Category Archives: Health
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 lower 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.
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.” 
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. 
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 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). 
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.
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. 
Magnesium is found mostly in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables. Milk and yogurt contain some magnesium as well.
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. 
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 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 , available clinical measures do not suggest widespread Vitamin D deficiency in the Canadian population.  
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
 Statistics Canada: Canadian Community Health Survey, June 2017 – Nutrition: Nutrient intakes from food and nutritional supplements
 Statistics Canada: Health Fact Sheets. Fruit and Vegetable consumption
 Health Canada: Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?
 Health Canada: Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes
 Health Reports, March 2010: Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey
 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
The perfect herbal remedies for your healthiest spring yet
Spring is just around the corner, and for most of us, it couldn’t come soon enough. Though winter has its charms, namely the cozy evenings by the fireplace and hikes in the snow-covered forest, the short days and blizzards can sure get to us after a while. When spring finally comes, we start to feel alive again. But here’s the thing: as much as we love spring, it’s also a season that can spark its own set of health issues. Read on to find out which health concerns are most common in the spring, and which herbal remedies you can turn to for your healthiest, happiest spring yet.
There’s no better time than spring to kick-start a gentle body cleanse. After the long winter months spent inside, usually exercising less (hello, Netflix!), and indulging in yummy comfort foods like casseroles and roasts, common spring concerns include feelings of fatigue and sluggishness. Other symptoms like sneaky weight gain and brain fog also signal you might benefit from a healthy spring detox.
Start your cleanse by kicking your daily coffee habit and cutting back on sweets, alcohol, and junk foods. Swap your usual beverages for fresh juices, superfood smoothies, and warm tonics like golden milk or matcha. Food-wise, up your intake of fiber and colorful plant foods like antioxidant-rich berries and dark leafy greens.
For herbal support, try dandelion. The whole plant supports a healthy spring detox. Use the leaves as a salad green or steeped as tea to stimulate the gallbladder, support digestion, and for better liver and kidney health. Use dandelion root to clear liver toxins and banish bloat.
Flower buds and blooming greenery are a sight most of us look forward to—but if you’re one of those who suffers from seasonal allergies, spring equals weeks of constant sneezing and sniffling. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, brings unpleasant cold-like symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, and coughing.
Tree pollen is a usual culprit when it comes to seasonal allergies, and common advice to kick hay fever symptoms includes staying indoors with windows closed (sounds like fun?). That’s where herbal remedies come to the rescue. To relieve seasonal allergy symptoms, try nettle. Use it as a tea, tincture, in capsules, or even fresh and whipped up in a tasty batch of wild nettle pesto.
Nettle acts as a general tonic to naturally increase the body’s resistance to allergy, while also lowering inflammation and curbing the release of histamine.
Yes, even though we tend to associate seasonal affective disorder with the cold, dark winter months, spring too can trigger a set of difficult emotions for those of us who have depression and anxiety. Experts blame a few factors when it comes to the spring blues: hormonal shifts, melatonin imbalance, and even inflammation-causing seasonal allergies might be involved in bringing you down.
To kick mild spring blues symptoms, your self-care action plan includes upping physical exercise to trigger a flow of feel-good endorphins. Herb-wise, you can turn to St John’s Wort. Herbal remedies made from the sunny, bright yellow flower can alleviate symptoms of mild depression, especially when combined with light therapy.
Taking off the winter layers and stepping out into the world post-winter lull means your skin is more exposed to the elements during the spring. Common skin ailments at that time of year include sunburn, mosquito bites, brushes with poison ivy, and the occasional nettle sting. What’s more, since your skin hasn’t seen the sun in a while, you can be more prone to a sun rash on your arms and face. Cue the red, inflamed, and itchy skin that makes you wish for just one more snowstorm.
But, as with most things, there’s a herb for that: plantain. The common weed that pokes its head in the springtime also happens to be the ultimate skin savior. Use it as a salve and apply it over the skin whenever needed for instant relief from inflammation and itch.
The return of warm weather can bring anxiety for those of us concerned about Lyme Disease. After all, fun outdoor activities like camping and hiking can up your risk of tick bites. Though there is no guaranteed way to guard against Lyme Disease (besides, maybe, avoiding the woods at all cost!), anyone who wants to curb their risk of getting sick can focus on boosting their immune system.
This spring, try reishi mushroom as an adaptogen to support immune function. Use it as a herbal tea, tincture, in capsules, or even in powder form added to smoothies and hot chocolate for a tasty, immune-boosting treat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We also recommend a daily dose of laughter and spreading love, to improve your own hearts happiness and wellbeing.
As we head into the holiday season, we will be faced with many, many opportunities to overindulge, undoubtedly including a few extra cocktails! Because alcohol has become such a big part of our social culture, it naturally trickles in a bit more this time of year.
While taking an extra drink (or two) every now and then is generally ok, there are some truths about alcohol you may not be aware of.
The hard truth: what alcohol really does to your body
First, alcohol is a diuretic (i.e. makes you pee more than usual) and its tendency to dehydrate the body is what gives us the typical hangover symptoms like nausea, headache, extreme thirst, palpitations, sensitivity to light, poor motor skills, achy muscles – just to mention a few.
Let’s travel the path of an alcoholic beverage in the body:
After a drink is ingested, alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the blood (20% through the stomach and 80% through the small intestine), the effects of which are generally felt within only 5 to 10 minutes post-ingestion.
Once in the bloodstream, alcohol makes its way into almost every biological tissue in the body, including all of your organs, because cell membranes are highly permeable. The peak is usually observed in the blood around 30-90 minutes after.
And you thought alcohol only affected the brain and the liver — nope, it’s a full body experience!
Now that you know some of the effects of it, when you do choose to imbibe, we wanted to offer some really practical advice this holiday season – tips that you might actually use!
Holiday Hangover Prevention 101:
First off, we want to urge you to cut yourself some slack when you do overindulge – because you will – you’re only human.
However, indulging in alcohol, like binge drinking on a single occasion as well as drinking multiple days in a row – can have so many far-reaching negative effects on the body, more so than when you just indulge with an extra dessert or go crazy with the spinach dip!
Actionable hangover prevention tips: Mind your A’s, and take your B’s and C’s
Take 500-1000 mg of Vitamin C before you begin consuming alcohol. This will help to lower the acetaldehyde that your liver creates as a by-product to the breakdown of ethanol (pure alcohol).
Acetaldehyde is 10-30 times more toxic than the ethanol itself, and is by far the most damaging, not to mention – aging alcohol toxin.
For more targeted supplemental prevention measures, you could also take NAC (n-acetyl-cysteine), L-glutathione and Vitamin B1 (thiamine) or a B-complex – at least 30 minutes before you have your first drink.
Eat up to slow down.
Eat at least a small meal before you imbibe (or while you’re having some drinks) to slow down the rate of alcohol uptake into your bloodstream. This would preferably be something containing protein and healthy fats.
There’s more than just the “foodie experience” of pairing cheese with wine!
This may also help you to stop mindlessly munching on all of those salty, creamy and fatty holiday foods because drinking a moderate amount of alcohol has been shown to increase our appetites, not reduce it.
Here are the basics of being a smarter sipper:
- drink higher quality liquor
- skip the sugary mixes
- consider watering down your booze
- think about post detox methods to help provide nutrients and rejuvenation to organs
But let’s break that down a little bit more…
1. Your best bets for booze with little to no congeners are:
- gluten-free beer – which is also relatively low alcohol
- good quality craft beer
- organic red wine
- organic white wine
- gluten-free vodka (preferably potato, not corn)
- high-quality gin
- 100% agave tequila
By the way, congeners are considered toxins or impurities that occur in alcoholic beverages due to the distillation or fermentation process.
Examples of congeners in wine are sulphites – the chemical compounds that stop bacterial growth and act as preservatives.
Sounds pretty innocuous, beneficial even – but inside the digestive system, these break down and create sulphur dioxide, which can trigger headaches. In asthmatics, it can even cause breathing problems.
2. Your not-so-great alcoholic beverage options are:
- regular beer
- dark liquors (= lots of congeners + paired with dark, sugary mixes)
- sugary liqueurs
- regular red wine (you would be shocked at the poor quality, fillers & preservatives of most wine!)
- regular white wine or worse – cheap sparkling wine.
3. Get mixed up!
Sparkling water (no sodium), unsweetened pure coconut water, naturally decaffeinated green tea and kombucha (fermented tea) all make good hydrating, low/no-sugar drink bases – so get creative!
Drink more…water. Drink gobs of water before and during your alcohol intake. A good rule of thumb is for every alcoholic drink you consume, drink 2 glasses of water in between. Then, after an evening of drinking, drink another 2 huge glasses of water before bed.
You can also replace 1 glass of water with pure, unsweetened coconut water, which is naturally loaded with potassium + add a pinch of sea salt or pink salt in it.
But why coconut water + salt? Alcohol also depletes our electrolytes so this is a simple, yet effective electrolyte replenishment combo.
Better yet – here’s an incredibly easy recipe to get those electrolytes back in fast!
Mix up the following:
1 packet of ElectroMag Lemon Lime
1 cup of pure, unsweetened coconut water and then add a pinch of pink salt
You’ll want to drink 1 or 2 cups of this mixture in the morning to head off, the after-party electrolyte slide. Another 500-1000 mg of Vitamin C would be a good idea at this time too. Again, it’s about replenishing what’s been lost during alcohol consumption: water, vitamins + minerals, especially electrolytes (Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium & Chloride). To choose a magnesium that may help you with the aftermath of a night out visit: magnesium.ca.
There you have it – some surprisingly simple things you can do to “hack your hangover” and indulge mindfully.
Here’s a great additional resource that covers all of the far-reaching effects of alcohol on the body – that may also make you think before you drink:
There is a host of scientific studies linking magnesium to many different health conditions, but reviewing these effects one by one is overwhelming and confusing. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at magnesium’s underlying physiological mechanisms. Understanding what magnesium does fundamentally will let us better understand how insufficient magnesium levels might affect our bodies and our daily lives.
Magnesium’s hundreds of roles can be roughly categorized into four basic functions. One of those functions is activating enzymes and another is creating cellular energy. Let’s break down how these processes actually happen and take a closer look at the relationship between magnesium enzymes and energy.
We are kept alive by trillions of chemical reactions that occur in the body. Carbohydrates are broken up and harvested for energy. New tissue is created. Cellular waste products are removed. New strands of DNA are synthesized. This collection of chemical processes is called metabolism.
The speed a reaction occurs will depend on factors like temperature, pressure, solubility and concentration of molecules. We use these factors every day. You might notice that sugar dissolves in hot water faster, or putting food in the refrigerator will slow the rate of decay. When you make a campfire, a hotter flame will burn wood faster.
Our metabolism needs to occur at a certain speed to stay alive. But we don’t have the liberty of turning the body into a raging furnace to speed up these reactions (not without damaging many things). That’s where enzymes come in.
Enzymes are bits of protein that catalyze and regulate almost all metabolic reactions. As catalysts, they reduce the energy needed to spark a chemical reaction and speed up reactions. Without enzymes, reactions that would normally take milliseconds might take hours or days.
Some enzymes require an additional ions or molecules called cofactors to function. Without a cofactor bound to its structure, an enzyme may float dormant, unable to catalyze any reactions.
Cofactor for Enzymatic Pathways
Magnesium is a cofactor for several important enzymes in the body, like DNA/RNA polymerases, used to transcribe new DNA/RNA strands, and guanylate cyclase used to regulate the movement of minerals across cell membranes.
A 1968 estimate suggested that magnesium was a required cofactor for 300 enzymatic reactions. This figure is found in many medical texts and quoted by many scientific papers. Since then, many more enzymes that rely on magnesium have been identified. A search of today’s enzymatic databases reveals over 600 enzymes that magnesium is a cofactor for and another 200 enzymes that need magnesium to be activated.
Magnesium, Enzymes and Cellular Energy
Arguably the most important enzymes that magnesium is a cofactor for are the ones that produce cellular energy. These enzymes form a series of pathways (glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, phosphorylation) that convert organic compounds like glucose sugars into smaller molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP acts as our main unit of cellular energy.
Every one of our hundred trillion cells manufactures ATP to store and shuttle intracellular energy. ATP stores a tremendous amount of potential energy in the bonds of the second and third phosphate groups. When the cell wants to carry out a function like cellular division or transport molecules across the cell membrane, it breaks this bond and releases the energy.
We use a tremendous amount of ATP all the time. The typical adult only stores about 50g of ATP in the body so each ATP molecule is recycled over a thousand times a day.
To get an idea of just how much we use, let’s look at some back-of-the-napkin calculations. (If you’d like to avoid the math, feel free to skip ahead!)
Assume a typical adult needs to eat approximately 2500 calories of food every day. That’s equivalent to consuming 10,460kJ of energy from our food. Let’s also assume all the metabolic pathways that convert food into ATP energy are about 50% efficient. So of the 10,460kJ of food energy we consume, 5230kJ ends up as ATP. One mole of ATP releases around 50kJ of energy in our cells, meaning the body goes through 5230/50 = 104.6 moles of ATP every day. How much is that by weight? One mole of ATP is 507 grams. 104.6 moles x 507 grams/mole = 53,032 grams or 53kg of ATP processed every day.
Our calculations estimate that 53kg of ATP is used every day. That’s a lot of ATP, about three-quarters the body weight of your average adult human! Luckily, humans are really good at recycling and recharging spent ATP (adenosine diphosphate or ADP) through those previously mentioned metabolic pathways. The typical adult only stores about 50g of ATP in the body so each ATP molecule is recycled over a thousand times daily! Since these pathways are magnesium dependent, we need quite a bit of magnesium on hand to fuel a continuous production of ATP.
Magnesium = ATP
Since these pathways (glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, phosphorylation) are magnesium dependent, we need quite a bit of magnesium on hand to fuel a continuous production of ATP.
Blood clotting (intravascular thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes)
Clotting is a normal response to blood vessel damage. When a blood vessel wall is damaged, tiny blood cells called platelets activate. These platelets adhere to a damaged surface and release sealing agents like fibrin. Magnesium regulates the activation of these platelets by controlling calcium levels and maintaining cell receptors. That’s why magnesium is sometimes called an anticoagulant.
Magnesium deficiencies increase the risk of unnecessary platelet activation, forming more clots in blood vessels. These clots may block blood flow to the brain or heart, increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
High Blood Pressure
Besides preventing blood clots, magnesium also acts as a natural vasodilator. Magnesium, as a calcium antagonist, allows the heart muscles and the smooth muscles of the arteries to rest and relax, reducing blood pressure. If there is insufficient magnesium, these blood vessels constrict, raising blood pressure.
Magnesium’s role in maintaining healthy blood pressure has a lot to do with its ability to activate the sodium-potassium pump. Even if a magnesium deficiency occurred and a sufficient supply of potassium was available, it would likely not make it into the cell to allow for proper sodium regulation.
Like elsewhere in the body, magnesium regulates concentrations of potassium and calcium in the heart as well. These concentrations control and coordinate the rhythm of electrical signal and muscle contractions.
The Canadian Cardiovascular Society recommends that hospitals administer magnesium intravenously in order to reduce the risks of atrial fibrillation.
“When you’re the strongest and fittest you’ve ever been, the last thing you think you are is unhealthy and the last words you expect to hear are, you have cancer” — Jill Bunny
The “C” word
Being told you have cancer is something you don’t ever expect to hear at a routine check-up, especially when you’re young and dedicate your life to staying fit. Fitness model Jill Bunny didn’t expect to hear it either. This Toronto native was one of the highest ranked IFBB bikini competitors in the world. To her peers, she was the picture of health physically and professionally. But Jill’s inner strength would soon be tested. Unusual symptoms Jill was experiencing told her that something wasn’t quite right. A double diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and thyroid cancer catapulted Jill into the competition of her life.
To many different degrees, we have all faced health challenges individually. This is the story of a top fitness competitor who fought the biggest battle of her life and came out with a new approach to finding her best health.
Functional nutritionist, elite trainer, life coach and bikini model competitor, these are only a few titles Jill Bunny goes by. Jill has always been fascinated by what the human body is capable of. When she was diagnosed with MS and thyroid cancer at age 30, her passion for health and fitness took a different turn. She retired from competition as the physical toll training took on her body would likely advance the progression of MS and slow recovery from a thyroidectomy to come.
Instead, she found other ways to challenge herself physically and mentally. She continued to train and mentor others through her company, Fit Bunnies Fitness, as she recovered from cancer. It was during this time that Jill found the motivation to learn more about healing from the inside out. Through a team of functional medicine practitioners and her Naturopathic Doctor (ND), she found more preventative ways to manage her MS symptoms. Along the way, her own interest in how the body works expanded and she began to study functional medicine in her quest to find healing and to make her body stronger than ever before.
Jill approached Dr. Nadia Lamanna ND, in April 2017 for a natural approach to managing her symptoms. Since having a thyroidectomy in November 2016, Jill struggled with fluctuating thyroid hormone levels, extreme fatigue and brain fog. The fatigue and muscle pain associated with MS was becoming a major obstacle in managing her business and training for an upcoming ironwoman race. She chose not to take prescription medication but instead managed the disease through diet, exercise and naturopathic medicine. Her chief concerns were low energy, neck pain and long recovery periods after work outs.
Dr. Lamanna ND, began treating Jill the next month with 200mg of CanPrev Magnesium Bis-Glycinate 200 Gentle before bed, one sachet of CanPrev ElectroMag to mix with water and to consume while training, two capsules of CanPrev Adrenal-Pro twice daily, one capsule of CanPrev Pro-Biotik 15B daily, and one capsule of CanPrev Thyroid-Pro twice daily. After two weeks the Magnesium Bis-Glycinate 200 Gentle was increased to 400 mg per day and ElectroMag to two pouches per day because Jill added a cycle class to her evening fitness routine. Jill reported she was taking Synthroid 88 mcg per day when she first met with Dr. Lamanna, this was later increased to 100 mcg per day in early May as directed by her endocrinologist.
Baseline scores were reported on April 10 and after only a few weeks of therapy, Jill reported improved symptoms like reduced neck pain, improved ability to recover post workout and a significant improvement in energy levels. She reported having bursts of energy and diminished grogginess during the times of day that she typically felt her worst. Her TSH in April was 4.79 and dropped to 0.59 in June, after just seven weeks of therapy. Jill’s endocrinologist was ecstatic with the results and asked what she had been doing differently. Her TSH levelled out at 1.15 in July. Jill was optimistic and motivated throughout the duration of the study and overjoyed about the progress she made along the way.
Words from Jill
“The last thing that I felt was missing in my quest to heal, was the implementation of natural, quality supplements. Working with my Naturopath on an individual basis, with weekly check-ins was exactly what I needed to get the supplementation correct. Today, I can honestly say that I have not felt this much energy in at least a decade. Go with your gut and listen to your body. Take an individualized approach to your health and do what you feel is right and works best for.”
Connect with Jill
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, recommend that males and females ages 19-30 take in 400 mg and 310 mg of magnesium a day respectively. Males 31 and older should up their intake to 420 mg a day, and females 31 and older should increase their daily amounts to 320 mg.
The DRI also encourages pregnant or lactating women to boost their magnesium intake even higher and to consult their doctors for suggested amounts.
Sea vegetables (kelp), nuts and seeds, beans, soybeans and some seafood (crab, clams) generally contain higher levels of magnesium compared to other foods. Grains and pseudocereals like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice will offer you a relatively high amount of magnesium as well. But the real winners when it comes to the most nutrient dense, magnesium-rich foods are fresh vegetables and dark leafy greens like chard, collards, and spinach. Nuts and seeds pack a big punch for their size when it comes to magnesium density too!
True or False: Organic Foods Contain More Magnesium
It is no surprise that choosing to buy organic dark leafy greens and vegetables, can cost you. But if you choose to not purchase organic produce will you pay in a different way? Does buying organic make a difference in terms of mineral (magnesium) content compared to conventionally grown crops?
According to the Environmental Working Group, conventionally grown spinach ranks second when it comes to produce containing pesticide residue.
While some studies conclude that organic food may or may not be more nutritious than conventionally grown, it is safe to say that buying organic can protect you from detrimental pesticides and herbicides that generally act as antagonists when it comes to magnesium absorption and can eventually block mineral absorption and lead to mineral deficiency.
Is Dietary Intake Enough?
Swiss chard contains a whopping 150 mg of magnesium per cup. But does that mean you are covered when it comes to adequate magnesium intake? Not necessarily. Lifestyle, physiological, and agricultural factors all play roles in how dietary magnesium is absorbed. A disappointing reality, but a reality nonetheless!
Let’s Explore Why
Mineral-rich foods are becoming an anomaly these days. High rates of soil erosion account for less magnesium in the soil which results in low mineral content in plant foods including magnesium.
Many fruits and vegetables have lost large amounts of minerals and nutrients in the past 50 years. For example, McCance and Widdowson’s epic compilation, the Composition of Foods, has tracked the nutrient composition of foods since 1940. Between 1940 and 1991, there was an average magnesium decrease of 24% in vegetables and 16% in fruits.
Some foods have seen more drastic declines than others. Carrots have lost 75% of their magnesium content. You would have to eat 4 carrots today to get the same magnesium in 1 carrot from 1940!
And that’s only one reason. The health of our digestive system is also a factor in whether or not we can adequately break down food to get the good stuff. Optimum absorption is key in making sure magnesium actually enters our cells!
Absorption of dietary magnesium isn’t guaranteed, though. Enzymatic function, stomach, and bowel health are key factors in the absorption process. From the beginning of the digestive system (oral cavity) to the very end (the anus), all parts need to be working efficiently (especially the small intestine) for optimum breakdown. Even if our digestive process is working perfectly, mineral content in food likely won’t be high enough to offer our cells optimum protection.
Cooking methods and refined foods can also account for magnesium loss. If we choose to fry that one cup of swiss chard instead of bake or lightly sauté it, we can cheat ourselves out of getting the magnesium we need.
Between mineral-depleted plant foods, compromised digestive systems, and popular denaturing cooking methods, optimizing our magnesium intake via food can become quite a challenge.
Ironically, magnesium needs magnesium to facilitate the absorption process. It’s imperative for helping to synthesize enzymes, repair tissue in our intestinal lining, and contribute to our parasympathetic nervous system health, for starters. In order for these processes to function properly in the first place, we need to have enough magnesium in our bodies to provide energy to get these physiological jobs done and done well.