Is Organic Food More Nutritious?

organic foodRecently, a group of Stanford researchers concluded that organic food was just as nutritious for you than conventionally grown produce. This caused quite a stir in the natural health community and had many people rethinking their choice to go organic in the first place.

For years, many people thought they were eating a more nutritious diet if they consumed exclusively organic produce.

While, there has been a lot of debate as to whether the more expensive, harder to find, organic fruits and vegetables are really worth it. Concerned natural health consumers are now unsure if they are really getting the biggest bang for their buck.

The results of this study are not new, in fact there have been several studies that have shown mixed results for nutritional value of organic produce. However, some perspective is needed when it comes to the term “organic.”

While the public’s perception of organic farms may be sprawling landscapes, rickety old barns and hand-picked vegetables, the reality of organic farming is quite different.

If you were to visit a large organic farm in Canada, it would probably look the same as a conventional farm. In fact, organic agriculture uses many of the same tools and practices as conventional agriculture. They are typically large-scale productions that use heavy machinery, with very little consideration for soil quality and biodiversity.

However, the Stanford study did point out one very important difference between organic and non-organic produce: There were significantly less pesticide residues found on organic produce compared with conventionally produced fruits and vegetables.

This is important because I believe this is the main reason people purchase organic produce in the first place. Nutritional quality may vary from farm to farm, or year to year, but because of strong regulation, organic food always contains fewer chemicals.

Considering these chemicals have been linked to neurological disorders, cancers and hormone disruption, it is far more important to purchase organic foods for this reason, rather than any perceived nutritional benefit.

While this may not prove to be the definitive study on the matter, there is still a heath benefit to consuming organic produce on a regular basis.

Non-Toxic, Natural Sunscreen Solutions

natural sunscreenWith summer on the way, Canadians will be spending as much time outdoors as possible. With good reason: Heat and sunshine are concepts that are foreign to us for much of the year.

However, fun in the sun isn’t always all its cracked up to be. We are constantly reminded that the sun’s rays can be harmful at times, and to watch the UV index before going out. Oh and don’t forget to slather on metric tonnes of sunscreen before stepping foot outdoors!

But, what if we’ve been getting it all wrong? What if the very thing we are trying to avoid, the sun’s UV rays, are not only beneficial and healthy, but the products people use to protect themselves may be toxic and dangerous themselves?

Consider the fact that all forms of life require the sun to live, including humans. Our skin filters UV rays (the good ones) and turns them into vitamin D, an essential vitamin that sometimes acts like a hormone.

An adequate level of vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, colds and flu and certain types of cancer. Vitamin D also strengthens bones and the immune system.

On the other hand, unsafe exposure to UV rays (the bad ones) has been linked to skin cancer. This is the reason why most people slather on the sunscreen. Unfortunately, many of the ingredients found in commercial sunscreens are toxic and have the potential to be harmful as well.

The main chemical used in commercial sunscreens is octyl methoxycinnamate. OMC for short. OMC was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses. Other problem chemicals in sunscreen include: dioxybenzone, oxy benzone, parabins and retinyl palminate, to name a few. These chemicals can be dangerous even in small doses.

Alternatively, look for safer natural sunscreens that do not use harmful chemicals. Ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium dioxide are safer alternatives. Coconut oil, beeswax, tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E), aloe vera gel and glycerine are common as well. Start reading the labels and know what chemicals you are absorbing through your skin.

Most importantly, safe sun exposure involves not staying out until you burn. Temper your sun exposure by gradually ramping up your time spend outdoors. Remember, a tan is actually a form of sun protection.

To prevent burns, eating a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, and high in phytonutrients and antioxidants has been show to help somewhat. Also, make sure to keep the sun out of your eyes with either a cap or sunglasses.

Safe sun exposure involves a few common sense practices as well as looking for sunscreen products that do not contain harmful chemicals. Following these simple suggestions will ensure you receive all the benefits of the sun, without the negative side effects.

Inflammation: The Silent Epidemic

inflammationChronic inflammation is rapidly becoming one of the most studied topics in mainstream health care. The cellular damage that results from chronic inflammation has been linked to degenerative conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and certain cancers. In fact, inflammation is rapidly becoming the most widespread illness of the 21st century.

Unlike acute inflammation from trauma, infections, allergies, burns, or cuts which can heal within a short period of time, chronic inflammation is more systemic in nature and becomes a integrated within a person’s physiology.

When your body loses the ability to recover from inflammation, chronic health problems can ensue. It is this low-level inflammation that keeps your immune system in constant a state of hyper-vigilance, resulting in a decreased ability to defend against bacteria and viruses.

The problem of chronic inflammation is being studied as simple solution to a number of different illnesses and degenerative conditions. By identifying and removing sources of inflammation in our environment, we can take control over it.

Here is a list of environmental factors that contribute to chronic inflammation:

  • Sugars/grains – Diets high in refined sugars tend to produce a larger rate of inflammation throughout the body due to their acid load.
  • Bad Fats – Industrial fats and vegetable oils produce trans fatty acids that can increase inflammation and damage blood vessels.
  • Too Much Exercise – Chronic exercise, done incorrectly, with little time for recovery, can create constant inflammation and make you more susceptible to injury.
  • Lack of Sleep – Your body heals and repairs inflammation while you sleep. Most people are not getting 8 hours of sleep every night. Less sleep means less repair.
  • Stress – Chronic stress increases production of stress hormones such as cortisol, and can damage organ systems.

There are simple blood tests to screen for inflammation throughout the body. The A1C test, commonly used in diabetics, indicates how your body uses sugar. Also, CRP tests can show overall inflammation in the body. These tests, by themselves, are not diagnostic, but can give you a snapshot of how your body is dealing with the problem.

[LIVE EVENT] Sleep Hacking 101 – April 22

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
Do you feel tired in the mornings even after a full night’s sleep?
Do you find yourself hitting a “wall” every afternoon after lunch?

The solution: Hack your sleep for the best nights rest of your life!

Using the latest information and technology,  we will explore the steps you can take to radically improve your sleep and sleep habits.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 @ 6:15pm – 7:30pm
Intouch Chiropractic – 580-555 West 12th Ave, Vancouver BC
LIMITED SEATING!

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Research has shown that a quarter of all Canadians are chronically sleep deprived. Unfortunately, unlike nutrition and fitness, once your missed sleep it is very difficult to make up for it later.

Sleep deprivation has also been shown to be just as deadly as smoking and can literally take years off of your life! Here’s why:

• A person who has not slept for 20 hours has a level of impairment equal to someone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 per cent, over the limit of 0.05, at which a driver is considered legally impaired in Ontario.

• A non-typical sleep schedule from shift work disturbs the body’s natural pattern of rest and rejuvenation, which can lead to physical and mental problems, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, asthma, diabetes and depression.

• Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and other medical conditions. The amount of sleep and the quality of sleep have been shown to affect appetite, weight control and the effectiveness of diets for weight loss.

• An extra hour of sleep a night appears to decrease the risk of coronary heart calcification, or hardening of the arteries, an early indicator of cardiovascular disease.

Is It Possible To Be Overweight And Healthy?

healthy obesityOver the past decade, a controversial new topic in healthcare has emerged. The idea that it may be possible to be overweight and healthy at the same time has rapidly gained many supporters as well as detractors.

At the source of the debate are recent studies and observations that showed people traditionally labeled “overweight” can have no signs or symptoms of being metabolically unhealthy.

In one study, individuals that were considered overweight, had normal lab tests (blood lipids, insulin, glucose, blood pressure) and were no more likely to die early than their leaner, normal weight counterparts.

This, of course, has generated much controversy since it flies in the face of research going back to the 1950’s that traditionally linked weight gain to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia and certain cancers.

Recently, a couple of Canadian studies have once again ignited the debate and challenged the notion of “healthy obesity.”

Citing flaws in previous studies, they found that so-called “metabolically healthy” obese people were still at greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes later on in life.

So who is right? Can you be healthy and overweight? Or should simply being overweight be considered a health condition, even in the absence of current signs or symptoms of disease?

The answer is not a simple one.

First, it is important to define your terms. Being overweight and/or obese has typically been measured using Body Mass Index (BMI, average weight over average height). Often criticized for being overly simplistic, it is the standard measurement on which most studies are based.

When measuring BMI, there are many people on the margins of “overweight” category, who could be considered healthy. However, all studies show that being in the worse “obese” category always had a negative health outcome.

Second, if you measure metabolic health only by lipids, BP, glucose and insulin, then the answer is yes. Other tests such as body fat percentage, heart rate variability, MRI to determine fat around the organs, blood markers of inflammation such as A1C, CRP, homocystein and LDL particle size are newer tests that are not commonly measured, but will likely help answer this question in the future.

Finally, the major criticism of the “healthy overweight” movement has been that these studies only looked at mortality (early death) and failed to properly study quality of life and morbidity (rate of disease) in those later years.

Asking if an overweight person can be healthy, is missing the point. Body composition, weight loss and physical appearance should not necessarily be the goal of any diet or fitness program. They should be considered favorable side effects, of a healthy lifestyle.

The quality of life should be the real goal and could very well be independent of weight in some people.

The WHO defines health as: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In other words, Health isn’t just about being “not-sick,” it is about maximizing your physical potential, mental state and healthy relationships.

In my opinion, this is a better definition of health, regardless of weight or BMI. If a person is living a healthy lifestyle, then it is unlikely they remain obese or even overweight for long.

Twinkies Anyone?

twinkiesVisit any high school cafeteria and you will see a veritable sea of junk food available to students. There are chocolate bars, french-fries, potato chips and a wide assortment of high fructose corn syrup candies.

Lately, school lunch options include the choice between either too much sugar or too much salt. Is it any wonder why many teachers report tired and irritable students immediately after lunch hour?

As bad as school lunch food can be, there is one junk food that stands out as the absolute king of all other junk foods: the classic Twinkie.

Barely a food, the Twinkie has become the stuff of urban legend. With a rumored shelf life of 25 years (actually, only about 25 days) it is the ultimate junk food simply because it is made mostly out of “junk.”

Many of the Twinkie ingredients are derived from petroleum and petroleum products which includes the coloring that gives Twinkies their warm, golden color. The lone mineral in it, ferrous sulphate, is made from running steel at a steel mill through a bath of sulphuric acid, yum. Of course, let’s not forget the cane sugar and its derivatives, polyurethane foam, polysorbate 60, wheat flour, bleach and much more!

What’s the point of this rant? While it is easy to poke fun at a cultural icon, like the Twinkie, the reality is many of the foods offered in today’s high schools are barely food at all.

Parents need to realize that giving your child money for lunch, while convenient for mom, may not be the best option for your child’s health. Junk food has become the norm now and healthy lunch choices are limited in school cafeterias.

A better solution is to prepare a bagged lunch that consists of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy meats. Not only will this provide your child with the proper nutrients they need to get through the rest of the school day, it will also keep them alert and focused on their studies.

Feeding your child proper, natural food, will help keep them fit and healthy in the long run.

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SPECIAL EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT: Advanced Nutrition Workshop – with special guest speaker: Dr. Ahren Roy — May 24th, 6:15PM @ InTouch Chiropractic

This optimal nutrition workshop expands on the concept taught at last month’s Total Health Makeover and digs into the specifics of the Advanced Nutrition Plan:

• How to identify good fats vs bad fats

• Identifying and avoiding toxic foods

• Hormone balancing for optimal fat loss

• Maintaining and energy levels throughout the day

• Where to shop

and much more….

Limited Seating, CLICK HERE to reserve your spot today!

How To Get 8 Hours Of Sleep Without Drugs

sleepGetting 8 hours of restful sleep can be quite difficult for some people.

Early on in my career, I remember meeting a patient who came to my clinic with a variety of health concerns: digestive troubles, migraines, pain and other inflammatory symptoms.

Having recently moved to Winnipeg for work, she could not figure out what had gone wrong since, according to her, she was doing everything right when it came to her health.

Her nutritional profile looked good – a strict, no refined sugar, no refined carbohydrates, no toxin diet. She exercised daily (sometimes twice a day) and would proudly state how important it was for her to take care of her body with regular chiropractic care.

Stumped, I was preparing myself for a “tough case.” As we began our case history, the topic of sleep came up. Me: “How many hours of sleep do you get a night?” Her: “Sleep? Who has time for that?”

Sleep deprivation is a common problem and most people do not achieve eight hours of quality sleep each night. Without proper sleep, all systems of the body are thrown out of balance: The immune system is depressed, hormones are disrupted, digestion is compromised and the effects of sleep deprivation can mimic many elements of the aging process itself.

In her book: “Lights Out! Sleep, Sugar and Survival”, T.S. Wiley points out that sleep deprivation is also on the CDCs list of known carcinogens. Sleep deprivation has also been known to contribute to weight gain, depression and anxiety.

The primary purpose of sleep is repair and recovery. Unfortunately my high stress, very active patient was driving her body hard during the day with very little recovery at night. This is a recipe for disaster.

Contrary to popular belief, the brain is extremely active at night. The Central Nervous System actually speeds up at night to facilitate healing and repair. The brain will cycle through three phases of sleep (REM, light and deep sleep). It’s during deep sleep that the body will restore itself.

As a result, the quality of sleep is equally important as the amount. Here are three tips for achieving a deep, restful sleep:

  1. Sleep in a cave – A dark, quiet, cool room is essential for a good night’s sleep. Make sure all light is blacked out (including TVs and alarm clocks) and its not too hot in the bedroom.

  1. Minimum 8 hours – Get at least 8 hours of sleep, 9 would be better. Early riser? Try going to bed sooner.

  1. Stimulants – Alcohol, caffeine computer screens and TVs are all stimulants and should not be used at least 2 hours before bed.

Finally, after 3 weeks, my patient who claimed to be “too busy to sleep” was symptom free and on her way back to optimal health. After an honest reassessment of her time, she realized that her 3 hours of late-night TV watching before bed was stealing her sleep time.

While there are many factors involved in getting a good night’s sleep, often it is the simple changes that have the greatest benefit.

Advanced Nutrition Workshop – with Dr. Ahren Roy

nutrition2Advanced Nutrition Workshop – with special guest speaker: Dr. Ahren Roy

This optimal nutrition workshop expands on the concept taught at last month’s Total Health Makeover and digs into the specifics of the Advanced Nutrition Plan:

• How to identify good fats vs bad fats

• Identifying and avoiding toxic foods

• Hormone balancing for optimal fat loss

• Maintaining and energy levels throughout the day

• Where to shop

and much more….

Limited Seating, so reserve your spot today!

Top Foods That Cause Inflammation

Inflammation

Inflammation is rapidly becoming one of the most studied topics in mainstream health care and with good reason.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer. Alzheimer’s and fibromyalgia, to name a few. In fact, inflammation is rapidly becoming the most widespread illness of the 21st century.

Inflammation was even featured on the cover of the Feb 2004 edition of Time Magazine where it was dubbed “The Secret Killer.” Secret, because where once, chronic inflammation was seen as the effect of these conditions, many in healthcare are now looking to inflammation as potentially the primary cause of these chronic degenerative conditions.

Unlike acute inflammation from trauma, infections, allergies, burns, or cuts which can heal within a short period of time, chronic inflammation is more systemic in nature and can become a repeating cycle of flare ups over the years.

The problem with inflammation is that it is almost entirely due to lifestyle and environmental factors. A toxic environment, poor of sleep, stress, lack of movement will all contribute to inflammation. However, poor nutrition may be the biggest culprit.

Many of the foods we consume on a regular basis, promote the spread of inflammation throughout the body. For example:

Sugar – Diets high in refined sugars tend to produce a large rate of inflammation throughout the body due to their acidic load. Refined sugars are found in almost all packaged foods especially in concentrated forms like high fructose corn syrup.

Vegetable Oils – Industrial fats and vegetable oils produce trans fatty acids that can increase inflammation and damage blood vessels. Polyunsaturated fats such as corn, soy, safflower and cottonseed oils are also found primarily in packaged foods and restaurant applications.

Grains – Most grains eaten today, including their whole grain varieties, are refined, processed and treated with pesticides and other chemicals. More importantly, wheat, rice, corn, etc. contain gut-irritating proteins that cause inflammation along the digestive tract. Gluten intolerance is an example of this process.

Food additives – Often used as flavor enhancers and preservatives. There is some speculation that these additives, such as MSG and colorings found in processed meats and packaged foods, will trigger an inflammatory response in people already suffering from chronic inflammation.

Reducing inflammation form food sources is potentially a simple solution to a number of different illnesses and chronic degenerative conditions.

By eating a clean, nutritionally dense, whole food based diet consisting of vegetables, lean organic meats, low sugar fruits, nuts and seeds, we can begin to gain control over a condition that has limited the lives of so many.