Sunday, October 2, 2022

What's New in Consumer Natural Health Products?

 By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Every year the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) holds a large conference and tradeshow providing manufacturers and distributors the opportunity to highlight their products.  It is one of the main venues for health care practitioners and owners of grocery stores and health food stores to stay up-to-date on new product offerings and changes in the industry.  

Here is an update on the new products that you may find in your local health food store or grocery store.  Most of the new offerings are focused on improving health and decrease the environmental impact, a few changes are concerning.

Decrease in Packaging of Personal Care Products and Cleaning Products

Over the next little while you will find more personal care products with a focus on decreasing the amount the packaging that is used and a move to recyclable packaging.  With this in mind, many manufacturers are finding new and improved ways to offer their products. For example, I encourage you to try:

  • shampoo that comes a bar (similar to a bar of soap)
  • laundry sheets versus laundry soap
  • paper towels that are machine washable
  • makeup pads that are machine washable
  • beeswax sheets for wrapping up food versus plastic-based wraps

New Milk Offerings

There are a number of new milks (or mylks) that will soon be available on the market.  Look for milks such as flax seed milk, wider range of nut-based milks and pea-based milks to join the non-dairy offers such as almond, soya, oat, rice, coconut and others. This will be helpful for those that need to avoid dairy. When choosing non-dairy milk options please keep in mind:
  • It is important to have at least three milks that you alternate.  Food intolerances are influenced by genetics and how often you consume a product.  Many people are becoming intolerance to foods such as oats and almonds as they are consuming them too often.
  • When choosing non-dairy milks, choose those that have as few ingredients as possible as many people react to the fillers and emulsifiers that are used.

Dairy-free Cheese Offerings

If you are looking for dairy-free cheeses the main offering has been cashew-based soft cheeses and sauces - many which taste great.  There are a number of new plant-based offerings that will be coming to market.  Stay tuned.

New Wheat/Gluten-Free Offerings

The world of wheat-free and gluten-free products has come a long way over the last 10 years. There are a number of not only healthy, but great-tasting wheat/gluten-free options especially as it relates to pasta-based products and crackers.  There are also more wheat/gluten-free bread and wrap options available. When choosing wheat/gluten-free offerings please keep in mind:
  • Choose products with whole grains (millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, teff, etc) and avoid a lot of starches (corn-starch, potato-starch, etc.)
  • There are a lot of non-wheat/grain wraps made from coconut and/or vegetables. Great options for those avoiding wheat/gluten.
  • I encourage you to try legume-based pastas, such as green-lentil pasta, as they have a much higher protein level that wheat-based products. 

Less Sugar in Processed Foods, especially Protein Bars

It was great to see that many of the manufacturers are focused on decreasing not only the amount of sugar, but the types of sugar in their products. Expect to see less artificial sweeteners and more products made with honey, stevia, monk fruit sugar and other healthy sugar alternatives.  Although I am not a big fan of protein bars, they are getting healthier.  Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • If you want to learn more about sugar: 
  • The aim is to decrease sugar in the diet as much as possible. Some sugars, such as fruit-based sugars and honey, do have health benefits, but it is still important to limit the amount that you consume. A general rule of thumb is to have one serving of fruit for every four servings of vegetables. 
  • When choosing protein bars remember that the grams of protein and the fat should be higher than the amount of sugar and the amount of sugar is best to be less than 10 grams. 
  • Expect to see more protein or health-based bars for kids, especially for breakfast.  This can be beneficial as long as the focus is whole foods and the protein and fat is adequate. 

Plant-based Meats

For many reasons, both health and environment, there is a focus on plant-based meats. Expect to find legume and grain-based options to take the place of chicken, steak, ribs and other meats including cold-cuts.  I encourage you to take the opportunity to try out these options and decide for yourself.

"Health Shots"

Expect to see a number of small-serving drinks being offered at your local health-food store or grocery store. They now have health-shots that promote everything from immune-boosting, energy or focus-enhancing, workout recovery, detoxing, weight-loss, digestive aids, sleep and relaxing, etc.  There are a number of things to keep in mind if you choose to use "health" shots:
  • They are often marketed as a food, yet it is best to consider them as a supplement and as such to recognize that they may contain ingredients that may not be ideal for your health.  For example, it is not always safe for people to detox. 
  • Health shots generally promise a "quick fix" which is not always the best way to approach your health.  The naturopathic approach emphasizes the importance of identifying and treating the root cause of your symptoms or concerns.
  • I encourage you to let you naturopathic doctor or health professional know what "health shots" you are consuming to ensure that they are beneficial for you.  I am not against "health shots", I am just concerned that they are marketed as foods and hence consumers need to be careful with how they use them.

Carbonated Drinks

The biggest concern that the CHFA this year was the tremendous increase in carbonated drinks.  Quite concerning actually.  I encourage you to check out my "Notes from the Field - May 2022" for a better understanding as to why this may not be a good thing for health. I personally hope the focus on carbonated drinks is a very short-lived fad. If you choose to enjoy carbonated drinks, I encourage you to do the following:

  • Limit them to meal time and only when have a larger meal.
  • Don't consumer carbonated drinks in place of water.  The body needs still water in order to perform the numerous functions that it needs to do in the body.
  • If you have been consuming a high amount (more than twice a day) of carbonated drinks for awhile than I encourage you to have blood work done to see if there are any changes in key metabolic markers.
A lot of new offerings.  I do encourage you to stay informed.  If you have any questions as to the health benefits of any of these offerings for you or your family, ask you naturopathic doctor.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Notes from the Field - May 2022

 by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Although there is tremendous variability in people and how their body "talks to them", there are times in practice when specific symptoms or conditions seem to be more prevalent.  Part of this is a reflection of the season or the focus of media, but sometimes it is a reflection of a change in the environment or other external factors that are at play.

Here is a snapshot of a few of the common symptoms and health issues over the last few months:

Vertigo and Dizziness

More patients have complained of vertigo and dizziness in the last few months than in the last twenty-years of practice. That to me is both interesting and concerning.  When someone presents with vertigo or dizziness the general factors to consider are:

When a number of people end up with vertigo and dizziness at the same time we would also consider other factors such as:
Generally vertigo lasts for a couple of days. If it comes on suddenly, is extreme or is lasting longer than a few days, it would be beneficial to have a naturopathic doctor or medical doctor do a more thorough assessment.

Carbonated Water

There has been an increase focus in carbonated water and drinks. Soda-stream, non-alcoholic beer, and other carbonated drinks are a new fad. Drinking carbonated water can have some benefit when consumed with a meal, especially a larger or heavy meal, but, drinking carbonated water frequently and throughout the day is not a good idea. Here are some pros and cons of carbonated water:


  • increased sense of feeling full
  • may decrease overall appetite
  • because carbonated drinks are acidic they don't decrease the acidity of the stomach acid as much as plain water and may be more beneficial when consumed during a meal, especially for those individuals with low stomach acid 
  • carbonated drinks are acidic and when consumed frequently can disrupt the acid-alkaline balance of the body
  • there is a concern that carbonated drinks, especially those that have added flavoring, may cause dental erosion
  • frequent consumption of carbonated water can actually add to dehydration 
  • carbonated drinks are high in phosphates which are known to decrease overall bone density as they leach calcium from the bones - especially when consumed often by children and younger adults
  • the increased consumption may contribute to other changes in blood markers - such as high ferritin levels.
Bottom line - carbonated water is fine if consumed infrequently and with a meal. Carbonated water is NOT a replacement for water.  

Vitamin D

We have gone from a point-in-time when the focus and concern was that most people were deficient in Vitamin D, to one where the concern is that people have taken so much vitamin D- sometimes 5,000 to 10,000 iu for an extended period of time - that they now have high levels or toxic levels of vitamin D.  Here is a quick look at the benefits and cautions of Vitamin D.

Benefits of Vitamin D

Some of the symptoms and conditions associated with Vitamin D deficiency include:
  • Rickets
  • Osteomalacia
  • GERD
  • Hypertension
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Cancer

Concerns with Excess Vitamin D

Excess intake over an extended period of time can contribute to:
  • headaches
  • kidney stones
  • atherosclerosis
  • diarrhea
  • increased thirst and urination
  • irritability
  • and others.

Yes, Vitamin D is important, but if you have been taking high doses of Vitamin D for more than three months, I encourage you to have your Vitamin D level checked by your naturopathic doctor or medical doctor.

Nutrient Deficiencies Due To Special Diets

At no point in time has there been such a concern with nutrient deficiencies due to special diets. Too often, there is a lack of understanding that all food groups are essential. The body needs good fats, adequate protein, lots of vegetables, fruit and grains.  A number of health issues arise when diets are deficient in grains, or when vegetables are lacking in the diet or when there isn't adequate fat or protein. Here are some resources that help explain why a balanced diet is essential:

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Are You Focusing on What You Want to Achieve?

 by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

It is always a good idea to check in every now and then to determine if your focus and actions are aligned with goals and desires. Many people desire to be healthy, for example, but they actually spend very little time on activities that support health.  

One thing is true, everyone has the same amount of time - 24-hours in a day, 7-days in a week. Being able to see the connection between what you do and where you are in life is a worthwhile exercise and can help you live more consciously.

Step 1: List of Roles and Activities

The first thing to do is make a list of all the things that you do and the roles that you have in life. Most people are surprised at the number of activities and roles that they do on a daily or weekly basis.  Some examples are:

  • mother or father
  • sister or brother
  • aunt, uncle or cousin
  • friend
  • student or co-worker
  • volunteer
  • community work
  • etc. etc.


  • self-care
  • exercising
  • food preparation and eating
  • working
  • sleeping
  • mindfulness and meditation
  • social media
  • web searching or watching television / movies
  • spending time in nature
  • healthcare
  • reading
  • hobby or project
  • spending or saving money
  • etc. etc.

Step 2: Current Satisfaction Level

The 2nd step is to take some time and assess how satisfied you are with your life. How much joy and happiness do you experience.  Are you healthy and fit?  How are you handling the ups and downs of life?  What are your goals and your plans?  Do you have health concerns that you need to address?  Where are you financially?  How is the external stress of life affecting you?  Are there external factors that may impact your life and are you ready for them?

Spending time to reflect is an important aspect of life.  As we all know, there are aspects of life that are not within our control and it is important to reflect on how they have impacted us and in what ways have they affected our life and our choices. If your aim is to live life more consciously, than it is important to spend time reflecting on what you do and whether it matches with who you want to be.  Living consciously also helps to adjust and accommodate the stressors of life that cross our path.

Step 3: Mapping of Activities and Goals

Once you have an idea of what aspects of your life are working for you and which aren't, the third step is to look at how much time you are spending in each aspect and to determine what needs to change.  The aim is to decide what activities you need to increase and which ones you need to decrease. For some activities, it may be about changing how you are doing them. For example, you might find that you still want to make exercise an important aspect of your life, but you are going to spend more time exercising outside and focusing on cardiovascular versus doing weight training in a gym.  

We change and our life changes when we make conscious choices to do something differently.  It can help to:
  • Keep in mind that you only have 24 hours in a day; 7 days in a week.
  • Recognize that if you are overwhelmed then you likely have too many things on your plate and it would be helpful to look at those activities you can decrease or remove.
  • Whatever you focus on increases in intensity and importance. Living consciously is about being more aware of your choices and choosing more intentionally.

Step 4: Make Strategic Changes

Once you have decided what needs to change, start making the changes one at a time.  Generally, it is not about changing everything at once.  It is about starting slowly and moving forward in the direction you want. It is always helpful to check in on a weekly or monthly basis with your plans to ensure that you stay on track. If you struggle with staying true to your goals, it may help to work with someone else - a naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer, etc. - to support the specific changes that you desire.

Other blogs that you may find helpful: