Month: December 2014

Top 3 Healthiest Foods

Top 3 Healthiest Foods

  1. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts – proven anti-cancer benefits, rich in minerals like calcium, rich in indole-3-carbinol for liver detoxification and high in fiber
  2. Wild blueberries – anti-cancer, full of bioflavonoids, polyphenols, anti-oxidants, good fiber, beneficial for vision
  3. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, collard and beet greens  – good for calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, folic acid, B vitamins, beta carotene, good for blood pressure, heart disease, anti-cancer.

This list is of course debatable, there are always new “superfoods” being touted, but these are the ones that have stood the test of time while fads like acai, mangosteen etc came and went.

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Top 3 Health Maintenance Habits

  1. January, Spring and/or Fall GI Cleanse.  What’s this and why is it important? Cleaning out and repopulating the intestines with healthy bacteria helps to improve function of the immune system and keeps unwanted micro-organisms from overgrowing.  Avoid kits that contain fiber supplements and laxative herbs, they don’t do much and laxative herbs can be harmful.
  2. January, Spring and/or Fall Liver Detox. What’s this and why is it important? All of the toxins, chemicals, pollution, excess hormones and body waste goes to the liver to be processed into recognizable waste before your body will excrete it.  If your liver is lacking something it needs to do that, toxins will accumulate and cause harm.  The liver needs amino acids like cysteine, antioxidants like glutathione, B vitamins like B6, B12 and active folic acid (L-5-MTHF) and substances like calcium-d-glucarate and indole-3-carbinol to be able to do this, most liver detox products don’t contain these.
  3. Ongoing Adrenal Gland Maintenance. What’s this and why is it important?  Many people take a multivitamin, which is great that they are trying to be proactive about maintaining good health.  However, I think most of what is in a multivitamin, most of us can obtain through a healthy diet.  The vitamins and minerals that I believe we really NEED to supplement are those required by the adrenal glands.  They are major regulators of blood pressure, blood sugar, stress management, anti-inflammatories, energy, drive and motivation, libido and hormone balance.  If their nutrients get depleted many systems aren’t working optimally.  They need lots of vitamin C, B5, B6, magnesium, potassium and zinc.  Vitamin B6 and magnesium are used as co-factors in 300 different enzyme reactions in the body, depletion of either means those reactions aren’t happening.  Even those with a healthy diet cannot consume adequate amounts of these vitamins through diet alone in my opinion.

Top 3 Daily Health Habits

  1. 8 glasses of water every day. How to make it happen: Buy large water glasses that hold at least 2 cups of water and drink 2 large glasses of water first thing each morning, then empty your large glass 2 more times during the day and once more in the evening.
  2. Exercise.  How to make it happen: Get up half an hour early each morning to walk, run, swim, bike or do yoga before work, bike or walk commute to work, park or get off the bus 10-15 minutes walk from work and walk the rest, take two 15 minute walk breaks during the day and go for a 10 minute walk or jog in the evening after dinner.
  3. 10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.  How to make it happen: Have a serving of berries at breakfast, an organic apple mid morning, a large colourful salad at lunch, half of a grapefruit in the afternoon and large portions of a cooked vegetable and salad at dinner.

A Rant on Cleanses

It’s a pet peeve of mine that there are so many poor quality products at most health food stores.  Poor quality products mean that health conscious people who are trying to take a more proactive approach to maintaining their health get separated from their money for little or no benefit and people who may be just venturing into natural medicine may conclude that it doesn’t work on the basis of a negative experience with these sham products.  High on my list of fairly worthless products are “cleanse” kits. Most of them contain some combination of laxative herbs, fiber supplements, liver herbs like dandelion and milk thistle and maybe probiotics.  That all sounds good right?  However, I never recommend laxative herbs, they can be irritating to the digestive tract and over long term use have been shown to cause cellular changes that may not be healthy.  Fiber supplements should not be necessary for anyone who is eating adequate fruit and vegetables in their diet.  Dandelion and milk thistle are great herbs, however the dosages in most of these products are too low to accomplish anything and tincture is generally the best format for herbs.  Good quality probiotics are not shelf stable, they must be kept refrigerated, if the probiotic you are using is not kept in the fridge, switch to one that is.

These products also tend to have “proprietary” blends of many herbs.  What this means is that they don’t disclose how much of any particular herb is in it, which makes determining the effectiveness of the dose you would receive impossible.  One particular one contains a mixture of 15 different herbs that total up to 750 mg per day, assuming that all 15 herbs were present in equal amounts it means the daily dose of each herb would be 50 mg, which is nothing.  By comparison, the MediHerb product that would be comparable contains 7 000 mg of milk thistle and 400 mg of dandelion, per tablet.

At best these products will make you poop more for a month, you can accomplish the same thing by taking Ex Lax, not that I would recommend that either. That is not helping to rid the digestive tract of unwanted organisms and restoring healthy bowel flora which is what I mean when I refer to a cleanse of the digestive tract.

Spring, fall and January are the usual gastrointestinal cleanse times, which we usually follow with a liver detox.  It’s always best to schedule an appointment so we can discuss what would actually work to restore bowel health and detoxify the liver.  Information changes all the time!

The Health Benefits of Ginger(bread)

Every year I think I should get ambitious and make a gingerbread house from scratch – it still hasn’t happened. I thought a little information about the health benefits of ginger might motivate you and me to include more in our diets through other means like stir-fries and curry.

Here’s the scoop, ginger helps:

  • Prevent and soothe ulcers
  • Morning sickness and for motion sickness
  • Lower cholesterol and platelet clumping
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Prevent cancer

Sources:

Carcinogenesis. 2014 Jun;35(6):1320-9. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgu011. Epub 2014 Jan 15.
Enterohepatic recirculation of bioactive ginger phytochemicals is associated with enhanced tumor growth-inhibitory activity of ginger extract.
Gundala SR1, Mukkavilli R2, Yang C1, Yadav P3, Tandon V3, Vangala S2, Prakash S4, Aneja R5.

Food Funct. 2013 Jun;4(6):845-55. doi: 10.1039/c3fo30337c. Epub 2013 Apr 24.
A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe).
Haniadka R1, Saldanha E, Sunita V, Palatty PL, Fayad R, Baliga MS.