The Scoop on CBD

CBD

Since its recent legalization in Canada, the use of marijuana and related products has exploded, to the point where government-approved dispensaries are out of product three days out of seven.  Marijuana and its constituents have been used medicinally over decades and now with increased access, people of all walks of life are turning to the marijuana plant for a number of potential health benefits.

What is CBD?  Cannabis contains over 100 chemicals known as cannabinoids, of which cannabidiol (CBD) is one.  The two most well-known compounds are CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the component responsible for creating the “high” one experiences when using marijuana, whereas CBD does not. CBD can be extracted from the flowers and the buds of either marijuana (high THC content) or hemp (low THC content).  

 How does CBD work?  Our bodies naturally make substances that have a similar structure to cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids.  The human nervous system and many other tissues in the body have receptors that bind with these endocannabinoids (referred to as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS), as well as cannabinoids.  While THC directly binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD works by preventing the reuptake body’s own endocannibinoids, thereby increasing their concentration.

The legal status of the marijuana plant, until recently, prevented it being studied for its medicinal effects. Yet, there are numerous health benefits of CBD, which is validated by ongoing new scientific research.  Here are five areas where it shows promising therapeutic potential.

1.Anxiety.  CBD has been shown to decrease anxiety at a dose of around 300 mg per day. ¹, ²  It is important to note that doses higher or lower than 300 mg have been shown to have no effect, or even worse, increase anxiety.³  Some people have experienced an exacerbation at any dose.  It works by regulating the receptors involved in the fear response and anxiety related behaviours.

2. Cancer. Medical marijuana has often been used to alleviate the nausea and pain caused by conventional cancer treatments. For some, the effects of THC are not tolerated or desired. Fortunately, CBD on its own, offers similar relief as well as affects the underlying disease process. CBD has been shown to decrease cell division, increases the process by which the body cleans out cellular debris and damaged cells (autophagy) as well augmenting the effects of chemotherapy.,⁵,

3. Pain and inflammation. Chronic pain can be notoriously difficult to treat. Fortunately, CBD appears to be have an effective role in pain management. Based on the research, not only does it act as an analgesic, but also blunts the perception of pain, making it more tolerable. , The different types of pain studied include osteoarthritis , ¹⁰ nerve pain, and post-surgical pain. ¹¹, ¹²,¹³

4. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Post-traumatic stress disorder affects approximately 10% of people at some point in their life. It manifests differently in different people – symptoms include sleep disturbances, mood changes, changes in emotion, reduced social skills and changes in cognition (reliving the trauma). Emerging research indicates that CBD oil exhibits effective treatment option for this condition, with its considerably fewer side effects than its pharmacological counterparts. ¹⁴

5. Seizures It has long been known in the scientific community that the ECS is involved in seizures. Consequently, there has been extensive research of the therapeutic applications of cannabinoids for seizures disorders. ¹⁵

One study gave 214 people with severe epilepsy 0.9–2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound (2–5 g/kg) of body weight. Their seizures reduced by a median of 36.5%. ¹⁶

Another study found that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder, compared to a placebo. ¹⁷

In 2018, the FDA approved the use of Epidiolex (a plant-based formulation of CBD) to treat seizures for people 2 years of age and older with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). ¹⁸, ¹⁹

CBD potentially inhibits seizures and is generally regarded as causing fewer adverse effects than traditional anti-epileptic drugs.

Due to its increasing popularity, CBD products are popping up all over the marketplace. However, despite the fact that CBD induces no psychoactive effects, it is still strictly regulated in Canada. Only licensed producers may make it, and only registered retailers may sell it. It is subject to the same regulations as its marijuana counterpart – the official legalization of marijuana on October 17, 2018 did not change its status. ²⁰ Unregulated CBD products on the market can range in quality and may not even contain the compound in the concentration stated, if at all. All licensed producers are required to meet standards for quality and consistency.

Though there is still much to be investigated regarding its efficacy and safety, the results of recent studies suggest that CBD may offer many beneficial effects for a number of health conditions. If you are considering using CBD therapeutically, inform your health care provider to ensure there are no interactions with your current medications and only use products that are regulated to contain the dosage you need.

Ten Easy Food Swaps for Weight Loss

What would the holidays be without a little overindulgence? Let’s face it, food takes centre stage during times of celebration. Holiday weight gain can take up to five months to lose, and most people just carry it over into the next season. Over time, this leads to adult onset weight gain and the decline in metabolic rate as we get older doesn’t help. Slow and steady wins the race – successful weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.

There is mounting evidence to suggest that it is sugar, more than dietary fat, that is the most likely culprit for packing on the pounds.  Dietary fat, when eaten on its own, doesn’t trigger weight gain.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for sugar. The problem with low-fat diets is that fat is often replaced by sugar, which makes the “low-fat” offerings in the food aisle unkind to the waistline.

Changing dietary habits for most people can be quite challenging.  We, after all, are creatures of habit.  It is much easier to make small changes than it is to make drastic changes.  Every food choice does make a difference, especially when it is repeated.  Food is so much more than just nourishment and achieving a good balance is the key.  Following these easy food swaps will not only help to trim those extra inches, but also improve your health.

1. Eat at home. Cooking at home is good for you.  Food prepared at home is more nutritious and has fewer calories, fewer sugars, fewer carbohydrates and less fat.  It also has been shown to contain more fibre, calcium and iron.  A typical restaurant salad main course will average 1000 calories!  Be kind to your waistline and your wallet by eating in and packing your homemade lunch.

2. When it comes to coffee, keep it simple.  Drink coffee instead of the hyped-up coffee-like drinks (or should I say desserts? which can stack up to 900 calories) you find at the specialty coffee shops. Black coffee has no calories, so even with a tablespoon of heavy cream and sugar, you will save yourself up to 800 calories.

3. Be fruit-wise. Have a whole piece of fruit, instead of dried fruit, fruit juice or a fruit smoothie.  For example, you can choose between eight dried apricots or four whole peaches for 100 calories.  Juice (with no sugar added) concentrates the sugars at the expense of fibre – it takes two to four oranges to make one cup of juice.  Fruit smoothies are even worse, usually have 300 to 400 calories and average around 70 g of sugar.

4. Drink smart.  When it comes to alcohol, it is better to drink hard liquor (rye, gin or vodka – all of which have zero sugar) with a low calorie/sugar mixer or a  5 oz glass of wine (which range from 0.9g to 1.5g of sugar, depending on the variety, not including dessert wines) over sugary cocktails (which can range from 1-68 g of sugar per drink and up to 600 calories) or beer (while low in sugar, contains 12 g of carbohydrates up to 600 calories, depending on the kind).

5. Go a little nutty.  Choose nuts over croutons (processed carbs) on your salad for that satisfying crunch as well as appetite-curbing essential fatty acids.  Instead of snacking on a granola bar, reach for a handful of nuts.  While the calorie count is the same, the latter has no sugar, added protein and fibre as well as a variety of health benefits including weight loss and increased longevity.

6. Choose the best chocolate.  Dark chocolate is truly a superfood. One of the best sources of dietary antioxidants, it is loaded with nutrients that have numerous health benefits such as improved heart heath, better cognition and cancer prevention.  Dark chocolate contains fibre as well as a number of minerals necessary for good health and its reduced sugar content makes it much harder to overindulge than its milk chocolate counterpart.  The higher the cocoa content, the greater the health benefits – aim to eat chocolate that is at least 85% cocoa.

7. Be condiment-conscious.  Make your own homemade vinaigrette with lemon juice or vinegar and oil and heart healthy olive or avocado oil and use a mister to spray your salad, or alternatively dip your fork in the dressing (on the side) before piercing your salad vegetables. Readymade dressings are not only high in calories, but often contain questionable ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.  Other swaps in the condiment category include choosing mustard or flavored hummus over mayo in sandwiches and low fat plain yogurt over sour cream for dips.  When eating pasta or soups, always choose ones with a tomato base over ones made with cream.

8. Switch starchy grains for vegetables instead.  Grated cauliflower is a great substitute for rice, and mashed cauliflower (or other lower carb veggies like rutabaga and turnips) makes a great stand in for mashed potatoes.  You can also use either to thicken soups without the cream.  Spiralize zucchini or carrots for colorful noodles for your pastas and stirfries. 

9. Always buy unsweetened whenever possible.  Whether it is almond/cashew milk or yogurt, forego the presweetened varieties and instead buy the unsweetened version.  Sweeten to your taste with stevia (I prefer the stevia glycerite which even comes in flavors), xylitol or low sugar fruits (like berries).

10. Snack smart.  You can choose between nine potato chips (do you know of anyone who can eat just nine?), three cups of air popped (not microwave) organic popcorn, ½ cup of roasted chickpeas or two cups of cut up veggies like cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers.  All of these are about 100 calories as snack options, and the last three contain fibre which helps keep you satisfied.

Seven Surprising Facts About Sugar

Considering sugar is one of the most addictive, yet incredibly delicious substances on the planet, you have likely asked yourself – is it really that BAD for you?

Since 1989, WHO (World Health Organization) has been encouraging people to reduce intake of added sugars to less than 10% of daily calories and preferably only 5%, which translates to 6-12 teaspoons per day.  According to data from the most recent Canadian Community Health Survey, kids consume 33 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Sugar consumption has become a way of life, not only in the Western world, but worldwide.  Sugar is our celebration food, in good times and in bad, starting in early childhood and for most people, over the course of whole lifetimes.  I hope the following information helps you to make the best choices you can with regards to your long term health.

1.You’ve been duped. In the late 1960s, the sugar industry has aggressively campaigned that dietary fat is the primary causative factor of heart disease, diabetes and excess weight.  Their tactics have often been compared to those of Big Tobacco.  Since that time, sugar consumption has dramatically increased as low fat foods were introduced in the market to cater to newly adopted dietary guidelines that influence public demand.  As these policies have been implemented, that obesity and diabetes have risen to epidemic levels.  It is sad to realize that the overall health of people in the last forty to fifty years have been compromised due to dubious marketing strategies.

2. It is a serious addiction. Like other addictive substances, consuming sugar causes the brain to release opiods and dopamine into the bloodstream.  That is what makes it so difficult to have “just a little bit” of sugar.  Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the substance lights up the brain’s pleasure system in a way other foods do not, increasing the urge to overindulge.  When compared to cocaine, sugar (specifically Oreos) has been shown to be more addictive.  And just like humans, rats eat the filling first.

3. Sugar hides in many everyday “non-sugar” foods.  The sugar content of ice cream or candy might not surprise you, but what about pasta sauce, bread, yogurt or salad dressing?  Sugar is almost impossible to avoid, given the amounts that are added to all processed foods.  Of the 60,000 grocery items available to North Americans, 80% or more contain added sugar.  It is even worse in any foods labelled “low-fat,” as those fat calories are usually replaced with sugar to maintain the food’s appeal on the palate.  For example, a single cup (245 grams) of low-fat yogurt can contain up to 47 grams of sugar, which is 12 teaspoons.  Even foods we think of as healthy like coconut water or a green smoothie (depending on how fruit content)  can range from 20-45 grams of sugar.  Aside from the taste, sugar also acts as a preservative of processed foods and is a cheap substitute for other flavour enhancers like herbs and spices.  Possibly the worst offender are sweetened beverages, whether in the form of energy drinks, fruit juice, or fancy coffees, comprises 36 percent of the added sugars consumed.  Click here for a detailed infographic

4. Fruit counts towards your overall sugar intake. People are surprised to learn that fruit isn’t a free for all.  Fruit contains fructose which when consumed in moderation (I suggest to limit intake to 2 pieces/day), it doesn’t pose health issues. Optimal choices are low sugar fruits such as avocado, olives, tomatoes and berries. However, there are instances where fructose is overconsumed.  One example is in fruit smoothies (a Green smoothie from Jamba Juice contains 45 g of sugar), or fruit juice (a glass of orange juice contains 21 g of sugar), where numerous pieces of fruit are used to make a single serving.  Another example is the use of high fructose corn syrup (HCFS) in processed foods.

High-fructose diets  have been shown to cause free radical damage in the body, increase blood pressure, and impair the body’s ability to use and store glucose. ¹,²,³  Fructose confuses your hunger signals, so that you never feel full.  There are also significant detrimental effects on the brain which affects memory, learning ability and has been implicated in the occurrence of Alzheimer’s. ⁴

5. Sugar feeds cancer cells.  Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study that showed that over half of mice fed a sucrose-rich diet developed breast cancer.⁵  In an editorial in Nutrition, Dr. Undurti N. Das highlighted the fact that fructose, a constituent of table sugar, or sucrose, changes cell metabolism and raises the activity of cancer-promoting proteins.⁶ A study done in 2017 studied the process by which cancer cells generate energy.  Instead of burning sugar, cancer cells ferment it, which is not very efficient at energy production (which would not favor tumor growth). In this study, it was discovered that during the process of fermentation, there is an intermediate substance produced that is a potent activator of proto-oncogenes – which then get turned on and stimulate cell proliferation.⁷

6. Sugar causes aging. When there is excess sugar in the bloodstream, it will attach to other proteins in the body.  When it attaches to the collagen in your skin, it causes wrinkles.  When it binds to the connective tissue in your legs, it causes cellulite.  It is the same process that is involved in multi-organ breakdown seen in diabetics. A recent study linked blood sugar spiking foods to acne formation.⁸ It literally ages every cell of your body.  One study showed that one sugary canned drink per day changes cellular DNA similar to those you would see in a smoker.⁹

7. Sugar affects your hormones.  When you eat sugar, your pancreas produces insulin, which allows your cells to store that sugar as fat.  Insulin is closely connected to all of the other hormones in your body, including estrogen and testosterone. High insulin levels lead to elevated estrogen and testosterone. It also increases the production of testosterone, which is then converted into even more estrogen by fat tissue in the belly. This is true for men and women alike.

This, unfortunately, is the cold hard truth.  Tough to swallow, I know.  Breaking up with sugar is hard, I have been in those shoes.  On the up side, I didn’t expect to feel so good minimizing my sugar intake.  I hope that one day you get to feel that way too.

References:

1. Katrien Lowette, et al.   Effects of High-Fructose Diets on Central Appetite Signaling and Cognitive Function. Frontiers in Nutrition (2015) 2: 5.
2. Walker RW, Dumke KA, Goran MI. Fructose content in popular beverages made with and without high-fructose corn syrup. Nutrition (2014) 30:928–35.10.1016/j.nut.2014.04.003
3. Douard V, Ferraris RP. Regulation of the fructose transporter GLUT5 in health and disease. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab (2008) 295:E227–37.10.1152/ajpendo.90245.2008
4. Lindqvist A, Baelemans A, Erlanson-Albertsson C. Effects of sucrose, glucose and fructose on peripheral and central appetite signals. Regul Pept (2008) 150:26–32.10.1016/j.regpep.2008.06.008
5. Yang, Peiying et al. A Sucrose-Enriched Diet Promotes Tumorigenesis in Mammary Gland in Part through the 12-Lipoxygenase Pathway. Cancer Research (2016) 76:1
6. Undurti N.DasM.D., F.A.M.S., F.R.S.C.Sucrose, fructose, glucose, and their link to metabolic syndrome and cancer. Nutrition (2015) 31:1:249-55
7. Ken Peeters, et al .  Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate couples glycolytic flux to activation of Ras.  NATURE COMMUNICATIONS (2017) 8: 922
8. Smith, RN et al.A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jul;86(1):107-15.
9. Leung, Cindy W et al. Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. American Journal of Public Health (ajph) (Dec 2014)

5 Brain Fuel Hacks

Every September is the beginning of a new academic year – an opportunity to create new habits and routines, after all of the summer festivities. With the new school year, it is a great time to refocus on eating well for best mental and cognitive health for every member of the family. Not only does improved nutrition enhance learning, it also decreases the number of absences due to sickness and improves overall behaviour, in children and adults alike. Refuel your brain with these five tips for best brain health:

1. Balance your meals.

Stable blood sugar levels are critically important for brain functions such as thinking, memory and learning.  The brain depends on glucose, as its main fuel source.  If there is not enough glucose available, the brain’s ability to produce neurotransmitters, the brain’s signalling chemicals, decreases. Low levels of glucose can also lead to a loss of energy for proper brain function, resulting in poor attention and cognition.

Ensuring meals contain relatively equal proportions of complex carbohydrates, protein and fats allows for balanced blood sugars for hours at a time (which also reduces the need for snacking).  We need to stop eating dessert for breakfast! Most “breakfast foods” like cereal, toast, muffins and waffles are rich in simple carbohydrates, which usually results in chasing your blood sugar all day long.  Better breakfast options include protein shakes made with plain yogurt/protein powder(for the protein), fruit (1/2 cup) and coconut milk or avocado (for the fats), veggie omelette, toast with almond butter and berries, oatmeal with berries (with a Tbsp or two of nut butter or nuts/seeds added in), or chia seed pudding.

2. Ditch the sugars.

Probably the worst food you could eat for your mental and physical health is sugar. It is shocking to learn that in North America, the average child under age 12 eats about 49 pounds of sugar annually in addition to 32 pounds of high fructose corn syrup, only 3 pounds less of each than the average adult (compared to 8 pounds of average broccoli consumption).

Sugar has many effects on a child’s learning ability.  It decreases attention span and memory. Eating sugar at an early age has been shown to impair memory function long-term as well as increase inflammation in parts of the brain. Other effects of sugar consumption an increased incidence of depression, anxiety, addiction and dementia.  All good reasons to cut back, if not eliminate it entirely from your diet.  I recommend using stevia glycerite to sweeten food & drink, which gives the sweetness without the compromise.

3. Add more fish.

We can’t make omega 3 fatty acids, so we have to get it through dietary sources such as wild salmon, flaxseed and walnuts.  When it comes to memory and brain health, most of the research indicates that is is specific to the effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  It is not only neuroprotective but is a major structural component of brain tissue.¹

Though there is no upper limit, a little can go a long way.  According to one study in Rotterdam indicated that even one meal per week consisting of fatty fish could reduce cognitive decline by up to 60%.²

People with Alzheimer’s have been shown in several studies to have severely low levels of DHA in key parts of the brain needed for memory formation.³,⁴

So not only is it important not only to increase DHA intake, but also drastically reduce intake of omega 6 fatty acids commonly found in vegetable oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and other common polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s). Historically, the human diet consisted of omega 3 intake in a ratio of 1:1 to omega 6 fatty acids.  With processed foods this has shifted upwards to a ratio of about 1:16 to 1:36. ⁵

DHA has also shown to benefit cognition in both older and younger rats in the absence of neurodegenerative disease. DHA is good for both the young and the old, and the sick and the healthy.⁶,⁷

4. Take a multivitamin/mineral.

Once you have the major macronutrients covered (though eating a balanced plant-based diet will usually suffice), ensure that your micronutrients aren’t lacking. Iron deficiency, for example, even in early stages can decrease dopamine (one of the four main brain neurotransmitters) transmission, thereby decreasing cognition.  Cognition and mental concentration are also shown to be affected by deficiencies in B vitamins (especially thiamine), vitamin E, iodine and zinc.⁸,⁹,¹⁰

5. Hydrate adequately.

Most North Americans are chronically dehydrated and mistake thirst signals for hunger signals. Even the most minimally dehydrated brain is 15% less efficient than a hydrated one.

The best choice for drinking for people of all ages is pure, filtered water.  Ideally, about 50% of your body weight in ounces everyday.  While plain water might get tedious, there are plenty of sugar-free flavoured water options now available, which makes it easier to change things up.  With autumn around the corner, other good choices include bone broth and herbal teas.

References:

(1) Morris MC, Evans DA, Bienias JL, et al. Consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Arch Neurol. 2003 Jul;60(7):940-6.

(2) Kalmijn S, Launer LJ, Ott A, Witteman JC, Hofman A, Breteler MM. Dietary fat intake and the risk of incident dementia in the Rotterdam Study. Ann Neurol. 1997 Nov;42(5):776-82.

(3) Soderberg M, Edlund C, Kristensson K, Dallner G. Fatty acid composition of brain phospholipids in aging and in Alzheimer’s disease. Lipids. 1991 Jun;26(6):421-5.

(4)  Prasad MR, Lovell MA, Yatin M, Dhillon H, Markesbery WR. Regional membrane phospholipid alterations in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurochem Res. 1998 Jan;23(1):81-8.

(5) Kris-Etherton PM, Taylor DS, Yu-Poth S, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food chain in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan;71(1 Suppl):179S-88S.

(6) Morris MC, Evans DA, Tangney CC, Bienias JL, Wilson RS. Fish consumption and cognitive decline with age in a large community study. Arch Neurol.2005 Dec;62(12):1849-53.

(7) Gamoh S, Hashimoto M, Sugioka K, et al. Chronic administration of docosahexaenoic acid improves reference memory-related learning ability in young rats. Neuroscience. 1999;93(1):237-41.

(8) Pollitt E. (1993). Iron deficiency and cognitive function. Annual Review of Nutrition, 13, 521–537.

(9) Chenoweth, W. (2007). Vitamin B complex deficiency and excess. In R. Kliegman, H. Jenson, R. Behrman, & B. Stanton (Eds.), Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th edition. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Greenbaum, L. (2007a). Vitamin E deficiency. In R. Kliegman, H. Jenson, R. Behrman, & B. Stanton (Eds.), Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th Edition. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Greenbaum, L. (2007b). Micronutrient mineral deficiencies. In R. Kliegman, H. Jenson, R. Behrman, & B. Stanton (Eds.), Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th Edition. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Bryan, J., Osendarp, S., Hughes, D., Calvaresi, E., Baghurst, K. & van Klinken, J. (2004). Nutrients for cognitive development in school-aged children. Nutrition Reviews, 62(8), 295–306.

Delange, F. (2000) The role of iodine in brain development. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 59, 75–79. Sandstead, H. (2000). Causes of iron and zinc deficiencies and their effects on brain. Journal of Nutrition, 130, 347–349.

(10) Lieberman, H. (2003). Nutrition, brain function, and cognitive performance. Appetite, 40, 245–254.

Frisvold, D. (2012). Nutrition and cognitive achievement: An evaluation of the school breakfast program. Working Paper, Emory University.

 

Is Your Water Bottle Making You Fat?

Did you know that most plastic water bottles contain substances that can cause weight gain?

By now, many of us have heard of bisphenol A (BPA), which has been used since the 1950s to make reusable water bottles, baby bottles, pacifiers, plastic utensils, children’s toys, compact discs, and certain microwaveable and reusable plastic containers. After it was determined that BPA acts as a endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) as well increase one’s susceptibility to cancer, many companies switched over to using bisphenol S (BPS), to make their plastics “BPA-free”.

Bisphenol-A (BPA)and its similar counterpart bisphenol-S (BPS) belong to a class of substances called obesogens.  An obesogen is a chemical that, you guessed it, disrupts normal development and fat metabolism and can, in some cases, lead to obesity.

According to a Canadian study, BPS, like BPA, can actually trigger fat cell growth.1  Cells when exposed to BPS were stimulated to accumulate fat as well as signalled to produce proteins that allowed the cell to become more efficient in fat deposition.  One study actually found BPS to be more effective in stimulating fat accumulation than BPA. 2

The mechanisms by which these toxins disrupt the body’s metabolism is complex.  They include the dysregulation of several hormones, disruption in regulation of hunger and satiety, and a reprogramming of metabolic set points. Both BPA and BPS have also been shown to affect the proper functioning of beta and alpha cells in the pancreas, fat cells, and liver cells which can contribute to the development of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. 3,4,5 Exposure to even small amounts of these substances in unborn children can trigger obesity later in life. These substances are not benign and have a significant impact on many aspects of our health.

So while drinking water is certainly beneficial for your health (it can speed weight loss by 550 percent and rev energy by 89 percent), you need to give your water container some serious consideration.

Here are five strategies to reduce your exposure:

  1. Carry your own water bottle (stainless steel or glass) with you. If you must buy water when you are on the go, choose water that comes in either a glass bottle or a box. Avoid plastic water bottles, as most are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), another EDC which increases estrogenic activity.
  2. Avoid drinking from plastic cups or using other plastic kitchenware.
  3. Avoid touching cash receipts – as the paper is usually coated with BPA or BPS.
  4. Reduce your consumption of canned food – choose dry or fresh foods whenever possible. If you do buy canned items, try to find BPA and BPS-free versions, such as those made by Eden Foods.
  5. Don’t reheat foods in the microwave if they are in plastic containers. Instead, use ceramic or glass containers.  Better yet, reduce/eliminate your reliance on plasticware and plastic wrap to store food and go with glass instead whenever possible.

 

References:

  1. Boucher, JG, Ahmed, S, Atlas E. 2016. Bisphenol S Induces Adipogenesis in Primary Human Preadipocytes From Female Donors. Endocrinology. 2016 Apr;157(4):1397-407.
  2. Ahmed, S, Atlas, E. 2016. Bisphenol S- and bisphenol A-induced adipogenesis of murine preadipocytes occurs through direct peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma activation.  International Journal of Obesity volume 40, pp.1566–1573
  3. Bodin, J, Kocbach Bolling, A, Wendt, A. Eliasson, L, Becher, R, Kuper, F, Lovi, M, Nygaard, C. 2015.Exposure to bisphenol A, but not phthalates, increases spontaneous diabetes type 1 development in NOD mice. Toxicology Reports, Volume 2, pp.99-11
  4. Mirmira, P, Evans-Molina, C.  2014.  Bisphenol A, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Genuine Concern or Unnecessary Preoccupation?. Transl Res. Jul; 164(1): 13–21.
  5. Provvisiero, D, Pivonello, C, Mucogiuri, G, Negri, M, de Angelis, C, Pivonello, R, Colao, A.   2016.  Influence of Bisphenol A on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Oct; 13(10): 989.

6 Simple Steps to Start a Fast (for Anything)

A fast is simply abstaining from something for a period of time.  Fasting is a time honored, often spiritual, tradition.   Though it is often associated with food, there are many elements that can insidiously insert themselves into our lifestyles when we are not paying attention.  Bad habits happen to all of us.  .

Fasting in all of its forms, is an exercise in self-control.  Whether it is caffeine, sugar, video games, shopping, cybersurfing, social media or television – pick your “vice.”. And self-control holds benefit for all—regardless of your spiritual background.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Choose your element – ask yourself what is the one thing you don’t think you could live without.
  2. Choose a timeframe – I recommend starting small and working your way up – can be one day, a week, a month, or even one day per week.
  3. Prepare yourself for the commitment you have made for yourself. If you decide to give up coffee, you might want to ensure you have an alternate beverage to replace it with. If you decide to give up eating out, you will need to make sure you take the time to prepare your meals.
  4. Expect it to be difficult – especially at the beginning. Let it be hard, accept that the difficulty is part of the process. If you don’t find it difficult, maybe your choice wasn’t as much of an issue for you as you may have thought.
  5. Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t manage to achieve your goal, be humbled by your efforts to try.
  6. Once the fast is over, then re-introduce the item back into your life gently and consciously. Let yourself decide if and/or how much this space this item/habit is permitted in your new routine. Choosing to do/eat something consciously changes the experience completely. Moderation will often be the “new normal.”

Fasting isn’t sexy, but it is of great value.  You will discover things about yourself from this practice.  You will regain self-control over all of the elements in your life.  You will feel better about yourself – you deserve it.

 

5 Tips to Help you Keep your New Year’s Resolution(s)

The beginning of a new year always holds such promise – an era of newness, filled with the optimism to better oneself.  A chance to start fresh, yet change is hard.  Many of us come up with all sorts of New Year’s resolutions – whether it is increasing your physical fitness, losing weight, saving more money or learning a new language.  The reality is only 9.2% of people actually achieve their goals and manage to break free from their bad habits.  The vast majority of us don’t even manage to make it past the first month!

Often we fail because we are not making the right resolutions.  This year, make a real difference by implementing this SMART strategy to make lasting change in your life, not just in  your resolutions, but any goals you might have in life (at any time of the year).  I hope you find them useful to increasing your chances for lasting success and a healthier more fulfilling life.

  1. S is for specific. Make your goal absolutely clear – eg. if you want to save more money for your RRSP, decide what specific amount of money you would like to save and by when
  2. M is for measurable. It is incredibly important not only to write down your goal, but also to log your progress.  Whether you use old fashioned pen and paper, or track your results on a suitable app, the difference between tracking your results and not will significantly affect your ability to successfully achieve your goal
  3. A is for achievable. There is nothing wrong with setting big goals for yourself, but you are more likely to realize your goals if you break it down into smaller goals. When you tackle a larger task, it may interfere with your lifestyle in such a way as to really affect its sustainability. We are much better at implementing small changes successively, rather than tackling a big goal for a few days (or weeks) and then ultimately fail at it.
  4. R is for relevant. You need to ask yourself what your motivation is for your goal – is it intrinsic (and therefore based on a value that is important to you), or something that someone (or society) thinks you should do better? Ask yourself what are your reasons for working towards this goal.  When it is important to  you, you will find it much easier to make to implement changes.
  5. T is for timebound. We often are not very kind to ourselves. I think one of the most popular resolutions is to lose weight.  We give ourselves plenty of time to gain weight, but then want to lose it in a matter of weeks, or even days!  Giving yourself enough time to reach your goal, with plenty of intervals to measure the intermediate success along the way.  In this way, you building a better habit for years, instead of a short term fix over a few months.  Remember, it takes 66 days to change a habit.

Mini Chocolate Pies

Ingredients:
Chocolate Coconut Cookie Crust:

1/2 cup almonds or nut of choice
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut shreds
3 1/2 Tbs raw cacao powder
3 Tbs maple syrup*
3 Tbs coconut oil**
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Water if needed to help blend

Chocolate Filling:

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is dairy-free, use Lily’s for sugar free option)
1 1/4 cup canned coconut milk shaken
3.5 Tbs maple syrup to taste*
2.5 Tbs coconut oil melted**
1 tsp vanilla extract

Coconut Whipped Cream:

1 13.6 oz coconut milk solid cream only (Thai Kitchen brand)
1 Tbs maple syrup*
1 tsp vanilla extract

*maple syrup can be substituted for sugar-free maple syrup for sugar free option
** use refined coconut oil if you don’t like the coconut flavor

Instructions
To make the crust:

Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until sticky crumbles form.
Press into a silicone muffin pan OR use parchment liners. Set in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling:

Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan on the stove (or glass bowl in the microwave), heat coconut milk to just boiling.
Pour hot coconut milk over the chocolate chips and let it sit for about 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk smooth.
Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until well-combined. Taste and adjust for sweetness.
Pour chocolate mixture over crust and freeze for 2 hours or until solid. Remove from muffin pan.

To make the whipped cream:

Refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight. Scoop out the solid cream into a mixing bowl. Add maple syrup and vanilla.
Whip with a hand mixer for about 1 minute until light and fluffy.
Spread whipped cream on top of each pie. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe is from: http://prettypies.com/recipe/mini-chocolate-pies/

Grain Free, Dairy Free Easy Blender Pumpkin Spice Muffin Recipe (with Sugar-free option)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nut butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (try making your own!)
  • 2 tablespoons of raw honey (or other sweeteners such as maple syrup, stevia, etc.)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor. You can also use a stick blender if you have one.
  3. Blend until well mixed.
  4. Pour batter into a greased muffin tin. You can also use a mini muffin tin to make 24 mini muffins.
  5. Add additional toppings of your choice to each muffin and lightly stir into each cup
  6. Cook time: 15 minutes for full size muffins and 10 minutes for mini muffins.
  7. Reheat in a toaster oven for about 4 minutes at 350 degrees F, or eat at room temperature.