Monthly Archives: October 2017
“When you’re the strongest and fittest you’ve ever been, the last thing you think you are is unhealthy and the last words you expect to hear are, you have cancer” — Jill Bunny
The “C” word
Being told you have cancer is something you don’t ever expect to hear at a routine check-up, especially when you’re young and dedicate your life to staying fit. Fitness model Jill Bunny didn’t expect to hear it either. This Toronto native was one of the highest ranked IFBB bikini competitors in the world. To her peers, she was the picture of health physically and professionally. But Jill’s inner strength would soon be tested. Unusual symptoms Jill was experiencing told her that something wasn’t quite right. A double diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and thyroid cancer catapulted Jill into the competition of her life.
To many different degrees, we have all faced health challenges individually. This is the story of a top fitness competitor who fought the biggest battle of her life and came out with a new approach to finding her best health.
Functional nutritionist, elite trainer, life coach and bikini model competitor, these are only a few titles Jill Bunny goes by. Jill has always been fascinated by what the human body is capable of. When she was diagnosed with MS and thyroid cancer at age 30, her passion for health and fitness took a different turn. She retired from competition as the physical toll training took on her body would likely advance the progression of MS and slow recovery from a thyroidectomy to come.
Instead, she found other ways to challenge herself physically and mentally. She continued to train and mentor others through her company, Fit Bunnies Fitness, as she recovered from cancer. It was during this time that Jill found the motivation to learn more about healing from the inside out. Through a team of functional medicine practitioners and her Naturopathic Doctor (ND), she found more preventative ways to manage her MS symptoms. Along the way, her own interest in how the body works expanded and she began to study functional medicine in her quest to find healing and to make her body stronger than ever before.
Jill approached Dr. Nadia Lamanna ND, in April 2017 for a natural approach to managing her symptoms. Since having a thyroidectomy in November 2016, Jill struggled with fluctuating thyroid hormone levels, extreme fatigue and brain fog. The fatigue and muscle pain associated with MS was becoming a major obstacle in managing her business and training for an upcoming ironwoman race. She chose not to take prescription medication but instead managed the disease through diet, exercise and naturopathic medicine. Her chief concerns were low energy, neck pain and long recovery periods after work outs.
Dr. Lamanna ND, began treating Jill the next month with 200mg of CanPrev Magnesium Bis-Glycinate 200 Gentle before bed, one sachet of CanPrev ElectroMag to mix with water and to consume while training, two capsules of CanPrev Adrenal-Pro twice daily, one capsule of CanPrev Pro-Biotik 15B daily, and one capsule of CanPrev Thyroid-Pro twice daily. After two weeks the Magnesium Bis-Glycinate 200 Gentle was increased to 400 mg per day and ElectroMag to two pouches per day because Jill added a cycle class to her evening fitness routine. Jill reported she was taking Synthroid 88 mcg per day when she first met with Dr. Lamanna, this was later increased to 100 mcg per day in early May as directed by her endocrinologist.
Baseline scores were reported on April 10 and after only a few weeks of therapy, Jill reported improved symptoms like reduced neck pain, improved ability to recover post workout and a significant improvement in energy levels. She reported having bursts of energy and diminished grogginess during the times of day that she typically felt her worst. Her TSH in April was 4.79 and dropped to 0.59 in June, after just seven weeks of therapy. Jill’s endocrinologist was ecstatic with the results and asked what she had been doing differently. Her TSH levelled out at 1.15 in July. Jill was optimistic and motivated throughout the duration of the study and overjoyed about the progress she made along the way.
Words from Jill
“The last thing that I felt was missing in my quest to heal, was the implementation of natural, quality supplements. Working with my Naturopath on an individual basis, with weekly check-ins was exactly what I needed to get the supplementation correct. Today, I can honestly say that I have not felt this much energy in at least a decade. Go with your gut and listen to your body. Take an individualized approach to your health and do what you feel is right and works best for.”
Connect with Jill
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, recommend that males and females ages 19-30 take in 400 mg and 310 mg of magnesium a day respectively. Males 31 and older should up their intake to 420 mg a day, and females 31 and older should increase their daily amounts to 320 mg.
The DRI also encourages pregnant or lactating women to boost their magnesium intake even higher and to consult their doctors for suggested amounts.
Sea vegetables (kelp), nuts and seeds, beans, soybeans and some seafood (crab, clams) generally contain higher levels of magnesium compared to other foods. Grains and pseudocereals like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice will offer you a relatively high amount of magnesium as well. But the real winners when it comes to the most nutrient dense, magnesium-rich foods are fresh vegetables and dark leafy greens like chard, collards, and spinach. Nuts and seeds pack a big punch for their size when it comes to magnesium density too!
True or False: Organic Foods Contain More Magnesium
It is no surprise that choosing to buy organic dark leafy greens and vegetables, can cost you. But if you choose to not purchase organic produce will you pay in a different way? Does buying organic make a difference in terms of mineral (magnesium) content compared to conventionally grown crops?
According to the Environmental Working Group, conventionally grown spinach ranks second when it comes to produce containing pesticide residue.
While some studies conclude that organic food may or may not be more nutritious than conventionally grown, it is safe to say that buying organic can protect you from detrimental pesticides and herbicides that generally act as antagonists when it comes to magnesium absorption and can eventually block mineral absorption and lead to mineral deficiency.
Is Dietary Intake Enough?
Swiss chard contains a whopping 150 mg of magnesium per cup. But does that mean you are covered when it comes to adequate magnesium intake? Not necessarily. Lifestyle, physiological, and agricultural factors all play roles in how dietary magnesium is absorbed. A disappointing reality, but a reality nonetheless!
Let’s Explore Why
Mineral-rich foods are becoming an anomaly these days. High rates of soil erosion account for less magnesium in the soil which results in low mineral content in plant foods including magnesium.
Many fruits and vegetables have lost large amounts of minerals and nutrients in the past 50 years. For example, McCance and Widdowson’s epic compilation, the Composition of Foods, has tracked the nutrient composition of foods since 1940. Between 1940 and 1991, there was an average magnesium decrease of 24% in vegetables and 16% in fruits.
Some foods have seen more drastic declines than others. Carrots have lost 75% of their magnesium content. You would have to eat 4 carrots today to get the same magnesium in 1 carrot from 1940!
And that’s only one reason. The health of our digestive system is also a factor in whether or not we can adequately break down food to get the good stuff. Optimum absorption is key in making sure magnesium actually enters our cells!
Absorption of dietary magnesium isn’t guaranteed, though. Enzymatic function, stomach, and bowel health are key factors in the absorption process. From the beginning of the digestive system (oral cavity) to the very end (the anus), all parts need to be working efficiently (especially the small intestine) for optimum breakdown. Even if our digestive process is working perfectly, mineral content in food likely won’t be high enough to offer our cells optimum protection.
Cooking methods and refined foods can also account for magnesium loss. If we choose to fry that one cup of swiss chard instead of bake or lightly sauté it, we can cheat ourselves out of getting the magnesium we need.
Between mineral-depleted plant foods, compromised digestive systems, and popular denaturing cooking methods, optimizing our magnesium intake via food can become quite a challenge.
Ironically, magnesium needs magnesium to facilitate the absorption process. It’s imperative for helping to synthesize enzymes, repair tissue in our intestinal lining, and contribute to our parasympathetic nervous system health, for starters. In order for these processes to function properly in the first place, we need to have enough magnesium in our bodies to provide energy to get these physiological jobs done and done well.