Deanna

 Until recently, we didn’t know how much our gut and brain interacted. Some people thought that our brains controlled everything we did, consciously and subconsciously.
 
They were wrong!
 
Some of us have a sense that there is a connection because we often feel emotions in our gut. For example, when we’re scared we can get a “knot” in our stomach. Or, feeling sad or anxious can affect our appetite and the number of bathroom trips we need to make. Plus, many digestive issues often come with mood issues.
 
Recent research confirms a gut-brain connection, a.k.a. “axis.” This microbiome-gut-brain axis is stronger and different than we had imagined. And with new technology, we’ve been able to study the gut microbes in a way that was not possible just a few years ago.
 
Let’s talk about how your gut microbes, your gut itself, your brain, and your mental health are all interconnected and influence each other! Plus, we’ll dive into some “mood foods,” as well as stress reducing activities that can help with gut issues.

Our Next Thermography Clinic will be Monday, October 1/18

Spaces are limited, and we will be taking deposits to hold your spot.

Scans provided by Janice Holmes, Health Scan.

 
What is Digital Thermography?
Digital Infrared Thermographic Imaging, or more commonly known as Thermography, is a non-invasive test using an infrared camera to measure and pinpoint abnormal thermal changes within the body. The camera gauges body tissue heat energy that is then reflected on a high-speed computer for imaging. Generally, problem areas show high temperatures due to increased blood flow and increased metabolic activity.
 
The recording of these thermal patterns of the body are used to aid in diagnosing and/or monitor inflammation, pain or illness in any part of the body. Unlike more familiar medical tests such as X-ray, mammogram or ultrasound, and MRI, which are tests of  anatomy or structure, Thermography is a test of physiology. Thermal changes are often the earliest sign of vascular disease, immune dysfunction, and systemic inflammation. To the individual, Thermography can help visualize pain and inflammation and give a red flag warning to areas of concern whether or not symptoms are actually present.
 
The scan is harmless, non-invasive, no radiation, economical, medically approved technology, and requires only a minimal amount of your time. HealthSCAN has helped many patients get to the cause of their condition so proper treatment can be rendered.
Monday, 07 May 2018 16:16

Omega-3s - The fats we love to love

Omega-3s get a lot of notoriety - and for good reason! Not only is one of them essential for good health, but we don’t get enough of them in our diets. 
 
Omega-3s are a kind of fat. Fats are not just a storable source of 9 calories per gram. Different fats are used by our bodies for different essential functions. They’re part of the membranes that surround each cell, and are especially important in the brain and nerves. They can mediate the effect of our immune cells as well as influence the production of neurotransmitters and hormones. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, and have health benefits for the heart, brain, and our mental health. 
 
In fact, it’s thought that the reduced intake of omega-3s over the last few generations is one of the reasons for the increase in many of the chronic diseases we see today.
 
Let’s look at what exactly omega-3s are, why they’re so good for our health, and how to get enough of these lovable fats.
 
What are omega-3s?
 
There are several types of fats (a.k.a. fatty acids). They’re broken down into two main categories: saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fatty acids are further broken down into monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs). 
 
The main types of PUFAs are omega-3s and omega-6s. We don’t hear much about omega-6s because we tend to get too much of these in our diet already. Omega-6s are found in meat, poultry, and many common seed oils like corn and sunflower. So, the focus has been to educate people to swap out some of those omega-6s to get more omega-3s like our ancestors did.
 
Three of the omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for health. They are:
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - essential fatty acid
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - biologically active fatty acid
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - biologically active fatty acid
 
ALA is essential - literally essential for health, just like essential vitamins and minerals. This is because the body can’t create it from other nutrients. It is this omega-3 that the body needs in order to create the biologically active EPA and DHA. In fact, research shows that the primary role of ALA is to be the building block for EPA and DHA.
 
What I mean by “biologically active” is that EPA and DHA are the forms of omega-3s that provide the health benefits. They’re the ones that are active in the body.
 
ALA is the plant-based omega-3 and is found in many seeds like flax, hemp, and chia. It’s also found in walnuts, and oils from olives, canola, and soy. 
 
EPA and DHA, on the other hand, are found in seafood, especially oily fish. They are also found in algae, which is a vegetarian source.
 
FUN FACT: Fish have the biologically active forms of omega-3s because they eat the algae and store extra EPA and DHA in their fat. 
 
The conversion of plant-based essential ALA into the biologically active EPA and DHA is complex and requires several steps and enzymes. Unfortunately, the process isn’t very efficient. The conversion rate of ALA to EPA is about 8-12%, while the conversion to DHA is only about 1%. Some studies show that women may have slightly higher conversion rates compared to men.
 
Despite all of this biochemistry, the real question is how do they work in the body and what are these health benefits?
 
The health benefits of omega-3s
 
There is a lot of research about the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Things like anti-inflammation, heart and brain health, as well as better moods. 
 
Omega-3s and anti-inflammation
 
There are many inflammatory diseases like allergies, asthma, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases. There are also many other diseases that may not be inflammatory per se, but have a substantial inflammatory component. These include diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. 
 
Many of these conditions are becoming more common. Reasons include allergens, infections, environmental and dietary toxins, and even stress. As mentioned earlier, one of these reasons is our inflammatory diets.
 
Yes! What you eat can increase or decrease the amount of inflammation in your body.
 
An inflammatory diet contains a much higher intake of omega-6s compared with omega-3s. In fact, the higher the intake of certain omega-6s, the higher the production of certain inflammatory molecules.
 
Many animal and some clinical studies have found reduced inflammation when omega-3 supplements were taken. 
 
A review of 30 studies showed that fish oil supplements reduced the pain of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis.
 
How do omega-3s reduce inflammation? 
 
Two ways. First, they are used to create anti-inflammatory molecules themselves. Second, they can inhibit some of the mechanisms that cause inflammation in the first place. 
 
Omega-3s are used to produce certain anti-inflammatory molecules (e.g. prostaglandins, resolvins, etc.) that combat inflammation.
 
They also reduce the production of enzymes that create inflammatory molecules, and can even reduce the expression of certain inflammatory genes.
 
Omega-3s become incorporated into the membranes of immune cells and affect their inflammatory response.
 
Some animal studies even show that omega-3s can reduce inflammation by helping to reduce obesity!
 
Omega-3s and the brain
 
If you take away the water weight, your brain is about 60% fat. DHA is the main fatty acid in the brain’s grey matter, while EPA makes up about 1% of the total brain fatty acids.
 
DHA is the most important PUFA in the central nervous system. It’s the most abundant component of the membranes of nerve cells and plays important roles in both structure and function. DHA helps nerve cells insulate their electrical signals, stabilize their membranes, and reduce inflammation.
 
It’s important to ensure enough omega-3s for optimal brain health, as well as baby’s brain development during pregnancy and beyond.
 
The last trimester of pregnancy sees the greatest need for DHA for the baby. This is when the brain and eyes are maturing. More DHA is transported to the infant during this last trimester compared to the first two.
 
Children born preterm are more vulnerable to deficiency, and studies show they have lower levels of omega-3s in their blood compared to infants born at full term. 
 
Preterm infants given a formula that includes omega-3s show a small improvement in neurodevelopmental outcomes compared to preterm infants given formula without omega-3s. This does not seem to affect full term infants.
 
DHA is found in breast milk. If mothers reduce the amount of omega-3s they eat, there is a reduction in the amount of omega-3s in their breast milk.
 
Recent studies found positive effects in cognition (ability to think) and brain connectivity in young children who had higher DHA intake during infancy.
 
On the other side of the spectrum, in terms of neurodegeneration, age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). There’s been a lot of research on the effects of omega-3s and AD. People with higher omega-3 intakes have a lower risk of AD; and people with AD tend to have lower levels of DHA in their blood.
 
Because of DHA’s effect on certain brain cells (glial cells), it was thought that supplementing with DHA may help with AD. This was tried in animal models and was shown to boost an enzyme that helps to clear the detrimental Aβ plaques that are common in AD. Also, animals given an omega-6 enriched diet had higher levels of plasma Aβ as well as more mood issues. 
 
A recent review of several high-quality clinical studies looked at the use of omega-3 supplements to try to help with mild to moderate AD. After combining the results of those trials, researchers found that after six months, there was no consistent benefit in quality of life, cognition (ability to think), or mental health. One study showed a small improvement in activities of daily living amongst those who had the omega-3 supplements.
 
A more recent larger study showed that omega-3 supplements may have a small benefit if taken early in the development of AD, but other studies don’t show the same benefit.
 
More research is needed to understand the role omega-3s have for people with AD.
 
FUN FACT: One symptom of deficiency of the essential omega-3 (ALA) is visual dysfunction. This is because of how important DHA is, not only for the brain, but also for the retina of the eye.
 
Omega-3s and mental health
 
People who regularly eat and/or have higher blood levels of omega-3s are less likely to feel depressed or anxious.
 
One randomized double-blind study looked at depressed undergraduate students. They found a significant reduction in symptoms in those who took omega-3 supplements, compared to those who took placebo.
 
Studies have also shown a mild to moderate benefit in symptoms for those taking omega-3s versus placebos. Some of those studies also showed a comparable result to certain antidepressant medications. These studies also concluded that the evidence was not very strong yet, and more research with higher-quality studies is needed.
 
In terms of aggression, a recently published double-blind randomized study tested whether omega-3 supplements could help reduce aggression. They gave one group a supplement with EPA and DHA, and another got a placebo. The participants taking the omega-3s found that after 6-weeks they felt that their aggressiveness significantly decreased.
 
The links between mental health and inflammation are many. For one, certain medications that cause inflammation can induce mental health symptoms. At the same time, some antidepressant medications are anti-inflammatory. In fact, taking omega-3s along with antidepressant medications has an improved effect over antidepressant medications alone.
 
The role of omega-3s in mental health are not just due to their anti-inflammatory abilities. There is also evidence that omega-3 deficiency can lead to impaired function of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, and these can result in some mental health issues.
 
There is also the connection with stress hormones. People who feel depressed tend to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood. The omega-3 EPA may reduce the production and release of stress hormones.
 
Omega-3s and heart health
 
Omega-3s started getting famous for heart health because of research dating back to the 1970s. At that time, researchers found that Greenland Inuit, despite eating a lot of fat, had a lower rate of heart disease and fewer risk factors too. So, they thought that it wasn’t the amount of fat eaten that was unhealthy for the heart, but rather the type of fat eaten.
 
Many early studies of fish consumption and omega-3 supplementation found a lot of evidence of a heart-healthy effect. They found that people who ate fatty fish several times each week had lower risks of heart disease than people who didn’t eat any fish. 
 
In terms of supplements, a large study found that people with heart disease who took ALA or fish oil capsules every day had reduced risk for death, heart attack, and stroke compared with those taking a placebo. 
 
Other studies show that higher levels of EPA and DHA in your blood are associated with lower  risk factors for heart issues.
 
Many more studies showed that fish oil helped to improve blood lipids and cholesterol, reduced blood pressure, improved heart rate and rhythm, “thinned” the blood, had beneficial effects on blood vessels, and stabilized atherosclerotic plaques.
 
Lately, there seems to be a growing body of evidence that the improved heart health effects of omega-3s may be smaller than we originally thought. Some researchers think these conflicting results may be due to the fact that fewer people smoke now, and also that the standard of care for people with heart disease has been improving over the decades. 
 
The bottom line when it comes to omega-3s and heart health is there is evidence that omega-3 supplements lower some risk factors of heart disease - the evidence is just not as overwhelmingly strong as we first thought. Plus, since these supplements tend to be quite safe, many expert medical associations still recommend them for heart health.
 
NOTE: Talk to your health care professional before starting any supplement regimen, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medications.
 
How to get enough omega-3s from food
 
In order to get the health benefits you have to regularly eat enough foods that are high in omega-3s.  
 
It’s thought that our ancestral diets included approximately equal amounts of omega-3s and omega-6s. Now, our intake of omega-6s is up to 20x higher than our intake of omega-3s. This is why there is such an emphasis on getting enough omega-3s.
 
When it comes to plant-based sources of omega-3s, flax is the winner! Up to half of flax’s total fatty acids are the essential omega-3 ALA. Canola, walnuts, and soy, are less concentrated sources of ALA, with about 10% of their fatty acids as ALA.
 
To eat the recommended amount of omega-3s have at least two servings of fatty fish each week. Fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. This is a recommendation from the World Health Organization, as well as other health authorities.
 
In the US, there have been consistent recommendations to increase fish intake for almost 20 years. Despite this the average American still only eats about 1.3 servings of fish per week.
 
Eating fish and seafood gives you a lot more nutrition than simply taking a supplement. They contain protein, vitamins D and B12, as well as the minerals iodine, selenium, potassium, and magnesium, to name a few. 
 
When it comes to choosing fish, bigger is not better! Large fish that feed on smaller fish have higher concentrations of toxins in their fat. To reduce your intake of things like methyl mercury and organic pollutants, limit your intake of tilefish, king mackerel, shark, and swordfish. And anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or a child, should avoid these types of fish altogether.
 
There are also non-fish sources of omega-3s! Some foods are fortified with omega-3 oils. Some baked goods, pastas, dairy, eggs, dressings, and spreads may contain added flax, algal, or fish oils. Omega-3 eggs are produced by hens who’ve had flax seeds, chia seeds, and/or fish oil added to their feed. In fact, hens fed the plant-based ALA produce eggs with ALA, and those fed fish oil produced eggs with EPA & DHA.
 
Check your labels!
 
Omega-3 supplements
 
NOTE: Omega-3 supplements are by no means a “treatment,” but can help in cases of insufficiency. In terms of safety, fish oil supplements have a long history of safety. However, be cautious if you’re planning or recently had surgery, or have a compromised immune system. Speak with your physician or pharmacist if you take pain, anti-inflammatory, or blood-clotting, or blood lipid/cholesterol medications. Speak with your health care professional before changing your supplement regimen.
 
For those who don’t eat fish, supplements can be an option. Omega-3 supplements are one of the most popular supplements taken. 
 
It’s recommended that most adults get at least 0.5-1.6 g per day of combined EPA and DHA, preferably from food. In terms of ALA, 1.5-3 g per day is beneficial, and that can be from plant-based foods or supplements. 
 
Fish liver oil, is from the livers of the fish, and also contains fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A and D.
 
PRO TIP: Refrigerating your fish oil supplements can help prevent the delicate fats from going rancid.
 
Conclusion
 
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for good health! 
 
Some of the health benefits include reduced inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis; improved brain function and mental health; and reduced risk of heart disease. 
 
Flax is the best plant-based source of the essential omega-3, ALA. The two biologically active omega-3s, EPA and DHA, are from fish or algae. It’s always recommended to get your nutrients from food as much as possible. At least two servings of fatty fish each week is recommended.
 
If you consider supplementing, make sure to follow direction on the label and keep them refrigerated. If you have any medical conditions or are taking medications, make sure to speak with your health care professional.
 
References
 
Abdulrazaq M1, Innes JK1, Calder PC2.(2017). Effect of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on arthritic pain: A systematic review. Nutrition, 39-40:57-66. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2016.12.003. 
 
Bäck, M. (2017). Omega-3 fatty acids in atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Future Science OA, 3(4), FSO236. http://doi.org/10.4155/fsoa-2017-0067
 
Baker, E.J., Miles, E.A., Burdge, G.C., Yaqoob, P. & Calder, P.C. (2016). Metabolism and functional effects of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids in humans. Prog Lipid Res, 64:30-56. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2016.07.002.
 
Balk, E. M., & Lichtenstein, A. H. (2017). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Summary of the 2016 Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality Evidence Review. Nutrients, 9(8), 865. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080865
 
Bègue, L., Zaalberg, A., Shankland, R., Duke, A., Jacquet, J., Kaliman, P., Pennel, L., Chanove, M., Arvers, P. & Bushman, B.J. (2017). Omega-3 supplements reduce self-reported physical aggression in healthy adults. Psychiatry Res, 261:307-311. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.12.038.
 
Bowen K.J., Harris, W.S. & Kris-Etherton, P.M. (2016). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Are There Benefits? Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med, (11):69.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5067287/
 
Burckhardt, M., Herke, M., Wustmann, T., Watzke, S., Langer, G. & Fink A. (2016). Omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 11;4:CD009002. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009002.pub3.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27063583
 
Calder, P. C. (2013). Omega‐3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology? British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75(3), 645–662. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04374.x
 
Calder P.C. (2017). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochem Soc Trans, 15;45(5):1105-1115. doi: 10.1042/BST20160474. 
 
Carlson, S. E., & Colombo, J. (2016). Docosahexaenoic Acid and Arachidonic Acid Nutrition in Early Development. Advances in Pediatrics, 63(1), 453–471. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.yapd.2016.04.011
 
Chaddha, A & Eagle, K.A. (2015). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health. Circulation, 132:e350-e352. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.015176
 
Coorey, R., Novinda, A., Williams, H. & Jayasena, V. (2015). Omega-3 fatty acid profile of eggs from laying hens fed diets supplemented with chia, fish oil, and flaxseed. J Food Sci, 80(1):S180-7. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12735.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25557903
 
Gintya, A.T. & Conklinb, S.M. (2015). Short-term supplementation of acute long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may alter depression status and decrease symptomology among young adults with depression: A preliminary randomized and placebo controlled trial. Psychiatry Research. 229(1–2); 485–489.
 
Gioxari, A., Kaliora, A.C., Marantidou, F. & Panagiotakos, D.P. (2018). Intake of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition, 45:114-124.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2017.06.023.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28965775
 
Health Canada, Natural and Nonprescription Health Products Directorate, Single Monographs, Fish Oil. Accessed March 2, 2018.
 
Jayarathne, S., Koboziev, I., Park, O.-H., Oldewage-Theron, W., Shen, C.-L., & Moustaid-Moussa, N. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Obesity Properties of Food Bioactive Components: Effects on Adipose Tissue. Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, 22(4), 251–262. http://doi.org/10.3746/pnf.2017.22.4.251
 
Langlois, K. & Ratnayake, W.M. (2015). Omega-3 Index of Canadian adults. Health Rep. 26(11):3-11.
LINK: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2015011/article/14242-eng.pdf
 
Martínez-Cengotitabengoa, M. & González-Pinto, A. (2017). Nutritional supplements in depressive disorders. Actas Esp Psiquiatr, 45(Supplement):8-15. 
 
Molfino, A., Amabile, M. I., Monti, M., & Muscaritoli, M. (2017). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Critical Illness: Anti-Inflammatory, Proresolving, or Both? Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017, 5987082. http://doi.org/10.1155/2017/5987082
 
Mori TA1. (2017). Marine OMEGA-3 fatty acids in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Fitoterapia, 123:51-58. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2017.09.015.
 
Rapaport, M. H., Nierenberg, A. A., Schettler, P. J., Kinkead, B., Cardoos, A., Walker, R., & Mischoulon, D. (2016). Inflammation as a Predictive Biomarker for Response to Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Major Depressive Disorder: A Proof of Concept Study. Molecular Psychiatry, 21(1), 71–79. http://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2015.22
 
Rogers, L. K., Valentine, C. J., & Keim, S. A. (2013). DHA Supplementation: Current Implications in Pregnancy and Childhood. Pharmacological Research : The Official Journal of the Italian Pharmacological Society, 70(1), 13–19. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2012.12.003
 
Rutkofsky, I.H., Khan, A.S., Sahito, S. & Kumar, V. (2017). The Psychoneuroimmunological Role of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. Adv Mind Body Med, 31(3):8-16.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28987035
 
Senftleber, N.K., Nielsen, S.M., Andersen, J.R., Bliddal, H., Tarp, S., Lauritzen, L., Furst, D.E., Suarez-Almazor, M.E., Lyddiatt, A. & Christensen, R. (2017). Marine Oil Supplements for Arthritis Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Trials. Nutrients, 9(1). pii: E42. doi: 10.3390/nu9010042.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295086/
 
Siscovick, D.S., Barringer, T.A., Fretts, A.M., Wu, J.H., Lichtenstein, A.H., Costello, R.B., Kris-Etherton, P.M., Jacobson, T.A., Engler, M.B., Alger, H.M., Appel, L.J. & Mozaffarian, D. (2017). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Fish Oil) Supplementation and the Prevention of Clinical Cardiovascular Disease: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 135(15):e867-e884. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000482.
 
Watanabe, Y. & Tatsuno, I. (2017). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for cardiovascular diseases: present, past and future. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol, 10(8):865-873. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2017.1333902.
 
Whittington, R. A., Planel, E., & Terrando, N. (2017). Impaired Resolution of Inflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Review. Frontiers in Immunology, 8, 1464. http://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01464
 
Zárate, R., el Jaber-Vazdekis, N., Tejera, N., Pérez, J. A., & Rodríguez, C. (2017). Significance of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in human health. Clinical and Translational Medicine, 6, 25. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40169-017-0153-6
 
Breathing is a part of life that's of utmost importance, but something we rarely spend much time thinking about -- our bodies naturally take care of this task for us without any thought.  There's nothing sweeter than taking a deep breath of fresh mountain air, or breathing in the salty air as you look out over the ocean.  But how often do you consider the air you breathe day in and day out in your living space?  
 
There are many simple things you can do to assure the air in your home stays as pure as possible, and my favorite ways to do this are using plants and essential oils.  These, together and separate, can remove toxins that you don't see, clean the air in your home, and add an ambiance all the while.  Breathe new life into your home by using these plants and essential oils to purify your living space. 
 
1.  Aloe Vera
Not only is it a great plant to keep around for relieving burns, but it’s also amazing for drawing formaldehyde from the air. Plus, in small spaces, just one will work wonders. 
 
2.  Lemon Essential Oil
This oil purifies the air plus it has a very uplifting impact on you. Try diffusing some in the morning as you get ready for work. 
 
3.  Fern
Ferns are perfect for your bathroom space because they’re happiest in humidity. While they’re there, they will take all the xylene from the area for a cleaner and healthier you.
 
4.  Eucalyptus Essential Oil
There’s a reason you smell this essential oil in spas everywhere. It purifies the air to keep it fresh plus it is an ideal natural decongestant. Use it in the chillier months or when allergies strike to clear the air and your sinuses too.
 
5.  Spider Plant
If you’ve avoided keeping plants around the home because you’re not good at keeping them alive, then this plant is a good choice. It doesn’t need watering very often and is fantastic for absorbing any chemicals released into your air.
 
6. Tea Tree Essential Oil
This air-purifying oil is one of the best since it fights away mold. Mold can lurk behind walls and may not be visible to you while still causing irreparable harm to your health. Tea tree essential oil can assist with keeping this from happening.
 
7.  Chrysanthemums 
According to NASA, this is the best natural air purifier you can keep in your home. It destroys those air pollutants, keeping your home’s air clean and fresh. 
 
8.  Snake Plant
If you have a space in your home that doesn’t get much sunlight, you’ll like this plant. It’s as easy to care for as the spider plant too. 
 
For the best clean air in your home, try incorporating both plants and essential oils. You can diffuse the oils, or you can spray them around your house daily. Unless you have a considerable space, one plant should do the trick in each room. See how much better you feel when you purify your air naturally!
 
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Thursday, 12 April 2018 15:11

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are tasty little muffins that are sure to satisfy that sweet craving in the afternoon.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
 
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3/4 cup of honey
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups spelt flour (you could substitute Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free here as well)
1 cup chocolate chips
 
In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, eggs, honey, applesauce and vanilla.
 
Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Do not over mix your batter.
 
Drop into greased muffin tin or muffin cups.
 
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes depending on the size of your muffins.
Sunday, 08 April 2018 21:07

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal

I LOVE Chocolate!  So, when I can add it to my breakfast, that is a huge bonus.  Eating a balanced breakfast is key to starting your day off right to balance your blood sugar and your hormones.
 
This chocolate cherry oatmeal will fill you up with the sweet taste of chocolate and cherries you will think you are having dessert.
 
 
Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal
 
1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
4 egg whites
2 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder
 
 
Toppings:  Frozen cherries, unsweetened shredded coconut, hemp seeds, chia seeds, raw cacao nibs
 
Directions:
 
Cook the steel cut oats in the water and almond milk.  When cooked (about 20 minutes)  stir in the egg whites and cook another few minutes with the lid on, on low heat.  Mix in the cacao, and portion into individual containers.  Top with hemp seeds, chia seeds, raw cacao nibs or coconut.  
 
These individual servings can then be re-warmed the next day.
 
Top the above with frozen cherries on the hot oatmeal, when ready to serve.
 
Saturday, 31 March 2018 14:01

Vitamin D: Are you getting enough?

Vitamin D: Are you getting enough?
 
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It’s sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because our skin makes it when exposed to the sun. 
 
It’s also the most common nutrient deficiency!

Like most vitamins, vitamin D has many functions in the body. It’s mostly known for its ability to help build strong bones. But, vitamin D is also important for a healthy immune system, digestive system, heart and mental health, blood sugar regulation, fertility, and resistance to cancer.
 
FUN FACT: Vitamin D is the vitamin with more scientific articles published since 2000 than any other vitamin.
Saturday, 17 March 2018 12:46

Maple syrup – a seasonal sweet treat

 
Enjoying the sugary sap of a maple tree is a springtime ritual for many Canadian children. During the long winter, the maple tree has the unique characteristic of producing a supply of starch that acts as anti-freeze for its roots. When the snow starts to melt, water trickles into the roots and thus begins the flow of “sugar water” that will eventually be tapped. By mid-March, after the first thaw, the sap is freely flowing and will continue flowing through April. 
Diabetes and heart disease are on the rise worldwide. They’re serious chronic (long-term) conditions. They have a few other things in common as well. 
For one thing, they’re both considered “lifestyle” diseases. This means that they tend to occur in people with certain lifestyles (i.e. not-so-awesome nutrition and exercise habits, etc.).
They’re also both linked with excess body fat, as well as inflammation.
What do you do when your mood is off or you’re stressed to the max?

  Eat ice cream?  Binge watch Netflix?  Call your bestie?

  After reading this article, you may consider yogurt, a handful of walnuts, or maybe even some dark chocolate as your go-to mood-boosters and stress-busters.

Today, we’ll unpack some of the exciting (and preliminary) new research about the link between your gut health and moods/stress. 
We’ll talk about your friendly resident gut microbes (mostly bacteria), probiotic foods and supplements, as well as foods to feed those gut microbes and probiotics (aka “prebiotics”). 

WHAT THE HECK ARE “GUT MICROBES?  ”

Oh, our friendly “gut microbes.” 

They are the trillions of microbes that happily live in our gut. They help us by digesting foods, making vitamins, and even protecting us from the not-so-friendly microbes that may get in there.

Believe it or not, these friendly microbes have mood-boosting and stress-busting functions too!

FUN FACT: There are more microbes
FUN FACT: There are more microbes inside our gut than all of the human cells that make us. Yup, we’re more than half microbe! So, how can they NOT impact our health?

It’s a hotbed of research right now and we’re finding out more about their awesome health, and mood/stress benefits every day.

And, while the research is just starting to figure out the many gut microbe-brain connections, it’s such a cool new topic that I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

GUT MICROBES AND PROBIOTICS

The microbes that live in our guts are known as our “gut microbiota”. 
 
The microbes that we can ingest are known as “probiotics”.

“Probiotics” are live organisms that you can eat, drink, or take as a supplement. They’re what turn milk into yogurt, and cabbage into sauerkraut; and they are great for both your gut health and mental health.

Special probiotics that have mental health benefits are called “psychobiotics,” (psycho = mental health, and biotics = live). They’re live organisms that can benefit our psyche.

So, what’s the link between gut microbes, probiotics, and moods/stress?

  BAD MOODS/STRESS CAN MEAN BAD MICROBES

.  Stress can affect our friendly gut microbes.

 Several studies show that stressed rodents not only have increased stress hormones and stressed behaviours; but, they also have different gut microbes!

And this has been studied, to a small extent, in people too.

 One study showed that moms with high levels of stress hormones during pregnancy had infants with more of the “bad” gut microbes. 

But, can it work the other way around? Can changing our gut microbes affect our moods and stress responses?

Studies of rodents that grow up without any gut microbes at all (in a “bacteria-free” environment) respond to stress more than mice with normal gut microbes. Then, when they’re given either a probiotic or gut microbes from non-stressed mice, their stress responses often go back to normal.

The gut microbe, probiotic, and mood/stress connections are starting to get interesting, aren’t they?

  BAD MICROBES CAN MEAN BAD MOODS

“Gut microbiota and probiotics alter behavior and brain neurochemistry.” (Ait-Belgnaoui, et. al., 2012)

That’s a pretty powerful statement, don’tcha think?

Many animal studies show positive effects on behaviour when they get probiotic supplements.

For example, after a probiotic, stressed rats had lower levels of both stress hormones and an inflammatory molecule associated with depression (“LPS” - lipopolysaccharide).
 
 
One fascinating study showed that when people took probiotics, brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests showed reduced brain activity for negative and aggressive thoughts!

So, as you can see, there is some exciting research on the positive effect that probiotics can have on moods and stress.
 
You might be wondering how exactly your gut can influence your moods...
 
HOW IS THIS GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION POSSIBLE?
 
It may not seem obvious or intuitive, but your body is interconnected in many ways.
 
And more and more research is figuring out the “microbiota-gut-brain axis.” It’s the very complex connection between your gut, its microbes, and your brain.
 
This new field has been called a “paradigm shift in neuroscience” (Dinan, 2017).
 
In fact, there are a number of ways that we’re beginning to understand how our gut microbes can affect our brain.
 
One is via the “vagus” nerve, which is a nerve that directly connects your gut to your brain. 
 
The other ways are through “biochemical messengers.” Biochemicals that are made in your gut and travel through the body to communicate with other parts, including your brain. Biochemicals like short chain fatty acids, cytokines, and even tryptophan (the amino acid that the neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin are made from).
 
The exciting thing is that this may help us with not only moods and stress, but the microbiota-gut-brain axis may one day prove to be helpful for other conditions like autism and Parkinson’s.
 
So, your trillions of gut microbes seem to be more closely interconnected with our moods than we used to think.

So, what can you do to nurture your own healthy gut microbes?
 
HOW TO NURTURE HEALTHY GUT MICROBES - PROBIOTICS
 
First, eat (and drink) probiotics. 
 
Probiotics can be eaten in yogurt, sauerkraut (and other fermented veggies), miso, tempeh, and kimchi. You can drink them in kefir or kombucha. Be sure to choose unpasteurized ones that will be refrigerated in your local grocer. 

Of course, there are a number of probiotic supplements available too. Look for one that’s refrigerated and has at least 10 billion active cultures. I also suggest you look for one that has been “third party tested,” which means someone outside the company has tested it and says it’s a quality product.

  Oh, and always read the label before taking any supplements.

 The probiotics with the most research are of the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus types. But we still don’t know enough about the psychobiotic effects to make specific mood-boosting recommendations...just yet.
 
HOW TO NURTURE HEALTHY GUT MICROBES - PREBIOTICS
 
Second, consider that our resident gut microbes don’t just live inside us to help us - they get something out of the deal too.

Food!

PREbiotics are “compounds that, when fermented in the gut, produce specific changes in bacterial composition or activity”. They are your friendly gut microbes’ favourite delicacies so they’ll happily grow, and multiply. 
 
Prebiotics are basically foods that contain fibre. Things like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Even dark chocolate (preferably with at least 70% cocoa).
 
Giving animals prebiotics can reduce stress hormones and anxiety-related behaviours.
, and in people, studies show that taking psychobiotic's along with prebiotics can improve both the microbes in our gut, as well as our mood. 
 
How amazing is that?

CONCLUSION

The science behind interactions of gut microbes and mental health is still new and ongoing. Much of it is in rodents, with a few studies in people. Some show interesting links and promising potential to help with moods and other areas of mental and brain health.
 
CONCLUSION

:  The science behind interactions of gut microbes and mental health is still new and ongoing. Much of it is in rodents, with a few studies in people. Some show interesting links and promising potential to help with moods and other areas of mental and brain health.
 
More research, especially in humans, is needed; so I’ll be on the lookout for new studies in this young and promising area of mood-boosting and stress-busting nutrition.

What if one day we were able to help mental health by fixing gut health? What an amazing, and less moody, a world that could be!
 
Try eating more probiotics like in yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, and kombucha. Consider taking probiotic supplements (making sure you read the label and follow directions).
 
And don’t forget their favourite foods called prebiotics. Those are in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (and even dark chocolate). 
 
Optimize your gut for more than just gut health, but mood-boosting and stress-busting too.
 
Buh bye blah moods.
 
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