Fall and winter is a festive and wonderful time of the year, but it is often accompanied by a slew of illnesses; from cough and colds, to more serious infections like flu and pneumonia. Many families struggle to stay healthy which results in many missed work or school days.
Often people attribute their cough, cold, fever, malaise and body aches to the flu but only 20% of influenza-like infections are actually caused by the influenza virus. The widely promoted flu shot only protects a person against influenza viruses, but not other types of infections. Respiratory infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi and yeast.
Several easy tips that can keep you healthy naturally are listed below. This is appropriate for individuals who have a generally healthy immune system. If you are more prone to getting sick, make sure to visit your Naturopathic Doctor for a more comprehensive plan.
Probiotics daily can help to strengthen your first-line of defense against microbes and not only do probiotics keep your immune system healthy and help prevent you from getting infections, it also helps with allergies and your digestive function.
Natural Immune Boosters such as oil of oregano, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, echinacea, goldenseal, elderberry, zinc and vitamin C, are very useful as they offer effective protection against a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa in your body. And unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, they do not appear to lead to resistance and the development of ‘super germs’.
Reducing sugar intake can prevent infections because sugar is an immunosuppressant which means it suppresses the immune cells from attacking harmful microbes. Sugar should be avoided if you are already sick as it is a mucus-producing agent also and it can worsen symptoms of sneezing, cold and coughs. Excessive sugar and indulgence in sweets also stresses the body which is why the incidence of infections tend to rise after holidays.
Avoid dairy as it is also a mucus producing food and it is pro-inflammatory and it can worsen and prolong the symptoms of upper respiratory infections.
Get ample sleep because sleep helps keep the immune system strong and it is during this time that the immune system is the most active. During sleep, the body’s repair mechanisms are also actively repairing damaged cells and recycling old ones.
Stress Reduction is important in keeping the immune system strong as chronic physical, emotional or mental stress can start weakening the immune system. Working late nights, not having ample rest, eating a poor diet, having unhealthy relationships are all examples of stressors for the body.
It’s also advised to use antibiotics only if absolutely necessary as overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics also kill off essential flora (probiotics) in the body which can lead to an increased risk of yeast infections, digestive issues, and increased susceptibility to infections in the long run. Giving the body a chance to try to fight off an infection actually helps the immune cells to learn how to fight off microbes. Fever is also a natural body response that helps to fight infection so fevering can in effect, shorten the number of days that someone is ill.
Try adopting some of the strategies above to help you maintain a healthy immune system this season!
Finding the best oil to use can often be a confusing one and this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get in my practice. The main determinants of a good oil depends on what type of oil it is and the level of antioxidants it has. Antioxidants are health benefiting substances that are found in foods, and they protect our body’s cells from damage.
TYPES OF OILS
There are 4 basic types of oils: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fats. In general, saturated fats are made with glycerol and three fatty acids and they are found most commonly in meat fat, dairy products and coconut oil. They tend to be more stable, making them the most suitable for high heat cooking.
Some people are confused about saturated fats because they have long been associated with heart disease because it can raise cholesterol levels but depending on the source of saturated fats, it may be raising good cholesterol HDL and not bad cholesterol like LDL and triglycerides. This is the case with coconut oil. Unrefined coconut oil contains the highest amount of saturated fat amongst all the oils but it is extremely stable, and although it raises cholesterol, it is attributed to its ability to increase good cholesterol rather than bad cholesterol making it one of the best choices for cooking. Good oils also have high amounts of antioxidants which protect the body, while bad oils that can cause heart disease contain large amounts of free radicals which damage the body.
Polyunsaturated fats are less stable when extracted and they tend to produce more free radicals when heated. Oils with higher than 20% polyunsaturated fats shouldn’t be used for cooking because they tend to produce significant amounts of free radicals when exposed to heat. Many vegetable oils have high amounts of polyunsaturated fats but it has a high smoke point, which leads people to thinking they are good cooking oils. Having a high smoke point and stability during cooking are two different things. Many oils that have high smoke points are highly unstable during cooking, releasing damaging free radicals into the foods. This is the case with most vegetable based oils.
Monounsaturated fats are relatively stable when exposed to heat and is a fair choice for cooking. They are found most commonly in olive oil and avocado oil.
Trans fats can be found naturally in small quantities in some foods such as meat and milk products, and it can also be found in many processed foods. The trans fats found in processed foods are usually artificially made by an industrial process. Trans fats are damaging to the body because it not only raises bad cholesterol LDL, it also lowers good cholesterol HDL. Trans fats should be strictly avoided because it increases the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Trans fats can be found in fried foods like doughnuts, cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and other spreads. You can determine the amount of trans fats in a particular packaged food by looking at the Nutrition Facts panel. However, products can be listed as “0 grams of trans fats” if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. You can also detect trans fats by reading the ingredients list and looking for the ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
Let’s now take a look at all the different types of cooking oils:
As you can see, coconut oil comes out by far as the best cooking oil. Having the high amount of saturated fat makes it the most stable cooking oil. It also contains a high level of health-benefiting antioxidants.
Animals fats like butter and lard also contain a high amount of saturated fats making it a stable cooking oil, however, animal fats are often low in antioxidants and full of environmental toxins. Animal and fatty foods contain the highest levels of DDT and PCBs because they are stored in fat and increase in concentration as they move up the food chain. Environmental pollutants are toxic to the immune system, reproductive organs, neurological system and many of our glands and should be avoided.
Moist, yummy and scrumptious muffins that are high in fibre and full of vitamins and nutrients!
2 egg replacer or flax eggs (1 tbsp flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water – let it sit for 10 to 15 min)
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chilled applesauce
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 cups of gluten-free oat bran
1/2 cup walnuts or vegan chocolate chips (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Whisk together the wet ingredients and fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
Add in the chocolate chips if you wish.
Spoon batter into muffin tins and place 2-3 walnuts on top of each muffin and bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown.
Let it stand for 10 minutes then remove the muffins from the tins and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Many people want to lose weight but they find themselves going through diets after diets without achieving or maintaining their desired results. Many advertised diets are unhealthy, unsustainable, and simply too hard for people to follow. Using green foods is a powerful way of correcting a person’s metabolism, detoxifying, and achieving the optimal body composition and weight.
One of the leading health issues we see today is obesity, which is linked to many other health issues including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, metabolic syndrome and other chronic illnesses. Canada’s obesity rates have tripled in less than 30 years, and major factors causing this are food and lifestyle choices, emergence of fast food restaurants, as well as processed and nutrient-poor foods.
The truth is, food is what we want but nutrition is what our body needs. Nutrients are the fundamental building blocks for our cells and they are what helps with all of our cellular processes. Food normally provides nutrients and calories, and there’s a difference between the type of foods and the amount of nutrients they possess. Nutrients are the fundamental building blocks for our cells and they are responsible in helping us with all of our metabolic and cellular functions. Nutrient-dense foods are those foods that have an abundance of nutrients but contain relatively low calories. Green foods are examples of nutrient-dense foods and they include fruits and vegetables, spirulina, oat grass, alfalfa, and wheat grass. Most people consume a diet that is nutrient-poor and calorie-rich. Nutrient-poor foods contain high amount of calories with relatively low nutrients such as processed foods, sugary foods, fast foods and so forth. In order to obtain the nutrients we need through nutrient-poor foods, our body has to eat more which ends up packing unnecessary calories into our body which ends up going into storage as fat, and a resulting increase in weight and body fat mass.
The 10-day Transformation Program is designed to detoxify and reset the body’s metabolism, cut cravings while building lean muscle mass and reducing fat mass by providing a very nutrient-dense diet and pre-digested amino acids. Using only organic, non-GMO, soy-free, and vegan super-green foods, the program is designed to restore health in a safe and nutritious manner.
In the past few years, I have seen a huge spike in interest towards vegan diets as more and more people are being more conscious of their diet, the environment and their overall health. Adopting a vegan diet is often misunderstood as a fad diet, but the benefits of a vegan diet are immense, and even going vegan or vegetarian occasionally can be highly beneficial for health. Start by even going vegan once a week! Before making drastic changes to your diet however, it is always a good idea to seek advice to ensure your new diet fulfills all of your nutritional needs.
50 Reasons that a Vegan Diet Can Be Healthy:
Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of saturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your cardiovascular health
Increased Fiber. A vegan diet is usually high in fiber which can help with bowel movements, prevent colon cancer, improve cholesterol profiles, and help remove toxins from the body.
Increased Magnesium. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium and often deficient in our diet as it gets depleted with stress and poor diets. Magnesium helps to relax our nervous system and nervous system, and helps us absorb calcium.
Increased Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Increased Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
Increased Antioxidants. Antioxidants are the protectors of our cells which helps to prevent cell damage and degenerative conditions. Most of our antioxidants are found in nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Increased Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your with tissue repair from injuries, prevent gingivitis, and also reduce allergy symptoms.
Increased Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.
Increased Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals which help to prevent cancer, degeneration, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.
Vegetarian Protein Vegetarians obtain their protein from beans, nuts, peas, lentils which are low in saturated fats, full of fibre and nutrients. Vegetarian proteins are not inflammatory like meat proteins which can often exacerbate inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Disease Prevention. Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases.
Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, helps improve cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and the incidence of heart attack and stroke.
Improves Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal eliminates a huge source of bad cholesterol from the diet.
Reduces Blood pressure
Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes
Reduces risk of Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
Reduces risk of Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
Reduces risk of Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
Prevents Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
Prevents Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.
Improves Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Prevents Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.
Improves Body Mass Index. A diet without meat usually lower BMIs and body weight.
Helps with Weight loss. Often a healthy vegan or vegetarian diet eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues.
Improves Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher because you are consuming more nutrient-dense foods instead of high calorie-low nutrient foods.
Healthier skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.
Longer life span. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.
Reduced Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.
Helps Eliminate Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath due to a healthier gut function.
Healthier Hair and Nails. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.
Less PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.
Improves Endometriosis. A Vegan diet is much less inflammatory due to the absence of meat and dairy, and often helps to improve the pain and hormonal imbalances associated with endometriosis.
Reduces Migraines and Headaches. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines.
Improves Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.
Eliminates Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much meat protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk many health diseases.
Eliminates dairy. The human body is not designed to digest another animal’s milk but sadly, dairy products are advertised as being healthy by dairy companies. As many as 75% of people in the world are lactose intolerant and/or sensitive or intolerance and has shown to worsen conditions such as allergies, eczema, autoimmune disease, acne, and more.
Eliminates Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American diet is too high and eggs have become one of the top allergens, with many children today being anaphylactic to eggs.
Reduces Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed have mercury and other toxins in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury or some other toxin into your body when you eat fish.
Reduces Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal bones.
Improves Animal Welfare. Many people begin a vegan diet out of concern for animals. Whether opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food or eating animals in general, knowing where and how livestock are raised increases our awareness and appreciation for them. It can help us to adapt more responsible habits such as minimizing portions, reducing wastage, supporting local famers and organic farmers.
Improve Human Welfare. Jobs in slaughterhouses and dairy farms are consistently ranked among the most dangerous in the U.S, and workers are often exposed to poor working environments.
Reduces E. coli. Contamination Most E.coli contamination comes from contaminated red meat and is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children, those with compromised immune systems, and elderly people can become extremely ill or die from E. coli. Eating vegan means completely avoiding the risk of E. coli infection.
Reduces Salmonella. Another gastrointestinal illness from animal products, salmonella food poisoning is closely related to E. coli. The most frequent way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw eggs or raw chicken meat from chickens infected with salmonella. Again, going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.
Mad cow disease. A fatal, non-treatable disease caused by eating animals infected with mad cow disease.
Reduces Hormone consumption. Eating animals that have been given hormones to speed growth (a common practice in the meat industry) means those hormones go into your body as well. Not only can this disrupt the natural balance of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have shown to cause tumor growth in humans. Since 1950, girls are hitting puberty on average 4-7 years earlier and boy’s sperm counts have decreased by 25-50% due to the hormones present in non-organic meat and dairy products.
Reduces Antibiotics Consumption. Antibiotics are frequently given to feed animals, which can lead to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in feed animals and has led to the emergence of super-bugs.
Less consumption of Pesticides, Herbicides and Chemicals. Many vegan or vegetarian diets promote also the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables, reducing the intake of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals which have been found to be toxic for the body and the environment.
Cost effective. Vegan recipes are often cheap, plentiful and tasty!
Support heathy ecosystems. Nitrates & pesticides used on crops grown to feed livestock end up in our rivers and vastly effect the health of micro environments and ecosystems.
Reduce global warming. the 1,300,000,000 cattle in the world emit 60,000,000 tons of methane per year (methane is a greenhouse gas which leads to global warming). Over 51% percent of man-made pollution comes from the meat industry and its byproducts, putting animal farming ahead of transportation in contributing to the greenhouse effect.
The purpose of nutrition labeling is to provide basic information to help guide consumers in making healthy choices. First implemented in 1913, they provide facts that impact common health concerns such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
In order for a consumer to make the most use out of Nutrition Fact Labels, an individual needs to know their own requirement which is based on gender, age, weight, and health. Here we provide you with a quick guide as to how to read Nutrition Fact Labels properly.
However, determining whether a food is healthy for you goes far beyond the Nutrition Facts Label. It is important that we also know how to read the ingredient list. Most processed foods contain a vast number of fillers, preservatives, non-food chemicals, flavoring and colouring agents. These chemicals may be harmful for our health and are generally not advised, and consumption should be kept at a minimum.
How to Read an Ingredients Label
There is much to learn when we discuss ingredient labels, and it is often more complex than Nutrition Fact Labels due to the vast number of ingredients. The focus here is to help you identify ingredients that may be harmful to your health so you can quickly assess whether a food item should be consumed regularly, on occasion or rarely.
Organic Vs. Non-Organic
Organic products are generally regarded as being healthier as they do not have the addition of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, non-organic fertilizers, hormones during the growth of that food, and organic foods do not contain genetically modified ingredients. Only products with organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% can be labelled as organic or bear the Canadian Organic Label.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
GMO’s or genetically modified organisms refer to plants or animals created through gene splicing techniques of biotechnology, and these foods are created by merging DNA together from different species. GMOs were first approved in 1994, and many researchers, institutions, environmentalists and holistic healthcare practitioners are concerned as the effects of GMOs and their effect on the environment and health are still highly unknown. There have been preliminary research studies showing some of the dangers of GMOs on the environment and health. Unfortunately, there is currently no mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in Canada. Foods that are GMO include papaya, corn, soy, zucchini, cottonseed, canola, sugar beets, squash, and milk products. Apples, potatoes and what are all in the lineup for approval.
Ingredients to Avoid
Artificial Sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame have been associated with worsening inflammatory bowel disease, certain artificial sweeteners also destroy gut flora, and can be toxic to the nervous system such as aspartame.
Artificial Flavors and Colours often are blends of tens to hundreds of chemical additives used to enhance the taste and visual profile of otherwise “tasteless” foods. Many of these ingredients can be genetically engineered flavor enhancers. Artificial flavors and colours have been linked to worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety, autism, ADD/ADHD and other neurological conditions. Some common artificial flavors and colours include MSG, Blue 1 and 2, Red 3, Yellow 6, Green 3.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is considered to be worse than sugar and has been linked to obesity, diabetes, liver issues, cholesterol problems, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Preservatives are used primarily to prevent fats from becoming rancid. Petroleum-based preservatives have been found to trigger behaviour and health problems including BHT (Butylated dydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone). Many of these are still found in Canadian supplements even prenatal vitamins. Other common preservatives to watch out for include nitrates and sulfites commonly found in processed meats and dried fruits and nuts. Potassium Benzoate and Sodium benzoate have been found to convert into carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances and can show up in foods such as apple cider, low-fat salad dressings, syrups, jams, olives, and pickles. There’s also Propyl Gallate found in meat, soup bases, gum. Potassium sorbate is one of the most profusely used preservatives, found in many dairy products, fresh and dried fruits, wines and has been found to be a carcinogen, and can cause reproductive problems.
Hydrogenated or Fractionated Oils is a man-made substance, and is also known as Trans fats. It has been shown to be so harmful for the body; many foods have eliminated it from their ingredients. It can cause issues with the cardiovascular, immune, hormonal and nervous systems.