Health & Nutrition Blog – Healthy Planet Canada

All about Magnesium – Which Form Works Best?

Magnesium
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.

Is Being Dairy-Free Healthy?

Dairy-free
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.

How to Choose the Best Vitamin C Supplement

best vitamin c
Currently, vitamin C is one of the most popular supplements on the market. This powerful nutrient often makes a comeback to the display shelves every flu season. Given the unique circumstances of 2020-2021, it is no surprise that vitamin C has continuously been flying off the shelves more often than usual. Not only is vitamin C an important player in the immune system, but it also helps improve iron absorption, build collagen, prevent oxidative stress, strengthen arteries, and support brain health. Even with all these benefits, humans are the only mammals that cannot create their own vitamin C. This means that we must prioritize getting vitamin C through our diets every day. The main food sources of vitamin C are raw fruits and vegetables, and taking a supplement can ensure we are getting optimal doses every day. Types of vitamin C supplements It is easy to get overwhelmed looking at all the vitamin C options in the health food store. Not only does vitamin C come in different doses, they also come in different forms. Ascorbic acid The scientific name of vitamin C is ascorbic acid – the two names are used interchangeably. The ascorbic acid form is the most researched and widely available form of vitamin C. Compared to other forms, it is relatively cheap, though not as absorbable. Taking high doses can result in an accumulation of unabsorbed vitamin C in the intestines, leading to diarrhea. To counter the acidity of the vitamin, ascorbic acid should be taken after a meal so that the food can neutralize the pH. Ascorbic acid is also water-soluble and easily excreted through urine. As a result, this form tends to stay in the body for around 4 hours. When supplementing, taking frequent doses (1-3 times/day) ensures consistent levels of vitamin C. Best option: NOW Ascorbic Acid Powder 454g Calcium ascorbate (buffered vitamin C) Do not be confused when you see the word “calcium” on your vitamin C supplement. While ascorbic acid is acidic, ascorbate is bound to a mineral such as calcium, in order to make it neutral and better absorbed. For those that are prone to stomach upset, taking a buffered vitamin C can be easier on the digestive system. Because vitamin C is bound to a mineral, a lower dose of ascorbate can yield the same effect and absorption rate as an ascorbic acid that has a higher dose. Best option: New Roots Calcium Ascorbate Vitamin C 60 Capsules Vitamin C with bioflavonoids You may have seen some vitamin C supplements that contain an extra active ingredient known as bioflavonoids. These bioflavonoids are polyphenolic compounds naturally found in plants. Natural sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, will contain their own bioflavonoids. Many well-formulated vitamin C supplements will mimic this by adding bioflavonoids to their product, increasing absorbability. Best option: Natural Factors Vitamin C 1000mg Plus Bioflavonoids & Rosehips 90 Tablets Liposomal vitamin C Liposomes are like little fat-soluble containers that carry the vitamin C cargo to the cells, where it is absorbed directly. Because they are fat-soluble, they can easily enter the cell membrane. Each cell is surrounded by a bilayer of fatty acids. Normally, water-soluble vitamin C has a tricky time getting absorbed directly because water and oil do not mix. By encasing the vitamin C in a layer of its own layer of fatty acids, the bioavailability of liposomal vitamin C increases dramatically. Vitamin C is absorbed into the cells directly, so almost all of it can be used for various body functions. Plus, because it is not water-soluble like ascorbic acid, liposomal vitamin C stays in the body longer and only needs to be taken once a day. Best option: Cyto Matrix Liposomal C 225mL Which vitamin C should I choose? Now that you understand the different types of vitamin C supplements, you can make a better choice for yourself. While the more absorbable forms of vitamin C are more expensive, they also tend to have a better effect and can yield better results. Depending on how much vitamin C you consume in your daily diet, how often you can remember to take your supplements, and your personal budget, you may decide to pick one type of vitamin C over the other. 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. 

Digestive Enzymes vs Digestive Bitters – Which Should You Choose?

Digestive Enzymes or Digestive Bitters
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.

A Herb for Parasites and More - Black Walnut

Black Walnut Herb
I remember my first time truly noticing the black walnut tree; what I saw was that nothing could grow around it. I found this to be quite unusual in an otherwise vibrant, diverse woodland. That day, I learned about black walnut's allelopathic (growth-inhibiting) effect on some plant species. The fact that not much will grow under a black walnut tree is likely due to its juglone compounds.  Another remarkable thing about the walnut tree is that although it may grow thousands of kilometers away from any seawater or sea vegetation, scientists have found that it's high in iodine and has the power to change one mineral to another through biological transmutation. The iodine found in black walnut (or Juglans nigra) is organic, antiseptic, and healing. Plant Description  Black walnut is a native North American deciduous tree that grows to a height of 15–23 meters, with a trunk roughly one meter in diameter. Approximately two meters from the ground, the tree divides into numerous neatly horizontal, wide-spreading branches with smooth grey bark that forms an upright, umbrella-like crown in the woods or a round-topped crown when out in the open. The leaves vary from 30–50 cm long, consisting of seven or eight pairs of leaflets along a central axis and a single leaflet at the tip. Leaflets emerge very late in the spring and are yellow-green in color; in the autumn, the leaves are yellow. Its flowers are inconspicuous in elongated green clusters. The fruit is three to five centimetres in diameter consisting of a hard shell, a furrowed nut enclosed in a green husk, and becomes darker when ripe. History It was said that in the “golden age” when people lived upon acorns, the gods lived upon walnuts hence the name of Juglans, Jovis glans, or Jupiter’s nuts. The name walnut comes from the German wallnuss or welsche nuss, which means “foreign nut.” The walnut was dedicated to the goddess Artemis in Ancient Greece, and the tree symbolized wisdom, fertility, longevity, and strength in adversity.6 The late Nicholas Culpeper, a renowned English herbalist, suggests that the bark is very astringent when he states, “Doth bind and dry very much.” He also says that the mature bitter leaves are useful for killing broad worms in the stomach, and the green hulls boiled with honey are a great remedy for sore throats and inflammation of the mouth and stomach.7 Black walnuts have historically been used to dye fabrics a rich tan to dark brown colour. The hulls have the most concentration of stain and cannot be removed with soap and water alone. Any natural fibre may be dyed with Juglans nigra. Medicinal Properties & Indications  Digestive System Juglans nigra is one of nature’s most powerful anthelmintics or antiparasitics. It eradicates the overgrowth of microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and yeasts, as well as addresses parasites, worms, and flukes. It is used as a remedy for digestive and liver insufficiency with possible jaundice, headaches, and tissue congestion. Naturopathic doctor Jill Stansbury writes about using it when there is a dry, acrid feeling in the throat and mouth.8 It may also be used specifically when there is soreness in the tonsil area experienced as a sensation coming from the external neck and throat, rather than from the inner throat.9 Though not specific for skin disorders, the colon cleansing and tonifying effects of the herb provide benefits for chronic skin disorders caused by imbalances of digestion and assimilation. Indications:  » parasites  » worms - pinworms, threadworms, roundworms, hookworms, giardia  » flukes - liver flukes  » candida  » fungal infections  » irritation of the intestines  » inflammation of the intestines  » constipation  » diarrhea  » liver congestion  » gallbladder congestion  » intestinal permeability  » dysbiosis Endocrine System  As a superlative herb for the thyroid, Juglans nigra is both stimulating for hypothyroidism, and a nourishing trophorestorative.  Juglans nigra is the remedy for times of change in life. It’s an ally for advancing the stages of maturity (e.g., teething, puberty, menopause) or big life-change decisions that break conventions, helping us leave old limits and habits behind. Indications:  » hypothyroidism   » goitre  » low metabolism  » boils  » abscesses  » electric shocks (often due to mycotoxin illness) Contraindications & Safety  » pregnancy » breastfeeding Use caution with long-term use.  Preparations & Applications  Dosage:  Tincture (1:5): Adult: 5 mL three times daily (TID)  Children:  >1 yr: 1–3 gtts (drops) TID  >2 yrs.: 1–2 mL TID  2–4 yrs.: 1–3 mL TID  >5 yrs: 3 mL TID Tea (Infusion): Add 1–2 tsp dried hull with 8 oz hot water. Cover and steep for 10–30 minutes. Take 3 c/day for adults, ½ c/day for children between 2–5 yrs. ...

Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Pain Relief

Diet For Pain Relief
If you’ve been trying to reduce overall aches and pains but have hit a bit of a roadblock, you might be able to move the needle by making a few small dietary changes. Some main dietary contributors that can increase pain are a lack of hydration, insufficient fiber, and too many processed foods. Making a few changes in just these areas can make a huge difference. Stay Hydrated  About 70 percent of the body including muscles and joints is made up of water. Not drinking enough water leads to dehydration, causing your muscles and joints to become less lubricated and stiff. It can also lead to faster degeneration of the spine and the discs over time. Not drinking enough can also lead to headaches, low blood pressure, and insufficient fluids to flush toxins out of the body, which can lead to more pain and inflammation. Mineral levels are also depleted when you are dehydrated. Due to their importance for the basic function and repair of many systems in your body, supplementation may be required if you’re not replacing these minerals within your diet. Fiber Slowly increasing your fiber intake (along with water) can help reduce inflammation, which can subsequently reduce pain. Eating fiber pulls sugar out of the body (that’s a good thing); sugar increases inflammation and leads to other physiological problems that may also contribute to increased pain in the body. Fiber also cleans out the intestines to ensure we don't have food and waste lingering for too long and getting reabsorbed into the body. Processed Foods  Another huge contributor to inflammation is processed foods, which the body will eventually break down into sugar. I encourage you to take a look at your diet and log your food for a week or two (yes, there are apps for that). You may be surprised at how much sugar is being consumed, even though you’re not eating anything sweet!  “While it’s beneficial to remove or swap out inflammatory foods, you can increase some anti-inflammatory foods as well.”  These days, a lot of our foods are highly processed even if we cook everything at home. Most flour, for example, is processed to some degree, with white and bleached flour being the most processed. Switching to a more fiber-rich flour (such as a whole grain), or reducing flour usage in general, might be worth trying if you’ve been cooking with it in excess. Cooking oils are also inflammatory, but avocado or olive oil are two of the better options. Using avocado oil for higher-heat cooking and olive oil for lower heat is best. You can also include coconut oil and butter in moderation for medium-heat cooking or baking. Switching from the more inflammatory oils like vegetable, corn, canola, sunflower, grapeseed, and safflower—as well as margarine—to these better choices could make a difference in your inflammation and pain levels over time.  While it’s beneficial to remove or swap out inflammatory foods, you can increase some anti-inflammatory foods as well. These fiber-rich nutrient foods include cruciferous veggies, greens, nuts and seeds, berries, and fatty fish (follow the acronym SMASH: sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, and herring). There are some spices you can use in your cooking and baking that may help too, such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, or garlic. If you would like a more structured approach to eating or more guidance, the Mediterranean diet or a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB) might be right for you. Even within these diets’ guidelines, there may be ways to customize the foods you eat to make them specific to your needs. Nutrition and diet are very individualized when taking into account a person’s specific conditions and symptoms, so it’s worthwhile to consult with your healthcare practitioner to figure out what works for you. Remember, what’s good for your Aunt Minnie, may not be right for you.

Lowering Cholesterol For Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular Health and Cholesterol
High cholesterol is something that many of us deal with at some point in our lives. Cholesterol is not inherently bad; your liver makes enough naturally for proper health. The problem occurs when we add more cholesterol to our bodies through food, such as meat and dairy. These foods also have saturated and trans fats which cause your liver to create even more cholesterol the result can be high cholesterol for some people. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, so keeping it under control is very important. Supplementation can be an effective solution for your high cholesterol but check with your healthcare provider to see if this approach is right for you. Monitoring your cholesterol levels while taking supplements through regular blood tests is advisable. Taking cholesterol-lowering supplements consistently is essential to see positive results. AOR Cholesterol Control For vascular health and healthy cholesterol levels, AOR’s Cholesterol Control contains a proprietary extract of bergamot which has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and boost good cholesterol (HDL). The antioxidant and inflammation-reducing properties of bergamot also help to prevent vascular damage. It’s vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free. A. VOGEL Omega-3 Capsules A source of omega-3 fatty acids (not derived from fish or other animal sources) which support cardiovascular health. A. Vogel Omega-3 is made from fresh plant sources and is sugar-, gluten-, lactose-free, and vegetarian-friendly. CYTO MATRIX Lipo Matrix Overall cholesterol and triglyceride support your cardiovascular health. Herbal ingredients in Lipo Matrix help reduce total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol (through lipid metabolism) while increasing good HDL cholesterol. It is vegan, soy-, dairy-, gluten-free, and non-GMO. GENESTRA Col-Sterol Plant sterol intake has been shown to decrease dietary cholesterol absorption. Genestra Col-Sterol Plant Sterol Formula contains 1,300 mg of Brassica napus plant sterols in each easy-to-swallow softgel, decreasing total and LDL cholesterol while supporting cardiovascular health. NATURAL FACTORS Niacin Inositol Niacin (vitamin B3) assists in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs and is good for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Natural Factors Niacin Inositol improves cardiovascular function by promoting good cholesterol and decreasing the bad. Natural Factors niacin is delivered as inositol hexanicotinate this minimizes the flushing effect and further side effects of other niacin forms. NFH Chol Sap-15 Delivering a plant sterol intake of 1.05 g/d, overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol can be lowered between 8-15% with NFH Chol SAP-15. In addition, plant sterols have been shown to support healthy immune function and reduce inflammation. NFH Chol SAP-15 is formulated with organic flaxseed oil, ensuring optimal absorption. Flaxseed oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid, which are essential for maintaining good health. It’s non GMO, corn, egg, dairy, yeast, citrus, sugar, wheat, gluten, and starch-free, contains no preservatives, and has no artificial colour or flavor.

Healthy Eating Tips For Veggie Haters

Healthy Eating Tips
During my years in practice, I’ve realized that for many people, visiting a dietitian does not sound like fun. Unfortunately, some of my sisters and brothers in dietetics have established a bad reputation for themselves. I’ll never forget one of my first appointments as a newly-fledged dietitian with a client who was not interested in being there. “What are you going to do—write down everything I say and then tell me what I’m doing wrong?” she asked. Cue the eye roll. But I get it. If you’re already struggling with eating healthy, the last thing you need is someone telling you you’re doing everything wrong and that you need to completely overhaul your diet. The advice given by health and wellness experts is not always relatable either; I’ve seen plenty of examples of this. I follow a fitness instructor on social media who recently suggested that people with a sweet tooth should munch on cherry tomatoes when they have a craving since they have a slightly sweet flavour. “Healthy eating tips” like that frustrate me because I know that for most people, they will actually have the opposite effect. Expecting to never eat sweets and only eat vegetables will just set a person up for intense cravings, followed by immense guilt when they give in to those cravings. I’d rather see health professionals be honest and realistic with their clients. It’s a lot easier to eat healthy when you know you’re allowed to be human. You don’t have to turn into a complete veggie lover to improve your diet. I’m proof of that. I am not a fan of the taste of raw vegetables. Hand to my heart, it’s the honest truth. I have my reasons for being “frenemies” with raw veggies—maybe you can relate to some of them. First, there’s the taste. I’ve never liked bitter flavours, and veggies like broccoli and kale taste so bitter to me when they’re raw. Then, there are the potential unpleasant stomach issues that arise after eating large amounts of uncooked vegetables—the bloating, gas, and loose bowel movements are not so fun. Lastly, I don’t find that vegetables satisfy my hunger. If I eat a salad for lunch, it won’t hold me over until dinnertime.  If you can relate to any of these veggie-related problems, don’t worry. Despite these issues, I’ve figured out how to include vegetables in my daily diet while keeping my tastebuds and body happy. Don’t Like The Taste? Try This . . .  The key to adding more veggies to your diet when you don’t like the taste is to go on a flavour exploration. The easiest way to do this is to try out a variety of cuisines. Check out the restaurants in your area, or go online to find recipes for dishes from different cultures. Exploring cuisines will help you determine what makes a dish taste good to you, which you can then apply to your own cooking. This will help to improve the taste and appeal of vegetables for you. For example, when trying Indian dishes, you might discover that you prefer your veggies to be cooked with hot, spicy flavours; you might enjoy the tangy salads from Mediterranean cultures; or perhaps you like the umami flavour of a Thai stir fry.  “If you don’t know how to make veggies taste good, you aren’t going to eat them.”  While you’re taking note of the flavours you like, also pay attention to textures and colours. Do you like your veggies to be crunchy or soft? Do you prefer to eat veggies on their own or incorporate them in a mixed dish? Are brightly coloured vegetables appealing to you, or do you prefer dark greens? These may seem like rudimentary questions, but they are important to answer. If you don’t know how to make veggies taste good, you aren’t going to eat them. So, give a lot of thought to what you enjoy and apply those concepts to your grocery shopping and cooking at home. Stomach Issues . . .  The discomfort that happens in your stomach after eating a bunch of raw veggies is the result of a fibre overload. When we’re not used to eating a lot of fibre, the microbes in the colon have a heyday with the influx of insoluble fibre found in veggies. These microbes ferment the insoluble fibre that our body’s cells can’t break down, causing it to produce large amounts of gas and organic acids—the culprits behind bloating and loose stools. However, there are a few things you can do to prevent these unpleasant side effects. Whenever you’re introducing something new to your diet, be sure to start slow and gradual, and build from there. If you’re not used to eating veggies regularly and suddenly start eating them at every meal, you’re definitely in for some gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort. I suggest adding vegetables to your diet one serving at a time. If you aren’t in the habit of eating them, begin by having one serving of veggies each day. Give yourself a solid two weeks to adjust to this change. If your gut is feeling happy, introduce another serving of vegetables to your d ...

Gua Sha For Anti-Aging and Healthy Skin

Gua Sha for Skin
Anti-aging seems prevalent everywhere, especially for women, with Botox seemingly becoming the new “normal.” Many women in their early 20s are even exploring it as a preventative measure. Alternatively, a natural skin care and antiaging technique called gua sha is also becoming popular. Depending on your skin goals, gua sha may be a better option for you, and perhaps it can help you rethink your relationship with aging in general. Ancient Healing   Gua sha is an ancient healing technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that involves using a smooth-edged stone to gently scrape the skin to improve lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. This routine brings about a fundamental change in the skin by clearing blockages and creating space and movement in the underlying structures, so that skin can function at its best. The result is a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, dullness, under-eye darkness and puffiness, sagging skin, and pimples. With regular gua sha massage, you may notice a more clearly-defined jawline, a more toned neck and jowl, a “lifted” appearance of the eyes, and an overall brighter complexion. This technique is also great in relieving jaw tension, headaches, and sinus and lymphatic congestion.  Gua sha won’t deliver immediate results like Botox for anti-aging, as its effects are seen more gradually over time. Gua sha is best suited for those looking to add a daily skin care routine which supports overall health and wellness, with the added benefit of anti-aging. It can be a beautiful ritual that you can adopt to achieve long-term results, bringing relaxation and healthy skin. Top 5 Benefits Of Gua Sha  Stimulates collagen production. A gua sha facial massage can stimulate the production of collagen, which is responsible for maintaining the skin's elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Increases blood flow and lymphatic circulation. The body’s “inner ocean” runs just under the superficial capillaries of the skin, helping to remove toxins and give it that healthy glow. The scraping action of gua sha can help increase the flow of fresh oxygen and nutrients to the cells. This increased circulation helps to reduce eye puffiness and dark circles, giving the skin a more youthful and refreshed appearance. Reduces inflammation. A gentle scraping action down the neck can help to open lymphatic pathways to decrease inflammation, especially for skin conditions like acne. Inflammation is a major contributor to the aging process and gua sha can help reduce this in the skin by increasing the flow of Qi (energy). Promotes relaxation. We all know that stress can accelerate the aging process, and finding tools and routines to reduce stress is key. Mindset and perspective play a huge role in how we view our skin and self-worth. Leaning into these gentle and safe tools adds up! Gua sha can help relieve tension and promote presence in the mind, much like meditation or breathwork practices.  Accessible. Gua sha is a very accessible skin care routine that can be practiced daily at home. The most effective results come from practices that become a part of our daily routines and add to our selfconfidence. Expert tip:  Full Body Flow  “A full-body gua sha lymphatic massage “awakens” and gently massages the lymph nodes at the collarbones, under the armpits, in the groin, and behind the knees. Combine this with a gentle dry brushing routine and facial massage, and you’ve got a full-body experience that promotes lymphatic circulation, heightens immune system function, and promotes relaxation.”

Feeling Your Best Through Menopause

Menopause in Women
“Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support.” My friend looked over at me and said, “Well, I guess this is just how it is now.” She was going through perimenopause and experiencing the classic symptoms of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep issues. We live in a time where there are tools and resources to help women feel well during this important time of change, yet they often feel overwhelmed and lost on where to seek support. Women may believe they must simply accept distressing symptoms, even if they interfere with their quality of life. As a naturopathic doctor that focuses on helping women navigate perimenopause and menopause, I can assure you that this is simply not the case. The goal of supporting women through menopause is to help alleviate aggravating, acute symptoms and to create a long-term plan to support healthy aging and vitality. Every woman deserves a personalized approach when working toward health goals. 5 Tips to Ease Menopause Symptoms Building upon healthy foundations can make a positive impact on reducing your symptoms of menopause and supporting your health in the long-term. Avoid triggers for hot flashes, such as caffeine and alcohol. These substances, although delicious, can exacerbate hot flashes. Eat protein and good quality, healthy fats at every meal, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates and reducing your sugar. Incorporate foods into your diet that act as phytoestrogens, such as soy and flaxseed. These help to modulate hormones in your body.  Add omega-3s to your diet by eating fish, fish oil, and nuts and seeds.  Reduce stress, expose yourself to sunlight, and move your body daily. Hormone Replacement Therapy  As hormones begin to decline during perimenopause, women may start to experience a constellation of vasomotor, urogenital, and physical changes. Vasomotor symptoms can include bothersome hot flashes and night sweats. Urogenital symptoms may include vaginal dryness, pain, and urinary incontinence. Physical symptoms such as insomnia, mood and memory changes, and joint and muscle pain can also begin. Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be an excellent option for alleviating many of these symptoms.  There are numerous forms and options when it comes to this treatment, and when chosen appropriately, it can have tremendous benefits that go beyond just symptom management. Hormone replacement therapy can also be supportive for long-term bone, cognitive, and metabolic health. With the right discussion on the risk and benefits of treatment with their healthcare practitioner, women can take control of their health and make informed choices around HRT. Let’s explore some of the options.  Bioidentical HRT   Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy simply means that the hormones used in treatment are identical to the hormones your body produces. Some bioidentical hormone preparations are standard and found in conventional pharmaceutical products, whereas other preparations can be personalized and made in compounding pharmacies for customized doses and forms. Synthetic HRT  The hormones used in this therapy are not identical in chemical structure to the hormones produced in your body. Many common hormone replacement prescriptions come in this form.  Both bioidentical and synthetic HRT can come in gels, topical or vaginal creams, patches, or be taken orally. Depending on the goals, health history, and preferences of each individual, there are pros and cons to each option. Although there can be some risks with HRT, the safety profile of these treatments can be very high and the benefits immense. Talking with a practitioner who is well-versed in the options is a good idea to determine which approach is best for you.  Natural Medicine  Natural medicine can have powerful benefits for supporting women in this important phase of life. It can be used in combination with HRT, or on its own for women who prefer a non-hormonal treatment option. Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support. Optimizing your nutrient levels of Vitamin D, B12, and iron can be important for your energy and mood; melatonin and magnesium are supportive of sleep.  If you are struggling with vaginal dryness and pain, using a vaginal moisturizer that has hyaluronic acid can be extremely effective. The list of natural medicine that can be beneficial is extensive and is most effective when utilized in a personalized plan that fits your needs and goals. Naturopathic doctors are excellent resources to help you choose the right nutraceuticals and supplements to support your health.  Long-term Health   Along with supporting current health goals, menopause is a wonderful moment t ...