This granola with coconut yogurt and berries is the perfect breakfast to help you get back on track after the holidays. It’s quick and full of healthy fats and protein to keep you satiated all morning long. It’s also grain-free, making it an excellent option for those following a paleo diet.
» 1 c cashews» 1 c walnuts» 1⁄2 c pumpkin seeds» 1⁄2 c coconut flakes» 1 Tbsp cinnamon
» 1⁄2 tsp salt» 1/3 c melted coconut oil» 1⁄4 c maple syrup (use sugar-free syrup to make this recipe ketogenic)
1. Add cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, salt, cinnamon, and coconut flakes to a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.
2. Add coconut oil and maple syrup to the nut mixture, stirring well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
3. Spread evenly on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
4. Let cool for 10 minutes before breaking the granola into clusters.
Collagen Power Balls
These delicious, fibre-rich collagen balls make for the perfect mid-day snack. They include extra protein in the form of collagen and hemp seeds to help you reach your daily protein goals, plus a hefty serving of chia seeds as a source of dietary fibre.
» 2 c quick rolled oats» 1⁄4 c chia seeds» 1⁄4 c hemp seeds» 1⁄4 c nut butter of choice» 1⁄4 c collagen protein powder» 1/3 c pitted dates, soaked in hot water
» 1⁄4 c melted coconut oil» Flaky sea salt» Mini chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds (optional)
1. Add all ingredients (except the chocolate chips) to a food processor and pulse until a sticky dough forms.
2. Stir in the chocolate and seeds (if using) and roll into 1-inch balls to keep in the fridge or freezer.
Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Dip
This dip takes full advantage of local produce available through the winter. Serve with your favourite seed crackers and crudites or use it as a spread on wraps and sandwiches.
» 1 head cauliflower, separated into florets» 2 large shallots, chopped» 2 Tbsp olive oil» 2 heads of garlic» 1/3 c tahini
» 1/3 c pumpkin seeds» 1⁄2 tsp chilli flakes» Juice from 1 lemon» 1 tsp dried rosemary or sage» Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Prepare garlic for the oven by chopping off the tops to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil, or place in a small oven-safe container with a lid.
2. Toss the cauliflower and shallots with olive oil and seasonings and add to a baking sheet with your heads of garlic. Roast at 400°F for 30–35 minutes, until cooked through.
3. Once the vegetables cool slightly, add to a food processor with the remaining ingredients and purée ingredients until slightly smooth.
Squash Soup with Tofu
This soup recipe is a winter staple because it includes tons of orange vegetables and heal-ing spices to support immune health. It’s also beautifully warming and thoroughly cooked to support digestion in colder winter months. The tofu can be omitted, but we like that it adds 15 g of protein per serving.
» 1 large squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, and buttercup all work well) » 1 onion, chopped» 1 orange pepper, chopped» 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped» 1 Tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil» 1 can of organic BPA-free coconut milk» 1 Tbsp curry powder
» 1⁄4 tsp chili flakes (optional)» 6 c bone broth, or organic vegetable or chicken broth» 1 package organic tofu» Seasoning of choice and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Cut your squash in half and lay it face down on a baking sheet.
3. Drain tofu and cut into small cubes. Spray or lightly drizzle with coconut or avocado oil, sprinkle with spices of choice, and bake in the oven along with the squash for 30 minutes while you prepare your other ingredients.
4. Add the onion, garlic, and spices to a preheated large dutch oven on medium–hot. Cook until translucent and fragrant.
5. Remove the squash from the oven and carefully scrape out the flesh of the squash. Add it to your pot along with the chopped pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
6. Add the bone broth, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
7. Add your can of coconut milk and use an immersion blender to purée your soup. Top with tofu cubes and hemp seeds (optional).
Sometimes it can feel like being an adult means having no free time; for many of us, our plate of responsibilities is full to the point of spilling over. Maybe you’ve been so busy lately, that your eating habits have gone off the rails. Perhaps you’ve put eating healthy on hold until after things in your life settle down. After all, how can you be expected to eat well when life is so hectic?
If you’re stuck in the I’m-too-busy-to-eat-healthy mentality, I want to ask you two important questions. The first is this: when will life actually stop being busy? I’m not asking this to be negative but to be realistic. There will always be something creating busyness in your life. If it’s not school, it’ll be work. If it’s not kids, it’ll be grandkids. If you figure you’ll start eating healthy when you’re not busy, you’ll just continue to put it off.
Now onto my second question: how long can you afford to postpone healthy eating? It can be easy to do things like skip lunch in the name of productivity, or “reward” ourselves with treats in the evening for working hard. But over time, habits like these will catch up to us in the form of gut issues, hormonal imbalances, or even chronic diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes. It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we only get one body in this life. If we don’t invest in our health now, we can end up losing it in the future.
I understand that at this point you might be feeling a bit frustrated. “I do want to eat healthily, but how is it doable amidst the craziness of my life?” you may ask. Don’t despair— it is possible!
“If You Don’t Have Time To Do Things Like Grocery Shop, Cook, Or Eat Three Meals Per Day, It’s Time To Take A Look At What’s Going On In Your Life.”
How To Start Now
1 Set Boundaries
Based on my experiences working with clients, unhealthy eating habits often boil down to a lack of boundaries in certain areas of a person’s life. You must set boundaries with yourself and others to nourish your body properly. It’s crucial to silence that negative inner voice that beats you up for not being perfect. An all-or-nothing mindset won’t do you any favors with your diet.
If you think you have to be flawless to be healthy when life gets busy, you’re going to spread yourself too thin. Overburdening yourself can result in giving up and harming your mental health—neither of which I want for you. Instead, be compassionate with yourself. As long as your overall habits are healthy, you will reap the benefits. If here and there, you have a treat, order takeout, or eat convenience foods, it's not a big deal. What you’re doing consistently counts the most toward your well-being.
Setting boundaries with yourself also includes prioritizing your health. I know that I said this before, but I’m going to say it again because it’s so important: we only get one body in this life. If you don’t have time to do things like grocery shop, cook, or eat three meals per day, it’s time to take a look at what’s going on in your life. Have you taken on too much? Do you have enough support? Are you burned out? If you are too busy to feed yourself properly, it’s time to set some boundaries.
Give some thought to what you need from yourself and from others to make healthy eating happen in your life. Maybe you need to set a boundary with yourself to take your lunch break away from your desk to make sure you have something to eat at work. Also, remember that you don’t have to try doing it all alone. Reach out for help in areas of your life where you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you find you’re always falling behind on your to-do list, ask family members to help you out more with chores around the house, for example. If you’re experiencing caregiver burnout, look into what home care services are available in your community. Healthy eating will be a lot easier when you have enough support in your life.
Establishing boundaries will help you to give your body the nourishment it requires. When you prioritize your health and get the support you need, you’ll find it easier to get through busy days because your body will be getting the fuel it needs. You’ll prevent intense cravings and overeating because you’ll be honoring your hunger throughout the day. You’ll also be getting the nutrients your body needs to prevent and/or manage health concerns (e.g., gut issues, anxiety).
2 Think Ahead
Healthy eating is a lot less likely to happen when you’re winging it. If you haven’t thought ahead about what you’re going to eat and then things get hectic, it’s more likely that you’ll reach for unhealthy options or not eat at all. When you’ve made a plan and some food prep, your days will go more smoothly, and eating healthy will become automatic. A little bit goes a long way—you don’t have to make a super-detailed meal plan or spend all day cooking. Here are a few examples of how efficient planni ...
The lymphatic system is one of, if not the most, under-appreciated “systems” in the human body. It’s considered secondary to the vascular system. In Western medicine, we tend to place more emphasis on mechanical structures that we can break down into parts and functions. The heart, blood, and cardiovascular systems are at the center of it all. We often leave out systems like the lymphatic, which are vaguer in structure and function, because we have yet to fully understand and appreciate their active roles in our body. I hope this article gets you excited about the lymphatic system and the way it impacts our everyday health.
Our Inner Ocean
I like to call the lymphatic system our “inner ocean.” I give full credit to Melissa Gallico for this name, which is coined in her book The Hidden Cause of Acne. “Lymph” means “clear water” in Latin. This rich and intuitive system is composed of lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, and fluid that runs throughout the entire body—from the skin through the dermis, to the mucosal membrane covering major organs, the respiratory tract, the intestine, the diaphragm, and the heart and lungs.
The lymphatic system plays a key role in immunity, digestion, skin homeostasis, and detoxification. You are probably most familiar with the lymph system when you’re fighting a cold and feel the swelling or tenderness of the lymph nodes under the jawline. These small, bean-shaped nodes are located not only under the jawline, but also under the armpits, groin, and back of the knees.1 The intestinal lymph system contributes to the absorption of dietary fats, and the liver lymph system delivers essential proteins.
These systems communicate and work together to operate a rich network that drains and removes toxins and absorbs and delivers fluids, and proteins into the body.2 Flowing alongside other drainage pathways (the liver and colon) to remove wastes, the lymphatic system is involved in drainage and detoxification. When we ingest toxins—which is unavoidable in this modern day—they are absorbed into our lymph system through the small intestine by lymphatic vessels called “lacteals.” Too many toxins may overload the lymphatic system, leaving it unable to effectively detox the body. How can we support this critical system? The first step is opening the drainage funnel (e.g., the colon) through daily bowel movements.
Drainage Vs. Detox
The goal is to keep the lymph moving and the fluid flowing. We need to create movement in the lymph and open the drainage funnel so that these can work harmoniously to detox the body. The “drainage funnel” includes the colon, liver, and bile ducts, the lymphatic system, organs, tissues, and cells. Recommendations in the following sections are going to focus on these three areas: the colon, liver, and bile ducts, and the lymphatic system.
Let’s think about drainage as the normal pathways that need to move and flow: the colon, kidneys, and lymphatic system. Let’s also think about detoxing as the everyday process of “pulling” out and eliminating toxins from the body.
Why do drainage and detoxing matter? Understanding the drainage funnel and how to best support it is foundational, regardless of your health goals. Have you ever started a “cleanse” or tried a supplement routine, only to have your symptoms flare up and feel worse than before you started? This is often related to a sluggish or clogged drainage funnel. As we begin ramping up detoxification (i.e., moving toxins around in the body) without a way to properly eliminate them through bowel movements and drainage, we see this aggravation of symptoms.
Where To Start
Start with opening the drainage funnel and supporting daily bowel movements. 1–3 well-formed bowel movements per day are ideal.
Support the liver and bile ducts.
Identify things in the body that are contributing to fluid buildup and chronic inflammation.
Once you’ve addressed the above, we can move to lymphatic support.
You might identify with some of the symptoms below, indicating that the lymphatic system is overburdened and sluggish. Slow drainage pathways lead to stagnation, damp heat, and chronic inflammation with symptoms like:
Feeling like the bowels don’t empty fully
Waking up between 1 and 4 a.m.
Skin problems: rashes, itches, hives, eczema, acne
Skin doesn’t sweat
Often sick, and can’t clear infections
Supporting Lymph Flow
Now that we’re excited about the lymphatic system and the beautiful and intuitive way it supports overall health, let’s explore how we can support lymph flow through daily rituals and routines.
Energize: Connect with and do things that bring you energy and make you feel alive.
Ground Down: Get your feet on the earth and ground yourself. If you can start each day this way, that’s the goal.
Breathe: Consider breathwork to regulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Light: Get ...
While pregnancy can be an exciting and joyful time for many, this life stage comes with many physical and emotional changes. It can present significant challenges to mental health for many others. Depression during pregnancy affects approximately one in five women, which may be an underestimation due to the lack of consistent screening and identification of those struggling. This can be an especially difficult topic to navigate when culturally, pregnant mothers are expected to present as happy and glowing parents-to-be.
“Education and awareness can help identify those struggling earlier so that treatment options can be implemented sooner"
Perinatal depression does not have a single cause. Research suggests that it’s caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Life stress, the physical and emotional demands of childbearing, and changes in hormones that occur during pregnancy may contribute to the development of perinatal depression. Some of the most prominent risk factors for depression in pregnancy include a history of depression, lack of social support, lack of a partner, unplanned pregnancy, unemployment, experience of violence, and smoking before or during pregnancy. It’s important to recognize individual factors that may predispose someone to a higher risk of mood disorders in pregnancy.
Symptoms of depression in pregnancy can be insidious and often mimic common symptoms of pregnancy, such as low energy and reduced sleep quality. Mood changes can occur in any trimester but are most common in the second and third. A sad mood, difficulty enjoying activities that you usually like to do, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, unexpected fatigue or lack of energy, or unexpected changes in your sleep patterns are important to discuss with your healthcare provider. Education and awareness can help identify those struggling earlier so that treatment options can be implemented sooner.
The following strategies are helpful for reducing the risk of perinatal depression and supporting mild to moderate depression. These tools are also helpful as adjunct treatments for moderate to severe depression in pregnancy; however, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and pharmaceutical antidepressant medications are considered the standard of care in more serious cases of depression, especially when thoughts of self-harm are present. It’s important to work together with a healthcare practitioner for guidance, regardless of the severity of mental health concerns.
Maternal nutrition during pregnancy significantly affects the health of both mom and baby. Several studies have shown that a nutrient-dense diet may help to reduce the risk of depression during pregnancy. Diets with more green vegetables, fruits, legumes, and fish and less processed fats and sugars have been linked to lower levels of prenatal depression.
Iron deficiency anemia is significantly associated with an in- creased risk of maternal depression both during pregnancy and the postpartum period.6 Advocating for testing and following up with the indicated treatment is a key preventative strategy in supporting mental health through the perinatal period. Not only does iron status in pregnancy affect maternal mental health, but we also see it has many links to the baby’s mental and cognitive function for at least the first decade of its life.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression in pregnancy. Research shows that testing for vitamin D levels in early pregnancy, and treating appropriately to correct the deficiency, is the best strategy to ensure appropriate dosing and the best outcomes.
Fish oil supplementation has shown positive benefits for depression in the general population, and there are many safety studies for its use in pregnancy. Taking fish oil supplements with a combined EPA and DHA omega-3 content during pregnancy has been shown to improve symptoms of depression, and prevent the risk of postpartum depression. Omega-3s are also critical for fetal brain development and cognitive function.
Prenatal exercise has been shown to reduce the onset and severity of depression in pregnancy. Aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly (such as brisk walking, water aerobics, stationary cycling, or resistance training) has significantly improved mood symptoms. Prenatal yoga has also shown benefits for improving depression and anxiety in pregnant mothers.
Poor sleep quality and less than six hours of sleep nightly are associated with an increased risk of depression during pregnancy.14 Recognizing the importance of sleep and prioritizing rest, as well as putting sleep supports in place, may help to modify this risk. Evidence-based tools to improve sleep for pregnant women include massages, yoga and mindfulness, regular exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, and CBT.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT is conside ...
Human minds have been conditioned for years (and through experience) to run away from things we dislike and run toward things we like. We escape avoiding discomfort, pain, and unease while we chase what brings us immediate pleasure, gratification, or a sense of control. This is an interesting concept to observe and understand. Today as we change homes, jobs, and relationships, we can see that the same principles apply. Let’s walk together, mindfully, as we take a closer look at the mind’s tendencies and how they affect us, our families, our workplaces, and the world around us.
When we go through difficult times, we’ve all heard a close friend or family member say, “Just let it go.” you may have noticed that sometimes the mind will replay these difficult times repeatedly, and what we remember about the incident can change dramatically over time. We may also remember things differently from others involved. Even people who feel they have a perfect memory will be biased in their mental perspectives. As a result, we may not speak kindly of a person or an experience that has hurt us, and we may even act differently because of our “understanding” of it. This can happen both in our personal and professional lives.
“the truth is, unless you let go unless you forgive yourself unless you forgive the situation unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
This means that two people can look at the same moment from different perspectives—through the “vision” each person carries from past life experiences. So, if we go to a party and I remember it as having a fabulous spread of tasty treats because I love fruit, you may have found it awful because you are a pastry maker looking for unique baked creations. If either of us tells the other to “let it go,” the hurt that one may feel from that comment will be based on how much we have self-identified by our preferences. I might look forward to interacting with people more at parties, and you may look forward to the food itself. All of this affects us when we think of letting go.
Similarly, in the workplace, the more one identifies with the work or work environment, the less easy it would be to “let go” in times of change. If one loves the job, it’s not easy to let it go if there’s a job loss; however, if one focuses on finances and loses the job to get a higher-paying one, it may feel easier. If someone values working with different people, almost any job may be
satisfying. Once again, it helps to know what people may identify with to fully understand why we do what we do, and what makes letting go easier for some and harder for others.
Once we have this understanding, moving forward after let- ting go (or being let go) in any situation can be easier. Resentment, anger, guilt, and judgment toward oneself or others only build resistance to the reality of the situation. Letting go is easier when one comes from a forgiving space, as steve maraboli’s quote shows us.
Remember, when moving away from what is not liked, let- ting go is easier. It’s less easy to let go in situations that were once loved—whether it’s a job or a relationship. When one grieves deeply, this is the best time to try to understand oneself deeply too. Since we are all interconnected, under- standing oneself honestly and fully often opens awareness and understanding of others as well. This space of under- standing allows for true forgiveness in a situation; this is the space that allows us to let go of opinions, beliefs, and judgments. This then opens a world of possibilities that the mind will be ready to see and receive joyfully.
The mind truly loves to hold on to what it finds pleasurable. This may be a sensory-related item, such as food or the touch of another. Sometimes it’s the feeling of power or authority over others, which can happen personally or professionally. Tactics such as using money or yelling can become a power “weapon” in these scenarios. You’ve likely heard of incidents where neither of these tactics has been obvious at first, but drastic incidents have occurred as a result, leading to domestic and/or public violence. Many relationship break-ups have this history, where someone has learned to hold on to their “power” secretively.
Can you believe that holding on can lead to such experiences- es? Perhaps you even know of an employee who walked out of their office at a moment’s notice, or a partner that was suddenly handed divorce papers. This happens more often than you might think. Sometimes holding on when one feels wronged even has financial repercussions, as these cases might go to court at great cost to all involved.
I hope you can see that the act of “holding on”- if not accompanied by love, honesty, and integrity—can easily lead to greed, jealousy, competition, and anger.
Unfortunately, many of us have experienced these sorts of situations or heard about them i ...
The "gut microbiome" has been an increasingly popular buzzword and the importance of gut health has gained momentum. To define it properly, our gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms present in our digestive tract. This involves bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Emerg- ing research in the last decade has identified the microbiome as an essential target for health that impacts our ability to lose weight and the risk of atopic diseases, such as asthma, allergies, eczema, cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders, and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the prevalence of mental health concerns. Mental health connects all our human experiences, regardless of age, race, language, time zone, or country; we've all been touched by its positive and negative effects.
There is a strong bidirectional relationship between the health of our gut and our mental health. Patients with gastrointestinal concerns also tend to have at least one psychiatric medical condition. These patients can experience chronic stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia—all as a result of their symptoms and poor gut health.2,3 Gastrointestinal conditions can include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), celiac disease, and Crohn's disease.
The gut-brain axis influences many regular body processes, including our immune, endocrine, and neural pathways. This means that to take care of our mental health, we must also take care of our gut microbiome.
Factors that disrupt our gut microbiome include stress, the use of antibiotics and/or pharmaceuticals (including the birth control pill), consuming food additives and preservatives, and overly restrictive diets. These can all alter the balance of good vs. bad bacteria in the gut, and encourage the growth of bad bacteria.
Symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas can be a sign that the gut microbiome is disrupted. Another not-so-obvious sign of a damaged gut is skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. These symptoms can occur because our skin is the largest organ of elimination. When our body isn't properly able to eliminate toxins and waste products through our bowels, urine, and sweat, it often turns to release them through the skin.
It’s important to address these health conditions early on to avoid further harm to your gut microbiome.
“Diversity In Your Gut Microbiome Appears To Improve Resilience Against Infection And Illness.”
Supporting The Microbiome
The beautiful thing about using food as medicine is that better health can begin as early as your very next bite. The food we eat plays an important part in how our gut microbiome develops. The habits we follow each day determine what our gut microbiome is colonized with (i.e., whether the good or bad microorganisms dominate).
While there is never a "one size fits all" approach to nutrition, one finding appears to be true across the gut microbiome literature: diversity in your gut microbiome appears to improve resilience against infection and illness. This is be- cause different microorganisms serve different functions. For example, xyloglucans (commonly found in vegetables such as onions and lettuce) are uniquely digested by a specific species of Bacteroides.4 This means that the greater microbiome diversity there is, the greater the chance you'll always have microorganisms that are "working."
Multiple studies have noted a positive relationship between increased fruit and vegetable intake and positive psychological well-being.5,6,7 For instance, a 2018 systemic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies noted a 14 percent lower risk of depression in cohort studies (a type of long-term study that follows participants over an extended period) and a 25 percent lower risk of depression in cross-sectional studies (a type of observational study that compares participants at a certain snapshot in time).
A probiotic often comes in the form of a supplement, and is deemed the "beneficial bacteria." Taking probiotics consistently can help repopulate your gut microbiome with microorganisms that help in digestion, immune function, skin health, and—you guessed it—mental health. There's even some evidence that probiotics can be used both acutely and preventatively for disease.
There is so much variation in probiotics that it's important to start a supplement regime under the guidance of a naturopathic doctor. Probiotics vary in:
1)Amount of bacteria
2)Types of bacterial strains
3)Frequency of dosing
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most popular bacterial strains. Many factors determine whether probiotics are a good fit for you, and which are your best options.
Prebiotic foods are the foods that feed the good microorganisms in the gut.9 Incorporating prebiotic foods daily helps to maintain a healthy mi ...
Lomatium dissectum is a powerful antiviral herb and has been used historically by the Indigenous peoples of the United States for this purpose. During the 1918 influenza epidemic, the Washoe people of southwestern United States gathered the root and used it in the treatment of their sick. They prepared the medicine (either fresh or dried) by boiling it in water, skimming off the oils and resins on the surface, and giving large doses of the broth. The affected person would drink this tea for three days, which was considered the longest time needed to break up a fever caused by a viral or pulmonary infection. Whether a coincidence or not, no deaths were reported among the tribe from influenza or its complications. Other tribes in nearby regions, where the plant did not grow, reported numerous deaths. A doctor named Ernest Krebbs, who was working in the desert in Nevada, also noticed Indigenous people using the root to cure those stricken with influenza. Using strong decoctions of the root, the ill were able to get well within a week. Krebbs and other doctors started to use the root and found it to have great healing benefits. Since the plant grew on the western frontier, it did not get the medical profession's attention in general, and its use fell out of favor for a time.
In a modern clinical setting, Lomatium root has been used to cure the initial stages of acute pharyngitis, subacute pharyngitis (which is persistent and slower to heal), and tonsils. It has also been used for influenza and pneumonia. It’s a proven remedy for viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, especially those of the respiratory and urinary tract.
An interesting subject I have come across in my study of traditional medicine is the ascription of certain archetypal pat- terns to medicinal plants. The most basic patterns are based on a circle of elements. For example, warming herbs are associated with the element of fire, moistening herbs with the element of water, and so on. Although there are different systems of elemental patterns from different schools of traditional medicine, they all seem to benefit from working in this way. Certain Indigenous traditions are based on a circle of animals from the local area, which may include snake, elk/deer, bear, wolf, and rabbit archetypes. They historically recognized certain plant medicines as being associated with a certain animal; some resemble an animal in some way or are the food of that animal, or perhaps the plant and its animal appeared together in dreams or visions. It was believed that animal medicine could im- part the beneficial qualities of its associated animal to an individual in need of them.
Lomatium is part of a herb group that’s considered to be bear medicines. These herbs typically have brown (some- times furry/hairy), oily, spicy, and aromatic roots. Bears like to eat these plants in the spring after they wake up from their hibernation. The aromatic qualities help to warm up and reinvigorate their sluggish digestive system, which has been slowed through long periods of hibernation. The roots of these plants are full of oils that stimulate lipid metabolism in the liver. As with many medicinal herbs, the effect on the body is regulated. Bear medicines can be of benefits to those who lack oils in their systems, such as those with dry skin or dry hair and scalp; but they can also be beneficial in cases where there is an excess of oils, such as for teenagers with acne-prone or oily skin. Oily plants help us build our stores of subcutaneous fat, which is essential for insulating us from cold and damp conditions. Similarly, bears rely on high quantities of oils in their diet to develop a thick layer of fat which helps to insulate them through the winter.
Adequate oil intake is essential in the production and maintenance of the adrenal hormones. The fatty outer layer of the adrenal glands is the adrenal cortex. It’s responsible for the synthesis and secretion of a variety of hormones, such as cortisol. The bear medicines are rich in oils that help to replenish the adrenal cortex and can benefit those with adrenal fatigue. Cortisol is essential for making stored fats and sugars available in stressful situations requiring resilience and strength. Of all the animals, the bear is known for possessing exceptional strength and courage. They are usually docile and calm, spending much of their time fishing or foraging for nuts, roots, berries, and honey; but mother bears are capable of being quite ferocious when they must defend their cubs. They stand their ground (sometimes on two legs) or even charge at a perceived threat when other animals would run in fear. The bear medicines help pro- vide nourishing oils for energy storage and for maintaining the health of the adrenals so that we might possess the strength and courage of the bear when we need it. Other examples of these medicines include members of the Apiaceae family, like Osha (Ligustic ...
Are you struggling to “bounce back” after the holidays? It could be stress, it could be burning the candle at both ends, or it could be the over-indulging that so many of us enjoy in December and pay for in the new year. How can you help your body get back to better health? One way is to support your liver with the herb milk thistle.
On any given day, the liver is involved in digestion, metabolism, detoxification, storage, production, and immunity.1 It’s a very important organ! When the liver isn’t working to the best of its ability, you might experience symptoms like bloating or abdominal pain, nutrient deficiencies, issues with cholesterol or blood sugar, aggravations of PMS and menopause symptoms, skin rashes, or fatigue.2 Because the liver’s functions are so broad, the side effects of dysfunction are as well. The best way to tell if the symptoms you’re experiencing are due to your liver is through blood work. If you haven’t had blood testing done recently, ask your doctor if they can help you investigate the health of this organ.
Checking Liver Function
If your blood testing results indicate that your liver isn’t performing as well as it should, some of the most important (and basic) things to consider changing are nutrition, movement, and alcohol intake.
Milk thistle is a liver-loving herb in many naturopathic doctors’ toolkits. If you’re looking for gentle liver support, it might be the right fit for you. Milk thistle has been used for cancer care, hepatitis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s often considered for women’s general health and wellness too, as milk thistle supports liver function, blood sugar management, and lower cholesterol levels.
Fatty Liver and Hepatitis
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition that affects about 20 percent of Canadians.5 While it’s generally benign, over time and unaddressed, this can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In addition to excess fat in the liver, NASH presents with inflammation and scarring of the liver that can progress to cirrhosis.6 While experimental studies have shown milk thistle to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifibrotic benefits, it has yet to be demonstrated consistently in clinical trials.7 More research is required to help determine milk thistle’s appropriate dosage in people managing fatty liver and hepatitis, but this treatment has generally been shown to be highly tolerated and safe.
Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
Blood sugar and cholesterol management are very common concerns. People are often looking for alternatives to get things under control so they might avoid prescription medications. In a 2018 clinical trial, participants with type 2 diabetes who received 140 mg of silymarin (from milk thistle) three times a day, demonstrated significant decreases in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This group also showed improvements in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and insulin sensitivity.
Milk thistle has been researched for its estrogenic (promoting estrogen production and activity in the body) effects on women’s health. In one clinical trial, menopausal women treated with this herb reported a decrease in the frequency and severity of hot flashes they had been suffering with.
Another Interesting Application
A 2021 clinical trial found that a milk thistle ointment applied to the perineum after episiotomy (a procedure sometimes required during labor and delivery) improved healing time and decreased the severity of pain experienced by women.11
Given the research available today, milk thistle has its great- est influence on patients with cholesterol and blood sugar management issues, while showing some interesting potential for women’s health and cancer care. How beneficial it is for those struggling with fatty liver remains to be seen; but given its safety profile, it may still be a good consideration for general liver health.
An important point to clarify is that although supplements can help with detoxification, it’s your liver that is always doing that job—supplements or not. Your liver is always working.12 How efficiently it’s working depends on a combination of genetics, age, and overall health. The first step is to see your healthcare provider check on how your liver is working, which will require blood testing and possibly an abdominal ultrasound. It can then be decided whether milk thistle is the right fit for you and your health goals.
How do you know if you have acute or chronic pain?
Pain within the first two days after you notice it is considered acute; if it lasts for more than two days, it becomes sub-acute. This phase is critical because if the pain isn’t treated properly, it can become chronic, meaning it has been there for three months or more and is persistent or recurring.
Top Three Things To Focus On
» Daily movement
» Eating a whole foods diet
» Incorporating daily strategies for temporary relief of pain
Acute pain can start with swelling, inflammation, and pain; it can be worse initially and gradually get better over time.
Chronic pain can become very complex. It might start with a major injury, a small one, or even without any obvious cause. When it progresses or worsens, it starts to affect other areas of life or daily activities, such as the ability to carry out chores like cooking or cleaning. Chronic pain can also affect relationships with people and cause stress or mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.
In most cases, you can do many things to prevent pain from becoming chronic and complex. It can be very overwhelming with so many different options to consider for treatment. The best thing you can do is to seek help from your chiropractor, who is trained in this area. Your chiropractor can help narrow down your treatment options to find one that will provide the best results.
When it comes to chronic pain, it’s important to note that treatment can take a while to provide significant long-term results. The key to effective treatment is being consistent with your recommended plan at home and keeping up with appointments.
If you are dealing with chronic pain, there are some things you can start on your own at home right now, before your first chiropractic appointment.
Moving your body every single day (whatever that looks like for you) can help to reduce pain and inflammation, increase range of motion, improve strength, and release endorphins that may help with the pain. Movement can be as simple as going for a nature walk, stretching, and yoga; or it can in- include more intensive activities, like lifting weights, using re- resistance bands, or dance workouts. Whatever movement you can tolerate will be helpful—even if that just means changing positions frequently—as prolonged rest will almost always make the pain worse, even though it can feel good temporarily. Feeling some pain after your movements is quite common, but try to avoid movements that cause sharp pain. Your practitioner can help you find the right movements and correct your form to make them more effective.
Because sugar, alcohol, and processed foods contribute to inflammation in the body, avoiding them can help reduce pain. Eating as close to a whole-food diet as possible is key; a diet full of protein, fiber, and lots of water can be helpful with chronic pain.
Achieving pain relief, even temporarily, is different for every- one. Some solutions include ice, heat, stretching, a warm shower, Epsom salt baths, topical creams, foam rollers, and massages. These are things you can test to see if they work for you. These may help to relieve pain long enough for you to move your body or do daily activities, but they likely won’t be sufficient to manage the pain long-term or get rid of it entirely.
How Long Until I’m Better?
A question I always get in my practice is, “How long will it take to go away?” Managing or getting rid of pain can take anywhere from several months to several years; everyone re- acts differently to a treatment. Even with consistent treatment, it could still take 3–12 months to notice significant improvement. But don’t lose hope—people who believe they will get better tend to have better long-term outcomes. To this end, you can talk to someone through support groups, loved ones, or a therapist to help you through this time. Some find comfort through religion, spirituality, meditation, and breath- work as well.
Be open to trying new things and making small (but manageable) lifestyle changes in addition to getting treatment from your chiropractor for the best results.
Plant-based seems to be the new health buzzword these days. You’ve probably heard that adding plant-based foods to your diet is healthy for you and your family (bonus: for the environment too). However, as a parent, it may seem like a daunting task to convince your child to eat more fruits and veggies, and less meat and dairy products. Don’t worry—I’ve got you covered. This article will explore the researched benefits of eating plant-based foods and easy ways to incorporate them into your everyday life.
First of all, what are plant-based foods? Simply put, it's not plant-based if it comes from an animal. Although considered an acceptable part of a vegetarian diet, dairy and eggs are not plant-based either. Plant-based foods primarily consist of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses.
You don’t have to go vegan to add more plant-based foods into your diet; making one or two days of the week plant-based can be beneficial. Plant foods are typically higher in fibre, which is great for feeding your gut bacteria and promoting healthy bowel movements. This way of eating typically results in lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and chronic illnesses overall.
"Consuming healthy fats are essential for energy, brain health, hormone health, skin health, cardiovascular health, and much more."
A study by the American Gut Project showed that people who consume 30 or more different plant foods per week had greater gut diversity than those who consumed 10 or fewer plant foods per week. Why is this important? We are learning- ing that the gut is incredibly important for modulating disease in our entire bodies. Our gut health is not only important for digestion, but for many areas of health. A study carried out by Oxford University found that cardiovascular disease, cancer, and strokes could be significantly reduced by only eating meat three times or less per week. Another interesting discovery is that agricultural antibiotics were found in the gut of people who claimed to not have taken antibiotics in the past year, suggesting that the antibiotics given to livestock can end up in our gut after meat consumption.
Environmentally speaking, the farming of meat is quite inefficient. Did you know that producing a single quarter-pound burger requires 406 gallons of water?
Protein, Fats & Carbs
Now, let’s talk about the breakdown of our macronutrients (i.e., fat, carbohydrates, and protein) in a plant-based diet. You may be worried about getting enough protein, but many plant-based foods offer excellent protein sources. Plants contain all 20 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), including essential amino acids.6 All types of plants, meat, poultry, and fish contain different and/or varying amounts of each amino acid. Protein must be digested into its individual amino acids to be used in the body.
Healthy fats can be obtained through avocados, walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, to name a few. Consuming healthy fats are essential for energy, brain health, hormone health, skin health, cardiovascular health, and much more. Most plant-based foods contain carbohydrates. Fibrous veggies, fruit, beans, brown rice, lentils, nuts, and seeds all contain complex carbohydrates. These are important energy and fibre sources.
Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that is not found in plant-based foods. If you’re choosing to eat plant-based a couple of times per week, then don’t worry about this. You should be getting your B12 from the eggs, fish, and meat that you consume during the rest of the week. If you’re planning to go vegan, then the fix is as simple as supplementing with B12 daily.
Plant-based Food Tips for Kids
Make them fun! Add colour and crispy textures (or any texture your child likes), and include fun and commonly requested foods, like pancakes, nuggets, and pasta.
Start young. Pickiness typically develops in children who are not exposed to a variety of foods early in life. Starting before age two can help prevent picky eating habits later on.7
Offer options. If your kid doesn’t want to eat kidney beans, for example, try offering chickpeas instead. Or if you’re having trouble getting your child to eat broccoli, try cauliflower or cucumbers.
Involve them in the process. Much like an adult, if a kid is in- involved in preparing or cooking a meal, they are more likely to want to consume it.
Call it what it is! If something is made of tofu or pumpkin, tell them. This will remove the expectation for it to taste like the meat or dairy counterpart, and this lets them know that plant-based can also be yummy.
Overall, most of us can agree that eating more plants is beneficial. Getting our kiddos to eat them may be a challenge, but incorporating more plants into their diet can expand their palates and encourage them to enjoy all types of foods.
It should be noted that the health benef ...