With Halloween just behind us, you thought I was going to talk about Swiss Chocolate didn’t you? Sorry to disappoint, but this week it’s about Swiss Chard – yummy! With kale getting all the glory lately, this more delicious (IMHO) leafy green is taking a back seat.
I’m always touting the benefits of dark, green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard. It’s essentially a beet, but it’s grown for the green leafy top. It’s low calorie, no fat, high in fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium as well as lutein which is good for eyesight. Chard is also good for beta carotene and vitamin C.
You can make low carb, gluten free tortillas by using the leaves in place of tortillas for wraps. You can also chop it up and sprinkle it in a salad uncooked. Or you can steam it and squeeze a lemon over it to help with iron absorption. Keep it loose or in a paper bag in the fridge for a couple of days.
There’s a recipe for Crispy Kidney Beans & Swiss Chard in our healthy recipes section on our website to check it out click here.
Research shows that women from iodine-deficient areas should use iodized salt for at least 2 years before becoming pregnant to prevent thyroid problems during pregnancy and to protect the fetus against the harmful effect of iodine deficiency on brain development.
The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in the neck and a key part of the endocrine system, produces hormones and helps regulate the body’s metabolism.
There is an increased risk of neurological development problems in infants born to mothers who had low levels of thyroid hormone in early pregnancy. Even mild isolated thyroid problems can interfere with fetal brain development.
Researchers found that the rate of thyroid failure was nearly 6 times higher in short-term users of iodized salt compared with long-term users.
In the clinic, I often see people whose concerns include low energy, sluggish metabolism, can’t lose weight or gain weight easily, hard to get out of bed in the morning, thinning hair and feeling cold even in the summer. While there are many possible explanations, low thyroid function could be one reason for these symptoms. I will often ask if they are consuming iodized salt. Sea salt, while it’s healthier than regular table salt, is often NOT iodized. Supplementing salt with iodine was a public health initiative designed to top up everyone’s iodine intake in areas where the soil is particularly iodine deficient. Those on salt restricted diets or who are using salt that is not iodized, run the risk of an iodine deficiency. My recommendation is to ensure that everyone is using a little iodized sea salt each day or you can also get iodine naturally by consuming seaweed like kelp, wakame or bladderwrack.
There are several other nutrients that are essential for healthy thyroid function, including copper, zinc, selenium and tyrosine. Supporting these nutrients can sometimes turn around an underactive thyroid, but more often than not, a sluggish thyroid is due to Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid problem. Treating that successfully is a whole other, bigger kettle of fish!
Warning: Too much iodine can also be bad for your thyroid, so only supplement with iodine under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor.
To increase your iodine intake there’s a new recipe for seaweed salad in the healthy recipes section on our website to check it out click here.
I know that none of my dear readers would ever drink it, but maybe someone you know indulges in the occasional can of an “energy” (caffeine and sugar) drink.
In 2008, Australian medical researchers found that just one can of such beverages can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, even in young healthy people.
The caffeine-loaded beverage causes the blood to become sticky, a precursor to cardiovascular problems such as stroke.
One hour after they drank a well known energy drink, the study participants’ blood systems were no longer normal. They were abnormal like you would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease.
This particular drink is banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of health risks listed on its cans. One can contains 80mg of caffeine, around the same as a normal cup of brewed coffee.
Researchers concluded that this drink could be deadly when combined with stress or high blood pressure, impairing proper blood vessel function and possibly elevating the risk of blood clotting.
There’s a recipe for caffeine-free chai tea in our healthy recipes section on our website to
check it out click here.
Source: Reuters, Aug 18 2008
by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND. For heart disease prevention and health promotion, our naturopathic doctors can provide guidance as to what to have and what to avoid. Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.
One of the more “painful” things everyone does when they first come and see me is fill in a one week diet diary or food journal detailing everything they put in their mouth for that one week. They often return with comments like “I was on vacation this week” or “I had 3 parties to go to so this isn’t how I usually eat” or the classic “I forgot”.
It turns out that researchers have proved diet diaries to be an effective means to help people lose weight. The study looked at more than 1,500 people over six months and found that those who kept a food diary and updated it regularly lost about twice as much weight as those who did not.
The average weight loss for study participants was about 13 pounds. But those keeping food diaries six or seven days a week lost about 18 pounds, compared to just 9 pounds for those not regularly keeping a food diary.
As human beings, we have a tendency to underestimate how much we eat and over-estimate our physical activity.
There is a method to my madness!
By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND. Our naturopaths can help with healthy weight loss with food journals, but also healthy diet recommendations, lifestyle suggestions, exercise tips, and supplements that may help you stay on track. Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.
Older adults who are low in B vitamins or who have elevated levels of a blood protein called homocysteine are at increased risk of suffering a hip fracture. Elevated homocysteine levels are also linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Homocysteine levels go up when B vitamin levels go down. In this study, researchers found that homocysteine and certain B vitamins were each independently linked to hip fracture risk.
Men and women with vitamin B6 or B12 deficiencies were 60 percent more likely than those with normal levels to sustain a hip fracture.
High homocysteine levels lead to a 50 percent to 70 percent increased risk of a hip fracture — regardless of their B vitamin levels.
Lab research suggests that B vitamins play a role in maintaining bone density, and studies have linked low blood levels of the vitamins with low bone mass. As B6 declines, bone loss accelerates. Although homocysteine was related to hip fracture risk, it is not due to bone loss. Diet changes and vitamin supplements are easy and effective methods for controlling B vitamin and homocysteine levels.
Vitamin B6 is found in foods like potatoes, bananas, beans and fortified cereals; vitamin B12 is found mainly in meat, eggs, fish and poultry.
Reduce histamine – correct diet, increase vitamin C
Support the adrenal glands – vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, zinc, ashwaganda, panax ginseng, rhodiola, schisandra, gotu kola.
Test for and remove IgG and IgA food sensitivities.
Balance neurotransmitters by providing the appropriate precursor vitamins, minerals and amino acids (B6, magnesium, tryptophan, tyrosine).
Balance hormones – correct diet, provide indole-3-carbinol, 5MTHF, P5P, magnesium, B12, and glucarate for liver detoxification.
Excessive blood histamine levels may be a factor in migraines. Histamine is a substance released by cells known as mast cells and is also present in certain foods. Histamine from food sources are normally broken down in the gut by an enzyme known as DAO or Diamine Oxidase. Some people are genetically programmed to make inadequate levels of DAO. Stabilizing mast cells to reduce histamine release, lowering intake of high histamine foods and supplementing DAO enzyme may help histamine related migraines.
Antihistamine: Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine and supports the adrenal glands and healthy, more stable blood veins and arteries.
Blood tests: tryptase and diamine oxidase (DAO).
The adrenal glands are your body’s internal corticosteroid source. As such, they play a role in moderating inflammation and migraine prevention. Depletion of critical nutrients for adrenal function due to malabsorption, excessive excretion due to stress, or poor diet may lead to altered HPA axis function or corticosteroid production, contributing to migraines. Adrenal supportive nutrients include vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, and zinc. Herbs demonstrated to support the body’s adaptation to stress include Panax ginseng, eleuthrococcus, ashwaganda and licorice root.
Blood tests that may elucidate issues with the adrenals include DHEAs, testosterone, a.m. and p.m. cortisol levels.
Test for and Remove IgG and IgA Mediated Food Sensitivities
The exclusion of IgG mediated food sensitivities has been shown to significantly improve symptoms for sufferers of migraines and IBS. An association between celiac disease (IgA antibodies to gluten) and migraine in adults has also established.
Blood test: IgG and IgA food sensitivity testing
Neurotransmitters and Migraines
Research has also suggested a connection between neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin and migraine. SSRI type medications are often tried as a solution. Many of the patients that I see don’t like these medications due to their side effects of weight gain, low libido and feeling emotionally flat. As an alternative to this approach, I recommend vitamin B6 and magnesium as co-factors for the production of serotonin. Magnesium may also help relax muscle tension and calm the nervous system.
Blood test: Spectracell Micronutrient Analysis
Migraines and Hormones
Hormone imbalance can influence susceptibility to migraines. Estrogen dominance in women often precipitates premenstrual migraines. Supporting liver detoxification of estrogen, including environmental estrogens, helps relieve menstrual migraines.
Johnston CS, Martin LJ, Cai X. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):172-6.
Alstadhaug KB. Histamine in migraine and brain. Headache. 2014 Feb;54(2):246-59.
Aydinlar EI, Dikmen PY, Tiftikci A, Saruc M, Aksu M, Gunsoy HG, Tozun N. IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome. Headache. 2013 Mar;53(3):514-25.
Cristofori F, Fontana C, Magistà A, Capriati T, Indrio F, Castellaneta S, Cavallo L, Francavilla R. Increased prevalence of celiac disease among pediatric patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a 6-year prospective cohort study. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Jun;168(6):555-60.
Gabrielli M, Cremonini F, Fiore G, Addolorato G, Padalino C, Candelli M, De Leo ME, Santarelli L, Giacovazzo M, Gasbarrini A, Pola P, Gasbarrini A. Association between migraine and Celiac disease: results from a preliminary case-control and therapeutic study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;98(3):625-9.
Woldeamanuel Y, Rapoport A, Cowan R. The place of corticosteroids in migraine attack management: A 65-year systematic review with pooled analysis and critical appraisal. Cephalalgia. 2015 Jan 9.
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Dakshinamurti S, Dakshinamurti K Antihypertensive and neuroprotective actions of pyridoxine and its derivatives. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 May 11:1-8.
Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm. 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
Patacchioli FR, Monnazzi P, Simeoni S, De Filippis S, Salvatori E, Coloprisco G, Martelletti P. Salivary cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S) and testosterone in women with chronic migraine. J Headache Pain. 2006 Apr;7(2):90-4. Epub 2006 Mar 31.
I chose this as the first of a series of “how-to diagnose” posts, as it so often is done incorrectly. There are 3 main criteria required to diagnose PCOS, only 2 of these 3 need to be present to diagnose PCOS according to the Rotterdam criteria:
Oligo-ovulation – this means lack of or irregular ovulation, most women would have no way of knowing if they ovulate regularly or not (regular periods do not indicate regular ovulation) and most doctors haven’t tested for it (repeated day 21 progesterone measurements).
Clinical signs or blood work demonstrating hyperandrogenism – this would be symptoms like acne, hair loss, excess facial or body hair, irregular periods and blood tests for testosterone, DHEAs, androstenedione, DHT (these tests have often never been done).
Cysts on the ovaries on ultrasound – this is a very misunderstood criteria. Cysts can come and go, and only 2 of these 3 criteria are required, so a lack of cysts on the ovaries does NOT rule out PCOS.
What to Test for PCOS
To thoroughly assess a woman to determine whether or not she has PCOS, the following tests should be done:
Blood work: DHEAs, testosterone, androstenedione, DHT, day 3 LH, FSH and estradiol (if cycles are present), day 21 progesterone (more than once, to determine whether ovulation occurs regularly), HbA1c, fasting blood glucose/insulin and/or 2 hour pc glucose/insulin (to determine insulin resistance).
Pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Diagnosing PCOS
The following are NOT an adequate way to assess PCOS status:
Body weight – up to 40% of women with PCOS are thin, exercise may mitigate weight gain in others
Lack of cysts on the ovaries if the other two criteria are met
Lack of facial or excessive body hair – most women with PCOS find this embarassing and will have this removed
Clear skin – prior use of accutane and/or birth control pills may mask this symptom
How a woman “looks” – see acne, hair and weight above (I mention this because I have had several women tell me that their doctor told them they didn’t have PCOS because they didn’t “look” like it)
Do you consider snow shoveling a work out? If not, maybe you should so that you don’t end up with injuries. Any time that we are using our bodies in a repetitive way we are stressing the muscles and tearing fibres. That is why after a good shoveling session we may feel stiff and achy all over. So it is important to know that before we do something as mundane as shoveling the sidewalk, like any workout, we need to warm up and loosen out our muscles. For example, try going for a walk around the block first. Dynamic stretching is also great for loosening up the muscles. A dynamic stretch is one in which you move through the stretch but do not hold it for any longer than a few seconds; dynamic stretches are moving stretches.
Snow shoveling stretches
11 Tips to Avoid Back Pain when Shoveling Snow
Next you should choose a shovel that is suitable to your height. You do
not want to be working with a shovel that is going to cause you to stand in
a stooped posture.
The lighter the shovel the better too.
Use a shovel with a bent shaft.
Stand with your feet hip distance apart and with one foot slightly behind the other.
Keep your knees slightly bent, do not hyper-extend them or lock them out, this puts added stress through the knee joint.
Always try pushing the snow to the side, don’t throw it.
When it comes time to picking up the snow, keep the load as close to your body as possible and avoid bending at the waist and twisting motions.
Before you try lifting a load, you should try testing the weight of that load.
After you have finished shovelling you should participate in some static
stretches. Repeat the dynamic ones, but hold the stretch for a minimum of
Rehydrate yourself! Drink plenty of water after a good bout of shovelling.
If you do over exert yourself ice the sore areas down afterwards. Icing reduces any inflammation that may have occurred. Ice should never be applied directly to the skin, make sure that it is always wrapped in something. Use the 10-10 rule for icing: place the ice on the sore area for 10 minutes, and then remove the ice for 10 minutes, repeat 3 times. Let the area be for about an hour, and if it is still sore ice again.