Spice Things Up with Curcumin and Turmeric

Spice Things Up with Curcumin and Turmeric

You know that food does more than solve your hunger. Quality food from a range of sources is key in keeping your body in top shape. This includes your physical health, mental health, and the ability to heal and recover.

It’s this ability to heal and recover that makes us so interested in turmeric and curcumin. You’ve likely seen the spice turmeric in your grocery store aisle and in many recipe ingredient lists. Recent research is supporting long-held beliefs that spices such as turmeric have the ability to ease inflammation and help you recover from joint discomfort.

In fact, turmeric is becoming so popular that it has become the must-have spice. From smoothies and drinks such as golden milk or adding it to your scrambled eggs or adding a dash or two to your soup – turmeric is everywhere.

Continue reading to learn more about the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin and how you can easily reap the rewards of this anti-inflammatory superhero. Read more

How To Eat For Your Health

How To Eat For Your Health

Your health is important to you. You want to have energy. You want to wake up each day excited for what the day brings. You want to feel and look good. You want to enjoy your favorite sports and activities.

This is why we want you to understand the importance of eating for your health. You can do all the running, bodybuilding, stretching, and yoga you want – but without a healthy diet, you’re missing the cornerstone to a healthy life.

Small changes in your diet can add up to huge benefits for you immune system health, your joint health, your ability to recover from injury, and your chances of preventing illness. It’s important to remember that the diet so many of us enjoyed in our 20’s is not the one that will see us all living well into our 90’s.

While there aren’t any guaranteed ways to prevent disease, we do know that eating a healthy diet goes a long way in aiding in the prevention of and recovery from disease, illness, and injury. And yes, we all know the person who ate super healthy and ran every day, who still died suddenly from heart problems or cancer.

But, we want you to put this negative example aside and think about what you want from life and how you’re going to achieve it. Could you make small changes to your diet that would lessen your joint discomfort or make it easier for you to play tennis? Read more

Try Something New this Spring

Try Something New this Spring

Ah, spring is in the air. The snow is melting. The early bulbs are starting to poke through. The green grass is almost ready for a mow. Kids are outside playing in the parks and zipping around on their bikes. People even appear to be happier now that the cold and grey slushy snow is gone.

For many, spring feels like the ideal time for a fresh start. While it’s always a good time to try something new, we want you to think about doing so this spring. Embrace the fresh air, bright blue sky, and warmer longer days with a new activity or two. The physical and mental health rewards of getting out and meeting new people, trying a new activity, or even eating a new food – cannot be overlooked. Maybe you’re struggling with daily joint discomfort or have always wanted to improve your swimming – well now is the time – sign-up for some stroke improvement classes or join a masters-level swim club. Read more

Tips for Avoiding Temptation this Holiday Season

Tips for Avoiding Temptation this Holiday Season

Holidays are a time to enjoy with family and friends, reminisce on the past year and set new intentions for the year ahead. Unfortunately for some, the looming work deadlines and the endless Christmas parties is a stressful time of year that may lead to unhealthy snacking and overindulging in treats. Christmas celebrations happen once a year and it’s okay to indulge a little. We just need to remember not to make it a habit.

One bad snack will not undo all the good you’ve done in the recent days, weeks or months, just like doing a one day detox will not undo all the unhealthy habits you’ve adopted over the years. The key is to be aware of the situation, aware of your feelings and willing to let go once the moment has past.

If you decide to go ahead and have a sugar cookie or a slice of cake, take the smallest piece, enjoy every bite and tell yourself “This is what I needed at this moment” and let it go. If you decide you don’t want to cave in, here are a few tactics to avert the temptation and still embrace the festivities. Read more

Your Guide to Successful Meal Planning

Your Guide to Successful Meal Planning

Cooking can be easy, but meal planning is a whole different ball game. With the right mindset and the following tips, meal planning can become a positive habit that can be easily implemented into your weekly routine.

Once you establish a meal planning schedule, it will help you save money, reduce food waste, reduce stress, save time, add variety to your week and allows you to allocate more time for family, friends and active living.    Read more

Benefits of Eating More Vegetarian Meals

Benefits of Eating More Vegetarian Meals

You don’t have to be a strict vegetarian to experience better health. Believe it or not, cutting back on meat (even just a little) has a ton of great benefits. And if you think skipping the meat isle means you have to skimp on taste, you couldn’t be more wrong. Besides being amazing for your overall health, a plant-based diet, rich in veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds can be really delicious. Read more

Paleo Perfect – Bringing Ancient Diet and Exercise Strategies Back to Life

cavemanFor those of you who think we have nothing to learn from our ancestors, here’s some healthy, hard evidence that may change your mind. Recent research on Stone Age (or Paleolithic) lifestyle patterns has been churning up some compelling evidence on just how effective this ancient lifestyle of Paleo diet and exercise is in preventing chronic disease and promoting vibrant health. It seems that the hunting and gathering methods of our ancestors did more than just allow them to survive in this pre-agricultural era – on the contrary, this lifestyle appears to be just the ticket to solve some of the most challenging health issues plaguing our society today. Of course in the midst of the modern conveniences of today, not even the most rustic, nature-loving individual would be likely to adopt this lifestyle in its entirety. But we can certainly take some clues from this ancient lifestyle framework and incorporate them into our daily lives to help us on our road to health. Here’s a snapshot of the Paleo Life and why it works so well to protect us against disease.

The development of cultivating plant crops and domesticating animals began over 10,000 years ago, leading to the addition of various foods such as wheat, legumes and dairy products to the diet. Prior to this lifestyle shift, the diet of the Paleolithic era consisted of foods that were hunted and gathered, such as wild game, fish, fruits, nuts, wild greens and tubers. These foods are still recommended as part of a healthy diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and other health promoting nutrients. However, unlike the modern diet that is also filled with processed foods, salt, sugar, dairy foods and oils, our ancestors managed without these additions…and not only managed, but thrived in their absence.

A strict Paleo diet does not include cultivated foods such as dairy products, wheat, legumes, soy, sugar, starch or caffeine. Instead, high-quality protein foods such as wild-caught fish, free-range chicken and beef, and organic eggs as well as large quantities of vegetables are consumed. Nuts and low sugar fruits such as blueberries are also included. Recent evidence on benefits of the Paleo diet includes decreased blood pressure, insulin levels, cholesterol and plasma triglycerides, and in many cases, these results were evident after even short-term dietary intervention.

Not surprisingly, the exercise patterns of this ancient era also offer great health benefits. The Paleo exercise regime focuses on diverse, moderate levels of exercise such as walking 6-16km most days a week as well as running, lifting, climbing, carrying, etc., which combined, offer a well-rounded exercise regime in today’s terms including cardiovascular, strength and flexibility exercises. A large body of evidence demonstrates that the synergistic benefits of doing a combination of aerobic and strength training improves hyperglycemia compared to performing either activity exclusively. Beyond variety in daily activities, variations in activities between days is also an important characteristic of the Paleo lifestyle, usually incorporating a less intense day following a more strenuous day in order to allow the muscles to relax and recover.

Furthermore, our ancestors tended to walk and run barefoot on natural grass and dirt surfaces and never on solid flat ground, as we tend to do nowadays, which tends to place less stress on the joints. Although it is unrealistic to adapt this type of barefoot exercise in present day, opting for shoes offering more of a “barefoot” feel in addition to getting as much outdoor exercise, such as hiking, as possible will help mimic this back to basic lifestyle.

Despite the warnings about UV and our health, we are all intuitively aware of the health benefits of getting fresh air and sunshine, and the paleo lifestyle certainly got its fair share of both. Research suggests that outdoor exercise has added health advantages over indoor physical activity such as sunlight exposure that allows the body to synthesize vitamin D, thus offering protective effects against bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Finally, although low-to-moderate exercises make up the majority of the daily physical activity of a Paleolithic regime, life in the wild did cause our ancestors to experience occasional bursts of moderate-to-high intensity level exercise as well. Studies show that interval training results in better weight loss, control of blood glucose levels, and more fitness gains than equal or longer amounts of continuous activity at lower intensities. Incorporating one or two short but intense workouts every week is a great way to supercharge your workout routine.

The Paleo lifestyle is a simplified way of life emphasizing variety and being in tune with the natural rhythm of life. Beyond general health benefits, following this type of exercise regime discourages “addiction” to regular and prolonged cardiovascular activity, which can result in increased cardiovascular risk and oxidative stress and do more harm than good. When combined with a diet high in natural foods (and lacking the processed food options that are so abundant today), the Paleo lifestyle offers significant benefits in preventing chronic disease, weight loss and management and overall health. If history repeats itself, the Paleo era is a blast from the past that we can all truly benefit from.

References:

Eat like a caveman. Available at: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA36527/eat-like-a-caveman-paleolithic-diet.html

Frassetto, L.A., Schloetter, M., Mietus-Synder, M., Morris Jr., R.C., Sebastian, A. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009; 63: 947-955.

O’Keefe, J.H., Vogel, R., Lavie, C.J., Cordian, L. Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic physical fitness. Progress in cardiovascular diseases. 2011; 53: 471-479.

O’Keefe, J.H., Vogel, R., Lavie, C.J., Cordian, L. Organic fitness: physical activity consistent with our hunter-gatherer heritage. The physician and sports medicine. 2010. 38(4): 1-8.

The Paleo Diet. Available at: http://thepaleodiet.com

The Superfood Advantage

Over the years, the term “healthy eating” has turned into a quagmire of messages that could confuse even the most nutrition-savvy person. What used to be a simple concept revolving around consuming less fat and more fresh fruits and vegetables is now a complex mechanism involving omega-3 fats, trans fats, antioxidants, probiotics, fiber and the glycemic index. Having these attributes (or even better, a combination of them) heightens some foods into the superhero status of foods accurately deemed “superfoods.” But what is a superfood and what exactly makes them “super”?

First, a “superfood” or “superfruit” are not official terms by any means; they are marketing terms that are not recognized by the Food and Drug Administration. Nonetheless, they can be defined as being natural foods that are low in calories but very rich in phytochemicals and essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Many fruits,  vegetables and spices fall into this category such as blueberries, pomegranates, acai berries, spinach, cacao, salmon, walnuts, green tea and cinnamon, to name a few. The superiority of these foods is a product of their health benefits which range from antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antithrombotic and neuroprotective properties, among others.

Berries in particular have been studied extensively for their cancer-preventative effects on tumor growth. Flavanol-rich cocoa has been shown to benefit cardiovascular and cognitive health, and nitrate-rich spinach has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health. Omega-3 rich fish and nuts (ie. walnuts) also claim their stake in the superfoods realm due to their ability to combat chronic inflammation and their cardio-protective benefits.

Although it may seem that these foods alone will throw you into new nutritional heights, superfoods are not stand alone products. The concept of balance applies just as much to this superior realm of foods – as part of a well-balanced diet, they have the potential to greatly enhance your health and vitality, but they are by no means a “quick fix” or a ”one-stop shop” to better health.

Certain diets such as the Paleo diet (also known as the caveman diet) and the Mediterranean diet emphasize consuming a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. In addition to fresh produce, the Paleo diet typically emphasizes the consumption of lean animal proteins, eggs, nuts, fungi and roots and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, sugar and processed oils. In contrast, Mediterranean diets include a variety of dairy, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. Both of these diets have been associated with positive health benefits, and now we know that the reason is for their emphasis on “superfoods”.

Not surprisingly, the average modern diet, rich in processed foods, grains and fatty meats, pales in comparison to the prehistoric framework of the paleo diet. A study from the University of California found significant benefits in blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles in healthy sedentary subjects fed a hunter-gatherer (paleo) diet; and these benefits were seen even in the short term without weight loss being a factor. On the same note, the Mediterranean diet has been studied extensively for its significant reductions in disease-specific mortality.

Superfoods make up a versatile category that encompasses a wide range of foods, and how you choose to integrate them into your diet is up to you. But, you can be sure that your natural disease protection factor will skyrocket by eating this more of this stratosphere variety of protective foods. When in doubt, always choose a wide and colorful variety of fruits and veggies, nuts and lean meats as the main components of your diet and you are sure to be on the right track.

References:

Allen, G. Does “Super Fruit” Live up to the super claims? Available at: dfw.cbslocal.com

Bondonno, C.P., Yang, X., Croft, K.D., Considine, M.J., Ward, N.C., Rich, L., Puddey, I.B., Swinny, E., Mubarak, A., Hodgson, J.M. Flavanoid-rich apples and nitrate-rich spinach augment nitric oxide status and improve endothelial function in healthy men and women: a randomized controlled trial. Free Radical Biology & Medicine. 2011; 52:95-102.

Francis, S.T., Head, K. Morris, P.G., MacDonald, I.A. The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people. Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 2006; 47(2): S215-S220.

Frassetto, L.A., Schloetter, M., Synder, M., Morris, R.C., Sebastian, A. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009; 63: 947-955.

Heiss, C., Finis, D., Kleinbongard, P., Hoffmann, A., Rassaf, T., Kelm, M., Sies, H. Sustained increase in flow-mediated dilation after daily intake of high-flavanol cocoa drink over 1 week. Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 2007; 49(2): 74-80.

Knoops, K., Lisette, C., DeGroot, M., Kromhout, D., Perrin, A., Moreiras-Varela, O., Menotti, A., VanStaveren, W. Mediterranean diet, lifestyle factors, and 10-year mortality in elderly European men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2004; 292 (12):1433-1439.

Selmi, C., Mao, T.K., Keen, C.L., Schmitz, H.H., Harold, H., Gershwin, E. The Anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa flavanols. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 2006; 47:S163-S171.

Seeram, N.O., Adams, L.S., Zhang, Y., Lee, R., Sand, D., Scheuller, H.S., Heber, D. Blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, red raspberry and strawberry extracts inhibit growth and stimulate apoptosis of human cancer cells in vitro. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. 2006; 54(25):9329-9339.

Parasramka, M.A., Dashwood, M., Wang, R., Abdelli, A., Bailey, G.S., Williams, D.E., Ho, E., Dashwood, R.H. MicroRNA profiling of carcinogen-induced rat colon tumors and the influence of dietary spinach. Molecular Nutrition Food Research. 2012; 56(8):1259-1269.

Zelman, K.M. Diet Review: The Caveman (Paleo) Diet. Available at: www.webmd.com.

No-Dread Detox Strategies

If the term “detoxification” has you conjuring disturbing images of unpalatable concoctions or unsatisfying liquid diets, think again. Nature is literally bursting at the seams with detoxifiers, the problem is that many of us are so attuned to hearing about the latest “detox” craze that we don’t even consider the fact that a healthy diet can do just as much to rid us of our toxic burden. Here are some great options that can be found in our everyday diets. Be prepared to feel healthy, energized and alert just by incorporating some of these potent detoxifiers into your regular diet regime.

Of course, detoxification doesn’t start with our diets. Our bodies are naturally equipped with many detoxification mechanisms which operate on a continual basis to protect us against harmful toxins that can accumulate and cause inflammation and disease. However, in our day-to-day life, we are all exposed to a wide variety of damaging toxins (from our air, water, foods, products we use) that can overwork the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

We can do the best we can to protect ourselves – by doing small things like using non-toxic products and drinking filtered water – but the reality is that we are bombarded with toxins from so many angles that our bodies are in a constant state of battle. This is where detoxifying foods come into the picture. We can boost our toxin defenses with these super detoxifiers and enjoy some great meals in the process.

 Gluthathione is an antioxidant compound in the body that helps to eliminate disease-causing free radicals.  As we age, tissue glutathione levels decrease and so does our ability to control damage caused by reactive oxygen species. Glutathione is also found in various foods such as avocado, watermelon, asparagus and walnuts (sounds like a delicious salad, right?) Interestingly, studies have shown that lower calorie diets (compared with typical North American calorie-laden diets) can increase longevity and contribute to sustained health because it helps to maintain glutathione in the tissues during aging.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been widely studied for its anti-inflammatory effects and acts as a powerful antioxidant scavenging free radicals and protecting DNA from oxidative damage. Green tea is another natural antioxidant as it contains catechins that are polyphenols that can activate detoxification enzymes in the liver and has been shown to protect against cancer.

Probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which can be found in probiotic yogurt or supplements, can help to replenish intestinal bacteria with beneficial bacterial species, thereby restoring the normal intestinal bacterial balance that is disrupted by toxins passing through the digestive system.

Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli are also potent detoxifiers due to their ability to stimulate antioxidant and detoxification (ie. phase 2) enzymes in the body.  This superfood group of vegetables are high in sulfur (as are onions and garlic… also potent detoxifiers), a mineral that is also associated with detoxifying effects.

This one may come as a surprise, but omega-3s certainly have a place in the realm of natural detoxification. Their anti-inflammatory benefits support immune function, which in turn help the body to eliminate as well as help the body repair damage from toxins.

Toxins trapped in joints causes inflammation, thus clearing out accumulated toxins is an essential strategy in relieving joint aches. The immune-boosting (and resulting detoxifying) effect of omega-3s contributes to their effectiveness in relieving aches and inflammation due to arthritic conditions such as joint aches.

SierraSil®, a patented, proprietary mineral complex, is another powerful natural detoxifier with benefits in relieving joint aches. Its ability to bind accumulated toxins stems from its charged structure, which attracts positively charged toxins into its negatively charged inner layers, allowing for their safe elimination from the body. It can be found at www.sierrasil.com.

It is important to keep in mind that your diet is intricately related to your ability to fend off the damaging effects of toxins. Diets rich in fibre and antioxidans help to eliminate waste and toxins from your system. When combined with a diet free of processed, high salt and high fat- containing foods, plenty of water and regular exercise, these detoxification strategies go a long way to help the body abolish harmful toxins in a healthy and natural manner, all without the struggle of traditional detox regimes.

References:

Ahmad, N., Mukhtar, H. Green tea polyphenols and cancer: biologic mechanism and practical implications. Nutrition Reviews. 1999; 57(3): 78-83.

The Natural way to detox…and why you should. Available at: www.cncahealth.com

Duvoix, A., Blasius, R., Delhalle, S., Schnekenburger, M., Morceau, F., Henry, E., Dicato, M., Diederich, M. Chemopreventive and therapeutic effects of curcumin. Cancer Letters. 2005; 223(2): 181-190.

Higdon, J.V., Delage, B., Williams, D.E., Dashwood, R.H. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. 2007; 55(3):224-236.

Jeffery, E. Detoxification Basics. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Available at: www.alternative-therapies.com

Jeffery, E. Diet and Detoxification Enzymes. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Available at:: www.alternative-therapies.com

Pastore, A., Federici, G., Bertini, E., Piemonte, F. Analysis of glutathione: implication in redox and detoxification. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2003; 333(1): 19-39.

Salminen, S. Nyborn, S., Meriluto, J., Collado, M.C., Vasterlund, S., El-Nezami, H. Interaction of probiotics and pathogens-benefits to human health? Food Biotechnology. 2010; 21(2): 157-167.

Wollowski, I., Rechkemmer, G., Pool-Zabel, B.L. Protective role of probiotics and prebiotics in colon cancer. American Society for Clinical Nutrition. 2001; 73: 451-455.