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Health & Nutrition Blog – Healthy Planet Canada

EGCG – The Best “Fat Burner?"

EGCG
Is green tea extract all it has been cracked up to be? Long touted for the ability to help ‘burn fat,’ ‘boost’ metabolism, and help protect against cancer – green tea extract has faced a lot of criticism for potential “dangers” associated with the health supplement, while many others simply declare it a fad. What is “EGCG,” and What Are Catechins? First, it is important to mention the ‘catechins’ in green tea extract – which are the compounds associated with all of the reported health concerns. Catechins are part of the family of flavonoids. These phenols, antioxidants, are phytochemicals that naturally exist in foods such as tea, berries, and legumes. They are healthful and thought to be responsible for the health-promoting properties in teas. Catechins seem to possess protective qualities in terms of degenerative diseases and cancers. Some of these compounds, particularly one that is exclusively found in tea – EGCG – have become an area of research and debate as to their safety and efficacy. Green tea, in particular, seems to contain the highest levels of catechins. The primary catechins in green tea are EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), EC (epicatechin), GC (gallocatechin), and ECG (Epicatechin gallate). EGCG, for example, is only found in tea. Should I Be Worried About Liver Function? Concerns have arisen concerning liver toxicity with high-dose, long-term use of EGCG in particular due to the way catechins are processed in the body when consumed in high amounts. Research does show that a dose of over 866 mg EGCG per day, when used long-term, could potentially be harmful to the liver. However, studies using under 800 mg did not correlate to any liver toxicity or damage, while the average intake from tea drinkers is estimated to be 90 to 300mg (not from supplements, but just ol’ fashioned tea infusions). After a review of 38 different studies, it was concluded that doses of or above 800 mg EGCG for longer than 4 months were associated with markers of liver toxicity in a small percentage (10%) of the population. Studies showed that there was no reported liver toxicity at levels below 800 mg EGCG per day when taken for up to 12 months. If more reassurance is needed, hepatotoxicity from Green Tea Extract is quite rare, and in the cases in which it was reported, once the large doses of EGCG were stopped, liver function resolved fully after discontinuation. There is no documentation of fatal injury from EGCG or Green Tea Extract, even at doses of up to 1,800 mg per day. For most people, using the supplement at the recommended dosage (typically 200 mg – 600 mg) for a period of 1-3 months is not causing concern, provided they have been cleared by their doctor or physician to do so. Of course, if you have a pre-existing liver injury, EGCG and Green Tea Extract may not be the right supplement for you. Most supplements are sold at a dosage of 400 mg Green Tea Extract, which often contains ~200 mg EGCG (50%) – well below the threshold for safety limits. Real Benefits to EGCG and Catechins from Green Tea Extract Tea has always been renowned for its weight loss benefits, and for promoting longevity. Most of these benefits can be ascribed to the polyphenol antioxidant content of teas – particularly from catechins. Studies in animal trials and exploring weight loss in people show promising results, with numerous published studies reaffirming the traditional beliefs in the effects of green tea on body composition, cancer prevention, and longevity. The first study shows that even in rats fed a high-fat diet for a period of 6 months, those that were also given EGCG were able to reduce body fat while increasing lean mass, glucose tolerance, and better fat synthesis. There were also no negative effects on liver tissue reported. In the second study, 690 mg catechins were consumed for 12 weeks, and body weight, waist size, body fat, and total fat all were dramatically lower in the EGCG group compared to the control, without any other change. These studies, among many others, display Green Tea Extract and EGCG – catechins – ability to help in reducing body fat and improve metabolic health markers all-around.

The Anti-Inflammatory & Healing Skin Benefits of Emu Oil

Emu Oil
Healthy Planet blog readers are likely familiar with the health benefits associated with fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids. They also probably know all about skincare oils like rosehip and jojoba – and how these can offer protection from irritation, redness, and dryness. But how many people are familiar with a product like an emu oil? Emu oil is made up of essential fatty acids (like omega-3) and is completely hypoallergenic for sensitive skin. Derived from the fat of the emu – flightless birds native to Australia – it is mostly comprised of fatty acids known to help in the treatment of skin conditions like eczema and acne. Emu oil has an established history of use in Australia when aboriginal cultures utilized emu fat and oil to treat skin conditions or topical infections. The Fatty Acid Profile of Emu Oil Emu oil is derived from the emu, the second largest bird after the ostrich. Emu oil is derived from the adipose tissue, and depending on how the oil is extracted, the oil can range from a thin yellow liquid similar to fish oil, or a creamy white. Oils that tend to be a darker yellow in color are believed to be of lesser quality. Emu oil is composed of 70% essential fatty acids, which include omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. As it is biologically similar to that of our skin’s fatty acid composition, it is absorbed well and penetrates rapidly into the skin. It is commonly referred to as a “dry oil” for this reason, meaning it moisturizes without leaving a greasy ‘film’ on the surface of the skin. As research indicates: “the speedy dermal absorption of pure emu oil into the blood is explained by its high unsaturated fat content (67-70%), which is comparable to that of our skin, its higher proportion of oleic acid (omega-9) and an absence of phospholipids, [which] limit dermal absorption.” Primarily, oleic acid, linolenic acid, and linoleic acid are the constituents in emu oil that help transport the bioactive compounds (antioxidants) within the emu oil into the skin, allowing quick absorption. These fatty acids are commonly used internally to reduce inflammation and reduce the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles when used topically. The Skin Benefits of Emu Oil – Inflammation, Irritation, Wound Healing Dermatologists will now sometimes recommend emu oil for patients, given that it is highly anti-inflammatory and completely non-toxic. Emu oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not ‘clog’ or block the skin’s pores the same way some skin oils can, while being bacteriostatic (reduce bacterial growth). Initially, emu oil was often used as a natural sort of sunscreen and has been added to natural sunscreen formulations to help provide an additional barrier of protection from UV rays. While not a human study, this study on mice indicates emu oil as being beneficial for inflammation – the swelling when emu oil was used was dramatically reduced compared to other oils, and within only six hours of treatment. It should be noted that because emu oil is derived from the belly fat of emu birds, it is not a “cruelty-free” ingredient, and is therefore not recommended for vegans. When looking to purchase emu oil, always look for a 100% pure grade oil, or ensure that the oil is only ever diluted with other natural and safe carrier oils – like jojoba. Shea butter is also common in topical solutions or creams and is perfectly safe. Given the rise in emu oil’s popularity, there are now a number of less-than-reputable companies breeding emus in poor conditions, resulting in yellow-tinged, poor-quality oil. You’ll want to opt for emu oil derived from emus raised on Australian soil – or Canadian-produced emu oil from smaller suppliers. All our brands of emu oil are from reputable companies that have years of experience when it comes to producing and sourcing high-quality oil. While emu oil can be ingested (used internally), we would recommend avoiding this as there aren’t a ton of long-term studies done on the safety of ingestion. Pure emu oil can be applied topically by rubbing it directly onto the area of concern with clean hands. Emu oil provides soothing relief from eczema, dry skin, acne, and irritated skin. It can also help accelerate the healing of small wounds and abrasions Emu oil has shown benefit to those with arthritis or joint pain when applied to the area topically.

Psyllium Husk – A Healthy Soluble Fiber for Constipation and Cholesterol

Psyllium Husk
Perhaps best known as a sort of laxative or fiber supplement under brand names like Metamucil, psyllium husk offers a variety of health benefits like many of the plant-based soluble fibers you can purchase as a supplement.  People will find the most use for psyllium husk in lowering cholesterol levels (bad “LDL”) and reducing constipation (just ensure you’re drinking enough water!).  Big Benefits to Psyllium Husk IBD, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Constipation Relief – additional supplemental fiber intake in the form of psyllium husk is recommended by scientific studies to improve symptoms of digestive distress and relieve constipation by adding bulk to stool. When combined with water (or liquid) in the digestive tract, it can help speed the passage and excretion of stool. It also helps make the stool firmer.    Numerous studies conclude psyllium husk to be beneficial towards cholesterol levels; improving HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol in a number of clinical trials. Compared to placebo, and not adjusting dietary habits, those taking psyllium reduced LDL levels by over 20% after 8 weeks of treatment – and the decline continued as the treatment progressed further.   Psyllium was found to help those with type II diabetes control their blood sugar and blood pressure without any negative side effects commonly associated with traditional ‘long-term’ medications. The high fiber content can help to maintain glycemic balance, and appears to be an extremely safe and effective choice for those with type II diabetes to better manage glucose regulation.  Feeling Bloated? Poor Gut Health? Is Psyllium Husk Right for Me? The primary complaint most people new to psyllium husk supplements will launch is bloat – how to beat the bloat? This is likely due to absorption of water from the psyllium husk and the sudden increase in dietary fiber (especially if you don’t eat a lot initially). To accommodate this, try scaling back on the amount of psyllium husk you’re using and ensure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day.  Bloating and gas may be an indication that you’re intaking too much fiber; but it could also just be your body slowly trying to adapt to the change.  If you have esophageal narrowing, or any sort of bowel obstructions, you’ll probably want to avoid taking any sort of psyllium husk supplement.  If you’re new to fiber supplements like psyllium, it is always best to start slowly and increase the dosage as you become accustomed to the increased changes in dietary fiber. You’ll want to take around a TSP to start with, with a large glass of water (~240mL) and a meal. 5 grams divided into three doses per day with water and meal is a safe and therapeutic dosage. You also want to make note to avoid using it at the same time as medications as it may impact their absorption and utility. Much like with apple pectin, we recommend trying to take psyllium an hour prior to medications, or around ~4 hours after any medications.

Selenium – A Vital Trace Mineral for Thyroid and Hormonal Health

Selenium for Thyroid and Hormonal Health
A perhaps neglected trace mineral, selenium must be obtained through diet and is absolutely vital to optimal thyroid and hormonal health.  Selenium serves a variety of essential roles within the body, including enzymatic functions that “catalyze thyroid hormone production.” This means they contribute to normal thyroid hormone production and also help to regulate the immune system – which relies on selenium. Selenium also serves as an antioxidant within the body to help protect against oxidative damage and stress. It helps the production of glutathione, deiodinase enzymes (thyroid and hormonal metabolites), and thioredoxin reductase (making DNA from RNA precursors). There is some general speculation that selenium can help in conditions of Hashimoto’s by lowering the amount of thyroid peroxidase antibodies.  In food, selenium is commonly derived from Brazil nuts, mushrooms, seeds, seafood & fish, and beef. While the forms of selenium found both in meat and in plant foods are highly bioavailable (90%), those who don’t eat meat or nuts (due to allergy, belief, or dietary restriction) may be lacking enough of this important mineral.  Selenium Supplementation – Why it Matters Many of the benefits of selenium are believed to be due to ‘selenoproteins,’ which modulate the biological effects of selenium within the body.  As we cannot produce selenium ourselves internally, we need to rely on our diet to obtain enough for healthy physiological function.  Selenium was found to: Enhance the body’s immune response; both TH1 (viruses + intracellular bacteria) and TH2 (parasitic infections and extracellular parasites). A selenium deficiency has been demonstrated to slow immune cell response, with higher markers of inflammation, and reduced function of T-cells.   Prevent oxidative damage from free radicals, as selenium functions as an antioxidant – this can prevent cellular damage from internal bodily processes (metabolizing food) and external toxins (cigarettes, pollution). Oxidative stress is a well-known marker of chronic disease and a contributor to cognitive disorders and cardiovascular disorders.  A meta-analysis found that increased levels of selenium were associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, with selenium effectively reducing “C-reactive protein” (CRP), which is a prominent marker of inflammation. Conversely, selenium helped to raise the levels of the powerful antioxidant glutathione peroxidase.  Selenium functions as a catalyst for proper thyroid hormone production. There is an evident link between thyroid metabolism and selenium deficiency. It helps protect the thyroid from oxidative damage, and from antibodies that contribute to or progress thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s or Graves. Selenium supplementation appeared to drastically reduce the percentage of thyroiditis and hypothyroidism in clinical students, and decrease anti-thyroid antibody levels. The research regarding selenium for thyroid health is extremely promising.    Selenium Supplementation – Is it Safe? When it comes to supplementation, they offer an effective way to either ensure enough dietary selenium intake or reverse a deficiency.  Generally, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 55mcg daily, with the “tolerable upper intake” (I.E., the safest maximum dosage) at 400mcg daily. Most supplemental forms of selenium will be in the range of 50mcg – 200mcg, so taking one capsule daily can help you maintain intake without going overboard.  Selenium has a very low-risk factor when it comes to safety profile; most adverse impacts result from topical selenium sulfide – this is generally not the form you’ll find present in the supplements we carry. Ingesting internally, there are no severe adverse reactions reported.  However, those with a thyroid issue or hormonal issue may want to ensure they don’t exceed the RDA and talk to a health care professional like a naturopath prior to use. Selenium may also cause some slight gastrointestinal distress in users with IBD or IBS. Extremely high levels of selenium can cause fatigue, joint pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Ceasing the use of selenium supplements seems to prevent the progression of these symptoms. 

Colloidal Silver – Is it Safe, and Does it Work for Infections?

Colloidal Silver for Infection
First of all, yes, it does work for certain infections – colloidal silver has proven anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  This is promising news, considering the harm and dangers of antibiotics + antimicrobial resistance. Silver has long been used to address bacteria / bacterial infections for centuries, and has known active properties against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.  Colloidal silver presents an effective treatment option for those looking to deal with a bacterial or viral infection – of course, this should always be done after consultation with a healthcare practitioner and should not be used to replace antibiotics in more serious bouts of illness or infection.  Now, is colloidal silver safe?  Most information out there online regarding colloidal silver seems to be conflicting and confusing at best – there are countless testimonials from people claiming silver helped them through severe infections or the first sign of illness. At the same time, there are plenty of well-known health sites or regulatory bodies that warn about safety concerns (like the FDA).  First, let us establish that colloidal silver is a “solution” of water that contains the suspended silver in nanometer-sized particles that are readily absorbed. The total silver content of the solution should be expressed on the supplement you purchase as “ppm” or parts per million. This is the same as mg of silver per liter of water (mg/L). Silver has been used as an antibiotic up until the early 1940s – this is thanks to various processes that occur once silver is ingested. Silver nanoparticles enter bacterial DNA, attach to bacterial cell membranes directly, and block the cellular process known as cellular respiration within the cells of organisms.  Ionic silver is not the same as true colloidal silver. Always ensure you purchase true colloidal silver when looking for a supplement – these do not contain additives, and the solution should only contain nanometer-sized silver particles and purified water.  Colloidal Silver is Safe for the Gut and Does Not Destroy “Good” Gut Bacteria After ~28 Days of Use As for colloidal silver being safe, there is plenty of debate online surrounding the use of silver internally. Those noting adverse effects like argyria (turning blue) are often not referring to pure colloidal silver, but rather low-quality, inexpensive products that contain silver that is not a nanoparticle.  Generally, when used for 10-14 days internally, it was not shown to cause any adverse side effects, nor was it shown to alter the gut microbiome. This means that even after 28 days of reported use, the diversity of “good” gut bacteria was not altered, destroyed, or changed by colloidal silver. This is a huge deal, especially when compared to the impact of traditional antibiotics on the microbiome.  Our stance is that colloidal silver will absolutely work as a potential antibacterial supplement, but it needs to be used/implemented short-term (10-14 days ideally; maximum of 28 days) on a strict dosage as indicated on the product.  Dosing Colloidal Silver, and a Word of Caution When it comes to dosing colloidal silver, most supplements are sold as a liquid tincture with a dropper. Depending on the condition, colloidal silver will be applied differently – generally, most practitioners will recommend against taking it for more than 14 consecutive days at a time.  Dosages may range depending on the concentration of the suspension itself. Always check/consult with the bottle or container for the most accurate dosing instructions.  2-5 drops can be applied topically to the skin for infections, wounds, and irritation.  5-10 drops can be taken internally, per day, for immune system support or to combat an infection. 1-2 drops can be placed in the eye directly for cases of pink eye.  Colloidal silver is always sold as a solution of purified water that contains nanometer particles of suspended silver. While silver has been demonstrated as safe, long-term or excessive prolonged use of colloidal silver may lead to some undesirable side effects – stick to recommended dosages, and only use it for the duration or period of time you need it for (I.E., recovery from a viral infection).  Colloidal silver can be applied topically or ingested internally – ensure to opt for a high-quality pure silver product, such as those sold on our website. 

Do Cranberries Really Work for UTIs? What the Science Says

Cranberries for UTI
Perhaps one of the most widely held, popular beliefs is that cranberry juice can help prevent recurrent UTIs or get rid of them.  A UTI itself can severely impact multiple parts of the urinary system – the bladder, kidney, and urethra. While UTIs are possible in men, women are more than 30 times more likely to experience them, with 55-60% of women having experienced one in their lifetime. They also account for close to 25% of all bacterial infections seen in women clinically.  Women’s urethras are more susceptible to bacteria entering the urinary tract, compared to men's. – if you experience pelvic pain, groin pain, urgent or frequent urination, or burning when you urinate, you should consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis of a possible UTI.  Given the prominence of antibiotic resistance to Escherichia coli, implementing alternate strategies to reduce this exposure to antibiotics is essential to protecting yourself from antibiotic overuse.  The majority of UTIs are caused by this bacterium, and this bacterium is becoming increasingly resistant to commonly prescribed UTI antibiotics like Bactrim and Cipro.  Aside from conventional wisdom towards prevention (increasing hydration with water throughout the day and gentle cleaning), cranberries often have the potential to alleviate symptoms or help prevent recurrence – but they must be in the form of an extract, not just the juice. Most store-shelf cranberry juices are also loaded with added sugars and won’t offer any sort of health benefit.  Recurring UTIs, while less common, are still a huge problem for a number of women and are often caused by the same pathogen. Do cranberries really work for UTIs? We’ll take a closer look at what the science says.  Cranberry Extract for Uncomplicated UTIs - What the Science Says Cranberry extracts contain a compound known as ‘proanthocyanin or “tannin.” This reduces the adherence of E. coli within the urinary tract and the colonization of the bacteria.  Studies show that extracts can help to prevent recurrent UTIs, but that cranberry juice is of little benefit. This is mainly due to the fact that there are not enough of the A-type proanthocyanins present in grocery store cranberry juice for it to be effective enough to stop bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder or urinary tract.  One scientific review from 2013 found that cranberry extracts were found to be protective against recurrent UTIs, in a PAC (proanthocyanin) dose-dependent manner.  You’ll typically want to look for 240 mg - 500 mg of cranberry extract per capsule, which contains ~15% PACs; 36 mg of PAC minimum in each capsule. Most brands won’t explicitly list the PAC content, so keep an eye out for the total mg of cranberry used per capsule.  Taking a supplement like D-Mannose in conjunction with cranberry extract can help ensure faster elimination of bacteria, and shows greater efficacy at preventing bacteria from adhering.  Given that cranberry extracts and unpasteurized cranberry juice products (with no added sugar) have no reported side effects and are of no harm, they offer a solution that is worth trying for any woman experiencing recurring UTIs.

Marshmallow Root – A Potent Digestive Aid for Better Gut Health

Marshmallow Root
A cursory Google search will prompt plenty of results associating marshmallow root with better digestive health, and “healing” the integrity of the gut for better health. But how exactly does it do this, and does it really work? First, let us touch on what marshmallow root is – before we approach it as a potent digestive aid for better gut health.  Marshmallow root is “Althaea Officinalis,” a perennial herb that is most commonly native to Europe, West Africa, and West Asia.  As an ancient ‘folk remedy,’ with widespread use across Middle Eastern countries, it has been consumed for thousands of years for relief of digestive and respiratory ailments.  Most commonly, it is consumed in capsule, powdered, or tea form – occasionally, you will see alcohol or glycerin-based tinctures. Marshmallow root is also typically added to many ‘natural’ cosmetics and personal care items.  How Marshmallow Root Protects the Lining of the Gut and can Help Restore Optimal Digestive Health In one study from 2011, an extract of marshmallow root was shown to help protect against gastric ulcers, platelet aggregation (clotting), and digestive inflammation. The extract also raised HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) while having no adverse impact on the liver or other health markers.  When ingested, marshmallow root tends to bulk up, and form a gel-like consistency. This extract can help coat the stomach lining.  Both marshmallow root and marshmallow tea – and by extension, supplements that are sold as “marshmallow extract” act as “mucilage.” This means that it sort of swells up when it comes into contact with water, and functions as a kind of fiber.  Naturally, marshmallow root will contain various bioactive compounds, all of which seem to contribute toward beneficiary effects on digestive health: flavonoids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and phenolic acids.  Various studies proclaim an immediate effect by protecting “inflamed mucosa” or intestinal membrane. This is also seen in the respiratory tract.  Marshmallow Root Dosage and Safety Profile Marshmallow root seems to have a high safety profile, and no negative side effects have been reported in people taking the supplement for colds, flu, cough, sore throat, respiratory issues, digestive issues, or IBD. Generally, the only concern is for those who may have diabetes, as it has been demonstrated to lower blood sugar levels. Otherwise, marshmallow root does not appear to impact any other health markers negatively.  Marshmallow root comes in powders, capsules, tinctures, and tea forms. If you are taking marshmallow root specifically for digestive distress/disorders, your best option is to go for a capsule, alcohol-based tincture, or raw powder/tea. With tinctures, you’ll get the most concentrated dose, and with capsules, you’ll have the most possible control over the among you’re taking compared to teas or powders.  Always stick to the recommended dosage as outlined on the product/bottle itself. The concentration may differ between brands, but the guideline for those with Crohn’s / UC or IBD is around ~6g daily, split into 2-3 daily doses.  If you’re using a powdered form or raw tea, you’ll want to ensure you consume enough water as it can form a more gelatinous substance. As always, you should consult with a healthcare professional prior to use if you have any sort of pre-existing medical condition. We’d also advise taking it a couple of hours before or after other medications.

Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe
This gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie recipe is super simple, and only requires a small handful of ingredients, including the crust. The recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour.  You can also add Agar powder to the recipe to help with the final texture of the filling.  The Bob’s Red Mill flour isn’t as chalky or mealy tasting as many other gluten-free baking mixes and is primarily made from sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum.  Utilizing canned pumpkin puree makes this recipe a lot more straightforward than if you were preparing it from scratch with a whole pumpkin – the end result will also taste just as good! This is the perfect pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving and fall, with a flaky crust and creamy filling that only requires a total baking time of around ~1 hour.  Vegan & GF Pumpkin Pie Serving: 10 Slice Storage: Will keep for ~4-5 days in the refrigerator Ingredients: Pumpkin Filling 1/4 tsp sea salt 1 tbsp melted coconut oil  2 ½ tbsp cornstarch  1 ¾ tsp ‘spice mix:’ nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon 1/3 cup unsweetened oat milk, almond milk, or rice milk 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup maple syrup 2 ¾ cups canned pumpkin puree 1 tsp agar powder* (optional – will function similarly to a sort of vegan gelatin made from seaweed, and can help with the final texture of the filling).  Crust 6 tbsp cold water 1/4 tsp sea salt 6 tbsp cold vegan butter or margarine  1 ¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour Baking Instructions Prepare the crust first. Add the Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour and salt to a large enough mixing bowl, and whisk them to properly combine.  Slice or drop in the cold vegan butter (or margarine) and work it in gently with a fork – you don’t need to be aggressive here.  Next, slowly add the ice-cold water (not all at once), while using a wooden spoon or utensil to stir. Add as much as you need to help it form together.  Once you get a crumbly texture with the mixture (not flat), transfer it over to a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Work the dough gently with your hands to form a 1/2-inch-thick Wrap it up firmly, and refrigerate it for a maximum of 2 days, or a minimum of ~1 hour. Once the dough has been chilled in the fridge, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. We now need to prepare the pie filling. Add all of the pie mix ingredients to a blending or in a bowl for a hand blender, and blend until it is fully smooth. You can always taste and adjust if needed. Set this aside for now.  Roll out the crust. Unwrap the disc and place it between two layers of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, gently roll it to the shape of the pie pan you’ll be using (~9-inch). Transfer the crust by removing the first sheet of parchment paper and lay the pie dish over the top of the dough and use the bottom of the wax paper to flip it over quickly and invert it.  Once you’ve done this, you can slowly and gently use your hands to form it to the inner edges of the pie dish. Work it up along the sides and edges of the dish.  Pour the filling that has been blending into the pie dish and bake in the oven for ~1 hour. You can keep an eye on things, as it may take 5 or 10 minutes longer.  The crust should be a very light golden brown and appear flaky – while the pie filling should have some cracks in the top but appear with a bit of a jiggle. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for an hour before transferring it to the fridge. In the fridge, let it sit for 4-5 hours, or ideally overnight.  Slice and serve!

Inositol: A ‘Sugar’ For Diabetes, PCOS, PMS, and Anxiety

Inositol Sugar
Inositol is essentially a form of ‘sugar’ that can influence the way the body processes insulin. It is often referred to, incorrectly, as “Vitamin B8.” Inositol is not a B-Vitamin, nor is it a vitamin of any kind. Inositol is a compound that is naturally found in fruits and plant-based foods (beans, grains, nuts, and seeds) and is also sold as a supplement. It is also naturally produced by the body from the foods you eat. In supplement form, the term ‘inositol’ is actually a broad signifier. Usually, most supplements will be in the form of “myo-inositol” “IP6 – inositol hexaphosphate” and “D-chiro-inositol.” Inside your body, inositol plays several important roles related to the action of insulin and impacts serotonin and dopamine. Structurally, inositol is most similar to the sugar ‘glucose,’ and is involved in signaling between cells. While the benefits of inositol have been reported in doses of over 10 grams a day, the standard amount consumed through dietary means is a dramatically lower 1 gram. With higher doses, inositol is used to typically address concerns such as insulin resistance, PCOS, depression, anxiety, and PMS. How Inositol Works – and What It Can Be Used For So, how does inositol (or Myo-inositol) work, and does which form of inositol you choose to matter? Ultimately, which form of commercial inositol as a supplement you purchase does not matter – they will generally be in two forms and both have been studied for their protective benefits. As inositol(s) help the transduction of hormones and neurotransmitters, any sort of reduction in the amount of inositol or defective metabolism of inositol can help implicated in things like PCOS, anxiety, depression, and insulin resistance. In studies where women with PCOS were given either myo-inositol or D-chiro-inositol – markers of abnormalities and reproductive symptoms were improved. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can cause hormonal imbalances in women from the ovaries producing too many androgens – male sex hormones that women also have, but in much smaller amounts. Small cysts form in the ovaries. PCOS can lead to irregular or painful periods, infertility, and high blood sugar/cholesterol markers. In those with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, inositol may help with the balance of certain chemical signals and hormone production – including serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, inositol was found to be helpful for metabolic disorders. These markers include things like higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, and high “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL). In a study involving taking 4 grams of inositol for over a year, women with metabolic disorders saw an improvement in reduced cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar. This was without changing any other sort of behavior or dietary habits.   Inositol is linked closely to the function of insulin in the body, and as such, appears to be highly beneficial for addressing type 2 diabetes. Is Inositol Safe?  Generally, inositol is extremely well-tolerated. It is a supplement that has been used at a fairly high dose for prolonged periods of time (years) without any reported side effects or adverse effects in multiple studies. It is also naturally obtained from food and produced by the body – just in smaller amounts. At dramatic doses of 10 grams or greater a day, some people do report nausea, gas, or upset stomach. As with any sort of health supplement, always do your independent research prior, and ensure you consult with a health care practitioner or naturopath prior to use. Generally, the dosage will depend on what symptoms you are trying to directly address. For PCOS, a dose of 2 grams twice daily for 6 months or greater is recommended, while for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, 2 grams twice daily for up to a year is recommended. In those with mental health conditions, up to 10 grams once daily (as tolerated) is recommended for a shorter duration of time while self-monitoring. 

What are Collagen Peptides and are they the same as Gelatin?

Collagen
What is Collagen? Collagen and collagen peptides are often used interchangeably but may not necessarily mean the same thing. Liquid collagen, on the other hand, is often in the processed form of collagen peptides – just in a liquid format. Read on as we explore the differences between the various Types (I, II, III) of collagen, the different forms (liquid collagen, collagen peptides, and gelatin), and what they actually offer consumers in terms of health benefits.  First, what exactly is collagen?  ‘Collagen’ in the broadest sense of the term, is the long-chain amino acids that are found in our tissues, skin, joints, and bones. They are the most abundant protein in the body.  At the same time, they cannot be obtained directly through diet unless supplemented. Instead, our body naturally produces collagen out of pre-cursors: these are things like vitamin C and amino acids, which can increase collagen production in the body. However, as we age, the production naturally declines and this is why we see the ‘results’ of aging both internally and physically. These include fine lines, wrinkles, joint pain and inflammation, and arthritis.  In traditional, unhydrolyzed full-length form, collagen is not effective as a supplement, as the long chain is difficult to break down by the stomach during digestion. This needs to be further broken down and processed, so we can utilize it optimally in the forms of supplements – this is where we hear the terms “collagen peptides” and “hydrolyzed collagen” from, as these are processed forms of collagen that are easily absorbed and utilized by the body.  What about ‘Gelatin’ – Is it the Same as Collagen Peptides? What about gelatin? Gelatin is a form of collagen that has undergone ‘partial hydrolysis,’ which gives it that ‘gel-like consistency. These partially hydrolyzed chains in gelatin cause the gelling due to the water content – this is why it is often used as a thickening agent for soups and other recipes.  ‘Bone Broth’ is similar to ‘gelatin’ in this sense and is essentially the same thing. Bone broth, like gelatin, is made by slowly cooking bones and connective tissue in water – and the gelatin dissolves into the bone broth. The actual ‘benefits’ of bone broth, which are compared to that of collagen, are actually from the gelatin content of the bone broth. Bone broth does not have the same beneficial properties that collagen peptides do.  Liquid Collagen and Collagen Peptides: How to Choose the Best Option So, clearly, collagen peptides are what we want to be supplementing with. But what exactly are ‘peptides’ and how is this collagen produced?  Collagen peptides, also known as “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen hydrolysate” is a form of collagen that has simply been broken down first so it is useable by our bodies. The process of hydrolysis (where water molecules disrupt the bonds in an enzymatic process) breaks down the collagen into smaller chains of protein – these are what we know as “collagen peptides.” Almost all commercially available collagen will thus be hydrolyzed to be processed and for consumers to be able to dissolve it in water. At the same time, any “liquid collagen” you purchased is already hydrolyzed by nature of it being dissolved in water in a pre-manufactured product. The questions are then – are collagen peptides actually useful and do they have health benefits?  The literature and studies clearly tell us that yes, collagen peptides, when supplemented, do offer and confer numerous health benefits when used for a prolonged period of time.  Collagen supplementation is noted to help improve skin elasticity, and hydration of the skin, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, help with joint pain and inflammation from arthritis, improve bone loss in those with osteoporosis, and improve the health of nails, hair, and teeth.
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