Taking ownership of your health

With so many health issues facing the average person, it is more important than ever to take ownership of your health. But what does that mean? Continue reading

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Do you drink fluoridated tap water?

You might be surprised to learn that the fluoride that is added to our drinking water is a waste management product from industries such as aluminium and phosphate fertilzation. They capture toxic fumes emitting from their smoke stacks and this is transferred and diluted in our drinking water. Fluoride was added to drinking water starting in the 40’s to supposedly lower rates of tooth decay.  Studies in the following years showed a drop in cavities, but other countries also experienced a similar drop. Today, there is no discernable difference in tooth decay rates between countries that do and do not fluoridate their water. Continue reading

Taking charge of your health can start with a simple at home test

So many of us are suffering from fatigue, depression, dry skin, thinning hair, high cholesterol, low libido and many other thyroid symptoms. Perhaps you have already had your thyroid checked (a TSH test perhaps?) and your doctor said you were fine. Please read on to find out how this test is not enough and what you can do about it here.

Energy Pucks and Kale Pesto Pasta

Today, I attended the Bronte Seventh Day Adventist Vegan Food Fair in Oakville, On. where I gave a demo of 2 vegan recipes. These are the recipes I made and promised.

Cathy’s Energy Pucks

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This recipe can be made in so many different ways. If you don’t like coconut, add more rolled oats or hemp hearts. If you don’t want hemp hearts, add more rolled oats. If you don’t like ginger, omit. Add seeds instead of nuts to make school friendly.

1 cup walnuts or almonds
1 cup rolled or quick oats
3/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 good thumb size piece of fresh peeled ginger, grated
1 cup prunes, dates or figs
1/4 cup maple syrup, brown rice syrup or (honey – strict vegans will not use)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2-1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of sea salt (optional)

Process nuts in food processor until cut into small pieces. Add oats, hemp hearts, coconut, prunes, ginger, cinnamon and salt to the processor and blend until everything is well incorporated and prunes (or whatever dried fruit you have used)  are chopped up small. Add coconut oil and sweetener and process until evenly distributed and mixture starts to clump together. Place into small silicone muffin trays and freeze for 30 minutes or longer. They will be easy to pop out and can be stored in the fridge or freezer in containers.

Cathy’s Kale Pesto Pasta – Grain Free!

I have been making this dish for several years, but have recently discovered a new mung bean fettucine by Explore Asian – http://www.explore-asian.com/bean-pasta/ which has an incredible nutritional profile. It is made of organic mung beans and water and 1/4 of the package has 23g of protein and 5g net carbs (carbs minus fibre)! Wow, how do they do it?
While this does not replicate exactly the taste of regular pasta, I like it and so do several others I have served it to. If I used a regular pasta to make this dish, I would add some kind of legumes to it for protein if serving it as a main dish.

1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 bunch of kale, washed, destemmed and cut up small
1 tub Sunflower Kale Oregano pesto – http://www.sunflowerkitchen.com/products_pestos.html
1 package of mung bean fettuccine

Saute onions and garlic in water, broth or wine until soft. Put kale in a colander and place in sink. Add pasta to boiling water for 5 minutes. Empty pasta into a second colander directly over the kale. The kale will wilt and turn dark green from the heat. Rinse the pasta under water and then combine pasta, kale, pesto and onions in the hot empty pot. It should be sufficiently hot to serve immediatly.

Heart Health Tips

February is Heart month in Canada. Here are a few nutritional recommendations that can improve your heart and overall health.

1. Increase consumption of omega 3 fats.

Almost all of us need to increase our consumption of omega 3 fats (fish, fish oil, flax and chia seeds etc.). When it comes to eating fish, the smaller the better. Mercury and other toxins have less of a chance to bio-accumulate in sardines and anchovies, making them a better choice to include in your diet over the more popular salmon, which is often farmed.
While nuts and seeds offer an array of health benefits, it is difficult (but not impossible) to eat enough of these short chain fatty acids for your body to convert them into the healthier long chain fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that fish offer.  Even so, include raw, unsalted nuts and seeds in your diet. Aiming for 1-2 tbsp. of ground flax every day is a good place to start. Add it to oatmeal or a smoothie.
Action Tip:  To be safe and proactive, it is very healthy for the average adult to consume one-teaspoon daily of quality fish oil that offers at least 1500 mg of omega 3. If you take fish oil capsules, be sure to take enough to get this amount.
Increasing our levels of omega 3’s leads to less inflammation, lowered blood pressure, lower levels of depression, better joint health, brain function, skin health and the list goes on!
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, and do not wish to consume fish oil, there are a few options for you. Look for vegetarian based omega 3’s from echium and algal oils.

2.  Decrease consumption of processed foods.

Processed foods generally give us more of the omega 6 fats (safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, sesame, peanut, soy, canola) that we are already too high in as well as excessive sodium levels. The average person is consuming 20 to 50 times more omega 6 than omega 3 and this should be closer to a 4:1 ratio or even 1:1!
Action Tip:  Start by throwing out all your bottled salad dressing (you are having fresh greens every day, right?) and make your own.  Store bought salad dressings use cheap ingredients that are troublesome on several levels. Make your own with flaxseed oil, olive oil, nut and seed butters or avocados. You can puree an avocado in a blender and add your other ingredients like lemon or raw apple cider vinegar etc. This will give you better quality fats, lower sodium levels and eliminate things like artificial flavours and MSG.

3.  Decrease sugar consumption (especially white).

In addition to fat, sugar plays a significant role in heart health. Sugar contributes to high cholesterol levels, inflammation and weight gain.  With a reduction in processed foods, sugar levels should naturally come down. It would be best for us to curtail our appetite and desire for sweets, but that isn’t easy to change over night.
Action Tip:  If you consume soda, start by decreasing your consumption and substitute with drinks like Zevia, which is sweetened with stevia. You can also sweeten soda water or plain water with flavoured liquid stevia.  There are many different flavours available and it mixes easily in other liquids. Look for it in the natural health section of your grocery store or at a health store.
For juice drinkers, dilute juice 50/50 with water. Remember it is best to eat your calories, not drink them! In time, most people find their taste buds have increased sensitivity to sweetness and can be satisfied with less.

4. Sauté foods in water, broth or wine.
Action Tip:  Add olive oil for flavour after most of the cooking has been done. You can also sauté in high smoke point oils such as coconut oil and/or ghee (clairified butter).

Do you keep a medical file at home?

Most people I meet tell me that they do not have copies of any blood or other laboratory tests at home. They take their doctors word for it, when told their numbers are good or too high etc. They are not on top of their own health and I believe by being less than vigilant about keeping their own records, to some extent are not taking full responsibility for their health either. Let me explain. I have the perfect example of what happened to me. I had my vitamin D levels checked along with some other standard blood tests. On my follow-up visit, my doctor proclaimed that “everything was good”. I asked for a copy of the lab paper work and it was only when I got home and read the report in detail did I realize that my vitamin D level was barely in the acceptable range. I quickly increased my vitamin D dose! When any number falls outside of a predetermined acceptable range, the lab typically flags it for the doctor, making it easy to pick up. In the rush of a typical doctor’s day, I am guessing that many doctors do not study lab reports in detail (assuming the patient has no particular risk factors) and they could miss the fact that while some numbers are within acceptable ranges, they have been falling or rising over a period of time, or in my case, barely acceptable. This is where it pays to be pro-active. What would happen if there was a fire or natural disaster at your doctor’s office that wiped out your medical records? Wouldn’t you feel good knowing that you had copies of everything at home? Next time you are at the doctors, don’t be afraid to ask for copies of your tests or anything else you might want. You might be surprised the number of times you will refer to it as you learn and educate yourself on health, nutrition, supplements and medications.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 2014:  I recently called my doctor for a physical, as it had been 4 years since my last visit. I was advised that my doctor had retired 3 years ago! Somehow they missed me when they were calling all her patients. When I asked if they still had my medical file, they said it had been sent to a storage facility and it would cost me $25 to retrieve it. Seeing as I had copies of my lab tests and there wasn’t much else in my medical history, I decided to save myself $25 and not pay for retrieval. Glad I listen to my own advice!