All posts by Lisa Maddalena

Pre-Holiday Cleanse

The holiday season can be a hectic time, full of indulgences, which can leave you feeling drained and uncomfortable when its all over. A pre-holiday cleanse can be a great way to support your body and mind, boost your immune system and re-set your metabolism, so that you can stay healthy through the season. I recommend that you do this for 10 days or longer.

For added benefit, after your cleanse, adopt some of these changes into your lifestyle (between parties and family events) in order to maintain optimal resilience.

The Cleanse:

Start each day with a tall glass of water with lemon.

Cut your lemon in quarters and let it infuse over night, this will increase the essential oil content, providing more of the medicinal properties of the fruit. Please note that lemon can be hard on your enamel therefore protect your teeth by drinking from a straw. If you can’t drink from a straw use 1 tbsp of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar in your water as an alternative.

Ditch the coffee!

Caffeine can increase adrenaline resulting in energy, and blood sugar ups and downs during the day. Consider dandelion tea instead. Dandelion increases digestive juices, and supports liver detoxification pathways. If you have trouble avoiding coffee completely, limit yourself to 1 coffee in the morning, and try an Americano since it is lower in caffeine.

Forget the alcohol

Alcohol is high in sugar, promotes leaky gut, inflames your liver, and impairs sleep quality.

Avoid Sugar and white grains

Sugar promotes cravings and impairs the immune system.

Eliminate Gluten and Dairy

these promote inflammation, leaky gut, and mucus formation.

Don’t forget your essential fats and Vitamin D

These are important for decreasing inflammation and healing the gut among other things.

Add extra fibre

Fibre binds fats and toxins and eliminates. In addition, it keeps you full and satisfied. Consider things like ground flax, chia or hemp seeds.

Unplug

Try turning off your cellphone, TV and computer 2 hours before bed, in order to truly relax your mind and promote healthy melatonin production.

Get moving

During a cleanse, intense exercise is not recommended, but sweating is and important aspect of cleansing. Activities such as Yoga or a brisk walk every day can be beneficial to your body and your mind.

Breathe

The lungs are an organ of elimination too. Every time you breathe deeply you take in more oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide. This supports your brain, improves your energy and calms the mind.

 

In order to get optimal results, a cleansing program can be tailored to your specific needs. Book an appointment today in order to take your cleanse to the next level.

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In need of a chocolate fix??

Try black bean brownies! These are really easy to make, gluten and dairy free and delicious!

Ingredients:

1 large can of black beans

2 large eggs

¼ cup of cocoa powder

2/3 cup of raw honey

1/3 cup of coconut oil (melted)

½ tsp of baking powder

pinch of salt

1 85% Lindt dark chocolate bar, crushed into small pieces.

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place all ingredients, except for the chocolate) in a food processor and blend until smooth

Fold in the chocolate

Pour into a greased pan

Bake for 30-35 mins

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Build Yourself Up to Avoid Burning Out

September is nearing and that means that school will begin, vacation time will slow down and routines will be back in place. With the return to “normal life” we tend to forget to take care of ourselves and relax. Without self-care, stress, and the result of stress, “burnout”, is eminent. It is extremely important to incorporate stress reduction techniques, and self care into our daily routines to keep from becoming exhausted, physically and emotionally, and to prevent getting sick from run-down.

Great ways to prevent burnout include:

  • Meditation– if you are someone who “cannot quiet your mind,” meditation is very important. You are not expected to be able to meditate the first time your try. Like everything, practice makes perfect. When starting out just remember to try and catch yourself each time your mind wanders and bring your mind back to your breath. Meditation will be beneficial, even if your mind wanders every few minutes.
  • Yoga
  • Epsom salt baths- This not only provides the relaxation of a hot bath, but the Epsom salt is actually absorbed into your body providing you with Magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral that is effective for relaxing muscles and calming the mind.
  • Regular massage
  • Sitting quietly with your feet up and your eyes closed– it is important that when looking for quite time you actually eliminate all external stimulus, even if just for a short period of time. Even the TV prevents true relaxation due to brain stimulation.
  • Exercise- This doesn’t need to be intense to be beneficial. Never disregard the benefit of a walk
  • Supplementation- There are many supplements that you can include into your self-care program. These are especially beneficial for people who are prone to high stress, burnout, and/or frequent illness in the fall and winter. As far as supplementation goes there are specifics that can be effective for everyone such as Vit C, B-complex, and Zinc. However some people need additional support including herbs, in which case you should make an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor in order to design a plan that is right for you.

Please note that self-supplementation with herbal medicine, especially herbs specific to stress can cause more harm than good in some cases. There are various stages of stress that require different herb qualities. Some herbs are very stimulating whereas others are calming. If taking the wrong herb at the wrong time you could risk worsening your adrenal fatigue.

 Please read this article by Dr. Mark Hyman for more information about burnout. This article does recommend some specific herbs, but keep the above warning in mind when reading about these.

 

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How to be a Healthy Vegetarian

A well-balanced vegetarian diet has been linked to many health benefits that include decreasing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, as well as increasing longevity in general. However, it is very easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian, especially when you are eating a diet rich in carbohydrates, snack foods and processed meat alternatives. A good quality vegetarian diet is not as easy as simply eliminating meat. The key is replacing meat with nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits and beans.

Two of the most common issues with eating a poorly planned vegetarian diet include, nutrient deficiencies and not eating enough protein. Some vitamins and minerals can be difficult to attain from a vegetarian diet including B12, iron, calcium, omega 3 fats and vitamin D.

B12 is a vitamin that is mainly derived from animal products. In a vegetarian diet it can be obtained from egg yolk or nutritional yeast. However, even with the consumption of eggs, it may be difficult to maintain optimal levels and therefore supplementation is often recommended, and is necessary if you are a vegan.

Iron is rich in many foods, however, it can be difficult to obtain if your diet is lacking in variety. It can be found in beans, oatmeal, firm tofu, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, and dark green vegetables. Iron best absorbed when these foods are combined with foods containing high vitamin C including, citrus, tomatoes, and sweet peppers.

Even when restricting dairy, calcium intake does not need to suffer. Calcium can be obtained from leafy greens, almonds, sesame seeds, beans and figs.

There are many plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids, however two of the most important omega 3s, EPA and DHA, come almost exclusively from fish. Though other omega 3s can be converted to EPA and DHA, conversion is slow and inefficient. Therefore, if you are a vegetarian who choses to avoid fish, supplementing with a good quality fish oil is important.

Vitamin D is a difficult nutrient for anyone to achieve, not only vegetarians. This is due to lack of sun exposure and use of sunscreen. If you are not getting 30 minutes of direct sun exposure every day then this is another vitamin that is best to supplement with.

Vegetarians also have a difficult time getting enough protein from their diet. Vegetarian sources of protein include eggs, nuts and seeds, quinoa, beans, and lentils. Once again, variety is key since all of these vegetarian protein sources offer a different balance of beneficial vitamins and minerals. For more information about great vegetarian sources of protein check out this article by Rich Roll, a famous vegan, elite athlete, and author. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4491/My-Top-7-Sources-of-PlantBased-Protein.html. Rich Roll also has a cookbook called “The Plant Power Way” containing several simple, healthy vegetarian recipes that might be helpful if you are just starting your vegetarian lifestyle.

As discussed above, a vegetarian diet can be an exceptionally healthy way of eating, but like any healthy diet it takes effort. A proper vegetarian diet, like all healthy diets, should be based on vegetables and fruits, and should contain a variety. Make sure that every day includes leafy greens, colours (including peppers, carrots, eggplant, berries, ect) and sulphur containing vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc.) In addition, the rest of the diet should be focused on good quality, unprocessed protein sources, and healthy carbohydrates (such as quinoa, root vegetables and oats). By following these recommendations and taking the time to plan, having a well-balanced vegetarian diet is within your reach.

 

 

 

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The Many Benefits of Green Tea

Tea is the most common beverage around the world, next to water, and has been consumed for centuries due to the pleasure it brings and its potential health benefits.  Due to the increased popularity of green tea in the health and wellness community there has been a rise in scientific research to support its associated health benefits. Most of these studies have focused on the antioxidants in green tea as well as an amino acid called L-theanine.

Most of the associated health benefits of green tea are related to the high content of flavonoids, which are plant derived compounds that act as antioxidants. The most common of these flavonoids are a group called catechins, which have shown to be more powerful than several other popular antioxidants including Vitamin C and Vitamin E.  Catechins have been shown to prevent oxidative damage to cells in addition to other disease fighting properties with links to cancer prevention, decreasing risk of heart disease, as well as enhancing weight loss.

For years green tea consumption has been studied for its anti-cancer properties. Green tea (and the catechin EGCG especially), have been associated with reduced risk of prostate, skin, colon and lung cancer. There is still much research to be done on this topic, but the research looks promising.

Recently, a strong association has been made between green tea and reduced risk of heart disease.  The powerful flavonoids in green tea block the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is what makes LDL cholesterol “bad.” Increased green tea consumption has also been shown to increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), as well as decrease blood pressure. It is important to note that the benefits of green tea for cardiovascular health have only been significant when associated with a heart healthy diet.

Another potential benefit of green tea is its use for weight loss. Studies suggested that a synergistic effect is produced between the catechins and the caffeine content that can improve exercise-induced fat loss, lower triglyceride levels and decrease free fatty acids. Therefore, it can be useful as part of a weight loss program that includes exercise.

Though most of the benefits of green tea have been linked to its high antioxidant content, green tea also has an important amino acid called l-theanine, which has also been linked to improved health. L-theanine is a calming amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase GABA, which is a neurotransmitter associated with calming and tranquil properties. The high amounts of l-theanine contained in green tea is the main reason why consumption of green tea does not cause the same “jittery” feeling that can happen with coffee consumption, despite the high content of caffeine.

L-theanine has also been linked to increased alpha-wave activity in the brain, which is associated with a relaxed, mentally alert state. This association was shown to be highest in young women who were prone to high anxiety. This natural relaxant works synergistically with the caffeine content of green tea to decrease stress and worry, while improving focus and concentration.  Which is why I often refer to green tea as “brain juice!”

Though the research behind the health benefits of green tea has a long way to go, green tea has rarely been linked to any adverse effects (other than the occasional loose stools). Therefore, green tea is safe for consumption and worth a try! It is also important to note that most of the studies used 3-5 cups of green tea per day to achieve its benefits. If you are planning on drinking this much green tea make sure that you increase your water intake as well since the diuretic effect of caffeine can decrease your hydration status.

If you are interested in adding green tea to your day there are a few ways that it can be prepared. Classically, it is consumed as a hot beverage; make sure to steep it for at least 5 minutes in warm, not boiling, water. This is because the boiling water can burn the leaves producing a strong bitterness. Green tea can also be enjoyable as an iced tea. Try brewing a pot, pouring it over ice and storing it in the fridge. Add some berries, or a squeeze of lemon for added flavor and you have a nice refreshing summer beverage. Lastly, you can try macha green tea powder. This is a highly concentrated green tea, which makes a great latte. Start with 1 tsp of matcha powder, and whisk it with ¼ cup of hot water. Add in ¾ cup of warm or steamed milk (I like using almond milk), and a little bit of honey. A matcha latte makes for a great treat with even more antioxidants than your classic cup of green tea! One thing to keep in mind is that adding too much sugar, of any kind, including honey, can decrease the health benefits of green tea since many of the health concerns that green tea is associated with are negatively affected by sugar intake. If you must add a sweetener to your beverages, choose stevia. Lastly, when purchasing tea it is always best to choose organic since most tea producers use high amounts of pesticides and do not rinse the leaves before processing.

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The Power of Magnesium

Magnesium is an amazing and generally under-rated nutrient. It is necessary for more than 300 reactions in the body including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar control, blood pressure control, production of important antioxidants, and the utilization of calcium and potassium in the body (including maintenance of healthy bones). Therefore, consistently low magnesium levels can result in illness over time including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression. Recently, magnesium has also been shown to be valuable as a treatment for headaches, pain and sleep disorders.

Recommended daily intake for magnesium is approximately 300mg in females and 400mg in males. In the past, achieving this amount of magnesium from the diet wasn’t an issue with an average daily intake 500mg per day. However, over the last 10 years, this amount has drastically decreased with most individuals in North America taking in far less than required. This is mostly due to the depletion of magnesium from our food sources due to mineral depletions in the soil, as well as great losses that occur in the refining and processing of food. The North American diet also includes several foods that either prevent magnesium absorption or increase magnesium excretion through the kidneys such as refined sugar, pop, dairy products and caffeine. In addition, many common pharmaceutical drugs, including antacids (proton pump inhibitors), diuretics (non-potassium sparing), oral contraceptives, and anti-depressants, and calcium supplements deplete magnesium. There are also several health concerns that can deplete magnesium levels including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, and some infections.

If you are looking to increase your magnesium intake through your diet, some foods to focus on include:

Pumpkin seeds: ¼ cup= 191mg; 48% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)

Spinach: 1 cup= 156mg; 39% of the RDI

Swiss chard: 1 cup= 150mg; 38% of the RDI

Sesame seeds: ¼ cup= 126mg; 32% of the RDI

Black beans: 1 cup= 120mg; 30% of the RDI

Navy beans: 1 cup= 96mg; 24% of the RDI

However, since it is difficult to achieve optimal levels of magnesium through diet alone it is often necessary to supplement. When choosing to supplement with magnesium be careful with the type that you choose to use.

Magnesium oxide is the cheapest, and the one that is easiest to find, however it is very poorly absorbed and can cause nausea, cramping and diarrhea.

Magnesium Citrate is absorbed a lot better than oxide but can still cause loose stools. This form of magnesium is often recommended for those with sleeping issues and troubles with constipation or harder stools.

Magnesium Malate is well absorbed and can be helpful for people with pain, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Magnesium Glycinate is the best for absorption. It has a very low risk for loose stools and is excellent for reversing a deficiency and for those with muscle or nerve pain.

Besides taking a supplement, another great way to improve magnesium status is to get it through the skin via magnesium oil or Epsom salt baths.  Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate that is absorbed through the skin. These baths not only improve magnesium status but are also very calming, and help with muscle stiffness. However, you have to use two cups of Epson salts per bath in order to maximize benefit.

NOTE: Magnesium can interact with many medications including, but not limited to, some antibiotics, bisphosphonates (use for osteoporosis), and potassium-sparing diuretics. Always consult with a licensed medical practitioner or pharmacist before supplementing.

 

 

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