Want to live like a centenarian?

Want to live until 100?  Check out the latest article from The Health Junction in the Fall 2013 (page 26) edition of Fusia Magazine!

FusiaFall2013_allpgs_Web_1

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

–  Mahatma Gandhi

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Tips for the Frugally Organic

A frequent question asked by confused consumers is “how important is it to eat organically – are the higher prices justified?”  While it’s true that organically grown food tends to be more expensive than the conventional counterparts, the nutritional, health, and environmental benefits far exceed food produced by industrial farming.

Organic vs Conventional Farming

Organic food means that it is not genetically modified (GMO), is free from pesticides and herbicides, and has not been grown from synthetic fertilizers.  Nutrient density of organic food is higher than conventionally grown crops.  Furthermore, by choosing organic you’ll help guarantee safer working conditions for farmers and enable the maintenance of nearby wildlife habitat.

GMO

Compared to industrial/conventional farming, organic food practices also produces fewer greenhouse emissions, preserves soil integrity, reduces water pollution and is the only sustainable long-term solution for preserving a variety of nutrient dense food.

Save Money Organic Food

Purchasing organic food can be costly, but it doesn’t need to be with these quick tips for the Frugally Organic:

Re-evaluate your budget and try to find more dollars to invest on organic food by cutting out on processed junk foods.

Farmer's Market

Visit a farmers market and speak to the vendors – find out what is grown organically.  You’ll be doing double duty by investing in locally grown organic food.  Wychwood Barns, The Brickworks, and Dufferin Grove Park are year-round farmers markets available in Toronto.  For a complete list of up-to-date information on Farmer’s Market’s in Toronto, click here.

Freeze your food.  Capitalize on seasonal fruits and vegetables by paying a lower price when supply is high and then dipping into your stock during the year.

Buy in bulk from places like Bulk Barn and pay a lower per gram rate.

Eat Seasonally

Sample Foods Seasonally.  Prices will always be lower in season and it’s also a great opportunity to try new foods!

Slow and steady wins the race.  Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Each week add a new organically grown food and watch your organic base grow.

And lastly, if you can only afford to purchase a few foods organically, here is a list known as the “Dirty Dozen” which includes foods with the highest concentration of pesticides and herbicides when consumed conventionally.

APPLES

CELERY

CHERRY TOMATOES

CUCUMBER

GRAPES

HOT PEPPERS

NECTARINES

PEACHES

POTATOES

SPINACH

STRAWBERRIES

SWEET BELL PEPPERS

KALE/COLLARD GREENS

SUMMER SQUASH

Go Organic

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”

– Wendell Barry, The Unsettling of America:  Culture and Agriculture

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The Illusion of Food

A few days ago at work, a fascinating article was circulated from the Nutrition Action Health Letter (published by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest) regarding food serving size, general habits, and consumption patterns.

portion-sizes

The gist of the article is that the more food we see, the more food we eat regardless of hunger primarily due to mindless eating and a general feeling of being unaware of our hunger signals.  In large part, I blame industry for creating the level of gluttony and outrageous eating habits we are seeing today which has absolutely contributed to the increase in chronic diseases we are seeing (Type II Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Disease, Arthritis, Hyperlipidaemia, Colitis, Crohn’s, Renal Diseases, etc).

Rate of Type II Diabetes in the United States: 1980 - 2010

Rate of Type II Diabetes in the United States: 1980 – 2010

While industry certaintly plays a role, there is a lot we can do as individuals to take better control of our health…and an improvement in the amount of food ingested can significantly  improve the way you think, feel, move, and life.

In the Nutrition Action Health Letter, author  of the book Mindless EatingBrian Wansink, was interviewed and he reviewed the major findings from his research surrounding eating habits, serving sizes, and the concept of mindless eating (eating without paying attention to hunger signals).  Here are some interesting observations that might make you think, and look twice before you eat.

Mindless Eating

  • When people are given larger servings, they eat more.  In a study where people were given a large bucket of popcorn and others a small bucket, it was found that those who received the larger bucket ate 34% more popcorn.
  • Variety prompts increased consumption.  When people were presented with candy of different colours (as compared a single colour) they ate 40% more.
  • Chicken Wings Are Insightful!  When the bones of the wings consumed were removed from the table (as compared to leaving them on the table in the control group), participants ate more.
  • Health Labels Prompt Increased Consumption.  Labeling a product “low-fat” prompts people to eat more than they would have a normal product.
  • Healthy Restaurants = Underestimation of Calories.  When someone eats at Subway, and then at McDonald’s, they are more likely to underestimate the number of calories consumed at the Subway meal.
  • You are likely to eat more when eating a meal with a fast eater.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“We don’t walk. We overeat because we’ve made it easy to overeat. We have  fast-food joints on every corner. By the way, the ‘we’ is all of us. It’s not  the government. It’s all of us doing this together.”
– Dr. Oz

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Easy Health Fix 101 in 100 Words: Why only H20 counts as Water

water_for_health

The simplest thing we can do to improve health is to drink more water.

Why?

Because your body cannot digest and absorb nutrients in an effective manner without ensuring that food is moving through the gastrointestinal track from top to bottom in about 18-24 hours.  If you want to know how to test for transit time, check this prior post out for the section on Oral-Fecal Transit Time (OFTT).  When food moves too quickly, it doesn’t get broken down properly and can’t be absorbed well – check your stool for undigested bits of food if you think this might be the case for you.  More commonly, however, is that the transit time is very long which is what we call constipation.

health-benefits-of-drinking-water

Constipation causes food to sit and stagnate in your intestines where toxic waste that should be long gone has a chance to mess up your bacterial balance, irritate the intestinal cells, and cause inflammation.  This is how chronic disease starts.

The easiest way to avoid constipation is to, for real, just drink more water.  8-10 cups a day.  Between meals rather than during.  Why?  When you drink during your meal, the water will dilute your gastric juices and decrease the effectiveness of both mechanical and chemical digestion.

Obama

You may find it annoying to drink so much water because visiting the washroom becomes more frequent, but as a wise man pointed out (El Branno) such a complaint is truly a modern-day problem.  Even Obama and Madonna (busiest people in the world?) have time to pick up a glass and drink and then take 30 seconds to pee later in the day.  Having a chronic disease will be much more inconvenient that making a total of 10 minutes a day to nourish your body with a nutrient we literally cannot go more than a few days without.

What doesn’t count as water?

  • tea (unless a non diuretic non caffeinated tea)
  • coffee
  • milk (this is probably the most constipating “food” out there)
  • juice
  • beer
  • wine
  • Gatorade
  • Vitamin Water

What does count as water?

  • water, from the tap.

What can I do to spice up my water?

  • squeeze some lemon
  • place some a few slices of cucumber, orange, lime into a jug and fill with water.  Water will take on the flavour of the fruit.

cucumber-water

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“There are only three things women need in life: food, water, and compliments.”
– Chris Rock

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Aging Joyfully: A Lesson from the Oldsters

I recently completed a course on geriatric nutrition and before my first class I have to admit, I was not excited.  Studying nutrition specifically geared at the elderly population is so far off the nutritional topics I am typically drawn to and so, I went to my first class with very low expectations.

What I anticipated to be my least favourite course in the program ended up being truly life changing and my perspective on aging, the elderly population, and the general concept of happiness were challenged and reformed.  The instructor, Japanese Naturopathic Doctor Mami Ishii, brought a unique perspective into a population that is generally considered unglamorous and a life stage that most of us are not looking forward to all that much.

Aging Population

Dr. Ishii had the class read Healthy at 100 by John Robbins which has literally, even after studying nutrition for over 2 years, revolutionized the way I view what constitutes vitality and healthy living.  In his book, Robbins starts by outlining the dietary and lifestyle habits of four of the world’s longest-living societies; Abkhasians (South Russia), Vilcabambans (Equador), Hunzans (Central Asia), and the Okinawans (Japan).  Each of these four places has an extraordinarily high number of people who live until and beyond 100 years and they share the same approach to diet and lifestyle.  In fact, the commonalities are staggering.

Okinawa

Okinawa, Japan

 What Robbins outlined in Healthy at 100 is that each of these groups eats a plant-based, whole foods diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  They eat very little processed foods and sugar and opt for whole grain carbohydrates.  The concept of retirement is null and void and “oldsters” in these areas are active and live purposefully throughout their lives.  Culturally, the older you are, the more esteem you’re given.  They are very active, yet their caloric intake is less than 2000/day.  They limit animal based products to 1% (Hunzans, Vilcabambans), 3% (Okinawa), and 10% (Abkasian).

Healthy at 100

Robbins goes into describing the changes China has undergone in the past few decades and nicely summarizes findings from one of the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted all of which you can read in a book called The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell.  The China Study had researchers collected blood, urine, and diet journals from 50 people in each 65 counties and 130 villages selected throughout China.  Researchers analyzed the data with respect to over 50 diseases and though the results are plentiful, findings can be summarized as follows.

china-map

In areas of China that are still developing, people are dying from diseases related to nutritional deficiencies and hygiene inadequacies which includes ailments like tuberculosis, respiratory illnesses, measles, and diarrhea.  Conversely, in areas of China that have been developed the diseases have shifted dramatically to deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity related illnesses such as complications from Type II Diabetes.  Dr. Campbell coins this shift as death from “nutritional extravagance” because it has been directly linked to an increase in refined foods and a much higher intake of saturated fats stemming from animal foods (meat and dairy) and hydrogenated foods.  In short, the one of the largest indicators of wealth in China is the level of ones cholesterol levels.  You can bet that high levels of HDL cholesterol are not found in the developing areas of China, but instead larger more prosperous cities.

China_Obesity_Chart

What does all this have to do with geriatric nutrition?  We should expect to live into old age and this part of the life-cycle is natural, beautiful, and meant to be experienced.  The idea that we are all going to die from a chronic illness is rubbish and believing in dying from disease is something worth reconsidering.  Reading Healthy at 100 made me reconsider my dietary choices and the overwhelming evidence that supports the longevity associated with a whole foods, plant-based diet that is low in animal based foods is undeniable.  It’s a hard revelation to come to for those us use to eating meat each day…or even several times a week.  The idea of aging joyfully and experiencing life to its fullest is definitely something I am striving for and the advice in Healthy to 100 makes it seem possible, if not expected.

Oldsters

Healthy at 100 is a positive and encouraging read that will inspire you to look at your diet, connect with your community, and move intentionally each and every day.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr

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Alkaline-Acid pH Balance 101 in 9 minutes

acidic-alkaline-phchart

Have you heard about acidity and alkalinity as it relates to diet and been a little confused about how it all works? The benefits of moving towards a more alkaline diet are convincing and the impact of an overly acidic diet can be seen is so many of our common and chronic health conditions. Check out this video…the following 9 minutes may finally convince you that leafy greens are fabulous and explains why even though lemon tastes acidic, it’s an alkaline wonder.

Alkaline-Acid pH Balance Explained

Enjoy!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” 

– Ann Wigmore

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Getting Jiggy With Kale

Kale is delightful.  Its deep, dark, and earthy green colour is complemented by varying textures.  The stems are strong and as the leaves move outwards they turn from supportive and firm to curly and playful.  Just as versatile as its colour and texture is the taste of kale which ranges from bitter and tart when prepared raw to subtle and gentle when steamed.

Before I started studying nutrition I always though kale was an exotic intangible vegetable that only hippies ate.  I’ve come to realise it’s really a vegetable for the masses because there isn’t one of us out there that wouldn’t benefit from a serving or two of kale each day.

AA051054

I’m not kidding around about kale.  These days, I eat two cups of this beautiful leafy green most days of the week.  What’s the big deal?  The nutritional profile of kale is quite remarkable:

kale

NOTE: try steaming your kale instead of boiling it to retain more nutrients

  • 1 cup of kale will give you over 1300% percent of your daily Vitamin K requirements.  Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and helps protect against post-menopausal bone deterioration.
  • 1 cup of kale has over 350% of your daily Vitamin A requirements.  Vitamin A is needed for healthy eyes, reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, and is necessary for your cells to grow in a healthy and productive manner.
  • Kale has a compound called glucosinolates which forms isothiocyanates (ICTs).  The presence of ICTs has been linked to a reduction in risk for 5 types of cancers; ovarian, prostate, colon, breast, and bladder.
  • Kale has 45 different kinds of flavanoids.  Check out this past post for the benefits of flavanoids.
  • 1 cup of kale also provides 88% of your daily Vitamin C requirements.  So, in one cup of kale you have basically done all the work you need to get your Vitamin C, K, and A.

You’re impressed, admit it.

How can you invite kale into your home?  If you’re a morning smoothie person, why not throw in a cup of kale?  For lunch, a  side salad with a couple of cups of lightly steamed kale mixed with other veggies and tasty dressing might be nice.  It’s possible to steam kale, puree it, and then add it into pasta sauces, chili’s or other casserole type dishes (even Mac and Cheese for the mums out there reading).

Here are a couple of delicious recipes to get your started from a book called “The Book of Kale” by Sharon Hana which was kindly lent to me by my classmate Lisa V.  Enjoy!

Savoury Kale & Pumpkin Scones

Kale Scones

Ingredients:  2 cups kale leaves, loosely packed 2 cups unbleached flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tbsp sugar 1/3 cup cold butter 1 egg 3/4 cup buttermilk 1/4 cup cooked squash or pumpkin in small dice 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Set oven rack in the middle.  Steam kale for a minute and then chop finely – try to squeeze out as much water as possible.  Blend flour, salt, soda, baking powder and sugar together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers.  In a small bowl, beat the egg, then add the buttermilk, continuing to beat until well combined. Add egg/buttermilk mixture, along with squash, kale and cheese to dry ingredients, mixing with a fork just enough to combine.  Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Kale Cottage Cheese Muffins
Kale Cottage Cheese Muffins

Ingredients:  2 eggs, 1 cup low fat cottage cheese, 2 tsp dried dillweed, 3 Tbsp minced onion or chives, 3 cups kale leaves, loosely packed, 1 ½ cups flour (I used quinoa flour), 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp sea salt.

Instructions:  In a medium bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add cottage cheese, dillweed, and onion, mixing only to combine.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place kale in a food processor. Pulse a few times until finely chopped. Squeeze excess moisture from the kale and add to cheese mixture.  In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir only enough to blend – a few lumps are acceptable.  Spoon mixture into greased non-stick muffin pan.  Bake about 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.  Makes 12 muffins.

 

Breakfast Kale Okonomiyaki

Food52

Ingredients:  1 large egg, 1/3 cups water, pinch of salt, dash of tamari, 2 tbsp flour (I used brown rice flour), 1/4 tsp baking powder, black pepper, heaping cup of kale, 1/2 cup bell peppers, 2 tsp olive oil.

Instructions:  Beat eggs and water and then add salt, tamari, flour, baking powder and black pepper.  Toss in kale and bell peppers and coat.  Heat skillet at medium heat and add the olive oil.  Pour in mixture make a flat circle.  Cook for 4 minutes on each side.  You may want to cover the skillet for the last few minutes if you like your peppers soft.  Serves 1.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

 “He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skills of the physician.”

– Chinese proverb

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Can I overdose on vitamins?

Is there any harm in going to town with vitamin and mineral supplements?

Supplement Overload

The long of the short is yes.  Before you waste money and potentially harm yourself, it would be prudent to ask yourself the following questions:

1.)  Do I need to be taking this supplement?

2.)  How much should I take?

3.)  Is it possible for me to avoid a supplementation and get what I want through food?

So, do you need to be taking a supplement?  I will throw that question back at you.  Why are you interested in supplementation?  Sure, there are some great vitamins and minerals that are useful to take daily for prevention of illness.  For example, Vitamin C and Zinc in the winter are excellent at supporting the immune system.  Omega-3 Fish Oil is helpful for those who want to work on supporting cognitive function, healthy skin and nails, and even low mood.

Dr. Oz

Oh No You Didn’t!

But then we get to all kinds of weird supplements that people are taking because of segments viewed on the Dr. Oz Show.  Raspberry Ketones, Blueberry Supplements, and Forskolin for example.  You may want to do some research on what exactly these supplements are indicated for and re-evaluate accordingly.  I’m a big fan of finding scholarly journals to see if the research backs the use of supplementing with a specific nutrient.  Dr. Oz Dr. said Forskolin “explodes” fat right out of fat cells and assists with weight loss” but I have never heard of a supplement that is better for weight loss than activity.  You get the gist.

Multi V

This leads me to Multivitamins.  I’m not a huge fan for a few reasons.  First off, why take a slew of vitamins and minerals that you may or may not need in doses that may or may not be enough for what you?  Secondly, while many nutrients work synergistically, others compete thereby reducing the overall effectiveness of certain compounds.  Thirdly, I believe that many people will make less of an effort to prepare and eat healthy whole foods when they have a multivitamin crutch in their back pocket.

Okay, so now we have narrowed down our list of supplements to those we really need.  The Canadian Government has a handy little chart available online that details how much of each nutrient you should be consuming each day.  You will notice that each nutrient has three columns; EAR, RDA/AI, and UL.

EAR is the amount that would satisfy the needs of 50% of the population.  Don’t pay too much attention to this number.

RDA/AI is the Recommended Daily Allowance and is the number you should be aiming for.

UL just means Upper Limit.  Don’t go above this number without consulting with a health care practitioner.

I remember not feeling well once upon a time after taking a bunch of Vitamin B Complex…my fingers and arms felt like there were electrical currents running through them and it was not pleasant.  It’s best to stay below the UL if you want to avoid potential dangerous side effects.

Pay special attention to Vitamins A, D, E, and K as these are fat soluble and can be stored in your body.  Taking too much of any particular fat soluble vitamin can be toxic.  To find out how much of a specific supplement you should be taking for prevention or therapeutic treatment of a condition, check with your Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist.

Food vs. Supplement

Can you get the nutrients required for optimal health through your food?  I would argue it is definitely more advantageous to try through food first but perhaps this is not realistic for certain populations and some conditions where nutrients are being taken therapeutically.  For example, most vegetarian (women) need iron, folate, and B12 supplementation.  People who work with kids and thereby require a super strong immune system might want to consider Vitamin C and Zinc supplementation but that’s not to say you can’t get it from food.  You certainly can.

Health Challenge

Here is a challenge for you.  Check out how much calcium you should be consuming each day and see if you can get to your RDA before the end of the day (here is the clincher) without the use of dairy.  Email me if you achieve this totally doable goal and let me know how you did it:  thehealthjunction@mail.com

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

““My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” 

– Ellen DeGeneres

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Monday Morning Roundup: Porn Stars Are Happier Than Us, Vasectomy 101, and Nutrition Apps for Kids

All the news that’s fit to print from the world of health, nutrition, and wellness – enjoy!

Most kids I know have an unhealthy attachment to their electronic devices – iPod, iPhones, etc.  But, what if you could install an app that helps your kids learn about food in a way that is actually fun?  Laura Kane from The Toronto Star wrote a piece that details apps geared at having kids interact with their food virtually.  Users will be introduced to the concept of calories, portion size, and sugar/salt content.  Pretty cool.

Researchers at Shippensburg University,  Texas Woman’s University and the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation published a study entitled Pornography Actresses: An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis in the Journal of Sex Research.  They found that contrary to popular belief, female pornography performers actually had a higher self-esteem, better body image, a more positive outlook on life, and higher levels of spirituality as compared to the average American woman.

If you are baffled at the level of obesity in  North America, you will probably find this article by Gina Kolata of The New York Times fascinating.  The question of why so many of us fail to partake in regular activity when we know it’s required for our health is examined by Iowa State University’s Dr. Ekkekakis.  In Ekkekakis’ recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that instead of telling people “just get moving for 30 minutes a day” we need to help them find an activity and intensity level that makes them feel good.  It was found that subjects who participated in activities that had a pleasurable component (could be a 5 minute cool down after a tough workout) were more motivated to continue in the future.

This is a humourous article from The Guardian about a little procedure called The Vasectomy.  Learn how it’s done, what the recovery is like, and why men are less into getting a vasectomy than ever before.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

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Bioflavonoids 101 In 100 Words

I work, live, and study in the world of nutrition and until about one hour ago had no clue what bioflavonoids were or why we should be consuming them regularly.  Here is the dealio on bioflavonoids in 100 words.

Compounds found in Bioflavanoids help support capillary integrity and (P)ermeability (hence why it’s called Vitamin P) by making it easier for nutrients, oxygen, and carbon dioxide to get into capillaries.  Bioflavonoids also act as an antibiotic, reduce inflammation, and make Vitamin C last longer in our body – hooray!

Are you deficient in bioflavonoids?  You might be if you  have issues with bruising, bleeding gums, intestinal ulcers, or a generally weak immune system (like you’re always getting sick).  Supplementing is recommended at 125 – 250 mg @ 3/day but it is probably easier and cheaper to actually get Vitamin P from the source – food!  Here is a list of foods high in Bioflavonoids:

  • Citrus fruit (or juice with the pulp)
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Pinto and Black  Beans
  • Apricots
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Black Currants
  • Plums
  • Blackberries
  • Green Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Buckwheat

 THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“The way to change others’ minds is with affection, and not anger.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

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