Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blueberries and Blood Pressure

In the July 2015 issue of the Natural Medicine Journal, author Jacob Schor discusses a trial involving blueberry powder consumption and blood pressure. The trial was originally published in the January 2015 epublication of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The trial involved 48 post menopausal women with pre-hypertension (120-139/80-89) and stage 1 hypertension (140-159/90-99). Half of the women dosed 11 g of freeze dried blueberry powder 2 times per day (mixed with 1 cup of water, at least 6 hours apart) and the other half dosed 11 g of placebo powder 2 times per day. After 8 weeks, the participants who took the freeze dried blueberry powder had a significant decrease in their systolic (upper number, 5.1% lower) and diastolic (lower number, 6.3% lower) blood pressure in comparison  to the placebo group (who showed no change in any measurements after 8 weeks).  Whether it is blueberry powder or fresh blueberries, this trial provides good reason to aim to integrate some form of blueberries into our daily routine as another way to support our overall heart health. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Use of Bleach and the Frequency of Infections in Children

In the July 2015 issue of the Natural Medicine Journal, author Sarah Bedell Cook discusses the findings of the Health Effects of Indoor Pollutants:  Integrating Microbial, Toxicological, and Epidemiological Approaches (HITEA) project. This project evaluated over 9000 children, between the ages of 6-12 years, attending schools in Spain, the Netherlands, and Finland. The study looked at the frequency of infections and the use of bleach as a home cleaning disinfectant. The study found that the children exposed to bleach at least 1 time per week had a higher frequency of infections.  Specifically in the Netherlands, a significantly increased risk for influenza (27% higher) was seen, in Finland, a significantly increased risk for tonsillitis (141% higher) and sinusitis (118% higher) was seen, and in Spain, a significantly increased risk for all infections (28% higher) was seen. The information gathered from this project provides another great reason to shift to natural based cleaners. There are a number of products available for purchase and we can also make our own cleaners with vinegar, baking soda, essential oils. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

CAND Conference

I recently attended the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) Health Fusion conference.  There were many great and informative sessions offered.  Here is some of the interesting information that was passed along:

From Walter Crinnion's session, The Lost Male Room:
- Phthalates (found in food packaging, flooring, toys, shower curtains, body care products etc) have testosterone and estrogen lowering effects - the higher levels of phthalates we have in our urine, the lower levels of estrogen and testosterone we have.
- As well exhaust from vehicles and cigarette smoke also impact our reproductive hormone levels as do perfluorocarbons (found in scotchguard and Teflon) and pesticides.
- Ways to reduce our exposure to these environmental toxins and manage these impacts on our hormones include: avoiding food that is wrapped/cooked/heated in plastic, avoiding Teflon coated cookware, aiming to use non toxic/fragrance free body care products, using a high quality pleated electrostatic air filter on our furnace, using a high quality air filter especially in our bedroom while we are sleeping, eating certified organic food when possible.

From Mary Bove's session, Women's Wellness and Insomnia:
- When we are dealing with insomnia, we need to ensure we have a well established sleep routine which includes not watching any over stimulating shows (including the news) in the evening.
- We also need to build in wind down/relaxation time before going to bed - this can start as early as 6 PM.
- For some people, blood sugar imbalance contributes to insomnia - aiming to eat within 30 minutes of waking in the morning can help set a more balanced blood sugar level for the day which can have a positive impact on sleep.  
- One of the primary causes of insomnia can be chronic pain and inflammation.
- Ways we can help to reduce the level of inflammation in our body include:  reducing our intake of sugar and caffeine, ensuring that we are consuming enough calories each day, working to ensure healthy digestive function, reducing our environmental toxic load, addressing any chronic infections, and managing our stress levels.

From Nigel Plummer's session, Perinatal and Childhood Intervention:
- Low birth weight babies have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular/heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity - working with supportive supplements can help to decrease these risks.
- Leptin, which helps to manage healthy weight balance, is found in high amounts in breast milk - extended breastfeeding lowers children's lifetime risk of developing obesity.  
- Folic acid, when taken for 1 year prior to getting pregnant, significantly reduces the risk of premature delivery.
- Low vitamin C levels and low vitamin B6 levels are associated with an increased risk of premature delivery.
- Low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia.
- Well balanced vitamin D levels are associated with a decreased risk of baby developing asthma.
- Daily multivitamin use is associated with a lower risk of having a low birth weight baby.
- Dosing of a probiotic in the third trimester and for the first 6 months of children's life is associated with a significantly reduced risk of children developing asthma and eczema.