Category Archives: Health


The Many Health Benefits of Collagen

The number of dietary supplements and food items, like bone broth, containing collagen are on the rise – and for good reason.

Increasing your dietary intake of collagen has been linked to positive effects on health, including improved skin appearance, reduced joint pain, and better digestion and gut health. It may also help strengthen nails, hair, and bones.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein found in the bones and connective tissue of humans and animals. It provides support and structure to the body, particularly the skin, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skeletal system.

Collagen is made primarily from the amino acids Glycine, Proline, and Hydroxyproline. The body produces its own collagen from free amino acids, but this process slows as we age.

It’s thought that this natural decrease in collagen production plays a role in the development of many common age-related concerns, like wrinkling of the skin, and joint pain and bone loss associated with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, respectively.

Health Benefits of Collagen

Supplementing with collagen is not essential, but it does offer some pretty amazing health benefits that can help counteract these undesirable symptoms associated with age-related collagen decline.

Here are some of the most notable benefits of adding collagen into your regular dietary – and natural beauty regimen.

MORE SUPPLE SKIN & ANTI-AGING

Skin signs of aging include wrinkles, loss of firmness, dryness, and sagging. These signs may occur due to less collagen being made as we age and breakdown of existing collagen. Sun exposure also plays a role in aging the skin.

Research has found collagen supplementation results in significant improvement in the texture of skin, including fewer wrinkles, increased elasticity, and increased hydration. These findings suggest collagen supplements can be beneficial in slowing or even reversing signs of aging skin.

Most of the supplements used in these studies also contained other ingredients thought to benefit skin health and prevent the breakdown of existing collagen, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Choosing a collagen supplement that combines several nutrients for skin health may be important.

It should be noted collagen in topical form is not effective at treating skin signs of aging. Collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed into the deep layers of skin.

Other lifestyle factors like diet quality, smoking, and stress can also play a role in skin aging and should be addressed in addition to collagen supplementation for best results.

EASING JOINT PAIN & STIFFNESS

Another symptom that goes along with aging is joint deterioration that results in pain, stiffness, inflammation, and limited range of movement.

Several scientific studies concluded that hydrolyzed collagen supplements resulted in increased collagen in surrounding joint tissues and a decrease in symptoms of joint degenerative disease, like osteoarthritis.

One study found taking collagen over 24 weeks helped reduce joint pain among athletes – an at-risk population for joint disease due to overuse.

People who experience improved joint health may also be more inclined to increase their physical activity levels, which further improves overall health.

Taking a collagen supplement specifically formulated for joint health, like CanPrev’s Joint Pro Concentrate, can help keep joints flexible and cushioned, easing pain, stiffness, and inflammation associated with arthritis.

GUT HEALTH BENEFITS TOO?

Some health practitioners believe collagen has additional anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat digestive disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut.

The thinking behind the mechanism is that collagen can help rebuild the lining of the intestine, which is usually damaged and inflamed in most digestive disorders.

Science is emerging to support the theory that amino acids, like those found in collagen, can prevent and treat inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders. However, additional research is needed to determine the impact of collagen supplements on gut health.

Some other benefits of collagen:

  • Reduces hair loss
  • Improves liver health
  • Diminishes the look of cellulite
  • Improves wound healing

Natural Food Sources of Collagen

Most people aren’t too familiar with collagen in the form of food. The best dietary sources of collagen are from inedible parts of animals, like bones and cartilage. The majority of Western diets aren’t rich in collagen since these animal parts tend to be discarded in food preparation and cooking.

Since animal food sources of collagen are less used and accepted by most people, supplementation is an easy and accessible option to boost your intake. The collagen found in most supplements is hydrolyzed, or separated, into amino acids making it more bioavailable.

Studies have found that collagen in food has less bioavailability, meaning its ability to be absorbed through the intestine and utilized in the body, compared to hydrolyzed collagen.

According to one study, hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed better than collagen from food – because it’s already broken down into amino acids that are ready to absorb.

Consuming hydrolyzed collagen also boosts your own collagen production by providing the “pieces” (amino acids) needed for its formation.

As a side note, studies show that collagen synthesis is stimulated by vitamin C, so it would be beneficial to take both collagen and Vitamin C together or increase your intake of vitamin C-rich foods.

Animal VS Marine Sources of Collagen

It must be noted that not all collagen is created equal! The two main types that you’ll find in supplemental form are animal (generally bovine/cow) and marine (fish) collagen.

ANIMAL/BOVINE MARINE/FISH
Made of skin, bones, muscles Made from fish bones & scales
Rich in type 1 & type 3 collagen Rich in type 1 collagen
Rich source of amino acids Proline & Glycine Rich source of amino acids Glycine, Proline & Hydroxyproline
Excellent for maintaining bone, joint and gut health, reducing fatigue and repairing sun-damaged skin Easier to digest due to smaller collagen peptides, so there is increased bioavailability and absorption

Choosing one over the other is really up to you as both types have similar benefits.

Since it can be a little difficult to get a steady intake of collagen through dietary sources (who wants to constantly have a pot of bone broth on the go?), collagen supplements are a safe way to promote skin and joint health with little-known risk or side effects.

Hydrolyzed collagen supplements that are specially formulated with other complementary ingredients (like Vitamin C!) for skin and joint health are proven quite effective.

Cholesterol and Women’s Heart Health: What you need to know

As a woman, are you committed to living a heart-healthy lifestyle? While we might think of older men when we hear “heart problems”, research tells us it’s time for women to look after their hearts, too.

According to the Heart Research Institute, heart disease is the number one cause of death in Canada for women over 55. What’s more, Canadian women are 16% more likely than men to die from the result of a heart attack. One of our current problems when it comes to women’s heart health is that, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 2/3 of heart disease clinical research focuses on men.

So what does that mean for you?

It means that, until more women-centered clinical research is completed, it’s essential that you educate yourself on natural, safe ways to care for your cardiovascular system and live heart-healthy every day. This includes keeping track of your cholesterol levels. Read on for what you need to know, plus our tips and recommendations to get you started.

Women, cholesterol, and heart disease

Heart disease is a women’s issue. Some research estimates that heart attacks are more deadly for women in part because our hearts are affected by the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. Physiological differences also exist. For instance, women’s hearts and coronary arteries are smaller than men’s, with faster resting heart rate.

While there are many risk factors involved in heart disease in women, like high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and obesity, cholesterol is a factor you need to monitor for heart health – especially once you reach menopause. That’s because, according to the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, high blood cholesterol levels raise the risk for heart disease, and menopausal women are at increased risk of high cholesterol due to the drop in estrogen production that happens at menopause.

Higher estrogen levels are associated with a rise in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which offers protection against heart disease, along with a decline in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. (Confused about cholesterol types and what they really mean? We’re got you covered below, so read on!). To nurture heart health before, during, and after menopause, you want to keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range.

Your cholesterol primer

Let’s dig into what cholesterol is, and more importantly, how it might affect women’s health. So what is cholesterol, anyway?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in every cell in the body. It’s both made by the body and absorbed from food. Cholesterol is essential because your body needs it to make important steroid hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and vitamin D. What’s more, the brain needs cholesterol and without enough of it, you might be at increased risk for depression, which is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is also used to make bile acids in the liver. In other words, cholesterol isn’t inherently bad.

But here’s the thing: excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can clog the arteries. These deposits (known as plaques) can result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries – which is a major cause of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which is divided in two major cholesterol types along with triglycerides:

LDL cholesterol: LDL or low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the “bad” cholesterol, which contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries as it undergoes free-radical damage. LDL rises after menopause in many women.

HDL cholesterol: HDL or high-density lipoprotein. It has been called “good” cholesterol because research suggests it helps the body dispose of LDL cholesterol. Low HDL cholesterol might be a more important heart disease risk factor for women than for men. What’s more, low HDL in women is one of the first measure of insulin resistance (another risk factor for heart disease).

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the body. High levels of triglycerides could be a greater risk factor for heart disease in women compared with men. High triglycerides might be caused by conditions like hypothyroidism and PCOS and are associated with excess abdominal fat and high blood sugar, because the liver stores excess glucose as triglycerides.

Women-specific tips for healthy cholesterol levels and heart health

A heart-healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward keeping cholesterol levels in check and preventing heart disease in women. Work with an integrative doctor to track your cholesterol levels and make appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle if your total cholesterol levels are high, if HDL levels are low, or LDL levels are elevated. Diet-wise, choose healthy fats and lower cholesterol intake from foods by opting for plant-based swaps whenever possible. If you’re overweight, do your best to shed the extra pounds.

Try nutritional supplements like Healthy Heart. Talk with other women and let your emotions flow freely – all of these are pathways to a healthy heart.

Beyond the Brazil Nut: The Benefits of Selenium

What Is It?

Selenium is a trace mineral naturally occurring in the soil, in certain foods, and very small amounts can be found in natural water sources.

Selenium’s main role is acting as an antioxidant and has many benefits to the body. Selenium is also a chief component of the molecules which are necessary for your body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones, called ‘selenoproteins’.

The top health benefits of Selenium include:

  • regulating the thyroid
  • boosting immunity
  • reducing asthma symptoms
  • supporting fertility for both men & women
  • defending against heart disease, cancer, and oxidative stress
  • increasing longevity

Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, and minerals like Zinc, Manganese, and Selenium are key in facilitating the phase I and phase II detoxification processes in the liver.

Selenium also plays an important role in prostate health, helping to maintain healthy levels of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) which is the marker for prostate cancer.

More on the Benefits of Selenium

→ ANTIOXIDANT POWER, IMMUNE-BOOSTING & CANCER PREVENTION

Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant and defends against oxidative stress. There is also a strong correlation between serum levels of Selenium and a reduced risk of several types of cancer.

Studies show that foods high in Selenium may prevent cancer by helping with DNA repair, preventing cancer cells from replicating and by reducing free radicals in the body [1].

This mineral is such an important factor in supporting the immune system that it’s a key ingredient in our Immuno Multi formula.

→ HEART HEALTH & REDUCED INFLAMMATION

Selenium-rich foods (and the selenoproteins that they help form) can also prevent platelets from aggregating (which improves blood flow), prevent oxidative damage to cells (e.g. prevent the oxidative modification of lipids) thereby reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease [1].

People with low levels of serum Selenium have been shown to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, experts have suggested that Selenium supplements could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or deaths associated with cardiovascular disease.

→ REGULATES THYROID FUNCTION

Selenium is probably most well-known for its role in maintaining thyroid health since it works together closely with Iodine – another important trace mineral.

Concentrations of Selenium are higher in the thyroid gland than anywhere else in the body. It helps to regulate and recycle our Iodine stores and is needed to produce the critical thyroid hormone T3, which regulates metabolism.

‘Selenoproteins’ protect the thyroid gland when we are under stress. They help flush out oxidative and chemical stress, and even social stress – which, as most of us have experienced, can cause many negative reactions in our body. 

Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Selenium Deficiency

A selenium deficiency is generally observed in areas where the soil does not contain much of it and the mineral content in soil can differ dramatically depending on location.

Even in food sources, the amount of Selenium is largely dependent on soil conditions that the food grew in. Therefore, even within the same food, levels of selenium can vary widely, and the mineral’s benefits may be more prominent in crops grown in certain locations more so than others.

Health Experts are becoming increasingly concerned as evidence suggests that a decline in blood Selenium levels is occurring in parts of the U.K. and other European Union countries. The worry is with several potential health implications that can result due to a deficiency in this mineral.

Selenium deficiency signs & symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Discolouration of hair or skin
  • Whitening of the fingernail beds
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weakened immune system
  • Infertility in men and women
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline

While Selenium deficiency is very rare in Canada and the United States (unlike other nutrient deficiencies that are more common) it is certainly wise to ensure you’re getting enough.

There are some people who do, in fact, have a Selenium deficiency due to a poor diet and conditions like Crohn’s disease that impair absorption of the nutrients your body needs to heal and thrive.

Additionally, many studies tell us that having Selenium levels above the RDI (recommended daily intake) is when it starts to have therapeutic effects, like lowering PSA for example. 

Best food sources of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts (just 1-2 per day provides you with enough Selenium!)
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Turkey
  • Beef liver
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Mushrooms
  • Soybeans

While it’s important to try to acquire Selenium through quality food sources, you may not be getting enough (except if you’re eating a Brazil nut a day!) – and supplementation may be a wise choice.

Sources & Referenced Content:

[1] National Institutes of Health “Selenium: Fact Sheet for Professionals”

[2] The Lancet Journal 2012 “Selenium and Human Health”


CanPrev Recommends:

Best Practices for Summer BBQ’s and Healthier Grilled Meat

Don’t Summer and BBQ’s just go hand-in-hand together?

Grilling just seems to make food taste better, no matter what you cook on the BBQ…meat, poultry, vegetables, even fruit! These foods all taste amazing when prepared on a smokey grill.

However, consuming grilled food too often in the form of muscle meat (beef, pork, poultry, and fish) can come with some risks.

When muscle meat is cooked at high temperatures, chemicals known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed.

These known carcinogens can cause changes in your DNA and, in turn, increase your risk of developing cancer if consumed in high doses, according to some studies.

Because barbecuing is usually hotter than other cooking methods, grilled food typically contains higher levels of these chemicals than food prepared using other techniques such as baking or broiling.

We’re going to offer up some best practices for your summer BBQ, as well as how to enjoy healthier grilled meat. But first…

Let’s learn more about HCAs and PAHs…

HETEROCYCLIC AMINES (HCAs)
HCAs are formed as a result of a chemical reaction that occurs during the cooking process – this is the creatine, amino acids, and sugars in muscle meat react to high temperatures.

Therefore, grilled meat is more likely to have higher levels of HCAs than meat prepared other ways, and even more so when meat is overcooked or charbroiled.

The following factors influence the formation of HCAs:

  • Temperature (the most important – especially muscle meat cooked above 300°)
  • The type of meat (carcinogens are typically formed in muscle meat)
  • How long the muscle meat is cooked (the longer the food is cooked, the more HCAs are formed)
  • How the muscle meat is cooked (grilling vs. roasting, stewing, and steaming)

POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS (PAHs)
Exposing muscle meat directly to smoke is what contributes to the formation of PAHs.

PAH’s are also produced when meat is charred or blackened, or when fat from muscle meat drips onto the hot coals and the surface of the grill, which in turn forms PAHs in the smoke.

This smoke then infiltrates the food with PAHs as it rises. PAHs can also be found in other smoked foods, such as smoked meat & fish.

The following factors influence the formation of PAHs:

    • Temperature (the most important – especially muscle meat cooked above 200°)
    • How long the muscle meat is cooked (the longer the food is cooked, the more PAHs are formed)
    • How the muscle meat is cooked (grilling vs. baking or roasting)
    • The type of fuel used when cooking the food
    • The distance between the food and the heat source

How to BBQ better and enjoy healthier grilled meat!

The case for meat as a cancer risk has been gaining momentum for years. A number of studies now show that people who report eating diets heavy in red (and processed meats) have higher risks of certain types of cancer, as well as heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

These findings certainly don’t bode well when you want to add barbecuing your meat on top of that!

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, and you still can enjoy the occasional meal that includes grilled meat.

There are plenty of ways you can reduce the levels of HCAs & PAHs in your food:

1. Flavor your food with herbs and spices – some herbs and spices can actually help prevent HCAs from forming due to the antioxidants they contain.

Recommended herbs and spices include:
– rosemary
– basil
– thyme
– sage
– oregano
– onion powder
– turmeric

Did you know that turmeric, an ancient spice that has hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties contains beneficial polyphenols and offers powerful antioxidant support?

This is due to its high curcumin content and it works in both fat and water soluble tissues to protect the liver.

2. Cut off and discard charred pieces of meat before serving, as those pieces will contain higher levels of carcinogens. In addition, do not use meat drippings as gravy for your food, as there could be carcinogens in the meat drippings.

3. Certain types of marinades can reduce the levels of HCA and PAH – marinade serves as a barrier between meat and carcinogens.

Acid-based marinades that contain vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, red wine, and yogurt can reduce the formation of HCA, while beer marinades (particularly marinades made with dark beer) can reduce the formation of PAHs.

You can also brush your food with a small amount of olive oil – just keep in mind, while this can help reduce HCA levels, the fat from the oil dripping on the grill can still increase PAH levels.

4. Use leaner cuts of meat for grilling – the less amount of fat that drips onto the grill, the less amount of PAH that will form.

Avoid grilling meat that is highly processed, such as sausage and ham, since they contain added nitrates and higher amounts of fat.

5. To shorten the cooking time of meat, cut meat into smaller pieces and cook it on medium to medium-high heat (do not cook on high heat).

Kabobs are a great way to utilize smaller pieces of meat and be sure to include some vegetable.

BONUS: vegetables do not create carcinogens, as they do not contain creatine and they lack fat, meaning there won’t be any flare-ups on the grill that result in smoke being created.

6. Clean your grill after each use with a quality brush (one where bristles won’t break off). This will help get rid of any residues from carcinogens that may have built up, and prevent them from being transferred to your food the next time you use your grill.

Research investigating the relationship between grilled food (especially red and processed meat) and cancer risk is ongoing.
[1, 2, 3, 4]

However, by using safer grilling techniques, you will reduce the number of carcinogens that infiltrate your food, making your grilled meat more safe to consume and effectively reducing your cancer risk.


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Referenced Studies

[1] The Lancelet – Oncology, October 2015: Carcinogenicity of Consumption of Red and Processed Meat

[2] Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), January 2017: Grilled, Barbecued and Smoked Meat Intake and Survival Following Breast Cancer

[3] Journal of Nutrition and Cancer, December 2012: Meat Consumption, Cooking Practices, Meat Mutagens and Risk of Prostate Cancer

[4] Journal of Cancer Science, 2004: Heterocyclic Amines: Mutagens/Carcinogens Produced During Cooking of Meat and Fish

These Daily Habits Will Curb Your UTI Risk, Naturally

Every woman needs these tips for better urinary health

In our daily lives, we take many steps to optimize our health and well-being.

For starters, you integrate that new mindfulness meditation practice into your mornings to revitalize your nervous system and invest in quality serums and lotions for your best skin health and natural glow.

Still, you rarely stop to think about urinary health—except when you’re struck down with a urinary tract infection, or UTI.

Most women will experience a UTI at least once in their lives, but for many others, urinary tract infections happen on the regular.

The great news is that you can curb your UTI risk naturally by following some simple daily habits, and when you do get a urinary tract infection, you can turn to natural remedies for symptom relief and treatment. How? Read on for our top tips to harness your best urinary health yet.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a bacterial infection that commonly affects the urethra and bladder. The main symptoms of UTI include painful urination, a burning sensation while peeing, a pressure in the lower abdomen and above the pubic bone, and frequent urge to pee, even though little comes out when you do. When you have a UTI, you might be tired and need more rest than usual. What’s more, frequent and painful peeing might make you anxious about your daily activities, like going to work and playing sports.

What causes UTI?

A urinary tract infection is usually caused by bacteria. But other factors are also involved. For example, being a woman is a risk factor for UTI. And once you’ve had a urinary tract infection, you become more prone to a recurring one in the future. Finally, pregnancy can up your UTI risk, too.

Lifestyle habits linked with a higher UTI risk include sexual activity (from pressure on the urinary tract during sex, and more bacteria exposure post-intercourse), some forms of birth control (namely spermicides, and friction from condoms), and also wearing a diaphragm (for some women, it can slow urinary flow).

With proper treatment, a UTI will usually subside without further complications. But if you get regular urinary tract infections, you’ll definitely want to tweak your daily habits to hit reset on your urinary health. Read on for our healthful tips.

Daily tips to curb your UTI risk

Hydrate more

To kick your risk of getting a urinary tract infection and to support better urinary health, up your daily intake of fluids. Drinking lots of pure water is the ultimate urinary health action plan because it helps flush out toxins and bacteria and maintain a healthy urine flow.

Keep hydrated by drinking pure water while also avoiding too much coffee, tea, and soda, which can be dehydrating.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes

While wearing tight-fitting jeans and nylon undies is fine for most people, if you’re prone to UTIs, you’ll want to swap them for cotton underwear and comfy clothes that let you breathe and don’t trap moisture. What’s more, you’ll want to avoid irritating, scented bath products and feminine hygiene sprays.

Boost your immune system

Supporting better immune health is your go-to approach to better urinary health and lower UTI risk. Fill nutritional deficiencies with a high-quality Adult Multi providing essential vitamins and minerals. Add an antioxidant Vitamin C boost to enhance immune function. Promote optimal pH balance in the body with pH Pro.

Diet-wise, choose natural and minimally processed nutrient-rich foods.

Address UTI symptoms now with these natural remedies

Try herbs

Snag some herbal remedies to help alleviate UTI symptoms. Try Dandelion leaf tea as a beneficial diuretic to help increase urine flow and flushing of bacteria and toxins. Find a Uva ursi extract as a urinary antiseptic, combined with mineral-rich horsetail. Another favorite plant remedy for UTI is pure, unsweetened cranberry juice.

Build your microflora

Restore optimal urogenital flora with probiotics, especially lactobacilli. Loading up on healthful probiotics helps lower risk of UTI while also helping you bounce back faster post-infection.

What’s more, probiotics are essential to restoring optimal flora if you decide to take a round of antibiotics for your urinary tract infection. Take a multi-strain probiotic in supplement form, or opt for live fermented and cultured foods like sauerkraut, kefir, or kombucha.

Rest and recover

When you’re fighting an infection, getting enough rest is crucial. Lower stress and anxiety by indulging in lots of quiet downtimes, restorative baths, and enough sleep. Don’t overbook your schedule, and give yourself time to heal. Learning to manage stress and be more mindful of your body’s needs will also help nix the chance of recurring infections in the long-term.

A holistic approach to preventing UTIs is the surest way path to optimal urinary health.

We do always recommend you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement or herbal medicine regime.  

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/