditional Medicines Herbal Teas as they are organic, non-GMO and reasonably priced.
I love this time of year! It’s the beginning of summer-like weather. It is warm out but not too hot and cool enough to sleep comfortably at night without turning the air conditioning on. I also love all the summer fruits that pop up in the garden and at the market. I love that more local fruit and vegetables are available like strawberries and rhubarb. I find myself entertaining more this time of year and that means making a dessert that’s not loaded with white sugar and flour. My “go to” is always a crisp made with a variety of fruits and a topping made with oats, and nuts. Anything goes in terms of fruit and fruit combinations. I love combinations of berries and stone fruits
like peaches, pears and apples. Rhubarb is a favorite. I often use organic frozen fruit when something I crave isn’t in season or too expensive, but defrost and drain before cooking. Many options for sweeteners are available but if your fruit is sweet I don’t feel you need to add sweetener to the actual fruit base.. Get used to tasting the actual flavor of the fruit. Try stevia, monk fruit, coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup if you need it.
Here’s my favorite recipe:
5 to 6 cups of fruit – rhubarb, berries, peeled and chopped apples, etc.
1/3 cup gluten free flour
1/3 to 1 cup gluten free oats
¼ to 1/3 cup coconut sugar, or your favorite sweetener
½ cup pecans
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ to ½ cup butter
Place fruit in an 8 x 8 or 9 by 11 baking pan. In a medium sized bowl mix the remaining ingredients until it resembles a course meal using a fork or pastry blender. Place evenly over the fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for
45 minutes until fruit is bubbly and top is slightly browned.
If you are looking for a grain free option for the topping try:
Grain Free Crisp
5 cups fruit (cut into bite size pieces)
½ cup dates
½ cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
½ cup coconut flakes
1 cup almond flour
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. coconut oil or butter
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Place fruit in a greased 9 x 11 baking dish. Place remaining ingredients in food processor or blender and process until nuts are ground. Place on top of fruit. Bake in 350° oven for 30 to 45 minutes until fruit is bubbly and topping cooked.
My topic today is an alternate treatment of Type 2 Diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose) — an important source of fuel for your body. Specifically, I’d like to highlight the work of Dr. Jason Fung, MD a Toronto physician and the author of The Obesity Code. Dr. Fung is reversing type 2 diabetes using a treatment protocol that deviates from the model mandated by diabetic associations and probably your own doctor. In fact, he believes that the current model of treatment is harmful.
Dr. Fung, in his books and lectures, outlines 2 myths that are widely believed about diabetes and weight gain. He debunks the myth that diabetes is an inevitable and progressively worsening disease regardless of medical treatment. He does not believe that diabetes is an incurable disease. He has helped many diabetics get off insulin reversing their diagnoses.
The second myth, is that diabetes is a disease of abnormal glucose levels for which increasing doses of insulin is the answer. He argues that diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance with excessive insulin secretion, unlike Type 1, and that in prescribing insulin you are worsening the outcome for the individual. This is pretty revolutionary as most everyone I know who has developed type 2 diabetes has been prescribed insulin. As it turns out, insulin causes sugar cravings and leads to weight gain in most people further advancing their disease.
The protocol Dr. Fung recommends is a carbohydrate restricted, high fat diet with intermittent fasting and he is supported by many colleagues in this view point. His research has been based on the understanding that diabetes is caused by a hormonal imbalance and that irregular sugar levels are a symptom of this condition. Therefore, we must look at not just what increases our blood sugar levels but what increases our insulin levels and these are not always the same thing.
The hormones that drive weight gain are insulin and cortisol. These hormones create a body set weight that is too high and leads to weight gain and insulin resistance. An exaggerated insulin response to food makes you fat regardless of the foods you eat. Both of these hormones are key to carbohydrate metabolism which is why a diet low in carbohydrates is recommended.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is downloaded into our systems when we are in fight or flight mode or in a continual state of stress. It keeps our glucose and insulin levels high. High cortisol levels are due to poor eating habits, lack of sleep, toxins, technology, constant eating, etc.
Dr. Fung states, “Excess calories do not cause weight gain, so reduced calories do not fix it. Lack of exercise did not cause obesity, so increased exercise can not cure it.” The low fat, calorie reduced diet prescribed for years has been ineffective and has led to rising obesity rates and diabetes in our society. Again this goes against what most people, doctors and weight loss experts believe and prescribe for their patients. As it turns out all calories consumed are not equal and what you eat and when you eat it are of the utmost importance. We can therefore conclude that the “eat less, move more” strategy is ineffective for most people battling weight issues.
So what does work? How can we lose weight and control our insulin levels to prevent diabetes: