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There Is Hope For Digestive Problems

digestive_problems

As the quality of the standard Canadian diet has continued to decline steadily, more individuals than ever before are being diagnosed with digestive problems. Celiac disease, IBS, and Crohn’s disease are much more prevalent today and for some people, may lead to a life of chronic digestive problems and abdominal pain.

While it may be easy to criticize the “gluten free” movement as a fad, it is important to understand that these conditions are now quite common among adults and children today. There is even research to suggest that 1 in 20 people have some form of gluten reactivity, many just won’t show it.

The human digestive tract is essentially a long “tube” that starts at the mouth and ends at, well, the other end. It is the job of the digestive organs, such as the stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder and intestines, to extract and absorb nutrients from the foods that you eat. Digestive enzymes and fluids are secreted to aid in this process and when functioning normally, this system is very efficient.

However, if the digestive tract becomes irritated by sugars, gluten, processed foods etc., absorption of nutrients and movement of waste will slow down causing a variety of symptoms. All of these symptoms, whether its celiac, Crohn’s or IBS start with inflammation.

Constipation, diarrhea, pain, bloating and bleeding are all signs that something is inflamed within the digestive system. Some of these symptoms may require emergency care, which is why parents should never ignore “tummy aches” in children, especially if accompanied by a fever.

Fortunately, for many people suffering from these illnesses, there is new research that provides hope. Diets that focus on eliminating common foods that cause the inflammation, tend to produce the best results.

A wheat-free, grain-free, diet low in refined sugars and processed foods can give the digestive tract a chance to heal and repair, causing many of the symptoms associated with these digestive problems to resolve in a relatively short period of time.

For some people with chronic digestive problems, the solution may be as simple as introducing more water and natural fiber into the diet. Also, a diet rich in dense, plant-based fiber creates a “scrubbing” effect in the colon and has been shown to reduce inflammation in the small and large intestine.

Finally, you should consider a trip to your family chiropractor. Not only is he/she trained to provide you with nutritional counselling, we have found that chiropractic adjustments help normalize the nerves that control the digestive tract.

This was shown recently in a study of 57 Crohn’s Disease patients receiving chiropractic care. Proper nervous system function is always an important factor in nutrient absorption and colon motility and can make all the difference in world for individuals suffering with digestive problems.

Organic Food Shopping Without Breaking The Bank

organic

Organic food has been growing in popularity over the past few years. Look in any major supermarket and typically, you will now find a relatively small organic produce section.

Study after study not only shows that organic produce is more nutritious than regular produce, it is also safer to eat due to the decreased pesticide use and its utilization of natural farming practices.

However, with the current high cost of food, it can seem difficult for people to justify purchasing the more expensive organic foods.

It’s worth it! Here are some basic tips on buying organic on a budget:

  1. Avoid packaged “health” foods. Packaged foods are generally more expensive that produce. Chips, pizza and frozen treats cost much more than natural produce.

  1. Buy in bulk. Organic produce will generally keep for a week. This also saves multiple trips to the grocery store.

  1. Buy local, buy seasonal. Local produce is cheaper because of decreased shipping costs. Also, when local produce is in season it is usually less expensive than at other times of the year. Farmer’s Markets are excellent sources of local, inexpensive produce.

  1. Prioritize your purchases. Skip the packaged snacks and make your own snacks instead. Organic nuts seeds and vegetables are far better snacks for the kids than potato chips and pizza pops.

  1. Chose organic meats. With growing demand for items like wild salmon and grass-fed beef and bison, some supermarkets are now carrying these formerly hard-to-find items. The good news is; these products tend to be only slightly more expensive than regular meats, but you’ll have to shop around to find them.

Finally, shoppers should realize that the term “organic” is not a heavily regulated term in Canada. Many companies develop their own “organic” labeling and certification process and there is really no standard here.

Check your labels, ask your grocer where your food comes from and how it was produced. Know what you are putting in your body at all times. Choose organic when available and don’t forget to follow these important tips when shopping.

 

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.

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.

9 Top Superfoods

superfoodsYou may have heard the saying: “you are what you eat.” While this may be technically true, when it comes to building real health you are not just what you eat, you are actually what you absorb.

This is because, not all foods are created equal. Anyone who’s ever experienced a junk food craving, understands the difference between what you should eat, versus what you want to eat.

Humans are classified as omnivores. This means we could technically eat anything we wanted, including non-food items, and our bodies will do their best to process and absorb these through our digestive tract.

Absorbing the right vitamins, fats, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins are one of the keys to abundant health and longevity. Few people could argue about the benefits of a diet rich in live, whole foods being better for your health and longevity than pre-packaged, refined junk foods.

While fruits and vegetables traditionally have been the undisputed kings and queens of nutrient density, there is a subcategory of foods that have been labeled “superfoods”.

Superfoods pack quite a nutritional punch relative to their serving size and have healing and restorative properties that go far beyond regular fruits and veggies.

Here’s a short list of some of the most potent superfoods on the planet:

Kale – The undisputed champion when it comes to Vitamin K and calcium. Kale has more calcium than dairy and fortified cereals combined. Best eaten lightly steamed, baked or raw in small amounts.

Dark chocolate – Anything over 80% is high in minerals like magnesium and copper and low in sugar content. Also, dark chocolate is full of heart healthy flavinoids. A great treat.

Cherries – Are rich in anti-oxidants and known for their anti-inflammatory properties used by those with gout and other arthritic conditions. Cherries are great for repair and recovery after intense workouts too.

Wild salmon – Wild caught is best and highest in heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Also high in selenium which tends to offset some of the mercury toxicity found in all fish. 2-3 servings a week are generally recommended.

Sea vegetables – Woefully lacking in modern diets, kelp, seaweed, arame and sea asparagus are high in iodine and good salts which can promote thyroid health and have powerful anti-cancer properties.

Wild Blueberries – Immune boosters that attack dangerous free radicals, these potent little antioxidants are low in sugar content and ideal for those wishing to limit their fructose intake.

Coconut oil – A good medium-chain fat that is a versatile cooking agent and a potent energy source. Heart healthy, powerful immune booster and it is a great supplement for those wishing to burn fat.

Free-range eggs – A great source of protein and good fats, free-range eggs are also high in Vitamin D, choline and omega 3s. The best eggs are from chickens allowed to run free and forage in pastures.

Grass fed liver – Often overlooked, liver, especially grass fed beef liver, has more vitamins and minerals than any fruits or vegetables on the planet. Best consumed from grass fed and humanely raised sources.

Adding these delicious and nutritious superfoods to your diet, along with eating a diet low in refined carbohydrates and toxic foods can help you promote longevity, health and wellness.

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.

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!

Want to Live to 100? Follow these simple steps.

UnknownWhenever I would suggest that my patients develop a plan to live to 100 and beyond, it would usually elicit groans, complaints and sometime panic. After all, who wants to live to be 100 years old, sick, on tons of medications, and unable to live life to its fullest?

Fortunately, there is good news for those pessimists out there: New research is showing that living to 100 may be easier than you think.

Currently, we have a generation of baby boomers that have watched many of their parents’ retirement years be stolen away by chronic disease and physical injury. Their impression of growing old is one of suffering and disability.

For the most part, this has been true. Over 80% of the population will die of either heart disease or cancer. The average Canadian currently fills 14 prescriptions every year, while the average senior will fill even more than that. If you look around, you’ll see Canadians are living longer, but they are not healthier.

The secret to longevity involves a complex dance between lifestyle, environment, social structure and genetics. While many of the recent studies on centenarians -people that live to 100 and beyond – have focused on genetic factors, they have also revealed certain common traits among the longest lived people in the world.

One interesting fact is that they tend not to get sick as often and when they do they tend to recover very quickly. Also, they do not seem to suffer from the same lifestyle-related illnesses that plague modern society such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia.

There are several common lifestyle factors among these centenarians. For the most part the did not smoke, they drank moderately, their diets were high in vegetable content, they had positive social influences, low stress and they were still active later on in life.

Researchers have also identified certain gene mutations that can predict longevity with some accuracy; however, it remains unclear whether these genetic mutations were hardwired at birth or epigenetic changes that occur as a result of those very same healthy lifestyle practices.

Here’s what the centenarians did to build incredible health and longevity:

Have a plan – Most centenarians had a daily routine for their diet, exercise and social activities. Surprisingly, they also regularly set goals for the future.

Eat real food – Centenarians rarely ate processed foods and consumed copious amounts of green, leafy vegetables, colorful fruits, good fats and lean healthy meats, especially oily fish.

Move – Any kind of exercise was better than none. Daily walking or other low impact activities combined with some resistance training (lifting weights) seemed to have the biggest impact on longevity.

Play – Staying mentally active whether through reading, learning new activities, puzzles, or even working beyond retirement, were also predictors of longevity.

Sleep – People that sleep 8 hours or more a night live longer and are less likely to develop heart disease and other illnesses.

The bottom line is, lifestyle plays a dominant role in living to 100 and beyond.

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FAT: Separating Fact From Fiction (Part 2)

fatIn part 1 of this series, we discussed how fat got its bad reputation. Experts have long touted low fat diets as the epitome of good nutrition, yet heart disease and obesity remain at an all-time high. Misinformation, politics and bad science seem to be the culprits in an ever increasing smear campaign against fat, particularly saturated fat.

In the past, health care providers and nutrition experts would rarely mention the benefits of fat intake or even make the distinction between good and bad fat. The party line was: All fat was bad. It clogs your arteries and makes you overweight. Period.

Let’s set the record straight: Fat is a basic building block of life. Every cell in your body has an outer layer made up of 50% fat. Fat is also the main component of hormones. Of particular importance in fat metabolism are the hormones ghrelin and leptin. These help your body burn or store fat as needed. In other words, the fat you eat fuels the hormones that help you metabolize fat.

Fat is the preferential fuel used to run many of your internal organs, like the kidneys and the liver. That is why our bodies store it for future use.

Fat is essential for a newborn’s survival. From day one, if you were breastfed as a baby, your diet consisted of around 80% saturated fat. Saturated doesn’t stop being an important nutrient as we age.

Saturated fat, particularly animal fat, is a great source of vitamins A, D and K2. These are heart healthy vitamins that have been shown to protect us against heart disease. Clearly our bodies are designed to thrive of this very important fuel.

If you chose to start adding more fat to your diet, it is important to be able to distinguish between good and bad fat.

Simply put: Good fat is from a natural plant or animal source that has not been over-processed or over-heated. Once you heat a fat beyond its “smoke point” it become rancid and can have negative effects on your health. Trans fats are a good example of heated, bad fats.

Good fats can be added to foods after cooking or used in the cooking process itself, provided they are not heated beyond their smoke points.

Good cooking fats include: coconut oil, palm oil, grapeseed oil, pastured butter, lard or rendered animal fat for higher heat applications. Olive oils and other cold pressed oils such as nut or avocado oils should not be used for cooking but should be drizzled on top of foods instead.

Beware of certain “heart healthy” seed oils that claim to be high in omega 3’s. These are heat extracted in their production and are rancid before ever being bottled and sold. Avoid consuming seed oils altogether for this reason.

Food sources of good fat include: wild caught, oily fish, grass-fed or pastured beef and bison, pastured dairy products (where available), omega-3 eggs, coconut and hemp products, to name a few.

You’ll find that adding good fat to your diet can be an essential part of a healthy nutrition plan at any age. As with any major changes to your diet, do your research, consult with experts and be open to new ideas. Always monitor your progress and make changes as appropriate.

Fat: Separating Fact from Fiction (Part 1)

FatFat has gotten a bad reputation over the years. Since the early 1970s fat, specifically saturated fat, has been demonized as the root cause of obesity and heart disease, and low fat diets have been touted as the solution. Initially based on a single flawed study of seven countries, which correlated fat intake and heart disease, the “lipid hypothesis” was born.

After studying the eating habits of each country’s inhabitants the author of the study, Ancel Keys, observed a problem related to fat intake – the more saturated fat one ate, the greater the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, Keys omitted the results from the 15 other countries he studied that showed no increased in heart disease related to fat intake.

He also ignored the findings of a fellow researcher at the time, John Yudkin, which found an even greater relationship between sugar consumption in these countries and heart disease. History is also rife with examples of pre-industrial societies that consumed diets as high as 80% saturated fat in which there are almost zero cases of heart disease, yet supporters of the lipid hypothesis often ignore these well-established facts.

Despite the misinformation, the damage was already done. Keys made the cover of Time magazine and it was decreed that eating fat would clog your arteries and lead to heart disease. As a result, low fat diets have been prescribed by healthcare providers and recommended by diet gurus ever since as the epitome of “good” nutrition and the solution to society’s health woes.

So how did these low-fat recommendations work out for us? Over the last 40 years, heart disease has sky-rocketed and remains one of the top disease killers worldwide. Also, obesity rates have jumped to previously unheard of levels, despite the recommendations of the Canada Food Guide and increased consumption of low fat foods.

You may be surprised to hear that fat is not only good for you, but an essential nutrient that your body can’t live without. Fat is the main component of your brain and nervous system. It is the preferred energy source of your internal organs. Fat is essential for creating hormones. Also, good fat in heart healthy and can also help your body burn stored body fat for fuel.

In Part 2, we will cover the benefits of eating fat and how to incorporate more good fat into a healthy diet.