Monday, February 28, 2011

Is Kombucha a Wonder Drink or Foodie Fad?


by Lisa Batson, CNP

Kombucha has sprung up on the shelves of every big and small health food store over night. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and it always calms my nerves a little bit and I know it’s good for my digestion. But at $4 a bottle at most retailers it’s an expensive daily habit. And like goji berries and noni juice and tons of other overnight heath food sensations, I’m often left wondering if it really IS all that good for me? So I started to do some research, and this is what I found.

Kombucha is a ‘living’ health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the kombucha culture. It is thought to have originated from China and has been used for thousands of years, and was referred to as the ‘tea of immortality.’ It seems that this super-tea has been around and healing since the Tsin Dynasty in 221 BC.

Very impressive history but what health benefits can Kombucha actually offer? The Kombucha culture is a mushroom, often called a ‘scoby’ that stands for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts’. The culture is placed in black or green tea and turns the sweet tea into a delicious and bubbly beverage packed-with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and health-promoting organic acids.

As the Kombucha culture digests the sugar it produces a range of organic acids including glucuronic acid and lactic acid. It also produces vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C; as well as amino acids and enzymes. And the scoby itself is filled with a plethora of health-supporting probiotic microorganisms to support body systems.

In terms of health benefits, although research has not been extensively done to support its positive effects, thousands of years of experiential use support a wide range of health benefits for all body systems. Kombucha is well known for it’s detoxifying effect, which is caused by the all-mighty glucuronic acid produced in the fermentation process. This is the body’s most important detoxifier and helps the kidneys flush all the nasty things we put into our bodies. Kombucha is known to have antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties which help our immune systems fight off foreign invaders.

Some of the most common acknowledged benefits include increased energy levels, decreases digestive problems & candidiasis, and is thought to improve hypertension, allergies, cancer, HIV, chronic fatigue and especially arthritis.

Lastly, and most exciting to me, is that I recently found out how that I can make kombucha for myself at home in approximately two weeks of beautiful fermenting! So, I do plan to continue drinking kombucha as often as possible – but to spare myself the sticker shock, I am definitely going to start brewing at home.

If you want to give it a go, check out http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Kombucha-Tea for step by step info on how to make it along with a video.

Happy Kombuching!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wholesome Baked Beans (crock pot style) - Hearty Antioxidant’s Recipe

by Denise Rodrigues, RCNP, ROHP


Kidneys beans or any type of beans for that matter is a very good way of balancing blood sugar related to cardiovascular diseases.  I chose kidney beans because it’s widely available and more people are familiar with it. One cup of kidney beans provides about 45 % of the daily recommended intake of fibre and when combined in the digestive tract, it becomes gelatinous which combines with excess bile and carries cholesterol through the intestines for further elimination.  Beans are very versatile and can be used as a side dish, as a main course or either in a soup or salad.

Other built up toxins and bacteria in the body also gets eliminated through the process due to the high percentage of soluble fibre content in this recipe.


Ingredients:
 
2 pounds organic kidney beans
1 medium onion, diced
3 heads garlic, minced
2 medium red bell peppers, diced into small pieces
2 small zucchinis, diced in small squares
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup organic blackstrap molasses (amazing source of iron)  
1/4 can  organic tomato sauce (another source of iron)
1 bulb of fresh anise
1-2 tsp tamari sauce-seasoned to taste

Optional: 2 blocks of tempeh diced into ¼ inch cubes 


Preparation: 
Soak the beans overnight for 8 to 10 hours in filtered water with 1 tsp lemon juice to increase the digestibility and neutralize phytic acids which cause gas and bloating

Place the beans in the Crock-Pot and cover with fresh filtered water. Put the lid on and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours or until beans are tender when you poke them with a fork.  Timing varies depending on your Crock-Pot.

Drain off most of the excess liquid from the beans after four hours, except for about 1 cup. Mix all the remaining ingredients, (except for the vegetables) into the Crock-Pot and cook for another 1-2 hours or until desired texture is reached, add vegetables in at the last half hour of cooking

Serve warm or cold depending on the season, garnish with fresh parsley or dried grounded basil leaves
 


Nutritional Value: soluble fiber all star, high in iron, excellent source of molybdenum, very good source of folate and manganese.   Very high source of protein, thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus, copper, magnesium potassium and vitamin K as well.  Blackstrap molasses is also very high in iron.


Enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Impact of Dehydration on Asthma


By Maria E. Roldan, RNCP, ROHP, NNCP

The incidence of asthma is growing in number and severity and most people are either put on medication or are using over the counter drugs to deal with it. Dr. F. Batmanghelidj in his book “Your body’s many cries for water”[i], explains a very important point that has been overlooked when treating this condition: dehydration. Inadequate water consumption has an impact in the development of asthma and this should be addressed before prescribing any medication.

The human body is composed of 75% water and it has systems that regulate its distribution.  Those systems of “drought management”, have established certain priorities according to the importance of the organs (for instance, the brain is treated with the highest priority). Histamine is in charge of the water regulation system so when we don’t drink enough water, it becomes overly active. If the dehydration becomes chronic, too much histamine is released and can cause allergies, asthma, and chronic pain in different parts of the body. But these conditions should not be treated with medication (i.e. antihistamines) because they are signals telling us that there is a shortage of water in your body.

If a state of chronic dehydration in the body causes asthma, the person will experience increased respiratory distress, coughing and excess mucous secretion. All that bronchial constriction is caused by increased levels of histamine in the lung tissue. The lungs need water to keep the air passages moist and to prevent them from drying up when air circulates in and out. Therefore, the release of histamine in the lungs is really a response from the body to preserve its levels of water in an organ that is a major site of water loss.

The minimum daily water intake should be 6 to 8, 8oz glasses per day (alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeine-containing beverages do not count as water) and the best times to drink it are half an hour before taking food and two and a half hours after each meal. A rule that can be used to calculate the number of glassed needed is to drink a half-ounce of water for every pound of body weight. On average, a patient suffering from asthma should see positive results after three to four weeks of regulating their body water levels (Batmanghelidj 135-136). Something to keep in mind is that the increase of water intake should be done gradually and sustained on a daily basis. Overdrinking or “binging” in water for a few days is not going to undo the damage of months or years of chronic dehydration.

Watching the levels of potassium intake is also recommended for asthmatics because high amounts of it can promote the increase of histamine production. A good example of this is orange juice, which has a very high amount of potassium, therefore, a maximum of two glasses a day should be consumed.

In regards to the quality of drinking water, it is ideal if the patient uses filtered water. Chlorinated water, besides causing skin irritation and destroying the friendly microflora of the digestive track, forms free radicals and promotes oxidation (it can for instance deplete our vitamin E reserves). Even worse, chlorinated water contains chemical compounds called trihalomethanes, which are carcinogens that result from the mix of chlorine with organic matter. These chemicals can cause mutations by altering DNA and can also suppress the function of the immune system. In addition, chlorine has been proven to aggravate asthma in children, especially in those who get exposed to it by frequent use of swimming pools[ii].

It is refreshing to find theories that offer new options for the prevention and treatment of conditions like asthma, which affect an increasing amount of people every day. Keeping the body hydrated with good quality water is the goal. It seems so simple that many people, including doctors, have completely forgotten its value. I don’t think that water alone can cure asthma, because it has also been proven that exposure to allergens (environmental and in food) are major factors in developing this condition. However, the explanations mentioned above, about how the body regulates its water levels with the help of histamine make total sense. I think that water therapy is definitely worth trying and maintaining in the long run because it will be extremely beneficial for your general health. The other lesson here is that medication in many cases works against you and can make you ignore your own body’s signals for help. Like Dr. Batmanghelidj points it out in the cover of his book: “You’re not sick; you’re thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication”.




[i] Batmanghelidj, F.  Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. USA: GHS Inc, 2008

[ii] “Rethinking Chlorinated Tap Water”, article by Dr. Zolta P. Rona MD MSc. IHN Notes, P. 36

* Image courtesy of Seaskylab

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quick and Easy Banana Muffins (Gluten and Grain-Free Options)


A healthy snack with only 3 ingredients!
If you add protein powder it can be a good breakfast option too, for days when you’re on the go.
Heads up: without gluten these muffins won’t rise, but are still healthy and delicious.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups brown rice flour (1 cup can be hemp or rice protein powder, or for a grain-free option use almond flour)
2 tsp baking powder (optional)
1 ½ cups (about 2 large or 4 small) mashed ripe bananas

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven at 350oF
  2. Mash bananas in a mixing bowl, then add the dry ingredients to make a nice dough
  3. Line a 12-muffin tray with muffin cups or lightly grease the tray with coconut oil
  4. Place about 1/3 cup of dough in each muffin cup
  5. Bake for 45 minutes (or until muffin surfaces are firm and dry)
  6. Allow to cool before removing from tray

Hayley Shwaizer, CNP (recipe courtesy of: Randall, Rose Marie, 1976 from her book The Nine Biggest Problem Foods - and how to live without them, RoR Books, 2006)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tap Along to Good Health and Success: Tapping Therapy


What is Tapping Therapy?

Used by some of the top health experts of today, Tapping Therapy or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) combines the ancient principles of Chinese acupuncture with modern psychology to help you overcome emotional and physical barriers and traumas that hold you back from success in your life. It is a quick and effective technique where you tap on meridian energy points to help you to shift or release negative energy barriers. It’s simple, painless and requires no special equipment or drugs so it can be practiced anywhere.

People use it to enhance athletic, business, and personal performance, as well as increase prosperity, and to reduce bad habits. They also use tapping to address physical issues such as weight loss, allergies, blood pressure, and chronic pain management, and/or emotional issues such as fears and phobias, stress, sadness, anger, frustration, self-esteem issues or disappointment. Your mind is the limit!

To find out more about Tapping Therapy, including exactly how to start right away, there is a Free 10 Day Event starting February 21, 2011 that I really want to share with you all. It’s called The 2011 Tapping World Summit. The Tapping World Summit is a rare collection of interviews from the experts that teach and live daily with the Tapping tools, applied both in their own lives and those of their clients.

Some great interviews are already available on the website to get you started and introduce you to the science behind EFT. All you have to do is enter your name and email to get access to them as well as to the free 10 day event. The first interview is with Jack Canfield, Motivational Speaker and Author, most famous for his work co-creating the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. The second interview is with Bruce Lipton, Cellular Biologist and Author, best known for promoting the idea that genes and DNA can be manipulated by a person's beliefs. Other health experts being interviewed include Bob Proctor, Author and Success Mentor featured in The Secret and Dr. Joseph Mercola, founder of Mercola.com.

Almost anything can be improved through the Tapping Technique so join me for this amazing event and learn to take control of and lead a fulfilling life today.

Hayley Shwaizer, CNP

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dark Chilli-Infused Fondue



Ingredients:

1 100 gram bar of organic dark 70% chocolate
½ cup 35% cream (organic preferred)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons water
2 dried, chopped red chilies


Directions:
Break up chocolate and put in saucepan with cream and water
Over low heat, stir with small wire whisk until smooth
Add red chilies and stir
(if too thick, add few drop water and whisk to blend

Suggested dippables:
Strawberries, mango, avocado
Strawberries, mango, avocado, chilies and dark chocolate are all considered aphrodisiacs due to their nutrients and their action on sexual desire

Chilli peppers and its phallic shape contain capsaicin which is where the heat comes from - this compound increases blood flow and stimulates the nerves – they contain vitamins C, A, B complex, antioxidants, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium

Avocado was deemed an aphrodisiac by the Aztecs for its appearance and include nutrients essential to sexual health including vitamin E, beta carotene, magnesium , potassium, protein

Strawberries besides being the symbol of Venus have been sexy since the ancient Romans – they contain antioxidants, vitamin C, flavonoids, folic acid, dietary fiber

Mango in Southeast Asia considered a symbol of male sexuality, where in India men are prescribed mango therapy to increase virility – they are rich in vitamin E and contain vitamins A, C, K, B6, potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, fiber


Recipe courtesy of Green & Black’s Organic Holiday 2009

APHRODISIACS, Need I Say More?

You are out for a romantic dinner when your significant other orders a dozen oysters.  With a glint in his eye and a raised eyebrow he says, “They’re an aphrodisiac”.  I don’t know about you, but just saying the word is kind of aphrodisiacal!  So is there something to this?  Can foods really have a direct impact on your sex life?

In honour of February and its day of love, (Valentine’s Day), let’s begin a discussion on the sexy side of food.  It all started with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture.  She rose from the ocean on a shell and is said to be the namesake of the word aphrodisiac.  As most people understand it, an aphrodisiac is a food that somehow stirs amorous feelings.  This possibility is due to the non-scientific research of food based nutrients and its action on sexual desire.  The knowledge of aphrodisiacs has existed for thousands of years in every culture but since science is sexless, proof within the scientific community remains untapped...like a virgin.  Psychologically suggestive foods can also arouse sexy thinking...think bananas, popsicles, (homemade with real fruit are far more nutritious)!   Scent as well as attraction with a dollop of chemistry can also be an aphrodisiac.

Food glorious food, cold oysters and chocolate, while we’re in the mood, ripe mangoes and honey....
O.K. so I plugged in different foods for the famed song in the movie Oliver, but these are four of the many foods considered aphrodisiacs.  

Raw oysters have quite the reputation.  Besides a hot date at the Whistling Oyster or sucking an oyster off the belly button of a stranger, there are actually physiological reasons why these succulent shellfish have been labelled aphrodisiacs for thousands of years.  Full of zinc, six medium oysters contain approximately 76 mg of this important mineral.  Zinc is important for normal sex hormone function and works to enhance testosterone in men.  Psychologically, its shape resembles the female sex organ.  It is humorous to note that In the second century AD., a Roman writes about, “the reckless ways of women after they had ingested wine and ate giant oysters.” (1)

Who doesn’t love chocolate?  The texture and the way it melts in your mouth, a cup of tea to wash it down.  In addition, this heavenly treat contains elements linked to mood and aphrodisiac effects.  Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a chemical compound found in cocoa solids which is naturally occurring in the brain.  PEA is a natural amphetamine and releases a neurochemical called dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain and peaks during orgasm.  Sometimes known as the ‘happy’ drug, dopamine is similar to adrenaline.  All together, these chemical messengers produce feelings of excitement and attraction.

Tryptophan is also a component of chocolate and is vital for the production of serotonin.  Known as the ‘happy’ hormone, (although it is not a hormone), serotonin contributes to the feelings of well being. It is found in different parts of the body.

Anandamide, found in the fat of chocolate is in fact a lipid that occurs naturally in the brain. Anandamide helps create feelings of elation.  It is recognized as the bliss molecule.  The love at first sight phenomenon triggers their release.  Involved in the production of dopamine, it plays a crucial role in mental and physical health.  Dopamine affects the brain functions associated with pleasure.
Not all chocolate is equal.  Dark chocolate, (70% cocoa or more) contains alkaloids which are pharmacologically active substances that work as aphrodisiacs.

Honey is also considered an aphrodisiac, (the nectar of Aphrodite), probably because it provides sustained energy and is theorized to produce nitric oxide which in turn opens blood vessels, (Viagra does this also).  Packed with vitamins, the mango’s sweet juicy flesh is a sensual fruit as are strawberries, especially when dipped in chocolate.

There is a long list of aphrodisiacal foods to choose from and whether folklore or fact, Valentine’s Day is upon us, so pick a food and give it a try.  Hint, watch the food scene in the movie 9 ½ weeks for some inspiration.

Bon appetite!

Yvette Rochelle Pritchard
Yvette Rochelle Nutrition
Holistic Nutritionist, CNP, NNCP
416.822.4600

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eating for Good Looks


By Kimberly Davidson CNP

Your mother forgot one point when she said ‘eat your veggies because they’ll make you grow big and strong’. She left out the part about how they’ll make you more beautiful too!

We all know eating a primarily plant-based diet helps to prevent cancer, reduces risk of heart disease, prevents obesity & diabetes as well as so much more. These reasons alone should put more broccoli on your plate. However, we are human and humans, like it or not, are vain. We all want to be beautiful and often physical appearance matters more to individuals than overall health. So as a nutritionist who wants everyone to be healthy, I am trying a different approach. I am not telling my fellow readers to eat kale because it will reduce their chances of getting cancer – boring! I am telling you to eat kale because it will improve your looks. Now I think I got you all running to your nearest produce market.

Plant derived foods, especially when consumed raw, contain copious amounts of beautifying properties. Vegetables and fruits are packed full of antioxidants, which destroy free radicals, slowing the aging process. They contain enzymes that improve digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Vegetables are also the highest mineral-containing foods, which are essential for hair, skin and nail health. Also, raw fruits & vegetables promote aliesthetic taste change, which is a stronger feeling of satiation, making one feel fuller faster. Therefore, raw foods help prevent over-eating and promote weight loss.  When eating for beauty, fruits and veggies, especially raw, are a must.

According to Eating for Beauty by David Wolfe, there are four ‘beauty minerals’. The ‘beauty minerals’ are vital for anyone trying to look their best. They are silicon, sulfur, zinc and iron.

Silicon is the mineral probably most responsible for skin, nail and hair health. Strong and flexible joints, glowing skin and stronger bones are most often found on those who have sufficient levels of silicon in the body.  Collagen, which helps to maintain the elasticity in the skin depends on silicon. Therefore silicon indirectly works at preventing wrinkles. Good food sources are: bamboo shoots, alfalfa, radishes, cucumbers and romaine lettuce.

Sulfur has the ability to build and rebuild collagen, which we know greatly benefits hair, skin and nails. Sulfur also plays a vital role in the detoxification process due to its ability to neutralize toxins that are released from the cells, therefore helping to keep the body clean. This may explain why those with sufficient levels of sulfur in the body tend to have blemish-free skin and exude a radiant glow. Good food sources are: arugula, blue-green algae, cabbage, broccoli and garlic. 

Zinc helps to digest damaged collagen while rebuilding new collagen. This process helps to prevent wrinkling, stretch marks and premature aging.  Zinc also plays a role in nourishing the sexual organs, which contributes to increased sexual energy and appeal.  Good food sources are: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, cashews and coconuts.

Iron is the main component for hemoglobin synthesis. Iron-rich hemoglobin (blood) is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, rejuvenating cells and promoting vitality throughout.  Iron also generates a magnetic blood current in the nerve spirals. This magnetism is said to attract and add charisma to the individual.  Good food sources are: Jerusalem artichoke, onions, cacao beans, cherries and most dark-leafy greens.

According to a recent study done by the University of Nottingham, eating vegetables and fruits rich in carotenoids like carrots, blueberries, yellow peppers and tomatoes, created a healthy skin glow and participants were found to be more attractive than those who did not consume these foods.  Not to say you cannot be attractive and eat meat. However, an increased consumption of plant-based foods in anyone’s diet is highly beneficial inside and out.

If you are what you eat, then to look your best, you need to eat your best.

References:
David Wolfe, Eating for Beauty, 2007, Sunfood Publishing
*Picture by Andy Newson

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sinless Chocolate


½ cup coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp raw cacao or carob powder
3-4 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp honey

Put all ingredients in food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. For a ‘Nutella-like’ spread, place in sealed dish and refrigerate. For a truffle-like chocolate, place in ice cube tray and keep in freezer. Do not let defrost for long before serving.

Kimberly Davidson CNP
Recipe adapted from Eva Cabaca M.Ed, CNP, RNCP

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Banish Dry Skin Naturally

 A brief weather report, yesterday was  -25 without the wind chill and we have had three weather advisories in as many days.  Between the extreme weather this time of year, the hot water we use to stay warm and our heating system, our skin really takes a beating in the winter months.  The skin is not only our largest organ but is extremely important as our primary defense against the elements, to minimize the damage and reduce the ravages of aging, proper nutrition is paramount.  There are three important categories of foods for healthy skin.

The first rule is the one found in all nutrition books and throughout this blog.  Eat a healthy and balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and grains, preferably raw to retain many of the nutrients found in the foods.  This is the cornerstone of all healthy eating and should be adhered to whether you have cancer or dry skin.  Of particular importance to healthy skin are the antioxidants, vitamin C, E and beta-carotene.  These vitamins attack free radicals and harmful agents that attack the skin.  When consuming foods, try and ensure you are eating orange and yellow varieties as these contain many of the antioxidants that are supremely important for the skin.  Examples of good choices are cantaloupes, carrots, papaya and oranges, these will provide you with the valuable vitamin A, C and beta-carotene.  Vitamin E is found in most nuts and seeds and will be addressed in a further paragraph.  Cigarettes destroy vitamin C and smokers should take note as the supplementation requirements are, subsequently, increased.

The second rule to adhere to is the consumption of beneficial oils, such as Omega 3 or flax seed oil.  Flax seed oil consumed on salads or drizzled on vegetables (raw oil, not heated) is of utmost importance.  Other healthful oils are those found in nuts (walnuts, almonds and Brazilian nuts are good choices) or those in cold water fish such as salmon or shellfish.  The oils will serve to lubricate the skin even in the harshest of environments.

The last rule to keep in mind is the addition of sulfur in the diet.  Sulfur keeps the skin soft and young looking.  Good examples of sulfur containing foods are garlic, onions and green leafy vegetables.  Also, garlic and onions are excellent scavengers in the body keeping damage from radical substances to a minimum. 

And in addition to the above, it is important to keep the skin and body well hydrated.  The daily requirement of water is a minimum of eight to ten 8 oz glasses, and this should be increased during summer months and during a fever when water is lost through perspiration.  Along with drinking water, stay away from alcohol and caffeine as these substances have diuretic qualities and further dry out the skin.    Adherence to the above rules can ensure soft and supple skin during all the months of the year. 

Ilona Napravnik, CNP