Living and Thriving With Multiple Sclerosis – Quick Start Guide!

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex, multifaceted disease with many possible outcomes. Nutrition should never be considered an “alternative”, but rather an integral part of any health protocol. Taking a holistic, nutritional approach to managing MS involves addressing the body as a whole in order to achieve balance in all areas of the body. In this way, we can work towards modulating and regulating the immune system to stop the body from initiating an autoimmune attack against itself.

As both a Holistic Nutritionist and someone who has MS, I’m excited to share my experiences and knowledge to help guide you in learning how to manage this illness naturally.

Holistic nutrition recognizes that each and every person is biochemically, metabolically, and genetically unique. What might work for one person might not have the same result for someone else. Often, there can be many areas of imbalance within each unique individual. In addition to MS, a person might also have blood sugar issues, hormonal imbalances, or other inflammatory conditions like arthritis, allergies, asthma, or atherosclerosis, which could be contribute to additional inflammation. A holistic approach involves addressing all areas of imbalance to create harmony throughout the entire body.

Whether you’re recently diagnosed, or your condition has progressed to advanced stages, it is never too late to start incorporating healthy diet and lifestyle habits, and practicing stress management techniques to help you cope with your MS. The sooner you start making the appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle, the better chances you have of preventing permanent scarring, demyelination and more severe complications down the road.

There are many ways in which natural and holistic therapies can help slow the progression of this disease. I’m here to help you understand the key things you need to know about keeping your MS symptoms under control. I can teach you how to create balance in your body, decrease inflammation, and offer natural pain and symptom management.

Topics Discussed
- Putting out the fires of inflammation
- Causes of inflammation (diet, toxins, candida, stress, hormonal Imbalances, medications, impaired liver function, poor digestion)
- The importance of following an anti-inflammatory diet
- Benefits and tips of following a whole foods diet
- Foods that can help repair myelin and support
brain health
- The crucial role of B-Vitamins
- Nutritional deficiencies that affect MS
- Supplements and nutrients for symptom relief
- Putting a holistic wellness plan into action

Download a copy of The Living And Thriving With Multiple Sclerosis
Quick Start Guide for only $5!

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How To Build A Spectacular Plant-Based Super Salad

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3 Spectacular Spring Salads

Who said salad has to be boring? Not only are these recipes quick and easy to prepare, they also pack a huge nutritional punch.

Broccoli Salad With Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

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Ingredients:
4 cups broccoli florets
1 apple, diced
1 carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
Handful of dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. of raw pumpkin seeds

Orange Hemp Seed Dressing
½ cup freshly squeezed mandarin orange juice
½ avocado
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
1 tsp. maple syrup
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth.

Method:
Place the broccoli florets in a bowl. Mix in the shredded carrot and diced apple. Pour in dressing, mixing well. Toss in the pumpkin seeds, cranberries and hemp seeds. Serve chilled.

Dairy-Free Sweet Potato Salad
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Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cubed, boiled and cooled
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
Handful of raw pumpkin seeds
1 large scoop of *dairy-free mayo (or enough to cover the salad)

Method:
Peel the sweet potato and chop into bite sized cubes. Boil until tender (about 8 minutes), then cool.
In a bowl, combine sweet potatoes, green onions and one scoop of avocado mayo, mixing gently.
Toss with pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds. Chill before serving.

* Dairy-Free Mayonnaise
There are two versions of the homemade dairy-free mayonnaise that can be used in this recipe. One uses avocado, and the other is made with organic tofu.
Alternatively, if you are short on time, you can also use a product called Vegenaise. I recommend the organic version, which uses 100% certified organic, non GMO ingredients. Vegenaise can be found in the organic or natural section of many large chain grocery stores, or health food stores.

Homemade Avocado Mayonnaise
½ avocado
Juice from half a lemon
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sweet paprika
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, or mix thoroughly in a bowl. Any extra can be used as a dip for snacking on vegetable sticks.

Tofu Mayonnaise
½ cup of soft organic tofu
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Process all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Purple Cabbage Quinoa Salad
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Ingredients:
½ cup of dry, uncooked quinoa (makes 2 cups cooked)
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, diced
1 carrot, shredded
½ head purple cabbage, chopped or shredded
1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Small handful of parsley, chopped
¼ red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or ¼ tsp. garlic powder
Handful of alfalfa sprouts

Dressing
½ avocado (or 3 Tbsp. of cold pressed, virgin olive oil)
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. of maple syrup
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
Add all ingredients to a food processor, or mix well in a bowl.

Method:
Cook quinoa and allow to cool (see cooking tip below).
Prepare all ingredients and add to a large bowl. Toss in the chilled quinoa, mix in the dressing and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to blend together.

*Quinoa Cooking Tips
Rinse quinoa under cold water in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.
Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes, turn heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Chill before adding to the salad.

Blueberry Chia Seed Jam

blueberry chia seed jam

Only 3 ingredients and less than 20 minutes to prepare!

High in omega 3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber!
Due to the high level of anthocyanins found in blueberries (the flavonoid pigment found in red/purplish fruits and vegetables), studies have found these decadent little berries to improve memory and increase neural signaling in the brain!

*** RECIPE ***
Ingredients
• 3 cups fresh blueberries
• 3-4 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
• 3 Tablespoons chia seeds (whole)

Method
1. In a medium-sized pot, bring the blueberries and maple syrup to a light boil, stirring frequently.
2. Reduce heat to low/medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Mash the blueberries with a fork or potato masher.
4. Add the chia seeds and simmer until the jam thickens, approximately 15 minutes.
Stir frequently to avoid it sticking to the bottom on your pot.
5.Once the jam has thickened, remove from heat. Store in an air-tight glass jar in the refrigerator.
Will keep for up to one week.

Your Healthy Colon Guide


Hippocrates said it best “All disease begins in the gut”

Do you suffer from digestive issues? Chronic gas and bloating, constipation, loose stools, food sensitivities?

Good health is not only a reflection of the food we eat, but of how well we are able to absorb the nutrients from our food and eliminate waste. Poor digestive health affects every system in the body. If your body isn’t able to efficiently absorb the vitamins and minerals from your food, you could still face nutritional deficiencies, despite eating a healthy diet. Deficiencies due to lack of absorption can lead to chronic fatigue, poor intestinal health, head aches, joint pain, osteoporosis, and a weakened immune system.

There are many factors that contribute to poor digestive health.

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If you have answered YES to any of these questions, you could benefit
from the information provided in the first module of our new Holistic Health Series: Your Colon Health.

This 32 page PDF offers advice on how to achieve and maintain optimal digestive health, and addresses areas such as: Chronic constipation and diarrhea, fast and slow bowel transit times, candida, food sensitivities, the importance of probiotics and prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and the benefits of following a hypoallergenic diet.

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Deficiencies and Imbalances Related to Skin Issues

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Are you Getting Enough Vitamin D?

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Most of us in North America have heard about the importance of vitamin D, but do you know the signs and symptoms of deficiency, and when to know if it’s something you should be supplementing with?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and while a small amount can be found in the diet, most of it is made in the body in response to sun exposure.

A Few Facts About Vitamin D
• Required for the absorption of calcium
• Needed for the proper formation of bones & teeth
• Assists in regulation of the heartbeat
• Aids in healthy thyroid function
• Important for proper blood clotting
• Essential for healthy neuromuscular function
• Helpful in maintaining healthy eyesight
• Enhances immune function (cancer prevention)
• Helps with depression and anxiety

Symptoms of Deficiency
• Muscle aches and pain, weakness
• Bone aches and pain. Bones can feel painful to moderate pressure.
(often more noticeable in the ribs or shin bones)
• Malformation of bones
Osteomalacia (weakening of the bones – demineralization)
• Osteoporosis (thinning of bones, loss of bone density)
• Insomnia
• Myopia (nearsightedness)
• Depression
• Children with severe deficiency may have soft skull or leg bones. Their legs may look curved (bow-legged).
They may also complain of bone pains, often in the legs, muscle pains or muscle weakness. This condition is known as rickets.

A lack of vitamin D over a period of just a few months can cause the beginning stages of osteomalacia; skeletal demineralization of the spine, pelvis and lower extremities. Signs and symptoms of osteomalacia include: burning in the mouth and throat, bone tenderness, muscle  weakness, nervousness, diarrhea, and insomnia.

Causes of Deficiency
• Metabolic abnormalities with absorption or metabolism of vitamin D
• Sedentary indoor lifestyle
• Those who always cover up when outside, including those who wear traditional veils or burqas.
• Regular use of sunblock
• People over the age of 65. The elderly tend to have thinner skin which means it contains less fat/cholesterol to be turned into vitamin D by the sun.
• Having dark skin (darker skin absorbs less vitamin D)
• Liver of gallbladder dysfunction
• Kidney and liver disorders
• Intestinal ailments such as IBS, Crohn’s and celiac disease
• Low fat diets

Types of Vitamin D
There are several forms of vitamin D. D2(ergocalciferol) comes from food sources such as: fish, cod liver oil, eggs, dandelion greens, mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potatoes, alfalfa, nettle, and parsley. Vitamin D3(cholecalciferol) is synthesized in the skin in response to sun exposure. Both types are available in supplement form, D3 being the most active and bioavailable.

Precautions
Vitamin D has a potential for toxicity. Unless diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, supplementing more than 1,000 IU for adults and 400 IU for children is not recommended.  Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means your body has a hard time getting rid of it if you take too much. When you take large amounts of vitamin D, the liver produces a chemical called 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D].

Excess vitamin D increases calcium buildup in the blood and can increase the risk of kidney stones. High blood calcium is a condition called hypercalcemia.
Symptoms of hypercalcemia include: poor appetite or loss of appetite, thirst, frequent urination, abdominal pain, confusion, fatigue, and muscle weakness.

Testing
A 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in the body. Testing should be done at least once a year, especially at the beginning of winter. If you are supplementing, monitor your vitamin D levels approximately every 3 months until you are in the optimal range. If you are taking high doses as recommended by your doctor, ask to also have your calcium, phosphorous, and parathyroid hormone levels checked every 3 months.

Since everyone is different, Vitamin D toxicity can happen even at low levels of supplementation. (1)
As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, my professional opinion is that we should all be supplementing wisely when it comes to fat-soluble vitamins.

Optimal Levels
•  Dangerously Low Levels = Less than 12 ng/mL: Vitamin D deficiency, leading to rickets in infants and children and osteomalacia in adults
Low Levels = 20-30 ng/mL: Vitamin D insufficiency
Normal = Greater than 30 ng/mL: Sufficient
Optimal = 50-80 ng/mL: Recommended
High = Greater than 100 ng/mL: Emerging evidence links potential adverse effects to such high levels

Vitamin D and Thyroid Conditions
Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining proper thyroid function and  balancing the Th1 and Th2 cells of the immune system. It behaves as a co-hormone, as sufficient levels of vitamin D are essential for proper uptake of thyroid hormones by the cells. Studies show that vitamin D deficiency goes hand-in-hand with hypothyroidism.(2)

Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with numerous autoimmune diseases, including MS. Since vitamin D is absorbed in the small intestine, an inflamed GI tract, which is extremely common in people with multiple sclerosis, reduces its absorption. Many medical doctors prescribe megadoses of vitamin D to patients with MS.  It is always wise to have blood serum levels checked before taking high doses of any fat-soluble vitamin.

FACTORS AFFECTING ABSORPTION

Stress and High Cortisol
High cortisol levels caused by stress or medications are also associated with lower vitamin D levels. The synthesis of active vitamin D from sunlight depends on cholesterol. Stress hormones are also made from cholesterol. When the body is in an active stress response, most of the cholesterol is used to make cortisol and not much is left over for the production of vitamin D. (3)

Obesity
Obesity reduces the bioavailability of active vitamin D. Those who are overweight typically have lower serum levels since it’s extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D. (4)

Poor Fat Metabolism
Poor fat metabolism is another factor contributing to malabsorption of this important vitamin. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it requires fat to be absorbed. It also requires conversion by the liver and kidneys before becoming fully active. Those on low-fat diets and people with conditions that impair fat absorption like IBS, IBD, gall bladder dysfunction, liver or kidney disease are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D and are at higher risk for osteoporosis.

Medications
Some medications are known to reduce absorption or biologic activity of vitamin D such as antacids, replacement hormones, corticosteroids, anticoagulants, blood thinners and laxatives.

Inflammation
Inflammation of any type reduces the utilization of vitamin D, which is why those with any inflammatory health condition should be following a well balanced, hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory diet! (5)

Sources:
1. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13050
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24320141
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15211579
4. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/3/690.full
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18194227