Category: Diet/Nutrition

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

Low Carb, High Protein Diet?

woman holding fruit and vegetables

Is a High Protein Diet Bad for the Kidneys?

There was an article in the Harvard Health Letter on the downsides to Low Carb/High Protein diets – mainly putting a strain on the kidneys with too much protein and depriving yourself of vitamins from grains.  This is a fallacy.  Healthy kidneys have no problem dealing with waste products of protein metabolism.  The only time that this is of concern is in someone with compromised kidney function (someone on dialysis, for example).

If you follow me at all, you probably know that I encourage most people to remove as much of the bread, pasta, cereal, rice, potatoes and sugar from their diets as they possibly can. “Low carb, high protein” they gasp???. No, I do not advocate a high protein diet either. I don’t think you have to go from one extreme to the other. But I do think that relative to the amount of physical activity most people are doing, they consume way too many carbs.

I also think that if carbs are consumed they should be in their purest form, that is, how you would pick it off the plant. Want to eat wheat? Go ahead and pull some up out of the field and start munching on it.  Enjoy!  Not so tasty in it’s natural state, is it?  Pick an apple off the tree, pretty tasty as is, isn’t it?

I think the carbs found in fruit and vegetables are adequate for most people’s energy expenditure and will provide the same vitamins and minerals that you would get from grains. And I think that fruit and vegetable consumption should be high, protein and fats moderate and refined carbs of any kind, low. This kind of diet provides plenty of vitamins and minerals, lots of fiber, good protein, a stable blood sugar and fats that satisfy the appetite and keep eating under control.

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

For custom diet and supplement advice call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Bowels and Blueberries

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

Studies show that blueberries contain a substance that seems to be protective against colon cancer. Blueberries are nutritional powerhouses full of antioxidants that help protect eyesight and the heart, prevent aging and now are shown to help prevent cancer. I try to incorporate them into breakfast at least 3-4 times per week.
Frozen blueberries may be better for you than fresh because they are often wild (meaning organic) and the freezing process actually breaks down the cell wall making it easier to obtain the nutrients from the inside. All my life I’ve loved blueberries – now I know why!

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.

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.

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


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.

Research On: Oils


  1. Three out of seven flaxseed oils didn’t pass quality tests including measures of rancidity. Source: Physicochemical and quality characteristics of cold-pressed flaxseed oils.  Wee-Sim Choo, John Birch, Jean-Pierre Dufour. Department of Food Science, University of Otago, New Zealand, Dunedin 9015, New Zealand.
  2. This study found that the majority of Australians are failing to meet intake recommendations for long chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (> 0.2 g per day) Source: Lipids. 2003 Apr;38(4):391-897(4):661-6
  3. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Source: Am J Cardiol. 2006 Aug 21;98(4A):3i-18i. Epub 2006 May 30