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:
When I need a quick nourishing meal with lots of vegetables I often make this soup. I get my daily serving of bone broth, use up my odds and ends of vegetables and have a quick lunch for days to come (unless my family gets to it first). I used bone broth from Heritage Cattle Company, a Keene, Ontario farm and distributed through, truLocal, a high-end, locally sourced meat supplier that delivers right to your door. Buying local is very important and I love that their beef is both grass fed and finished. The both is made from pure ingredients with no preservatives, additives or MSG, and no gluten. They cook it for 24 hours which is required to get the maximum nutrients from the bones.
Studies show that bone broth is beneficial for many aspects of health including:
1. our immune system - bone broth contains essential amino acids such as glutamine, arginine and cysteine.
2. our gut health - it is soothing to the stomach and helps to heal leaky gut
3. it promotes weight loss- it is believed that the l-glutamine content fights inflammation and strengthens our bones and teeth. A cup a day keeps the doctor away. Add in a pile of vegetables and you have a recipe for good health.
4. relieves joint pain and osteoarthritis - especially if eaten with phytonutrient rich vegetables which aid collagen production.
Bone Broth Vegetable Soup
2 tbsp. avocado or coconut oil
1/2 cup of onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cubes, minced
1/2 cup broccoli, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup cauliflower, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup peas
1 cup vegetables such as zucchini or asparagus
Handful of spinach or kale
1 can of beans, black beans, navy or cannellini
6 -8 cups of bone broth
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions, celery and garlic. Add in remaining vegetables except for spinach or kale. Add broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add beans and spinach or kale. Season with salt and pepper and any other spices you enjoy.
The liver is an amazing vital organ. It performs over 500 functions in the body and drives many of the critical systems in the body. It’s a power source, pharmacy, chemical factory and natural detoxification system and it works 24 hours a day.
Specifically, it is part of the digestive process: producing bile, providing us with energy, fighting
infections, influencing our immune function, helping our blood to cot, regulating our hormones, cleaning our blood, metabolizing everything we digest, regulating cholesterol and helping our bodies to absorb essential minerals and vitamins. The liver has to process everything we eat, drink, breath in and put on or near our body. The average women uses 34 products while getting ready in the morning many full of toxic substances that the liver has to process. For example, if you use perfume or cologne you are absorbing approximately 48 chemicals. If you eat processed food full of additives and preservatives you are putting a straining on your liver. If you eat non-organic food, unhealthy vegetable oils, or have a diet high in sugars and low in whole foods, you are putting your liver at risk every single day. If you are taking drugs, (over the counter, recreational or prescribed) and/or are partaking in alcoholic beverages you are putting your liver and health at risk. Our liver can only take so much. A recent study provides upsetting evidence of the damage being done to this vital organ. The UK study, presented evidence that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise among teenagers and young adults and is so bad many of the participants displayed fibrosis a precursor to cirrhosis. Fatty liver is a public health crisis and a manifestation of metabolic syndrome, a condition that leads to many fatal health issues. Fatty liver is when an abundance of lipids or fats are found in the liver and is closely associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. It affects 20 to 40 per cent of the population. We are even seeing young children with liver disease due to poor diet and an abundance of sugar. . Symptoms of fatty liver disease are mild until the later stages so many people don’t
know they have it until it is its more dangerous stages. You might experience fatigue,mild abdominal discomfort, and maybe nausea. Some people experience weight loss and a decrease in appetite. Of course, jaundice and fluid build up are late stage symptoms and require immediate medical attention. Fatty liver can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver and is linked to an increase in liver cancer.
The good news is that the liver is really, really good at rejuvenating itself so it is not too late to reverse liver damage as long as it is not to advanced. Here are some tips for improving your liver function:
* Reduce your use of over the counter pain pills. Tylenol contains acetametaphine which can
damage the liver. Don’t exceed recommended doses and never mix with alcohol. Other
prescription drugs are also dangerous. Speak to a health care professional.
* If you diabetic or prediabetic control your sugar levels by eating foods low on the glycemic
index. A low carbohydrate and a diet high in healthy fats can help. Fatty Liver Disease is not caused by good fats, it is a result of too much sugar and toxins.
* Avoid alcohol.
*Avoid sugar. (see previous posts)
*Avoid toxins especially endocrine disrupting chemicals such as BPA found in plastics, and
*Try a ketogenic or Mediterranean diet both high in healthy fats and detoxifying vegetables.
*Avoid packaged goods that contain refined vegetable oils, artificial foods, chemicals and
preservatives, sweeteners and dyes. Avoid pesticides and herbicides by buying organic. Factory farmed meats and fish should also be avoided.
* Foods that decrease inflammation while also aiding the body in the use of insulin are
recommended. These would be monounsaturated fats like olives, olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
Consume foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids- wild caught fish, chia seeds, and walnuts. Foods high in anti-oxidants particularly Vitamin E like sunflower seeds and almonds should be included in your diet as they help in the repair process. The liver loves bitter foods like arugula, mustard greens, dandelion, and artichokes.
* Drink green tea rich in catechins.
*Consider supplementing with vitamins E, C, and D. Garlic, cinnamon, ginger, quercetin,
curcumin, prebiotics and probiotics help keep inflammation at bay, aid digestion and help with insulin resistance all important to rejuvenate the liver.
Incorporate some of these tips for caring for your liver into your life and your liver will thank you for many years to come. Never take your liver for granted.
The average person consumes too many carbs and sugars in their diet resulting in a roller coaster ride for our blood sugar levels and changing moods and energy levels. Most people don't worry about their blood sugar levels unless they have diabetes but monitoring blood sugar is important as type 2 diabetes just doesn't happen overnight, it appears after years of inconsistent blood sugar levels. This inconsistency leads to a host of health issues before you even get to diabetes and complications from diabetes are serious risk factors to longevity.
Some of the problems that result from elevated blood sugar are:
1. Nutrient Deficiencies - prevents the small intestine from absorbing nutrients such as vitamin C, D, calcium, magnesium, and chromium.
2. Energy High and Lows - high sugar foods lead to a surge of energy and then a crash. Often people use more sugar or carbs to" keep going" and an endless roller coaster ride ensues.
3. Weakens Blood Vessels and Organs - hardening of the arteries is caused by sugar which causes inflammation. Lack of oxygen and blood flow due to hardened blood vessels result in compromised organs, heart disease, eye sight issues and amputations.
4. Brain Strain -sugar consumption has been linked to brain fog, dementia, Alzheimer's, impaired cognitive ability, depression and mental health disorders.
5. Hormone Imbalances - everything we consume influences our hormones and the glands that are producing them such as the pituitary and thyroid glands.
6. Adrenal Gland Destruction - high blood sugar leads to chronically high cortisol levels putting us in a constant state of stress.
7. Fatty Liver - the liver performs 500 functions, and sugar regulation is a main function. Liver disease is rampant in our society due to high carb food, processed foods and toxins.
8. Pancreatic Stress - resulting in an inability of the pancreas to make insulin.
9. Hypoglycemia - when blood sugar levels drop resulting in fatigue, jittery feeling, trouble sleeping, mood disorders and infertility.
10. Hyperglycemia - excessive sugar intake leads to extremely high blood sugar.
11. Prediabetes - insulin resistance comes with many of the complications of diabetes such as weight gain, fatigue, slow healing, joint pain, thyroid problems and much more.
12. Metabolic Syndrome - when cells are unresponsive to insulin resulting in a host of health conditions such as heart disease. Usually diagnosed by excess belly fat.
type 1 and 2 diabetes have become a major health crisis. High blood sugar levels interrupt all functions in our bodies including endocrine function, immune function, cardiovascular function and our ability to detoxify. Therefore, management of sugar levels are vital to our survival. Aside from cutting sugar out of our diet and incorporating a low carbohydrate diet, we can also add foods that aid in blood sugar regulation. Each food contains vitamins or minerals which aid in blood sugar regulation, act as insulins would, or play a role in hormone activity.
Adding these foods into your diet is a positive step to regulating your blood sugar. Taking supplements such as chromium, or cinnamon, reducing stress levels, being in the parasympathetic nervous state for part of your day and getting a good nights sleep are also important.
I hope you now understand the importance of avoiding diabetes and all its complications. Take action now and you will reap the benefits into your old age.
Our bodies need bugs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, archea) to exist. These bugs, referred to as our microbiome, are a complex composition of creatures that effect our immune system, and our ability to absorb nutrients,. Declining gut bacteria are linked to increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and depression in our society.
As the levels of healthy microbiome in our stomachs have plummeted the rates of illness have soared in society. So what is destroying our microbiome?
1. the use of Antibiotics (an atom bomb for the bug culture)
2. our diet - every little thing we put in our mouths effects our microbiome
3. an increase in the pH levels of our stomach acid or low stomach acid
4. the introduction of processed and refined foods
5. pasteurization and the sanitizing of our environment and food.
So what are we to do? The food industry has certainly jumped in to help solve our problems by providing us with probiotics and fermented foods. The shelves are full of yogurt, kimchi, fermented vegetables, etc. but not all contain enough bacteria to alter our gut health. Some bacteria in these products stay in our body, but most are just passing through. Of course, as they pass through they do eat, metabolize and excrete on their journey and this process does alter our microbiome but how much is questionable.
Fermented foods are similiar. Most commercial products don't contain enough bacteria, or the right strains of bacteria to alter our gut biome. Hint: only buy fermented products from the refrigerated section of your grocery store. If it is not refrigerated it probably doesn"t contain enough bacteria.
The most important reason probiotics and fermented foods aren't the total answer to digestive health is because our bodies might not be good "hosts" to the invited bacteria. In other words, there is no good food for the bacteria to feed off of so they leave.
By changing our diet to include more fiber or prebiotics we can assist the probiotics and help them become more effective. It turns out that not only does fiber keep us regular and help control our blood sugar, it is what the microbiome like to feast on. Studies indicate that the average person only consumes 10 to 15 percent of the necessary fiber in our diet. And societies that are based on a high fiber diet have less disease and illness. including mental illness.
Foods high in fiber are difficult for our bodies to digest so the microbiome love to feast on them. And conversely, if we have a diet devoid of fiber, the microorganisms will turn to eating us. This results in gut rot which leads to a host of digestive issues, food allergies and a weakened immune system.
To have a healthy microbiome we need to introduce fiber rich, prebiotic foods into our diets such as:
1. Chicory root - contains inulin which nourishes the gut bacteria, improves digestion,
and helps relieve constipation. Also increases bile production which
helps with fat digestion.
2. Garlic, onions and leeks - contain both inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and
promotes growth of good bacteria and prevents bad
bacteria from growing.
3. Asparagus - promotes gut bacteria, is high in antioxidants, and may help prevent
4. Bananas - are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Unripe bananas are high in
resistant starch which has prebiotic effects.
5. Sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes - are showing up at markets more often because
they are full of health benefits. High in fiber,
and inulin they increase friendly bacteria in
These are just a few of my favourite prebiotic foods that contain the special types of fiber that support digestive health and work with your probiotics to improve your immune system and prevent certain diseases. 'Try them today and your gut will thank you!
This soup never made my book, Fight Fire with Food (which is coming soon) but is so delicious and contains tarragon which is a very healing spice. The plant is used to treat digestion, increase appetite, prevent water retention, can help with tooth pain, and promotes sleep. I love the taste and look of tarragon and it is so easy to grow in your garden or on your windowsill. Zucchini has many health benefits as well. Interesting fact: botanically, zucchini is a fruit. Like tarragon it also aids in digestion, is loaded with nutrients, is high in water content and in fiber. This summer squash is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. For those with blood sugar issues, it is good to know that zucchini lowers your blood sugar levels, due to its high fiber content. Also good for heart health, eye health, weight loss, thyroid and adrenal functions. It almost sounds too good to be true! It is so easy to grow in your garden but don't plant it next to a watermelon plant as they will cross pollinate and you will get a watermelon looking zucchini that is tough in the center. True story. Hope you enjoy this recipe. Picture by Kelly Reeve, kellyreevephotography.
Zucchini Soup with Fresh Tarragon
4 large zucchinis, diced
2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut oil
1 small shallot, diced
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (750 ml) chicken broth
4 tablespoons (60 ml) slivered almonds, for garnish
1 teaspoon (5 ml) finely chopped fresh tarragon
Fresh lemon zest
Cook the zucchini in a large skillet over medium heat with the coconut oil, shallot, sea salt, and pepper, until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the chicken broth and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until soup is warm throughout. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Divide into serving bowls and serve warm, garnished with almonds, tarragon and lemon zest.
Susanne Jakubowski is a holistic nutritionist, yoga teacher, Thai Yoga Therapist, and cancer survivor.