Thursday, March 9, 2017

EWG'S 2017 Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen Lists

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released their always helpful Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists for 2017.  
The Dirty Dozen list is made up of the twelve fruits and vegetables that were found to have the most pesticide residue contamination.  And the Clean Fifteen list is made up of the fifteen fruits and vegetables that were found to have the least pesticide residue contamination.  
These lists are excellent resources for us when we are grocery shopping.  We can be less concerned about buying certified organic fruits and vegetables that are on the Clean Fifteen list, and if we aim to stick to certified organic fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list, we will reduce our pesticide exposure and support our overall health.  
The fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list include (with the most contaminated food on the Dirty Dozen list at the top):
Sweet Bell Peppers

The fruits and vegetables on the Clean Fifteen list include (with the least contaminated food on the Clean Fifteen list at the top):
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas (frozen)
Honeydew Melon

Visit to learn more about the EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Berberine and IBS

An article by Jacob Schor ND in the August 2016 issue of the Natural Medicine Journal looked at the impact of berberine on Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diarrhea Predominant (IBS-D).  The article focused on a study led by Chen, Tao, and Liu that was published in the November 2015 issue of Phytotherapy Research.  There were 132 participants (ages 18 - 65 years) in the study and they were split into a berberine dosing group (200 mg of berberine hydrochloride 2 times per day for 8 weeks) and a placebo dosing group (200 mg of vitamin C 2 times per day for 8 weeks).  All participants self-assessed their IBS symptoms with daily questionnaires during the study and were also scored for IBS symptoms, anxiety, depression, and quality of life both before and after the 8 weeks of berberine/placebo dosing.  Both groups saw a reduction in symptoms during the 8 week study, but by week 8, frequency of diarrhea was significantly lower in the berberine dosing group compared to the placebo dosing group.  The berberine dosing group also noted less urgency and frequency during weeks 4 through 8 while this was not noted by the placebo dosing group.  By week 8, the placebo dosing group had seen a 29.4% reduction in abdominal pain while the berberine dosing group had seen a 64.6% reduction.  The berberine dosing group also saw significant reductions in their IBS score, anxiety score, and depression score and an increased quality of life score.  There were no changes in these scores for the placebo dosing group.   The information gathered from this study indicates that berberine (which is extracted from goldenseal, Oregon grape root, barberry) is an excellent support to consider for managing IBS-D.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Multivitamin Use and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

In the September 2016 issue of the Natural Medicine Journal, an article by Douglas MacKay ND looks at the impact of multivitamins on the development of cardiovascular disease.  The article focused on a prospective cohort study by Rautiainen et al that was published in the June 2016 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.  The study included over 18,000 male physicians aged 40 years and above.  All of the participants were cancer and cardiovascular disease free at the beginning of the study (which was 1982).  The study did not find an association between short term multivitamin use and reduced risk of major cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke, death), but there was a 14% lower risk of cardiac bypass surgery and angioplasty and an 11% lower risk of coronary artery disease (narrowing of arteries/plaque build up) noted with multi vitamin use.  As well, in participants who took a daily multivitamin for more than 20 years, there was a 44% lower risk of major cardiovascular events noted.  The information from this study confirms that a daily multivitamin is supportive for our long term health.  A good quality multivitamin should be in a capsule or liquid (rather than a tablet) form and should be iron free (except for pregnant/breastfeeding women).  It is best to aim for a multivitamin that contains the active/utilizable forms of vitamins/minerals to ensure the most efficient absorption and utilization of the nutrients within the multivitamin.  It is best to take a multivitamin with our morning or noon meal to ensure that we have all/most of our day to be able to use the nutrients in the multivitamin.                                     

Monday, January 30, 2017

The End of the Cleanse!

Generally a cleanse lasts for 28 days and when January 29 falls on a weekend, I often end my January cleanse a few days early!  To finish up the cleanse this year, I had a few bites of chocolate and it tasted delicious!  For the most part, I will return to the cleanse for Monday and Tuesday and then will officially finish on Wednesday.
Because I have done the cleanse a number of times, I don't specifically reintroduce each food that I have not been eating during the cleanse.  However if we are doing the cleanse for the first time or if we have had a significant change in the way we have been feeling since we last did a cleanse, it is very helpful to reintroduce each of the foods that we eat on a regular basis back into our diet in separate 3 day blocks.
The order of food reintroduction is arbitrary, although if there is a specific food we have a sense is likely to be hard on our system, it is best to save that food for the end of the reintroduction process.
For the reintroduction process, each food that has been out for the cleanse is reintroduced in a separate 3 day block.  During each 3 day block, we would eat the food in the amount that we would normally eat it each day for 3 days (along with all the other foods we have been eating on the cleanse) and watch how we feel.  If there is no change in how we feel during the 3 days, that food is fine for our system.  If we note that we aggravate on any level (digestive, skin, emotional, energy etc.) during the 3 day reintroduction block, it is an indication that the food is contributing to how we are feeling and that it is best eaten in a limited amount/frequency, when possible, going forward.  If we aggravate before 3 days, we can remove the food at the point.
During the food reintroduction process, whether we aggravate to a food or not, we remove the food after 3 days (or before with an aggravation) and then go onto the next food.  In other words, there is only one food that has been out on the cleanse consumed during each 3 day reintroduction block.  If we have aggravated to a food, it is best to go back to the cleanse for at least 1 day to allow our system to re-balance before starting with another 3 day food reintroduction block.
The food reintroduction process of the cleanse provides us with a great insight into whether any of the foods that we regularly eat are contributing to any of the concerns that we are experiencing.  It is a great learning experience and provides us with excellent information about how we can continue to move forward, diet wise, post cleanse, to support our overall health.    

Friday, January 27, 2017

Health Benefits of Volunteering

I volunteer for an Edmonton cat rescue called SAFE Team.  Today we did a presentation to a grade 7 and a grade 8 animal rescue class!  It is awesome that a class on responsible animal ownership and valuing animals exists as an option class in school these days!  This was definitely not the case when I was in junior high many many years ago!  An article published in the August 2013 online edition of BMC Public Health looked at the health benefits of volunteering.  The article authored by Jenkinson et al was a systematic review/meta analysis of 40 different studies.  The review found that volunteering had a positive impact on emotional/mental health with volunteers feeling improved well being, more satisfaction with their life, and lower rates of depression.  It was also found that volunteers had a lower risk of mortality compared to people who did not volunteer.  The info gathered from this review is pretty obvious, but it is helpful to confirm that when we give our time and energy to people or animals in need, we also support our overall health at the same time.   

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Iron Supplementation in Infancy

An article in the September 2016 Natural Medicine Journal's Pediatric Special Issue by Lillian Au ND looked at the impact of supplemental iron in infancy.  The article looked at a study led by Angulo-Barroso et al that was published in the April 2016 issue of Pediatrics.  The study looked at over 1400 infants.  Half of the infants were dosed with iron from age 6 weeks to 9 months and the other half received a placebo.  The infants underwent developmental testing at age 9 months.  The infants who received the iron supplementation were found to have improved gross motor test scores compared to the infants who received the placebo.  The iron supplemented infants performed better on sitting upright, crawling, standing, and transitions from sitting to standing than the infants who received the placebo.  The information gathered from this study points to the importance of ensuring that infants (and breastfeeding mothers) have adequate iron levels and that integrating a separate iron supplement for infants is well indicated for long term motor and neurological development.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Use of Heartburn Medication in Pregnancy and Asthma Risk

A recent article published in the January 2017 online issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology looked at whether children born to mothers who have taken heartburn medication (proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor antagonists) during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing childhood asthma.  Researchers Devine, McCleary, Sheikh, and Nwaru did a systematic review of 8 previous studies which involved more than 1.3 million children. The researchers found that any use of heartburn medication in pregnancy was associated with the resulting children having a higher risk of asthma development in comparison to children who were born to mothers that did not take heartburn medication during pregnancy   As well a higher dosage of heartburn medication in pregnancy was associated with a further higher risk of the resulting children developing asthma.  The information in this article helps to highlight the importance of integrating safe supports for managing heartburn during pregnancy.   From a naturopathic perspective, safe supports include eating smaller, more frequent meals, aiming to avoid heartburn triggering foods (which include spicy food, mint, citrus, tomatoes, onions, garlic, caffeine), integrating a liquid calcium magnesium supplement.