Wednesday, December 3, 2014

But What Can I Eat?

by Dr. Iva Lloyd
Naturopathic Doctor

Many well-intentioned people, after reading books and websites or having food intolerance testing done, are left asking "What can I eat?"  With all the conflicting information and all the research claiming that this food is bad for you, don't eat this, don't eat that, it is no wonder that eating well has become such a struggle. It doesn't have to be.  The following guidelines will hopefully provide some clarity.

The Role of Food

Although food is at times associated with socializing and comfort, and those are important factors, it is not the primary purpose of food. Food is the fuel for the body. It provides the building blocks for
every function and physical structure and for metabolic processes and detoxification. The saying "we are what we eat" is true on many levels.

Every food group has its purpose and role within the body.  At the most basic level, you need to eat foods from every food group on a regular basis.  The more you choose whole foods and those that are less processed, the better. The different food groups include:
A healthy diet cannot exclude any one food group. In order for all bodily functions to occur, it is important that all nutrients be present in the right ratios for your health as each one is part of the puzzle and has a specific role to play.

Avoid Diets

Eating healthy is not about choosing the best diet.  It is about ensuring that you recognize the importance of every type of food and that you eat adequate portions of all food groups on a daily basis.

The two most popular types of diets right now include the high protein and low grain diets. The focus of both of these diets is primarily on losing weight, not about achieving health. Although maintaining an ideal body weight is a good idea, the long-term impact of high protein and low grain diets can result in increased acid levels and are associated with a number of chronic health concerns.  Click on the links below to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of other diets:
There are a very few diseases or conditions that require a specific focus on one food group. Generally speaking, if you are looking for long-term, there is only one healthy diet - a balanced diet that is high in whole foods and that includes balanced portions of all food groups.  If you were going to choose any diet, I recommend a label-free, whole-foods diet.

Impact of Dietary Imbalances

When a diet is not balanced, physiology changes. There are three main dietary imbalance patterns:
  1. Calorie excess, nutrient deficient. The primary cause of obesity and most illnesses in North America is a diet that is calorie excessive, yet nutrient deficient. This generally occurs due to a diet that is high in fast foods, processed foods (especially "white" products) and packaged foods and diets that have a lot of pop, juice and other sweet beverages. When nutrients are imbalanced in the presence of excessive calories, the body is programmed to store the excess -- almost as if it is waiting for the missing nutrients to balance things out.
  2. Calorie excess, nutrient excess. It is quite rare for someone to be both calorie excess and nutrient excess. When the body has the needed nutrients that it needs, it is not as likely to store the excess, or if it does store the excess it is less likely to result in chronic diseases. When a diet is balanced, the internal programming is to excrete what is not needed. 
  3. Calorie deficient, nutrient deficient. A calorie deficient, nutrient deficient diet will result in the body down-regulating. Bodily functions will literally slow down as a way of reserving the use of energy. A person's constitution and the specific makeup of nutrients will determine in what way the "slow down" manifests. For some it will show up as hair loss, weak nails or skin, for others as developmental delays or cognitive decline and for others it will result in disease of some sort such as cancer or autoimmune disease.

Food Alterations

Food has gone through a number of changes over the years. For the majority of people, food is not based on what you hunt, gather and grow.  It is instead, what you pick up at the market or store.

Many of the alterations of food have been done to extend shelf-life and to allow for food to be preserved.  Historically, food alterations were done to alter the colour, flavour, texture or smell of food.  In the last couple of decades, genetically modified foods have added a whole new level of complexity to food. Another way that food is altered is by fortifying food and water with added nutrients. This sounds like a good idea, but it is not as great as it sounds. (stay tuned for a blog next month on this topic!)

It is important to keep in mind that most alterations of food are done to make it more appealing. Other than some natural food preservatives, it is not done to make food more healthy.

Most packaged food has been altered in some way. Click on the links below to learn more about the impact of food alterations including:
By choosing whole foods you will be limiting your exposure to food additives and food colourings. By choosing organic food you will limit your exposure to harmful herbicides and pesticides and genetically modified foods.

Factors that Affect Food and Eating

The following factors impact what food you should eat. 
  • Your Constitution determines what makes you unique. There is a tendency to evaluate food as "good" or "bad", when in reality what you want to do is to look at whether a food is good for you or not.  Your constitution, your individual food sensitivities and allergies, and everything else that makes you unique is what determines whether or not a particular food is healthy for you. It is not about the food itself. Check out my blog on How Do You Achieve Health, for more about this.
  • Temperature Outside - a general rule of thumb is that the temperature of your food should be opposite to the temperature outside.  This is especially true in the winter for those people that tend to be cold or for those that have conditions that are worse in cold, damp weather. Check out my blog on Healthy Fall and Winter Eating.
  • Health Status - What is ideal for you to eat depends on your level of health. Eating is one of the best ways to help the body function. It is meant to change based on what is going on at any particular time. During acute illness, such as a cold or flu, it is best to drink a lot of fluids, consume non-dairy, non-wheat soups (like chicken soup) and to rest and stay warm. Check out my blog on Prevention and Management of Colds and Flu. Digestion works best when a person is relaxed. When under stress or when rushed it is better to have smaller meals and to eat foods that are easy to digest. The ideal diet for most chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, etc is a whole foods diet customized to your unique constitution.  There really is not a specific diet for each condition.  Only a few conditions, such as cancer, require a specific diet for a period time to help a person undergo treatment or to support the body in making a physiological shift.
I encourage you to see food as a wonderful way to help you manoeuvre through the twists and turns of life. What you eat is meant to change based on age, season, health status, activity level, etc. By seeing food as fuel for the body and understanding the properties of food (i.e., heating versus cooling) and the specific nutrients you get from food it is easier to work with your food to achieve health.

What Next?


When people want to become healthier the focus is often about removing "the bad" out of their diet.  There is a lot of merit to this, but I encourage you to put an even greater focus on adding in "the good".  Adding in more water, vegetables or even different types of vegetables, or adding in some nuts and seeds or lean protein is often mentally and physically more appealing than removing or feeling restricted in what you can eat.  There is a nice video on Netflix called "Hungry for Change" that I encourage you to watch. 

If you question whether or not your diet has been balanced, you may want to do some testing for mineral or protein levels, or to assess overall metabolic functioning.  Most of this testing is either done through hair or urine. There are a number of ways that your naturopathic doctor can assist you in determining your overall status for each nutrient category and ways to address any imbalance. 

Bottom Line! 

  1. Assess how you are currently eating and decide on what needs to change.
  2. Start adding in whole foods. Follow the 80/20 rule. Choose meals based on whole foods at least 80% of the time. 
  3. Eat foods from every food group on a daily, weekly basis.
  4. See food as a way of achieving health and modify what you eat based on what is going on with you at any particular time.
  5. Take the time to enjoy food and to see it as your partner in health.
If you have any questions about food talk to one of our naturopathic doctors.

For more information on specific foods, check out www.ndhealthfacts.org/wiki/food


Friday, October 31, 2014

Time for Change of Season Soup


Written by Dr. Anthony Moscar, ND

With colder months approaching, many people will change their wardrobe to warm wool and add the extra blanket on their bed.  Car tires will be changed for better grip and windshield wiper fluid will be switched for colder temperatures. Most aspects of life have a seasonal requirement needing preparations and so does our diet and medicine. This is also a time to relax, recharge and reflect on the year that is coming to a close.

One way to prepare is with Change of season soup which is a tonic used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve your immune system during this time of year.  One cup or bowl twice a day for 12 days is recommended for a healthy person. People who are experiencing a cold or flu should not drink the soup until they have recovered from their illness.

Ingredients

To make the soup, you require equal parts (2-3 oz each/ 85 grams) of the following herbs. They are often packaged together. But be cautious as many herb stores sell low quality herbs that do not have certificates for quality and won't guarantee there are no heavy metals or other toxic materials present with the herbs.

  1. Codonopsis root - Helps tonify and strengthen "qi" energy and helps to nourish body fluids and build blood.
  2. Astragalus root Strengthens protective defenses, strengthens qi energy, nourishes the spleen, and tonifies the blood and lungs.
  3. Dioscorea (Chinese yam) root - Tonifies and balances the lungs and the kidneys.
  4. Chinese Lycii berries (aka Goji berries) - Used to strengthen the liver and the kidneys.

Instructions

1. Fill a large stock pot with water. Add all herbs to the pot and cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 4 to 6 hours. Add water if needed.        

2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the herbs from the pot and allow the soup to cool. This recipe makes about 4 liters of soup. You can drink it as a broth, use it as a base for soup recipes, or place it in a mug or thermos and sip it throughout the day.

Variation: You can start with a simple soup stock base before adding the water to improve the flavor and increase the health promoting properties that a chicken or herb broth provide.

Speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to learn more about improving your immune system.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How Do You Achieve Health?

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

One of the challenges with achieving health now a days is that the focus has become on evaluating endless different factors such as - what diet is best, is salt good for you or is it bad, the benefits of dark chocolate, the importance of going gluten-free, the impact of GMOs and organic food and the list goes on.

If you truly want to achieve health you need to study yourself.  What are your unique susceptibilities?  What is your constitution and your age?  What is your family health history?  What factors are impacting your health? What incidents, accidents or events have impacted you throughout your life?  What underlying health concerns are you dealing with? What is your current lifestyle like?  Do you feel that you are on the right path in your life or are you struggling on a daily basis just to get by?

There are two main factors that are making achieving health much more difficult than it needs to be. I refer to them as "Headline Healthcare" and "Intellectual Health"

Headline Healthcare


Health is complex, very complex. Even the understanding of something as seemingly simple as salt has many different components. Yet media and most health magazines turn everything into a headline. They emphatically make a claim about anything and everything without even coming close to the whole story. Healthcare has become a series of marketing headlines instead of what it truly is - a detailed, complex networked system.  Examples of recent headlines include:
  • The Benefits of Coffee. The benefits of coffee has received a lot of attention lately. Some articles even recommend that up to 10 cups of coffee a day is good for you. Almost all of the article that spew the benefits of coffee miss the other half of the story. They don't mention that high doses of coffee deplete the body of minerals, the association between coffee consumption and insomnia or anxiety, the fact that some individuals are intolerant to coffee or that coffee can add to adrenal fatigue. Whether or not coffee is good for you and how much coffee is good for you can only be determined by how you personally respond to coffee, not by what the media or research claims to be the benefits of coffee.
  • The Salt Story.  I have written a lot about salt and sugar in past blogs. Salt is one of the most misunderstood nutrients. It has a number of essential functions, but there are also a number of considerations. Generally speaking, those with high blood pressure are best to avoid salt; whereas, those with low blood pressure or decreased thyroid function require moderate amounts of salt. In August a report came out claiming that low salt diets might actually be harmful. This report was in direct contradiction to previous studies that had been published. The commonality with both positions is that they made a claim about SALT without providing any logic or linking salt intake to specific individual characteristics or to the ratio of sodium to potassium. Whether or not salt is good or bad for you, how much you need and how it impacts health depends on you. It is not about whether salt, itself, is good or bad, it is about whether it is healthy for you. 
  • Organic Food Dilemma. The rationale for organic was driven by the recognition of the harmful impact of pesticides and herbicides on the grains, fruits and vegetables that we eat. Over time the headlines about organic food has focused more about the nutritional differences between organic and non-organic foods, totally missing the main concern. 
Everything is a headline. It is important to stay informed, but I caution you about basing your health decisions on a headline. The motivation for me creating the website www.ndhealthfacts.org was to provide a balanced perspective on health-related conditions and topics.Moderation is key, but even more important is individual's basing their health decisions on whether or not something is good for them; not on whether or not a particular food or ingredient, itself, is good or bad.

There are very few things that are "good" or "bad" -- except maybe pop and sugary candies. Soda pop and sugary candies are the the only things (I dare not call them a food!) that I strongly recommend people stop consuming. 


Intellectual Health

The most common advice that I give patients is to pay attention to their body. To look for a cause and effect between symptoms and their life. Too often people make decisions about their health based on what they believe to be true on paper; putting more emphasis on what they read versus what they personally experience or what is relevant for them.

Health and disease are logical. They are, too a large degree, an accumulation of our life. Our body talks to us, gives us feedback, in the way of signs and symptoms. Your personal experiences and symptoms will typically be more relevant for you than anything you read. Whether you are suffering with headaches, sinus congestion, gas and bloating, joint pain, insomnia, anxiety, or chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol or even cancer there will be a reason why. And that reason generally relates to your life starting with your unique constitution and health history and including what you ate (or didn't eat), how hydrated you are, your level of stress, your activity level, how you are sleeping, any accidents or injuries you have had, etc. The more you can see the link between your daily life and your symptoms, the more control you will have over your health.

Too often people seek answers in a book or on the internet for reasons why they have a symptom. Reading helps give a person a range of things to assess, but the real answers will come from you. Often I find that people have spent a lot of time and money chasing different treatments based on what they read, versus really understanding them self.

The most profound health changes generally occur when a person learns what to change in their daily routine or what they have to specifically address for them self, such as their lifestyle, how they handle stress, or the impact of heavy metals and environmental chemicals or food intolerances. For example when a person makes a connection between their chronic sinus infections and their dairy or yeast consumption, or between chronic neck pain and how they hold the phone while talking, or the realization that their constipation is due to chronic dehydration then real permanent change can occur. Listening primarily to your body, versus what you read, often means that you will be taking less supplements and will have a greater understanding and control of your own health.

In Summary

Even as write this blog I recognize that I am trying to simplify health as I am explaining that it is too complex to be broken down into a few simple guidelines. Naturopathic medicine is responsible medicine. It recognizes the complexity of health and the link between health and a person's life. Naturopathic doctors spend four-years full-time studying naturopathic medicine, after having achieved a University degree.  The accredited naturopathic programs in North America are about 4500 hours. Graduates are expected to continue to study as there is so much to know.

In order to achieve your highest level of health I encourage you to:
  • Learn to listen to your body. Welcome symptoms as a way of providing you feedback and helping you understand what is best for you.
  • Recognize that health is best achieved when all aspects of an individual are addressed - the spiritual, psychological, functional and structural
  • The more time you spend assessing and truly understanding the cause of a symptom or condition the easier it is to treat or manage.
  • Know your constitution and your personal strengths and weaknesses and ensure that your treatment approach is based on supporting your strengths and addressing your weaknesses.
  • Ensure that you work with naturopathic doctors or health professionals that you trust, that understand you and that are able to work with you as an individual.
  • Regular blood work and other labs are an important aspect of preventative medicine and healthcare management. Naturopathic doctors will often recommend labs or tests that are aimed at identifying the causes of disease, versus just the presence of disease. Food intolerance testing, heavy metal or chemical testing, mineral status, and many others can be very valuable in figuring out the true causes behind symptoms and conditions.
  • Most importantly, to achieve health really focus on understanding yourself and making decisions that are best for you.
No two individuals are the same. There is no ideal treatment for any one condition. The most important variable and consideration is you.

Naturopathic medicine is responsible medicine. It addresses all aspects of an individual and it puts a tremendous focus on individualized treatments and identifying the true causes of disease. To learn more talk to Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND or check out her books "Messages from the Body, a guide to the energetics of health" or "The Energetics of Health, a naturopathic perspective".



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Healthy Lunch Ideas

by Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, ND

With a new school year upon us, packing school lunches is back on the daily 'To Do List'.  Having a nutritious lunch ensures your child is prepared for optimal learning.  Packing a healthy lunch can be a challenge, particularly when children have food sensitivities. Here's some tips for keeping your children well nourished during the school day.

How to Pack a Healthy School Lunch

  • Ensure Proper Proportions - When packing your child's lunch, the focus should be on ensuring there is an adequate amount of protein and veggies. Generally speaking, 50% of lunch and dinner should be comprised of vegetables, 25-30% protein and 20-25% carbohydrates, including a serving of fruit.
    • Protein Options: meat (chicken, turkey, beef, etc), eggs, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, etc). Nuts and seeds have protein content, but it is best to use them sparingly, as a condiment, not as the main protein source. Some children that are intolerant to dairy are okay with sheep or goat cheese products or to lactose-free products. Check with your naturopathic doctor for more information.
    • Vegetable Options: vegetable sticks and dip are a great option. Try adding cucumbers, snap peas, green beans, broccoli, or zucchini sticks instead of the often typical carrots and celery. See below for some great tasty dips. Another great way of getting those vegetables into your children is through soups and stews.
    • Carbohydrate Options: When avoiding wheat, your other options include rice crackers and rice cakes, quinoa, coconut wraps, and gluten-free products. When choosing gluten-free products, avoid those high in starches. For more information on gluten-free check out our previous blog on Gluten-Free Have We Gone Too Far
  • Limit the Sugar - Lunches high in sugar can impair learning ability and lead to increased hyperactivity. Sugary foods often creep into lunches through juice boxes, dessert (cookies), granola bars and other foods. High sugar content foods have limited nutrient value and contribute to unwanted weight.
  • Choose Whole Foods - Whole foods are generally a better option than packaged foods. Packaged foods generally have a lot more food additives and hidden calories. 
  • Select a Variety of Foods - Providing your child with a variety of foods is important. A variety of foods helps them meet their daily requirements of vitamins and minerals, while also preventing the development of food sensitivities. While most of us are creatures of habit, daily exposures to the same foods increases the likelihood of developing a hyperactive immune response and can actually create a food sensitivity. This can aggravate existing conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, sinus congestionenvironmental allergies, and asthma. If your child doesn't like a 'new food', don't give up. Often children need to be exposed to a food multiple times before they become accustomed to it.
  • Eat According to the Season - It is important to minimize raw, cold foods and switch over to warmer, cooked foods during the fall and winter months. Investing in a thermos is a good idea. This way you can send your child to school with a Thermos full of nutrient rich soups or stews. Glass containers with lockable lids also make it easier to pack healthy lunches for kids.
Nutrient-rich food is an integral component to healthy childhood development. Multiple food sensitivities, underlying health conditions and undiagnosed food sensitivities can affect development, behaviour, and impair cognitive function. For more information on the difference between food sensitivities and food allergies visit NDHealthFacts. If you are interested in having yourself or your child tested for food sensitivities please contact our clinic or email me directly at jcoopernd@naturopathicfoundations.ca for more information.

Below are some quick ideas and recipes to help make packing a healthy school lunch easier. Another good reference for Healthy School Lunches is Eat Right Ontario.

Wheat Free Alternatives 

Coconut Wraps 

Wraps are healthy alternative to sandwiches. Increasingly more health food stores are carrying coconut wraps, but if you can't find any near you click here for online purchasing from Julian Bakery which carries a number of gluten free, yeast free, sugar free, soy free and dairy free bread. You can also make you own coconut wraps at home with this recipe (requires a dehydrator and food processor).     

Brown Rice Bread 
This recipe is from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook which has a ton of great recipes for those with various sensitivities.

1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 tsp whole cane sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
2 Tbsp. melted virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
3 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1. Combine water & sugar; add the yeas and whisk together until yeast is dissolved. Let stand 5-10 minutes, then add the sea salt, honey, oil - stir well.
2. Next add the brown rice flour, tapioca flour and xanthan gum; mix well with a wooden spoon for a few minutes. Dough should be moist and sticky.
3. Place dough into an oiled 9 x 5 inch bread pan and cover with waxed paper. Place pan in a very warm spot (85-90 degrees F) and let rise for about 60-70 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove waxed paper and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Other Lunch Ideas

Baked Honey Lime Drumsticks
A great high protein lunch that can be combined with a variety of vegetable side dishes for a nutritionally complete mid-day meal. Click here for the recipe.
 
Turkey Kebabs 
You can substitute quinoa & coconut flour for wheat bread crumbs for those who have celiac disease or a wheat sensitivity. Click here for the recipe.

Cauliflower Rice 
Combining cauliflower with rice is a great way of sneaking some extra vegetables into your child's lunch.  Click here for the recipe.

California Rollwiches
A healthy low carb, high veggie lunch idea that is great for kids. Click here for the recipe.

Check our website for more healthy soup and winter salad recipes.

Healthy Dips and Snacks

Guacamole 


This is great for dipping carrots, celery, and bell peppers. Hummus is another great dipping snack to send kids to school with. 

Combine the ingredients below: 
2 avocados
1 tomato diced  
1 garlic clove
a pinch of salt
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp chili powder 
1/4 tsp of turmeric
a pinch of paprika
handful of cilantro loosely chopped 
green Tabasco sauce to taste

Vegetable Hummus 

Blending vegetables into a dip is a great way of increasing the vitamin and mineral content of your child's snack. If you are a making dips or hummus at home, roast the vegetables first with spices for added flavour. Once cooked, a blender, food processor or magic bullet will give you the consistency you need for dipping.

Here's a few recipes to try.

Zucchini Hummus - Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Recipe


Kale Chips  
Kale is one of the great super foods. Serving it in 'chip' form is a great way of increasing the vegetable content of you child's lunch. Click here for recipe.

Restructuring diet requires planning and a little experimentation. I encourage you to capitalize on the wealth of culinary sites online for guidance. Pinterest is a phenomenal source of recipes and tips for any type of meal, including school lunches. The time you invest will certainly be well rewarded in having a child who is well nourished and ready to learn. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Movement, a Key to Health

By Dr. Anthony Moscar, ND

Running.jpgWhen we think of vitality we think of movement. Infants are the perfect example of how consistent movement throughout the day is a vital part of development, staying healthy and happy.  As the summer season winds down and people get back into a routine, it is important to make room for movement on a daily basis.

Benefits of Movement
There are numerous benefits of being active.

  • Moving ensures proper joint function and range of motion by circulating blood and delivering a consistent oxygen and nutrient supply to repair tissues such as tendons, ligaments, muscles and cartilage.   
  • Movement is an integral component of weight management and weight loss. For some body types it is the most important component.
  • Movement improves mood and sleep.  As the body moves, endorphins are released creating the natural feel-good signals for the body that promote improved mental health.  
  • Long term benefits of movement include improved cardiovascular and respiratory health (Click here to read the past blog on hypertension), improved digestion, better blood sugar control, boosting immune function and more.
  • Ongoing movement is also important to ensure adequate bone density and to decrease the risk of falling that is often associated with aging.
  • Click this link to learn more about the benefits of movement.

Continuous vs Concentrated Activity
The idea of exercise as something that you do a couple times a week is actually fairly new. There really was no need for exercise when most people worked the land or had manual jobs. But, as technology has taken over people have become much more sedentary. The general consensus over the last twenty years or so is that you can stay healthy by engaging in a set time of activity with a set frequency per week. The Canadian physical activity guidelines for adults is 20 minutes of moderately intensive aerobic activity 2 times per week and strength training exercises for major muscle groups 2 times per week.

Current research, and common-sense, has shown that being sedentary most of the time and exercising only a few times a week is not the answer to health. Continuous movement throughout the day, that means moving around every hour or so, has been shown to be more important for overall health than concentrated exercise programs. The following are some guidelines for daily movement:

  • Avoid sitting for more than one hour without some form of movement. Get up and get a glass of water, do some gentle stretching, go for a quick walk or just walk around your room or house a couple of times. 
  • If you are working on a computer, take frequent breaks to do neck exercises, shoulder rolls, stretch your fingers and move your feet.
  • If you want to maintain the full range of motion of your joints as you age, it is important to work your joints through their full range of motion at least weekly. Check out this link for 10 daily stretches to assist with flexibility. 
  • On a weekly basis spend time practicing getting up and down from the floor as this is one of the first movement activities that people often loose. If you fall your ability to get back up is very important.
  • "Use it or lose it." This saying is relevant to many aspects of health, especially movement. The ability to move as you age is strongly associated with ongoing movement throughout life.
  • Within a week engage in all forms of movement -- either as part of your daily life or as exercise. The different forms of movement include stretching, toning (such as weights) and cardiovascular exercise (or brisk walking, stairs or jogging).
  • Avoid extreme exercises, unless you are really fit and you are very familiar with exercise. As people get older they are more prone to injuries if they try and stretch beyond their ability or if they engage in weight lifting that is too strenuous for them. For example, if you don't need to do the splits in your daily life, you don't need to practice them during an exercise routine. 
  • Walking is still one of the best exercises. It is low-impact, works the body as a unit and can be done by most people. Plan to do 10 minutes of brisk walking a couple of times a day. Regular, short walks are often better than long walks after an extended time of being sedentary.
  • Your exercise routine should balance your lifestyle.  If you are really active and lifting a lot during the day you would be better off to focus on stretching as part of your exercise.  If you are sedentary most of the time it would be better to focus your exercise on cardiovascular workouts, i.e., brisk walking.

The 5 Question Self Assessment
Flexibility and ability to move without pain or discomfort is something that you should stay with you throughout your life. This quick assessment will give you an idea if your range-of-motion or strength are affecting your quality of life.


Activity
Hard & painful
moderate &  mild pain
Easy &  
pain free
Touch your chin to each shoulder while keeping your shoulders relaxed
0
1
2
Touch your hands to your shoulders and reach above your head touching your hands while elbows are straight
0
1
2
Bend at the hip and to touch your toes
0
1
2
Walk up and down stairs
0
1
2
Carry grocery bags a short distance
0
1
2

For most adults, you want a score of 10 out of 10 on this short assessment!  If you score under 10, then your activities of daily living are most likely being affected. As people age they often feel as though pain and decreased range of movement are due to aging -- this is not the case!

Protect Your Ability to Move

Having your range of motion, flexibility and strength assessed on an annual basis is an important aspect of preventive health. A loss of movement is generally due to a lack of movement, old injuries that haven't been properly addressed, postural issues, underlying inflammation or disease conditions that affect the joints, surgeries or other concerns.

If your range of motion, flexibility or strength have been deteriorating or you are experience pain then speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to learn more and see what treatments are best indicated. Learning more about posture, acupuncture, LED and laser therapy, natural anti-inflammatories and other natural treatments can often be beneficial, even for very old injuries or problems.

Movement is strongly associated with quality of life. We encourage you to protect your ability to move at all ages. If you are actively involved in sports or intense exercise I encourage you to check out our blog on Health Concerns for Active People.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Protein Powder

By Dr. Anthony Moscar, ND

Protein powders have become very popular in the last few years. Initially they were associated with muscle building and athletes. They are now being used to assist with weight loss, to increase lean muscle, as a meal replacement, for recovery after illness or surgery and as a protein source for those that not consuming enough protein or nutrients.

Benefits of Protein Powders

The occasional use of protein powders can be very effective in maintaining or achieving health. Long-term use or using protein powders more than once a day generally should be avoided.

The benefits of protein powders include:
  • Easy to digest
  • Quick and convenient drink
  • Can assist with controlling hunger
  • Helps with weight loss (short-term)

Concern with Protein Powders

Protein powders can be very helpful, but there are a number of concerns including:
  • Protein powders lack the fiber that is found in whole foods.
  • There are a number of other vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in whole foods that are often not included in protein powders.
  • Protein powders take less digestive ability and can add to the reduction in digestive function over time as they can make the digestive system lazy and can contribute to hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid).
  • Because the protein from protein powders are easy to digest it is easy to end up with excessive protein intake which can adversely affect health, especially kidney function.

Types of Protein Powders

There are many different types of protein powders, each one with its own pros and cons.

Type of Protein
Information
Pros
Cons
Whey
Most popular form of protein.
Whey Protein Isolate – easily absorbed
Whey Protein Concentrate – contains more fat and lactose.
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein – predigested, debate as to whether that is better than an isolate.
·  Quickly absorbed by the body
·  Commonly used to build lean muscle and to aid fat loss

·  Whey is the sugar found in milk and there is a high risk of intolerance to whey

Casein
Casein protein comes from udder. It is applied to liquid milk and can concentrate or isolate the milk protein from the carbs and fats.
·  Similar benefits as whey protein.
·  Digests slower than whey, hence makes you feel full longer
· Casein is a by-product of milk and there is a high risk of intolerance.
· Slowly digested so not great after a workout.
· Often contains a number of artificial ingredients.
Soy
Soy protein is one of the few plant-based proteins that offers all the essential amino acids.
·  Inexpensive
·  Associated with immune health and increased bone health.
·  May be associated with decreased cardiovascular disease risk.
· Hormonal effects
· Food intolerances to soy protein are very common.
Rice
Vegetarian protein source.
·  Good source of complex carbohydrates, Vitamin B and fiber.
·  Low risk of allergies or intolerances.
·  Easily digested.
· Lower protein levels.
· Deficient in some amino acids.
Hemp
Derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant.
·  Complete protein source with added mix of essential fatty acids and fiber.
·  Associated with improved metabolism, brain function, and circulation.
·  Low risk of food intolerances.
·  Low risk of food intolerances.
· Expensive protein source.
Pumpkin
Derived from pumpkin seeds. The high amount of tryptophan found in pumpkin protein converts to serotonin, which gets converted into melatonin promoting a restful sleep.
·  Good source of protein.
·  Low risk of food intolerances.
·  Great source of tryptophan and Vitamin K
· Should not be the only protein source in a diet.
Pea
Often derived from yellow split peas.
·  Popular choice for vegans and vegetarians.
·  Low risk of food intolerances.
·  Easily digested.
·  Associated with increased weight loss.
·  Should not be used as the primary source of dietary protein.

Choosing the Right Protein Powder

  • Ensure that you avoid protein powders where you are intolerant or allergic to the base protein. If you are not sure what proteins you are intolerant to, talk to your naturopathic doctor about getting a food intolerance test done.
  • Avoid artificial flavors, xantham gum, soybean and other oils, artificial sweeteners, sugar (anything that ends with "dextrose" on the end is a sugar), carrageenans and other artificial ingredients.
Work with your naturopathic doctor to determine what protein powder is best for you.