Category Archives: Digestion
With a new year now upon us, we might tend to feel more pressure to jump into the latest “cleanse” or “detox” fad that has hit the store shelves!
Our bodies are actually wonderfully designed to detox themselves. In a perfect world, of course. You see the 7 channels of detoxification (the colon, liver, kidneys, blood, lymphatic system, lungs & skin) are all powerful eliminators of toxins and the breakdown by-products of bodily processes.
If everyone maintained a “clean”, whole foods diet and avoided all inflammation causing foods, alcohol and other gut irritants, then the body would be well-equipped to stay physiologically balanced.
However, eating well all the time can be at times quite challenging to do – this may be a reason to bring a little extra nutritional support on board.
Here are 7 easy steps to get your health back on track – no harsh detox programs required
Be kind to yourself
Research indicates that showing self-compassion (and accepting the weight gain, if that’s also the case), will allow for a more successful implementation of lifestyle changes and habit that will set you up for success in many areas of your life – including your health routine.
You’ve heard it numerous times: restrictive, impossible-to-maintain diets don’t work.
So instead, strive for a whole foods eating plan to optimize nutrition and fuel your body well while keeping you satiated and regular.
As mentioned, our body is wonderfully designed to detox itself on a regular basis. If you want to do a more targeted cleansing-type regimen to help you achieve certain goals, feel better or correct an underlying issue, we recommend you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner who specializes in detox. If you already have a whole foods lifestyle then maintaining this during this time will continue to help support pathways of elimination and nutrient needs during a more intense detox.
Better with a buddy
Research shows that a person does much better with a buddy or an accountability partner. They don’t have to be following the same plan or routine as you, but so long as they’re in place for emotional support – that’s what matters most.
So, be sure to put it out there verbally to a few close friends or family members who you trust and who could also use the reciprocal support.
Move your body and break a sweat
Vomit-inducing exercising is not necessary, nor encouraged. What is encouraged, however, is daily exercise of some sort. Just move your body regularly in some fashion – preferably something that causes you to break a sweat. Aim for continuous movement for a minimum of twenty minutes 3 times a week.
Heading outside for your daily movement might give you a chance to catch a daily dose of Vitamin D (if the sun is shining) — enjoy how fresh air and sunshine can change how you feel!
Sleep, sleep, then sleep some more
Both your sleep hygiene and quality of sleep were likely derailed over the holidays — keeping up later hours as well as all the extra social events. But, now it’s time to get back to doing what your body does best: resting. Sleep is something that is still so underrated as a way to truly optimize your health!
Our health experts say that getting in 7-9 hours of deep, restorative sleep is a critical factor in such things as:
- decreasing stress levels
- increasing energy & athletic performance
- enhancing immunity
- stabilizing blood sugar levels
- maintaining an ideal body weight
- keeping mental focus sharp and mental/emotional health in check
“We all need between seven and nine hours of sleep in order to think clearly, and most of us just don’t get enough. One or two nights a week of decent sleep just doesn’t cut it.” says Registered Nurse and Homeopath Janet Neilson.
Get your nutrition and digestion back on track
Here are a few nutrition-specific ideas to implement into your routine to get you kick-started again, especially after a period of heavy indulgence:
- Drink lemon water
You’ve heard it many, many times – but one more time won’t hurt, because it’s just too simple, and effective NOT to try it: drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning before you do anything else.
Why? Freshly squeezed lemon juice is alkalizing to the body, antioxidant-rich and high in Vitamin C, and has blood sugar stabilizing + liver and kidney flushing properties.
Pure lemon juice is known to stimulate gastric juices and increase bile production. Combine this with room temperature or slightly warmer filtered water and you’ve got the easiest “cleanse” imaginable!
- Prolong the fast and eat protein + good fats for breakfast
- Shut the kitchen right after dinner, optimally by 7 pm. Then have nothing but water (or herbal tea) until breakfast, no earlier than 7 am the next day.
This allows the digestive system to have a much-needed break by “fasting” for at least 12 hours (but don’t worry, you’ll be sleeping for most of it), and then easing into the day with a high- protein, easily-digested meal.
Breakfast sets your day’s metabolic tone and with this in mind, your optimal first meal could be a plant-based protein shake. One that combines high-quality protein with healthy fats, green leafy veggies and slow-release high-fibre carbs to keep you full and focused all morning.
If you found that your digestive system went completely off the rails from over-consumption during the past holiday season, then you might need to give those juices a boost.
Gastric juices containing hydrochloric acid (HCl) that break down food in the stomach, are negatively affected by poor eating choices and habits like consuming large portions.
In addition, our digestive enzymatic activity slows down for those same reasons as well. This creates the perfect storm of burping, belching, trapped gas, heartburn, intestinal cramping and flatulence!
The natural bacterial flora of your digestive system will also likely have gone astray.
This is where therapeutic grade supplements can be especially helpful, so be sure to use a good quality probiotic to get your microbiome back in check and restore that “happy gut” environment.
Eating naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha are full of digestion-friendly probiotics as well.
7 easy steps and actionable ways
So, there you go, 7 easy and actionable ways to get your health back on track, holistically and without doing yet another harsh, restrictive detox or diet!
We at CanPrev hope your 2018 is already filled with much health and happiness!
If you’re looking for additional digestive support:
We do always suggest you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner, Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist before beginning a new natural health product regime.
Here are some suggestions for boosting the channels of detoxification and elimination, as well as warding off inflammation:
What are the symptoms of SIBO?
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO, is just that – when bacteria (or other microorganisms, good or bad) grow out of control in the small bowel. Compared to the large colon, it should be quite low in bacterial count.
Colonization also ends up damaging the specialized cells lining the small intestine – a condition that has been coined leaky gut – or an increase in intestinal permeability, which further impairs the digestive process and can exacerbate nutrient malabsorption.
This can allow pathogens, toxins and undigested protein molecules to enter the bloodstream that, in turn, cause widespread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and other undesirable immune reactions.
The most common symptoms of SIBO are:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Abdominal bloating or distention
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Excessive gas or burping
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Joint pain and other inflammatory reactions
- Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
- Depression, and other mental health disorders
- Restless legs syndrome
- Histamine intolerance
- Fatigue or lethargy
One of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that it can actually lead to malnourishment, whereby essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fats aren’t properly absorbed. This can then cause a number of vitamin & mineral deficiencies like iron, vitamin B12, calcium as well as in the fat-soluble vitamins — vitamin A, D, E and K. 
Wondering why the symptoms sound curiously similar to IBS?
One of the most common conditions associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 
While they have similar symptoms and are often overlapping conditions, the association between the two still has some unknowns, according to scientists. They remain distinctly different in how they can manifest, how they are diagnosed, as well as how they are treated.
On the other hand, some studies have found that SIBO is concurrent in more than 50% of all cases of IBS, and successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine reportedly resolves symptoms of IBS as well.
But, what causes SIBO in the first place?
According to experts, the causes are not clearly defined but predisposing factors to acquiring SIBO can include:
- Diabetes type 2
- chronic pancreatitis
- Crohn’s disease
- injury to the bowel
- a structural defect in the small intestine called blind loop syndrome
- intestinal lymphoma
- immune system disorders like scleroderma
- recent abdominal surgery
- use of certain medications, including proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) and immuno-suppressant medications
Celiac disease has also been found to increase the risk for developing SIBO, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine. 
Additionally, heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and stress – are all thought to be contributors as well.
How can you treat it?
Generally, there are 3 mains goals when treating SIBO:
Most holistic health practitioners advise using some variation on the “SIBO diet” for at least 2 weeks – which may include any or all of the following:
- Herbal antibiotics like oregano oil
- Low FODMAP, GAPS and/or AIP diet – see explanations below
- Re-populating the gut with good bacteria using probiotics, and then “feed” them with prebiotics such as under-ripe bananas, asparagus and Jerusalum artichoke
- stress management – this is key in preventing and managing most, if not ALL health conditions
However, a prescription antibiotic may be needed, at least initially, in more severe cases to get the bacterial overgrowth under control.
By eliminating FODMAPS from your diet for at least 2 weeks, and then transitioning to the GAPS diet or AIP protocol, you can start healing the gut, and can begin to eradicate the microorganisms that are causing havoc in your small intestine.
What are FODMAPs?
These are Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.
These are the foods that aren’t fully absorbed by the body and end up fermenting in the gut. This would include ones we would normally consider ‘healthy’ for us – like apples, pears, apricots, cauliflower, barley, garlic & onions.
What is GAPS?
The GAPS, or Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet, was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride, Neurologist & Neurosurgeon, in response to the dietary needs of her autistic son.
Foods eliminated by the GAPS diet:
Things like sugar, grains, starchy carbs & potatoes, conventional meat & dairy, and any processed foods including artificial chemicals and preservatives.
What is AIP?
The AIP or Autoimmune Protocol is considered a stricter version of the Paleo diet, which involves the elimination of foods that are considered gut irritants like grains, legumes, eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts & seeds, and processed foods including industrial seed oils.
Additional eliminations are alcohol and NSAIDs like Ibuprofen. For natural, drug-free inflammation-fighting pain relief, try Curcumin-Pro with Bromelain.
The AIP can be very difficult for many people to follow, but sometimes it’s temporarily necessary to fully heal a very leaky gut, which goes hand-in-hand with the incidence of SIBO.
It may also be wise to supplement with the following when treating SIBO:
- Digestive Enzymes
- B Vitamins, especially B12 – sublingual, therapeutic dose
- Fat soluble vitamins – Vitamin D & K
- Minerals: Iron & zinc
Testing specifically for SIBO can be a bit tricky and it can be difficult to get a definitive diagnosis. So be sure to work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopath to effectively test (often with a minimally invasive lactulose hydrogen breath test) and treat this condition, as well as address other underlying gut dysfunctions.
I think we can all agree that there are literally dozens of reasons why our gut health can become compromised. For even more tips on how to have a happier digestive system – READ THIS
That time of year is here, when the cold bite of winter weather finally seems to be behind us, flowers are slowly starting to bloom, the birds & the bees are all atwitter and, oh yah – pollen also starts to fill the air!
Are you experiencing itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, blocked sinuses, sneezing and headaches? Love Springtime but loathe allergy season?
If only there were something you could include in your daily diet to help alleviate these symptoms or ward them off altogether…drum roll please!
Eat whole foods instead of relying on allergy medication
Although there are many different OTC medications available to relieve those tell-tale allergy symptoms, sometimes just small tweaks to your diet can also provide you with some much needed relief and even a measure of prevention – more naturally.
Top 7 items that your grocery cart should come in contact with this Spring:
Researchers have discovered that broccoli could help to protect you from respiratory inflammation. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane, which appears to have a very beneficial effect for fanning the flames of inflammation.
Other cruciferous veggies containing this key compound are kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage & cauliflower.
Studies have also shown that getting in at least 500 mg of Vitamin C a day can ease allergy symptoms, and just one cup of raw broccoli packs about 80 mg.
Citrus fruits are considered ‘super allergy fighters’ because they contain higher levels of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, both of which are natural antihistamines that may reduce allergy symptoms.
Bioflavonoids enhance the health benefits of Vitamin C, including stronger immunity, detoxification, eye and skin and health. This makes citrus fruit a powerhouse in fighting allergies as well as in overall health optimization. Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are rich sources of Vitamin C with naturally occurring citrus bioflavonoids.
However, if considering a supplement – look for a buffered form containing mineral ascorbates as well as bioflavonoids for better absorption.
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, is believed to help reduce the inflammation associated with allergies. Studies indicate that this component prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, or better known as an allergic response.
Garlic, onions, berries, cabbage, cauliflower and most caffeinated teas also contain quercetin.
The skin of red grapes is very high in antioxidants and resveratrol — a well-studied anti-inflammatory compound. Eating red grapes will also help protect the cells from oxidative damage that may cause many diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Be aware that grapes (and apples) are on the EPA’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of highest pesticide residues, so buy organic when possible and wash your produce well.
Omega-3 fatty acids in seafood have natural anti-inflammatory effects that boost the immune system — in turn, improving your body’s ability to fight off allergies which are basically a sign of excess inflammation.
In fact, anything you can do to reduce inflammation in the body has widespread benefits, including easing seasonal allergy symptoms.
Some studies have even shown that eating upwards of six ounces of wild-caught salmon twice a week can be just as effective as taking allergy medication.
While your Healthcare Provider may not be writing you a prescription for salmon any time soon, this recommendation is certainly worth a try, considering all of salmon’s other health benefits. Try wild caught Alaskan caught salmon for a lower risk of contamination of organic pollutants and pesticides.
Not keen on seafood, or have a food allergy to it? Some good vegan sources of Omega-3’s are walnuts, flax seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, spirulina (fresh water algae) and sea vegetables like wakame.
You could also consider choosing a high quality Omega-3 supplement.
Collard greens, and other dark leafy greens like kale contain phytochemicals – specifically carotenoids. This component is well known for easing allergic reactions.
To help your body absorb their nutrients more readily, eat collard greens along with a healthy fat. Sautéing them in extra-virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil is a great, and tasty – way to go.
Be aware that many greens are on the “dirty” list too, so go organic (and local), when possible.
Fermented Foods & Probiotics
I know, you probably didn’t expect this one to be on the list, but according to research, eating probiotic-rich foods such as naturally fermented (not pickled) foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as supplementing with good quality human-strain probiotics can significantly ease allergy symptoms.
Happy allergy fighting this Spring!
The holidays are a special time to visit with family and friends, but digestive upset from too many rich meals and trips to the dessert table can spoil the fun. Symptoms like indigestion, heartburn, gas, bloating, or diarrhoea needn’t become a holiday tradition. Here are some tips that will help keep your digestive system happy and healthy throughout the festivities, or at any time of year.
Do Take time with your meals
Between planning and attending parties, shopping and travelling, there can be less time left over to do simple things like sit down and enjoy your meal. Rushing from one task or commitment to the next often finds us eating on the go. But even though we’re busy, it’s important to be comfortable and relaxed while eating a proper meal. Our bodies and parasympathetic nervous systems (which govern our digestion and bowels) work best when at ease. Carve out time to eat mindfully for best digestive results.
Do chew each bite 10 to 30 times
That bloating feeling you sometimes get can easily be eliminated by chewing your food slowly and properly. Reducing each mouthful into a ball of macerated food courtesy of saliva makes digestion easier. In fact, the digestive process actually starts in your mouth when your teeth break down food and enzymes called amylase and lingual lipase contained in your saliva jump in to complete the process. Amylase is a key component in turning starchy foods like bread into simple sugars and lingual laipase targets fats. Breaking food down properly before you swallow ensures less stress on the stomach and reduces the need to reach for over-the-counter digestive help.
Do zero in on protein first
Including protein with every meal will help balance your blood sugar and make you less likely to overindulge in desserts later. Protein takes a while to digest and slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream which in turn prevents blood sugar highs and lows. Add protein to every meal and kiss sugar cravings goodbye!
Do start taking digestive enzymes
Digestive enzymes work by breaking down the food you’ve eaten into smaller micronutrients that the body burns as fuel. Micronutrients are reabsorbed by our small intestine and used to build cells and hormones. Here’s an example of how it works: When you eat lentils (an excellent source of folate) your digestive enzymes break down each and every lentil into tiny pieces (micronutrients) so you can absorb the valuable folate that is freed upon breakdown. Digestive enzymes also support your digestive system when it’s called on to process rich and heavy foods you might not often eat.
Do share with a friend
If you’re the type who likes to try a little bit of everything from the buffet table, why not pass your plate around and share? That way you won’t be tempted to eat every piece of food you’ve collected, but still have the chance to sample a good variety. Plus, you’ll save at least half the calories from what you don’t eat!
Do be mindful of your gut
The microbes living in your digestive tract actually play a role in how effectively you fight infection, your mood, and your ability to digest food. Maintaining a healthy gut flora (the assortment of microbes in your digestive tract) is essential for good health and helped by probiotics in our diet and supplementation regimens. Probiotics introduce a variety of bacterial strains into our bodies through the digestive system and make sure that one strain doesn’t dominate and lead to colony overgrowth, like yeast infections.
Do monitor the menu
If you’re hosting a dinner or potluck, leave ample time to plan a healthy menu and a list of nutritious sides or dishes guests can bring should they offer. It’s much better to have someone show up with a nutritiously-rich kale salad for example than a high fat, high carbohydrate macaroni salad.
Don’t consume a lot of liquids with your meals
Drinking too much water or other beverages like alcohol or juice during a meal can impair natural acid and bile concentrations needed for the stomach to properly digest food. Drinking too much cold water, for example, can slow digestion and cause cramping in those with sensitive stomachs. By all means take small sips while you’re eating, but try not to drink too much at least 15 minutes before a meal and 30 to 45 minutes after.
Don’t eat late into the night
Continue your party but clear the food away by 8pm. Late night eating is usually the culprit when it comes to acid reflux. Heartburn symptoms can especially get worse if you eat too much and then stretch out on the sofa after your meal.
Don’t eat fruit after a meal
Fruit digests faster than other foods. If it’s eaten directly after a large meal and with other foods, it sits in the stomach longer and starts to ferment in the gut, bringing on gas and bloating.
What to keep on hand:
Who doesn’t experience some sort of digestive challenge during the holidays? While symptoms can vary from person to person, the uncomfortable results remain the same. Be a good host and have some digestive relief at the ready for when you see that your guests might be experiencing gut discomfort.