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6 Essential Nutrients For The Athlete

Optimizing nutrition when you’re an athlete (or even if you workout regularly) can make a significant difference in your health and performance on the court, field or at the gym.

Just like exercising your muscles through cardiovascular workouts or strength training is important, so is fueling your body properly through your diet. Unfortunately, when this doesn’t happen it can negatively affect performance, and in some cases, impair immune function. [1] [2]

Increased Energy and Nutrient Needs

Focusing on some key nutrients can not only increase endurance in the athlete but also improve overall health by bolstering the immune system, improving bone health and minimizing oxidative stress.

Eating adequate amounts of micronutrients and vitamins is vital to muscle building and recovery from the physiological stress of intense activity or playing sports. Nutrient needs are increased when metabolic and biochemical pathways are taxed via exercise which is used to repair lean tissue.

Supplements can help but the idea is to make food your primary source of nutrients because your body utilizes food differently than supplements. [3]

Food also includes fibre, other vitamins and essential nutrients that work together to create energy and fuel cells.  These important components in the diet are more depleted in athletes that don’t consume adequate calories and/or restrict or eliminate food groups.

The 6 Most Essential Nutrients For Athletic People:

Zinc

Individuals who are athletic are especially susceptible to being low in zinc mainly because they aren’t eating enough rich food sources of this mineral.

Zinc plays a part in immunity, protein utilization, and metabolic efficiency as well as thyroid function, and all of these affect athletic performance in some way.

Foods that are high in zinc include meat and poultry, whole grains, oysters, milk and dairy, legumes and fortified breakfast cereals.

Those that are most at risk for a deficiency are vegetarians who don’t eat enough whole grains or meat. It must be noted that overdoing zinc supplementation can result in a copper deficiency. Be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner to discuss supplementation.

Iron

Iron is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fat as well as its capacity to carry oxygen.  A deficiency may inhibit endurance as well as immune and cognitive functions.

Foods that are high in iron include red meat, fortified cereals eaten along with fruit or vegetables that are high in vitamin C.  This vitamin will enhance iron absorption and improve iron status in an individual.

Calcium

Calcium aids in muscle contraction and nerve impulses, as well as bone growth and increasing bone mass. Poor calcium intake can lead bone-related issues such as stress fractures.

Foods high in calcium include cheese, milk, yogurt, spinach, collard greens, almonds, sardines (with the bones!), fortified cereals and juices.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is needed for adequate calcium absorption in the gut, to control serum calcium and phosphorus and to build strong bones.  It also contributes to a well functioning nervous and skeletal system.

If a person lives in an area with little sunlight and they spend most of their time indoors, and because there aren’t many foods that contain vitamin D without fortification, they’re at a greater risk of having low Vitamin D – in this case, supplementation may be prudent.

The best sources are fatty fish like salmon, tuna or mackerel, and eggs. Fortified milk offers most of the vitamin D in the average diet with fortified orange juice beverages and certain cereals contributing a small amount. Again, supplementation is a wise choice!

Magnesium

Magnesium aids in more than 300 biochemical processes in the body that include:

  • helps produce ATP, essential to the metabolic activities of every cell
  • protein synthesis for muscle building
  • relaxes muscles and nerves
  • calms the mind
  • aids in calcium absorption
  • regulation of blood pressure & heart rhythm

All of which are concerns to an athlete!

Sources of Magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, meat and dairy. Some breakfast cereals are also fortified with Magnesium.

However, as we explained in “Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them!”, the composition of what we eat and the quality of our foods has drastically changed over the past hundred years, and this has made it difficult to get enough of many key minerals, especially magnesium.

DOWNLOAD MAGNESIUM: The Complete Primer or go to Magnesium.ca

B Vitamins

B vitamins all play a rather large role in energy metabolism and blood health along with building and repair of muscle tissue.

A deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle soreness and apathy along with poor cognitive function. Meat, fish and poultry, as well as enriched grains, are good sources of B vitamins.

The bottom line on essential nutrients for everyday athletes: 

Regular exercise and sports participation increases the turnover and loss of nutrients from the body, so greater calories, vitamins, and minerals are needed to cover these losses through the diet and in some cases supplementation.

Eating a wide enough variety of foods from all the major food groups is what is needed for proper functioning of muscles, a strong immune system, and optimal performance during athletic endeavours.

Referenced content: 

[1] Science Direct. Vitamin and Mineral Status: Effects on physical performance, Elsevier Volume 20, Issues 7–8 (July–August 2004)

[2] Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. Nutritional Strategies to Minimise Exercise-Induced Immunosuppression in Athletes (2001)

[3] JAMA Network. Essential Nutrients: Food or supplements? Where should emphasis be? (July 2005)

The Top 5 Natural Supplements For Women Over 50

For many women, turning fifty is a milestone. It might be a time of transformation: from children leaving the family home to career shifts, or finding a new approach to your health and well-being.

You might notice that your body changes when you hit fifty. Staying up late and traveling, for example, might affect you differently than they used to. But your fifties and beyond can be a time of vibrant health and fulfillment.

Read on to learn about the main health concerns for women over fifty, plus which natural supplements should be on your radar.

What are the main health concerns for women over 50?

For women over fifty, one of the main health concerns is the transition of menopause. Altered hormone levels that come from the end of the reproductive years can cause unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and lower libido. Other health concerns as you move into this decade include heart disease and bone density. Finally, to enjoy your fifties and beyond, you want to support brain health and keep your mind sharp.

Here’s the great news: you can reclaim your health and enjoy yourself in the process. How? Address your health concerns with the right natural supplements.

Top 5 natural supplements for women over 50

Herbs for hormone balance

Medicinal herbs are widely used to support hormonal health during menopause. Herbal allies for women over fifty include black cohosh, chasteberry, dong quai, maca, and sage.

Black cohosh binds to estrogen receptors and works by affecting the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Preparations of black cohosh root have been shown to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, along with improving mood.

Chasteberry (also known as chastetree or Vitex) shifts hormone production toward more progesterone and less estrogen through its effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. Several studies showed chasteberry to be effective in reducing breast pain and other PMS symptoms.

Dong quai is a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been called female ginseng for its energy and mood boosting properties. Dong quai is recommended for irregular bleeding.

Maca, a Peruvian adaptogen, benefits the endocrine and reproductive systems. Preparations made from maca root boost the production of sex hormones and increase energy and sex drive. In studies, maca supplementation was associated with a substantial reduction of menopausal discomfort in early postmenopausal women.

Finally, sage is used to alleviate hot flashes, sweating, and other menopausal symptoms as a general tonic. A clinical trial showed the efficacy of sage over a two-month treatment period.

Find these herbs as dietary supplements in such forms as a powdered whole herb, liquid extracts, and dried extracts in pill form, or a convenient all-in-one herbal blend like Meno-Prev.

Vitamins & minerals

Sufficient intake of certain vitamins and minerals is essential for thriving in your fifties and beyond. You’ll want to supplement your diet with the following: calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin D and K.

Calcium supplements help make up for lowered assimilation from food sources as you age. Calcium is needed by every cell in your body and is especially important for women over fifty to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis risk.

Working in synergy with calcium, magnesium helps promote cardiovascular health and normal blood pressure (not to mention its sweet stress-busting properties).

Fat-soluble vitamins D and K play a crucial role in calcium metabolism. Controlled trials have shown the benefits of vitamins D and K on postmenopausal osteoporosis with a study duration between 8 weeks and 3 years. Try a formula like Osteo Prolong to fill your nutritional needs.

Fiber

Fiber is one of the top supplements for women over fifty, thanks to its massive amount of health benefits. Think enhanced blood sugar balance, lower cholesterol, improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and better gut health from curbing symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. What’s more, fiber helps regulate hormone levels during menopause. Look for a dietary fiber supplement that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber for best results.

Inflammation fighters

Women over fifty become more prone to chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation. To stay healthy throughout your fifties and beyond, fighting inflammation is your go-to action plan. Try turmeric, or better yet, highly bio-available Curcumin. Curcuminoids in turmeric slow the enzymes that cause inflammation, so you can count on the time-tested Ayurvedic remedy to keep you feeling healthy.

Mind boosters

Keep your mind sharp and curb depression and memory loss with natural supplements like gingko biloba. Clinical trials have shown the beneficial effects of gingko biloba on cognitive function (especially concentration and memory). Try the Mind-Pro formula to fuel your brain as you enter what can be the best years of your life.

References: 
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800090/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764641/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5413815/
https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/chasteberry
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21630133
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621390/
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h10
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613455/

Detoxifying: What You Need To Know

With spring finally here, you may feel inspired to clean out and organize the inside of your house! By incorporating detox methods into your everyday routine — you can also cleanse your insides.

Your body is continually undergoing natural detoxification methods as part of general maintenance – and especially when a season change is upon us. But many times, the detox organs (ie. skin, lungs, liver, kidneys and intestines), need extra nutritional and herbal support to ensure that they are working effectively and efficiently.

An overloaded and unsupported system can respond in the following ways: digestive complaints, fatigue, hives, skin conditions, low-grade infections, achy joints, brain fog, and frequent headaches.

Check out these detox tips to optimize your ‘internal cleanse’ this spring!

First – the liver

The liver is one of the main organs of elimination that cleanses the blood. Blood detoxification, being one of the most important functions of the liver, needs a good supply of nutrients in order to do its job effectively. Think of the best working vacuum cleaner, if its filter is dirty it surely won’t do a good job – the liver works quite the same! Without a supply of the right nutrients, it will dysfunction just like the vacuum.

There are 2 phases to this very important job (liver detox) and both require certain nutrients to complement each complex phase.

The first phase of liver detoxification (Phase 1) breaks down toxins into less toxic versions of their original chemical structure. From there a second step of detoxification should occur (Phase 2). This is where the liver will chemically alter the toxic by-product making it water soluble and easier to excrete via the intestines.

This all happens if liver function is optimal, which means the right kinds of nutrients need to be available to keep our hardest working organ-fueled!

Key factors and what to look for in a detox formula?

CanPrev’s Detox Pro is a 15 day cleanse that is jammed packed with a healthful blend of antioxidants, herbs and other nutrients that provide the liver with specific nutrients to support phase 1 and 2 of detoxification and to ultimately help rid toxins out of the body.

Powerful antioxidants such as n-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is a precursor to an endogenous antioxidant called glutathione as well as vitamins A, C and E, all help to neutralize the free radicals (damaging substances) from phase 1 waiting to enter phase 2.

The vitamin B family such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate and B12, provide energy and act as co-factors in the metabolic reactions that happen in phase 2 detoxification. Choline helps to metabolize fat, copper and zinc help make an antioxidant called superoxide dismutase work (an enzyme that helps break down potentially harmful oxygen molecules) and also supports a healthy metabolism.

Trace minerals such as molybdenum, manganese and selenium enable other vitamins or enzymes in the detoxification process to function.

Herbs for detox

Artichoke extract, also found in this formula, has strong antioxidant property, protects the liver and prevents depletion of glutathione.

Turmeric, an ancient spice that has hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties contains beneficial polyphenols and offers powerful antioxidant support. Tumeric works in both fat and water soluble tissues to protect the liver.

Dandelion extract can help stimulate digestive glands and the liver. Green tea extract contains compounds called polyphenols that help to support Phase 1 and 2. Milk thistle extract’s active ingredient is silymarin, which has the amazing capacity to regenerate liver tissue. Rosemary extract is an antioxidant and inhibits some cancer-causing effects from carcinogens. Lastly, slippery elm forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water to protect the mucous membranes.

Additional factors to support healthy detox

Fiber and probiotics are important additions to any detox.

CanPrev’s Pro-Biotik 15B has five strains that ensure proper colonization of bacteria occurs in the correct places. Three different lactobacillus strains colonize the small intestine and vaginal tissue and two strains of Bifidobacterium bacteria colonize the large intestine to help prevent and control constipation and diarrhea.

CanPrev’s Fiber Flow is a combination of 3 herbal components that provide soluble fiber to keep bowels moving well – so that all those toxins can be eliminated before re-entering the bloodstream!

Unique to this formula is the glucomannan that helps both constipation and diarrhea. As well as a form of fiber extracted from New Zealand kiwifruit. Kiwifruit has been found to enhance gut health by easing constipation and modulating colonic microbiota. It also provides enzymes, prebiotics and antioxidants and promotes laxation!

Lastly, the pectin from apples is another soluble source of fiber the can help with satiation, binds cholesterol and helps maintain healthy glucose levels.

The fiber allows binding of certain metabolic by-products and directs it to the bowels to be eliminated and the probiotics help to ensure the elimination occurs.

Be sure to drink plenty of water if you choose to use this product and as always consult with a qualified health professional before adding a natural health product to your regime.

Natural Health Practitioners: Are You Taking Charge of Your Own Health?

Thomas Edison once said: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest patients in the maintenance of the human frame, in diet, and in the prevention of disease.”

Connecting with a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) as part of your health-care team is a great way to incorporate a more holistic approach.

ND’s can educate, empower and motivate their patients to take personal responsibility for their health by guiding them in how to adopt a healthier lifestyle, diet, and attitude.

Taking charge of one’s health means learning how to prevent disease rather than just popping a pill for any given ailment.

But, the truth is out. As a dedicated Health Practitioner, running a busy clinic or practice can sink your own health – and your sanity by times!

It’s great that you feel called to help so many other people to re-prioritize, get healthier, and practice self-care, and it’s incredibly rewarding work – that’s why you do it!

Take your own advice, take care of yourself

You may genuinely feel that all of your efforts have propelled you ahead in your business, but all of that “busyness” can sometimes come with lots of added stress.

How to not lose sight of your own health needs while building your practice

Think of it this way – if you’re not feeling your best (body & mind), your work will suffer. As a busy Health Practitioner, this means that your business will also eventually suffer. It’s as simple as that. So, let’s try to change our own health-diluting practices with a few simple tips:

Make self-care a top priority 

Self-care is not selfish or an indulgence, nor is it even an option anymore in our daily lives. It is paramount to our well-being as well as to our success in a health-focused business.

Self-care refresher 

It’s those activities that negate the impact of both emotional AND physical stressors. Things like fueling our bodies with health-optimizing foods, moving our bodies regularly (breaking a sweat!), restorative sleep, and “decompression-type” practices like yoga, meditation & breathing exercises.

Basically, all the things that you’ve been guiding your patients in!

Be sure to schedule these practices into your own day and show yourself that you are just as worthy (as the patients you dedicate so much of your energy to) of time and space that is all yours.

Stay as active as you can

There’s no doubt that you’ve started to feel the negative effects of sitting at your desk in front of your computer for longer and longer periods of time. Things like eye strain, headaches, low back pain, neck pain, and poor circulation.

Sitting goes hand-in-hand with being sedentary, and this deadly combo is associated with serious health concerns like obesity, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome.

The most serious damage to your body is when it is chronically in the same position with little or no movement for 60-90 minutes or more at a time.

Some practices to offset all of this prolonged sitting: 

  • Exercise daily – ever heard of Dead Butt Syndrome – or Gluteal Amnesia? It’s a thing! Focus on strengthening the posterior (back side) of your body – back, glutes, hamstrings and stretching the anterior (front side) – chest, pelvis and hip flexors.
  • Take frequent and regular breaks – aim for once an hour or several throughout the workday.
  • Invest in a stand-up desk – this will help you to become more aware of your posture and engage your core muscles.
  • Consistent movement, whether sitting or standing – yep, you have permission to fidget while you work.

Get in the blue-free zone 

In our highly digitized world, the amount of “screen time” we accrue is astonishing. In fact, children in North America are exposed to devices (phones, tablets and tv’s) for an average of 7.5 hours daily. WOW!

Adults aren’t that much better off as 91% of us rely on our smartphones for our everyday tasks from staying connected with people to online shopping to watching how-to videos on every subject imaginable.

While our screens are extremely helpful in daily life, they can also have a significant impact on our health. Of course, there are the ones we mentioned already, like eye strain, neck pain, and headaches. But, excessive screen time can alter our body’s natural circadian rhythm. Yikes!

For these reasons, you must cut down on the blue light exposure accrued from all devices.

A few ideas for “device detoxing”: 

  • Use the screen dimming function or night screen masking apps for your phone & tablet
  • Blue light blocking (anti-glare) glasses to wear while using a computer or device
  • A blue light blocker coating on your next pair of eyeglasses
  • Set a defined limit of no screen work at least ONE hour before bed to allow your eyes and your brain to decompress and “detox” the blue light pollution – 2-3 hours is even better!

More ideas HERE in “The Day & Nighttime Blues” article over on the Orange Naturals blog.

Then, once you’ve finally got yourself into bed, there’s the sleep factor: good quality, restorative sleep is not only vital to functioning and performing effectively in our jobs but to our very survival.

Running a busy health & wellness business can be one of the hardest gigs out there because you’re trying to be the best possible health role model and key support person to so many others while trying to maintain your own health.

It’s imperative that you respect and honour your own health if you’re going to put your best body and mind forward in your practice – and in your business. Just like you would tell your patients – stay positive and be kind to yourself! 

ND Perspective: Allergy and Sensitivity Testing

The development of allergies is becoming more and more common. The same goes for sensitivities to foods, chemicals and environmental factors.

Our immune system and cellular tissue can become compromised due to inflammatory responses from the mechanisms of each reaction – especially through responses from sensitivities.

Here’s a little more information on the what and why of allergy and sensitivity testing – from an ND’s perspective.

Allergy 

A type 1 hypersensitivity reaction is an immediate release of histamine by IgE antibodies when exposed to an allergen. This type of allergy shows up quickly and sometimes with life-threatening symptoms such as swelling of lips or face, difficulty breathing and anaphylactic shock. The cause of the reaction is usually quite clear such as peanuts and shellfish.

Immune complex disease 

A type 3 hypersensitivity is mediated by IgG antibodies. This type of process antibodies bind to antigens and there is a gradual formation of antibody-mediated complexes (immune complexes) that can deposit in tissues and joints. Over time, this can lead to chronic inflammation, which can lead to an array of varying delayed onset of symptoms, like headaches, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, joint pain, eczema, fatigue and many other health concerns.

Allergy testing 

type 1 hypersensitivity

Skin prick testing determines type 1 hypersensitivity, usually done through your medical doctor, where a purified allergen is injected just below the skin to produce a controlled reaction. This process usually tests for allergies like pollen, dander, dust mites, pet dander or certain foods.

If there is a known IgE reaction, foods that are causing an anaphylactic reaction must be avoided indefinitely.

type 3 hypersensitivity 

Food Sensitivity testing exists to determine type 3 hypersensitivity reactions. It is a blood test done in a lab and usually requisitioned by a naturopathic doctor. This type of test can detect sensitivity for over 200 specific foods as well as yeast overgrowth (Candida albicans). It measures the food-specific IgG antibodies found in the blood.

The test may also reveal high levels of IgG antibodies to food that you never or rarely eat, but the same proteins can exist in multiple foods and this is explained by the test results. ‘Treating the root cause’ is one of the foundational naturopathic principles. From an ND’s perspective, testing is beneficial in knowing what the culprit is that is causing the IgG reaction.

Environmental allergens, however, are not so easily avoided. Developing preventative lifestyle methods such as introducing a high-quality air purifier in the house, cleaning dust & pollen laden surfaces, and closing windows, especially during the night, when pollen release is at its highest, can be helpful.

However, when it comes to foods that are causing a type 3 hypersensitivity reaction, a more preventative approach can be taken. First, removing the offending food(s) for a lengthy period of time is a must. Using substances to heal the gut and support the body’s digestive system while promoting proper elimination is the next step (see list below).

An intensive healing protocol, known as the Four R’s (remove, replace, repair and reinoculate is often used if the intestinal wall has been compromised due to ongoing inflammation from sensitivities).

Depending on the severity of the sensitivity and the tissue damage it may have caused, integration of the original foods that were eliminated may be slowly reintroduced while monitoring symptoms.

Key therapies in practice 

L-glutamine is an amino acid that repairs cells when damage has occurred from food sensitivities, like inflammation. This inflammation can create spaces between the cells in the gut which allow for bacteria, food and toxic by-products to enter the bloodstream and cause subsequent ailments.

Vitamin C  acts as a natural antihistamine in high doses and helps strengthen the immune system by increasing white blood cells, improves the linings of mucous membranes to reduce pollen and other airborne allergens. Vitamin C can be easily be taken just before bowel tolerance (at the point it causes diarrhea) to make sure maximum absorption and benefit have occurred.

Probiotics like CanPrev’s Pro-Biotik 15B, help strengthen the immune system by reducing inflammation and keep toxins moving through the system and out through the bowels efficiently.

Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, Zinc, Selenium, and CoQ10 and N-Acetyl-cysteine are key at providing phase 1 and phase 2 in the liver with the nutrients it needs to process allergens efficiently so they can be eliminated through the colon.

Omega 3 fatty acids have an amazing anti-inflammatory effect, thus calming down the symptoms associated with allergies but also improving the immune system at the same time.

Detoxification is very important for chronic allergies, such as seasonal, asthma and hives, and is an area I usually begin with when developing a patient’s treatment plan that will properly address their allergies. This approach not only helps with treating the current symptoms but also addresses the root cause of improving the functioning of the elimination organs to reduce overall allergenic potential.

This, in turn, allows food and toxins to be processed properly, reducing toxic buildup from waste particles from inflammatory reactions.

Using supplements to support liver health, such as CanPrev’s Detox Pro, can ensure the liver has the nutrients it requires to neutralize toxins and get them out of the body. Along with eating a healthful anti-inflammatory diet, lots of water and fiber are all essential to enhance these detoxification systems, improve one’s immune response and decrease food sensitivities and allergy symptoms.

Visit Dr. Laura Anderson ND online: http://www.lauraandersonnd.com/

Find a naturopathic doctor by visiting this link: http://www.findanaturopath.com/

What Do My Fingernails Have To Do With My Health?

You probably don’t think about them too much, except maybe which polish colour to choose next? But, you would be surprised what those little keratinized extensions of our fingertips (your fingernails) can tell us about our nutrition, and our health status overall.

Naturopaths often include an examination of a patient’s nails as part of their routine health evaluations. Signs on the nails may be an indication of certain conditions or deficiencies. However, it is not a definitive diagnosis without also looking at many other aspects of an individuals health in order to get the most informed view and create a holistic treatment plan.

What’s considered normal differs in everyone, but generally, fingernails should be clear, smooth, pliable and peachy-pink in colour.

There are numerous conditions that can affect the nails – too many to mention here, but in many cases, it is a nutritional deficiency that may be causing your nails’ odd appearance. However, it may also be that your body is not effectively absorbing nutrients or you may even be low in stomach acid – vital to digestion.

The 5 nail health signs to watch out for 

White spots

Ever noticed white spots on your nails? While this is most often due to mild trauma (like nicking your nail), it can also indicate a zinc deficiency.

Zinc is found in such foods as oysters, red meat (especially lamb), legumes, nuts, egg yolks, oats, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, and cocoa or dark chocolate.

Hangnails 

Lack of Vitamin C can cause pesky and often painful hangnails. Vitamin C-rich foods are citrus, berries, mango, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and leafy greens.

Horizontal lines, ridges and spoons 

What about horizontal lines or ridges across your nails? Sometimes called Beau’s lines – these may also be due to a zinc deficiency but could be indicative of low iron or anemia. Nails can be spoon-shaped at the tips with iron deficiency as well.

To pump more iron into your day, try spinach and other dark leafy greens like kale. Also, red meat, liver, egg yolks, beans, shellfish, dried fruit and blackstrap molasses – are all good sources.

It’s a good idea to pair those iron-rich foods with sources of Vitamin C for better absorption.

Example: fresh spinach and strawberry salad, topped with lean chicken for extra protein – also vitally important for healthy looking nails.

Dry, brittle and peeling

Dry, brittle, thin or peeling nails? Could just be dry nails, but possibly a lack of protein, Vitamin D &/or B Vitamins in your diet.

Food sources of Vitamin D are limited as it’s naturally attained by exposing your skin to sunlight, hence being dubbed the Sunshine Vitamin. However, fish, liver and egg yolks are reasonable sources, as well as many fortified Dairy products.

Be sure to incorporate Vitamin B-rich foods into your diet as well, such as whole grains like brown rice and oats, eggs, yogurt, milk and cheese, poultry, lamb, mushrooms, pumpkin, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower and many types of beans.

No half moons? 

Ever noticed the lighter-toned half-moons at the base of your fingernail? Or perhaps you haven’t noticed them because they’re absent!

This is usually due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency and is associated with anemia. Vegetarians often have trouble attaining enough B12 as it’s found primarily in animal foods, so they’re encouraged to sprinkle cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast onto foods – or supplementation may be prudent.

As always, getting your full complement of nutrients is encouraged through whole food sources, but sometimes our diet just isn’t meeting all of our needs and this is where supplementation may be necessary – for all of the reasons we discussed in the article “Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them!”

Check your nails weekly for something that may be out of the “norm” for you and inform your health practitioner. Be sure to discuss what nutritional deficiencies, digestion and/or absorption issues may be a contributing factor to the problem.

CanPrev recommends 

Vitamin D3 + K2
Zinc 
Iron 
Synergy B 

Beyond The Health Benefits: 10 things You Should Know About Water

Water is the foundation and truly the lifeblood of our health.

It is essential to sustain life, and assists in everything from our digestion to brain function. But, there are a lot of surprising ways water can help us maintain our health that we’ve maybe never considered.

Here are 10 things to know about how water keeps us healthy and how you can keep our drinking water safe:

Say goodbye to 8 cups a day

So how much water do we really need to drink? Gone are the days of the “8 cups of water per day” rule.  

In fact, the Dietitians of Canada recommend approximately 12 cups (3 L) for men over 19 and ~9 cups (2.2 L) daily for women over 19 years of age. However, this is the total recommended fluid intake which includes other beverages as well as high-water-content fruits and vegetables.

While this is a good guideline to start with, it’s also important to note that factors such as activity level and humid climates will increase our need for water.

As we lose more sweat with activity and in warmer temperatures, it’s important to replace the fluid in our body more frequently.

Drink up before you drive (water that is!)

It turns out that a hydrated driver is a better driver.

A 2015 study from Loughborough University studied the effects of dehydration on drivers. The conclusions were that dehydration significantly affected a driver’s cognitive and motor skills.

According to the study, when drivers were mildly dehydrated, they were more likely to make errors such as lane drifting and late braking.

Since our brain is primarily made of water, ensuring adequate hydration will help to keep it functioning at its best and as indicated by this particular study – help you stay safe on the road!

Some like it hot

Can the temperature of your drinking water really make a difference in your health? Some believe that it can.

Drinking your water tolerably hot can aid in digestion, improve circulation and even relieve nasal congestion.

Try drinking your water at a higher temperature, plus adding a little fresh lemon juice to it will give it an extra boost for your digestive health while keeping you hydrated.

Others like it cold

Just as the temperature of your drinking water is important, so is the temperature of your shower.

While it may not seem appealing to start your day with an ice-cold shower, the benefits may cause for pause!

Taking a cold shower touts significant health benefits including improved circulation, quicker post-workout recovery (think like an Olympian!), better sleep and a stronger immune system.

One 2015 study found that participants who took a cold shower had 29% less sick days than those who didn’t.

If you’re not ready to commit to a full cold shower, you can still reap some of the rewards by turning the temperature down just before you get out.

Are you bottled in or tapped out?

Is “clean” bottled water really all it’s cracked up to be? The bottled water industry really wants you to think so.

Bottled water manufacturers lead us to believe their water is coming from a pure mountain spring, when in fact, over 25% of the sources are using a municipal supplier.

Translation: it’s not a whole lot different than your tap water.

The other major concern with bottled water is the plastic packaging which often contains harmful chemicals such as phthalates; an endocrine disruptor that has documented negative effects on our health and hormones.

And while most bottles are recyclable, it is estimated that only 14% of bottles are recycled.

The bottom line on bottled water: Bottled water isn’t any safer than tap water. Save your dollars and use a reusable, preferably glass vessel to fill up and drink from, and to keep the environment – and your health safe.

Want to know more about the safety of bottled water? Read more in this CBC News Report.

Go alkaline – your bones will love you for it

Some swear that alkaline water is the key to health, while others say it’s not worth the hype. The verdict, however, is entirely dependent on your body’s unique needs.

At a basic level (pun intended), alkaline water has a much lower acidity than tap water and also contains a higher amount of essential minerals such as calcium, silica, magnesium, and potassium.

Drinking alkaline water is reported to have a positive effect for those with osteoporosis, as well as on pancreatic beta cells due to its higher mineral content and antioxidant effect.

You can go too neutral  

While there can be significant benefits of alkaline drinking water for some, there can also be negative side effects for others.

Drinking water with a higher pH level changes the stomach’s natural acidity. This change of stomach acidity can lead to a condition called alkalosis. Side effects this condition can include nausea, vomiting, muscle twitching, and extreme confusion.

Check with your Naturopath to decide if alkaline water would be a helpful addition to your health routine.

Float your worries away

You don’t always have to drink your water to receive health benefits from it! Floatation therapy is a growing trend citing benefits from improved creativity to stress reduction.

A typical floatation therapy session involves entering a sensory deprivation chamber filled with water and an abundance of medical grade Epsom salts. Participants put in earplugs and then simply lie back and relax.

After a typical 60-90 minute session, participants report a significant reduction of stress.  

A Swedish research study concluded the same, citing significant beneficial effects for those with sleep difficulties, difficulties in emotional regulation, and depression.

Our water sources are on the decline

It’s easy to take our drinking water for granted when we can literally just go to our tap and get fresh water on demand.

However, our water sources are becoming increasingly more limited and contaminated on a global level. Without change, we run the risk of relying on polluted drinking water that can make us sick.

We can do our part to keep our water safe by reducing or eliminating widely used chemicals such as fertilizer and toxic cleaning products in our homes.

Regular car maintenance can also eliminate oil and antifreeze leaks that run off into our water system.

Small changes to our lifestyle can help us maintain the safe drinking water that does so much to keep us healthy.

Stop the salt insanity!

Every winter, folks in colder climates salt their roads, sidewalks, and driveways to prevent slips and falls.

While this may be good for keeping us upright as we navigate the icy conditions, this salt doesn’t just disappear into thin air. It ends up in our lakes and streams AND our drinking water.

The consequence? High amounts of salt in our water can harm or even kill aquatic animals and plants which affects overall water quality. In addition to this, drinking water with a higher salt content can be dangerous for those with hypertension.

To reduce the harm to our water supply, use salt more sparingly if not at all. In cooler temperatures (-10C or lower) try switching to sand instead.

Hopefully, we’ve shed some light on all the ways water touches our life, our environment, and its health benefits.

Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them

Health Canada advises, along with many nutrition professionals, “that a healthy and balanced diet can provide most people with the nutrients essential for good health.” [1]

Does that mean that if we eat a “healthy and balanced diet”, that we’ll be meeting all the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and we’ll be safe from nutritional deficiency?

Or do some of us follow this recommendation and still have a nutrient deficiency – and not even know it?

According to the latest Health Canada Community Survey (June 2017), Canadians as a population are not as well nourished as we may think.

Fruit and vegetables contain a range of beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. Consumption of at least 5 servings per day is linked with a reduced risk of various diseases, including cancers and heart disease. [2]

Therefore, fruit and vegetable consumption is considered a healthy behaviour, and a good indication of the overall diet and nutritional quality of a population.

However, in data from the 2017 survey, less than a third (30.0%) of Canadians aged 12 and older reported that they ate the recommended number of servings.

Given the rather significant shortfall in Canadians reaching their “5-a-day”, it’s not surprising that there are a number of nutrients reported to be lacking in our diets.

With the overall lack of adequate fruit and vegetable servings, along with soil depletion, over-processing of food, and treated water…well, it’s no wonder that many of us are lacking in a number of key nutrients that we once attained easily and ought to supplement.

For example, today you would have to eat 4 carrots to get the full amount of Magnesium available that was in just one carrot 80 years ago. Unfortunately, you’re not eating your grandmother’s carrots anymore!

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps maintain normal vision and keeps your immune system, skin, and eyes functioning at their best.

More than 35% of Canadians age 19 and over consumed vitamin A in quantities below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). [3]

Carotenoids, such a beta carotene, are converted into vitamin A in the body, and it gives fruits and vegetables their orange, red and yellow colour (such as pumpkin, carrots and bell peppers).

It is also found in dark green leafy vegetables; with liver, dairy, eggs, and fatty fish also being good sources of Vitamin A.

Magnesium

A nutrient that is commonly found in plant foods, but also commonly lacking in our diets, is Magnesium.

This multi-tasking mineral is involved as a cofactor for a range of biochemical reactions in the body including nerve and muscle function, protein synthesis and blood glucose control.

It is also involved in the structural development of bone and plays a role in nerve impulse conduction, maintaining a normal heart rhythm and muscle contraction.

Evidence suggests that 34% of Canadians over the age of 19 consumed magnesium in quantities below the EAR. [3]

Magnesium is found mostly in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables. Milk and yogurt contain some magnesium as well.

Calcium

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, provides the structure and rigidity of bones and teeth. It is also important for proper muscle function, hormone secretion, and nerve transmission. [4]

It was reported that there’s an increasing prevalence of calcium inadequacy with older age.

Calcium is found in dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, fish with soft bones and fortified products.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of Calcium from the gut, and for supporting optimal bone health. It is also thought to play a role in immune function, healthy skin, and muscle strength.

While our bodies can make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, during the fall and winter months, and in northern climates, where sunlight hours are limited, it can be hard to get enough of this critical nutrient, and vitamin D deficiency can become (and is becoming) more prominent.

While about 80% of the adult Canadian population are not getting the vitamin D they need from dietary sources [3], available clinical measures do not suggest widespread Vitamin D deficiency in the Canadian population. [5] [6]

The major food sources of Vitamin D are foods that have been fortified or through supplementation.

So, how do we get all the nutrients we need?

We’ve always recommended, first and foremost, that people strive to meet their nutritional requirements through eating a varied diet with a foundation of whole and unprocessed foods.

But, as we’ve established, for various reasons it’s apparent that many of us may not be getting all the nutrients we need for optimal health.

Lack of nutrient bioavailability, poor dietary choices, restricted diets, food sensitivities, various health conditions (such as gastrointestinal disorders and poor absorption), some medications and age can all play a part in an individual’s ability to meet their recommended dietary intakes.

To determine whether or not you are at risk of a nutritional deficiency, it is important to discuss your concerns with a naturopathic doctor, a qualified nutrition professional or another healthcare provider.

In many situations, as we’ve discussed here, where diet alone is unable to meet your recommended nutrient requirements, therapeutic supplementation may be a good option.

 

Referenced Studies & Content

[1] Statistics Canada: Canadian Community Health Survey, June 2017 – Nutrition: Nutrient intakes from food and nutritional supplements
[2] Statistics Canada: Health Fact Sheets. Fruit and Vegetable consumption
[3] Health Canada: Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?
[4] Health Canada: Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes
[5] Health Reports, March 2010: Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey
[6] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011: The vitamin D status of Canadians relative to the 2011 Dietary Reference Intakes: An examination in children and adults with and without supplement use

Boosting Your Memory Naturally

Your mind is one of the most valuable assets that you have. It is extremely complex! The brain can change, learn and unlearn via neuronal connections, firing and wiring every day. Though we have come to understand the brain’s function much better, there are still many aspects of this fascinating organ that are unknown to researchers and neuroscientists to this day.

In order to keep this organ healthy and functioning optimally, it must be provided with nutrients. Medicinal herbs can be a great way to boost brain function, help heal, improve physiology, manage conditions and get you back on track nutritionally from previous heart problems that may have affected the brain’s function.

CanPrev’s Mind Pro is a fantastic formula for improving your brain health and contains the following nutrients:

Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid which help keep levels of homocysteine low, may help reduce irritation and clot formation that can occur inside vessels. This also helps supports proper vascular flow to the brain, which is crucial for bringing nutrients, oxygen and glucose to the brain and for removing carbon dioxide along with other metabolic wastes.

DL-Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose into a form of usable energy for the brain.

Phosphatidylserine (PS), found in soy lecithin, is critical for ensuring the cell membranes are able to release neurotransmitters, which is how cells communicate with each other.

Choline is another substance in this formulation that allows for the production of acetylcholine which easily used in the brain to help with memory and also recovery from degenerative or vascular dementia.

Bacopa is an herb that increases the communication between neurons; to make sure they are signaling thus, allowing information to flow between each neuron to help improve long-term memory.

Ginkgo is another medicinal herb that dilates the blood vessels and decreases clot formation, to ensure smooth blood flow.

The complex cells in the brain, neurons, need to be protected from free radical damage that can be caused by chemicals, smoking, alcohol, fried foods, pesticides and toxins in the environment.

Maintaining the integrity of the blood vessels with antioxidants is important to reduce plaque build up. This allows smooth blood flow and stimulates the production of neurotransmitters that are important for a healthy brain. It is easy to obtain a powerful dose of daily antioxidants through use of CanPrev’s Antioxidant Network.

It contains coenzyme Q10, n-acetylcysteine, zinc, selenium, dl-alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin E and green tea extract. This combination provides an army full of substances that give one of their electrons over to these free radical molecules to make them stable. When they are stable, they are not damaging cells, trying to steal their electrons or continuing the cascade of instability.

Overall, cell membranes are protected, blood vessels flow normally and inflammation is reduced.

Of course, there are other aspects of health that play a role in keeping our minds sharp. Proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress and our thoughts all play a factor.

Our focus habits may also have an effect on our brain. Multi-tasking, may not benefit us like we think it does. Your mind may function best when focused on one single moment at a time. Constant distractions and switching between tasks may cause reduce long-term memory and wreak havoc on our minds.

This increasingly is a concern as our smartphones, become our handheld portable internet, email, social media and texting alert hotspots. The more interruptions, the more productivity and long-term memory decline.

Studies have shown that constant multi-tasking can decrease overall productivity, increase mistakes and reduces long-term memory and creativity.

Turning notifications off, mute, or a different setting can reduce this constant source of interrupting that can make you feel like you are being pulled in too many different directions, stressed, anxious, and feel like your memory is failing.

Show Your Heart Some Love

Every February an abundance of red and pink heart shapes fill the media! This year, maybe these Valentines Day tributes can act as a kind reminder to take a look at our own hearts health.

Whether you have a strong family history of heart disease or not, striving to take care of this very important organ — is an essential part of having a ‘prevention policy’ for your own life.

Omega 3’s

Certain nutrients are very important for a properly functioning heart. One of these major nutrients is essential fatty acids, specifically omega 3s.

The typical North American diet currently provides plenty of omega 6 essential fatty acids (also known as linoleic acid). These fatty acids can come from fried foods, crackers, cookies and other snacks. Too much of these foods can leave us in an inflammatory state, so balancing the effects of too many omega 6 fatty acids is a must for keeping your heart healthy. The anti-inflammatory action of omega 3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), is a great start to doing just that!

They are called essential fatty acids because the body is incapable of making them on its own, so it is essential that they are obtained them from the diet or supplementation.

Small amounts of omega 3’s can be found in foods such as nuts and seeds and fatty tissues of cold water fish. But, since we often consume too many over-processed omega 6 foods — we usually do not get the amounts of omega 3’s from foods needed to balance the overconsumption of omega 6’s.

Supplementing with omega 3 essential fatty acids, provide an easy way to receive the correct daily amount of essential fatty acids. Look for a formulation that contains two types of omega 3’s; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) derived from small wild fish.

Another beneficial effect of omega 3’s is their ability to reduce the viscosity of the blood, similar to the blood thinning effect of certain medications but without the side effect of disrupting the stomach lining. It can also have a positive effect on a healthy blood lipid profile (eg. cholesterol, LDL and HDL) by reducing plaque build-up and allowing for properly flowing blood in the vessels.
There are specific nutrients that are aimed to heal and provide the heart to work optimally.

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) is a powerful antioxidant that gives energy to the heart muscle cells and helps to lower blood pressure and maintain healthy cholesterol. In fact, pharmaceutical treatments like statins (cholesterol-lowering medication) lower the level of Coenzyme Q10, leaving a serious deficiency of this important nutrient that is important for the whole body, not just the heart.

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant which will relax the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure as a result. Vitamin B12 and folate are also important for certain enzymes in the body that remove homocysteine, an inflammatory marker, from the blood. High levels of homocysteine contribute to plaque build-up causing atherosclerosis.

Herbal Medicine 

Many studies show that certain herbs are extremely beneficial in improving and maintaining heart health. Garlic extract helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels by slowing the platelet aggregation which helps to prevent heart attacks.

Grape seed extract is an extremely rich antioxidant which overall protects the integrity of the inner lining of the blood vessels.

Hawthorn extract is perhaps a little less known, but a powerhouse of an herb in its ability to interact with enzymes in the heart to increase the pumping force of the heart and eliminate arrhythmias. It dilates the coronary arteries to improve circulation and oxygen levels and it can even improve LDL and HDL levels in the blood, thus decreasing plaque build up.

CanPrev’s Healthy Heart is formulated with all of the above nutrients in therapeutic dosages to help the heart with many complex health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and valve disorders.

Taurine 

Another supplement that was formulated with heart health in mind was Can Prev’s Magnesium + Taurine, B6 and Zinc. Now, it was created for people looking for a magnesium supplement that also provided some cardiovascular support.

Taurine acts as an antihypertensive, antiatherogenic and antioxidant to help treat coronary artery disease, ischemia, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Vitamin B6 was added to this formula because it used in the synthesis of taurine.

Remember to speak with your healthcare provider before beginging any new supplement regime.

Nutrition 

Besides supplementation, dietary factors are of course important!

An excellent way to start a heart healthy day is with oats. They naturally contain beta-glucan which is a type of fiber that helps reduce cholesterol and boosts the immunity!

Extra virgin olive oil, in the amount of 2 tbsp per day, can help to lower overall cholesterol and improve one’s overall blood lipid profile. But, it is important to use it cold, or adding to food once it is cooked. Olive oil has a low smoking point, so frying, cooking or baking with it can burn this beneficial oil which decreases its phytochemical and antioxidant value.

Dark Chocolate (containing at least 70% cocoa) and red wine have benefits too, mainly from their antioxidant properties. But moderation, of course, is key. Even a consistent amount of exercise such as 20 minutes a day of moving your body, (like fast past walking) can help with improving your overall heart health.

Laughter 

We also recommend a daily dose of laughter and spreading love, to improve your own hearts happiness and wellbeing.