Category Archives: Supplements


6 Essential Nutrients For The Athlete

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

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

Increased Energy and Nutrient Needs

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

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

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

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

The 6 Most Essential Nutrients For Athletic People:

Zinc

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

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

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

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

Iron

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

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

Calcium

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

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

Vitamin D

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

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

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

Magnesium

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

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

All of which are concerns to an athlete!

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

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

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

B Vitamins

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

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

The bottom line on essential nutrients for everyday athletes: 

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

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

Referenced content: 

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

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

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

The Top 5 Natural Supplements For Women Over 50

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

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

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

What are the main health concerns for women over 50?

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

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

Top 5 natural supplements for women over 50

Herbs for hormone balance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vitamins & minerals

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

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

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

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

Fiber

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

Inflammation fighters

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

Mind boosters

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

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

Detoxifying: What You Need To Know

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

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

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

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

First – the liver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbs for detox

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

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

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

Additional factors to support healthy detox

Fiber and probiotics are important additions to any detox.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Do My Fingernails Have To Do With My Health?

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

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

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

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

The 5 nail health signs to watch out for 

White spots

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

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

Hangnails 

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

Horizontal lines, ridges and spoons 

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

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

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

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

Dry, brittle and peeling

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

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

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

No half moons? 

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

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

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

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

CanPrev recommends 

Vitamin D3 + K2
Zinc 
Iron 
Synergy B 

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.

Boosting Your Memory Naturally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show Your Heart Some Love

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

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

Omega 3’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbal Medicine 

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

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

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

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

Taurine 

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

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

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

Nutrition 

Besides supplementation, dietary factors are of course important!

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

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

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

Laughter 

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

7 Easy Steps To Get Your Health Back on Track — No Harsh Detox Programs Required

With a new year now upon us, we might tend to feel more pressure to jump into the latest “cleanse” or “detox” fad that has hit the store shelves!

Our bodies are actually wonderfully designed to detox themselves. In a perfect world, of course. You see the 7 channels of detoxification (the colon, liver, kidneys, blood, lymphatic system, lungs & skin) are all powerful eliminators of toxins and the breakdown by-products of bodily processes.

If everyone maintained a “clean”, whole foods diet and avoided all inflammation causing foods, alcohol and other gut irritants, then the body would be well-equipped to stay physiologically balanced.

However, eating well all the time can be at times quite challenging to do – this may be a reason to bring a little extra nutritional support on board.

Here are 7 easy steps to get your health back on track – no harsh detox programs required

Be kind to yourself 

Research indicates that showing self-compassion (and accepting the weight gain, if that’s also the case), will allow for a more successful implementation of lifestyle changes and habit that will set you up for success in many areas of your life – including your health routine.

Reality check 

You’ve heard it numerous times: restrictive, impossible-to-maintain diets don’t work.

So instead, strive for a whole foods eating plan to optimize nutrition and fuel your body well while keeping you satiated and regular.

As mentioned, our body is wonderfully designed to detox itself on a regular basis. If you want to do a more targeted cleansing-type regimen to help you achieve certain goals, feel better or correct an underlying issue, we recommend you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner who specializes in detox. If you already have a whole foods lifestyle then maintaining this during this time will continue to help support pathways of elimination and nutrient needs during a more intense detox.

Better with a buddy

Research shows that a person does much better with a buddy or an accountability partner. They don’t have to be following the same plan or routine as you, but so long as they’re in place for emotional support – that’s what matters most.

So, be sure to put it out there verbally to a few close friends or family members who you trust and who could also use the reciprocal support.

Move your body and break a sweat

Vomit-inducing exercising is not necessary, nor encouraged. What is encouraged, however, is daily exercise of some sort. Just move your body regularly in some fashion – preferably something that causes you to break a sweat. Aim for continuous movement for a minimum of twenty minutes 3 times a week.

Heading outside for your daily movement might give you a chance to catch a daily dose of Vitamin D (if the sun is shining) — enjoy how fresh air and sunshine can change how you feel!

Sleep, sleep, then sleep some more

Both your sleep hygiene and quality of sleep were likely derailed over the holidays — keeping up later hours as well as all the extra social events. But, now it’s time to get back to doing what your body does best: resting. Sleep is something that is still so underrated as a way to truly optimize your health!

Our health experts say that getting in 7-9 hours of deep, restorative sleep is a critical factor in such things as:

“We all need between seven and nine hours of sleep in order to think clearly, and most of us just don’t get enough. One or two nights a week of decent sleep just doesn’t cut it.” says Registered Nurse and Homeopath Janet Neilson.

Get your nutrition and digestion back on track

Here are a few nutrition-specific ideas to implement into your routine to get you kick-started again, especially after a period of heavy indulgence:

  • Drink lemon water

You’ve heard it many, many times – but one more time won’t hurt, because it’s just too simple, and effective NOT to try it: drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning before you do anything else.

Why? Freshly squeezed lemon juice is alkalizing to the body, antioxidant-rich and high in Vitamin C, and has blood sugar stabilizing + liver and kidney flushing properties.

Pure lemon juice is known to stimulate gastric juices and increase bile production. Combine this with room temperature or slightly warmer filtered water and you’ve got the easiest “cleanse” imaginable!

  • Prolong the fast and eat protein + good fats for breakfast
  • Shut the kitchen right after dinner, optimally by 7 pm. Then have nothing but water (or herbal tea) until breakfast, no earlier than 7 am the next day.

This allows the digestive system to have a much-needed break by “fasting” for at least 12 hours (but don’t worry, you’ll be sleeping for most of it), and then easing into the day with a high- protein, easily-digested meal.

Breakfast sets your day’s metabolic tone and with this in mind, your optimal first meal could be a plant-based protein shake. One that combines high-quality protein with healthy fats, green leafy veggies and slow-release high-fibre carbs to keep you full and focused all morning.

Supplement support

If you found that your digestive system went completely off the rails from over-consumption during the past holiday season, then you might need to give those juices a boost.

Gastric juices containing hydrochloric acid (HCl) that break down food in the stomach, are negatively affected by poor eating choices and habits like consuming large portions.

In addition, our digestive enzymatic activity slows down for those same reasons as well. This creates the perfect storm of burping, belching, trapped gas, heartburn, intestinal cramping and flatulence!

The natural bacterial flora of your digestive system will also likely have gone astray.

This is where therapeutic grade supplements can be especially helpful, so be sure to use a good quality probiotic to get your microbiome back in check and restore that “happy gut” environment.

Eating naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha are full of digestion-friendly probiotics as well.

7 easy steps and actionable ways

So, there you go, 7 easy and actionable ways to get your health back on track, holistically and without doing yet another harsh, restrictive detox or diet!

We at CanPrev hope your 2018 is already filled with much health and happiness!

If you’re looking for additional digestive support: 

We do always suggest you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner, Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist before beginning a new natural health product regime.

Pro-Biotik 15B
Digestion + IBS
Ph-Pro

Here are some suggestions for boosting the channels of detoxification and elimination, as well as warding off inflammation:

Detox-Pro™
Curcumin-Pro™
I-3-C

The Scoop on Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 might not sound too familiar, it is not one of the more popularly wide known vitamins, like vitamin C or D. Vitamin K2, belongs to the Vitamin K family and is fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin K1 is the natural vitamin found in nature, mainly in green leafy plants and is perhaps the more popular of the two as it helps with blood clotting.

Vitamin K2 is known chemically as menaquinone. It received recognition when research came out investigating calcium supplementation and osteoporosis. Many people who were taking calcium supplements had calcium build up in their arteries and kidneys, where it should not be, and this placed them at risk for heart attacks and kidney stones. It seemed like the body was absorbing the calcium from the supplements, but the calcium was not going to the bones where it was needed. Vitamin K2’s job is to help direct calcium to deposit into the bones and teeth and away from the other areas of your body.

Vitamin K2 is found naturally in the fat containing areas of animals, such as butter, dairy and organ meats. So the fattier the meats, the more vitamin K2 there is. However, leaner meats and grass-fed meats are going to contain lower levels of fat, thus lower levels of K2.

The food containing the highest amount of vitamin K2 is natto. This is a Japanese food that is made from fermenting soybeans but most typical North American diets are not likely going to be very high in natto, thus, including cheeses like gouda or brie, animal livers, egg yolks, and fish eggs are good ways to get vitamin K2 in the diet. But even those foods are not consumed on a regular basis making this a perfect vitamin to take in supplement form.

Most people would benefit from vitamin K2 supplementation. Children need bone-building nutrients for their growing bones. Women, especially those nearing menopause, require vitamin K2 and D3, as a decrease in estrogen decreases bone density. Individuals at risk for osteoporosis or osteopenia and those who are currently taking calcium-containing supplements (i.e most multivitamins and prenatal vitamins) would all benefit from a vitamin K2 supplement to direct calcium to bones and not to other tissues in the body.

CanPrev’s Vitamin D3 and K2 (menoquinone-7) provides an excellent source of these vitamins.

It comes in a base of medium chain triglycerides that allows for superior absorption in a liquid dropper form which is easy to ingest for adults and children. Or an organic coconut oil-based soft gel is available if that is preferred over a liquid.

Simply put, vitamin D3 helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 puts that calcium into the right places.  So make sure you check your supplements to see if they contain vitamin K2 and if not, pick one up and add it to your daily supplement regime for added bone health protection.