Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are you eating enough fiber?

High fiber diets are associated with some tremendous health benefits. Fiber reduces the risk of the two most common causes of death: heart disease and cancer. Dietary fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels, aids in the elimination of toxins from the body, reduces risk of colon cancer and several hormonal cancers and can improve conditions associated with hormonal excess such as fibroids or endometriosis.

Check the fiber content of the foods in your diet to determine if you're obtaining an adequate amount. We should aim for at least 40g of fiber each day.

Here is the fiber content of some common foods:

10 g of fiber:
     1/2 cup oat or wheat bran
     2 1/2 tbsp psyllium
     1 cup split peas
     1 1/4 cup lentils
     1/4 cup navy beans

5g of fiber
     2 tbsp ground flaxseed
     1 tbsp chia seeds
     1/4 cup nuts
     1/2 cup prunes

2g of fiber:
     1 serving of a fruit or vegetable
     1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
     1/2 cup cooked brown rice
To increase the fiber content of your diet, start slow and beware of fibers that you may not tolerate well such as wheat or psyllium. Consider having oat bran for breakfast, baking some high fiber muffins, adding flax to your smoothies, salads or sauces, eating more beans and lentils and of course, increasing your veggie intake.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Does Your Sunscreen Measure Up?

Recently, the Environmental Working Group released the 2010 Sunscreen Guide. This is an excellent resource in helping you to choose a safe and effective sunscreen for you and your family.
EWG has evaluated hundreds of sunscreens based on the protection they provide from the sun and the toxic chemicals they contain. The top-rated sunscreens provide broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunburn protection with fewer hazardous chemicals that penetrate the skin. These sunscreens are mineral based with zinc or titanium as the active component.

Broad spectrum protection is important because while all sunscreens provide protection from UVB rays not all sunscreens protect from UVA rays. In the past, it was thought that only UVB rays caused sunburn and skin damage however scientists have now realized that UVA rays are also harmful and the need for a full spectrum sunscreen has emerged.
A non-toxic sunscreen is also important to look for since sunscreen will penetrate the skin and be absorbed into the body. Many sunscreens contain the notorious hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC. Oxybenzone has also been know to trigger allergic reactions.

For more information, check out the EWGs 2010 Sunscreen Guide here
To purchase a top-rated sunscreen, try Shop Eco, your local health food store or the organic section at the grocery store.

Janice Davie
Naturopathic Doctor

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Castor Oil - Topical Uses

Castor Oil is one of my favourite things. Its like my Naturopathic duct tape - fixes everything...well, almost.

Castor oil has many beneficial properties when used topically. Castor Oil is anti-inflammatory, it improves movement of the lymphatic system, supports detoxification by the liver and stimulates white blood cell production.

Castor oil can be used on the skin to reduce swelling from any cause and can decrease the redness of eczema, rashes and acne. It can also be used over stiff and sore joints to reduce inflammation, decrease pain and improve mobility.

Traditionally, Naturopathic Doctors recommend castor oil packs to be done over the abdomen.  In addition to the above benefits, this can also soothe an irritated digestive system, reduce menstrual cramping and support liver function.

To do a castor oil pack.:
1. Take a piece of flannel (or cotton) cloth that measures approximately the size of the abdomen.
2. Soak it in castor oil. The cloth should be saturated but not dripping with oil.
3. Place the cloth over the skin, covering the entire abdomen.
4. Placing a hot water bottle or heating pad over the cloth will aid the absorption of oil into the skin.
5. Relax with the cloth in place for 30-45 min.
6. Remove the cloth and place in a storage container for re-use. The skin should feel moisturized and not oily or greasy.
7. Do castor oil packs daily for maximum benefit. Add castor oil to cloth every couple of days, or as needed.

Castor oil is a potent laxative and should only be taken orally as directed by a physcian.
Check with your Naturopathic Doctor if you are pregnant or have been diagnosed with abdominal cancer. In these instances, heat should not be used.