Tag Archives: Nutrition


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”


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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)

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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Dietary Magnesium – What you need to know

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, recommend that males and females ages 19-30 take in 400 mg and 310 mg of magnesium a day respectively. Males 31 and older should up their intake to 420 mg a day, and females 31 and older should increase their daily amounts to 320 mg.

The DRI also encourages pregnant or lactating women to boost their magnesium intake even higher and to consult their doctors for suggested amounts.

Sea vegetables (kelp), nuts and seeds, beans, soybeans and some seafood (crab, clams) generally contain higher levels of magnesium compared to other foods. Grains and pseudocereals like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice will offer you a relatively high amount of magnesium as well. But the real winners when it comes to the most nutrient dense, magnesium-rich foods are fresh vegetables and dark leafy greens like chard, collards, and spinach. Nuts and seeds pack a big punch for their size when it comes to magnesium density too!

True or False: Organic Foods Contain More Magnesium

It is no surprise that choosing to buy organic dark leafy greens and vegetables, can cost you. But if you choose to not purchase organic produce will you pay in a different way? Does buying organic make a difference in terms of mineral (magnesium) content compared to conventionally grown crops?

According to the Environmental Working Group, conventionally grown spinach ranks second when it comes to produce containing pesticide residue.

While some studies conclude that organic food may or may not be more nutritious than conventionally grown, it is safe to say that buying organic can protect you from detrimental pesticides and herbicides that generally act as antagonists when it comes to magnesium absorption and can eventually block mineral absorption and lead to mineral deficiency.

Is Dietary Intake Enough?

Swiss chard contains a whopping 150 mg of magnesium per cup. But does that mean you are covered when it comes to adequate magnesium intake? Not necessarily. Lifestyle, physiological, and agricultural factors all play roles in how dietary magnesium is absorbed. A disappointing reality, but a reality nonetheless!

Let’s Explore Why

Mineral-rich foods are becoming an anomaly these days. High rates of soil erosion account for less magnesium in the soil which results in low mineral content in plant foods including magnesium.

Many fruits and vegetables have lost large amounts of minerals and nutrients in the past 50 years. For example, McCance and Widdowson’s epic compilation, the Composition of Foods, has tracked the nutrient composition of foods since 1940. Between 1940 and 1991, there was an average magnesium decrease of 24% in vegetables and 16% in fruits.

Some foods have seen more drastic declines than others. Carrots have lost 75% of their magnesium content. You would have to eat 4 carrots today to get the same magnesium in 1 carrot from 1940!

And that’s only one reason. The health of our digestive system is also a factor in whether or not we can adequately break down food to get the good stuff. Optimum absorption is key in making sure magnesium actually enters our cells!

Absorption of dietary magnesium isn’t guaranteed, though. Enzymatic function, stomach, and bowel health are key factors in the absorption process. From the beginning of the digestive system (oral cavity) to the very end (the anus), all parts need to be working efficiently (especially the small intestine) for optimum breakdown. Even if our digestive process is working perfectly, mineral content in food likely won’t be high enough to offer our cells optimum protection.

Cooking methods and refined foods can also account for magnesium loss. If we choose to fry that one cup of swiss chard instead of bake or lightly sauté it, we can cheat ourselves out of getting the magnesium we need.

Between mineral-depleted plant foods, compromised digestive systems, and popular denaturing cooking methods, optimizing our magnesium intake via food can become quite a challenge.

The Kicker

Ironically, magnesium needs magnesium to facilitate the absorption process. It’s imperative for helping to synthesize enzymes, repair tissue in our intestinal lining, and contribute to our parasympathetic nervous system health, for starters. In order for these processes to function properly in the first place, we need to have enough magnesium in our bodies to provide energy to get these physiological jobs done and done well.

Do you suffer from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?

What are the symptoms of SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO, is just that – when bacteria (or other microorganisms, good or bad) grow out of control in the small bowel. Compared to the large colon, it should be quite low in bacterial count.

Colonization also ends up damaging the specialized cells lining the small intestine – a condition that has been coined leaky gut – or an increase in intestinal permeability, which further impairs the digestive process and can exacerbate nutrient malabsorption.

This can allow pathogens, toxins and undigested protein molecules to enter the bloodstream that, in turn, cause widespread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and other undesirable immune reactions.

The most common symptoms of SIBO are:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating or distention
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Excessive gas or burping
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Joint pain and other inflammatory reactions
  • Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
  • Depression, and other mental health disorders
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Histamine intolerance
  • Asthma
  • Fatigue or lethargy

One of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that it can actually lead to malnourishment, whereby essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fats aren’t properly absorbed. This can then cause a number of vitamin & mineral deficiencies like iron, vitamin B12, calcium as well as in the fat-soluble vitamins — vitamin A, D, E and K. [1]

Wondering why the symptoms sound curiously similar to IBS?

One of the most common conditions associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. [2]

While they have similar symptoms and are often overlapping conditions, the association between the two still has some unknowns, according to scientists. They remain distinctly different in how they can manifest, how they are diagnosed, as well as how they are treated.

On the other hand, some studies have found that SIBO is concurrent in more than 50% of all cases of IBS, and successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine reportedly resolves symptoms of IBS as well.

But, what causes SIBO in the first place?

According to experts, the causes are not clearly defined but predisposing factors to acquiring SIBO can include:

  • Aging
  • Diabetes type 2
  • chronic pancreatitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • diverticulosis
  • injury to the bowel
  • a structural defect in the small intestine called blind loop syndrome
  • intestinal lymphoma
  • immune system disorders like scleroderma
  • recent abdominal surgery
  • use of certain medications, including proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) and immuno-suppressant medications

Celiac disease has also been found to increase the risk for developing SIBO, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine. [3]

Additionally, heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and stress – are all thought to be contributors as well.

How can you treat it?

Generally, there are 3 mains goals when treating SIBO:

  • Reduce and eradicate the bacteria using a combination of diet, botanical antimicrobials, and antibiotics if necessary.
  • Heal the lining of the digestive tract – glutamine is especially helpful for this
  • Prevent reoccurrence.
  • Most holistic health practitioners advise using some variation on the “SIBO diet” for at least 2 weeks – which may include any or all of the following:

    • Herbal antibiotics like oregano oil
    • Low FODMAP, GAPS and/or AIP diet – see explanations below
    • Re-populating the gut with good bacteria using probiotics, and then “feed” them with prebiotics such as under-ripe bananas, asparagus and Jerusalum artichoke
    • stress management – this is key in preventing and managing most, if not ALL health conditions

    However, a prescription antibiotic may be needed, at least initially, in more severe cases to get the bacterial overgrowth under control.

    By eliminating FODMAPS from your diet for at least 2 weeks, and then transitioning to the GAPS diet or AIP protocol, you can start healing the gut, and can begin to eradicate the microorganisms that are causing havoc in your small intestine.

    What are FODMAPs?

    These are Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.

    These are the foods that aren’t fully absorbed by the body and end up fermenting in the gut. This would include ones we would normally consider ‘healthy’ for us – like apples, pears, apricots, cauliflower, barley, garlic & onions.

    What is GAPS?

    The GAPS, or Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet, was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride, Neurologist & Neurosurgeon, in response to the dietary needs of her autistic son.

    Foods eliminated by the GAPS diet:

    Things like sugar, grains, starchy carbs & potatoes, conventional meat & dairy, and any  processed foods including artificial chemicals and preservatives.

    What is AIP?

    The AIP or Autoimmune Protocol is considered a stricter version of the Paleo diet, which involves the elimination of foods that are considered gut irritants like grains, legumes, eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts & seeds, and processed foods including industrial seed oils.

    Additional eliminations are alcohol and NSAIDs like Ibuprofen. For natural, drug-free inflammation-fighting pain relief, try Curcumin-Pro with Bromelain.

    The AIP can be very difficult for many people to follow, but sometimes it’s temporarily necessary to fully heal a very leaky gut, which goes hand-in-hand with the incidence of SIBO.

    It may also be wise to supplement with the following when treating SIBO:

    Testing specifically for SIBO can be a bit tricky and it can be difficult to get a definitive diagnosis. So be sure to work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopath to effectively test (often with a minimally invasive lactulose hydrogen breath test) and treat this condition, as well as address other underlying gut dysfunctions.

    I think we can all agree that there are literally dozens of reasons why our gut health can become compromised. For even more tips on how to have a happier digestive system – READ THIS

    Study references:

    [1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225847170_Bacterial_Overgrowth

    [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3949258/

    [3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15319644

     

    Eating for Allergies This Spring

    That time of year is here, when the cold bite of winter weather finally seems to be behind us, flowers are slowly starting to bloom, the birds & the bees are all atwitter and, oh yah – pollen also starts to fill the air!

    Are you experiencing itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, blocked sinuses, sneezing and headaches? Love Springtime but loathe allergy season?

    If only there were something you could include in your daily diet to help alleviate these symptoms or ward them off altogether…drum roll please!

    Eat whole foods instead of relying on allergy medication

    Although there are many different OTC medications available to relieve those tell-tale allergy symptoms, sometimes just small tweaks to your diet can also provide you with some much needed relief and even a measure of prevention – more naturally.

    Top 7 items that your grocery cart should come in contact with this Spring:

    Broccoli

    Researchers have discovered that broccoli could help to protect you from respiratory inflammation. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane, which appears to have a very beneficial effect for fanning the flames of  inflammation.

    Other cruciferous veggies containing this key compound are kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage & cauliflower.

    Studies have also shown that getting in at least 500 mg of Vitamin C a day can ease allergy symptoms, and just one cup of raw broccoli packs about 80 mg.

    Citrus Fruits

    Citrus fruits are considered ‘super allergy fighters’ because they contain higher levels of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, both of which are natural antihistamines that may reduce allergy symptoms.

    Bioflavonoids enhance the health benefits of Vitamin C, including stronger immunity, detoxification, eye and skin and health. This makes citrus fruit a powerhouse in fighting allergies as well as in overall health optimization. Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are rich sources of Vitamin C with naturally occurring citrus bioflavonoids.

    However, if considering a supplement – look for a buffered form containing mineral ascorbates as well as bioflavonoids for better absorption.

    Apples

    Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, is believed to help reduce the inflammation associated with allergies. Studies indicate that this component prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, or better known as an allergic response.

    Garlic, onions, berries, cabbage, cauliflower and most caffeinated teas also contain quercetin.

    Red Grapes

    The skin of red grapes is very high in antioxidants and resveratrol — a well-studied anti-inflammatory compound. Eating red grapes will also help protect the cells from oxidative damage that may cause many diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

    Be aware that grapes (and apples) are on the EPA’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of highest pesticide residues, so buy organic when possible and wash your produce well.

    Fatty Fish

    Omega-3 fatty acids in seafood have natural anti-inflammatory effects that boost the immune system — in turn, improving your body’s ability to fight off allergies which are basically a sign of excess inflammation.

    In fact, anything you can do to reduce inflammation in the body has widespread benefits, including easing seasonal allergy symptoms.

    Some studies have even shown that eating upwards of six ounces of wild-caught salmon twice a week can be just as effective as taking allergy medication.

    While your Healthcare Provider may not be writing you a prescription for salmon any time soon, this recommendation is certainly worth a try, considering all of salmon’s other health benefits. Try wild caught Alaskan caught salmon for a lower risk of contamination of organic pollutants and pesticides.

    Not keen on seafood, or have a food allergy to it? Some good vegan sources of Omega-3’s are walnuts, flax seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, spirulina (fresh water algae) and sea vegetables like wakame.

    You could also consider choosing a high quality Omega-3 supplement.

    Collard Greens

    Collard greens, and other dark leafy greens like kale contain phytochemicals – specifically carotenoids. This component is well known for easing allergic reactions.

    To help your body absorb their nutrients more readily, eat collard greens along with a healthy fat. Sautéing them in extra-virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil is a great, and tasty – way to go.

    Be aware that many greens are on the “dirty” list too, so go organic (and local), when possible.

    Fermented Foods & Probiotics

    I know, you probably didn’t expect this one to be on the list, but according to research,  eating probiotic-rich foods such as naturally fermented (not pickled) foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as supplementing with good quality human-strain  probiotics can significantly ease allergy symptoms.

    Happy allergy fighting this Spring!

    Meet Jessie Lam – Corporate Junkie Turns Fitness Guru

    Corporate Junkie Turns Fitness Guru

    In this second part of our “CanPrev Ambassador” series, we introduce to you a Toronto native. Someone who truly knows the meaning of transformation and taking risks.

    Many Hats

    Meet Jessie Lam – Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Thai Yoga Massage Practitioner, and Bellies Inc. Certified Core Specialist! Among all of these credentials, she also specializes in working with pre and postpartum mamas.

    As a fitness and yoga guru,she strives to educate people in her own teachings to find better health. She teaches about understanding your own individual body and what works for you! Most importantly, she helps her clients learn how to find balance in achieving health goals – creating balanced lifestyles – not just a short-term fix.   Jessie loves seeing the mental and spiritual transformations in her clients. These incredible transformations keep her motivated, personally and professionally!

    Corporate Junkie

    You wouldn’t know it now – but Jessie admits her health journey started out after too many late nights and alcoholic beverages left her feeling “uncomfortable” in her own skin. Long ago she was a nine to five corporate junkie, binging on fried foods after work and regularly overindulging at happy hour.

    After taking the “safe” route, post studying finance at the University of Toronto, she worked for 7 years in the banking and finance industry. Although she did work periodically at a gym during this time, she kept her fitness routine quite casual. She thought that climbing the corporate latter would eventually lead to feelings of success and happiness. In the latter stages of her finance career, she suffered greatly from a number of symptoms indicating sub-optimal health. A consistently high-stress environment doubled with poor nutrition, left Jessie suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a strong passion and desire to change her lifestyle!
    Jessie finally took what would be the biggest risk of her life and left the corporate world to get healthy and pursue a career as a yoga teacher, trainer, and nutritionist! In the beginning, there were many unknowns and scary moments. But now Jessie says, she gets to work with and hang out with amazing people every day. Her clients, other entrepreneurs and other health and wellness professionals continue to inspire her.

    Two is More Powerful than One

    A particularly inspiring story, not only because Jessie herself decided to leave her high paying corporate job in order to follow her passion – but because her husband (former accountant) decided to also quit his job simultaneously! Together they pursued their passions and have been working ever since to build careers in the health and wellness industry.
    It took time and it certainly wasn’t easy but years later Jessie explains, “Once we had found better living – we both wanted to help others live a life free of pain and illness. We wanted others to reach their full potential and heal from conditions that kept them from achieving their own life goals”.

    Jessie and her husband both remain humble and grateful and admit that if they didn’t listen to their hearts and take big risks – they would not be where they are today. They continue to be busy health and wellness entrepreneurs in Toronto. In their spare time, they love to travel, hike, explore and continue to learn and grow as leaders in their field!

    Not only is Jessie known for her busy practice in Toronto, she can easily be found on Instagram @Iamjessfit. With over fifteen thousand followers and a bold reputation, this guru isn’t afraid to show her stuff for the greater good. A must see for anyone online looking to learn, be inspired and entertained all at the same time!  With almost fifteen years under her belt in the health and fitness industry, Jessie doesn’t plan on packing it in anytime soon. This yoga and fitness guru does just as much learning as she does teaching!

    In Our Own Hands

    We are proud to have Jessie on our ambassador team! Her brave and bold attitude towards taking health in your own hands is truly inspiring. and greatly resembles our mission! When we spoke with Jessie about what being a CanPrev ambassador means to her, she replied, “It means being a part of a family, sharing a common vision, passion, and drive. It’s about empowering one another and the rest of the world, to take health into their own hands. It’s about encouraging each other to take control of our lives”.

    That is why we have created a community of CanPrev ambassadors – to encourage and inspire all individuals to take action towards finding your best health!

    Jessie’s Favourites

    What’s Next For This Fitness Guru?

    Jessie has plans to climb Kilimanjaro in Africa January 2018. She plans on bringing CORE plant based protein with her!

    To connect with Jessie:

    IG: @lamjessfit
    Twitter: @lamjessfit
    YouTube: lamjessfit

    Food for thought: the new rules of nutrient timing

    If you’ve ever wondered if what you eat and when you eat makes a difference to the effectiveness of your workouts, the short answer is that it does, and it’s a method many professional athletes rely on. It’s called nutrient timing, and here’s how it works.

    The concept of nutrient timing can be divided into three phases: the energy phase, the anabolic phase and the adaptation phase.

    The energy phase

    There’s a one- to four-hour pre-workout window that allows you to build up muscle glycogen, or carbohydrate stores, that you will draw from as you exercise. The longer you train, the more your body pulls parked carbs from your muscles to fuel higher endurance workouts. Eating a meal with 150 to 200g of carbohydrates up to four hours before you exercise pumps your muscles full of glycogen and helps improve your physical performance.

    Sipping on a carbohydrate-rich beverage with added protein during your workout can help increase muscle glycogen stores, too. It will buy your muscles more time, so you can exercise longer and more e ectively.

    A moderate serving of protein can also help to reduce muscle damage and the level of soreness you might feel the next day. For instance, adding protein to a carbohydrate beverage can decrease muscle damage and soreness for at least 24 hours post-exercise, when compared to a carbohydrate-only drink.

    The anabolic phase

    A er an intense exercise session, your body’s muscle and liver glycogen stores are depleted and your skeletal muscle is starved for nutrients. Consuming the right kinds of nutrients at this stage is important for rebuilding tissues and speeding up recovery.

    Immediately after a high intensity workout, eat or drink something that contains enough carbohydrate (1.0 to 1.5g per kilogram of body weight) and about 20 to 30g of protein to build your muscle glycogen stores back up. If your workout was only of light to moderate intensity, modify the carbohydrate amount to 0.3 to 0.8g per kilogram of body weight and the protein amount to 10 to 12g.

    Remember, the longer you wait to replenish your glycogen stores, the more you invite inflammation, muscle damage and soreness!

    The adaptation phase

    Your body will hit the maintenance phase about four to six hours post- energy phase. A regular meal, or even a snack that contains about a 1:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein and under 200 calories, is enough to maintain muscle glycogen stores and protein synthesis. If you’re hungry before bed, you can have a low-calorie protein snack that will help with muscle recovery. Just make sure it has at least 20g of protein with minimal amounts of carbohydrate and fat.

    Our muscle glycogen stores are what get us through even the most punishing workouts. Do your body a favour by keeping those glycogen stores topped up – it will help to serve you better in the long run!

    Incorporating nutrient timing into your routine

    Use the table below as an example of possible nutrient timing with workouts, supplements and meals for three different daily training schedules:

    ON-blog-nutrient-timing
    PW supplement: Following prolonged, intense workouts, the post-workout (PW) supplement should provide sufficient carbohydrates to maximize muscle glycogen storage during the first hours of recovery and also contain between 20 and 30g protein. For light to moderate intensity workouts, a light carbohydrate with protein (10 to 12g) supplement is recommended.
    CP Snack: Between-meal (CP) snacks should be approximately a 1:1 ratio of carbohydrate/protein and contain 100 to 200kcal.
    Bedtime snack: A snack before bed should contain approximately 20g protein with minimal carbohydrate and fat.


    Have you ever tried nutrient timing? What have your results been like? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.