3 Things I Loved Last Week…

In no particular order of importance, here are some items that rocked my healthy junction boat last week.

EE-book-front

1.  From an amazing whole foods based cookbook authored by one of my favourite nutrition teachers at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Caroline Dupont’s The New Enlightened Eating cookbook provided me with some seriously enlightened meals.  From her Lemon Date Squares, Spiced Chia Pudding, and Applesauce Muffins, to more savory dishes like Indian Spinach and Broccoli Puree and  Roasted New Potatoes W/ Tarragon Vinaigrette – Caroline’s book has quickly become one of my “go-to” favourites for weekly meal planning.  If you like cooking with whole foods but don’t enjoy hunting for obscure ingredients, check out this book.

danforth_bridge

2.  I’ve especially enjoyed cycling to work these past few weeks with all the beautiful fall foliage on display.  The view from The Bloor-Danforth Viaduct is my favourite, especially because I know the Evergreen Brickworks (the most wonderful place in all of Toronto) is nestled in the trees below.

Don Valley Parkway Fall

 

3.  A friend and colleague of mine suggested a website called My Yoga Online for times when an aspiring yogi just doesn’t feel like leaving the house to hit up a scheduled class.

myyoga_Website_03

You pay a monthly subscription fee (I think it’s about $9/month) and get unlimited access to hundreds if not thousands of online yoga videos that are professional and diverse.  For instance, you can choose from different types of yoga (hatha, restorative, vinyasa, etc) as well as the class length which can range between 5 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes.  There are even meditation videos!  It’s a convenient and inexpensive method of practicing yoga daily and I find I’m able to get to my mat more often.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”   

– Albert Camus

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Get your probiotic on with DIY sauerkraut!

One of my favourite times of the week is visiting the Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings with my friend Emily S.  It’s so fun, I can’t handle it!  We move from vendor to vendor picking up most of our weekly fresh produce and sampling the goodies on display.  This past week, I walked past the Pyramid Farm & Ferments table and sampled some dill and garlic sauerkraut.

Pyramid

Woah.  It was mind-blowing.  Delicious.

Mind Blowing

The only sauerkraut I had ever had up to this weekend was from a jar of Bicks and the taste doesn’t even come close to Pyramid Farms & Ferments.  Sauerkraut is made when shredded cabbage is massaged so that some of the juices come out of the shreds.  The shredded cabbage bits and the water that is pulled out via massaging is then stored in a container where it’s left to ferment.  The benefit of fermentation is that it makes nutrients more bioavailable.  Cabbage is high in Vitamin K, C, and Folate which become even more available to us once fermented.

Cabbage

Fermentation works when naturally occurring lactobacilli bacteria digest the sugar in cabbage which creates lactic acid.  The presence of the lactic acid makes the environment (ie: shredded cabbage sitting in a mason jar) too acidic so that it’s impossible for “bad” bacteria to overgrow and therefore the food doesn’t rot.  So you end up getting a lot of “good” lactobacilli bacteria without dealing with the pathogens that often result from spoiled food.

sauerkraut fermentation

What makes Pyramid Farms’ sauerkraut different is that not only is it fermented (like all store-bought versions) but it’s also unpasteurized which means that the lactobacilli bacteria, a strain of probiotic, are able to survive.  Having a gut that is populated with a healthy amount of probiotics  supports the health of our intestines and GI tract, improve digestion, and boosts the immune system.  Eating unpasteurized sauerkraut means that you’ll be getting a truckload of Vitamin C, K, Folate as well as a LOT of probiotics (30 x what you would get in a serving of yogurt!), fiber, and next to zero calories.

word_amazing

You can actually make sauerkraut at home, and yesterday, that’s exactly what Emily S and I did.  Check out this site by Fermentation Fanatic Mr. Sandor Katz and become a sauerkraut makin’ yahoo with a strong immune system, vitamin infused body, and enviable digestive system.

Toronto-20131022-00659

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Fermentation is the exhalation of a substance through the admixture of a ferment which, by virtue of its spirit, penetrates the mass and transforms it into its own nature.”

– Andreas Libavius

A DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte you can get behind…

I love a good Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, which to me, signifies the beginning of fall and the transition of seasons.  The warm, deep, and delicious blend of fall inspired spices melts perfectly into piping hot milk and a shot of good old espresso.  A tall pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks comes in at 210 calories and 8 grams of fat…and the espresso, while nice, causes a surge and then drop in blood glucose levels which can leave us feeling hypoglycemic and crabby.

PSL

Since I love the taste of this drink so much, I wanted to figure out how to make it at home with more nutritious ingredients and less caffeine.  Today, I think I got it right and wanted to share the recipe with you – this recipe has an estimated 84 calories, less than a gram of fat and all the Vitamin A you need for the day.

DIY PSL

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsp pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)

1 heaping tbsp decaffeinated instant coffee

1 tbsp raw honey

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp all spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions:  heat the almond milk in a small pot until boiling.  Throw in the instant coffee and honey until dissolved.  Throw the almond mix mixture into a blender along with the spices and vanilla and pumpkin puree.  Pulse a few times until well combined.  Serve!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Pumpkin Spice Lattes are to college girls; what mini-shooters of whiskey are to alcoholics.”

–  Author Unknown

 

The Mailbox: Can you take too many Omega-3’s??

inseed backgroundDear Health Junction),

How many essential fatty acids should you be taking per day?  Can you take too much?  What about vegan sources vs omega 3 and 6 from fish oil?  I want to make sure I’m getting what I need plus I take a multi and fish oil so don’t want to take too much!

Thanks,

CP

Hi CP,

Essential Fatty Acids are a type of fat that are labeled “essential” because we can’t make it in our body.  The same goes when you hear the term Essential Amino Acids.  So, we need to derive both Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids from our diet (we can make Omega-9 by ourselves).

omega3and6

These compounds are made from string of carbons and a carboxyl group and the two types of EFA’s are differentiated based on where the first double bond appears.  In the case of Omega-3’s the first double bond occurs on the third carbon from the end whereas with Omega-6’s it occurs on the sixth carbon.

TransFattyacidsChart

PG1 = Anti-inflammatory PG2 = inflammatory PG3 = Anti-inflammatory

We should be getting roughly 4 times as many Omega-6’s in our diet as Omega-3’s but our current diet actually lends to a 20:1 ratio versus the recommended 4:1.  High sources of O-6 are typically found in vegetable oils where as high sources of O-3 are found in fish, flax seeds, walnuts, and avocado’s.  The big difference is that when we consume an O-6 it can be either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory based on the pathway it takes in our body (PG1 vs PG2), whereas Omega-3’s will ALWAYS be anti-inflammatory.  So, when you are looking at EFA’s, focus on increasing your Omega-3 intake and decreasing sources of Omega-6 (reduce use of vegetable oil).

 helaexlarge2

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are vital for health as they help keep our cell structure strong and flexible, they reduce inflammation, and help to keep our blood thin and void of clots.  Some common conditions that can be supported through the adequate ingestion of Omega-3 include:

Alzheimer’s disease, Asthma, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, Depression, Diabetes, Eczema, High blood pressure, Huntington’s disease, Lupus, Migraine headaches, Multiple sclerosis, Obesity, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Irritable Bowel Disorder.

Not getting enough Omega-3 has been linked to several health issues.

Omega3-fatty-Acid-Deficiency

So, how much should you be taking in each day?  Adults should not be taking more than about 3 grams of Omega-3 fish oil each day.  That includes what you take in from your diet as well as a supplement.  To give you perspective, a 3 oz serving of salmon provides anywhere between 1.1 and 1.9 grams of O-3.  Most of us could probably benefit from taking an omega-3 supplement without the harm of going over 3 grams per day.  I personally take an omega-3 capsule that has 1400 mg’s of fish oil each day.  To give you peace of mind, it’s far more common to be deficient in omega-3!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on  every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize  quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture – imagine this – where  our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting  them.
–  Michelle Obama

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Yuppies & Hippies Co-Exist @ Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market

My friend Emily S has been raving about the Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market for the year and a half since we met.  Emily brings her son Yatel and now new baby Sayen to the Toronto-based market that National Geographic named one of the top 10 geotourism destinations in the world in 2010.

brick-works

Emily said I would love The EBW and so this morning, I finally dragged my rump out of bed for an 8:45 am pick-up to visit the market with Emily, Yatel, and Sayen.  Woah, did I ever have fun.

Fun

Evergreen Brickworks is “a community environmental centre that inspires and equips visitors to live, work and play more sustainably.”   Aside from the amazing year-round market, EBW has programming designed to help schools, communities, and individuals build green sustainable spaces.  In short, Evergreen Brickworks is connecting us with nature and it’s pretty amazing.

Now, back the  market.  There was maple syrup, bread makers, a rainbow coloured array of vegetables (including Turkish eggplant…new to me), baskets of fruit (blueberries, pears, and peaches seem to be in season), cheese, soaps, lotions, lamb, beef, pork, fish, honey, crepes, muffins, COFFEE!, juices, beet brownies, wine, teas, chocolate, crackers, grains, and much much more.

market-03

organic-peppers

Pickles

goat soap

Going to a Farmers Market naturally helps us learn about what is in season locally.  I saw lots of leafy greens, carrots, green onion, onions, peaches, and eggplant.  If you’re thrifty, shop around and search for the  best vendors.  My friend Emily knows exactly where to go for the best deals and has over time, built a relationship with the farmers who giver  her a dollar or two off and pack her baskets extra full.

shopping-farmers-market_300

It was cool to see the variety of shoppers who co-exist with the shared goal of trying new food and being part of a greater community of health and environmentally conscious people.  I saw about 100 pairs of Hunter boots pushing Uppababy strollers and just as many slightly ripe smelling hippies wearing linen pants.

Hunter-boots

uppababy-vista-rumbleseat

Hippie

Hippies_welcome

I thought it was cool to watch kids interact with the food, farmers, and the extraordinary number of extremely cute dogs.  Yatel is almost four, but he knows a lot about food and where it comes from.  When they get home from the market each week, Emily pulls out all the produce and Yatel tells her what they’ve purchased.  Very cool.

kids_farmersmarket

I’ll definitely be making EBW’s a Saturday morning destination.  Check it out yourself (550 Bayview Avvenue) by foot, bike, car, TTC (28 from Davisville Station), or a Free Shuttle Bus (leaves from Erindale/Broadview just north of Broadview Station).  Whichever way you decide to come, just make sure to bring lots of bags and your inner eco-freak.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Farming is a profession of hope.”

–  Brian Brett

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The Mailbox: do aphrodisiacs really increase sex drive?

Dear Health Junction,

I’ve heard that certain foods are good for increasing sex drive.  Is this true?

From,

PM

Sexy Strawberry

Hi PM,

That’s a cool question.  Thanks for consulting with The Health Junction.

Horny Goat Weed

An aphrodisiac is a food or drink that is said to stimulate sexual desire.  According to “How Stuff Works”, aphrodisiacs work through two mechanisms; by stimulating the mind or by stimulating the physical body.

aphrodisiacs

I wasn’t able to find any studies that point to a definite relationship between the consumption of an aphrodisiac and a measured increase in sexual desire.  The FDA also claims that aphrodisiacs “have no scientific basis and are simply a myth”.

Banana

That  being said, we know that the mind is a powerful tool and that somethings can’t be explained by science.  A placebo can often have the same desired effect as an active drug.  So, here is a list of some known aphrodisiacs available at your local grocery store:

Aniseed:  includes an estrogen based compound.

Avocado:  apparently the Aztecs thought that avocados look like testicles.

Bananas:  aside from their penis like shape, they include a lot of potassium and B Vitamins which are needed for hormone production.

Basil:  this one is suppose to  boost fertility and increase circulation.

Cardamom:  indicated for impotence and contains a chemical called cineole that improve circulation.

Chocolate:  contains pleasure boosting chemicals such as serotonin and phenylethylamine.

Carrots:  based purely on its shape.

Chili Peppers:  contains capsaicin, a pain reliever.

Cucumbers:  based purely on it’s shape and pleasant smell.

Figs:  based only on the fact that figs resemble the shape of a vagina.

Garlic:  increases circulation.

Ginger:  increases circulation and has a pleasant smell.

Honey:  contains  B Vitamins which are required for hormone production.

Licorice:  interestingly, one study found that men who smelled licorice had a 13% increase of blood flow to the penis.

Good luck and keep the chili pepper away from your genitals,

The Health Junction

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Just as bees will swarm about to protect their nest, so will I ‘swarm about’ to protect my nest of chocolate eggs.” 

–  Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts, Saturday Night Live

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The Health Junction Mail Box: Gas From Chickpeas, Omega-3 Enriched Eggs, and Kosher Salt

mailbox

Here are some interesting questions I’ve encountered over the past few weeks.  Enjoy – and feel free to email me your own questions to TheHealthJunction@Mail.com.

salt

Dear The Health Junction,

What is the difference between regular salt and kosher salt – is one healthier than the other?

From,

CP

Dear CP,

There are a few different types of salt on the market; kosher salt, sea salt, iodized salt, and table salt.  All of these different types of salt are made from both chloride and sodium.  Salt is sourced two ways.  The first is via mining since salt is part of many different types or rocks.  The other way is through evaporating water from the ocean – once the water is removed, the salt remains.  Sea salt has more nutrients than rock salt since there are many other different types of  minerals contained in ocean water.

Kosher salt has less to do with religion and more to do with the size of the salt granules.  Kosher salt is technically regular old salt but it’s made so that the granules are larger and the reason for this is that it’s used by people who practice Judaism when koshering fresh meat.  The larger salt granules are more effective at pulling blood out of uncooked meat.

Iodized salt is simply salt which has been iodized.  Why?  When the thyroid doesn’t get enough iodine, it’s common for a goiter to form so iodize salt is a simple way of making sure you get enough iodine in your diet.  All “table salt” in Canada is iodized.  Other sources of iodine include salt water seafood, lima beans, corn, green peas, turkey, soy nuts, eggs, pinto beans, and many grain products.

eggs

Dear The Health Junction,

Are omega-3 enriched eggs worth the money?

From,

ElB

Hi El B,

There are two different categories of omega-3 fatty acids.  The first is DHA + EPA and the other is ALA.  DHA + EPA typically comes from fish and is the type of omega-3 that has been extensively studied for its effect on helping to reduce inflammation, prevent heart disease, improve cell integrity, and is supportive of cognition and mood.  ALA comes from walnuts, chia, helm seeds, and flax.  This type of omega-3 fatty acid is also good for us and like DHA + EPA is anti-inflammatory, but the impact on heart and cell health is less understood.

Omega-3 enriched eggs are produced from chickens that are fed a diet high in flax seeds and their eggs contain a mix of DHA + EPA and ALA omega-3 fatty acids which is great.  One egg will yield about 130 mg of DHA while a serving of fish will provide over 3500 mg (DHA + EPA).  So, are eggs worth it?  Considering we should be getting around 1000 mg’s of DHA+EPA each day, I would say sure, the omega-3 eggs are not a bad idea.  But you could easily purchase organic eggs and try having a serving or two of fish each week (salmon, herring, mackerel) since it provides both DHA+EPA while the eggs only give us DHA.

gas

Dear The Health Junction,

help…

i ate chickpeas yesterday…
i am so stinky today…
can i never eat chickpeas again?
i love them.
From,
NE
Dear NE,
A world without chickpeas is a sad world.  Yes, you can still eat them.  Beans contain a sugar called oligosaccharides which we don’t have an enzyme to  break down.  So this component of the bean makes it down to the small intestine where our natural bacteria helps to break the oligosaccharides down.  The result of the breakdown is gas.  Toot toot!
One way to help reduce bloating and gas caused by beans in general is to make sure that you rinse them until you see the little bubbles your colander disappear (or those bubbles will be ingested and result in even more gas).   Here are some other tips:
1.)  choose smaller beans.  The small the bean, the less the gas.
2.)  take some Beano.  It contains the enzyme that will help break down the oligosaccharides before it hits the small intestine.
Happy Tuesday!
From,
Heather of The Health Junction

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Home is where the heart is, home is where the fart is.
Come let us fart in the home.
There is no art in a fart.
Still a fart may not be artless.
Let us fart and artless fart in the home.” 

–  Ernest Hemingway, 88 Poems

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The Health Junction Mailbox: Are Smoothies bad for me?

Dear The Health Junction,

I merely wanted to know what your take on smoothies was. At first they seemed to be the key to eternal life, but then I asked my other nutritionist mate Glen who pissed on the parade a bit, and then I started to read a book called Bad Science that is dissing Patrick Holford and the whole idea of nutritional science in general so I have got myself all confused.

What do you say?

From,

Stephen Kent, Sengawa Japan

Hiking with Stephen @ Mt. Takao in Japan

Hiking with Stephen @ Mt. Takao in Japan

Dear Stephen,

First up, I’m glad I could find a picture of you which showcases that you’re a healthy guy who enjoys eating healthy food (apple in hand and all)…though, bring British, I know you do enjoy the occasional beer.

Fukuoka Izakaya

Fukuoka Izakaya

Readers should really check out this great article by Glen Matten, founder of the site Health Uncut:  The Antidote to Poor Health Advice  before reading on as I think it provides some excellent insight into the usual main component of smoothies – fruit.

So, are smoothies bad for you?  Yes and No depending on how they’re made.  If you’re putting a bunch of fruit and little else in your smoothie, then I would argue you’re doing more harm than good.  Why?  Because, while natural, fruit contains a lot of sugar which we know, in excess and over time, can cause a cascade or health problems.  Inflammation, insulin resistance, hypertension, an increase in bad “LDL” cholesterol while decreasing your healthy “HDL” cholesterol..just to name a few.  I eat fruit but consider it a special treat which in my opinion should be limited to 1-2 servings a day.  Even at that, I would recommend choosing lower Glycemic Index fruits which will have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels than it’s higher GI counterparts.

fruit smoothie

Having fruit means having sugar and having sugar is especially problematic in the morning when you want to start your day off with a slow and steady release of energy rather than a sudden onslaught of sugar which is found in many homemade smoothies.

That being said, I have a green smoothie a few mornings during the week but I try to use them as an opportunity to ingest vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.  The combination of healthy fats, protein, vegetables, and some fruit help keep me satiated, sharp, energized, and blood-sugar balanced at during the time of day when it matters the most – starting off with stable blood sugar levels paves the way for stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.  Here is how I do it:

green-smoothie

BASIC AM GREEN SMOOTHIE

1/4th Avocado or 1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 – 1/2 cup of low glycemic load fruit (I use a mix of raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries).  Click here for information on the GI/GL of fruit.  Low GI is 55 or less, low GL is 10 or less).

1-2 cups of leafy greens (start with a mild leafy green such as red leaf lettuce or romaine).  I normally use 1 cup romaine or red leaf lettuce and 1 cup of kale or bok choy.

2 tbsp of seeds (mix it up between flax, hemp, and chia)

3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop Vega energizing smoothie powder (10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving).

2 tbsp cooked steel-cut oats (good if you commute to work via foot or bike and you need a bit of extra available energy).

Place in a blender (I enjoy the Blendec but there are lots of great options on the market) and blend for 45 seconds or until contents are well mixed.  Drink immediately.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“”May the Smoothie be with you…Always”.

–  Author Unknown

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Why Cats Don’t Suffer From Adrenal Fatigue…

For such a small and often overlooked body part, the adrenal glands sure do pack a hormone infused punch.  The adrenal glands are located just above our kidney’s and are the key gland that control our reaction to physical, environmental, and emotional stressors.

adrenal glands

Among the host of hormones produced by the adrenal glands are cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.  Cortisol works by increasing the level of glucose in our blood, controlling inflammation, reducing swelling, and inhibiting pain-causing prostaglandins.  In addition, cortisol plays an integral role in regulating fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism, our immune response, and blood pressure.

Frustrated Businesswoman on Telephone

What’s up with adrenaline and noradrenaline?  Much like cortisol, these hormones are released when we feel threatened and cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.  Another result is the dilation of passageways, including those in the lungs so that more oxygen and glucose can circulate and help us combat the impending stressors.

Stressor

Now, you may  know that I enjoy cats and members of the cat family.  However, if this guy above was chasing me I would not enjoy it and my adrenal glands would spring into action by secreting the hormones described above to help me run faster, breath better, utilize energy most efficiently, and get myself to safety.  Fantastic.  But, what happens when we are exposed to long-term stress?  The kind that sort of just hangs around and is constant?

chronic stress

If the acute stress we are supposed to be able to handle becomes chronic, eventually our adrenal glands become less responsive and putter out because they are tired – hence a very common condition called Adrenal Fatigue.  The main cause of adrenal fatigue is actually low levels of cortisol because our adrenals simply can’t keep up with demand.  Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

Symptoms of AF

  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble getting out of bed despite adequate sleep
  • Feeling rundown
  • Difficulty recovering from stress
  • Difficulty recovering from illness
  • Food cravings; sugary and salty
  • More energy in the PM as compared to the AM
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Low blood pressure (worse when moving from a sitting to standing)
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • General Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to sleep soundly
  • General lack of wellness

How can adrenal fatigue be addressed?  Both lifestyle and nutritional modifications can help revive your adrenal glands and pave the way for a happier, healthier you.

LIFESTYLE CONSIDERATIONS

A great first place to start is a book called Adrenal Fatigue:  The 21st Century Stress Syndrome written by Dr. James L. Wilson.

Adrenal-Fatigue-Cover

In his book, Wilson writes about the lifestyle factors that need to be addressed in order to treat the root cause of why adrenal fatigue exists in the first place and the obvious first factor to consider is stress.  Are there constant stressors in your life that need to be dealt with?  Common stressors include; work commitments, being unhappy in your workplace role, family obligations, lack of time to oneself, inability to express emotions effectively, etc.  Wilson asks readers to ask three questions regarding stressors:

  • Can you change the situation?  If so, then do.
  • Can you change the way you adapt to the situation?  If so, then do.
  • If all else fails, can you leave the situation?

Sleep

Aside from identifying and reducing the stressors in your life, you’ll be better able to cope with day-to-day obstacles when you’re well rested and so, 8 hours of sleep is recommended and it’s best to be in bed by 10 pm.  Also, if possible try to avoid being on the computer or watching TV a few hours before bed.  Also, strongly consider removing chocolate, coffee, booze, cigarette’s, and other known stimulants from your diet as they interfere with sleep patterns.

Exercising Cat

Exercise helps to release stress and energizes both the mind and body – try your best to work in 30 minutes of physical activity a day.  If you’re not in shape, start with brisk walking…do whatever it takes to get your body moving.

Laughing Cat - Vitamin L2

Figure out ways to make yourself laugh.  It will make you feel better and helps to relieve stress.  See this prior post for more on this topic.

Cat Nap

Take naps during the day, but only for 15-minutes and lay down when you do it.  A snooze on the subway doesn’t count.

NUTRITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

Nutrition is an integral component of correcting adrenal fatigue and the recommendations below will work hand in hand with the aforementioned lifestyle changes.

1.)  There is a relationship between stress, cortisol, and blood sugar levels.  Earlier in this post, I explained that cortisol in part, helps to bring up blood sugar levels during times of stress so we can hypothetically fight off whatever is putting us at risk.  Another reason why our glucose levels might be low and require cortisol is when we have large spikes and dips in our blood sugar levels brought on by foods that cause an exaggerated metabolic response to food.  Food that can cause rapid spikes and then dips in blood sugar levels include:

  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Fruit

While fruits and grains are good for us, people suffering from adrenal fatigue may consider holding off on eating fruit and grains in the morning in order to prevent a cascade of inappropriate blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day.  When selecting grains, always choose whole grains and when considering fruit, select low glycemic index fruits which will have the smallest impact on our blood sugar response.    Click here for a list of low glycemic index fruits.

Meal Time

2.)  Eat regular meals.  This is closely tied with the information above as it is crucial to keep blood sugar levels stable in order to regulate cortisol and insulin levels in the blood.  Try eating breakfast within an hour of waking, have an early lunch (11 – 11:30 am), a snack at 2:30 or 3 pm, and then dinner between 5 – 6 pm.

3.)  Limit fatty foods and excessive salt.

4.)  Plant and animal sterols are useful to help keep the immune system in balance which is often a problem when one is exposed to prolonged periods of stress.  Food sources of plant and animal sterols include fresh (low GI) fruit, organic free range eggs, nuts, seeds, veggies, healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil), fresh fish.

Cat Eating Veggies

5.)  Get your vitamins and minerals through lots of leafy greens and orange/red/yellow/purple veggies.  Vitamin C, and the B Vitamins are often depleted during stress and can be found in the food listed.  additionally, these foods are high in magnesium which is helpful in promoting relaxation and supporting anxiety and depression.

6.) Give your digestive system a break by choosing high quality proteins such as organic free range chicken, wild fish, beans, nuts, and seeds.  These proteins are less taxing on the hydrochloric acid required to break protein down and will allow for easier digestion not only of proteins, but all foods ingested.

Cat Having Tea

7.)  Consider taking some adaptogenic herbs which may help your body adapt and manage stress.  One great adaptogen is ginseng which can be taken as a supplement, a tea infusion, or a tincture.  To make a tea, try boiling a small pot of water with 3-5 slices of fresh ginseng and allow it to steep for 5 minutes.  You can also purchase ginseng tea or ginseng supplements from most health food stores.  Siberian, Panox, and Indian Ginseng are all good options.

8.)  Consider taking Vitamin C (2 grams/day), Vitamin B5 (1500 mg/day), and Magnesium (150 mg twice a day).  Food sources of each of these nutrients are listed below:

Vitamin C: papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, kiwi, oranges, kale.

Vitamin B5:  whole grains, cauliflower, broccoli, salmon, sweet potatoes, tomatoes.

Magnesium:  pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss Chard, soybeans, sesame seeds, halibut, black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds.

 

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Cats have it all – admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.”

– Rod McKuen

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Because sometimes laughter is the best medicine…

A while ago, I discovered that there is a little known vitamin that we can’t live without – Vitamin L (check out this prior post) where the “L” stands for love.

love-vitamin01

It’s true, without love from our partners, family, friends, pets, neighbours, and community…where would we be?

Note:  I am not normally a fan of self-portraits but this one couldn't be helped.

Note: I am not normally a fan of self-portraits but this one couldn’t be helped.

But there is another Vitamin “L” on the block and I think it’s just as essential as Love and it’s called Vitamin L(aughter).  Call me a cheese ball if you want (I’ve been called worse) but there’s something to laughing that makes us feel awesome.

cheeseballAt a very basic level, laughter helps to relieve stress and since stress lowers the immune system – I would consider laughter and immune booster.  There is a whole field of medicine called psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) which looks at the relationship between the way we think, and the way our body responds.  Research on this topic has exploded as scientists look to better understand the connection between our nervous system and the ways in which we deal with stress and our immune system – the findings thus far have been pretty extraordinary.

PNI

There was an interesting experiment conducted by scientists at the Rochester University Medical School in which rats were given a sweet drink of water at the same time as an injection of a drug that lowered the response of their immune system.  As expected, the immune system function of the rats decreased.  However, when the rats were then given just the sweet drink, their immune system was compromised which can be explained by the fact there was a learned and conditioned response that caused the immune system to react in a certain way.  What is fascinating about this is that it shows that thoughts and beliefs can actually change the way our immune system responds for better or worse.

PNI Experiment

This brings me back to Vitamin Laughter – lets’ call it Vitamin L2.  If we know that stress reduces our immune function and that laughter decreases stress…wouldn’t Vitamin L2 help prevent immune system lowering in times of stress?  I’m not a scientist, but in my own (albeit poorly designed study) Vitamin L2 makes me feel better in times of stress.  Why not self-prescribe Vitamin L2 each day?

Laughter

Vitamin L2 also apparently helps to increase blood flow and improves relaxation and sleep.  With that in mind, here are some tidbits that no matter how many times I’ve seen them…always provide much-needed Vitamin L2.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Laugh.  Laugh as much as you can.  Laugh until you cry.  Cry until you laugh.  Keep doing it even if people are passing you on the street saying, “I can’t tell if that person is laughing or crying, but either way they seem crazy, let’s walk faster.”  Emote.  It’s okay.  It shows you are thinking and feeling.”

– Ellen Degeneres

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