Articles

Autoimmunity and Gut Health

The human body is host to trillions of bacteria – at least 1,000 different strains. There are exciting studies on this subject, which are constantly emerging, and they explore the connection between gut bacteria and several inflammatory, autoimmune conditions. Modern day researchers are even suggesting that an imbalance of gut bacteria may have a direct link to multiple sclerosis.

The gut microbiome (which is just a fancy expression for the microscopic bacteria that live within the intestinal system) play a very important role when it comes to the development and progression of autoimmune conditions. In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers found that MS patients have a distinct microbiome compared to their healthy peers.

The study in question found that the gut bacteria in patients with remitting relapsing MS was not significantly different from that of the healthy controls. However, when RRMS patients were further divided into groups that separated those with active disease and those in remission, there was less diverse gut bacteria in the patients in active relapse compared to the healthy controls.

 It would seem that not all gut bacteria are created equal!

The “good” bacteria in the gut help to digest food, manufacture specific vitamins, and protect the lining of the digestive tract. The “bad” bacteria, concurrently, can lead to digestive disturbances, contribute to brain fog, and inflames the digestive tract. Any factors that irritate or stress the digestive tract can lead to systemic, wide-spread inflammation. By controlling inflammation in the digestive tract, we can begin to balance the immune system and potentially stop it from sending an inappropriate immune system response, which causes the body to attack its own tissues. The more we learn about our own inner ecology, the more we discover just how influential this internal environment is.

7 Factors That Contribute to an Imbalance of Bacteria in the Gut

1) Poor Digestive Health
One of the major ways we can work towards balancing our gut bacteria is by improving digestion. An inability to fully breakdown and digest proteins can result in a meal that takes longer to digest. The longer food remains stagnant inside the intestinal system, the more gases and toxins are created (which act as fuel for the wrong types of bacteria). To improve digestive function, try following the simple suggestions listed below:

  • Eat slowly and chew well – to stress and rush through a meal impairs digestion by allowing too much air to mix with the food, and prevents saliva (which contains digestive enzymes to thoroughly coat the meal as we eat).
  • To maximize digestion, it is not advised to drink water (or any other liquid) 30 minutes before or after eating. If you have difficulty swallowing, small sips are acceptable, but take the time to eat slowly and properly chew the food until it becomes a paste in your mouth before swallowing.
  • Avoid over-consumption – stop eating at a comfortable spot (when you are 80% full). Overeating causes undue stress on the body, which impairs the integrity of the intestinal walls, and can lead to widespread inflammation.
  • Populate the gut with “friendly bacteria” by consuming foods that are rich in probiotics. Probiotic foods are those that have been cultured or fermented (such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha).
    NOTE: If you are using yogurt as a probiotic, it must be plain and unsweetened. If yogurt contains fruit or added sugar, it has no probiotic benefit, no matter what the label may suggest. The healthy bacteria in the yogurt will feed on the fruit in the yogurt, instead of balancing out the bacteria present in your gut. If you use yogurt as a probiotic, choose plain, unsweetened kefir.
  • Avoid antacids – the body needs stomach acid to release protein-digesting enzymes, kill harmful microbes, and to trigger the release of other digestive enzymes from the pancreas so that food may be properly digested and absorbed.
    If you suffer from heartburn and/or indigestion, consult a natural health practitioner about addressing the root cause of instead of masking symptoms with antacids or proton pump inhibitors.
  • Consider taking a digestive enzyme before meals, but always consult a qualified health practitioner before taking any supplement(s).

2) Yeast/Candida Overgrowth
Candida is a type of yeast that is generally found in the flora of the intestinal system. Although candida organisms are naturally present in the body, they can cause problems if overgrowth occurs, resulting in candidiasis. In chronic candidiasis, rapidly multiplying candida can spread systemically throughout the body. Candida organisms are known to produce over 75 toxic substances. These toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body, causing a wide array of symptoms. Yeast produce their energy by converting sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol, which can cause symptoms such as digestive disturbances, joint pain, and brain fog.

The good bacteria in your system are responsible for keeping candida under control – however, there are many factors which can disrupt this balance, such as antibiotics, birth control pills and oral corticosteroids.

 3) Slow Bowel Transit Time
“Bowel transit time” is the length of time that it takes for food to travel through the digestive tract (an elapse between the time food enters the mouth until it is eliminated as waste). The longer food remains sedentary in the intestinal tract, the more it will ferment and produce gases. Candida organisms feed off putrefying waste in the intestines. If you suffer from constipation, increase your consumption of high fiber foods, ensure you are drinking enough water, and include healthy fats in your diet.

4) Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities (or allergies) can also contribute to irritation and inflammation in the digestive tract, which can result in an imbalance of gut bacteria. Each person has their own unique biochemistry – what contributes to inflammation in one person, might not be an issue for another. All food is capable of initiating an inflammatory response in the body. Food sensitivity testing, followed by an elimination diet, is key in determining diet-related causes of gut-related inflammation.

5) Inflammatory Foods
Over-consumption of stimulants (such as caffeine and sugar), as well as heated oils, alcohol, artificial additives and preservatives, stress the digestive system and can interrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut. It is recommended that you focus on whole foods – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and high quality protein.

6) Blood Sugar Imbalances
“Bad bacteria” in the gut are fed by elevated blood sugar levels, which allow them to grow quickly out of control. The elimination of refined sugars is recommended, as well as ensuring that protein and fiber-rich foods are part of every meal and snack.

Any food that creates dramatic spikes in blood sugar should be avoided – these include white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and concentrated fruit juice.

 7) Chronic Stress
Stress taxes the adrenal glands, and elevates cortisol (a stress hormone). These factors raise blood sugar levels, which can feed the unwanted forms of bacteria in the gut. Chronic stress, anxiety and/or negative thinking all add to the total body burden of internal toxins that can interfere with proper digestion, and disrupt the balance of “good” gut bacteria.

We would be wise to adapt new and healthier/positive methods of dealing with stress. It is critical to maintain healthy amounts of sleep, and practice stress-reduction techniques (such as deep breathing, meditation, journal writing, listening to music, enjoying nature, and spending quality time with family and loved ones).

Interested in learning more about how to improve your digestive health?
Click here to take our online course: A Holistic Approach to Digestive Health

Sources:
http://www.nature.com/articles/srep28484
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25843302
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5326653
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/could-multiple-sclerosis-begin-in-the-gut

Articles, Uncategorized

Do You Really Need to Detox Your Liver?

The liver is the most important organ in the body when it comes to getting rid of toxins!

Since the liver is responsible for whole-body detoxification, you’re actually detoxifying your entire body when you support optimal liver function.

The liver, known as the master organ of detoxification, needs to be supported on a daily basis. Due to the chemicals we are exposed to every single day, it is sometimes not enough to just rely on your body’s natural processes.

What can overload or impair the liver’s ability to detoxify?

  • High exposure to environmental toxins, alcohol, and heavy metals.
  • An inflammatory diet, trans fatty acids and excess sugar can inhibit both phase I and phase II liver detoxification pathways.
  • Several differet medications can either inhibit or modify detoxification enzymes.
  • Free radicals from immune complexes or viruses.
  • Nutritional deficiencies. Sufficient levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and sulphur containing amino acids are required to ensure optimal liver function.

    sluggish liver If you have 3 or more of the symptoms above, you might benefit from the following tips to better support your liver health in our new online eCourse: Everyday Detox – Spring/Summer Edition – An Evidence-based, Whole Food Approach To Detoxification! 

    Sign-up for a free trial of Module 7: 12 Tips to Detox Your Liver

    1. Visit the link below
    2. Create a free account
    3. Scroll down to Module 7 for your free trial

    summer

Articles

Don’t do Another Detox or Cleanse Until You Read This First!

Juice fasts, green smoothie cleanses, raw food challenges, detox kits…do any of these actually cleanse your body of toxins, or are they simply marketing ploys?


A quick google search of the word detox will produce millions of search term results. There is a plethora of websites and online health “gurus” eagerly waiting to sell you their latest green smoothie cleanse or raw food detox diet plan, but do any of these diets actually contribute to health or help rid the body of toxins?

Before I get into my lengthy explanation about why most cleanse and detox programs don’t work, I’ll give you the chance to skip ahead and offer you a solution that does work for clearing toxins from the body. Hint: This is not a fad diet!

What Does it Mean to Detox?

From a clinical standpoint, detoxification usually takes place in medical detox facility or treatment center staffed with doctors and nurses to help patients safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol. Another type of medical detox is performed in the case of an accidental drug overdose. Neither of these two scenarios are what we are referring to when discussing nutritional detoxification.

In the world of health and wellness, the term detoxification refers to ridding the body of toxins, chemicals, and heavy metals, as well as harmful metabolites produced within the human body. Proper detoxification does not involve depriving the body of food by going on a juice fast or taking laxatives to purge the bowels.

In fact, it’s just the opposite!

The body requires specific nutrients plus fiber and sufficient protein (amino acids) for metabolic detoxification pathways within the liver to work properly(1). If certain nutrients are lacking in the diet, or if digestion is compromised in any way (due to food intolerances, antacids, frequent antibiotic use, lack of good gut bacteria), our natural detoxification processes will be disrupted and toxins will store in the fatty tissues of the body instead of being neutralized and eliminated(2)(3)(4).

The problem with strict raw food diets is that they are not necessarily balanced, nor are they appropriate for everyone. As a holistic nutritionist, many of my clients have digestive issues such as IBS, food intolerances, or Celiac disease. Anyone suffering from either acute or chronic digestive disturbances should avoid high fiber, raw food diets, which can aggravate digestive problems. It is best to treat the root cause of digestive issues, rather than follow a fad diet that claims to be a “cure-all”. Human beings are much more complicated than one-size-fits-all, quick-fix diets that don’t take into account that each and every one of us are biochemically, metabolically and genetically unique – with different health challenges.

Exclusive raw food diets can also aggravate thyroid imbalances due to something called goitrogens, which is a substance found primarily in raw cruciferous vegetables. Goitrogens disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake to the thyroid gland. In moderate amounts, raw goitrogen containing foods (broccoli, kale, spinach) won’t normally cause any issues. However, for those with even a subclinical thyroid condition, an over consumption of these foods when eaten raw can create enough of an imbalance to pose a problem. Studies show that steaming or cooking these foods deactivates goitrogenic potential, while also making these foods easier to digest, which is why I don’t recommend strict raw food diets. Again, balance is key – having a combination of cooked and raw foods in the diet.

Water fasts and juice cleanses are also something to be wary of. Fasting can leave the body weak and malnourished. And although juicing can be a healthy addition to a well balanced diet, juice lacks fiber and sufficient amounts of protein to supply the body with the correct amino acids that are needed by the liver. Fad diets of any kind are not a good solution for creating balance in the body.

What about over-the-counter detox kits?

These products are usually a combination of liver supporting herbs and laxatives that come in pill or powder form. Some of these kits actually contain beneficial herbs that help support and cleanse the liver. My main concern with these type of cleanse kits is that they lack fiber in whole food form, and they do not address diet or nutritional deficiencies. Many people are overfed but undernourished. We survive on inflammatory, processed foods all year long, then think we can simply push the “reset” button by completing a 10 day detox in a box.

Detox kits also contain an herbal laxative component that stimulates the colon, giving the impression that the bowels are being detoxified because of more frequent bowel movements. Laxatives however, push waste through the digestive system in an unnatural manner. If the diet is not balanced with the right kind of fiber for healthy and natural elimination, sometimes there is rebound constipation once the cleanse is finished. Another issue with laxatives is that they can prevent the body from absorbing nutrients coming from food.

There is an ideal time that it should take for food to move through the digestive system in order to properly absorb the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from what we eat. This is called “bowel transit time”. Anything that speeds up our bowel transit time could potentially lead to malabsorption of nutrients. Not only do we need sufficient nutrients in the diet to obtain and maintain optimal health and vitality, but detoxification mechanisms are highly dependent on vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.

But wait, doesn’t the body naturally detoxify? Isn’t that why we have a liver?

Yes! The human body has an amazingly efficient detoxification system but if the diet contains inflammatory, nutrient deficient food, the body will have a difficult time processing and eliminating problematic substances. The body works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to clear unwanted waste, disarm free radicals, rebuild and repair tissue, and neutralize toxins. Detoxification is a natural, ongoing process – a full time job! When the correct levels of nutrients are provided in the diet, the liver and other organs of detoxification operate efficiently.

The problem however, is that many people do not eat the right kinds of foods to provide the body with the nutrients needed by the liver to neutralize and eliminate the vast amount of toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis.

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 very healthy diet. Deficiencies, whether they are due to lack of intake or lack of absorption can lead to a weakened immune system and detoxification processes that are inefficient!

So, what’s the solution?

You don’t need to completely give up on the idea of doing a detox, we just have to look at it in a different way. As discussed above, the wrong way to detox is to deprive the body of food and nutrients or to flush the bowels with laxatives. We can however, support the organs of detoxification by following a natural whole foods diet, nourish and support the liver, and optimize our digestive system.

I receive questions regarding cleansing and detoxing on a weekly basis, which is why I developed an easy to follow, self-paced online eCourse, which will walk you through the process of proper detoxification.

The information provided in this course will teach you how to create healthy, life-long habits that will optimize your body’s own natural ability to detoxify by supporting phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification pathways. You will also learn how to boost glutathione, known as the body’s master antioxidant!

The Eat Heal Love – Everyday Detox is a nutrient-dense wellness program designed to optimize your body’s ability to naturally cleanse using whole foods!

This Program is Designed To:
• Support and cleanse the liver
• Correct nutritional deficiencies
• Improve digestion and elimination
• Naturally cleanse the digestive system
• Optimize your natural ability to detoxify
• Restore balance in the intestinal system
• Guide you in following a whole foods diet
• Help you develop a healthy relationship with food!

This program includes a 7-day sample meal plan and over 50 naturally detoxifying, liver supporting, recipes!

* All recipes provided give options for those who are following a completely plant-based diet and for those who eat moderate amounts of high quality animal protein. This program is inclusive and suitable for both lifestyles.

summer

Articles

3 Ingredient Chia Seed Jam

Only 3 ingredients and less than 20 minutes to prepare!

I’ve made several different versions of chia seed jam, but my all time favourite has to be the blueberry!

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

  • 3 cups fresh berries (berries of your choice)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons chia seeds (whole)


1. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, bring the berries and maple syrup to a light boil, stirring frequently.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Mash the berries with a fork or potato masher.
4. Add the chia seeds and simmer until the jam thickens, approximately 15 minutes.
Stir frequently to avoid the ingredients from 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 fresh for up to one week.

Chia Seeds: High in omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, iron, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber! Did you know that those with severe essential fatty acid deficiency are more prone to dehydration, even if their fluid intake is normal?

Live | Laugh | Like | Share | Eat Heal Love

Articles

101 Cruelty-Free Companies

I don’t normally share with kind of thing but I recently stumbled across truly heart-breaking information regarding animal testing. I personally switched most of my makeup and cleaning products to nontoxic, cruelty-free brands years ago but left it at that. Out of sight – out of mind, so to speak. But when I came across this image of beagles being forced to inhale toxic chemicals, I immediately felt sick to my stomach. No living creature should have to endure this kind of suffering.

According to several sources, beagles are the dog breed most often used in animal testing, due to their size and passive nature. As a kid, I grew up with a basset hound. Her name was Georgy Girl and these cute, yet sad little beagle faces made me think of her. This prompted me to compile a list of companies that do not test on animals.

These days, it’s pretty easy to find a wide range of cruelty-free products. A lot of popular grocery store chains are even starting to carry them. Just look for any of the symbols below, which indicates the product has not been tested on animals.

15036375_1780682358872395_8262742179494502293_n
If you have anything you would like me to add to this list, please let me know!

Alba Botanica : Skin and hair care
Alima Pure : Mineral makeup
Amazonian Skincare : Natural skin care
Andalou Naturals : Skin and hair care
Annointment : Skin, soap, men, women, baby
Arbonne : Skin, makeup, bath & body
Attitude : Bath & body, natural cleaning products, pet care
Aubrey Organics :Skin & hair care, men, women
Avalon Organics : Skin, hair, bath & body
Badger Balm : Bath & body, sunscreen
Bare English : Lip gloss 
Bare Organics : Bath & body, makeup
Batty’s Bath : Bath & body
Beautycounter : Bath & body, makeup
Better Botanicals : Natural Bath & body, hair care
Belvedere International :Bath & body, hair care
Boi Cosmetics: Nail polish
Boo Bamboo : Natural bath & body, hair care, baby
Buck Naked Soap Company : Natural bath & body care
Butter London : Makeup
Cake Beauty: Bath & skin care
Cheeky Cosmetics : Makeup
Clear Conscience : Cruelty free eye drops & contact lens solution
Cocoon Apothecary : Bath & body
Colorevolution : Makeup
Consonant Skin Care : Bath & body
Conscious Choice : Organic bath & body
Cosmic Tree Essentials : Bath & body, makeup
Cover FX : Makeup
Crate 61 : Organic bath & body, soap, lip balms
Dalish Cosmetics : Makeup
Decode : Personal care for men
Demo Soap: Soaps
Derma-e : Skin care
Dessert Essence : Bath & body, hair, dental care
Every Man Jack : Men’s line of shaving cream, deodorant, body  wash
Dr. Bronner’s : Castile soap, bath & body, dental care
Druide : Natural bath & body, hair care, essential oils
Earth Mama Angel Baby : Mama & baby
Earth Science Naturals : Bath & body, hair care
Eco-Max : Natural household cleaning
Eco Nuts : Natural household cleaning
E.L.F. Cosmetics : Makeup
Eminence Organics : Skin care
Freeman Beauty : Face, body, hair care
Giovanni Cosmetics : Natural hair & body care
Green Beaver : Natural castile soap, lotions, soaps, sunscreen, lip balm
Ground Soap : Soap & skin care
Herbal Glo : Skin & hair care
Hugo Naturals : Bath & body, hair care, lip balm
Jason : Bath & body, hair care
John Masters Organics : Bath & body, hair care
J.R. Watkins : Bath & body, natural cleaning products
Juliet’s Room : Organic bath & body
Kiss My Face : Natural Bath & body, hair care, lip, dental care
La Couleur Couture : Non-toxic nail polish
LaRitzy : Makeup
Lipani Skincare :Skin care, makeup
Live Clean : Natural bath & body, baby
Lise Watier : Makeup
Lōa Skin Care : Skin care
Logona :Skin care, makeup, hair care
LOVEFRESH : Natural bath & body, deodorants
Lush : Bath & body, makeup
Mad Hippie : Natural skin care
Maple Holistics: Body, skin, hair care
Marcelle : Makeup, skin care
Max Green Alchemy : Natural bath & body, hair care, men’s
Method : Natural cleaning products
Meow Meow Tweet: Body, face, baby
Mineal Fusion : Natural mineral makeup
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day : Natural soaps, body care, cleaning products
Natracare : Natural feminine hygiene products
Nature Clean : Natural cleaning products
Nature’s Gate: Natural body & skin care, hair, baby
Nellie’s All-Natural : Natural cleaning products
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics: makeup
Pacifica : Natural skin & body, hair, makeup
Paula’s Choice : Skin care
Pixi : Makeup
Prairie Naturals :Natural skin & hair care, supplements
PUR Minerals : Skin care, makeup
Purelygreat Deodorant : Natural deodorant
Rockin’ Green : Household cleaning products
Rocky Mountain Soap Co. :  Natural bath & body, soaps, aromatherapy
Samana Naturals : Natural skin & body, hair, lip balm
Seventh Generation : Natural cleaning, feminine care
Skin Essence Organics : Natural skin care
Soap & Glory : Bath & body
Spa Sisters : Natural bath & baby
Sukin : Natural skin care, hair
Tarte Cosmetics: Makeup
Tom’s of Maine : Natural personal care products
Trust Fund Beauty: Makeup
The Ausable River Soap Company : Organic handmade soap
The Laundry Tarts : Natural laundry products
Urban Decay : Makeup
Weleda : Natural bath & body, hair, baby
X-Pur : Gum, dental care
Yes to Carrots : Bath & body, hair, makeup, baby
Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics : Makeup

Sources/Images:
www.occupyforanimals.net
www.savetheharlanbeagles.com

Articles

What Does Your Bowel Transit Time Say About Your Health?

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

“Bowel transit time” is the length of time it takes for food to travel through the digestive tract, from mouth to colon. Once food is chewed and swallowed, it moves to the stomach, where it is mixed with stomach acid and digestive enzymes. From there, it travels through the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed. The food then moves to the large intestine. What hasn’t been fully digested and absorbed in the small intestine, combines with bacteria and other waste products and gets eliminated through the colon.

Your bowel transit time is dependent on a few different factors: The type of food you eat, hydration, the amount of fiber in the diet, and exercise. Certain medications and neurological conditions can also affect your transit time.

Testing Your Bowel Transit Time

The ideal bowel transit time is anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. A transit time longer than 2 days can increase the risk of cancer, diverticulosis and candida (overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria), which weakens the immune system and puts one at higher risk for all types of cancer. A transit time less than 10 hours can mean lack of absorption, which can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies and weakened immunity.

Testing your bowel transit time is fairly easy. Simply consume something that will be easily identified such as: a cup of corn, beets or a few tablespoons sesame seeds, and count the number of hours it takes to appear in your stool.

This is where most people get confused!

A daily bowel movement does not necessarily indicate a healthy colon. Even if you are having a bowel movement every day, you still could be suffering from constipation. Without doing a bowel transit test, you could be unknowingly eliminating something you ate 4 or 5 days ago. The longer a meal remains inside the colon, the longer toxins and putrefaction of digesting food have time to do damage.

Anything less than one bowel movement a day means toxins and waste are recirculating back into the bloodstream and can result in symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, gas, bloating, acne, allergies, muscle and joint pain.

A fast transit time (shorter than 10 hours) means food is passing through your system too quickly, and you might not be absorbing nutrients from your food, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. A fast transit time combined with loose stools is something to be very concerned about. This can lead not only to severe nutritional deficiencies but also electrolyte imbalances, leg and muscle cramps, anemia and osteoporosis.

Anyone who suffers from chronic diarrhea or loose stools, abdominal cramping, and a bowel transit time of less than 10 hours should seek the advice of a medical professional. It is advised that you be assessed for inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease, Crohn’s, endocrine disorders and for food allergies and sensitivities. The ideal bowel transit time is anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. A healthy stool is one that is well formed and can be easily eliminated with no pushing or straining.

There are many factors that contribute to a poorly functioning digestive system.
Do you suffer from digestive issues, gas and bloating, constipation, loose stools or food sensitivities?

colon_quiz
If you have answered YES to any of these questions, you could benefit

from the information provided in the Eat Heal Love Online eCourse: A Holisitic Approach to Digestive Health

Some of the Topics Discussed in This Course Include:
• How to fix fast bowel transit times (loose stools)
• How to improve digestion and elimination
• Treating the underlying cause of candida
• How to heal leaky gut syndrome
• Tips to relieve heartburn and GERD
• Stool analysis chart
• How much fiber we really need
• Natural remedies for common digestive complaints
• A closer look at supplements for optimal digestive health
• How to follow an elimination diet
• Everyday healthy digestion tips

Take this course today and learn how to be your own digestive health expert!

digestion_card

Articles, Uncategorized

Are you Getting Enough Vitamin D?

vitamin_D

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

Articles

Winter Skin Care Tips

skin_care
Winter weather can wreak havoc on our skin and as a natural health and wellness consultant, I’ve been hearing many people complain about dry skin lately so I thought I’d share some of my favourite winter skin care tips.

It so important not to just care for our skin from the outside, but did you know that we can also nourish our skin from the inside-out! This time of year can be especially harsh on the skin, causing painful chapping and cracking. Luckily, there’s a lot we can do to avoid all that…and this is how!

– Moisturize From The Inside Out –

The skin is made from the proteins elastin, collagen and keratin. When these proteins are damaged due to prolonged sun exposure, cold winds or oxidative stress, the result can be fine lines, brown discolourations, enlarged pores, and sagging skin. Dry skin can result from both a lack of oil and moisture. Chapping and cracking are signs of extremely dry, dehydrated skin.

Dry skin can be caused or aggravated by a poor diet, and environmental factors such as exposure to sun, wind, cold temperatures, chemicals, cosmetics, or harsh soaps. Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to the problem. If the skin or dry or chapped, increase water intake and consumption of essential fatty acids.

Keep Hydrated
Dehydrated skin will accentuate fine lines and wrinkles. Keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Ditch chemical-laden drinks like soda, alcohol, and sugary drinks. Sugar can accelerate aging through a process called glycation. Instead, try sipping on antioxidant-rich herbal teas, lemon water, fresh vegetable juices, soups, and eating fresh fruit.

The Skin Loves Healthy Fats!
A lack of essential fatty acids will be reflected in the skin and hair. Omega–3 essential fatty acids help maintain cell membranes, allowing water and nutrients in, but keeping toxins out. These healthy fats also reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can result in fewer skin breakouts, and an overall more even skin tone.

Consuming foods high in omega-3 fats help keep the skin supple and soft, and increases elasticity, which minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Signs of Omega-3 Deficiency: Rough dry skin, dry brittle hair, scaly skin, eczema, psoriasis

Foods high in Omega-3: Flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, avocados, wheatgrass, seaweed, nori, spirulina, wild caught, cold water fish, fish oil

Fill up on Fiber For Radiant Skin
A lack of dietary fiber in the diet can lead to sluggish bowels and constipation, which will have a direct effect on the appearance of your skin. When bowel movements are less than once a day, toxins and waste, which should ideally be excreted everyday, will be recirculated back into the bloodstream. Constipation can not only lead to dry, rough skin and acne, but other serious health problems of the gastro-intestinal system. The soluble fibre in found apples, flax seeds, oat bran, fruits and vegetables acts as a cleanser and eliminates toxins from the body.

Fibre also helps to improve circulation, keeps the blood thin, and improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells, thus improving your skin’s appearance from the inside out. A high-fiber diet with plenty of fluids will ensure skin that is soft, well-hydrated and flawless!

• Eat at least 2 cups of dark leafy greens a day
• Consume high fiber fruits with the skin such as apples, pears and berries
• Include a variety of whole grains in your diet
• Eat a variety of beans, legumes and lentils

 Zinc
Zinc is necessary for tissue and cell formation, required for collagen production and regulates the activity of oil glands. Using zinc topically and taking it orally has shown some potential in preventing and alleviating the inflammation and scarring associated with acne and wind burn and can help to heal wounds, scars and overly dry skin.

Signs of Deficiency: white spots on the fingernails, thin fingernails that peel, acne, skin lesions, frequent infections, slow healing cuts or wounds, loss of taste or smell, premature hair loss, dry skin

Food Sources of Zinc Include: kelp, legumes, lima beans, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, alfalfa, cayenne, parsley, sage, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, fennel seed, milk thistle, wild yam, eggs, fish, oysters, liver

Factors that Impair Zinc Absorption: Do not take supplemental oral zinc with foods which interfere with absorption such as: bran, coffee, phytates, phosphorus, calcium, iron and medications that inhibit stomach acid. Zinc levels are lowered by diarrhea, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver and diabetes. Significant amounts of zinc are lost through perspiration.

Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring substance present throughout the human body and is distributed widely throughout connective, epithelial, and neural tissues. Its function in the body is, among other things, to bind water and lubricate the joints and muscles. Because of its ability to hold water, it also hydrates and plumps the skin and is added to many anti-aging skin formulations and moisturizers. Because HA is one of the most hydrophilic (water-loving) molecules in nature with numerous benefits for the human body, it has often been described as “nature’s moisturizer”. Pure hyaluronic acid can be purchased for topical use (I like adding a few drops to my avocado oil and zinc moisturizer). It can also be taken internally as a supplement.

Hyaluronic acid is only present in a limited number of foods, but not many. Root vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes contain the nutrients needed to stimulate the production of HA. Incorporating the following foods into the diet can encourage the body to make additional hyaluronic acid.

Food That Stimulate The Production of Hyaluronic Acid: Purple potatoes, beets, daikon, radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, celery root, beans, tempeh, apples, bananas, lemons, melons, carrots, berries, kale, spinach

* The best way to cook starchy root vegetables is to steam them, which not only preserves the nutrient value but lessens the formation of acrylamide and advanced glycation end products (AGEs)

Grilling, deep frying and baking result in the production of acrylamide, one of the hundreds of chemicals known as Maillard reaction products (MRPs), which form when foods are heated at high temperatures. Studies have shown that acrylamide is a cancer-causing and potentially neurotoxic chemical

Acrylamide is known to form adducts to DNA, potentially leading to DNA mutations, contribute to oxidative stress and increase the signs of aging. Potato chips, french fries, burnt toast and baked, grilled or roasted carbohydrate foods contain the highest levels of acrylamide. These levels increase the more cooked and burnt the food is.

– Moisturize From The Outside –

Avoid Abrasive or Drying Facial Cleansers
Most facial cleansers on the market contain alcohol, as well as other harmful preservatives and chemicals, which can be very drying and damaging to the skin. Try exfoliating with granulated sugar and honey, or coffee grounds. Exfoliate your skin twice a week to increase cell turnover.

Natural Moisturizers
Using natural, cold pressed plant-based oils help protect and hold moisture in the skin without clogging the pores. Natural oils are high in antioxidants, protect the skin from free radical damage, and can heal dry and chapped skin that can result from cold winter winds.

Plant based oils also draw impurities out of the skin by unclogging pores. People with oily skin might have reservations about applying oil to the face, but oils can actually help balance the production of sebum, while balancing out the natural pH of the skin.

Oils are lipophilic (fat loving), and they pass though the lipid layer of the skin faster, preventing water loss and plumping skin with moisture more effectively. Natural oils are extremely nourishing and moisturizing for the skin. Experiment and find which oils work best for you! The oils listed below will not clog pores, or cause the skin to be oily.

Castor Oil: Extremely moisturizing for severely dry skin. This is thicker oil and takes a bit more time to absorb so it’s best to apply it at night about an hour before bed. Castor Oil is very anti-inflammatory and penetrates deep into the skin which helps to soften, hydrate and plump the skin, minimizing the appearance of wrinkles. It is also great for healing cracked, chapped skin.

Jojoba Oil: Great oil to use for hair and oily skin. Helps lighten and heal scars and reduce wrinkles and stretch marks. Creates a protective film over the skin and hair shaft to seal in moisture. Dissolves clogged pores and returns skin to a natural pH balance.

Olive Oil: High in vitamins A and E. Great to use an evening moisturizer.
*Personal note: For years, I’ve been using olive oil to remove eye make-up. It leaves the skin around the eyes nourished and moisturized. It even works for water-proof mascara.

Argan Oil: High in vitamin E and fatty acids. Helps with dry skin, acne, psoriasis and eczema. Treats split ends and tames dry, frizzy hair. Use as an all over body moisturizer, including the face and neck.

Rosehip Oil: Absorbs easily. Contains vitamin C, A and lycopene which repairs the skin’s surface, restores elasticity and protects against sun and wind. Reduces the appearance of scars, age spots and hyper-pigmentation.

Avocado Oil: Extremely moisturizing and rich in vitamins and fatty acids. Keeps the skin moist and smooth. Contains high concentrations of Vitamins A and E. Soothes sensitive skin and especially useful for dry, scaly skin and scalps.

Sweet Almond Oil: Great for all skin types. Alleviates dry skin, soothes inflammation and relieves itching caused by eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.

Goji Berry Seed Oil: Contain a high amount of vitamin C, which is known to support the production of collagen, to speed wound healing, and to protect the skin from free radical damage. It’s also been shown to help fade sun and age spots.

Tamanu Oil: Promotes the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating wound healing and the growth of healthy skin. Relieves and protects the skin against inflammation and redness. Moisturizes, nourishes and repairs the epidermal cells of dry and damaged skin.

Sea Buckthorn Oil: Great for irritated or inflamed skin. Contains omega 3, 6, 9 and 7, which helps reduce redness, burning and itching while vitamin E helps heal skin quickly and reduce scarring. Helps maintain the skin’s elasticity and smoothness.

Coconut Oil: Great moisturizer for irritated or inflamed skin. Not the best choice to use on the face if one is prone to clogged pores or acne. Helps relieve dandruff and eczema due to its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

Hemp Seed Oil: Anti-inflammatory, reduces redness. Easily absorbed by the skin. For very dry skin, it should be mixed with a thicker oils as hemp oil absorbs quickly and is known as a “dry” oil.

Natural Skin Care Recipes

Castor Oil Face Wash
Helps to deep clean pores and remove blackheads without stripping the skin of moisture! To wash your face with castor oil before bed, dampen a face cloth, add a quarter sized drop of castor oil to the cloth, cleanse the face in small circular motions, and rinse. Blot dry and apply a natural moisturizer to the face and neck.

Sugar and Honey Exfoliator
Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon honey, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and mix well. If the mixture is a too runny, add a bit more sugar.

Coffee Scrub
Combine 1 tablespoon of ground coffee with 1 tablespoon of water or olive oil.
To make this exfoliating face scrub more economical, use the wet coffee grounds from your brewed morning coffee.

Other Tips

Cover up!
This might seem obvious, but when you are heading outdoors, keep your face and body covered with proper winter clothing. Always wear gloves and a scarf, and keep your face covered in cold and windy  weather.

Humidify Your Home
Indoor heating is especially drying to the skin, as well as the nasal passages. If the air inside your home is dry, use a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
If you do not have a humidifier, keep a pan of water in each room, which will help prevent the skin from drying out.

Dry Skin Brushing
Dry skin brushing is a unique skincare method, which uses a natural bristle body brush to exfoliate the skin. Dry skin brushing on a daily basis provides numerous benefits such as improved circulation and new cell renewal. It helps shed dead skin cells, resulting in smoother, brighter skin. Dry skin brushing also stimulates the lymphatic drainage, which helps to eliminate toxins from the body.

Articles, Uncategorized

Deficiencies and Imbalances Related to Skin Issues

skin_info_layers_corrected

Articles

Signs & Symptoms of Nutritional Deficiencies

Of course this isn’t a full list, just a few basic examples of different imbalances that can occur when the diet is limited or lacking in specific vitamins and minerals.

signs