A 12-STEP SURVIVAL GUIDE TO HOLIDAY EATING

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1. Create a sensible plan ahead of time. Before the holidays arrive, create a plan for incorporating good nutrition and a fitness plan into your daily routine. Evaluate your holiday time and then determine how much time you will realistically be able to devote to working out and eating healthy meals.

2. Don’t skip meals. Eat regularly throughout the day. When you skip meals, you will more likely overeat during your next meal, or be tempted to overindulge in unhealthy foods. Also, don’t go to a party starving. Before you leave home, have something like an apple with some almond butter or hummus, or a protein smoothie. I call this “defensive eating.” Remember to drink a great deal of water the day of the party.

3. Don’t shop hungry. Eat before you leave home and bring healthy snacks with you. This way you won’t be tempted to make unhealthy purchases. Park far away (you’ll probably have no choice) and take the steps instead of the elevator. Incorporate extra walking wherever you can on your shopping extravaganza – then your credit cards won’t be the only thing getting a workout.

4. Bring your own food to the feast. If you are bringing a dish to a party, make sure it is healthy. You can choose wild rice stuffing, baked sweet potatoes, whole-grain rolls, vegan brownies or angel-food cake with fruit.

5. Fill up on the healthy stuff first. Under fill rather than over fill your plate. Start out by eating salad and/or soup; you will be more likely to control your appetite if you have already filled up on healthier options. At your main holiday feast, eat whatever you want in moderation. Take a break in the middle of eating to take inventory of how you feel.

6. Eat smaller amounts of sugary foods and junk food. You can still enjoy your favorite sweets during the holidays if you eat smaller portions to avoid weight gain. For example, eat 1 cookie instead of 3 cookies, or cut a slice of cake or pie in half.

7. Don’t avoid fat. Eating small amounts of healthy fat during the holidays will satisfy your appetite. Use avocados in salads or as a dip. Add walnuts and other nuts or olives to your salads or stuffing.

8. If you booze it, you won’t lose it. Alcoholic beverages pack on the calories, so if you’re drinking alcohol, stick to light beer or a champagne/wine spritzer. Most of the calories from alcoholic drinks come from what you are mixing it with. For instance, a frozen daiquiri has approximately 100 calories/oz. At 12 ounces, each daiquiri has approximately 1200 calories.

9. Stop eating when your stomach feels full. Sometimes, you may be tempted to overeat when you linger by the food table at a holiday party, or if you become bored or restless at certain events. Drink additional glasses of water if you feel like you want to keep eating after you are full, or eat healthy snacks such as fruit or vegetables.

10. Concentrate on your meal while you’re eating it.
Focus on chewing your food well and enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each item. Of course, dinner-party conversation is only natural, but try to set your food
down until you’re finished chatting so you are more aware of what you’re taking in.

11. Substitute the ingredients in your favorite holiday meals with healthier alternatives. For example, use ground flaxseed to replace eggs (1 tbsp of ground flax with 3 tbsp of water replaces 1 egg), use gluten-free flour or spelt in place of white flour and use dairy substitutes such as almond milk in your baking.

12. Don’t forget to exercise! Try to fit in some form of physical activity for one hour each day. Exercise to burn calories, relieve stress, and elevate your endorphins and mood. Take a brisk walk, go for a run, do yoga, dance or bike-ride. Plus when you exercise, you can enjoy your meal “guilt free”. If you can’t dedicate a whole hour at a time, do 10-15 min spurts of exercise throughout the day.

Bonus Tip: If you want to really keep yourself honest (the same size) during the holiday season, wear your most form-fitting blue jeans. Another trick is to tie a string or ribbon around your waist (under your shirt) that will not budge with the bulge. If you have to undo your pants, well…

Finally, take a meditative moment at least once a day and breathe deeply to clear your mind of all the clutter, and be grateful for all that you have.

Enjoy the season, not just the food!

© 2014 Ara Wiseman Nutrition & Healing

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To Flush or Not to Flush?

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Written by Natalia Hnatiw

The B complex vitamins are a family of vitamins that are essential to good health, both physical and mental. They play a role in cell metabolism, helping the body convert carbohydrates into glucose to be used as fuel. They help the body use fats and protein and are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver and brain function. They are crucial for proper mood balance, energy, and memory. Being that they are water soluble, they can be easily excreted from the body through sweat and urine.

Anytime you are stressed, you lose B vitamins. When you eat processed foods, drink alcohol or use certain medications, you lose B’s as well.

It’s no surprise that many of us are deficient in B’s. And when these deficiencies manifest themselves into symptoms, it is almost automatic for us to search out ways to mask them through medications, stimulants and excuses.

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is an important B vitamin that will be the focus of this article. Why? Because its importance can be overlooked, and signs of a deficiency are often blamed on other conditions, namely mental illness. Niacin is needed for DNA repair and energy utilization. It helps the body make various sex and stress-related hormones in the adrenal glands and other parts of the body. One of the first symptoms of a niacin deficiency is the skin’s sensitivity to light. The skin can become dry and rough and darken in color.

Further symptoms of niacin deficiency include:
• General weakness
• Indigestion
• Fatigue
• Canker sores
• Vomiting
• Irritability
• Insomnia
• Emotional instability
• Depression
• Pellagra (the 3 d’s- dermatitis, dementia and diarrhea)

Do you suffer from any of these conditions? Supplementing with niacin may be needed to alleviate these deficiency symptoms. B3 supplementation has also been used to improve the following:

Better sleep
Niacin helps to naturally relax the body and promote better quality sleep. This can be especially beneficial to insomniacs as it allows for the body to fall asleep faster.

Lowers bad cholesterol
Niacin (in the form of nicotinic acid, not niacinamide) helps reduce harmful cholesterol levels, while raising the good HDL cholesterol.

Helps with depression
It has been shown through niacin therapy, that this vitamin has the ability to greatly reduce anxiety and depression. High doses of niacin have even been used to effectively treat schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

To Flush or Not to Flush?

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Niacin comes in two other forms: niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate which are non-flushing. When supplementing with B3, you should be mindful of which form you are using as they each have different effects on the body. Taking high doses (over 100 mg) of flushing niacin (nicotinic acid) can cause what is known as the “niacin flush”. If you have never experienced a niacin flush, you’re in for an uncomfortable surprise, as Ara and I know all too well. That is why it is best to start at lower doses and work your way up. High doses of niacin cause a dilatation of blood vessels, creating a warming sensation throughout the body, accompanied by flushing of the cheeks, ears, neck and perhaps elsewhere. A slight niacin flush should end in about fifteen minutes or so. If you take too much niacin, however, the flush may be more noticeable and last longer. If you flush beet red for half an hour and feel strange, then you know you’ve taken too much. Don’t panic, it will go away eventually. Large doses of niacin on an empty stomach can especially cause profound flushing. As a general rule, if you flush early at a lower dose, you don’t need much niacin. If flushing doesn’t happen until a high level, then your body is obviously using the higher amount of the vitamin and you’re depleted. Niacinamide is the non-flushing, more preferable form of niacin and can be just as effective.

The RDA for niacin is actually too low and supplementing with it, along with a B-complex, is a good idea, especially during particularly stressful periods. You should consult with your health care provider to assess your individualized needs. Of course, the preferable way to get all your B’s is through whole foods like dark leafy greens and whole grains. The best food sources of niacin include organic brewers yeast, nuts, brown rice, sunflower seeds, potatoes, spinach, almonds, rhubarb, whole barley and rice bran. Remember that food is medicine, so take advantage of it!

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Magnesium The Chill Pill

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(This is Ezzy our 18 year old cat who recently passed)

Written by Ara Wiseman

It’s interesting that we are consistently depleting ourselves of vitamins and minerals. For example, every time you feel stressed you deplete yourself of vitamins B & C and magnesium. I love my green tea in the morning and, of course, my delicious dark chocolate in the evening, even though I know that they cause my body to lose magnesium. One way I know that I am deficient in magnesium is when my eyelid starts to twitch.

Magnesium is one of my favorite minerals because it does so many beneficial biochemical processes in the body. Calcium causes our muscles to contract, whereas magnesium relaxes them. If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium your muscles will spasm, affecting your blood pressure and your heart. Magnesium is critical for heart health and with insufficient amounts your heart cannot function properly. The problem is that most people are taking too much calcium and not enough magnesium.

According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, there is a myth that has been created that we need a ratio of two times the amount of calcium to magnesium (2:1) and most supplements reflect this. A lot of people are taking 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium and only a few hundred milligrams of magnesium. Magnesium keeps calcium soluble and when there is too much calcium and not enough magnesium there is a greater chance of developing kidney stones.
Women have been told to supplement with calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Many of our foods have been fortified with it as well, yet osteoporosis is so prevalent in our society. That is because proper calcium mineralization depends upon magnesium, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, silica, boron, zinc, essential fatty acids and a healthy diet. These nutrients help to absorb and selectively place calcium from the bloodstream into your bone matrix. Supplementing with high doses of calcium along with a deficiency of these other nutrients, especially magnesium, is why calcium supplements have become associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

So how do we correct this? Start by getting your minerals from food, especially dark leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, seaweeds, raw nuts & seeds, potatoes, alfalfa, figs, brown rice, pineapple, honey, celery, avocados, bananas, apples, peaches, lima beans and black-eyed peas as they contain all the other nutrients as well.

Signs you may be deficient are: muscle cramps and twitches, insomnia, palpitations, constipation, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, headaches, sensitivity to loud noises, kidney stones, high blood pressure, PMS, menstrual cramps, restless legs at night, irregular heartbeat, cravings for chocolate and the list goes on…. When you are stressed, you lose magnesium, causing your muscles and blood vessels to tighten and your blood pressure to rise. Magnesium is your relaxation mineral.

So why are so many people deficient? It’s actually very simple. We eat a diet that contains virtually no magnesium. We then flush out the little magnesium we do have with coffee, tea, alcohol, salt, phosphoric acid in colas, stress, diuretics, antibiotics and other drugs. Not to mention that magnesium is often poorly absorbed and easily flushed out of our system. In order to properly absorb magnesium we need B6, vitamin D and selenium.

Some of the best sources of magnesium are:

Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium and has a high absorption and bioavailability.

Transdermal magnesium works by applying magnesium oil directly to the skin in a spray or lotion form, or by bathing in magnesium chloride salts. Magnesium applied to the skin can be absorbed directly into your cells, bypassing the digestive system.

Magnesium Phosphate Tissue Salts are specially prepared micro-doses of the body’s 12 essential minerals. These minerals are important for the functioning and health of the body. Tissue Salts are natural, suitable for the whole family and may be taken alongside other medications and dietary supplements including minerals and vitamins. They are specially formulated homeopathic micro-doses that are absorbed in the mouth rather than in the stomach and gastric tract.

Epsom Salts are a combination of both magnesium and sulfate, which are easily absorbed through the skin. Epsom salt baths are relaxing, calming and healing to the body.

Magnesium oxide is bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. Contains 60 percent magnesium and has stool softening properties. It has a low degree of bioavailability, as low as 4% in one study. In powder form it can be used to clean out your colon as a natural laxative to cleanse the entire digestive tract. It is gentle and non-habit forming. If you need instructions on how to use it, we can send you the protocol. Just make sure you are near a bathroom 🙂

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Herbs for the Bedroom

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Sometimes we need a little help to get the fire going. Here are a list of herbs that can ignite the flame.

Panax ginseng (Korean ginseng) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years as an overall wellness supplement. This amazing herb boosts the immune system, improves heart health, increases energy, decreases stress, and treats impotence.

Black Cohosh is a female herb with estrogen-like properties. It helps to increase blood flow to the pelvis, which increases lubrication, as well as arousal and response to sexual stimulation.

Chasteberry (Vitex) is normally used for premenstrual and menstrual problems, but has also been known to increase sexual desire by boosting progesterone and dopamine.

Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to boost mental power, treat sexual dysfunction. Some studies show that gingko enhances the effects of nitric oxide in the body, which allows for better blood flow to the penis.

Yohimbe is traditionally used as an aphrodisiac and has been shown to be effective in treating erectile dysfunction.

Maca is an energy enhancer, nutritive and rejuvenative that increases pituitary function, encouraging the body’s natural hormonal production. It also helps improve vaginal lubrication.

Schizandra increases staying power in men and is a kidney tonic for both men and women, improving sexual disfunction. It has also been known as an herb to help heal trauma from sexual abuse.

Horny Goat Weed is and aphrodisiac and rejuvenative that can be used for erectile dysfunction and low sperm count.

Ashwaganda boosts energy, reduces stress and has been shown to increase sperm count and the production of sex hormones for both men and women.

Kapikachu has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to elevate sperm count and as an aphrodisiac. This herb has the effect of improving sexual behavior, libido, daily sperm production and testosterone levels.

*Be mindful that certain herbs may contraindicate with some medication. Ask your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements, especially if you are on medication.

Aphrodisiac foods 

Avocados, celery, beets, oysters, pumpkin seeds, chocolate, chill peppers, bananas, honey, watermelon, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, arugula, figs and artichokes.

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SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF SEX

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Written by Natalia Hnatiw

I’m sure it’s not a surprise for you to hear that sex is actually good for you. We know that it feels good and  burns calories but sexual activity is so much more than just moderate exercise and pleasure.

Sex has numerous benefits that can contribute to both your mental and physical health, as well as your longevity. With all its wonderful benefits, this topic shouldn’t be kept hidden under the sheets.

Reduces stress – Sex activates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals that help to lower stress. Studies have shown that those who partake in regular sex can handle stressful situations more effectively than those who don’t.

Boosts your mood – The release of serotonin and dopamine during sex makes you happier, relieving depression and anxiety. Several studies have also shown that semen itself could also be a natural antidepressant, mainly due to the fact that it is loaded (no pun intended) with nutrients like zinc, calcium, potassium, and protein, all of which are important for proper brain function. 

Increases immunity – Did you know that people who have sex at least once a week have fewer sick days than those who don’t?  In one study, researchers found considerably higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the blood of test subjects who were sexually active. This crucial antibody helps to fight off infection, giving more reason to take a little extra time underneath the covers in the colder months.

Healthy for your heart – Regular sexual activity also helps to balance hormone levels and lowers blood pressure, both of which are crucial for cardiovascular health. One study found that men who had sex at least twice a week were 45 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who only did so once a month or less.

It’s good exercise – Sex burns about five calories per minute, which can contribute to a healthy, lean body with increased flexibility and balance.  Did you know that at the point of orgasm, your heart rate can reach upwards of 110 beats per minute, which is comparable to jogging? Time to get your sweat on!

Keeps you looking younger – Research has found that having sex several times a week can make people look four to seven years younger.  When you reach orgasm, the body secretes DHEA, a hormone known to improve the health of the immune system, while also repairing tissue cells, keeping your skin firm and supple.

Makes you live longer – A 1981 study showed that the mortality rate among those over seventy was lower among men who were still sexually active. Now, who doesn’t want to look younger and live longer?

Increases pain tolerance – Sexual activity, especially when climax is reached, releases oxytocin, the body’s natural painkiller, helping to relieve menstrual cramps, migraines and arthritis pain.  During sex, the body goes into a relaxed state and many people notice that their aches and pains disappear.

Improves sleep – Exertion releases oxytocin and prolactin, which help to induce sleep by promoting relaxation. Men, especially, feel these effects.

Boosts libido – The more often you have sex the more likely you are going to want to keep having it. There’s a physical connection and a mental one, especially for women. Frequent sex helps to increase vaginal lubrication, blood flow and elasticity, which in turn makes sexual activity more enjoyable.

Good for your sinuses – Sex is a natural antihistamine and can help relieve a stuffy nose, hay fever and even asthma. During sexual activity, prolactin is released, sending new neurons to the brain’s olfactory bulb. This not only heightens your sense of smell, but other senses as well.

Fights cavities – Saliva from kissing cleanses and decreases the level of acid in the mouth. This helps to fights plaque and cavities, keeping your pearly whites strong and healthy.

Strengthens pelvic muscles – Intercourse helps to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which contract during orgasm. This can help women to improve their bladder control and avoid incontinence. The more toned the muscles are, the greater the pleasure during sex is.

Decreases risk of breast cancer – One study of women who had never given birth found that an increased frequency of sexual intercourse correlated with a decrease in the incidence of breast cancer.

Benefits prostate health – Although more research still needs to be done, masturbating or having sex on a regular basis may protect men against prostate cancer. A National Cancer Institute survey of middle-aged men found that those who averaged 21 ejaculations a month showed a 33% lower risk of prostate cancer than those with less than 7 ejaculations a month.

Increases intimacy  When sex is consistent and involves mutual pleasure, it can increase feelings of intimacy and affection with your partner. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is released at orgasm, causing you to feel bonded to your partner. This can lead to a stronger relationship, both physically and spiritually.

 

 

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Diet and Disease

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Written by Ara Wiseman

I have been seeing clients for many years and the one thing that many of them seem to have in common is a lack of understanding of the impact food has on their health.

Why is it that we neglect to consider that the food we are putting into our body is a major contributor to our lack of health and vitality?

I have been asked to speak for a lot of different organizations, cancer being one of them, and I am always surprised to see that the food being served consists of coffee, cheese, sweets, fatty foods, soft drinks and yes, even cheesy pizza with pepperoni.

We are all addicted to something, whether it’s sugar, caffeine, that glass of wine at the end of the day, salty snacks, cigarettes, pain medication, marijuana, etc.

When we indulge in stimulating foods or substances we end up disturbing the delicate balance, or equilibrium, in our body and brain chemistry and set ourselves up for cravings and health problems. This can affect our sleep and our ability to handle stress, causing hormonal imbalances and mood fluctuations including depression, decreasing valuable energy needed to accomplish our goals.

Caffeine, for instance, depletes you of minerals and is a central nervous system stimulant. Your body doesn’t need it, but you’re addicted. Have you ever noticed the people standing in line at Starbucks in the morning waiting to get their fix? I, unfortunately, am one of those people. Green tea is my choice of a morning stimulant, which ends up depleting me of magnesium. I don’t want to give up my green tea, so I take magnesium to balance it out. It’s a crazy cycle, isn’t it?

I do believe that we need to enjoy our lives and that includes food, but it’s about making healthier choices and keeping our stress to a minimum. Our constitution or physical makeup plays a huge role in our health and longevity. Have you ever wondered why some people can eat less than optimally, drink alcohol, get next to no sleep and are still able to function? I read an article about a woman in France who lived until she was 122. What was her secret? She smoked cigarettes, drank port wine and ate a couple of pounds of chocolate per week until she was 119 years old. She credited her longevity to laughing a lot and not getting stressed out. She was quoted as saying, “If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.” Her positive attitude, plus the fact that she was born into wealth and married a wealthy man, enabled her a life of ease and comfort. This doesn’t mean you have to be rich to be happy, as I have also seen a lot of people who are wealthy and miserable.  It is our perception of life’s events that plays a huge role in the way we process things.

Unfortunately we can’t control the type of constitution we acquire, but we can take the initiative to make the most of what we do have and live the healthiest we can. And this starts with diet. By eliminating the fake foods and adding back the real, nourishing, whole foods, we can begin to take control of our health. Stress, another common denominator in disease, shouldn’t be taken for granted either. Stress depletes the body of important minerals, weakens the adrenals and leads to sleep deprivation and hormone imbalances.

What can you do? Take time for yourself and change your perception of the stressors in your life by viewing them as opportunities for growth, not as obstacles. Enjoy healthier versions of your favorite foods and most importantly enjoy your life!

 

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Chaga

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Written by Tara Portelli

Chaga: The Diamond of the Forest

When you stumble upon a tall birch tree and you look up to admire the unique colour and texture of its bark, your eyes may drift to the sight of a black, coal-like fungi extending from the trunk. Although not visually pleasing, what you may not realize is that each layer of this fungus contains a multitude of unique medicinal properties that are not found anywhere else within the plant kingdom. Dense in nutrients like antioxidants and B vitamins, this mushroom has amazing cancer-fighting capabilities.

Known as the most sought-after mushroom in the world, chaga has been used for centuries by the natives of China, Siberia, Poland, Japan, Finland and North America.

The Japanese have rightly labelled chaga as “The Diamond of the Forest”. With therapeutic properties that are everything from anti-inflammatory to anti-microbial, this fungus is undeniably the best in its class. Higher in antioxidants than any other mushroom, chaga has the ability to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals, protecting our bodies from the formation of cancer cells, while clearing away harmful toxins. Specific strains of chaga found only on birch trees are considered the most potent, containing a substance called butulinic acid, which has cancer fighting properties.

Chaga mushrooms go above and beyond in their nutritional density, containing numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals and enzymes, all important in the support of our bodies’ everyday functions. As if that wasn’t enough, chaga is also an amazing source of pantothenic acid, an important vitamin required by the adrenal glands to help increase the body’s resistance to stress.  Used as a blood purifier and pain-reliever, it seems that the properties of this fungus are endless.

With their ability to strengthen our immune systems, prevent and even destroy cancer cells, boost energy and stamina, coupled with an amazing nutritional profile, these mushrooms truly live up to their name as “The Diamond(s) of the Forest”.

How to make chaga tea:

In a medium-sized pot, allow 1 to 4 tablespoons of chaga powder to soak in a liter of pure water for about an hour. Heat the water to your preferred temperature. It does not have to be brought to a boil to enjoy the therapeutic benefits. Strain the liquid and save the chunks to reuse at a later time. You can consume chaga tea hot or cold.

Tara Portelli is a passionate health care professional, dedicated to preventative medicine. For the last 6 years Tara has worked as a licensed Paramedic, where she witnessed the worst of people’s health.  Determined to help prevent illness, she has gone on to study as a Holistic Nutritionist and a Personal Trainer and currently practices both, allowing her to help others take control of their personal health holistically.

To read informative articles about nutrition and health, please go to: www.nudemushroom.com 

To contact and book a session with Tara: www.primalmovement.org

Or go to:  www.veggiegourmet.ca

 

 

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Are you Constipated?

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Written by Natalia Hnatiw

Chances are, you are constipated. Did you know that the average 45-year-old person has about 10lbs of built up fecal matter in their colon? That’s a lot of poop. This lack of elimination can largely be blamed on years of inadequate water and dietary fiber intake, as well as the predominant Standard American Diet (SAD) that many people adhere to. Other factors contributing to constipation include drug use, iron supplements, environmental toxicity, stress and lack of exercise. It’s no wonder that the majority of us are constipated.

Are you under the perception that everyone is different, and there is no set “normal” when it comes to passing stool? If you’re eating three regular meals a day, ideally you should be going three times a day. If you are going less than that, you may be constipated. Not eliminating as much as one should leads to a buildup of toxins in the body, and these toxins simply circulate throughout the body. The sad fact is that many people are constipated their entire lives, thinking that it’s normal. The way your poop looks is also very important in determining how healthy you are. Here’s a chart to put it into perspective:

poop chart

The Many Problems of Constipation

The trouble begins when your colon is compacted and ballooned with accumulated fecal matter. The interesting thing about the colon is that it is a reflex organ, meaning that each section of the colon corresponds to a different part of the body.  For example, did you know that the majority of migraine headaches are caused by a toxic colon?  Over 90 percent of all human illness and disease begins with a congested colon, which is why it is so important to keep ourselves clean. Constipation can lead to many conditions including:

Anxiety

Appendicitis

Body Odor

Bowel Cancer

Bronchitis

Depression

Diverticulitis

Fatigue

Gas, bloating

Halitosis (bad breath)

Headaches

Heart problems

Hemorrhoids

Hernia

Indigestion

Insomnia

Irritability

Liver spots

Lower Back pain

Malabsorption

Obesity

PMS

Skin, hair, nail problems

Varicose veins

So what can you do to keep yourself regular and decrease the risk of any of the above conditions? The first thing I tell my clients is that they need to drink enough water and eat fiber-rich foods. Sounds simple enough. Fiber is important because it gets things moving. But, if you’re not drinking enough water, it can have the opposite effect and clog you right up. On a side note, how much water should you be drinking? The average person should drink about 2-3 liters of filtered water every day, depending on their weight and activity level. If you’re eating a well-rounded diet that is predominantly fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you’re probably getting the allotted 25 to 40 grams of fiber that is recommended for optimal health.

If you are still having trouble, you could be low in magnesium. This important mineral relaxes the muscles in the intestines and helps stimulate peristalsis in the colon. Magnesium also attracts water in the colon, which helps to soften stool, making it easier to pass. I recommend taking magnesium glycerinate, as it is the most absorbable. If you are still experiencing irregularities, there a certain herbs and fiber supplements that can help normalize the process.

Colon Toning and Cleansing Herbs

Cascara Sagrada is one of the most popular colon cleansing herbs used today. It contains compounds called anthroquinones that work as an herbal laxative and helps to strengthen the muscle tone of the walls of the colon. This herb also helps to stimulate bile production in the liver, which speeds up the removal of toxins from your system. Cascara sagrada’s laxative action irritates the intestinal lining and should not be used by those with any type of intestinal condition, acute or chronic.  Due to the loss of water and electrolytes through the stool, it should not be used by people taking heart medication and diuretics.  All medications may not be absorbed as well when cascara is being used.

Children and the elderly should not use cascara sagrada. Nursing mothers should not use it because the laxative components will transfer into the breast milk. Cascara’s intestinal stimulation may also cause uterine contractions in pregnant women. It can make your colon lazy and should not be used for longer than 8-10 days at a time.

Slippery Elm is an all-purpose herb that is beneficial for the entire intestinal tract. It is very effective for both constipation and diarrhea. This amazing herb normalizes the stool while it soothes, coats and heals the lining of your intestines.

Turkey Rhubarb, traditionally used in Chinese medicine, it also contains anthraquinones, which promote bowel movements. This herb also contains tannins, which relieve diarrhea and reduce inflammation in the colon.

Colon Friendly Fibers

Psyllium contains a category of fiber called mucilage. When mucilage enters the digestive tract it absorbs water. When it does this, it swells, making the stools in the colon bulkier. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day while taking any fiber supplement. If you don’t, you run the risk of obstructing the colon and making your constipation worse.

Ground flax and chia seeds are both soluble and insoluble fibers and are very soothing to the digestive tract. Want proof? Just add a little water to them and wait a few minutes. They turn into a gel solution that glides easily through the body and helps with colon cleansing.  Flax and chia also contain healthy fats, which are important for regular bowel movements and overall health. 

What about bran? I know some of you may be under the impression that bran is the best fiber out there, but this is only because it has been so heavily marketed. How many of you eat All-Bran cereal on a daily basis and still experience digestive/intestinal issues? Bran is actually the leftover waste from the processing of wheat. It is low in any nutritional value, and as a fiber supplement, does more harm than good. It is irritating roughage that can cause damage to the intestinal lining. Bran also contains phytic acid, which leaches minerals from the body, including calcium. This is definitely a fiber you want to avoid.

Natalia is offering complementary Iris Analysis with her nutrition sessions. Your eyes are not only the window to your soul, they reflect past, present and future health. Book your nutrition session today!

 

 

 

 

 

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Men’s Health: Reducing Your Toxic Load

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Written by Natalia Hnatiw

As this month is about awareness, I thought I’d write about becoming more aware of what we put into our bodies. Since Father’s Day is just around the corner, I decided to focus on the male side of things.

What are some things that can be harmful to the male body and what can be done to avoid them, to optimize overall health and wellbeing? We have included in our newsletter the documentary “The Disappearing Male,” to illustrate the connection between environmental toxins and male health issues that are rarely addressed.

To put things into perspective, the chemical industry is only 100 years old but poses an alarming problem to men’s health and a toxic threat to the male reproductive system.  In the last few decades there has been a steady increase in chemically derived products that contain potentially harmful ingredients. These “endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” or EDCs, like phthalates, parabens and sulfates, are all too common in many everyday products, and have been shown to directly impair sperm function and affect fertility.

Aluminum, for example, which is used in many antiperspirants, is concerning because of its potential impact on future brain function and has been linked to Alzheimer’s. Phthalates, typically used to make plastics more flexible, have been associated with several types of sperm damage, including lower sperm counts, impaired movement and abnormal shape. Lead acetate, an ingredient in some men’s hair dyes, has also been shown to lower sperm quality, even at low to moderate levels.

And then there are xenoestrogens, a type of endocrine disruptor that specifically has estrogen-like effects on the human body. Estrogen is a natural hormone that is important for bone growth, blood clotting and reproduction. Men naturally have lower levels of estrogen than women, but when xenoestrogens enter the body, they increase the total amount of estrogen resulting in estrogen dominance, which has become more prevalent in the male population. Xenoestrogens cannot be broken down by the body so they are consequently stored in fat cells. Buildups of xenoestrogens have been indicated in many conditions including prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, and diabetes. The scary thing is, these EDCs are found in everything from meat and dairy products to shampoo, toothpaste and household cleaning products.

So what can men do to protect themselves? These chemicals are everywhere and can seem somewhat unavoidable, but there are certain steps that can be taken to reduce your toxic load. Start by swapping the chemically derived products that you use on a daily basis for more natural ones. A reliable resource to search for men’s health products free of EDCs can be found at www.ewg.org. You can also download the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep app, which let’s you scan the barcode of any product and compare the ingredients and potential risks associated with that particular item.

Tips to reduce your Toxic Load:

  • Buy and eat organic produce and organic free-range meat and dairy to reduce your exposure to pesticides and fertilizers. Choose wild over farm-raised fish to reduce mercury and PCB exposure.
  • Avoid pre-packaged and processed foods as they are high in chemical preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and food coloring.
  • Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods, unless specifically labeled BPA-free.
  • Drink distilled or filtered water. Water helps to dilute and flush out toxins. Install a filter on your tap and in your shower to reduce exposure to chlorine, fluoride and other contaminants.
  • Improve the quality of your air. Invest in an air purifier and houseplants. One houseplant can clear up to 100 square feet. Peace lilies, pot mums and snake plants have the widest range of toxin elimination.
  • Throw away your bleach and conventional cleaning products and switch to natural ones. Better yet, make your own! It’s simple and cost-effective and greatly reduces your chemical exposure.
  • Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorants that are free of phthalates, aluminum and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances.
  • Replace your aluminum or non-stick Teflon pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
  • Limit your use of prescription and over-the-counter medication as much as possible.
  • Get rid of your microwave, as it emits radiation and has been linked to decreased fertility rates and cancer. There are healthier ways of reheating your food, like on the stove or in a toaster oven.
  • Carry your phone in your back pocket or in a bag or briefcase to reduce radiation exposure. Turn your phone on Airplane Mode at night and never sleep with it near your head.

 

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Male Menopause?

sehomer-simpson-andropause

 

Written by Ara Wiseman

Did you know that men go through menopause? It’s called andropause and I know a lot of women reading this are smiling right now, so let me explain. Andropause is caused by low testosterone and high levels of estrogen, insulin and cortisol (our stress hormone).

We all know that hormonal changes are a natural part of aging. With men these changes can include decreased sexual function, increased belly fat, decreased energy levels and mood swings, but because they happen slowly over time, they often go unnoticed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, men tend to be less aware of their subtle body changes, because hormones tend to decline slower for men. Also men don’t talk about what they are experiencing, or at least not as freely as most women do, they just learn to live with mood changes and weight gain.

Stress elevates cortisol levels and disrupts the overall balance in your system, signalling your body to store fat. The danger comes when the fat tends to
 accumulate in your belly. This is called visceral fat and is found behind your abdominal muscles, keeping you chronically  inflamed. This eventually leads to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

There is a natural decline of the male hormones testosterone, DHEA, androstenedione and human growth hormone. With some men it may start to happen around age 55 and gets worse in their 60s or 70s. With the onslaught of hormone disrupting chemicals in our environment, younger men in their 30s are now experiencing symptoms. Unfortunately, a lot of older men are on statins (cholesterol lowering medication), which tend to lower testosterone levels. And while it may be lowering cholesterol, it’s also causing memory loss, muscle weakness and chronic fatigue.

Some of the symptoms of Andropause include:

  • fatigue
  • memory loss
  • muscle loss/weakness
  • depression
  • loss of libido
  • weight gain
  • urinary problems
  • hot flashes

What can men do?

First of all, avoid grapefruit and alcohol if you are suffering from low testosterone. The body’s aromatase enzyme turns testosterone into the female hormone estrogen when certain substances are ingested, and grapefruit and alcohol are two of those substances.

Focus on a healthy diet and active lifestyle. If you are overweight or have low energy, look at your diet and reduce the amount of stimulants, such as coffee and sugar, you are ingesting daily. If you smoke, now is a perfect time to quit. If you are overweight, lose those extra pounds. Exercise will help you both physically and emotionally, and is great for stress reduction.

Look into bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) for men and see if it’s right for you. To help increase testosterone production, take zinc and vitamins C and E. Start eating more celery. YES, you heard that correctly, celery! It contains l-arginine and is a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the areas in your body that need it. It works like viagra. Beets are also great for endurance and vasodilation.

Start to think about your adrenals and liver. Both need nourishment and get exhausted, affecting the hormonal balance in your body. Indole-3-carbinol(13C) helps maintain hormonal balance. Getting an adequate intake of indole-3-carbinol (I3C), either through vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage or from supplements, will help keep estrogen levels in check while decreasing the risk of prostate cancer.

Avoid ingesting chemicals, pesticides and hormones. Stay away from non-organic animal products, they are laden with all of the above. I would stay away from animal products completely if that is realistic for you. At least make sure it is hormone-free and buy organic produce.

Take a deep breath and find time in your day to feel gratitude for everything you have. Life changes so quickly and we all get caught up in the day-to-day nonsense. Take a step back and if things are feeling stressful, change the channel to something you enjoy listening to!

 

 

 

 

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