Saturday, February 27, 2010


Water is absolutely essential for good health.

The body is made up of approximately 60% water which is in need of constant replenishment. Every system of the body is dependent upon water and without an adequate intake, the body is placed under additional stress in order to conserve. This additional stress and conservation means that a compromise has to be made in the functioning of all cells and tissues.

If you are aware that all cells of the body are sitting in a bath of water, you may start to think of how you might like this water to look. Cells can communicate and function more clearly in fresh, clean water rather than stale, stagnant water.

Water is a first line intervention for the improvement of many symptoms including: skin health, fatigue, headaches, prevention and treatment of colds and flus, constipation, gout and kidney stones.

To improve your overall health, ensure you are drinking an adequate amount of water each day.

How much water should you be drinking?

A simple test to determine if you are drinking enough water is to look at the colour of your urine. Your urine should be clear, rather than yellow. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are.

Here is an easy calculation to determine your daily water intake:

Take your body weight in pounds and divide by 2. Drink this many ounces each day. For example, if your weight is 150lbs you should be drinking 75oz of water each day.

For conversion:

32oz = 1L

8oz = 250ml = one tall glass of water

Your need for water will increase if you are exercising, sweating, drinking coffee or tea, breastfeeding, living in hot or humid weather, or dehydrated from illness.

To give yourself an idea of how your symptoms might improve by increasing your water intake, try a 3 day challenge and drink the amount of water you've determined from the above calculation based on your body weight.

It is best to measure out the amount of water you need to drink each day and find a re-usable stainless steel bottle to help you keep tract of your water intake.

Look for reverse osmosis water and avoid the use of plastic water bottles.

Improving Bowel Regularity

How is your digestive system functioning?

Regular bowel movements are an important aspect of achieving optimal health. Proper elimination can prevent constipation, high cholesterol, hormonal imbalances, all forms of cancer, ill health effects of environmental toxins, digestive disturbance, skin conditions, fatigue and many other general symptoms of ill health. With improved regularity, you may notice an improvement in your overall sense of well being.

Here are a few things you should notice about your digestion:

1. You should be having at the very least, one bowel movement each day. Two to three bowel movements per day is more ideal.

2. They should always be easy to pass. Straining or pushing can cause painful conditions such as hemorrhoids or fissures.

3. Bowel movements should be soft but formed. Like toothpaste comes out of the tube - soft but with shape.

4. The colour should be some variation of brown. The colour will change depending on what your diet consists of (eg. red if you've eaten beets, dark if you've had blueberries, greenish if you've had lots of green leafy vegetables)

5. There should not be any undigested food in the stool. Ocassionally you may see corn, skins of peppers, or small seeds. Often these are the foods we have not chewed properly in the first place. You should never see food in the toilet bowl as it was on your plate.

6. Your bowel movements should neither float on the surface, nor sink to the bottom of the bowl and disappear. Floating stool, or stool with a greasy appearance could indicate impaired fat metabolism. Stool that sinks and disappears indicates that you are not consuming enough fibre.

7. You should not see any blood or mucous. A small amount of bright red blood indicates an issue such as hemorrhoids or fissures. Mucous indicates an inflammatory process in the digestive tract that needs to be addressed.

If from the above comments, you learn that your digestion is not optimal, try the following six suggestions to improve regularity:

1. Drink more water.

2. Eat more fibre. No need to supplement, you can add more fruits and vegetables, ground flax, ground psyllium, oat bran, and beans to your diet.

3. Exercise. Some form of movement each day will stimulate the bowels to move as well.

4. Drink lemon water each morning: squeeze about a 1/4 to 1/2 lemon into a glass of water and drink this each morning on an empty stomach. This wakes up the digestive tract.

5. Toilet training. Yes, for adults. With our busy lifestyles, it may be the case that you just aren't taking the time each day to go to the bathroom. If you are not having regular bowel movements, choose a time of the day to spend 10 minutes sitting on the toilet. Don't force yourself to go, just sit there and let the mind get used to the idea that you have the time to go.

6. Try squatting. This is the more natural position for elimination (think about how you would go if you didn't have access to a modern toilet). With the thighs putting a little pressure on the abdomen, the bowels become stimulated.

If you have incorporated the above suggestions and seem to still have trouble, see your Naturopathic Doctor for support. There may be other factors affecting your digestive system that need to be explored or, you may wish to try acupuncture for improved digestive function.

Friday, February 26, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup is NOT your friend

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener found in many processed foods and has been linked to such diseases as obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and diabetic complications, fatty liver disease, and over-production of triglycerides by the liver.

It is commonly labeled as glucose-fructose and is found in soft drinks, cereals, ketchup, miracle whip, pop tarts, nutri-grain bars, cookies, crackers, cough syrups, BBQ sauce, juices and many, many other packaged foods. You should also beware of labels that read dextrose, maltodextrose, caramel flavouring, vegetable gum, sorbitol, corn sugar, corn sweetener, modified starch, dextrate and of course, corn syrup.

The criticism of high-fructose corn syrup is that it is converted to an unnatural form by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose however, the disproportionate amounts of each sugar has been suggested to create an unstable molecule in the body which may lead to tissue damage and result in disease.

Corn syrup is preferred by the food industry because of its availability, low cost, convenience and ability to extend shelf life.

Supporters of the corn industry suggest that high fructose corn syrup is not specifically to blame and the link to disease is a result of the over-consumption of processed foods and soft drinks. It is likely that if sucrose replaced high fructose corn syrup in the above foods, the same associations with disease could be made.

For this reason, all forms of sugar should be eaten in moderation.

However, there exists another very concerning reason to specifically avoid high fructose corn syrup: The Case of the Missing Mercury.

The production of high fructose corn syrup uses chlorine and caustic soda, which are produced in chlor-alkali plants using mercury cells. There exists 5 of these plants in Canada and 8 in the US. In 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that on average, approximately seven tons of mercury were missing from each US plant in the year 2000. These chlor-alkali plants have an average of fifty-six cells, each containing as much as 8,000 pounds of mercury and, every year the chlor-alkali industry reports unaccounted mercury losses to the EPA.

An investigation was undertaken to find the missing tons of mercury and of twenty samples of high fructose corn syrup, mercury was detected in nine. Of the eleven samples in which mercury was not detected, nine were from the same plant.

In a second study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), 55 brand name foods were analyzed and mercury was detected in 1 out of 3 of the sampled foods, most commonly in high fructose corn syrup-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments.

Its difficult to trace foods back to the manufacturing plant and until all plants have phased out mercury cell technology (expected by 2012) it is important to limit the consumption of high fructose corn syrup containing foods to avoid unnecessary intake of mercury.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Importance of the Lymphatic System

The Lymphatic System is an additional circulatory system found throughout the entire body. It is composed of vessels, lymph nodes, lymphatic tissue, and several organs: the spleen, thymus and bone marrow.

The lymphatic system plays a very important part in our immune system function as well generalized detoxification of the body.

The cells of our immune system are produced by the lymphatic organs, are stored in the lymphatic tissue and are circulated throughout the body in lymph fluid. By improving the circulation of the lymphatic system, we can improve the function and circulation of our immune system. This is beneficial in warding off your everyday infections, colds and flus but also extremely important for the prevention of ALL cancers.

Improving circulation of the lymphatic system also supports the body's capacity to detoxify. By-products of our metabolism, toxins, and other wastes accumulate in the fluid surrounding our cells and tissues and the lymphatic system is responsible for mobilizing such waste products for elimination. Impaired movement of the lymphatic system can result in accumulation of these toxins and waste products and over time, can result in disease.

Stimulating lymphatic movement will improve immune system function and the body's ability to detoxify. This is a very important component of health promotion and disease prevention.

Five Fantastic Ways to Increase Lymphatic Circulation

1. Exercise
2. Contrast Showers
3. Dry Skin Brushing
4. Rebounding
5. Deep Breathing

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Make the switch to Sea Salt

Should I switch to Sea Salt?

YES. The main difference between sea salt and regular table salt is in their mineral compositions. Sea salt, in its pure form, contains traces of other minerals including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine compared to table salt which is refined to contain only two minerals – sodium and chloride. Iodine is often put back into table salt.

This is the reason that sea salt, an unrefined salt, has a characteristic color – grey, beige, pink, red, even black – but never stark white. Different mineral make-ups give different color spectrums, but the pristine white of table salt (showing its purity), should set off alarm bells that this is not fit for consumption.

The purity of table salt is exactly its problem. With unrefined salts you are consuming a number of different minerals in a particular ratio, a ratio that more closely resembles the mineral makeup of human blood. With table salt you are getting an unbalanced ratio of just sodium and chloride.

DO NOT be fooled by grocery store “sea salt", because while it does come from the sea, this coarser salt has still been refined of all its mineral content as you can tell by its bright white color. Unrefined sea salt can usually only be found in the organic section of grocery stores, gourmet specialty food emporiums or health food stores.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coffee and Cholesterol

Does coffee increase your cholesterol?

Yes and No. Here's why...

Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, has been found to be the culprit that elevates cholesterol. Researchers have found that cafestol is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent presently known.

Researchers have found that Cafetiere, or French press coffee, boiled Scandinavian brew and espresso contain the highest levels of the cafestol. However, when brewed with a paper filter, all the coffee oils, including cafestol, are filtered out. (NOTE: Removing caffeine does not remove cafestol).

If you are a coffee lover, be sure to use paper filters when brewing your favorite coffee.

NOTE: Starbucks does NOT use coffee filters, but Tim Horton’s and Second Cup does.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Omega 3 Supplements

What Should I Look For In A Fish Oil Supplement?

Not all supplements are created equal, and Omega 3s are one very good example of getting what you pay for.

Most of us have heard of the benefits of Omega 3s and Fish Oils but with so many choices out on the market, it is difficult to determine which supplement is best. It is especially important to ensure quality when it comes to omega 3 supplements. You will need to read labels and compare products.

Two common sources of Omega 3s are fish and flax. They are not equally beneficial however. While fish oil is a readily available source of omega 3s, flax oil must be converted to omega 3 in the body. Depending on the availability of other nutritional factors required for conversion, the body is only able to convert an estimated 10% of the oil in flax to the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. For this reason, I recommend fish oil supplements over flax oil for therapeutic benefit.

You also want to be looking for a supplement that contains only omega 3. Don’t worry about Omega 6 and 9. We obtain enough omega 6s from our diet, and omega 9 can be found in olive oil. The issue is the imbalance of omega 3 to 6 in the body thus, we need to supplement with omega 3 for a more balanced ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6.

Here are a few considerations when choosing a fish oil supplement:

• The source of fish oil should be listed: sardines, anchovies and mackerel are the most sustainable sources.
• The total amount of EPA and DHA should be listed. If it just says “fish oil” it is not a quality product.
• Look for a highly concentrated fish oil: check the total amount of oil per capsule and then add up the amount of EPA and DHA per capsule. The EPA and DHA combined should make up at least 70% of the total. The higher the percentage, the more concentrated it is. The lower the percentage, the more “other” oils are present. A more concentrated product usually means taking fewer capsules, or less liquid.
• Your fish oil should be guaranteed to be 100% pure. Third party testing should ensure that the fish oil is free of heavy metals, PCB’s, pesticides, volatile organics and other impurities. Just because a company "tests" for contaminants does not mean that they effectively remove them.

Consult with your Naturopathic Doctor to determine an appropriate dosage of omega 3s and whether or not you require a supplement predominant in EPA or DHA.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Do I have to eat breakfast?

Yes. A healthy diet includes breakfast every morning.

If you do not currently eat breakfast, make an effort to start. If you think you're too busy in the morning, prepare as much as you can the night before. If you can't stomach anything first thing, take your breakfast to go and eat once you get into work or school.
People who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:
• Consume more vitamins and minerals and less fat and cholesterol
• Have better concentration and productivity throughout the morning
• Control their weight
• Have lower cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease
Skipping breakfast often means eating more calories later in the day. One study reported that missing breakfast was associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of obesity. (Harvard Men's Health Watch)
After a long period of not eating (overnight) our blood sugar begins to drop. Low blood sugar will stimulate the body to crave sweets and other unhealthy foods. Often we will end up snacking our way through the morning or find ourselves tempted to overeat or make unhealthy choices at lunch in order to satisfy our hunger.
In general – think protein and fiber for breakfast.
Both protein and fiber in the morning will help to slow digestion as well as the absorption of sugars (carbohydrates). This means that you will be full for longer and energy will remain consistent throughout the morning – eliminating the need for an extra coffee and preventing that ravishing hunger at lunch time.

Diets high in fiber are also known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even intestinal polyps and colon cancer.

About Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct system of primary health care that addresses the root cause of disease and promotes health and healing using natural therapies.

Naturopathic Medicine supports the body's own healing ability using an integrated approach to disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Natural therapies include: Traditional Asian Medicine and Acupuncture, Botanical Medicine, Physical Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, Homeopathic Medicine and Lifestyle Counseling.

Naturopathic doctors are licensed and regulated health care practitioners with a minimum of seven years post secondary education. They work in partnership with other regulated health care providers to ensure that patients receive the most comprehensive and effective care possible.

Naturopathic Medicine is often covered by extended health insurance.


Thank-you for visiting!

With this blog, I hope to share some general thoughts, information, ideas, research and recipes that support the principles of Naturopathic Medicine in order to provide some inspiration on how you might better your own health!

I think there are many simple ways in which we can support our body in achieving and maintaining good health. If we are able to adopt some of these healthy habits we can not only improve our present state of health but we can promote good health for our future. The ultimate goal here is prevention!