Don’t Believe the Hype: Facts About the Flu

FluFlu season is upon us and Canadians are already dreading the announcement of this year’s swine/avian/human flu threat. With flu season comes, fevers, runny noses, aches and pains, missed work and school days. The flu can be either a mild annoyance or a serious illness.

Because of this, it can be difficult separating fact from fiction and reason from sensationalism when it comes to the flu virus. Each individual experience can differ from person to person.

Influenza is a virus that takes many forms. Prevailing strains of flu virus will differ from season to season and no two flu viruses are alike.

While there is a lot media attention paid to the dangers of the flu, the reality is most cases of the flu are relatively mild and tend to resolve themselves over time.

The flu virus is an opportunistic organism and tends to produce symptoms mainly in those with weak immune systems such as the sick and elderly.

One important fact that is often missed by the media is that healthy people can also be carriers of the flu without actually being sick or showing symptoms.

Its well known that in the young or old, healthy or sick, flu shot or not, the actual flu virus can live on hands, under fingernails, and within the respiratory tract of healthy people. Consequently, the flu virus can be spread by sneezing or through touch, with or without active infection.

While there is some evidence showing the effectiveness of vitamin D and other natural supplements, the single most effective way to prevent the flu or any virus, is through good hygiene.

The Mayo clinic has recommended a proper hand washing technique of 30 seconds of vigorous scrubbing with warm water. Antibacterial soaps are not necessary to achieve this effect. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are somewhat less effective but still good when hand washing is not available.

When it comes to preventing the flu, it can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Hand washing, proper hygiene, staying home when you get sick, and trying to keep your immune system strong throughout the winter months are time tested methods to prevent the spread of the flu. As always, your best defense against the flu is prevention.

Read More

Examining The Science Of Weight Loss [Part 2]

weightlossIn my previous column, we examined the science of weight loss. While conventional wisdom states that eating too many calories will cause us to gain weight, the science supporting this idea doesn’t always hold up.

As we continue to investigate, we find that the current obesity epidemic is a complicated problem, with multiple causes and individual differences in susceptibility. In other words: What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.

However, there are a few simple principles of health and nutrition that may be true for the majority of people seeking to lose weight.

The first and most important step a person can take is to begin by eating natural, real foods. This would include foods found on the periphery of the grocery store – vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean proteins – and not the packaged and canned foods down the aisles.

Packaged foods contain high amounts of sugar, salt and hydrogenated fats, all of which have been shown to contribute to the obesity epidemic by stimulating pleasure centres in the brain.

In his book, “Salt, Sugar and Fat,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Moss investigated the practice of the packaged food industry to chemically engineer addictive food products.

The optimum amount of sugar in a product became known as the “bliss point.” Food inventors and scientists spend a huge amount of time formulating the perfect amount of sugar that will send us over the moon,” he said.

Avoiding foods that are chemically engineered to make us eat more of them would be a good starting point.

The second most important factor, when it comes to weight loss, is understanding that the problem goes beyond food. Frequent movement and exercise may be just as important as what we eat.

For example, a recent study of 800,000 people found that sitting and inactivity increased the incidence of diabetes, heart disease and all-cause mortality. The interesting thing about these results is that they were independent of any exercise session. In other words: An hour of exercise a few days a week, was not as effective as shorter duration movements throughout the day.

Considering the fact that only 15% of all Canadians meet the required amount of daily exercise, it is clear there are other factors at play in the obesity epidemic.

Take time for 15-minute fitness breaks throughout the day. Exercise does not have to be difficult or painful. It could be as simple as a walk around the block, playing with your kids, taking the stairs instead or playing sports. The key is to move frequently.

Finally, a discussion of weight loss would be incomplete without acknowledging the role that stress and sleep deprivation play in weight gain.

The fact is, most Canadians are stressed and sleep deprived. The average person gets only 6.9 hours of sleep a night. This is simply not enough for proper rest and recovery from a stressful day.

Chronic sleep deprivation changes affect how hormones like leptin, ghrelin, cortisol and insulin store fat. Fortunately, getting eight hours of sleep, proper nutrition and exercise can reset these hormones over time.

Weight loss fads may come and go over the years, but basic principles of health and wellness such as proper nutrition, exercise and sleep, will always withstand the test of time.

Remember that healthy weight loss should always be a product of a healthy lifestyle and not necessarily the main objective.

Read More

Examining The Science of Weight Loss [Part 1]

Weight lossMost Canadians, approximately 61%, are considered overweight or obese. Weight loss is a billion-dollar industry consisting of how-to books, fat-burning supplements and surgical procedures designed to curb appetite and shed pounds.

While there are many diets and programs that claim to help you lose weight, very few of them have stood up to scientific scrutiny and have withstood the test of time.

Early weight-loss diets focused mainly on caloric intake. Researchers thought that weight gain was exclusively due to eating too many calories.

Simply put: We were consuming too much energy from food and not expending the same amount of energy through daily activity. Consequently, the leftover calories were then stored as fat.

While this model appeared to be correct at the extreme ends of the spectrum, restricting calories without paying attention to food quality proved to not be the healthiest approach.

By the 1970s, researchers believed that over-consumption of saturated fat was the reason people became overweight. Partially based on the work of Dr. Ansel Keys, saturated fat became Public Enemy No. 1 for the next 40 years.

Canadians were encouraged to do away with traditional cooking oils, such as lard and butter, and replace them with vegetable oils and margarine. Unfortunately, obesity and heart disease rates skyrocketed during this period of fat phobia, especially among children.

There has recently been renewed interest in low-carbohydrate diets. The first recorded use of a low-carbohydrate diet to treat obesity was in 1863 and was the standard of care up until the 1940s. Today, many people who have incorporated a low-carbohydrate diet have already experienced incredible results.

This is because the “Standard Canadian Diet” consists of a large refined carbohydrate intake from bread, rice, pasta, sugars, sodas and juices. The Canada Food Guide even recommends that the majority of our calories come from refined carbohydrates.

Unfortunately, excess carbohydrates (sugars) are quickly stored as fat. Also. many new studies have shown that excessive carbohydrate intake leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even certain cancers.

It would seem that replacing refined carbohydrates with healthy proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and good fats could dramatically improve overall health and keep the weight off.

However, this is only one piece of the obesity puzzle.

Newer studies point to certain packaged foods as a culprit in the obesity epidemic. They are cheap, readily available and these “foods” are now chemically engineered to stimulate pleasure sites in the brain.

Essentially, food companies are now creating addictions in adults and children and some people can’t help but eat foods that are unhealthy.

As time goes on, we find that obesity is a more complicated issue than simply what and how much we eat. Additional studies have shown individual differences in weight loss due to vitamin D levels, stress, quality of sleep may also play a role.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss. However, there are some basic principles that hold true for (almost) everyone.

In my next column, we will review simple lifestyle changes you can make to for healthy weight loss.

Read More

You Are What Your Mom Ate

mom nutrition

A growing number of researchers believe a mother’s nutritional status before and during pregnancy, may be one of the critical periods in our lives with respect to developing optimal health.

Influencing everything from brain function, IQ and even fat metabolism, a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy (and even before pregnancy) may be the single most important factor in determining lifelong health for your child.

The idea that a mother’s nutritional status can have an effect on a child’s future health is not a new concept. The theory, first proposed by British researcher David J. Barker in the 1980s, has even spawned a new field of study called “The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.”

Many conditions such as: certain cancers, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, mental illness and some degenerative conditions have already been studied for their fetal origins.

In short, the environment – particularly the environment within the womb – has the ability to re-write your genes and determine your future health.

Unfortunately, other than suggesting mothers take a multivitamin and folic acid supplements, moms-to-be are given very little nutritional advice. Hardly any are given “pre-conception” nutritional advice.

Here are some general nutritional recommendations during pregnancy. Everyone is slightly different so make sure you speak to your healthcare provider for more specific recommendations:

  1. Do not diet. Now is not the time to go low calorie. You are, in fact, eating for two. Weight gain is a natural part of the process.

  2. Eat green, leafy vegetables every day. Include some fruit, such as berries.

  3. Increase carbs, but make sure they are the right kind. Pastas, rice and grains while high in carbohydrate content, carry very little nutritional value compared to vegetables and starchy tubers, like sweet potatoes and yams.

  4. Increase good fats. Wild caught fish, grass-fed beef, nuts, butter, omega 3 supplements, olive oil are just some examples of good, healthy fats.

  5. Avoid sugar and packaged foods. Junk food carries very little nutritional value and is full of chemicals. To stave off cravings, opt for protein and fat instead.

These recommendations, based on whole, nutrient dense foods, will help give your child a head start in life.

Read More

Top Foods That Cause Inflammation


Inflammation is rapidly becoming one of the most studied topics in mainstream health care.

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. 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 rancid, 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 coloring found in processed meats and packaged foods, will trigger an inflammatory response in people already suffering from chronic inflammation.

Reducing inflammation from food sources can potentially be 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.

Read More

Teens and Adults Both at Risk for Heart Disease

heart disease

The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation has warned the public of an impending “perfect storm” where young adults are now being diagnosed with heart disease. Coupled with the increasing number of baby boomers already suffering with heart disease, the so-called “storm” will continue to place an increased strain on an already bloated healthcare budget.

Currently, provincial governments spend approximately 30% of taxpayer’s money on sick care. With more and more young adults being diagnosed with heart disease, that number is expected to rise to 50% within the next decade. In the meantime, Canada already spends close to $22 billion annually on heart disease and stroke.

How can we fix this problem? As usual, politicians will call for more tax money, the medical profession will call for better drugs and the public will continue to hope that someone will jut “fix” them when they get sick.

Of course, no one will be talking about prevention. Sure, someone will suggest more tests and early detection as a solution however; medical tests can only tell you when you’re already sick and early detection is not prevention.

Everyone in healthcare knows that most heart disease is preventable with simple lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, not smoking, drinking less etc. We know that prevention is the key eliminating much of the sick care costs, yet there will be no mention of the drastic lifestyle changes which are truly required to prevent disease and illness.

Never mind the fact that the documented benefits of alternative healthcare systems will continue to be ignored by policy makers. For example, research has shown that people under regular chiropractic care reduce health care spending and medical visits by 31%. They take fewer medications and they have less sick days but you won’t hear anyone telling you to see your chiropractor, naturopath, massage therapist etc…

While policy makers are arguing over how to pay for this problem, I would suggest you take your health into your own hands: Learn to eat well, exercise everyday, manage your stress and take care of your body. If you don’t know how, consult an expert who can set you in the right direction. Yes it will be hard to change at first, however, the more you invest in your health and prevention now, the greater the returns later.

Read More

Natural Sunscreen Solutions

natural sunscreen

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.

Read More

4 Health Foods That Are Anything But Healthy

health foodsAs obesity rates continue to climb, especially in children, there has been a push to promote health foods in the grocery store. Items labeled “heart healthy” or “low fat” may seem like a smart choice at first glance, but upon further inspection, may be worse for your health than previously thought.

Sadly, many people who think they are eating healthy are actually missing the mark. While most consumers have been conditioned to read and prioritize calorie counts, fiber content and fat percentage written on food labels, very few will actually pay close attention to the ingredients themselves.


Here is a list of four so-called health foods, which are actually not as healthy as they are made out to be.

1. Low-fat Yogurt, Ice Cream, Milk:

In foods, fat equals flavor. If a manufacturer removes the fat, they will need to replace the flavor. Usually, this is done by adding sugars, artificial sweeteners and flavorings. Your body needs fat to make hormones, run your brain, repair itself and do just about anything you can think of. Every cell in your body is composed of an outer fat layer, so not all fat is bad.

2. Bran Cereal/Granola:

This staple of the health food movement is anything but healthy. While some cereals do contain a small amount of nutrients like fiber, protein and potassium, they also contain a large amount of sugar. Also, many of the refined grains found within the mixture, are digested and broken down as sugar once eaten.

3. Veggie Burgers:

While there are some decent veggie burgers on the shelves – those that list vegetables as their primary ingredients, for example – many of the bad ones contain gluten, fillers, yeast extracts and adhesives. These ingredients can wreak havoc on digestion and cause inflammation.

4. Baked Potato Chips:

Don’t be fooled! These chips still contain bad fats like trans fatty acids and are typically high in omega – 6 fatty acids which can displace health omega – 3 fatty acids.

To find out if a food is truly a “health food”, a close inspection of the ingredient list is essential. Food manufactures can market their products as healthy, but it is up to you to make sure you are making healthy choices.

Read More

Obesity Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

alzheimer'sAs obesity rates continue to climb among all age groups in Canada, we are now beginning to see an increase of chronic illness as a direct result this current obesity epidemic.

Studies have shown that increases in health markers typically associated with obesity (waist circumference, belly fat, high blood pressure and cholesterol) are now directly related to developing dementia and Alzheimer’s as we age.

Scientists have long reported that the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia increase directly with rising obesity rates. Now, new reports are surfacing that age-related decline in mental function and Alzheimer’s disease may also be related to obesity.

Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer’s Research UK states: “Obesity in midlife is a risk factor for dementia and these projections suggest that rising obesity in the UK could contribute to growing levels of dementia over the coming decades. Dementia already has an enormous impact on individuals, families and communities and it is concerning to see that this could become even greater than previously predicted.”

As it turns out, what used to be thought of as normal, age-related mental decline, might simply be a side-effect of weight gain and obesity during middle age.

While it is still unclear exactly how obesity affects the brain, one theory suggests that proteins released by fatty tissues can travel across the blood-brain barrier and damage susceptible brain cells. Some have even begun to label this effect as Type 3 Diabetes, however more research still needs to be done.

Fortunately, there are steps that one can take to control obesity and improve mental function as we age.

In the past few years, there have been a number of studies that have shown the positive effects of diet and weight control on Alzheimer’s and dementia.

There’s evidence that adopting a Paleo-Mediterranean style diet consisting primarily of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and lean meats such as fish, can reduce the incidence of age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s by as much as 60%.

Keep in mind that simply losing weight is not necessarily the solution. Adopting healthy lifestyle practices such as diet and exercise are the key to healthy weight loss and potentially reversing chronic illness.

Read More

[EVENT] The 12-Minute Fitness Bootcamp – June 24

Regular physical activity, fitness, and exercise are critically important for the health and well being of people of all ages.


Millions of Canadians suffer from chronic illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical fitness.

New Canadian guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week, yet  only 15% of Canadian adults meet these requirements. And only 7% of people age 5-17 fulfill these requirements


• Exercise takes too long.

• Exercise is painful.

• Exercise requires expensive memberships and equipment.

• Exercise is boring.

What if we could get all the benefits of exercise without all the downside?


Conditioning exercises that elicit a specific hormonal and energy production response designed to improve the capability of the body to efficiently and effectively deliver energy for activity. (Also known as “Surge Training”)

Burn fat, get lean and gain strength with short surges of high intensity, short duration exercises:

• Surge Training takes 12 min 1-3x per week.

• Surge Training can be scaled to any age or fitness level.

• Surge Training requires zero to minimal equipment and can be done at home.

• Surge Training is fun and dynamic. No two workouts are the same.

LOCATION: In Touch Chiropractic – 580-555 West 12th Ave., Vancouver BC

DATE: June 24, 2015

TIME: 6:15 PM -7:15 PM

images.duckduckgoCOME READY TO WORKOUT! (Workout attire required)

VERY LIMITED SPACE! (we are capping this event at 20 people)

$10 Guest Admission through Eventbrite:

Read More