We all know that it is important to drink water after exercise or any fluid loss such as sweating, vomiting or diarrhea. However, electrolytes are often overlooked but what exactly are they?
Electrolytes are minerals in our bodies responsible for maintaining fluid balance, conducting electrical activity, muscle contractions and neural impulses. Muscle cramps after exercise, sweating, diarrhea or fever are a sigh of electrolyte imbalance. It is important to constantly replenish your electrolytes before you get to the point of being depleted and experiencing symptoms. Sodium and potassium are the two major electrolytes in our body but magnesium, calcium, chloride and phosphorus are the other important ones.
Gatorade and Powerade are the two most common commercially available options. However, they are full of artificial sugars (high fructose corn syrup), brominated vegetable oil and artificial flavors and colors. This does not make them a very healthy option.
Here is a very simple and easy to make recipe at home.
The citrus fruits are naturally rich in electrolytes and lemons have the highest concentration of them. They also contain natural sugars for carbohydrates that provide you with energy. Raw honey is filled with natural enzymes and minerals. It can also provide benefit for seasonal allergies. Sea Salt is rich in trace minerals that our bodies need. Of course it has the sodium and chloride but it also contains calcium, potassium and phosphorus all depending on the waters the salt is derived from. Regular table salt does not contain these additional minerals.
Coconut water is a great source for replenishing electrolytes. It is filled with potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorus (all the major electrolytes). It is also a source of B vitamins and trace elements such as zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur and manganese. A servicing of coconut water has all the electrolytes you need plus more to rehydrate yourself.
How do I lose weight and keep it off?
Healthy weight loss is a combined approach of a healthy diet and exercise. A realistic goal is to lose 1-2 lbs. a week since anything more is difficult for the body to maintain long term. One pound of fat is 3500 calories. Reducing your daily calories by 500 between diet and exercise burns a pound a week.
It is important to eat a diet with protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats but the ratio of these three becomes important for weight loss. There are many diets and apps out there that will have you counting calories or points. However, you have to look at how many calories you are burning each day for your net caloric intake. Women should not have less than 1400 calories net per day and 1800 calories net per day for men. The body needs nutrition and below this level the body thinks it’s being starved leading to fat storage regardless of how healthy you eat or how much you exercise.
Once you have established a good routine of diet and exercise and notice that those pounds and inches are no longer changing, it is important to increase the level of activity you are doing so you do break a sweat.
However, if you notice that no matter what you do, you're not able to lose any pounds or inches, then hormones need to be looked at since certain hormonal imbalances make it difficult to lose weight.
There is a difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. Food allergies are immediate reactions that generally occur within minutes of eating the allergic food. However, food sensitivities are delayed food reactions that can take hours to days to develop making them more challenging to identify.
A food sensitivity can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from fever, fatigue, chills, sweating, generalized weakness, skin rashes, mood and memory problems, joint pain and stiffness or digestive problems (diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain or bloating). Common conditions that are associated with food sensitivities include irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, migraines, attention deficit disorders and weight gain.
There are two main ways to identify food sensitivities. The first is the elimination diet in which all common food sensitivities are removed from the diet and then reintroduced one at a time monitoring for reactions. The second is an in office blood test that tests for 96 common food items.
A fever is not a disease but rather a symptom. We automatically want to suppress a fever but it stimulates our immune system and creates an environment in which the invading organisms cannot survive. During the fever more white blood cells and antibodies are produced leading to the immune system fighting the invaders. One will get sleepy and lose their appetite but this allows energy to be conserved for natural defences and repair.
To support a fever plenty of fluids (broths and water) are recommended to prevent dehydration. Rest is important so the body can conserve its energy hence exercise is not recommended. Immediate attention is required when a newborn to 3 month old has a fever over 38°C; a 3 to 36 month old has a fever above 39°C or a fever over 40°C in anyone else.
The Naturopathic approach to cold and flu prevention is focused on strengthening one’s immune system so it is able to fight off viruses without you getting sick. This multilevel approach is heavily focused on a lifestyle that includes a healthy nutritious diet with limited processed foods and refined sugars, proper hydration and regular exercise. All of these naturally boost the immune system. 70% of our immune system is within our digestive system so it is important that it is functioning properly. Stress and lack of sleep both impair the immune system so stress management and proper sleep nightly are essential.
The above combined with frequent and thorough hand washing are excellent habits to prevent getting sick. However when that is not enough, there are plenty of botanicals and supplements that can boost the immune system.
Constipation can include difficult to pass stool, straining, small hard stools, and infrequent or incomplete defecation. Side effects of constipation include fatigue, acne, hemorrhoids, headaches, increased bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, or skin problems.
Fiber is effective for preventing constipation and is found in plant-based foods. Cheese, milk and food sensitivities are constipating so a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential. Water increases the elimination of metabolic wastes and softens the stool. Pop, coffee and black teas will draw fluid out of the body leaving you dehydrated so water and herbal teas are best for hydration. Exercise increases the body’s metabolic rate, which increases peristalsis leading to a bowel movement.
Menopause is a normal and natural part of aging. In Canada the average age of onset is 52 years of age. Menopause officially starts when a woman has not had her period for an entire year. Perimenopause is the transition towards menopause and can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years. This is the time when a woman first starts to experience symptoms with the most common one being an irregular cycle. Some women experience minor to no symptoms while others have moderate to severe ones. Common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, depression, mood swings, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, weight gain, memory loss and skin changes.
Every woman experiences a unique combination of symptoms. Naturopathic treatment includes a multi level approach to provide symptomatic relief using a combination of diet, exercise, supplements, botanicals and homeopathic remedies. This in turn improves hot flashes and sleep quality.
Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy and well-balanced diet. As our world has become more interconnected, it is easy to get produce grown half a world away, which was once considered exotic in Canada. Pesticides are commonly used in the growth process but they vary depending on the fruit or vegetable and also where the item is grown. As there is no international standard in what is considered acceptable, pesticides also vary in their toxicity depending upon the country of origin. If you don’t feel like eating bug and weed killer along with your apple here’s some information you should know.
The Environmental Working Group compiles an annual report in which they compare pesticide contamination in 48 popular fruits and vegetables. They analyze the results of samples taken by the USDA where foods were washed and peeled to mimic consumer practices. It is important to keep in mind that unwashed produce likely has higher concentrations of pesticide residues.
The 2014 guide tested 32,000 samples and found that 65% of them contained pesticide residues. The EWG calculates that you can lower your volume of pesticides by 92% if you choose your daily serving of fruits and vegetables from the clean 15 rather than the Dirty Dozen. In other words, choosing a minimum of 5 servings from the Dirty dozen list means you consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day. However, if 5 servings are chosen from the 15 least contaminated list, you consume less than 2 pesticides per day. Foods high in pesticide exposure are better if bought organic, from a local farmer not using pesticides, or grown yourself.
EWG's Dirty Dozen PlusTM list are the foods that were found to have higher levels of pesticide residues compared to other items and also contained a number of different residues. The Plus category of the Dirty Dozen were foods that were contaminated with toxic insecticides to the human nervous system. These 3 foods are Kale, collard greens and hot peppers. The most notable findings for this list are:
The EWF Clean Fifteen TM are the foods, which had the lowest levels of pesticide residues with large samples containing none. No single item on the Clean Fifteen list tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides with only 5.5% of the samples having 2 or more pesticides. Avocadoes are the cleanest with only 1% of samples having any pesticide traces found. From the Clean Fifteen the following were found to contain no residues.
The health benefits of fruits and vegetables far outweigh the risk of pesticides in produce. It is important to keep eating them, as they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and nutrition. Pesticides are of concern as there are serious health risks associated with them. They are designed to be toxic and kill organisms that farmers do not want on their crops. It is no secret that different pesticides affect our health causing hormone disruptions, cancer, brain and nervous system toxicity and skin, eye and lung irritations.
The risk is relative when you look at the big picture. Even the foods on the Dirty Dozen list with all their pesticides are far healthier for you than eating highly processed foods or food with excessive sugar. It is important to note that cooking the fruits and vegetables drastically reduces the amount of pesticides. It is important to note that just passing your produce under running water is not enough. The samples were all washed and peeled prior to being analyzed. If you do not wash your fruits or vegetables have you buy them, then you are consuming higher levels of residues.
A quick and easy way to clean your fruit and vegetables is to wash them with vinegar. It is believed that vinegar removes excess dirt, bacteria and residual pesticides. Take a large container and add 4 parts water for every 1 part of vinegar. Let your produce soak for at least 20 minutes, then scrub gently and rinse under running water.
The shopper's guide is meant to reflect the overall pesticide load of 48 common fruits and vegetables to allow consumers to lower their levels of pesticide contamination. The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are much, much, much greater than the risk of pesticide exposure even if one consumes conventionally grown produce compared to not eating fruits and vegetables! Make sure you clean your produce before eating it. When possible organic is a good option. As well, eating local and in season foods also reduces the need for pesticides and if you have the ability then growing your own produce is an excellent option!
Summer is finally here! Warm weather, luscious green plants and bright blue skies are a much-awaited change after the winter we have had. In true Alberta fashion, the transition from winter to summer happened overnight. Unless of course you suffer from seasonal allergies and this change was prolonged and brought along pain and suffering. The sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, itchy, watery red eyes and headaches are all common with seasonal allergies.
Allergies are your immune system responding to something it considers foreign in your body. Seasonal allergies to pollen (hay fever), spores and molds can affect the respiratory system and cause the typical symptoms listed above. However, if the allergen is something you’re constantly exposed to then, the allergies can last all year long.
From a Naturopathic Medicine perspective, allergies are associated with a weak immune system, poor digestive system and weak adrenals. Our digestive system has a large part of our immune system located within it and hence the relationship of allergies with the digestive system.
From a treatment perspective the goals are to improve the digestive system and ensure proper functioning, strengthen the immune system and replenish the adrenals. It is ideal that treatment for seasonal allergies starts 1-2 months prior to help strengthen the immune system and decrease the severity of the symptoms. There is no single magic cure because each persons seasonal allergies are due to a combination of the above 3 factors so the treatment has to be individualized for it to be effective.
Good health can drastically decrease allergy symptoms and the most important foundation for good health is proper and healthy nutrition. A well balanced diet should be consumed especially removing all known food allergens. Hydration is key and one should drink half their body weight in ounces each day in water (e.g. A 160 lb. person should drink 80 oz. or 10 cups a day). It is also important to limit the intake of refined sugars, processed foods and refined foods. A very gentle detox can help decrease symptoms as it aids the body in removal of toxic substances from the entire body.
Exercise natural boosts the immune system so regular exercise can go a ways to help decrease your symptoms. Stress can play a role in allergies in some people so it is important to have healthy stress relief methods. Exercise is great for this as well.
Overall, the natural approach to allergies consists of a whole body approach and uses a combination of lifestyle, dietary and botanical approaches.
Sugar is 8 times as addictive as cocaine! The average Canadian consumes 26 teaspoons of sugar daily or 40 kilograms a year! Refined sugar leads to long-term malnutrition, deficiencies, obesity, digestive problems, PMS, recurrent infections, Candida, hyperactivity, fatigue, ADHD, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease and Cancer.
Sugar activates the brain’s reward system making it addictive. Research has shown higher sugar levels increase your chances of dementia even if you do not develop diabetes. Refined sugars are mostly converted into fat because they do not stimulate your hunger hormone, which leads to overeating since your full response is not activated.
As the weather gets warmer think twice before you reach for your favorite drinks. A 591ml bottle of Coca Cola has 70g of sugar; a 16oz can of Rockstar energy drink has 64 g of sugar. A medium iced coffee at McDonald’s has 22g of sugar and that “healthy” bottle of Minute Maid’s lemonade contains 52 g of sugar.
The “sugar-free” artificial sweeteners are worse for you than sugar itself. They promote hunger and increase your appetite so you end up eating more, which is counterproductive when you’re trying to lose weight. Research has found that these artificial sweeteners still cause high insulin levels in the blood, which in turn promotes the body to store body fat. Refined sugars also stimulate appetite as they lack nutrients. Headaches, weight gain, increased cravings, GI problems, liver and kidney toxicity are some other problems associated with these.
Refined sugars include corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose and artificial sweeteners with sucralose, saccharine and aspartame.
Quitting sugar is not easy and requires a multi level approach through a combination of dietary changes, detoxifying and herbal support. Natural sugar options in moderation include honey, maple syrup, stevia and agave nectar. Healthy snack alternatives include fruit, brown rice cakes, mixed nuts, seeds, vegetables, hummus and protein smoothies. Rather than replacing one form of sugar with another, the goal is to decrease the amount of sugar you consume.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in Okotoks and Calgary.
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