Health & Nutrition Blog – Healthy Planet Canada
The ever-popular mineral, magnesium, is needed in over 300 of our daily metabolic reactions. Our bodies rely on magnesium to regulate muscle and nerve function, keep blood sugar levels balanced, make up strong bones and ensure proper liver detoxification. On the other hand, when magnesium stores are low, the risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraines increases. Why do We need Magnesium Supplements? Magnesium is primarily found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. This is because magnesium occurs naturally in garden soil. Today, these foods are grown in soil that is no longer the same as it was decades ago. Conventional agriculture practices include heavy use of imbalanced crop fertilization and potassium addition, which decrease magnesium levels. Heavy rainfall and aluminum runoff can also decrease magnesium stores. The suboptimal growing environment of crops leads to lower magnesium content in crops – even when we eat magnesium-rich greens and grains, it may not be enough. Plus, it is estimated that 34% of Canadian adults do not consume enough magnesium in their diets. The combination of both these factors results in a large portion of the population being magnesium deficient. The Benefits of Magnesium Supplements Because most of us are deficient, magnesium is one of the safest minerals to supplement. The advantage of supplementing with magnesium lies in its many forms – it is easy to choose the perfect one depending on your individual needs! Magnesium Citrate (magnesium + citric acid) One of the most common and cheapest forms of magnesium, this form is often taken to relieve constipation. Magnesium citrate can relax the bowels and pull water into the intestines so that the stool bulks up and is easier to pass. It’s a gentle laxative that will not cause dependency, unlike some herbs. Options: Natural Factors Tropical Fruit 250g, Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon 16 oz. Magnesium Malate (magnesium + malate) Is there anything that magnesium can’t do? This amazing mineral can help improve energy and metabolism on a cellular level. If you are chronically fatigued or have aching muscles, magnesium malate is a great option. Those with high inflammation will also benefit from this form. Options: AOR Mag Malate Renew 240 cap, CanPrev Magnesium Malate 120 cap Magnesium Taurine (magnesium + taurine) To improve your overall cardiovascular health, magnesium taurine is the best choice. Both magnesium and the amino acid taurine can improve blood pressure levels and keep heart contractility normal. It protects the heart from calcification and heart attacks. Options: AOR Mag + Taurine 180 cap, CanPrev Magnesium + Taurine 120 cap Magnesium Glycinate (magnesium + glycine) As one of the most popular forms of magnesium, this form can work wonders for many people. Magnesium glycinate (or bis-glycinate) is highly absorbable without causing laxative effects. It is safe to take at high doses and is commonly used for muscle tension, cramps, migraines, and to improve sleep quality. When taken before bed, it helps to calm the mind and body to ensure a good night’s rest. Options: Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate 180 cap, CanPrev Bis-Glycinate 240 cap Are Magnesium Supplements Suitable for Anyone? Though magnesium supplements are relatively safe for most people, it is possible to take too much. If you experience stomach pain or diarrhea after increasing your dose, it may be a sign your body has already absorbed sufficient amounts. In this case, you may need to decrease your dose. If you are taking prescription medications, make sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before proceeding. Author Grace Tien is dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
All across Canadian health food stores, there is a shortage of chlorophyll. If you are confused about how this happened so quickly, the answer is the power of social media. Chlorophyll’s appeal has suddenly shot sky high due to a trend that started on TikTok, where influencers posted videos demonstrating their dramatic transformations after taking this amazing “cure-all”. But what exactly is chlorophyll? Can it be a scam? Or will chlorophyll truly deliver on its promises to clear your skin and heal your body? Even though this popular supplement is frequently sold out, chlorophyll has always been all around us. In fact, it is found in the trees, the grass, and pretty much any green vegetable. It’s the green pigment found inside all green plants such as spinach, parsley, green beans, and arugula. The Therapeutic Potential of Chlorophyll How can the tiny green pigment inside of plants be so powerful? The active form of chlorophyll, known as chlorophyllin, is one of the water-soluble sodium copper salts that plants need to get their energy from the sun. It is absolutely essential for plants to survive. Many people struggle to consume a variety of vegetables every day, so taking a chlorophyll supplement can be a quick and safe way to reap the benefits. Cleanse your body Every day, we accumulate toxins from preservatives and fillers found in makeup, skincare, cleaning products, pollution, prescription medications…the list goes on. When there is a buildup of toxins in the body, it becomes more difficult for the detox organs (skin, lymph, liver, kidneys, bowels) to do their job. As a result, you may start to see signs of suboptimal detox function such as acne, constipation, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and even some nutrient deficiencies. Chlorophyll acts as a powerful toxin absorber to restore the functions of these detox pathways. Over time, dramatic changes can occur. Clearer skin can certainly be a possibility if the acne was caused by a buildup of toxins in the first place! Fight Dangerous Toxins Some crops naturally contain a type of fungus called aflatoxin. In small quantities, this toxin can be detoxified by the body. However, the body often deals with higher quantities than expected, as aflatoxin can be found in peanuts, corn, nuts, rice, figs, spices, and more. Aflatoxins are known to be human carcinogens because they can impact DNA and induce mutations. They can also injure the liver cells and increase the risk of liver cancer. Chlorophyll is one of the few substances that limit the number of aflatoxins we absorb into our bodies, decreasing the overall toxic load. Internal deodorant Struggling with body odors no matter which deodorant you use? Chlorophyll can act as an internal deodorant, getting rid of odors from the inside. It can even work for bad breath when you take it first thing in the morning! Chlorophyll: Genestra Liquid Chlorophyll 30ml Nature’s Way Chlorofresh Chlorophyll 474ml Land Art Chlorophyll Mint 500ml Pure-le Natural Liquid Greens Chlorophyll Super Concentrate Unflavoured 450ml Trophic Chlorophyll Super Concentrate 500ml What to Do if You Cannot Find Chlorophyll Even though Healthy Planet is continuously getting new shipments of chlorophyll, you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot get some immediately. If that is the case, many other green superfoods such as wheatgrass, spirulina, and chlorella can also give similar effects. These plants are loaded with nutrients and naturally contain high amounts of chlorophyll. They are harvested and grown until they reach their peak, then packaged into a convenient powder, tablet or capsule form for easy use. Wheatgrass: Flora Wheat Grass Powder 225g Spirulina: Gandalf Spirulina Haiwaiian Spirulina 60 tablets Chlorella: Giddy Yoyo Organic Chlorella 900 tablets Author Grace Tien is dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
In the natural health world, there are two particular herbs that are the most well-known for helping to fight infections. Whether it be to fight the flu or a common cold, it is best to be prepared with your natural health kit. As the back-to-school season nears, some people may reach for their trusty elderberry syrup, while others prefer their echinacea tinctures. The question is, which one is more effective? Let’s take a look. The benefits of echinacea Echinacea is a flower that is commonly grown in the US and in Canada. You may have seen it in parks without realizing it. These pink blossom flowers have been shown to lower the risk of developing colds by more than 50%. When taken at the onset of a cold, it can shorten the duration. How? Echinacea contains antioxidants that help the immune system to make more white blood cells. When the body detects an invader or pathogen, it will send white blood cells around to find and engulf the bacteria virus or dead cells. An increased amount of white blood cells during infections can help the body get rid of the infection faster and more effectively. How to take echinacea Tea: Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus Spearmint 16 Tea Bags Lozenges: Quantum TheraZinc Echinacea Lozenges Cherry Mint 14 Counts Tincture: Omega Alpha Echinacea & Goldenseal 50mL Capsules: Nature’s Way Echinacea Goldenseal 100 Capsules The benefits of elderberry As the name suggests, elderberry is a type of berry. It is widely grown across Europe and North America, although it is not as common as echinacea. If you do happen to come across it, keep in mind that only the white flower and dark purple berries are edible. The rest of the plant is poisonous. Despite this, elderberry is traditionally used as a medicine because of its therapeutic properties. It is packed with powerful vitamins and minerals that strengthen immunity –vitamin A, C, E, iron, potassium, and various antioxidants. Similar to echinacea, it helps your body kick off sickness faster by providing you with the nutrients to strengthen your immune system. Elderberry has been shown to reduce severe respiratory symptoms. It takes a more active approach in fighting pathogens and can stop viral replication in cells, to prevent it from spreading. The fewer viruses you have in your body, the faster your immune system can get rid of them! How to take elderberry Gummies: Mega Food Immune Support Elderberry 54 Gummies Syrup: Suro Organic Elderberry Syrup Adults 236mL Lozenges: Now Elderberry & Zinc 30 Lozenges Tea: Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus Elderberry 16 Tea Bags Capsules: Suro Organic Elderberry+ 60 Capsules Elderberry extract: Suro Organic Elderberry Extract 118mL Which herb should I take: elderberry or echinacea? If you have access to either, they are both effective at building immunity and fighting off infections sooner. They are great options to boost overall health and can be used together. If you must make the choice between the two, consider your unique symptoms or situation. Echinacea is best taken as a preventative measure, while elderberry works well when you are already sick. Elderberry contains more antioxidants and vitamin C. If you are able to distinguish between bacterial or viral infection, echinacea can help your body fight off bacteria. On the other hand, elderberry is less effective at fighting bacterial infections but can be effective at fighting viral infections like the common cold or the flu. Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
It’s that time of the year again! A new year can be a great time to reconsider or adopt new goals to prioritize your health. Motivation is at an all-time high during January, making it great time to start new healthy habits. How many times have you made New Year’s resolutions about weight loss? Fad diets or cutting out all junk foods may sound exciting, but as you probably know, it is neither sustainable nor realistic. What about detoxing after the holiday indulgences? Let’s say you drank more alcohol and ate more desserts than usual. It detoxing necessary? The word “detox” might make you think of diet pills, food restrictions or even detox drinks. Our bodies can deal with a moderate amount of harmful chemicals and sugary foods. But due to the large amount of toxins we absorb on a regular basis – pollution, processed foods, heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives, emulsifiers – helping the body detox and reducing the liver’s burden can make a huge difference. When you detox in a healthy way, you are doing so much more than losing weight. Detoxing also helps the body get rid of toxins, keeps your energy high, lower inflammation and supports a healthy immune system. So instead of using one-time fixes like pills or restrictive diets, consider adding these healthy habits first. Drink Dandelion Tea Dandelion root is a natural diuretic that helps your liver eliminate toxins more quickly. The liver is your primary organ for detoxification, and this powerful herbal tea is well-known for protecting the liver to make sure it is working effectively. Traditional Medicinals offers a high quality, organic dandelion root tea that is specifically created to support everyday detox. Plus, it is delicious! Use a Dry Brush Before Showering Did you know that your skin is another detoxing organ? We don’t typically think of the skin as detox pathway, but many everyday toxins can be excreted through the skin’s pores. Dry brushing involves using a long brush with natural bristles to brush your skin, in the direction of your heart. This daily process removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores and stimulates the lymphatic system, helping your body remove waste more efficiently. Dry brushing is similar to massage – but way cheaper! All you need is a long body brush and you are good to go. Try brushing before you shower so you can wash off the dead skin cells after! Relax with a Castor oil pack Castor oil is an old remedy used for a variety of health conditions. It contains therapeutic fatty acids that provide many health benefits. When used in a castor oil pack, it can stimulate the lymphatic system, help the liver detoxify naturally and reduce inflammation. Castor oil packs are simple to do at home. You will need a high-quality, hexane-free castor oil. Pour just enough oil to soak a dye-free cotton flannel, wrap it around your liver area (right side of abdomen), then wrap another old towel over it to prevent the castor oil from staining. Then cover it with a heating pad or hot water bottle for 30 minutes. This should be a time of relaxation – lying down or sitting on the couch is ideal. Note: Do not use castor packs during menstruation as it can make your bleeding heavier. Everyday Detox Can be Easy Remember, health is a culmination of what you do every day. There are so many ways to improve your physical and mental health, without restriction and rigidity. Detoxing the right way is one of best ways you can help your body function at its best. Give these healthy habits and you will see just how easy it is! Author Grace Tien is a dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
If you are new to being dairy-free, it can take a period of getting used to. Luckily, dairy-free milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt options are popping up at supermarkets and health food stores faster than ever. Many dairy-free products are frequently touted as the healthier alternative, but does omitting dairy truly make it healthy? Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, why go dairy-free in the first place? Many nutritionists and naturopaths recommend removing dairy from the diet to reduce inflammation, health the gut and heal acne. While going dairy-free is generally more accepted today, is it healthy? Can You Obtain All Your Required Nutrients Without Consuming Dairy? One of the most common concerns around going dairy-free is the topic of calcium. After all, we grew up being recommended to eat 1-2 servings of dairy a day (per Canada’s food guide) in order to have adequate protein and calcium levels. But the truth is, with proper planning, it is certainly possible get enough protein from other foods. The same applies to calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral needed for proper muscle contraction, strong bones, healthy heartbeats and signaling between brain cells. It is not a nutrient we can easily forget about! Many people associate calcium with cow’s milk – so can relying on plant-based milks prevent you from getting the nutrients you need? The short answer is yes! Other Than from Dairy, Where Can I Get My Calcium? Although many boxed plant-based milks do not contain high levels of calcium, there are some plant-based foods that provide a good and comparable source of calcium. These include 3 main categories: leafy greens, nuts and seeds, as well as beans. If you are vegan, consider prioritizing your meals around these foods. Vegetables like spinach, bok choy, kale and broccoli are high in calcium. If you are plant-based, make sure to also keep lots of almonds, sesame seeds, navy beans and red kidney beans in your pantry. These foods are particularly high in calcium. With these foods in your regular rotation, getting enough calcium as a vegan supplement can be a breeze. Here are some quick vegan-friendly calcium staples to get you started: NOW Raw Almonds 454g Organic Traditions Black Sesame Seeds 454g Eden Navy Beans 822g Inari Dried Kidney Beans 500g If you are concerned about your calcium levels as a vegan, there are many plant-based calcium supplements that you may want to consider: Garden of Life Plant Calcium 90 tablets Platinum Naturals Coral Calcium 90 capsules Living Without Dairy With the numerous dairy-free products and supplements, it is possible to be healthy and nourished. Vegans need to strategically plan their meals and snacks so they are getting all their nutrients, but it can be done. If you are at risk of osteoporosis or osteopenia, you may want to speak with your healthcare practitioner to determine the best recommendation for you. Author Grace Tien is a dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
Feeling stuffed after your last meal? Feeling bloated or gassy can be extremely uncomfortable. Bloating occurs in the belly and is usually caused by a buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. It feels like having a balloon inflated in your stomach – you can try to compress it, but you’ll feel pain and discomfort. Bloating is normal after a big meal, but if you are bloating frequently after eating small quantities of food, there may be a chronic underlying condition present. After eating, you should feel a pleasant sensation of satisfaction and a reduction of hunger. Your stomach should not feel tight and swollen on a daily basis. To prevent this from happening, you must first determine and address the cause of the bloating! Common causes of bloating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Many doctors will diagnose unexplainable bloating as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). But what is it, exactly? It’s difficult to say which came first, the IBS or the bloating. IBS is a digestive condition that involves frequent bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain. A variety of foods can make symptoms worse. Stress can also aggravate the digestive system and trigger a flare-up. Food Intolerances Are you eating foods that are irritating your digestive system? Dairy and gluten are common triggers, but many other foods can be the culprit. The best way to determine your own food intolerances is to keep a food journal and note down any discomfort you feel, such as stomach pain, bloating, migraines, acne, diarrhea or excessive gas. Keep in mind that reactions can occur up to 3 days after eating the food! Constipation If you were quick to dismiss constipation as a potential cause for your bloating, you may want to give it a second thought. Many people do not know they are constipated. Even if you have regular bowel movements every day, constipation can still be a factor in your bloating. While your doctor may tell you that having a bowel movement every 3 days is normal, it simply is not sufficient for optimal digestion. Having regular bowel movements ensure that the foods you eat are properly digested and moving out of your body at an adequate pace. If the stool remains in your body for too long, it can cause gas buildup in the intestine, leading to a feeling of fullness even if you haven’t eaten a big meal. A healthy digestive system should result in smooth, daily bowel movements that are easy to pass. Artificial Sweeteners Your favourite gummies or protein powder may say “no sugar added”, but don’t be fooled. These companies replace their sugars with sugar alcohols such as maltitol, xylitol or sorbitol. Because they are not digested by our bodies, these artificial sweeteners do not count as “sugars”. However, they often sit in your large intestines, feeding the bad bacteria and causing more bloat or flatulence. For some people, this can be worse than the effects of real sugar! Unable to Find Relief from Bloating? Although bloating is common, it may be an indicator that medical attention is needed. If your bloating is persistent and nothing gives you relief, consider working with a healthcare practitioner to rule out digestive conditions such as SIBO, Crohn’s and Colitis. Author Grace Tien is a dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
Now that summer is upon us and the hot summer weather is enjoyable, we are spending more time outdoors. It’s time to stock up on the essentials – sunscreen, hats, insect repellent…and don’t forget, a deodorant that does its function well. It’s only normal that the more time we spend in the sun, the more we may sweat. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about – in fact, sweating is your body’s natural mechanism to help cool itself down. The goal is not to reduce your sweat, but to prevent unpleasant odors. And yes, natural deodorants are just as capable as conventional ones! Why conventional deodorants have a bad rep Many conventional deodorants rely on aluminum salts as their active ingredient. Aluminum acts as a plug for your sweat glands, which is why they are so effective. On the other hand, natural deodorants are made without aluminum and use other ingredients like clay or baking soda to prevent your sweat from smelling bad. One of the main reasons people want to switch to a natural deodorant is to avoid aluminum products. Because they go directly on the armpit, a location of major lymph nodes, this heavy metal can enter the bloodstream and increase the risk of toxicity. Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer in particular have been linked to aluminum in deodorants. Which natural deodorants can deliver on their promises? Crystal deodorants If you’ve never tried natural deodorants, the idea that a crystal-looking piece of salt can be used to get rid of your odor may seem far-fetched. But it’s true! Crystal deodorants are the most minimal and safest option because they only contain one ingredient: mineral salt. It’s a piece of white salt that you wet under your tap, then swipe under each pit 10-20 times. Salt is a natural killer for the bacteria in your armpits that might cause smells. You can also find crystal deodorants that are made into sprays for convenience, though the crystal option lasts longer. Because this type of deodorant is as natural as it gets, there is no scent, no residue and will not stain your clothes. For children or young teens looking to try their first deodorant, this is the best option. Best options: Lafe Deodorant Crystal Rock 120g, Lafe Deodorant Roll-On 71 g, Lafe Deodorant Spray 118mL Clay-based deodorants Clay is an extremely effective ingredient for keeping armpits from stinking up. It acts as a natural detoxifying agent and can absorb moisture. Clay is great for sensitive skin and even safe to use for baby’s skin on diaper rashes. Clay-based deodorants typically come in a jar and is rubbed on the armpits. All you need is a pea-sized amount for each armpit. The most natural and well-known deodorants are from the Routine line. They have various scents created by using different essential oils, are best known for being able to work even on the sweatiest armpits. If you’re sensitive to baking soda, they have a baking soda-free version for their popular scents. It’s the perfect deodorant to use on days when you will be spending the whole day outdoors, or before a high intensity workout. Once you try this brand, it’s hard to go back to other options! Best option: Routine Deodorant Superstar 58g Finding your best option The search for an effective natural deodorant often leaves people feeling discouraged. But don’t give up yet – the benefits of natural deodorants are worth waiting for, and there are some amazing options out there, waiting for you to try! More and more companies are coming out with their own formula, you are bound to find something that works for you. Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
For the first time in many years, Health Canada has changed the official maximum vitamin D dose allowed by supplement companies. Health Canada rarely changes their recommended vitamin doses, so this change surprised many people. What does the increase in dosage mean for us? As of February 24, 2021, we are now allowed to buy over-the-counter vitamin D supplements that are 2500 IU. Previously, we were only able to buy supplements that contained a maximum of 1000 IU. Soon, natural health brands will be releasing new, upgraded versions of their vitamin D supplements. Is this new dose safe? Although 2500 IU may seem like a big jump from the previous recommended dose, this increase has been a long time coming. In the US, vitamin D supplements up to 10, 000 IU are sold over the counter regularly. Evidence that supports the safety of allowing higher vitamin D limits has been collected for many years. Health Canada has been receiving requests from consumers, physicians, and the natural supplement industry for a long time, and it’s finally been approved, finally. To note, the maximum dose of vitamin D allowed does not represent the maximum amount of vitamin D you can take in one day before reaching toxicity. Instead, it “represents the highest average daily intake of a nutrient that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects in the general population”, according to Health Canada. As such, it is the maximum dose of vitamin D you can legally buy in Canada, without a doctor’s prescription. However, if your doctor has used a blood test and concluded your vitamin D levels to be low, they can certainly prescribe you a dose higher than 2500 IU. Who is at risk for vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D is a unique nutrient. Although we can consume it through our diet, our primary source comes from the sun’s UV rays. As the rays hit your skin, the inactive vitamin D in your skin cells are converted to the active form. In order for this conversion to occur, you must be outside during the sun’s strongest hours, and be mostly uncovered. Both clothing and sunscreen can prevent your skin from making vital vitamin D. You may be a risk of vitamin D deficiency if you: Rarely spend time outdoors Are living in an institution like a care home Usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when you’re outdoors Have darker skin Live in a country where the winter months are long How to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D year-round To prevent vitamin D deficiency, the most important step is to determine your reason for the deficiency. If you don’t go outside frequently, you may choose to make a daily routine of taking walks outdoors every morning. If the culprit is something that cannot be changed, such as having darker skin or being confined indoors, you may consider adding a daily vitamin D supplement. The most bioavailable vitamin D supplements contain a fat source as an added ingredient. Because vitamin D itself is fat-soluble, pairing the vitamin with a fat enhances its absorption. Popular pairings include coconut oil, MCT oil and sunflower oil. If you can’t stand the taste of oil as a supplement, emulsified liquids or softgels are just as effective. Best options: Genestra D3 K2 Mulsion 20mL, CanPrev Vitamin D3 & K2 + MCT 120 Softgels The superstar vitamin Whether you chose to increase your time outdoors in the sunlight or add a new supplement to your regime, the benefits of vitamin D have been evident year after year. You can rely on vitamin D to balance your immune system, keep your teeth and bones strong and regulate your hormones. Health Canada’s increase assures us that vitamin D is an important supplement to consider – try it and you’ll see! Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
Is your digestion system working optimally? Even though we eat every day, most of us do not know what normal digestive function looks like. How do you know if your symptoms are a result of your body digesting food, or the opposite? Digestion is the process of breaking down food so that your body can used the nutrients for various organ functions. When you eat, the food travels from your mouth through the esophagus, and into the stomach. It will move through the small intestine and large intestine (colon) before exiting via the anus. But that’s not all – your pancreas, liver and gallbladder all play important roles in your ability to digest and absorb the nutrients properly. When digestion issues occur, it may be a sign that one of these organs need extra support. Normal Digestive Sensations Having 1-3 easy bowel movements per day Bloat or gas after eating foods high in sulfur (ex: onions, beans, garlic, lentils, asparagus) Feeling fullness after a large meal Abnormal Digestive Sensations Feeling bloated after only a few bites of foods Nausea after eating Bloat or gas after every meal Acid reflux Stomach pain or cramping Mushy or lumpy stool Solving Abnormal Digestive Symptoms If you are experiencing abnormal digestive symptoms on a regular basis, you may want to consider supporting your digestive system strategically. From a holistic perspective, taking digestive bitters and digestive enzymes before meals are popular options. Digestive Bitters Digestive bitters are a blend of herbs that will simulate digestion – everything from the production of stomach acid, to stimulating the liver, to producing your own digestive enzymes to break down food. Our bodies have bitter receptors in the mouth, so when you taste these herbs, digestive juices and enzymes receive a kickstart and run more smoothly. As a result, symptoms like bloating, gas and indigestion can be eased. These tinctures consist of bitter herbs soaked into organic alcohol, creating a potent extract. You only need 1-2mL of this tincture before meals to experience amazing effects! Unlike digestive enzymes, digestive bitters can be taken long term because the body will not become dependent on them. Digestive bitter blends: St. Francis Canadian Bitters 100mL, Botanica Digestive Bitters 50mL Bitter herbs: dandelion, artichoke, chicory root, gentian root, licorice, burdock Digestive Enzymes While digestive bitters encourage your body to make its own digestive enzymes, you may choose to supplement directly with a blend of digestive enzymes. Enzymes are responsible for chemically breaking down food in the digestive tract in order to be fully absorbed. The pancreas makes many of these enzymes naturally and sends them to the intestines, where most of the absorption occurs. However, certain health conditions such chronic pancreatitis, can interfere with this production. Without sufficient enzymes, you cannot absorb nutrients, even if you have a healthy diet. For those who have poor digestion or malnutrition, digestive enzymes can be supplemented to help your own enzymes. The main types of enzymes are amylase, lipase and proteases, which break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins, respectively. Some blends may also include hydrochloric acid (HCl), making it a great option for those that experience heartburn due to low stomach acid. Digestive enzyme formulas can also contain ox bile, which is needed to break down fats. People who have had their gallbladder removed will have difficulty storing bile, and may want to supplement with a digestive enzyme containing extra bile. There are many formulas available – finding the perfect one will depend on your specific digestive needs. It is important to take digestive enzymes before or right after eating, so that they have time to break down the food. It is not recommended to take these enzymes long-term, as it can affect your body’s ability to produce its own. Instead, use them when digestive symptoms are flaring up, or to combat a deficiency caused by a specific health condition. Digestive enzyme formulas: Enzymedica Digest Gold 45 Capsules, NOW Super Enzymes 180 Capsules A Permanent Solution? While both digestive bitters and digestive enzymes offer relief from digestive issues, they are not a primary treatment. They can be used to boost the digestive process, but if symptoms persist, please consult your primary health practitioner. Author Grace Tien is a dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.
Have you ever heard the saying, “more is not better”? When it comes to conventional moisturizers, you may be surprised at the long list of ingredients on each bottle. Even if the product is labeled “natural”, it may still contain alcohol, phytates, xanthan gum, sesame oil, fragrances, and sunflower oil the list goes on. Unless you pay attention to the ingredient list closely, natural health companies can sneak a few questionable substances into your daily products. Many are fillers, while some may also be used as preservatives or emulsifiers. How can you avoid going down a rabbit hole trying to avoid every potential harmful ingredient? Instead of looking for a particular brand that meets your standards, why not go back to the basics? Mother nature has already provided us with the best moisturizers. These natural fats and oils can act as effective moisturizers on their own, or you can mix them together to make the ultimate blend. Did you know that natural oils and fats can replace your body lotion? They don’t need any preservatives or fillers – not to mention, they are full of nutrients such as vitamin A, E, and omega-3 fats. Don’t miss out on trying these moisturizing powerhouses Shea butter Shea butter is a thick butter-like fat that comes from the shea tree nuts. You can find it in bulk as large chunks, though it usually requires some chopping before using. Luckily, many skincare companies are recognizing the amazing benefits of shea butter and are whipping it into a texture that is easier to scoop out of the container. Shea butter acts as a powerful moisturizer, forming a skin barrier between the skin, locking in moisture for even the driest skin. It is naturally anti-inflammatory, making it a great moisturizer for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Shea butter option: Maiga Shea Butter Raw 1lb Cocoa butter Cocoa butter has a similar texture to shea butter; it is thick and solid at room temperature. It comes from the cocoa bean. Sound familiar? Cocoa powder and chocolate are made from the same plant! Just like good-quality chocolate, cocoa butter contains a variety of antioxidants that help nourish your skin from the inside out. Antioxidants protect your skin from sun damage, skin aging, dark patches, and even dull skin. Cocoa butter is the go-to moisturizer to keep your skin young and supple. Cocoa butter option: Eli’s Pure Cocoa Butter 115g Coconut oil Even though coconut oil is typically solid at room temperature, you can find fractionated coconut oil that will remain liquid. This makes it easier to apply – they often come in a squeezable tube, like a lotion bottle. For those that don’t like the coconut smell, you can look for oils that are refined. They are specially processed in a way where they won’t contain a strong scent of coconut. If you choose to use coconut oil as your moisturizer, make sure to try out a patch on your skin first. It is great for moisturizing the body, but some people may find that it clogs the pores. Others find that it helps reduce redness and inflammation. It’s best to try a skin patch to see which group you belong to. Coconut oil option: Prairie Naturals Coco-b Coconut Oil 100mL Jojoba oil Jojoba oil comes from the seed of the jojoba plant. It is full of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps your skin cells regenerate faster, resulting in glowing skin. Jojoba oil is not as thick as the other fats and oils, but it is a potent moisturizer, nonetheless. Like the others, it can be used on the body, though jojoba oil shines best as a facial moisturizer. It is the closest oil that resembles your own skin oil – instead of clogging your pores, it balances the oil produced by your own skin glands. When you apply jojoba oil, it tricks your skin into thinking your skin already has enough oil, so it doesn’t need to produce more. This is helpful in preventing acne, which is often caused by an overproduction of oil. Jojoba oil option: Aura Cacia Organic Skin Care Oil 118mL Do I need to change up my whole skincare routine? If you have never used these natural ingredients before, do not fret. They are great additions to your skincare routine and can help build your foundations before you make the full switch to natural skincare. They are often cheaper than natural skincare brands, allowing you to dip your toe before you commit. Plus, you’ll save yourself the headache of researching and checking products on the shelves as you search for the best products. Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.