August 5th, 2014

Consuming Fat is Healthy, Sounds Fishy

 

Does eating fats and oils for optimal health sound strange to you?  It shouldn’t, as your body needs fat to build cells and produce important hormones, hence why fat is defined as a macronutrient.  There are essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that need to be consumed for our body to function optimally.  These come in two categories; omega-3 and omega-6 EFA’s.  Both are needed but their proportion is very important.  Currently, the Standard American Diet is estimated to be at a ratio of 1:16 to 1:30 omega-3 to omega-6.  Ethnographic studies on traditional, healthy hunter-gather societies show that they ate a ratio of somewhere between 1:1 and 1:4 (Paul Chek), and a 1:4 ratio has been identified as the ideal ratio for optimal health. 

As the average ratio is drastically off the ideal range, its best to know what food sources support each of the essential fatty acids.  Good sources of omega-3 come from oily fish, the oils of cold water fish, organ meats and egg yolks.  Sources high in omega-6 are oils such as vegetable, safflower, rapeseed or canola, and sunflower as well as grains, cereals, poultry and nuts.  It is interesting to note that commercially raised eggs and animals that are fed high grain diets as well as commercially raised fish have a significantly higher amount of omega 6 than their natural counterparts. 

 A simple and effective way to balance your ratios is to reduce the oils, grains and foods leading to a high consumption of omega-6 and increase omega-3 rich foods along with consuming fish oils.  There are countless studies showing the benefits of fish oil.  Fish oil, specifically a high quality source from cold water, has a long list of health benefits that include reducing inflammation and thus helping pain management, improving cardiovascular health by lowering triglycerides and blood pressure, improving body composition as it helps turn on lipolytic genes (fat burning) and turn off lipogenic genes (fat storing), and much more. 

Literature from the Poliquin Group suggests that an adequate amount for most individuals is 5-15 grams of fish oil daily.  Now, not all fish oil is the same and only a good quality source can help.  Be wary of inexpensive fish oils as they may be from large fish that swim in suspect waters and contain synthetic materials and fillers.  Again, small fish from cold water such as sardines, anchovy and mackerel are ideal.  As well, the ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important to know as different ratios yield different results.  For example, if an individual is looking for help with lowering inflammation than a high EPA concentration (6:1) will be more useful while a 3:2 EPA to DHA ratio is ideal for body composition.   Regardless of which ratio and desired result, it is important to ensure that the EPA and DHA serving amount equate to the daily suggested amount. 

A BioSignature Practitioner can help with specific strategies for fish oil and other nutrients.  This is available at CHI Training Studio as a standalone service or part of our personal training service. 

 

With chi,

Chris

 

Resources

http://www.chekinstitute.com/freegifts847386/DoesFatMakeYouFat.pdf

http://www.enhancedfp.com/nutrition/fats-and-oils-paul-chek

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/fish-oil.htm

July 22nd, 2014

Low “T”

 

Low T refers to a decrease in men’s testosterone level.  Naturally, men’s testosterone levels should gradually decrease with age with roughly a 1% drop occurring annually over the age of 30.  Unfortunately, many men of all ages are experiencing a sudden drop in their levels with an estimated 13 million in the United States alone.   

Some common physical symptoms that are associated with low testosterone include increased body fat, decreased lean muscle mass, decreased strength, increased fatigue, inflammation or swelling of breast tissue, and diminished sex drive.

Like all hormones, testosterone is derived from cholesterol and goes through biosynthesis, a multi-step process that has enzymes modifying the original compound and converting its structural form.   What happens when levels are low is that the testosterone precursors or the ingredients to manufacture it are diverted away, leaving the body with less hormone production.  Factors that impact testosterone levels are deficiencies in key nutrients such as zinc and vitamin D, infections, Type 2 diabetes, trauma, overtraining, environmental toxicity, and poor quality of sleep.  Other factors that divert testosterone precursors into other agents are a sustained stress response which diverts testosterone into cortisol, a stress hormone; aromatase which takes testosterone and converts it into estradiol or estrogen, which can have feminizing effects; and 5 alpha reductase that diverts testosterone into another androgen called 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT).   

Men with low t can naturally boost their your testosterone levels incorporating simple lifestyle strategies like going to bed at or before 10pm daily, performing high intensity training like resistance training or interval training, eating good quality fats and foods high in key vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamin D and zinc.  These foods are:

1. Fish/Sea Food

Tuna is rich in vitamin D and not only a natural way of boosting testosterone but a heart-healthy, protein-rich food that’s low in calories.  Eating fresh tuna over canned is better and if you aren’t a tuna fan, you may consider other fishy sources of vitamin D, like salmon or sardines. Oysters are exceptionally high sources of zinc, and can bolster issues with low testosterone or prevent levels from declining. If you aren’t a fan of oysters, crab or lobster can also do your testosterone levels some good, as they also contain sufficient levels of zinc.

2. Egg Yolk

Egg yolks are a rich source of vitamin D and contains more nutrients than egg whites . While cholesterol has gained a bad rap, it is however, as mentioned, needed for the production of every hormone in the body. 

3. Beef

Certain beef cuts also contain nutrients that can help boost low testosterone levels. Beef liver is an exceptional source of vitamin D, while zinc is found in ground beef and chuck roast.

If stress is a factor with someone’s low t, another strategy would be to incorporate work- in activities such as relaxing walks, yin yoga, tai chi, chi gong or zone exercises from How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek.   Work-in activities are thoroughly explained in another blog series entitled Are You Healthy Enough to Work Out?  As well, it is covered on our CHI Training Studio youtube channel in Dr.Movement part 1 and 2 coming up in the next two weeks.

 

With chi,

Chris

 

 

July 15th, 2014

 They need water / Good, good water / We need water Part 3

 

We’ll keep on rolling here in Part III and talk about tips on water consumption and how to have clean, quality water at your disposal on a regular basis.

Purchase a High Quality Filter: Like mentioned in part 2, you will want to purchase a water filter that will RE-mineralize your water, not just filter out the bad stuff. By having a high quality filtration system in your home, this will help you to have proper water at your disposal for everything from your kids water bottles to your ice cubes to your cooking water. Santevia has multiple options on their website, including portable options. If you’re in or around Ottawa, Kardish has them for sale and/or can order them in for you.

Add Sea Salt: Adding a pinch of high quality himalayan sea salt (other unprocessed sea salts work as well) will also remineralize your water and helps your body absorb the water as opposed to it just flushing right through you.

Sipping vs. Gulping : Sipping water, first and foremost, is more efficient for your digestion. Gulping large amounts of water will dilute your stomach acid during digestion rendering it less efficient. Your saliva has a life force to it. Swishing around a mouthful of water is also beneficial to “re-energize” or add that “lifeforce” back into the water not only to aid in digestion, but also to warm the water up.

Drink Room Temperature Water More Often Than Cold Water: Drinking cold water takes energy from your body in order to warm it up in which it will just sit in your stomach until it reaches body temperature.

Don’t Drink During Meals: Try to drink water 15-30 minutes before having your meal as it will aid in digestion, and conversely, drink no sooner than 15 minutes after your meal. If you drink during your meal, just like gulping water, it will alter your digestive fluids rendering them less efficient. They literally get watered down.

A Few More Healthy Tips:

  •  Drink 500ML – 1L or so right when you wake up in the AM as sleeping will dehydrate the body.
  • Store water in a cool dark area to avoid light penetration.
  • Drink water regularly throughout the day
  • If purchasing bottled water, look for the top quality brands such as Evian, and Fiji.
  • Drink out of glass as often as possible as it will never release chemicals into your drinking water unlike plastic or aluminum.
  • Add lemon or lime wedges, or an essential oil to make your water more flavorful.

 

With chi,

Taylor

 

July 8th, 2014

They need water / Good, good water / We need water Part 2

In part 1 we talked about how to avoid dehydration and what signs to look for when your body is telling you that you are dehydrated. We talked about the ideal amount of water consumption and touched on what can happen to your body if there is water lacking. Let’s first dive further into that.

As mentioned, the body is made up of about 75% water. Your blood however, is about 94% water. Your cells are approximately 75% when optimally hydrated. So it is safe to say that when the body is dehydrated, it is starving for it’s basic fuel. When this occurs, the body goes into what’s called “drought management” during which the remaining excess water in the body gets sent to the most important places, such as the organs. At first, your body responds with some general perceptive  “feelings” such as irritability, anxiety, feeling heavy headed, having irresistible cravings or not sleeping well. From there your body can plunge into some more serious issues classified as “drought management programs” like constipation, inflammation, hypertension, asthma, allergies or Type II diabetes. Now, looking at inflammation, depending on the location on where the acid buildup is inside the cells the following can be strong indicators of local dehydration; heartburn, lower back pain, rheumatoid joint pain, migraine headaches, colitis pain, fibromyalgic pain, and morning sickness during pregnancy.

Let’s move onto tips for purchasing and/or filtering water but first and foremost the golden rule: avoid tap water at all costs UNLESS you have no other option available. While you need to be drinking quality water, it is more important that you are just simply hydrated; not drinking water at all is more detrimental to your body than drinking a few litres of poor quality tap water. If you live in Ottawa like I do, most of our tap water comes from the Ottawa River. When was the last time you swam in the Ottawa River? You don’t see many people swimming in it these day and there’s a reason for that. It’s notorious for being an accidental sewage spill-over dump. Now, just because the city has “filtered” our drinking water doesn’t make it clean and of substantial quality for consumption. Tap water not only is highly acidic, but it also carries with it varied amounts of fluoride, estrogen, antibiotics, runoff from agricultural sprays such as fungicides, herbicides and pesticides to all of which are detrimental to your health and vitality.

When purchasing bottled water, look on the label for a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) of 300 or greater. This number represents the “hardness” of the water and/or the dissolved solids in the water (ie. salt). If you’re urinating an excessive amount (e.g. once every hour), or urinating more than you’re taking in, it most likely will be indicating three things: the TDS is too low, your water is lacking in quality minerals, and/or what you’re drinking is actually dehydrating you. Coffee and alcohol drinkers will notice that they tend to urinate more after consumption, than when they do not drink. One way to make sure that you are properly absorbing the water is to add a pinch of high quality sea salt to re-mineralise the water.

 

When purchasing a water filter, an ideal one will not only filter out 99.9% of the following: pathogens, chlorine, herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, trihalomethanes (THMs), heavy metals, organic chemicals, detergents, ammonium, certain radioactive ions, odour, taste, colour, but it will also re-mineralize your water by adding back calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and other trace minerals. As well, the filter should have the capability of re-alkalinizing the water bringing up the pH level to a more optimum level. All of this aids in the quality of your most basic of resources.

Next week will conclude the three-part series with more tips on how to best stay hydrated and how make high quality water a regular staple in your life.

Ideal Water Filter System: Santevia Mineralized Alkaline 8-Stage Filtration System ($140-$180 retail)

With chi,
Taylor

Sources:

Book: Water for Health, for Healing, for Life by Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj

How To Eat Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_Canada

http://santevia.com

June 24th, 2014

They need water / Good, good water / We need water

 

As recorded in 1970 by The Who in London, they need water. We need water. Good, good water. Regardless of the lyric meaning, the fact remains. But how do we know what good water is? How do we find it? How often should we be drinking it? In 2014, these questions are still being asked about our most basic of life sources. In the next three parts, we are going to plunge headfirst into this great topic and whet your appetite for these questions.

The human body is composed of 75% water and 25% solid matter. By comparison, water makes up about 85% of the brain, which makes it incredibly sensitive to dehydration. Our brain signals send out giant red flags to other parts of our body, screaming for good nutritious water, but if we can’t recognize these signs, how do we know when to drink in time? When we realize we’re dehydrated (most people notice dryness of mouth, or start to feel an oncoming headache), we are actually past the stage of dehydration, and are experiencing serious water depletion. Mouth dryness, for example, is one of the very last indicators before your body is preparing to shut itself down for preservation. In order to recognize that you need water, here are two things you can look for:

1) Thirst

It’s as simple as this: if you start to feel thirsty, drink water. This is the number one signal your body gives off, and often the most ignored.  If you become chronically dehydrated, your sensory system becomes so inadequate – due to severe water depletion – that you can no longer efficiently detect a need for water.

2) Urine

Unless you are taking riboflavins (which will alter the colour), your urine should be a pale yellow colour. A dark, near-orange tinge will be a big indicator that you are not getting enough water. Likewise, if you’re not urinating much or very little, this too is a sign of dehydration. Pay attention to your pee, people.

When you’re dehydrated, your body works to distribute the remaining water left in your system, to the organs and parts that need it most. This will come at a cost. You may start to feel your energy dwindle rapidly. Your legs will cramp during your run, walk, or during just general movement. You’ll get the nighttime calf cramps (another sign of serious dehydration), your heart and lungs will be working overtime to keep up with your exercise, etc etc. The list goes on.

It’s important to see drinking water as a preventive measure, rather than a quick “fix-it” once it’s too late (like popping an Advil for that headache). We should be in a constant state of hydrating ourselves, rather than a constant state of playing catch-up. Think of it like filling your car up with a few dollars worth of gasoline when it’s hitting empty. You’ll be forced to refill constantly in order to avoid breakdowns. There should always be a reserve to work with; the car will run smoothly, and you’ll be able to do more and get further with what’s in the tank. If we treat our cars this way, shouldn’t we be better with our own bodies?

There is a lot of misinformation floating around the Internet, or in “common knowledge,” regarding how much water we should be drinking. Most still tout the 8 glasses a day as scripture. This does not take into account your own individual needs – how much you exercise, what food you eat, your weight, etc. Your safest bet is half your body weight in ounces (e.g. a person who weighs 150 lbs should be drinking 75 oz. of water daily, which is about 5 of your standard reusable bottles). In order to prevent dehydration, this should be administered regularly throughout the day, not all at once (we’ll get into this in Part 3). I should stress that drinking water should become a habit, not a chore.

Next week we dive further into the facts of water and what it does to your body. We’ll talk more about the dangers of dehydration and what to look for if purchasing water.

 

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” – W.H. Auden

 

With chi,
Taylor

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_(The_Who_song)

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/08/01/is-drinking-six-to-eight-cups-of-water-really-nonsense.aspx

Book: Water for Health, for Healing, for Life by Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj

June 17th, 2014

Milk: Does a Body Good? Part 3

 

In parts 1 and 2 we discussed what is in our dairy supply, the pasteurization process it undergoes and the harmful effects it can have on the body.  But what we haven’t looked at is why we are drinking it. 

Thanks to decades of slogans and advertisements from the dairy industry, it is heavily engrained that you have to drink milk for strong bones and healthy teeth.  This is further reinforced by our Canadian Food Guide, which recommends 2-4 servings of milk and alternatives daily. This association of dairy and healthy bones comes from the fact that milk contains calcium, which is an essential mineral for bone formation.

However, the amount and usefulness of calcium contained in pasteurized milk is something of question.  The pasteurization process renders a significant portion of the calcium insoluble, with some research claims being as high as 50% of calcium unable to be utilized by the body.  This is why Dr. Mercola, an osteopathic physician and alternative medicine advocate, states that this is why no standard other than that of the National Dairy Council considers pasteurized milk the best calcium source”. 1     

Some great non-dairy sources of calcium are broccoli and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens and turnip greens.  These vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, especially when they are grown from organic, biodynamic and local farms.  In addition to these vegetables, wild salmon, sardines and sesame seeds are great protein and fat sources rich in calcium. 

Something else to consider if you are concerned about your intake of calcium because of bone health, such as osteoporosis, is the use of ionic trace minerals.  Many people consume foods from mineral depleted soils and as such have low levels of several trace minerals.  This is important because the bone is made up of at least a dozen minerals, with calcium being just one of them.  Although important for many reasons, focusing on just one doesn’t help improve the density issue.  Using trace mineral drops or unprocessed salts, such as Himalayan salt, can significantly help achieve strong bones and improve many other functions.

So before having your next glass of milk, think about why you are having it.  If it is to improve your health and well-being, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate.  From pasteurization of milk to growth hormone and antibiotic induced imported dairy products, this isn’t doing a body good.

 

With chi,

Chris

  1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/18/the-milk-myth-what-your-body-really-needs.aspx
  2. http://www.whale.to/vaccine/james9.html
  3. http://www.dairygoodness.ca/100-percent-canadian-milk/100-percent-canadian-milk-faqs
  4. http://www.realmilk.com/health/raw-milk-vs-pasteurized-milk/
  5. Chek, Paul. How to eat, Move and be Healthy!  San Diego, CA: CHEK Institute, 2004.

 

June 3rd, 2014

Milk: Does a Body Good? Part 2

 

In part 1, we discussed some of the negative processes milk undergoes, or is subject to, before reaching the store such as growth hormones, antibiotics and pasteurization.  In Canada, it is thankfully illegal to use growth hormones to stimulate milk production in dairy cows and antibiotics are a non-factor as cows being treated with them have their milk discarded and milk processing plants rigorously test for antibiotics prior to acceptance.  Unfortunately though, these amazing standards are also coupled with the use of pasteurization. 

The dairy industry states that “minimal” vitamins and minerals are lost and that these are replenished through fortification.  Unfortunately, fortification doesn’t necessarily ensure that the vitamins are bioavailable, nor does it replenish the lost enzymes to help with absorption.  There are numerous studies showing the negative effects pasteurization has on milk but my favorite by far is the Pottenger’s Cat Study.  Dr. Pottenger ran a 10 year study looking at the effects of heat-processed foods, milk being one of them.  Now without boring you of all the study details, which can be found in Pottenger’s Cats:  A Study In Nutrition, the general observation was that cats who received pasteurized milk as the main staple in their diet, displayed skeletal changes, lowered reproductive efficiency and their offspring displayed progressive constitutional and respiratory problems.  These cats were just subjected to pasteurized milk as the studies were conducted from1932-1942.  One can only imagine what would have been found if Dr. Pottenger was using current milk with growth hormones and antibiotics contained within. 

Now if the pasteurization information doesn’t bother you, then everything is fine as Canadians do not have to worry about the aforementioned hormones in Canadian dairy products, right?  Wrong!   Dairy products that are produced within the country follow this law, but unfortunately, this only entails milk and cream, as all milk and cream sold in Canada are produced in Canada.  American dairy products, which can and do contain growth hormones and antibiotics, are sold in Canadian markets.  These include yogurts, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, whey protein, labels with milk ingredients, milk concentrate, concentrated skim milk, and the list goes on.

According to Canadian Dairy Trade, Canada’s 2012 imports of dairy products increased from the previous year, with a total volume of just under 147,000 tons or roughly $677 million.  The major of these dairy import products were cheese, milk protein isolate, casein and whey products, with the United States being the major exporter.  Although the statistics do not identify organic diary in their numbers, it’s safe to say that there is no shortage of nutrient deficient dairy waiting to wreak havoc on your immune system. 

In part 3, we will look at calcium levels, one of the big reasons people consume milk, to help promote strong bones and teeth.

 

With chi,

Chris

 

 

 

 

May 27th, 2014

Milk: Does a Body Good?

 

For decades now, milk slogans and advertisements have been aimed at promoting the health benefits of this drink.  These marketing campaigns have been long standing ones such as milk is good for strong bones to fairly recent ones using “studies” claiming chocolate milk is a great post workout recovery drink.  Unfortunately, many people have fallen prey to the marketing powers of milk and consume a product that actually can be more harmful to their health then beneficial. 

Before moving on, I should note that when I am referring to milk, I am talking of the pasteurized form, as Canada outlaws the sale of raw milk.  This is a crucial difference as pasteurization, which is the process of quickly heating and then chilling milk, kills bacteria and unfortunately along with it, destroys many vitamins and enzymes. 

The dairy industry first implemented the pasteurization process in 1908 for health and safety reasons as tuberculosis, botulism and other diseases were being spread through the milk supplies.  Fast forward a century and the dairy industry is still using this method, claiming disease prevention as the rationale.  However, it has been long identified that lactic acid producing bacteria in raw milk actually protects it from pathogens.  These bacteria are unfortunately destroyed when heated along with many amino acids, vitamins and enzymes, making it very hard to digest and absorb the remaining nutrients.  In fact, in order to be for a chemist to declare milk pasteurized, there must be no enzymes present.   

Aside from pasteurization, many commercial dairy farmers utilize rBGH – recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone.  This growth hormone is created from genetic material from cows and E.coli bacteria and spliced together for the purpose of increasing milk production.   Typically, a cow will produce milk for roughly 12 weeks after giving birth.  After an injection of rBGH, a cow can extend milk production for an additional 8-12 weeks, virtually doubling its yield.  This sounds great but unfortunately, it comes at a cost to the cow and humans alike. 

A common disease associated with rBGH is mastitis, which is an infection of the mammary gland causing inflammation of the udder tissue and can be fatal to the cow.  This infection of the udder commonly causes pus which can end up in your milk.  As well, mastitis can cause a decline in potassium, lactoferrin and casein, the later contributing to lower calcium.  Many farmers opt to keep their cows healthy but unfortunately this commonly is done with the use of long term antibiotics, which again ends up in your milk and has a significant effect on your immune system.

Aside from antibiotics and decreased nutritional value from cow’s milk injected with rBGH, another problem with this hormone is that it has been linked with increasing insulin-like growth factor levels (IGF-1).  IGF-1 is a powerful growth hormone that has been shown to intensify existing cancers in the human body, with strong associations to breast and colon cancer.

So it’s no stretch of the imagination as to why author Robert Cohen entitled his book Milk the Deadly Poison.  In parts 2 and 3 we will look further into the dairy industry, the calcium claims of milk and provide some simple tips as to how you can replace milk from your diet.

 

With chi,

Chris

 

 

 

 

May 20th, 2014

My Mama Told Me, “You Better Shop Around” Part 2

In the first part of this series, we discussed how to best shop for your groceries and the benefits of buying local organic food. Part 2 of this series will delve into how you can get the best value for your dollar while still eating smarter and healthier.

Even though we’re buying largely local organic products, I find that we spend, on average, about the same to similar households.. This is because we are not buying your typical snacks like rice cakes or granola bars, nor are we spending money on empty starches like white potatoes, rice, or pasta. We stay away from pops and fruit and vegetable juices. Leaving these items off the conveyor belt helps tremendously to keep the cost down, and to keep your body feeling enriched and alive.

We spend approximately $120 a week on groceries (including snacks) between the two of us. Let’s break that number down into an average cost per meal. 7 days x 3 meals = 21 x 2 people = 42 meals total. $120 / 42 = $2.85 per meal, per person. That isn’t so crazy anymore, right? Not only that, we’re getting delicious and high quality food for that price.

It’s true that the cost of local organic food can be more expensive, however as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Try looking at your grocery list critically with a few questions in mind:

  • Is this going to make me feel better?
  • Could I buy this local or organic instead?
  • Do I need this at all?

Human beings are creatures of comfort, and it’s incredibly easy to get caught up into a routine of buying the same old things, but expecting different results like weight loss or feeling better. Next time you’re in the grocery store, really look hard at what you’re buying, but more than that: why you’re buying it. Is it simply just because it’s easier?

Say there are two different gas stations near your house. One is a five-minute drive away and costs five cents higher than the other, which is a ten-minute drive away. If you are willing to drive a little further to get a better value for your product, should the same theory not apply for grocery shopping? My fiancée used to hate shopping around at different stores, because it was easier for her to get it all done in one place, even if it meant spending a great deal more. Now, we’re shopping at roughly three different places a week to get a much better value and higher quality products. I understand that this is not always a viable option for a lot of people, who perhaps don’t have the access or capability of shopping around. If that’s the case, try to apply the “shop smarter” tips that we discussed in Part 1. Perhaps it’s worth looking into a local delivery service that drops off fresh produce and/or meat every week, a service that my in-laws take great advantage of. A tip for Ottawa readers: Bearbrook Farms delivers anywhere in Ottawa city limits for free if your order is over $99 (our all our clients get a 10% discount).

Shopping for food should be seen as an investment for yourself and those you buy for. Good quality food will pay itself off in time, as your body and health begin to show that you really are what you eat. Being critical and selective about your meals will also break you out of your comfort zone, and potentially inspire others to do so as well. Shopping smarter is not impossible, but it takes drive and energy to commit to it, even when it’s not easy or convenient to do so. But I promise you, it will be worth it.

 

With chi,

Taylor

May 13th, 2014

My Mama Told Me, “You Better Shop Around”

 

As a teenager, I was responsible for buying the groceries. As the old song goes, my mom did actually tell me to shop around. I learnt from this to not just rely on a one-stop-shops, but rather to spend the little money I had wisely on quality as opposed to quantity.

I cooked for a bistro and two golf courses for almost 10 years. I learned how to make a great dish out of a few simple ingredients thrown together. I’ve been working as a personal trainer for over five years now, and I can now make that same dish healthy and optimally nutritious. A delicious meal does not need a two-page recipe or your daily wages to afford all the elements. My fiancée and I have a combined income of less than $100,000 and are constantly trying to create new, fun meals with these guidelines.

Today, we’re going to talk about shopping smarter. Many “healthy” grocery guidelines will tell you to stick to the outside perimeter of a store. These perimeters actually mirror the daily recommendations of the Canada Food Guide: fruits and vegetables, grain, meat, and dairy products. This guideline has been built to support major food corporations, not your health. Anyone that tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something you shouldn’t be buying.

Instead of following the outside perimeter, here are my suggestions to finding quality food that will work for your health, not against it.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • From optimal to least preferred (this works for all other foods as well): Local Organic, Local, Non-Local Organic, Non-Local.

  • Buy your produce based on their peak season in your area (e.g. in Ontario, asparagus should only be purchased between May and June).

  • Eat your fruits before they fully ripen. Waiting until they’re “past due” can result in a loss of their valuable nutrients.

Grains

  • Ideally, all grains should be avoided for optimal gut health but if you’re fixin’ for some, play the odds and avoid grain containing gluten as a vast majority of the population are intolerable to some degree.

  • Buy organic/non-GMO (genetically modified organism).

  • If you’re buying a processed grain, ie. bread, buy the ones with the least amount of ingredients involved.

Meat

  • Shopping for meat should work identically to shopping for your fresh produce in the sense that your best source would be local organic then organic and so on. Buying from a farmer’s market is a great option here, as there should be plenty of availability. Since meat freezes so well, buying in bulk will really come in handy.

  • If buying from a grocery store, look for the labels that read “grass-fed,” “free-range,” and/or raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones (e.g. President’s’ Choice Free From® label has this option).

  • Avoid corn-fed and grain-fed meat. Simply put, these animals are not getting the nutrition they need to pass on the goodies to you when you eat them. Most if not all of of these animals are sick and or malnutritioned because they have not been fed effectively their entire lives. This same theory applies to humans. Eat quality, feel good. Eat sick, malnutritioned animals, feel sick and malnourished.

Dairy

  • At all costs, avoid any dairy that’s been pasteurized. Yes, that includes cheese, yogurt, milk, sour cream, cream cheese, etc. You name it, if it’s been pasteurized, it’s been denatured. Just Googling the word “pasteurization” should give you a clear idea of what it does to your dairy products. Essentially, you are eating and drinking a “dead” product as its natural nutrients have been stripped away in the process and have been replaced with synthetic material.

  • Unpasteurized and/or raw dairy is your safest bet. Because they haven’t been destroyed by processing, the products still hold their full nutritional value. Cheese and yogurt is the easiest to find in this form. The sale of raw milk has been prohibited in Canada since 1991 by the Food and Drugs Regulations. Canadian advocacy groups and farmers have been fighting for years to overturn this.

Frozen/Canned Food

  • Like their fresh counterparts, all frozen fruits and vegetables lose nutrients through time. The difference is, the frozen product decrease at a slower rate. Knowing this, purchasing frozen produce isn’t ideal because you do not know when it was packaged and therefore do not know how much nutritional value is left.

  • Try to limit consumption of frozen and canned foods as the reasons listed above can and will create adverse health effects on your body. If you need to purchase them, study the ingredients on the labels and look for the products with the least ingredients and least preservatives. Preservatives are usually labeled as sorbic acid, benzoic acid, calcium propionate, sodium nitrate, sulfites, sulfates, sulfur dioxide, sodium bisulfate, disodium EDTA, BHA, BHT, TBHQ, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, ect. You get the point. As well, be sure to look at expiry dates. The less that canned/packaged food has been packaged, the less chance there has been a chemical leakage into that food.

Fats/Oils

  • Good fats to look for are butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil. Remember, organic is best as the plant it’s produced from hasn’t been sprayed with toxic chemicals or grown in poor quality soil. Fun little tip; save your bacon fat to use to cook with. It’s essentially free as you more than likely would’ve given it to your dog or thrown it out!

  • Your primary oils to stay away from: Canola, vegetable, soybean, and corn. These oils are not only toxic to your body but they provide very little in the way of nutrition. An extensive amount of these oils are derived from genetically modified seeds, are heavily sprayed with chemicals to increase yield and moreover, some even have chemicals added to make harvesting more efficient. These oils are often found in processed products including store bought baked goods, canned and boxed foods and the like.

Salt/Sugar

  • To buy salt in its purest form, you should purchase 100% unrefined sea salt. It should be coloured or shaded (anything from red to grey on the color scale). In stark contrast to table salt, unrefined sea salts are chock full of nutrients and flavour.

  • Some of the safest sugars you can purchase are xylitol and stevia, instead of the detrimental, highly refined white or brown sugar. Remember, unpasteurized honey and 100% pure maple syrup are suitable white sugar substitutes.

Snacks

  • Snacking is a tough one, as even the most disciplined eaters are prone to snacking. Choose healthy snacks that are the “taste substitute” to that junk food that you crave. Buy olives, kale chips or plantain chips to solve that salt craving. Raw honey is a great, healthy option for dipping that fruit you just bought at the farmer’s market, to solve that sweet craving. Macadamia, cashew or hazelnut butters are good subs for peanut butter.

I encourage you to shop smarter, which will mean taking the time to read labels and not get caught up in a great sale. Not only that, support your local farmers! Focus on keeping the ingredients to a minimum on your plate, and enjoy your food knowing that you’re doing yourself and your family a favor by purchasing clean, quality ingredients. Next week I’ll talk about how to shop for all this good stuff while keeping the cost down! It’s truly more doable than you may think.

 

Thank you for reading! :)

 

With Chi,

Taylor

 

References:

http://www.naturalhealingnews.com/toxic-bpa-leaching-into-canned-foods/#.U3DmvvldX9M

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/dairy-free-avoid-this-pop_b_558447.html

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/8045/8045sci2.html

http://authoritynutrition.com/healthy-cooking-oils