All posts in Health & Lifestyle

The Value of Cooking and Baking from Scratch

When it comes to baking and cooking, a lot of people prefer to buy pre-made foods thinking that it’s cheaper and not that bad for your health. What those same people don’t realize, is that making everything from scratch can actually save you money, and give you the security and satisfaction of knowing what goes into your food. The only extra cost is your time, but is it worth that extra half an hour in your day to eat unnatural chemicals and preservatives?

Buying individual ingredients in bulk from the store can actually save you plenty of money, as the only things you will find that you run out often are fruits, vegetables, meats and other perishables. You will have to buy these things either way, but going this route you don’t need to buy everything else (breads, snacks, etc). If you are proactive and make a habit of freezing most perishables, you may actually find that (minus the big shopping to replace all your raw ingredients) you are only grocery shopping every 2 to 3 weeks to replace these perishables.

The biggest value though it that you know what is going into the food you eat, and you know there are no unnatural chemicals and preservatives designed simply to keep things on the shelf for longer. As people get into this lifestyle, many discover that eating the preserved food from stores is far less appetizing than homemade anyways. It just may take some practise to develop your skills in the kitchen (if you don’t have them already).

In order to get started, check out our nutritionist Aviva Allen’s website for recipes (http://www.avivaallen.com/General/snackstreats.html). She has a list of some great whole food and low sugar, natural grain snack recipes that will taste great and be incredibly healthy for you.

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Why Holistic Healing Treats the Cause not the Symptoms

Have you ever noticed that more often than not when you are suffering from an illness many doctors will treat the symptoms? For example, if you have chronic sinus infections you are just given antibiotics. When you visit a Naturopath, they will not ONLY treat your symptoms. Instead they will get to the root of what is causing the symptoms, eliminating the cause and WORKING TO STOP the symptoms once and for all.

In-depth Analysis and Discovery

The holistic approach to healing treats the whole person addressing every aspect of your health: Physical, mental and spiritual. You will be given a thorough examination considering all contributing factors that could be affecting your health such as diet, stress and lack of exercise. Each individual requires a very personal analysis to address what treatment will work best for you.

The Many Aspects of your Health

In order to achieve perfect health you may require many disciplines to begin your path to recovery. Your treatment will use a multi-disciplined approach from many areas such as:

  • Environmental health
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional counselling
  • Massage
  • Homeopathy
  • Meditation
  • Dietary changes
  • Food allergies
  • Vitamin supplementation
  • Exercise
  • Oxygen or hydrotherapies
  • Organic living

Heal Thy Self

Your body is designed to handle illness and naturopaths believe health conditions are often brought on by imbalance. The naturopath will work with you to help realign your body and return balance in order to allow your body to follow its natural course of self healing. Together, you will come up with an agreed upon strategy that will work for you. Your lifestyle will play a huge role in your healing process and compliance is required for your treatment to be MOST effective. That is why it is important for you to work together with your naturopath to find a course of action that will suit you AND YOUR LIFESTYLE.

Mental Health and Coping

You may not realize what ill effects your mental health can have on your body. Changes to your life such as marital problems, job related stress, family CHANGES or the death of a loved one can all contribute to your sense of well-being. Sometimes holistic healing involves psychotherapy to provide you with the coping skills you require to maintain a well-balance mind. Stressful and traumatic events from you past may also still be affecting your ability to function properly in the present and these issues can be addressed.

As you can see the holistic approach to healing works towards complete treatment that will result in overall health for life long relief of all of your symptoms

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Cleaning Up Your Household Cleaners

cleaning productWe love this list of 8 toxic household products found in common cleaners- and ways to replace them. We highly recommend you check out the full article, but in the meantime, here are some highlighted toxic ingredients you may want to avoid:

1. Phthalates: These can be found in fragrances, so take stock of your scented products- from dish soap to cleaners to air fresheners. As the article points out, phthalates are often not printed on labels, so look for artificial fragrance as a red flag.
Why to avoid them: Research suggests that they can be disruptive to the endocrine system and be potentially carcinogenic.
How to replace them: Choose products that are naturally scented or free of fragrance. Skip the aerosols and opt for essential oils, fresh air, or natural potpourri.

2. Triclosan: This chemical is found in antibacterial detergents and soaps.
Why to avoid it: The verdict is still out as to whether antimicrobial products actually make us significantly healthier. We need to be careful to avoid overuse. Triclosan, while killing certain bacteria, is also thought to promote the growth of others that are resistant to standard drugs. Using it in our homes also means that triclosan finds its way into our ecosystems; it’s been found as a killer of algae in rivers and streams.
How to replace it: Use natural soaps and detergents, and opt for alcohol based santitizers. Check your labels!

3. Ammonia: This is a common household cleaning ingredient found in glass cleaner and polishes.
Why to avoid it: It evaporates quickly and effectively (so as not to leave streaks on your furniture and windows). Unfortunately it’s a strong irritant when inhaled- particularly to those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses. It is suggested that people who regularly inhale ammonia as part of their job are more likely to develop respiratory disease.
How to replace it: Experience Life recommends vodka for metal and mirrored surfaces and toothpaste for polishing silver!

Check out the full list of household toxins to avoid and discover easy, natural ways to keep them out of your home. Tell us: what natural and eco-friendly cleaning products do you use?

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Posture, Mood, Mind


The connection between how you carry yourself and how you feel

We’re always advocating for good posture –whether sitting, standing, and sleeping. Posture is so important for a variety of health reasons that we’ve mentioned here on the blog before. You’ll likely recall that bad posture can result in chronic pain, poor circulation, headaches, and damage to your spine.

But what about your mood? Many studies suggest that everything from our body language, to our carriage, to our posture can have a direct impact on how we feel –not just physically but emotionally. Here are some of the ways in which the positioning and use of your body can affect your mood or mind.

Feel more energized: When we optimize our posture, it helps us to feel more alert and awake. When you slouch, slump or recline, your body may relax but also understand it’s time to rest or shut down. When you consciously sit up straighter and hold your head up, you’re sending a signal within yourself that it’s time to be alert and productive. Certain postures also allow for freer, faster movement which can get more of your muscles working, elevate your heart rate and help you feel a sustained energy. Think of slumping down a hall with your head down, versus striding with a straight back and eyes forward. The second posture allows for much more efficient and energized movement- and much happier muscles and spines!

happy jumpFeel happier: Studies also show that people may feel less depressed when their body language conveys traits like enthusiasm, joy, and energy.  In addition to the psychological connection that may exist between how we present our bodies and how we feel, there are obvious physical reasons why good posture may keep your mood elevated. Optimized movements and positioning can reduce stress to your body like muscle pain, strain in your joints, or headaches. Eliminating those physical symptoms can help to prevent irritability and roadblocks to productivity that result from discomfort. Just think about how difficult it is to concentrate and sit still when you have a sore back. In this way practicing good posture can help keep you feeling comfortable, capable and calm.

Feel more confident: Another study had subjects place bets while sitting in two different postures. Those in a more open, expansive posture took more risks, while those who kept their limbs tight and body closed off were more conservative. As these studies remind us, we instinctively position our bodies to reflect our mood and mindset. Amy Cuddy’s incredible TED talk discusses the connection between our body language and behaviour in detail, suggesting that we can manipulate our body language to reflect (and help achieve) our desired mental state. We highly recommend you check out her compelling talk.

When we consider argument’s like Cuddy’s, we start to see that slumping, slouching, and closing our bodies off is doing twofold damage- not just to our chiropractic health and wellbeing, but also to our confidence, happiness, and success.

Now if that isn’t a reason to stand a little straighter and walk a little taller, I don’t know what is!

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Bad Reputation Foods

Let’s face it: there’s a lot of health and nutrition information out there. We live in a super-saturated society of digital advice, urging us to adopt certain lifestyle and diet habits while writing off others as severely damaging. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you start to feel like your available nutritious dietary options have been halved!
That’s why we really enjoyed this Eating Well article that offers some important health analyses for a few of the foods we’re told to avoid. It’s important to balance your perspective, and to bring a realistic, sustainable approach to your healthy eating. So take a look at our list, and celebrate the tasty foods that can be enjoyed in moderation, and as part of a nutritious diet.

http://thedesigninspiration.com/articles/40-creative-and-funny-egg-paintings/Eggs
We hear lots of mixed things about eggs, but many people are scared off by the high cholesterol count.  Cholesterol definitely needs to be moderated, but as Eating Well reminds us, the cholesterol that we consume in foods doesn’t typically raise our blood cholesterol significantly. Rather, the bigger heart-disease dangers are saturated and trans fats. Enjoy eggs in moderation and pay attention to your cholesterol intake on a daily basis. For a healthier breakfast, skip the yolk and double up on egg whites –you’ll still get the protein and consistency you love without as much cholesterol and fat.

Bread, Pasta and Other Mega-Carbs
Mmmmm….if you love your carbs, you’re not alone. Carbohydrates are comforting, relatively filling and just plain tasty. But many of us know to tread with caution- When you load up on refined foods and simple carbs, you’re definitely making a poor dietary choice and increasing your risk of weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. But there’s plenty of great carbs out there too, that have an important place in your diet. These include whole grains and beans which can help provide some filling substance to a meal while also offering nutrients and protein.

http://greatbodyskin.com/why-are-gluten-bad/Gluten
We took note of this one, because it seems that going GF or gluten-free is a dieting fad these days. With so many products being marketed sans gluten, Eating Well points out that “it’s easy to think their benefits might stretch beyond the audience for whom they’re intended: people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.” Well put! If you don’t have a medical condition that prevents you from eating gluten, there is no reason to cut it from your diet, as this won’t offer you any health benefits.

Without an intolerance causing you symptoms in the first place you won’t experience the surge in health or energy associated with a gluten free regimen. So don’t self-diagnose! There are a number of reasons why we experience digestive distresses that are easily mistaken for a gluten intolerance. A thorough consultation can help you sort out what’s making your insides unhappy.

Check out all 13 of Eating Well’s Food and Nutrition myths here!

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Heat Health For Infants

After a chilly spring it seems summer finally made its presence known through the end of June with high temperatures, humidity and heat warnings. While we’re thrilled to welcome summertime, we’ve been reminding our followers of the importance of playing smart in the sun this season. As adults, we know to apply sunscreen with a high SPF, limit direct sun exposure, and be vigilant about signs of heat exhaustion. But it can be more difficult knowing how to protect an infant in the heat. Since babies are so temperature sensitive, some new parents are unsure about how to keep their infant at a comfortable, safe temperature.

Here are some basic guidelines for your baby during the hotter days of summer:

Baby_sunIn the sun:
Babies have thin, sensitive skin, so sun exposure should be limited. Cover your baby’s arms and legs in light, cool clothing, and if necessary, use a natural sunscreen that’s formulated for infants and toddlers. Shade your baby with a hat and by draping a light sheet over your stroller if the sun is strong in a clear sky. Watch for clues that your baby is overheating or dehydrated. A red face and hot skin are the first signs that your infant is too warm. Symptoms and markers of dehydration include a sunken “soft spot” on your baby’s head, sleepiness, irritability, and a decrease in wet diapers. Babies don’t have a large fluid reserve and if they have diarrhea it’s easy for them to become dehydrated. Be extra careful in the hot weather!

In the air conditioning:
Remember that AC will affect your baby to a more extreme degree–just like the heat. It’s easy to overlook how chilly air conditioning can be on muggy hot days. While it’s often essential for comfort, air quality and sleep, just be mindful of how cold your home is when dressing your baby. Consider where the AC vent is in your nursery in relation to your crib, and cover babies in light layers for sleep.

Beach babyStaying hydrated:
Some breastfed infants may need to nurse more frequently in hot weather, but you may notice no change with your baby. Babies don’t have many adjusted dietary needs in the heat, and they get enough water in your milk supply. Make sure your toddler is replenishing fluids by keeping a sippy cup on hand at all times. At intervals in play, make sure to encourage a few sips of water. If your toddler doesn’t like to drink water, try adding frozen fruit in place of ice cubes to add some natural flavour.

Heat rash:
Infants release sweat to cool their bodies down, but because their pores are so tiny, they’re susceptible to getting clogged.  The result is heat rash, which appears as prickly little red dots, bumps or blisters on the skin. While heat rash is common and not serious, it’s a sure indicator that your baby is overheating. Heat rash isn’t typically painful but your baby may feel uncomfortable, tender or itchy. Try removing clothing in the house and letting your baby play in a diaper. A tepid bath can help to cool your baby’s skin. At bedtime a light fan is an easy way to provide a soothing breeze- just avoid aiming it directly at an infant. Heat rash should clear up fairly quickly.

Babies react to temperature changes differently, but it’s always important to remember that a small infant is much more sensitive to the heat (and cold) than an older child or toddler. Protect your baby and watch for signs that he or she is uncomfortable. Let’s make sure it’s a cool and healthy summer!

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Solving the Riddle of Seasonal Migraines

freeimages.co.uk medical imagesMigraines can be a debilitating health problem, triggered by a variety of factors from sleep habits, to diet, to the weather. Many sufferers claim they seem to become more prone to migraines at certain times of year –during the changing seasons, or in the spring and summer when they may also be plagued with seasonal allergies.

The frustrating thing about migraine sufferers is that many don’t take the time to seriously consider all of their options for prevention and symptom relief. It’s definitely worthwhile to explore natural therapies as a means of better understanding, minimizing, and preventing your migraines, not to mention nixing the dependency on potentially harmful medications often used to manage symptoms. Here are just some of the therapies that migraine sufferers frequently respond to.

Chiropractic care
Many headaches and migraines start in your spine. When your body is misaligned your nerves get very irritated, and communicate quickly with your brain. For some clients, spinal adjustments are an effective way to reduce the pressure on those unhappy nerves. Chiropractic care also helps restore mobility to patients who experience consistent and debilitating muscle tension. Blood flow to and from the brain may also be restricted when muscles are tight in the base of the skull, which can contribute to headache and migraine symptoms. The cumulative effects of rigidity and restriction can lead to severe headaches – so it’s important to target the problem at its source, rather than just treating the resulting migraine. Consider your posture, alignment, and date of your last adjustment. Could a poorly aligned spine, stressed nerves or strained muscles be an underlying cause of your migraine? A chiropractic consultation can help you find out!

Massage Therapy
Seeing a massage therapist isn’t a luxury- for many it’s a highly effective treatment option. Headaches frequently result from tension and stress, which are manually targeted during a massage session. Your therapist will also help to improve circulation throughout your body, which can draw blood away from the head, reducing pressure that contributes to headache. It’s also incredible to see the effects of loosening and treating muscle tissue. If you have a muscle injury, chances are you’ve been carrying yourself differently. An adjusted or irregular posture of any kind can cause soreness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. So give massage therapy a try –the combination of targeted manual therapy and the valuable opportunity to reduce stress might be just what you need to manage or minimize migraines.

Naturopathic and Nutritional Counselling
Food sensitivity and allergies might also be causing your migraines. A holistic health practitioner can help you begin an elimination diet or food diary to uncover patterns in your eating that might cause headaches. Many sufferers of migraines know which foods they need to avoid in order to help prevent a killer headache. Don’t worry- this isn’t arbitrary. A nutritionist or ND can help you identify which ingredients are giving you grief- whether it’s a popular additive like MSG, or a less widely identified substance like tyramine. Tyramine, which is found in aged cheese, processed meat, canned soups and several other foods, has been known to trigger migraines in certain individuals. Without some health counselling however, you might never identify something like this as a potential source of your suffering. It’s worth looking into- The sooner you know your problem foods, the sooner you can begin adjusting your diet and lifestyle so you can enjoy more long-term management of your migraines.

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Back Pain 101 Infographic


We were recently invited to share this awesome infographic about back pain (scroll to the bottom of the article to see). It highlights many common lifestyle factors that contribute to poor posture and chronic pain. The graphic speaks for itself, but we thought we’d just reiterate some of the considerations presented.

The importance of standing posture: While we’re often reminded of the importance of sitting up straight and applying ergonomic principles to our workspace, it’s also vital that we stay mindful of our standing posture too. What’s your “go-to” stance? Do you tend to stand with one hip cocked to the side? Do you cross one foot over the other, or balance your weight unevenly? These seemingly insignificant physical adjustments can cause accumulated damage over time.

The costs of a poorly aligned spine: The cost of investing in care for your spine is nothing compared to the financial and physical toll of living with spinal degeneration, misalignment and chronic pain. We’re major advocates for investing in your health in the preventative, maintenance phase –rather than seeking treatment when you’re desperate for relief. By investing in your health while you’re young and relatively healthy, you may offset damage that accumulates over your lifetime as a result of injury or aging.

Staggering statistics: Although these are American stats, when 80% of the population is experiencing pain, there’s a problem! It’s true that back pain is one of the most pervasive and persistent health symptoms experienced in our society. Part of the problem is in thinking that your back pain isn’t severe enough to warrant attention. If you have a consistently sore neck and upper back, you may not classify yourself as someone with “back problems.” But pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion are always deserving of attention and treatment.

Have a look at the infographic: What postures and habits do you feel need improvement in your life?

Thanks to Top Nursing Programs for sharing! 

 
Back Pain 101
Source: Top Nursing Programs

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Food Label Literacy

Last week Naturally Savvy hosted a fantastic Twitter Party to teach strategies for reading food labels and ingredient lists! We had the pleasure of gate-crashing and offering our two cents to this incredibly informed and well-run chat. We came away inspired to promote label literacy here on the Thrive Health blog.

food labelWhile there were plenty of label-savvy participants at the party (and some very qualified, awesome hosts and sponsors!) some of the parents present admitted that they don’t really know what to look for when reading food labels, or often neglect to read labels at all. This is very normal. Firstly, we’re all incredibly busy, and nobody wants to double their grocery store time by reading the finely printed ingredient lists on everything they pick up. Secondly, many parents don’t skip the ingredient list out of a willful negligence of nutrition- they are led to trust a product by many other factors that make an impression on shoppers long before the label.  Food packaging can trick us into thinking we’re making an informed, “good” choice.

Here are some of the packaging ploys that lead us to believe something is healthy without reading its ingredient list.

Fat free/Sugar-free:
Just because a product is fat-free or sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. At all. In fact many products that have been chemically engineered to be free of fats and sugar have other unhealthy modifications.  These products may still contain synthetic flavours, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners, thickeners and more. Additionally, foods that boast a “fat free” claim uphold a societal misconception about fats- that they are all dangerous, unhealthy, or contribute to being overweight. In reality, healthy fats are vital to a balanced diet, and for maintaining a healthy weight.

Made with real…
If a food product is bragging that it’s made with real fruit, vegetables or any other ingredient, beware. This is a clever way of getting around the fact that it’s also made with many other ingredients that are not real. Made “with” is not the same as “made up solely of…” By this tactic, a fruit punch containing only 25% real fruit juice can still claim “Made with real fruit!” Unless you see a “100%” check your label to see how much of a product is indeed “real.”

Buzz-word Branding:
Lots of food products contain claims about their nutritional quality right in their name. But just because something claims to be “smart” “healthy”  “light” or “natural” doesn’t mean it’s a nutritionally balanced or beneficial choice. The worthiness of a product can’t be found in its name- it can only be found on that food label.

So what are the top food label culprits?

High-fructose corn syrup: This is a widely used sweetener that appears in many packaged foods especially sweet treats for children. It boosts calorie content, functions as a thick, concentrated sugar substance, and offers no nutritional value to a food product. Avoid low / no calorie alternatives especially if they contain artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners like stevia and honey are a better choice.  

Artificial flavours: Naturally Savvy makes a great point about artificial flavours: they could contain anywhere from one to fifty different chemical ingredients. Our thought? Why combine dozens of synthetic chemicals to mimic a real, natural flavour? There are so many delicious flavours and colours found in natural foods that there’s no reason to chemically manipulate our tastes.

Nitrates/Nitrites: Typically written as sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, these are most commonly found in processed and packaged meats. The alternative to using these products is buying fresh chicken or turkey, cooking it in whatever manner you prefer and slicing it up to use in salad form (ie. Chicken salad) or in sandwiches over the following few days.

MSG: Monosodium glutamate is a commonly-used additive in many packaged foods, especially soups, sauces, prepared meals, and frozen foods. As with many of our food culprits, the easiest way to avoid MSG is to try and limit your consumption of pre-packaged foods. If you can’t avoid buying prepared foods, buy them fresh rather than frozen.

If you have any food label questions, drop us a line here, or on our Facebook page –we love to help families make informed choices. Happy (and healthy) grocery shopping to you!

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Holistic Health Apps

The health industry has definitely gone digital –and now it’s getting mobile and personal too.

In the age of user-centric apps, mobile technology and Google-fueled self-diagnosing, people feel empowered to take their health conveniently (if sometimes problematically) into their own hands.  While we definitely advocate for caution and discretion when relying on the vast world of digital health information, there are undeniable ways in which digital and mobile technology have revolutionized personal health.

One of the most fascinating (and fun!) developmmobile_phixrents we’ve seen is the proliferation of creative mobile apps to help with natural tracking, charting, dieting and motivating. Digital health apps provide a convenient and accurate way to do a variety of health-related behaviours like count calories, take medication on time, record your heart rate, and even time your contractions during labour!

Here are some of the coolest health apps catching our attention right now:

iPeriod: for much more than simply counting out those 28 days. This is an incredibly detailed app which lets women digitally monitor a wide spectrum of menstrual health factors. Its features allow for the tracking of flow density, identifying peak fertility dates, and making notes every time an unwanted menstrual symptom is encountered. There’s even an icon to remind you to get your regular breast exam!
Another nice bonus: there’s a community forum that lets you chat with other women and compare notes. We think this app would be beneficial for any woman, but particularly those who are constantly busy, experiencing unwanted menstrual symptoms, or trying to conceive.

mySymptoms: This is a food diary app for tracking and identifying food symptoms and reactions. While it shouldn’t replace a real diagnosis, it’s a great way to start looking for patterns in your eating habits that trigger unwanted side effects. This gives you a place to start when you’re ready to meet with a holistic health practitioner, nutritionist or allergy specialist.  In addition to tracking your diet, you can simply and efficiently record anything from sleep quality to bloating to mood swings. What we love about this app is that it gives patients a great place to record information that they’d otherwise forget. Often when patients come for an initial assessment it can be hard to remember what they’ve been eating and on which dates they experienced recent symptoms. With an app like this, the data recording will already be done by your first appointment –getting you and your health practitioner one step closer to a diagnosis.

HealingFoods: Based on the print encyclopaedia, this app is a useful reference guide for diet therapy. You can enter foods to see a full explanation of their natural healing properties, to better tailor a diet that will optimize your health. There are also tips for how to serve, store and prep each food. Amazing that you can carry so much information with you wherever you eat or grocery shop! This app can help you to shop smart, order wisely at restaurants, and fix a nutrient-dense dinner for your family.

Thanks to Sara Showalter for drawing our attention to such an interesting list of mobile health applications! Check them all out here and choose your favourites.

Do you use any holistic health apps? What features would be most beneficial to you?

 

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