Category Archives: Nutrition


An Exploration of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and It’s Connection To Health Issues

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly called PCOS, is a hormonal condition affecting up to 10% of women. While PCOS is a hormonal disorder of the reproductive system, and its direct causes are still unknown, there are some exciting new discoveries when it comes to PCOS and its connection to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and chronic, low-grade inflammation. Addressing these possible root causes of PCOS could be a game changer in your holistic approach to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome prevention and treatment. Curious? Read more about a holistic approach to PCOS below.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a common hormonal condition affecting the ovaries and reproductive system. Symptoms of PCOS include ovarian cysts (as the name, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, suggests) but note that you can still have PCOS even if you have no cysts on your ovaries.

Other symptoms of PCOS are menstrual irregularities – namely infrequent cycles, less than nine menstrual periods per year (or more than 35 days in-between periods), and heavy bleeding. Substantial weight gain, along with marked difficulty losing weight no matter what you do, is another hallmark of PCOS, as is excess facial and body hair (hirsutism). PCOS can disrupt women’s lives and carries myriad possible complications such as infertility, type 2 diabetes, and mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

So how can you holistically prevent and address PCOS? Your best game plan is to look at root causes. Below, we’re looking at three main root causes behind PCOS, along with preventative nutrition tips, supplement essentials, and lifestyle habits you can adopt today to prevent and address PCOS.

PCOS and insulin resistance

There’s a strong link between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and insulin resistance, which affects as many as 65-70% of women with PCOS. Insulin is the pancreas-made hormone that enables your cells to use sugar (glucose) as energy for the body. If your cells become insulin resistant, your blood sugar levels will spike, causing your body to produce even more insulin. Excess insulin is linked with androgen production and the type of ovulatory dysfunction so common in PCOS.

Tips to reverse insulin resistance include healthier lifestyle habits, the right amount and kind of exercise, smart dieting, and wholesome weight loss. Food-wise, you can help lower your risk of insulin resistance by cutting back on starches and sugars, and replacing them with high-fiber, low-glycemic foods. Exercise is an essential part of insulin resistance and PCOS prevention, but don’t go overboard, either! Over-exercising puts stress on the adrenals and might contribute to hormonal imbalances. When in doubt, go for something mild like walking or yoga.

Supplement with Blood Sugar Support, a comprehensive formula of alpha-lipoic acid, cinnamon, chromium, and other blood glucose balancing ingredients to lower your risk of insulin resistance and PCOS.

PCOS and metabolic syndrome

PCOS has a strong association with metabolic syndrome. Hear this: women with PCOS are up to 11 times more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome than those without PCOS! Being overweight is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, as is lack of exercise. Metabolic syndrome increases incidence of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, makes you more prone to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and ups risk of endometrial cancer.

Here’s the great news: metabolic syndrome responds really well to lifestyle changes. In other words, upgrade your health habits to massively lower your risk. Cut the junk food and eat healthy (ensure all your nutritional needs are met by relying on a quality daily multi-vitamin). Choose organic and keep processed foods to a minimum. Follow an exercise program and shed the extra weight. Boost your nutritious diet and regular exercise plan with Slim-Pro, a natural formula to enhance blood sugar levels and help you achieve your weight loss goals while lowering risk of metabolic syndrome and PCOS.

PCOS and inflammation

Chronic low-grade inflammation is a key contributor to PCOS, with elevated inflammatory markers regardless of excess weight. Inflammation can encourage higher androgen production as well as insulin resistance, leading to weight gain and disrupting the balance of sex hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle. What’s more, this type of inflammation is also a feature of conditions like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are closely linked with PCOS.

Gut health is a big player when it comes to the prevention of chronic, low-grade inflammation. So load up on whole plant foods (like anti-inflammatory dark leafy greens), fermented veggies, and cultured tonics like kefir and kombucha. Medicinal herbs like slippery elm and marshmallow root help relieve inflammation along the digestive tract and support gut health.

Anti-inflammatory powerhouse herbs like turmeric (and one of its active compounds, curcumin) are must-have allies for fighting inflammation daily, along with holistic habits like learning to manage stress better and making enough time in your life for rest and play.

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.


CanPrev RecommendsCurcumin Pro | CanPrev


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)

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.

What Do My Fingernails Have To Do With My Health?

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

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

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

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

The 5 nail health signs to watch out for 

White spots

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

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

Hangnails 

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

Horizontal lines, ridges and spoons 

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

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

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

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

Dry, brittle and peeling

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

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

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

No half moons? 

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

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

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

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

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Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vitamin A

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

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

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

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

Magnesium

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

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

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

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

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

Calcium

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

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

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

Vitamin D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Referenced Studies & Content

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

Don’t go through spring without these 5 wonder herbs

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.

Spring detox

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.

Seasonal allergies

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.

Spring blues

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.

Skin woes

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.

Lyme time

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.

Show Your Heart Some Love

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

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

Omega 3’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbal Medicine 

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

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

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

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

Taurine 

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

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

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

Nutrition 

Besides supplementation, dietary factors are of course important!

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

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

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

Laughter 

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