Monday, 30 January 2012

Smokers at Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (Lower your Risk!)

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in today’s society, as it includes both heart attacks and strokes.    Most people automatically presume that high cholesterol from poor food choices is the leading cause of CVD, but in actual fact, there are many risk factors that contribute.  Smoking is one such factor that is often associated with other diseases such as cancer and overlooked when discussing CVD.  Unfortunately, a smoker’s risk of developing CVD is actually 3-5 times higher than a non-smoker.  
              When a person is smoking, toxins enter the blood through inhalation.  Many of these toxins contain free radicals that are carried in the bloodstream on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol molecules, where they damage the lining of arteries. This also damages the feedback mechanisms in the liver that controls the amount of cholesterol manufactured, resulting in increased production.  Since the chemicals travel on cholesterol, we can see that if our cholesterol levels are higher and we are a smoker, our risk multiples.  Plaque begins to form at the site of damage by compiling layers of fibrin, calcium and cholesterol in order to protect and heal.  When the damage heals, the plaque breaks off and everything should be normal.  However, when a person is exposed to smoke frequently, the damage multiplies faster than it heals; creating a build-up in the arteries and a weakened blood flow to the heart, which in turn can cause a heart attack.  In addition to creating damage to vessels, smoking can temporarily increase blood pressure as a result of nicotine constricting the vessels.  Two other independent factors that can lead to CVD as a result of smoking are the increased platelet aggregation and elevated fibrinogen levels.
              The number one recommendation for a smoker who wishes to eliminate the risk of developing CVD is to stop smoking.  However, there are some dietary/supplemental aspects which may help to reduce or control their risk. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and can help to protect against the free radical damage to LDL cholesterol.  This wonderful vitamin also prevents and dissolves blood clots, improves formation of collateral blood vessels, normalizes blood viscosity and reduces platelet stickiness.  Supplementing with 400-800IU of vitamin E would be a dosage recommended to treat heart disease, thought it is possible, however, to get copious amounts of vitamin E through dietary choices.  Eating meals that consist of brown rice, dark green vegetables, eggs, cold pressed vegetable oils, legumes, milk, nuts, oatmeal, wheat germ, whole grains, sunflower seeds, olives, or papaya will provide higher amounts of Vitamin E.
Eating foods rich in Vitamin C will definitely be beneficial for a smoker to consume.  Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that will offer protection against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol by binding to and eliminating free radicals.  Vitamin C helps to raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and reduce LDL cholesterol levels.  It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, strengthen the structure of the arteries, and stop platelet aggregation; all factors increased by smoking.  Vitamin C is also beneficial in eliminating heavy metals from our body such as the cadmium found in cigarettes.  In addition, vitamin C also ensures vitamin E is able to be regenerated once it is oxidized, so adequate intake will in fact increase the benefits of Vitamin E.  Eating 4-6 servings of whole fruits and vegetables will help to increase vitamin C levels in the body.  Some foods that are higher in vitamin C include broccoli, brussel sprouts, parsley, citrus fruit, cantaloupe, collards, green and red peppers, kale, kiwi, mustard greens, berries (strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry), cabbage, watermelon, tomatoes, cherries, sprouted beans and seeds.  If eating higher amounts of fruits and vegetables is not obtainable, taking vitamin C supplementation of 500-2000mg split throughout the day would be beneficial.
Consuming a diet high in essential fatty acids (EFAs), specifically omega 3 fatty acids, will help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.   They lower LDL cholesterol levels and stop platelet aggregation, as well as lower fibrinogen levels and blood pressure; all factors that are enhanced through smoking.   Consuming one tablespoon of organic flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed daily is an option for getting a good dose of omega 3.  Whole foods, especially fish, vegetables and nuts are also high in EFAs.  Additionally, salmon, scallops, cauliflower, cabbage, walnuts and cloves are very good sources followed by halibut, shrimp, cod, tuna, soy beans, brussel sprouts and leafy greens such as kale and collard greens.  It is also best to avoid hydrogenated oils and saturated fats as they do not have a positive effect on the body.  
      It is important that we consider smoking a key contributor to the onset of Cardiovascular Disease.  It is equally important that we realize the significance nutrition plays in the rapid development of the disease.  In addition to suggesting foods rich in Vitamins C, E and essential fatty acids, promoting a smoke-free environment and helping individuals to quit is an important area where Holistic Nutritionists can step in.  After all, getting the correct knowledge is half the battle.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Effects of Dehydration on Rheumatoid Arthritis

            Regardless of gender, age, or ethnic background, individuals all around the world are suffering from various aches and pains associated with a serious condition known as Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Generally speaking, it is our joints that are most affected by this disease, however it can affect the various organs of the body as well.  Despite no known cause of this disease, we can be assured that one simple nutritional change can be of benefit, drinking enough water.  This paper will discuss some recommendations for proper water consumption with explanations as to its effect on Rheumatoid Arthritis.
            Initial pain in the rheumatoid arthritic joint can be associated with water deficiency.  Over 60% of the cartilage in our joint is made of water required for cushioning and optimal motion of the joint.  When cartilage is properly hydrated the surfaces of the joint are able to move freely over one another as it is protected by synovial fluid, containing a high quantity of water.    The movement of the joint creates a vacuum within the joint space.  The joint cavity then attempts to get hydration from the bone and cartilage.  Blood vessels dilate and water flows through the bone marrow to the cartilage, near the bone, in order to keep the joint hydrated and help with the movement.  However, in the process of moving the joint, cells in our joints die as they get rubbed against each other, resulting in the need for new cell growth.  In order for these cells to grow, they too need water.  The body has an order of priority which means that water is provided first to the formation of new cells. Therefore, the more dehydrated we are, the less water available to supply the joint.  Since the joint is unable to get adequate water, it then draws fluid from the joint capsule which contains serum and white blood cells.  These fluids are not meant to be in the joint and the body reacts with an inflammatory response and a signal of pain.
Early signs of dehydration can be detected through sounds of cracking in the joint.  Less
water means there is more room for air to pass through the bone marrow, leaving us with a need to “crack” the joint.  The sound is from the amplified air bubbles popping as they pass into the localized joint from bone marrow. 
  Dr. Batmanghelidj in his book, “Your bodies many cries for water”, recommends that there should be adjustments made to water consumption in order to help treat the pains associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  More water means better availability of water to hydrate the cartilage of the joint in order to help with the joints movement. On a daily basis, 2 ½ litres of water should be consumed with even more intake if you drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee.  Coffee has a diuretic effect which results in increased fluid loss from the body.  It is very important when increasing water that you also notice an increase in the amount of urine your body is excreting.  If there is no increase, you should consult a physician to insure your kidneys are functioning properly.  If pain still persists, further investigative procedures should be done.
To deal with this pain, people with rheumatoid arthritis often take aspirin as a coping mechanism.  The problem with aspirin is it blocks the body’s thirst signals which than lead to higher levels of dehydration and the likelihood that more and more places in the body will feel the effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  This creates a cycle of increased need of pain suppressors and of course, more water.
Water has an amazing effect on our bodies, which makes complete sense if we consider the fact that our bodies are 75% water.  If water intake was increased as soon as initial signals of Rheumatoid Arthritis were detected, improvements would be noticed fairly rapidly.   If, however, improvements are not noticed after a few days of increased water intake in conjunction with some light movement of the joint, you should consult your physician to have additional testing completed.    

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Do you look at your poo???

When it comes to our health, most of our main concerns start as a result of our digestive system.  That's right, those signs of colds and flu, aches and pains, arthritis, allergies, etc can all be a result of poor digestion. 
Taking a look at your poo before you flush can give lots of insight as to your current digestive health.  If it's not optimal, contact a Holistic Health Care provider in your area for an assessment.  It's your choice, looking before flushing can benefit your health. 

The Bristol Poo Chart, shows pictures of what your "POO" might look like.  It's a great guide and can be found anywhere on the internet.  In summary,
Types 1, 2 and 3 = hard or impacted
Type 4 and 5 = normal or optimal
Type 6 = loose stool, subnormal
Type 7 = diarrhea.

Oh, and 1 more thing, pooing once every few days is not optimal.  Healthy people go to the bathroom at least once a day, ideally 2-3. 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Coconut Mango Stirfry!

Served on a bed of Soba noodles!  YUMMY

Coconut Mango Stirfry!

I just finished making a delicious stirfry, and to top it all off, it was pretty simple!

Here's what you need:

Organic pork loin (1 lb)
coconut oil (or a subtitute cooking oil)
Onion (1 cup chopped)
Curry paste (2 tsp)
Red Pepper (1-2 cups chopped)
Zucchini (1-2cups chopped)
Coconut Milk (1/2 cup)
Corn starch (1 tbsp)
Dried crushed Chilis (1/4 tsp)
Lime juice (1 tbsp)
Chili powder
Snow peas (2 1/2 Cups chopped) 
Pasta (any kind will do)
14 oz Can of Mango
1 Mango (make sure it's soft) & 1 Mango Juiced


Cook past according to directions.  Drain and toss with some olive oil.  Cover to keep warm.

Rub pork with chili powder.  Cook on medium high heat until browend.  Remove from heat.  Cover to keep warm.

Add some coconut oil to the pan, and on high heat stir-fry onion and curry paste for about 2 minutes.  Add zucchini, mango (not the juice), red pepper, lime juice, crushed chilies and paprika.  Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

REduce heat to medium.  Add cornstarch and coconut milk (mixed together).  Heat and stir until boiling and thickened.  Add mango syrup.  If more sauce is desired, add more coconut milk.  Stir.  Add pork.  Simmer for another 5 mintues. 

Add snow peas.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over pasta!


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Do you Need Supplements?

A common question I am being asked these days is "do I need supplements?"  I figured it was time to put it a small overview of those demographics that really should be taking vitamin/mineral supplements, to ease the decision. 

Most of society today require supplementation unless you are perfectly healthy and consuming a complete organic foods diet.  Non organic foods come to us today genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides and most are subject to radiation.  Those foods are void of many of the vitamins and minerals that their organic counterparts have.  The sad part is, calorie for calorie, they are no different.  As a result, you can eat in a lifestyle that you believe to be healthy but still be undernourished :(  Sad isn't it?

As much as I would love to say the answer is eating only organic foods, I understand that this is not an affordable suggestion for everyone.  As a result, most people today require good vitamin and mineral supplements.

In addition, if you fall into one of these categories, it is crucial that you take supplements, regardless of the foods you eat.
  • Do you consume a diet of mostly fried, processed, refined and take-out foods?
  • Do you diet or avoid certain foods and food groups?
  • Do you have many allergies to food that limit your eating options?
  • Are you frequently under emotional, psychological or environmental stress?
  • Are you an elderly individual?
  • Are you a smoker or drinker?
  • Are you recovering from an injury or illness?
So now you know you need supplements, and you are going to head off to the store to grab a bottle.  You are going to look at the shelf and see brand after brand labelled multi-mineral/ multi-vitamin.  But which one is the right one for you.  The best thing to do is speak with a Holistic Nutritionist, or ask someone at your local healthfood store for a recommended brand.  If you would like, shoot me off an email ( for a free multi vitamin consult.  In the meantime, here are some ideas for the best practices for Vitamin Supplementation:
    * Choose whole foods products over synthetic substances
    * Choose easy to absorb supplements
    * Take vitamins with food   
    * In order to digest fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) you need to take them with a fat
       * Review your supplementation program frequently

There is a huge cost difference of brands on the market, but remember, You can Pay for your Health now, or you can pay for it later!  It's your choice!!!

All the best in Health,


Monday, 2 January 2012

Depression & Postpartum Depression

Depression & Postpartum Depression
Have you ever experienced a moment where you felt so tired that you really didn’t feel like moving off the couch, yet had no explanation behind it?  It may have been possible that you were actually suffering from a small case of depression.  Most people at some point in their lives will experience a temporary moment of depression; described as a mood, a state of being, or energy level that includes a lack of motivation, a sense of hopelessness, and a lack of physical energy (Haas, 732).  Most of the time, we are able to pick ourselves up and continue on with joy in our lives with no assistance at all; but for some people, this ‘depressed’ state may continue and show many more symptoms than the more obvious emotional or psychological states.
Postpartum Depression, abbreviated PPD, is a specific form of depression that is evident in some mothers following the birth of her child and may last for several weeks or months.  The challenges of carrying and birthing a child may deplete a woman’s strength and energy.   As a result, a proper diet including whole foods abundant in vitamins and minerals will prove beneficial in alleviating the symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, and depression that may occur (Haas, Pg 737).  These whole foods should consist of lean proteins, an abundance of complex carbohydrates including lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes as well as healthy fats which all help to build strength, and aid in digestion and metabolism.   If possible, foods choices should be organic, unprocessed and unrefined to reduce the amount of chemical toxins and additives, as these too may increase symptoms.  Additionally, when suffering depression it is best to avoid reactive foods, such as milk and yogurt as well as junk food, caffeine and alcohol.
This paper will delve into the causes and symptoms associated with depression, with specific detail on Postpartum Depression.  Further, a five day meal plan will follow focussing on adequate protein, carbohydrate and fat intake that a woman battling this horrible illness could use.   Explanations of the nutritional benefits of these powerful foods will also be given so that people may create their own nutrient rich recipes.
Associated Symptoms, Causes and Dietary Suggestions for Depression

At some point in our lives we may have had temporary moments where we feel as though we are useless and have no purpose.  This would be described as depression.  Though most cases of depression are mild and we are able to pick ourselves up and get going again, some individuals may experience much more chronic and severe cases which may last months or even years.  Genetics, family and relationship dynamics, exercise activity, biochemical and mental states, and diet are all triggers of depression.  Some individuals may experience “metabolic and hormonal imbalances or sensitivity to environmental agents or chemicals” (Haas, 728).  Symptoms of depression may be visible or contained within the individual, often making it difficult to diagnose.  A depressed person may demonstrate anger, aggression, fear, sadness, and frustrations.  Additionally, they may show a “loss of affect or lack of enthusiasm toward life and low self-esteem...” (Haas, 728)
Women suffering PPD may not wish to hold their child; they may demonstrate mood swings and fatigue, or they may refrain from going out in public all together.  It is believed that that PPD is a result of hormonal changes brought on from the pregnancy as “low thyroid levels or imbalances of estrogen and progesterone in women can produce many psychological symptoms” (Haas, 728).  From a nutritive standpoint, the childbearing and birthing process leave a woman nutrient depleted in such vitamins and minerals as Folic Acid, B6, B12, iron, zinc and magnesium.  Increasing these vital vitamins and minerals will help “...alleviate the fatigue, mood swings and depression...” (Haas, 737)  Including organic whole foods, with particular focus on the consumption of  adequate lean protein, legumes, fruit and healthy fats will not only help with getting these vital vitamins but also in reducing contaminants and additives ingested.  These chemicals lead to depression and anxiety as a result of their negative effect on our brain functions as well as on neurotransmitter levels (Haas, 735).   Sulfuric foods, such as broccoli, asparagus and leek, produce flatus and may result in stomach distress which may also lead to aggravation and increased feelings of fatigue and depression, and should also be avoided along with alcohol and caffeine which may stimulate or negatively alter moods.    
Adequate protein helps to rebuild strength and repair the body’s sources.  A daily amount of 50-75 grams will be recommended, found from lean cut meats and fish as well as legumes combined with grains which will work together in the body to make complete proteins (Haas, 738).
Focusing on eating complex carbohydrates and fresh fruit will ensure sufficient dietary fibre intake, of approximately 15 grams daily.  Dietary fibre assists with the maintenance of good digestion, which in turn may help with the depression through the elimination of extra toxins within the body.  Avoiding refined carbohydrates and simple sugars will be very beneficial as “sugars – especially refined sugars and sweet foods – alter glycemic index and are often associated with mood changes and depression” (Haas, 735).  Meals will include an array of foods including swiss chard, spinach and a variety of legumes, some sprouted to increase absorbability and digestibility.
The final focus of the meal plan, but by no means the least important, will be fats.  Meals will include linoleic acid and linolenic acid, known as omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids or EFAs, which help to stabilize the brain and nervous system, enabling better stress management.  “This is because electrical properties of EFAs heighten the capacity for electric tension across our membranes (Erasmus, 356).  Flax seeds, avocados, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds will all be used to boost the EFA content.  Cashews, almonds and walnuts should also be incorporated in the diet to increase healthy fat content.  These seeds and nuts will also provide high amounts of quality vitamins and minerals as well as some protein, and though needed, should still be consumed in moderation.  Additionally, meals will incorporate cod fish and salmon to increase the omega 3 and omega 6 derivatives EPA and DHA needed to assist with the “brains synapse functions” (Erasmus, 313), which in turn can decrease the feelings of depression.
When suffering from Postpartum Depression, a wholesome diet with adequate protein, carbohydrate and fat intake is strongly recommended.  In addition, drinking 2-3 litres of water daily should be encouraged.  Avoiding refined sugars, preservatives and alcohol will also be of great assistance in helping the woman recover from this horrible condition and increase her desire to care for her new little one.   Shortly after changing her nutrition the mom can expect to see some improvements in her well being.  Listed below are some of the foods, including explanations of their nutritional benefits, that have been recommended in a 5-day meal plan for a woman suffering with Postpartum Depression.  Many of these same foods will be very beneficial in other forms of depression as well.
Organic apples and pears
·         Plentiful in iron and fibre with “cleansing and detoxification potential” (Haas, 303)

Organic avacados
·         Good source of each of the macronutrients as well as good amounts of folic acid, B vitamins and magnesium (Haas, 309)

Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, beet greens
·         High in fibre, folic acid, phytonutrients and power antioxidants with cleansing abilities to remove toxins in the liver (Haas, 312)

Organic yams and carrot
·         Vitamins and mineral dense especially potassium, folic acid, and magnesium (Haas, 314)

Peppers (red, green and yellow bell peppers)
·         High in vitamin C, bioflavonoids as well as folic acid, potassium.  They contain some B vitamins and have many phytonutrients. (Haas, 318)

Salmon/Cod/lean chicken
·         Complete proteins and full of health promoting fats(Haas, 343)

Legumes: garbanzo beans/lentils/mung beans (sprouted)
·         Complex carbohydrate, high in fibre and low in calories and fat. Sprouting increases protein and vitamin content, and activates enzymes to aid in digestion (Haas, 323)

Whole grains including quinoa and oatmeal
·         Good source of complex carbohydrates and high in B vitamins, iron and fibre; acts as a complementary protein source for legumes (Haas, 325)

Organic seeds and nuts
·         Contain EFAs and have high mineral content of zinc, iron, magnesium and rich in B vitamins as well as protein.   (Haas, 333)

5-Day Meal Plan for Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Millet cereal with raisins, sunflower seeds and walnuts; sprinkled with cinnamon and honey
Egg whites with oatmeal, cinnamon, and almond butter; add pure organic maple syrup for additional sweetness
Oatmeal with apple sauce, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
Spinach and egg breakfast burrito with parsley on a whole grain wrap topped with salsa
Egg omelette with spinach and peppers; organic Rye bread toasted with almond butter

Organic pear
Organic almonds
Organic pear
Handful of organic mixed nuts
Organic apple 

Bean salad: parsley, organic garbanzo beans, red kidney beans and parsley with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic; 1 C carrot and parsnip soup
Spinach salad with sprouted chickpeas and mung beans, red cabbage, veggies; balsamic and olive oil dressing
ground organic flax seed, sesame seed
Chicken soup with organic carrot, turnip, celery, veggies
1 slice of Rye toast with butter
Mexican Black Bean soup with shredded yams topped with organic avocado and green onion

Quinoa tabouli with sprouted chick peas and mung beans, parsley, bell peppers, zucchini; small mixed green salad with olive oil and lemon juice

Avocado and tomato slices drenched in lime and sprinkled sea salt 
Organic apple
Rice cakes with almond butter
Organic pear
Carrot and celery sticks with organic humus

Poached fish,
roasted yam, and
steamed carrots

Swiss Chard and Lentil Stew with vegetables and sweet potato, herbal tea
Baked Cod Fish with quinoa salad (sweet bell peppers, scallions and peas); Herbal tea
Brown rice, with grilled chicken and mixed veggies; herbal tea
Grilled salmon with lemon and dill;
Grilled peppers  and sautéed spinach with cashews

Haas, Elson.  Staying Healthy with Nutrition – 21st Century Ed.  Berkeley:  Celestial Arts, 2006
Erasmus, Udo.  Fats that Heal Fats that Kill.  Alive Books, 1993