Month: October 2015

HIgh Fructose Corn Syrup, Obesity & Heart Disease

word cloud showing junk food and high fructose corn syrup

Weight Gain & Heart Disease Courtesy of Big Food

Most processed food, like cereal, is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). When HFCS was first introduced about 30 years ago, we consumed about 1 pound per person per year. Today we take in almost 60 times that amount in drinks, hamburgers and chicken, cookies and cakes, breads and crackers, yogurt and granola bars, pizza and fast foods.

When we digest glucose, our body increases a hormone controlling appetite and fat storage called leptin, and decreases the hormone causing hunger pangs known as ghrelin. But with HFCS the opposite happens so we are left feeling not quite satisfied and hungry soon after eating. The University of Minnesota also found a diet high in fructose elevates triglyceride levels, long associated with obesity and heart disease.

If you recall the movie Supersize Me, the actor consumed nothing but fast food for 1 month and was tested medically before and after. Afterward he’d gained considerable weight, his triglycerides were high and there were signs of liver damage. The movie speculated that it was the grease from the fast food causing these, but it turns out it was the high fructose corn syrup in all the Supersized soft drinks that was the culprit.

Just say no to Supersizeing, or any size serving when it comes to high fructose corn syrup. Here’s one other word of caution, manufacturers are aware that consumers are trying to avoid HFCS and as a result, are now just labeling it as “fructose” in the ingredients, even going so far as to claim that the product contains NO high fructose corn syrup, when in fact it does.  Keeping processed foods to a minimum, or having none at all, is your best bet.

Get your fructose from a piece of actual fruit.

Want more diet advice? Our naturopaths are diet experts.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

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DIY Sports Drink

man on bike drinking a sports drink like gatorade

Do You Even Need a Sports Drink?

For the majority of people, sports drinks are not really necessary and do add to salt and sugar intake. The conditions in which proper rehydration is important include:

  • Exercising in very hot weather
  • When working out intensely for more than one hour, particularly if sweating profusely
  • In cases of vomiting or diarrhea, particularly if lasting greater than half a day or in infants
  • Professional athletes

It’s important in these instances to get the body rehydrated as quickly as possible. Salt and glucose solutions facilitate the uptake of water in the gastrointestinal tract. Sports drinks and pediatric electrolyte replacements are good for that, but often contain large amounts of sugar, artificial colours and flavours. You can make your own somewhat healthier and less expensive oral rehydration therapy mix.

Homemade Sports Drink Recipe

  • 1L of pure spring water
  • 4 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt

The advantages to this concoction are:

  • Lower sugar
  • No artificial flavours or colours
  • Broader spectrum mineral replacement than just sodium and chloride

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND.  For sports nutrition advice, see one of our licensed naturopaths.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Health food or health fake?

sugary chocolate coated energy bar

Junk Food in Disguise

These 4 foods masquerade as health food.  Yummy they might be, healthy they are not, here’s why:

Energy Bars and Energy Drinks

The “energy” in these products usually takes the form of lots of sugar and/or caffeine. They may even provide a temporary surge in energy due to blood sugar spikes, but watch out for the crash after that will leave you feeling tired and drive cravings for more sugar and/or caffeine.

Granola

Most granola cereal is high in fat and sugar, and other than grain-free granola (there’s a recipe on our website here) all are high carbs.

Yogourt

Most commercial yogourts are not prepared properly to confer the health benefits of yogourt and instead are full of thickeners like gelatin and sugar.  A serving of yogourt may contain 1 billion beneficial bacteria for your gut.  One capsule of a good probiotic will contain the equivalent of 100 servings of yogourt.

Fruit smoothies

Juice bars offer these to health conscious consumers, but most are loaded with sugar. At one outlet, the smallest size has 340 calories and 69 grams of sugar (I recommend no more than 25 grams per serving of sugar/carbs in anything).

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND.  For real advice about what would be healthy to eat and how to prepare healthier versions of these for yourself, contact one of our naturopathic doctors.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Bye Bye Blood Pressure Medications

Man with high blood pressure or hypertension

Healing Hypertension at the Source

High blood pressure is typically a symptom free condition that is only picked up on physical examination and is a common (but not normal) problem with age. There are many possible causes of high blood pressure:

  • Blockage or hardening of the arteries
  • Magnesium or potassium imbalances
  • Poor adrenal gland function
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor kidney function
  • Over stimulation of the nervous system/stress

High blood pressure won’t go away without some intervention. Often borderline high blood pressure people are sent home until their next check up and without making some changes, the only place to go is up. If you neglect your blood pressure, you can expect a lifetime of multiple prescription drugs, and heart disease such as strokes or heart attacks.

To correct high blood pressure we:

  • Clean out the arteries with proteolytic enzymes and herbs
  • Correct magnesium and potassium imbalances
  • Nourish, balance and support the adrenal glands
  • Reduce cholesterol through dietary changes and exercise
  • Heal and support the kidneys
  • Reduce stress and nervous system stimulation through exercise, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, psychotherapy, massage therapy, herbs and other nutrients

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), ND.  Our licensed naturopaths can help treat your high blood pressure to reduce or avoid medications.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now. 

Tired all the time?

woman tired all the time with chronic fatigue
Could You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is characterized by severe, unexplained, disabling fatigue that is not relieved by rest. CFS has an identifiable onset, usually after an acute viral infection such as mononucleosis. It can be persistent or relapsing and lasts for at least 6 consecutive months.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients usually exhibit four or more of the following symptoms:

  • Impaired memory or concentration problems
  • Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
  • Sore throat (but may not show signs of infection)
  • Muscle/multi-joint pain (but not arthritis)
  • New onset headaches (tension-type or migraine)
  • Not refreshed after adequate sleep
  • Fatigue, pain and flu-like symptoms after exertion

These symptoms can be further aggravated by physical or mental stress, poor sleep or trauma.

Naturopathically there are many avenues I explore and treat with CFS:

  • Toxin and heavy metal accumulation
  • Imbalanced brain chemistry/low serotonin
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), or with the fungus Candida albicans
  • Food allergy (dairy products, eggs, wheat/gluten, nuts and beans are most common)
  • Emotional stress
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Chronic mercury poisoning from dental fillings
  • Hypoglycemia

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), ND

Need help with chronic fatigue?  That’s what our naturopathic doctors are here for.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

4 Quick Tips for Happiness

 happy woman smiling

Quick & Easy Ways to Feel Happier Right Now

Who needs drugs when these simple tips can give you a natural lift?

Smile!

Grin. Smirk. Beam. Putting a smile on your face, even an insincere one, can instantly improve your mood.

Clear the Clutter

On a subtle level, clutter stresses your mind. Our minds prefer order. Make your bed, even if no one is going to see it.

Sing

Music has been shown to reduce stress and have a positive effect on health.

Smell Something Nice

Of all the senses, smell is most strongly associated with memory. If you had a happy childhood at the beach, smelling salt air can uplift you.

If simple tips like these don’t help alleviate your mood, contact our naturopathic doctors for more intensive help with your mood.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Natural Medicine Research Nuggets

woman doing natural medicine research

A brief round-up of some natural medicine news

  1. Use of SSRI medications (anti-depressants) increases the risk of osteoporosis.
  2. At least twice per day intake of grapes, oranges, apples, and fresh tomatoes were protective for wheezing and rhinitis (allergies).
  3. Folic acid supplementation effectively reduces the risk of stroke.
  4. A double-blind placebo-controlled study found that supplementation with a Korean red (Panax) ginseng (2 g/meal) improved plasma glucose and plasma insulin regulation in people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes.

L-Theanine, Anxiety and ADD

green tea leaves containing l-theanine

L-Theanine for Anxiety?

L-theanine is an amino acid from plants such as green tea that has been promoted for the natural relief of anxiety. It sparked my interest when a new product came out containing l-theanine that was promoted for the treatment of attention deficit disorder (ADD). Accompanying the product came many enthusiastic testimonials. As is often the case, I became my own guinea pig and here’s what I found:  it may help with attention, but I’ve never really had a problem with that so I can’t say.  What it did do, was keep me awake at night. L-theanine is supposed to increase alpha waves in the brain which leads to a state of calm alertness, which you would expect to be helpful in ADD. Unfortunately, what I found was that this increase in alpha waves interfered with the normal brain wave activity that is supposed to occur at night while you sleep.

There is research supporting the use of l-theanine for anxiety (1), however, lack of sleep is not going to help with anxiety.

My recommendation would be to take l-theanine early in the day and if it still seems to disrupt sleep go with one of the many other natural anti-anxiety measures that our naturopathic doctors have to offer and maybe couple that with some psychotherapy and massage therapy.

To book an appointment to discuss anxiety, call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Source:

1. Unno K, Tanida N, Ishii N, Yamamoto H, Iguchi K, Hoshino M, Takeda A, Ozawa H, Ohkubo T, Juneja LR, Yamada H. Anti-stress effect of theanine on students during pharmacy practice: positive correlation among salivary α-amylase activity, trait anxiety and subjective stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Oct;111:128-35. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2013.09.004. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Natural Medicine Research Nuggets

woman doing natural medicine research

Naturopathic Medicine Research Round-up

Here are a few tidbits that we’ve gleaned from the naturopathic medicine research that you might find interesting:

  • A single dose of buckwheat honey before bedtime provided greater relief of cough and improved sleep compared to over-the-counter cough medicines.
  • Massage therapy can ease pain after surgery.
  • Ginger may have potential in the treatment and prevention of ovarian cancer.
  • Magnesium lowers risk of gallstones
  • Vitamin D and Omega 3’s help protect children from diabetes
  • Increased BMI (body mass index) is strongly associated with increased risk for certain cancers, especially esophageal and renal

We scour the natural medicine research daily to keep our knowledge up to date and accurate. Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now with one of our naturopathic doctors.

Are You Common or Normal?

young man wondering if his symptoms are normal

Are You Confusing What is Common With What is Normal?

First some definitions:

Common: Occurring or happening regularly or frequently.

Normal: Healthy, without signs or symptoms of sickness or illness.

Here’s why I’m making this distinction. I often have patients comment that “oh, I have to take Advil the first two days of my period every month, but that’s normal”. Or “I have a bowel movement every day or two, but that’s normal”. I would like to point out that, neither of the above is normal, common yes, but not normal. We commonly make assumptions about something that we’ve been living with for a long time or have always had, or our mothers always had, or our best friend has too, is “normal”. Sometimes we need to examine these assumptions in order to move forward and achieve better health. Here’s a brief list of some things that I find are common but not normal:

What Symptoms are Common?

  • Constipation i.e. bowel movements less than 1-3 times per day
  • Headaches with change in weather, stress, PMS
  • Menstrual cramping
  • PMS
  • Hot flashes, night sweats, depression at menopause
  • Heartburn or the need to take antacids
  • Exhaustion when you get home from work
  • Cravings for salt and/or sugar
  • Up 1-3 times per night to the washroom
  • Back pain on waking
  • Need to eat every couple of hours or will get weak, shaky, irritable or headache-y
  • A head rush when standing up too quickly

What is Normal?

  • Bowel movements 1-3 times per day, every day, typically after eating
  • No headaches or excess muscle tension
  • Pain-free periods
  • Other than the date, no sign that your period is due
  • At menopause your periods just stop
  • No heartburn or antacids
  • Energy to be active in the evening until at least 8 p.m.
  • No food cravings
  • No night waking or need to urinate at night
  • Free and easy movement any time of day
  • Able to forgo eating all day if desired without repercussions
  • Able to change position without a head rush, or feeling faint

I could go on, but you get the picture. As a society we make assumptions about what is normal based on what everyone has or does, but true health requires ongoing assessment of where we are at and where we would like to be and then making use of all the tools at our disposal to get there.  As a naturopathic doctor, I have many options to turn common into normal.

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND. Contact Pamela at 416.481.0222 or book online now.